An Incomplete Taxonomy Of Ferrett Crushes

  • They have pretty pictures. Really pretty pictures. And whenever they interact with me, I have that lightning-in-a-jar SENPAI NOTICED ME thrill and float on air for a couple of hours, but they’re clearly not into me in anything other than a “fun interactions online” way so that’s what I get. BUT WHAT A GET.
  • We made out/scened/had sex at a convention once back – way back – and never reconnected, so whenever I see them online I’m thinking, “Hey, wasn’t that makeout session we had awesome?” followed by me also thinking “If it was that awesome, they’d probably be more in contact with you.”
  • The ones who I have no idea what they look like because all they have is some cartoon avatar and really staggeringly pretty words, and yes I have a major crush on several people who, for all I know, are actually a unicorn with a candy-cane horn. But their brains. Their delicious delicious brains!
  • The folks for whom dating would be disastrous; they have different kinks than me, different ways of coping with mental illness, and/or don’t want to date long-distance. But we sure get along pretty well as friends, which leads to me sighing over their pictures periodically and going oh, you kid.
  • The ones who I’m pretty sure crush back on me, but my life is pretty polysaturated right now and if I start a crush it might be like chucking a match in a dry field and then all the emotions are ablaze for a relationship neither of us has time for so we just cuddle a lot in person and ha ha this is a simple friendship of course we just flirt a lot LET US NOT TALK ABOUT THIS MORE, KAREN
  • The ones I’m actually dating. Yes, I still crush on them. I just can tell them that in person.
  • The women who send me gorgeous pictures about once every three to six months, and I tell them how goddamned stunning they are, and then we chat a little before they disappear again, and I wonder whether they have a crush on me back or whether they just like an enthusiastic person to admire them when they’re feeling down. Either way’s okay because, whee, free pictures of pretty people!
  • The crush I have in some distant, distant city where I’ve never been to and am highly unlikely to be to, but some day we’ll be colocated and the years of smoldering tension will break out in a massive crushfire where my most likely reaction will be “God damn, if I’d known they were that into me, I probably would have checked with my poly circle beforehand.”
  • The sex worker I am deeply in crush with, but also savvy that what they present online is generally some curated version of their lives in order to attract customers, and so my crush is moderated by the fact that they’d probably be genuinely fun to hang out with but would not want to hang out with me for free.
  • The woman who is literally two-fifths my age and she has a body that is absolutely flat-out gorgeous but dating someone that much younger is probably a bad idea for me so I’ll just sit over here feeling bad about my occasional dreams of cuddling them.
  • The woman who is my age and has a very exact read on how incompetent I can be in relationships at times and so keeps a wary distance of me, and frankly I can’t blame her but damn is she neat.
  • The guy who is built in the way that I am attracted to – which is to say, nothing like I look myself – but those sorts of waify pale guys are never into me and I don’t know anything about dating guys anyway and if I actually went through with it I’m pretty sure I’d be terrible in bed with them and how do you bi and hell with it, I’m polysaturated anyway so why not just fantasize?
  • That person who I had mentally marked off as “ineligible” because they’re monogamous or not interested in me or whatever other appropriate reason, and then they hugged me a little too long at a party and I’m like, Did that hug mean anything? and by the time my conscious brain went “No, of course not, people can be affectionate without physical attraction” my little crushy-brain went “TOO LATE I’M IN” and now I try to hug them veeeeery carefully.
  • That person I did a fire scene with and they had The Skin that holds and catches fire like a wick, and our ignition-chemistry was perfect, and I’m not sure I could pick their face out of a lineup but let me get my wands on their back and oh how I will remember them.
  • That person who made that really clever pun that I wish I’d made, and is that all it takes for you to form a crush, Ferrett? and yes, yes it is, do you understand how exhausting my life can be sometimes?

How Polyamory Can Be Like Being Stabbed In The Leg With A Pencil

Stan’s best friend stabbed him in the leg with a pencil.

That, right there, is a perfect sentence: each phrase tells you more about what happened, escalating into violence.

But it doesn’t tell you what happened next.

Because yes, my friend Stan’s buddy did stab him in the leg with a pencil. It was an attack that came out of nowhere; they were in study hall, silently sitting next to each other, and WHAM, the guy jabbed him in the thigh with a freshly-sharpened yellow No. 2 weapon. And Stan yelled and went to the bathroom and washed the pencil lead out of his bleeding knee, and returned to the classroom….

…which is when the weird thing happened.

WHAT YOU’D EXPECT: The friend would look concerned, or guilty, or defensive, or at least aware in any way that he’d just done something violent and inappropriate.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: The friend was just doodling on a piece of paper, presumably with another pencil.

And what happened next was not actually that uncommon: Stan looked at his friend, seeking confirmation that something totally extraordinary had just taken place, and the friend refused to provide it. And, I mean, when someone had done something so crazy, shouldn’t they know it? Shouldn’t they have some shame?

At which point Stan had to risk a confrontation with his buddy to decide on the nature of reality, and things were already awkward, and what if Stan was wrong and he’d just misinterpreted something?

So Stan sat down as if nothing had happened.

His friend’s confidence had literally rewritten reality.

Now, this happens a lot in terrible relationships, too. I’m thinking of a relationship I’d heard of where a woman in a formerly monogamous relationship came home to find her also-monogamous husband dick-deep in another woman. And she reacted in a traditional, predictable, fashion: “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”

To which he, completely at ease – and, according to legend, not even breaking his stroke – said, “Don’t you know? We’re polyamorous now.”

And it happened again. That reality-rewriting.

The wife stood there, stunned, looking for some kind of sign that her husband realized this was shitty behavior, certain he’d at least demonstrate some shame for breaking all the agreements they’d made going into the marriage.

Yet as he displayed precisely zero regret, she began to self-question: had she misunderstood how their relationship worked? Was she forgetting some crucial conversation they’d had? And every time she looked over at him, her gaze slipping off his complete lack of remorse, and concluded that okay, sure, maybe they were polyamorous now. She wasn’t 100% sold, but enough to go upstairs and let them finish.

Confidence: it’s a helluva drug.

And that pencil-stabbing surety is something you should be aware of – because it’s not quite gaslighting in the sense that your partner is lying to you. But it is gaslighting-esque because you’ll stumble upon your partner doing something that is absolutely, unexpectedly bizarre, and then when they display no sense of shame, you’ll start to take your cues from their social reactions. Maybe this is all right. Maybe I’m making too big a fuss.

Spoiler: You are probably not making too big a fuss.

And as always with these things, there swells a huge debate about whether these sorts of people are conscious manipulators who know what they’re doing or are reachable people who’ve just genuinely become convinced that their weird-ass behavior is acceptable. But you know what?

That doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you need to have a good internal sense of when something’s gone off the rails, because in this case their motivations don’t matter – what matters is whether you’re able to call out harmful behaviors in the moment. And if you don’t have a good internal sense, then you need to make sure you have a good, honest, and reliable social network at hand, because sometimes calling up your friends and saying, “So she says we’re polyamorous now” and hearing them go “Oh, honey, no” is all that’ll save you.

People carry their own realities with them, and as humans we tend to read the room to see how we should react. And in the case of people who have a lot of confidence, whether that’s a front to deceive you or a genuinely held belief, you can search them for social cues and come away with the wrong reactions.

But if they stab you in the leg, you gotta call ’em out for it. Even if they’re so placid that you feel weird bringing it up. Because otherwise all you got is lead in your thigh, and nobody wants that.

When Did Weed Get So Complicated?

When I was a teenager, you know how you could tell who the real potheads were?

They checked for stems in the baggie before they bought their dime bag.

That was it. That was the sole criteria.

Oh, I mean, some people knew vaguely where their pot was from – “like, Jamaica” – but those guys were so into pot that jarring them away from weed-related conversation was like trying to hip-check a locomotive off a track. They were the kind of folks whose decor consisted entirely of Grateful Dead posters and bongs.

Mostly, weed was just, you know… weed. You knew a guy who could get it for you. You paid your money and you got a tiny packet full of weed – not Pineapple Kush, not some superhero name like White Widow, just Weed. And you smoked your Weed, and it was either good or not depending on the dealer’s sources that month, and that was pretty much the consumer experience.



Thanks to legalization and fetishization, I no longer speak the language of marijuana – which, if you’ll recall in my caveman days, used to be just one grunted word of “WEED.” There’s strains, and sativa levels, and sleep-marijuanas and pain-fighters, and all sorts of other aspects I’m completely unaware of.

Marijuana’s always made me paranoid. But now I’m paranoid when people merel discuss it, because they’re discussing these elaborate breeds and I’m trying to pretend that I’m the sort of hip guy who’s not going to interrupt their 301-level discussion with my kindergarden questions.

Yet interestingly, I don’t feel guilty about not knowing this stuff.

Instead, I find it fascinating that a culture’s grown up around it.

I mean, when I was young, there was pretty much “BOURBON” and you drank one of three brands. Now, in this beautiful hipster world we live in, there’s small-batch and single-barrel and mashbills and favored distilleries, and I speak the language of bourbon fluently. And it’s not that culture didn’t exist when I was a kid, but it was mostly confined to the snobs and the makers.

Now everyone’s a snob and everyone’s a maker and it’s kind of wonderful, seeing this exploration.

I mean, certainly someone knew the marijuana strains (in their infancy though they were) when I was a dumb teenager, but that sort of knowledge was hard to get – you either had to buy a book, which meant you were interested enough to pay money for a book on a topic you didn’t yet know, or you had to know a guy who could educate you. (And man, lemme tell you, when I was growing up, pot dealers were not the sort of people you wanted to have give you an education.)

Now? If you’re interested in marijuana, “weed strains” will get you a list that you can traverse at your leisure. The Internet demolished the barriers to learning, so now you can become reasonably educated on marijuana or bourbon or film noir in an afternoon.

Wonder why everyone’s a hipster these days? It’s because knowledge has become so wonderfully free. You don’t have to trudge to a library – you can roll around in endless knowledge on obscure topics and come out a winner.

Which, in turn, is a stimulant for further knowledge. Because you have more people able to look up their topic of choice you have more people who can get excited to become experts, and then the knowledge grows like a sativa strain, or whatever the fuck it is.

Which means that yeah, sometimes I wake up and find myself completely ignorant on a topic that used to be pretty simple, yet evolved into a dizzying complexity. But I find that joyous. It means people are exploring and playing, and that delight is creating all sorts of subtleties I might not have noticed before.

It means I’m an idiot when it comes to weed, of course. But if I liked smoking pot better, I could learn.

That’s actually a joy.

I Become Monogamous At Airports

I was dropping my sweetie off at the airport, which is always a hands-on experience: thanks to their chronic health conditions, they need to have a wheelchair just in case they run out of steps. And I’m not leaving them until I’m sure they’re seen safely off to the gate by an assistant.

This last time, we had a chatty attendant trying to get us transportation.

“You two really like each other, huh?” she asked, noting the way Fox and I kept holding hands.


“It’s nice. Seeing people happy at the airport. You going back with her?”

“I’m going back with them, yes,” I said, applying a little stress on the proper pronoun to hint at their preferred gender, but that was – as predicted – overlooked.

“How long you two been dating?”

“Four years.” Followed by a little flare of astonishment from both of us, because we just hit four years and frankly, we’re both still a little stunned that this is going so well.

“That’s nice, that’s nice.” And then she leaned in, conspiratorially: “So when’s the wedding?”

“Oh,” we both said simultaneously. “No wedding. We’re… not that sort of people.” And those who’ve done this dance before can see where it’s going.

“Really!” she said, leaning back, impressed. “Wow, you see a lot of couples who say that, but usually one of them doesn’t look so happy. Yet you both look radiant. What is it? Y’all been married before?”

At which point, I faced an ugly choice:

These were my last moments with Fox, who I wouldn’t see for an unknown period of time because my schedule is in great uproar right now. And we didn’t know how long until the wheelchair attendant cruised up to us, which meant we could be separated at any moment.

I could educate this cheerful woman, and she was already full of questions, and I have no doubt there would have been a brief-yet-incomplete education on alternative lifestyles and all the usual questions and probably dealing with a bit of that vaguely-frowny scrutiny as she dug in to determine whether we were that happy….

Or I could dodge being someone’s teachable moment for the day and squeeze out a dribble of intimacy with my sweetie before I left.

I tucked my ring hand in my pocket.

“I’m divorced,” I said, and she nodded as if that explained it all.

The sad thing is, this isn’t the first alternative history we’ve had at a transportation dropoff. When Fox used to take the train, there was a conductor there who knew us as star-crossed lovers, monogamous and happy based on the way I ran eagerly to Fox to hug them. They asked us little questions about our life, each of which seemed innocuous, right up until we realized the impression they’d built up of our lives was based on thoroughly monogamous assumptions.

Fortunately, my wife is pretty cool with discovering that we’re divorced – or, in one notable occasion where I completely panicked, dead. It’s a joke. She gets it.

Because there’s a lot of talk about “coming out” as poly or gay or trans – as if it’s a thing you do once, and everyone on earth gets a little engraved invitation delivered to their door from alt-sex Hogwarts, and you never have to do it again.

But the truth is, every time you meet a stranger you have the option to come out. And it’s worth it, when you can do it – you can make someone read all the essays you want on the rights of genderqueer folks, but none of that will ever be as impactful as someone they think well of on some level coming out to them.

(And honestly, there could be a whole other essay written on why “Hearing it from someone you know” is more potent, because yes it’s unfair, but it’s a combination of “Humans generally learn from stories, not facts” and “Humans are generally more interested when there’s personal stakes.”)

It’d have been nice if I’d felt like educating that chatty woman at the airport. But the teachable moment also has costs – costs of safety (a lot of trans and gay people can still lose their jobs by coming out to the wrong person), costs of emotional effort, costs of spending time doing 101 level classes when you’re trying to sneak in one last wistful look with a person you love.

And it’s a balance everyone has to strike. Because the cost of me not teaching this woman is that she clearly remains unaware of “non-monogamy” as a potential story for the narratives she constructs, and that participates in a subtle form of erasure because she gets to do the majority of thing of painting over all non-traditional relationship styles with her assumptions.

It’s a cost I was willing to pay that day. I’ve had other days where I had the spell slots open to cast “Educate Mono” and had productive, if befuddled, discussions, and those were good. The value of the teachable moment is great, but there’s also the critical aspect that it has to be willingly given.

And too many people fall on one side or the other – “you HAVE to teach, ALWAYS, when you have the opportunity” vs “the teachable moment is bullshit, never do it, let them Google it.” And I think both of those aspects are short-sighted.

Do the work when you feel up to it. But don’t feel bad if you’ve got other priorities at the moment.

And until something changes drastically, when I drop Fox off, I’ll a different person to suit the situation. I’ll blend in to squeeze one more kiss out of my time with them before they leave for a few weeks. And so will they.

Because we’re always given the option to come out. And it’s not wrong, in any moment, to decide that you’ve got better things to protect.

The Sol Majestic Is Out Today! Go Forth And Consume Its Delicious Words!

So after months of anticipation, my “Anthony Bourdain meets space-opera by way of Baz Luhrmann and Wes Anderson” book The Sol Majestic is out for purchase. And if you like:

  • Food Network-style investigations of fine cuisine in space
  • Delicate gay romances between two awkward teenagers
  • Families coming together to create great art and great people
  • Mysterious casks of alien yeast


So many of you have already supported me I feel guilty asking y’all to do it again – but if you want to help this weirdie little book spread its wings and fly, then there’s three things you can do:

  1. Purchase.  Buying the author’s books is the greatest thing you can always do for them, since it encourages publishers to buy more books and keep their careers going.  The Sol Majestic is available at pretty much any bookstore – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells (where it’s a staff pick twice over), and various indie booksellers.  (I don’t care where you buy it, as long as you did buy it, and thank you.)
  2. Promote.  There’s a lot of books out there, and a single Tweet or Facebook update saying, “Hey, {$Author} has a book out today!” helps a lot.  People mostly buy books recommended by their friends.  You even mentioning it is a stealth recommendation, so your social push helps more than you can know.
  3. Review.  Retailers push books that have more reviews.  They say that 50+ reviews on Amazon is the magic number.  So even if you don’t like the book and leave a negative review, that helps the book.  (And of course to my mind, you’re not obligated to like it, although most of the people who liked Flex/et al seem to also like this book.) So when you’re done, figure out how many stars it’s worth and type up a sentence or two.  It really helps.
  4. See The Author On His Book Tour.  This year I’ll be in Denver (tonight!), Ann Arbor, and San Francisco. Showing up to say hello convinces book stores that hey, it’s worth having this person out here.  Also it makes a socially anxious author like, you know, me feel less anxious knowing you’re coming.

Anyway.  Below are all the links for The Sol Majestic. Thank you if you choose to mention it anywhere.  If you purchase it, I hope it satisfies this hunger for an odd set of tastes you didn’t know you had – much like the famed restaurant The Sol Majestic itself.

Excerpt of The Sol Majestic

Buy The Sol Majestic at Amazon

Buy The Sol Majestic at Barnes and Noble

Buy The Sol Majestic at Powells

Buy The Sol Majestic at Indie Bookshops