Monday, September 11, 2017

The 14th Reason

I decided to write my 13 Reasons series earlier in the summer when I realized I had a lot of stuff to get off my chest. Such a lot of stuff.

There often have been times throughout my sex blog in which I’ve discussed encounters that have gone bad, or my disappointments with various men. I do have a department of bad encounters tag that I use liberally, after all. On the whole, though, throughout my blogging career I’ve kept most of my entries upbeat and complimentary of my partners. I’ve portrayed my sport fucking as steamy, and fun, and adventurous. Perhaps even as enviable. I wasn’t wrong to do so; the sex I have has been all those things.

But there have been episodes, and periods, in which the bad has outweighed the fun and the good. The handful that made up my series were downright harmful.

I didn’t write about those encounters until now for many reasons. Some took time to process. Years, even. Others, like those involving cyberbullies and stalkers, felt like sleeping bears it might be unwise to poke. A lot of my bad memories, however, I avoided writing about because I was wary of how readers would receive them. Historically, my readers have liked it when I focus on the porntastic. When I write openly about what’s bothering me, they’re not as pleased.

My reader feedback in the last few weeks has kind of borne that out. “It was a LOT of Cory,” someone told me today. And yes, yes it was a lot of Cory. There was a lot of Cory in my life for a year, and to this day I’m still dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath. So yeah, for you, four entries might’ve been an awful lot of Cory. For me, it was either the appropriate proportion of Cory, or given how sometimes he lingers, not enough.

“These posts are painful to read,” said another reader. “Some have made me cry.” I get that. I get that people have been reluctant to comment on some posts because my emotions in them are too raw, or too vivid. I respect that stance, even. People don't visit sex blogs so they can wallow in someone else’s misery. Everyone has enough of his or her own. My personal challenge at the beginning of the series was to write everything out as honestly as possible and damn the consequences. It was a good exercise for me. I recognize, though, it wasn’t everyone’s pair of pajama pants.

“I wish that your blog had just continued from where it left off, a year or so ago,” wrote one reader this week. And, my reader, if you happen to be recognizing your words on my page, fear not. I’m not trying to make you feel badly for your wish. I wish my blog could’ve continued from where it left off, too.

But honestly . . . it couldn’t.

Not writing about these hurts was smothering me. Every time one of my readers would spend weeks telling me I meant the world to him, only to disappear or deceive after we fucked, it weighed me down a little more. When one of my readers would demand more of me than he should, when he’d feel entitled to more than he’d earned, it pushed me down more and more. Maybe the individual disappointments each weighed no more than the lead apron my dental assistant drapes across me during an x-ray. But lay one, then another, then another . . . the cumulative weight suffocates.

It’s painful. They’ve made me cry, too. I wish I could’ve just picked up right where I left off. But I can’t.

When I started thinking about this series, in a fit of pique after my encounter with Bill 101, I modeled it after the (mostly ridiculous) Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, in which a high school girl, prior to committing suicide, recorded thirteen 45-minute cassette tape sides accusing thirteen of her peers for driving her to the grave. Each side was a Fuck you! from beyond the grave to one of her classmates who'd pushed her to that extreme.

Snapping Welcome to your tape! at someone who had pissed you off had become the meme of the spring; I was amused by the thought of appropriating it for the screeds I’d never written about the men who’d upset me.

I actually kind of had to weed from the final candidates the many readers who’d just kind of pissed me off, versus the ones whose actions were actually toxic to my well-being. So out went the guys who’d stood me up, or the ones who made promises they never kept, or never intended to keep. I narrowed my selection down to men who had impeded my creativity, to men who seemingly had gone above and beyond to disappoint. All along I intended to end with the knock-out one-two punch of Cory followed by the boy who fell in love with someone else—which I did. But the story of Cory I had to expand by a chapter more than I intended . . . because, again, there was an awful lot of Cory.

Originally I’d envisioned that the very last essay of the series would have been about its real and most persistent antagonist. That is, myself.

Writing these essays has brought me face to face with my many and abundant flaws. When I write about my monstrous vanity and my inflated ego, I’m not being charmingly self-deprecating. I mean to tell you guys I really do have a monstrous vanity and inflated ego.

Week after week I've had to confront ugly facts about myself. For example:

If I didn’t have such a monstrous vanity and inflated ego, I probably would’ve been strong enough not to go down the rabbit hole after the men who fed emotional heroin to those particular flaws. If cartoon birdies didn’t chirp in my eyes and my pupils didn’t dilate into Looney Tunes throbbing hearts every time some reader on the make started a conversation with Wow, sir, I really love your blog, I wouldn’t have had to put up with half the shit I ended up writing about for thirteen weeks.

If I didn’t think so damned highly about myself, if I didn’t truly believe at heart that I am always, always right, I wouldn’t expect men’s lives to be magically changed by my influence or presence. And then I wouldn’t be disappointed when they turn out, after all, to be just as human and fallible as I am myself.

If I were a more ruthlessly honest person, I’d question the morality of keeping a sex blog at all. Readers of my blog who choose to embark on a physical relationship with me are somewhat fair game; they know the likelihood of being written about. But men who are strangers to the blog? Is it fair of me to write about them, afterward—even if (as I do) I change their names and their circumstances to protect their privacy? What about men in my history, who may or may not stumble across my writings and happen to recognize themselves? (It’s happened, more frequently than makes me comfortable.) What kind of ethical compass do I follow, here . . . if I have one left at all, anymore?

I came away from this series feeling like more of a monster than any of the men I carped about. Anyone who imagined that I enjoyed my pity party would be seriously wrong.

But one of the things I try to do nowadays is to be a little kinder to myself than I typically have been in previous decades of my life. I don’t dismiss my offenses off-hand. Instead, I recognize my imperfections where I can. I try to isolate where I might have gone wrong, and see the path I might have chosen instead. Then I resolve to do better. That was the theme of this series, right? If we could do better, we would.

And I want to be able to do better.

My last thirteen entries took my readers through some dark places. I’ve left the impression with a lot of my readers, it seems, that I’m still feeling in the dark. Let me assure everyone, though, that I’ve been writing from a place of strength, and from a stance of conviction. Devastated as I was after the last two men I wrote about, I bounced back. I had pleasing physical and emotional relationships. I’m healthy. Life is good.

Sure, I was disinclined for a very long time to write entries for my sex blog. (You would be, too.) Of course I’ve been extremely wary of friendly overtures from readers, and I’ve been guilty of extreme over-caution in dealing with them—even with some of the readers I’ve known for a very long time. I often activate my usual icy self-defenses more quickly, these days, than I might have in the past.

But that Divine Spark I wrote about in my Cory entries? The internal pilot light that motivates my curiosity, my sexuality, my creativity—the one I worried was snuffed out for good? It’s been burning again, steadily if not brightly, through every one of the essays I wrote for this series.



Let’s end on a lighter, odder note.

I was about halfway through my series when someone tried hitting me up on BBRT. A younger guy in Manhattan. After he oinked at me, I looked over the handful of public photos on his profile. Nice ass, I told him.

It’s yours if you want it, Sir, he wrote back.

Readers, you and I both know my probable reaction to that one. Hands up if you picture me licking my chops, rubbing my hands together, and preparing to move in for the kill. (My hand is up.)

So let’s discuss that, son, I wrote back, while in my mind a mental soundtrack of bow-chicka-bow-wow started to play.

First off, Sir, let this faggot say that your blog changed his life.

Cue the sound of a needle scratching off that soundtrack. What the actual fuck?

May I see your locked pictures? I asked the guy. He assented, and unlocked. Sure enough, just as I suspected, the face in the profile was of This Faggot, the guy I wrote about in my second essay of the series.

What was weird about our conversation, though, was that he seemed to show absolutely either no memory of—or no remorse for—the way he’d led me on just three months prior.

A friend of mine, whom I was exchanging unbelieving texts, kept trying to convince me that This Faggot had read my entry about him and was trying to . . . I don’t know. Get me to admit I’d written it? See if I’d fall for his schtick again?

My argument back to my friend, though, was that This Faggot didn’t really have a clear motivation for coming at me again, without disguising himself, without changing his approach, without seeming to remember any of what had already happened between us. If he’d read the unpleasant (yet thoroughly accurate) account I’d written of him, wouldn’t he be angry? Or, you know, a little more subtle about his revenge?

Or was he just a messed-up ball of denial living so deep in his own fantasies that he really didn’t have any recollection of our tiring encounter? Or maybe just a psycho meth head?

I didn’t know.

So I wrote This Faggot and asked, Don’t you remember talking to me before?

This doesn't think it did, Sir. This Faggot would have remembered the honor of speaking to you. This faggot just knows it always been a fan of your blog and it changed its life.

Right, I wrote back. And we chatted in May.

Can’t remember. Deleted the site for a while.

That’s when I’d had enough. Whether or not he was playing me, I didn’t care. I told him off and told him not to contact me again.

Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, right?



By the way, for the purposes of this guy’s privacy, I’ve completely obscured his profile name in the email exchange I’ve shared above. I’m one hundred percent certain that it won’t be remotely legible and that I totally didn't forget to smudge out his name. Because that’s the sort of kind, caring, fellow I am.

Monday, September 4, 2017

13 Reasons Why/Tape 13: Judas' Kiss

Tape thirteen: the ultimate in this series. What Judas have I saved for last, and what terrific sins did he commit to feature in the culmination of all the crimes I’ve so far documented?

But no. There were no betrayals, no angry recriminations, no furious grudges to be held, when it was over.

Sometimes the last nail to be pounded in the coffin is the softest and gentlest of them all.




I met this last Judas online, a year after Cory had left me for dead. It had been a long, long year of recuperation and regrouping. The winter was especially harsh, both in its extremes of temperature and weather, and in the personal darkness that seemed to descend around me for endless months.

I mourned. I stayed in my house. Within the confines of familiar walls, for month after month I mourned. It was not for the loss of Cory. I spoke in my last entry of how Cory snuffed out in me my own spark of the Divine—that urge to rise above, to be more, to see and feel more, the spark that motivates my creativity and sexuality both. I felt dead inside.

My urges to explore, to inquire, to be more than myself evaporated. In the wake of Cory’s destruction, I felt little more than a silly old man, unfit for human company. My days were long and leaden. Nights, I’d lie in bed awake, weighing the number of months my doctor had originally allotted for me if I’d failed to recover, against the gray and endless days that now stretched out to my horizon and beyond—wondering which would have been the easier burden.

Then he came along.




A man in his late twenties messaged me on Scruff. Right off he told me he was a reader of mine. From what I've read of your blog, it seems you and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to sexual tastes. I think that's the case. I was surprised to find out you're in the NYC metro area. Took me a little bit of time to work up the courage to reach out but I figured I had nothing to lose. You know?

Did I know? Yeah. I knew very well what it felt like to have nothing to lose. At this point, I’d lost my taste for men praising me for my blog. My enormous vanity had been gratified nearly to death; I’d lost my taste for moths gently batting their bodies against my glow, merely because I had the dubious talent of knowing how to type out a sex scene.

Writing isn’t a dispassionate act. It’s ruthless. The author of memoir—especially sexual memoir—dissects every memory, wallows in its viscera, mercilessly searches for the true and the real, and through a dark necromancy, resurrects it upon the page. Every written word should draw blood. The author’s own, if nothing else.

And you know what not writing is? Relaxing. For me, losing the drive to set thoughts to paper was sheer relief. In that period of my life, it meant I didn’t have to put myself on trial every time I cracked open my laptop, only to convict myself over and over again as stupid, vain, and weak. Shutting myself off, keeping my pants zipped, not feeling I had to produce either creatively or sexually . . . it had been pleasant. Dull as fuck, with nothing to show for the live I’d been occupying. It wasn't living—but it wasn't unpleasant.

I'm pursuing you because I find you super hot and very attractive. I'm not just looking to get a notch in my bed post. I've got enough of those already.

Well. Even a dormant vanity can’t help but be slightly tickled by that kind of come-on. And this flattery was coming from someone with the All-American looks of a movie star. Photo after photo he sent me, then video after video. They weren’t merely from his stock selection of x-rated shots, either. He took the photos for me specifically, and addressed me by name in the videos as he stripped clothing from his impressively muscular body and stroked himself to hardness. “This is for you, sir,” he’d say into the camera.

Deep within, what I’d assumed was dead stirred to life.

He animated me after I’d lain dormant for so long. For nearly a year I’d denied myself, frozen myself to need. This boy made me want again. Not merely want. Crave.

I craved his masculine good looks, his strong frame. I lusted for his sexy, photo-perfect body, his handsome face. I coveted his firm, round bubble butt. I was wary of the fact he was a reader of mine. Everything bad in my life had come from readers, the previous couple of years. The cyber-harassment from Mr. BipolarCockSucker, the real-life stalking of Cheater, the long slide in disappointment and poor health from Cory—all the disappointments that had numbed me had come from the men who claimed to admire and desire me for my writing.

Still, we met for the first time within the week.

He was amazing. What soil I thought barren flourished and became fertile once more. I desired him more and more. Miracle of miracles, he desired and needed me, too. When we weren’t seeing each other, we shared our lives with texts and emails. That was how he took me with him in his pocket on a trip to Israel, by pulling out his phone and sharing his experiences at regular, happy intervals. It’s how I showed him my life in the suburbs, from my everyday errands to the wildly erotic thoughts of him that night would bring.

We saw each other, what . . . nearly weekly? Every other week at most? I’d have to take a train into the city and then a long subway ride to his apartment—basically a two-hour commute each way—but for the several hours of sensual satisfaction we shared, it was worth the investment of time. Load after load I lost inside him during those hours. I’d tell my son how beautiful I found him. He’d sit atop me, willing my cock to shoot once again inside of his insatiable hole, and he’d tell me he never wanted any of this ever to end.

How would you feel if I were to write about you? I asked him, after the first time.

His reply struck me as unusually honest. My honest gut reaction is: I'm not sure. I know that's a possibility and I won't know how I feel unless I read it. And I may not do that.

I hesitated before telling him, Well, I wanted to give you a heads-up that I wrote a blog post about you for tomorrow morning. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to tell me what you thought of it, if you do. If you want to avoid it, you may. But I also wanted to let you know that I am unashamed of how proud and grateful I am to know you, and to be a part of you.

I was thinking of asking you if / when you might write about me. I wasn't sure how to bring it up and an appropriate time didn't seem to present itself, he replied.

There are going to be an awful lot of men envious of you, tomorrow.

I've done what I've done - from the very beginning when I reached or to you because I knew how well we'd fit together. Sharing that with others doesn't phase me. The truth is the truth.

It’s truly rare I meet someone as sincere in his appreciation as he happened to be. When he finally read the first entry I wrote about him the next day, he texted: You are a very beautiful man and an amazing lover. You have an amazing memory for details. I got to live our lovemaking again and enjoy it just as much. Thank you. You make me feel desirable, and special, and more. I can only try to give back as much as you give me.

Best thank-you I ever received.

This wasn’t the last entry I wrote about the boy. There were several, each as special to me as he had become. And as we got closer, the more we learned about each other. I told him in broad strokes of my let-down with Cory; he told me his own fears of abandonment.

I want you to know that I'm at my most vulnerable with you, he said early on. To be totally naked about it: I'm worried about what'll happen if I invest time and emotion in you, then end up losing you for one reason or another. Admitting this is a little scary for me. I've developed a thick skin through some rough times in the past, and the fears I’m sharing with you I’ve never shared with anybody. Not even myself.

I will not just vanish on you, I told him. I was thinking about Cody, when I tapped out the words. I wouldn’t wish vanishment on anyone. You bring out the protector in me. I can’t promise I’ll never be a dick—I can be, usually unintentionally—but I am also at a place in our relationship in which it would genuinely grieve me to upset you. Much of my protectiveness arises from the fact that you have shown so much vulnerability to me already.

Thank you, sir. I trust you.

Every time I met this boy I desired him more. He made me smile when the world seemed determined to make me cry. I’d thought the divine spark in me smothered, but with him it roared back into life.




And then.

Because you already know there must be an and then.

We had made love one afternoon in May. Passionate, connected love, in which he clutched me and begged me to impale him, while I whispered spur of the moment poetry into his ear, or sheer filth, or both as one. Exhausted after the third round, he held me in his arms, and we lay still for long, warm moments while we gazed out the open window at the blue spring sky above the Hudson. “Hey,” he said at last. “Can I ask your advice?”

“Of course,” I said. “What’s up, kiddo?”

“I’m feeling toyed with,” he said. For a moment, a hot rash prickled across my chest as I attempted to account for any wrongs I might have caused him. But then he continued. “I’m feeling pretty low because a guy I’ve fallen in love with gave me the boot.”

Mere moments before, this boy and I had formed the axis of the earth; the universe had revolved around the two of us. Yet even though he still held me, I realized our worlds had begun rotating in different directions. As our orbits spun away from each other, as I watched him recede further and further, he continued talking. “What makes me sad is that I don't feel like there's anything I can do about it. What can one do when someone brings you joy, and you bring them joy, then suddenly he abandons you, seemingly without reason? What happens when someone you love and who you’re sure loves you, turns out not to have the same affection you have for him?”

I said something. I’m not sure what. It was kind. It was gentle. It was supportive. But every word I uttered sounded hollow. Unconvincing. What can one do indeed, when someone brings you joy, and you thought you brought them joy—what can one do when someone brings you back to life, who makes you love living again, who makes you love being in the world again . . . and he turns out to have been in love with someone else all along?

When I could, I dressed, and collected my things, and made my farewell. “Hey,” he said, chucking me under the chin. “Thank you for listening.”

I mumbled some assurance.

Then, before I left, he kissed me. Softly, on my lips.

We never met again. I didn’t turn him down; he simply never asked. I didn’t expect him to. I’d gone from necessary to superfluous, from lover to the father figure one asks for advice about one’s real love life. Without warning, without a change in the barometer, somehow he’d let me go. I’d simply never realized until we were miles apart.

I was at my most vulnerable with this boy. I’d invested time and emotion in him, and then I lost him. The worst fear he'd confided to me had become my reality. He never seemed to see realize the irony in how we'd swapped places.

And that made me saddest of all. The last straw fell gently, it’s true, but it was the feather’s weight that made my burden too much too bear. That spark of the Divine he had briefly rekindled went out once more.

This time, I felt certain it would never return.





I saw the boy six months later. I was grabbing a bite to eat with two friends in a little restaurant in the Village and sitting in the front window, where I could look out at the passers-by on the darkening street. I wasn’t paying attention to the conversation of the pair I was with. I wasn’t paying attention to much, those days. But a familiar face strode by the window. It stopped, turned around, and my boy entered the shop. “Well, hey there,” he said, over the tops of the heads of the other customers.

“Hi,” I said back.

“That’s weird.” He seemed genuinely astonished to see me, though it was plain he felt he couldn't speak I front of my friends. “I’ve been thinking about you.”

I just smiled.

Perhaps sensing awkwardness, he held up his hand again. “Good to see you.”

“Goodbye,” I got to say.

He texted me later that night. I’m glad I spotted you. I had been thinking about you and wasn't sure if it was the right thing to reach out. I want to apologize for disappearing. I was going through some stuff. Still am.

I thought long and hard before I sent my heartfelt reply. As you work out whatever’s bothering you, I hope you keep in mind that at heart you really are a decent person who deserves a portion of the good things going on around you.

Godspeed, I was telling him.

Go on your path. Tread it well.

And next time, try to do better.

Thank you for those kind words, he texted back.





This was my last Judas. But no Judas’ kiss has ever been as sweet, or soft, or gentle, as the final kiss this boy gave me, the last day he’d held me in his arms.






Afterword

During my hiatus, I’ve received from readers a lot of very sweet emails wishing me well. Most of them have recognized the amount of work I’ve poured into my blog and have expressed their thanks. I’m so grateful for those sentiments.

Many people who’ve written, however, have made the assumption that the reason I have decided to take a break is because of the so-called haters—that is, the men who leave nasty comments on my blog, and those who go out of their way to make sure I understand how contemptible I am to them.
I’ve had plenty of haters over the years. They wear me down, yes. But more than anyone, the men who have sucked the joy out of my writing (and to a certain extent, my life) are those who meant well. They’re men who claimed to admire me, who wanted to meet me—and many of them did—and who then, whether out of clumsiness or fear or whatever, failed to recognize they’d gone too far. A man can only withstand so many successive blows to the ego (even an ego as Jericho-sturdy as mine) before it begins to tumble.

What’s more, every single one of these men read my blog. They’re men who subscribed to my point of view, who enjoyed my writing. Or read my writing, at least. Some of them wanted to be written about. Others never intended me to know they were blog fans.

Maybe one of these men is you.

If it is you? Although there’s a small and petty part of me that wants to flip a finger in your direction, I’m not going to. I’m moving on as I write this series. A friend of mine shared with me something his grandmother used to say that I truly believe: People do the best they can. If they could do better, they would.

My advice, if you think you recognize yourself . . . or even if you don’t: do better.

All of us could stand to do better.