Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Or Maybe It Doesn't Mean Anything

The behavior known as The Hook Up has been around for so long now that the only time we lift an eyebrow, or bother to give it any thought at all, is when it happens with someone unexpected. Did you go home with someone of the same sex? Did you go home with someone of the opposite sex? Did you go home with your nemesis/ someone ugly/ someone else's boyfriend?
Most of the time, the fact that the person you went home with was - more often than not - a complete stranger doesn't even factor into the conversation. We all roll our eyes at our friends and say the perfunctory things: you better have used protection, was your wallet still there in the morning, just how shameful was your walk out of her building this morning, wait - how many times did you puke last night? And we don't really care what the answers are (except for that first one): mostly we want to know because no matter what you say, we are pretty sure it will be hilarious. This is a safe assumption when The Hook Up is the bang with which a night ends.

But the reason we really keep talking about it as, like, a social movement is because we've been circling around the point - what does it all mean? - like water around a drain in the shower, for about forty years now and still nobody has managed to figure it out. Maybe it's because the point keeps changing. Does it have to do with women's liberation? What about our so-called sexual revolution? Are you really getting back at your dad for not coming to your softball games?
Sometimes I wonder. Most of the people I know are either staunchly single or safely paired up: I haven't seen a real Hook Up in the flesh in almost three years. This is what happens when your people are nerds. Complete, unapologetic, chaste little nerds. Regardless, it seems to me that whatever the person's gender identification, they're going home with strangers because they've vetted them to be sane enough, hot enough, and willing enough to fuck without consequence. It's the not knowing them first that interests me. Granted, this is a small subset of the Hook Up spectrum (the other subsets include - but are not limited to - all the times you've gone home with an ex, a friend you've had a crush on forever, someone you actually kind of hate, and so on and so forth), but when did we start thinking THAT was a good idea? All the other kinds of people we have ill-advised sex with seem like pretty straight-forward choices: they're hot, we're hot, why not? But strangers. Why don't we all get robbed more often? My theory is that at our age, everyone is more or less in the same poverty bracket and there's nothing really worth taking in the morning when the wrong end is throbbing and all you want to do is find solace in the most womb-like structure available. I mean, is jacking a full screen version of The Chronicles of Riddick really worth it? No. Go home and have a Gatorade.

Why strangers? Is it just another group of people you fuck because you want to fly and they just happen to willing to shop at your Duty Free? Personally I'd be too psyched out by all the idiosyncracies of just having met someone new - it's why I haven't made a lot of spontaneous friends in the last ten years: I'm too shy and weird and shamelessly abstruse (to the point that I will consciously make references in casual conversation to things only I could possibly know) to get along in a meaningful way with someone I've met without context. And I'm juuuust crazy enough to want to make it all meaningful: the one time I went home with someone and never saw them again was - and still is - one of the strangest nights of my life. I felt like a grown up when it was all going down; the polite "How long are you in town? I'll call you (I have no intention of doing this)/ Oh yeah, you have my number (no, you don't, but I don't want to see you again anyway)?" the carefully close-mouthed kiss when he dropped me was all very textbook. But later...I have to admit I felt kind of cheap about it for a while.
And now I've come full circle to being cynically amused by it, but with an added shade of "why do people think that could possibly be a satisfying experience?" One would think that we're steering clear of the emotional danger inherent in repeated sexy encounters at the risk of a reduced quality of said encounters, but is emotional connection such a bad thing? Who taught us that being sincere necessarily means getting hurt?

And here is where I think we end up: my generation justifies fucking strangers because we're afraid of being uncool. We deny outright that it has much to do with the biology of spreading our genes around or wanting to scratch the primal itch, and instead have constructed a reality wherein caring about anything is ridiculous. We geeks are familiar with the feeling: you admit that you think something is worth your enthusiasm, and the next thing you know, you're being publicly humiliated because people actually think The Borg isn't that interesting a concept (even if you know it IS). In the sexual world, even the private dismay of being unable to provide an orgasm can cut as deep as the first time someone asks you, "you thought we were friends?" Thus, we never take the chance to find out it was faked, all the while trying to forget that it's all fake when you can't remember what happened the next day. To that end, what do a few notches, or signatures, or Polaroids actually prove? They hold value only for a short while, at which point the pursuit of a new batch begins...or so I can only assume; I am not cool. I never have been. Maybe that's why I am so fascinated by the behaviors of those who deal in this "currency of cool" (if you will) with any degree of authority. Sometimes I want to be one of that number - I've yearned for the right hair, the right skin, the right whatever for so long that I can hardly remember when I first became conscious of it - but mostly I just want to be my silly, geeky self: I want to fuck the ones who can actually understand what I'm talking about...and fuck being cool.

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