Don't talk about love

The 411 on the gay chat line.

LET'S JUST ADMIT that gay men go after cheap sex like everyone else in this dirty, compromised world: by relinquishing every last deeply held moral, ideal, value, and political belief. Sure, we all have moments, usually right around the time our ankles are reintroducing themselves to our earlobes, in which we'd like to believe that the complete stranger we picked up in the produce section has somehow Made Us Complete. But the fact is, he's just completely made us, and trying to colorize that black-and-white skin flick with concepts like—no, no, no—love is to deny the wanton thrill of a filthy pleasure (and you can tell dignity and self-respect to take a number and have a seat while you're at it).

It's important to bear all this in mind if you're going to experiment with the gay chat line, the free phone services you can find in back of most free newspapers that let you meet local men for "dates" (the first of many such euphemisms you'll be encountering). Curious? We should make one thing clear first: This is not the "How do I get laid and still feel like a good person" approach to cheap sex. This, fellows, is the fascist, unashamed "I wish to rut like some drooling, bug-eyed hound without having to suffer through dinner and somebody's coming-out stories" approach to hooking up.

First, you dial, and you're welcomed by a recorded male voice that acts as your concierge in this sleazy telephonic hotel; he sounds fraudulent and schmoozy but erect, like Casey Kasem on Viagra. You're walked through the steps of recording a greeting message—your age, physical description, whereabouts, and random sexual proclivities—then you spend what can seem like an eternity browsing through other whores' messages until you find one that blows your skirt up. The two of you exchange messages back and forth, and so it continues until one of you gives up your address and you both proceed to shame your mothers. Simple, isn't it? Yes, perhaps, but it's easier after some pointers on how to behave.

Lie about your age. Except for the 18- to 25-year-olds, who aren't concerned about their ages, almost everybody on the line, in an attempt not to scare the 18- to 25-year-olds, has magically regained his youth by subtracting a good two to four years of time spent on this planet. Either that, or everyone in Seattle really is 29.

But not your appearance. Oh, sure, airbrush your description—the language of euphemisms has reached its grandest, most resplendent heights on the chat line (a personal favorite: "football player's build," which, translated, means "have had much mayonnaise watching the NFL on Monday nights and don't intend to curb that appetite anytime soon"). But many's the player who has given his address to a 29-year-old Clark Kent and found himself turning away a 39-year-old Lou Grant.

Butch it up. Start your greeting with "hey" or "yeah," fuzz your diction, deploy a few slurry, careless "um"s (pronounced something akin to a surfer's version of the mantra "ohm"), and toss them around in a tone that suggests you're just some hot, dumb, sleepy guy who stumbled across the chat line while polishing his skateboard. Oh, and ask for a "discreet" hookup, a request that indicates you won't expect to see anyone later and either/both of you may maintain the delusion that you're not that gay.

Don't push it, Brando. Don't go so far with the playacting that you give yourself away as the desperate, slurping nelly you know you are. For instance, don't overdo the youthful and casual bit by referring to your hood as "Cap Hill." This is the equivalent of those ersatz hipsters who think they're scoring points by calling San Francisco "Frisco." Your cover is blown, dude.

Play hard to get. Sounds like hypocritical advice for a service used to set up indiscriminate carnality, doesn't it? Welcome to the world of men. He sounds hot, he thinks you sound hot, but if you jump the gun and ask to meet too quickly, even the horniest guy will get a bloated sense of self-worth and assume you'll be bringing your luggage with you.

Now, while keeping in mind that everyone else is pulling the same crap as you, two notes about listening between the lines:

"I just got back from the gym. . . ." No, he did not. You hear this, you skip immediately to another greeting; this guy's working through a dream and will waste your time. Same goes for "My girlfriend's gone for the night" and, of course, the enduring classic "I'm sitting here stroking my ten-inch. . . ." Believe this: Anything that sounds like a fantasy is a fantasy.

The bottom line. Anyone who says his sexual range is "versatile to bottom" is a bottom. Anyone who says he is "versatile to top" is a bottom. Anyone, in fact, who says anything outside the realm of "Bark like a dog for me, sissy boy" is a bottom. It's just one of those sad human truths.

And finally:

Don't kid yourself. Don't talk about love. You're just a guy who knows how to use a phone.

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