Dear (Unknown Name): I was sitting on the edge of the pool table at the Eagle and I was in full hunting mode. I was horny, and feeling aggressive about it – I wanted to get laid. You saw me and recognized me from a fetish event a while back and reintroduced Yourself. And I wasn’t interested. And because I sometimes think the world revolves around me, I assumed You wanted to sleep with me. Because I was thinking only with my dick, it didn’t dawn on me that You were genuinely just trying to be friendly. And friendly You were. You were kind, witty and had a gentle aura about You. And because You are a sensitive human being, You sensed my reticence, looked at the floor, and quietly said “Well, have a good night” and walked away.
Then Paul walked into the Eagle. Paul, my dream man, popular in the community. I had met him at his fortieth birthday celebration a year earlier and we had kissed. Subsequently, when running into each other at the Eagle, we would find ourselves in a dark corner. He would spit on my chest and we’d kiss and swap horny energy. But he was always somewhat out of reach – he never came home with me, no matter how much I tried to get it to happen.
Paul entered and I walked up to him and hugged him and the flirting dance began yet again. But Paul noticed a friend behind me and said “Hey (Forgotten Name), how the hell are you?” I turned around and it was You, the kind, polite man I’d just rebuffed moments earlier. This time, You did not acknowledge my presence, and rightly so. A group of men formed at the bar, with Paul the center. We joked and talked, and I looked at You and smiled. We were all friends, weren’t we? But You looked down and away. You had seen me preen my peacock feathers in front of Paul. When you avoided my smile, I felt hot with shame. My flirtatious dance with Paul now seemed pathetic and sad in light of how I’d treated You, Paul’s friend, so indifferently a few minutes ago. You had class. I had none, and I left the bar, without saying goodbye to anybody, not even Paul. I was not worthy of Paul, and certainly not worthy of You. I am sorry that still can’t remember Your name and I am so very sorry for my arrogance.
Dear Manuel: Who says you can’t meet a great person at an orgy? We met at 6 am at the end of an orgy on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. When the party at the hotel dispersed, I took you home. You were a stunning example of male beauty – latino, gorgeous muscles, an ass that wouldn’t quit, nipple piercings and a tattoo on your right hip. Days later you emailed me pictures of yourself that you’d sent to PlayGirl Magazine. There was no doubt in my mind that you would get a response from them.
I began to learn about you. I held your naked body in my arms as you cried about the painful relationship you had with your father. I felt you melting into me. I listened as you earnestly looked me in the face one night after making love and whispered “No more hunting men online, no more orgies – just you and me.”
But my heart couldn’t crack open. For whatever goddamn fucking fucked-up reason, I couldn’t feel what you were feeling. And I so wanted to. On paper, you seemed perfect – gorgeous, sensitive, loyal. What kind of fool would bolt from this? Only a fool named Jason.
Again, like the man at the Eagle in the letter above, you were sensing my reticence. I could see it in your eyes. You even had the balls to ask me if you were causing me stress, and I lied and said “No, no, everything is fine, everything is good.” One morning, you woke in my bed and gently nudged me. “Jason, let’s get up, go get some coffee.” “Five more minutes,” I mumbled. A half an hour later you said “Jason, honey, it’s a beautiful day, let’s make something of it.” Again, I waived you away for another “five minutes”. I never heard you leave, you crept out of my apartment so quietly. We never spoke again.
We saw each other weeks later at the club. You were with a new lover. We smiled at each other and waved, but you looked wistful and sad at seeing me. Your new boyfriend is a very lucky man. What was wrong with me?
Dear Alanis Morissette: You sang the line “What was wrong with me” in your song “Unsent”, from which this essay is inspired by. In the song, you wrote unsent letters to men with whom you had some unfinished business, or something you wished you could have said to them.
Alanis, your album Jagged Little Pill was a seminal record for my generation. Everyone could relate to you, as you discussed how men had disappointed you, hurt you, misunderstood you, or took you for granted. How awful then that I should admit to often relating more to the men of whom you sang about. Men whose hearts were un-open, or worse, empty. Men who couldn’t connect. Men whose emotional maturation was stunted. I’m the guy that everyone always refers to as a “nice” guy, but evidently, I fail myself sometimes. To know that I’ve caused pain to another man, especially one who has allowed himself to be vulnerable with me, is a jagged little pill to swallow. And an apology seems hollow. But, an apology this essay is.