Dating Bradford: Holding Tight


We all do what we need to do to alleviate sexual pressure. Maybe
it's a furious date-a-thon, or an evening at a "private men's spa," or
perhaps a last-call-trawl on the bar circuit. Sometimes it's a hook-up
with a stranger whose face was blurred in the bathroom mirror pic you
saw briefly online before jotting down his address and heading for the

One spring day in New York I was surprised to find myself
in the arms of the sweetest visiting southern businessman with the
bluest eyes I'd ever seen. We were in his hotel room, which overlooked
Times Square from the 35th floor.

"You just feel sooo good," he
slowly drawled in Southernese. "I just wanna hold ya real tight!" With
his burly arms he did just that, making me feel comfortably small -- as
if we'd known each other years instead of minutes.

It was then I realized a remarkable thing had occurred. We were sharing intimacy!

mean to tell me you actually cuddled with a trick post coitus?" my
friend Tigger asked mockingly over $15 cocktails (served in plastic
glasses) on the roof of The Gansevort.

"It was pre-coitus, if
you want to know the truth, you in-a-relationship-prick, and if you can
think back to when you were single and still in shape, you might
remember how rare a tender moment shared with a stranger can be."

fact that I'd shared a bit of bliss with a cuddling cohort was not new
to me. Being intimate is easy if you forget you're in a rush to get
off, and take your time with love-making. Instead, what made an
impression was the realization that the simple phrase, "I just want to
hold you" is practically a foreign language in the singles scene.

many of us treat intimacy like a tandem sky dive. You squeeze for a few
thousand feet, but once the chute pops you're making faces at the video
guy instead of appreciating the instructor who's strapped to your back.
We often forget such simple courtesies as a thank you, or even a "How
do you feel?" before we grab for the come towel.

"What I want
more than just sex," said my southern gent later that same night on an
unexpected follow up "real date," "is the feeling of being close to
someone. It gets me by."

"There's a seaman's expression my father
used," I said, while curling myself into the arms of my cuddle
companion. "When asked how he was doing he'd say, 'Holding tight.' It
means you're still afloat, that your ship isn't taking on water. Right
now in your arms I feel the same way."

In response he wrapped
himself tighter around me and we fell asleep to the unmistakable lights
of Broadway flashing colorfully 35 stories below.

Basking in the afterglow days later, feeling blissfully un-used for
once, it made me wonder how a simple thing like being held tightly can
make me feel okay being single. Sure, it would be nice to fall asleep
in the arms of the same gentleman every night, but until the right one
comes along, a little bit of intimacy goes a long way in "getting me

So, I ask: What do you do when you feel you're sinking in a
lonely sea? When you don't have the arms of a burly man to curl up
into, how do you go about holding tight?

(Photo: Will Pinkham)