I've always admired my friend Robbie. He's 24, smart, looks like a Calvin Klein model and has always been impressively independent.
I remember going out for wild nights on the town with huge groups of mutual friends, mingling and mixing our way from the bars to the clubs. He was the life of the party, double-fisting the drinks and single-handedly cracking the jokes.
But that was then. Now that he's in a serious relationship, we haven't seen much of each other. So I call him up and arrange to get together for a drink.
The next day, I'm watching as Robbie stands barefoot in the kitchen doing dishes and making a pot of coffee. Apparently, this is what meeting up for a drink means to him nowadays.
"I hate this fucking dishwasher," he says as he tries to cram in the overloaded shelf. We've gone from Sex And The City to Desperate Housewives.
With gay marriage legalized and younger gay men attaching themselves to boyfriends, the culture is making a transition. For a lot of us, nights on the town have become nights on the couch, and money once spent on cocktails now goes toward curtain rods.
This switch happens quickly, and snowballs so that before you know it you're a totally different person. These transformed men are invisible, living behind locked doors and tightly shut vertical blinds. My friend Robbie is one of them.
Six months ago, Robbie met Anthony, 28, and they've been going strong ever since. They have a loving and committed relationship, which I'm happy to see, because before this Robbie was notoriously single. After two months as a couple, Robbie moved into Anthony's elegant downtown condo.
This is where we're currently chatting and catching up. It's 1 in the afternoon, and Anthony is off at his 9-to-5, raking in the dough.
Robbie brings the coffee over to the mahogany-brown table that seats six and takes the suede padded chair beside mine.
"I'm going to level with you," Robbie says, leaning forward and lowering his voice even though it's just the two of us. "I'm basically a kept woman." Then he jumps up to get laundry from the dryer. He brings a basket back to the table and begins folding clothes standing up. He has yet to touch his coffee.
Of course, I could have told him this months ago. Robbie's life right now is virtually on hold. He's just finished school and may apply to medical school or do his master's.
"Why don't you get a job?" I ask.
"Are you mad!" he responds, "I didn't go through five years of university to work in some crappy retail job." I can totally sympathize. He's doing a lot of volunteering to help his odds of getting into med school.
Just then we're interrupted by their "daughter," Bucket, a tiny black cockapoo puppy. She has to go out, and since she's still not fully trained, we take her for a walk right away. Outside, we continue to chat.
Anthony, he tells me, is a great guy and treats him amazingly, but the situation can often feel overbearing and intimidating. If they break up, he'll be broke and out on his ass. Also, the spending money Anthony gives him usually isn't enough.
"You get an allowance?" I ask.
"No. It's for groceries and other things we need, but I buy my smokes and stuff with it, too although I do have my tricks so I don't have to always ask him for money."
"Like when Anthony gives me money to pay my cellphone bill each month, I say it's $100 when it's only $50."
I don't have to say anything. I just look at him. "Desperate times call for desperate measures," he says. "You have no idea how hard it is to ask for money when we're fighting."
In the elevator up to the condo, I tell Robbie I'm going for a late lunch and invite him to come along. He agrees immediately because he really needs to get out of the house.
But when we get to the apartment, there's a blinking MSN message from Anthony. He's coming home from work two hours early. I know I'm going to be calling someone else to eat with.
"Shit, what am I going to make for dinner?" he says.
With all my friends getting boyfriends as if they were the new Louis Vuitton handbag, I do feel added pressure to follow suit. But for now I won't go running home to watch Desperate Housewives. I'm quite content watching Sex reruns on TBS.