A year ago I took something of an enforced break from writing when my health faltered. For a couple of weeks, I couldn’t even really sit up, much less have sex or have the energy to write about it.
Recently I’ve taken a break because . . . well, to be perfectly frank, I’ve been having something of a snit. I admit it. The reason sounds childish. But there it is.
My bad mood started sometime in August, when two ominous fronts collided and created the conditions for a perfect storm of massive pique on my part. I’m not really quite sure what happened on the first front—whether Mercury went into retrograde or not, or whether there was something in the local waters, or whether all those shirtless photos Nick Jonas was flooding onto Instagram made everyone feel inadequate about themselves. But for a while there, just about everyone I was cruising for sex was being a total dick.
Without going into too much detail, in my personal life there were a couple of gentlemen I took to bed with whom I had incredibly intense and connected experiences. I would’ve been okay if they’d been one-time encounters. Honestly. But both of them, as we lay there in post-coital entanglement, made elaborate plans how how we should be seeing each other regularly. One was a young guy with a sense of sexual adventure who told me about the places and parties he wanted to take me, so we could show off our fucking to others and have them join in; the other was a more mature, more passionate lover who wanted me to spend weekends with him at his cottage in the country, screwing like rabbits. I liked both men. They appealed to the pig and the romantic in me.
Of course, I never heard from either of them again, after I drove home. I sent emails and texts that got no replies. After a couple of weeks, and with a lot of disappointment, I just gave up on them both.
Online I wasn’t encountering just the standard assholery, either—the guys who unlock their photos for a hot second and then immediately lock them again before I’ve had a chance to look at them, or the ones who commit to a date a couple of days in advance and then stand me up before 48 hours have elapsed. No, I’m used to them. I’m used to the guys who hit me up hard and horny on Scruff, who want to wheedle their way into my pants one minute, and who ignore my existence the moment they’ve jerked off. These guys went above and beyond that already-low bar of behavior.
For example, this exchange, reproduced verbatim, was pretty typical of what I encountered:
SOME GUY: You have a really great smile! And dick!
ME: I appreciate the compliments. You’re really handsome as well.
SOME GUY: I didn’t say you were handsome.
There was the guy who said You’d almost be hot if you weren’t so old. And there was the guy who gave me the back-handed compliment (I think?) of You look like the creepy pervert who hangs out at the high school stadium staring at the cheerleaders but I find that kind of hot in a way. I could go on for quite a while, but why revisit each and every affront? August was a month in which guys managed to put my ego to the rack and pillory in just about every conceivable way.
Normally I can shrug that shit off. It’s just part of the crap with which one gets spattered when one’s dredging the local waters for sex. At the same time, though, I was getting stressed out by a fairly sizable contingent of my readers.
Most of my faithful followers know that over the years I’ve been plagued by a handful of trolls, ill-wishers, and the downright psychotic. Hurtful though their responses can sometimes be, lately they’ve been nothing compared to burdens put on me—and I say this as gently as possible—by readers who would consider themselves well-meaning, upbeat, and positive. And I had a lot of those this summer.
The common theme between them all seemed to be that I owed them all something. They read my blog, was their implication, so now it was my turn to give back. For example, I had what turned into a contentious discussion with one reader who at first chided me on Manhunt for not replying to his mails there more quickly. After all, he read me all the time, so I should be responding to his messages first, and immediately. Then he asked me if I could give him the name of my blog and its URL. When I suggested that if he really were a regular reader, he should have the thing bookmarked instead of bugging me about it (I probably worded it more tactfully, but that was definitely my implication), the guy blew up. I should be more nice, he complained. I really needed to go more out of my way for my readers. I owed them that kind of courtesy. (I blocked him, and good fucking riddance.)
Then there were several readers who were going to be in my area, some quite close, some not so much. Many of the former expected—didn’t ask, just expected— me to show up and provide stud service on demand, simply because they were readers and they wanted it. Many of the latter expected—didn’t suggest, didn’t negotiate, just expected—me to drive up to two hours away to fuck them because they said so.
There was one reader who started sending me drafts of his book, a 300-plus-page memoir, for critique. At first I attempted to make some vague comments about the opening first pages while strongly suggesting that he find a local writing group or someone (not me!) who was actually willing to commit a huge chunk of time to reading the damned thing. When those hints didn’t take and I outright told him that it was tough enough finding time to read the books I wanted to read, much less the unpublished projects of aspiring writers I had no desire to slog through or critique in detail, especially when I hadn’t ever, ever asked to see said projects, I was rather huffily told that it was curious I should expect people to read my blog and never do anything in return for them.
I had a handful of readers who would send me very, verrrrry long emails. Ordinarily when a reader sends me an email, if it’s short enough, I’ll respond back relatively quickly. If it’s long, the reader usually will have to wait a longer time for a response, because it’s more of an investment of my time to do the reply justice. If it’s very, verrrrrrry fucking long, he’ll be waiting a while. A couple of these wordy readers, however, started to send me follow-up emails to their original verrrrrrrry long inquiries that were variations on the following:
1) Did I get the original email? Because they could send it again.
2) Hey, they’re just wondering, did I get the emails to check up on whether I got their original email? Because they sent an email and I never replied. Just checking!
3) I still haven’t replied to the original email or the follow-ups. Would I like a copy of the original email again? Because they could send it if I didn’t get it.
4) I hadn’t responded to their emails yet, was I dead? Or was my email not working?
5) They’ve decided they must have said something terribly wrong in one of their several emails, because I haven’t replied. They were very sorry if that’s the case. If it wasn’t, could I respond to the original email?
6) They were sorry if they was inundating me with emails. They just wanted me to read their email!
7) HELLO???? AM I GETTING THEIR EMAILS????
Look. There are times I have lots of free moments to answer emails. And there are times when I’m busy with work and life and fucking and my time with my laptop is at a minimum. I try to answer email when I can. But the one best way to guarantee I’m going to postpone answering your email is to badger me with follow-up emails asking me why I haven’t answered your email. The one best way to guarantee I’ll never answer any of them is to send so many that I start grinding my teeth and actually feeling my blood pressure elevate whenever I see your name appear in my inbox.
I think the straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was the reader who told me he didn’t believe I was married. Nope, I was just saying that because—well, I don’t know why. Apparently he just didn’t seem to think I was a bill of goods anyone would actually buy. My word wasn’t good enough. The fact that I’m always wearing a wedding ring doesn’t matter, because anyone could wear a cheap ring. Of course I should’ve just rolled my eyes and told the guy that it was a shame he didn’t take me at my word. But no. I have a morbid curiosity that gets the worse of me. I caved and asked him what would constitute acceptable proof? A scanned copy of my marriage certificate, he informed me. Oh, and an immediate Skype tour of my bedroom, so that he could see there were two clock-radios and proof of living arrangements for two people, and not just one.
Never mind that asking someone to do such a thing is, in my opinion, horribly invasive, inappropriate, and offensive. I owed him a copy of that legal document.
I’m fully aware that anytime I complain about fans of my blog I sound like I’m some refugee from a formerly-popular-but-recently-dissolved boy band who makes a solo album that’s chock-full of songs about the pressures of stardom and how he wishes his fans would just leave him alone so he can chill, yo. But the fact is that while running a sex blog of some popularity has allowed me opportunities to meet and correspond with all kinds of fantastic people, there are nearly just as many times that fans have made my life a misery. Not all of them are bad as the time two years ago that one of my fans used my blog to stalk me in real life—but often close.
I’ve always felt that writing my blog is a gift from me to my readers. I don’t earn money from it. I rarely get presents out of it. I don’t ask readers to support advertisers or buy my T-shirts. The bargain between us is simplicity itself: I’m supposed to have fun seeking out sex and having it. I’m supposed to have fun writing about it. I’ve spent countless hours doing so over the course of several years so that I can share it with thousands of people. That investment of gas and lube and sweat and the long periods of time it takes to write about it is supposed to be a sweet giveaway from me to the strangers who are kind enough to take their time to read me.
Rather than take my gift at face value, there are a handful of readers—and again, I recognize they might think they mean well—who seem to assume that I owe them more than what I already was giving. Either their numbers surged, or I was in a bad enough mood that I allowed them to overwhelm me. Because suddenly, around summer’s end, none of it was any fun anymore.
I told a couple of close friends that I was declaring August and September to be ‘Boys R Stupid Months,’ and just withdrew. I gave myself permission to stop blogging until it felt like it would be fun again.
And you know, a couple of times it almost felt like it might be. I posted a couple of entries, hopeful that the old joy in sharing would return. Almost immediately I got reminded why it had become un-fun, as guys who’d never before commented would leave comments like Nice blog post but here is a list of typos I found EXTREMELY off-putting. . . or This doesn’t sound like the blogger I expect! or, god help me, Welcome back I guess but why haven’t you written about the Landscaper?
You know, being somewhat anonymous the past couple of months has been pleasant. I fuck, and don’t feel compelled to capture every little detail so I can recount it later. I don’t feel as if I’m having to be sexy, 24/7, in order to fulfill a reader’s expectations. An inbox full of reader emails? I’ve enjoyed seeing it as an option rather than a bundle of little obligations that add up to a prescription for anxiety and tense obligation. Being selfish has been, on the whole, a hell of a lot more relaxing than being giving.
Now, nobody can make writing fun for me again. That’s not anyone’s responsibility save my own. If I am to continue—and to be honest, I haven’t entirely decided whether that’s the case yet—the impetus for it has to come from within. It’s a decision that only I can make.
But readers, if you’ve gotten this far, there surely are a lot of ways that you can refrain from making my experience unenjoyable. It pains and even surprises me a little that I have to ask: but maybe a few of you could actually think about that, before adding to my to-do list? Maybe you could think of me as a person first, and an erection second? Perhaps you could ask yourself whether it’s appropriate to want copies of my legal documents, before making the demand?
Because that could make the going all the easier, trust me.