The Ravenlunatic's Exploits in Dating: Part 2

“When Upper Body Strength Just Isn’t Enough”

by Keith Hoffman

I’m an idiot and a loser.

These are the chipper thoughts dancing in my head as I walk through a desolate part of Brooklyn on a Friday evening.

It’s Beginner’s Night for the Gay Rock Climbing Club and I have come to a gym to discover my one true love perched on a wall like he was Spider Man and I was his Mary Jane Watson.

“I’m here with the gay rock climbers,” I whisper to the front desk in case they don’t know a group of homosexuals is meeting right under their noses.

Immediately they have me sign a waiver acknowledging the gym is not responsible for my death. I am a believer in signs and this does not seem like a good one.

I look around at the room full of aggressive macho energy. Who am I kidding? I don’t belong here.

I am about to slink back out to the street when a handsome man who looks as if he’s been carved from cream cheese strides past me and smiles his most charming smile.

Clearly he loves me.

Clearly I can’t leave and break his heart and have him searching for me the rest of his life.

Clearly I should stay.

photo-36 copy 5The man carved from cream cheese

The gay rock climbers are split into two groups: the Ridiculously Hot Guys and the Ultra-Serious Lesbians.

Somehow I end up with the lesbians.

Maybe its because I am not dressed properly. I didn’t know what one wears to climb walls so while the Ridiculously Hot Guys are donned in colored-coordinated gym outfits, I am clad in sensible khakis and a bulky sweater. Naturally the lesbians think of me as one of their own. The only problem is these women aren’t here to flirt. They actually want to climb.

photo-36 copy 3A serious lesbian climber

Before I know it I am ˘staring up at a wall peppered with protruding colored rocks. A harness is positioned on my crotch in the most unflattering angle possible attached by a rope to one of my Sapphic spotters

I begin my ascent into hell.

Right hand…blue rock….right foot…blue rock…wait…where does my left foot go??

It is like a game of sideways Twister.

Then I slip.

And I free-fall.

And I am dangling sideways by my crotch twisting in midair.

TURN AWAY!! I want to yell at the Ridiculously Hot Guys who have stopped their frolicking long enough to stare at me in mute pity.

This is not going well at all.


It’s a half hour later and I am making my third attempt at the Boulder Wall.

This wall entails no rope or crotch harness and is built on a cushioned floor.

This should have been easy. I climbed trees like a monkey ever since I was a tyke who needed alone time away from my dysfunctional family. But already I have gotten to know this cushioned floor quite intimately each time I landed on top of it in a contorted heap.

The Ridiculously Hot Guys have wandered off to bond somewhere else and the lesbians have realized no matter how sensibly I’m dressed I will never take life as seriously as they do.

photo-36 copy 4Ridiculously Hot Bonding Guys

It is only me.

I am alone.

I am  not going to meet anyone.

I am too old and uncoordinated to find love.

No one cares.

This experiment is a dismal defeat.

I look at the exit so tantalizingly close.

I looked back at that wall and sigh.

Damn it.

I peer up at the rocks and trace my path.

Slowly….breathing…right foot blue rock…right hand blue rock…

Halfway up I waiver. The only one left to encourage me is me.

But I am tenacious. I have made it through much worse in life. I have survived loss and victory and disappointment and success. I can’t let this damn little wall be my defeat

So I cling tenaciously, get oriented and keep climbing

I follow the rocky path to the top.

And right there high above the frenetic energy, I find who I had come there looking for…

…ungracefully graceful me.

And tonight that is good enough.

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Keith Hoffman lives with his artist husband, dog and two cats in the small town Lambertville, New Jersey 72 miles outside of New York City. He has completed a memoir entitled The Summer My Sister Grew Sideburns.

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