It was 1995. When the Internet took too long, and when we were all beautiful over the phone.
We met on a chat line. I tweaked on how he kept calling me “squirt,” and we hooked up on his birthday at a downtown strip club littered with pastel balloons. I ditched him almost as soon as I got there because he didn’t fit my shallow beauty standards. I guess I expected him to be someone else.
The next day, he called me from a payphone to say that he’d gotten bashed after leaving the club alone, and that he was now deaf in one ear.
Today, thirteen years later, I want to whisper into his good ear that I shouldn’t have left. Not because he was bashed, which I might not have been able to prevent, but because we are all ugly. I want to whisper that we need to start a revolution. I might hug him, too.
When I say “ugly,” I mean “beautifully uncloned.”
Physical differentiators, I’ve just begun to realize, have always driven me wild. I have been known to fawn over a prominent nose or larynx, to worship an extra nipple, and to lustily trace the line of a slightly crooked fang. Ear quirks are yummy, too. These personal trademarks are what make us attractive, and intolerance of them is what makes us ugly.
It was 1979, when I was three, and when Montreal still had a baseball team. I fell off a bleacher seat at the Olympic Stadium, kissed the concrete, and gave myself a bloody second eyebrow. The childhood scar grew with me, but nobody ever talks about it. Why not? In Bruce LaBruce’s latest film, Otto; or, Up with Dead People, the gay zombies with their pretty facial gashes may turn some people off, but it means unquenchable necromancy for the rest of us.
Those abdominal fuck-holes that Bruce has given his undead beau laide: I want one.
People will sometimes find me reading a book, hand clutching the threadbare crotch of my pants. It’s true. They’ll find me spending time with literature’s ugliest and most erotic creatures. Who hasn’t masturbated to Evie Cottrell from Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters, a homicidal nymph with heat-scorched hair, wearing an incinerated wedding dress, cocking a rifle at the top of a staircase in a raging house fire?
I am equally in thrall to the bar creep in Giovanni’s Room, the only book I have ever read twice. Author James Baldwin describes him as “a mummy or zombie,” whose “thin, black hair was violent with oil.” Here’s some more foreplay: “…the face was white and thoroughly bloodless…the shirt, open coquettishly to the navel, revealed a hairless chest and a silver crucifix…He had been eating garlic and his teeth were very bad.”
Too many freckles, I want, and a grenade-shaped birthmark. A spotted dick like a post-Oreo blowjob I can’t wash off.
It was 2002, when the undead still walked the streets. I ran into the half-deaf guy downtown. We locked eyes, I tried to transform recognition into a vacant stare, and like a shithead I kept on walking.
Perhaps you celebrate physical diversity, and have much to teach us. If more people voice their preference for the unconventional, teens might spend less time lavishing hate on their changing bodies, and skin might become a more comfortable home for them. Escort agencies will hire people who look different, porn companies will shoot them, and strip clubs will include them in the nightly rotation. The unique will use their differentiators to get ahead — in the sex industry, in the arts and in life. You’ll suddenly have greater access to the people who turn you on, because you said something.
Think about this: Every time you post a Craigslist personals ad that ends with “looks not important,” you bring everybody one stroke closer to orgasm.
It was 2008, when buffet restaurants were still the shit. Bruce LaBruce had just introduced me to Cointreau, after teaching the equally clueless waiter the meaning of “on the rocks.” We hopped a cab with a mickey of rum and drank our way to the nearest strip club to continue my education in the finer points of life.
The place looked familiar, what with the deflated balloons in key lime and baby blue.
Bruce was roundly unimpressed with the dancers, until one strutted onstage that had him breaking his teeth on a stir stick. “What’s so special about this guy? Steroids have turned him into a giant varicose vein,” I said. “That’s why,” Bruce answered. “He’s ugly.” His words gave me a blood surge. The revolution felt closer than ever.
Fangs I want more than anything else.
It’s 2009 and I’ve reached the breaking point. I turn to the only place where zombies like me can shed their remaining prejudices: the internet. Here, in its entirety, is the Craigslist ad that I posted under “missed connections,” my message in a bottle of ether:
“It was 1995. I ditched you on your birthday, and I’ve sucked bat shit ever since. Now I find you hotter than Evie Cottrell (will explain). Please answer back so you can clock me in the mouth, or so we can fuck on the Olympic Stadium concrete (will explain that, too). PS Deaf boys are sexy.”
We can all be beautiful over the internet, right?