Once, I moved to a midsized American city. A city not unlike Nashville. One of the newspapers — there were several, so you know this was a long time ago — ran a weekly column written by what I imagined to be a pretty hot babe who was candid, funny and somewhat self-deprecating about her sex life.
Keep in mind, these were the dark times — pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-Friendster, even. LiveJournal was still young, and the term "blog" was not yet part of the lingua franca. (Most newspapers that did have websites didn't publish any of their print content online, because the Internet was scary.) So her in-print post-pillow real talk in a non-pornographic publication came across a bit more daring than it would today, when you can text a photo of your junk to someone who, if you're famous, might email that photo to a reporter and make your junk famous too. Then, as now, I did not want my junk to be famous.
As luck would have it, I eventually met and started dating a pretty hot babe — let's call her "Sun" — who was smart and funny and self-deprecating, and also happened to work as an editor at a newspaper that ran a pseudonymously written weekly column about the author's sex life. I don't remember exactly how long we'd been together when she broke it to me, but since I was young and perpetually open to new experiences, especially ones that might be bad for me, I probably said something like, "Hey, let's give you something to write about in your hot and somewhat self-deprecating sex column right now, you sexy sex writer!"
For reasons I won't get into here, Sun decided on the nickname "Alien Boy" for me, and I soon became a character in her column. Which turned out to be pretty true-to-life! As a reader, I had always wondered about that. Maybe because I also fancied myself a bit of a writer — she was my editor for occasional freelance pieces — she rarely took much poetic license with who did what to whom, or how.
The first time I appeared in print, in the paper everyone I knew read regularly, she likened my biceps to "little apples," which was pretty weird. I looked at my arms, like, "Huh?" That was not the only part of my body, or the motions thereof, described in that week's issue of the paper everyone I knew read regularly.
(I'm cringing so much right now, you guys.)
At first, my uneasiness with being naked in public, so to speak, was balanced out by the novelty of the thing, the fact that I was having good sex regularly, and the fun of figuring out who the other characters in the column were. ("Gay Friend," as he was known, turned out to be just as cool IRL; we even suffered through Cirque du Soleil together once, along with someone who is now somewhat well known in his field.) And I admit: It stroked my ego getting attention for sex things, even if no one knew it was me.
One night, Sun introduced me to some friends at a party, and one of them shrieked, "Alien Boy!" I was so mortified I'm pretty sure my balls stopped rotating. I tried to be cool about it, but I was freaking the fuck out inside. "No! What?" I thought crazily. "Don't look at my biceps!"
With my cover blown, how did I like them apples, after all? Not as much as I thought I would. As time wore on, the column became less about how awesome I was in bed — OK, maybe it was never really about that, exactly — and more about the minutiae of our relationship. Which was disintegrating. One week she went to a swingers' club and made out with at least one married woman, something I found oddly titillating — when I read about it in the paper the next week. Was it cheating if it was "for work"? I didn't know. Soon enough I was reading Sun's column to find out what was happening between us. And because I was (am?) emotionally stupid, I never said, "Let's discuss this, but, y'know, not in the paper with you doing all the talking."
So things fell apart. I went out on tour with a rock band (cliché alert!) and convinced myself I had fallen in love with a mod vinyl-collecting nurse from San Francisco who, I later found out, was not a nurse. But that's a story for another time. Sun and I remained friends, and not long after we had broken up, I went over to her apartment. When she opened the door, she must have seen my eyes widen involuntarily.
"Oh, those," she said flatly, acknowledging the two huge fluorescent-colored dildos straddling the wires of her dish rack. "They sent me those to review."
"Oh," I said. "I thought maybe you just really missed me."
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