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Moodswing - Figure it out

After seeing the fear

It's best not to trust a man who says he never masturbates. I'm not that big on judgment, now, but as a general rule I'd say when a man claims he never masturbates, you immediately have a losing situation, a total conundrum. Because you have to consider, seriously, what's worse — the fact that he's lying, or that he might not be?

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So the best thing to do at that point is surround him with hazard cones and direct traffic toward a safe escape, but who am I to judge? The man could have a good excuse, he could be 80 and armless or something, he could be in a body cast, he could be tied to a post in the Cambodian jungle. But as a general rule, I'd say back away. As a general rule, I'd say he's a total Taliban member, pre-programmed with a network of shame-based denial, with a big tub of phosphorus in his garage left over from the disposal of his last victim. I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.

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And speaking of denial, I've been talking a lot lately to Grant about his gayness, which I'm beginning to suspect. "You're not gay," I accused him recently. "You're just horny!" I swear to God, that is absolutely without a doubt the truth, maybe. (Maybe not.) Grant loves women, literally loves them. He loves them so much he can't sully them with his bestial desires, so he fucks men instead. He was 21 when he married the first time; four years later he was a father of three. To meet him today, you'd never guess he was once a church deacon. To meet him today, you'd never guess he spent a minute of his life weaving a single thread of deceit.

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"The truth will set you free," he always says, "but first it will piss you off."

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Grant even admits that the next time he gets married, it'll be to another woman, which fits perfectly into my theory about his behavior. He wants lots and lots of hot monkey sex before he finally settles down with his next pedestal. Mind you, it's a revolving theory, so ask him yourself, he might admit it or he might tell you something just to test your reaction.

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Personally, I prefer the test, like when Lary tells people he gets off by screaming, "Out Satan!" while pounding his crotch with a big Bible. First, don't believe a word of that. He doesn't even own a Bible, not unless you count the one he tore up, page by page, to produce the dozens of shrine-like shadowboxes that now surround his toilet. So no, I highly doubt Lary would do anything with a big Bible except possibly swerve to hit it if it was sitting in the middle of the road. Bear in mind that when he tells you this, he is watching for your reaction. He is judging you. For example, when he told this story to Kung Fu Kitty, her response was something along the lines of, "Speak louder, I can't hear you over all the babies I'm molesting," which, evidently, must have been the perfect reaction. She passed.

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I used to have litmus tests like that, but I either forgot what they were or abandoned them along with my standards long ago. I remember once, a hundred years ago, I met a 25-year-old father of three who believed, with all his heart, that 1) only British bands created credible music, and 2) gay people go straight to hell. I thought he was testing me, because he was standing there with a beer in his hand looking like a completely normal person, no visible scars of self-flagellation or anything, no lobotomy stamp on his forehead, no snakes in his hands. So, I, like, laughed and said, "Well, don't tell that to your boyfriend until after he's finished fucking you in the ass."

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Jesus, was he pissed! Looking back, I wish Lary had been there. We'd known each other a few months by that time, and a few days earlier we'd talked about the closing of military bases and the business owners nearby who were bereft because their livelihoods would be lost. "Look," Lary said, unmoved, "life's not fair. Figure it out." I realized then that it was just fear I felt. I myself had just climbed out from the crap basket of bad decisions and just plain bad luck I'd been living in since college. In order to procure the mid-level, borderline blue-collar corporate job that served as my rescue rope, I'd charged a dress on my cancer-stricken mother's credit card and worn it with the price tags tucked under and taped to the inside so I could return it after the interview. I had a huge fear I'd end up back there one day, like those business owners, in their shoes, stricken. Of course, I eventually did.

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Today, I don't think I'd stand across from such a surprisingly condemnatory young father and assume that, because we were the same age, we'd have something in common, like a sense of humor. Today, after hearing the whole "gay people go straight to hell" crap, I'd probably recognize the look of a person who was raised in a shame-based bog of judgment and blame, and I'd see the fear. I'd eye this young father evenly. I'd walk away. "Figure it out," I'd say, maybe. Maybe not.

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Hollis Gillespie is the author of Confessions of a Recovering Slut and Other Love Stories and Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch: Tales from a Bad Neighborhood. Her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "All Things Considered."