by Dan Savage
on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 5:57 PM
My boyfriend and I have agreed to abide by whatever decision you make. Resolve this dispute for us.
We've been together for nine months. We are gay. Neither of us is hung up on monogamy so that's not the issue. We live in a college town. We both found jobs here after we graduated so we stayed. Since his sophomore year my boyfriend has had an "arrangement" with an older man, a professor at the university. Did I say older? I meant old. We are in our mid-20s, this man is in his late 60s. There is no sex. The old man comes to my boyfriend's apartment once a week and cleans it. Does his laundry too. Washes his dishes. He actually pays my boyfriend for the privilege of cleaning his apartment. It's not much, $50, and the old perv says it's for my boyfriend's "time," since a part of their deal is that my boyfriend has to be in the apartment while the old perv cleans it because that's what the old perv gets off on. He's particularly pervy about how he cleans my boyfriend's bathroom. Dan, the old perv cleans my boyfriend's toilet bowl with his own toothbrush, which he uses to brush his teeth the rest of the week!
There is no sex. (Presumably the old perv goes home and beats off after cleaning my boyfriend's apartment.) None of this would matter if—you had to see this coming—my boyfriend and I weren't talking about moving in together. I want this "arrangement" to stop. I don't feel comfortable using a toilet that a man old enough to be my grandfather cleaned with his toothbrush. This has been going on for six years. The old perv has been cleaning up after my boyfriend since he was living in student housing. My boyfriend says likes the clean apartment more than he needs the money and that's true—at least it's true now—but I say all good things must come to an end and if I'm moving in we'll have to clean up after ourselves or pay a real cleaning lady to come around once a week, like regular people.
But we agreed to leave it up to you. Dan: The old perv stays? The old perv goes?
Toothbrushes Are For Teeth
My response after the jump.
The old perv stays.
By allowing this man to clean his apartment, TAFT, your boyfriend is making an old man very, very happy, and that makes the world a more joyful place generally (and his apartment a tidier place particularly). Your boyfriend also isn't taking advantage of the old perv—$50 is a much more reasonable fee than most sex workers would charge for the same service (and, yes, your boyfriend is doing a kind of sex work here)—and while the toothbrush/toilet thing is a bit... creepy... I'm sure you'll get used to it and/or be able to put it out of your mind. (Although I'd be giving the toilet an additional wipe-down if anyone—young, old, hot, not—had cleaned it with his ratty old toothbrush.)
And let's recognize this arrangement for what it really is: a successful long-term relationship. How many relationships—gay or straight, monogamous or open, toilets scrubbed weekly with toothbrushes or cleaned sporadically with toilet brushes—last six years! Sorry, TAFT, but I'm constitutionally disinclined to dissolve a successful six-year relationship in favor of a relationship that has yet to reach the one-year mark. And I think you knew, TAFT, that I would side with the perv and the boyfriend—was there really any question?—which makes me think that you're secretly okay with this arrangement. You just wanted some cover, a little plausible deniability, before you gave the arrangement your blessing. And now you have it.