This summer I met a man, a barista, at the gayest coffee shop I know. He was the artistic, brawny type that hides the results of his workout under vintage t-shirts and attempts to bring back the cardigan. It’s not until he rolls up his sweater-sleeves to wipe up spilled chai latte that you realize that you’re looking at the biggest forearm you’ve ever seen, sprinkled with complicated tattoo work and a smattering of poorly chosen (but ultimately removable) bracelets.
In the following moments, I began to visualize our entire future together. By the time he handed me my change, I was choosing the perfect passenger sedan and beginning to think about prep schools. It was a dream that shattered in an instant.
“By the way,” he said, “my name’s Patrick.”
And in that instant, his chances with me were ruined. It wouldn’t matter that he was a Leo, that he was into fast cars and soul music, dressed up well but didn’t like to, or that he had a house in the Cayman Islands and a flare for neo-French cuisine.
I had stumbled upon one of the irresolvable problems of the gay man’s life: the same-name predicament.
I could picture it. It wouldn’t be so bad at first. I would be able to introduce him to my friends in a discreet way.
“Have you met my boyfriend?” I’d say. “This is Patrick.”
“Excuse me, what?” would say the friends.
“Patrick,” I would say. “His name is Patrick. My name is Patrick too. Get past it. Get me a drink.”
For the rest of the evening, I would be able to avoid saying “Patrick” at all. I would call him by his last name in a display of jocular familiarity, or I could go the sweeter route and call him “baby,” or “honey,” or “stud.”
There would, of course, be an awkward moment when one of my friends tried to get my attention and we both turned our heads, or when someone said, “So, Patrick, what do you do for a living?” and I said “I’m a — oh wait, you already know me.”
Then would come the day when he had to meet my parents, and when they had to introduce him to their friends.
“Mr. and Mrs. Wallace,” my mother would say, “you remember my son, Patrick. And this is his boyfriend … Patrick.”
Mr. and Mrs. Wallace would be too polite to say anything. If they were not too polite, however, they would say, “Patrick, what the hell were you thinking? No, not you, him.”
Then would come the clincher, that fatal day when the unspeakable would happen.
We would be in bed. By this point we would almost have gotten over the weirdness.
“You like that, Patrick?” I’d say.
“Yeah,” he’d say. “Give it to me, Patrick.”
And then, just at the highest point of my relatively short sex life, the unthinkable would happen. In the throws of passion, we would both scream out the other’s name in some kind of perverse version of the third-grade “jinx” conflict.
We would stop. I would stare at him in shock. He would start to cry silently. It would all seem so dirty. I would pack my things and move back to my own apartment. He would resume his barista job. I would avoid the gayest coffee shop I’ve ever seen. That would be the end.
But it could have been worse: my name could have been Ferdinand.
Patrick Huguenin wouldn’t go for a Patricia either.