hobart logo
How to Cruise When You Know Nothing photo

After the fall semester of my sophomore year at Mathews College, when I was still legitimately gay, I wrote a story called “Airbnb Meth Orgy 21XX” for a Mathews College Undergraduate Creative Writing Program-approved Winter Project. It was based on my life, on one specific night of it. The piece seemed to impress my classmates, at least a few, none of them were really doing that sort of thing at that point, the more daring in my year all opted for the poetry track. But reading it now, I can see my story was flat, I had held back. If I wrote it again, it’d be more like:

I downloaded Grindr for the first time. I was kind of afraid of it. The people on there were so aggressive and I did not yet know how aggressive I wished to be. It was winter break. Winter break at Mathews is long, six weeks, but they make you do a project for the last four of them. If you could get a professor to sign off on it, you could do it, whatever it was. I’d just come out to my friends. I hadn’t come out to my parents. I still haven’t come out to my parents, but I’m a lot less gay now, maybe it doesn’t matter anymore. If they end up reading this, I will have come out to my parents. Back in 2015 I asked my Creative Writing professor Sophie if I could use my sexuality for a Winter Project she’d sponsor. She was my faculty advisor, I had to meet with her at the start of each semester and explain to her why I wanted to take what I wanted to take. It was an asinine system, more of a formality with Sophie but some of the other profs were hardcore about it. She didn’t care what I took but technically she had to “agree” with my course of study and sign off on it. Also, if she was to sponsor more than one of my Winter Projects, I’d have to get a dean to sign off on her signing off for each successive one, a stupid rule intended to make people branch out and meet more faculty members. That year, and the two after that, a dean signed off on my projects, Sophie sponsored all four of mine. It was really just more red tape, like everything was there. Most people chose some softball stuff so they could go somewhere warm for January and do as little as possible. 

I went home to LA for all four of my college Januarys and did as little as possible. The first time I had gay sex, a few months earlier, was with a man called JT, a boy, another student. He sang opera in the Mathews Conservatory of Music Opera Studies Program. I knew nothing about opera, I still don’t. Sometimes I listen to it as I read because they don’t sing in English. We matched on Tinder, this JT and I. I had pressed the button that let the boys show up. He was the first one I’d matched with. I’d seen him around but in an ambient way, like a table in a coffee shop, if that makes sense. I hated him immediately. Together we walked through the park, hooked up a little in a bush. We sucked each other’s cocks. His cock was a bit bigger than mine, it was thicker. Neither of us said anything of the sort, but if I was thinking it, I’m sure he was, too. We ate each other’s cum. Then we went back to his dorm room because he had a single and I had a roommate who never left, not even to attend class. 

He made me watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on his laptop. It was the only time I’ve ever watched it. I won’t again, not because I’m traumatized, but because I hate that bullshit. JT asked if I liked it and I said, Sure. Then he started sucking my cock again. He asked me if I wanted to fuck. I said, Sure. I said, But do you mean… He said I was cute. He said I could fuck his ass or he could fuck mine or we could switch off. I told him no one had ever fucked my ass before, which was the truth. (I didn’t tell him I hadn’t fucked an ass before, at least, not a man’s ass.) He said, It’d be my pleasure for my cock to be the first one in your ass, I swear to God that’s what he said. I said, Okay. We both gummed a little of the K he kept in his top dresser drawer. Then he fingered my asshole to check if there was too much shit up there for him to fuck me as I stroked his cock. He said, You’re doing a terrific job, that’s really what he said. He told me to stop or he’d cum. I stopped. He sniffed his hand and said it was okay to fuck my ass. He went and got lube from the same drawer he kept his K in, I can’t remember the brand. He dipped his index finger in it and slotted that finger into my asshole. It was cold but it didn’t feel bad. You need to relax, he said to me, It’ll be much more fun for you if you relax. I tried but I didn’t really know how to. I asked him if I could put some lube on his cock and he said yeah. I rubbed my gooey hand off on his pillowcase afterward, I don’t think he noticed, he was pushing me back and raising my legs against his chest. He said, I’ll go slow. I wondered why I was doing this. Then he was in me. He thrust in and out of me slowly, I got harder as he did, when he noticed he told me to touch myself. I was enjoying it but I was acutely aware that I should have either taken more or less K than I’d taken. I asked him if I could take a bump but as I did, he came inside me, I guess my virgin asshole was too much for him. I’d never stuck anything up there before, nothing at all. It was totally 0 to 60 for me with this, just as it was for everything else in my life, it was just my nature and I’d learned to live with it and hadn’t died so far, despite some close calls. I was enjoying life more than I had in a while. He pulled out of me, he panted performatively. I stuck my middle finger up my asshole to feel what he left inside me. I pulled my finger out and licked his cum from it, slowly, as he watched. Then he pushed me down again and stuck his tongue down my throat. I told him I was too sore to go again. It lasted for less than five minutes. We never spoke to each other again. 

I felt ready to return to LA for break and for my project. My project was tentatively titled “How to Cruise When You Know Nothing.” It would be a diary, basically, but I could have some fun with it. She knew I’d make some stuff up, she was expecting it. In the end, I barely did, though, just some brief, backstory sketches about the men I encountered online and out and about, but most of it, like 90 percent of it, was completely true, it was approaching self-reportage. She said I could be dirty, filthy gay men tickled Sophie and she was relieved she could now consider me among their ranks. 

The first man I slept with in LA was a boy. I’m going to creep myself out writing about it now, I never have before. Not a boy in the legal sense, he was eighteen, I’d made him show me his ID. I was 21, the fact that I’d made him show my ID—and that he’d willingly done so, eagerly, even—didn’t sit so well with me. We talked on Grindr and then met up in Penmar Park. We blew each other on the bleachers beside one of the baseball diamonds, the one less afflicted by sprinklers at that hour. He wasn’t very attractive. He was Mexican, I think, his name was Joshua Diaz, the only reason he wasn’t in high school was because he’d already completed his GED. He lived at home with his mother, not too far from my dad’s one bedroom in Venice. He told me all this as we messed around on the bleachers. He was pudgy, a bit cherubic, one might say. Not exactly my “type,” if I had one at all, but still I got it up for him, it was pure adrenaline coursing through my cock. I liked it. He had a cute, little dick. I figured it might work better up my ass than JT’s did, maybe I could even cum that way this time. I told him I’d let him fuck me but not here. I asked if we could go back to his house and he said, No, definitely not. How about yours? he asked. My dad ran out of money and sold the house I grew up in and now he lived in a comfortable one-bedroom just off Lincoln Boulevard and I slept on the bed folded out from the couch whenever I was home now. At least it was in front of his giant TV, and he was taking a lot of Ambien, and I could watch TV all night and into the morning. Sometimes I’d still be watching when he woke up. I figured Joshua Diaz could fuck me on the fold-out couch and my dad would sleep through it. 

I figured right. We shared my thermos full of kratom. I thought it might relax me and, therefore, relax my asshole. I was correct. He told me his older brother drank it all the time. I told him my older brother did, too, that he’d turned me onto it, but this was a complete lie and I don’t really know why I said it, my brother was Born Again and I don’t think he’d touched anything beyond beer at all, even before he was Born Again. Sometimes I just lied. It was my roommate who’d turned me onto kratom, the one who never went outside, he had it shipped to him from an herbs-and-supplements wholesaler in Texas. He ordered some for me, too, after I did a Creative Writing assignment for him—everyone at Mathews wanted to be a Creative Writing major—and now Joshua Diaz and I were drinking it mixed into Ito En iced jasmine tea in my salmon-colored  Hydro Flask. 

He asked me if I had anything else. I asked him what he had in mind. He put his fingers together and mimed smoking from a pipe. I thought he meant weed but later realized he might not have. Regardless, I didn’t really have anything other than my father’s Ambien, which I didn’t offer him. I told him I had New Amsterdam in the freezer, which was true. He said sure. I was already naked but I got up anyway and mixed us both drinks, New Amsterdam and red Gatorade, in the attached kitchen. It was really just one big room. It was past midnight. I could hear my father snoring. I hoped Joshua Diaz didn’t hear him snoring, but he was basically a fat little kid, so what did it matter? We drank our red drinks. We sucked each other’s cocks again. He let me cum in his mouth, he ate my cum. I let him put his cock in my ass, I said, I’ll finish you off in there. He liked that, he flipped me over. Maybe he wasn’t such a little kid after all. The bed was all springs and metal bars, it quaked when he flipped me. Still, my dad kept on snoring. I didn’t have lube and hoped I’d slobbered on him enough that it wouldn’t matter. It mattered, I made him stop and grabbed Vaseline from the bathroom. I rubbed it onto his cock. I thought he might cum then and there, he was making that face. He didn’t, so I let him fuck my ass. It felt nice enough and this kid was rock hard. Even though I wasn’t really attracted to him, the fact that I was alluring enough to so palpably stiffen him basically tricked me into thinking he was, that he was attractive. Suddenly, I felt like shit, so I kicked him out before he could finish and then jerked off into the early hours of the morning as I stuck a Vaseline-dipped toothbrush handle in and out of my ass. 

A week later I was picked up by an older man on the Santa Monica Pier by the old carousel they’d entombed indoors away from the elements, barricaded from the salt in the air. He fucked me in a single-use bathroom and got me so drunk on a bag full of minibar vodkas that I barely remember it. 

I hadn’t gotten any writing done. It was after New Year’s now. An old friend wanted to sleep with me at a party but I turned her down, I felt like it would go against the spirit of my Project with Sophie if I slept with a girl. She said to me, Just don’t write about it, and I said that that would also go against the Project’s spirit. She said she understood but I could tell she didn’t. She’s married to a woman now, I wasn’t invited to the wedding, but they seem happy. I knew I needed to take action. I needed to do something riskier. It was for the sake of my art practice, my peers would understand, or say they would, at least. Privately they’d worry about me, if they cared enough to. 

Then I remembered I had a body and snapped my mind back into inhabiting it and opened up Grindr. A cute, bald Black man messaged me. He was short. He wanted to know if I would fuck his ass and his husband’s ass and go back and forth between their two asses. I told him I could. He asked me how big I was and I wrote that I wished I was bigger. He said that that was okay, his husband and he were “petite” and “not size queens.” He asked me if I smoked and I said, Sure. He gave me the address of their Airbnb. I sent it to Matty and told him that’s where I was last if no one heard from me again. He texted, ?, and I told him not to worry, I’d tell him about it later. He texted, ??, and I didn’t respond. 

The Airbnb was less than a mile from my dad’s. I took my walk of pre-shame into the cool evening, I didn’t take an Uber because I wanted to be alone. I listened to the Portishead live album on the way. I found the alley I’d been told to take behind Flower St. I remembered it was a Wednesday and couldn’t believe it. I passed by barred windows at the backs of stucco duplexes. I finally reached a painted wooden fence with a gate which read “21” in stenciled numbers, like the ones painted onto asphalt for PE class. I sent a message on Grindr saying I’d arrived. 20 seconds later, the gate opened a crack and a Black hand emerged from it. Are you Whiskey? the hand’s voice asked me, which was my name on the app. I said I was. I’m Tay, the hand said. My name is really Zane, I said. Mind if I keep calling you Whiskey? the hand asked. No problem, I said. Then I realized the hand wanted me to shake it, and I shook it. Sorry, he said, there’s a padlock on the gate and I haven’t figured out how to get it off, give me a second. The hand disappeared and marched back inside, I could hear it calling for someone named Ryan. After a minute or so, another voice, presumably Ryan’s, said, we figured it out. With a metal clank, the gate swung out. The husbands Tay and Ryan stood before me, both of them shirtless, both of them hairy. They were built like acrobats, short and wiry. Ryan, the white husband, grabbed my waist. Nice to meet you, Whiskey, he said. 

They led me inside. The place was depressing, a one-bedroom bungalow decorated sparingly. Wood floors, white walls, no art on them. We were in the living room. It was pretty much just a large leather couch in there. They poured me Andre into a plastic flute. Tay kissed me and then Ryan did. Then Tay’s phone buzzed. He said he’d be right back and headed outside. Ryan asked me what I did. I told him I was a student. I asked him what he did. He said he was in public health. Then he asked me if I smoked. I told him some weed would be nice. He said, No, I mean crystal. Before I could answer, Tay returned with a grungy-looking boomer wrapped around his arm, he was a head taller than him. He wore all denim. He was not handsome. He must have been 20 years older than Ryan and Tay, who must have ten years older than me. This is Stevie, said Tay. I told them I didn’t realize anyone else would be joining us. He’s just gonna watch, Ryan said, maybe stroke his cock while he does. So, let’s put on a good show for him, yeah? He kissed me again, and I let him, I let him stick his tongue down my throat, it tasted like rubbing alcohol. Tay’s phone buzzed again. One more, he said, and went back out. 

There’s more? I asked Ryan. One or two, he replied. I sat on the big leather couch and downed the Andre. I asked Ryan to pour me more. He did and I downed that, too. Stevie plopped into the La-Z Boy perpendicular to the couch. What’s your name, kid? he asked me. I told him it was Whiskey. Cool name, he said. He started smoking crystal meth. I’d never smelled it this close up before. It smelled like a roasting litter box. You want some, kid? I said maybe later. It’s free, Ryan said. Well, not free, he went on, That’s why he gets to watch. Sure, I said. I was afraid of him but I knew I’d have something to write about now and that alone relaxed me. I downed a third flute of Andre. I asked if anyone had anything other than meth. Poppers, Ryan said. He gave them to me, they smelled like high school to me, I can’t really say why, I never did poppers in high school. Do you have beer? I asked. No, makes me fart too much, Ryan said. He’s taking an awfully long time back there, I said. Tay’s such a flirt, Ryan said. I think I’ve got a couple Coors in my bag, Stevie said, it was on his lap, it was also denim. He reached in, fished it out, handed it to me. I hesitated for a half-second, but told myself I needed to calm down, it was a sealed can. I quietly thanked him and downed the Coors. 

Tell me about yourself, Whiskey, Stevie said. He started rubbing at his crotch through his jeans. Before I could say anything, Tay returned with a Latino-looking guy on his arm, he was quite handsome, he was probably just a few years older than I was. This is Ray, Tay said. Ray and Tay, Stevie said. Ray, who seemed ever shyer than me, said hello. Stevie handed him his other Coors, he downed it even faster than I had. You the one who got crystal? he said to Stevie. Sure do, he replied. Maybe Ray was less shy than I thought. How much you want? he said. Suck his cock and it’s free, Stevie said, pointing to me. He got on his knees in front of the couch and took me down his throat. It was the best blow job I’d had so far, I knew immediately. Tay and Ryan and Stevie could tell, I think, all their cocks were out now, Tay and Ryan were completely naked and Stevie’s emerged through his unzipped fly. Save some for us, Tay said. He pulled him off me and kissed him. Then they both went over to Stevie and they both smoked some meth. I coughed a bit. Ryan laughed. You’re cute, he said. He sat on my cock, I hadn’t moved from the couch at all. He was already lubed up, somehow I missed that. He rode my dick as I sat up on the couch, kissing his hairy chest, casting my hands down his hairy back. 

It all felt fantastic now. Ryan told me to cum in his ass and I did. He got up off my softening cock and walked over to Stevie and smoked meth totally naked as I leaked out from him. Ray plopped down next to me on the couch, he was by far the most well-sculpted of us, he seemed pretty out of it. You want to suck my cock? he asked me. I said I did. I got up on the couch, onto all fours, put my head in his lap, and sucked his cock. Who knows how much time had passed. He came down my throat, I slurped it all up. I felt a tickle afterward and thought he’d given me HIV or cancer or something. It went away in a week and then I never thought about it again (until now). After a while Ryan collapsed onto the couch, Tay collapsed onto the floor, and I don’t think Stevie got up from the La-Z Boy once that night. They all seemed calm for having smoked so much meth. We stopped and started a number of times over the next five hours. I called an Uber just before sunrise. Never saw any of them again, naturally. Maybe one day I will.

Sophie told me over the phone from Mathews that she was fine with me abandoning the initial version of “How to Cruise When You Know Nothing” for a more focused recounting of the orgy. The story I wrote was ruled by a stupid device in which I paralleled the night with Ryan and Tay and Ray and Stevie to the video game Mega Man X. Don’t bother asking how I did it, it’s embarrassing to me now, I think I needed to soak my story in some baby shit to keep myself from reading it over and over again. Compulsively, unceasingly. Some part of me knew I couldn’t do that, I’d never finish it and then I’d probably end up blowing my brains out. So I couched it in pop culture bullshit. It was a hit in my class. Sophie let me workshop it for Fiction Writing 302 even though I’d written it for our Winter Project, I think she wanted to see how the other kids would react. She was the most effusive I’d ever seen her when I returned to campus. I had only emailed my story to her two days before and she didn’t tell me how she felt about it until I went to see her and then she did. She told me I probably wouldn’t get it into any journals, that the world would need more time, that’s really what she said, The world needs more time for material like this, but I knew there was already such a massive amount of quote-unquote transgressive queer stuff out there, even if I was far less familiar with it then than I am now. I wasn’t really sure what she meant, I guess she only read, like, Ploughshares and The Kenyon Review. Anyway, the story really wasn’t that great, I wasn’t at all able to convey how much I enjoyed everything that had happened to me, and now I live with a woman whom I love and I’m not gay anymore, like Michael Chabon.