catch and release: i am the ethical hunter. i catch dicks, but i always release them, whether they want to be released or not. usually they’re indifferent, but once in a while i’ll snare a man who’ll mistake my predatory nature for martyrdom. he will latch on to me and try to come to terms with the fact that i will not let him be the only man in my life. he will grapple with the agony of having to share me, and i will not care because i never catch a dick without establishing my intents and purposes first.
if the sex is good, i will keep him around for when i just need that meat injection of natural endorphins to carry on with my life. he will be like a puppy: eager to please me and woefully believing that one day my heart will warm towards him and i will drop all my lovers to be with him alone. he will ignore the fact that my sex life is a revolving door through which throngs of men pass regularly, and i like it that way. i dislike an empty door as much as i dislike just one man utilizing it.
this lovesick man will shower me with compliments and i will bask in them but rarely return them. i will not continue to remind him that i am uninterested in shedding my harem of lovers since he knew this before he agreed to fuck me. i will remind him that i am using him. that he is just another moist towelette in my life, and that one day he, too, will lose his shine and need to be thrown away. he will grin and blush at this sobering reminder. most men like him truly believe that they are all i need to give up my promiscuous ways; as if all i need or want is true love. true love does not satisfy me.
entertaining as these lovestruck fools are, they are never useful for my craft. i’ve been in relationships that have lasted for years and during which i had little to no affection or attraction to the person. it was just sex and companionship when i needed it. these men are never a muse; the most they can ever be is good dick when i need it.
sometimes i’m feeling okay and i think, “oh, i’ll share my joy with someone.” except, as soon as i am among other people, i suddenly realise why i’m always choosing to be alone. i make dates with the schoolgirl hope that it will develop into something in which we can share thoughts, emotions, and art in addition to sharing fluids. but by the time the date rolls around, reality has set in and reminded me that that is a pipe dream that is unlikely to happen that night. therefore, the only thought i have before a first date is, “i hope i’m drunk enough to find him attractive.”
“i’m 14-days sober,” he stated, trying to be bold and own the statement but faltering at the last word and exposing his fragility.
i took a sip of my whisky—always hard, neat, straight, and smooth. he stared at me with bulbous eyes that seemed to be perpetually growing to meet his receding hairline. he smiled weakly; my face did not change.
“i don’t mind if you drink though,” he stammered, and i wondered why i had agreed to go out with him. i must’ve been desperate; though sitting there at that moment i wondered if i were really that desperate.
“tell me something,” i said. his mouth fluttered like a fish’s and i was disgusted with him.
“just tell me something.” i sipped my whisky some more and considered going out for a smoke and just never returning. he kept staring at me—silent and contemplative, but not in a pensive way; rather, the way you would expect a deranged sociopath to contemplate his next victim. the sort of sociopath who is driven to that sort of murderous behaviour because once upon a time a girl threatened his masculinity. i sipped my whisky again.
he continued staring at me, so i stood up and announced i was going out for a smoke. he asked to come along and i shrugged, walking towards the door. he followed behind, and when we were outside, i saw he was a head shorter than i was. it was a fleeting observation, but as soon as it registered on my face, his bulbous eyes got rounder and looked away from mine.
“i’m short,” he stated meekly, as if i couldn’t see that for myself.
“so, what am i supposed to do about it?” i retorted, not unkindly.
he didn’t answer, and we finished our cigarettes in silence and went back inside.
“do you want to come to my place for a fuck?” i asked him when i had downed another two whiskies. i was annoyed that he insisted on dancing around what he wanted—hemming and hawing and answering my “what do you want to do?” with “whatever you want to do” over and over again. all he had to do was be upfront and tell me what he wanted. i was annoyed.
“i would like to,” he answered, and i was further annoyed because of how long it took for him to admit this simple and obvious truth.
“good. let’s go.”
“but … you’ve probably had so many lovers—probably dozens more than me,” he added, and i paused to stare at him.
i snapped. “what?”
he seemed alarmed, likely assuming i was angry that he had made such an assumption. i wasn’t. his assumption wasn’t false: i’d had more lovers than i could count. but what that had anything to do with our fucking each other was beyond me, and i (correctly) suspected that any reason he had was going to be a fucking ridiculous one.
“i just don’t wan to be another name on your list,” he murmured. “i want kindness, a level of devotion. i want to be memorable.”
by now i was beyond civility, and the five whiskies that were surging through me only expedited my annoyance and anger at this man—this entitled fool who thought that one mediocre date entitled him to even a shred of my affection or my tenderness. worse than that was the assumption that the people i had fucked weren’t memorable to me; that i didn’t encase my lovers in my writing, making them immortal and forever remembered. as if i weren’t a conscious, emotional and ethical whore. i was furious.
“are you fucking kidding me right now?” was all i managed to utter. his bulbous eyes were wide and followed my blazing ones upwards as i stood up. “who the fuck do you think you are to demand that of me?”
i was packing up my shit and fishing out a couple of bills to pay my tab but realised that all i had was a fiver.
i grabbed my things, looked him in the eyes, said, “pay my fucking tab and never contact me again.” then i stormed out.
it surprises people to know that i was in love once.
he always inspired me, and after he was gone, i found that i could manipulate a similar inspiration using men and alcohol. bad sex and mild intoxication gave me the escape from the physical world that i needed to think of my writing. if the sex was good, i was too into it and couldn’t work. bad sex allowed my mind to wander to better places—sometimes even to better people—and i did most of my hardest and best work then.
but getting to that point was a task littered with hurdles, most of which were erected by the men i sought out. they though i wanted them whole: mind, body and soul. what i actually wanted was their cocks. all they had to be was hard and unremarkable. pop culture told me that this was an easy thing to find, that good cocks and good sex were rare and like some holy grail to seek out. but i’ve had more good sex than bad. maybe it’s because i’m fairly easy to satisfy in bed, or maybe all the internet porn my generation has watched has actually taught men something. or maybe i’m just lucky. whatever the reason, i struggle to find those mediocre lays that will provide those coveted sex endorphins while still allowing me to drift off into the world of my fictions and come up with my masterpieces.
men have always failed me, and this is one of the major ways in which they continue to fail me. more often than not, i’m met with one extreme or the other: either the man is hard and ready and gives me an amazing fucking for which i wouldn’t dare leave my body lest i miss a crucial sensation, or they’re so intimidated by me or nervous by the situation that their flaccid little penises remain just that way.
i see people like moist towelettes: nice and refreshing when you need or want them, but when they’ve been used up, they’re just garbage to be thrown away. the men i date are especially prone to fit this description.
i started living out my misandric tendencies through my writing. the men who dumped me, who were less than forthright with me, who were intimidated by my confidence, who were turned off by my independence, they were all reincarnated as suffering fools in my stories. in my stories, i was able to get the revenge my conscience would never let me get in real life. my scorned protagonists were able to give their ex-lovers the just desserts i could never give to mine.
in this way, the booze that led to the muse would lead to the stories that would soothe the troubled waters within me. the waters could only ever successfully be calmed with my writing; the stories i wrote were compulsory medicine i needed in order to survive. it wasn’t love, or romance, or a life partner—it was the writing. in order to get to the writing, i had to jump through the hoops to seduce the muse. and i did that with booze. just like the men didn’t have to be good to be beneficial, the writing didn’t need to be good to act as medicine. in fact, the worse the lover the better the writing, i always found; and vice-versa as well.
when they read my work, people are eager to create some fantasy of me as a suffering scribe who is perpetually inwardly tortured and drinks and fucks in order to bare with the agony of existence. in fact, i drink and fuck in order to do the one thing that would keep my head above water. the only thing that made my existence worthwhile for me. the heartbreak, the assaults, and all the other side effects of being a lone, promiscuous woman in the modern world were just things that came with the territory. i wasn’t really sure how to suffer since the things that caused me the most agony always seemed logical and expected, and i had asked for them all. isn’t it only suffering if it’s unexpected?
“i know how to suffer,” i once snapped on a date. the beautiful man i had met for drinks stared at me with pity in his eyes, and that enraged me further. “my whole career depends on my knowing how to successfully suffer. i am a fucking pro at getting my heart broken. sometimes i even seek it out just to have material for my next story.”
but even as i said it, i heard the sadness and the defensiveness in my voice that inspired so much sympathy—the blatant lie that i was unashamedly attempting to claim as truth. i think that’s why i write rather than talk. when i write, the reader doesn’t know how much of me is in my work. they can make assumptions, and sometimes they may even be right, but they’ll never know for sure. when talking, my soul is advertised with a neon sign and a piercing siren. when talking, there’s no place to hide as all the feelings that tremor through me when i write and spill in droplets into my work suddenly flush to my face. my voice cracks or gets louder, or i get less animated, or break eye contact. my body is taken prisoner by my emotions who force it to reveal them physically. that’s why i don’t like talking.
that’s also why i don’t like getting emotionally involved with my men. i don’t like being an open wound, so i’ve more toothbrushes stashed around town than i do friends.
but then, the other night i dreamt that i was dating a guy. i don't remember what he looked like, but i remember being madly in love with him and wanting to be with him and touch him all the time. i remember yearning for him when he was just across the room, and i remember the feeling of unnamable bliss when i was in his arms.
i woke up feeling depressed because i had never felt that for another human being in reality. even the man i once loved didn't have that intense of an impact on me. the devotion i felt—that don't-want-to-live-without-you feeling, the urgency of the displays of affection, the normalcy of being a slave to love as the books and movies always advertise—that was something that was foreign to me. even as i dreamt it, i lapped up that new feeing, revelling in it like you do a new hairdo or pair of shoes. it made me realize that i can only be human in my dreams; or that i dream to be human.
wouldn’t it be nice to be fully emotionally and sexually devoted to one person and crave them like air?
the only time i ever fell in love it was bittersweet. he was a spaniard, from granada, and he would talk to me in the smooth, erotic spanish of andalusia. with my broken conversational spanish and his impeccable fluent spanish we would manage to communicate. we often fell into our own secret type of spanglish, which substituted words or conjugations that we never remembered in our second tongues for the equivalent in our native tongues. it was a beautiful sort of sloppiness that we made work for three months, after which he returned to spain.
i’ve never cried over a man, but i cried when he parted from me. those three months with him were ones during which i wrote every day and only drank socially. i didn’t fall for the seduction of alcohol because the seduction of this man was better—more inspiring—than anything i’d ever known. his fingers seemed to have known every inch of my body even before touching me, and he was the only man to have ever made me orgasm. we were wild for each other and couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves. we were always touching each other, be it innocently in public or shamelessly in private. and throughout it all, i was always writing, creating, releasing the permanent burdens of my soul in the form of stories and poems and essays.
he would talk dirty to me in spanish, and in the midst of passionate lovemaking, i would try to remember it all to use in some future story i may or may not write. of course, i never remembered his words, and he had a habit of not repeating the poetic compliments he would pay me in spanish. it was like a secret he both shared with me and kept hidden away; it was maddening yet erotic.
“eres tan guapo,”* i would tell him regularly, and he would always respond the same way.
“tus ojos me ven asi,” he would say with a smile that made it impossible to decipher whether he was serious.
“pues, es mejor,” i responded one day. “solo yo sé tu belleza.”
i saw red creep into his cheeks as he looked away. he didn’t respond until a few beats later when he whispered, almost under his breath, “ojala no vivieras tan lejos.”** he was smiling lightly, but i could see he was distraught. we would be separated soon, indefinitely, and it was a shame. it was a pity that we had found in each other this sort of love only to have an ocean between us.
he asked me to return with him, of course, but i declined. i had considered this since i began seeing him and knew full well it would either end in heartbreak or with my shifting my entire existence to a foreign country. i don’t know when i had made the decision, but i had made it because when he asked me, my response was immediate. he was hurt at the immediacy of this response, but he also wan’t surprised. he just smiled a little and nodded; it was like he had known that would have been my answer all along but had hoped against hope that it wouldn’t be.
more times than i can remember, a man has sat in front of me and strummed "recuerdos de la alhambra" on a guitar. it used to be my favourite song, but now it reminds me of weak men who throw around their emotions and expect me to follow suit. it reminds me of the men who are surprised or have the gall to be offended when my emotions remain undisturbed. it reminds me of the audacity of masculinity and its expectation that a woman will inevitably be unable to separate physical love from emotional love.
the last man who played “recuerdos de la alhambra” for me was a painter. he would paint me then fuck me then play for me while i lounged on his futon smoking cigarette after cigarette. he was one of the only guys with whom i spent time for reasons other than fucking. i found him intriguing and, having never met a painter before, i wanted to study him. i liked lying naked with him and having him admire me. when a man doesn’t admire my naked form, i get offended. but this was not a problem i had with the painter. he expressed his untameable lust for me in the form of sounds: compliments, music, and his groans as he fucked me.
he wasn’t remarkable—they never are until i make them remarkable. his sandy hair was thinning and his mouth was too big for his face. his hands were rough with calloused fingers. there was nothing impressive about his body; if anything, it was slightly oblong, misshapen in some parts—like he was a mishmash of various different body types come together. he wasn’t remarkable, but i made him remarkable. i liked the look of his imperfections and the feel of his calloused hands; i liked the little gut that hung over the waistband of his underwear and i liked his confidence despite his deteriorating good looks.
whenever he was fucking me, he would say “i know, sweetheart” in response to every moan, every giggle, every expression of pleasure i let escape. it was like he knew exactly what he was doing to me—like someone had done it to him and he had memorized it just so he could make others feel as good as he had. he’d utter that phrase while i gave over to the throes of my passion, not at all caring if he was as satisfied as he was making me. “i know, sweetheart,” he would always say, but there was sadness in his tone as well. it was as if he knew that the pleasure was fleeting, and that soon i would be back to feeling all the pain i carried with me, which was shelved away during these brief moments of carnal joy. still, to this day, “i know, sweetheart” are the most erotic words to me.
one night, he told me he loved me and i laughed in response. i tend to self sabotage. if i'm not interested in someone, i'll keep up the facade while still being pugnacious until they either fall in love with me or never want to see me again. if the former, i resent them for being duped by someone as miserable as i am; if the latter, i'm pompous with the pride of being right. either way, everyone loses. that’s how the painter lost me, by admitting that he began to love me. i wasn’t interested in emotional baggage and i especially wasn’t interested in being the object of someone’s affection. i wanted to be an object of lust and as soon as that lust was gone—be it because it faded or because it changed into pure emotion—there was nothing left for me. love didn’t inspire my art, only lust did that; and once the lust was gone, i knew that the inspiration would follow suit.
this whole city reeks of my pussy. everywhere i turn there is a reminder of a story i wrote and it stems from the reminder of some man whom i allowed the privilege of experiencing my cunt—someone who was connected to a muse that needed to be seduced.
sometimes the idea runs through my head of packing up and moving away. the fantasy entertained takes place in granada with my lover and involves a movie montage of the two of us living happily ever after. but the idea—as tempting as it sounds—never seems more tempting than staying where i am, living out this existence about which i never cease to complain but which is the coparent of my most prized possessions: my stories. there's no reason to remain except for vanity: i like seeing the corners on which i've cried, the bars in whose bathrooms i've been fucked, the restaurants where i've sat on dates with men so mind-numbingly dull that they couldn't exist anywhere but outside my imagination; i get a perverted thrill—almost like schadenfreude—from seeing the sources of so much of my agony and misery and doomed carnal joy that i can't leave it all behind to start fresh in a new city. i've put in too much work to build this empire of melancholy, which inevitably led to the empire of my prose.
so, i remain here, day in and day out, watching, waiting, commiserating the tragicomedy that is my life with men and booze and sex and my muse; and i secretly celebrate the priceless art––my writing––which is the only good thing to come out of it all.
“you're so handsome,” i would tell him regularly, and he would always respond the same way.
“your eyes just see me that way,” he would say with a smile that made it impossible to decipher whether he was serious.
“well, that's better,” i responded one day. “then only i know of your beauty.”
“i wish we didn't live so far”