"Prepare to meet thy groom"

On a semiregular basis, Orlando Weekly devotes editorial space to guest columns sent in by readers with strong, well-considered opinions on the issues of the day. This week, Maitland video-game designer Brian Gossage discusses the controversial subject of gay marriage.

Hi. If you're like me, you've been hearing a lot about gay marriage recently. Some people say that allowing men to marry men and women to marry women undermines the institution of heterosexual marriage, weakening a tradition that's the bedrock of our society. Whether or not that's true, I honestly can't say: I've never been married and have no plans to get married in the near future. What I can say – based entirely on my own experience, mind you – is this: Gay marriage is definitely undermining the institution of the heterosexual second date.

Ever since stories of same-sex unions started filling the news broadcasts, I've noticed, I've been unable to get past that casual first date with any woman I've shown an interest in. The timing is too precise to be a coincidence. A bunch of Massachusetts Marys start picking out monogrammed towels together, and all of a sudden I'm the romantic equivalent of poison oak.

Now, some of my friends (my former friends, I should probably clarify) have suggested that the blame for my rut might lie closer to home. To hear them tell it, the limited shelf life of my popularity could rest with something I myself am doing or not doing. I think you'll agree that this is ludicrous on its face. What in the name of heaven could I be doing wrong? I'm young, successful, good-looking and a joy to be around. And if some skank can't appreciate that, it has to be because the concept of honeymooning homos has put her off relationships in general.

Still, I didn't want to put my opinions into print before double-checking the facts behind them. (That's what all of the other sections of this paper are for – Ed.) Out of the blue, I called three women I had dated recently and asked them to revisit our time together, explaining how in each case, the very existence of gay marriage had torpedoed my chances of a follow-up. I won't identify any of them by name, but Bachelorette No. 1 is a beautician who works at a chi-chi spa in the Buena Vista area. We split a coffee at Barnes & Noble, then I never saw her again. Here's how our catch-up conversation ran:

Me: Hi, this is Brian Gossage.
Bachelorette No. 1: HOW DID YOU GET THIS NUMBER?
M: You gave it to me, remember?
BN1: Oh, good Lord almighty.
M: Good to talk to you, too. Listen, I'm doing a piece for Orlando Weekly, and I just wanted to ask you: Do you feel that the advent of gay marriage prevented us from having a second date?
BN1: What?
M: "Do you feel that the advent of gay marriage ..."
BN1: I heard you. I just wasn't sure I could trust my ears. Listen, Brian, me not wanting to see you a second time has nothing to do with gay marriage. It does, however, have one hell of a lot to do with you showing up an hour late, expecting me to pay for the coffee and biscotti, and then asking me to help you shoplift Bill Clinton's book by hiding it under my shirt. A midriff tee, I might add.
M: So I can put that down as a "yes"?

See? Told you so. A red-blooded American male's best shot at bliss goes right out the window the minute Target opens a gift registry for the happy couple of Phillip and Raoul. But you don't have to make do with just one case history. Consider Bachelorette No. 2, a totally stacked paralegal I took out for Italian food after I got these great Val-Pak coupons in the mail. I thought we were really hitting it off – she spent most of the night calling friends on her cell phone and visiting the kitchen to hobnob with the 21-year-old busboy. So I could tell she wanted to let as many people as possible know what an awesome time she was having. But as soon as the night was over, she, too, promptly vanished from my life. If this were a game of Clue, I'd be guessing Mr. and Mr. Green, in the wedding chapel, with the vibrating candlestick. Here's her take on it.

Me: Hi, this is Brian Gossage.
Bachelorette No. 2: Bartholomew, sweetie, how are you?
BN2: Oh, right right right. The one with the coupons. (Yawns.) How's it going, Brian?
M: Well, not too good. I'm doing a piece for Orlando Weekly, and the date we had is kinda part of it. Tell me: Do you think that us not going out a second time has a lot to do with the fact that, even as we speak, two Disney parade dancers are celebrating their lifetime commitment by playing smother the python in a fantasy suite in Niagara Falls? Or is that only partially the reason?
BN2: (Stunned silence, giving way to irrepressible chuckles and finally hysterical guffaws.)
M: I'm going to take that as "partially."
BN2: (Gasping for air.) Oh, that is good. Listen, Brian, hold on a second. I'm getting a call on the other line.
(The connection is abruptly terminated.)

I think we can all agree that she seemed awfully receptive to the idea. If that other call hadn't come in, I bet she would have upgraded her "partially" to "without a shadow of a doubt." But since two matches do not a thesis project make, I contacted a third young lady who had given me the cold shoulder after a single evening of heart-palpitating promise. Bachelorette No. 3 is an Orlando Predators cheerleader and unlicensed massage therapist who I met through a mutual friend. He's this guy I knew from high school who ended up going into the bail-bonds business. But that's neither here nor there. What matters is that Ms. Right and I took in a Preds tailgate picnic, and true to form, she turned into vapor immediately thereafter. At least she shot me her number before she did her disappearing act, which made this little exchange possible:

Me: Hi, this is Brian Gossage.
Bachelorette No. 3: Hello, and welcome to MovieFone! Please enter your ZIP code to locate theaters in your area!

OK, so maybe that one has to go on the books as inconclusive. Still, the call wasn't a total loss. Before it was over, I had made plans to go see Dodgeball – alone, but I'm starting to think that spending more time on my own isn't such a bad idea, after all. And that, my friends, is as positive a moral as any I could leave you with right now.

P.S. The movie was seriously gay.


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