The Cream of the Cropped

By Anthony Paull

Dating Diet

I once had a prominent politician say I was more of a publicity whore than a journalist. I was insulted, taking offense at the superfluous word "publicity" until I found myself drunk in an Irish pub scribbling "Anthony Paull gives good head" on the bathroom wall. It felt right until I posted the pic to Facebook like I was famous, only to get called out by a friend who was familiar with my handwriting. Yes, I knew my behavior was pathetic, but I loved it because I knew the episode would lead to my name in people's mouths. Does he spit, swallow - shoot out a spout like Shamu? In the end I kept mum, having learned it's best to remain a mystery. That's what people really want - the truth blurred.

I wonder if that's why some men consistently shove their iPhones down their pants, spreading poorly formatted penis pics on the Internet.

It's like, "Wow, look at my half-limp dick. It can get hard...so hard I can fuck you. I'm-a-gonna-do-it. I'm a-gonna-fuck-you with my veiny, gross developmentally delayed dick that makes me super special even though most dudes and certain chicks have the same thing."

It only gets worse when complete strangers begin passing the pics off as their own. That's what happened to my friend Jake. He was involved in an online romance with a gentleman named Ross for three months before he had any idea of who or what was on the other side of the computer. It was all Picasso pics of Ross' naked body - blurred images and talk about being cultured, and excuse after excuse as to why Ross could never meet. He kept late hours at work. He was a paid intern at the modern art museum. He had a dog.

Jake was on the verge of ending things until one night when Ross got brave enough to come over after one too many Mai Tais.

"But first, I need to tell you something," Ross said. "I have scoliosis."

Jake thought, "No problem, I can love him diagonally - I can make it work. Isn't that what you do in a relationship - find beauty in a fault line to rise above?"

An hour later Jake heard a bang outside, opening the front door to find Ross had crashed his electric wheelchair into the house while trying to press the doorbell. No problem, Jake thought. Scoliosis, handicapped or whatever this is - love is love. That is until Ross began driving circles around Jake's living room, dropping his iPad and running it over.

"It's no big deal," Ross slurred. "It happens all the time."

Jake shook his head, confused. "You getting drunk?"

"No, me dropping loads."

Still perplexed, Jake slowly handed the iPad to Ross, who quickly turned it on, changing the subject to the arts - an interest the two shared.

Flipping through Instagram pics, Ross flaunted pop art images he'd taken at the museum. It was all Ben-Day dots and cartoon characters until a real pic of an unflushed toilet came along. Ross glanced over it but Jake couldn't let it pass.

"Um. Was that a toilet?" he asked, as Ross continued to scroll.

Ross lingered, gaging Jake's reaction. "Yes," he said, casually. Jake maintained a neutral expression as Ross paused to explain. "Look. I have something to tell you," he began.

"Again?" Jake said, bracing himself. "You know, usually when somebody tells me they have something to tell me it's usually not followed by something good."

"I'm into turds."

"Turds?"

"Poop."

Jake flinched, recalling their previous conversations, how the Lichteinstein pop art of yesteryear compared to the Banksy street art of today, how much they both favored the dark literature of Palahniuk to Thoreau. Yet at no time during these spirited conversations had the exchange of words on art and literature turned to scoliosis, a wheelchair or...poop. But the relationship sure did.

I guess what Jake forgot to remember during his pop-art penis affair was that a picture may speak a thousand words but there are approximately 249,000 words left in the English language, leaving a lot unsaid. No Instagram or Photoshop app can sugarcoat a real person. A pic is only part of the equation that will never add up to the ideal mate that you have in your mind. The whole story of a person requires an entire collection - the good, the bad, and the ugly portraits. Jake got caught up in the good for so long he forgot all that came with it.

As for me, I find it humorous when I hear of guys on sites refusing to meet unless they see an X-rated pic. My question is, would they have the nerve to request the same thing of a guy in real life? Would they even know how to say hello? These days, I find myself, more and more, reflecting back to a time when that's how a relationship developed.

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