Gary’s brother, Jason, is a recent single peep. And, like Jason, Gary’s a nice, easygoing guy. But, he tells me, this wasn’t always the case. In college, just as he was launching an online magazine, his personality started to shift. He became moody and paranoid, and he was riddled with anxiety. And then one morning he woke up with double vision. He went to a doctor, who thought it might have been from a hockey injury. During a CAT scan, Gary fell asleep and had a nightmare that he was being chased by the hospital staff. Suddenly he snapped awake, and found himself strapped down to a hospital bed. It wasn’t a dream. They ran tests, discovering his glucose levels had dropped so low that his brain was no longer functioning properly. They also found a tumor on his pancreas. It had been slowly growing for 10 years. As soon as it was removed, all the strange behavior disappeared and the old Gary came back.
Gary now lives with his younger brother, who is a partner in their T-shirt line, Nerdy Shirts. He is also relaunching his online magazine, A.Refuge — the Web site is arefuge.com. “The goal is to inspire people and motivate them to get involved with charities, and highlight artists that we look up to. I’m trying to focus on inspiring people. That’s my No. 1 goal.” I ask him what that means. “Inspire them to be better versions of themselves. I’m pretty persistent.”
When it comes to dating, he’s looking for a real relationship. “I’m like a prude in some ways. I’ve never had a one-night stand. If it’s something that’s not purposeful, it feels like a waste of time to me. Once I’m with a girl, if it feels like it’s building toward something, the whole prude title goes out the door. It’s like a two-stage process. Looks get them in the door, and personality keeps them there. And they’re both pretty rigid requirements, I guess. The last girl — who happened to be a model — loved comic books, video games, cartoons … all the goofy guy things that nerds like. I was like, ‘Oh rad, we’re gonna be best friends.’ All of a sudden she started flirting with me, and I realized she was into me. Then she bailed on me when I got sick. She was perfect except for that.”
I ask about personality preferences. “It’s like one of those things where you need enough of the pieces lined up, but a few jagged edges to show you new things.” He continues, “A good sense of humor, someone who understands sarcasm and is OK with a little bit of back-and-forth ribbing.” Ambition is also important to him. “I don’t care what it is. If you want to be the best goddamn waitress in the world, that’s fine. But aim for the top.”
I ask him what he’s learned from his experience with the tumor. He says, “There’s no way I don’t feel super lucky and appreciate that it was averted. No one would wish this on anyone, but it wasn’t a bad experience, because of everything I learned and the people I met. The hospital staff at Cedars-Sinai — I felt so loved. They’re strangers, but they’d come in on their off shifts just to say hi.
“My favorite thought to have in my head through it all was of Calvin’s dad from ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Every time something bad would happen, Calvin’s dad would justify it and make it OK by saying, ‘You’re building character.’ I love that. They’d say, ‘We’re taking out the catheter now.’ I’d say, ‘OK, I’m going to build some character now.’ ”
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Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.