Author Topic: Excerpt: Growth, Chapter 1 (First) - 1544 words - CW swearing, mentions of sex  (Read 124 times)

Offline smion

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I've been working on a collection of narrative nonfiction stories of my dating life, which will probably eventually become a memoir about growing up and learning to love yourself in the modern world. Each chapter is a different boy, named for a random characteristic that stuck out in my mind. These stories are true and hopefully reflect where I was at in life in each instance. Some have more explicitly adult themes than others, so I will keep those specific passages out of this forum, but the narrator's voice is generally irreverent so there are plenty of swear words and mature jokes - apologies if it's too much, and I will delete. Feedback appreciated!

First

I was a good kid and I was proud of it. Most people need food and water to live, but I was the insufferable little pissant fueled entirely by approval from authority figures. My parents, my teachers, my band directors, my martial arts instructors, my goddamn oral hygienists were all fond of me and that was how I liked it. You couldnít get that kind of concrete validation from friends, so growing up Iíd rather be booksmart and well-behaved than popular, cool, fun, or remotely interesting. It was easy if you just followed the rules: do your homework. Say please and thank you. Donít lie. In high school, I added to the list: donít drink and donít have sex. No one ever ordered me not to (my mom told me she wasnít helping me raise a kid if I got a girl pregnant, but I think that was more of a safe sex lecture), but I sort of intuited that was the kind of stuff other people did. Those people were trash, and I wasnít. I was a good kid.

My years of valuable life experience have given me the wisdom to look back at little me and say: Fuck that nerd.

Now, Iím not a huge fan of the way our society loves to fixate on the first time we have sex. There are plenty of reasons I think itís dumb: for one thing, it usually assumes that the definition of sex is a dude putting his penis in a vagina, and how boring and unimaginative is that? People have sex in lots of ways, and what might be foreplay for one person might be the whole shebang for another. What someone might call adventurous may be someone elseís routine suspended swing, latex bedsheets, animal mask procedure. Another reason I donít like how we obsess over our first time is because I see people talk about virginity all the time as some kind of huge deal ó guys have to hurry up and lose it and women better hold onto that shit until theyíre in a deeply committed, Hallmark channel relationship. If someoneís first time isnít great, they can get totally hung up on a minor detail and let their self-esteem spiral, and thatís a lot up expectations to build up when itís usually just two or more people trying their best not to make a mess on the sheets, the car seat, the beach towel, the orthodontist waiting room, whatever. Itís just sex; if itís important to you, great, but spoiler: you can have it more than once if you want, so donít sweat it.

But here I am, starting off this book with the first time I did something that made the nurses in the BloodSource van refuse my donation without even giving me a cookie. Itís not that the act, or the boy doing it, was particularly special to me, but itís a helpful springboard into the following years of turbulent misadventures. Here we go.

Before I jump in, a quick confession: I have never seen Gossip Girl. I have confidently asserted, to many different people on numerous occasions, that of course Iíve seen Gossip Girl ó I lived through 2008 and Iím fucking gay, after all ó but itís always been a baldfaced lie. One time, I had a roommate who was marathoning the whole show and kept telling me what episode she was on, and I had to just keep pretending I knew what the hell she was talking about and guess at the appropriate emotional response. The truth is that Iíve watched just enough of the show to hold a halfway coherent conversation about it before pivoting to something else. My sister did watch it pretty consistently, though, so I would catch snippets here and there and I knew which character was most like me. Blair Waldorf, played by the incomparable Leighton Meester (whom society robbed of the successful pop music career that shouldíve exploded in 2012), was accomplished, ambitious, and could pull off some amazing outfits. Sure, she had to break the rules here and there, but when it got down to it, I decided that this fictional Upper East Side high schooler and I were basically the same person, and sheíd help me grow into the hot, rich, successful adult I knew I was destined to be. Of course I was operating with limited information, having only seen one episode start-to-finish. It involved Blair babysitting a tween girl who really wanted to have sex for some social status, and Blair had to impart her worldly wisdom, which went something like, ďyour first time is only good if itís with someone you love.Ē That solid advice from my role model definitely reinforced what I already knew about being a good kid, and it stuck with me.

That, along with the standard logic of any gay boy who hasnít realized why he googles pictures of naked guys (ďI donít want to touch my girlfriendís boobs because I respect her too much, obviouslyĒ) kept me pretty chaste through my teen years. By the time I came out at the end of my sophomore year of high school, I had an arbitrary timeline of when you could respectfully do which sex act without being a dirtbag: after about six months of dating someone, you could finger them; after nine months, oral was on the table; and after a full year, it was fair game, as long as both parties were equally interested, to have what I imagined would be tender, loving intercourse. I figured the whole extreme homosexuality thing wouldnít really change that timeline, but in high school I never got a chance to test it out since my entire four years passed without meeting any other openly gay boys to pursue. (When I came home college break a few years later and opened Tinder, I was both vindicated and deeply bitter to see so many familiar faces come up under the ďmen seeking menĒ filter. Was I not good enough to drag your ass out of the closet?) That didnít stop me from trying my damnedest to date a few of my straight guy friends, but those attempts invariably ended in polite, unequivocal rejection.

By the time I graduated, I knew I had to expand my pool or risk starting college way behind everyone else. Yeah, I was a good kid, but I didnít want to be the only gay on campus who had never so much as held a boyís hand. Then I might do something stupid, and I didnít want my first gay kiss to be some desperate, drunken escapade at a crowded party. That was the kind of thing that trash people did. I needed a real shot at romance and I needed it quickly, so one summer night I gathered the courage to lie to my mother and drive my beat up minivan thirty miles into Sacramento to the LGBTQ Center for a youth group meeting. There was no good reason for the lie ó both my parents were delighted to have a gay son add some floral accents to the family tree, and in fact my mother was so enthusiastically supportive that less than a year after I came out, she was a leader in the local PFLAG chapter. I was just too embarrassed to admit where I was going because they might guess that all the posturing about discovering ďmy historyĒ and starting a Gay Straight Alliance that consisted of me, a handful of brooding lesbians in black skinny jeans, and thirty well-intentioned straight allies was all just a ploy to get a boyfriend. They didnít need to know I cared about that, because I was a good kid, concerned with grades and test scores and my future.

As soon as I walked into the basement lounge where the Sacramento Center cordoned off the youth, I started sizing up my options. The magnitude of the fact that I was entering my first ever community of queer folks my age was completely lost on me, shoved behind my strict premeditated agenda to find someone cute and date the hell out of him. My eyes settled on one guy with big eyes, a nice smile, and an ill-fitting purple plaid shirt  ó his face drew me in and I liked it. I donít remember the exact content of the group discussion, but I definitely low-key slut shamed someone. I didnít mean any harm, I was just genuinely caught off guard that someone would have sex with her neighbor without any intention of dating said neighbor, and proudly share that information with strangers. When she gently called me out, it occurred to me that maybe winning these peopleís approval was different from parents or teachers; I wasnít used to celebrating casual sex, but I could learn quickly. Aside from that, I got through the hour with no major hiccups, even offering a few semi-competent contributions, and I hoped I had passed as one of these cool, confident queer people. I noticed that the cute guy, the First one who caught my attention, also didnít say much and seemed a little out of his proverbial element. We shared a couple of smiles across the circle.

Online PIJ1951

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I'll admit I approached this post with a healthy dose of cynicism. Who in their right mind wants to write their own life history (I'm assuming you're still young enough not to have reached that terminal point where there's nothing left except to look back)? And even worse, who would want to read about this complete non-celebrity stranger's life? Not just a brief anecdote but a complete series of 'nonfiction stories' about dating?

I'd already decided - not me.

But we're all writers on here so I felt you deserved my attention no matter how brief that might turn out to be, and this piece certainly made me smile. You write really well and the self-deprecating humour goes a long way to removing any whiff of self-importance that could have ruined the entire venture.

Great start.