Op-ed: Confession From a "Pick Up" Parent
BY Advocate Contributors
February 15 2012 5:00 AM ET
Is flirting allowed when you're married? Yes, right? As long as it's harmless. As long as you're not hiding anything from anyone. And as long as there's no exchange of
phone numbers or bodily fluids.
Well, I've been in a happy, monogamous relationship with my
partner, Don, for almost 20 years (married, in California, for three and a half
of them). But let me tell
you: I flirt. Especially now that we have kids. I mean, when you're gay and single you
have to flirt. To get a date or a
husband or – laid. Then you're
suddenly in a relationship for a bunch of years and you flirt because it's kind
of fun to fantasize that you might be attracted or attractive to someone
outside of your relationship. Some
act on it. Some don't. Some have open marriages. And those of us who don't have to
believe that those who do are destined for break up. But once you add kids to the mix... man, you really start to
miss that feeling that someone out there might find you to be anything more
than a very tired co-parent with whom to enjoy watching a lot of reality TV.
So. I'm on the
schoolyard the other day, waiting for my first-grader to come down the stairs
with her classmates. All the
parents sort of gather every day around three o'clock, waiting for the outpour
of kids, scattering to find their place in the dismissal line. It's a very unique period of five
minutes when parents get to catch up with one another and complain about how
much or little work they have these days.
It's also a great time to make playdates, get good tutor referrals and
people-watch. But I think my
favorite pastime for those precious five minutes before hardcore parenting
kicks in again – is flirting.
That's right. Sometimes
there's nothing more fun during “pick up” than to imagine we're all at a
cocktail party hoping to snag one.
There are about three dads at the school I particularly
enjoy flirting with. Only one of
them is gay, mind you, but that's no matter. And by the way, the straight ones seem to flirt just as much
with me as I do with them. There
must be something tantalizing for them about shooting the shit with a gay dad, like
they’ve got something on us. Like
they know they’re cute and aren't afraid to work it. Like they remember the circle jerk days in college but
manage to chalk it all up to binge drinking and laughs about it now that each
has a hot wife and a handful of kids.
Well, they win. Because I
fall for it every time.
Straight Dad approaches carrying a large back and a racket.
“You’re always the one left holding the tennis racket, huh?”
I say, as though it’s funnier than it is.
“Yep,” he laughs, “Todd has tennis every Thursday… We
weren’t going to sign him up again because –”
That’s when I tune out. I know he’s still talking because I see his thick, pouty
lips smacking up and down and those insanely perfect teeth peeking
through. “How does one get a chin
like that?” I want to ask him.
“That vein in your neck keeps popping out when you talk and it’s
adorable.” Did I say that out
“The guy’s name is Frank Decillo,” he says. Phew. “He’s really good at teaching kids. I’ll get you the number. If you get me your number.” He’s
looking right at me, smiling.
shit. Did he just ask for my
number? I have a hot face. Does it
show? Is he really flirting or is
he just one of these people with relentless eye contact.
“Oh, never mind.
Your email address is in the parent directory.” Right. Yes. It
I keep wondering if it's some deep-rooted insecurity that
makes me so happy when I get their attention. Or maybe it's just the opposite. Maybe as an out and proud gay man who feels confident in who
I am, I am just drunk with the power I have to charm even the straightest of
men. (Yeah, no. I didn't buy it either and I'm the one
who wrote it.)
Moms have met on schoolyards and commiserated and gossiped
and flirted just as I find myself doing every day at three o'clock. But what does this say about where we
gay parents fit into the larger spectrum?
Does it say we're just like everyone else? Or does it perpetuate the negative stereotype that gay men
just can't help cruising every chance we
get, even within two feet of a schoolbell and a sandbox!?
Then yesterday, I had just scooped my kids up in my arms –
in a moment I look forward to every day – when just over their shoulder I
caught a glimpse of one of my hot-dad-crushes as he sauntered into the
schoolyard. I allowed myself to
indulge the fantasy for about five seconds:
We’d be out for coffee, laughing, telling hilarious stories
about our kids…
“You think that’s bad!
Mine are so obsessed with getting naked, I drove them to school the
other day and, I guess I hadn’t looked in the rearview for a good five or six
minutes because there they were, in all their glory in the backseat!” I laugh and laugh… “I like to get
naked!” We go back to his
place. Divorce our spouses. Live together for five years. Until the one day I catch him with
another dad at our school and he comes after me… and they find me stabbed to
death, draped over the jungle gym like a character in a Garcia Lorca play.
Back in the moment, I practically dropped my kids when I saw
him and waved my hand up to catch his attention. In doing so, I swung my right hand right into the neck of a frail-looking mom with a perpetual look of
panic in her eyes. Maybe she’d
been flirting a little too much on the schoolyard herself and didn’t want to
"Oww!!!" she yelled. I was mortified.
I apologized profusely for about 10 straight minutes. "Watch where you're going!"
she yelled at me. She was
right. Cute Dad caught the whole
thing and didn't bother to stifle his guffaw.
Gay Dad Lessons #161-#164: A) Schoolyards are for picking up kids – not picking up
dads. B) You're not as cute as you
look. C) You're married. And most of these guys are too. And, um, straight. Knock
it off with the flirting. D) If you're going to flirt, maybe work on something
a little more subtle than a giant, hyper arm-wave that doubles as a karate
DAN BUCATINSKY is a writer-actor-producer known for
writing and starring in the indie film All Over the Guy. With producing
partner Lisa Kudrow, he runs Is Or Isn't Entertainment, behind the
groundbreaking cult comedy The Comeback, and is now in production for
the third season of acclaimed docu-series Who Do You Think You Are
for NBC. Their current project, Web Therapy, is a new half-hour
version of the award-winning Web series exclusively on Showtime. His upcoming
book, Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight? from Touchstone
Books, is due out in 2012, and you can follow Dan on WhoSay and on Twitter @danbucatinsky.
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