“Darkness will show us the way…”
Dana wouldn’t let me fuck her before she went on dates. Losers she’d meet from pay-to-play dating apps- ones that supposedly offered a more serious assortment of romantic candidates. The kind she’d want to bring home to mom, assuming mom were still alive. Maybe, more accurately, the kind she’d introduce to her children- on a day trip to Adventureland, where he’d spend big money on artisan ice-cream and carnival games skewed against the player.
Big smiles while riding bumper boats. This could be something real- like they advertise on TV, where aging singles find their second chance; the one that counts, as insinuated by complex smiles on the faces of couples in their forties, sipping cocoa in cozy, female-owned coffee shops; discussing life after marriage.
This is the one that counts. His kids are with the ex-wife, and he’s booked himself an audition for a new family. He’s taken her on thoughtful afternoon dates- the kind that involve pedal boats and wineries.
I wanted to fuck her before these dates, when just fucking her didn’t seem like enough. I wanted my cum dripping down the inside of her thigh while she’s holding hands at the Strawberry Festival. Getting laid isn’t enough- you need to snort a line of ego alongside your serving of pussy. Only decadence gets you hot. You get off on chaos. You’re Bob Crane on a cooking show. You want to push things until they explode.
Alice called me crying when she found out that her ex-husband was getting married. She didn’t know where she went wrong. Let me fuck her on the first date without a condom. Girls think that’s a deal breaker- that it’s why they can’t get a steady boyfriend; that the relinquishment of the unnatural and counter-intuitive modern notion of safe sex signals a moral deficiency so alarming it frightens away potential mates. Make things too easy and no one sticks around.
She doesn’t realize that she’s in Wonderland, alone in the candy store, grabbing at tonsil ticklers with both hands. Men would kill for this experience- alone in the woods with a whittled tree branch. Covered in animal blood, or is it your own? Wit, adrenaline, and moxie- you’ll need all three if you’re ever getting laid again. Her ex took home the first boar he speared. Low expectations and zero confidence. The meek shall inherit the earth.
Alice didn’t understand why he’s getting married and she’s getting fucked. I ruined her, she told me. Now she needs a man who makes her call him Daddy. She’s further exploring her submissive side. She’s getting “very anal.” She got a purchase confirmation for an engagement ring sent to her phone. Either their accounts are still linked, or her ex has a nasty sense of humor. Guy she’s seeing calls her a fuck buddy.
Lungs have felt like shit for a while now. Years of abuse. Catches up to you. Now’s as good a time as any. Can work around it at the gym. Pace myself differently. Compensate with caffeine. Wit, adrenaline, and moxie. Pulmonary says it’s asthma- have always had it, but now it’s more pronounced. Probably being polite. Too hard to explain it as a time-stamp: the remaining years are now spelled out explicitly. Timer winding down. Music intensifies, and you still haven’t found the secret door out of the Forest of Illusion.
Hack garbage; too many video game references. Everything falls apart; becomes parody. Write what you know- pop-culture and easy women. Married men go out on weekends with their rings in their pockets and their fingers crossed; fall asleep at night wishing they could do what you do. Wishing they were the king of shreds and patches. The King of Hell.
Handful of pills to get to sleep- not for daily use but it’s been years. Enough coffee in the morning to kill a small animal; gradually heading toward a heart attack. Kidneys are raw and irritated. Years of abuse. Right ear feels off- a warning sign. Agonizing stillness of early morning with screaming tinnitus. Too much time in headphones, at the gym, teeth-grinding black metal- but how else will you feel good enough about yourself to exude the kind of immediate confidence on first dates that you’ve come to get off on? Body held together with tape and glue. Push things until they explode.
Where were you when I was still good? Dating your high school sweetheart; college romance; first husband. Lines on the graph inching their way to the right; on the ascent. New house; thirty-year mortgage. Fixed rate. We can do it, baby, us against the world. Time-Life “Home Repair & Improvement” book set- gut the house, make it our own. Grandchildren and holidays; a life well lived.
She wants her daughter to make her ashes into a gemstone. They do that now, she told me. On a necklace, passed down generationally. I’ll end up in a dumpster. Possessions trashed. My death as a bit of afternoon gossip. You can be made into a tree, she told me. They do that now, she said. Maybe that will be nice?
At my best now, even with the wheels coming off. A circumstance of modernity- as unnatural as anything else. You shouldn’t have gotten so many chances- game resets, save spots. You would have been killed in a war; fallen off the girder of a high-rise; hunting accident- torn apart by wolves; hanged for stupidity. You hardly deserve to have made it this far, forget soccer practice and kung-fu classes.
You were never going to be the Heartbreak Kid; you were always Cactus Jack. Spend years tearing your body apart to get to the big show, but only once you’ve made it do you realize that it always had to be this way. There is no winning- only consolation; scraps cobbled together. The King of Hell.
You need a tour rider to spend a night with a woman. Cold room for sex. If the room’s too hot, show’s over. Won’t perform. White noise for sleeping- preferably an air filter, but a loud fan will do. I don’t like “white noise machines”- be it dedicated or through Alexa. I can hear where the track loops, and will subconsciously internalize it- wake-up every time. Need a full stock of zero-sugar late-night snacks. Need my own pillows and sleep-mask. Need to pick the side of the bed. If I don’t like the comforter, I’m walking. I sleep on a diagonal- this is important. The girl must compensate for this.
When they do, you realize that maybe everything has been for the sake of this moment. Maybe this wasn’t your back-up plan, maybe this was by design- ass permanently kissed; demands perpetually met; ego buzzing with throbbing waves of intensity. Maybe you wanted desperate women looking to you as their last chance.
Wait long enough and their line on the graph drops low enough for you to be their savior. The king of terrified women. Terrified of aging; of smile-lines and crow’s feet; of sagging breasts and tight jeans. Terrified of being alone. The King of Hell.
Dana did all the right things this time around. She went through a phase where she’d have men from hook-up dating apps meet at her house- a kind of post-divorce mania. She’d be drinking, of course- she couldn’t meet strangers for sex otherwise.
Not this time, she told me. She wanted to take things slowly; go on real dates, pedal boats and wineries. The Strawberry Festival. Long conversations in female-owned coffee shops about travel. This was how to get a boyfriend. This was how to fall in love.
And once enough flowers were gifted, enough day-trips to the country were taken; walks in the park and train station county fairs. Once there was enough for it not to seem cheap, she had him over for sex. Text the next day, like clockwork- likely pre-written, copied and pasted; he doesn’t feel a strong enough connection. They don’t have the kind of chemistry he’s looking for. He wishes her luck.
He knew what was needed to get sex- money to spend, expectations to meet. He’s NASA developing the astronaut pen because he doesn’t have the balls to be a Soviet, alone with a pencil. Cost of doing business. Rats on a sinking ship- grabbing at what we can, both hands, blood everywhere. She learned her lesson this time, she tells me. Come by and fuck me early, she texts. She had a date that night.