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Seventy-two messages in twenty minutes. Not bad, thought Jamie as he clicked into Grindr. ‘Though it’s not a hundred,’ he said to the empty studio flat and took the ego-fuelled smile off his face and stropped off to the bathroom.
First the perfect lighting; this was no amateur affair. Jamie didn’t spend hours in the gym each week to let his body down by using unflattering strip lighting in his pictures. In his eyes, Grindr was nothing more than a cattle market, and if you presented crap, you got crap, and there’s no fun in that.
He turned off the bathroom light and brought over the lamp from the living room and a small IKEA cupboard that was conveniently on wheels. After moving, moving and moving the light again, he got it in the ideal position on top of the cupboard.
Once the lighting was right, Jamie placed his phone on the small tripod he’d bought from eBay. It was only £2, which was a small price to pay, he’d reasoned if it got him to fuck with a better calibre of guys.
The camera was set to respond to his voice, so after whipping off his shirt and getting himself in position, he said ‘photo’ repeatedly as he moved from one pose to the next.
After ten or so shots, Jamie picked up the camera and flicked through the shots. None were better than the one he currently had on his profile. The app told him he was up to eight five messages, still not a hundred.
‘The pants will have to come off’ – Jamie said, his voice deep and considered. As he dropped to the floor when his skinny jeans proved too much to take off while standing up, Jamie’s phone lit up. With his jeans around his knees and in need of a brief rest before he restarted his undressing battle, Jamie reached for it.
With so many Grindr messages, plus countless other messaging and dating apps screaming out their notifications, Jamie left his phone on silent. Snapchat, more cunning than the standard app, knew better than just to rely on a beep or buzz, it also goes to the trouble of lighting up your phone.
‘That’s gross’ – Jamie said as he clicked on the white ghost. He had lots of snaps waiting for him, but the one he opened first was from his best friend. The pic was his friend’s balls with two googly eyes stuck on them.
Perhaps because he was 26 and not sixteen, Jamie didn’t like having proper conversations inside the teen app. He hated that it deleted his messages and with so many chats to keep up with, this often got awkward when he couldn’t remember what he’d said to guys in the past. Or worse, he’d fucked one of them and asked for new cock pics as if they hadn’t yet gotten carnal.
Opening WhatsApp Jamie found Toby in his list of contacts and wrote, ‘what the fuck was that? I take it you’ve finished your dissertation?’
Jamie had finished and sent in his PhD dissertation and was now effectively done for the year and had the summer to read – and to fuck a better class of guys now, he’d spent the winter and spring getting into excellent shape.
‘I have finished! So fuck you smarty pants,’ Toby typed back, adding, ‘you only finished so quickly because no fucker understands what you’re studying so you can write any old shit and you’ll pass.’
‘And yours is in “New Media” – I could have shit out your dissertation in a couple of hours – and doing a course that’s full of guys half your age – kinda tragic. Anyway, where did you get the googly eyes from and can you stop sending me pics of your balls?’
The, my PhD is better than your PhD, was a daily conversation starter and often went on for hours but today Jamie wanted to finish taking pictures so rushed it along. His arse was getting cold from sitting on the tiled bathroom floor.
‘I pulled them off a teddy in the supermarket,’ Toby wrote.
The comment made Jamie giggle, though, before he replied, he put his phone down for a second and dragged off his trousers. He cursed as he did, but at the same time giving thanks for being gay because, when his super tight skinny jeans killed off all his sperm, it wouldn’t matter as much to him as it would to a straight guy.
When Jamie made it back to his phone and read Toby’s message he replied with, ‘of course you did, that makes perfect sense for a 40-year-old man to be doing. I guess you didn’t pay for the teddy you maimed either?’
‘35, nowhere near 40 as you well know, princess, and why would I pay for the teddy? It didn’t have any eyes. How creepy is that? And it was an ugly teddy to start with, and the eyes suited my balls more.’
‘You’re a broken toy,’ Jamie replied then, making it back to his feet he kicked his skinny jeans into exile out the bathroom door. He kept on his super cute aussieBum underwear as he knew he was going to need more than a simple topless pic to amp up his messages.
First, though Jamie found a towel and wrapped it around his waist, pulling it and the pants down at the front until just a little pubic hair was showing.
Given what goes on with dating apps, and the pictures you’re allowed to send once you’ve started chatting, all the apps are super hypocritical when it comes to what you’re allowed to have as your profile pic. Naked pics were out, for sure, and often anything too suggestive would get moderated – which counted out tonguing a cucumber. Not that Jamie would ever stoop that low, at least not with a vegetable.
‘Photo’ – towel down lower – ‘Photo’ – just a little lower – ‘Photo’ – too low that’s clearly cock.
With another bunch of photos in the bag, Jamie went back to his phone. His message count had passed 100 now, which brought the smile back, and pretty good for a rainy Friday afternoon. It wasn’t like most people had even finished work yet, so there was time to change his photo and get it back online before the married guys came online looking for fun before they went home to their wives.
‘What are you doing?’ Toby had asked and then written dozens of question marks that ran down the screen, occasionally including the poo emoji for a touch of variation. He’d done this not actually to get Jamie’s attention but as a running joke about the guys on Grindr who say ‘hi’. With these guys, if you don’t reply immediately, write countless other messages and question marks until finally, usually within ten minutes and before you’ve had a chance to read their first message, write ‘fuck you’ and block responses.
‘I’m updating my Grindr pic,’ Jamie replied to Toby as he flicked through the latest round of photos.
‘Of course you are, it’s a day,’ answered Toby adding the winking emoji.
‘Fuck off, just cos you’re clinging to the same photo you’ve used for the last six months’ – Toby had been using the same face pic since they had met at a Uni event. It was an awkward mandatory conference for all the PhD students, though, out of the countless people who attended the Manchester University, only ten had understood the word ‘mandatory.’
After a cringe-worthy exercise akin to speed dating, and even with the thirteen-year age gap, it was clear to both of them that Toby and Jamie had to be friends. After the event and going out together and getting very drunk, they had talked all day, every day, since – mostly by text, but then all their conversations got a second airing at the gym in the late afternoon.
Jamie couldn’t decide which out of two pictures to post and, as it had taken a long time to select them as best and then to try to choose from them, it struck him as odd that Toby hadn’t yet replied.
‘What are you doing? Where’s the vicious come back after my face pic comment? Are you wanking?’
‘That’s disgusting,’ Jamie replied
‘Two things, well several things… it’s a natural process. You wouldn’t have known if you could manage without texting me for more than two minutes. And I do it once a day max because it’s good for my prostate, the TV said. But unlike you, I don’t do it until my penis breaks.’
‘It’s not broken it’s just sore, now enough about you, which of these two pictures do you think’s best?’ Jamie Whatsapp’d the two over to Toby and, as he did, he made a mental note to put more antiseptic cream on his manhood once he had finished choosing photos.
During his dissertation, Jamie had discovered Chatroulette – a site that paired you up with random guys over webcam. This ability to have fun on cam had become quite addictive. If you liked the look of the guy you could, as Jamie thought of it, have a posh wank to real-life porn.
Of course, when the faces popped up on screen, rarely were they Jamie’s type – most guys looked like shut-ins who’d scream like teenage girls if they had to turn off their PS3s. Thankfully, the site had been so kind as to include a huge ‘next’ button which meant that you could skip past the unsuitable.
His addiction had left his man bits a little raw and, as much as Jamie would like to use the site now, he resisted. Though first he rubbed his hand up and down his toned abs and murmured to the empty room, ‘no one clicks “next” on me.’
‘Those pics are both the same unless you count the fact that there are slightly more pubes showing on the second one? Is that the difference? Are pubes the difference? Do I win a prize?’ Toby wrote.
Ignoring the sarcasm, Jamie replied, ‘but which one is better? We’re not building rockets here just choose one.’
‘More pubes for sure seems madness not to. Right, enough about your pubes, about tonight, what time? And will I have just your company or do you have a bunch of boys lined up to stand in creepy silence at the side of us?’
The message count was now at 160, enough to not bother changing the photo, but Jamie uploaded the ‘extra pubes’ one anyway and headed back to the bathroom for a shower.
‘There’s no-one coming with us tonight? Well I have a random coming round in about an hour, but that’s just a quick fuck, and I’m sure he’s the type who’ll have his pants back on before he’s even finished cumming.’
‘That’s super classy, let’s see him’ – Toby said, more than used to Jamie and his quick afternoon fucks. The screen grab from Grindr arrived almost the instant Toby had clicked send. It was one of Jamie’s usuals – a skinny late-teens or early twenty-something with zero body hair and no fat.
‘How do you keep finding a never ending supply of Alien-esque boys? Don’t their long gangly limbs get in the way?’
Turning on the shower, Jamie held his hand under the water and waited. He gently tapped his foot against the plastic base of the shower cubical. The taps grew in ferocity as the water remained cold. Fortunately, before his kicks grew strong enough to crack the plastic, the hot water made its way up to the flat. He was on the eighth floor of a huge apartment complex that was made up almost entirely of later year students and post-grads, and the water appeared to come from a deep water well lying under the block.
At least this was how it felt to Jamie who had a way of locking onto the small things and letting them bug him for hours.
‘I’ll send you a video later of me with the Alien boy, and then you’ll see how it’s done – I know you’re out of practice – I’m heading for a shower now.’
The last check told Jamie that he’d passed the 200 message mark and, as he glanced over Toby’s message begging him not to send any videos, he saw a text message arrive to say that his quick fuck was on his way.
Cursing that he couldn’t afford a new phone that was waterproof, he put his phone down on the counter as if giving up a child for forced adoption and climbed into the shower.