Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I was having an issue in my life, the subtleties of which my friends and family couldn’t understand. I was in a relationship with someone who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and it was starting to affect my mental health. My friends couldn’t understand my inability to extricate myself, so I turned to the web for insight. I read numerous threads, immersed myself in websites, trying to understand what was happening to him, happening to me. But I needed to talk to someone else, someone who had first hand, hands on experience, so I turned to the ultimate random sample of a support group: Craigslist.

I posted in Boston, in the relationship section. I wrote a simple post, asking anyone with experience dating folks with bipolar to drop me a line. I needed to move on with my life, but wanted a push from people that had been there and done that.

The response I got was incredible. I got words of encouragement, specific advice, stern words of warning from a slew of significant others. I also received a fair amount of emails from those diagnosed with the disorder, which was fascinating and touching. But one letter moved me to the core. It was from a guy who had gotten out of 2 relationships with women who had BP. His letter had a grace and eloquence about it that was startling. His advice was succinct and unfaltering. His command of the subject, through personal experience resonated with me to the core. His email was compelling, insightful, and ultimately motivating.

Who was this guy, I wondered, as I hit reply. He seemed absolutely incredible, kind, and brilliant. He wrote back immediately. We exchanged a couple of more emails about our experiences with our BP relationships, he soon attached a photo. He was as handsome as he was brilliant. 32 years old, goatee, jeans and t-shirt, petting a Golden Retriever, I had struck gold. I sent him my photo and it was on. He lived in Boston, but visited friends New York every 2 or 3 months. He was raised not far from where I lived. After exchanging a few emails, I was smitten.

The next morning I woke up, and saw another email from him, I couldn’t wait to read it. I got my coffee, I could see it was a nice long letter when I opened it up. He shared loving details about his parents, how the art of great writing had been instilled in him from an early age – that he was now a writer by profession. His eloquence was evident in every sentence. His goateed image was imprinted on my mind, I could hear the pant of the Golden Retriever in my ear. He had attached some more photos, ones he said I had inspired. I looked forward to seeing him in another jeans shot, perhaps in front of a quaint barn somewhere, or on a motorcycle, or at the beach. I scrolled down the page and was startled by the unmistakable color of raw flesh. I scrolled apprehensively – it soon revealed the head of a penis. I scrolled further, to reveal the shaft. The penis head was interestingly shaped, not really bulbous, and it was attached to a delicately thin shaft. It was simply that, a penis, it was floating in mid air, not even attached to its owner. I was dumbfounded. But wait, there were 3 more images. I continued to scroll down the page. Alas, the second photo celebrated the same penis, from a differently skewed angle, redundant at best. The third photo, yet another glory shot of the same penis. Again, completely isolated, not attached to a person, a hand, or presented on a velvet pillow. Yet there was one last photo that had yet to be revealed. As I slowly scrolled down the page, the image appeared to be different, it wasn’t flesh colored, it was something else. The image was of me. It was my photo, the photo I had sent him, with the aforementioned dick poised at my mouth. He had taken my tiny jpeg, blown it up on his computer screen life sized, took out his erect Johnson, placed it at my mouth, and snapped the pic. I was dumbstruck and revolted, all my dreams of having something meaningful with this guy, dashed in a couple of dick shots.

It’s not like I’ve never received a dick in an email before. Any woman who’s dated online probably has at least one dick shot to report. Yet, this man, so eloquent, kind, insightful just shooting his dick off to me at the end of an email extolling his parent’s loving upbringing of him. There was no warning, no flirting, no open at your own risk, there was just DICK, times four. The grand finale: his dick forcing it’s way in to my mouth.

I couldn’t let it go. The dick shots had a hold on me, I had to know what he was thinking. So I wrote back and asked him what would inspire him to send me disembodied shots of his Johnson, out of context in a photographic sense, or in any rational sense.

He said that the smirk on my face in my photo indicated that I had a filthy mind, it apparently also implied that it needed to have a penis pressed against it. Given that I lived 3000 miles away, he said he’d thrown caution to the wind (and as a result any chances of getting near me), he then went on to ask me if I happen to wear a very specific sexy outfit: black shiny boots, short pin-striped skirt, and a belted beige trench coat. Why, I just happened to be wearing that exact outfit, or was I simply reading all of this in a t-shirt and jeans – and a big sad look on my face – a hybrid of heartbreak and revulsion.

That was that. I had vowed to see the red flags with any guy I’m considering dating, in this case the red flag was a gently curved, oddly shaped flesh pole.

This man was so “together”, the antithesis of the man I was breaking up with. Yet he was flawed, somehow off – perhaps mentally askew. I wondered what happened to the guy in the first photo, with the kind eyes, the one that was crouched down, patting that Golden Retriever. Does that guy exist? Is anyone ever even close to that idealized image? Do we all have some pathology? Are we all somewhere on the continuum of madness? The guy I had dated existed to the right of the scale, it was sometimes a nightmare, sometimes part of his allure. Me, I was definitely dancing somewhere on the continuum. Dating this man had brought out sides of me that scared the heck out of me, made me question my sanity, my resistance to seeking therapy. Then there was my goateed, Golden Retriever petting dick shot guy. Where was he on the continuum? Did his series of dick shots indicate a lack of mental stability, or simply a lack of judgment? Who could say. All I knew was that his dick was a deal breaker.

As I move forward to date again, I do so with my eyes wide open. I’m looking for the red flags before they sting my face. I know that everyone has ‘stuff’ and ‘baggage’, and it’s tricky to see it clearly at the beginning or to decipher how much you can take. I also know that I bring my own finely honed array of mental flaws, but self-awareness is key. So I gain insight from my friends, my family, those who know me best, but I also garner wisdom from complete utter strangers: the rag tag bunch on Craigslist. I have been moved and motivated by their amazing wisdom, touched by their anonymous support, and yes, consistently appalled by their random and purely unsolicited dick shots.


  1. This is a great article, Claudia! Absolutely hilarious, yet imbued with a twinge of sadness and your uniquely insightful perspective on the human sexual condition. I am constantly amazed at the male species and their online interactions--what are they thinking!?
    Great job, and it's good to see you posting again....:)

    The Owen Show

  2. Why, thank you, Sir. I will never understand men's fascination with their own manhood, and their lack of understanding that women long for context.

  3. I had a girlfriend once who was apparently pursued by a man with access to her apartment building. I say "man" because proof was the subject of the unsolicited photographs and "apparent access" because they were slipped under her door. There was no attribution or phone number, and this predates email and Facebook. What was she supposed to do in this case where the openning salvo was the finale as well? This leads me to believe that some guys get off on distributing such shots with no other purpose -- except for the assumption that their actions would shock and freak out the woman -- which it most certainly did.

  4. Goodness! What a frightening story. And your theory makes sense, most certainly in that scenario. My hope would be that men would use their cocks for good, not evil - yet the lines are often blurred....