This week, a man strikes out on Tinder, meets someone new on Grindr, and fields texts from a persistent hookup: 30, single, Harlem.
8 a.m. I missed a 2 a.m. “u around” text from N, who I’ve been hooking up with for the past few months. I tell him I was asleep and he replies immediately, asking if he can come over.
I feel particularly unappealing — I haven’t showered, the apartment is a mess, I haven’t had any coffee — so I say I’m busy, even though I’ve been unavailable the past few times he’s texted and worry he will soon be over it. “You’ve been pulling away,” he says. From what, N?
10 a.m. I am a freelance editor and I have various clients, so I spend a lot of time reading, working on drafts, talking to writers/agents/publicists, and various other things.
12 p.m. I get a call that my recent STI tests all come back negative (if you’re going to be a slut, you should be responsible about it). I kind of regret not letting N come over, especially since the past couple weeks have been a dry spell. But there is no point texting; he gets in touch when he wants to and never replies otherwise.
6 p.m. As soon as the workday is over I go for a run. Within five minutes I’m by the river, which always helps clear my head and shake me out of the work funk.
9 p.m. Clean up the house, partly just in case the Call comes from N.
10 p.m. It’s not happening.
10 a.m. Morning Zoom about some illustrations for a bunch of poems in an issue going to press — I’m trying to make it all work together.
5 p.m. I decide to be “done with work” early and have some wine to wash down the shame. One glass becomes two, and I find myself on Tinder. It’s always pretty much a wash; I think I swipe right a reasonable amount, and can see that I get what seems to be a reasonable amount of swipes right, but I almost never match with anyone. That must mean something.
To my surprise I do have a new match. H’s pictures are cute, if a little sunny, and his profile is charming. Waiting for a man to make the first move is a fool’s errand, so I send him a message.
6 p.m. H writes back. The conversation devolves pretty quickly into innuendo: He speaks of pillars being erected in my honor, which is maybe a little much. I send screenshots to my friend J, asking what to make of this. “Oh, he’s definitely into you,” J says. After a few more rounds of banter I try to segue out of the land of double entendre and into a more traditional getting-to-know-you conversation.
Unexpectedly, an old friend calls in extremis, and it ends up being a couple hours on the phone. It’s not a difficult choice to abandon H, honestly. I don’t stop writing all together but I try to get some basics established …
7 a.m. Up early to work on edits for pieces due later today.
8.45 a.m. The chat with H has completely stalled, and not because of my detour on the phone; he’s said nothing since I tried to shift conversational gears.
12 p.m. The best kind of workday: no meetings, no emails, no Slack, just things to work on alone, with exactly the right amount of time pressure to keep my anxiety at a productive level.
8.45 p.m. I spy an intriguing Grindr profile. B is just very tall, which I am shallow enough to find appealing, and in his 50s, which is my comfort zone. He has the overconfident man’s totally wordless profile, but when I message him he seems all right. We exchange pictures and he seems to find me, too, not totally monstrous, because he asks if I can come over.
9.30 p.m. B is as tall as promised — basically a foot taller than me — and in general entirely the kind of man I go for. His first move is the blessèd “get on your knees,” but: There is straight porn playing? We are just going to do this in the middle of the room? I am not entirely certain what is going on, but I do well with directives, so down I go. It turns out that his height poses challenges; I have never had to maintain such good posture while sucking dick.
Then B brings me up to face him and we learn that he is a nipple pincher, which I’ve never really understood but can work with.
10 p.m. B is very good at whatever game he’s playing — every time I begin to wonder what I’m doing with my life, he gives me a “you’re so good at this” or “no one’s sucked this dick like you” to keep me going. I do have to consent that he can hit me, but once I do he goes in for that with some abandon. It’s better than the nipple stuff.
10.30 p.m. He achieves orgasm. “Next time, shave before you come over,” he says, “and bring a girlfriend.”
11 p.m. At home, I contemplate getting myself off, but am a little too unnerved and also irritated. I do not think B was an experience I intend to repeat.
11 a.m. N messages right as I am about to go into another Zoom meeting. He says “I need you” and sends a dick pic that really backs up the statement, but N is not the one giving me health insurance. When I ask if he can wait till 12:30, I know there will be no response.
6 p.m. Therapy. As always, Dr. K gets me talking about my sex life. I mention B and end up treated to a lecture about how one should not let men hit one’s face. “Do you know why I’m saying this?” he asks. “Because you like my face?” I respond.
11 p.m. A random text from N, asking not to come over but how, “on a scale of one to ten,” I would rate his dick. When a man asks you this, you know what you’re supposed to say, but you can’t say it because they will think you’re just saying it, so there is really no way to win. I settle on an eight, which I think is fair and reasonably flattering and doesn’t seem over the top. No response.
7 a.m. My nipples still hurt.
11 a.m. Another aimless workday, so I make an elaborate salad.
3.30 p.m. B messages, asking if I can come “service” him. On balance, I think not, but decide to leave things open and just not reply.
5 p.m. I’m helping an intern I know get a full-time job at one of the publisher’s I work with, so we talk about me being a reference and what else I can do to advocate for them.
8 p.m. Drinks with D and M for M’s birthday, old friends I know through the publishing world. D is doing monogamy, but M and I share stories and compare experiences.
10.30 a.m. When I get out of the shower there is a message from N, asking if he can come over. Uncharacteristically, he’s given notice — he wants to come at noon. Success at last.
12.15 p.m. Among the many things I love about N, who is a few years older than me and whom I met when he was moving someone into my building, is that I have never seen him flaccid (there is something just too vulnerable and unprepossessing about a soft dick). He’s hard when he walks in the door and hard when he goes to wash up. Today he is almost literally bursting out of his jeans. Seeing my old friend again, I wonder if I should upgrade it to a nine.
N and I clicked from the first time we hooked up — I could tell what he liked, I’m good at giving it to him, and it always works, but I put in more effort than normal. He is verbally appreciative, and there is something tender even about the way he holds my head down.
Another thing I like about N is that he figured out without being told that he could play rough, and after a while he has me lie on my back on the bed with my head hanging over so he can go, as it were, to town. Normally he prefers to be swallowed, but today when he is about to “bust,” as he puts it — this is the only verb I’ve ever heard him use; not “come,” not “nut,” always “bust” — he goes for the facial.
1 p.m. N and his erection have departed, so I take care of myself and then take another shower. He sends a “that was amazing” text from his car. Bless your heart and dick, N.
6 p.m. Grocery shopping and cooking for the week. I’ve accepted that I usually need Saturday mostly alone and quiet so I can reassemble myself. A half-hour with N was enough human interaction for the day, and a good enough session that I get myself off once more before going to bed.
11 a.m. A peremptory message from B: “Well?” I try to think of a reply that will convey politely that I’m not interested, but end up just not saying anything again. Maybe in part because I might actually want to try him one more time?
2 p.m. An afternoon run by the river. It’s warm, shirts are coming off, and I am painfully self-conscious; I have only just reached the point of being able to go sleeveless. Where did all these perfect bodies come from?
7.30 p.m. Downtown for dinner with J, who asks whether things went any kind of place with H. I have to say that they did not: We were as ships that pass in the night.
10 p.m. On the train home, I read through my last conversation with the Gentleman Caller, a man with whom I went out a few times — over about three months, because if I didn’t get in touch, I just never heard from him, although he was perfectly charming and enthusiastic when I reached out. I think it unfair to expect one person to do all the emotional labor, so a couple weeks ago I asked point-blank if he was actually interested. He said yes, more effusively than I had expected, so I told him that I was going to leave the ball in his court. That is still where the ball is, and where it will be when the apocalypse comes.
But if nothing else, I am kind of proud of myself for being up front, which does not come naturally — so there is some achievement, at least? Personal growth of which Dr. K, were I to tell him, might even be proud.
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