When Internet Sex Was Still a Mystery
Photo by Looi via Wikimedia Commons
I never imagined we'd be using the internet to talk about ourselves, at least back when the World Wide Web was still being spun bit by bit from a million squeaking and grunting computer-mating noises coming out of our modems. This was back in the day, before "blog" was nothing but a guttural utterance and the idea of something confessional was reserved for talking about Sylvia Plath's poetry or the little room on The Real World, where all the housemates went to go bitch that Puck had put his finger in their peanut butter.
Now, of course, it's a different thing. Hordes of 20-somethings live life IRL just so they can find something new to share online. Parties exist now as much for the access to booze as they do so that there will be something new to take photos of. You weren't there unless you were tagged.
The same thing is happening to sex. Back in the day, I wasn't having sex so that I could talk about it with the world, post-status updates from some stranger's bed, check in from an apartment across town at 4 AM, or live tweet the walk of shame. It was enough to do it (and by "do it," I mean "bang"), to have the memory, to share it with your friends over brunch and have it disappear forever. No Facebook meant not having to see some trick's vacation pictures eight years later because you're afraid to unfriend him or her (or, if you're lucky, them!).
It's not that we didn't use the internet for sex back in the days before the Bush administration, but we were still figuring it all out and it seemed a little bit like a new frontier with its own strange laws. OKCupid and the rest are really just like virtual singles bars where everyone shows up dressed to impress and guys use their well honed pickup lines with the intent to score. The only thing missing is the ability to send a virtual drink to a comely stranger at the other end of the bar. Back in 1999, when it took approximately three minutes to load one porn shot onto your browser, we were on unfamiliar terrain with no rules at all. Most of the promiscuity was happening in chat rooms of the AOL or Prodigy variety. (God, when I say that, it sounds like your grandma cuing up the Victrola.) There were no photos, only handles that could be changed as easily as a pair of panties, and there were no ways to know how to cruise without looking someone in the eye.
I found myself many nights in AOL chat rooms, looking at profiles and trying to triangulate a mental image from a guy's height, weight, penis size, and preferred position. A picture is worth a thousand words and about 17 million "stats." The whole thing would be anonymous until you met, and often that was the turn on of the entire encounter: the danger of not knowing what you were getting into and the potential for a pleasant surprise, like two silver dollars coming out of the slot machine when you only put one in.
At the time I was living in a dingy basement apartment near U Street in DC, which was then still littered with crack houses and streetwalkers who used to fuck their johns in their cars behind my house. DC is more closeted than John Travolta at his mother-in-law's, so there were plenty of guys who didn't want to show their faces at all.
That's how I met Him. He said he wasn't out of the closet and was only experimenting, and he didn't want anyone to see his face but, you know, still wanted another guy to suck him off. I came up with an idea: he could come to my basement door, hidden from prying eyes on the street by the stairs to the main entrance to the house, and he wouldn't even have to come in. I'd leave the bars locked (hello, I told you about the crack dens), and he could whip his dick out and I'd never see him. He'd never even have to come inside.
The first time he visited, I was nervous because meeting anyone online is dicey (at least some things haven't changed). He showed up in a ski mask in the middle of July and knocked on the door. I opened up and got on my knees and opened up again as he took his large, hard cock out of his pants and placed it in between the bars. It was like an Oz prison fantasy come true, especially because what I could see of his body showed that it was in prison condition. I got him off and he went home, I figured he was gone for good.
But he started popping up on my Buddy List (again, here goes Grandpa Moylan talking about the good old days) and would ask to come over. Eventually he progressed inside, and I would get him fully naked. He said he was young and just out of college (as was I), and his flat stomach and rippling chest certainly didn't betray that assertion. We started doing more and more, but never kissing, never taking the mask off, like he was committing some sort of crime. I guess he gave a whole new meaning to the idea of a turd burglar.
This went on for months, maybe a year. Maybe it even segued into the Gay.com era, when we started to build profiles, and Friendster became something you talked about at dinner parties but didn't really spend that much time on. One night he told me he wanted to come by for the last time. He was working in Congress, and his employer had not been reelected so he was going back to his home state to get some other political job. Or so he said. When you have a regular hot piece of ass whose face you never see, you learn to not try to fact-check that shit all too much. He said he was moving the next day. I told him to come on over.
It was our usual ritual, but this was the only time that I remember distinctly. He came in and got naked, still with his black mask on, and sat down on the tattered love seat that was in the apartment when I moved in and that I never bothered to throw out. I climbed on top and looked into his blue eyes, the only thing I could see behind the mask. He fucked me some more on the floor, and we both finished. I lay on the carpet, and he was getting dressed already. "Leaving so soon?" I quipped picking myself up.
He mumbled something about having to go, and I told him I'd miss not having a completely anonymous fuck buddy. I don't know what he said, but I opened the door for him and unlocked the bars. He pushed them open with a rusty squeal and then stopped before climbing the steps. He reached on top of his head and pulled off the mask. He was blond and strikingly handsome, with a square jaw and a bit of baby face that was settling into something traditionally handsome.
I wished he hadn't though. It's like I didn't want to have to know him at all, to be burdened with one more person who I would be connected to for the rest of my life, someone who I might run into on the street and have to either feign interest in or completely ignore or, even worse, someone who would shun me so that no one would ever know what dirty acts went on in that basement fuck den.
"Thanks, man," he said in his little rom-com movie moment, where he made a little gesture for love. He bounded up the steps and that was it. I've totally forgotten his name and practically forgotten his face. There's no way I could Facebook-stalk him or Google-image-search him. There's nothing online that would point me in his direction, and maybe that's all for the best. Maybe I'll be happy someday when we're the only ones who care about it.
Who knows, I still could run into him. He might see this and remember me and get in touch and be thrilled or pissed or curse my name forever because his wife might see it or, more likely, his daughter and she doesn't need to know about some fag sucking on her dad's hog in a dirty alley in DC in the late 90s.
Back then we had the option to let the past be the past, when the world was still small but big enough where people could dive down in the cracks, if they chose. All that's over now. If he ever sees this, if he ever asks about it, I'll totally deny it all. I'll never tell this story to anyone again. In fact, like so many anonymous internet accounts, I made the whole thing up.
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