I was working in the ED a few nights ago the fifth night of a six night overnight stretch; I’m a radiologist resident, and in the ED I read the CTs, ultrasounds, and x-rays. I work all night by myself, with the exception of the techs and physicians who come in to review scans or chitchat. Was I bored? Sure. Overtired? Certainly. I had my Twitter open on my iPad next to me; Twitter helps me to feel like I have someone to talk to, those long lonely nights.
We had a lull in the workload, and I looked over Twitter. A young woman named Annie posted that she that her last boyfriend had cried when she took her shirt off for him, and and that it meant that she had to step up her reaction game. People were asking questions like, “what were were breasts shaped like?” And, “what was it about her breasts that had this power?” The story reminded me of something, but I couldn’t place it. I asked her if she could tell more about the story, and she said that I could DM her.
I did DM here, and asked about what was going on in their relationship at the time and what led up to that moment. She began telling the story, and after the first message, we got a stroke code at the hospital.
A stroke code is when a patient is comes into the hospital and they have an acute neurologic deficit. This deficit is concerning for an ischemic event, and they are rushed into the CT scanner. My role as the radiology resident is to read that initial CT, talk to my attending who’s reading remotely, and diagnose whether there is a acute infarct. If there is, we can administer the clot-busting drug TPA. The patient can go from blind to seeing within a minute. The TPA can only be administered within a six hour window of their initial symptoms. We need to work as quickly as possible to read the CT scan, and a 25 minute from door to scanner to read is expected.
I read the scan, and then another abdomen scan came through, and then a group of emergency residents came in to talk about the scans, and it was probably an hour before things slowed down again. I returned my Twitter account, and found that I have been blocked by Annie. I don’t know what all transpired on her side. The story I told myself was that because I didn’t answer, she regretted opening the door, and wanted to be done with the entire exchange. C’est la vie.
In the meantime, I had realized what my connection was to the story. The idea that somebody’s body would be so beautiful that it would bring you to tears reminded me of my junior year in undergrad, when my wife was my girlfriend. We were making out in my bedroom, which was unheated for some reason, and we were both very cold. The lights were off, but moonlit. She took off her shirt, and I felt a rush of emotion. She was so beautiful, like porcelain, and so vulnerable; she was self conscious about water inserts in her bra. It was a really beautiful moment. This was like Annie’s story, and I’d intended to tell her this.
In the move “Waking Life,” there’s a discussion of the “Holy Moment:”
“And that’s what film has. It’s just that moment, which is holy. You know, like this moment, it’s holy. But we walk around like it’s not holy. We walk around like there’s some holy moments and there are all the other moments that are not holy, right, but this moment is holy, right? And if film can let us see that, like frame it so that we see, like, “Ah, this moment. Holy.” And it’s like “Holy, holy, holy” moment by moment. But, like, who can live that way? Who can go, like, “Wow, holy”? Because if I were to look at you and just really let you be holy, I don’t know, I would, like, stop talking.
Well, you’d be in the moment, I mean ….
The moment is holy.
Yeah, but I’d be open. And then I’d look in your eyes, and I’d cry, and I’d like feel all this stuff and that’s like not polite. I mean it would make you feel uncomfortable.
Well you could laugh too. I mean, why would you cry?
Well, ’cause … I don’t know. For me, I tend to cry.
Uh-huh. Well … Is, is full …
Well, let’s do it right now. Let’s have a holy moment.
(Long moments pass with them staring at each other)
Everything is layers, isn’t it?”
There’s a transcendent power in the nude body. It’s like, you’re together with another person, and you’re seeing them and they are seeing you, and it does bring a real rush of emotion.
Two nights later, I’m at home, and trying to switch my sleep schedule back over so I sleep at night. I am sluggish. I get a tweet from a young man calling himself Ketih the Yeti, who asked, why I wanted to know about her story. He said in his tweet that tweets were just tweets, and they shouldn’t be inquired regarding greater context or depth.
I responded that I was interested in what brought him to a two day old Twitter thread. His tone depicted him as a defender of boundaries in intimate internet discourse with strangers, and implied that I was imposing on this woman’s right to share without being questioned. This aroused my own curiosity. Was my response qualitatively different from other respondents? Millions of such exchanges occur every day on Twitter, but he chose this one. I invited him to DM me, because I was more interested in having a real conversation than a Twitter jousting event. He declined, saying that he had all the information he needed. His assessment concluded that because my biography described my occupation as an erotica author, that I must’ve been fishing for more content by asking this young woman about her story.
I told him my life was an open book, and wished him a good weekend. I found the idea that I had been searching for brief anecdotes about sex from strangers as a way to come up with ideas for an erotic stories to be really funny. When I use the term erotica, it’s in a fairly loose sense. The stories and memoirs and blog posts that I write deal with erotic themes, but I don’t know if anyone actually gets off on them. They’re more like the way Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller write about sex; it’s meant to tell a story, but it’s probably not wank material. If you’re reading this and you have used my stories for masturbation material, please leave me a comment on that or any of my posts, because I would be honored to have brought you excitement. I would like to hone in on those story elements, as well.
In addition, if there’s no shortage of material about sex on the Internet. People have written millions of words on Literotica, and then of course there’s pornography, in which hundreds of thousands of peoples bodies are completely available online. Why I would need to solicit a description of somebody’s breasts in order to construct a narrative is beyond me.
I’ve been working with this book called Existential Kink, in which the author describes “shadow work.” You can look at the things that you don’t want in your life as an expression of your deepest desires. Rather than becoming upset, you should revel in the kinky pleasure of them. So, as somebody who is anxious with conflict, I’ve tried to take this advice, and adopt an internet persona as a masochist. In this vein, I think the idea of being chastised or reprimanded for trying to do something inappropriate to a stranger carries a certain illicit thrill. Like, “yes, I am a dirty man who writes dirty books, and who horrifies virginal maiden as they attempt to walk down the street.” Ketih is right, maybe I will try and write a story about that.
This exchange was still rattling around in my brain. I felt like even my own ruminations constituted an interesting narrative, and that’s what you have. If you’ve read this far, God bless you. I’ll close here.