Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ODC: Sweater Man.

Sweater Man: Winter 2000

Everyone has a kink.

Some people are turned on by leather and lace, whips and chains. Other people get off by inserting inanimate objects and phallic-shaped fruits and vegetables into their various orifices. Still more get all hot and bothered by watching and being watched in compromising positions.

Matt? Matt's kink was sweaters.

No, really. I met Matt back when America Online personal ads were free. Bored one night during my junior year of college, I found myself perusing the ads for kicks. He seemed to be everything I could ever want in a mate: a good-looking Jewish journalist. Just like me! So I added his screen name to my buddy list and promptly forgot about the ad.

Several months later, I saw the name on my list, but had no recollection of who he was. So I Instant Messaged him. As soon as I learned that he worked for Boston's Jewish newspaper, it clicked: Yes! Matt! The good-looking Jewish journalist. My thoughts spun wildly out of control and before I knew it I was daydreaming about starting a life with Matt. Two Jewish journalists traveling the world and the stumbling upon entertaining adventures -- the type of adventures that would provide us with years and years of personal anecdotes with which to write columns about. Could anything be better??

I came back to reality to see that Matt had asked me about my hobbies. Hmmmm. Hobbies. Other than partying and sleeping? I had to think fast. "I knit," I told him. And it wasn't altogether false. I had taken up knitting when I had tried to quit smoking. The knitting had given me carpal tunnel syndrome, so I'd gone back to the insidious cancer sticks. But every now and then I'd pick up the knitting needles and knit a friend a mangled, uneven scarf.

"Do you make sweaters?" he asked. Sweaters? Um. I paused, thinking of how to respond. Matt continued: "Because I have a lot of sweater patterns. I have a cabin on the Cape. Maybe we could go there this winter and knit together. I'd love to make sweaters with you."

I cabin on the Cape. It sounded good to me. I could agree to knit sweaters in exchange for a romantic weekend in a cabin on the Cape, complete with romantic, candlelit dinner for two in front of the roaring fire. "Sure," I said. "I'd like making sweaters together."

We exchanged numbers and it wasn't long before Matt called. We chit-chatted about the weather, life, Boston culture, and journalism in general. And then it came. "Do you wear lots of sweaters?" he asked.

"Well, I have lots of sweaters. I mean, this is Boston. But I don't tend to wear lots of sweaters at the same time."

"Oh," he said. And a pause. "Are you wearing a sweater now?"

Why yes, I was, in fact, wearing a sweater. "I sure am," I said. At his request, I described the sweater to him: a lavender, v-neck merino wool J Crew sweater. Very soft. A lovely hue. And oh-so-very comfortable.

The next day, he caught me online and Instant Messaged me. He asked me if I owned any mohair sweaters. I told him I did not. We chatted a bit more and agreed to meet for coffee two days hence.

I showed up at the coffee place about ten minutes early. Being early is a compulsion of mine. Apparently, it was a compulsion of his as well. We ordered our drinks and sat down. I noticed the Banana Republic bag at his feet, and asked him whether he had been shopping. He smiled shyly. "You could say that," he said. Okay then. So he's shy about paying too much for Banana Republic sweaters on Newbury Street. Hell, I would be, too. We talked for about an a half hour longer before I told him that I needed to book it if I was going to make it to my evening class on time. He asked if he could walk me to class. I told him I'd prefer if he didn't. With that, he awkwardly shoved the Banana Republic bag at me. I gave him a quizzical look. "It's for you," he said.

Oy vey. I gift on the first date. I opened the bag, unwrapped the tissue paper and found an absolutely gorgeous purple (my favorite color -- had I told him that?) medium-cabled mohair sweater. "I figure it would look good with a camisole on under it."

"Um. Thanks." I mean, what does a person say to a man who brings her a sweater on the first date? I left took off with the sweater and left him there without a hug or kiss. I didn't expect to hear from him.

I got an e-mail later that evening. He had a request. He wanted sweater erotica.

Why not? How harmful could sweater erotica be? So I penned him a letter about sitting in front of his fireplace in his cabin on the Cape. How he ran his fingers over my shoulders and down my back, savoring the feeling of my thick, delicious cashmere sweater. I wrote about how he slowly undressed me, peeling the cashmere off my supple, nubile body, revealing what lay beneath. Another sweater! This sensual erotic writing continued for four more layers of sweater.

Matt loved it! He ate that shit up. He complimented my writing style and told him I was the only woman he'd ever met who wrote so lovingly of sweaters. "The other women," he complained, "only ever write about one sweater before they are topless. Boobs are nice and all, but sweaters are where it's at." He continued, spinning yarns of women in full-body sweaters.

Then he hit me with his ultimate fantasy, and asked if I would comply. Matt wanted me to take all my sweaters (I had about 20 at the time), and and lay them out of my bed. He wanted me to toss the sweaters about like a salad, put on a full body knit suit, and lie in the middle of the bed, draped in sweater.

That's when I called it quits. I'm all about providing people with their fantasies, but I couldn't envision myself prancing among sweaters and being able to keep a straight face. After only a single date, we parted amicably.

About two years later, I was eating dinner with my roommate, her friend, and his fiance. I began retelling the story of Sweater Man in full, fluid detail. When I mentioned the publication he worked for -- before I got into his sweater fantasies -- the fiance stopped me. She asked, "Is Sweater Man's name Matt?" She explained how she had gone on a date with him about a year prior. "He kept eyeing me and rubbing his hands over my shoulders." I asked her what she had been wearing. "A brand new cashmere sweater." I then proceeded to tell her about the sweater erotica.

"Wow," she exclaimed. "That explains a lot."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ODC: Bathroom Boy.

Bathroom Boy: Summer 2001

Men are pigs. It's true. What women don't realize, however, is that men are pigs because we allow them to be. At the tender age of 22, I had not yet come to this realization.

I don't remember how I met Darren or how he convinced me to come over to his apartment at 2 am some hot, sticky June morning while I was recovering from a urinary tract infection. But there I was, in the bedroom of a self-proclaimed 20-something entrepreneur (what he actually did, I can't say), making out. As he went to put his hand between my thighs, I stopped him. "No," I said. "I'm shy in the beginning." Ha! "Next time."

Apparently, "next time" couldn't come fast enough for Darren; he called me about three days later, on a Friday evening. I explained to Darren that I was going out with some friends that night. He assured me that what he had planned wouldn't take much time. After all, he also had plans that evening. But perhaps we could get together for a little pre-game, as it were. I would have had to be a complete moron not to realize what Darren was really after (which, given my state of idiocy at the time, was a complete possibility). He was relegating me to the opening act of the evening. Not particularly special, but interesting enough to pass a little time while waiting for the main event.

I don't recall being very taken with Darren. He was extremely hot, yes, but he reeked of doucebaggery. Yet with nothing better to do, and apparently with fairly low standards, I agreed to meet him at his place at about 6 that evening.

My hair was short at the time, in the beginning of the growing-out phase where I look more like a troll than a person. However, my biting with and charm and big boobs always tended to make up for my hair issues. So I threw on my favorite casual outfit: greenish khaki-ish pants with a very deep scoop-neck, flimsy black tank top that showed off my ample cleavage. I mean, REALLY showed off my ample cleavage such that a person could drown in it. I drove to Darren's place and rang the bell. As I expected, my outfit had the proper effect: he never once looked at my sprouting head of straw-hair.

"I have to take a shower before I go out," he told me. "Come." I knew from last time that Darren had a bathroom upstairs, adjacent to his bedroom. But instead of going up the stairs, he led me to the back of the house, to a bathroom off the kitchen. He turned on the shower, disrobed, got in, and motioned for me to do the same. I was hesitant at first, but figured, eh, fuck it. Why not?

There was nothing erotic about showering with Darren. Banish any thoughts of having a good time under the cascades of water, as we lathered each other up and caressed each other's soapy bodies. That is not what happened. Instead, he inelegantly pawed at me, and I was too bored with it to say anything. The only thing I really remember of the experience is that my cell phone started ringing mid-shower. I made a mental note to check my messages as soon as the asinine bathing activity had ended.

The shower didn't last long. We got out and toweled off. Darren wrapped a towel around his waist and stood at the threshold to the bathroom. "I'm going upstairs to get dressed. You -- you stay right here. Don't leave. Don't open the door until I knock." He was very clear on this point, and repeated it. "Do NOT open the door until I knock."

Fine, whatever. But seriously? Even then I wondered who he was hiding me from. A roommate? A girlfriend he had stored away in the bathroom upstairs? What was the deal with his piggish behavior? Though I questioned it, I didn't question him. Instead, I subserviently waited in the bathroom. Well, to be fair, waiting wasn't all I did. I toweled off my hair which had already started to spring forth from my head in its trollish manner, and I put on my underwear, bra, pants, and sandals. It was humid and I was sweaty, so I left my tank top sitting on the toilet seat as I checked my cell phone messages.

Checking my messages, however, proved to be a difficult task. There was only one tiny corner of the room that had cell phone reception, so I found myself standing on the commode, crouching right under the top of the window, so I could hear what the plans for the night were. I had to re-dial my message box about three times to get the gist of it. Near the last go-through, I heard the knock at the door.

Thank God, I thought. I'm tired of waiting in this fucking bathroom. I opened the door to find a sweaty (albeit extremely good-looking) rugby player standing there. "Um. Hi."

I stood there, speechless, in my black push-up bra, my phone to my ear.


Oh, right. Apparently it was my turn to say something. "Hi. I'm, uh. I'm a friend of Darren's. Yeah. Right. And I'm..." I looked at my watchless wrist before continuing. "I'm totally running late. See ya."

And with that, I bolted off in my pants and bra, cell phone in hand, and lucky that my keys were in my pants pocket. I didn't even pay attention to the kids next door who stared at me as I jogged out to my car. Once in my car, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was out! I was no longer held captive in the bathroom! Hallelujah! It was only at this point that I realized I'd left my shirt behind. My favorite shirt from two seasons prior that had been discontinued. Alas, I drove off without it.

As for Darren? I never heard from the bastard again. Prick. I mean, really, if you had banished some woman to your bathroom and she had disappeared after your roommate had knocked on the door, wouldn't you at least call to make sure she had gotten home okay? Wouldn't your sense of curiosity make you call? Unless, of course, the bathroom-roommate-discovery game was something they played often. Could it be? Was I on candid camera?

I've scoured the Internet and bad "reality" TV joke shows since and have never found footage of myself running topless out of Darren's bathroom. So at least I'm safe in that regard. Though I'm left to wonder how many women Darren did this to. Just how much of a pig was he, really?

For years I thought about what a dick Darren was. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized, hey, Darren was a dick because I let him be a dick. What self respecting woman goes over for a booty call at 2 am? Moreover, what self respecting woman meets up with a guy who only makes enough time in his day to shower with her? Not one. That's it. None one self respecting woman would ever meet up with a guy who only makes enough time in his day to shower with her.

A few years later I ran into Darren at a bar. He asked my friend over to to his place. Even though I warned her, she went anyway. And got left in his bathroom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Online Dating Chronicles: Pickles and Pomegranate Seeds.

Pickles and Pomegranate Seeds: March 12, 2005

Adult FriendFinder bills itself as the biggest swingers community online. This is inaccurate. It's nothing more than a haven for married men and large women who want to get laid. I was introduced to the site in May 2001 by Douchebag Alcoholic (an installment for another day), who bought me a year's membership as a "surprise."

"Surprise!" I wanted to tell him. "Twenty-two year old bisexual women don't need the Internet to get laid." But, as always, I got addicted to the chat rooms. AFF, I found later, is much like the Hotel California: You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave. It's an insidious, vile thing. It stays with you for life.

So when the Evil Psychologist and I broke up in the summer of 2004, and my chronic insomnia became, well, chronic again, I found myself once again in the New England AFF chat room. On that Island of Misfit Toys, no one ever slept. Even when the Yahoo euchre addicts went to sleep, the AFF-ers chatted on. So at three, four, five in the morning, when no more games of interactive cards could be found, I would wander into the AFF chat room.

This is where I encountered Mike, whose user name was WiccaWolf, and whose grammar was atrocious. Though I would chat with him for hours, I refused to actually meet him. He was one of those individuals who, even well into his 30s, wrote in text-speak. I could not bring myself to meet up with someone who replaced "you" with "u" on a regular basis. A woman's got to have standards, after all.

Yet on March 12, 2005, after a few drinks and a crappy night out with the girls, I was bored, suffering from insomnia, and had nothing to do. So when I called Mike on a whim (using the number he'd given more four months prior, but had never called), he invited me to drive out to meet up with him and his two friends, a couple.

“I’m going to keep you on the phone for a while,” I said to Mike. I was in the parking lot of my apartment complex, talking on my cell phone though a hands-free headset, preparing myself for an hour’s drive. The night was chilly, but warmer than usual for a New England winter. It had been a few weeks since the last snowfall, so it seemed that the snowy season was over ahead of schedule. Everyone was excited about the prospect of no more snow. I checked out my reflection in my car window and ensured myself that yes, my teeny-bopper t-shirt really did make my boobs like good.

This strangely comforted me, and made me forget about my curly hair, which had been hastily pulled back and clipped into a messy ponytail. I was wearing a lightweight jacket of pink tweed over the t-shirt, and was perfectly comfortable. Except for the fact that I was about to drive an unfamiliar route at some ungodly hour, off to meet three people I’d never met. Driving at night makes me anxious. So does meeting strangers. “I’m going to keep you on the phone,” I repeated to Mike, “because I’m bad with directions.”

When I got off the highway at the designated spot, I found myself winding along serpentine roads, alternating nervously between the gas and the break. It was nearly 2 a.m., and I still couldn't figure out why I had ventured out. The night was foggy. The clouds seemed to have reached down to embrace my little Honda Civic. Even with my headlights piercing the darkness, I could hardly see a foot in front of me. The occasional oncoming set of headlights startled me, and I immediately slowed down each time a car came in my direction. What was I doing? I tried to look at the directions I’d jotted down, but between the darkness, fog, and hilly terrain, I couldn't make them out.

I drove for what seems like forever. Every minute that passed made me more and more nervous, until I became convinced that I was lost. My knuckles were white from gripping the wheel, and I veered to the right as I saw another oncoming car. My cell phone, resting on the passenger seat, flew out, hit the dashboard, and landed under my seat along with my lighter, cigarettes, and pack of gum. While driving, I reached down to feel for the phone, but only located the lighter. At the next side street, I took a sharp right and pulled over. I got out of the car, located my phone, and get back in, closing the door on the cord to the headset in the process. The battery was dangerously low, but I called Mike anyway. No answer. Crap. I was going to end up in the middle of nowhere, stuck in the fog and unable to contact any humans.

I continued to drive, hoping my directions were accurate. When I finally reach the street where my destination was, I was a frenzied mess. I slowed down, unsure of which driveway to pull into. I made a right turn at the single house that has a porch light on. I called Mike, and again, there was no answer. Fortunately, saw my car’s headlights, and was already standing in the driveway when I got out of the car. He was s tall – at least a foot taller than me – and bald. And tattooed. A tall, slightly-scary looking skinhead. How did I get myself into this? I concluded right then and there in the dark that he was decidedly unattractive.

Mike took me in and led me to the master bedroom suite, where Mike introduced me to Keeks. “Everyone wants to come here," he told me. "So you’re lucky. Everyone wants to fuck my wife." He paused before continuing. "I let Mike fuck my wife.”

“You don’t let me do anything,” I heard Jules yell from behind the wall.

Oh my holy fucking shit. Who are these people?

Jules called to Keeks. From the bathroom, I guessed. “See if she wants a drink.” Keeks looked at me inquisitively.

“Just water,” I responded.

“Water? What are you, a pussy? I thought you were a party girl.”

Both Keeks and Mike disappeared behind the wall for a moment. Then all three of them returned, and Keeks handed me a glass of ice water. I saw take Mike a sip from his own cup, one of those big, red plastic cups you find at frat parties. He cringed visibly. Mike sat down next to me again and lit a cigarette. I noted his chain smoking, and lit one of my own. Without my having noticed Keeks and Jules have disappeared. Mike and I are alone. And then Keeks magically appeared again. "What the fuck are you drinking?" he demanded of Mike.

"Vodka, soda and lime juice. It's not bad."

“Can I try?” I asked. Mike nodded his assent, and I took a sip of the lukewarm liquor and lime. Tastes like crap. “Nope, not bad at all,” I agreed.

From downstairs, came the sound of Jules swearing. “Come help me with the groceries,” she demanded. Mike and I were left alone.

“I’m tired,” I said, shifting into small talk. “The drive was absolutely awful. Fog. I swear, I’m never coming out here again.” I seemed to have broken the ice, and Mike and I began talking. As the minutes ticked by, the idle chatter became more and more comfortable, and we started really – really – talking. I began the way I normally do when I’m with strangers. My standard defense mechanism is to act gruff and hard, the way I’ve come across to him before in our sporadic online chat sessions.

“Everyone has a facade,” Mike explained to me. “It’s interesting to watch. The way people are. I like to break it down early on and see what’s really under the surface.”

“I don’t have a facade,” I quickly retorted.

“Right,” he said skeptically. “Because you’re really cold and uncaring?”

I started daydreaming and before I realized where the conversation had gone, Mike was talking about fantasies. I thought about my own life, my own fantasies, my own disappointments. “Fantasies,” I told him, “are better left unrealized.”
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I mean, right now I’m fantasizing about pizza. That would be a great fantasy realized.” We continued to talk. He put me at ease. In less than an hour, he’d already seen through me, seen that I’m not the rough and tough girl I pretended to me. I liked that about him. The conversation was light and fun and flowing nicely. The more we talk, the more attractive Mike became.

But it was late – past 3 in the morning, and we became weary from speech. Neither of us really notices that Keeks and Jules have been putting away groceries for the better part of an hour. The space between us on the futon had lessened, and Mike’s hand was on my thigh. He looked at me, and I looked back, mindful not to look directly into his eyes. I’m not sure how, but our lips met in a sweet, friendly kiss, and I hardly tasted the tangy vodka on his breath.

Suddenly, Keeks and Jules come back to the room, Jules carrying a tray of odd foods. Pepperoni, cheese, olives, salami, grapes. Mike reached for the encased meat. Me? I found myself snacking on pickles and pomegranate seeds.

I don't remember how the conversation continued, but I do remember Keeks and Jules getting up, disappearing behind a half-wall, to their bed. Mike kissed me again. I like the way he kisses, I decided. Not too foreceful or pushy. And before long, articles of clothing starting falling to the side of the futon we were lying on. I wasn't sexual aroused, but this was not new to me. At that point, it was rare that my sexual encounters ever resulted from my own primal desired. It was always about the men and their gratification. Most often, I simply consented, and more often that not, I would up merely a masturbatory accoutrement for my partner.

But something about Mike felt more comfortable than anything I'd experienced in a long while. I realized that it hadn't been sex I'd wanted, but human contact. Even if it’s illusory, the softer more sensual touching made me feel wanted and cared for. No one had cared for me in a long while, and even if it wasn't real, even if it lasted only for a morning, it felt good. I knew that in a day or two Mike will become another asshole I slept with who never called or saw me ever again – who used me for his own ego and gratification. I knew this, but at the moment, I didn't care.

Except the sex never came. Instead, the snow started falling right outside the window. Mike noticed first. "Wow," he said. "Those snowflakes are as big as Cadillacs." Ah, a man of wisdom.

We watched the sky change from black to blue, knowing it would be mere monents before the sun was on the horizon. We wrapped his arms around me. Watching snowflakes in the blue-black sky, Mike and I fell asleep.

Even now, I have no idea whether I slept for moments or for hours. I just remember wanting to wake up and leave before anyone else had risen. I crept down the stairs, and as I was about to let myself out of the front door, I heard Mike's voice. He was calling me from the kitchen. I turned to see him sitting with a heated-up frozen pizza. "This," he said, "is a wonderful fantasy realized."

I told him I had to go. He said he'd call me. I let him tell me this, knowing full well that I'd never hear from him again, and happy that for once, the guy who wouldn't call wouldn't end up being some asshole I slept with once upon a time.

Epilogue: As it turns out, Mike and I had an intersting relationship for the next nine months. If you've ever read any of my blog entries over the years, you'll likely recognize him as "Best Friend Mike." He even did my pinup-esque photo shoot in June 2008. At the end of those nine months, it became clear that while I wanted more, Mike was not ready. The pseudo-breakup I had with him (after all, one cannot have a real breakup with a pseudo-boyfriend) hurt me more than any other breakup ever has, before or since.

To Mike, I am thankful. Prior to meeting him, I was shy and awkward and suffered from severe social anxiety. Mike is the one who brought me, kicking and screaming, out of my comfort zone. He made me fun, not just to the people who knew me well, but to random strangers. He got me talking to strangers. We were partners in crime and our adventures are legendary.

Sadly, it's been about a year since I've seen him. Mike has been unlucky in transport. He always has some crazy story about his broken cars. Seriously. I could dedicate pages of text to his automobile woes. The last I heard from him was May 9, 2009 -- exactly a month ago. My wedding day. He called while we were getting our pictures taken, wanting to know if it was okay if he arrived late. I said of course.

He never arrived.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Online Dating Chronicles: The Beginning.

While talking to my friend about her escapades in Internet dating, it dawned on me: I am a 10-year Online Dating Veteran. My first Internet date was in August 1996; my last was in May 2007. I suppose I should be ashamed or embarrassed because of this. Truth be known, it has provided me fabulous fodder for story telling. And so, I begin the Online Dating Chronicles (ODT). These will come in no particular order, except for this one.

The Beginning: August 1996

I don't remember his name. All I can remember for sure is that in August 1996, the day before my senior year of high school, I was an American Online chat room junkie. Back then, there were no unlimited plans, and so my parents were smart to attempt to limit my use to something like ten hours per month. Many of these hours were spent alongside my best friend, Jane Smith (her real name, folks), as we chatted to horny teenage boys far and wide.

I don't remember his name, but I do remember what I was wearing. I was halfway through my middle-class-guilt, I-only-shop-at-thrift-stores-and-dress-ridiculously phase. This means I hadn't quite started wearing the polyester brown leisure suits with the fly-collar pink gingham shirts. Not yet. I was only starting to look freakish. That night I was clad in men's jeans, size 29, pressed with creases down the front, and a white, blue, red, and pink short-sleeved knit number with a belt at the waist and a Peter Pan collar. This, I believed, was high fashion.

So in that, I headed to the Waffle House parking lot, 45 minutes away from me, with Best Friend Jane in tow. I knew nothing of this 18-year-old boy we were about to meet, except that he was a huge Insane Clown Posse fan, and that he drove a black, 1995 Honda Accord (I had told him my vehicle make and model as means of identification: a 1983 Nissan Maxima).

You must understand, of course, that I was even more culturally retarded at 17 than I am now. My taste in music included Cat Stevens, Billy Joel, Elton John, Sting, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell. I had no idea who ICP were, or that they did, indeed, dress like insane clowns. If I had known anything about their music or fashion sense, I may have run the other way.

We arrived at the Waffle House parking lot at about five to midnight. Jane and I got out of my car, cranked up our Simon and Garfunkel, and sat on the trunk, waiting for my gentleman caller. At 12:15, a black Honda Accord with tinted windows, and huge speakers sticking out of the back came rolling in, two inches from the ground, hubcaps spinning. Not only did this boy look as if he had a good three thousand dollars worth of stolen stereo equipment in his car, but he had totally pimped his.... Honda.

I don't recall the content of the conversation. Only that this boy looked like a troglodyte. Based upon his conversation, his only passions were ICP and his speakers. He went on and on about his stereo set-up and sound quality, while looking disapprovingly at my AM/FM stereo and tape deck. He asked Jane and I inside for waffles. We declined, explaining that the next day was the first day of our senior year of high school. After about ten minutes of discussion, we were on our way home.

Jane was spending the night, so we changed into our pajamas before giving my e-mail address one last check. Right as I signed on, up popped an Instant Message from ICP Boy.

"I'd really love to take your virginity," he said. Wow. What an opening.

"I'm not interested," I typed back.

For the next half hour, he kept insisting that he was "only being candid." I kept insisting that he had no clue what the definition of "candor" was, as I was giving it right back to him. Why Jane and I continued to talk to him for so long, I do not know. Perhaps it was the novelty of the situation, or the inherent addicting qualities of the medium.

He wrote me about two emails a day for the next month before finally giving up. The numerous Instant Messages he sent during that time period went unanswered.

And I learned my first valuable lesson when it comes to Internet dating: Never, ever, under any circumstances, use your primary e-mail account (especially one with your full name in it) or Instant Messenger user name to correspond with potential suitors. This one lesson served me well in the years that followed.