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 am a terrible judge of character. I confuse people's generosity with martyr complexes. I can't tell the difference between a wonderful, giving person with a few quirks, and a complete psychopath with moments of humanity. So it is that I completely misjudged the house that I assumed would be Gay.
I made the assumption because so many of the people who replied to my roommate ads were GGGGGGAY, and came right out and mentioned that they were looking for GGGGGGAY roommates. So when I read the e-mail from someone who had a house that he touted as having an "International flair", and made perfectly innocent statements that, because of my interactions with other "innocent" statement makers, I believed they were codes for "I am a dirty pervert who will give you a cheap place to live so long as I can fondle myself while I watch you sleep." This was not the case at all.
In order to prep myself for impending Gayness, I spent the entire two mile or so walk to the house listening to music that I won't admit to publicly, some of the artists' names rhymed with Wisteena Magumera and Whitney Gears.
I took off my headphones just as I approached a house where a man somewhere between his late fifties and late sixties was leaning over, working on a garden. Unlike the stodgy Harvard professor/landlords, though, his look was complimented by a natural unegotistical speech pattern, and actual eye contact. Borderline creepy eye contact. But borderline, so that's okay.
Once we went in the house, he offered me coffee. I don't drink coffee. So he offered tea. I don't like tea either, but I'll drink it when someone is politely trying to make me something hot to drink.
The house was gorgeous. Very well preserved (cleaning service comes in every other week), great natural lighting, nice open feel. In fact everything about both house and landlord seemed open. The only part of the interview that left a bad taste in my mouth was the tea that scalded my tongue when I drank it too quickly. The rent even includes food. FOOD is included in the rent. FOOD. You make a grocery list, the landlord buys you food. FOOD. Did I mention that FOOD is included in the rent? A comfortable, well lit house with rent that includes utilities, high speed internet access, cable TV, FOOD, LAUNDRY DETERGENT, no-coin-necessary washer/dryer, and cleaning service. Seriously, even if this guy kills me in three months and buries me in his basement, at least I will die happily in a sort of writer's utopia that has FOOD included in the rent.
If he rents the room out to someone else, I will be insadmode.
Not too far from Danny's apartment is the wonderful world of M.I.T. Hot nerd central. Granted, it's also ugly nerd central, but let's not dwell on that.
M.I.T. is a forest of equations that you can't see through the variables. I've always wanted to be tangentially associated with it. It implies math intelligence. I my have blinked my way through Calculus, but I am exceptionally quick with basic math, and simple geometry. For example: a fifty year old man claiming to be twenty-one has subtracted twenty-nine years off of his age, which equals me not even sticking around for the interview. Or, if Safey is looking for an apartment, and you advertise having a swimming pool, when you mean that there is a gym across the street with a swimming pool, how fast will Safey run away from your apartment when you invite him in for lunch? Very fast.
The Harvard landlords are more honest. This makes no sense to me, as Harvard is much likelier to spit out lawyers and fiction writers than chemical engineers. Then again, little in life makes sense to me these days.
The Harvard landlords tend to be "mature gentlemen" who are looking to help out younger men. While odds are against all of them having hidden cameras located in the bedrooms and bathrooms, I'm pretty sure that I met more than one "gentleman" who had a library full of homemade amateur porn starring unsuspecting young guys. "I'll cook you dinner, and do your grocery shopping, and if you need a few extra weeks to make rent" I'll rape you in your sleep was inferred at the end of the sentence. No thanks, Grandpa.
Harvard students had some fantastic apartments. Most of them well out of my price range. But looking didn't hurt. Much.
The next few months are either going to be a catalyst for future writing or a Scared Straight program. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.
I'm moving in with gay people.
No, I haven't "met someone", or been cast in the first reality show to be aired on MTV LOGO: "The Real Catty World"; I've decided to move somewhere more affordable. While my current roommates are unquestionably the coolest people I've ever lived with, there are some things I couldn't deal with anymore: the way Wiz would hide my shoes on the other side of the house, and scatter the floor with nails and broken glass; the way D would wait for me to go down to The Inconvenience Store, and then stick my geckos in the blender; their constant waking me up at odd hours in the morning to film them having sex with the underage girls they picked up at the local burn unit; the way Wiz pronounces the word "the". I know, I'm being picky, but that's just the way I am.
So Tuesday night, I started looking for some local places to move to. Somewhere in the price range of broke.
My first Internet Search led me to a quaint little first floor apartment in Dorchester. Reasonable rent, no roommates, moderately furnished. It seemed too good to be...it was the apartment I'd shared with Melissa FUcken Plummer. Granted, she's two tenants removed from the apartment by now, it's still not a place I'd feel comfortable living. I'd be kicking ghost dogs all the time.
After assorted promising looking rentals that, of course, did not exist anymore by the time I joined WeTrickedYouIntoSigningUpForOurApartmentSearch.com, I found a few local bonanzas.
Today I met with Danny. Danny is a 23 year old Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay guy. He goes through all the ads on the various apartment sites, and expresses interest in every gay guy under 30 looking for a place to live. His apartment is in a complex directly around the corner from the house I'm living in now. It's ripe with "The Danny Touch" as he calls it. Rainbow flags? Check. Titanic poster? Check. Various CD art from Madonna and Bjork albums sticky tacked to the walls? Check. Abercrombie & Fitch ads FRAMED and hung on the walls? Check. Rainbow bedspread? Check. I was shocked when I opened the refrigerator to discover that not all the food in there was covered in pink frosting. There were, however, Snowballs on the kitchen counter. "Because it's winter." Danny cheerfully pointed out. Thanks, Captain Obvious, have another pink star.
After a few minutes of reasonable conversation, I excused myself to the bathroom, where I tested to see how long it took for the water to get hot (thanks for the tips, Dmitri). I envisioned an elf with a blue candle swinging from pipe to pipe between the dozens of apartments in the building, trying to get the water lukewarm as quickly as possible. Sorry Link, next time use the ocarina of time.
When I came back out, we had an earnest discussion of the kind of guys I liked, and I realized I was being interviewed for something more than a roommate. Well, I could do a lot worse than Danny. He was very cute and seemed both smart and funny, but I'm not going to move in and have sex with someone I just met. That's what lesbians do on their second date, not gay guys. Gay guys don't have second dates. Which is one of the reasons why I didn't say "I'll be in touch" when I left.
Sometime in the late nineteen sixties, a four year old girl was given popcorn for the first time. Her eyes glazed over. Schmaltzy sentimental "jazz" music started playing. She envisioned a palace. A palace made entirely of popcorn.
When she turned twenty she was thrown out of Redenbacher management training for seasoning her popcorn with cocaine and nicotine. Her parents were killed in a freak bubble wrap popping incident, leaving her enough money to start her own business: The Popcorn Palace.
On an unspectacular Veteran's day in 2004, The World's Gayest Straight Boy and I were walking in downtown Northhampton, MA. We were, like most people in Northhampton, bored into walking comas. We saw the spectral version of Yasser Arafat sitting on a curb, waiting to die. As we step around him, we came face to face with a small sign for The Popcorn Palace.
"Have you ever been in there?" I asked.
"No." said Axel.
So we went in. Our plan? To see the inside of the store, claim to be out of towners just wandering the streets and get the hell out of there without buying popcorn. The Popcorn Lady had other ideas.
Oh, she looked unassuming enough, popping corn behind the counter. But as soon as she was us we were marked. We were not leaving without popcorn. Lots of popcorn. A bucket of popcorn.
"Have you ever been here before? No? You're from out of town? Well let me tell you about our popcorn. We have sweet flavors and savory flavors. Here, try some, I promise it's not dusted with cocaine and nicotine, you won't be addicted, it's just popcorn. you are getting sleepy A handful of popcorn never killed anyone. Sure it went on trial for murder, but it was never indicted. your eyelids are so very heavy I just finished making a batch of vanilla popcorn. Try some, isn't it good? Wouldn't you like to buy a tub of popcorn?you want popcorn, lots and lots of popcorn Tomorrow the prices are going up. We hardly ever change the prices. sweet sweet popcorn makes all the pain go away It's been four years since we've raised the prices, but tomorrow everything gets more expensive. Imagine your good fortune at coming on the last day that popcorn is so cheap. I'm practically giving the popcorn away. Look at all the color popcorn tins. when I snap my fingers you will buy the blue tin Each tin comes with two savory flavors, and one sweet one. We never mix and match them. You should buy some online when you get home. Boston isn't that far. I could ship them in a day. And you could get any flavors you want. human flesh flavor is delicious Oh you're walking out the door? What a shame I didn't make the sale." *Snap*
"I think I'd like to buy a tin of popcorn. Perhaps with two savory flavors and one sweet. I would like it in...do you have a blue tin by any chance?" Wait, I didn't want popcorn. What the fuck was I saying?
So I spent twenty dollars that I don't have on a three gallon tin of popcorn. Sour Cream and Onion, Yellow Cheese, and Pina Colada. The Pina Colada is amazing. The other two flavors are...popcorn. The Popcorn Lady filled the tin to capacity, squashed it down with the lid, filled it some more, squashed some more, and filled again. There is now, a lot of fucken popcorn in the tin. "If you bring it back you get the popcorn for half price. Don't forget to wash it before you bring it back. There's corn oil in there." No shit? Corn oil in popcorn? "Corn oil rusts the tin. So wash the tin, thoroughly and dry it before you come back. And you will be coming back. Have a nice day."
The Popcorn Lady masking taped the lid shut, and sent us on our way.
We were about a block away when a woman ran up to me, looking as though she was going to give me her bag. "Hi, have I talked to you yet today? I'm giving an 85% discount to members of the community." I barely pause before returning to reality, I'd been hypnotized into buying popcorn, I certainly did not need...what the hell was this woman selling. "Radio pens." She held one aloft and walked away.
Radio pens? A Cross-Pen looking instrument with headphones attached. Oh, yea, a must have for everyone on my Christmas List.
Axel and I came back to Campus, where I bought some Cherry Coke and, along with a bunch of Hampshire students, out a sizable dent in the popcorn tin. Errr...the tin is not dented, there is just significantly less popcorn in it. And I'm still hungry.
On September 1st, the church down the street from my house began its pumpkin drive. They put up a big banner: "Imported Indian Gourds for your autumn displays $5/lb." Their entire lawn and parking lot were filled to capacity with pumpkins of all sizes. All the little goody goody Jesus boys sat on the steps of the church, and waited for the customers to flood parking lot taking two pumpkins of each size.
By the time the first of October had come, there was no visible depreciation in pumpkin levels. The banner was flipped over, and now proclaimed "Halloween Pumpkins for Sale $4/lb, All Proceeds Go to Charity." No longer content to sit on the church steps, the Jesus boys began hanging out on the sidewalk and suggestively selling the pumpkins to every person who passed by.
As it happens, the church lies directly between me and pretty much everywhere I want to go, so no less than four times a day, I'd be accosted by a well-intentioned Christian boy, pleading with me to buy a pumpkin that I neither needed nor could afford. I needed a pumpkin the way I needed Jesus.
A week before Halloween there were still just as many pumpkins in front of the church as there had been on September 1st. The banner was flipped back to the original side, and was painted over in orange and black paint: "Halloween Special: Pumpkins for Jesus $3/lb. Proceeds go to homeless children." I was soon on a first name basis with the four Jesus boys: Jonathan, James, Joshua, and Devon. When I walked by they no longer asked me if I wanted to buy a pumpkin, they made small talk. The rest of the neighborhood were subjected to tantrums on the street.
On November 1st, the church was still packed with pumpkins. The sign had been re-repainted: "$1/lb pumpkins for your Thanksgiving display. All proceeds to benefit homeless children." Jonathan had obviously given up on his friends, who were grabbing on to the pantlegs of passersby offering to give free blowjobs with the purchase of three pumpkins or more. I imagined by the end of the week there'd be a new banner: "Jesus commands you to buy his cheap pumpkins or he will give all of your relatives AIDS." I was close.
Last night, on my way home from a three a.m. grocery store run, the church gates were left unlocked, and a new sign proclaimed "Get these fucken pumpkins off our property, you heathens." Ok, actually, it said "Free Pumpkins" but I knew what they meant.
So, feeling somewhat bad for the poor Jesus Children, I began an early morning project. I dropped my groceries off at the house, and began taking as many pumpkins as I could, and distributing them to the doorsteps of all my neighbors. Soon, every house on the four streets surrounding the church had one big and one small pumpkin on their porch. At around four, I feared getting caught, and returned home.
This afternoon, I made another pilgrimage to the store to buy Cherry Coke. James and Devon were sitting on the front steps of the church, laughing and smiling. I waved.
On my way home from the grocery store I saw a poster that said $200 costume contest tonight. $100 for gentleman in funniest costume, $100 for lady in sexiest costume. On another day, I might have pondered the inherent sexism of this obviously frat boy planned party. Today I was thinking, to make it fair, shouldn't it be $100 for the gentleman in the most desperate costume?
Today, I am the most desperate man at the party. I've got two hours before my first hookup since Ethan referred to me as Safey. It's not hard to fall into the familiar routine of shower, shave, tweeze, doubt. It's in the shower that doubt arrives early. I've spent most of my life as a writer, hanging around other writers. I enjoy long-winded, well written sarcastic LiveJournal posts. An e-mail with six paragraphs of witty misanthropy can cause me to fall in love. So why am I going to meet someone based on a "Send me back a pic if interested" "I'm interested, name the time and place" "Three o'clock, here's my address" "See you then" e-mail exchange?
Apparently, my love is a symphony of urbane observations. My lust is "Nice hair, let's fuck."
I spend a half hour in the too hot shower. The bathroom gets so steamy that I have to kneel in order to see my reflection in the mirror. There's an analogy or a metaphor here that I'm not interested in seeing.
I'm embarrassed by the way my hair is thinning in front, the spot of dry skin just northwest of my lip, what feels like it may be the start of a pimple on my butt. I should call this off. I really don't have any hope for love, and given my history with meeting strangers for sex, I don't have any hope for lust. Odds are the picture was fake, he lied about his age, he's married, he hasn't changed his underwear since the Carter administration, he thinks patchouli is an adequate substitute for personal hygiene, he kisses like the Tasmanian Devil. Odds are, I'll leave his house feeling empty, and not empty of sperm, but empty of dignity. I know all this will come to pass. Still, I lather my face with shaving gel, and pick up the razor. I do a seek and destroy mission on my ass, and discover there is nothing remotely pimpular.
I'm just about to finish shaving when I knick a place on my neck. I will always have at least one blemish.
I toss on jeans and a shirt, and call the number he gave me to let him know I'm on my way over. The phone rings four times. I pray for the machine. I don't want to do this. At some point in the shower I stopped seeing this as an opportunity to get off, and started thinking of it as the real ending to my novel. The Last Hookup. One more real story. Not the bullshit Happily Ever After. The real ending is me having learned nothing, putting on my jeans and my fuzy Lucky shirt, and walking to some stranger's hope with the hopes of sticking my dick in his ass.
I get the machine. His name is Matthew. I leave a message on his machine. Crisis averted, I can go back to sending suggestive e-mails to the cute boy in Chicago with the self-deprecating wit and the digital camera.
The phone rings. Matthew.
I pack a bottle of watermelon lube and condoms in my bag, and head out the door.
Most of the guys on The Internet are either deceitful or else they've been victimized by a ruler maker with a cruel sense of humor. Seven inches is often four and a half. I don't ask people for their cock size not just because I know they'll lie but because I don't have a huge kielbasa myself. Also, I'm an ass man, what do I care how big their cocks are?
What Matthew either lied about, or has been conned to believe is that he's 6'1". He's close. He's pretty much my height. I'm 6'. I don't understand why he's added inches to his height anymore than I understand people sending out old or fake pics. Obviously, I'm going to find out before you even get your clothes off.
We head immediately to his bedroom, where we talk. Matthew seems like a nice guy. He's a poet (shoot me now) getting his MFA at a local college. He's occasionally gone to a reading I host, and a reading I frequent. However, we've never been at either place at the same time. Lovely. I've been rather proud of the fact that I've never let my poet life and my sex life intersect. So when he leans in to kiss me, I pretend not to notice the Selected Poems of Elizabeth Bishop collection sitting on his desk.
His kiss. Our kiss. Our kiss is bad. His breath tastes like stale nicotine. Have I mentioned how much I love the taste of nicotine? No? There must be a reason.
Most of the problems with our kissing are not Matthew's fault. We are completely out of synch. I am lips when he is tongue, I am tongue while he is lips, he is tongue while I am wishing I was somewhere else.
It isn't long before our clothes came off.
In a normal relationship, or at least a well-thought-out hookup or one night stand, you and your partner have some sense of what the other person likes/wants. Matthew's body is not proportionate to what I was looking for. I don't ask him, but I'm fairly certain he isn't all that thrilled with me either. Understand, he isn't ugly. Far from it. He is very cute in a nerdy sort of way. And I generally find nerds quite sexy. But his weight is in all the wrong places for me.
After a few minutes of awkward kissing and skin on skin, he rolls over and asks me to rim him. Despite my well publicized liking of the ass, I haven't had a lot of experience licking of the ass. I've only ever rimmed two guys: Victor,, and some guy during Whore Month who didn't even warrant his own story.
Matthew bends over, showing that he does, indeed, have an ass, but much like the rest of his body it isn't the shape I prefer. I soldier on. Slather some watermelon flavored lube in the vicinity of his mangina and dive in. And much like diving too deeply into a pool with too much chlorine, my eyes start burning and I can't breathe. Why? His ass is not proper rimming shape. There is no position I can find where I can breathe. It could be worse. At least his ass is meticulously clean (as it should always be when meeting for sex).
I give up and begin fingering him. His breathing gets heavy, and, though I won't realize it until a few minutes later, he comes. He then sits up, covering the wet spot on the bed with his ass and attacks my mouth with second hand tar. He also begins licking my ear. Have I mentioned how much I love having my ear licked? No? Hmmm. Funny, that. I figure he must enjoy having his ear licked, so I decide to sacrifice my tongue to save my ear. I breathe heavily into his ear while doing some more licking. Then, just as he is getting into it, I can't do it anymore. It is too absurd.
As soon as I stop, he pushes me back on the bed, and begins snapping his finger around my nipples. Not sexy. I move his hand down toward my cock. While our arms were moving my hand brushes his chest, and I realize he's already come. I'm not even on the same continent with coming.
He proceeds to go down on me. I think. I stop paying attention at this point. I am trying to remember whether or not I'd locked the door on my way out of the house.
"Want to 69?" Not really, but since I'm here, sure, why not. I begin nearly gagging on his cock. I don't think it is big, I haven't really noticed it one way or the other. While I try various ways to get him off using my mouth and hand, he is...what the hell is he doing? Is he still blowing me? I can't feel a fucken thing. "I want you to come on my chest." Yea, and I want Dmitri's Diesel Cords on my bedroom floor. There are some things you have to be patient for.
And he is patient. In the time it takes me to come, he comes again. This time I see it with my own eyes, and it does nothing for me. I kneel there, passionately jerking my cock, for what seems like months. If our roles were reversed, I probably would have gone out for pizza while he was jerking off. I would have gone out for pizza in Italy.
While he towels off, I put on my clothes and jacket, stuff my lube and unused condoms back in the bag, and head home. I am barely out of his house when I notice a woman in a burka walking toward me. Most days, a woman in a burka would set off my inner-activist, I'd think how wrong it was for a woman to be forced to cover herself. Today all I can think of was how comfortable she looks. How warm. How safe. If she'd just come from robbing a bank or fucking a stranger, nobody would be able to pick her out of a police lineup. I am walking the streets in tight pants. And my fly is open.
I'm distressed to learn that any fake ad I place on Craigslist gets hotter reponses than my real ones. Some people think it's cruel that I occasionally place ads when I don't really intend to whore myself out anymore, but if someone interesting, or at least someone hot, responded to my ad I'd consider them. Unfortunately, everyone on Craigslist is either illiterate or has finely honed fetishes that I either can not or have no desire to fill.
Aside from the usual crop of thirty-eight year old uggos who want me to suck their dick, ignoring the fact that my ad mentioned that I was looking for someone younger than me, and that I wasn't looking to suck anyone's dick, today I received enough extreme fetishes to hit Craigslist Bingo.
1.) A straight chick, who is so out of shape she can't walk, is apparently looking through the men for men section hoping to find someone she can convert. I did not reply.
2.) Two "straight" guys looking for a "young, petite male student" to suck their dicks while watching television. But they "don't want to do anything gay." I'm sorry, getting your dick sucked by a guy is gay. Even if it's by a young, petite student. I know, the Catholic Church and NAMBLA would like you to believe that if you're getting your cock sucked off by someone who looks like a little boy, you're not necessarily gay. Well, you are. And odds are, if you're only into young, petite, submissive boys, you're probably not just gay, but a pedophile. Please register at your local precinct. Also, my ad says I'm 27, not 17. I did not "misleed" you.
3.) An absolutely hot, physically flawless specimen e-mailed me at 8 AM, responding to an ad I'd placed the night before. I was out voting. When I came back I had his first e-mail (8:04) with pics exhibiting his incredible hotness. I also had a second e-mail (9:25) accusing me of being a pic collector. Dude, I was not at the computer. Your hotness gets overruled by your impatience, poor grammar and excessive use of exclamation points. And the third e-mail (9:34) threatening to "xpouse" me was so funny that I'm thinking of having it framed, and hung up on my wall.
4.) "Straight" Asian guy who likes to dress up as a woman and get spanked. I wish you all the luck in the world, I'm just not into that. E-mailing me your phone number, and pics of you in drag after I respectfully declined to meet you is not going to accomplish anything. Even if you e-mail the information to me again, an hour later.
5.) There's this guy who lives down the street from the house I lived in when I first started this journal. Every day. EVERY DAY, he posts at least ten ads about how he wants "straight" guys to just knock on his door, whip out their cocks, throw on a condom and fuck him silly. After seeing his ad for a few weeks, I finally responded to it in February. I figured it was right down the street, and I'd never done anything like that before, even during Whore Month. Why not? Well, I asked him for a pic. All he had to say was "I'm in the closet, and terrified of being exposed (or xpoused, if he preferred), I don't feel comfortable sending out a pic," and I would have either gotten so drunk that I didn't care, and headed over to his house, or I would have wished him luck, and filed that fantasy away for another day. Instead, he got super aggressive and sent me all these e-mails about why he shouldn't have to send a pic to get laid, his offer was so good, it shouldn't matter if he weighed 800 pounds and had a skin condition. Ummm. Yea. Now my fantasy is to meet someone who's fucked him. I want as much info as I can get before meeting him. Someone needs to write this man's memoirs, and I think I'm the guy to do it.
6.) There's this one asshole who posts ads every couple of months with these really specific age limits and things that he's willing to do. While his ads are always hilarious to read, I get the impression that he's fucking with people, and probably collecting stories for a book. I hate that shit.
7.) Special Occasion posters. These people always suggest that they're only being gay because it's some sort of holiday. Their birthday, Christmas, Ramadan, Arbor Day. Today, every tenth ad had some reference to "pulling levers" on "Erection Day". Oh, ha ha you clever faggot. I'd never noticed the similarity between election and erection until today. Really, you and the other thirty-five people that posted that today are the supreme height of witiness, why don't you go write a LiveJournal entry mocking other people for their Craigslist post. That will show them, huh?