My boyfriend, Thurston, was watching television—something about war in Russia—when I slid beside him. “Sweetie,” I asked. “Why have you never sent me a … a dick pic?”
He looked up as though I’d told him that he’d forgotten my birthday. “Do you want me to?”
“Not really,” I replied. “I mean, maybe if you were going away to war.”
A moment passed. “But do you ever want to send them? For kicks?”
“Absolutely not,” he replied. “But I’m a Republican. We don’t behave like animals with cameras.”
“Chris Lee!” I countered, citing the Craigslist congressman who, when you think about it, was like a delicate little amuse-bouche leading up to the more formidable entrée course of Weiner.
The fact that I’ve never had to feign pleasure at Thurston’s genital self-portraiture really speaks highly of him, though the fact that he’s the last man in America to adopt the practice is making me feel a little behind the curve.
The subject came up again the next day at work. Of five 20-something female coworkers, all of them had received at least one such missive.
“Did you like getting them?” I asked. They looked disgusted. Except for Sasha. Sasha was flashing a thumbs-up sign.
“No!” Amy exclaimed. “They are the worst thing you can get.”
“So anything else would be better, even, like, a dead baby sea turtle? That would be better?”
“No,” said Zelda, promptly, firmly. “That’s worse.” She had a thought. “And it would be worse if he sent a picture of his asshole, right?” she continued. “Just bent over?”
It’s a very laid-back office.
“That would be challenging—you’d have to use a timer,” Elizabeth pointed out.
“And if you really want to go nuts,” Zelda said, “maybe it could be scratch-and-sniff.”
That would be worse—the kind of worse that Colonel Kurtz saw on his deathbed. Dick pics, most of the girls agreed, are a close second.
But don’t tell their boyfriends they think that!
“I have, like, 20, all from the same person,” Amy said. “I don’t particularly like getting them, but you can’t act like you’re bothered by it, or the guy will freak out and then the relationship is over.”
“It was the most random thing ever,” Iris recalled. “I’d never gotten a dick pic in my life, and then some guy I just met texted me to ask what I was doing. I told him I was at a bar, and he sent me a picture of his penis. Just like that.”
Guys, what are you thinking?
“Well,” a male friend explained, “maybe men send dick pics because they want to actually think women are turned on by something besides cuddling or commitment.”
Please. Everyone knows we’re also turned on by prohibitively expensive shoes and chocolate.
In fact, if you really want to get us going, send over a shot of yourself lying down in a pair of pajamas, with a plateful of cupcakes on the nightstand, your arms open in a cuddle-receptive position, and a baby sea turtle hanging out in the background, wonderfully alive.
“But that’s not what dick pics are for,” my friend John was explaining at a party. “You don’t send dick pics when you’re taking a girl out for Champagne and a steak—it’s when you both understand that the woman is there to suck your dick and that’s it.”
I cleared my throat.
He went on. “Women might respond differently in the moment,” he noted, “than they do later when they’re telling their friends about it.” He raised his eyebrows.
Elizabeth received her first dick pic as a teenager. She’d met a guy she was into, and they began flirting over I.M. She nudged the conversation toward penis size as a way of being provocative. He said he’d show her. Then her phone buzzed.
“I remember being really, really hesitant to actually click the link,” she recalled. “But I did. Erect or not, the penis is just not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in nature. It’s quite ugly. It’s a fleshy little mushroom on a tower.”
But did she tell him that? Hell no!
“Of course not!” she said. “I think I texted back, ‘That’s … interesting.’” He wound up being her first boyfriend.
“I may be in the complete minority,” Sasha told me over Bellinis at Qi. “But I like them! You obviously don’t want them from a random politician you followed on Twitter. But if I’m sending someone naked pictures of myself, then he should reciprocate.”
“But Sasha,” I pointed out. “You do realize that once you’ve accepted the dick pic as a courting ritual, the steak dinner is out of the question.”
“That’s fine,” she replied. “I don’t need a steak dinner! I will be off listening to wistful country ballads and casually flipping through my iPhone’s photo gallery. Of dicks.”