Plaisir


The Numbers Game
February 8, 2009, 8:59 PM
Filed under: Age and Maturity, Indulgence, Love and Relationships

“Age is just a number.”

This is a phrase I’m told frequently, usually by my subconscious or through newspaper clippings of the Anna Nicole ordeal.  I believe it, but that’s not saying much, since I tend to believe anything if it’s repeated enough.  When you think about it, age is almost too definitive.  People say to me, and to others, “Oh, can’t you just act your age?”  That’s when I wonder when the age etiquette handbook was released, and if I can still buy it in paperback.

I was having a cigarette upstairs with my new roomies, when one of them put her face into her hands.  When she emerged, the expression she had on was a mix of uncertainty and mirth.  She said: “Oh, man!  I can’t believe I’m going on a date with an eighteen year old!”  I’ll have you know this girl is twenty, hardly the correct age to yet be considered a cradle-robber or a cougar.  She begged others and herself to confirm that this date was a good idea.  Of course, trying to be as biased as possible, I told her that I had dated men with relatively large age gaps before, and we never really had problems, except for the fact that we were at completely different stages in our lives.  But eighteen and twenty was, at least in my eyes, the same word with a different spelling.

My other roommate said it best: “It’s not the number, but the maturity level.”  I can’t even begin to explain to you how true that statement was, but I suppose I’ll try.

In my past, I had the tendency to date older men.  We’re not talking hospice old, or even mid-life crisis old, but generally the man of interest was anywhere between four and ten years older than me.  I justified my apparently inexcusable choice by saying that I needed someone with a higher maturity level then the guys I dated who were my own age.  But in order for that to even be viable, I had to date someone who indeed was my age, otherwise the jig was up, and I would go from looking like a noble, headstrong young lad to a lonely teenager searching for a sugar daddy.

When I went on my first date with Thomas, I knew it was doomed from the start, because I didn’t treat the situation correctly.  I saw of him more as a lab rat than a boyfriend.  He was my test subject to prove to myself and, more importantly, others, that I was right.  I was too sophisticated, too witty, and too worldly to date someone my age.  My cockiness clouded my ability to even have a good time with him, but his cockiness made it impossible to want to try.

We went out for coffee at 10 PM, which used to be a normal coffee hour for me.  The conversation was carried, not surprisingly, by me.  Because I’m a big fan of flowing conversation, I won’t shut up if the guy across from me has nothing to add.  I’ll talk about seedless grapes, the hair on my knuckles, or even radiology, so long as there isn’t the awkward first date silence I dread so much.  But I honestly wonder sometimes which is more awkward: the silence, or the silly queen who goes into detail about his childhood love affair with orca whales.

During the conversation, Thomas was staring into his soup, which meant there was no eye contact.  ‘There’s one strike’ I thought.  If there had been something in the soup, a finger, a fly, a bone, I could have understood, and maybe even forgiven him.  But with this soup came no surprises.  It was chicken noodle, just as he had ordered.  What did he expect?  The soup to begin a whirlpool and suck him out of this horrible, miserable date he was on?  Not on my watch.

I spun the conversation toward music performance, a topic I can never fully cover, because no one ever wants to hear what I have to say.  I figured Thomas would interrupt me whenever he got too bored, as most men do, so I began my speech.  As soon as I mentioned I played the flute, he did indeed interrupt, but not with the comment I was expecting.

“Well, of course you play the flute.  You’re gay.”

I tried to hide my incredulity, but being a homosexual and an actor, that was no simple task.  I waited for a “Just kidding!” or “I was being sarcastic!”  All I got was him somberly spooning at his broth, as if it was his last meal before his happiness was finally sucked out by my constant jabbering.  The gall!  The nerve!  I wasn’t actually mad, in fact, I was secretly quite pleased.  This meant that I could go home and prove to all who doubted me that I was meant for something better than this.

“So, how did it go??”

“How do you think?  He was nineteen!”

They would all cringe, console me, and remind me not to waste my time unless the man I was with was finishing his doctorate.

I learned not too long after that date that it didn’t matter what degree a man, he could still be an immature dickweed.  About a month later, I had met the man that I, at the time, figured to be absolutely perfect for me.  His attractiveness was staggering, as was his passion in the bedroom.  His wit was sharper than mine, which took some getting used to, but I ended up actually enjoying laughing at someone elses’ jokes for a change.  He love classical music, poetry, and art.  He was bright, charismatic, opinionated, and strong-willed.  He was also twenty four with the demeanor of a sixteen year old.

Sal and I had our first date at Cafe Hollander.  I looked like a complete fool, which usually happens when I try to hard to impress someone.  It’s one of the most obvious statements you can possibly make that says, “I really like you, and I’m probably not worthy.”  It was exactly how I felt, but not how I wanted to look.  I ended up calling Erin before the date and I couldn’t shut up about how I knew that he was more attractive than I was, and that this was going to be a total disaster.  She promised me it wouldn’t be, but she said if it was, that I should try and steal his leftovers when he goes to the bathroom.

I was unbelievably nervous when he sat down, mostly because the anticipation of his arrival had made me even more skeptical about the date.  I could feel my armpits getting wetter and wetter every time I spoke.  I double-checked my sentences before I let them out, and I tried way so hard to plaster a smile to my face that my chin was actually trembling at one point.  I was no longer appeared to be a sophisticated young lad.  I appeared to be a heroin addict suffering severe withdrawal.

I nearly fell off my chair when he asked if I wanted to go back to his place for a drink.  A sensible first date answer, no matter how well it went, may have been a simple “Thank you, but no, my cat needs feeding.”  But this was no sensible first date, and I was no sensible person.  I graciously, almost eagerly accepted his offer, and we drove to his condo when we had finished eating.

His condo was exactly how I imagined it.  Nearly pristine, but not like a museum.  The architecture and furniture gave the impression that it had been lived in, but the cleanliness gave off a pompous air that smacked me across the face as I entered.  There was a breakfast bar, stainless steel everything, a fancy T.V., and of course, a balcony, for the finishing touch.  “Cigarette?” he asked, pointing to the balcony.  I nodded, the lump in my throat making it nearly impossible to talk.

I ended up spending the night that night.  Judge me all you want, but after three glasses of gin and tonics, an entire CD of Prokofiev, and a beautiful man constantly reminding you that you, as well, are beautiful, I’d like to see you try and take a bus home.  We saw each other the next day as well.  And the next.  And the next.  He quickly became a staple in my life, and for two weeks, we would call each other, not to see what day we would hang out again, but what hour.  We also attempted to do daily runs, something I killed immediately after we first tried it.  He was so regal and impressive on a treadmill.  I, however, looked like a greasy pig that needed a severe hosing down.

After the second week, Sal didn’t call.  For an entire week.  Day after day, I would call, my confusion slowly moving to suspicion, to anger, to a state of sheer panic.  It was unfair of him to say, when he finally did pick up, that I was being crazy and neurotic, since I wouldn’t have acted that way if he had just picked up the phone.  It’s the romantic equivalent of water-boarding.  It seems cute and harmless at first, and then…

When he finally did pick up the phone, I tried immensely hard not to scream at him for ignoring almost ten calls in six days.  Even before he began the sentence, I could tell by the tone of his voice, that it wasn’t going to end well.  Something was different about the way he spoke to me.  His manner was curt, almost business-like, and highly inappropriate for a break up conversation.  “Listen…this…just isn’t working out.”

I knew I should have just went home to feed my cat.  “Wait, what?  What…what did I do?”

He paused.  “Well, you didn’t really do anything.  It’s just…you’re still very young.  You have a lot to learn.  I just don’t feel like we fit, you know?”  What he meant, in uncertain words, was that I was immature.  I can’t always pride myself on my looks, or on my intelligence, and sometimes even on my own natural talents.  But the one thing I can pride myself on is my maturity level.  This set me into what Webster’s Dictionary defines as a “gay tizzy.”  I shouted.  I cried.  I begged.  I stomped all over what was left of my integrity, just to convince him to stay with me.  It’s not that I didn’t think I could live without him or anything crazy like that.  It was mostly because I wasn’t about to let a guy break up with me because I still had “growing up to do.”

In the end, all of my efforts were futile, and to a point, they made matters worse.  After the tears and the yelling, I was near positive that he thought I was even more immature than before.  At that point, I was too livid to give a damn.  We left it on what he would consider decent terms, and what I would consider “I need a shot” terms.  I drank myself into oblivion that evening, hoping that even just the stench of liquor on my breath would make me feel fulfilled.  Of course, all it did was make me puke.

I respected Sal in the days to come for handling the situation so well.  I was over it quicker than I thought I would be, but the bad news was that I would still have to see him, as some of my things were being held hostage at his condo.  I sent him an email while I was at work one day asking him nicely to return my favorite pink tie at once.  He obeyed, and said he would drop it off after work.

I walked up to his car and opened the door.  There he was, all grins as usual, and I could feel the lump in my throat rising, choking me.  “Hey,” I said.  He continued to smile.  Then, without warning, he started driving.  I shot him a strange look as he said to me:  “So, are you hungry?”

‘Do I even have a choice now?’ I thought.  Since I was kidnapped, things were, as usual, completely on his terms, and I continued to ride as a passenger.  We went to Beans and Barley where the conversation flowed seamlessly, as it usually did with us, and as the check came, he paid for it.  I objected, but only slightly, since he was, you could argue, the reason I had lost my entire helping of Qdoba nachos during the vodka binge.  ‘Eh, you owe me.’

Turns out, he never even brought the tie.  Which meant that we would have to return to the condo, the once active set of our former relationship, to retrieve it.  Saying that I was upset is an understatement; it was the last place I wanted to be.  Yet the butterflies that I had felt that night at Cafe Hollander were fluttering again.  I had seriously considered downing some antifreeze and killing all of the fluttery fuckers, but I couldn’t see a bottle anywhere.  It was probably in the trunk.

After we got the tie, he dropped me off and said he wanted to hang out Friday.  For some stupid reason, I nodded and smiled.  I justified it to myself by saying that I did have a fun time, and now we could just become really good friends.  I should have known better.  Two people who make the bed springs squeal that much can never become just good friends.

We ended up going for a “run” on Friday, so when I got over there, I was already dressed the part.  He however, was sprawled on the couch watching reruns of Golden Girls and looking sorry for himself.  I didn’t listen to Four Minutes the entire way over there just to join a pity party, but I asked anyway: “You okay?”

“Eh, I just…I don’t know, I don’t feel well.”  This wasn’t a statement.  It was a whine.  It was cute while we were dating.  Now, it seemed infantile and off-putting.

“Well, we don’t necessarily have to run.”  The honest truth was that I didn’t enjoy exercising with Sal.  I don’t enjoy exercise at all really.  For me, it has to be cleverly disguised, like putting a pill in a hot dog for the family dog.

“We will.  But can we just finish up watching this?  It just started.”

“Sure.”

I sat on the opposite side of the couch purposely, which annoyed both him and myself.  ‘Look at yourself, playing games.  He doesn’t want you anymore!’  I hate my conscience sometimes.

He gave me a quick look, “You know…you can sit next to me.  I don’t bite.”

‘Yeah, maybe not necks, but souls are fair game, right?’  I moved anyway, to avoid awkwardness.  I began to feel awkward though, and I turned to him to see a pained expression on his face.  Again, I took the bait: “What’s up?”

“I want to ask you something, but I don’t know if I should.”

Blank stare.

“It might be inappropriate.”

Blank stare.

“Never mind…never mind…”

‘Oh, GOD, just spit it out already!’  I wanted to shake him.  All of the mixed messages were driving me closer and closer to sawing my leg off with a steak knife.  But I blinked a few more times, and eventually he asked.

“Would you…mind giving me a head massage?”

‘Of course I would, you twit.  I used to hold that head when you…’  But he had some sort of strange effect on me.  It was his eyes, I’m sure of it.  One look, and you can fall right in.  So I shrugged, told him to sit on the floor, and began my assault.

Sal begged me for head massages constantly.  He claimed that my fingers were magic, but it was a statement that, no matter how many times it was repeated, I couldn’t bring myself to believe.  He would coo and purr as I kneaded my fingers through his hair, grazing his scalp, and felt all the creases of his brain.  Sometimes I would imagine that I was reading a crystal ball, as if by doing this, I could learn something new about him through osmosis.

The massage apparently made him sleepy.  So we moved the massaging into his room and against my better judgment, onto the bed.  And his bed, I guess, made him horny.  I hate to quote Genie in a Bottle right this moment, but I find it not only applicable, but absolutely necessary: “My body’s saying let’s go, but my heart is sayin’ no.”  It was exactly how I felt.  Oh, the passion!  The ardor, the fire, the spark!  It was heady, potent, making it’s way through my veins with no apologies and no reassurance.  Just simple pleasure.  And, within twenty minutes, it was over, and the reality check hit me like a drunk stepfather.

I left immediately afterward, canceling all plans to run, as I was sure we had had enough physical activity for the day.  He gave me a kiss and said he would call.  He didn’t.  Ashamed, used, and downright depressed, I knew I couldn’t use alcohol to fill the void this time.  Good thing we had weed.

That wouldn’t be the last time he pulled something like that with me either.  In months to come, he would use me as he saw fit, knowing full well that I still had an emotional connection with him.  Regardless, I would come running like a lap dog, eager for some of my master’s, err, milk.  And every time it happened, I was given the same line.  “I’ll definitely call you tomorrow!”  Tomorrow became weeks, even months.  It was the third and final time that I realized he was not only immature, but selfish and slightly cruel.

It’s strange.  I told myself that older men were better, because they were bound to be more mature.  Yet I almost exclusively date older, even if it’s just a year, and the relationships usually don’t work out because of maturity issues.  They say I’m the problem, but really what they’re doing is projection.  I’m not perfect, and yes, I do have a lot to learn.   But the men I seem to snag are constantly stuck in the past.  Maybe because I’m younger I bring it out in them.  Maybe they feel they need to “sink to my level,” so to speak.  Or maybe men are just, in general, wild and untamed.  They live and roam free until they find the one that can give them a reason to domesticate themselves.  I guess I just wasn’t that person.

Thinking about all this as the conversation in the attic continued made me snap back into focus.  My roommate was still talking about this boy, who was, apparently, cute, charming, cordial…all good and wonderful things.  And yet she couldn’t seem to place why this was bothering her so much.  I smiled, because I understood all too well.  I lit my cigarette and said, “Babe, age is just a number.”

Realizing that is half the battle.  I’ll let her figure out the rest for herself.



The List
December 12, 2008, 12:07 PM
Filed under: Lists, Love and Relationships, Sitcoms

Anyone remember this classic Friends episode?

Chandler says to Ross:  “Ok, all right, look. Let’s get logical about this, ok? We’ll make a list. Rachel and Julie, pros and cons. Oh. We’ll put their names in bold, with different fonts, and I can use different colors for each column.”

So that’s exactly what they do.  The three boys dissect Rachel’s personality and looks.  We learn that she’s ditzy, a little too into her looks, and has slightly chubby ankles. 

It continues:

Chandler: ” Ok, let’s do Julie. What’s wrong with her?”

Ross sighs: “She’s not Rachel.”

Honestly, is this even slightly romantic?  Not really.

Let’s cut to Rachel finding out about the list, shall we?

“What is this? Ross, what is this?”

Hm, smells like trouble, so Ross decides to attempt to cushion the blow by saying: “Ok, just, just remember how crazy I am about you, ok?”

“Kind of ditzy? Too into her looks? Spoiled?”

At this point, you can just hear the pain in her voice.  The poor girl is devastated.  And later, she gives what I consider one of the best explanations as to why a list like this can hurt a person.

“Imagine the worst things you think about yourself. Now, how would you feel if the one person that you trusted the most in the world not only thinks them too, but actually uses them as reasons not to be with you.”

Actually uses them as reasons not to be with you.

My first real relationship since Dave ended last week Saturday.  I was in a complete state of shock when it happened; I honestly never even saw it coming.  I tried to convince him to continue forward, at least for a little while, but his mind was set.

“Look, the bottom line is that you’re 19 and I’m 24.”

He had been 24 for approximately 72 hours, so it was a stretch to even say that we were 5 years apart, not like that’s a huge difference in the first place.  But I’m told that there’s so much I have left to learn and experience and that I’m “just not there yet.”  He’s clearly never read this blog.

Before all of this had happened, he and I were sitting on the couch with his roommate, discussing all of his ex’s and how he used to make pros and cons lists about them.  I winced, “Why on earth would you do that?”  He shrugged, “Well, when you have multiple people that you’re interested in, it makes the decision making process a hell of a lot easier.”  Maybe so, I thought, but doesn’t that make it rather impersonal?  Dehumanizing?  Shallow?  But I didn’t pursue it.  The last thing I had to say on the subject was “I don’t ever want to see you make a pros and cons list for me.  If there’s anything wrong with me, I just want you to tell me so I can work on it.”  He nodded.

The night we broke up, I went to his friend T.J.’s house, where he already was for the majority of the night.  He had texted me around 1 in the morning saying that if I wanted to talk, I could come over there, so I did.  Heartbroken and upset, I spent the night with Liz, T.J.’s roommate.  We stayed up until 6 discussing my past relationships to figure out what it was I was doing wrong.

Liz gave it to me straight: “C.J., it sounds like you’ll date anyone as long as they show interest in you.  You need to have standards.  A set of rules.”

This sounded all too familiar, since my now ex-boyfriend just told me that he “broke his rules” by even agreeing to date me in the first place.  I didn’t know how I felt about the word “rules,” but standards I could live with.  And I couldn’t necessarily argue with her anyway, after all, she was completely right.  If you surveyed all of my past interests, chances are the only thing you’d find that they had in common would be me.

From that moment on, I had decided that I needed to have a certain set of standards.  But being the person I am, I also promised myself to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  The catch is that I can’t justify issues I have with them.  As soon as I’m aware of the problem, I need to address it, end it with them, and move on to someone who is more worth of my time.

I had already begun to feel better, that is, until recently.  By Wednesday, I had moved past the tears, past the anger, and past the vindication.  I was supposed to go see T.J.’s symphony concert that day, but because of a lack of communication on my part, I ended up not being able to go.  I called him later, and we settled on me coming over there and having some wine with him and Liz.

While we were in the car, either T.J. or I, I can’t really remember, had mentioned the recent ex.  I told him that I was for the most part over it, and that I had high hopes for maintaining a friendship with him in the near future.  I began to make my whole speech about age.  I told him it’s not a deciding factor in a relationship for me, and if it was for him, then there was nothing I could do about it.  T.J. nodded, “Yeah, it definitely was for him.  He made a pros and cons list about you and the fact that you were 19 was on there like six times.”

I scoffed.  I was only half-surprised, seeing as he told me he had done this in the past.  I wrestled with my mind for a bit before turning to him and asking him something I probably shouldn’t have.  “Do you still have it?”

He laughed, “Well, maybe…I think so.”

I nodded, but left it that.  My mind was swimming with curiosity, by my heart was pleading for mercy.  I didn’t know what to do.

I was still pondering this list when we got into the house.  Liz was working on an art project and T.J. began to pour the first glasses of wine when I said it.  “The list…the pros and cons list…I want to see it.” 

Liz and T.J. exchanged nervous glances and Liz asked me if I was sure.  I told her I was.  “I’m curious.  I mean, I’m already over it, so it’s not like it can affect me that much if I read it, right?”  She shrugged and told T.J. that it was probably in her garbage, but I asked him to fish it out.  I went from being anxious to downright desperate.  No matter how awful it could be, for some reason, I needed to read this list.

T.J. looked over it for a second, but I couldn’t wait any longer, so I snatched it from his hands.  My heart sank.

19: This was on here about six times, like T.J. had mentioned.  It came as no surprise, but the redundancy of it made me realize how big of a deal it was to him.

Controlling: Whenever I would talk to my friends about him, they would always tell me, “Do you always let him do whatever he wants?”  I would just shrug and say, “Well, as long as it’s not hurting me or him or the relationship, then there’s no harm.”  I never had a problem with him going to bars.  I never told him what to do.  I may have made suggestions, but I never forced anything on him.  This is a complete joke.  I am one of the least controlling people I know.  I like a person for what they are.  I don’t get into relationships so I can change people and release them back into the wild.  It’s simply ridiculous.

Pretentious about music: Hannah put it best.  “What do you mean ‘pretentious’?  Music’s your thing!”  And she’s exactly right.  I just love music.  It’s something I can’t really help.  And it’s not like I was sitting there saying, “Well…YOU wouldn’t understand, you silly little peasant.”  I was always open to explaining anything.  Maybe he didn’t know that.

Too sentimental: This one made me angry.  I express my feelings.  I always have, and I always will.  I think there’s nothing wrong with it.  In fact, I think it’s what makes a good relationship.  If he wanted someone who was going to be all closed up and cold to him, then I suppose he made the right decision in breaking it off, because that’s just not me.

And then…it gets to the “Rachel has chubby ankles” portion of the list.  These hurt.  Bad.

Carries a “murse”: Really?  The fact that I have a handbag makes you want to break up with me?  Sheesh, that’s ridiculous.  First of all, it’s cute.  No, I mean, it’s really cute.  Secondly, it’s big, so I can carry a ton of stuff in it.  It’s not really just the looks, it’s the function too.  But who am I kidding?  I don’t need to justify this.  I am a murse man, and I’m damn proud of it.

Hairy: When we were lying in bed once, I had told recent ex-boy that I was slightly self-conscious about my hair.  He smiled at me, “I don’t know why…I kind of like it.”  That’s why this one was such a slap in the face, because he told me a bold face lie about previously. 

Here’s the deal…

I have body hair.  Chest hair.  Stomach hair.  Thigh hair, armpit hair, hair hair hair hair HAIR.  And you know what?  I used to shave it.  I used to sit in the bathroom for hours until I was completely smooth, just so that I wouldn’t have a situation like this happen to me.  Men have before ended things with me specifically because I was “too hairy.”  I just want to scream, “I’m an area rug, DEAL WITH IT and like me for who I am!”  But those sorts of people are too self-absorbed to listen to such a rational comment.

The interesting thing about the whole hair ordeal is that I have a quite a few body image issues.  Consider the following:

I finish a meal with a guy I’m dating.  I feel guilty, so I say, “Ugh, I’m so FAT!”

He looks at me all crazy and says, “You should love yourself no matter what.”

I look in the mirror and I hate my hair or my outfit and I say, “Wow, I look like a train wreck.”

He looks at me all crazy and says, “You should love yourself no matter what.”

I get out of the shower and look at myself and say, “Wow…I have way too much body hair.”

He nods and says, “Maybe you should think about electrolosis.  I actually brought a pamphlet, if you wanted to read it.  I just happened to have it, by complete chance, I swear.”

Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?  I rest my case.

There were others, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.  After I read them, I was pretty upset, but thinking about it now, I’m actually really happy.  I’m happy that I’m no longer with someone that thinks these things about me.  A person who uses my manbag against me in my own relationship.  A person who lies to my face about probably the most sensitive subject when it comes to my body.  I trusted this person with a lot, and unfortunately, in the end, it bit me in my ass. 

But I guess that’s what I need to look for.  The one who doesn’t need to make a list.  The one who understands that I’m imperfect without having to address the imperfections.  The one who can still be with me despite those things. 

That’s just the difference between me and those other shallow, self-obsessed men out there, I suppose.  “See, because I’d never make a list.”



Malibu, D&G, And Some Little Blue Pills
November 4, 2008, 7:58 PM
Filed under: Love and Relationships, Rudeness and Manners, Substance Abuse

“Can I pick ’em or what?!”

I might say this about a cute sweater.  I might say this about a playful kitten.  I might say it about a restaurant or some sort of unexplored vista in the Pacific.  But never will you ever, under any circumstance, hear me say those words in reference to another man.  The simple truth?  I can’t pick them.  I’m awful at it.  Too much optimism and too low of standards are the big glaring reasons, but it’s also because I have a hard time being alone.  I never really enjoyed it, and I probably never will.  I can do fine on my own, yes, but I’ve always found masturbation to be oddly depressing.  Essentially, sometimes I just want a person to be with even if that person doesn’t really feel like being with me, even if they have no interest in me whatsoever, and even if they overall suck as a person.

I never used to think I was bad at “picking ’em,” until one of the rotten apples that I picked came along.  I’ll spare him the embarrasment (even though I really shouldn’t) and rename this man.  I think I’ll call him Dickweed.  It’s a good description of him.  In fact, I’d say it’s near perfect. 

I was first introduced to Dickweed around the same time I was introduced to internet porn and ‘The Sims Hot Date’ (which sometimes felt just as naughty with the new jacuzzi feature!).  I was about 15, a freshman in high school, and still closeted.  The surprising thing was not many people really guessed that I was gay, although a few did.  I just occupied myself with the girls who would have me for a few weeks and then moved on (with one exception), so nobody really questioned my sexuality.  Well, it was more so my unpopularity in the earlier years that would have caused no one to question it.  Actually, if you would have told most kids at my school that I was gay when I was a freshman, they’d give you a quizzical look and say, “Who’s that kid?”

I came across (while looking for porn, obviously) a website called gay.com, which is a website devoted to gay culture, dating, and lifestyles.  Not knowing or caring what culture or lifestyles exactly entailed, I went straight for the gold: the chat rooms.  I wasn’t approaching many in the chat room, so I was surprised by how many different men I spoke with.  The average age was well over 30, and all prospects had either divorce baggage or thick facial hair.  I couldn’t exactly call what I had with them “conversations”, since they were so trite and annoyingly to the point.  Example given:

Man: hey cute boi how r u?

Me: I’m well, thanks.  How are you?

Man: horny as hell.  stats?

I would always frown at this.  When I was younger, I never really wanted anyone to know my cock size.  Now it’s on my business card.

Me: Um, well, I’m about 6’0”, 160 lbs, and I have brown hair with highlights and blue eyes 

Man: oooh ur a cute little twink boy.  i like that.

I frowned at this too.  I wasn’t a “twink.”  I definitely looked like a stereotypical one, but twinks are also defined by their smooth body.  Now I may have only been 15, but even then I was more shag carpeting than linoleum.

Me: Haha.  Thanks.

No matter how grotesque the comments, I would always be somewhat flattered.  I mean, even though I had no desire to sleep with any of these men, I did take all of the comments in stride.  Someone out there found me attractive, even if the poor thing was dappled with liver spots.

Not everyone I spoke with was that out of the question, however, and there was one man I had taken a particular shine to, a man named Dickweed.  He was dangerous-looking, like a loose cannon cop in a low-grossing action film.  He was holding some risque objects in his pictures, including a bottle of malt liquor and a handgun.  The handgun should have turned me off, since I have a mortal fear of weapons, but it didn’t.  It didn’t necessarily turn me on, but I was curious to know more about this man.  I forgot which of us struck up the conversation first, and while the specifics elude me, I’d say this is a pretty accurate recollection:

DW: look what we have here.

Me: Uh, hi?

DW: so what’s goin’ on?

Me: Nothing really…just sitting here, bored.  You?

DW: ohhhh…bored.  more bored now that I’m talking to you.

Me: Wait, what?  We just started talking and you barely know me.

DW: well i know you well enough to know that you aren’t entertaining me so far.

Me: What do you want me to do?

DW: idk you could do a striptease for me.

Initially I was surprised, but not necesarilly in a bad way.  Come to think of it, I might have laughed, thinking he was joking.  It would take me three years to realize he wasn’t.  Rudeness did not equal sarcasm, in his particular case.  Rudeness was to be taken for what it was: rude.

DW and I would talk on and off for several months.  One day, he was completely ignoring me, and at this point, as far as I was concerned, we were getting married.  So as my future husband, this behavior was totally unwarranted and unacceptable, and after doing a bit of online research, I came across a friend of his to discuss this with.

Me: Hi, um, you don’t know me but…are you friends with DW?

Asshole friend: I am.  How do you know him?

Me: Well, we talk sometimes, and I’m kind of interested in him, and well, I’m pretty sure he’s interested in me too, but…has he ever said anything about me to you?

Asshole friend: He’s interested in you?  Romantically interested?

I had said he was, and I wasn’t prepared for what was next.  I didn’t take the inflection of his sentence in the proper manner.  What he had meant was, “He’s interested in YOU??  ROMANTICALLY interested??”

Asshole friend: I don’t think he’d be into someone like you.

Me: Well, why?  What’s wrong with me?

Sometimes we ask other people questions that we honestly do want the answer to.  That is, until we hear what the answer actually is.

Asshole friend: Well, let’s start with those glasses.  Hideous.  And your hair is clearly box color.  That shirt looks homemade and your head isn’t in proportion to your body.  Your hair is frizzy and you have a big forehead.  That enough for you?

It was.

Devastated, I made an attempt to defend myself (‘You don’t KNOW me!  Whatever, I’ll talk to him myself!’), which ended up being futile.  There were so many aspects of myself that I didn’t like, that I hated even, and to have them all layed out for me, as frank as a grocery list, was uncomfortable, upsetting, and a huge blow to my already low self-confidence.  At the time, I felt nothing but rage towards DW’s friend, but now, looking back, as harsh as it was…I look at the picture, and it was something that desperately needed to be said.  At least the parts that could be changed.  That means no more self-made tye-dye, but I’m thinking I’m stuck with a watermelon head and an landing strip forehead forever.

DW and I fell out of contact after that.  There was an occasional discussion here or there, but by the time I had started dating my long-term ex Dave, we had stopped all correspondence.  After my messy and horrible break-up with him, I fled to Riverwest and went into hiding.  When I was finally ready to be myself again, I decided to move.  I found the infamous 1811 on Craig’s List, which turned out to be the most insane period of my entire life.  I had become good friends with everyone who visited there, and people would come and go so often, it felt more like a treehouse or fort than an actual duplex.  I loved every minute of it.  And not once in that three year period had DW even crossed my mind.

I went online one evening in January to do what I normally did at that time in my life.  I was on the prowl for men, and while I knew gay.com wasn’t running low on potential mates, I had discovered another website that was, unfortunately, exclusive for hooking up.  This website was lewd beyond belief, at least in my opinion.  I guess there are some people out there that think it’s commonplace to have a close-up of your anus as a profile picture, but I’m certainly not one of them.

As I was perusing the site, I saw that I had a new message in my inbox.  It was a message from Dickweed.  But here’s the funny thing: he didn’t know who I was.  In fact, judging by his diction in the note, he had absolutely no recollection of having talked to me ever.  To play devil’s advocate, I did look much different (better) in January than I did when I had first met him.  I responded to the message, playing a little cat-and-mouse game until the numbers were exchanged, and then I called him.

During the phone conversation, I could hardly maintain my laughter.  He was annoyingly suave and sophisticated, to the point where certain phrases, if spoken eloquently enough, could have induced vomiting.  But to top it all off, he still didn’t know it was me.  Three years ago I would have been offended and upset, but now it was hilarious.  Finally, I asked him if he remembered talking to a kid named Chris a few years back.  His response?

“I know a lot of people.”

So I gave him my last name.  His response?

“I don’t DO last names.”

What do you mean you don’t DO last names?  The whole world does last names.  People are defined by their last name.  Some people are only known by their last name.  And you just…don’t do them? 

Apparently that wasn’t enough red flag for me though, and we continued to talk, setting up a date for us to get together for a movie.  I was excited, but not because I really liked him, but because I was finally meeting this strange man…finally, after three years.  It wasn’t like I was waiting, but it’s still a long time for something to happen, whether it be a hook-up or completing a jigsaw puzzle you lost the box to.

I ended up having a lot of fun on the first date.  We went to see “No Country For Old Men,” which was a bad choice, since I tend to shriek like a baby rabbit being set aflame whenever I watch a scary movie.  You could argue that NCFOM wasn’t scary in the traditional sense, but the lack of music and the nailgun made it a modern day Poltergeist to me.  Embarrassing both him and myself, I jumped and started almost every time something happened, followed by the inevitable and incredibly annoying, “Did you see that?” He did.

What was odd about DW’s personality was that he still seemed to be of high school mentality.  In his eyes, the world was full of prom queens and jocks and nerds and techies, and he just so happened to be the head quaterback.  He was handed everything on a silver platter.  What’s worse is that he acted like he deserved it, as if he was slaving away for days out in a cornfield so that he could get that sailboat from his parents, or whatever it was.  He had a knack for making me feel uncomfortable, useless, and all around shitty.  So, naturally, we started casually seeing each other.  At least, that’s the impression I got, but the entire time he was dangling other guys over me, as if I wasn’t proving myself to be enough for him.

“You know, there’s a lot of other guys out there that could be in your shoes.”

I’d fall for this every time. “Oh please!  Don’t leave me, you’re one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met, you’re so funny and attractive and sweet!  What do I need to do?”

“Bring me the remote, make me a pastrami on rye, and get on your knees.”

I never buy rye bread, so I was basically screwed.

One night, when he stayed over, we were laying on my futon mattress in my below-zero sunroom/bedroom, he got up to ruffle through his bag.  It was a bag that he mentioned earlier was “authentic Dolce and Gabbana.”  He told me this specifically because he knew I didn’t care, and also because I think he liked hearing the words come out of his mouth.  It was late, maybe around 2 AM, so I asked him, in a sleepy stupor, what he was getting.  He flashed a smile at me and pulled out a bottle of Malibu rum and a bottle of prescription medicine.  I was puzzled.

“What…?  What do you need that for?  It’s 2 in the morning.”

He explained: “Well, the pills I have to take, they’re for my sleeping disorder.” I didn’t believe him. “And the rum, well…the rum is so I can take the pill.”

I chuckled, thinking he was kidding, until he began to tilt the bottle towards his mouth.

“Wait, you can’t do that!  You have to take that with water!  Don’t you know there are serious consequences to taking pills with alcohol?”  I felt like a living after-school special, but I wasn’t going to be liable for anything that happened to him, since he was in my house.  I also didn’t feel like staying awake and resuscitating him when I had to be up at 9 in the morning.

After a small bit of arguing, he took the water from me and put the Malibu back in his Dolce and Gabbana bag.  I never did ask why he carried a bottle of booze around with him like a pocketwatch, but I didn’t want the answer this time.  I fell asleep, hoping that I would wake up in the morning, and the man laying next to me would stop being a inconsiderate card-carrying lush and start making me french toast.

The problems between us developed when I was at work one day, and we had been texting back and forth.  Our texts were either very playful and light-hearted with a kinky subtext, or rude and to the point.  Today it was the latter.  The texts included typical romantic phrases, such as “I’m not going to talk to you right now, you’re annoying” and “Boy, I wish I could change my number.”  I was finally getting sick of the way he was talking to me so I sent him: “I’m tired of you.” 

I didn’t hear back for a few days, and during my wait I discussed it with a few of my friends.  Hannah gave me the most accurate analysis of the situation: “Dude, he makes you feel like shit.  He’s not all that cute, and when I saw him, I totally thought he was a child molester.”  While this, like most of Hannah’s criticism, was blunt, it was mostly true, but I held on to one little thread…’He didn’t ALWAYS make me feel like shit.’  This comment was greeted by a roomful of eye-rolls, and I went back to my Ramen noodles, wondering what my next move should be.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long for an answer.  I had logged on to AIM later that evening to see that he was on.  I didn’t strike up a conversation.  Instead, I waited to see what he would say, hoping that he would apologize for upsetting me, and I didn’t have to feel so unsettled anymore.  I must have had my rose-colored glasses on, because what I got was in stark contrast.

“Hi, my name is C.J., I might not know much since I’m so young and stupid, but I sure can give great head!  But just remember, before you lift your legs, that I have the clap!!!”

He mocked me.  Like an eight-year old.  An eight-year old who knows way to much about sex.  Let me break this message down into fact and fallacy.

Fact: My name is indeed C.J., which stands for Christopher Jacob.

Fact: I am young.  Whatever, don’t hate.

Fallacy: I am stupid.  Actually, I suppose that’s up to popular consensus, but I don’t really think I am.

Fallacy: I have “the clap.”  Not only was I not altogether sure what the clap was when he first mentioned it, I’ve never had it, and I never really plan to.

That was the last straw.  I signed off, and vowed to never speak to him again, and I never did.  Except once when I was really lonely.

I’ve learned two things from this ridiculous excuse for a relationship.  One is that I should not be allowed to choose my men anymore, and instead should hire a pimp to do it for me.  Two, is realizing my own worth.  I began to understand the meaning of self-empowerment, thanks to someone who, at times, made me feel weak.  The trick is maintaining that image of yourself, that image that you are a good person, all while those who don’t believe in themselves try to bring you down.   And while I can’t seem to find the proper man just yet, I am proud to say that I can wake up in the morning, pack my bag, and leave the booze and pill bottles at home, where they belong.