By Anthony Paull
I’m an awful friend because I’m not in support of Doug and his less-than-sexy fling with a doctor even though it’s not technically a fling. It’s more of a professional relationship that morphed into a one-sided date the instant the doctor’s finger made contact with Doug’s butt.
“I know. I shouldn’t read into it,” Doug shares over a drink. “But he smiled when he tickled my prostate. That has to mean something, right?”
I shed him a peculiar look. “He’s a professional. He probably fingers buttholes all day long.”
“Yes. But he felt me up four times this year. Isn’t that special?”
“Not when you’re the one setting up the appointments.”
He flinches, hand to his heart. “I have a reoccurring itch down there. OK?”
The itch is due to lack of sex. That’s why Doug’s been feigning illnesses since the beginning of the year. He has an offshoot of Munchausen Syndrome but is on the market for sex rather than attention. He says it beats online dating and jacking off at a computer screen. Plus, he has great insurance, so why not?
“It just seems wrong to get off on having a doctor grope you,” I later admit. At the mall he combs the H&M underwear section, telling me he needs to trim “down there” for his next appointment. “Is the bald eagle still in?”
I wince. “What?”
“My bush. Do you think I should shave? What about a Mohawk?”
“No. No Mohawk. You don’t want your dick looking like some boy band from the ’80s.”
He laughs, getting excited. “I have a testicle exam scheduled and I’m not going to make it easy. That way, we have time for small talk.” A few days later he phones to state things didn’t go as planned. The doctor was curt, bordering rude. He failed to exhibit proper bedside manner, telling Doug to focus on the testicle pain when Doug began to talk about his favorite restaurants. “I thought he might take the hint and ask me out. But he was all business, saying, ‘Does this hurt, does this hurt?’ I was like, get a new line, you dirty masochist.”
“He was doing his job.”
“Whatever. If he’s going to grab my balls, he can engage in mindless chitchat. It’s the little things.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about it. It’s over.” I haven’t the heart to act like it actually never began. Two weeks later, Doug confesses he’s doctor shopping again. Some clients desire a doctor willing to distribute pain pills. Doug wants one with a “ready, willing and able” penis. He feels karma’s on his side because he only signs up for single doctors. He doesn’t want to break up families. He wants to start off on the right foot. That’s why he’s keeping his pants on this time.
“I’m going to wait until the second date before I undress,” he says, calling me before the initial visit with a new doctor. The doctor came recommended because of the special attention he gives to individual clients. “He’s known to actually hold your hand if he has something bad to say,” Doug boasts. After the visit, he calls me upset because the doctor asked about his sexual history. “It was a little presumptuous, if you ask me,” he says. “You’re not supposed to talk about past relationships on a first date. Everyone knows that.”
“But you weren’t on a date.”
“Really? Then what would you call it?”
“Pfft,” he says. “Call it what you want. He wants to see me again. That’s more than I can say about other guys.” Growing upset he says he’s going to drown his pain in a vat of coffee ice cream.
“I’m really concerned about you,” I say. “This isn’t healthy.”
“Please. Would you rather have me date men who insult my pic on Grindr? Or should I go on Manhunt and talk to insecure guys who want someone straight and manly? What is healthy? I’m running out of options so I’m getting creative. So what?” He hangs up the phone, and I wonder if I’m overreacting. He’s not hurting anybody. He’s going after what he wants, finding new avenues to locate a man. It may be a tad outside of the box, but he’s not harming anyone. Is it different from joining a gym or a social club in hoping of bumping into a potential partner? Sometimes loneliness makes the looniest notions noteworthy. I once had a friend tell me his mother would linger in the aisles at Wal-Mart, praying someone would say hello. It prompts me to consider what other measures people have begun to take in order to meet someone or simply have someone listen.
“Are you there?” Doug asks, phoning the next day. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have hung up on you. I’m just so frustrated with trying to meet someone. You think I’m crazy?”
“No. I think…I forgot how hard it is to be alone and have no one to talk to. So talk. Go on. Talk.”