Disembodied Undersider Sex
Dating Me Digital Won't Cure
My Upcoming 9/11 Blues
So I am sitting here in my miss-buttoned strawberry print
pajamas, the heat beginning to dissipate from the city and
my bed, feeling a bit out of sorts. Perhaps its the arts
festival I have been working non-stop on - August Art 2002
- on my installation, on curating the moving image genre,
on dealing with a million little emergencies, on having
stressed folks around me and trying to be the calmest of
them all, avoiding a blowout freak-out meltdown that would
end up with someone losing an eye. It's going well, really,
but ignore the woman behind the curtain, because I am the
great and powerful Osama of OZ! (Did I mention I have a
bout of bronchitis/laryngitis going on right now too?)
Perhaps it's the Lavalife/Nerve/Gay.com date-a-thon that
I have been on since my mid-May breakup with The Bill. The
amount of dirty old men on these sites is amazing and depressing,
especially when their pics show a tiny slice of the wife
on one side and a wee bit of one of the kids on the other.
They are all looking for "discreet" encounters.
How fucking horrible! The internet becomes a place where
these soulless desperate dudes troll for anyone as desperate
looking for the hookup. I mean, they made a choice and instead
staying true and honest, they slink around, looking for
the sad and lonely of the herd to pounce on, like hyenas
Perhaps it's having such a strange time writing, talking
and eventually meeting these people - both men and women.
I try to make it interesting - like the night I invite one
of them to meet me at a screening of "Scarlet Diva"
but he bails when he realizes the content of the movie is
highly sexual - in a word, he's "afraid". And
then there is Jordan Silver - yes, girls, I am naming him
specifically because he is a total prick - he comes over
for a date, supposed to hang out that night, check out this
Mark Group thing (which actually wasn't that much fun),
and see where the evening takes us. He freaks out, leaves
and then calls back ten minutes later, asking if we could
"just have sex". Ha! He continues to call, email,
and I drop polite hints that he hasn't a snowball's
chance in hell. Somehow, dense Jordan just doesn't get it.
When I finally, directly tell him I am not interested, he
freaks out, calls me some weird name and hangs up on me.
I call him back, tell him not to email or call me again,
and does the same thing. Remember, this is a guy who called
me constantly since backing out of our original meeting.
So ladies, he's rude and predatory and really not that interesting
to talk to. Not that cute either. And dense as all hell
- but he's single - email me if you want his number.
Oh and then there's the sound engineer for "Lenny"
as he likes to put it, who on our first meeting, gives me
a huge kiss (not bad, but really, wait for the hello first,
okay?), and then his interest fizzles during the evening.
I am too "rounded" for him - this guy who gets
to ogle anorexic groupies all day long. So I now have to
be very clear to anyone I talk to online that I am curvy
- that I have a belly, an ass, breasts, and fuck you if
you don't like me that way. He continued to chat with me
online, dropping hints he wanted me to come over, but I
guess I just have too much self-esteem to be treated like
a second choice entrée. Besides, there are plenty
of men and women who dig my body the way it is.
There have been a few good meetings - I mean, I met my
buddy Matt, the co-founder of the erotic film festival we
are doing in October (SinCine 2002 NYC Erotic Film Fest
- http://sincine.multo.com). He and I are the best of friends.
And there are a couple of guys that are sweet, funny and
burn the sheets quite well from both Nerve and Lavalife.
And the women I have met are fun, but strangely shy. I always
hope bisexual and lesbian women would be more sexually aggressive
and confident. I usually have to be the aggressor, which
isn't bad but gets boring as a constant sexual persona.
And I met a few wonderful bisexual men who I get along with
like gangbusters - something deliciously sinister about
the way we can snicker about both sexes, bitchy yet so much
But lingering, in the back of my mind, which I become more
and more aware of, as autumn comes closer, is this sense
of getting it all in before a certain date. September is
coming up faster and faster - in fact, by the time this
is published, it will most certainly be here. I remember
where I was last year - on the train, stuck underground
for a while after the first plane hit. Getting to work and
on our huge projection TV, seeing the planes hit over and
over again. Going to the top of the SIPA building and seeing
the puffs of smoke and concrete - not realizing the first
tower had collapsed. Watching the second tower collapse
on TV. Being stuck at work and the smell suddenly hitting
us - all they way up at 116th street. Figuring out how to
get home. The Bill was there, not really being able to relate
to my sense of shell shock and sadness, since he was a recent
transplant from Chicago and relatively new to the city.
Our relationship was already on the rocks, so I didn't want
to cry in front of him. I went into the bathroom, crawled
into the tub and cried into a towel over my mouth, so he
couldn't hear me. I think 9/11 accentuated the problems
in our relationship. I was busy worrying about my friends,
while he sat around, unable to do anything to help. I spent
more time with friends and less with The Bill, because I
might have lost some of the people I had cared about and
I wanted to make sure I got in good quality time with them.
He didn't understand, resented it, and ultimately, was jealous
of the whole lot of them, citing strange infractions that
eventually fractured my love for him irreparably.
So here I am, in the bosom of my friends, dating like mad,
working feverishly on art and filmmaking, writing constantly,
and each day I feels like I have to do more. I am running
this kind of quality of life race right now, as I prepare
for the NYC Marathon, for another film festival, a women's
leadership retreat, projects at work and my own growth process.
Therapy is going so well - I speed through levels of self-awareness
and studiously work at making my life better. It has to
be better and better every day, my life, in every aspect.
But even I feel its now going a bit too fast and I see the
speed bump in front of me - 9/11. At least this time I see
What am I going to do that day? September 11th is a Wednesday.
It is in the middle of the week. My women's leadership conference
follows on that weekend. I will have begun work on an emotional
intelligence e-seminar that week. I am will be surrounded
by friends and caring co-workers who I cried with last year.
But I feel this panic welling up inside me and I think I
just want to stay home, and avoid the whole day. Am I alone
in this? I don't think so. Some friends have said they wanted
to get drunk and pass out, the day a blur, tears explained
by alcohol. Some friends want to go to a memorial, cry as
a group, hold on to each other. Columbia University, where
I work, will host some memorial events. The TV will blare
all manner of facts and events and interviews with the survivors
and loved ones. It feels as if all these sectors are reaching
out to me to join them and I, strangely, just want to be
alone, in silence, on a day that had so much noise last
year. Maybe it's safety I am seeking, or just controlled
Yes, some of the boys and girls from the digital dating
world have wanted me to join them on 9/11. Somehow, I can't
see that being a good date night. Perhaps some digital daters
are banking on the strange twist in human nature to vigorously
fuck in order to affirm life. I think that kind of affirmation
will happen much as it did last year - after 9/11. I am
hoping that day will soften a few hard hearts and make talking
about anything easier. I am not looking to get off, unless
getting off means getting off and out of the daily grind
and stepping into a silence I create and control.
September will be hard, as much as we are straining to
keep our hard earned smiles on our faces now. I will take
a break from the dating world that week. I will talk to
all my friends if I have to hunt them down in the outer
reaches of Indonesia. I will visit my cats (currently in
the custody of my ex-husband, with whom I share them - he:
fall/winter, me: spring/summer, an ironic mirror of our
relationship). I will exercise and prepare the marathon
as much as my body can take of it, since it will be a great
distraction and a good stress reliever. And I will write,
listening to the whispers of what I am feeling and thinking,
sorting it all out on the page.
God bless and stay safe. Love and be loved.
By Melissa Ulto
© multo.com 2002