I don’t know about eligible, but I am very available.

Grindr profile: “Nasty brutish and short.”
(double taps)

Midnight, outside a bar, guts thick with bad beer, Tyler and I waited at the hot dog stand to create more regret. We discussed discipline that looked like punishment, solitude that looked like withdrawal, renunciation that looked like starvation. I told him about someone who disappeared for a year and I hardly noticed. Another friend hadn’t texted for two days and I panicked at what I had done or said to merit silence. We stood and shuffled our feet. Was Tyler coming home with me? Was that what was happening? His phone lit up. He looked at the light, smiled, and said, “I should get going.”

Some people get the glory. Some people get the glory hole.

I texted a friend telling him not to go out into the polar vortex for a Grindr hookup. Paradoxical undressing isn’t sexy.

I think constantly about how my desire was tied to death and how much I believed I wouldn’t live to be forty. I don’t talk about it. No one wants to fuck that story.

The married man I slept with two or three times a year when he passed through town texted me that he would be visiting Friday and Saturday.
            Pick a night, he wrote.             
            I chose Saturday. Not that it mattered. Not that I had plans.
            He sent me his hotel information.
            Can’t wait to see you, I typed, then deleted.
            See you Saturday, I sent.
            That was the text equivalent of dropping one’s voice to act more butch. Idiotic.
            We started with drinks at the hotel bar. I asked about his work. He told me about traveling for conferences and the latest studies in his field. We did not talk about families. He didn’t know my mother had died two weeks ago. For a few hours I was in the bubble, and back at the hotel in a room larger than my apartment on expensive sheets, grief broadsided me. I made my fear into motion and put it on his body. Afterward, I lay on top of him and he said, “That was intense.” I ran my hand through his hair, along his forehead, and gently closed his eyelids.

The sign on the door reads DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE LETTING IN?
A good precautionary reminder that can quickly turn into an existential whirlpool.

Me, flirting: “This is back in the 90s when you’d write your rent check in red ink to buy yourself an extra day in bank processing.”

Hookup apps have warped me. At my follow-up doctor’s appointment, I had to give my age, height, and weight and I expected the nurse to say, “I only like muscle bear bottoms.”

I want to bring a stranger here and make him face the wall and fuck him. I want him to be larger than me and have my face somewhere in the region of his shoulder blades, although it will not touch them. I won’t get that close. He could physically overpower me, but he won’t. There are strict roles.

“I like older guys” (Check)
“I like short guys” (Check)
“I like funny guys” (I have jokes)
“I like rich guys” (Bye)

Filling out a health history I skipped the Single / Married / Divorced / Widowed line and the desk said you forgot one. No, that was intentional. I’m none of those things.

The night turning a trick in a boutique hotel when I was between jobs and dipped back into sex work, as it was now called. The man was in the shower. I was under the crisp white sheet in the tiny room and voices from down the hall and on the street drifted in and out. I thought, This is like the psyche ward.

My friendships are my romantic life. That’s another way to be heartbroken. It’s a state of heartbrokenness. I wish I knew another way.

Him: I love you like a brother.
Me: In a French movie way?

My love was treated as a burden, so I stopped burdening him.

He explained it to me. He and his husband had both been depressed, anxious people. They married so they could focus on one reason to be unhappy.

When someone proudly tells me “I’m not a crier” I assume they’re a hitter and avoid the fuck out of them.

“I come from a long line of ashamed people,” he said.
            It was early morning and the room brightened and opened up. We held hands amidst the sheets wound around us. Someone was speaking outside the room in the hallway. Far enough away that we couldn’t make out the words but close enough to hear the rise and fall of the voices. His body tensed.
            “I know,” I said.             

“Your wife is a lucky man” were the last words I texted to him. That was what it came to. In the end, I had been the homosexual Hamburger Helper to spice up his middle-aged middle-class marriage. A little fucking, a little sucking, a late-night rim job in a public parking structure,
            Ingrid had warned me. She’d been down that road more than once. A former girlfriend––a staunchly righteous lesbian separatist of the early ‘90s Madison, Wisconsin variety––had ended up with a man. “Her family cut her off and within a month she cartwheeled onto a dick,” Ingrid said.
            I’d explained this once to a younger friend who had been offended. “Things are different now,” he said. He clearly saw me as a bitter old queen (guilty on all three counts) who was spouting some outdated prejudices. Just you wait, I wanted to say, playing exactly to type.

When we met in person, we lowered our voices an octave and talked loose jawed like food was falling out of our mouths. Butch queens.

Overheard: “He was talking about living life to the fullest and all I could think about was how fat he’d gotten.”

The headline: “Should I tell my fiancée that I’m bisexual and had sex with her dad?”
No, but text me.

Him: Is that guy checking out you or me?
Me: There’s a mirror behind us.

Dominic said he had a sheet with a hole cut in it that he hung from his living room door. The buzzer sounded and he let the trick in, unlocked the apartment door, and ducked behind his makeshift curtain. The trick came in, closed the door, unzipped, whipped out his cock, and stuck it through the hole in the sheet.

We both agreed the allure of anonymous sex wasn’t the fantasy, the hunt, the capture. To lose yourself, shed your identity and thoughts, and be a series of motions and sensations was the money shot. Also: Are all these interactions as pointless as vivisection?

—Do you have a hot dad voice?
—It’s somewhere between congested Muppet and clinically depressed Paul Lynde.

The coffee shop is full of men with graying beards. We take off and put on our glasses to look at our phones and each other.

My type that year was guys who looked like FBI Wanted posters. An aesthetic that guaranteed mixed results.

I love narcissists, but I don’t expect them to notice.

I’m always slightly thrilled when I lose my crush on someone.

When I see two men arguing in public, I assume that they are a couple and somewhere a French bulldog is blaming itself for the imminent divorce.

My young friend texts a photo of a man he likes.
—He’s cute, right?
— If I were fifteen years younger, I’d be his funny friend with a raging, unrequited crush on him that I drunkenly cried about in the shower.

I’m half-asleep but if he texts I’m also half-awake: a romance.

Response to an ass pic: Love the intense pink corona around the beautiful slit of the actual asshole. A stunning male vulva to enjoy.
(deletes app)

My throat was sore inside and out, from yelling and being choked. I held my broken glasses. The room was fuzzy. In the bathroom, I saw blood on my ear. I wiped it off and watched where the red dot returned. A nick on the top of my ear. I went to the closet and put on my snow boots and left the laces undone. In the main room, I checked the floor for glass. I saw tiny drips of blood. Tried to focus my eyes and looked along their crooked trail and up the wall to the mirror which had one crack snaking along the lower left side.

Him: Where you going?
Me: Don’t know.
Him: Can I come with you?

Mr. Nasty texts: The dirt under your nails in my mouth.
When and where? I reply.

We shared a birthday, ex-boyfriends, and bad habits. I would see him on the same block where I scored drugs and we’d ignore each other. He had a penitentiary swagger. It was easy to picture him walking across the exercise yard. His mouth hardly opened when he spoke. One night I went home with him. I didn’t see him again after that. It was as if by fucking he vanished. Another mirage.

Me to the falling snow and every man I’ve ever dated:
You are beautiful. Please don’t stay.

Nate Lippens is a writer living in Wisconsin. His fiction has appeared in Catapult, Entropy, Fugue, New World Writing, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and the anthology Queen Mob’s Tea House (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019), among others.

*Image credit: Andy Warhol, ‘Standing Male Torso’, black ballpoint on manila paper, ca. 1955-57.