Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Morning Questions: Grindring My Teeth Together Edition

I've been noting for the past year that whenever I'm in my home area and fire up Grindr, I might as well be seeing who's up for some sex on the continent of Antarctica. The closest people using the service are typically two miles from me, and no one ever says a damned thing. If I head into Manhattan, where the closest people are typically thirty feet from me (or once, at the Harlem stop on the Metro North line, zero feet away—I turned and looked at the guy next to me just as he looked up from his phone and saw me and smiled), I'll get a lot of messages. When I head down to Virginia, I get messages. If I head to New Haven for the day, I'll get battered. Hell, I got sex from Grindr out in the middle of Nowhere, New Jersey a few weeks ago.

But where I live is apparently the Bermuda Triangle of Grindr, where profiles and messages alike mysterious vanish, never to surface again.

Apparently the phenomenon causes profile photos to vanish, too, because whenever I do get a message from someone local, it's from a profile showing the default blank dark gray screen. Or maybe a photo of a nice lake. In other cities around the country, I hear they show, you know, their actual faces. It's a fad that hasn't made it here yet.

So I was driving home the other day when one of these faceless profiles started to message me. He had as his photo the Da Vinci Vitruvian Man illustration. No stats or age or anything to go on, of course. He said hello. I said hello. He asked how it was going. I said I was fine. He asked how big my dick was. I told him eight inches. He then informed me okay, but he didn't do hookups.

I thought to myself, Whatever, freak.

Then he asked me if that was a ring in my photograph. My profile, I should point out, has a nice photograph of all of me. I replied that it symbolized that I wasn't looking for another long-term relationship, since I was already in one.

Then the guy started coming at me in his messages with statements like, how could I cheat on my significant other like that? Was it really worth risking my relationship to be a common tramp? He had been in a relationship for four years and his partner's cheating had ruined it, and didn't I know how much pain and hurt I was causing? Nine, ten, a dozen messages, all like that.

When he was done, I wrote back the following.

1. When you use words like cheat and hurt, you're making assumptions about my marriage that might not correlate to its reality. 
2. All relationships are different. Do not assume that everyone demands the same thing as you in a relationship.
3. My relationship is not your relationship. Your experiences are not my experiences. We're different people.

Well excuuuuse him, he wrote back, for not being hip enough to be trendy like me.

I was pretty angry by this point (and not driving any more, in case you were worried), and wrote back that I had never disparaged his point of view, so I'd appreciate it if he didn't take an excellent relationship of nearly twenty-five years and be so reductive as to call it hip and trendy.

Well, he messaged back. He wasn't getting anything out of this conversation, and I was being rude, so he would be on his way. Then he flounced off, virtually.

I blocked him.

But you know, here's the thing. I was painfully polite to him, actually. I was honest about myself from the get-go. I didn't posit myself as superior, or wiser. I didn't tell him that I could understand why his partner cheated on him, since if he was going to be shrill and unpleasant to someone he didn't even know, I could just imagine how grating he could be when he was with someone he felt he could really let go with. I wouldn't really have minded a dialogue with him, even with the limitations of Grindr, if he hadn't projected all his fears and anger on me and started using judgmental language, like hurt and cheat and hip and trendy. Fuck, who has a relationship because it's trendy? Besides the Kardashians?

He, on the other hand, wasn't even honest enough to put up a photo. I sincerely doubt he looks like the Vitruvian Man. I'm not even sure he'd appear vaguely simian. He certainly didn't behave half-human.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let's get to recapping some of the questions asked me at

With fewer newspapers publishing book reviews and the number of physical bookstores in decline, what's the future of connecting writers and readers?

I'm not convinced that book reviews—at least in major publications like newspapers or magazines—really attract readers to new authors. I can't think of the last time I read a review in a newspaper or in The New Yorker or another magazine that made me say, "Hey, I should go out and pick up that book."

I've always relied on exploration and word of mouth to find new authors and good books. Exploration, as in poring over the shelves in a bookstore. Word of mouth, either from librarians (when I was much younger), friends, or family.

I still rely on both those things for new books—and I'm willing to listen to my librarian friends and I love to explore bookstores. But these days I also do so electronically. I see what my friends are reading and liking on sites such as Goodreads, that keep track of their libraries as they overturn, and in which they can write their own reviews. I have a couple of friends—librarians, even—who maintain blogs in which they recommend titles, and I've picked up several that way. I explore Amazon and its recommendations, and I also look at my local library's website to see what's come in lately.

The last five new books I've read, though? I picked them off the new books section in my local library, just by browsing and thinking they looked interesting. The old fashioned way.

If you had to compile a compulsory reading list, for anyone young/old, male/female/, gay/straight that they may not have been exposed to during their formative or college years, what would be on it?

This is a dangerous question.

It's dangerous because when someone is given the power to make something compulsory—even in their fantasies—it implies that it's okay for any one person to make thought-choices for a bunch of other people. And I don't think it is.

There's such a lot of good stuff to read out there that I think it's more important to cultivate people who keep reading for life. When I was growing up, my parents never really told me I had to read anything. They made suggestions of books they liked, but they knew that if they mandated titles, I'd hate them out of stubbornness. As I did with a lot of the books I had to read in middle and high school. (I still have no idea what happened in Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" or in "The Red Badge of Courage," because I was made to read them, and I hated them with a passion.)

But my parents did help me learn to love good stories, and they did insist that on my library trips, I had to check out a certain percentage of non-fiction books to the fiction I borrowed. I think that was a good habit—and not overly onerous—that made me an inquisitive reader. To this day, I am usually juggling about five books at a time, and for every three novels, there's a biography and a non-fiction work about history or art or religion in the stack.

This is what I'd like to make compulsory: programs that help kids explore the vast array of books out there, help them find the ones they enjoy, and that help encourage them to keep reading on their own, as a lifelong habit. No matter what titles they read in a case like that, they're sure to be exposed to a lot of good stuff.

you + coconut =?

Kid Creole?

What is your favorite plant or flower? Is scent important? You seem to know plants better than at least some, and your sense of smell seems keen (and important to your sensory world).

I know plants to a certain extent because my mother was a gardener, and I was her reluctant assistant. When we moved into the house where my dad still lives, it was in a time and region in which gardening was not merely a hobby, but a cultural mania; the neighborhood gardening association had its own building for meetings, and was less than half a mile away. All the best people people belonged. (My mother didn't. She never believed in the 'best people' crap.)

But she did garden. She grew roses, and loved summer flowers. (I liked bulbs because you planted them once and didn't have to worry about ever doing it again, basically.) She cultivated an apple tree and a fig tree, and landscaped the areas around the house in an attractive manner. In the spring and summers we'd grow vegetables and herbs. I learned a lot about gardening as her unpaid assistant, and still retain some of it. It's just never been a favorite pursuit of mine.

In Michigan I had a house in which the previous owners had carved out a huge, huge garden. It was always the bane of my existence, because I felt an obligation to keep it up, but no real desire to do so. I used to watch see real estate shows on television in which young couples were put off by houses for sale with concrete back yards, and I envied them. Before I moved to the east coast, on the day I closed with the young couple who bought the house from us, I showed up with a list of gardening tasks for them that was three legal sheets long. I felt a little sorry for them when they saw how much work it would be.

A small garden would suit me nicely in the future. Like, the size of a bathtub. If I could choose to grow anything, I'd probably grow nothing but herbs—basil, coriander, thyme, dill, and parsley.

do you have regular hiv and other std tests would you share results with your readers if you were to be infected,have you ever encountered bug chasers and hiv gifters do you believe as a top you are at minimilist risk or

So you think that because I—a private citizen—write a blog, that you—someone anonymous whom I don't know—have a right to my medical records?

That's ridiculous and solipsistic on your part, and it's never going to happen. You are not entitled to anything here. What I choose to give is what appears here.

I am under no more obligation to share my HIV status than I am my stress test results, my opthamologist exams, my grocery lists, my credit card numbers, or a chronicle of my ingrown toenail.

Would you please share the chronicle of your ingrown toenail? I think we'd find it highly riveting.

If I wrote it with enough sex, it probably would be.

My father used to have ingrown toenails, and his doctor managed to talk him into using dental floss daily beneath the corners of the nails on his big toes. Grossest use for dental floss ever.

how would you react if one of your kids had the same relationship with an older man that you had had with earl,would you try and end it or would you let it run it's course

My relationship with Earl—or indeed, any of the relationships I had with older men in my teen years—wasn't something I publicized to my parents. I carried on all my sexual escapades, as well as my romantic entanglements, entirely out of sight.

I'd hope that any child of mine would realize that he'd be able to talk to me about what constitutes a healthy relationship, sexually or emotionally.


  1. I have learned a new vocabulary word this morning. Solipsistic, huh. I have met many a person in my time who fits that definition. I am also sure that at time I have been that way too.

    Kudos on remaining polite to the Grindr Grunt who badgered you. Keeping your cool and being good with words is something you do very well.

    1. Tom,

      I guess I'm one of those people who (maybe naively) thinks that one learns stuff through dialogue; I'm not afraid of talking to people with viewpoints different from mine and exploring the differences—as long as it's an actual dialogue, and not someone bringing down the hammer of superiority down on my head, or coming at me with an intent to leave scorched earth behind. Then I get offended, and angry.

      But in a lot of ways it seems this guy's fears and anger got the better of him, and he wasn't going to listen to me at all. That's unfortunate.

    2. I find that good dialogues usually start with the implicit idea that each party wants to hear the other side. Unfortunately, coming out of the gates like he did with attacks kinda destroys that contract. And as much as I think your point is valid, I can see how its directness in the context of a numberated list can be construed as condescending, advocating an open/progressive/hip interpretation of marriage/whatever (which you actually didn't... you just noted some assumptions). He was aleady in an emotional state in his head.

      What I really don't understand is why he wants to know about your cock size if he's not looking for a hookup. I mean, I get the fact that a lot of people just like to flirt, but then why even bother discussing the ring thing... unless you're into that, which he obviously isn't. Hm...

  2. I love the guys on Adam4Adam, Grindr, etc that are not looking for hook ups. That's what those services are all about in the first place. This was another great post.
    Matthew Darringer

    1. I know, right? LOOKING FOR FRIENDS ONLY and then having a shot of their butt.

  3. "Common tramp"? You, sir, if tramp at all, are indeed a most uncommon one. And I mean that as the highest compliment.

    1. Throb, you know how to sweet-talk a boy.

  4. Hey, Rob. Grindr is so strange to me, mostly because I don't have it. It's like all these people have those new touch tone phones and I still have an old rotary. Maybe someday I'll join the 21st century with all its oddities and niftiness and annoyances. Maybe I'll need to be drug there. LOL.

    Have a good Sunday. Love you.

    1. Writer, don't worry about the technology. Just go put a wax cylinder on your phonographic machine, relax, and listen to a nice foxtrot.

  5. Now I know why you said last night you kept typing 'hiccups'. That Grindr guide was a hiccup in your day and that's what you were thinking.

    He slaps your wrist for being open, but if he if free and single now, doesn't seem to open himself. I can understand if he was hurt in his past relationship how he could be sensive on the subject. But he should just move on and just not have anything to do with you and not attach you for your choices in life.

    1. If he was hurt in a past relationship and wanted to avoid guys in a relationship, he should've just bypassed my profile, since he recognized immediately I wasn't single.

    2. Well if he knew before he contacted you that you were not single, then you are right he should have just moved on.

  6. Common tramp! Lovely!

    I find it very interesting that someone with his standards would be on an App like ... Grindr? Isn't that a little like looking for marriage on Adultfriendfinder?

    Did you ever introduce a boy friend to your parents? And if no, why? (From what I remember your parents were openminded, no?)

    1. I'm guessing that I will be getting a reader response of "But I DID find marriage on Adultfriendfinder!" any day now.

      I lost my mom many years ago. My dad has met and eaten meals with several of my lovers through the years. I did not introduce them as anything more than one of my friends, but I don't think he would've been exactly shocked if I had chosen to acknowledge more.