Mom calls my name from downstairs, so I climb off my futon and trot down to the kitchen. She's sitting at the round, wooden table with two plastic bags from Rouse's in front of her. She's peeling from one bag and discarding the shells into the other. On the stove, she's got a red roux going, and the rich aroma of butter and seasoning makes my jaw sore.
"That smells incredible," I say.
"Are you going to hang around and eat with us, or do you have somewhere to go?" she asks, rhythmically tearing shrimp from shell and sorting accordingly.
"I plan on it," I say.
"Going out?" she asks.
"Probably. This guy wanted to take me to dinner, and I don't think I'm going to like him, so I said I'd meet him for drinks," I say. I can tell she's trying to figure out what to say next.
"You don't think you're going to like him?" she says. "How do you know him in the first place?"
I sit down, pick up a shrimp, and say without looking at her, "From my blog."
"You're meeting someone for the first time who found you through your blog?" she asks. "Please tell me you haven't done this before."
I tell her I haven't, but I'm lying.
Without looking at me, she sighs and says, "Don't write about us, please."
"I already do," I say. "It's nothing bad, though."
She's still fixated on the shrimp. "Just please don't use our real names."
"What if I just call y'all 'mom' and 'dad?'" I say. "That way, no one with know who you really are."
It’s not surprising that some people (guys I’m trying to bang, in particular) find my blog threatening. Maybe threatening isn’t the word, but definitely repellent. One time, I was introduced to my friend’s friend from Dallas or Tampa or whatever and his immediate response to my handshake was “You’re not going to write about me, are you?” His tone was serious and he had genuine fear in his eyes. “I’m just meeting you,” I said. “My name is Ryan Rogers, by the way. And no, I don’t think I’m going to write about you. Unless you want to do mouth stuff in the DJ booth.” He did not.
But I get it. I write about people, change some details, and then put it on the Internet. I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to get involved with me. Which is why I’m pleasantly surprised when people (guys I’ve never met before, in particular) read my blog and then want to meet me. Most of the time, I say thank you and chat a while, but sometimes, the guy is too hot to pass up, and I invite him to dinner. I’ve met quite a few guys through exboyfriendmaterial.com, and many of them turn out to by nice, well-meaning gentlemen who just think I’m funny, or insightful, or smart. They compliment my writing and ask me if it’s all true. And I blush and squirm because I really hate discussing my writing without a computer monitor to hide behind.
First, there was the guy who picked me up outside of F&M’s for dinner that one night. In pictures, he was handsome and chiseled, but in person, he was lanky and reminded me of a praying mantis. In the morning, he drove me from his place in Mid-City to my parents’ house on the Westbank, and we didn’t speak throughout the duration of the ride. I saw him a few weeks ago and he made me laugh a few times when he talked about the way I amplify my sexuality when I’m drunk. “You wiggle,” he said. “Like you’re listening to music.”
Next, there is the guy who came from Monroe on a Friday and stayed at my house in Lafayette until Sunday. I really liked this last guy, but I didn’t watch his car drive away because I knew it would make me sad. He drove back to Monroe, patched things up with his boyfriend, and I haven’t heard from him since. I’ve written two blog posts about him, and he didn’t deserve either. And I won't give him another sentence after this one.
In April, there was the Jewish guy with the beautiful apartment and the stellar taste in music. He liked The Weepies and I did, too. We draped ourselves across his bed and he played songs I’d never heard before by Foals, Husky Rescue, Deb Talan, Blackmill, and Timmy Curran. He had a lovable face; which made me think he had a lot of friends. We showered together and I split my focus between trying to identify the colored flecks in the bar of soap and sucking in my stomach. Even though this guy had just seen me naked from multiple angles, standing upright in the shower with a thin veil of steam between us made me feel overwhelmingly aware of every imperfection. My marshmallow fluff chest, the birthmark on my pelvis, and my thin, skeletal wrists were all exposed under the pale glow above us. He didn't try to kiss me in the shower, but I preferred it that way. If he were someone I loved, I would've wanted him to kiss me. And maybe we’d even slow dance. It would've felt natural with the music playing; an Alice Smith song I recognized from when I used to bartend. But instead of kissing or dancing like people with tomorrows, we passed the speckled soap and traded places when it was time to rinse off.
Then, there was Mr. Talented; a 19-year-old gymnast/singer/cheerleader from Shreveport. I was ambivalent about meeting him until he actually showed up at my house, and then I started tripping over my dick trying to impress him. Mr. Talented was sunshine personified; extremely handsome and radiating confidence. We ate together and then met my friends at Art Walk. Outside one of the galleries, I talked to a Production Assistant from Malibu while he took a phone call. Mr. Talented interrupted our conversation and said that his grandmother had suffered a heart attack. He looked genuinely disoriented, like someone had just struck him in the head with something heavy. I drove him back to my house and forcibly put him into his car to begin the long ride back to Shreveport. After he left, I got drunk with my friends and we voted on whether granny really had a heart attack or if Mr. Talented was just having a bad time and needed an escape. In the end, it didn't work out, but I don't remember why.
Tonight, I'm meeting a guy who has the same name as my dad, but I can't say the name because my mother forbid me from doing so. He plays softball and he's twice my size. He thinks I'm funny, or insightful, or smart, and I think he's too hot to pass up.
In the kitchen, my mom finally looks up at me, stands, and brushes the errands shell scraps onto the floor where the chihuahua and the pomaranian tear into them. "The ladies I work with have daughters. They follow you on Facebook. I don't want to hear about myself in one of your gay sex stories, understand?" "I swear," I say. "I won't use your real name and I won't talk about you having gay sex."
There used to be a seafood restaurant in Belle Chasse called The Bounty. It was known for serving huge portions of fried catfish, oysters, crawfish, and shrimp, and even though it's been closed for nearly 15 years, I have vivid memories of stuffing myself until I had to be carried out. I really hated fried oysters, but I ate them anyway because they were there; mixed in with the catfish and the shrimp. It was difficult for me to pass up the oysters, even though I didn't have a taste for them, simply because they were in front of me. "Maybe I'll like them this time," I'd think. "And there's so much other stuff on the table that I can always get the taste out of my mouth with something different. But who knows when I'm going to have the opportunity to eat oysters again? And maybe one day, the oyster will be extinct and I'll always wonder if I ate enough while I could. But right now, there's an abundance. So I'm going to give them another shot."