18+ Collect

[Houndstooth; 2016]

Styles: successful vamping
Others: M.I.A.

My One-Night Stand With 18+, at the risk of being indiscreet, was an experience I’d recommend trying if you’ve never done it before, if that’s what you’re here to read. But don’t expect me to be able to explain how that sort of thing happens. Sometimes you go for a drink and a breather with 18+, and one thing leads to another; it turns out it’s everything you thought it would be: nothing less, nothing more, enjoyable in exact proportion to how good you feel about yourself at the time.

I’d be lying if I said I went naïvely into the night without hope or hesitation about what I was looking for and no suspicion that I might find it. I did laundry just the day before (they say your second-favorite shirt is usually your best); I feel like lately I’m coming into my own with that bookish and good-natured but totally not-nervous thing I have going, and I did lightly sluice myself with cologne before I stepped into my dance shoes. Past experience with the duo had taught me to come prepared for scantily clad beats, casually glamorous affectations, and a cheesy but charming (but cheesy) performance from Justin (the male one).

I played jaded and coy, never cold but occasionally distant, dipping out once to do some social media promo for work and returning to deploy some one-liners that were pretty sharp in context but not worth reporting here. The music was moderately but undeniably intoxicating, the air buttery with sweat, and most of the conversational content mercifully drowned out by the bass-heavy vibe (“Like eye on you/ High on you,” “Gimme dollars, gimme sense/ Gimme euro gimme yen”). Soon enough — I think it was sometime around Samia’s acoustic breakdown on “Glow” — I realized we had shared the right number of looks from underneath the right number of masks to know things were heading in a satisfying direction.

I had thought I would wonder whether Collect was worth more than the gimmickry I would be reducing them to — the “stereotyped avatars and sleazy images” we each presented as quasi-anonymous but highly attractive performer and critic; in Simon Chandler’s words, our encounter was an outlet for our private fantasies rather than a truthful presentation of self. But I have to point out I found nothing dishonest or degrading about the time I shared with Collect. The intimacy we shred, though certainly transient, was palpable and compelling in the authenticity of the desire we were feeling, even if we were pressing it through a strange gauntlet of social codes and cultural co-awareness. I never felt superior or condescended to. The disposability of the experience, the knowledge that memory would pick out a handful of glances, touches, and exhales from the momentarily infinite points where our desires met and let the rest of time pass through untouched, was not a drawback to the evening but its most exciting contour.

It was fun, we should do it again sometime, my number’s on the counter.

Links: 18+ - Houndstooth

Most Read