[In which I apparently date incorrectly]
I went and checked out a different bar in Columbus Thursday night. I didn’t bring my book into the bar. This was new territory, and I didn’t know if it would have a good place to flash the glittery raccoon. [No, this is not a euphemism. Click on a link once in a while, people.] Needless to say, I was bored almost immediately. So, out came the phone. Thank god for Instagram and the endless twiddle-worthiness of its filters, or I would’ve been tempted to re-up with any one of the several “location-based dating apps” that used to litter my phone. I cannot go back to having things on my phone that make me feel bad about myself. That’s what the rear-facing camera is for.
A few weeks prior to my move from Brooklyn to Columbus, I deleted my profiles in those various apps and sites that supposedly would help me find a geographically convenient guy with whom to do anatomically inconvenient things. They go by names like Scruff, Manhunt, Recon, Grindr, Growlr, Lepr, Regrettr, Alienatr, etc. It’s too easy to just mindlessly scroll thru the endless parade of thumbnail photos of body parts, judging people based on pictures smaller than one-inch square. And if I’m judging, I know I’m being judged right back.
In all of these, I am very specific that I am not interested in a random hook-up. I need some connection before the depravity begins. I also add something along the lines of: “There is no greater aphrodisiac than a complete sentence.”
So, I would obsessively flip between the apps, allowing that weird repetitive behavior aspect that’s somehow part of my bipolar to take over. Of course I never actually initiate contact with people because then they might actually respond. So I wait. The replies of course are slow to come in because, despite my childlike demeanor and that cement truck full of Just For Men I regularly back up onto my face, I refuse to lie about my age.
But eventually replies trickle in.
“’Sup?” Not only is this not a complete sentence, not only is this not a complete word, this is a shortened form of a portmanteau-lite that was dreamed up for a Budweiser commercial that ran fifteen years ago.
“Looking?” Aren’t we all looking for something, or at something? Chance are that at the moment I got that message I was simultaneously looking at the TV and looking for a hairball I know the cat looged up about 30 minutes ago. People who ask this question are the type of people for whom sex is like a visit to Jiffy Lube in that they have an 18-point checklist they expect you to go thru on them. If you miss just one, they are disgruntled, and leave a one-star Yelp review.
“Looking to play?” Ewww. For some reason the 1972 song by Clint Holmes “Playground in My Mind” starts spinning in my brain in my brain.
I always want to respond to these folks, “No, I’m looking to make love.” But, I just ignore
“Top?” And how is that meth treating you, my friend? I ignore. Yet, I still feel a twinge of guilt.
“Woof.” I don’t even….
I know this is old hat to a lot of folks reading this, but here goes: In the gay community, there is a subset known as bears. They are usually overweight and possess enough vanity to want to cover their multiple chins with a beard. They often were flannel because it’s the easiest type of shirt to find in XXL. When one bear sees another bear he likes, he barks like a dog because it’s easier to spell than whatever noise bears actually make. WOOFing is stupid and lazy. To me it always sounds like someone is saying “Worf,” and I want to geek out over Deep Space Nine. (But trust me, one needs to develop a certain level of trust before DS9 geekiness can be revealed, even more so than some of your more moisty fetishes.)
Some people get WOOF tattoos. Some of those tattoos are tramp stamps. These people are to be avoided.
Finally, finally a complete sentence comes in. “Hi, handsome. How’s your night going?”
“Hi. Thanks. My night’s going well. Made myself some nice pork chops marinated in orange juice and garlic. Now becoming one with couch and watching Archer. Hope your night’s just as exciting.”
Where does one go from “LOL”? I feel like I’m messaging with a toddler. I want to type, “Use your words BearMunch69.” Time passes with nothing else from him, so I offer something else that’ll hopefully get words because, if I squint hard enough at his thumbnail, he might be attractive. “Yeah, sometimes a guy just needs a little Pam Poovey in his night.”
Do I ask if he’s okay? Has he his head on the corner of the coffee table? Does he have Kuru, that laughing disease that only affects cannibals in Papua New Guinea after they feast on brains?
I try not to judge. People are into what they’re into. In fact, when I lived in Brooklyn, the two closest guys to me were one guy deeply into scuba gear (308 feet away) and another into Spiderman cosplay (O feet away, which might go a long way towards explaining why my 4th floor neighbor never made eye contact with me). Chacun à son goût.
Just tell me about it: “I LOVE Archer. I want to have Pam Poovey’s babies! Just finished sautéing up some medulla oblongata here in butter and shallots with a spinal fluid reduction. I’ll love to have you for dinner one night. ROFLMAO. Please send help.”
“Sorry, I’m not really into being eaten esp. on a first date. LOL. But I have called 911 for you. They know you’re 518 ft from me.”
“No worries. Thanks for calling them. Good luck with your search.”
“Have a great night.”
“You too :-)”
But ‘turning someone down, no matter how politely, sometimes leads to vitriol. “Ugh. Your not even that hot,” says the guy who Woof’ed me five exchanges back. I sit and ponder that one for a while. Soon, it’s all I can think about. It’s not that someone has said I’m unattractive. They’re will always be people who think you’re repulsive, just as there will always be people who think you’re “totes adorbs.” But the fact that someone who felt that I was worthy enough to see his unsolicited junk now finds me unworthy because I didn’t feel like taking a car to Bensonhurst at 2am, just rolls around in my brain. I can handle my own cognitive dissonance; I’m not so good with others’.
In fact, the last several months in Brooklyn I never responded to anyone at all. It just felt unnatural to chat with a disembodied thumbnail pic. Chatting with an actual disembodied nail from a thumb held more interest. But I still would flip thru the apps, lamenting the fact that few people were responding to my pic and, in turn, not responding to those who responded. Then opening up another app. And repeat.
The ouroboros looks for love.
My move to Columbus would begin a new phase of meeting people face to face in healthy settings.
I signed back into Growlr, the location-based dating app for bears, after about three weeks in town.
I lasted 10 days.
I’ve now taken to reading books in bars. Can signing back up with Scruff be that far in my future?