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Fear and loathing on Craigslist

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Every day, I thank the Lord Jesus God and Virgin Mary Poppins for the fact that my best friends are two fags and a freak who, among other things, now refers to himself as "the new Unibomber." If not for them, I would have most likely gone through life completely oblivious to concepts such as "ass bleaching." Not that they introduced me to it or even partake in it themselves (that I know of), but I'll never forget the day they told me about Craigslist. I had something to sell -- oh yeah, it was a house -- and they told me to slap it up on Craigslist. And I had no earthly idea what the hell they were talking about. I thought Craig was some doughy dude who lived in my neighborhood and sat out on his porch every morning to smoke cigarettes in dirty boxers. But they swore, they swore to me, that my house would sell on Craigslist.

Those lying pussies. My house did not sell on Craigslist. But who cares? With two clicks, I'd wandered through the Looking Glass into the unseemly underside of Craigslist; and yes, I'm talking about the "casual encounters" section, or, more particularly, the women-seeking-men and the men-seeking-men departments, and I just want to start by talking about my friend Andy for a bit. Andy went to San Francisco for vacation, and the only photo he came back with was of him standing in front of a diseased-asshole exhibit at a proctology convention. I have to laugh at that because here he had all these lovely sites to choose from, he could take his pick -- I mean, the Golden Gate Bridge, for Chrissakess -- and he chose to walk away with a photograph of infected anuses.

WELL, CRAIGSLIST is full of anuses, too ... and not just the mental variety. I'm talking the graphic gyno-shot variety, and practically all of them are bleached as pink and puckery as a mouse's ear. These photos are offered by men to other men as examples of their best assets, and just when I was beginning to think there was hope for humankind, like maybe there is actually an attainable emotional plateau where men and women can come together in one big huggable Birkenstock harmony, along comes Craigslist to push me back into the belly flop of cynicism.

Because, if you ask me -- and bear in mind I know shit-all about shit -- gay men are men. Undisguised men, pure and simple, with little to divide them from hetero guys except their preference of orifice and the lack of hoops they have to jump through to attain it. I mean, what man doesn't wish he could post a picture of his sex vessel on the Internet and 20 minutes later have a new lover knocking at their door? "It's like pizza delivery," I'm told. Jesus God.

Now, I could sooner perform eye surgery on myself than lay a stranger who came to my door, or that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Because women have all these bovine ideals set in place, put there by the truckloads of blame and shame dumped on them since day one, making us think it's our duty to act like sweaty monkey sex is the lowest possible thing on our list of priorities -- lest people think we're slutty. And slutty girls don't end up with Audis and extra-capacity washing machines, among other things. So women have to pretty everything up -- and I mean everything. And mark my words when I say, sooner or later, they'll be lining up to bleach the hell out of their own asshole-equivalent any day now because a woman is a fool if she doesn't look to gay sex as a total how-to guide to man pleasure.

Anyway, the other day, I was perusing at my own peril through the women-seeking-men section, and came across an entry from a lady in her late 40s who was seeking someone with whom, among other things, she could hold hands while walking on the beach. The photograph she supplied was of her own reflection as she snapped one off while looking in the mirror, an excited expression on her face that was evident even through the blare of the flashbulb. She held the camera at breast level, to facilitate a better vantage of the whole package. I wonder if she got any responses.

I hope she did. I hope she's walking on the beach right now, the sand between her bare toes, her fingers entwined with those of someone who knocked on her door 20 minutes after she posted her listing. I hope it answered all her problems because when I recall her face, I see someone seeking just that -- the answer to something -- and that excited smile makes me think she thought she found the way to get it. "Here I am," her face beckons. "Hold my hand. Walk with me. Let's get caught in the rain together. Let's sit under a tree and sip Chardonnay together. Let's become awash in an unfathomable sea of desire together. I have all these lovely sites for you to choose from, but if a photo of my ass is all you want to walk away with, I guess I'm up for that, too."

Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."

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