Several years ago on one of the instant messaging systems, I ran across a kid I vaguely knew. He was a twenty-four-year-old Mexican boy on a bowling league with friends of mine. I’d seen him at the alleys once or twice, but I couldn’t remember having ever talked to him. He had a reputation of being something of a twit. I thought you looked like a good guy to get to know, he messaged.
I think I’m a good guy to get to know, myself, but naturally I wanted to know in what way he was talking. He responded that he was talking about getting to know me sexually. Oh yeah? I wrote back. Why is that?
I know you’re an old guy and really not a GQ type, he wrote. I was in my late thirties at the time. I’m okay with that.
Knowing that my ego was not going to like the answer, I asked, And why is that okay?
He typed out, Because it means you don’t get to have sex all that much. While I absorbed that one, he added, So you won’t give me any diseases.
So let me get this right, I asked him. You’re messaging a perfect stranger to tell him that because you think he’s old and unattractive, he’s a good candidate for sex because no one in his right mind is going to have sex with him and give him diseases to pass on to you.
Yeah I guess so. Pretty much, he wrote back.
Jesus fucking christ. At the time, I wracked my brain all day today wondering if there was ever a time in my youth I ever told a guy he was old or ugly. If I had, I’d probably have understood why I was getting bit on the butt with karmic retribution. I’m positive I was never that unkind, though.
Listen, I told the kid. So you know. I’m sure you thought you meant well, but that kind of approach is really pretty hurtful. Then I gave him a quick thanks, but hell-no thanks. I suppose there are men out there desperate enough to accept the come-ons of a twenty-four-year-old who thinks it’s okay to insult his potential sex partners, but I’m certainly not one of them.
It was a little strange. I ran across this incident in my old journals yesterday when I was poring through some old entries, looking for something specific. Then within five minutes, I had two more encounters of the exact same type. They happened simultaneously, and both left me in a foul mood after.
The first (by mere seconds) came from another Latin twenty-something-year-old—a guy with a misleading profile name that included the word ‘nice’ combined with the year of his birth. He wasn’t so nice. Hey sexy how ru, he messaged me on Adam4Adam.
Hi there, I wrote back. I like your pics. He was a large-framed guy, but fairly good-looking, and had a good smile. A smile goes a long way toward making any man look attractive, particularly in a sea of profile photos taken by scowling at one’s own camera phone.
I rly like urs, he wrote back. U got a hot dick.
Thanks, I said. You should let me fuck you with it sometime.
Then things got rapidly and mysteriously sour. Go fuck urself asshole!!!!! he wrote back. I wouldnt let u touch me!!!
My reaction: What the fuck? So I wrote the kid back saying something like, you know, when you respond to someone’s expression of admiration with that kind of shit, don’t expect to have a real big circle of friends.
It was probably milder than he deserved. Then I blocked him.
Immediately after I sent that off, a message from some other Adam4Adam guy appeared. The guy was scruffy in a homeless way and only mildly attractive; most of his photos showed him swathed in huge hipster-ironic puffy winter coats or wildly-rumpled clothing, so that it was tough to tell whether he was skinny and trendy, or merely fucking enormous. Here’s his message, which I am reproducing in its entirety: you seem creepy - not entirely in a bad way.
And again, I was like, what the fuck?
In what universe, I wrote back to the guy, is it really acceptable to tell a perfect stranger that he looks creepy?
Put your ego in check, asshole! he wrote back. Yes, really. It was a fucking compliment.
In the future, I pounded back on the keys, my cheeks flaming and smoke issuing out of my ears like Elmer Fudd in some Looney Tunes short, perhaps you’d find that a genuine compliment would serve you better than the shit you’re serving up.
Then I blocked the fuckwad.
I’m really not sure I understand how people can be so rude on these sites. Sure, I get snippy when provoked. But are there actually people—outside of a certain subset of guys who maybe are really, really into flasher-in-the-park roleplay—who think it’s acceptable behavior to start off by telling a guy he looks creepy? Even if it’s modified with the damning faint praise of ‘not entirely’? I imagine any guy who’d use that as his opener and then would admonish me to keep my ego in check has some serious issues of his own, but jeez. Why do I have to be the lucky recipient?
So I’m turning it over to you guys. I know we’ve all been on the receiving end of bad treatment before, both online and in person. But have you ever had someone come at you right from the get-go with insults? And if so, how did you handle it?