Dear Jim McGreevey:

5 09 2006

Holding Hands
I’d like to know how you did it.

No, I’m not talking about your new book or your six-figure advance. And, no, I’m not talking about how you went from small-town mayor to the New Jersey governor’s mansion. I’m not interested in how you satisfied your sexual urges on the sly for all those years. And although I’m admittedly a little bit curious, I’m not wondering how you explained to your wife, children, and parents that—despite appearing to be a middle-aged straight man—you were actually a “gay American.”

What I really want to know is how—just a few months after your very public “coming out”—you’ve already managed to find a life partner and build a life together. I’ve seen the pictures of you and your hubby, Mark O’Donnell, and you look very content. I’ve read how the two of you went house-hunting together and how one source said you two seemed “very comfortable, very happy” together. Without having to try very hard, it seems, you’re already living the big, fat, gay life I always wanted. I mean, really, how did you do it so quickly?

Here’s the thing. Later this month, I turn 40. I’ve been (reasonably) out-of-the-closet, dating, and interested since college. In all that time, I’ve only been “in love” three times. The first time, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere—he was just too inexperienced. It lasted a season. (It was a beautiful spring, though.) My ex and I were together for six-and-a-half years, and that’s absolutely something, I know. But we didn’t settle down for good, and I doubt many of our friends thought we were “very comfortable, very happy” together. (He’s engaged to a woman right now, by the way!) The third guy, well, he’s the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away. He freaked out whenever anybody even described him as my “boyfriend.”

So in 20 years, that’s three candidates and three not-so-near misses. You, by contrast, came out in August 2004; a little more than a year later, you already had the man. I need to know how you did it. Please?

Maybe after all these years, I just have a bad attitude. It’s entirely possible. I know the numbers work against me. If I see an attractive man somewhere, it’s overwhelmingly likely, of course, that he’s straight. (At any one time, only about 3% or so of American men categorize themselves as gay.) I’m a poker player, and I wouldn’t put much money in a pot if I thought I only had a three-in-100 chance of winning.

And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more discouraged—perhaps understandably so. My experience suggests that the available gay men who’ve made it all the way to middle age tend to have some, um, baggage. If a man’s been single his entire life, well, he probably just doesn’t want to settle down. In fact, he’s probably not even looking. And if he’s been looking for 20+ years without any success whatsoever, well, there’s probably some really good reason he’s still single. (And, yes, I’m aware what this says about me! If you’re polite, you won’t point that out.)

And then there are the men, like you, who’ve been in relationships for much of their adult life. I’ve been out with a few of those, too. Some of them are itching to play the field. Some of them are just looking for someone to take care of them. Some of them have been dumped for very good reasons. None of these qualities is very attractive in a potential mate, huh? I haven’t clicked with any of those guys yet, anyway.

So there it is. The odds seem to be stacked against me. If I meet someone age-appropriate, he’s probably not gay. If he is, he’s probably already in a relationship. If he’s not already in a relationship, there’s a fair chance he’s opposed to being in a relationship at all. And in the remaining small group, I need to eliminate the actively mentally ill, the non-recovering alcoholics, the seedy, etc.

Apparently I need a miracle. And apparently you know just how to accomplish that. What I’m asking is that you share the secret. I’m a good man; I’m cute; and I’m successful. If the timing had been right, I might’ve even turned your head.

You seem to know something I don’t. Just exactly what is it?

Very truly yours,




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