Zack's Ramblings: Lube — A Love/Hate Affair
In season 6 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which I am currently watching, a lot of the previously high school-aged characters have a lot of very spontaneous sex. Two people are talking or fighting or waiting for the bus when suddenly, Bam! They are fucking. The show can’t be too explicit about it, so they just show undulating bodies from the waist up, fully clothed, standing against a wall or lying on a table, miming all the faces and sounds of intercourse. As a gay man, I can’t get over this. It just seems so easy. You have the interest in having sex and then you do it. Just like that. No muss, no fuss, no lube.
If Buffy wanted to show a realistic depiction of, say, Angel and Spike fucking it would not be so easy. They would fight for a while and then suddenly Angel’s legs would be locked around Spike’s waist while they kissed. Spike would pantomime trying to slip his dry dick in, and then Angel would yell “OW! Spike, are you fucking kidding me?” He might even turn into Angelus from pain and frustration while Spike went tearing around his crypt, looking for a 6 month-old packet of lube that he thinks he picked up at a gay bar and left in the pocket of his other black t-shirt. Angel/Angelus would look at his watch for a while and wonder what kind of sodomite vampire doesn’t keep lube around, for chrissakes. Spike would suggest things like conditioner or spit, and then give up and resign himself to a mutual undead hand job. (And by the way, you can all thank me for not casting Giles and The Master in the above imagination exercise.)
There is nothing I hate as much as lube and nothing that I could less live without. It is, objectively, a fucking disgusting necessity. For the rest of my life, every damn time I want to have butt sex I have to fish around in my or another’s bedroom/alleyway/airplane bathroom for something with a nauseating smell or texture that will have to be put in the only area of the body with a potentially worse smell and texture, and then deal with the fact that they pick up each other’s worse qualities. Lubey butt or Ass-y Lube is not pleasant and yet I can’t imagine sex without their presence. And don’t tell me its cheap lube or bad ass. Even the best of each (and I have had the best of each) are doomed to eventually voltron into a sensual and tactile nightmare.
In my early days of sex, I thought lube was just a utility, a means to an end. In those days I would buy my lube at CVS. Once a trick said to me, sarcastically, “Oh, I see you spared no expense with your KY” I realized there was more to life. I remember staring up at the endless lube shelf at the much-missed Lambda Rising like a cat at a fish market, overwhelmed and confused and excited at the same time. If only Dr. Seuss were gay! I’d imagine verses like “Tube of lube. Lube in a tube. Lube in a tube for guys who hate boob.” Or something. I’ve since found a brand I like, but even that isn’t reliable.
Because sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, guys don’t keep lube around at all. I’ve had harrowing experiences with hand soap, shower gel, olive oil (though not in a fucking capacity, because it breaks condoms) and other substances too horrible to repeat. Once in college I had a date assure me that the unusually scented liquid he found in his roommate’s drawer was lube. I insisted we turn on the lights to make sure, and was shocked to be holding a bottle of trombone oil.
A mere two days ago I found myself wandering the east village with a new friend, stopping into every bodega on 2nd avenue for the liquid which dare not speak its name. Time and time again I had to first explain what lube was — “Uh, lube? Lubrication? [Finger in fist, in and out motion] Ok?”— and when they didnt’ have it, incredulously beg “no lube? None at all? Not even the medical kind that old ladies use on their catheters?” This was done in a whisper at first, to avoid drawing the attention of the other customers, but by the fourth attempt I was nearly screaming.
Lube! Lube! My kingdom for lube!
I think sometimes people like Fred Phelps are right. Maybe god hates us. Ok, not hates us, but something about gay people mildly irks the celestial powers that be. We aren’t going to hell and we aren’t relegated to unhappy lives. But maybe, just maybe, our punishment for some transgression, like the popularity of Lady Gaga, has doomed us to an eternity of gross, slippery, sticky, tacky, gunky, smelly, not-present-when-you-need-it, breaks-condoms-if-you-use-the-wrong-kind, lube. It’s our gay cross to bear.
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