IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE
April 13th, 2014
Genie: Today is the one-year anniversary of my commencing internet dating.
Andrew: Happy Anniversary!
Genie: Ha, my spoils of the year haven’t amounted to much
By any definition of dating success
Andrew: Think of it as a safari, rather than a hunt.
Genie: Hmm, I like that. Similarly, one guy told me he is an explorer not a conquerer.
My experiences haven’t even been exotic, though. Just run-of-the-mill bad.
Andrew: See? Safari Accomplished.
It’s not every day you get to meet an explorer.
Despite my sex fatigue, there has been an ego-padding upshot to my chronically tedious internet encounters. Having repulsive medical problems has been extremely liberating. I’ve been amazed at how few men I’ve grossed out and scared away. The men of OKC and tinder have been my test bunnies. So low-stakes compared to real, live humans.
Oh my gosh, pardon me, before we go any further in this post, this needs to be clarified: I didn’t only have the option to touch twelve male human specimens in the past year. There were numerous, other reasonable offers—some explicit—from fetchingly attractive, medium smart individuals. And I brushed many of them off. Left a few open-ended. Never got around to them. So much of sex is arbitrary and all about the timing. It sounds silly to say, “don’t take it personally”—but for real!
Genie: What a boring evening. I mean, I know there are no boring evenings, only boring people.
Todd: If all else fails grab a cute guy and give em a kiss on the lips.
Genie: Ha ha, eww
Todd: Not eww.
Genie: I actually think kissing is a little gross as an act within itself. Obvs I’m ten years old.
Todd: But hand holding is chill?
Genie: No, I told you I hate hand holding while walking! I mean, stationary hand holding is copacetic.
Todd: What about dry humping?
Genie: Excellent, as long as not so much dry humping as to cause chaffing
Todd: Hahaaaa. Spoken like a pro.
Todd: We should do that.
Genie: Indeed. I’ll dress like wilma if you dress like fred. We can make your bedrock. Sorry, prehistoric humor!
[He wore a Fred Flinstone-patterned shirt on our first date]
Todd: Oh shit. Cave woman
Todd: Do you wanna do something a lil adventurous tonight?
It would involve a lil upright stationary hand holding and kissing.
Genie: Ha ha ha, trying to repulse me. I actually have plans tonight, though irresistible offer.
Todd: Yeah. Prolly would be nice. We could skip the hand holding. Well let me know when your feeling adventurous.
That tab is still open.
My dating quest began as a social psych experiment, of sorts. At first I wanted to test how much I had to lower my standards. There is this inflated entitlement thing when you’ve overcome a huge obstacle, gracefully. I completed my pre-med requirements in one year while undergoing a cocktail of chemo and steroids. So it was like, hellllz to the En-Ohhh, I am foxy, ambitious and brainy. A man-eating bitch. Will. Not. Compromise. For. Sex. Didn’t need to. No matter.
Initially I messaged with guys and mentioned my “condition” when organically sensible. Oh, you wanna get a drink? Well, I can’t drink alcohol because I had this carazay surgery and get dehydrated easily, but would love to go to a bar and drink cranberry juice. Just because I’m technically physically disabled doesn’t mean we have to meet someplace lame like a park. Or ride the bus with the elderly. Living life! Work hard, play harder! Club or couch! Got obligatory photo of me and my baby feline who resembles a tiger! I’m well-traveled in both senses of the phrase. You dig?
Guys will fuck anything with boobs. Seriously, I told guys my colon was lost in a battle—medical waste—and they were like, “Still got those double D’s? Giggity, giggity, yeahhh!” Also, they were probably like, “This chick is talking poop before I meet her. Can totally Dutch oven her after our first fucking. Ppppfh, zzz.” That is supposed to be the letters of farting then sleeping. If you can figure out the ones for semen explosion, please insert before farting.
The responses I received were overwhelmingly positive. I considered systematizing my prompts to transform my schtick into an informal Robert Cialdini experiment. Intuitively, one would assume that in an attempt to influence behavior, glimpsing an ideal outcome would provide the impetus for change. Too bad for gross, gross, human nature. As it turns out, the most effective way to elicit positive behavior is to lie about how others are acting. We are sheep. Beavers. Pussies. Animals. And behave according to social norms. False feedback is where it’s at. Robert Cialdini wanted to get hotel guest to reuse towels (instead of having them laundered after each use). Totally reasonable, provided said towels were not pussy rags. In the control condition, he merely reminded guest of the environmental benefits of conserving energy. In the experimental condition, he added the high percentage of guests who reused their towels at least once during their stay. When guests felt more alike to those evoked in the description (when the copy noted the percentage of guests in their very room—a minimal group paradigm—who reused towels at least once), results were even more pronounced. Which contradicts hotels’ misguided tactic: softening the blow of the implication that guests are entitled assholes by claiming it’s normal to fall prey to consumption (I mean, wasting. I mean, consuming. Er, consumerism. How do I get this to not sound like a plague from a bygone era?) “We all enjoy the luxury of crisp clean towels, so much so that the lure of an endless supply inspires us to consume more than necessary,” is not nearly as effective of a message as, “The majority of guests that stay in our hotel do reuse their towels.” The way to get people to behave well is to tell them that others behave well! Not to tell them they are common assholes. Aspiration tactics over scare tactics. Be the crowd you want to see in the world.
Informally, I planned to give half of guys (my control group) my spiel about how I had been sick and have slight lifestyle restrictions, no big deal. And the other half (my experimental group) my spiel plus the implicit social feedback that it hasn’t mattered to the vast majority of guys (let’s say 70% percent), but on the oft chance that it is important to them (30%), full disclosure in advance! In other words, if they were grossed out by my pooping 4-7 times per day and were upset that a hot girl with ‘D’cups wasn’t in tip-top shape, they could wank with the shallow losers who rejected me. My discarded pile. No pity fucks for me. I wasn’t hurting to get laid. Other options abounded. And it was true. Out of all the 20-or-so guys with whom I got to that point of communication, I’d say only 1/5 bowed out. One guy followed up after ignoring me for months when I admitted that it would be a month or two before I was fully functional. I told him I was no longer interested; other guys had the decency to respond and were happy to meet me in person. Physical contact is important; everyone deserves it. Whether they poop in a bag like a vagrant or in a toilet like a higher-order mammal. Dudes thought I was a badass for wanting to be touched before it was even safe for me to ride the subway alone. (Prospects of fainting from dehydration: frightening. When I wanted to go out in BK without paying $$$ for a cab, I got chauffeured in the mom-mobile like a suburban teen. Not a sit around and feel sorry for myself type. Hence the abundance of penises pointed at me.)
The secret of disclosure is, you set the tone for your own reception. If you sit someone down real serious-like and tell them “we need to talk,” they are gonna freak the fuck out. If you make it seem like a big deal that you have been concealing until the “right time,” they are gonna freak the fuck out. Pooping is like eating. I don’t poop where I eat, but they can be discussed in the same conversation. Unless you are unattractive. Then I can’t help you. This dude in my age range at a coed support group crowdsourced how to approach dating with a digestive disease. I told him I was upfront and got fucked all the time, or at least got asked on second dates—which I turned down because I’m snooty like that. He revealed that his internet dating experiences had not been as positive as mine. Partially because he is a dude. But let’s be for real, mostly because he is a computer science dude and not a looker. And he lives in Westchester. Who wants to date someone in Westchester? No one who isn’t a soccer mom with 2 kids and an OxyContin problem. I told him that it sucked to be rejected, but he couldn’t attribute his rejection to his illness. Way harsh? The next day he asked me out.
February 5th, 2014
Tim: This is Tim from the meeting last night. Would you like to avoid the lame parks and go to a bar for water or cranberry juice sometime?
Genie: Ha, not especially. Though I sincerely appreciate the cleverness of the invitation.
Tim: Thanks 🙂 No problemo.
Clever, indeed. But clever ain’t gonna get you laid.
You haven’t lived until you’ve ascended the 13th step. Where are all the hot dudes who projectile spew out of their rear ends (rare ends?) on command? I’m totally down. To exchange bodily fluids and poop stories. Bodily waste products are where I draw the line.
Went out with one Crohnie from OKC—my internet dating soulmate if I believed in flighty, ethereal concepts. Reckoned, at worst, the date would prove a novelty for the chronically blasé. It was worse: he wanted to fuck me and I wanted to talk poop. Irreconcilable difference, I suppose.
In the bowel liberation movement, I am a poop pioneer.
Not only do I talk shit (literal) on first dates, I poop in guys’ apartments (shoot the shit?). And they still wanna fuck me. The ultimate liberation—affirmation. I’m fuckable, still.
I don’t wear make-up except for lipstick and poop on first dates! Wait, that was a poorly constructed sentence. I poop on first dates and only wear lipstick (and clothes, of course). Does that make me brave or human? Lipstick, I’ve worn like a red badge of courage since my cousin’s high school English teacher revealed its purpose of mimicking an aroused vagina. We all have aspirations. Mine is not to conceal, but enhance. Like exaggerating noise in bed to get yourself going. I tickle my own fancy; with my $23 Laura Mercier “Healthy Lips” engorged vaginaface lipstickgloss, I am fancy.
Periodically, Jezebel provides instructions on when to poop: the fifth date or NEVER. How to stealth poop at work: travel to a different floor, wear magical pooping slippers and go incognito, have a standoff with your nextdoor stallmate until they start going and their noise covers up yours. Can we conceal our humanity forever? Must we? I piss in the wind; not literally, though, because mostly my pee pee just dribbles. Projectile shit in the wind is more apt. Not having the privilege to “hold it” is a glorious, glorious gift. Either I poop in public or I don’t leave my apartment.
Which isn’t to say that I love going in public. Despite my apparent lack of socialization when it comes to sex, I’ve always had trouble audibly pooping and farting and used to avoid both at the cost of comfort. Undoubtedly, my digestive troubles are somewhat to blame. Pooping has always been such a production for me that I had major shitting anxiety even when alone. So bad that my college boyfriend used to give me pep talks to calm me down. I’m not kidding. If you bled out of your ass, you would be scared to go to the bathroom too. And I could not stand when people tried to converse with me through the stall door. Like, pooping takes enough concentration as is!
Then there is the issue of being ladylike. My mother is one of four girls; growing up, she wasn’t allowed to use the downstairs bathroom (with all pink fixtures!) if there were guests in the house. For me it isn’t a gender thing. Categorically, I’m okay with people hearing me pee but wanna poop in peace. I could pee in the woods in front of boys, no problem. Pooping is private.
In grad school there was this 2-stall, 2-sink bathroom, in one of the psychology buildings, that I found terribly confusing—to the point where I wondered whether it was a covert social psych thought piece. Full disclosure, psychology is about 4/5th women, so it makes sense not to have an equal number of bathrooms designated for men and women (forgetting the fact that there should always be more women’s bathrooms). It’s nice for bathrooms to be gender flexible. There was a sign outside the bathroom with the typical person-in-pants and person-in-skirt symbols, except it was a magnetic board on which you were supposed to move magnets to either the pants-person or skirt-person (in between might have been an option for people who identify as gender queer or fluid, not male or female) upon use. What I never really got was whether you were supposed to designate how you identified or what genders you found acceptable as bathroom buddies. All I knew was I HAD TO PEE! Because I preferred to go to he bathroom alone, but given the option of a bathroom buddy gave zero fucks whether they were male or female, I never bothered to move those magnets. Which others found disconcerting, even transgressive. On numerous occasions, I had a male walk in while I was in the room-of-bath, but not using the toilet. Each time, he looked scandalized, stuttered, and apologized profusely, as if he had walked in on me masturbating. Look, I know people think men and women can’t be friends. Can we at least wash our hands together, side-by-side in harmony? See: “Solution for the ‘Confusing’ Gender Neutral Toilet Sign Issue.”
Extreme stagefright set in when I attempted to empty my bowels in between falafel and sex with The Explorer. It was above and beyond having to run the water so he couldn’t hear me. Upon excusing myself to the bathroom, I was informed that the door did not close completely and his two maniac kittens would do their best to gain entrance, unravel the toilet paper, jump around in the sprinkler err sink, and roll around in the sand box err litter box. My plan was to preemptively corral them and invite them in, but those fluffballs of energy could not be contained. Throughout my brief recess in the bathroom, The Explorer insisted upon chatting with me and I had to fight off the little rascals through the door; my purse proved an ineffective doorstop. ‘Twas the most stressful, least pleasant bathroom experience ever, and I wasn’t sure I had gotten all the poop out! In the 2 ½ hours it took us to have wine, sex, and tea, the queen and king of destruction persisted to ransack his entire apartment, knocking over wine glasses, a tree—A TREE!
Sometimes I wonder why there isn’t a colloquial term for excrement that is neither infantile (poop) nor profane (shit). Is shit inherently profane? I have a dream of a utopian society where body function freedom is an inalienable right, people can excuse themselves to the bathroom honestly and don’t need to hatch elaborate plots to stealth poop. Let’s annihilate the ladies don’t have body functions ideal. Let it be known that women don’t live off of sunlight, masturbate to unicorns, have meadow fresh underwear and baby’s bottom vaginas. The other night I had to shit my brains out on my way from one event to another, so I stopped in a bar. The toilet was a little too gross for me to sit on. I decided to be polite and lift the seat to avoid splattering on it. Looking down wistfully to wave my poop goodbye before I flushed it into oblivion, I noticed that there was nothing in the toilet bowl. It had projectiled to the back rim and splattered across the underside of the cover. Mummifying my hand in their skin-thin toilet paper, I wiped the cover the best I could, but there is only so much one can do without a cup of water to wash away the shame. It doesn’t get much more unladylike than projectile pooping and missing one’s target. I’m sure the next patron thought, “hot damn: that girl took ‘beer shit’ to the next level.” As swiftly as possible without attracting suspicion, I ran away from the scene of the crime. Not before collecting photographic evidence. Which my phone cheekily suggested I share with my facebook friends.
Bowels liberated. Once you’ve handled your shit, there’s no pretense. You are as jaded and unrestrained as a horny 70-yr-old lady with wiry silver hairs poking out of her triple chin. And it’s just like, whatevsss, we’re gross: let’s get off. I’ve been ugly; it’s time to bump uglies.
Now, I have an assignment for you all: Go out and poop in someone’s apartment before you have sex with him. You will receive an invitation back. Otherwise you aren’t that good in bed. Or the dude doesn’t get that women are humans, too. In which case he’s a misogynistic dum-dum. And you can do better.
The first time I was in the hospital, doing IV chemo before conceding that there was nothing left to lose, I met an English GI as he was making his weekend rounds. The hospital was dead (heh, quiet) so I felt I could engage him in conversation. I asked what he knew about getting one’s colon removed, thinking I would receive standard medical advice. Was worth it to ask around. Second and third opinions. Opinions twice removed. His wife has/d UC. They started dating Freshman year of college (around the time people typically get diagnosed). She postponed their first date because she felt ill. He figured she didn’t like him much, had contrived a convenient excuse. Until she confessed. Years later, she is colonless—like me—and they are both doctors. Happily ever after.
Twelve guys in a year does not constitute happily ever after, or even happy. A safari, it has been. And I am the human, after all. No longer the test bunny. So there’s that. That there is.
Hall Girl: Rayanne, you are so full of it!
Rayanne: Oh, please! Ask Rickie, it was wicked, it was… Oh… hey girlfriend!
Rickie: Hey Angela!
Rayanne: Ask Angela, she was there. Angela, tell her…
Rickie: We hung out. And these guys, they tried to pick them up.
Rayanne: It was totally wicked, am I right?
Rickie: And the cops came.
Rayanne: I am telling you, we had a time. Didn’t we? Didn’t we have a time?
Angela: We did. We had a time.
—My So-Called Life, Pilot Episode
I was there. And I’ll tell you: I had a time.