“Fuck It, I Really Want This Guy, I’m in Mesh for God’s Sake”
If you ask your mom for advice on meeting nice guys, she will tell you to join a church group, or a political campaign, or some sort of hiking club — anything that attracts respectable, well-intentioned people. She will warn you against hooking up with drunk guys at bars, and she definitely does not want you to meet people through the local BDSM scene. Don’t listen to your mom. You can meet nice guys anywhere, whether you’re out doing something wholesome like registering new voters for Barack Obama (you guys are doing that, right? It’s important!), or something less wholesome, like attending an S&M party at a cheap motel.
Here to prove that is “Viola,” who in 2002 was an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She was active in the school’s queer community, and at the time, “a total tranny-chaser.” Why, you ask? Viola explains that she had already come out in high school, but when she arrived at college, she found that all the dykes there were practicing “transgressive exceptionalism” by being as butch as possible. She isn’t that girly, but in this new context, she seemed like quite the lady by contrast. When she would date a butch woman, she would be quickly pigeonholed as “femme.” She found that dating trans-men afforded her a way out of the whole butch/femme dichotomy, and also, I guess she just thought they were hot.
Viola was the director of one of the school’s queer organizations, and “Olivia” ran a related office on campus. Their work brought them together often — they needed to coordinate with each other on things like fundraising and setting up rope-bondage tutorials. When they first met, Olivia had just started the process of transitioning from a woman to a dude. Viola thought she was cute from the very beginning, but by the time our story takes place, “Olivia” was “Oakes,” and he was looking hotter to her than ever.
Like most American institutions of higher learning, the college I went to only had one BDSM club, and they didn’t do anything that crazy; as far as I could tell, they just sat around talking about autoerotic asyphyxiation. It surprised me, therefore, to learn that UCSB had two rival BDSM groups, with warring ideological agendas. The official group was considered too hardcore by many — it required that people “pledge to the lifestyle,” or some such thing — so some kinky people who “just wanted to fuck around” started their own, unofficial collective.
To further this goal, the group planned a party at the Wagon Wheel, a “really crappy, sleazy roach motel on the beach.” (It was common practice for people to rent “spokes” of the wheel to have wild parties in.) Olivia was a member of the group and was invited.
On the Friday before the party, she had an official work meeting with Oakes. She was really nervous, but didn’t want to lose the opportunity. It turns out that getting a guy to ask you out works the same whether the guy has a vagina or not: You just drop really obvious hints. After the meeting, she asked if he was going to the party. He said he was thinking of going. She said “yeah, I was thinking of going too, but I don’t want to go alone.” He said “so, uh, wanna go?” Of course she said yes.
Her next dilemma was what to wear to a “semi-formal fetish party.” She picked out a black tank top, red pencil skirt, and black Converse, but threw a long-sleeved mesh shirt on top of it to make it event-appropriate.
At the party, there was a bonfire on the beach. Viola and Oakes sat in front of it, sipping their drinks and playing a “retarded one-upmanship game” in which they talked about all the other people at the party, like “oh yeah, I fucked him too.” She got “really bombed” to hide her nervousness. He was nervous, too. Long after most of the other partygoers had retired to private rooms to get it on, they stayed outside chatting, afraid to make the first move. How is it that they weren’t nervous to be at a BDSM party, weren’t nervous to hang out with a bunch of campus queers they had both already slept with, but were nervous to be on a date? Viola says it doesn’t make any sense: “We were always just really nervous around each other.”
Also, she found out later that Oakes was worried she was too buttoned-up and prim for him, whereas his secret fantasy was that she was a naughty schoolteacher at heart, and that when the clothes came off, the ruler would come out. As the party was winding down, Viola got so freaked out that she asked if he wanted to leave. He was like “oh, I got us a room in the wing, just in case.” In Viola’s words, “I decided, fuck this, I really want this guy, I’m in mesh for God’s sake.” They went to the room.
As they were getting comfortable, the Wagon Wheel revealed itself to be a true roach motel: An actual cockroach joined them. Viola hates roaches. She screamed and hid in the bathroom. Being the “crunchy-granola dyke” that he is, Oakes didn’t kill it, but rather trapped it and set it free. He let her know the roach was safely outside. When she emerged from the bathroom, he had stripped down to his boxers. What happened next fulfilled his fondest wishes about Viola: She’s a really, really mean schoolteacher.
They ended up dating for three years. I’ll let Viola have the last word; she thinks the mesh shirt might be a holy grail. “About two months after I broke up with Oakes, I was at “The Rusty Nail.” And, believe it or not, the local sports bar doubles as the unofficial dyke hangout.” That is sort of surprising. “Well, I went there wearing my black mesh shirt, this time with a black and white striped tank from Banana Republic and dark gray jeans from Old Navy. This time my hair was short and I wore it in a fauxhawk. And that night I went home with a beautiful Slavic girl (her name was Marissa but I came to refer to her as whore-bag because we ended up dating for 4 months and then she cheated on me with a straight girl who had a boyfriend, something my college boifriends never did. But she was hot enough that it was worth it).”