VT&R: I Hooked-up with a Football Player and It Ended up Being a Metaphor

VT&R: I Hooked-up with a Football Player and It Ended up Being a Metaphor

VT&R: I Hooked-up with a Football Player and It Ended up Being a Metaphor

A Weekly Column by Matthew Hawkins

          I did it again. I had sex on the first date. I used to pride myself on not putting out on the first date. But realistically, how many times can you put out on a first date and still claim that purity? Who’s to say that’s purity anyway. His name was Lino. He was a doctor, or going to be a doctor. I’m not sure. I wasn’t listening. I don’t really go on dates to make friends, I guess.

          It was summer. We met at a park. Lino was Filipino; his skin was bronzed and glistening in the humidity. I kept touching his shoulder, which was bulging out of his sweat-stained American Eagle grey t-shirt. He had a bigger build. He said he used to be a linebacker. I told him that I’d always wanted to date a football player and grabbed his bicep. He took me to get sushi.

          I was drunk after the first drink. Lino taught me how to use chopsticks. He held my fingers with his smarmy summer hands and showed me the movements, like how a dad teaches a son to pass a football. We split the bill and then went to a bar next door unsuspiciously named “WANGS,” where we had several, impulsive shots of vodka. I went to the bathroom and saw wallpapered pictures of gay porn plastered everywhere. They were black and white polaroids. They would fall under the classic, but not to be underestimated, “Vintage” category on PornHub. I ran my fingers across all of them, like how an old lady reads—line by line. I thought about Lino’s body while I studied them. I thought about all of the guys bodies I’d been on dates with before Lino. I thought about how many first dates just like ours that there had been in history. We were just two men going on a date together, that would eventually lead to casual sex together. It was something as old as time.

          Lino walked me back to my apartment and I asked him to come up to my room after the drinks. He took his contacts out and put them into my medicine cabinet. I heard the toilet flush and then we immediately started kissing on the bed. My entire bedroom is space themed: moon bedspread, model planets hanging from the ceiling, neon glow-in-the-dark stars. I felt like we were the center of the universe. Everything—the Big Bang, both World Wars, Adam and Eve, Stonewall, the 2016 Election—all led up to this point. It all happened so Lino and I could romp around the strange terrain of a first date, a first kiss, a first fuck. The sex lasted forever. He was on top of me; I was on top of him; repeat to infinity.

          He kissed me when he left the next morning. He said he would text me later, but he never did. I texted, snapchatted, called, Facebook messaged, virtually poked him—until all of my batteries died—until I lost all hope. I am an obsessive person. Therefore, I washed my sheets, twice. I dusted off my planets. Eventually, I went back on Tinder and swiped myself back into oblivion.

          Later that week I got a cold and convinced myself that Lino didn’t text me back because he was HIV+, and therefore I was now HIV+. I had no physical evidence to back this up and didn’t need any; I had already convinced myself. Almost every time I have sex with a new person I convince myself that I've contracted HIV. Every sniffle or shit—I’m sure that it’s all over. This wrong of me to think. This is offensive of me to think. As a gay man, I should’ve known that just because you have unprotected sex doesn't mean you automatically have AIDS. However, this is a fear that has been societally distilled in me—in all of us—I cannot not think it. I think about it every time I have sex; I think about it every time I think about the sex that I’ve had in the past; I think about it when I watch gay pornstars not using condoms; I think about it all the time.

          I bought an at-home HIV test at Walgreens around two in the morning. The presumably straight, old white man behind the counter looked at me like he knew what I had done. He looked at me like I was the worst thing I could ever be. He looked at me like I was positive. We—all gays—are too familiar with this feeling. Whenever someone hears my effeminate voice on the phone, whenever someone sees me swinging my hips down an aisle at the grocery store, whenever I go to a doctor, they give this look of disgust. Of pity. Of fear.


          The gay population is (and probably always will be) synonymous with HIV/AIDS. This is something we can’t shake. This is something we can’t cure. However, in the past decade HIV rates have declined by almost 20%. People are more educated and healthier than ever. The gays are gayer than ever. Think of this the next time you have sex with someone or you sneeze or get a slight fever or the next time you meet another gay person. Statistics help me forget the unfortunate connotation of being a gay male. Statistics help me be who I am. They help me have fun nights and meet fun people like Lino.


          I swabbed the inside of my cheek with a Q-tip and sat on the toilet while I waited for the results. I looked at my walls. The paint was chipping off everywhere. It looked like the interior of the Titanic under the ocean. Everything was molding. It’s so hot and humid in my apartment—everything just festers. I counted down the minutes with a timer on my phone. I stared at the screen and subconsciously hoped Lino would text me back. I thought about his mouth, his tongue, his shoulders, our sex.

          I still think about Lino from time to time: when I use chopsticks or when I go to WANGS or when I have sex or when I get a cold or when I’m waiting on someone to text me back or when I don’t text someone back. His contact case is still in my medicine cabinet: bottom row, right corner. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

          Over sushi, that night when Lino was sweating through his shirt, he told me that his dad played football in high school too. He said that he had been on the all-state team. But when Lino started playing football, his dad was against it. Lino said that many former players don’t want their sons to play football because they know the risks. I think this is kind of the same thing as being gay. I would not wish for my children to be gay. It's not easy. We're at a higher risk for so many things: diseases, sexual assault, discrimination, etc. We're less protected than everyone else. Perhaps we're paranoid, because it is dangerous, because we are actively in danger. I don’t know, I feel bad about not wanting my kids to be gay. I love being gay; I love the risks. I guess it’s kind of like how Lino’s dad cheers when there’s a nasty tackle on TV. Since I know how difficult it is, how bad it all hurts. I don’t want to watch someone I love to have to go through that—again and again and again.

 

          PS: if you're going to get tested for HIV, I suggest going to a free clinic or to your family doctor. Walgreens will rip you off—40 dollars plus tax—for that private at-home test. My advice: have your freak out, get tested, go on more dates—it’s all part of being gay. The gays before us did and the gays after us will too. It’s like a Sunday night football game or a really bad Grindr date—it’s going to last forever.  


TOUGH

TOUGH

White Walls Which Cannot Speak

White Walls Which Cannot Speak