Shell Guy, 23
Tall, lanky and goofy, there isn’t much to say about the guy that just landed a job at Shell after his recent graduation. Employment in Oil and Gas in Houston is like a fraternity. It’s an old boys club where southern alma matters are celebrated, meetings at strip clubs are normal, and everyone owns being overpaid and wears it like a badge. Their Tinder profile description is just that: “O&G” and nothing else. Like that says it all—stability, success, self-validation, but most importantly, power.
He arrived at the first apartment I ever had after a night of bar-hopping nearby. He looked like an asshole, not in a dick way but like what asshole wears a golf shirt to pick up women on a Saturday? Anyway, he was annoying from the get-go. High pitch voice, no personality, bragged about his new job and asked nothing about me.
We somehow ended up on my mattress, which lay on the floor because I couldn’t afford a couch or bed frame at the time, so that’s all I had to sit on really. He removed my clothes, I let him as I sat there in obedience. He kissed me, I remember it being awful. No feeling, no passion, just an abrupt dry kiss. We had boring missionary sex, he tried to go down on me but I wasn’t in the mood. The smell of tobacco and whiskey on his breath disgusted me.
While I laid there, with my eyes closed because his blonde hair continuously poked me, he continued to pump me like a machine. He kept slipping out. I’d heard the term pencil dick before but if anyone had one it was this guy. It was average, skinny, and feminine.
I don’t know if it was my disinterest, lack of reciprocation, or his inability to perform to his liking that he tickled his penis near my asshole. I warned him, “no, wrong hole,” he continued, sticking it in so powerfully, like the force of pent-up carbonation waiting to release. It was painful, I screamed. After three pumps, he exit- ed. I lay there in silence.
I wobbled to the bathroom and checked my behind to discover blood. I didn’t know what to do but I definitely didn’t want to be the girl that overreacted to something I couldn’t handle. They don’t teach you about hook up rape in middle school. I came out of the bathroom and he was gone.
I normalized this behavior as boys being boys when it happened. I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t do anything and the next day I checked my Tinder account only to discover that I was unmatched. I saw him again, years later, years after I had forgotten about it and suppressed it. He was yards away from me, standing in an office building lobby, looking up at me while I was on an escalator. I saw him, he saw me, and he immediately disappeared among the small crowd. I wondered if he knew what he did was wrong. I wondered if anyone had ever taught him what consent was. I wondered if he even cared.
John, 30, Boston
Generic with a dad bod, the most interesting thing about John was his apartment. This must have been when I was 26, unemployed, and spending a depressive summer couch-surfing in Cambridge.
There are two places I’ve noticed that have the best shopping: Boston and London. Something about the fast fashion in these cities just works. I threw on my finest Primark tweed and ordered an Uber. I distinctly remember it freezing and I was wearing a pink coat that was more Hillary Rodham Clinton than the Blair Waldorf look I was going for for some reason. Why I thought sophistication would be better than a thot-fit? Not sure. If I think about it, maybe it was in the hopes for something more meaningful and to portray some sort of class outside of the self-shame I gave myself for hooking up. Who knows.
Uber drivers know when a person is about to get fucked. I wonder what judgments they cast on single girls, closely clutching their knees and purses, biting their lips and taking deep breaths out on foggy windows.
We drive over the bridge and soon arrive into downtown Boston. It’s beautiful, it’s expensive, it’s old money and new money but new money living like old money. I step out to a 32-story condo building that must have been newly constructed. The doorman enters and I again think if he knows my agenda.
John didn’t have the decency to come downstairs. I knocked on the door, he answered, and there he was—white t-shirt, joggers, frazzled receding hairline, you get the picture.
This place was huge and overlooked Boston Common. The apartment was completely empty with one couch, a dingy coffee table, and terrible lighting. John was well-off. He worked in stocks, he was Ivy League-educated, and you could tell he was the type that had a very long relationship in the past that probably went sour because she wanted him to convert to Judaism or something.
We sit on the couch and catch up. He’s tired and uninterested and not seeking conversation. We light a bowl and a vape I brought and soon the indica slaps.
He lays his hands on my black tights. They’re velvety soft but not the kind you’d find at a fetish shop or anything. He leans over, rubs his chubby fingers through my hair, pulls me in and blows his vape smoke in my mouth. A common practice, new to me, I inhale, cough, and reciprocate with a kiss.
As my clothes come off, my new dress’s buttons come undone and reveal an absent bra. He pulls me closer, kisses the middle of the area between my breasts and pushes me down. He inserts himself between my legs lit with goosebumps from the sudden chill of the removal of my clothes. This is missionary, it-is-what-it-is kinda sex. He’s sweating a lot; I’m stoned out of my mind and just riding the wave. As he’s occupied, I drift off, head hanging off the side of the sectional, observing his apartment. I notice an expensive caramel briefcase, a camel coat and loafers designed for a Brooks Brothers wannabe. Art is absent, the floors are bare, and again, this lighting is awful.
It’s not like I didn’t try to take the lead or enjoy myself. I think we were both so high that neither really tried nor bothered. He gets up, leads me to his bedroom. We brush our teeth, make plans for breakfast in the morning and I fall asleep staring outside the window at other buildings around me.
Morning comes, it’s brutally hot. The heater has been on all night, I’m profusely sweating, and I have no idea how to fix it. He’s snoring and in a deep REM state. I throw on his white oxford from his workday earlier. It smells like decisions + stress sweats + some form of men’s Armani. It’s comforting. I, attempting to be cinematically adorable, model for myself in his mirror, staring at my butt peeking out.
I wait 30 minutes thinking about how he will wake up, call me over for a kiss, slide me next to him and we spend an hour deciding what omelet looks best. This doesn’t happen. The heat becomes unbearable, and I come to the conclusion that I, like many other women, live in a world where we have the stupidity to expect men to honor their word, better yet, give a sliver of an attempt.
I throw his shirt on the bathroom counter, put on my clothes, order an Uber, take one last look at Boston Common through his window, and set off.
My biggest regret—not taking a selfie with that gorgeous view in the background.