June 27, 2010
“I liked her because she was easy, because I’m easy too.”
When I read that, I wanted to write Kevin and say, I get that line so much, I get liking somebody because they’re easy, and recognizing that that so-unnecessarily-maligned human quality is actually good, and furthermore recognizing the positive quality of easiness in yourself, and owning it.
And I also liked Kevin’s line because I’m easy too.
Now easiness in a man manifests itself differently than easiness in a woman. An easy man is not a slut. In fact, easy men tend to be just the opposite, because being a slutty man is remarkably hard work, and easy men aren’t up for that. What easy men like me do, when they’re single, is they find a number of likable women, they date them, they sleep with the ones that will sleep with them, and then, because they’re easy, they happily agree to long-term monogamy. Easy to get along with, the monogamy lasts for months, years, and lifetimes. Not sluttiness at all.
I used to beat myself up for this. There were all these people out there who were looking for the ONE, the perfect companion, and I wasn’t. It seemed to me I’d be perfectly happy with about fifty-thousand different women. They were all so smart and beautiful and unique. That one looks good, oooh that one too, and how bout that one. The pickiness I saw in others seemed revolting and egotistical. When I’d get serious with someone, a friend would ask me, “Do you love her?” and I would kind of go spacey for a moment, and I’d want to say, yes, but I also loved her and her and her and her, and why does everyone have to be stuck on this find-your-one-true-savior thing?
I want to go back for a moment, just so you have an example in your head of what I mean by an easy man. Nate Fisher from Six Feet Under is the perfect easy man archetype. He’s a slut—he has anonymous sex with Brenda in an airport maintenance closet—but what truly makes him easy is that he doesn’t run away screaming: he gets in a relationship with her. What man in his right mind would commit to a woman who grabs anonymous men and fucks them in closets? An easy man who sees that quality in themselves would.
I’ve gotten so off-track that I don’t know if I can redeem this essay. Because what I wanted to talk about is why easy is good, and I’m going the wrong direction.
So here’s someone else who’s easy and who we all have respect for: Brad Listi. Yes, the proprietor of The Nervous Breakdown is a slut.
Let me explain.
Last year I received an email from Lance Reynald, a TNB contributor, asking if I was interested in contributing to TNB’s blog. Anyone who’s been a mid-list writer for any length of time will know how rare this moment is. People don’t ask you to contribute to their literary venture. You submit something, and it sits in a slush pile, and then you send them a few cowering emails to see if they still have it, and then they send you a rejection slip. You bow to the man.
Surprised and interested, I visited the site, and what I saw was awesome. Hundreds of contributors–some rock stars, some mid-list, some hacks just getting their wings–all mish-mashed together on a content heavy website, driven by community and lots of Facebook linkage. So I wrote Brad, in my usual literary genuflective way, if I could please, please post to his site, and what I got back was, well, easy: here’s your login, here’s a twenty-two page document teaching you how to post, write often and much.
No writing samples. No bullshit biography. Just post. If the writing is good, they will come.
I loved it. I loved Brad. I loved TNB. I loved easy. Brad got it—what the literary world was missing—fewer hoops . And it was working. TNB was very, very popular, because easy was something we all craved.
Recently, I’ve started my own writing school, offering online creative writing classes at the Basement Writing Workshop. Being easy has helped me as well. I hand-coded a website with a simple layout. I found some friends who were talented writers and asked them if they wanted to teach: if they said yes, they got the nod; if they said maybe, I talked them out of it. I didn’t vet my teachers. I didn’t ask for resumes. I didn’t scare anyone away by being high-maintenance. These writers’ reputations preceded them and I trusted that they would deliver. I’ve made their lives easy, given them some potential work, and in turn, they’ve trusted me, helped me market the site, and made my life easy too. We’re starting classes in the Fall, have some students lined up, and things couldn’t be going smoother. (Knock. Knock.)
We didn’t spend weeks researching the market. We didn’t write up a business plan. We didn’t pour money into Google AdWords. We just nailed down the basics and launched.
So let’s get back to Nate Fisher, and me, and how it’s all working out. It might seem that being easy is settling, but if you have a little faith in the universe, and the way things shake down, it isn’t settling at all. What ends up happening to easy people is that the hard people drop off—they get annoyed with our easiness and leave—and eventually, dumped and feeling a little used, we find each other lying in the trash heap.
And then we have sex in airport maintenance closets and know.