Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
I spent my thirties distrustful of Open Relationships. Mainly because the people I knew who had them never seemed happy. Most of them either divorced or separated. People freaked out when unexpected pregnancies occured where the paternity was questionable. People got mad because an Open But Don't Tell Me Partner would violate that rule. Things like that.
The worst, of course, was Zuzu and her husband. Twenty-something years of an open marriage fell apart when he had unprotected sex in a Jacuzzi (has anything good Ever Happened in a hot tub?) and got a stranger pregnant. His solution was that they would be some sort of Sister Wives thing and all live in the same house and raise kids together. He was kicked out of the house almost immediately and they never reconciled. But he was the one who called me and let me know Zuzu had been found dead in her house. Nothing more violent than cancer. But I hadn't know she had cancer, as she'd received her diagnosis while I was in a coma. And we hadn't spoken for three or four years before that. Our open friendship had deteriorated as she grew more and more venemous towards the people I cared about.
As this played out, another friend broke up with his primary partner when she got pregnant from another man. Only to find out a few years later, it Was his child but his partner wanted to raise the baby with someone else.
Shit is messy, y'all.
But I'm in my mid-forties now. I have been with more than my and your, and all our mutual friends' fair share of guys ranging from homophobically straight to offensively stereotypically gay, and everywhere inbetween.
I am Comrade's first boyfriend.
Fear not, this isn't a sad breakup story. Or a happy one. Calm down. OUR open relationship works great for us. We've lived together almost since we met. Every few months, Comrade goes on walkabout. It's pretty much building his own Insafemode Journals. I have never feared he was going to leave me for any of the men he's met. I know gay men. Most of us are garbage. We are Very Lucky together.
I also have permission to walkabout. But my legs are So Tired.
In Florida, last fall, we tried to set up some sort of threesome situation but we aren't interested in the same type of guy, which is obvious to anyone who's ever seen a picture of us. So nothing happened.
We each talked to some potential partners. As you might imagine, the skinny, effervescent, twenty something year old gets more messages than the exhausted, overweight middle aged guy who hates everyone. But the percentage of messages that we receive that we are interested in are very similar.
While Comrade anded up meeting some photographer who was nice and respectful until he was creepy (his story to tell, not mine), I met someone I'd been talking with for a few days. A chill guy in his thirties who was on vacation at Disney with his partner. They had a similar open relationship. He'd been skittish about us meeting at the house Comrade and I had rented but eventually relented.
It was a tired trope when I was writing the Insafemode journals: His picture was ten or fifteen years old. For me, it doesn't matter how attractive you are. If you are so terrified of what you look like that you have to send fake or antique pictures, I don't feel comfortable even spending time with you, nevermind pursuing any sort of emotional or physical relationship. I let him have a sandwich (we had too many groceries) and then told him he had to go.
That was in October. Since then, I haven't had the urge to meet anyone outside of our relationship.
Grindr is hilarious to me. I keep thinking back to when Ben invited me over for dinner one night in Allston, and showed me his OK Cupid matches. There were none.
"I've blocked EVERY gay guy in Boston." He bragged, fluffing his hair. "No one is good enough for me."
This was patently untrue. But funny.
I haven't blocked Everyone on Grindr but it is the thing I do The Most. Does a person's profile mention they wouldn't be interested in someone my age or size? Blocked. Why should I bother them? Does someone send me an unrpovoked naked picture or demand one from me? Blocked. Is someone just not my type? Blocked. Is someone aggressive or problematic? Blocked. Does someone have an incompatible kink? Blocked. There are so many great reasons not to waste my time trying to get laid. #1 is ... Comrade.
I had no plans to do any sexual adventuring in Vegas, but we did decide to check for possible threesomes in Vegas, as there's a wider age spectrum here than in, say, Orlando. (We are not going to try it out close to home.)
Nobody that was interested in us particularly sparked mutuality. But.
It's been, what, a decade since I regularly updated The Insafemode Journals? But there are people out there who read them regularly and remember them. People who saw pictures of me that I posted for Coming Out Day or other events. Maybe once or twice a year, I get a message from someone who recognizes me. And such a thing happened in Vegas.
Their opening message was unspectacular. Inoffensive. Fully clothed. Just a mention that I looked familiar. Which was funny to me because they looked familiar to me, too. But I knew why. They were in porn. Not a porn star. But someone who was in a couple of videos that were from a studio that amused me. Not aroused me. Amused me. The acting was terrible. The storylines were Awful. The camera angles were weird. His accent was spectacular. He could have been from the Midwest, Florida, Boston, England. His speech pattern needed a passport wherever he was.
So I told him that I used to have a sex blog, and he admitted to having some videos and asked if I wanted a link. I declined. But we decided to meet up. I wasn't quite sure sex was going to happen. I had seen his porn many years to a decade ago, and his pictures look freakishly similar. I just expected him to look as different from his 2012 self as I do.
We agreed to meet at the resort he was staying at at 9pm, while Comrade was going to have dinner with someone else. The thing was, this porn guy, Carter, was staying at Harrah's. I fucken hate Harrah's. Their signage is terrible. None of their employees know where anything is. And it was just as shut down as our casino because of the stupid the NFL Draft. But it was where he was staying, so I headed over there at 8:30, even though it was a 5-10 minute stroll.
I texted him that I was on my way, and was unsurprised when he wrote back that he'd be late. I wondered if he was having second thoughts. My shitty sense of self kept thinking "I'm not his type at all. I'm way too old, fat, boring, etc. for this kinky porn star." But, like, many of his partners in those videos were Older Then than me Now. And he is also ten years older than he was in those videos, so Shut Up Self.
I sat down at a bar near where we were supposed to meet. I ordered a soda but tipped like I bought a real drink, which caught the attention of the bartender.
"Do you work around here?" He asked.
"No. Boston. But I'm industry."
He nodded. "Ok. Well, thanks." and then he turned his attention to a Very Drunk woman who wanted to find the "valley", which I'm pretty sure meant "valet".
"Oh, it's..." he waved in a direction.
"NO NONO NO NO NO." Drunk Lady scolded. "None of you know where Anything is. Just walk me there."
"But I---" he looked around the bar, there were four customers and two bartenders. "Sure. I'll help you."
I put down another couple of bucks. Because fuck that particular casino. He was too nice to work there.
"Adam?" I heard.
"Oh, hey Carter." I said, getting up. "Good to see you."
"Likewise." he said. His voice was the same as in the videos. I had assumed that was a fake accent. Whoof.
He was wearing a cast on his right arm.
"What happened?" I asked, pointing to it.
"Oh, I just had surgery. Glass." As though that explained anything.
"Oh? Car accident? Walk into a sliding glass door?" I asked.
"I forgot." He sighed. "You're a writer. It's just glass."
Long, awkward pause of doom.
"What have you done so far in Vegas?"
"Oh." I said. "We went to the neon museum, Area 15 and Omega Mart, we saw The Beatlles Cirque Du Soleil show.--"
"Was that any good?" He asked. "I saw the Michael Jackson show last night, and I had No Idea what was happening. The plot was, I don't know. Maybe I'm just too stupid for theater."
"Noooooo." I said. "The Beatles show had some connecting scenes but it made No Sense most of the time."
"Did your partner like it?"
"He thought it was okay." I said. "But he didn't love it, either."
"How old is he?" I was not expecting to be asked.
"So you're sugar daddying."
I frowned. "No. We each have our own jobs and share of the finances. I can't afford to be anyone's sugar daddy."
"But you're in Vegas." he said.
"So are you. And you're on a floor so high you have to have a special card and elevator access to get there."
He almost smiled. "The view is pretty nice. Oh, don't judge the room. I'm usually military clean but--" he wagged his cast.
"Of course." I said.
He flashed his key at the door. A red light turned on. He flashed his key again. Same red light.
"Fuck. Again?" he said. "I've got to call security again."
"Ok." I said.
I was assuming, at this point, that he wasn't into me, and was using his key on the wrong door. His way of politely getting me to leave. So I started texing Comrade.
Comrade's Meanwhile Story is that the person he'd been texting decided to go to bed but wanted to talk later because .... he is from Boston.
"Hi. This is Carter in room ... Yes. Yea. I got the new key but it doesn't work, either. Could you send someone up? Five to ten minutes? Would it be faster for me to go down there? Yea. Yea. Would I have to wait in line? I don't want to wait in line again. Ok. Five to ten minutes? Ok." He turned to me. "We've got to wait a bit. You're from Boston, right?"
"What happened to your acccent?"
"I broke it." I said "I moved around for a while and it disappeared."
I have never had a Boston accent. I'm from Connecticut and grew up on Cape Cod.
"People always make fun of my accent."
"Where are you from?" I asked.
"Iowa." he said.
"You were going to guess Florida weren't you?"
I shrugged. "Gainesville, specifically."
"That's where my mom's from." he said. "God, what is taking them So Long?"
"It's only been about two minutes." I said. "Didn't they say it would be five to ten?"
He sulked. "I wish they'd stop giving me broken keys."
"Yea." I said. "This place is a steady shitshow."
"I'm going to call them again."
My turn to shrug. "Ok."
"Hi, this is Carter from Room...yes. Do you know when you're going to be able to send someone up? We've been waiting a long time. Do you know how much longer? Should I just go down there? I just don't want to wait in no lines again. It takes so long. No. No. No, don't send a medical team. No, jesus, I'm fine. Ok. Ok. I'll go down. No lines, though, right?"
Every flag in the building was red. His shirt was a red flag. His pants. His shoes. His accent. His impatience. Everything red. Everything flag.
"We've got to go downstairs so I can get a new key."
"Ok." I said, following him into the elevator.
I don't remember what we talked about because I was thinking I should probably just leave. I was beginning to think the accent included some slurring as the effect of a substance. Couldn't place which one, though.
It took less than a minute for him to get the key, and for us to get back in the elevator.
"I don't know why they keep doing this to me? I paid good money, you know? Hotels are expensive here. In Iowa, I can get a room for thirty a night. Nobody visits me but at least nobody's breaking my keys all the time."
We got out of the elevator and walked further down the hallway than we were before. It was 100% a completely different room than he'd tried to get into earlier. "Don't forget." He said. "My arm hurts, so it's a little messy."
I am, at my best, a little messy. Clothes piled in one place, a nightstand covered in chapstick, breath mints, change, and books. A little messy.
This was an addict's room.
Three whiskey bottles that I could see. Clothes everywhere. The TV on some random channel about Las Vegas culture. Both beds absolutely destroyed. Condom wrappers (but not condoms) on the desk. I didn't see any paraphenalia, but I also studiously avoided the bathroom because I was pretty sure that's where it was.
He took off his clothes. "Do you have any condoms?"
This was not quite what I had expected. "No." I said.
"I'll just go back downstairs." and shake my head a bit. "They must have condoms in the little convenience store by the front desk. Should I get lube?"
"I'm allergic to lube." he lied.
"Ok. Can I have your room key? Otherwise, I won't be able to get back up in the elevator."
"Oh. I don't remember where I put my key. Did you see me put it down somewhere? I have this problem where I always lose things."
I shut my eyes. Red flags. "In your pocket?"
He produced two keys. "I don't know which one works."
I plucked them both from his hands. Opened the door, and waved each of them by the door. They both worked, of course. There was never anything wrong with the keys. There was something wrong with the keyholder.
I took the elevator down to the lobby, walked to the convenience store and took a picture of the condom display. "These are all lubricated." I texted. "Is that a problem?"
"Nope." He texted back. "Whatever."
I bought condoms and a soda, took the elevator back up.
He was ass in the air.
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Fuck me dadddddddddddddddddddddddddddddeeeeeee. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
I Hate Age Play Sex. There is no faster way to kill the mood for me.
"Please don't say that." I said.
"You want to be my coach?"
He turned around and looked at me. "Why are you still wearing clothes? What's the matter, I'm not young enough for you?"
"What?" I asked.
"I get it. I don't look like I'm twelve anymore so none of the fifty year old guys want to fuck me anymore. I should just kill myself."
I threw the condoms on the bed. "You can keep these."
"What, are you just going to go? Can't get it up because I'm so old, Mr. Writer?"
"Here are your keys." I threw them on the bed with the condoms. "Don't lose them."
"Oh, you're going to take care of me now? Don't want to fuck me, you just want to be my daddy?"
I walked out his door. He did not follow.
I texted Comrade. "Well, this went to super shit at the speed of drug addict. Can I come back?"
"Yea." he texted back. "My guy bailed. Guess we'll have to debauch with each other."
"I'm going to need a few minutes."
"Should we meet for ice cream?"
"Yes. That sounds great." I replied.
"Can you at least come back and eat my ass?" Carter texted. "I'm horny and my arms no good."
I blocked his number.
I unblocked his number. I didn't want to be named in a porn not star's suicide note, even if it was just as Insafemode.
Comrade was waiting for me in front of the ice cream/cupcake place. He kissed me Hello. "Waffle cones?"
"Waffle cones." I said.