I started out small. I used the cam on my macbook and the light from the lamp in my dorm sitting behind me. I started on a Monday, the Monday one week after I met Andrew. I would end on a Saturday. So, not even a full week.
The pervs loved me. I had a pretty dress and a brand-new haircut that attracted them. 400 people came into my chat room that night and gave me 60 dollars worth of tokens. It was then that me and my wannabe boyfriend, Andrew, devised a plan to start making a shitload of money on Chaturbate.com.
“You know, I’d like to start off by saying how easy it was to organize this date,” he said.
“I know right?” I replied, hesitantly, because I had only just stepped into his car.
“You’d be surprised,” he continued, “most people it’s like messaging a brick wall.”
We talked about how it normally goes on Tinder. You find someone you like, and then you’re lucky if you match with them, and if you do, texting them often times goes horribly. The fact that Andrew and I set up a date, didn’t stand each other up, and actually enjoyed each other’s time was more than what we had expected. As he put so eloquently, “I’m tired of meeting up for coffee.”
We went to the dog park with his dog, Atticus (named after To Kill a Mockingbird). He was an adorable black and white border collie mix. I was wearing a dress while Andrew was wearing a fun patterned button-down shirt. He called it his porn star shirt—he wore that shirt to his substitute teaching gigs. While he did warn me by saying that out of the two dog parks one would be muddier, we chose the muddy one anyway. It was closer.
We were far too overdressed to be in that hole. It’s the best way I can describe that thing. Atticus was running and jumping with another dog while we got to know each other. He was born in San Antonio, like me. His birthday was also a day after mine: July 31st. Weirdly enough, his name also had Czech origin: Simko.
Every now and then Atticus would run toward us and try to jump up onto our legs, only so we would have to dodge out of the way. His white underbelly and legs were brown from the mud. We decided to take Atticus home and give him a bath in the shower. It was a team effort in getting him clean, but I have to say I did most of the work. He still didn’t turn out as white as he was when I first met him.
He gave me his webcam and tripod so I wouldn’t have to use my laptop again. Foolish of us to think that 400 people would tune in a second time. I was lucky enough to get 80 on my second night camming and a fraction of the profit.
Andrew sat in the corner while I talked to strangers on the internet and trying to keep them interested, like I did the night before. I made a grand total of 11 dollars. Every once in a while, Andrew would stand up in front of the lamp and block my light—my viewers could see the movement and did not like the fact that I had my manager with me.
That’s right, Andrew and I considered each other business partners. He was my manager, and I was the talent. He provided me with a better camera than my laptop and also helped me run this…thing. He provided insight into the eyes of a Chaturbate viewer and later in the week, would take photos of me. We’ll get to that.
We started meeting up regularly at my place for sex. It was fun and flirtatious, something I can’t say about many Tinder hookups. I have to give credit where credit is due and say that I loved seeing him. I loved talking to him—he was funny and we shared many of the same interests. We loved movies. It was almost comical how we could talk about a movie in particular, and he couldn’t remember the main actor’s name, so I chimed in with the correct answer. I know that kind of stuff, I guess. I think he liked me.
We got together on a Thursday night, when I was scheduled to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. Overcome with new interest in Andrew, I texted my Dungeon Master and cancelled. I spent the night over at his place. We had sex a few times and watched a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed: Eighth Grade directed by Bo Burnham.
“I haven’t dated in a long time,” I continued, “but I want to ask you something.”
“What is it?” he replied in my ear. He was the big spoon.
“When do I ask about being exclusive?” I said shyly. I genuinely didn’t know what was commonplace. I’d never dated someone from Tinder, let alone someone I didn’t go to high school with. I still don’t know when to ask these things.
“Let’s give it time,” he replied. I took that as a punch to the gut. How could he not feel so crazy about me as I did about him? After all, it’s just agreeing to only sleep with each other. It’s not like I’m asking him to change his relationship status on Facebook.
We fell asleep, or rather, he fell asleep and I lied awake the entire night. He took the covers from me and pushed me to the right side of the bed to the point where I couldn’t doze off. I cautiously moved over him and to the other side: the uninhabited left side of the bed. Within an hour he found a way to take the covers and migrate over.
We woke up that Friday morning, or rather, I woke him up. Remember? I couldn’t sleep. I let Atticus out of his kennel so he could jump onto the bed and wake up his owner. It worked. We talked and played with Atticus and generally had a very good morning. He took me out for coffee and bought me a dirty chai latte and a chocolate croissant. We talked until I had to go back to campus for work.
It was that kind of conversation that I can’t remember having: conversation that is important, nonetheless. It wasn’t mindless, and it wasn’t small talk. We talked about our parents, our past relationships, and just gathering information on each other. Now that we’ve said those things, though, it’s not like I can remember saying them. I just felt like I’ve always known him.
The following night, I was alone camming because Andrew was sick. I made a decent amount of money, maybe 40 dollars. The nights blend together. That week was a swarm of skipping homework and choosing to cam to make some extra cash. Boy, do I wish I read the Biography Of An Ex-Colored Man for my English 350 course. I wish I was reading it now and not typing this.
“Hey guys,” I would say. “Make sure if you like my content, follow me! I have an Amazon wishlist and…” I would try to be flirty and enticing enough to make the pervs want to stay. Some days it was a struggle. Some days it was a breeze.
I remember one day where Andrew came over after I cammed. He wanted to have sex with me after seeing me on his screen at home. We tried some new things that I’d never done with anyone else, which made me excited.
It made me want to be with him even more, because at this point, he still hadn’t agreed on being exclusive. Not even after I went on a date with another guy on that Saturday night—only a day after we got coffee together and talked until we couldn’t think of anything left to say. We weren’t exclusive, right? God, I sound like Ross from the TV show Friends. “WE WERE ON A BREAK!”
I got used to Andrew coming over. I got used to his smile. I got used to waiting downstairs for him to pull into the parking lot. I got used to hearing his manual transmission SAAB (a car that’s one of 18 in the country) ride past my building. The point is, I got used to him.
“I didn’t get to tell you that thing I was talking about earlier,” I said to him while we toweled off in my room. We had just taken a shower.
“Yeah, what is it?” he said.
I hesitated. I was overcome with emotion and confused over what to do. When do I say it? How do I say it? What do I do?
At this point, he had moved to my chair and sat down. I sat down in his lap, facing him, and kissed him. I kissed him again to buy time.
“I think…” I trailed off.
He looked at me intently, waiting for me to say it. I just couldn’t.
“I really, really like you,” I said. I should have told him what I had planned to. I think I’m falling for you.
“I like you too,” he smiled. But he didn’t want to be exclusive.
“Okay, now tease,” he said to me. I burst out laughing. Andrew brought over his camera to take some photographs of me to sell online. You know, the dirty kind. I was wearing my three hundred-dollar set of Journelle lingerie for the pictures. I was sitting in a chair across from him, in the living room of my dorm. I had to tell my roommate to stay in her room while we took photos.
I’ll never forget his photographer voice. He spoke to me quietly, and calmly, and instructed me on what to do for the picture.
“Guys don’t want to see everything,” he said in the voice, “they want to be teased. They want to imagine themselves here. Okay, now bend over.”
I turned around and bent over the chair. I heard a few camera clicks and I couldn’t help but smile at the ridiculousness of the situation I was in. I couldn’t help but smile at Andrew.
We screwed around that night, having fun with mirrors and lighting until Andrew said we got enough to sell. I’m not normally a big proponent of using this phrase only because it implies a lot, but we made love after looking at the images he took.
I sent Shaheer a text asking him to come over. He knew, at this point, that I fully intended to cam with him. This big, muscly (and yet somehow unattractive to me) guy made his way over to my place while I texted Andrew.
“We’re not exclusive, right?” I asked. I wanted him to say we were.
“You are your own person, do what you want,” he told me. Out of spite, I stopped texting him and invited Shaheer upstairs. Andrew didn’t want me enough to tell me to not sleep with someone else.
It wasn’t until after we finished camming when I saw that horrible message. The tokens meant nothing to me anymore. Andrew had tuned into my stream and snapped a picture of Shaheer and I kissing with the caption “Alrighty, consider this over, I’ll send you the pictures via email and I’ll part ways from here.”
I had to call him. I frantically ushered Shaheer out of my apartment and called Andrew.
“Hey, um, hi,” I stumbled.
“Hi,” he said defiantly, “So here’s the deal…”
And he laid everything out. It was quite simple, really. If I had loved him, and truly loved him, I wouldn’t have thought about sleeping with anyone else. It wouldn’t have mattered if he said we were exclusive or not, but really it was a matter of whether I was the kind of person who would be with one person emotionally and another physically.
A day later I practically begged him to come over and talk. He would also get his webcam that he left at my place. The sad part is, I still couldn’t say it. I couldn’t say ‘I love you.’ I whispered it, mouthed it, said it with my eyes, you name it. I just couldn’t fucking say the words.
“Please,” I said to him as he walked down the hall with his camera. He turned around and shook his head.
I went inside and cried for a second. And then I stopped.
I grabbed my ID and ran downstairs. No shoes, no jacket, and into the rain I ran looking for that stupid white SAAB.
“Andrew,” I cried out. I kept walking around the parking lot, my feet numb from the cold and not feeling any of the rocks I was stepping on.
I found it. The car was empty, which meant he probably went to the library or the JC to do homework.
I ran back upstairs, put my shoes and a coat on, and ran to Fenwick. I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy, but I didn’t find him. I planned out this whole speech that I never got to deliver, but by golly, I was going to deliver it.
When he wasn’t in Fenwick, at least to my knowledge, I ran to the JC. I went up three floors and walked around each one to find no one in a burgundy jacket.
So, I ran back to his car. And waited. I wanted to deliver my speech, but it was eight o’clock and I was getting cold. I was soaked by the rain and shaking out of sadness and fear that I would lose him. Lose that San Antonio native. That SAAB enthusiast with three cameras and a huge DVD anime collection. That awesome dog dad with a great taste in movies. He made me laugh, he made me happy, and most importantly, he said no.
After I went inside because I was so cold, he called me when he was driving home. There was no speech that could change his mind. There was no profession of love that could make him want to give me another chance. There was nothing.
Perhaps that’s the thing that I love the most about him. That he has self-respect. He has enough to draw lines in the sand, while I don’t. I’ve fucked up and have been given so many second chances in my past relationships—with Hagan and Jonny. They would stick around after I would hurt them. Andrew didn’t stick around.