Chutes and Ladders

In the never ending board game that we call the dating scene, we all know too well how not only do the little stand up cardboard players constantly change and evolve but also the board on which you play, the goal that gets you the win, and especially the instructions to play. It's like you combine Life, Monopoly, and Guess Who to create this debacle of "Sorry, I'm busy tonight…", "Why hasn't she called!?!", and "Dude…he's hot". Then there's the "Hey…tell me what are you thinking?", the "No you hang up first!", and the favorite, "It's not you, it's me". It's all so overplayed, so confusing, sometimes so ridiculous. And so delicious.

When I relocated my Chutes and Ladders board from its normal place in Mexico over to the States for a few weeks, I not only confronted so many of the normal 'Oh God he's going to meet my parents' moments, but also the 'Oh God he's going to meet all my close friends, see where I grew up, travel with me for over 5 days straight, be at my side at least 18 hours a day, and he's going to do it all…without speaking my language or being part of my culture". Ya know, the usual. Everyone already had this image. They had seen pictures and they had heard stories it wasn't out of the blue but there was a lot riding on this visit. I mean, just imagine. Having this amazing person in your life with whom you have shared countless moments and words, knowing how intelligent, compassionate, and especially clever he is and... oops! No one else with a significant role in your life can truly see that. Sure, he's cute he says "thank you" a lot, and is easy-going, those things you can see. But that's what you're supposed to see after 3 or 4 months, not almost 2 1/2 years. Makes ya wonder…how did this witty ol' chap and I get to this point anyway?

Then the weirdest part was… it wasn't weird at all. All the worrying, wondering, talking about what would happen didn't mean nada because things went more smoothly than anyone could have imagined. Everyone got along, everyone was excited, and everyone, especially him, was more than content to be a part of such an experience. Trust me, we deal with things that you don't even realize. Intercultural relationship aside, this board game is freakin hard. So the general success of this trip not only revived our relationship, but I think it reopened some things, too.

I was soooo ready to kick anyone's ass who even tried to 'bring it.' I think I was more than expecting for him to have at least one prick who treated him rudely, mocked his lack of English, or was just a straight up dick, and all my devoted mental preparations were for nothing. Sure every now and then there was an ignorant individual who explained, to me, when he wasn't there, the comparison between the work ethic in landscaping between Mexicans and say oh, El Salvadorians, sure, because it's ok if he's not there. Right. Ok good. But in terms of your overall xenophobic, ignorant butthead? Nope, didn't show his face. At least not on this visit. Oh, besides the ridiculously obnoxious, irrational, and unbearable behavior of the immigration officer. At least we have our faithful system to fall back on.

I don't mean to say it wasn't akward at times. At a noisy bar yelling about old high school stories with friends and turning to his bored, clueless expression not only made me sad, but it frustrated me. Why can't we have a "normal" relationship? Let's be honest, we all wanna break the mold, but sometimes, you just want it easy. But more than that, this handsome young Mexican has said to me before, "Si fuera facil, cualquier pendejo lo haría." (I'm gonna leave that for a quiet moment between you and wordreference.com. And you'll need a little Mexican Spanish slang help while you're at it.)

A while back, before the idea of this trip even existed, I explained something: "If we're ever at my house or whatever, just know that I won't be this huggy, ok? Why? I mean, I dunno, it's just different. Like, I could never hold your hand in front of my dad. And my friends would just roll their eyes if we kissed in front of them. I don't know, ok? That's just how it is". Yeah, B.S. I guess it's just different when you're actually living it instead of just thinking about it. Plus, I think the awkwardness, disdain, or discomfort with PDA that is inherent in U.S. culture has kind of worn off during my time here. For a hetero couple, Mexico is like lovesick, puppy dog heaven. People just like expressing their feelings in a visual manner. Not liking seeing two people romp on a park bench is one thing but being annoyed by embraces or words of affection on the metro or in line at 7-11? Get over it.

Then there was the whole "ok, now what?" thing. I mean it wasn't a matter of, ok you know everyone now so when are putting a down payment on the two bedroom, but it was kind of obvious to everyone. It was like this was the last piece of the "normal relationship" puzzle that was going to get us to as "normal" as we'll ever be. There's a mutual understanding of our backgrounds, I wasn't hiding some freakishly weird family secret, we didn't break it off even after the awkward encounter with my hyper-active, self-righteous, cousins, seeing my pictures from ages 12-18, and the 11 hour car ride from Niagara Falls where the only think I could do to stay awake was sing Celine Dion in the days where she had her "should we question her sexuality" haircut. It's all coming back to me now. So up to now, I'd say we're doing ok.

The reality is…no one knows what's going to happen. I can't say "no one has any idea of what's going to happen" anymore because that's not the case. Ideas have been mentioned. I treasure my time living here because I know it won't be forever. The only thing that is lacking here is professional opportunities that would fulfill my needs. I've made that clear to myself and to everyone involved from the beginning. Sometimes I have to kick myself in the ass when I start throwing my own pity party where the theme is "Wah, I moved here for you, can't you just understand me" or "Boo, I gave up two years of some pointless post-grad job that I wouldn't even have liked…now you move your entire life and leave your job, family, and everything you know to come with me, ok?" Yeah, ok.

His English was actually much better than everyone thought. Even surprised himself sometimes. Like when a friend said "Awesome! Now that he knows he likes it he can just move here and you can start having babies!" After literally saving myself from choking on my lemonade, I was even more thrilled to turn and see a look of scared bewilderment on his. Perfect. No one wants to talk about life-long commitments, babies, or concrete plans yet. But eventually, much sooner than we'd like to think, reality is going to set in and this lil' senorita is going to have to buck up and face the musica.

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Dear Fannie,

I'm a 22 year old gay male and I've never had a serious boyfriend -- I attribute this mostly to the fact that I went to college where dating options for LGBT people were few. But now that I'm in a big city and I'm dating more often, I meet people all the time that have had a number of long term relationships. It's really intimidating. Sometimes I worry that I don't really know HOW to date, because I've never had practice. Pardon my ignorance, but is LTR-oriented dating for LGBT people much different than it is for heteros? If so, do you have any tips for success?


Looking for love

Hi, LFL,
I’m glad you’ve been able to escape the clutches of an unfriendly college environment for us homos. So you’ve fled the dungeon that is homophobic college life to the big gay urban center, and you’re wondering why you feel untrained in this mysterious art of gay dating. (I say gay dating because I want to speak to your specific situation, because the dating codes, mores, and trends vary wildly between the queer clans.) News Flash: You are untrained in dating. But the good news is that it really isn’t all that mysterious. At least no more mysterious than it is for heteros.

I know this may be hard to believe, considering how homo dating can seem virtually non-existent, and how hetero-dating seems to be everywhere. Well, that’s the thing… there are a heck lot more heteros than homos. How many more? I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. But needless to say, by sheer numbers it’s a lot more common to see, hear about, and know hetero dating couples.

Now, of course there are trends amongst gay men that don’t necessarily appear in hetero couples and vice versa. Gay men are more likely to have numerous sexual/romantic relationships running simultaneously. They are also more likely to have anonymous sex than heteros as a whole. But in these trends are by no means hard and fast rules. There are plenty of heteros, especially those young, hip, urban heteros who have more sex than a crystal queen at a circuit party would dream of. In fact, you might say that those young, hip, urban heteros are living the “gay lifestyle” as the religious right has coined and historically used to demonize gay men for their “wanton promiscuity”… of course, those yuppie heteros get all the fun and none of the nifty discrimination that us queers get to bask in.

So, LFL, the long and short of it is that there are plenty of gay men who are new to the dating scene. Whether it’s from just being in a place that makes gay dating possible, or coming out later in life, your situation is by no means exemplary. And relationships are hard. There’s no easy 5 steps to take that will expedite your experience accrual in gay dating. In my gay infancy, new to the world wide gay web, I bought and read a gay dating advice book called The MANdates: 25 Real Rules for Successful Gay Dating. No offense to the author, but it was a lovely, nicely designed, steaming pile of bullshit. Rife with stereotypes and questionable “guides,” like “How to read your Man from his Diva CD collection.” Someone hold my hair while I borch. The only way to learn how to date gay men… is to date gay men.

Things to watch out for:
• Men, whether by socialization, hormonal influence, or some “natural” trait, tend to be reserved with the communication. In fact, men are legendarily uncommunicative and passive aggressive. When you have two (or more) people in a relationship that regularly fail to communicate will sew heapfuls of relationship trouble. So make sure that communication remains high… even if it means breaking out the therapist.
• Men also tend to have higher sex drives (although women tend to have lower sex drives, they often report more intense and more gratifying sexual experiences than men), so sex will likely be an important part of a gay relationship. Many “mainstream” or “homonormativeTM” gays of the HRC variety will want to de-emphasize and devalue gay men’s sex lives in order to make us more palpable to the hetero majority. But the fact of the matter is that sex is an important part of any relationship, and shouldn’t be scapegoated or devalued because it is in some way oppositional to an antiquated judeo-christian “morality.”

I hope all that was helpful, LFL. And good luck and happy hunting. May the rainbow shine upon your gay, faggy, path.


send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com

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Did you know that I am generally unprepared to write about politics? I studied many things in college, but I am no political scientist. My thinking also tends toward the radical and revolutionary, which makes finding a party to support (in the USA) excruciatingly difficult on both idealistic and pragmatic levels. My tentative and uneducated assertion has long been as follows: if you could somehow combine the best of socialism and libertarianism, I’d be all for it. In all likelihood, this is an ignorant and unsustainable position (obvious conflict aside), but I have yet to spend sufficient time immersed in the economic and political theory needed to advance my understanding. At heart, I’m just someone who cares about society and realizes that politics shape even the most intimate personal experiences.

We pomos are an interesting lot, suggesting that people are fettered by social construction, yet many of us believing (hoping) there must be ways to "liberate" ourselves from one set of constructions in favor of a new construction that will somehow be more empowering. The goal of unabashed individual expression undeniably requires constructing others ourselves to tolerate, accept and even embrace what to them us is distasteful. We seem easily to do this with things like food preference, so people argue that we could and should feel similarly about nearly all difference, including sexual interests. It will take social construction to extend that thinking (just as our attitude toward food is itself socially constructed), though—and this policy of embracing and encouraging difference may well make society harder to operate smoothly.

As an ex of mine always said, "We have heuristics for a reason. If we had to constantly evaluate people as they wanted to identify—without drawing on stereotypes to process the person’s skin, dress, body type, accent, and so on—we’d be spending so much time just on figuring out how to relate to individuals that we’d be in overload, and we couldn’t get to the point of our would-be conversations, the actual relating." Maybe this is true. It’s hard to say, because none of us grew up in this purely theoretical, fluid-identity society.

And maybe this observation by my ex is also telling us something about the society in which most of us did grow up: everything is pointed. I converse with you to get something out of it. The conversation itself, the process of meeting new people and learning new things and figuring out how to relate, is secondary and sometimes even inconvenient. I don’t mean to be simplistic or glib, but we do often seem to care more about efficiency and utility than about the nature and quality of our lives. People often contrast "Western" and "Eastern" thought at moments like this: the individualistic versus the communal, the plot-driven story versus the exploratory tale. I don’t think that’s really fair or thorough, though, not to mention that it poses a contrast between two (flattened) concepts as if one must have all the right answers. (And again, it’s about solutions. Where’s the process?)

I do want to know whether/how we can acknowledge and openly use social construction—as we are silently participating in unnamed constructions regardless—without becoming just as uncompromising and rigid as the current rules suggest. This is where my previous idea of utopia comes into play, and I think we need to focus on self-reflection and the process of monitoring social construction, rather than reaching a static ending point where the construction is considered forever perfect and complete. Much as I’d love to rely on increasing transparency and setting up a process for change, however, part of me wonders what powers will be rendered invisible in this new world order, and whether they’ll be even harder to unveil given the illusion that all is already revealed.

This post was originally going to be about the latest controversial article on Michael Bailey and his questionable scientific methods. Coincidentally, I’m 85% certain that a fellow Equality Rider worked in his laboratory at Northwestern, or at least in the same department. But anyway, as you can all see, I distracted myself with broader thinking about social control. The NY Times article mentions criticism of unpopular research versus criticism of unscientific research; perhaps in another post I’ll explore our privileging of "the scientific" as unconstructed fact and how we are constantly policing that boundary as well.

But for now, I bid you "Happy Tuesday!" (And, if you like, happy feast day for St. Augustine of Hippo, who embroiled us all in sin.)

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Having been raised by herbal medicine fiends, my roommate is all about energy. His wide blue-gray eyes—forceful and penetrating even in his calmest moments—pair with his always-confident tone of voice to deservingly earn him the descriptor intense. He emits urgency and definitiveness with his every expression, yet he’s not a machine. He speaks of dispositions as vibes and preaches the law of attraction: if you feel it, then it—whatever it is—will come to you. He asserts that the friends, strangers, and opportunities ebbing and flowing in and out of his life have been willed to their tidal patterns. He believes that his positivity and optimism—no matter how unbelievable (“In ten years, I’ll be rolling in cash”), generalized (“Life is beautiful, isn’t it?”), or inappropriate for public utterance (“God, breasts are amazing things”)—bring him equal or more volumes of happiness in return. Vibing, for him, is much more powerful than thinking.

I make fun of him all the time. He is a wannabe-grunge-rock-turned-alternative-yuppie Jesus, certain of everything he suggests based on faith and feeling rather than proof; I, on the other hand, the ever-questioning devil’s advocate, slam into his seemingly hashish-brewed contentions with my rigid philosophy of proactive work as the recipe for personal fulfillment. I believe that my carefully thought-out actions take me to where I want to go, so that my life, in the end, is a purposeful climb to contentment.

Recently, though, I’ve been learning that even my most meticulous plans have their limitations. My initial Perfect Mate checklist, for example, missed a less-concrete and thus oft-ignored prerequisite for perfection: a spark. It was my discovery of this missing piece that ended any sort of dating future with Houston, an intelligent architect and otherwise prime candidate for romance, after just two dates.

Another drawback to being so logical: in the midst of driving towards a conclusion about a date, it’s easy to forget that other people have checklists too; while he may be a solid fit to your specially-created profile, there is no guarantee that you will match well with his.

Indeed, just after my disappointingly dull second escapade with Houston, I met Jade, a 28-year-old doctor finishing his residency before taking aim at public health policy. Like Houston, our first date took place at a Starbucks. Like Houston, he impressed me with his ambition, intelligence, and sociocultural awareness. Unlike Houston, who frequently monopolized conversation, he seemed to be interested in what I had to say as well. I found Jade to be a notch less cerebral and more down to earth than Mr. Architect; it seemed as though we hit it off and matched interests grandly. I thought I was well-positioned for a second date when, as he walked me to my car, he dropped one of the tightest euphemisms for let’s just be friends that I have ever heard: Did you see that guy who was handing out surveys inside? He was cute.

Pause: On a successful first date, no one can be cute except the two daters involved.

Yet on this date, he issued an aberrant assertion: Someone else—not you—is cute. I admit that, at the time, I would’ve understood that perhaps I was reading a little too much into his potentially peripheral remark. Maybe, for instance, he wanted to check out my taste in other guys; maybe he wanted to release some of the pressure associated with an evaluative date. Several days later, however, he confirmed my gut feeling with some strategically-distant, avoidant small talk, a contrast to the eager remarks I recalled from our pre-first date conversations.

Somewhere between that early enthusiasm and the Java Chip Frappucino he purchased for me, as I was busy checking things off my precious checklist, he mentally creased his own list closed and filed it for future reference, saved for the next person he hoped could offer him the spark that I could not ignite.

Twice over, it seemed as though my checklist served me little purpose: to put on paper what I already knew I wanted from others. The rationale behind pseudo-neurotic organization is not to regurgitate information; it’s to help make the rest of your life more productive. Though more active than it has ever been (thanks to my “put my man self out there” creed), my dating life has (d)evolved into no more than a yes/no, true/false binary based on traits that could be identified in seconds. I screen, test, and interview—I don’t feel. My dating system is not productive.

I think my roommate has it right. Instead of parsing situations and people as if they were debate prompts, I should concentrate on finding vibes: am I on the same wavelength as my date? For that, my brain can’t be my radar; it picks up distracting socially-constructed signals when I need to channel feeling instead. The answer seems obvious: when I’m dating, I need to ditch my mind and think with my heart. Instead of checking off boxes, I need to count the number of beats in my chest, listen to the time signature of its overly-demanded standard: excitement.

This seems right, no?

I think that’s why I’m nervous. Because last night, after talking to someone completely new for just about an hour online, I felt something in my chest I hadn’t felt in a while: the beating.

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+ news +

She's everywhere!,
oh, Florida,
and the fucked for the week.


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margie prequil


For some time now I have been fond of words. However, either in denial of the avuncular logic that you ought to think things through before doing or saying them, or in allegiance to some sort of eastern principle that you ought not, I often use words incorrectly. This should not deter the typical reader. My vocabulary, at the very least, exceeds the national average. I am not proud of my errors. The idea, often used to haunt ESL students, that a language properly spoken is spoken as a native speaker would speak it, irrespective of the fact that native speakers often do not speak properly, has never made too much sense to me. Still, by most measures the tendency continues. Perhaps this owes to a lack of linguistic/ academic rigor; perhaps it has something to with the idea that the sonic worth of a given word does not always line up with the exact meaning of that word. In any event, the reader will please be cognizant of such.

It also bears mentioning that I have always appreciated stories which are able to incorporate some basis for their writing into the narrative—e.g.,…and so the mad man forced me to write my memoirs but without any compound words;…and so I decided to put it all down on paper before I ate the poisoned yams; etc. I do not intend to reveal any such basis at this time, however.

CHAPTER 1 (hereafter ‘***’—as the story’s ordering will not be exactly chronological)

“…well I knew you were going to say that. You see, I can hear the future, but only statements preceded by politeness.” Margie Melnik replied with a sort of sunken firmness that was as much imitation as her own.

“You know one day when I have the means I’m going to take you away from here and lock you in a tower;” continued Tic Verdoliak in the style that so often resulted in him being misunderstood, or outright mistrusted, by others, but which to them seemed as natural and softly certain as the seasons.

“I didn’t hear that.”

“I’ll say this one more time doing my level best to comprise my confession entirely of words reasonably calculated to admit of only the interpretation that I intend…”

“Great start.”

“I have psychic faculties. I am prescient. I know the future…” said Tic.

“Well then I shouldn’t have to continually remind you to floss, tooth decay…”

“However,” he interrupted and then paused in a way that gently showed that the interruption was not out of concern for time, “…these psychic faculties are at slight variance from those which seem to lend themselves ever more to murder mystery television.”

“Yours respect the 4th Amendment?”

“I only receive these psychic intimations a mere moment before they are actually realized.”



“Even with this limitation you should still be able to beat me at gin.”

“Well, this winning streak of yours is not explained by any amount of cunning or competence on your part as much as it is that I can’t just see what card’s next unless it is fated to be chosen…I think. From what I’ve gathered, I can’t see alternate futures—a limitation perhaps explicable by the shotgun timing of it as much or more than any sort of predetermination in the apparatus of things...maybe. You might also be palming aces.”



“How far into the future are we talking?”

“I never clocked it.”

“Do it.”


“As much as it seems unnecessary to give a psychic a heads up let’s say I’ll pick a number between 1 and 8.”

“That’s not how it works.”

“You can’t accept numbers?”

“No, it’s that I could only tell you what’s going to happen once there’s not enough time to even mouth the words.”

“You mean you couldn’t even guess when I’m about to raise this finger?”

“Not in time to alert you to your own design, no.”

“…If there’s no practical application to your mysticism does it really exist?” Maggie said in a way that suggested she was more and more convinced of it as the sentence went along.

“Yes…I can still…hear it” he struggled for the word in a way that might have been expressed by placing a question mark after each syllable in the sentence or by having William Shatner read it.

“Well, I didn’t ask you about a falling tree, so, I’m not sure that hearing it is all that significant.”

“Oh what that rapier wit of yours lacks in subtlety is more than made up for by its speed” he rebounded.

“It’s funny, you know, you who so often are unsure of what you did mere moments ago can see moments ahead.” She continued, “Hey! I got it; perhaps rather than any sort of heightened awareness or ESP you just sort of traded in your focus on the more distant future, present and past for an increased emphasis on the unimpressively near future.”

They both looked confused.

“Even if I did know what the hell you meant by ‘traded in’—as if the component parts of my consciousness were the result of some sort of haggling—, I wouldn’t agree and I’d likely—though certainty would be outside of powers—still pinch you.”

“Ow! Asshole.”



“Alright, raise that finger at an as yet undisclosed time.”


“Hah!!” pointing to the raised finger.

“You saw me move it.”

“I knew before I saw it.”

“Well, how do I know that?”

“Because you love me.”

“Oh, shut up.”


Margie Melnik was born Marguerrite Melnik in a middle-class suburb of Cleveland. Hers was not unlike the youths of so many around her apart from a few more or less notable exceptions. At some point she went from being a characteristically happy person to a person categorically concerned with, and committed to, being happy. If at first blush this seems unclear, the difference is certainly subtle. This subtlety was borne out by the fact that the shift did not produce many appreciable differences in her. She, and those to whom she explained the change, most likely thought it either a very natural maturing into consciousness, or—as the case may well have been for those with whom this metamorphosis was shared not because of any outward signs of similar transformation in the confidante but, perhaps, because of other more fleeting connections, (be they the indefinable sorority which follows from peeing together or from sometime drug experimentation)—a simple misunderstanding, and misapplication, of the lessons of womanhood. Incredulous types might have described it as the beginning of any thoughtful life or a mere impulse to put feelings into words.

That is not to say, that she paid any additional mind to the whims that from time to time claim hold of us all. Rather, (and it’s uncertain whether this was means or ends) she saw an emotive component to perception and accorded it the consideration she thought due. Few people would find this revolutionary; likely even fewer women for reasons which quite possibly owe to the unity of all women borne of that single hotline to the moon and the tides which they are forced not only to share but through the unlikeliest of places. . (Suffice it to say at the point of transformation she became aware that she wanted to be happy. Whether or not this must have followed from her having been—or having seen herself as—unhappy is unclear.)

Margie was proud to be a female and if she was more inspired by socio-political issues involving women it was only because their place was so often misunderstood. However, Margie’s concern with emotions was decidedly different than the will to catharsis so prevalent among women. Perhaps this was due to her ambitions to be a writer which she thought needed something more than mere candor if they were to be realized—the days of blanket denial long since supplanted, she reasoned, by nights of cleverly woven conundrums which operated to similar confounding effect even if they required an adroit finger to point out the labyrinthine turns which most only walked in their sleep or the comparable psychic condition that obtains when people speak of casserole dishes.

It cannot be overstated that her dream of being a writer was subsidiary to her abiding concern with happiness. True, she did not think the two that distinct but just the same made an effort to not see them conflated. She recalled a conversation with a decidedly unsuitable suitor where this came up: He was a singer in a friend’s band who was known in small circles for getting naked on what makeshift stages their gigs provided them and then collapsing, naked, into a corner after what one could only assume was an emotional crescendo for him where – the jerking of his body seemed to suggest though his head was hidden – he was reduced to tears. “How are you?” he asked Margie at a party. “Walking tall and laughing easy” she replied. “You?” “Well, if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no..” “Reason to get naked and cry?” she interrupted. “No luck at all.” He finished. “Come on give yourself some credit. It’s more than bad luck; it’s bad instincts.” “What’s bad instincts?” “You know: the whole self-destructive front man thing. The band stands poised for untold success thanks to the industrious rhythm guitarist but the damn singer is just wound a little too tight and keeps fucking up.” “But if it weren’t for his emotional depths the band would be nothing.” “Yeah, I suppose it’s songs like ‘the crushing darkness’ or ‘oblivion please’ that put asses in the seats.” “Do you want me to sing ‘the flower’?” “Whatever keeps your toe tapping. Are you always upset?” “Life is suffering.” “It is when you’re around. Don’t people suffer enough with their own lives?” “I stand up to the darkness and give them strength to persevere. I die so they can live.” “Jesus didn’t crucify himself—and he didn’t strip—you pretentious putz.” “He wasn’t given a chance to.” “Ok, how do you keep yourself so sullen all the time? Do you flog yourself too?” “It’s just a matter of thumbing the jagged edge of life all the time.” “Is that what you’re thumbing?” She walked away.

Margie too had a sort of middling mysticism about her: she could, with varying degrees of veracity, tell how people felt. She did not think this was unique (as many women would not); rather she thought it was a common enough quality among women to justify their having their own state (somewhere in the Balkans maybe). Her ability, however, did not always begin and end with conversations involving the word ‘vibe’ as one may have assumed. Hers was skill, and a useful skill at that as this world grows more and more veiled. At times Margie may not have realized that her receptive powers were influenced by the things she thought she’d felt, for reasons that were thereby substantiated even if not explained—a common limitation somewhere between a fait accompli and a priori (nunc pro tunc maybe?). However, Margie was decidedly different in that she believed that by receiving messages of the kind from others she could better understand her own transmissions such to take control of their content and release. Whether she was able to actually send some sort of corpo-telepathic messages or not was made somewhat irrelevant by the fact that she thought most everybody could feel what others were feeling if they’d just try. Just the same, she too thought she was somehow marked (though on certain days she might have called it a smudge instead).


“Is man alone in his desire to press to the beating heart of the essential strangeness of things?” asked Tic in a way that certainly seemed a joke.

“What…oh…men stand alone, but it’s not the heart that they seek in pressing towards the chest of things. It’s woman alone who is not content to wallow in the pretexts and imprecations of that essentially strange creature that is man.” replied Margie in a way that was meant to lightly mock the questioner into submission.

“Hah! Women only care about the order of things in so far as that order concerns them. It is man who can meditate on the relationship between the cat and the dog quite apart from his interests implicated therein. Can a woman ever live slightly to the side of things?”

“I was raised quite happily just over from Shaker Heights if that’s what you mean but stop talking like that.” Margie responded in a way that in the past had been punctuated with a silencing kiss.

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, like a monk.”

“Monks are silent.”

“Well, I’m sure you can make up for whatever was lost in authenticity by a little self-immolation.”

“Isn’t that why you were run out of Shaker Heights to begin with?” said Tic in a slightly exaggerated but still playful form of his previous tone.

“I wasn’t from Shaker Heights, as is clearly shown by the fact that I do not smell all briny”

“Do they smell briny? They’re landlocked.”

“Well ‘sea to shining sea’ never had a better home than Shaker Heights.”

“Love it or leave it.”

“I’m leaving you.”


Truth be told it was now somewhat difficult for Margie to remember how she had been before meeting Tic. She remembered herself longingly remembering past events that now could only be viewed from her present vantage point at his side; and as such, were of decidedly slight concern. Apart from figuring into present states by a connection which was, even to her, largely inexplicable if somehow invoking as yet unexpressed metaphors, she rarely thought of the past. That is, she made no attempt to seal herself off from the past. Why would she? Hers was a happy past. She just questioned Emerson’s logic that the past ought to be dragged into the “thousand-eyed present”. Wasn’t there something inherently contradictory about honoring the present by ceremonially subordinating the past? Why not leave it be? she reasoned. Instead the operating philosophy with which she now tinkered—she always had at least one—might best be explained as trying to feel nothing until something comes along. Though some might find this stupid, rest assured it never took too long for something to come along. This was a fact which Margie thought vindicated the whole enterprise though others might be apt to see it as an even more persuasive demonstration of its uselessness (sort of like thinking that the fact that you were able to resume breathing justified the practice of holding your breath).


“You know there aren’t too many guys who can stand on one leg for as long as I can.”

“There aren’t too many girls looking for flamingoes” she replied as surprised by her response as his statement.



“Most of the guys you’d meet out there wouldn’t even let you touch their food.”

“Is there something you want?”

“I just want you to know that it’s a topsy-turvy world.”

She smiled.


While Margie was by most accounts a rather unique sort it should not be suggested that her singularity was absolute. Rather there was something about her which, when properly contextualized, recalled her home town, its denizens and their manner with the sort of precision that can be attained for the fleeting moments when one tries to hang on to an emotion they’ve just felt—almost as if you could still see its reflection in her eyes. She said ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’ and ‘gym shoes’ instead of ‘sneakers’ but it was more pervasive than just a predilection for local expression (it was even more than the contempt she felt for people who said ‘bubbler’ instead of ‘water fountain’ or ‘standing on line’ instead of ‘in line’). And if it could not be viewed at regular intervals its cause seemed reasonably clear: Margie was always very fond of her youth. If eventually she would come to stray from some of the endemic vices that suburban lifestyles are shot through with today, and began to speak differently, and began to change her diet and the recreational pursuits that she would prefer, there remained something less susceptible to change by anything short of amnesia. How, then, can this be reconciled with the previously mentioned fact that she rarely thought about the past? Because she didn’t really think of it as a ‘past’ at all. She’d once heard someone say ‘tomorrow doesn’t have to be any greater than yesterday.’ It seemed like a platitude on the order of a greeting card but she liked it. The past did not need to be tended to in order to affect you. She was who she was. And who she was couldn’t help but be shaped by what she’d been. It was thinking herself in circles like that which might have hastened her latest revelation (supra re: thinking nothing…).

Though, as stated, this phenomenon never really changed in Margie it did at times fall prey to that autonomic ordering process within us all which sometimes covers its tracks by making pain simpler than pleasure. That is to say, at times it slipped into a sort of dormancy. However, when Margie went home the collective carriers of this system pressed out towards Margie’s pores to get a look at the land of their birth. This produced in Margie a feeling which was at once as light as the ether and still leaden in the detail with which its dictates expressed themselves. This contradiction led to those very dictates often being impossible to understand or obey but no less capable of producing a churning that would swear itself perpetual by the continuing struggle between the opposing—or at least incompatible—forces. The result was, as most travelers have experienced, a mild constipation.


“… I … don’t know what to say.”

He bends his left elbow and allows himself to fall, slowly rolling, in that direction. He lies recumbent looking up at the ceiling or beyond. Successive expressions seem to dawn in him yet wilt before they are breathed. Several minutes pass.

“The male ego is a …” she says in a way that could have been intoned with budding anger or fatigue.



Several more minutes pass.

“It’s a strange apparatus.” He says, immediately realizing that his wit could not help.


“Are you pissed?” The emphasis was included to express his surprise. There was a rough protocol in this as in most of even the strangest things, he thought.

“Yeah, I’m not down with that … whack … shit.” She said with staccato bursts like gunfire to which were added an additional measure of shock for the fact that she had never said ‘whack’ before.


“I don’t care about all that…but how do you think that makes me feel when you suddenly don’t want to touch me when hit with the news of your wounded pride.”

“It’s not that…”

“There are other things we could do.”

He had almost no room for the inexpressible feeling he felt at hearing her say this—as if it was written in his mind somewhere—so he continued, “OK, but it’s not like I’m sitting there mourning the suddenly wan prospects of future sexual conquest. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s self centered.”

“Any woman should know that there is something which factors in onlookers’ presumptive opinions into self-consciousness. I’m thinking about the way you’re thinking about me and I’m embarrassed. Does that help?”


He knelt and hid his face. But he did not do this with the desperation that makes you think that it’ll all go away; nor was it with the thought that if there’s any justice in this world it would demand that you see your end coming. Rather he did it because he knew full well that the way people had looked at him throughout his life—somewhere in between the way you’d stare at a deformity and the way you’d stare at a star—would offer him a singularity that he’d gladly refuse today (or so he flattered himself offering testament to his enduring arrogance: he wasn’t that good looking).

It didn’t work today. The thought which typically followed from someone just missing a train—If I hadn’t checked the part in my hair again I would have made it—was usually silenced when Tic thought that he had more foresight than he should already (the fact that this assuaged regrets about the past, notwithstanding. Silly? Yes, but so marches the mind of someone who thinks they’ve a gift). Today nothing of the sort took place. Today the world did not approach him in the ways he’d thought had been agreed to. The thought occurred to him that it’s the sort of people who think they hold themselves to high standards that never apologize because they’d have to acknowledge more than just the fact that they were wrong—they’d have to acknowledge that the world was not as they’d thought.

Looking back he might have known something was going to happen. (But I suppose looking back you always might have known something was about to happen.)


“Are those underwear between the couch and the wall clean or dirty?”

“Sort of in between.”

“You know God loves you just the way you are but he loves you too much to let you stay like that.”

“Don’t you ever feel like the only part of this world that isn’t tragic is that sliver that’s pressed between our wet, naked bodies?”

“Why are we wet?”



“Even within us, there’s just no way around it. We are being pulled apart by the horrors of this world. Sometimes it feels like a breeze. But it can’t be resisted for too long.”

“You’ve got honey in your voice tonight.”

He laid his head on her lap.


People started calling him Tic because he once got so high he started very lightly convulsing. Tic would seem a cruel nickname for someone given to fits but people will tell you that he sought them out—he liked being so high that he had almost no control over such things. There is an argument to be made that this was a gift from his mother who, in somewhat similar fashion, enjoyed offering reports on the progress of her indigestion to her child. He’d always assumed that one of the reasons she did this was because she liked that physical manifestations substantiated the depression in her which people stopped believing long ago. At the very least these things interested Tic: psycho-sexuality; psychosomatics; telekinesis; etc. However whatever the latent abilities and mechanics of the mind, the force with which it could turn against you—should capitulation to the demands of those around make strategic sense—was not to be underestimated.

‘Where was she’, he thought. Surely there should have been something in the immutable shape of the world which would bring her back—something like the thing that brings your bowling ball back. Then he remembered a party he had been at years earlier. He walked up to a girl and said “Don’t I know you? Weren’t we on that game show together called ‘Name that Jewish athlete’?” She played along by saying “Yes, you beat me in the lightning round by answering Moses Malone.” He approached her again later and said “Say we don’t know each other and I’ll walk out the door.” She did and he did.

He lay in his bed. Since she left him, he’d gotten into the habit of turning the music off and giving himself a good talking to before falling asleep—not in the way that a high school guidance counselor would give someone one about the need for extracurricular activities to show breadth and initiative, more in the way that a father might attempt to get to know his son again after the son took to calling him ‘guy’. But as the morning, seeming as it did to gather around itself, was able to spare enough to light his lime green walls, being alone with his thoughts was not necessarily what he wanted. Still, he always believed—and the trite formulation belied the vindication he’d found in its results—that it was those thoughts that were only half thought—the other half consisting of drift, spectacle and, perhaps, his ideas about proper pant length (to wit, no sense in waiting for the creeks to rise before you realize that pants that are too long just don’t drape right) etc.—which were damaging. Occasionally these cathartic assignments were crowned with a sort of prancing distribution of forgiveness—a leftover from a revelation during a college course called, Poli Sci 606: justice as love and benevolence (grade: B-; student won’t stop giving hugs; pretext suspected). But today his mind could not seem to pass the psychic fog of morning. An adherent to his previously mentioned theory might have argued that as he had only just woken he did not yet have the cognitive heft to complete his rounds, rather than thinking it demonstrative of some inherent flaws in the theory and its practice. He tried a quick service of forgiveness—but there was no one to forgive. He thought of the way that the color of the room and his lifestyle were almost full realizations of a dream he had had years earlier which, reduced to its simplest terms, could be called a desire to live in the seventies—though he had long since lost the feeling which he pursued into that desire (something about the supernatural properties of earth tones and the way you can smell peace on polyester in the wind) and certainly found nothing waiting for him here at the finish line. He thought of his dream from the night before but in it he found nothing indicative of any other world such to lend the morning additional enchantment—rather, just a stale reordering of the same world (more specifically, the same world but with daily boat tours through the typically dry halls of his days). He thought of the stricken and the charmed (would someone with congenital whooping couch feel their mind halved the way he sometimes did?). He thought of the sleep which he sought as a mother tongue wrapping him in its warm folds. He thought of the ‘other things’ they could have done. He thought of the girls whom must have been lined with breeze-spread and wave-washed Newport pleasure: girls whose blue eyes lit up at the mention of perennials. He thought of a life lived through a gradual transformation as his mind narrowed and the bright waters rose. He thought of another girl from whom you’d leave to go to work and you’d think only split-hoofed devils could force such separation. He thought of another girl the facility and fluidity of separation from whom was like a wire. He thought that everything is irrevocably sheathed and that beauty—like all things—can only live within its own confines. There’s no access at the middle. To enter, you’d have to trace it back to an arguably imaginary beginning and start re-writing it. Whether that’d help him remember or forget was unclear to him.


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A milestone for Below the Belt, indeed! Today, BTB launched a new widget on our right-hand menu, "beltcasts". Beltcasts are streaming audio segments produced by our contributors. The widget conveniently maintains a library of our programs, much like any other music player.

Today's beltcast is a discussion of the recent Logo Debate. Manontheside moderates, and panelists include AskFannie, Outlawed, and Toughstuff. Highlights include: discussion of the general ebb and flow of the debate, questions about honesty vs. political/constructed personalities, Hillary's clothes (YES!), and ...well...an opportunity to hear the awkward voices of some of our contributors!

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I love the fact that I know many people who are pregnant, have just had children, or have very young kids. I love kids, kids love me, and I can’t wait to adopt three kids from various continents around the world. Seriously, I can’t wait. I have wet dreams about traveling the country with my partner in search of lgbt-friendly, family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools. I’m going to be that guy with the station wagon, the baby on board stickers, and a rainbow fanny pack filled with baggies of trail mix (no raisins, though – they’re gross).

But it wasn’t until I entered a party supplies store the other day that I was reminded of a big obstacle I will have to face when I one day have kids (and, well, a big obstacle my kids will have to face, too). As I walked down the long aisle designated for children’s parties, I was attacked on both sides – screaming pink on the left, and a defiant blue on the right, items hanging over me almost ten feet above my head, both sides whispering in my ears: “choose”.

After walking through that nightmare, I was reminded of theory explaining how gender is most intensely imbued into our psyche when we are very young. As I’m thinking, I can’t imagine any kind of child-related event that is not somehow gendered hardcore according to the binary. Why is it that we barrage kids with things that are blue or pink, tough or girly – from clothes, to toys, to party favors, to gifts? Wouldn’t it make the most sense to get a better idea of what the kid really wants instead of an assumed set of gendered behaviors and interests, most of which they won’t have even fully cultivated into their personalities until the age of 4 or 5?

For all my bitching, though, I have to admit it’s likely harder than it looks. When you’re raising a kid, worrying about their health and general well-being, why do you want to waste time making sure everything you buy is gender neutral? What if your partner has dreams of their son becoming the greatest basketball player, or aspirations that their daughter will be the most beautiful girl in school? And let’s be really honest – how do you tell your husband you want to give your son a dollhouse, and how do you tell your wife you want to give your daughter a football? The thought would make most people’s skin crawl. I still think that aiming for gender neutrality (or less gender-related stress) is important, but I can tell you that I understand it may be difficult for most families.

I guess I’ve just tried to ignore the gender-specific talk from my friends about their children, how different it would be to raise a boy as opposed to a girl and vice versa (“I’ve been raising a boy for so long…I just don’t think I’d know how to raise a girl!”). I remember when I got a call from a colleague of mine who gave birth - I reported the news to the rest of my coworkers. “Is it a boy or a girl?” they asked, desperate for more information. I, however, had forgotten to ask. They were horrified: “How could you not ask?!”

I was actually kind of proud of myself. The sex wasn’t the biggest news to me – it was the fact that the child was born. And that makes me way cool. Right?

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Welcome back, to this special edition of AskFannie. In response to last week’s post, I’ve decided that we all, FIST included, could all use some fun, friendly, fisting information. Now, I must admit that I have yet to enjoy the thrills and chills of having a lover’s fist up my bussy. But through hard work and thorough research, I give you:

AskFannie’s Brief Guide to Fisting

What it is:
Fisting, for those of you out-of-the-know, is the insertion of a hand into the rectum or vagina. I know, it sounds crazy… but despite everything that your high school sex-ed teacher may or may not have told you, it can actually be quite safe and fun.

How to do it:
Fisting may sound pretty straight-forward: insert fist into orifice. But it is by no means a sex act to be taken lightly. Fisting is NOT ramming a clenched fist through your partner’s anus. To get an entire human fist in their takes a lot of time, care, and patience. I must first disclaim:

Fisting is not for the anally or vaginally inexperienced. It may seem super hot in whatever fantasy fist fucking vision you may have, but if you are not accustom to large objects in your pussy/bussy, you’re going to have a lot of pre-training before to impale yourself on your partner’s forearm. Think of fisting as a marathon. It’s an awesome experience for those who can do it… but you have to work for it. And yes, I use “work” in its fullest RuPaul capacity.

Before you start fisting, you’re going to need several supplies.

  • A latex glove - basically a condom for your hand. Fisting poses very real risks for anal or vaginal tearing if done incorrectly. It’s best to be safe and prevent any potential blood-to-blood contact. Plus it’s not like the fist is losing a whole lot of pleasure sensitivity, like a penis would.
  • Copious amounts of lubricant - I don’t mean just a palmful. I’m talking buckets o’ lube. Make sure to use either water-based or silicone-based lubricant as oil-based lube will dissolve latex. I also advise against the use of products like “Anal-ease” which also have a numbing agent. While avoiding pain may seem like a good solution, pain is also the way your body tells you when “this shit gets real,” to quote Bad Boys. No pain = not realizing your anus is ripping open.
  • Freshly trimmed nails – this is true for all anal/vaginal-manual play. A good lesbian friend of mine let me in on a bit of a lezzie secret: you can tell how much action a lesbian is getting by the length of her fingernails; specifically the index and pointer fingers of her dominant hand. Do you know why? ‘Cause lesbians know that you don’t put long fingernails into someone’s coochie unless you want to tear it apart. So beak out those nail clippers!

The beginning of any fisting session should start slowly and gradually. Beginning with light anal play, massage the region and inserting one or two well-lubricated digits into the anus or vagina. Once the opening has become accustom to the intrusion, gradually add digits until you have all five fingers in the opening. It’s integral for the bottom to be as relaxed as possible. Please note that your partner’s orifice may clench up during these initial stages. If this happens, don’t pull out quickly. Rather, slowly ease your fingers out of the orifice and start again.

Once you’ve gotten the five fingers down, this next part is the most crucial in successful fisting. With all five fingers pointed to form a cone of sorts (think butt-plug), slowly enter the orifice until you get to the knuckles. As the anus or vagina expands to the widest section of the hand, the bottom will moat likely be riding the peaks of pleasure and pain. If the orifice tightens and tries to expel the hand, let it. Exit slowly, and try again. Be patient because this may take several attempts.

Once the knuckles have been breached, slowly ease the rest of the hand into the anus or vagina. The fingers should naturally close into a fist, as the rectal and vaginal cavities aren’t particularly deep. It’s important in this stage to make slow but thoughtful movements once inside. This will likely be one of the most intense experiences the bottom will have. Explore the cavity by rotating the wrist so that the knuckles are able to brush by new unexplored areas inside the body; especially the prostate in men.

Hopefully that was useful! Enjoy the fisting, and as always… have fun and be safe.


send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com

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At 20 years old, I formulated a checklist of 40 characteristics that my ideal man would exhibit. On it, I included the desires of a stupidly naïve post-adolescent…

[ ] Be willing to believe in magic

…concessions to hormonal pressures/pleasures…

[ ] Be fun in bed

…and traditional requests of someone in search of a companion…

[ ] Share a sense of humor

…with a brain.

[ ] Recognize the importance of activism and awareness

All in all, it didn’t seem like too much to ask. At the top, I scrawled: My Perfect Mate.

Years later, I look back at that list, and, while I’m tempted to laugh at my past self for being such a hopeless romantic, I catch my present self: Wait a minute. I am still a hopeless romantic. I’m still caught in the belief that I can find someone who can fulfill at least 35 of the 40 traits (though honestly, my ideal man would fulfill at least 36 of 40, only because that would give him an official A if this were a class and if I were a stickler with grades—which I should be when it comes to love, don’t you think?).

Indeed, I’ve come to notice that my first dates are often like auditions for the Below the Belt-produced reality show The Impossible Dream: Search for The One, and in my head, I, as Randy, Paula, and Simon in one body, carry a mental copy of My Perfect Mate. Next to every characteristic on my list is an invisible checkbox. As I (politely and calmly) probe into the life of my contestant—err—date, I scroll down my list and score as necessary—perhaps a different type of scoring system from what many first daters have in mind.

Case study: a recent date with 27-year-old Houston—

I met Houston online (a method I’m using that will require a completely different blog article altogether), and he was always friendly and intelligent and, most importantly for me, he strayed from the sexually-driven hook-up culture that thrives on the world wide web. I decided that I should give him a chance—with my checklist.

Taking into account both our internet conversations and our Starbucks/post-Starbucks-dinner meeting, here is how he fared:

*Great online profile. Check: Does not have bad grammar
*A 6’1” mix of Latino and Black parents. Checkmark next to: Be physically attractive
*Previous Italy, France, and Taipei adventures. Great: Love traveling
*Discussing indie flick Once and mainstream hit Hairspray. Check two boxes: Be aware of both popular AND alternative culture and Have diverse music tastes
*He’s an architect getting ready to pursue a Master’s and later, a PhD to examine alternative design in public housing and crisis areas (like Darfur). A quintet of checkmarks, bolded, italicized, and underlined: Have goals and be driven / Be mature and serious / Be relatively educated and intelligent / Have a sense of responsibility / Care about important current events and issues

Although this was only our first date, he was scoring well. Check after check after check, he revealed interests, histories, and opinions that moved him up my mentally-noted ladder of boxes, closer and closer to ideal territory. If it were an interview, I would’ve hired him on the spot; his resume was fantastic. He was everything I wanted to get the job done.

But the reality was that it wasn’t an interview; I wasn’t hiring to get a job done. This was a date. And in my reality show-like screening process, while he fit all the attributes of the perfect contestant, there was one thing missing: the it factor. Several online conversations and a great four-hour date later, I still wasn’t sure if, between us, there was that magic little chemistry: a spark.

One of my confidants retorts that there’s no way to test for a spark without physical contact, and the most contact Houston and I had was a quick hug in a car to end the date. She describes the feeling of spark as the sexual energy that makes additional contact more desirable.

I, on the other hand, was in no rush to bed Houston. I didn’t feel a sexual spark—nor did I think I was ready to feel it. It was a first date! And maybe, in rare opportunities, lusting and listing collide, and maybe that would be the absolute sign for The Perfect Mate. But when I talk of a non-physical spark, I’m defining it as distant excitement; the sensation of stomach-squeezing butterflies; the giddy rush of not knowing what’s next but that something is coming; the inimitable pounding of your heart for another’s.

However you define it, my checklist didn’t have it. Neither did my first date with Houston.

But I am well-aware that I am jumping the gun. It was a first date: a meet and greet, not the First Dance. So I’m adding a #41 to my list— Create a spark—and hoping that the second time around, he’ll keep checking things off. If he doesn’t, I will realize that there’s no way I can adapt my hopelessly romantic notions to my neurotically-organized lifestyle. And even so, I’ll probably keep dreaming anyway.

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Hey Fannie,

I'm new to the site and thought I throw a question your way. I'm a 24 year old bi-curious male and I've been dating this girl for a while. She's awesome but the other day I had this dream where I was getting fisted by some dude and it was pretty hot. I've experimented with some objects when I beat off but I feel like I might be stuck in a situation that won't let me get into anything extreme. What should I do?

Fervently Inquiring into Sexual Thrill

My sincere welcome, FIST, to our wonderful corner of the world wide web. And without further ado…

So, FIST, you're intrigued by the mysterious and marvelous world of fisting, but you're afraid that the miss isn't too keen on having her hand up your love chute. I don't know how long you have been together, the nature of your sex lives, or if your fisting fantasies are exclusively with men; but I assume you have toyed with the thought of your girlfriend fisting you. If she is as "awesome" as you say, give her a little credit. If she really is into you, a little fisting fantasy is hardly worth running to the hills over.

I understand that it can be difficult to bring up ass play as a straight male in a heterosexual relationship. Anal stimulation has long been equated with emasculation and homosexuality; man's ultimate doom! But the best way to bring up a fantasy with a significant other is to not treat it like it's a big deal. The more anxiety and hesitation you demonstrate while telling your girlfriend, the more reason you give her to think that your fantasy is one spot shy of Dante’s Inferno.

Try to gradually introduce ass play in your sexual relationship. Asking her to massage your anus while you hook up, can help clue her in on and warm up to your fantasy. In any sexual relationship, it's important to maintain clear communication lines. Asking your lover to give you pleasure is not overstepping. I firmly believe that in sexual relationships we should all strive to be good, giving, and game with our lovers: “'good in bed,' 'giving equal time and equal pleasure,' and 'game for anything—within reason.’” (unabashedly stolen from Dan).

Now, if your fantasy fist-fucking desperately requires a man, then we’ve got a bit of a stickier situation (please ignore the double entendre). While I am in full support of careful and thoughtful non-monogamy, I hesitate advising you to find a part-time friendly fantasy fisting fellow. If you can manage it and your girlfriend is cool with the idea of another man’s hand in your rectum, then more power to you. But, your fantasy is just that… a fantasy; a hot, steamy, sexy fantasy for sure, but a fantasy none the less.

If you can’t get your specific fantasy of getting fist fucked by your dream guy… tough. I'm highly doubtful that I'm going to get my twin fantasy sated any time soon. It’s hardly worth breaking up with a girlfriend over, especially if you can convince her to incorporate fucking your ass sore. If you still find your fantasy over-powering all your emotions and desires for your girlfriend and all her awesomeness, then I might take another look at that "curious" suffix.

Then again, there’s always this. Thank God, for American consumerism.

ps. Don't go away, FIST, I'm not done with you yet. Stay tuned for next week's Fannie's Guide to Fist Fun!


send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com

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She met him on the first hot day that April. She was walking back to work during her lunch break. To break up the monotony of the hours in her cube, she had taken to eating her lunch at her desk and walking the neighborhood during her lunch hour. She would walk up 68th street towards Lexington, fantasizing as she passed Hunter College that she was one of the students. She was in the habit of fantasizing about being anyone who was not her. She passed the Hispanic nannies with their white charges sitting in the park, talking on their cell phones. Some even smoked, only feet away from the pristine heads of the children they took care of. The few upper-class mothers who hadn’t farmed their kids off looked at the smokers in disgust. She would have traded places with either of the warring parties, though she certainly would have chosen to be the smoker first.

he thought about being the Mr. Swirley man. This was a nice person to think about being, because anywhere you went you were met with delight. Instead of walking into a dim felt-trimmed office and sitting down in a dim, felt-trimmed seat without arousing the notice of anyone, Mr. Swirley was met with fanfare everywhere. This was a nice way to live, it seemed.

She thought about being the crazy man who stood on the corner of York and 67th street every day. He had erected a tiny cemetery out of popsicle sticks in a bank of flowers that sat upon an office building’s retaining wall. He wore a security guard’s outfit and motioned for you to cross once the “walk” sign had appeared. At least he got to be outside.

There was something rewarding about being selfishly consumed by her hatred for her job. She had flare, the way she trudged around. She wasn’t about to be one of those depressing people who hides her depression. And so, when she got asked what she did at parties, she quickly said, “I’m a secretary.” The mixture of embarrassment and pity she got as a response was delicious. Fuck all your fellowships, and degrees, she thought. She remembered an Onion headline that read: “This receptionist’s job is just a stopgap till I die.”

She hadn’t always been like this. You might wonder what it says about Sarah’s character that her first taste of professional adversity left her rejoicing in bitterness. Don’t. It won’t profit the story at all for you to think along those lines.

She hadn’t been like this at all. She had been a freaking skipping fool. She had been a person who had sometimes been so filled with love that she had embarrassed those around her by telling them how she felt. But it isn’t quite right to say that either, because she hadn’t always been like that. The truth is, she had always been happy and then sad.

This particular day she finished her cigarette about a block before returning to the hospital’s campus. This denied her the pleasure of giving dirty looks to the people who gave her dirty looks for smoking outside a cancer hospital. She looked around guiltily, considering dropping her cigarette in the gutter before deciding against it. She chucked it on the ground, crushed it with her heel and then bent down to pick it up. Before she could grab it, though, a black lab that had been watching her movements carefully bent his head to eat it.

“Your dog is eating my cigarette,” she said before looking up.
When she did she saw a man with curly red hair looking down at her from dark glasses. She smiled. “I don’t normally chuck those on the street. I was just about to throw it out.”

He nodded. “It’s okay. He eats rocks too.”

She stood up. She had to fight the urge to dust herself off, though she hadn’t touched anything dirty. “Those are carcinogens, though.”
“That’s true. He also eats broccoli.”
“Maybe that will counter act the cancer.”
He smiled. “I was thinking so.” The light changed. They crossed the street, both looking up every once in awhile to see if the other one was looking. They were going the same way. “Do you work around here?” he asked.

“Unfortunately. Right down the street. At the hospital down on York Ave.”
He nodded. “Ahh—know it well.”

“Oh yeah?” she raised her eyebrows. “I hope not too well.” His silence told her not to pursue the topic. “I’m Sarah,” she said, turning sideways to face him and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. She extended her hand.

The lab sat down dutifully under her hand. He laughed and reached to shake her hand. “Jake.”

Sarah ended up running into the same man, walking the same dog, the next day. The day after that was Wednesday, and every Wednesday she ate lunch at the diner with Mary and Ernestine, but on Thursday she saw him again. And they planned to meet for lunch on Friday.

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So it's something that I tend to avoid. Something that worries me just thinking about it. Then when it actually becomes the topic of conversation, my stomach starts to churn. If the conversation continues and murmurs of opinions start to peek out, I feel my cheeks get warm. Then if it becomes a full out "discussion" with the expression of various point of view, and I end up either holding back brimming tears or excusing myself to the bathroom before I explode.

It's a debate I still have no idea how to approach or deal with or digest. I have even avoided specifically writing about it here because I wasn't even sure what I wanted to say. There are a lot of cultural differences that I see everyday that affect how I lead my life here…but this one is a toughie. It's not just the idea that a homosexual lifestyle isn't accepted, it's everything that this topic addresses - gay rights, gay couples, gay marriage, gay education, gay activism. The word gay is a trigger. A bullet-proof vest two feet thick couldn't protect you from the aftermath.

To clarify, the word itself doesn't necessarily evoke negative reactions or provoke nasty responses. It's that's the subsequent issues that result just aren't handled as well as within a community that has more experience confronting it, that is more used to the concept. As they say, we're afraid of what we don't know, right? Here maybe it's not so much as fear as much as being unaware.

Even with that understood, I struggle each time I am faced with the topic to not only know how to react, but how to judge my reaction. How often do I let things slide? Things I wouldn't have dreamed of before moving here? Is that ok? Should you let cultural differences change your approach? For me it's not a question of whether or not you should let them change how you react, question, or respond, it's a fact of the situation that you are in. More and more I am seeing how the mindset and understanding I have of queer issues is completely and 100% from a U.S. point of view. Just the fact that I use the term "queer issues" in this paragraph yet the description I used in the first one was "gay" illustrates the difference that exists between how things are approached in the two environments I have lived in. Apart from that, my big problem is where to draw the line. I've always had a problem with people that are convinced that they are the almighty on queer issues, that current cosmopolitan gender issues have one way of being overcome, and that they are the messiah to bring us to the light. Get over it. It's just not true. As we all know, there are far too many contributing factors to honestly be convinced that we are the be all and end all of what's up in the gay world.

Then it becomes personal. Some of the closest people I have in my community here are people I'd be afraid to broach the topic with for fear of what their reactions would be. Or worse, what their opinion is on any of the aforementioned issues. This is mainly because I've come across various situations that have reduced me to the physical state that I mentioned above and the thought scares me. I never thought I could have someone as close as some of those that I have here that hold those opinions. What does that mean? About me, my lifestyle, my choices, my environment?

In my own circle, hostility has not been a problem. It's not a matter or being afraid or vehemently against anything or anyone. It's more just general discomfort. Jokes, questions, name-calling. The unknown. I recently had a conversation with someone that made me even more uncomfortable due to the level of our relationship in which the person expressed that they did not agree with the fact that a mutual acquaintance we have, who does not have a biological father in his life, chooses to call a family friend that has taken him under his wing dad. It just so happens that this family friend is openly gay. The conversation went on because the person gave the explanation that this young boy lives with his mother and his two sisters. His mother is somewhat absent in the emotional and caretaking department. So this boy has had no straight male figure in his life and only sisters as constant parental figures. Now what happens when he grows up and instead of actually trying to figure it out for himself, chooses the path that he has grown up seeing all along and just decides to be gay, even if he's not.

So you mean what would happen if a young boy chooses a sexual identity just based on what he has seen even if it's not what he truly wants in life? Toughie. I'd hate for that to happen.

I don't know. It's an ongoing thing that I'm still trying to work out. I think the hardest part for me is knowing how far I'm willing to let things go with people that I have in my close circle. I still argue, voice, and express myself but sometimes I just get tired of being on the defense. Am I letting things slide too much?

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