Archive for April, 2010


25 Apr

At some point I realized my cheek was getting hot.

Sarah kept talking, and I listened. One hand, holding a beer I’d filched from Cory, dangled off the side of the futon. With my other hand, I opened my email and scrolled through the progressively more horrifying links that Sarah sent me. I couldn’t be sure whether she was trying to impress me or shock me, and a graceful way to end the conversation had not yet occurred to me. About fifteen minutes earlier, my arm had gotten tired, so I lay on my back and balanced my cell phone on my face. The battery had begun to overheat and the speaker was slipping away from ear. I clicked away from her most recent atrocity and started to research how much radiation my phone was pumping through my head.

“Here, watch this clip I’m sending you now. It’s the best thing. It’s hilaaaariousssss!

Sarah spoke that last word often and invariably in a high voice, with peaked vowels and drawn-out sibilants, using a singing voice that would have seemed clear and beautiful if it were talking about anything else.

She’d sent me pterodactyl porn.

By pterodactyl porn, I mean a live action video of two men, dressed as pterodactyls, double penetrating a woman. Their costumes had been very well done and seemed convincing in a 1950s monster movie sort of way. Their wingspans and crests, apparently made of kites and molded plastic, impressed without ostentation, and the director had chosen not to go for the obvious Jurassic Park references, which, I think we can all agree, would have been cheap. As a finishing touch, the men had been sprayed down with some texturing substance, leaving only their unpainted and improbable junk as a testament to their humanity, although it was possible to see their faces inside the dinosaur beaks. The starring actress, fellating one pterodactyl and being sodomized by the other, refused to be distracted by the saurian flapping and squawking. In spite of the nightmarish scene happening all around her, she still managed to appear to be enjoying herself.

What she showed me next mercifully consisted only of still, hand-drawn images. It was a full comic of cannibal porn. Rotisserie women, women a la carte, women beheaded and baked. The link after that led to giant porn. Impossibly large women swallowed tiny men or captured them in order to shove them into their vaginas.

Her next offering was E.T. porn. The thirty second clip consisted of a woman done up to look like E.T., with long fingers, a wide boxy head, long glowing fingers and googly eyes. These last had probably come from a craft store, as the alien’s pupils rattled wildly with every toss of her head. As with the pterodactyls, her costume ended at her crotch, revealing very human genitalia. Her partner’s eyes were closed. Probably the maintenance of his erection required him to shut them. His effort of will impressed me.

“Elllll-eeeeeeee-oooooot,” the actress croaked. Sarah laughed in my ear. I adjusted the phone.

“So, um, do you want to go out for a drink tomorrow?” I don’t know why I said this. “On Friday night, maybe we can go to the Wexner and see a movie.” I don’t know why I said that either.

“Maybe. I have a call coming in. I’ll talk to you soon.” She hung up. I brushed my phone off my face and finished the rest of Cory’s beer.


Home Again

18 Apr

There is a song which says one is the loneliest number. It goes on to claim that two is as bad as one; that in fact, it’s the loneliest number since the number one. If you extrapolate these claims, the implications for loneliness among the higher numbers are staggering.

I walked home from Simon’s, cutting over from Neil to High Street once I’d gotten safely north of the Valley of Panhandlers. I thought about math. A number existed that was not lonely; that much seemed certain. Cory and Molly made a good argument for two being, at least, less lonely than one. As I climbed the stairs to my room, I heard their muffled voices through the door. Chardunk scratched insistently and deeply at their lintel, mewing plaintively. I edged past him and slipped into my room, being careful to keep him out of it. I was giving myself too much credit, though. If you weren’t Molly, the cats of our house were uninterested. He ignored me.

Additionally, Jason served as evidence for one and a half being not quite as lonely as one. His and-a-half came in the form of a long distance relationship with his Canadian girlfriend, Jana. She distinguished herself from other Canadian girlfriends by being real. She spent most of her time far away, but when she stayed with us, she was nice to me. I appreciated that, although they also spent much of their time with the door shut.

I thought about my three roommates and concluded that, regardless of anything else, four definitely qualified as lonely.

Greybert, our kitten, reached a paw under my door and mewed. I let her in and lay down on the futon. To maintain the illusion of space, I kept it in couch form. Usually cats were barred from my quarters, but kittens, like all other cute things, have privileges. She nestled between my legs with her head on my butt and fell immediately to sleep. I opened my laptop.

Craigslist, I’d decided, was too dangerous. Not in any physical sense: If I was going to be ambushed by a psycho from the internet who would sedate me, confiscate my kidney and leave me in a bathtub full of ice, at least that would be interesting. The story alone would be worth a kidney. Two, even. Humiliation, however, was boring. If the end result was to be public shame, I could accomplish that without anyone’s help.

I logged into A few people had visited my profile. Without real interest, I scrolled through the list of new users. On a Tuesday, in the summer, at 3:49 in the morning, 3,327 people were online, uploading photos, writing emails, looking at other people’s profiles, looking at their own. Each of these people had paid for something that can only be bought in facsimile, which can be worse than going without. 3,327 might be the loneliest number. At the least, it was as lonely as one.

My inbox held three emails. One was clearly spam; another was only a sentence long. A woman named Sarah had written the third. She was articulate, blond, and possessed of a polysyllabic vocabulary. She was also possessed of an impressively aquiline nose that, properly employed, looked like it could crack walnuts. I decided she was pretty. I’d email her in the morning.

Greybert woke up and I shooed her out into the hallway. Without bothering to undress, I crawled under a sheet and fell to sleep.


Havana, part 3

11 Apr

“Can I get you a drink?”

Simon was an aging queer of the gym-going variety—the sort who wore polo shirts painted on over muscles that, while still natural, nevertheless made you think of steroids. Or maybe Mickey Rourke. He lived in a fashionable walk-up in the Victorian Village with a woman who seemed to be his girlfriend. Or maybe not. It seemed rude to directly inquire after the nuances of my host’s sexuality, and given that I’d apparently snapped off the antenna to my interpersonal radar and crammed it squarely up my own ass, I opted for discretion. We’d driven there after leaving Havana, Beth et al. in one car, Simon and I alone together in the other. In the meantime, Beth and her entourage lounged on the porch, casually smoking, leaning on stationary objects or each other.

“Sure. Um, gin and tonic.” Gin and tonic? Clearly I’d panicked. Some hours earlier, my mind had gone to a warm place in self-defense and I was still thinking about Christmas trees.

Before we’d left Havana, karaoke happened as promised, although that promise had taken on threatening characteristics in hindsight. My idea of karaoke consisted of a booze-soaked barfly singing into a booze-soaked microphone, an idea that I’d reinforced with regular attendance at Punk Rock Karaoke in one of the Short North’s scummier dives. Punk Rock Karaoke solidly maintained its reputation as a good time, despite my conspicuous lack of punk or rock.

Drinking is essential for karaoke. If I’ve become drunk only slightly, maybe I’ll take the mic for an atonal but very sincere “Satisfaction.” Five beers down might get you “Rock the Casbah.” Blind drunkenness sometimes leads to that “500 Miles” song from the end of Benny and Joon, and if no one sings back at the “da dadada da” part I get super pissed. Earlier, Beth and her friends crammed together on the karaoke stage in a giggling and high-friction mass in order to let the rest of the bar know that, in fact, “It’s Raining Men.”

There isn’t enough beer in the world.

Simon sat down on his tasteful and well-appointed leather couch. It was the sort of thing I imagined people buying from Ikea. I’d never been to Ikea, but something about the couch seemed vaguely Swedish. “So, how do you know Beth?”

“We met a few nights ago at Skully’s.” Technically, this was true. Another rule of internet dating is this: If you are not actually on the internet at the time, revealing that you’ve met someone on the internet sounds fucking stupid. As pleasant as Simon was, I wanted him to know nothing about me. “How long have you known Beth?”

He sipped his drink and launched into a fractured and rambling reminiscence that had only slightly to do with Beth and mostly to do with his perception of himself as still late-twentysomething and not late-thirtysomething. I zoned out, observing his apartment’s wood paneling and stained bookshelves with tired and indifferent envy. He came back to the topic. “I think one of the reasons that Beth and I have been able to stay friends for so long is that I don’t hit on her.”

Do tell.

He turned to look at me. “Do you want to go out on the porch with the others?”

I peeked out the front blinds. Most of her friends still stood or sat on the porch, smoking and talking, but Beth and Bed Head had disappeared. “What happened to Beth?”

“Oh, she went off somewhere with Adam. I think there’s a love connection happening.”

“No, thank you. I’ll just call a cab. I have to work in the morning.” This was not true, technically or otherwise. It was, however, plausible and necessary. The clock claimed it was past three. I believed it. I thanked Simon for the drink and left, saying nothing to the people on the porch. After a few wrong turns I found Neil Avenue. I walked north with my hands jammed deep in my pockets.


Havana, part 2

04 Apr

The likelihood of a gropee being able to successfully identify a groper is inversely proportional to the density of the immediate population. This is Newton’s First Law of Groping.

Nothing good can possibly come of identifying the groper, so it’s probably best if Newton’s First Law precludes successful identification. This is Newton’s Second Law of Groping.

Newton was a pervert.

I stood up straight, involuntarily clenching my buttocks. The bartender placed my beer and bourbon in front of me with a polite leer. I looked around, but there was no hint as to who’d grabbed my ass. The men at the bar had bar faces. Some of them smiled; some did not. All of them evaluated me casually with a deliberately crawling gaze, lingering occasionally at my ass or lips. Usually, bourbon is for sipping. This tasted awful. I shot it, chasing it with beer, and walked back to the pool table.

A short man with dark skin played a solo game. I leaned against the wall and watched him play. He smiled at me and invited me to play the next game. Gratefully, I accepted. I reached out to shake his hand.


“My name’s Mike,” he said, pulling me closer and kissing my cheek near the corner of my mouth. “So, are you gay or bi?”

“Um,” I said. “Straight.”

His face cycled through disappointment, annoyance and back to politeness. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I—”

“No, it’s fine. Really. Really. Do you want to play eight ball or nine ball?”

We played a few amicable games punctuated with awkward conversation. He drove a taxi and was trying to save up enough money to open a café. He never learned my name or what I did, but he did force me to admit what I was doing there.

“Well,” I said. “I’m on a date.”

He glanced up from his shot to look at me, declining to mention how excruciatingly obviously we were the only two people in the room.

“That’s nice,” he said, and changed the subject.

After my third thorough thrashing (although this last game I had managed not to scratch the eight ball), I thanked Mike for the games and walked back into the main bar with the intention of continuing through it and out the front door. A cab at this point possibly could have been justified even with my crippled finances, but I thought that running the High Street gauntlet would be useful in distracting me from my shame. I fantasized about punching that dwarf in the neck after one too many kicks in the shins.

I turned my head toward the sound of raucous and unmistakably female laughter to my left. Beth sat in the midst of a gaggle of acolytes, some men, some women, some young, some not. A boy in his early twenties sat next to her, draping one arm across the bench behind her. Occasionally he’d touch his lovingly architechtured bed head, presumably to make sure his hair hadn’t been flattened by actually resting his head on something.

I followed their gaze to the karaoke stage, where a few girls from their group were drunkenly belting their way through a Streisand anthem.

Escape remained possible.

I took a few more steps toward the door, glancing back up at the table where Beth held court. She saw me and waved.