The 13th Step: Descent



I stay out too late

Got nothing in my brain

That’s what people say

That’s what people say

I go on too many dates

But I can’t make them stay

At least that’s what people say

That’s what people say

But I keep cruising

Can’t stop, wont stop moving

—Taylor Swift, Shake it Off


We’re supposed to meet at Dumbo’s Festival of Lights, but one of his friends is already there and has inside information that it’s body-to-body crowded.  We agree that a crowded subway is never an excuse for sexual harassment, buckle up it’s the law, and we will keep our hands to ourselves until we meet up. Our alternative destination is Hank’s Saloon in Downtown Brooklyn, which he warns me is Halloween scary. He’s already there with some friends but we can break off and not do the group thing because that would be rude on his part. When I show up he praises me for being cool and meeting his friends. And I think, well, at least one of us has friends. But, mostly, this bar is New Jersey scary. It’s a cash-only dive you would encounter near an NJ transit stop, it looks like a converted corner store in the idiom of Quick Stop from Clerks, buck hunter machines abound, and a hardcore band is playing to a crowd of white men wearing baseball hats and bandanas with redundant hoodies. I think the band is called Yuppicide, judging from the audience’s patches and the singer’s (screamer’s?) beanie. We hang back and finish our drinks as his friends move on to their next location, a much more civilized pizza shop slash bar slash all-purpose event space in Boerum Hill. Eventually we follow. On the way over, he inquires about what I’m doing with my life: about to have surgery, applying to med school, writing a book. And, if nothing else, I amuse a middle school English teacher with a punctuation joke: There is a colon in the working title of my book about losing my colon. Thus far it is entitled “Flushed: Stories About Sex and Shit.”  (Alternative suggestions welcomed!) This is not nearly as clever as my friend’s boyfriend’s joke: “My brother has Crohn’s and had part of his colon removed; now he has a semi-colon.” Geek life!

It’s half group hang, half date. And I totally bomb the date portion of the evening. Not like we have a bad time or I don’t get laid, assuming that is the goal. But like I am my worst self. Super schticky. It is an award winning performance for sure. But he probably ordered a person not a stand-up routine. Out of nowhere he asks me if I’m happy. And I think I answer honestly, “I don’t think I’m, like, a categorically unhappy person. But I’ve been through a lot of shitty things recently.” “Pun intended,” he adds. You know it’s bad when all you have to talk about on a date is farcically tragic dates: a premature ejaculator with a surprise baby, an impotent old who insisted upon incorporating kitchen utensils into a failed family role-play. At the end of the evening his friends disband and we are left alone. The energy is dying down. We agree that it is time to move on. But don’t agree on a next location until we are outside in the freezing cold and are forced to hold on to each other and shiver in a doorway. I want him to invite me back to his place. I expect him to invite me back to his place. He lives in Brooklyn. I tell him no matter what the destination, we should walk toward the subway and when we are there I lay out the options: another bar, his place, my place. We are going to my place, strangely, so I alert him to the mess. And he tells me I’ve already mentioned it. As in, stop preemptively apologizing. I attempt to attenuate my redundancy by adding the quippy, “My cat (whom I introduced to him earlier when he inquired about roommates) is no help.” “She doesn’t observe the chore wheel?” “No, today was her day to vacuum and instead she coughed up a hairball on my rug.” He falls asleep on me during the nonsensical 40-minute cross-borough after-hours subway journey. Despite multiple warnings, I think he is slightly shocked by the state of disarray of my apartment and to top it off he’s still half asleep. Welcome to my nightmare! My living quarters have crossed the line from ‘creative people are messy’ to a physical manifestation of my dilapidated life—my self-neglect externalized and inflicted upon my physical environment. I fix myself a drink as he awaits my company on the flamboyant floral couch on which he is half passed out—teachers are on early schedules. I talk nervously while I am fixing and finishing my appletini-ale, which at least methodically matches my pink and green decor. By the time I join him, it is clear that whatever we had last weekend has fizzled out. Or at least flattened. As I climb over him and settle side-by-side in my matchy-matchy leafy print leggings, he exclaims, “Aaaaah, you are going to disappear!” It must be a metaphor for something, now nothing.

I want to make it crystal clear when I say I don’t think he’s bad in bed: he had skills, privileged my pleasure over his own, and was receptive to whatever I wanted to do. Not to mention, he has a banging bod, according to my very specific standards. Nevertheless, the sex was torture at worst, unpleasant at best.

I would like being eaten out a lot more if I didn’t spend half the time plotting my eventual escape. He does an excellent job, really burrows his face in my pussy and goes at it like he’s a racoon in a Skippy container, but it’s time to move on to the next activity and his course beard hair is giving me raucous rug burn. I have trouble wriggling out from under him because he’s so buried that he isn’t monitoring my face. By the time he gets the point, my level of arousal is back to where it was before he started. He pops up on his knees, junk towering over me, and I think, Holy sweet Jesus his cock is huge and so, so hard. This guy loves pussy: YES! And I love putting it in my mouth. But when it is time to put it inside me, it is a repeat of my experience with elephant cock: consensual vaginal assault. HOW IS THIS MY LIFE? Can’t guys just wear nametags: Hello, my name is Jonah. Please refer me to a larger friend. Missionary is not happening. I ask him if we can switch positions, tell him it hurts, he’s bigger than I expected. I don’t mean to phrase it as a neg. I meant “Your cock is huge,” not “I expected you to have a smaller penis,” but he looks more appalled than flattered. Oh well. I swing one leg around so my thighs are pressed together on one side of me and he can’t get all the way inside. The vag torture persists.

We switch positions one or two more times until I give up and take it. Jammed in a physically and mentally defensive posture, I focus on protecting my cervix instead of achieving pleasure. To tell you the truth, physically speaking, I wasn’t that aroused to begin with, so maybe my vagina hasn’t fully expanded. I chalk up the pain to this, his oversized penis, and whatever vagina ailment I was contending with earlier in the day. Sometimes things are extra sensitive inside with no external explanation—my ovaries are sore or my cervix is tilted down because of the time of month, making it extra susceptible to a jostling. The non-menstrual bleeding and pain must be related. The penis an exacerbating factor. Woe is me. I can’t take it any longer; I ask to switch back to oral for a while, straddle his face and lean forward. He verifies that I have another condom before unsheathing his penis and informing me that I can instruct him to cum whenever I want him to. He can cum on command. It’s this “neat trick.” I think, Good boy, want a treat? Just kidding. I think, Oh fuck, I’m not nearly there and I don’t think I can get there. He expects me to orgasm and I don’t give a shit either way. What to do, what to do. When I’m at least reasonably aroused, I reach under my bed for a Magnum, flip around, and start riding him. He stops me before he cums. I wish he would just cum already; this, sir, is a sinking ship. Somehow I manage to get myself closeish with my hands even though my clit is barely hard. I put him back inside me, hope he’s almost done, and finish. As much as I appreciate his generosity, there are no high fives for forced orgasms. I think, Goddamn it, I just had an orgasm I didn’t want, he still isn’t done, and now I’m going to have to work on him. He’s been so attentive and accommodating. Time to feign enthusiasm! All aboard? He rips the condom off and straddles me: YES! This guy is the best! What a life of leisure I lead. I tell him to cum anyplace but my eyes. He laughs. Because who am I!? For sure he was just going to go for my stomach or tits. He says he’ll be polite about it. Obviously. And he gives himself a penis polishing. Brandishes it. Sometimes watching a guy jerk off is just like watching someone shine a candlestick. Not that I’ve ever watched that, per se, but his trophy penis and pile of semen are so decorative. Almost ceremonial. He looks around lost and I direct him to the towel hanging over my desk chair. Pretty sure it’s crusty from me, myself, and I. He tells me a buffing comes with the service, and wipes me down rhythmically and thoroughly like I’m a car being wrung through the rollers at a Wash and Lube. Inspecting me, he takes turns the towel into a hand rag and touches up my belly button. This man takes pride in his work. “You are better at cleaning up than I am,” I compliment. “Facts.”

The next morning, when he wakes up and gets ready to go, I pretend to be asleep. Which is how I feel about mornings in general. Nothing personal. But it’s a futile act and eventually I act like a sleepy human being and ask if he needs directions home. We do some formal combination of hug-kiss goodbye and I have no clear perception of whether we will see each other ever again; I’m not quite sure I care either way. Men’s follow-ups in similar situations range from “Morning! Had a great time, and you are cute 🙂 Try not to destroy too many paintings while you’re tripping today, and let me know if you want to meet later this weekend. (I’m free tomorrow. Just saying ;))” to “You fucked my brains out. Woohoo! FRIDAY NIGHT!! -Sent from in bed” to radio silence.

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