Features Jul 3, 2013 at 4:00 am

Or at Least I Was—a Horny, Heterosexual, Deceitful Man

mike force


humble brag
Twelve years have passed and you still feel guilty about being a typical horny college kid? I'm a hetero girl and had those same experiences at that age - I'm pretty sure most of us have. I think you have permission to get over it. With few exceptions, the relationships you have in college don't count.

It sure as hell wasn't like that at the stuffy engineering school I went to (with a few exceptions). I'll have to ask my brother if this is typical - he went to L&C, though it seems like I would've heard about it by now.
To paraphrase the great Cookie Monster:

Ah, the eternal paradox -- if our narrator had learned something in his journey, if there was some terrible point to all this, it would be a cliché. So he avoids cliché -- and readers (like me) wind up wondering what the hell he told us all this for. This reads like a low-tier blog confession, rather than a thoughtful reflection suitable for a budding national media platform.
Ugh. The braggy confessions of this anonymous coward repulse me, and something about the tone of the writing is particularly annoying. I think it's the combination of fratboy antics with a veneer of touchy feely hippie bullshit. The author comes off as a kinder, gentler Tucker Max. Of course, my strong negative reaction has absolutely nothing to do with jealousy.
I am so sketched out by this dude. Really? You're glad you were a douchebag? Good on you.
He still feels guilty about sleeping around 12 years ago? This makes no sense unless it's code for: A) he picked up something that he passed on to his wife and isn't telling her or B) has recently slept around and is morphing his regret in to a lie. Probably the later given the title "I Am a Terrible Person Or at Least I Was." Yes, you a̶r̶e̶ were a terrible person.
Yeah. Fakeity fake fake. And really terrible forced writing. How the hell did it get published?

I mean seriously, "thorax?" I guess sure technically mammals have a thoracic region. But in my head I couldn't help but picture this dude getting it on with giant insectoid bee women with segmented bodies.

That and the the fake "I'm so guilty and bad." So he got it on with a bunch girls who apparently are "close" "friends" with each other? He's deceitful? Wouldn't THEY be the culpable ones?

Anyway. Big deal. It's called college.
Does he actually read the New Yorker? He is clearly rehashing the much-better-written piece from a few months ago in which a young man with a law degree detailed how his repeated infidelities cost him rather a lot. Except this re-write has a happy, bragging ending. I liked it better with the humble ending.
At least for a humble brag it was an entertaining read.

OR maybe just more entertaining than the work I'm supposed to be doing. That's just as likely really.
This passage - "Profoundly earnest, Kristen had a narrow avian face and a fragile little sparrow chest. Listening to me, she'd tilt her head and bunch her mouth, as if rapt, but her wide blinking pigeon eyes revealed emptiness inside." - and the fact that he was having sex with his girlfriend and her three best friends and none of them bothered to tell her makes me think that everyone involved is a terrible, terrible person.

Also, bad, awkward writing. I read the whole thing thinking it would come to some sort of meaningful conclusion, but it was just more more crap, selfishness, and cowardice. @5 said it very well.

The Stranger is better than this crap.
Fake or not, the soul of the story is that he realized he was shallow, and mistakes that realization as an amazing break-through or epiphany.

The only thing that's of any interest to this story is why the Stranger printed this. Who was lobbying hard for it? Seling? Mudede? Frizzelle?

(My money is on Frizzelle.)
Slog, like any good progressive site, finds it very important to give male voices a chance to speak freely ... if they only reveal straight males to be colossal douchebags who fulfill a negative stereotype about straight males. Bonus points, too, for progressive-approved self-loathing.
BTW this article should be in Salon. It's faux-redemptive, college creative writing class overwrought style would be right at home there.
Through a few guys into the mix and Anonymous could have been my first college boyfriend. It amazed me that he seemingly could fuck anyone in sight. Paul, is that you?
After reading the last paragraph I am left with another reason to hate Ballard...this guy. That is if he is real - which, I do not think so. This dribble might fool some but it appears most commenters will not be mislead.
Who cares if it is real or fake? You read it. You either liked it or not. Case closed.
Ah…another piece to convince straight men that we're bad people.

Only so far as the appearance of Greta, the third girl in three consecutive nights, all within the same circle of friends and under the roof of a fourth girl he'd recently slept with. That was the moment my credulity finally snapped from all the strain.
This seems to be a uniquely America trope: Make a point to be irresponsible and amoral (in familiar and socially accepted ways) in your youth, in order to offset and justify the anticipated responsibility and moral pretense (exhibited in familiar and socially accepted ways) of later adulthood.

Ho-hum. Lives as dull as this guy's quasi-sapac
Lemme get this straight -- douchey college student has a lot of not-particularly ennobling sex? I smell another Pulitzer!

The part where he talks about "the work involved" was particularly infuriating, because he hasn't shown us any. He reached over and grabbed a breast -- that's not work. And it's not good writing. "I picked over the bones. I know the work, and I know the reward -- I know better than anyone." Huh? That's stupid. You don't know better than anyone; you don't know anything.
This seems to be a uniquely America trope: Make a point to be irresponsible and amoral (in familiar and socially accepted ways) in your youth, in order to offset and justify the anticipated responsibility and moral pretense (exhibited in familiar and socially accepted ways) of later adulthood.

Ho-hum. Lives as dull as this guy's story: quasi-salacious but ultimately pointless and forgettable.

The author is still a vacuous douchebag. But now he's an arrogant vacuous douchebag who happens to keep his dick in his pants as he promulgates his American cliché.

Has it never occurred to these people that being something more than a dipshit when young might yield learning experiences that make life more nuanced and interesting -- perhaps more dangerous and certainly more rewarding -- later on?
Thanks for the update Holden.
#1, you are why we need comment ratings.

I went to LC, in the 1980s. It could be like that. if one wants it to be. It is still a small school, where I am still good friends with people in my class. There was plenty of hooking up, and dating friends ex main squeezes because it is smal and clique-ky. Most people were serial monogomists, but there were the secret hook ups, like trying to hide a hook up from your girlfriend with her best friend.
As someone who went to LC (aka Lewis and Clark College) the story does sound familiar. I have been in similar instances of bed swapping during weekend getaways on the Oregon Coast. The big thing I noticed that I was used to at LC which most people found weird outside our little Liberal Arts College, was dating friends exes and vice a versa, and being cool at it, given we still saw each other all the time, except those who went on an overseas study program for six months, which had their own crazy hook up behavior.
I'm not sure I get it.
Sounds like a scumbag, if you want to sleep around fine but no need to cheat. Don't have to be in a relationship.
LC class of 98 here. It was not a hippie wonderland. It was a trustafarian circlejerk. What a bunch of douchebags you all were, I was so happy to graduate. Nice article, you should send it in to the alumni magazine, they will be so proud.
Anyone who thinks, at 19, they should be in a long term committed relationship is a complete idiot.
@ 32 Well I dunno its not for everyone but I know several people who met in college and are still together to this day. Some people do find their partners early on.
Like living in Ballard is going to help you get over your sex problem. Didn't you just see that nudie bike parade? You made a poor decision by choosing to live there. Fuckhead.
Look, this is great, whatever. The point though, is that the author has a responsibility. If you're gonna be a slut, you need to make sure the women you're sleeping with have access to contraception and reproductive health. Now that you're much older (and wiser) you should be making an effort to make sure today's slutty 19 year olds have affordable and accessible care. You're not off the hook just because you got lucky when you were young and really stupid.
@ 35 Since he a man he is not a slut, he is a player. And men have to buy their own contraception why not women?
Jesus, you're two years younger than I am, and I'm shocked what "settling down" has done to you.

I'm glad that you're happy. Not sure that I would be.
At first I tasted vomit in the back of my throat and assumed it was because of the unreadable narcissism reflected by this dreary and pathetic "memwah"

then i realized I had been reading the Stranger for 20 years, all of Dan Savage's predictable and tiresome "sex advice", endless crappy reviews of forgettable bands that should have never existed, Mudede's attempts at sociological research (bla), the creepy brother of the editor's not-at-all-funny TV reviews... enough is enough.

You have become the third rate convenience store giveaway piece of trash you have always wanted to be, and are as relevant as the fragments of Kurt Cobain's brain splattered against the wall twenty years ago. Stop doing this. No one needs to read any, of, this, anymore. Even Sherman Alexie's powerful short fiction can't save the fact that you are as old and tired as I am, and need to give this a rest.

Seattle has been transformed into a brainless smear of condominiums, and even "Almost Live" gave it up back in the 90s guys. Not funny, not relevant, not anything. Please stop and I promise to stop reading what you don't publish.
Did I forget to mention the stupid pictures of drunks? Half-baked politicism? the unparalleled provincial smugness? the inability to grow up past the early-90s? Nothing is as you portray it... everything that was enjoyable about the Pacific NW has been pissed away for good. You are now the equivalent of Los Angeles (or fucking NYC or DC for chrissake), deal with it. You're not "hip"
Aww man, one time, in college, I slept with a lot of girls blahblahblahblahblah
*Penthouse Forum Gibberish*

Pure and simple.
Hey, that happened to me once!
I hope this isn't fake, 'cuz if it's a fantasy, it is pathetic. Come on, guy, most of us do this. We call it "junior year". We get over it.
Why would anyone deem this as fake? I've had a fairly similar experience (minus group sex) and I believe this to be totally plausible and well written. After the bullshit I went through last night, I can safely say this made my morning.
I question the whole social construct around which people being young and horny becomes morally questionable.

Why is it that a guy's only options are to be a good dude and only sleep with one woman, or a bad guy and sleep around while lying to everyone? And why is it that a woman's only option is to demand that a guy sleep with only her as proof of his love?

Consensual non-monogamy for the win.
Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me...

Okay, and...?
@9 Agree completely. People who slept around and were generally shitty people in their 20s don't dwell on it married in their 30s. I know from experience.
Probably one of the least interesting articles I've ever read from The Stranger.
I have a feeling Tara might be my friend Sarah T.
"Dear Penthouse..."
My problem, assuming this is real, isn't with his sleeping around in his 20s (that's what your 20s are for, though is it too much to just be single and go for one-nighters if you want a different girl every week?)

My problem is with the arrogant attitude he seems to maintain to this day. I mean, listen to this shit:

" [...] she'd tilt her head and bunch her mouth, as if rapt, but her wide blinking pigeon eyes revealed emptiness inside."

"[...] nicely undercut by her taste for new age mumbo jumbo"

"Kristen married a handsome little guy; in photos, they look like normal-sized people. Tara lives in Los Angeles, and on Facebook, where she poses beside emaciated celebrities [...]"

What a bunch of condescending bullshit. He's describing himself as a bad-boy-gone-wise who learned a bunch of deep lessons (from being what sounds like a typical artsy-fartsy narcissistic college boy), and painting everyone else with an irritatingly judgmental brush. He basically describes them as being too dumb and vapid to "get" him, both then and now. He's an inch away from just flat-out calling them a bunch of vapid cunts. Humble confession, my ass.

It doesn't sound to me like he's learned jack shit. It sounds more like he's disappointed that he wasn't nearly as consequential in these people's lives as he likes to think he was, hence their moving on while he scribbles away about how deep and Hemingway-esque his faults are compared to all of theirs.

I mean, I fucked around in college too, but I don't devote nearly this much energy into convincing myself that the women I fucked were such pathetic, unthinking creatures as those he describes. Although maybe if I'd conducted myself as this big an asshole during my sluttier days, I'd also be scrambling for ways to convince myself that my partners deserved such little respect.

Talk about a self-inflated windbag. His poor wife must be so bored.

TL;DR: Here's a more concise version of the story: "I fucked around in my 20s and now I've settled into a calmer lifestyle with kids. It would be too much excitement for me nowadays. I've rationalized this by convincing myself that everyone I fucked was a worthless twat with eyes and that realizing this makes me a world-weary scholar. The end.

PS- I think it's clever to use words like 'thorax' when describing a woman's tits being groped. Apparently this is what qualifies as creative writing at Lewis & Clark."
These comments are 100x more entertaining than this frat-boy "confession". (Gross.)
Dear Penthouse:

I never thought this would happen to me, but...
This guy is such a douchebag.

Who cares what you did at age 19? Yeah, the first cheat could be blamed on hormones - but after that it's all pathetic behavior. Maybe he wasn't raised with any love.

Just writing and seeking to publish this piece of crap means he's still a terrible person.
It takes two to tango.

We can hate on this anonymous player all we want, but all these women he slept with… they consented. They knew exactly what they were doing as well, what he was doing, and they chose to get with him anyway. Let's not lightning rod the guy. He is one part of a larger cultural equation.
@54 nailed it.
@59 Most people aren't judging him for sleeping around, in fact I don't remember anyone doing that. The're just on his case for his horrible prose ;)
If you we're a Mormon you'd wouldn't be having this guilt. Just sayin'
@13 Unfortunately, the Stranger is not better than this crap.
It'd be a better story if the line had been "Greg would reach for Kristen's bottle of 20 Mule Team Borax" or "Greg would reach for Kristen's copy of THE LORAX".

Then again "Kristen's Thorax" would be a great band name.
i attended Lewis and Clark in the 80s and only had sex with a couple of women. Seems like generally the coeds were usually unattractive. Looking back now my standards were probably way too high :-)

Anyway i was a Platt-Howard guy and we were too busy shooting water bombs at the other dorm. Yes too retarded even for proper frat style douchebaggery such as chasing the "hotties" around.

This guy is a horrible writer though. Obviously couldnt get into a decent school :-)
I don't think it's fake, I did much the same, not in college, but for years afterwards. Then it loses its luster. The people you hurt don't seem worse for wear and it makes a nice memory all round.
Geez, there sure is a lot of hate for the writing. I thought it was decent. The description of his girlfriend was quite evocative (he did stop short of naming her Robin). It stirred up some of my own shady memories and much regret. Interesting that the writer has no regrets.

And BTW, @63, 20 Mule-team borax comes in a box, not a bottle. Fantastic cleaning booster. Add some to your laundry, the dishwasher, even the toilet for non-toxic sparkle!

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