I wrote this article for last month’s issue of Oyster Magazine. The theme was ‘digital,’ so I wrote a brief history of my experience with digital love. I have written posts in the past that covered similar territory, but this is an overview, of sorts. Photo by Daidō Moriyama
The first internet person I ever fucked was Caleb. I had recently broken up with my boyfriend of more than four years, and was looking for a rebound to help me ease the pain and/or stroke my quickly deflating ego. This was back in the days when I only wanted to fuck disabled guys. My most recent ex (at the time) had spina bifida. He was in a wheelchair part of the time, on medical crutches the rest. I could go into a deep psychoanalysis of why, for the majority of my life, I’ve only wanted to be with boys who are, you know… messed up, but I’ll spare you. The quickie version (which I’ve assembled with help from my psychiatrist) is this: If I am dating someone who is inherently flawed, it makes my own flaws seem less relevant or severe. I don’t have to be a perfect version of myself around him — I can be as overbearing, needy, and emotionally available as my heart desires — and it’s OK, because he’s not perfect either. Basically, I’m off the hook.
So, I was in need of a rebound. Unfortunately the type of guy I was looking for wasn’t easily found in the sort of hang-out spots I frequented, so I decided to post an ad in the ‘casual encounters’ section of a local London classifieds website. My ad read as follows: “Busty, blonde 23 y/o girl seeks hot, weird-looking guys / general freaks. Into tall and very thin. Large nose a plus. Between 18 and 30. Preferably deaf. I want you, I need you, oh baby, oh baby.”
Caleb was 23, studied biology, and had cerebral palsy. Of all the replies I received (of which there was, I must say, a shocking amount), Caleb was by far the best. He fit my physical qualifications perfectly — a walking skeleton with blueish-white skin and a nose so big it was a wonder that he held his head up. Plus, I’d never fucked a guy with CP before, and that seemed like it could be, I don’t know… hot? Difficult? Abstract? I needed to know.
Caleb flailed about constantly. Sex wasn’t so much sex as it was watching him twist his body into weird Gumby positions. I didn’t mind — I thought it was beyond sexy — but he seemed frustrated. At times he’d accidentally hit me with his arms, hands, face, etc while we fucked. Then once, right as he was about to cum, he twitched and headbutted me in the nose. I was left with two black eyes. He was mortified; I couldn’t believe my luck. We continued sleeping together for two months before he moved away to attend graduate school at Cambridge.
In the winter of 2009, not long after the departure of Caleb, I developed an intense internet-crush on a boy named Hamilton Morris. Hamilton was a writer who wrote about chemistry and pharmacology (so basically, like, weird drugs), and he also made documentaries on the same subjects, traveling to foreign lands and investigating rare psychoactive materials. The first video of Hamilton’s I came across was of him in the Amazon rainforest being ritualistically burned and dosed with the hallucinogenic venom of a tree frog. His shirtless body, which was covered in bug bites and dirt, looked worryingly under-inflated. I want him inside me, I thought.
Hamilton was possibly the most beautiful person my eyes had ever seen: deep-set eyes, body like a line drawing, deathly pallor, long locks of chestnut-brown hair — and, of course, a big fuck-off nose. His voice alone made you want to fuck him: warped and uncomfortably deep, like a cassette tape that had been left out in the sun too long. When I saw him on my laptop screen, I swear I nearly gasped. He was the personification of every mental sketch I’d ever created of the ‘perfect boy’. Then, as with any internet crush, I began cyber-stalking. In the following weeks I read every article he’d written and watched every video of him that was available online. I spent my days laying about, fantasizing about us meeting, falling in love, and him stealing me away to some exotic land to watch the sunrise while tripping on anally-administered DMT among some ancient ruins… or whatever it was that he was into. The problem, however, was that I lived in London and he lived thousands of miles away in New York. Woe was me. What was to be done?
Around this time, I was toying with the idea of the internet as a sort of ‘God’ figure — if you wanted something, I thought, all you had to do was ask the internet for it and it would be yours. Some people prayed — I blogged, so I started blogging about my obsession with Hamilton. I thought, everyone has Google alerts, right? So, if I write about how much I want him, maybe he’ll see it and realize we’re meant to be…
And so I began writing a series of irrationally obsessive blog posts about how infatuated I was with him: how I would set a place for him at my dinner table every night and imagine he was there eating with me; how I would make out with my hand in the shower and pretend they were his lips I was tonguing, rather than my own palm; and so on. Lo and behold, within a week the internet gods had answered my request in the form of a Facebook message from the Love Of My Life. It simply read, “I’ve seen the blogs. Are you ever in New York? If so, we should hang out.” I almost puked.
Coincidentally (or not?), six months later I was deported from the UK after being caught coming back into London on the Eurostar with an expired visa. So, I moved to New York, because… why not? Hamilton and I had kept in contact in the months leading up to this point — albeit very, very briefly — and though our digital love had not been consummated, I was pretty sure I’d cum thinking about him more than I had about any other boy in my entire life, which at the time felt, you know… profound and stuff.
Anyway, he’d given me his phone number, but I didn’t want to call him — I wanted to do something grander; to make a big impression. So, I put on the $10 thrift-store polyester wedding dress I’d bought back in the ninth grade and waited on the doorstep of his apartment building. Obviously. (I’d pressured a mutual acquaintance of ours into giving me his address, which at the time I had convinced myself was not creepy at all, but rather just my way of lending the internet gods a hand.) What felt like hours later, I watched as Hamilton’s mantis-like body moved toward me in an awkward lurch. As I looked up at him, my body perspiring profusely under the layers of polyester, he flashed me a look of simultaneous confusion and fear. “I think we may have met in a past life,” he said after a long pause, kneeling down beside me. “You think it’s possible?”
I wanted to say, “You’re the man of my dreams.” I wanted to say, “It’s weird seeing you in 3D.” I wanted to say, “Can I put my head under your t-shirt and stay there forever?” But instead I just said, “Yeah, maybe.” Forty minutes later I was in his bed. I hugged him and his body felt like a bag of nails covered in wax. Perfect, I thought. That was more than two years ago. We’re still together. I’m undecided as to whether I owe our meeting more to fate or Google alerts.