My heart was not broken. The blunt force trauma, however, left severe lacerations and contusions. It was in the blue and purple stage of bruising, when touch is painful. I didn’t want to let it stiffen up, so I decided to give it some mild exercise. Nothing too rough. I’m getting old and can’t take it anymore.
I put an ad in craigslist, in the “casual encounters” section, there with the spambots whose ads claim they are 19, hot and horny. I wondered about the poor spambots and what must be their perpetual frustration. Do their programmers want email addresses, hoping to bombard responders with links to pornographic web sites in hope that the fish will give up their credit card information? Good luck. Nobody gives their right email on craigslist. Craigslist guys are very careful. If I were a spambot, I would be consoling myself with the thought that somebody falls for the Nigerian scams, too, and I just might get lucky.
My ad gave my age up front. No spambot claims to be 57. The ad said I was married, in an open relationship. That anyone brave enough to check out someone my age might be pleasantly surprised. It said I didn’t care about looks and it was ok to be a bit overweight, but wanted someone around my age. Not that I would turn anyone down for being too young or too old. I was not judgmental and a little fumbling around because we were new and nervous was no problem. I might just be willing to try that kinky thing your last girlfriend refused to consider. I said all that. I was in the mood for telling the truth. I had no idea what would happen, although I thought wistfully that perhaps I should have been a 19 year old horny spambot if I wanted any responses.
My ad was up for an hour and 15 minutes one Saturday morning. I took it down because I decided 30 guys were enough to choose among. The spambots were all like, “What, her?” A couple of emails moved me to reply and explain why we weren’t suited. I wasn’t looking for anyone to bring me breakfast in bed with a rose in a bud vase. I’m no cougar, and I think you’re sweet, but I’m really looking for a guy over 40, or at least over 30. I rejected anyone offering romance. I did not want love. I was looking for a sex cure. A one night stand is good. A couple of dates, max.
I selected my candidates based on minimum literacy and what glimpse I could get of their emotional stability and generosity. I looked for directness without pornographic flourishes and an indication of sexual range. I wanted a confident guy, even a dominant guy. I was ready to go on someone else’s ride. I wanted to keep me out of it as much as possible.
Borrowing a principle from infertility treatment, I selected six replies to fertilize, in the hope that one or two would take. Ron was smart and verbal (he was a salesman) and showed the requisite eagerness. The most attractive thing a guy can be is enthusiastic. Paul, 20 years younger, charmingly said his new kink was older women. Leo had a sense of humor (he’s a professional comic) and lived in my neighborhood, a huge plus.
Doug sounded like a grown up, and in fact, ran his own tech company. Blue had a motorcycle, which moved him to the top of the list. Carl should have been rejected immediately. He wanted to tie me up and pretend to rape me. He proposed this so solemnly and gently—but not tentatively—that he got my attention. I wanted distraction and in my emotional state, the edge of the cliff was more comfortable than the middle of the road.
Ron was cagy and seemed taken aback by the idea that he had to “host,” that is, provide a place to have sex, but he continued to push for a meeting. As a craigslist novice, I was about to witness the approach-avoidance behavior of prospective dates. Some guys are genuinely afraid of the encounter and perhaps of being stalked, and Ron was positively paranoid. He made a date and cancelled at the last minute. When I replied to commiserate over his sudden flu, I found he had closed his fake email account.
That made me curious. Was he a wierdo? Someone with a high profile? I googled the name he gave, expecting to come up empty. I had to laugh—I was able to learn where he worked and his company web site had his picture on it. It was him, but older. That was also my introduction to men using pictures from ten years ago. It’s a good thing I have guts, because I’m very ignorant of how this game is played.
Paul was good for a few emails but never committed to a date. I was really starting to like him. I particularly admired him for googling me, as I also didn’t have enough sense to create a new pseudonym. I like to imagine that he got back together with his girlfriend or met someone new in the flesh and fell in love. Paul, thanks for reading and for your praise and I hope you’re having fun.
Doug did the tapering-off thing. Lots of enthusiasm at first, then didn’t answer when we were negotiating dates. Tried him a week later, and he was enthusiastic once more and then dropped off the map. I didn’t take it personally. I was getting a sense of the difficulty that these guys faced organizing a sexual encounter in the context of their mainstream lives. Craigslist guys come from the real world, not the nutrient bubble that is San Francisco’s art/tech/sex community. They face different issues than I do.
Leo’s life is most recognizable to me. He is a comic, a good one, but poor like most people who live from their art. We met at a cafe and watched some young comics try their turn at the mike with varying degrees of competence. I found it sweet that he mentored those young guys and supported their aspirations. I wonder how many of those youths would hang on to their dreams of performance into their fifties, despite the struggle and the poverty. There was something special about Leo and I think I would like him to be a real friend or at least an acquaintance. He lives near me and is, bless him, divorced.
Carl has kept up a correspondence and I’ve slowly come to trust him. I’ve written bondage fantasies and emailed them to him. I think of it as an exercise in writing erotica, which I had never tried. My small audience likes my efforts. I have developed some rules for my erotic emails, such as avoiding terms you expect to find in porn and describing an emotional as well as physical experience. I avoid girlish or flowery language. My blunt style of smut pleases me as well as Carl.
That’s one more thing I’ve learned: I have an advantage in internet affairs. I write better than a 19-year-old pornbot. My emails to Carl are confessional as well as seductive. I’m stripping the skin off myself deliberately, before someone else can do it and then leave me suddenly, violently. Carl and I will meet one day. If we don’t, we will have had an affair anyway.
But what am I going to do about Blue? No one has pursued me this hard since I was in college, and that was Eduardo, “El Loco,” who turned out to be a psychopath. I’ve waited vainly for Blue to reveal that he is crazy. We emailed for weeks and have met twice. I’m afraid he’s just a very determined guy. He’s also attractive, successful, seriously healthy, and even, God help me, slender. He takes me on motorcycle rides, which I find thrilling. He’s as sensitive as Alan Alda and as nasty as I am. He says, “I want to hold your heart in my hands.”
Nooooo!!! My heart just got out of intensive care. It’s still using a cane. It’s not ready to vault fences and bound up stairs. Blue is challenging it to race. Can I possibly be so heedless, so reckless, as to accept that challenge?
My limping heart picks up its pace.