Rollerboy, part 1
While I'm wasting my time with these boring AB assholes, I'm still looking at devotee websites online a lot. I have lots of new ideas for the Dev Girls website, like book and movie reviews and media alerts. I email Cindy about it but she doesn't write back. I wait a while and write again, but still nothing. The listserv is filling up with spam because she's not moderating it. Eventually I realize she has disappeared on me.
Now I realize more than ever the downside of working with a virtual stranger online. She has all the passwords and I have nothing. I had thought of the website and listserv as partly my work, but now I can't access any of it. Ugh, this sucks. How can people be so flaky?
I avoid posting or even reading the Dev Girls listserv because it's too spammy, and also because Bob is there. Instead I go back to reading the same old listserv where I first met Cindy. It's full of male dev assholes and trolls but at least the moderator keeps a lid on the spam. And it's pretty big and active. I used to post there a lot, but lately I've been pretty quiet. I decide to try using it like a personals site.
"28 year old female dev in Raser City," I write. "Looking to meet guys nearby, close to my age. Any disability ok."
Immediately my inbox starts filling up. "I'm a little older (50ish) but I'd love to meet you," one choice specimen reads. "Are you one of those special ladies who can't feel her toes?"
Oh my fucking god, what is wrong with these idiots? Bad enough that he thinks a thirty year age gap is no big deal, but how could he read a two line message that starts "female dev" and think "female paraplegic"? I don't even bother to answer, but just delete the message as fast as I can. Just reading it makes me want to take a shower. No wonder so many people hate devotees.
Just as I'm starting to despair of ever meeting anyone, I get a short message from someone with the email address bspusher@....com.
"Hey, you seem like one of the few normal people in this group. I'm a c7 quad, 29, and I live pretty close to Raser City."
It's not much but it seems like the most normal response so far.
"What does c7 quad mean?" I write back. I have gradually realized from hanging around this group, which is supposedly for every kind of disability, that the vast majority of guys here have spinal cord injuries. I have always thought wheelchairs are sexy, along with crutches, prostheses and everything else, but I know almost nothing about it. I only just figured out that SCI means spinal cord injury. I've seen lots of guys introduce themselves with these letters and numbers but I don't know what they mean.
"It means I'm technically a quadriplegic but I have most of the function of a paraplegic," bspusher explains. He breaks it down for me: the letters are the sections of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) and the number indicates which vertebra was broken. "So c7 means I can move my arms but not my hands," he writes. "And I use a manual wheelchair. You can tell that from my email."
That's news to me too. Actually I found his email address kind of obnoxious--bspusher? Come on, that's gross.
"Sorry, I don't get it," I write back. "Please explain."
"BS is because I live in Bessemer. Pusher because I push a manual chair," he explains.
Oh great, another guy in fucking Bessemer. That's where Buttboy lived. Used to live. A few years ago he moved away to get an MA in English at the University of Buttfuck Nowhere, and took that bitch he dumped me for with him. God, I don't want to go back to Bessemer.
Just as I'm starting to lose interest in bspusher, he sends me a photo. It's tiny and blurry, a snapshot that's been scanned at low resolution. He's sitting in a kitchen, doing a wheelie in front of the cabinets. His blond hair is dyed black at the ends, and even in the tiny photo I can see his blue eyes, flashing in a kind of bad boy defiance. I definitely have a type, and he is it. I'm smitten.
Another week goes by, and I'm still really pissed at Cindy for disappearing. Hanging out on that crappy male dev listserv is making me realize all over again why we need something better. But even though I think about the website all the time, it's not the kind of thing I can talk about with my friends. I'm out to them about being a devotee, but they have no idea how much time I spend online looking at pictures and chatting with random people. They wouldn't get why one ugly website matters so much to me.
Among the few devs I correspond with from that troll-ridden listserv is a guy named Lee. He seems more reasonable than the rest of them, maybe because he's into disabled guys too. I complain to him about how Cindy flaked out on me.
"That was you behind Dev Girls?" he asks me over email. "Man, that's a shitty site."
"Yeah, I know," I write back. "And now that she's vanished I can't make it better. But there has to be a site for those of us who are devotees of disabled guys. Just the other day some jerk on the listserv was going on about how he doesn't believe female devotees really exist. And ever since Hotlanta Dev shut down, there's no site for the gay guys either."
I keep going on in this vein over multiple emails until Lee finally admits that he knows how to program HTML a little.
"We should totally make a new website together," I write to him.
"I'll think about it," he replies.
BSPusher keeps emailing me, even though he still hasn't seen a picture of me because I don't have access to a digital camera or scanner. I really don't want to use the scanner at work, because then I'd have to explain what I'm using it for. No one else needs to know yet that I'm emailing with a quad guy in Bessemer who broke his neck when he was 18, drunk driving in a stolen car.
Oh yes, that is what happened. Actually even before he sent me a photo of himself, he sent me a scan of the newspaper clipping reporting his accident. It seems like a weird, personal thing to share, but ok. The article is very matter-of-fact, with a blurry photo of a car lying upside down in a ditch. I open the file over and over to stare at the article, not sure what to make of it. Then I click over to the snapshot of him doing a wheelie, and feel guilty for being turned on.
He asks me a lot of questions about being a devotee: What caused it? (I don't know, it's just the way I am) Have I dated disabled guys before? (Yes) Would I go for any gross old guy, as long as he was in a wheelchair? (No, and stop asking! Jeez!)
"So that photo I sent you of me doing a wheelie, that's like porn for you?" he asks in an email.
"Yeah, you're a porn star," I write back. "What's your porn star name?"
"Rollerboy," he says. "Like Rollergirl in Boogie Nights. Heather Graham is hot. So what's your porn name?"
"I don't know, haha. I'm not a porn star. I'm just a big nerd. Nerd Girl."
"Nerd Girl is sexy. Do you have those sexy librarian glasses?"
"You know I do."
That one little exchange gives me a fluttery warm glow for nearly a week. For a minute there I was starting to worry. I'm pretty much the opposite of Heather Graham. If a pale blond waifish WASP is his type, he's in for a big disappointment with a dark-haired Jew like me. But if he likes the Nerd Girl look, maybe I am his type after all.
Rollerboy is not the only SCI guy who responds to my personal ad post. Aside from the obvious creepers who get immediately deleted, there are a handful who seem nice enough, but they don't really live nearby. And for some reason, the emails with those other guys don't go beyond a few introductory lines. There's just no spark like with Rollerboy.
There is one young guy who writes to me from the UK, so that's a non-starter, but I correspond a little with him anyway because he seems nice. He tells me he's a c4 quad, and I'm proud of myself for now knowing what that means. When I ask how he was injured, he says it was from botched surgery to remove a tumor when he was four years old. I stare at his email, the horror of it like a gutpunch.
"My arms are only there to keep my watch from falling on the floor," he jokes. It seems somehow worse to get an SCI from failed surgery than in a car accident, and at such a young age. I know he doesn't want my pity but it's hard not to feel it.
Ugh, this is one of the many awkward things about being a devotee. So I think disabilities are sexy. But not all disabilities.
"Couldn't you just go for some guy with, like, a limp?" Kara asked me once, when I complained about how hard it is to find the right guy. No, Kara, I could not. A limp is nothing. Even missing one leg is not that exciting, especially if he uses a prosthesis. Both legs, or a paraplegic, now that is hot. A little scary but also exciting. For me, there's always a bit of shock mixed in with the excitement. Like the way K's eyes looked, all scarred over and blue. But, and this is the awkward part, there is a line beyond which it's just scary and not exciting anymore. For me, that line is a high level quad, a guy who can't move his arms at all, or who needs a ventilator. It's like, too much.
But I don't want to tell him any of that because it would be mean. Our sexual desires are selfish and unequal. There is no political correctness in lust. We all want things that are narrowly defined, unfair, and cruel when spelled out, especially to someone who doesn't have those traits. Being a devotee doesn't make me more understanding or open-minded. My desires are just as sharply defined as anyone else's; the lines are just different.
So I'm writing to several guys online, but Rollerboy is the one, not just because he lives the closest. He's hot, and we seem to have a connection. The emails increase to daily, sometimes 3 or 4 times a day if work is slow. Gradually, I stop writing to those other guys. Even going out to the clubs is not so exciting any more. I spend more time just hanging out with Rachel and Ewan, and less time with Doug. A lot less.
Part of the reason is that suddenly life is super busy. I'm starting graduate school next month, and trying to get ready for classes. I gave Sharon notice, and I'm quitting my job at the end of the month. Things haven't been the same since she threatened to fire me when I got sick. But still, I feel obliged to her, so I'm racing to tie things up at work before I go.
And, this is the worst part, but I'm being evicted. All over Raser City, rents are going up and people are being kicked out. My landlord was an awesome, crusty old dude who charged us way under market price. But then he decided to retire and sold the house. The new landlords wasted no time getting everyone kicked out. This is a beautiful old house, even if it is divided into apartments. It kills me to think of those yuppie wannabes razing it to put in some cinderblock monstrosity so they can charge thousands of dollars for shoebox apartments. Every time I pass by my garden at the side of the house, it makes me want to cry.
So anyway I have to find a new place, which is no easy feat with the prices rising so high. I spend most of my free time touring what Nam calls luxury slums, that is, tiny crap holes with prices that would make your head spin. And since I'm trying to find something close to the university, at every showing there are at least a hundred students. Sometimes it's so crowded I can barely see the apartment.
With all of this going on, and recalling my terrible experience with Bob, I decide to take things slow with Rollerboy. We agree to put off meeting until next month, once I have moved and all the dust has settled. But in the meantime, the emails fly back and forth.
One glorious, hot summer day I go to the Raser City Highland Games with Rachel, Ewan, Sharon, Cyril and Ewan's friend Rick. I still feel a little awkward around Sharon, but I try not to make a big deal of it. It's even more awkward because she and Cyril are on the outs. They keep saying they won't break up, but instead they just fight a lot and publicly flirt with other people. The drama between me and Sharon pales by comparison.
We all dress up, of course, Ewan in his clan tartan, and Cyril like a foppish 18th century Englishman. When jerks in kilts and t-shirts hassle him, he shouts, "Who do you think won the war, you peasants!"
Even though they are not officially registered as participants, Ewan and Cyril engage in a bit of sparring near the vendor tents and pass out fliers for the Rapier Academy, until one of the Highland Games organizers tells them to knock it off or they'll be kicked out.
I pretend not to know them, and wander around the tents. I'm wearing Ren Faire lite outfit with the plaid skirt, the same thing I wore when I met Patrick. Hey, at least this is the right place to wear it. Maybe it's the skirt, or maybe just because I'm there, but half a dozen vendors offer to trace my family history.
"Everyone's a little Scottish," one guy insists, when I decline.
"I'm Jewish," I say flatly. He stares at me like I said I'm from outer space. Now I love Scottish culture--the music, folklore, arts, all of it. I could listen to bagpipes all day. But wandering alone around all these white people aggressively asserting their heritage starts to make me feel slightly uncomfortable. For some of them, there seems to be a thin line between ethnic pride and white power. I circle back to meet up with my friends again.
We all regroup to watch the games. I was really hoping to see the caber tossing, but apparently that's tomorrow. There are some chubby guys throwing what looks like a shot put. No one's really paying attention. The women sitting next to us in the bleachers are all over Ewan's friend Rick. Rick is stunningly handsome in a square-jawed, golden tanned kind of way. He's dressed up in one of Dylan's costumes, leather breeches with a flowing white shirt and fencing gorget. With his long, curling black hair and shirt half open, Rick looks like he stepped out of the cover of a bodice-ripper.
The women try to chat him up, while Rachel, Sharon and I laugh to ourselves. What they don't know is that Rick is a paranoid schizophrenic who has been sporadically going off his meds for the past few months. Every time one of the women says something, Rick responds with a winning, white-toothed grin but what comes out of his mouth is what psychiatrists call word salad. Still the women are undeterred, leaning in closer as if they merely misheard him and smilingly blankly.
Over on the other side of our group, Sharon starts up her own flirtation with the guy sitting next to her on the bleachers. He's also the square-jawed, golden-tanned type, but even taller and more muscular than Rick. His head is shaved on the sides like a Mohawk, with his long hair braided and hanging down his back. He's wearing nothing but a loincloth and a bunch of beads around his neck. He tells us his name is Mars. As if he is too magnificent for Sharon alone, he generously increases the radius of his attentions to include me and Rachel.
Sharon draws Mars into a lively discussion of the merits of the macrobiotic diet and the spiritual effects of eating meat. This continues even after the shot put winner is declared and the crowds disperse. We walk towards the parking lot, Mars still trailing after us. Seeing that we are about to leave, Mars declares he knows of an excellent swimming hole just down the road--it's so hot and dusty, don't we want to swim?
Sharon reacts like this is the best idea she has ever heard in her life. "Yes! Swimming!" she declares, jumping around slightly. "Let's go!" She grabs Rachel and me by the arms.
"Uh, I don't know," I say, edging away slightly. I look over at the guys. Cyril is burdened down with all their swords in a giant golf bag. Ewan has been drinking steadily from his hip flask all afternoon, and now looks like he can barely stand up. Rick is not far behind him, and looking wild-eyed. "What do you think?" I ask Cyril, expecting him to put a stop to this swimming nonsense.
Instead he just shrugs, looking irritated. "Whatever. I'm tired. I'm going to take these guys home. You three can go swimming if you want."
Before I realize what's happened, I have been volunteered to drive us out to the swimming hole in my car, while Cyril drives off with Ewan and Rick. We set off down an unpaved gravel road, with Mars leaning over my shoulder from the back seat to give directions.
"Wow, you're a really nervous driver," he opines. "You need to, like, breath more deeply and clear out your chakras."
"Shut up," I tell him. "My chakras are plenty clear."
The swimming hole turns out to be a section of state park at the edge of a small lake ringed by a muddy bank with a three foot drop to the water. Mars guides us to the edge of the bank, right beside a large sign that say NO SWIMMING.
Mars and Sharon immediately strip off their clothes and leap in, while Rachel and I sit on a log and watch them. Every so often, Mars climbs back out of the water and struts around naked in front of me and Rachel, so we can admire him the way Sharon has been all afternoon. He offers to kiss each of us in turn. Sharon is the only one who takes him up on the offer. And maybe something more in the water. We try not to look.
"What an ass," Rachel mutters. "You shut him right down, though," she giggles. "He looked like no one had ever refused him before."
"Ugh, I know, right?" I exclaim. I find it hilarious that this guy, this perfect physical specimen of manhood, is completely convinced that he is irresistible to all women just because of his toned muscles.
Well, he is wrong. I could not be less interested in his boring, ordinary perfection. There's a quadriplegic guy in Bessemer with my name on his flat ass. Sharon can have Mars. I want Rollerboy.