by Tess Adair
The other night I got a strange text from someone I hadn’t heard from or seen in probably 8 months. It read:
“Two headed boooyyyy”
That was it.
Weird? Yes. Surprising? Actually no.
My relationship with the texter was a pretty simple one--we had sex occasionally. We weren’t friends. I wouldn’t call us lovers, since that implies an intimacy we didn’t share. I met him on OkCupid at a time when I was on there almost exclusively for casual sex. I can’t tell you much about him besides what he looks like, the fact that he boxes for fun, and he once tried to read Absalom, Absalom! but couldn’t get through it.
And that he sends the weirdest texts.
“water you dewing”
Every one of these was an attempt to initiate sex. There were a few unsolicited dick pics, too--those always kind of made me laugh. I wanted to tell him, “Dude YOU’RE the one who loves your dick, not me. Sending those pics is seducing no one but yourself.” (Of course, the world being what it is--I would never say that because if I don’t know a guy that well, then I kind of have to assume he might murder me.) One time he even sent me a whole dick vid, about 15 seconds long. 15 thoroughly wasted seconds.
When I got the text a few days ago, I ignored the two-headed boy. It had been so long, I’d almost forgotten what he was like. I figured the text may well have been an accident, though one he’d probably have to scroll down pretty far to make.
Of course, when I got up the next morning, I knew it wasn’t an accident. He’d sent me a snapchat too.
I never responded to the text or the snapchat. But I did take a moment to scroll up through our history. It was like opening a window and staring into Sex Past. I think I’d get the same feeling if I could open up a browser and magically find all the weird sexual fan fiction I read as a teenager. They both exist in that realm of mental secrecy, where you keep the things you can’t talk about in polite company. And they both seem to carry hints of shame and regret, though I don’t think they should.
That’s the thing about shame and regret, though--you don’t get to decide when you feel it.
But honestly-I don’t regret the two-headed boy. I don’t regret fan fiction either. Both are moments on a journey, and without either, I wouldn’t be where I am.
Fan fiction (in my case, Harry Potter fan fiction) gave me an outlet unlike anything else. It gave me a dark secret world to lose myself in--one that was completely anonymous, which meant I could explore whatever I wanted with no fear of repercussion. It also meant I could get as obsessive and weird as I wanted and it would bother no one. I traveled down more than one twisting dark alley for which there is fortunately no paper trail.
Casual sex gave me an outlet, too. I carried on a few torrid sext affairs with people I never met up with; I met up with a few people after barely getting to know them at all and immediately jumped into bed. Every encounter was another chance to explore myself without feeling like there was any terrible weight to what I did. Even though I’d always hated the thought of being naked in front of strangers, I never hesitated to undress in front of these hook-ups because I knew they weren’t a part of my life. Most of them I would never see again. Even the two-headed boy only became something of a running thing because we happened to see each other at a concert months after our first encounter. Otherwise, I never would have talked to him again.
It was different from fan fiction in a lot of ways, but casual sex had one important thing in common with it: anonymity. (Not literally. I didn’t use a fake name. But I probably never gave out my last.)
When I first got on OkCupid, I didn’t have a conscious name for what I wanted. I knew it was time for my two years of post-college celibacy to end, but I didn’t know what that meant. At that point, I had almost no dating experience. I didn’t really know what dating was. But I did know the word “relationship” filled me with a kind of panicky dread.
So...I ended up embracing casual sex for a while. I could navigate OkCupid well enough to figure out who I was attracted to and who repulsed me, and I was even pretty good at telling if I could have a conversation with somebody. Guys hit on me left and right, so all I really had to do was weed them out. And since I didn’t want a relationship, I didn’t have to weed out the hit-it-and-quit-it types. I preferred them.
Of course, there was a reason I wanted that type. There were two fundamental things I didn’t believe then: that anybody good enough would ever want to be with me, and that I could ever find someone I thought was good enough.
I posed these thoughts to myself in the tone of arrogance, but the truth they obscured was that, on some level, I was not ready to love myself.
A lot of things changed for me then, and a lot of things have changed for me since. The day I told the two-headed boy to stop texting me, some 8 months back now, it felt good. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but it was a sign that I’d decided to take a chance on myself in a way I hadn’t before. I’d already taken down the old profile designed for the purpose of eliciting casual sex, and I’d started work on the one I use now. I put much more thought into it, and this time, I made it as clear as I could that I was not in the market for hook-ups. By now, that kind of stuff feels like a waste of my time.
I don’t know for sure why the two-headed boy texted me again, (although I have only one guess.) And I will never know for sure because I will never respond. There’s nothing for me there. To be honest, the sex wasn’t good enough anyway.
But it’s nice sometimes to think about how far you’ve come. That ridiculous text afforded me a chance to do so. It’s almost enough to make me want to reach out to him, just to thank him.
Almost. But not quite. I have better things to do.