a minecraft fieldguide to brazen harlotry

NAT QUAYLE NELSON

In the hours that I'm not playing Minecraft, I'm dating a straight girl. She doesn't care that I'm a trans lesbian as long as I still have a dick—which is weird because she hasn't even asked to use it, and she totally could. We keep all our clothes on when we make out, which I'm fine with, but for some reason I'm wondering if I wouldn't rather play more Minecraft instead.

          We met in a class called "Cross-Cultural Existentialism in Film and Literature" but it could really just be called "Angst." Our eyes met from across the room while the others were yelling about nihilism, and she smiled at me. The next week I smiled back. Of course I knew her real name, but I called her Smile Girl in my head, because I always wondered why she was so happy reading Kafka and Kierkegaarde.

          I have a group chat called "The Coalition of Swipers Against Bumble," which is named that way because neither of my closest guy friends can get laid on Bumble. I got laid on Bumble once, so they worship me as a goddess. The chat is for judgment-free romantic confessionals, such as when I told them, "I have a huge crush on this girl who keeps smiling at me in Angst class. We've never actually talked yet."

          The first step is admitting you like someone. The next step is to Facebook stalk them. If you want to be above-board about it, you should probably start with a friend request.

          Limit yourself to a quick once-over of their profile until you've at least sent a few messages back and forth.

          Me: Hey! Have you started reading part 2 of Notes from the Underground?

          Smile Girl: Nope, I just got out of a class from 6-10 PM so I definitely haven't started. Pray for me

          Me: No pray for meeeee I could have started hours ago and I didn't cuz of my bad-faith lifestyle

          And that's where all the best flirting starts: Faceboook Messenger. I'm vaguely aware that for the past month I've only been responding emotionally to two things: flirting and Minecraft. Flirting is free, but I've been shelling out $10/month to host a private Minecraft server for me and my friends.

 

*

 

          I used to play on a server called Midian, which is a biblical place: Moses led the Israelites to murder and/or enslave the women of Midian as punishment for their fornication. I wasn't taught that story in Sunday school, though it wouldn't have been out of place [1].

          In those days, we played Minecraft with a guy named Bradley, who I haven't seen in a month or two. Bradley and I shared a love of Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, so I quickly came to believe he knew everything about life and TV. I started taking his recommendations, leading me to Dollhouse, an exquisite mind-blow whose main character I fell deeply in love with. For reasons I couldn't quite express yet, I related more to Buffy the Vampire Slayer than to any other high school show I'd seen before. When I got into Ally McBeal, though, I was enamored with Lucy Liu, until my mom overheard the phrase "raging penis" from the TV room and forbade me from continuing.

          Bradley's parents were divorced, but before that, he told me, they had been Polyamorous, openly sleeping with multiple partners. I struggled to reconcile this concept with my own worldview: one that was somehow big enough to conceive an eternal family in Heaven and swaths of land in Minecraft as big as 3.6 trillion blocks square, yet still too narrow for the stories Bradley told me. When he dropped out of high school, I didn't see him again for a year.

 

*

          I've been wondering how the hell my brother managed to meet someone as a freshman in college and still be dating her in his graduation year. Are they going to get married? Why does that scare me?

          The last time I was with someone, we fucked the first time we met. As she left she made me promise not to ghost her, and I really meant it when I promised. Until she texted me the next night, saying, "I've been thinking all day about how much I want to give you a blowy." Not only did the message reek of commitment, but the word blowy just didn't sound like something a girl like me should want.

          At least now I have Smile Girl, who's way cooler than Blowy Girl  anyway.  I hope it's just a coincidence that she's Asian like my brother's girlfriend, that I'm not enacting some Freudian competitive complex here. I hope things can actually work out between us—though I have to admit she isn't the only person on my mind. There's a blue-haired animation student in the same class who keeps recommending me dark short-films.

          Apparently she plays D&D and her character is basically a "walking fish butt [2]." Among the Coalition of Swipers, I call her Blue-Hair Girl. I originally called her Animation Girl before learning that Smile Girl also studied animation. There are also Red-Hair Girls 1 & 2, and a Poetry Girl who I met on Tinder.

          Before I started dating Smile Girl, we referred to them collectively as my "Coven of Girlfriends," but that got awkward after I was really dating one of them.

*

          My favorite thing about Midian was that we were always building things. Huge, monolithic projects that took us weeks to put together, like our model Parthenon. I was actually disappointed when we studied the real building in high school art history, and it was just a pile of ruins to me, nowhere near as majestic as it had seemed in Minecraft.

          It was in that same Art art History history class where the Minecraft crew finally met girls who would actually hang out with us. David had a crush on a girl named Jennifer. After their first date, David invited her to our board game night, and she brought her best friend, Michelle, an actress. I thought her friend was cute, and I secretly wished I'd get a chance to talk to her without Bradley and our friend Zach around. But Bradley knew Jennifer from middle school, and there was no keeping Zach away from Game Night.

          We played Cash 'N Guns, a game involving foam pistols, a bag of treasure, and cards that say "Bang!" on them. In the first round, Zach trained his gun on Michelle and played a Bang! card. "Michelle, I just banged you." In the second round, he did it again. "Bang. Bang. I'm banging you."

          This happened every round until Bradley leaned over, stared him dead in the face, and said, "Dude. Take a hint and just stop."

          I drove Michelle home when it was all over, and I listened closely to every word she said. I told her I was

raised Mormon and I hated myself for it. She told me her parents were divorced, that she'd loved talking to Bradley,

that her dad was an alcoholic.

          A month later we were madly in love. She came out to me as bisexual, and I went silent, not knowing what to say. She informed me I was the first guy [3] who hadn't immediately asked to have a threesome.

          She made me listen to Taylor Swift and I had to interrupt her favorite song to ask, "Did she just say 'We got along like Starbucks lovers’?"

          "No, stupid [4]. It's 'Long list of ex-lovers.'"

          "Oh. I don't have any ex-lovers," I realized out loud.

          Five months after that I kept looking forward to the dinners at her Grandpa's house with the giant sci-fi library. He lent me my first Harlan Ellison books, and I would read them alone, scarring my soul with anxiety and a deep cynicism about the prospect of true love. I broke up with Michelle and blamed it on the story "All the Birds Come Home to Roost."

*

 

          I've been honest with Smile Girl at every step of the way. I'm all over the place and it's been a long time since I dated anyone seriously. I honestly don't know if I'm looking for a monogamous relationship. She says it's okay, says she just watched a documentary in one of her classes about human sexuality and were we actually meant to just have one partner in the first place, and she says it's fine if I date other people for now. For her part, she sees herself as a serial monogamist.

*

 

          While I'd been dating Michelle, Jennifer had been dating Bradley. And David. And another boy I'd never met before. It wasn't cheating, it was just the way she worked: "I don't do relationships." But it didn't end well; her boys couldn't handle it, except for Bradley, now openly a polyamorous pansexual. She broke the first two hearts and then I suppose she just wasn't happy with the only one left over. Bradley disappeared for months after she ended things.

          That was all in the past, and we both just wanted to make out with someone so it didn't faze me. Soon Jennifer was my Best Friend with Benefits, and it really worked. We knew it wasn't serious and we just never talked about exclusivity until the day we didn't have it anymore.

          My new Best Friend sent me a text that said "I'm really really really really sorry I think I fucked up I really don't want to hurt you... I kissed Bradley last night.

          "Are you mad? You have every right to be mad, I know we weren't exclusive but we still never talked about this scenario and I should have asked you but he was there and I missed him and I couldn't stop crying and just. I'm so sorry I fucked up."

          It took me a long time to scrape my words together. Just the day before, Bradley and I'd been watching Inglourious Basterds snuggled up together in platonic bliss. My mom had walked in on us and we'd had to explain: "No no, sometimes millennials just cuddle with each other and it's just a friend thing. There's no attraction attraction going on here." When the movie was over I had walked him to the bus stop.

          But I always knew this could have happened. I wanted them both to be happy, and I wasn't exactly mad, or even sad. I didn't know what I was. "Hey don't worry you didn't cheat on me or anything. It's fine really"

*

 

          We meet one day at the back door of my house and something's off. Smile Girl tells me she can't come in, that it's not going to work out, not because of who I am but because she doesn't see things going anywhere, I want to be dating other people and I don't want either of us to be tied down, but her family is traditional and she only wants one partner and I'm going to be in New York this summer anyway. It's over.

          So I gather my real friends and we take a surface adventure. I'm harvesting all the food I can from my mountainside farm, Alex is making weapons and armor, and David's making boats for our party. We are to meet at the original Spawn point. Having decided to leave in the dead of night so as to arrive in our faraway land by daytime, we set out from our individual homes. David leaves first, and he keeps shouting into the mic, "There's zombies everywhere! I'm gonna die before you get here, oh my god oh my god." Alex and I admonish him to take or make shelter, to which he responds, "Heh heh heh, I think I have this figured out. Wait till you see this."

READ THE REST IN PECULIAR ISSUE 6

 

1. A family favorite bible story: 2 Kings 2:23.

2. I've seen the pictures she drew on her character sheet, but I still cannot adequately describe what this looks like.

3. This was how I presented and identified back then.

4. It sounded endearing from her.

© 2015 peculiar