This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist available on Apple Music and Spotify to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist waltzes around a stranger’s kitchen island, takes a thirty year old’s virginity, and lays in silence for three hours thinking about calories in hopes you can learn from his mistakes.
Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Blahsmopolitan and its playlists contain mature themes.
Before I rip myself to shreds this week, I would like to acknowledge that I am a beautiful person from the neck up. I was blessed with the best genes from both sides of my family: thick, dark hair that attains the happy medium between messy and manicured that some people spend their whole lives chasing, eyes that are at once drugged-out and animated, a nose that is mindbogglingly Not Jewish, eyelashes that just won’t quit, and bone structure that makes me look so mysterious that people are truly surprised when the first thing that comes out of my mouth is my life story.
I have struggled with the rest of my body for as long as I can remember, which isn’t to say that I’m the poster child for Michelle Obama-targeted morbid obesity, but rather that I just have a little bit extra, everywhere. Naturally, with the thought of living on my own, mere minutes from a cafeteria full of temptation and free sustenance, I approached college with a crippling fear of the freshman fifteen.
In my dorm, I am without a scale, but luckily I get to have my biggest hater in tow at all times- myself. In private moments before and after showers, all it takes is a few little bounces in front of the mirror to get a gauge on where I am. Jiggles like one hundred and eighty pounds, quacks like one hundred and eighty pounds, must still be a hundred and eighty pounds.
As luck would have it, I was wrong.
This week, I took a resting metabolic rate test in an attempt to once and for all have proof that I was at a complete disadvantage in the weight loss game. The test involved having a medieval torture device strapped to my head, my nose plugged with a metal clamp, and being told to “relax and breathe normally” for three hours.
Straight people skinny is gay fat, and I wasn’t even skinny for a straight person, so I was white Fat Albert sucking in his stomach and his neck on Grindr and hoping guys wouldn’t notice. It just didn’t seem logical to me- all my friends are absolutely rail thin and eat with just as much reckless abandon as I do, only they seem to maintain toned teenage figures while I cry in the Forever 21 fitting room.
Then, the results were in.
“Wow. Well, let’s just start by saying I am jealous,” says the fitness technician, Barbara. Little does she know she is about to defecate on my heart.
“So, this here is the amount of calories that the average person your age and height burns at rest per day.” She shows me a piece of paper and points at a three digit number but my vision is already getting fuzzy at the edges.
“And this here, is the amount of calories you burn per day, at rest.” She points at another line on the paper that says YOU’RE HUGE.
Barbara grabs me by the neck and flickers her ancient demon tongue, hissing, “You are the fattest person alive. Nobody has ever been as needlessly fat as you are. None of your friends believe that you have had sex with anyone because there is no parallel universe in which anyone would want to lift past that many rolls. In fact, your friends are only friends with you because it is funny that you are this fat, and you make them feel better about themselves when they go to McDonald’s. “Can you imagine being Nick?” That’s what they say every time they eat a McDouble, fatty. Get a life.”
She loosens her grip and says “Your metabolic rate is actually four points higher than the average nineteen year old! Good for you!”
Walking out of the health performance lab, I think about the time in third grade when my friend had a dream that all of our friends were superheroes, and my power was that I was as fat as the sun, and could inhale cakes and regurgitate them onto evildoers. I hunch my shoulders to make my man tits shrink back into something that resembles flatness.
I get back to my dorm and sit in silence for a while, thinking about where this leaves me.
I have a high resting metabolic rate. Sure, I’m fat for no reason, but that also means it’s going to be pretty easy for me to lose weight, and it probably won’t take that long. I could jog like, once, and maybe even speed up the process.
Then I think, no. I want to eat barbecue chips, and this almost certainly means I will have to give up binge eating barbecue chips. And everything that I don’t want to do is hard.
Suddenly, I know exactly what to do. I open Grindr. Nothing like sexual validation from a stranger to make the burden of back fat feel twenty pounds lighter.
Soon enough, I am in contact with James. He’s heavier set with light ginger hair, thirty-one, he’s a financial something-or-other, and he’d love for me to come over.
“No pressure,” he says. “If you come over and you aren’t into it, we can totally just hang out and have some drinks. Whatever happens.”
“Okay,” I type. “Are you going to murder me?”
“What?” he asks.
“If I come to your house, are you going to murder me? I am asking if you are a murderer, because I’m nineteen and this is the Internet.”
“Wasn’t in the game plan, no. Lol.”
“Okay, I’ll be right over,” knowing full well that this is exactly what a murderer would say.
James’s apartment is absolutely stunning. I do a slow walk around the perimeter of his living room with my mouth slightly agape.
“Okay, I’m literally never going to live somewhere this nice,” I say, rounding his kitchen island and gazing up at the pipes and rafters of the loft.
“Oh, whatever! It’s not bad. Gets good light, came furnished, so I guess I can’t complain.” He starts talking about his job and how long he looked for a place to stay, but I’ve fully tuned him out, taking my shoes off and settling in onto his couch. He notices my lack of engagement with his story and saunters over to sit next to me. I kiss him once to let him know I’m comfortable. This is how these things work.
“So, what do you wanna do?” I ask.
“Um, I don’t know. I can put some music on if you want. I have the Pandora channel, this is a Smart TV.”
“Of course it is.”
‘Screw off,” he smiles, lifting himself up to grab the remote using my thigh as leverage. I wonder if he notices that this is the fattest part of my body.
He flips the TV on and instantly lets out a gasp and a string of frantic apologies. There, in Ultra High Definition on the curved screen is straight-up, hardcore gay porn- a conservatively sized orgy. All the guys are wearing nothing but Timberland boots, except one, who is additionally allotted a coonskin cap.
“Wow, oh my God, I am so sorry, that’s embarrassing,” he continues, scrambling to change the TV input.
“Leave it on.” I don’t know why I say this.
“Leave it on,” my subconscious presses, “this is the sort of thing that winds up being really funny later, even if we never talk again.”
He sets the remote down and looks at me really hard.
“Okay. Do you want a beer?”
“Sure. Only if I can watch you open it.”
“I told you I’m not a murderer.”
“I believed that up until the Timberland porn.”
“Fair. Do you still want music?”
I get up and plug my phone into the speaker he has set up in his kitchen and play “Me & Mr Jones” by Amy Winehouse. James had followed me over to the corner of the kitchen to see what I’d choose- I reach behind me and grab his hands and lead them to my waist, then lean forward to the fruit bowl next to the iHome, grab an apple, turn around, and take a bite out of it.
“You probably should’ve washed that. I don’t even know how long that’s been there,” he says.
“Oh, I’m sorry, was that a conversation piece?” I say with a smirk that turns into a grimace, setting down the definitely too soft apple and switching it out for the probably very expensive craft beer he set down for me. It’s infused with like, hemp or kombucha or something gross like that and I pretend to like it.
“Put your arms around my neck,” he says.
“Okay. Don’t try to pick me up, though, you’re gonna be really disappointed.”
Before I know it, he’s dancing me around his kitchen island. I wonder how long he’d been drinking before I came over, because for those readers without the inside experience, this is not your typical Grindr hookup. It’s less romantic music and waltzing and more shameful afternoon intercourse soundtracked by King of Queens or Court TV. He’s not a bad dancer- taking control of my movements, somehow correcting my fumbling missteps, and doesn’t take his eyes off of me the whole time.
Nobody stands between me and my man, I mouth along with Amy.
“I gave my ex-boyfriend a striptease to this song once,” I say.
“TMI,” he says.
No such thing, I think.
Songs go by, bottles are drained, we laugh until we can’t anymore, and the white guys in strange outfits on the TV keep screwing. “Femme Fatale” by The Velvet Underground plays softly. I admire my own taste. Under the haze of the witching hours, I kiss him more than once to let him know I’m really comfortable, and reach down for the waistband on his joggers.
He reaches down and stops me.
“Hey,” he whispers.
“What’s up? Too much?”
“No, no, it’s just… I’ve never gone all the way with a guy before.”
I’m sort of stunned, but when I think about his actions throughout the night, I guess I’m not really that surprised. No seasoned pro would waltz with his Grindr hookup for four hours before finally getting down to business. I take a step back.
“That’s fine. I just… are you sure you want it to be me?”
Secretly, I really want it to be me. Someone thinks I’m hot enough and cool enough to lose their virginity to at age 31? Who cares about my metabolism? That is an accomplishment.
“I mean, I think my window for the “right time” has sort of passed,” he offers with a half-laugh. “I mean, we’re here, and I feel comfortable with you. I don’t know what other standards a person has to meet.”
I stop to think about this for a second. He wants to have sex with me because I’m “here?” This sits far less comfortably than wanting to have sex with me because I’m show-stoppingly gorgeous and skinny and fun.
“Well, is it that you want to lose it to someone or that you want to lose it to me? Because those are two really different things,” I ask, my face slowly losing its reddened life from the gross craft beer.
He laughs and pulls me in towards him again.
“It’s you,” he says, kissing me.
As his kisses travel around my face and down my body, I ask “Why?”
“You’re funny,” he says, and kisses my lips.
“You have cool eyes,” he says, and kisses my neck.
“You sort of know how to dance,” he says with a laugh, looking me in the face.
“Sort of,” he says.
“Do you wish I was any different?” I ask.
He mumbles something unintelligible into my chest.
I grab him by his jawline and pull him to my face.
“Do you wish anything about me was different?” I ask again, a little harsher this time.
He pauses, and I feel like he is really thinking about it.
“No. I do wish your clothes were off, though.”
We have sex, it’s really virginy, he kisses me goodbye, and tells me to text him to let me know I got home safe.
Walking home, I play Stan Getz’s “Desafinado” in my earbuds. I feel light, like I just woke up after the best sleep of my life, like I’d gone to the gym the night before and took an ice cold shower to cool my muscles and my skin into a tightness I’d never felt before. There are days when every step I take, all I can feel is the gelatinous shaking of the extra bits around the edges of me. Tonight, I feel like I am floating.