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SexPlusAvoidance: The Promising Hook Up That Was
One man's fling is another woman's chagrin

image by Sonya JF Barnett

What was once a great story about picking up a guy in a bookstore has now turned into nothing but sour evidence that some people just don’t get the hint.

We open our tale in a chain bookstore. The arrival of Christmas has me begrudgingly wandering a retail environment a few days before it’s too late, and I always prefer to give books instead of most other craptastic trinkets.  On the list is one for me, a copy of The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. It’s one of those books that sexually liberated people usually have tucked away somewhere on their shelves, yet it had somehow eluded being added to my own library. I thought it was time.

Clacking away at one of the shop’s system kiosks, I locate the title, but can’t find the section in which it’s supposed to be. After circling the top floor and getting ever more aggravated at wearing my parka indoors for too long and already carrying a much-too-heavy stack of hardcovers, I snag an employee.

We start back at zero, back at the kiosk, and he types in the same words I had only moments ago, as if his own fingers hold a magic that will guide him like a divining rod to the Sexuality section. I’m too hot and sweaty to explain that I had already done that part, the chit the computer had spit out crumpled and damp in my hand. But maybe he knows something I don’t.

We traipse over to the appropriate aisle, which is, of course, tucked in a back corner, and he spots the book on the top shelf. “Hmmm, that looks like an interesting one” he says, pulling it down for me. “What’s it about?” I’m not sure if this is genuine curiosity or a live example of some store mandate to exchange literary pleasantries with customers. More likely: proof that the word ‘slut’ will attract a male’s attention.

“It’s supposed to be a guide for having healthy sexual relationships with multiple partners; a primer for non-monogamy”.

“Sounds like that would be a good read”, he replies, “But the trick is to find someone just as open to the idea. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start looking for someone to agree to that,” he says as he turns to walk away. He has a British lilt.

It’s at this point I realize the book stack aficionado is actually kinda cute. Tall, dark hair, sparkly blue eyes. I stare back with a smile and answer, 


This catches him off guard for about two seconds. He returns the smile. “What’s that?”

“You can find them in bookstores”.

He’s caught the ball and asks if he can call me. I scribble my number on the kiosk chit, and walk away.

I’m not quite sure if he’ll bother calling, but as I’m riding the escalator one floor down, I think to myself that I’ve discovered the most ingenious way of picking up. I’m satisfied with the experience and put it out of my mind, thinking that it ended back at the Sexuality section. Like those times you catch someone smiling benignly at you on the subway, and you leave with no words exchanged, the day ahead of you a bit brighter.

Not 20 minutes later I receive a text and the deal is sealed – I don’t beat around the bush. Within a couple days, I find myself in his apartment for a quick, fun romp. He’s still a bit taken aback by having been on the receiving end of a pick-up, that all I want is a good NSA fuck with a semi-stranger so I can return home to my own cozy bed and happy life. We get past the 12 second greeting and fun is had by all.

The tale should have ended there, a perfect little trinket, put away in a box and placed on a shelf to collect dust {much like my new copy of The Ethical Slut. Turns out, it’s a bit dated and now quite redundant}, but it doesn’t. Some saucy texts back and forth for a while, and it’s fine, as virtual flirts can be a good, harmless way to pass the time. I discover that some of his kinks were certainly not my kinks, and I was content not to have a second round. Although I did the seducing in this instance, it appeared he was quite the Casanova, with few limits or even scruples {he really should have read the book}. My fabulous hook-up story starts losing its lustre. Chalk up to “it was fun while it lasted.”

He quickly disappears back to his homeland with nary a goodbye. Not quite the conclusion I would expect after so may exchanged words about body parts and what to do with them, but that’s cool. I can live without farewell missives since I had no real desire to see him again. And I can take a hint. No harm, no foul.

A few months pass and a text appears on my phone from a number I don’t recognize. After enquiring, I realize it’s the bookstore Lothario, returned to the city, ready to tackle new adventures. I send a few basic pleasantries, but take it no further. I had closed that Harlequin chapter. No need to dwell.

What proceeded was a bizarre thread of text greetings every few months from unidentified numbers. Causing me some frustration was that the texter {I always suspect it’s Mr. Bookstore} wouldn’t be forthcoming with his identity, and usually wanted to know my precise whereabouts and plans for the evening. Not one to willingly throw out this information to any Tom, Dick or Mary, I would reply with a “Who is this?”. I need to be sure.

Some form of “Who is this?” would appear on my screen. This is when I realize that a game is being played, and I was never asked if I wanted to participate. If you don’t know to whom you’re texting questions about the night’s plans, you’re either an idiot or a dick. I decide he’s the latter.

Not wanting to engage, I take the tack “if I ignore you long enough, you will go away”. A few more cryptic texts appear in the following hours, almost as if the sender is having a conversation with himself, then it stops. This routine happens every couple months for about a year and a half. I’m due any day for the next round.

I can understand that the first few times, maybe he was super horny/desperate/drunk/whatever, and he’s hoping to catch me a likewise situation. But if he’s continually sending queries to which I do not reply, we go back to our earlier options of either A} idiot or B} dick. At this point I don’t care which, as both will yield zero results.

What an unfortunate turn of events that such a rare and perfect introduction to a fun one-night stand ends more like it was written by one of my favourite depressed authors, and less like vampire fan fiction. But like many stories in my past, I can rip out the last few pages, and relish what I consider to be a pick-up of near cinematic proportions. I’m so impressed with the first part of the story I’m almost tempted to try it again in another bookstore. And Toronto has lots of them.

Postscript: If you want to try the same scenario yourself, I’d love to hear about it.


Sonya JF Barnett, also known as “The Madame,” is the founder of an erotic arts community called The Keyhole Sessions and the co-founder of SlutWalk Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @KeyholeSessions

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