Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Postcards from Craigslist

It's come to my attention that our very own ruby has a story out in the latest issue of Instant City. Turns out she's been writing her very own postcards from Guyville -- more specifically, from the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.

I'm not someone who's found the stomach to do Craigslist's Casual Encounters, but I'm sure glad she is. These stories are pretty fab (even if some of the men she Encounters are jaw-dropping assholes). Check out a tiny selection:

Dreamy Mama's Boy, 27.

I could not believe my luck when I met this one, he was so totally my type—skinny, curly hair, glasses, seemed kinda queer. Oh, and way messed in the head. But I didn’t know that yet when he walked into Mission Bar with his knitting project (“I wanted to have something to do if you were late,” he explained) and bowled me over with his sweet, smarty-pants, self-deprecating manner. When he asked me if I wanted to see his sublet, I was touched by the earnest euphemism, and further charmed by his breathy admission, after the kissing started, that “I’m so glad you like me.”

We went to second base and I slept over; by morning I was so crushed out I was almost too nervous to ask if I could see him again. I was even undeterred when he said he would have to consult with his therapist. Lucky for me she gave the go-ahead, and I entered full-on compulsive-e-mail-checking, holding-evenings-open-for-unconfirmed-non-plans, thinking- about-touching-his-hair-when-I-should-have-been-working mode. Even though we were getting progressively more naked each time we hung out, and trading flirtatious e-mails in between, I sensed ambivalence, and it made me nervous. When I brought it up, he wrote, "I'm trying to tease out how I feel about physical appearances versus personalities. But, that said, what went down the other day was pretty fantastic in a way that I'd never experienced before.... We can be friends. Or ambiguous friends." Translation: I’m not attracted to you but I really loved it when you stuck your finger in my ass, so I’d like to reserve the right to mess around when I feel like it. When I ran my interpretation by him, he corrected me: “Actually, you physically resemble (a young version of) my mom. And it turns me on. And scares me.” Yeah. Okay. Bye.

Perfect Technique Man, 34.

Man made me realize that I might be even more messed in the head than the Mama’s Boy. He was interested in hanging out once or twice a week; could hold up his end of a conversation very well; made it clear just how very attracted to me he was; and was honest, straightforward, and self-aware. The cherry on top of his cake was that he loved giving head more than anything else, and he was damn good at it. So why didn't I think he was dreamy? I don’t know, but perfect technique only gets you so far. There were lots of orgasms, but no sparks. I had to end it before it made me feel totally dead inside.

The One Who Licked My Face When He Came, 33.

Needless to say, I did not see him again.

You can buy the ish with the story in it right here.


ruby said...

thanks for the plug, ladyred! i like thinking of that piece as a dispatch from guyville, which i never quite did before.

jeff said...
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Roy said...

I'm trying to tease out how I feel about physical appearances versus personalities.

I appreciate honesty, but... geez.
I think I'd have been too angry/annoyed to actually ask for clarification, there. Of course, the clarification is actually a lot creepier.
"Okay. Bye." indeed.

Regarding Perfect Technique Man- may I ask how that went down? How do you tell someone "Hey, we have great conversations, you're interesting, and the sex is fantastic... but I'm not interested"?

It seems like that'd be a hard conversation to have.

flavia said...

I'd like to amplify ruby's "The One Who Licked My Face When He Came" with my own recent experience with "The One Who Came On My Face. . .Without Asking First."

ruby said...

jeff brings up a great point, and one that i think ladyred will have some interesting things to say about, too, given that the whole blog is devoted to discussing people who may not know they are being written about.

to answer the narrow question, some of the men knew enough about me to know that i am a writer and i sometimes write personal stuff, and sometimes that stuff is about my sex life. some didn't. the only one who was ever overtly concerned about it was more worried that i was dating so i could write an article rather than for my own personal gratification. once i assured him it was the latter (and that i would protect his anonymity if i ever did write about my experiences), he was totally cool with it.

as to the general risk of dating writers, people in all jobs talk to their friends about their dates in the most lurid detail. an article like this is really not that different. provided that anonymity is preserved, i don't think writing about personal details--as long as they are *your* personal details in addition to someone else's--presents an ethical problem.

and anyway, dating is dangerous in all sorts of ways. anyone who tries to do it knows this.

clearly, then, for me in this piece (and, it seems, for ladyred in thos blog) anonymity is key. hence the nicknames for all the guys, and the fact that (gasp!) the name the piece is written under is not my real one. there are only a tiny handful of people who know the pseudonym-real name connection, and of those, even those closest to me (who i told all these stories to--and more--before i wrote them) can't even connect the dots to who the men are.

so i don't see an invasion of privacy here--and i actively worked to ensure that was the case.

that said, i do realize that some of the stuff i wrote might hurt someone's feelings if he recognized himself in a portrait. but everything i wrote about happened years ago (friendster recently informed me that the dreamy mama's boy got married, even!), and, well, it's *casual encounters*. that says something about the level of engagement i had with most of the people i met. some of the guys in the piece became more than casual, of course, and we are still in touch--so if they're upset by anything (if they even read it, which is highly unlikely), they can take it up with me. (i have a little experience, quite recent, actually, with feeling hurt and misrepresented by something someone wrote for public consumption--and i may decide to talk directly with him about it, or i may not. but my general take is, well, you can't control the way other people see situations. that's just part of life.)

but i don't think anyone i fucked years ago and never talked to again by mutual agreement is really going to care about a mention in a tiny literary journal in a context that says more about a period in the author's life than any one person.

ruby said...

oh, and to answer roy's question: with perfect technique man, i took the "honesty but not brutal honesty" tack. i told him that it had been a lot of fun spending time with him, but that our arrangement wasn't working for me anymore.

the thing is, we had fine conversations (not great) and the sex was very good (not fantastic). we just didn't really have a connection that went beyond the superficial. he seemed like a genuinely good person, but there was just none of that spark you feel with anyone you have a *real* connection with (whether friendly, romantic, or both), that mutual desire to learn all about each other.

he didn't feel the sparks either, so it was actually not a hard conversation at all. it was all very amicable.

Roy said...

Hooray! Honest but not brutally so wins again!

Yeah, I can see how it helps if the other person is feeling the same way.

"The One Who Came On My Face. . .Without Asking First."

While I've never considered myself a prude, I do recognize that I've had fewer sexual encounters than a lot of people I know.
Still... people actually do that?

Honestly (and, given the other things I've shared, it seems too late to be anything but), I can't imagine not mentioning "Hey, I'm getting really close" at all. And I definitely can't imagine thinking "Not only will I not warn her... but I'm going to go ahead and aim for her face. Because that's sure to please her."

Okay. I know. Pleasing you was probably not the idea... but... ugh.

ladyred said...

Boy, howdy do I have a lot to say about this. I think about this nearly every time I post. Every writer wrestles with this question.

The basic answer is that yes, it's dangerous not only to date or sleep with a writer, but also to be friends with a writer, give birth to a writer, be birthed by a writer, sell coffee to a writer, and so on and so on and so on. Creative writers almost always use their lives as source material in one way or another.

But most of us take that responsibility very seriously. Why do you think this blog is written under a pseudonym? It's not because I'm shy, that's for sure (shocking, I know). I actually would LOVE to take credit for all the writing I do for this blog. Yes, the pseudonym is in part because it might harm me in other parts of my life to discuss my sex life so openly, but primarily it's because I'm acutely aware that I'm not just writing about the intimate details of my own life -- I'm writing about the intimate details of people who have not signed up for this project.

I protect anonymity fiercely here -- I change some details about myself and other people to confuse anyone who might be unhealthily curious, and I leave out altogether a lot of information that might be too specific. I can count on two hands the number of people who can link my "real" identity to this blog.

I also agonize about what these people would think/feel if they read the posts about them. I don't necessarily NOT write something if I think someone's feelings would be hurt by recognizing themselves in it (even if their anonymity remained uncompromised) -- clearly The Charmer might be less than pleased about what I wrote about him. And the Man/Child, to be sure. If writers never wrote anything that might hurt someone's feelings nothing would ever be written. But I always weigh that potential harm against the reasons I'm writing the blog -- to create a frank and fertile conversation about an important part of our lives that we don't often get to discuss in an open forum. I always, always ask myself -- Is it important to say this? Is it worth the risk?

To complicate the matters, I've recently begun a flirtation with someone who, as it turns out, reads this very blog already. I always imagined that by the time someone I was interested in was reading my blog, it would mean we were fairly seriously involved to the point where I'd feel dishonest keeping it from hir, so I'd have already written quite a bit about hir, which would present its own set of challenges, but this is complicated in a different and special way. More on that very soon...

jeff said...
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flavia said...

Still... people actually do that?

roy-yeah, it's appparently a fairly common mise en scene in pornography. Lucky me.

ladyred said...

I'm not convinced the world would be a better place if I told The Charmer everything I've written here. Even if I wanted to change him, which I don't, that kind of brutal honesty is hard enough to hear when it's coming from your best friend, let alone some chick you've had two dates and some brief bad sex with and couldn't even be bothered to compliment once about anything. But I don't want to change The Charmer. I couldn't even change my ex, whom I had a profoundly intimate four year relationship with -- though I made us both miserable trying. I'm out of the changing people business.

I only communicate about difficult stuff with people if a) that stuff is affecting me and I need to set a boundary or ask for their help with that, b) they ask me directly to discuss it with them and I care enough to engage with them, and/or c) I think they're hurting themselves or someone else and I care enough to want to help or intervene. None of those things apply in this case.

ruby said...

"Of course, you mean the only one who knew he might have a reason to be overly concerned, right?" —jeff

um, no. i mean that there was only one out of the approximately half of them who knew i was a writer who expressed any concern at all about the possibility i might write about him (i said "overtly," not "overly").

yes, i admit that there are people i "met/played with/fucked/got licked by" (and hey, don't forget, i licked them too!) who didn't know i was a writer. and so in a certain light one could interpret me not sharing that info with them as in some way shady. but i don't think it is, and here's why: when you meet someone for the purpose of relatively anonymous sex on the internet (which is what people do in the casual encounters section most of the time, and which was the case for every single man i wrote about who didn't know i was a writer), you are not obligated to disclose your profession, your creative life, or, really, anything other than your STI status. you also don't generally develop a level of trust with them that would lead anyone to believe that the experience is something that would never get talked about in public.

(sorry if i gave the impression that i think pervs don't deserve privacy--that could not be further from what i think! though i'd like to stress again that b/c of the anonymity, no one's privacy has actually been invaded.)

so, we're talking about potential hurt feelings. while i don't deny that there's some grounds to accuse me of devaluing my long-past, might-not-even-remember-me casual sex partners, i think it's okay to value my right to write about my own life more than i value the need to possibly shield the feelings of someone who probably doesn't but might have an objection to being written about anonymously.

and, jeff, you must feel the same way at least to some extent, right, since (as you say) you write about your ex on your blog even though you know she doesn't want you to. it's your blog, and your feelings/experiences, so...your right to discuss if you want.

also, even though i don't think i have to justify myself here--because i thought about all this stuff a lot before i submitted the piece for publication, and because i went out of my way to disguise people, and because i did think carefully about what i was saying when i wrote the piece--when i started the dating spree that's documented in the article, i had no idea i was ever going to want to write about it. if i had known, or given it more thought, i probably would have told most if not all of my play partners that i might write about my experiences someday. but, well, i didn't know, so i couldn't say. and i really don't think i've caused any harm or been unethical.

and, hey, if anyone reads this thread and something in it makes him think he might have slept with me, and he has something to say about what i wrote or the possibility of being written about, then he's got my e-mail address.

in the end, it comes down to this: as ladyred so elegantly said, "yes, it's dangerous not only to date or sleep with a writer, but also to be friends with a writer, give birth to a writer, be birthed by a writer, sell coffee to a writer, and so on and so on and so on."

i would actually amend that, and replace "writer" with "person." whenever we're out in the world taking the risk of interacting with other people, things happen that might hurt our feelings or otherwise make us less than shiny and happy. it's what we have to put up with in order to maybe sometimes feel giddy, turned on, joyful, and anything else that happens when you connect with someone.