Dating Bradford: Fantasies


Remember when everyone smoked in bars? They haven't forgotten in Chile, and Shangay -- the monthly underground club for queers, hidden in the bowels of downtown Santiago -- was no exception. It was, however, the place to go. And from 2 to 5 a.m. on the night I went, it was packed.


In a country where 5'9" is considered tall, I towered at just over six feet with a perfect view over a sea of dark-brown hair all night. The pickin's of hotties were slim, however, and I kept hitting on guys who told me they had a boyfriend 10 minutes into our schmooze. If I'm not into someone, I say so, but most Chileans are too polite to hurt your feelings, so they suddenly become in a relationship.

My previous night's forays into the land of "he'll do's" at club Bunker were disappointing. It became obvious to me that my approach was all wrong until it was explained to me that "things move more slowly here in Chile, especially when you're not typical."

"Not typical how?" I asked.

"Tall, good looking and foreign is not typical. Chileans don't like to attract attention to the fact they are gay. And you ... perhaps you would have better luck if you dressed more conservatively," he said politely.

"I totally dressed down tonight," I said, unnecessarily showing him my Gautier mesh top and tight black Prada jeans. "This is low-key for me."

"Exactly!" was all he said before lighting another cigarette and returning to his pretend boyfriend, leaving me standing alone at the bar.

I vowed to wear Levis for the rest of my weeklong stay in Santiago.

So, when the fucking sexiest guy in the club cruised me at Shangay, I thought he must be looking at someone else, but sure enough we did a double-take and then a couple more, before it was clear he was looking at more than just my low-rise 501 flares.

He was "tall" (almost 5'11") with dark curly hair cut close to his scalp in a military style. His classical handsome Latin face held high cheekbones, a small chiseled nose and beautiful juicy red lips that smacked of delicious. He wore a black, tastefully bedazzled -- if there is such a thing -- tank top, set off with bulging chest and arm muscles. Every guy who passed stopped to watch him dance, leaving snail-trails of saliva as they were yanked away by friends in a he's-too-good-looking-for-you kind of way.

He was a smoker. Yeah, well, at that point so was I for all the secondhand I was inhaling. Besides, by then he had become Danny Zuko and I was singin' You're The One That I Want.

"What do you do?" I asked him outside in our cloister of minglers as the club's mass exodus promptly at 5 a.m, after the music abruptly stopped and the lights turned up full. "You look like you might be a personal trainer." I knew he wasn't, but it was flattering pre-hookup chatter. He could have been a fry cook at Mickey D's for all I cared. I wanted him.

"I came here from Colombia to study for my Ph.D, but that's finished now and I teach at the university. Chemistry."

So the stallion's got brains, too, I thought. "Well, I'm hot for teacher" I said, because you can still get away saying cheesy shit in foreign countries. They don't always catch the subtleties of pathetic North American desperate fag culture. It worked. He laughed, showing me his perfect set of pearly whites. Teeth I wanted to ice-skate over with my tongue.

"Your roommate is trying to pick up on my friend," I said. "So it gives us an excuse to talk longer." He rolled his eyes. "Actually I've wanted to talk to you for hours," I said shyly. He looked at me more seriously and smiled again, this time with fire in his eyes.

I so wanted my friend to say yes to his roommate, to give us four an excuse to go to their house for a nightcap. But my friend was drunk, said they had already fucked once, didn't want to repeat, and that he'd rather go to the after-hours party. Some friend, I thought: How hard would it be to put out for his foreign guest?

We were pulled in different directions, not knowing what to say to each other as the tides swept us out to our respective seas. We would probably never see each other again, though email addresses were exchanged. We left doing the double-take playback, as we headed off in our separate groups.

On the way home, I couldn't stop thinking how exciting it would have been to feverishly undress as we mauled each other in passion. I pictured our clothing trail leading through my apartment to the bed. I could feel his full red lips on my neck and smell cigarettes in his hair. I tasted salty sweat with my tongue off his muscular chest ... Everything about our would-be-lovemaking was vivid in my mind.

Would it have been so good? I ask myself now, as I look out my window at the grey autumnal sky over the Hudson River. Trying to cram a possible romance into the few hours of remaining twilight before the day came to change our perspectives. I'll never know, but my Santiago souvenir is the everlasting fantasy of what might have been with my sexy Colombian.

It got me thinking: Do fantasies fill us with lust or longing? Dreams or disaster? When all we have is our imagination, can a fairy tale fill in our blanks?

(Photo: Bradford Noble)