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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Today Is The Oldest You've Ever Been

"Today is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again." - Unknown

Friday, 16 November 2012

A Thought About Belonging To Someone

Today while sitting at a coffee house, I was distracted by this cute good-looking guy sitting a couple of tables away. He was a blond with blue-eyes, enjoying his coffee with a group of female colleagues. One of them was probably his girlfriend, I don't know. Throughout the whole time, my eyes kept caressing his well defined, chieseled face. "I'd like to kiss and explore that face with my hands, my chin, my lips, my nose..."

As he stood up to make room for more people that came to join them, my eyes caught the silver ring that was glistening on the fourth finger of his left hand and thought to myself: "A wedding ring on a cute guy. Married! Of course he is." Then it reminded me immediately of a scene from the Brazilian gay movie: Do Começo ao Fim - From Beginning To End (2009) where the handsome character of Francisco placed a silver wedding ring on his male lover and also half-brother Thomás, before the latter left for another country.

At that moment without realising, I found myself staring into my own opened hands, palms up on the table, looking at the fourth fingers of both my right and left hand. I then closed my right thumb, index and middle finger over the base of my fourth left finger and fondled, while trying to imagine the feel of a hard silver ring there.

"Do you want to be married?", out of no where my brain registers the inner voice. Where is this coming from? After years of brainwashing myself that marriage might not be for me because of my parent's failed relationship, my fear of commitment, and the fact that I was going to harbour the secret of my homosexuality to the grave, I can't believe I'm finally pondering this question after 10 years of mental torment and living in the dark.

"Would you like to belong to someone? Would you like to put a ring on someone and have that someone put a ring on you?"

"Well for starters, it would be nice to truly belong to somebody you love. You wouldn't mind being 'his from across the table' or the handsome guy from that film. Think about it. It kinda means your lonely days and wandering search for a romantic companion is over. You're finally engaged and you can move on to building an adult life. A family with the guy you love! By filling up this hole in your heart, it would also allow you to concentrate on other things in life. Then maybe life wouldn't be so bad after all, and gloomy days like 'now' would be over and in the past?"

Another voice in my head interjects: "How dare you talk about love and finding another guy? I thought we agreed that because of never wanting to admit your homosexuality, you were going to be on your own in life and alone for the rest of your days?" 

After years of mind games, running away and brainwashing myself, could this be what I want at the end of the day or is it just typical thinking?

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Guy Who Believed In Destiny

During my chat with the attractive surgeon at the breakfast table one and a half months ago, I remember looking at him with admiration and teased: "How does it feel? Sitting down here, right next to me and being able to say that you're a surgeon. Knowing that you've achieved and become something so noble you've worked so hard to be. Does it feel good?"

He smiled at me, with hints of laughter and went: "Yeah!" My world was literally in slow motion because the man in flesh was not only cute, but intimidatingly successful.

At that very same table a day before, I remember talking to another guy who was currently climbing the regional ladder of a well known international financial institution. He told me all about his life plan and everything that he wanted to achieve before turning 32. One of it was to become a millionaire by the age of 29 or 30. 

"So how's that coming along?" 
"Do you think you're well on your way to achieving that?"

He: [chuckle]
"Yeah... I'd like to think so. We'll see."

Me: [smiling]
"You know how sometimes, people claim to have this 'instinct' or 'feel' in their younger selves, as to whether or not they are meant to achieve great things in life when they're older. And I don't know if it's because in general, young people tend to have fiery ambitions or if that 'gut feeling' truly exists."

"But what I wanna ask is, do you think you feel 'that gut feeling' in yourself? Do you think you will be successful, or at least, meant to achieve success in a way that you deemed you would?"

He: [smiled and nodded his head]
"Let's just say, I believe..."
"... in destiny."

"There's that word, destiny!" I understood him then and there, because I used to live my life, believing in the same thing. In fact, I recently received an email from a nice guy telling me "to have trust in who you will become." But at this point in my life where everything is falling apart, I'm not so sure about my destiny any more. Success, and destiny. Does it really lie in our hands or does it lie in our fate? What is mine?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mail: If God Exist, Are Gay Guys Going to Hell?

I've always wanted to do a post about religion and homosexuality because I remember the guilt and pain I used to put myself through for being sandwiched contradictorily between my sexual orientation and my faith. The idea of a gay guy being a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Jew sounds kind of backwards. How is that even possible? But the truth is, like many, I am sure they exist. 

Recently, I received an email from a 16 year old guy containing the following sentence in which I think might help some people out there.

His Email:
My whole family is Christian and the specific church I belong to says it's wrong to be gay. Do you believe in God? I am not sure if I do... But if he exists are we going to hell?

#  #  #

My Reply to Him:
I remember a scene from a movie, where a Southeast Asian medicine man once said: "Not too much God, not too much selfish. Otherwise, life too crazy." I find this saying very wise because in life, it is very important to have a balance in all things.

Although I'm not a Christian, but I do believe in God due to my upbringing from a multi-religious country. I also personally believe in the philosophical teachings and existence of other higher powers from a multitude of religions that oversee us.

As humans, we're all brought up to be God-fearing beings. Therefore sometimes, being too deep in that state of mind can cloud our own judgement and ability to think logically for ourselves as human beings. Trust me, I've been there. I previously couldn't even pray or walk into a shrine without feeling ashamed of how I even have the audacity to be a "religious gay". Because being gay in itself is already wrong, and a sin.

Firstly, before you think God is going to punish us all for being gay, you must first ask yourself this question: "Was there an age or a point in your life where you were 'being offered' the option of 'choosing' whether you want to be sexually attracted to 'men' or sexually attracted to 'women'?" If your answer is no, then it is definitely NOT your fault for feeling whatever it is that you're feeling.

Sexual orientation is something beyond our control. We didn't play a part in choosing it at birth, just like our nationality, our skin colour, our face and our status in life. Because if we did, everybody would have chosen to be born in a perfect world where everybody is physically beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, attractive, wealthy, and straight. Think about it, why would one choose to be gay? Or why would one choose to "want to be gay" in an already-problem-filled world?

It depends also on one's definition and parameters as to what "being gay" means. I spent years, coming up with reasons as to what makes me gay and what makes me not. Kind of like in denial but also telling me to stop kidding myself.

For me, I finally identified with being gay because I am a guy who is sexually attracted to other guys. The sexual part was the "wake-up bullet" that made me think: "Okay, fucking shit I'm gay. Really gay. And I can't control it. Why is this happening to me?" 

As guys, we are being brought up to be naturally attracted to girls, which is what the rest of the world is, the majority as we call it. But when an unlucky guy like me strikes the unasked lottery of being attracted to the same sex, I am perceived to be a level lower than others who are not a defect.

The reason why being gay is so unacceptable, is because the vast majority of people in this world are not gay and never have to worry about the burden that comes with being one. So when somebody is not in a crisis, they will never understand. Simply because they don't have to, it's just not their problem. And that my friend, is the painful reality of the world that we live in.

Listen, I am no attorney or religious expert, neither am I here to decry religion. But from a logical point of view as a human being, here's what I think. If God truly is the compassionate creator of all things, why would he create and let gay men exist within men in general just so that He can specifically send gay men to hell? 

It just doesn't make sense. Think about it. Because if that is the case then God himself is being discriminatory on his part, and it would be unfair to the rest of us who "didn't get a choice" in "choosing to be normal" or straight like the rest of the world.

As gay guys, we are already having a tough time on Earth. So if God decides to punish us further for "being gay" so to speak in the afterlife, then He is being unreasonable because He created this biological body and mind of ours, along with the blood flowing in our veins.

Therefore, my best advice to you is: "Have faith. Have faith in yourself and most importantly, have more faith in God than God has of Himself." That is if you consider Him and religion in itself to be a central part to your life.

And I honestly understand the pressurised nature and lack of freedom that comes with being 16. There are churches and religious establishments that will accept you for who you are because they believe in the compassion the higher power grants all living beings regardless of sexual orientation. So until you are in the position to make independent choices for yourself, you will have to be patient and tolerant. Don't beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself and let everything work out the way it's meant to work out, because it will, in time.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Living Each Day As If It Was Your Last

After the birthday post, I did a lot of thinking. Especially about life and death. Then I remembered the over-hyped quote by Steve Jobs everybody was talking about when he passed away. "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right." 

The impact of that phrase didn't hit me as much then, as how it's waking me up now. What if I knew how many birthdays I was still going to have? Therefore for those in interest of what he said, here it is:

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Coming Into Your Life For A Reason

This post is in response to a previous one titled: The Day I Surrendered And Came Out To Myself

I first made contact with R back in 2009 through a social network site for travellers. I was a solo stranger travelling to his city, and looking forward to meeting a native resident. Coincidentally, his profile stated that he was gay and I was intrigued. 

As a closeted guy in deep denial, I was really drawn to the idea of meeting another gay person face to face and that seemed like the perfect opportunity. I just knew that I wanted to talk to someone who was gay, but yet had absolutely no idea as to what could have been the purpose or outcome if I was going to remain in the closet.

I of course, out of common courtesy and denial, did not tell him that. He agreed to play host, but somehow my travel plans didn't work out and we left things as it is.

Then, last year when I finally visited his city, I re-initiated contact and we had coffee for the first time. Our status remained the same, I was closeted denial and he was, an attractive man in flesh and in sight. Over coffee, I said: "R. This is so surreal. Can you believe that I wrote to you 2 years ago, and here we are finally."

"Yeah!", he chuckled.

After some conversational warm-up, we met up again the next day for dinner, which was where the whole wake-up conversation took place. I went a little too far with my bombardment of questions because I've never met a wise and successful gay person before in my life, and he was it. I wasn't going to let the opportunity to find out more, pass me by.

As an advanced gay man in his 50's, he obviously was bored and annoyed with my naive questions. "Does it ever feel lonely being gay? Have you ever felt different? How did you come out?" I still cringe whenever I replay the 'interview' in my head. Think I needed answers for myself.

I apologised profusely after and tried to get him to understand the reason behind my curiosity. However he became gradually more taciturn as the evening went by and that was when I realised that I cannot expect an avuncular manner out of him just because he was gay and wiser. R and I never kept in touch after saying goodbye because somehow, I think I crossed the line. 

Nevertheless, if it wasn't for the conversation with him that evening, I wouldn't have decided to wake up and come-out to myself. Until this very day, I still cannot get over how an unexpected stranger could come into your life for a couple of hours and change it then and there. I remember telling this story to one of my friends in which she said...

"Hey, stop trying to understand why you guys didn't keep in touch or remained as friends. Sometimes, people are meant to come into our lives for a certain duration of time to fulfil a 'certain purpose' or teach us something. For specific reasons which can sometimes be unknown even to ourselves. After in which, they leave because they've fulfilled their purpose. Maybe that's how fate intended it to be."

"And maybe you and R are not meant to be friends. Maybe he was a crucial figure who was meant to come into your life, just for that couple of hours to help you change your own life. For you to come-out to yourself. Maybe that was his purpose. Think about it."

Maybe. But I'd still like to rekindle some kind of friendship with him one day. The man left an impact in my life. It'd be sad not being able to keep in touch. And sometimes, I really marvel at how life and timing plays itself right. I wrote to him 2 years ago with those thoughts in mind, then it didn't work out. We meet 2 years later over dinner in the intended city and then, I surrendered and finally came-out to myself.

I can't help but take this as all part of the Law of Attraction, either that or some kind of alignment of fate.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Test of Courage and Tolerance

"The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority" - Ralph W. Sockman

Monday, 5 November 2012

Going to a Queer Gathering for the First Time

One of the most challenging steps in the "what now?" stages of my coming-out, is getting out of my comfort zone. I was smart enough to know that unless I'm a character of a gay fiction novel or movie, the ensuing phases of what is to come, is not going to and will not be served to me on a plate.

It's a symbiotic relationship between extinguishing internalised homophobia and getting comfortable around gay people. One will not be ready to be in the presence of other gay guys without first getting rid of homophobia, and one cannot get rid of homophobia without first being ready to be in the presence of other gay people.

For me, it was a process that had to be tackled simultaneously. I knew I needed to surround myself with gay guys, but not in a sauna or bar environment where casual conversations and social etiquettes are much harder to apply. I guess I needed to talk to people, I don't know.

Using social networks and the internet, I researched hard and by chance, found a local queer social gathering in the city I was residing in. The social gathering was on a Thursday evening. I took Monday to Wednesday to think about it, waking up every single day and asking myself: "It's a day closer to Thursday. Have I made up my mind to go?"

By Thursday afternoon, my heart and mind was just completely flooded with the same emotions and anxious state of mind I was in when I first tried to get myself to walk into a gay bar. It was all very nerve-wrecking and I was still on the fence with my decision. "Damn. Do I really have to put myself through another scenario like how I did with the bar? I hated how much it took out of me. But then again, do I want to go to bed tomorrow night, knowing how it went, or regretting that I chickened out once again on an opportunity?"

To be honest, I was very afraid of venturing into a gay circle, fearing everything it could mean or would possibly mean. But running away from my sexuality for the past 9 years has gotten me no where. I can't expect different results, doing the same things. Something desperately needs to change and this might just be the opportunity.

After much contemplation, I finally arrived with a bottle of wine and knocked on the apartment door. The host welcomed me with a pleasant smile as I walked in and went for a friendly handshake. As I turned to follow him into the common area filled with gay men, every eye darted instantaneously across the room to appraise me. The whole tribal council atmosphere was a little daunting. Although it felt very shy and awkward, but all I could think of was: "Christ, I'm here. Can't believe I finally came to this thing. I did it again."

I calmed down and introduced myself to everybody with a handshake. My façade was casual friendly, with hints of boyishness to cover up my nervousness and it worked like a charm. I've never socialise with gay guys before in an environment like this, where I could finally see for myself, and with my own eyes, the reality of being in the company of other gay men. An idea of where I stand amongst them.

The night was fatal to my narrow-mindedness and killed off many preconceived notions I had of us, including myself. Gay guys, just like humans come in all colours, all nationalities, all sizes, all physical types, all styles, all personalities. It really was hard to define a perception of what a gay man is and it made me realise all of a sudden that stereotyping just doesn't work any more. That there's more, and a whole grey area to sexuality and people, than just plain black or white.

I met many interesting characters and talked to a handful of guys about a broad range of general topics. If it's one thing I noticed is that most gay guys are far more intelligent than any other average guy. Eventually after a few glasses of wine, someone was bound to venture into gay topics which I was dreading.

They asked if I was a bisexual. Although I've used the "bisexual card" before, but this time I said: "Don't think I'm a bisexual, so I'm gay." Even though I wasn't completely comfortable with admitting it out loud, but I thought I'd have to start getting used to that word if I'm ever going to make any progress. There's no point denying, and there's no point delaying the inevitable either. Let's just be honest with ourselves and get it over and done with.

Before I left the gathering, I shook the hand of the host, in which he gave me a European send-off and said: "Handshakes are for the straight people." I laughed. 

I woke up the next morning, feeling fresh and glad, no longer the same clueless person I was yesterday because of a simple decision and effort to get out of my comfort zone. It still wasn't easy trying to convince myself to go the next week, but I went anyway, thinking that it'll be good for me. The key purpose to this whole thing was that one needs to learn how to socialise and be comfortable in a gay environment before anything further can happen.

After a few more times to this thing, I started questioning: "Okay. What happens next?" Although the socialising opened me up a little bit more, but there was still no sex, no prospects. What am I missing here? In fact, there came a time when I found myself once again trapped in a social situation at the gathering where I questioned my personal level of homophobia, and what do I really want out of a gay life? I wrote about this in a previous post titled: Battling My Internalised Homophobia.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Mystery Guy from Bordeaux

About seven months ago, I checked out an online profile of a French guy who looked good. French good. So I decided to send him an opening message, complimenting one of his facial features in which he surprisingly replied. "I mean what other 'opening line' was I supposed to use?"

However, he doesn't speak any English. So I had to see how far my embarrassing French was going to take me by trying my best to interact with him. Our slow intermittent exchange spanned over a course of a few days. He was nice and I was well, me. Lame, needy and nervous. Technically we weren't cruising each other, but rather getting acquainted. I'd say we were okay, got along pretty well.

From the conversation, I found out his name was T. A late twenties geography and history professor who works in the city, but was currently away on vacation in his home town region of Bordeaux where he was originally from. So I gave him my phone number and told him to get in touch for coffee when he gets back to the city. I left it up to him.

A few days later, I received a text from him.

Coucou, c'est T. Comment vas-tu?
(Hey, it's T. How are you?)

I happily sent him a reply, but did not receive a single text from him since then. I have no idea why.

Later that week, I was hanging out with some friends and we were later joined by this straight friend and his other friend whom I thought looked a little familiar but didn't really dwell further into my memory. We exchanged greetings and this other friend introduced himself as T

At that very moment when we shook hands, my heart dropped 10 stories because it hit me that this guy T, with the exact same name, was the very same guy whom I made contact with online. I am at least 85% sure it was him, maybe even 90% because he bears a huge resemblance to the online photo.

That evening, I was catapulted into a ball of nerves because I wasn't prepared for this kind of encounter. I couldn't believe this impossible coincidence. I didn't know what to do. Nobody here knows I'm gay. Wait, does his friend know? "Shit. Damn you God! Out of all the film-novel-worthy moments that I've desperately wanted to happen in my life which never did, what are the odds of every element falling nicely into place now to create this uncomfortable scenario?"

Throughout the whole time, I kept my distance and avoided eye-contact. The magnitude of awkwardness was enough to kill a cat nine times over. Every second felt like a slow minute. The crowd then decided to adjourn to a friend's apartment for some good old fashioned home-cooked pasta and wine hang out. Throughout the whole night, I wasn't myself. I couldn't concentrate on what was going on because I felt so uncomfortable and awkward. Then I thought to myself: "Am I 100% sure it's him? Maybe I got the wrong guy. You're overreacting, stop scaring yourself."

However, an assumption just wouldn't cut it and there was only one way to find out. I finally plucked up the courage to take the seat beside him and casually engaged him in a normal conversation amongst the other friends. He seemed very in control. In order to diffuse my nerves, I shut my mind off, telling myself that I got the wrong guy. Then he mentioned that his home town was in Bordeaux and he just came back to the city. "My God it's him! Name, tick! Bordeaux, tick! Physical resemblance, tick tick! Just came back from Bordeaux tick! So it must be him!"

But now, he's a university student 5 years younger than his online self, has a girlfriend studying on exchange in Spain. He lives in the southern part of the city where else "geography and history professor" lives in the north. Okay, so it's just me then? Damn, I never like tortured mind games. But he must be telling the truth, why else would he lie in the presence of another straight friend?  

Throughout the whole night, I observed him. After the gathering, a couple of us walked together to the métro station. As we bid each other goodnight, he looked me in the eye again and my instincts kept telling me that this was the same guy. The next day, I couldn't get over my own curiosity so I picked up the phone and sent T a text containing the following message in bad French.

Hier, j'étais à une petite fête et j'ai rencontré un homme qui s'appelle T. Il vient de Bordeaux et il resemble tellement à ta photo. Au début, j'ai l'impression que c'était toi, mais à la fin, j'étais un peu deçu de découvrir ce n'est pas le cas. Tout va bien avec toi?

(Yesterday, I was at a small gathering and I met a guy named T. He's from Bordeaux and bears a huge resemblance to your photo. At the beginning, I thought he was you, but in the end, I was disappointed to discover that it wasn't the case. How's everything?)

Still there was absolutely no reply. We never got in touch. Until today, I will never know the answer to that puzzle or what really happened back there. Maybe it was him, maybe it wasn't.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

My Failed Attempts at Online Cruising

I previously discovered online cruising while reading the Gay Banker and decided to give it a go. It's part of an effort to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. However, I have no idea how to talk to a guy. How do you start a conversation, how do you tell him you might want to meet and have sex? So here's a brief recollection of my failed attempts at it while I was abroad.


There was an occasion where I checked out the profile of a young French guy who looked like a model. Wow, he was handsome! I knew immediately that he was without a doubt, out of my reach. However, I told myself it wouldn't hurt to at least talk to him. Even if I thought nothing was going to happen, it would do me some good training to learn how to interact and engage guys, although in a foreign language.

I sent him an opening message, complimenting his looks in which I am surprised he even bothered to reply because most handsome guys with that face just don't. The fact that most of my French targets replied made me wonder if it's a response to French guys being polite, or if they're truly open to foreigners who approach them using their mother tongue? I don't know.

We exchanged a couple of sentences and I found out he was an architecture and interior design student. "Wow, handsome with a capacity for style and architectural thinking. He's a high catch", I thought to myself. 

So I just went on exchanging messages just to get us warmed up. I have no idea how to use the chat system. Gradually, the exchange was getting pointless, and I knew there was no way anything was going to happen. So I decided to cut it short and sent him a full face picture of me and my phone number, telling him if he thought anything could happen, get in touch or let me know. There was no reply and I felt reality come hit me again. I've gotta learn how this cruising thing works without letting it worsen my sense of insecurity, about how I feel about myself.


A couple of days before travelling to a neighbouring capital city, I was cruising the destination for prospects and came across the profile of an American guy. He was hot, really hot. I sent him a message telling him I would be travelling to his city, and if he thought there was a chance of us "meeting up", let me know.

There was an instant reply, saying he was up for it and asked for a full face pic. After attaching my full face pics, I was more than ready for a no-reply. But the unexpected response I got was: Hey, you're a good-looking guy! Do you have any more pics?

[In My Head]
"Damn it, he's asking for more pics. I don't have any more non-ugly ones."
"Fine. Maybe he'll come to his senses and stop talking to me after I send this one."

A few seconds after my second sent. He replied.

Yeah. You're good-looking. 
So what are you into?

[In My Head]
"Damn! Is this dude mocking me? A hot guy like him calling me good-looking?"
"He's either really horny or I don't know what else to think."
"Shit, what do I say now? Er..."

Me: [Okay, so here goes nothing]
I'm very into kissing and cuddling. 
I'd like to take it slow, go with the flow. Enjoy the moment.
I like to explore and share the role of giving pleasure and receiving them.
What about you?

I love kissing and cuddling too!
I'd like to take my time and enjoy every moment.
I wanna fuck and be fucked for hours.

"Christ, that sounded..." I want it. Badly. But am I ready? It's going to be my proper first time one-on-one. I have no idea how it works and I'm really nervous. What do I do when I'm with him? I've never even had a proper make out with someone in my life. I've never shared intimacy or touched anybody on that level before. "Pathetic loser!", I hear from the back of my head.

I played cool and acted like I know the drill. Like hook-ups were a normal routine for me and I've done it a dozen times. But at the same time my blood was boiling and I was too shaky to concentrate on what to say next. I just couldn't think straight. I've always dreamt of gay sex and somebody extremely attractive just expressed interest in indulging me and I didn't know how to handle it. "Jeez, being inexperienced really sucks. I just want to get this phase of my life over and done with."

I tried to diffuse some nerves by suggesting we could first meet over coffee and then take it from there. I asked him if he could accommodate. He said yes and continued sending me a couple more shirtless pictures of himself in an unbuttoned jeans, masturbating till he came in front of a bathroom mirror. His prick, his abs, his chest, his arms, his tousled hair. His all-American jock body. Damn I was so turned on, but I didn't do anything because why spoil it all if we're going to meet eventually. Either that or I'm an idiot who doesn't know what the hell is going on.

Sadly after a couple of minutes, while I was trying to get his contact details so I could call him when I'm there, he stopped talking. The next day, his profile completely disappeared and was no longer available. I was of course disappointed and confused as to what really happened back there. My guess was that he probably jerked off in front of his computer while talking to me and other guys. He wasn't even interested at all in meeting up in the first place. I don't know. 

If you're an experienced guy reading this, I would be grateful if you could comment or identify a couple of my problems and advise accordingly. It would be extremely helpful because as a person who is still trying to understand the system, I don't have a clue as to what goes on when we cruise.