Yes, being a writer is glamorous and interesting, but sometimes I feel like I've written myself in a role I can't fulfill. I ask myself, how did I become a dating expert? Nightly, my friends call with questions about their fluctuating love lives, and I find myself forming answers, but I can't tell if I'm truly helping.
"Don't get him wet. He'll multiply!" I advise my friend Cindy. At her condo, we toast to her first date with a doctor.
"What does that mean? He's not a gremlin."
"Just use protection."
From a drawer, Cindy locates a condom, waving it in the air. "You mean this?" A novice at dating, she beams.
"Yes, but remember...you can't get pregnant from oral."
"Oh, I know that." Still, last week she took the morning-after pill because she gave some random guy a blowjob. She thought the semen might burn a hole in her intestines and travel to her uterus. Apparently, she forgot to take that health class in high school. "But I thought you said no 'sucky-sucky' on a first date."
"That depends. Do you want a second date?" Cindy nods. "Then you can't take it anywhere further than a kiss."
"Guys like a challenge."
"Oh," she says. Still, I see her filling up her Just-In-Case bag. You know, just in case she decides to bend the rules. A condom, a breath mint, a fresh pair of panties - it's all in there. However, I can't call her out; I'm the one who gave her the idea.
Later at the club, my friend Matt gives me hell for it. "Let me get this straight. You forbid her to have sex, including oral, BUT you had her bring a condom, a breath mint, and a fresh pair of panties?"
"Yeah, and a douche."
"A DOUCHE?" He hiccups his beer. "Oh, that'll get her laid."
"Hey, that was my dad's suggestion."
"Yeah, that's why your dad's single." He slugs a beer as a young gay attempts Adele on the karaoke machine. Cigarette smoke blurs the crowd. "Look dude. You're steering that girl all wrong. You don't wait for sex. That's like holding off dinner. You know you'll end up at IHOP, eating some nasty shit at midnight if you do that."
Matt speaks from experience. You see, he's the lonely type who finds a guy on Grindr, plans a meet-up and then pretends to care what the guy's first name is just to get him in bed. On most occasions, they skip the date altogether, ending up in the pretzel position before Matt realizes he despises the guy. Now, each night, his phone buzzes with an arsenal of texts from men he can't stand. Tonight, at the club, it's like dodging bullets each time these men try to make contact.
"Just keep looking straight ahead. Look at me. Don't turn your head. Laugh," Matt instructs, in the midst of karaoke hour. Past experience tells me this is code red for a prior trick that wants a second treat.
"Maaaaat!" A slinky gentleman with a black faux-hawk wraps an arm around his back, pulling him in for an embrace. "Are you trying to avoid me?"
"'No. I didn't see you. What's up?"
The man, Pete, snake eyes me as competition before closing in. "I was thinkin' we should get together tonight."
"Can't. Hanging with Anthony."
"Oh." He feigns indifference. Still, I see steam rising from his ears, or perhaps that's just his cigarette being exhaled from a new hole.
Yes, Pete has a bevy of talents. For instance, just when I think he's moved on, he's cleverly maneuvered his way back into our inner circle, talking about ordering a pizza. Meanwhile, Matt is hiding by the stripper pole in a dark corner. "I can have the pizza here in 5 minutes. I know the owner," he boasts. "Where's Matt? What does he like on his pizza?"
I cage the absurdity, fighting off laughter. "Probably vegetables," I reply. "He's a vegetarian."
His brain triggers him to raise a finger. "Mushrooms! Matt likes mushrooms!" Then, he's on his phone, placing his order and pacing back and forth, while shouting about where to drop off the pizza. It's a ten-minute ordeal, followed by five minutes of him telling everyone about the 'great' pizza until it arrives. Then, it's his pizza, and no one can try it because it's for him and Matt. "Matt likes mushrooms," he instructs a friend. Then, accompanied by the pizza, he charges into the bathroom after Matt.
Me, I'm wonder why this is happening. Is it a joke, or is Pete just taking Matt on the date that Matt forgot to include in the initial offer of sex? It seems, Matt forgot one of the realities of sharing an intimate experience. It doesn't matter if you skip a few steps, break a few rules, when it comes to sex, we all end up in the same tangled place when seeing an old conquest again. Rules are rules are rules, and no one likes giving up ass without a little return.
As for Matt, he doesn't want to talk about it. Exiting the bathroom, he acts as if nothing happened. Pete and the pizza are nowhere to be found.
"So, how was your first date?" I question. "Was it hot?"
"Yeah," he states. "I gave him head."
I think of the pizza and the dirty stalls. "Gross! Are you serious?"
"Hey, they're your rules," he says. "I was just making sure there's not a second."