Across The Aisle #1: Fundamentals of Separation Anxiety

WARNING: Across the Aisle features a weekly helping of extraordinary, yet exploratory, writing, gratuitous pop culture abuse, and complimentary Funyons. Due to our conscious decision to explore familiar themes in an inimitable, though inherently divisive, manner, such brilliance is solely intended for mature reading audiences. This is Hive Mind 101. That glorious moment when Wonder Twin powers activate. Jay Connor. Alex Hardy. The triumphant return of Voltron. These ain’t no studio tricks. Enjoy.

Fundamentals of Separation Anxiety

Jay Connor: Atrophy. Atrophy? Say it with me: A-truh-fee. “The degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuse.” An odious manifestation of sexual dormancy and undesirability. A distinction traditionally reserved for niggas much more aesthetically heinous than I, and synonymous with either possession of a Christian Mingle account or a collossal dearth in human companionship. Atrophy. Yes, that sounds about right. My penis is slowly dying for all of our sins.

Alex Hardy: You too? Atrophy is quite the succinct descriptor. It is strangely refreshing to see that even across the aisle, there’s also a gorge between Desirables and Desireds. Oddly encouraging that we who consider ourselves The Bomb have the same romantic woes, regardless of where we fall on the HomoHetero Spectrum. Loneliness, like Dennis Rodman I reckon, does not discriminate where making itself at home up inside someone is concerned. I wonder if this is like watching a lunatic on reality television who is convinced that everyone else is the source of their despair, when, in reality….

JC: Okay, fine. Fine. You might be onto something. Track 7 on MJ’s Bad much? I’m not one to point fingers and name names, but some of us are actually trying to break the sanity-deprived cycle here and ward off these beautifully broken evil spirits. What’s your excuse?

AH: Me? I am human. I recognize that I'm too scatterbrained to pursue dating on a level above Regular Bed Buddy of Proven Quality right now. Or something. "I'm working on myself," I believe the saying is, yes? But this human need for companionship often means placeholders. Attractive ones. People who would not be acknowledged in more lucid times. Was that the right answer? Or do you prefer to go it completely alone and underfucked until finding the new and improved wind beneath your wings?

JC: Nah, that should suffice. Provided that’s what you’re actually doing. In The Wonderful World of Hetero, however, “I’m working on myself” is rejection speak for “thanks, but you seem to be missing your pinky toes.” Women don’t handle rejection well. Those “Snapped” episodes don’t manufacture themselves. 

AH: So, what’s the fix? How do we make the cycle a little less maddening? Serial dating? Skeet and repeat until someone tolerable comes along? We can’t all sit around and lament the poor pickings. Can we agree that this solves nothing?

JC: I won’t agree to shit. Contractual obligations give me hives. However, I will counter offer. That being to, at the very least, poke my toe in the shallow pools of courtship. Though I’m not entirely sure how that works on your end of the spectrum. Let’s say someone catches your eye in the grits aisle at your friendly neighborhood Panamanian grocer. Are you traditionally the hunter, the prey or the Stevie J?

AH: Well, as I venture closer to thirty than twenty, I have found myself more open to approaching people I’m interested in. Since being here, I’ve actually taken the next step and initiated a conversation after that moment where I look back and you look back and then someone has to do something. But I do often let my nerves get the best of me, even when it’s established that interest is mutual. Being here in Panama, where gents of a level deserving of much other than a good old fashion Christian Hump and Dump aren’t exactly falling from the sky, it’s not normal to flirt with strangers. Add into that the affect of nerves on my ability to spit game in Spanish and I wind up lusting silently more often than not. I’m totally open to courtship, as I’ve barely dipped my ankle in here so far, having spent months dating someone who apparently was not dating me. Upside: My ho shit Spanish is now unfuckwitable, which is a highly transferrable life skill, no? Do you tend to admire, creepily, from afar? Or do you make your interest known when someone less than terrible reveals herself?

JC: This is one of those fleeting moments where I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free………. to flirt with strangers. But to answer the question, I think my fatal flaw is I’m not thirsty enough. Wait. Lemmie ‘splain. SPOILER WARNING: I’m not the dude that will spend his evening cat calling and breathing down more necks than a vampire. Sadly, such desperation is nowhere to be found in my DNA, which apparently isn’t working in my favor. I’m more of a mingler. Why? Because real niggas mingle, dammit. I sip and indulge on overpriced libations, converse with whomever has the best credit score, and just go with the flow. If the pendulum swings towards courtship and sexual impropriety, one of those condoms in my wallet is destined to eventually die for our sins. If not, my Facebook newsfeed just got a tad more convoluted by its latest addition. Because you can never have enough BitStrips. So to summarize, apparently I need to be a little more Scar and a little less hakuna matata.

AH: Sure, being all brash and Lady Elouise about the situation all sounds very impressive, but I know it’s much easier said than done. Mingling? Hmm. I can admit that I become more fun with a few heavy-handed brown liquor situations in me, but mingling is key. My last two quasi-relationships stemmed from mingling and just being visible and approachable. I’ll admit my priorities of late have shifted from socializing and meeting the next man my father gets to beat around the bush to inquire about to wearing tank tops and having people watch me dance and look amazing and talk to no one. Which brings us right the fuck back around to the now. Perhaps I’ve convinced myself it won’t happen here and am emitting beams of LeaveMeAlone? Maybe I need to be a little more Ready, Set, Eat, Pray, Law of Attraction about the situation.

JC: Ohhhhhhh, so you’re that kid in the arcade—I mean—dance floor, who smashes it in Dance Dance Revolution, while everyone stands around gawking with a heart full of envy and a fist full of sweaty quarters? Nothing about that scenario sounds even remotely conducive to successfully attaining a life partner. Nigga, are you trying to die on Atrophy Island?

AH: So far, showing out in public has been good at people seeing me, and telling me later when we cross paths, “Oh, I remember you from…” but has brought me exactly zero dates, phone numbers, or skeets. So, perhaps I should rethink my strategies? I’ll have to find a balance. I’m not going out to two-step awkwardly with you as you search the depths of your soul for the appropriate beat on which to shimmy your shoulders. Historically, if I find someone who can keep up on the floor, it’s usually a breasted person…which is as meaningful for my romantic aspirations as being a respectable representative of the Black community is for Don Lemon. What do you suggest?

JC: Well shit, I don’t purport to be Patti Stanger, but I just had a come to Jesus meeting with common sense and it requested that I kindly inform you that communication is a prerequisite for a healthy, hump heavy relationship. Though body language (and must) speaks volumes, it’ll take more than Omarion pirouettes and monopolizing all the single women to stumble upon your better half. But since you’d rather pop lock than talk, have you considered online dating? Plenty of Fish? Farmers Only?

AH: I could easily write a memoir about my online adventures alone. As safe spaces for dudes to meet dudes aren’t always plentiful, many turn to these good Internets to find others often in our own communities that we wouldn’t have been able to connect with otherwise, say, in a bar or other such environment. Of course there are DATING sites, and then are “dating” sites, where it’s not uncommon to scroll through a few pages of dicks, chests, and asses like a Fingerhut catalog. It cuts through some of the awkward introductory fuckshit, as one can make their aims known at the onset. Little in the way of romance has resulted on “dating” sites for me. I’ll consider DATING portals when I’m in a…browner city. Here in Panama, Chocolate Thunder ain’t online. He’s living with his mother until 40 and in the closet thanks to residual Caribbean-infused homophobia. Great times, really.

JC: Oh, so you don’t cross pollinate? Strictly (black) dickly?

AH: It’s been ages. Had a moment in New Orleans with a particularly handsome, brawny stud. Things got interesting, and she had locs and broad shoulders and I was muy muy conflicted but nah. Pregnancy scare at 17 aaaaaand scene. I appreciate a nice well-formed titty like the next dude, buuuut actual vaginal excavation? Most I’ve done since is some heavy petting and a little tongue action. It occasionally crosses my mind, depending on what I’ve consumed, because I don’t apparently SCREAM sissy, to satisfy my curiosity and see if I still got it. I’ve had chances. But alas. *turns table* Can you, comfortably and without the need to say NO HOMO, recognize another bedicked individual is less than hideous?

JC: ……..Hold up. Is this a setup? Do I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me inquisitory God? I mean, shit. I’m comfortable enough in my masculinity to traverse the streets in salmon pants and openly mancrush on Justin Timberlake, but I don’t think *proceeds to wade through a crescendo of internal bemusement* I would have a problem acknowledging that yes, there are those amongst my masculine ilk who would qualify as less than repulsive. It’s kind of like when your thirsty ass homegirl is doing her due diligence in trying to find out which one of your friends she wants to do the don’t with. The investigation process is tedious, right? “Where does he work?” “Does he like cats?” “How soon can those felonies get expunged?” If Sway ain’t got the answers, then what the hell makes her think I do? But as soon as she hits you in the head with “Is he cute?” I’m stuck like Quvenzhané’s kindergarten teacher calling attendance. I mean, the nigga ain’t ugly, so “Surrrrre” should suffice, right?

AH: This is where I wish I had a loud, Southern family from Family Feud to pat you on the back and yell, “DASS RIGHT. GOOD ANSWER.” Such a human response, more than the average man would likely say. I’m always fascinated (and disgusted by and sympathetic for) by those men, regardless of orientation, who must go through life asserting and declaring their *chest thump* MANHOOD, reminding others what men don’t do, wondering if the way they open a beer or salute someone projects something they don’t intend to. What pressure. I recently engaged with an associate who hit me with the “I mean, I’m cool with gay dudes as long as they don’t bring that around me.” This is where I point out that he has a face only a (blind) mother could love, yet felt threatened. Ho(with crime scene teeth), please. Lighting round: Were you ever less comfortable being around, or talking to homogays? Were you ever less secure and felt…threatened?

JC: Only in two very specific, isolated, non-homophobic (See? I even included a complementary disclaimer) instances. Sorry Usher, but these are my confessions. The first being in the presence of cross dressers. No, not hipsters (though their branches blossom from the same flamboyant family tree), cross dressers. I have an inherent phobia of glitter, so I find grown ass men baptized in pixie dust and frolicking in stilettos more disturbing than a Rhianna lead single. Throw in exaggerated “makeup” and karaoke power ballads serving as accomplices, and our Saw Movie Soufflé is complete.  The second instance is when niggas like you (Yes, you. YOU, nigga) stroll your happy asses up in the club and commandeer all the single women. I fucking hate that shit. We can’t dance like ya’ll, we can’t dress like ya’ll, and we damn sure can’t horde every ounce of estrogen within a specified zip code like ya’ll. I mean, damn. We let ya’ll have Frank Ocean. The fuck else do ya’ll want? Actually, now that I think about it, the reason I’m stranded on Atrophy Island is because niggas like you (Yes, you. YOU, nigga) don’t play fair. Ya’ll some Game Genie, put-the-Power-Pad-on-the-ground-and-slap-it-with-your-hands-while-the-rest-of-us-are-out-of-breath, ass niggas.

me, dancing with your girl. -alex

AH: Ah, cross dressers. Mission One. Let me toss some coins into your change cup to commend you for using “cross dressers” over “transvestites.” Yeah, uncommon gender expressions can be alarming. But, having moved to big ass Los Angeles, you had better get your Black ass ready to stand in line for wheatgrass or cocaine—or whatever you people do—behind all types of interesting-looking people. See, in that same situation, kitten heels or unflattering makeup would have gotten my eye to twitching. Considering them, though, I have previously taken pleasure in showing OUT once I’ve realized someone was uncomfortable in my presence (he was Jamaican), because grow the fuck up. To your second moment, as someone who’s has left plenty a party drenched from dancing, there is great motherfucking freedom in being able to shake your body down to the ground without the burden of having to look at once manly and unhideous and cool and humpable and respectable and dateable and of a satisfactory credit score to attract breasted people. You can have that struggle. I can put on a tank top and Chuck Taylors and sway, awash in cool, in a corner with my brown liquor and like drug charges to DMX, they will come, no matter what, leaving undicked yet entertained. And everybody wins. Except you, He Who is Unsure of What To Do With His Hands When Not Holding A Drink. Don’t hate the player, mi amigo. Hate Macklemore.

JC: My indignation is indiscriminate. As far as I’m concerned, there’s plenty of hatred in my heart for the likes of yourself and the Grinch who stole Grammys. That said, I’m not diametrically opposed to a peace treaty. Since I’m fresh out of red velvet cake and superfluous Kitty Pryde apologies (because you can never eat enough cake, anime), I’ve consulted with the rest of the Heterosexual Atrophy Alliance and collectively, we propose the following: You will retain the deed to your current ration of Y chromosomes, but ya’ll gotta come off some of those X’s, yo. The nightclub pilfery must cease. If we have to tolerate hours of audio abuse, cover charges and being tasked with mandatory libation procurement, at the very least we deserve some cleavage to fondle. Isn’t that in the constitution? We have rights, nigga. Give us free. My sanity and dramatically improved dating prowess thank you in advance for your compliance.

AH: My counteroffer: I’ll bring my Awesome down to about an 8 on payday weekends so ye of dry dicks can spend your rolled pennies on a chance at short- or long-term affection from a breasted person. Tell Les Insecures that they can unclench when in the presence of a Homosexican like myself, one who you shouldn’t assume wants to be described as FABULOUS *glitter bomb*. Pass on them memo that it’s embarrassingly presumptuous to assume that every gay dude yearns to make sweet love to them down by the fire. Humble yourself in the presence of greatness, lesser motherfucker. También, and more logically, I’m a HOMOsexual, not a HYPERsexual, undiscerning hornball who takes whatever he can get. WE HAZ STANDARDS, BITCH. Most likely, ain’t nobody, ovary-bearing or otherwise, checking for you, broham. Gay men are always discussed in purely sexual terms, negating the whole other 92.5% of our wondrous selves. If T-Pain, hideous yet paid, can have an openly gay personal assistant, publicly bash homophobes, not feel threatened when breathing the same air as a gay dude, and not begin all his sentences with NO HOMO, then your brethren, ashy, overweight, and probably not too far ahead of R Kelly’s deathbed confessions on the Scale of Things That are Revolting, can chill the entire aquatic fuck out. Deal?

JC: But was the glitter bomb really necessary though? You are a man bereft of both virtue and the inherent delight of vaginal corridors. Bitter, single and black. How great thou aren’t.

AH: Doesn’t Virtue live in a storage unit with the lesser Braxton sisters? That’s what I heard. Anyway, four bonus points for bereft. Include that usage in your next Womb Raider job interview. Bitter? Me? As Whitney once said, I’m saving all my accumulated Glory for the most impressive bidder with the smoothest vocabulary. Or something. I suppose that’s what we’re all doing, no? Black: Yes. Single: Yes. And alone. Not bitter. Fuck you.

A million thanks to my partner in crime:

Jay Connor is a prized pupil of the esteemed Professor Xavier and a Los Angeles based freelance writer. When he’s not preoccupied with accruing overdraft fees while chasing the dream, he can be found disseminating terrorist threats on Twitter and on Facebook. Direct all business inquiries, sexual innuendo and Nigerian email scams to

Follow me on Twitter: @chrisalexander_
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