Tag Archives: loneliness

I Think It’s Better the Second Time Around

24 May

As she fumbles to get the key into her front door, the realization occurs that this is the best part of the night. The bits that occur after the idle twenty minute chatter in the kitchen is what brought me here, but isn’t the knowledge or feeling that this person is eagerly and willingly walking you into their bedroom equal to or better than the physical sensation of the act? If that weren’t the case, it wouldn’t matter who was on the other end of that sensation, would it? We’d fuck like blind rabbits. Isn’t the person in question usually carrying out some sort of role or aim we’ve concocted for them? Isn’t that the point?

I am more alone here than if I were by myself in my bedroom. The drone of my fan is missing. The person warming the back of my neck with her breath is a stranger. The most she can provide for me is a prop body for me to close my eyes and pretend it to be the one I would rather be with. I sold myself out there, recognizing her excessive giggling and brushing of limbs. I said things I didn’t mean and censored opinions and laughed at dumb jokes and ignored inane commentary and did nothing but prove to myself that being myself isn’t the reason I got here. And for what? What have I sold my character and time for? A mediocre drunken blowjob? Twenty minutes of thoughtless, distracting pleasure? This is far more shameful than paying for it monetarily.

I peel her arm away from my body and slip out into the quiet night, the slush of wet snow making a squishing, sucking sound as I walk. We often choose these partners on the merit of a thoughtless interaction – no phone numbers, no breakfast, no strife. But this is never the case. They are serving as an antidote to loneliness, an assurance. A replacement to disperse affection on and fuck when we can’t be with the ones we want. The situation cannot be casual and mutual, as neither party understands the other’s thought process. A disconnect exists that prevents comfort and flippancy.  I used her while I thought of someone else. She was no different than a walking, talking, flesh-and-blood masturbation tool – a blow-up doll with a pulse.

I stop into the gas station to grab a pack of cigarettes and to get the sting of feeling back into my numb fingers. The skinny middle-aged man behind the counter is the same one who sold condoms to us a few hours earlier, rolling his eyes as we stumbled and howled near the coffee machine. Now he gives me a sly smirk and a wink as I hand him a five.

It all comes down to the desire to love and be loved. Without that passion, that seeking of affection, that hazy sense of romanticism, you are merely fucking a stranger, and with every stranger I fuck I feel a little less able to ever believe in those things again. We de-emphasize love while we scrutinize sex, and why are we scrutinizing sex in the first place, outside of the lacking of what we expected it to provide? We attach some grandness to it, some buzz, that it can’t live up to because, well, it’s just sex. It’s mythos lies in validation, in the giggling and high fives of friends, the images of media, our green nature on a subject we have to fight ourselves to frankly discuss; without affection, it is simply a highly pleasurable sensation, something akin to a massage at the spa.

By the time I arrive home my pant legs are soaked halfway up to my shins, rings of salt dust layering around their ends. Seth is asleep on the couch, an episode of Taxi glowing from the television. I peel off my jeans carefully, making sure not to touch the frozen ends to my skin.  The tips of my toes are still numb as I crawl into bed. Every now and again I hear the faint sound of Danny Devito’s animated ranting. I grab an extra pillow and pull it to my chest, drifting off to the low hum of my fan and the canned laughter of a 1970’s studio audience.


All We Are is All Alone

19 May

We went from bar to bar – rickety service elevators in meat-packing districts opening to purple velvet, fish tanks, make-out rooms, steel bartops, drinks by the bottle. They paid for everything and introduced me to their ‘fag hags’, one of whom was Ellen. She had black hair that looked red in certain light, marble blue eyes and wore a black cocktail dress with a long coat that looked like something a businessman would wear. She had a fierce intellect, a wealthy family and a studio apartment on Bedford. Why she held my hand in the dead of winter outside the Christopher St. station, looked into my eyes and kissed me, I’ll never know.

She ran five miles and threw up her lunch and spent fifteen minutes fidgeting under an incubator and read glossy magazines with models on the cover and put on glittery, sparkling war-paint and bunched her brightly colored toes over thin, curved planks and bit her lip as she stared into the funhouse mirror of her mind. And she most certainly didn’t do it for a guy like me.

These slip-ups were apt to happen back in school, but this wasn’t just any girl, it was a Manhattan girl, who was taking a semester off from Brown, who traveled with her sister to London and Greece at seventeen, who lived in a brownstone, who fucked lawyers for clothes and vacations. Girls from my hometown kept pens from hotels in Toronto to remind them of weekend trips. But when I looked into her eyes, I noticed that Manhattan girls are the same as Ohio girls; they only have fancier costumes and better opportunity.

She pointed out the apartment they used for all the exterior shots on Friends, which was on her street, and I looked up at it as we walked by, flakes of snow breezing through the glow of the streetlight. It was that moment, the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album cover, that solidified my status as an adult, as truly existing in the world. Here I was, walking through the Village (was I? I was pretty sure I was) with a beautiful woman, having spent the night stumbling around lower Manhattan with wealthy trendsetters, a week away from starting work on a nationally televised late night show and what’s more adult, more cool than that? And yet on another level, it seemed nothing had changed.

I had always thought that when I got to this level of adulthood, of ‘someday’, that things would somehow be different. But everything was all too familiar. Her breath was stale and beer soaked and she had cocaine-sprinkled mucus caked around the rims of her nostrils and our lips mashed together as we tried to kiss-and-walk and it was just as sweaty and smelly and confusing and nerve-racking as it’s always been. I didn’t feel what I’d expected cool and adult to feel like, which was in control, or in love, or assured of purpose. I still felt like nothing more than a scared shitless kid lying awake in the apartment of a girl who was mysterious and flitting and went to an Ivy League school and was bi-coastal, and who despite all that seemed like nothing more than an equally scared shitless kid with a more desirable lifestyle. It felt like nothing new.

Whenever one is gazing around at the living quarters of a stranger they plan to or have gone to bed with, there is always a moment – sometimes as brief as a millisecond – where the little David Byrne voice pops into their head and says ‘How did I get here?’, and I hear it as I am looking at a picture on her nightstand of her and her brother?/boyfriend?/friend? at the bottom of a ski slope. She is wearing a puffy North Carolina blue coat and she has an orange tan that match the lens of her goggles. I hear a car honk in the distance.

We are adversaries, I thought to myself, watching her sleep. That’s all we know, people like us, isn’t it? Adversarial romance. Pushing you against a wall and going into make-out rooms and batting eyelashes and carefully selecting words packed with meaning set to incite their receiver and trading stares that are anything but honest. We are afraid of each other, and we have to be. Because if I hang around with you strange, new people long enough, I will become just another guy and my Midwestern mystique will become Midwestern simplicity and you will become just another girl and your sultry mystique will appear to be nothing more than a pathetic need for attention, and only then will we be able to give each other honest looks and words, and there’s no quicker way to kill romance for people like us than to have that kind of honesty. I could love you, I thought, as she smiled in her sleep, but you’re only looking for those who want you. Or perhaps that’s what we were all looking for. I determine that the skier is a boyfriend and drift off to sleep.

I slip out a little after nine with an excuse that is met with sleepy murmurs and head on foot to Big Cup, the only place I know to go, my head buzzing in the gray Manhattan morning. Back at school, this is known as the ‘walk of shame’, where you are leered at by the walking seniors and visiting parents as you burp up beer from the night before and trip over your shoelaces. Here, nobody gives a fuck. I stop on my way there and puke in a garbage can, and I don’t think anyone notices.

‘Welcome to New York!’ Louis says with a wink, eying my previous day’s wrinkled clothes and unintentionally tousled hair. The thought occurs to me that he’s still not aware that I’m straight. He just laughs when I ask if Todd or any of the others have been by. A skinny black guy with pirate earrings and stoplight red pants says with a hand wave that none of them will be up for at least another two hours. On the train home a homeless man recites bad poetry. I give him four dollars.