I had a pretty decent run of dating dudes. I’ve learned something from every man I’ve been with, some of which are good and some of which are bad. One of the bad ones was for an extreme silent treatment I gave to this guy named Sam. He was nice but, damn, I fucked him over.
We both met on OKCupid in the latter end of the aughts. He was pursuing a Women’s Studies and Philosophy PhD and I was an assistant in reality television. He was a big vegan and I was hungry for anything that moved. He was the kind of guy who has no idea when the last time he washed his hair was, lives with three women who don’t wear bras, and comes from a New England background where you can spend literally twenty years in college pursuing a liberal arts degree of no consequence. He seemed like a catch.
We bonded over short shorts. Even though I knew his legs were no good in them I honored his trying to ride my style wave by leveling. We went on two dates: the first was to a bar where we sat on a patio and smoked cigarettes for three hours (Romantic!) and the second was to a vegan restaurant blocks from his house in Echo Park, where we talked about who should win Top Chef for three hours. After the dinner on that second date, we walked to his apartment, smoked a bowl, and attempted to watch Wall-E. The combination of wine and bowls was an interesting one because we were both enamored and bored by the movie. We then remembered that we have bodies and proceeded to start making out.
Then, I put my hand up his shirt, specifically the back of it. It was smooth. There was no hair. It was slightly damp (Sweaty.) yet that seemed abnormal: I thought it felt like plastic. He felt like plastic. He did not feel real and he felt like a lumpy Ken doll that had some acne. “He is so nice!” I yelled to myself. We kissed and I kept touching his shirtless back: plastic. He is not real. I’ve never stopped a make-out without finishing (i.e., climaxing) but I had to stop this one. I couldn’t touch this doll man anymore. I abruptly announced that I needed to leave and I left. I said we should do something soon.
I did not text him ever again. He texted me a few times with theories about who should win Top Chef eventually leading into disgust and horror by the Carla Hall upset to fucking Hosea. I agreed but I did not respond to his messages. He called and, because I was a dumb child, messaged me on Facebook because I drunkenly friended him after our first date. Months would pass and they have turned into years and I have never gotten back to Sam. I still feel bad. I have even slept with other men who have had that plastic back feeling—but none of them got dropped like Sam did.
When this happened, it was called being a shitty person. There was no excuse for it. Apparently there is now, though: it’s called ghosting. It’s what Charlize Theron did to Sean Penn. It’s the act of literally getting up and leaving a person without explanation or warning by “becoming a ghost” to them. It’s really shitty.
Ghost, a word more commonly associated with Casper, the boy who saw dead people and a 1990 movie starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, has also come to be used as a verb that refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.
Being a ghost to someone is shitty. It’s not nice nor is it mature. It is definitely enabled by technology and, unless that person was abusive to you, you are in the wrong. I feel like Charlize Theron is a big, successful enough adult person to up and walk away from another big, successful adult person’s life. Us little people? You throw another’s world into a tailspin and cast yourself as a shit.
Granted, Sam was as new to town as I was and I came out unscathed. In communities like gay world, your being a ghost will get around and it will shit on your. You will get relationship ectoplasm all over you and people will smell your stank before any date because word will spread.
It felt right when I ghosted Sam. I just didn’t want to talk. He was a plastic man that I discarded as an object. Unfortunately for me, he was more ghostly because I couldn’t get rid of his conversations or texts or various attempts to reach me. The phone was the ouija board by which he tried to communicate and, like man a specter in film, I opted not to talk back when requested.