Every now and then I need to remind myself of that fact. You’d think it’d be evident all the time, right? There are days, however, when I open my mail application and find the same old shocked-granny responses to my latest blog post, all of which read as if they were written by two-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Puritans still clutching original copies of the Geneva Bible. Then there are the stern schoolmarm responses in which I get lectured up and down for one thing or another—if it’s not lectures about the kind of sex I have, it’s lectures about the the nicknames I use in my blog for guys I see regularly, or chiding about seeing married men, or a stern scolding about corrupting younger guys, or just general dunning over my scandalous, sin-filled lifestyle and its effects on the seventy-five-mile radius around me. Then there are usually a generous helping of letters from the outright crazies—the guys off their meds who foam at the mouth and make no sense whatsoever, or send me notessssss ssssssaying that Sssssssatan hassssss sssssstolen my sssssssoul (yes, just like that), the stalkers who attempt to pinpoint my home address by analyzing the geotag information on my photos, and the schizophrenics who very kindly share with me their letters to god. Or outer space. Sometimes I can’t tell which.
Add to all that the guys who just want a ride on my coattails, the people who write a couple of times a week to criticize my grammar and word choices, the come-ons from guys I’ve already ignored a half-dozen times, and you can understand why there are days when I stare at all the trashed messages and wish I’d never started a blog and kind of wished my permanent address was in a cave without internet access or mail delivery.
So then I have to remind myself: I have some of the nicest readers around.
I have readers who email me genuinely interesting stories about their lives, who share of themselves in the same way I share with them. I have readers with whom I have genuine, long-term dialogues—stimulating back-and-forth conversation about the issues I raise that are of interest to us both. I have readers I think of as long-distance friends. I have readers who started as friends and became playmates in bed. And of course I have readers who send me naked photos of themselves for my enjoyment. (I can never have too many of those!)
The sweetness outweighs the rotten by far. I’ve been particularly struck by it this week, because of the many birthday wishes I’ve gotten from you guys already—and it’s not even my birthday until the latter half of the week. It’s not even the tokens a few of you have sent so far from my Amazon wish list that touch me most (though they do touch me in the most intimate of places…more pictures will be forthcoming in a few days, I hope).
It’s that I’ve received so many personal emails from readers who’ve written to wish me a happy natal day, and who tenderly inquire if I’m okay with the impending half-century mark. They tread delicately on the big, round number, fearful it might be a sore spot (unlike my real-life friends, who are only too anxious to crow about how old I am). They write to assure me that I’ve still got it, that I’ve got many great years ahead, and other messages of inspiration and support.
I love it. How can I not be touched? Who wouldn’t be grateful for such a loving bunch of people? I mean, heck. If you’re reading me regularly, I already know you have faultless taste, right? So thank you for making my week, last week, with your many messages of love. I’m definitely buoyed by the support.
Let’s get to some reader questions. If you’re a member over at formspring.me, I’m still collecting and answering questions there. If you’re not, just submit them to me via email with Reader Questions in the subject line and I’ll answer them anonymously in future editions.
I get tested regularly for all of them and check with my partners about their status. I understand you do as well. But those exchanges haven't appeared in your posts (which makes sense) and I'm curious how that works for you.
I know the foundation is both trust and knowledge, but the trust part, particularly when on-line, can be missing, or faint. What part does all of this topic play in who you bed or don't? Or in what play you engage in with them?
I don't discuss STDs in my blog because there are too many people out there who want to turn sex blogs into blogs about The Wages Of Sin.
It's bad enough that I get a ton of comments (that I don't publish any more) that are nothing more than passive-aggressive ill-wishing—crap like "Must be NICE not ever to worry about catching anything or giving it to others, huh!" I also get a substantial number of comments (that I also don't publish) that signal to me that some guys visiting my blog repeatedly are clearly getting off to the raw fucking, but feeling super-guilty afterward. It tends to turn them into stern schoolmarms who write things like "Sex should only be had safely!" or the ridiculous "Think of the children!"
Nobody's forcing these people to read my sexcapades. They could've left without comment at the first mention of unprotected sex. But they read, they enjoy what they read (why do it, otherwise?) and then they feel compelled to lecture me about my choices.
The life stories I share in my blog are mostly erotic. There are exceptions, but the focus is on the fun sex I have. I—and I suspect my readers—would find it decidedly unerotic if every time I recorded a sexual escapade I had a little section that ran:
"My darling, may I ask you a question?"
"Yes, of course, love," I say, gazing into his eyes.
"I just want to know—" he looks at me shyly. "Have you been tested for all relevant sexually-transmitted diseases in a recent and timely basis by a qualified medical practitioner?"
I give both his hands a squeeze. "I can assure you that I am utterly free of infection. Here are my papers, signed by an accredited physician belonging to the American Medical Association. Would you like to examine them while I give you a free back massage?"
"No, my super-hung stallion. That is not necessary. Do you have the condoms for the safe sex?"
"I do, for while sex is but a fleeting pleasure, love is for a lifetime, dear one."
He smiles. "Please allow me to apply it to your erect penis so that the safe sex may be had with vigor."
And yet, if you read any sort of steamy romance novel, or most gay erotica (no offense, but especially that written by women, or by guys who don't actually have sex), you'll encounter these kinds of eye-rolling, anti-erotic scenes as a matter of course. I'm not ever going to include that crap just to allay the fears of a subset of readers who are offended at the notion that I don't Obey The Rules. If readers don't like how I fuck, they can easily opt out of reading about it simply by going to some other website full of fake-ass shit.
I have contracted STDs in the past. In my thirty-eight years of sexual activity, I’ve had a few mishaps. I’ve contracted two or three cases of crabs. I've caught gonorrhea once, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I’ve tested positive for syphilis once, and endured the shots. I'm not going to pretend that unprotected sex doesn't have risks, because it does.
I always advise readers to take only those risks with which they are comfortable. If they are the personality type who writhes with anguish and regret after sex because of the fears of having contracted disease, if they are going to loath themselves for days on end because they might have been exposed to something, I'd recommend using protection all the way, every time. All those days and weeks of self-hate simply aren't worth the few minutes of sex.
I expect any of the guys I see who are taking risks to be a man about it and test regularly—and then to do something about the situation if they pick up something. And you're right, basically it comes down to a matter of trust. It's impossible for me to instruct anyone in how and when to trust someone else. For me, it kind of runs along the lines of asking myself basic questions like, "Does this man seem like he has enough on the ball to recognize an STD if he had one?" or "Is he likely to have access to and use professional health care providers if something came up?"
But I tell you, in recent years the big question I ask myself is, "Does this guy PNP?" Because if the answer is yes, I'll pass. All the close calls and actual trips to the clinic I've had in the last twenty years have come from guys heavily into partying. There's a point for those gentlemen at which the need for the drugs bypasses any other consideration to their own health and safety. Either they don't screen their partners in any form at all, or they are too high to notice that something's wrong with their systems, or—as in the case of the gonorrhea I once had—they know they've got something but just don't fucking care enough about their partners to tell the multiple guys they've lined up to fuck their hungry holes.
This is why, when I see profiles in which The men posTing Them Think They're being compleTely subTle abouT signaling Their use of crysTal meTh (but aren'T), I completely ignore them.
That's just one thing of many I look for. Everyone must come up with his own guidelines for with whom he plays and with whom he won't. If he's in a situation in which he's feeling uncomfortable about his partner's health, he should be prepared to extract himself gracefully. If he does catch something, he should be prepared to deal with it in an adult manner—and accept the responsibility that it might happen, before it happens. That's really all I can advise.
Whether it’s MH & A4A or BBRT or numerous phone apps including but not limited to Grinder, Jack’d, Hornet, or Scruff is there such a thing as too much exposure when looking for sex? How long should one hang out on line trying to secure a hook up?
Yes, I absolutely believe it's possible to be overexposed on these sites.
With Manhunt or BBRT or sites one accesses through the computer in a traditional manner, usually you can estimate how long a guy's been hunting on a site by his position in one of the 'Guys Online' lists. If he's near the top, or at least on the first couple of pages, he's only been prowling for a little bit. If he's way far down in the list, he's been at it for a few hours. Or days.
I think we've all known of guys who seem to be on all these sites 24/7. Frankly, I find it a little off-putting and needy . . . and I'm certain I'm not the only one . . . if I check in on Manhunt at eight in the morning and a certain gentleman checks me out within a minute of my login, and then I discover he immediately checks me out again on A4A when I check my mail over there two hours later. If he's doing the same on BBRT when I look in mid-afternoon, and I see he's still on Manhunt, trying to get my attention still if I check my mail before midnight, I find it definitely creepy and I'm likely to ignore him.
Sure, there are days when I'll be logged into a site for a couple of hours while I cruise. But iIf you're hanging around online every waking hour of the day, I'm thinking, you're not really using your time well . . . or you're intent on wasting mine.
I'm not going to instruct guys in how long is too long. We're all adults. I'm not paying your internet bill. You do what you want. But I've noticed that after a while on any particular site, fatigue sets in. Even my profile gets so ubiquitous that men just pass over it. (I know, right? How could they, the fuckers?)
I tend to take vacations from sites on a periodic basis. It really does work to use one site for a little bit and not any others . . . just for a couple of weeks. Perhaps work up a few new photos, in the hiatus. When I come back, I'm suddenly new meat again.
Did your parents read to you or make-up stories for you when you were little?
Both my parents read to me when I was very little. My mother was fond of reading picture books, particularly Dr. Seuss. My dad enjoyed reading aloud Peanuts comic strip collections for my juvenile enjoyment.
When I learned to read for myself at the age of 5 or 6, I was able to go back to the stories I really loved the most because of them, and read them for myself. I completely ascribe my love of story-telling to my parents, because no part of the day was as exciting to me as when they'd cuddle up on the bed with me, a book in one of their laps.
One of the things we used to do in the long summers when I was a little older, when we had only three stations to choose from on the television, no internet, and no video games to play, was to read aloud to each other as well. We'd sit on the side porch in the shade and while the cicadas buzzed away, read humorous essays by Bob and Ray or Erma Bombeck to each other, or sometimes plays we'd checked out of the library, or funny satires by Nathaniel Benchley or Wodehouse.
And then Pa would go out to the Dakota territories and kill a bear and Ma and Mary and Me would go into town and barter at Olsen's Mercantile for a yard of gingham.