Don’t Try to Play Me, Boy

Arkansas has never been an ideal place for a Queer to find dates. Southerners are, however, a very “Hold my beer!” kind of people. In down-home fashion, therefore, I’m the sort of Queer who moved back to Arkansas after many years away, said “Hold my beer!”, and went looking for a date anyway.

I’m 33. I don’t feel old. Old enough to be among a tragically small minority of folks who remember Gullah Gullah Island. But not old. Isn’t this the prime of my life? I got over the hurdles of my teens, coming out as queer in Arkansas during an era when getting married would not have been legal even if I’d been 18. Then I trampled through my 20’s, thought I knew everything, somehow convinced a lot of people I knew more than I really did, and fell predictably flat on my face in a fit of cosmically intense reckoning with reality before my 30th birthday. Now I’m 33 and the one real thing I know for certain is that I don’t know much.

Also I know that key lime pie is tasty. If you disagree, I’ll eat yours for you. Then I’ll calculate the points into my Weight Watchers app, because at 33, the other thing I really know about this season of my life is that key lime pie does not magically fall off my body like it used to.

So I get this email today from a prospective suitor. I’ve gotten dozens of emails from men who do not seem to understand what “demisexual” means, even though I clearly define the word in my personals ad: I’m not interested in sex with anyone I don’t have a strong emotional connection with. They can blame me for ending a sentence with a preposition, but not for being unclear about what I’m looking for.

The email that arrived today stood out for this reason alone: He lives less than a mile from me. Way out in the country. Do you know how convenient it would be to date someone within walking distance? I want to say yes on this basis alone. I haven’t been on a date since 2015. I haven’t had sex since 2016.

Whoa. Really? Isn’t winter of 2021 happening, like, next month? Yes. Yes it is. Funny you noticed that, too.

I’ve begun to wonder if I’m asexual. Then I remember how much I really, intensely, eagerly, whole-heartedly love sucking cock. I am not asexual. There is no way I could be asexual. I just, you know, haven’t had sex. In five years.

Part of this dry spell happened because of genital surgery. In May 2016, I went under the knife for the simplest of all possible gender-affirming surgical procedures. In August 2016, I went back under the knife to remove massive wads of scar tissue that had kept me nearly immobilized in pain all summer, caused me to lose my job and health insurance, and traumatized me so sufficiently that I had a psychotic break not long thereafter. But I’ve not been psychotic in at least three years? I’ve been sober for that long, at least, and I think those occurrences happened together.

The rest of the dry spell happened because, after I’d gone through all that, I no longer had an appetite for consumptive sex. It was like I’d had 300 McDonald’s burgers a year for two years, and eating burgers in Steamworks bathhouse had made me so nauseated I just couldn’t eat another one again when it was offered to me. That was in 2018. Then I turned down another, and another. 2019 happened. The offers started getting better ⁠— but they were better than the lowest possible standard of what constitutes a date, so I still said “no, thank you.”

2020 happened. I blamed covid for my continued celibacy, but really I don’t think I’d have gotten laid even if we’d had a real President who valued 700,000 people’s lives more than his own angry insurrectionist fan base’s egos.

In 2021, I got vaccinated, quit my job as a trucker, and started looking around Arkansas for dates with thoughtful, considerate, fully vaccinated, anti-racist, pro-feminist, pro-choice, pro-science people who could perhaps satisfy my deep enjoyment of sucking cock. That’s how this guy up the road found my personals ad.

Here’s the thing though: Dude can’t even tell me what interests him. He’s 26. I remember being a 26 year old man and thinking that the whole world revolved around me because I was the coolest thing on the planet since key lime pie. But I’m not 26 anymore. I’m 33. This means I need any man’s petition for my interest to be at least as interesting to me as this key lime pie I cannot stop thinking about. This is what “demisexual” means. If he does not present himself in a way that can compete with the sense of comfort, peace, calm, and reliability a key lime pie gives me, he is not going in my mouth.

Am I being unreasonable? Have I gotten so old that even polite-but-insubstantial offers of sex make me throw down curmudgeonly missives for the darn kids to get off my lawn?

I asked him why I should take interest in him. What are his favorite books? What inspires him? What is he passionate about? What is he doing with his life, and how does he feel about it? I asked how he thought he’d respond if he were in my shoes, being propositioned by someone who has offered no substance or insight into himself as a human being worthy of my attention.

He said, “If I were you I’d think I’d need to meet him and really see for myself,” with a great big smiley face. Bless his little heart.

So I wrote him back. I kept it light-hearted. As light-hearted as “Well I think I’m 33 years old and done been fooled enough times to know when someone wants in my pants, OR is covering up a lack of substance in his own life by skirting my questions about what makes him substantial” can be, anyway. I added, “Doesn’t mean I won’t ever meet up with you. But it does mean this: Don’t try to play me, boy.”

The 26 year old who was eagerly double-messaging me earlier has not yet responded.

The 76 year old who prompted yesterday’s dissociative episode has me wondering if men in Arkansas ever actually grow up at all? A friend whose husband just left her reminds me the answer might very well be “no”. A lifetime of seeing men around here behave as overgrown, emotionally-stunted 12 year olds whose wives are expected to clean up their messes, pay for their occupational whimsies, and cater to an emotional fragility that makes thin ice look inviting to walk on, suggests to me that perhaps they just don’t ever grow up. Maybe it’s only men in other places who grow up, because their environment requires them to? Arkansas does not require maturity, conflict resolution, or collaboration skills of white men, ever.

This, I fear, might leave me hungry for a dick to suck for as long as I live here.

But at least I’m not hungry for self-respect anymore. Walking distance or not, if the dude can’t name one book he loves and tell me why that story is important to him, I can’t give him a blow job. I just cannot.

So I wait.