Skew, Skewer, Skewest

I didn’t mean to start this off glibly, but a) sometimes I can’t help it, and b) sometimes I can’t help it.

When I consider the people around me, past and present, as I embark on my 11th continuous year as a discrete San Franciscan, I wonder exactly how askew my own personal concept of status quo actually is.

And when you add in the very few ex-boyfriends I have had, well, maybe that cinches it: my worldview is simply fucked up.

We all have our own takes on reality, our own sets of expectations. Beginner’s Mind requires effort, and we don’t always bother to get There before every new situation. We have experiences, we have memories. We have reactions to both experiences and memories.

While experiences are often shared, there are always outliers. Situations or events or people that fall out of ±2 standard deviations from everyone else’s.

But what happens when you’re subjected to a veritable litany of outliers, relationships/people/expectations so extreme that they pull your center off kilter, skewed from those around you?

Longer-term San Franciscans, as a group, know what I’m talking about, as I’m sure New Yorkers do (though I can’t say personally).

Fine and dandy. But what about when it happens to yourself alone?

All the (however fluid) expectations and assumptions we make are all relative to our centers; when that center shifts, the assumptions go along with it.

I had a partner, once upon a time (and what time are we upon? —Witch Baby), and our relationship was closer to ideal than I should have had the right to expect. Intimacy was there, dark rooms of the heart suddenly well-lit, but almost none of that intimacy could be expressed in sex—his libido and his health were already waning to the point where that was not a bonafide option. But we found it aplenty in other ways until he passed away. And that was nearly eight years ago.

The next boyfriend, who appeared on the scene nearly three years past that, was intensely into me, physically, as I was to him. It turned out that a year and a half of usually spending 5-6 nights a week together was little more to him than a one-night-stand run on a tight loop over and over and over again (can you feeeeeel the denial, children!). No past, only present. No future.

And the one after that, who I was with for a year, was physically affectionate in public and in private (something the previous boyfriend never managed to do), but there was never any passion for me. Though there was passion from me, towards him, that cannot last when it’s unrequited.

So I got it right the first time, though (or because) it was under the duress of extraordinary illness.

Then I end up with a control freak who did and still does a surprisingly complete job of maintaining his Undocumented Life.

The last significant boyfriend? Well, he and I are now extraordinary friends, and thank the goddess for that.

I’d had the good sense—and the courage–to call it what it was, and change the configuration of our relationship accordingly. I think had I failed to do that, I’d be in one of those “open relationships” that are all the rage these days here in our little hamlet, married to a brother/best-friend and reserving sex as a thing you do with strangers-with-candy or people with whom there’s no chance of emotional accessibility.


There should be an amusement park attraction that mimics this hippity-hopping from one outlier to the next. Like any good ride, if it doesn’t make you puke, it’ll make you go ‘wheeeee!’ and ‘again, again!’.

When I go out to a bar or a potluck or go out dancing, I expect physical affection from most of my friends, those who have no interest in me romantically. And I expect, typically, to be propositioned only by marrieds for whom it’s “okay to play” (they rarely bother to ask if it’s ok with me that they’re married).

I expect that it’s no longer possible—or at least it’s highly improbable—to find a relationship where there’s affection, public and private, and passion and lust, and where energies are directed inward and towards each other, instead of spent outward and away in the quest to have as many meaningless orgasms as possible, where quantity and frequency are the metrics for our own worthiness.

Am I jaded? Post-ironic? Or just askew?