Online personals are a good place to get outside yourself. The world is a lonely place, and other people are entirely predictable until they do something unexpected. You can see it coming, but there's always the hope that it's possible for someone to be exceptional. You want to believe that someone special is waiting. A lock for your key. Open up. Secrets revealed. It seems dysfunctional, to approach complete strangers in search of something true. Dangerous. But how well can you know anyone? We all have our secrets, the parts of ourselves we hide as best we can. Is it really so different from catching the eye of some lovely person at a social event? A bar? On the subway? Great relationships have been built from chance encounters. There are all kinds of ways to facilitate these encounters. Adult life is highly structured. These are the rules of the workplace; these are the rules of the club. You know your family well, but you hope you don't end up fucking or being fucked by them. It's reassuring to know that there are other people out there interested in experimenting with the limits of their discomfort.
I had been browsing the personals as a literary exercise, a documentary without video where the recurring characters could be a single person or played by many different actors. Edutainment. It was interesting enough, a tasting menu of need and desire. So much said with such economy of words.
Deliciou$ Mommy Home Alone This Afternoon.
Any 420 Friendly Chicks Want to Watch Netflix?
Teen Cumslut for Busine$$ Lunches.
Looking for a Clean Pu$$y to Lick.
Beautiful Woman to Love and Hold REAL ROMANCE.
let me fuck you while you "sleep"...
Muslim Girl Wanted
Business man looking for morning meeting. Near airport.
Let's have a baby!
Good Muslim Girl Wanted.
Nice guy looking for someone REAL.
Submissive Asian for Dominant White Man.
I <3 Yoga Pants
Are you lonely? (BBW, white women ONLY)
Adult Breastfeeding Relationship
Everyone looking for something from someone, money not the only currency. Mutual gratification. Attention. An experience. Everyone looking for an interaction on specific terms. Specifying the terms made it a safer bet, but admitting that explicit rules provided the basis and charm of the relationship made the whole thing fall apart. Disbelief remained subject to the laws of gravity.
I am looking for a woman to breastfeed me, I am interested in experimenting with this. No sex. Please respond with "Adult Breastfeeding Relationship" in the subject line so I know you are real.
Upstairs the neighbours were fighting, unmet needs and poor communication coming to a head. They were quiet, except when they were fighting. The sex was more frequent than the fights. I knew from the occasional gentle sigh. I had seen them once but everything I knew about them was for overhearing the basic cycle of their lives: alarm in morning, return from work, fuck, fight, silence during sleep. You can hear almost everything through the walls.
I wrote a safe inquiry from an anonymous address, 1:34 AM, Friday night:
Do women respond to you? Do they breastfeed you?
I clicked send, closed my computer, and didn't check my e-mail for 5 days. Forever. Did he think I would breastfeed him? I wasn't sure I wanted to know the response. Would I write back if he wrote me? Yes. Would we get along? And be friends? Cozy thoughts.
I checked my e-mail at work on Monday. No response.
It hurt like a rejection from a crush. He had put it out there: he was looking for a woman to breastfeed him. I didn't want to do that, but I was a woman and I wanted to know if women liked to do this sort of thing for him. Did he love his mother? Did he have a girlfriend or a wife? He had posted often, or there were a lot of men who all wanted the same thing. It was so desperate. The smell of desperation. How many responses could he possibly have gotten?
A problem in my life is that I expect other people to tell me things I should just learn for myself.
Women seeking Women. Adult Breastfeeding Relationship.
There was less competition there.
Adult woman seeking same for Adult Breastfeeding Relationship.
That was all I could think to write. It seemed enough.
A response came in 2 days. It had a photo attached: swollen breasts, face obscured.
I am interested please call me.
And a phone number. No hesitation, no screening. A woman answered, "Hello?"
"Hi, I got your e-mail. I'm calling about breastfeeding."
"Oh. Yes." Flat voice. Was her voice flat? Could I just not hear the excitement, even if it was there? "I'm surprised you called. I've never done anything like this before."
"Me neither. I'm not gay."
She laughed. It sounded a little deranged, but in the way that a person sounds deranged because what they've heard is so absurd the only response they have is to laugh.
"Where do you live?"
I told her.
"Do you drive?"
I said yes.
"It will take you 15 minutes to get here. Can I text you my address?"
Yes, yes of course, see you soon.
I didn't feel nervous for myself at all, going to a stranger's house to have her breastfeed me. I wondered what her problem was, inviting me over like that. She didn't even ask for a picture. I didn't plan this. I was curious about someone else's need and now I was going to find out. I was experimenting. Like a scientist. Completely objective.
When the door opened I saw a woman with tired eyes. Ponytail, pajamas and robe. She nodded a welcome and took me to the couch. The apartment was not large, but it was clean and it didn't feel cramped. There was no baby in the house, no baby things. This woman had had a baby, recently, but now she didn't and I never asked why.
She made herself comfortable, and pulled me close to her. She lifted her shirt and I shifted awkwardly, trying to feel at ease. Physically at ease, I mean. I wedged myself into the gap between the couch and her body, sort of on top of her but a little off to the side. Her breasts were the same swollen breasts from the e-mail, a little bead of milk forming at the tip of one large nipple. She gave me a simple, encouraging look, and I took it in my mouth and sucked. The milk was thin and sweet and a little bitter like apple seeds, but it was warm and it came out the soft breast of a woman who stroked my hair as I sucked. Occasionally she let out little sighs, or shifted herself on the couch, but she left me undisturbed. When I was done I fell asleep. She woke me with gentle strokes against my cheek. I smiled at her, and she smiled back. I got up, and waved shyly to her from the door as I left her apartment.
In my cell phone I saved her number as "Mom." Her number went straight to the top of my contact list.
I called the next day. Our conversation was perfunctory, but I could come over, so I did. It was comfortable and nice, so I didn't wait too long to visit again.
Things continued like that for a while. She didn't do much, sometimes watched a little TV while I fed, or dozed. She was always available, and I wondered if the reason she didn't go to work was the same reason she didn't have a baby. Sometimes, she even ran a bath for me. I always left on my own when I was ready and she never asked me to stay.
One day, as I was feeding, her phone rang and she answered it. The phone never rang before. I assumed it was because she had turned it off. I always turned my phone off for our special time. That's just courtesy. And common sense. She used familiar tones to talk to this person. Woman? Man? It was a friend. She was happy to hear from them. "Things are going, let's put it that way," and a self-deprecating laugh followed by a real laugh when the friend made a joke that made her laugh. I never made her laugh. I got restless and shifted my weight around as I sucked, but she just shifted with me and held me tighter in her arm. The free arm that wasn't holding the phone. The phone she was talking into, to someone else. I kept sucking until she hung up, and she sighed, and I sucked some more, and we both relaxed, but when I was done I didn't nap, I didn't take a bath. I got up and left, but I still waved goodbye. She was looking out the window and didn't see.
As soon as I got outside I vomited, thin milky vomit. It took me 15 minutes to find my keys and get the car started, but I had to turn the engine off because I couldn't tell if I wanted to scream or cry. I had spots in my vision, and a roaring sound in my ears. I have no way to describe how I felt except bad. I do not want to know the words that describe my feelings. Eventually, I calmed down enough to start the car again and get myself home.
I didn't call the next day, or the day after. I waited until the third day, like I didn't care, and I called and she sounded just like she always sounded, available and tired. I drove to her house and she breastfed me and I felt better. But I didn't go back the next day. I wanted to prove something, to her but also to myself. She never called me. What we were doing was so intimate but she never called, she never needed me. I needed her. Did she call whoever it was that called her? Did she need them? I couldn't ask. There was no way to know unless I saw it happen. How many people did she need and how was their relationship different than ours? What happened in her life to make her the way she is now? We never ate together. She fed me like a little baby, like I was her baby, but did she eat alone? She would sometimes run a bath but she never bathed me. What if I needed someone to bathe me? Would she do it? Would she take care of me if I was sick? Who's going to take care of me? Maybe she didn't love me at all. Maybe she wasn't breastfeeding me out of love, but out of some desire of her own. I was fulfilling that desire, and having my desire fulfilled, and that was that. But my desire was to be loved unconditionally, to be nourished on a steady diet of love. Love love love. Without a beginning or an end. Doesn't everyone deserve to be loved? I can't do it myself. I thought she would do it for me. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
I didn't even know her name.
For a whole week I couldn't eat anything. I only wanted milk but I wanted her to call me, to tell me she needed me to come over so she could feed me her milk, because she loved me and knew I was suffering and wanted to make it better.
I sent her a text message. A nice text message, the kind of cute text message you send to let someone know you need their love.
I want to curl into you.
I waited an hour, checking my phone reflexively, even though I was holding it in my hand and it neither beeped nor vibrated. I heated some milk, and had a few sips, but it got cold while I kept one eye on my phone. I turned off the phone and went to sleep for hours and hours, getting up to call in sick and then going back to bed just to avoid the day. I waited more, attempting to read something I couldn't remember in between checking my phone even when I hadn't heard any new messages come in. A sleepless night, and then more waiting until I got off work and drove straight to her house. She looked at me blankly when she opened the door.
My face fell.
She looked... disgusted?
"I need you! You made me need you. What happened? "
My stomach turned to ice and fell to the floor. I collapsed in tears, exasperated at the lack of words in the language to describe the despair, the utter unfairness of what she was doing to me, what she had done, what the world does to people. Instead of yielding as I fell forward onto her body, she caught my arms and lowered me onto the floor in a safety position. I wailed and cried, howling shrieks and hiccupping sobs. She closed her door out of a sense of decency, and I lay there twisted into expressions of abject misery. She let me stay, until I was all tired out. Eventually I fell asleep, right there on the carpet. When I woke up, there was a blanket over me and a little pillow under my head and she was gone. I didn't even bother to wash my face, I just left.
For about a month afterwards I sent her text messages.
I really appreciate your trust and your love. I'm so glad we're friends.
Missing you lots
Missing you big time!
Thinking about you.
Are you busy?
What are you up to?
She never responded. I eventually gave up, and deleted her number. She broke my trust, but it's fine. People have a lot of need, and they aren't honest with themselves about what they want, and that puts people like me, who have so much love to share, in a dangerous and risky position.
From Eight Stories, published by Wil Aballe Art Projects.
Available in Toronto at Art Metropole, in Vancouver at Or Bookstore. Limited edition copies available at the Art Metropole booth during the LA Art Book Fair, January 30-February 1, 2015.
More fiction here.