From your accent, I'm guessing you're not a native Californian.
No, I'm from England, originally. I was married to an American for ten years, and she was from this area. We've been divorced for about two and a half years.
How has it been, returning to single life after all those years?
Great! I've been enjoying myself immensely. After the crushing agony of being divorced by my wife, it was great to realize that I'm not entirely unattractive to the opposite sex. For a while during and after my divorce, I was a bit worried that no other woman would ever want anything to do with me, ever again. It wreaks havoc on your self-esteem, being left like that. But since the divorce, I've been dating surprisingly attractive women. I'm not in the market for a serious relationship at the moment, but I've been enjoying the fruits of San Luis Obispo.
To run with the "women as fruits" metaphor, do you find it's "easy pickings?"
Much more so than I'd anticipated. Dating seems much easier now than it did when I was in my twenties. I thought it would be much harder to get back in the swing of things.
Do you find that California girls are more approachable than English "roses," or "birds," or "persimmons," or whatever it is you call women?
Honestly, it's been so long since I've dated in England, it's hard to remember. But all the songs about California girls, they sing them for a reason. Women here tend to be nice-looking, but also very nice and outgoing. Maybe it has to do with the weather. All that sun, no rain — how can you not be in a good mood most of the time?
How would you describe your ideal woman?
Open, warm, outdoorsy, sporty. Most of all, very independent. I don't like it when things get too comfortable, because that's when it starts to get boring. I like a woman who will keep me guessing. Who's a bit of a butterfly. Like, if I'm not 100% sure she's really into me.
The idea that "she's just not that into you" is a turn-on?
It's one way to look at it. I love the thrill of the chase, all that. For instance, I was dating a girl a while back, and she was always available every time I called. And even if she wasn't, she'd cancel other plans. I guess I don't want or need to be the center of anyone's life. But the girl I'm thinking of was in her mid-twenties, so maybe that was part of it.
Do you prefer dating younger women?
No, not necessarily. I'm attracted to plenty of women my own age or even older, but in this town, most of the single women are in their twenties. I've gone out with a few girls my age who I really liked, but they immediately wanted to know, "Where is this going?" A lot of women in their thirties will break things off they don't see relationship potential after a few dates, whereas younger women are more willing to keep things casual. After having a girlfriend-then-wife for most of my adult life, I'm not anxious to rush into that sort of thing any time soon.
Do you live in San Luis Obispo?
I grew up in this area, but now I live in Japan, in Osaka. I teach English at a university.
Have you ever dated a student?
Not at the university where I work! That would be totally inappropriate. But I have dated students who go to other universities in the area.
Are you in a relationship?
You could say that. I've been seeing this one guy for about six months, but we're not exclusive. Also, there's something of a language barrier. He's Japanese, and his English isn't entirely fluent, and neither is my Japanese.
Are you looking for a serious relationship now?
Not really. I like having more than one person in my life. I realized long ago that monogamy isn't very realistic for me personally.
Has that ever been a problem for any of the guys you've dated?
Yes, but more so in America than in Japan. I know there's the stereotype that gay men don't "do" monogamy, but there are plenty who want nothing more than to settle down, and have kids and a dog and a picket fence, or whatever. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just not for me.
Is being "out" as a gay man very different in Japan?
So many aspects of the culture are so incredibly different, but yes. For one thing, being gay is pretty much a non-issue. The Japanese are very private people. There are certain things you just don't discuss, whether you're straight, gay, whatever. At work, for instance, you wouldn't discuss your personal relationships. Nobody has ever asked if I'm gay, and it's not something you bring up. It's hard for Americans to understand that this isn't the same as being closeted, which I'm not.
If you don't tell people you're gay, you feel like they're missing some important information about you?
No. People probably realize that I'm gay — it's just not a topic of conversation, because they don't really care if you are or not. In the U.S., you have to be "out and loud and proud" in every aspect of your life, at every moment. Straight people don't realize it, but that can be exhausting. Besides, my sexuality is just one aspect of who I am. I'm not ashamed of it in any way, but I don't need it to be my defining characteristic.
Does this culture of subtlety and/or the language barrier make it harder to find sex partners?
No. At least, I haven't had any problem. Most cues of attraction are non-verbal, and pretty universal. When it comes to meeting people, being an American helps. Everyone wants to practice their English, which is a great icebreaker.
Among gay men, is there a big hookup culture in Japan?
Sure, like anywhere else. One big difference is that there are a lot more straight men who occasionally have sex with other men. In the States, this almost never happens, at least not without an awful lot of hand-wringing on the part of the straight men. American guys seem to think that if they get or give a blowjob, their "straight card" will be revoked for life. There's none of that anxiety in Japan.
Sort of in the way that, in the U.S., women don't worry too much about sleeping with other women from time to time?
Yeah, that's a good analogy.
Why you think Japanese men are more open to same-sex experiences?
It's the culture. Maybe it's the lack of religion, and all the shame and guilt that comes out of it. And here, there's even the fear of actual violence if you're perceived as less than 100% straight. Even in liberal California, I've been physically threatened by random straight guys who realized I was gay. Guys I wasn't even talking to. Gay-bashing is almost nonexistent in Japan.
Do you think everyone's a little bit bisexual, and it's just culture that keeps us from acting on it?
Not really. But I don't think the occasional same-sex experience makes you automatically or authentically bisexual. At one point in my life, I was having sex with a lot more women than men, but in my case, being bisexual was just a stepping stone on my way towards realizing I was gay.
Was that hard for you to come to terms with?
When I was much younger, it was. Even growing up in liberal California, in a fairly open-minded family, it wasn't easy — I can't imagine what it would be like for kids in a more repressive environment. As a teenager, I had this sense that being gay was weird and strange, and it didn't fit with my image of myself as this normal, all-American guy. Of course, I've long since gotten over all that.
What kinds of guys are you attracted to?
That changes. Right now, I'm mostly attracted to skinny Asian guys.
I hear you can find those in Japan. Is that why you moved there?
Not at all. But it's a nice bonus.
Where are you from?
I grew up here in San Luis Obispo, but now I live in Hawaii, in Honolulu.
Are you in a relationship?
Actually, I just broke up with my boyfriend of almost four years.
I'm sorry to hear that.
Nah, don't be. It was time. We were both ready to move on. No hard feelings.
What's the dating scene like in Honolulu?
I really don't know, but I'm about to find out! I moved there with my boyfriend, so I've never been single there before. I'm excited, though — it'll be an adventure.
How do you think you'll meet guys, now that you're single?
I play kickball and softball, and other intramural team sports, which is a great way to met guys. And I'm very outgoing, so I'm not afraid to put myself out there.
Does anyone actually like kickball, or is it just a pretext for hooking up? I get the impression that those leagues are all, "You like ironic sports? Hey, me too! Let's fuck!"
There is a bit of that, but, also, it's a lot of fun. It's more interesting than just meeting people in bars. Although, you do go to bars, afterwards.
Do you think being single in Honolulu is very different from being single in San Luis?
Definitely. For one thing, it's a bigger, and more international; very diverse. Hawaii attracts a lot of young, fun people who come from all over the world. People with a sense of adventure, and a lot of hot, outdoorsy types. Also, it's a bit more mature, there. In San Luis, people don't seem to date, per se. You just go out, and meet people, and at some point, you find yourself in a relationship.
I've heard that from a lot of people here. Is there some sort of city ordinance against dating in this town?
I swear, you'd think there was! Well... that's not exactly true. People date, but it's not like what you think of with a traditional, "dinner, movie, back to your place" kind of thing. I have to say, the best so-called "date" I ever went only cost $3.50.
The collective daters of New York just died a little inside. Explain.
I met this really cool guy, but neither of us had a lot of money at the time. So, we just walked around Wal-Mart for about three hours, and looked at stuff, and laughed at the absurdity of it all. And, I needed some coat hangers, because I'd just moved. So he bought me some. We also bought some whipped cream.
Whipped cream and coat hangers. The people who read this are going to wildly speculate about what you did with them.
With the coat hangers, anyway, I used them to... hang up clothes.
Pretty kinky. What about the whipped cream?
Let's leave your readers with something to wonder about.
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