Michael Wants a Lover

One morning, Michael woke up craving adventure. He was tired of his conventional life and more than a little embarrassed that he had never acted on a dare or jumped on a whim. From birth to the present, the overall arc of his life had been dull, he lamented. Michael had come out a sixteen, went through a series of relationships with perfectly fine men over the next decade, and then settled down with Paul after meeting him while playing in a gay kickball league. Michael had never strayed, never cheated, nor even entertained embarking on a risky emotional relationship with anyone. Thus, at the ripe age of thirty-four, he decided it was time to take a lover.

Announcing his intention to his husband over breakfast, Michael couldn’t make a move without consulting him, he was distressed by the intensity of Paul’s laughter. “You? No. You are not the adulterous type,” Paul responded. The accompanying hug felt good, but it couldn’t compensate for Paul’s blow to his ego.

Michael hoped that biology was on his side. Men were supposed to be driven by animal instincts to always be on the lookout for new sex partners. “Plant your seed in as many places as possible,” Mother Nature commanded. Michael tried to summon that imperative to indiscriminately mate, but the potential emotional costs of such a strategy kept holding him back. He vainly wanted to be one of those guys who could fuck anyone, anytime, without a care in the world. But he was too much of a romantic to be a fan of bestial coupling.

An avid reader, Michael belonged to three book groups, he tried to find inspiration to cheat in literature. He wanted to imagine himself a modern-day Anna Karenina throwing away her marriage and reputation for an affair. He wished he was like Helen of Troy, ditching Menelaus for Paris as she sparked the Trojan War. Not that Michael had any desire to be finished with Paul. On the contrary, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt his husband. He was too much in love to harm him.

But Michael found many aspects of an affair alluring. He was turned on thinking about clandestine meetings in hotel rooms, surreptitious couplings in closets at dinner parties, and furtive bedroom wrestling on weekday afternoons while everyone else was at work. He wanted to share coded words that would be unknown to everyone except that special someone. On the other hand, there wasn’t anyone he wanted to let into the internal privacy of his life other than his husband, and he wouldn’t be able to keep any secrets from Paul.

Before he began his search for an affair, Michael had been certain he was surrounded by a vast sea of men on the make, all lascivious in thought and deed, each adventurous in matters of the flesh. Surely one or a dozen nearby guys would be ready and willing to indulge Michael in his quest. He had seen eligible men at the gym, on the street, across from him while drinking coffee, and pulled up next to him at a red light. While in the safety of Paul’s embrace, Michael found just about all other guys hot. He couldn’t see a big burly man and not want to grind against him; smaller, lithe men prompted Michael to fantasize about rolling around with them.

Now that he was ready to have sex with a stranger, however, their sexual attractiveness abruptly changed. Confronted by the desire to take a lover, Michael didn’t see anyone worthy of adultery. Some were too big, some too small, most were too loud or too soft spoken to meet Michael’s idea of an ideal man. He couldn’t abide clingy men and wasn’t about to waste his time chasing after someone emotionally inaccessible. He had no use for men who were timid and boring in bed, nor did he like guys who were too wild sexually. He wanted someone in that middle sweet spot. Someone like Paul.

He could just try for some good old fashioned anonymous sex, he thought; gay men were famous for their ability to simply unzip and do whatever with anyone. They looked for sex online, on their phones, in their cars, and on the subway. Then it would be one, two, three, and done. Zip up and walk away. But that wasn’t what he wanted in an affair. He dreamed of someone who smiled as they woke up next to him in the morning and laughed when the stresses of the day proved overwhelming. His lover would have to be willing to work on the Times crossword puzzle with him and try new recipes they found online. In short, the man he would have an affair with had to be just like his husband.

There was one final obstacle: his lover had to be someone who he could talk to Paul about. They had no secrets; Michael wanted to tell Paul about every detail of the affair. It was imperative that he relate the ecstasy of his proposed romance to Paul over dinner and complain about his would-be lover’s idiosyncrasies over lunch. Michael needed a lover he could speak of openly.

Given all these requirements, a couple of days and then a week went by without Michael doing anything more than dreaming about an affair. After several more weeks, Michael moved on, forgetting he ever had a goal of finding a lover. The moment had passed.

Michael probably would have totally forgotten about his proposed adultery if Paul hadn’t brought it up several months later. As they settled into bed one night, Paul asked Michael how his affair was going. “Not today,” Michael told him. “I didn’t have time for one because my schedule was too tight. Maybe tomorrow.” He snuggled against his husband and fell asleep.