(A scary story about social media.)
So. Many. Penises. Since Eugene left me, I must have looked at a thousand of them. Cut, uncut, black, mocha, tan, pink, beige, thick, thin, long, hairy, shaved, trimmed, veiny, smooth, micro, macro, and even the elusive gargantuan. I’ll be honest with you, though: it’s not even like I was open to the idea of a hookup at that point. It was still too soon. The emotions were too raw. That said, I wasn’t going to be ashamed of myself for looking at pictures of dicks to help pass the time. I like dicks.
After a few weeks of browsing, I started involving myself in actual chats. You know, more than the basic “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” type of stuff I’d been doing. Most guys didn’t really want to talk about much; they were more interested in meeting up and banging. I wasn’t ready for that, though. I was polite enough with my rejections, and most of them were cool with it. Not all, but most.
One afternoon last month, a guy named Dion sent me a message. I almost fainted. He was gorgeous. It looked like he’d been carved from onyx and sculpted by Michelangelo himself. We chatted for a while. Pretty easily, too. Not once did he hint at a hookup, and rather than advertising himself with below-the-waist pictures, the most risque photo he sent to me was him standing shirtless in his sweatpants.
He told me he’d just gone through a breakup, too, and wanted to take things slowly. It was music to my ears. Well, eyes, since we’d only been chatting via text at that point. But those text chats turned into multi-hour chat sessions. After a couple days, I gave him my number. We talked on the phone more than I’d ever talked to anyone. Even Eugene, and were together for seven years. Something about Dion just seemed right. I got the impression he felt the same way about me, too.
As it turned out, Dion worked for a company that advertised on Grindr. He asked if I’d seen their stuff, and then he described what the ads looked like. As soon as he mentioned one particular feature, I definitely know what he was talking about. It was an awful ad. It took up the whole screen and flashed colors in a way I found somewhat unsettling. To make it worse, it was almost impossible to hit the “close” button at the top, which I was fairly certain moved around slightly to prevent it the ad from being turned off.
He laughed a little and apologized for that part. He said the programmers might have been a little overzealous. The customer wanted it that way, though, and since Grindr hadn’t explicitly disallowed that type of thing yet, they were going to use it and reap the benefits of the ad being displayed for those extra few seconds.
When I asked Dion what the company sold, since the ad really didn’t give me much of an idea, he was tight-lipped. He couldn’t talk about that stuff, apparently. I was okay with that. We hadn’t even met in person, yet. I didn’t expect him to disclose any top-secret information to someone who was still essentially a stranger.
Our conversations continued to go well and we were ready to take the next step. On Tuesday, we decided to meet. His office wasn’t far from my apartment. We met at a nearby park. I knew he was tall, but my first impression I got when we met was that he was a giant. I’m 5’11”, but Dion had to have been 6’8”. Funny, we’d never even talked about height. He gave me the biggest, warmest hug when we finally stood together. I pecked his cheek a little more shyly than I’d intended, and we headed to the restaurant we’d both heard was great but never visited.
Dinner was spectacular and the company was even better. Our chemistry was obvious and intoxicating. We laughed and flirted and had a truly wonderful time with one another. Afterward, he walked me home. We made out in front of my apartment building for a minute or two, but we both agreed we should wait for at least the second date before getting too physical. But we promised one another there would definitely be a second date. He asked if it could be tomorrow. I winked at him and I told him I’d call in the morning.
Once I got back into my apartment, my sexual frustration had reached a Krakatoan peak. And what do I do when I’m sexually frustrated? I look at dicks. So I looked at dicks. I started off on Grindr, but after a while I started feeling a little guilty. Sure, it was just innocent fun and flirting with strangers, but even though Dion and I weren’t exclusive or even in an actual relationship at all, it didn’t feel right. Besides, right when I’d decided to move on to p*rn, those damn ads on Grindr kept showing up and distracted the hell out of me. The flashing lights and awful close buttons had me feeling pissed off at Dion for even being tangentially involved with them. Anger wasn’t something I wanted to feel when I was in the mood to jerk off and go to sleep.
After I’d closed the program, those awful, blinking ads stuck with me. It was like when you look into the sun for too long and have the image burned into your retinas. But my sex drive overshadowed any temporary vision problems. To P*rnHub I went. Their gay section had gotten SO much better over the last couple years. I browsed for a while until I found a clip I’d loved a day or so ago. I clicked it and fast forwarded to the action, but I felt growing nausea as it all went on. I started to worry I’d gotten food poisoning. To make matters worse, it wasn’t the exact clip from the other day after all. The beginning part was the same, but right toward the end, instead of the originally delicious “money shot” scene, someone had spliced in some awful, gory nonsense that totally took me out of the mood.
I went to bed, but my stomach still hurt and I had nightmares about stuff I can’t remember. Yesterday, I called Dion like I’d promised. I told him I wasn’t feeling too well, and I asked him if he felt off after dinner too. He said he felt fine, and then asked if we should cancel our plan for him to come over later in the day. Not wanting to be a disappointment, I said no way. Besides, I really did want to see him.
An hour or so before he got there, I decided to watch some p*rn again. My stomach was feeling a bit better and I figured if Dion and I might get physical for the first time, I’d want the performance to last a little longer than the 19 seconds I figured it would with someone as attractive as him. Back to P*rnHub I went.
Again, nausea. To make matters worse, whoever had screwed with the clip I’d enjoyed so much was doing the same thing to other videos. Right when the action was at its peak, there’d be a scene of something completely terrible. A dead baby. Someone getting raped. A guy with his lower jaw blown off. A woman with her face melted from acid. I’m pretty open to basic kinks, but that stuff was above and beyond anything I wanted to see. It was straight-up horror and snuff. My sex drive dried up and I was left dealing with my floppy dick and a hell of a stomach ache. The perfect way to start a potentially-hot date.
Dion arrived around suppertime. I’d gathered my senses in the meantime and had prepared some baked salmon, quinoa salad, and a cheese board. He was absolutely awestruck by the food. I guess he wasn’t much of a chef and none of his other dates had cooked something so nice for him. That felt good to hear.
He devoured the food with enthusiasm and I did my best to match his voraciousness, but my stomach was really bothering me. I tried to hide it, though, and I don’t think he noticed. The rest of the night progressed like I’d hoped. After dinner and wine and some fancy hipster ice cream Dion had brought, we were both feeling good. Well, h*rny. I didn’t feel good. The wine we’d consumed helped take the edge off my stomach pain, but while we were making out on the couch, I was feeling worse and worse. My sex drive was in charge, though, and I powered through the nausea and before too long, we were down to our underwear and getting ready to have some real fun.
I was thankful my nausea hadn’t diminished my physical ability to get aroused. I was sporting quite a rager that Dion seemed quite interested in. Still, he refused to touch me. He preferred to tease with kisses on my lips, neck, and cheeks. Meanwhile, I was pawing at him and practically tearing off his underwear. He resisted, though. Dion got up and stood in front of me. He looked like a Greek god. Then slowly – maddeningly slowly – he inched his underwear down.
My vision started to blur as his anatomy came into view. My nausea overpowered me in a pulsating wave. Dion stood naked only two feet away, but around him emerged a scenario of abject horror and depravity. Screaming children clutched the remains of their dismembered mothers’ torsos as faceless, horribly-misshapen men poked and prodded at them with their bulbous, skinless erections. Other bodies were hanged by their own bowels in the ghosts of trees and posts; the contents of their entrails drizzling down onto the dead and the rapists below.
I opened my mouth, unsure if I was going to scream or vomit. Instead, I just mouthed the word “help” to Dion, and as my consciousness waned from the panic I felt, I saw Dion smiling at me, his genitals replaced by a glistening caldera of gore. It was the last thing I saw before I passed out.
I don’t know how long I was out. When I woke up, I found I’d collapsed to the floor with my face resting in a puddle of salmon and quinoa vomit. The scene of impossible violence was gone. Dion was dressed and standing near the door, talking on his cell phone.
“I’m sorry to bother you so late, Reverend. Yes, this is Dion. I just wanted to let you know I’ve had remarkable success with our first test subject. Yes, that’s right. I believe he’s been entirely reprogrammed. Yes sir, that’s correct. Zero ability to act on his desires.”
I listened without moving as horror and dread came rushing back.
“Thank you, sir. I’ll direct the company to proceed with more ad buys in all metropolitan markets. Thank you, I realize how important this success is. God bless you too, Reverend.”
Dion opened the door and walked out. I used the couch to pull myself to my feet. I called the police and demanded to speak with a detective, but when I finally got one on the phone, I could swear I heard him laughing to himself when he said he’d check it out. I haven’t heard from anyone since. This all happened last night. Now, on message boards all over, I’m seeing people complaining about the flashing, hard-to-close ads that are showing up on Grindr. Those same people are complaining about how they’re not feeling well after having to see them.
Whoever reads this, please help. I don’t know what to do.