When a mammal lays eyes on another living thing, it asks two fundamental questions. “Can I eat it?” and “Should I fuck it?”
Or maybe that’s just me.
You can call me Ed. It’s not actually my name, and the last name Vartanian is also spectacularly unhelpful for identifying me in the “real world.” I’m a self-employed freelance writer for stuff that would confuse and/or bore the shit out of you, so this great opus will take advantage of a nom de plume and the liberating notion that I can just make shit up whenever I want.
Sex & Bacon is a fictionalized memoir. You will read about people who don’t exist, things that may not have happened, and events that never unfolded. I promise neither sex nor bacon. But some of it is absolutely true. Maybe.
As of this writing I’m not even sure I’ll let another living human read this work of catharsis. It may just sit on my hard drive until the booze and cigars finally do me in, to possibly embarrass my family if they even bother to get past the layers of password security that keeps my downloaded porn safe from prying eyes. I don’t know if I’ve lived an interesting life, exactly—I mean I spend a lot of it on my ass typing on a laptop or playing last year’s cheap video games acquired used from Game Stop—but at gatherings with appropriate social lubricant (that’s alcohol, in case you’re easily confused, you’ll get enough lube if you keep reading this bullshit) I get an appreciative audience for some of my stories.
“What about the time that chick passed out at the movie theater?”
“You should tell Jim about the hockey freak.”
“Did you ever hear back from the crazy Latina?”
… and more along those lines. It’s strange, because it feels like I spend so much time alone, but when I start spinning my yarns and trying to tell the history of my awkward sex life and clumsy attempts at romance, it sounds like a James Bond mashup with Californication by way of Forrest Gump. I’ll probably die alone, but damn if I won’t have crazy stories to tell to my illegitimate grandchildren.
Who the Fuck Am I?
With the understanding that anything I write here can and probably is total bullshit, here are a few things about me you probably don’t wanna know. I live and work in north Georgia, and I look and sound the part. If you were to see me standing in front of a kudzu-covered trailer park I wouldn’t stand out. I’m tall, broad shouldered, square-jawed. Might even be attractive if it wasn’t for the extra pounds and the southern-white-trash accent. Most of the time I just roll with the image and try not to give away the fact that I don’t really fit in. I’ve got the extra weight because my fat-fingers are pecking out a living with a word-per-minute rate instead of going to some job site carrying a hard hat and a lunch pail like my old man. I’m indifferent to football, don’t watch wrestling, and fucking despise NASCAR. I like nerdy stuff—video games, comic books, so-bad-they’re-awesome horror movies. I drive a piece of shit old Jeep that I keep together with duct tape and muttered prayers to Satan. I drink just a little more than is good for your health, and smoke the odd cheap cigar. If someone is passing something more interesting around, I might smoke that, too, but I’m too cheap and too unlucky to pay money for it.
What I’m saying is that I’m a mess. Add the above-listed reasons to dozens more I’m not going to trouble you with and it’s easy to understand why I’m not in a long-term relationship. Also, I’m terrible at those—except with the roommate. I’m not exactly wired for monogamy but my old-fashioned Jim Beam DNA makes open polyamory not work for me either. Falling in love is easy, but resisting the urge to munch the grass on the other side of the fence is pretty goddamn hard.
A Tale of Two Grandpas
When I reflect on just why I can’t get my heart and my dick to play on the same team, I think of my grandfathers. (And boy does that last sentence not read the way intended it.) You’re not going to find two men less alike without switching between NPR and the Gangsta Rap station. Will and Nate never met, and I doubt they’d have much liked each other.
Grandpa Will lived on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere on a ton of land with a sweet wife and a bunch of kids. He’d married a teenage girl when he was in his early twenties, made a family, worked hard, and as far as I know never once looked at another woman. The man had a fourth grade education and was about as redneck as a can of Skoal, but he’s definitely where I get my love of telling stories and talking about myself. He yammered on about fishing, hunting, bar fights, and shameless racism. He was a product of his time, a blue collar guy who’d lived through the Great Depression and pinched his pennies and kept an entire canning closet stocked with emergency food. The old guy was gruff but kind, generous and fun. He wasn’t dumb, but limited by the fact he couldn’t read for shit. He had really old-fashioned ideas about gender relations and some might not have liked how he yelled at my grandmother to get him another Bud from the fridge, but he was also sweet to her and loved his wife completely until the day he died.
Natan Vartanian was a first-generation American born to off-the-boat Armenian parents. I heard that my great-grandfather had been wealthy at one point, but he had a gambling problem. The kind where you end up dirt-poor, stabbed, shot, and floating in a river. (Or “suicide” as the police back in the day called it.) His orphaned son, my Grandpa Vartanian, also grew up with a taste for vice, but he was educated and interesting. He wasn’t attractive but goddamn if that man wasn’t charming. With a martini in hand, a college diploma on the shelf, and a way with words, the man was good at making money, talking his way out of trouble, and getting laid. And he got laid a lot.
Near as I can tell, roughly one-third of all Vartanians currently in North America were the result of my grandfather pretending to be rich and interested in marriage. And I guess he was, because he was married several times, but probably had a mistress and a girlfriend and a fuckbuddy all at the same time. He had questionable morals and a near-constant erection, probably. Good ol’ Nate did not stay tied down long, and made sure to keep moving so he wouldn’t get shot by scandalized families and pissed-off husbands of knocked-up wives.
If you want to understand me at least a little, know that I’m a special blend of these two men. I like to think my heart’s in the right place, but my dick gets me into trouble. On the surface I look and sound a lot more like ignorant and honest Will, but when I try to untangle the mess of my life, I’m reminded uncomfortably of the skirt-chasing bastard that was the man who passed down my last name.
Oh, one died of cirrhosis and the other of lung cancer. I’m enjoying a martini and a cigar in their honor.
I make no promises regarding what I’m going to write in this space—least of all the truth. But one thing I do want to clear before I really get started is an understanding of how I feel about women.
I LOVE women.
I love the sound of a woman’s voice, from throaty growls to moaning gasps to window-rattling-screams begging God (apparently) to fuck her harder. I love the curves of her body, whether it’s the flexing tight muscles of a lean track runner as she arches her back or the soft jiggles of a full-figured gal as her ass is smacked in appreciation. I love the female scent, straight from the shower and smelling of soap and fruit-infused faux-European shampoo or that primal punch from between a woman’s legs straight after a hard day of working outdoors. I love their eyes, even angry (which happens a lot, go figure), the bizarre sexiness of the clavicle, the feel of skin so much softer than mine. The motion of hips, the bounce of breasts, a tongue almost seen through barely-parted lips, it’s all God’s poetry to me.
When I see a woman for the first time or the fiftieth, the above thoughts and many more go flashing through my mind unbidden. The primitive parts of my brain fire up and do a thousand microsecond calculations faster than a quantum computer to evaluate the female as a potential fuck-partner. This impulse is completely beyond my control, so if it offends you … well, sorry. It’s not like I go around telling every lady I meet about the porn-montage that plays in my head. So how can I get away with saying that I value and respect women?
Easy. (Guys, pay attention.) I understand that a woman (A) is her own person and (B) she doesn’t owe me shit. I can’t control what flashes through my brain but I damn well can control what comes out of my mouth. My sexual urges are my problem, not anyone else’s. A woman’s got her own life to live and I’m probably not worth her time. I have no patience for men who cat-call, harass, stalk, or abuse women. I can’t stand idiots who believe in the “friend zone” (a mystical penalty box some guys believe they are placed until they’ve somehow earned rights to a woman’s vagina like she’s a goddamn vending machine). And I want to punch those who use Pick Up Artist techniques to lie to and psychologically manipulate women for the sole purpose of getting their dicks wet, because they’re worthless without a gimmick. If you’re any of those guys, go fuck yourself and go read some asshole “men’s rights” blog.
For a straight woman, I’m guessing there are many worse things than a man who finds her attractive but doesn’t believe his appreciation creates some kind of debt. A man who is playful and flirtatious but comes with zero obligation seems to come as a breath of fresh air for some ladies. I do all right for an overweight apparent redneck with a crappy car and unsteady paycheck—except for my history of short relationships, two-time dates, one-night stands, the strippers, the call girl, and that one experiment with Craigslist Casual Encounters. And the part where I’m gonna die alone like my asshole grandfather.