Shooting blanks

A reader tipped me off to an interesting article on about how Silicon Valley is a sexual desert. Workaholic programmers who often forego sleep and meals for their greater pursuits in high tech just don't have time for relationships. Culture clashes also play a part. "People come from all over to work in the valley. . . . It's hard to make connections . . . the rules of attraction and courtship they grew up with in Pakistan and Turkey don't apply here; dating, West Coast style, can be confounding even for the natives."

Is this true for Seattle? Judging from a party I went to last weekend, I'd say that geeks here are getting it good. The party was held in a big house in Magnolia that a 20-something software designer had just moved into. I met this guy three years ago at a rave, where he, wearing a flashing bike reflector on his head, was convinced that I liked him just because I happened to be tripping on ecstasy and blew on his sweaty face like a soft fan. Mr. Flashlight interpreted the blow as a "move," and I had a hard time losing him for the rest of the night.

Anyway, three years later, here am I at his party. It's one in the morning and the place is packed with 20-something computer nerds and their teenage girlfriends. I think I am the oldest female there. A DJ's spinning electronic music in one room. He is completely bald and completely naked. Some people are dancing, but most are lounging around, high on pot brownies, talking softly and massaging each other's heads. One room is filled with several mattresses. A dreadlocked couple is dry-fucking. It reminds me of that swinger's resort up in Lynnwood. Eeek.

Unlike the article about Silicon Valley, no one at this nerd nest is an immigrant, except for my friend David, who is from Scotland. He has a funny accent, and it's often hard to understand him. "What? What?" is all he gets when he tries to make conversation with a cute blonde.

Then Flashlight himself approaches me. "How's work?" he asks.

"Oh, fine. Good party," I say.

"Hey, you want to see my gun collection?"

"Uh, sure. Why not?" It was my new year's resolution to be more open to weirdos and weird situations, and this seems like a good test. I withhold judgment. Guns are just another geeky power trip, in this case.

Flashlight takes me upstairs to his bedroom, where he's got a metal safe the size of a refrigerator. He unlocks the safe. Inside are a big rifle and five handguns. I think of horror stories of kids shooting themselves accidentally while playing with daddy's gun—but I've never held a gun before, and the novelty is just too much to pass up. He lets me hold each gun. Luckily, none of them are loaded, and neither are we. He's very careful, handling each gun gingerly as if it were about to explode.

When you come right down to it, guns themselves aren't sexy. It's just the people who've held them have been sexy. Sean Connery, Chow Yun-Fat, Pamela Anderson Lee. Even Puff Daddy, who's been waving around his weapon at Christmas parties.

There's one tiny gun, however, that seems very sexy. It's smaller than the palm of my hand. It looks like a toy, but Flashlight assures me that it shoots real bullets. You could just imagine slipping a gun like that into your cocktail dress—maybe in a bra or garter belt— and going to a casino.

I look at Flashlight. We're sitting on the bed. He puts his arm around my waist and pulls me close. He's no Sean Connery, but he's no Austin Powers either. He's the Man with the Little Gun.

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