On a visit to L.A. many years ago, I met Trent.
His freckly Irish skin and broad build suggested he was older than he actually was, but he was only mid-30s, just a few years my senior. He looked to be from the East Coast, likely Connecticut or Massachusetts or somewhere with Ivy League schools and a crew team.
Trent and I stood near each other on the floor of a popular bar at the time. He wore a blazer and dress slacks, as if he’d just come from a business dinner. When an opportunity arose, I introduced myself. He was pleasant, but a bit stoic. He didn’t seem particularly interested in speaking to anyone new, so I let him be.
The following night, I ran into him at a restaurant, where he was with colleagues of his from Loyola Marymount. This time, he was dressed down and couldn’t have been friendlier. He said to a female companion that I was the guy he had mentioned earlier.
I was surprised he remembered me, no less interested in remembering me.
We exchanged numbers, and texted back and forth the rest of the weekend, meeting up for coffee before I left.
The next time I was in L.A., we met up for frozen yogurt and a little fun.
The next time I was in L.A., I hung out at his house for a couple hours. We had some more fun.
There was something about Trent that really seemed like husband material. And when I was back in San Francisco, I learned why.
In an email to my L.A. friend Lester, I casually mentioned Trent’s name. Lester not only knew Trent, but also knew his significant other of 15 years.
This was a surprise to me. Especially since Trent had told me he wasn’t in a relationship. I asked Lester if he were sure. Lester confirmed by sending me a link to Trent and his husband’s website, where their last ten years of anniversaries, birthdays, and vacations were showcased in not hundreds, but thousands of digital images.
What Lester did next was more of a surprise: he phoned Trent to ask if he and his partner were still together. And directly mentioned my name.
Trent told Lester he was in an open marriage, and that I must have misunderstood the situation. Lester was still suspicious, and not just because Trent was known to be sexually aggressive when the partner traveled for work.
I remembered a nice home office in Trent’s three-bedroom house. When I picked up a stack of business cards that weren’t Trent’s, he dismissed them as “the roommate’s.”
I also recalled there was a total lack of photographs in the house, save for just one of their two dogs. Trent had said he didn’t like having pictures taken.
Lester told me the house was filled with pictures of them together, which means Trent must have taken all of them down before I came over. This would explain all of the dead space on the walls and the bookshelves, I thought.
I eventually called Trent to apologize for Lester’s behavior, and to hold him accountable myself. This time, he claimed he was in an on-again, off-again relationship, but they’d been off again for a while now.
When I asked Trent if they still lived together, he said no. Lester said yes.
Trent’s stories had more holes than a grommet belt.
And since the husband’s home office looked pretty lived in just a few days ago, I went with Lester’s version. I told Trent he should probably update their website with one of these excuses.
I haven’t bothered to reach out to Trent since. It’s not even worth looking in the Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners to know that’s the right move.
Besides, there probably isn’t protocol for this occasion either. But considering how often it happens, there likely should be.