Rob: I have a girlfriend who wants to marry me. Her name is Shelly. She has MS.
Lisa: How severe is her disability?
Rob: Well, I was on the phone with her last night for twenty minutes and her mom was trying to get her pants off the whole time. If we get married, I’m going to have to help her with her clothes and going to the bathroom and everything. I’m willing to do it.
Lisa: Is she able to have sex?
Rob: I tried to have sex with her in the hospital, but we got caught.
Lisa: How far did you get?
Rob: I got a condom on my penis and that was it. That’s when the nurse walked in.
Lisa: Was she into it? Shelly, I mean.
Rob: Totally! She wants to have phone sex all the time. She’s an actress. She’s been on commercials. Whenever she doesn’t want to do something, she says, “I’m too famous to do that!” She’s half-Puerto Rican and half-black. She’s beautiful! But her mom doesn’t want us together. The nurse that caught us told her I’m a heroin addict and I’m homeless. Plus I’m not the most handsome guy in the world.
Lisa: Are you a heroin addict?
Rob: I’ve been clean since I went to the hospital a month ago.
Lisa: Are you homeless?
Rob: Well, yeah.
* * *
Two days later, from jail.
Rob: I broke up with Shelly because I could never see her. The last time I called, her mother said, “Do I have to get a restraining order on you?” I told Shelly I was gonna be sad and she said she would be sad and we said good-bye. After I hung up, I drank some alcohol. I was frustrated so I cut my arm up. Back at the homeless shelter, I didn’t want butterbeans. I wanted everything but the butterbeans, and I told the cook. She started putting all these butterbeans on my plate so I started screaming at her and they called the cops and they took me here.
* * *
Two days later, from the hospital.
Rob: I got caught masturbating by a good-looking nurse this morning.
Lisa: What did she do?
Rob: Just said, “Oh!” and left. It’s not against the law or anything.
Lisa: Are you on medications now?
Rob: Ativan, Seroquel and Tegretol. And Nicorette gum. I’ve got some Prolixin in me too.
Lisa: So I guess those drugs don’t affect your sex drive adversely, since you were just caught masturbating.
Rob: No, these ones don’t. Before, I was on Anafranil. And I told them this time I don’t want to be on that, because part of the reason I tried to kill myself was because I couldn’t get a hard-on on Anafranil. So they put me on Seroquel, and Seroquel keeps me going all day long. I was beating off all morning and pretty much all day till I finally came like an hour ago.
Lisa: Have you ever had sex in a hospital?
Rob: Yeah at this state hospital in Texas. We got let outside to go to the gym and me and this Spanish woman just did it in the dirt. She was homeless, too. I had been telling her that I wanted to perform oral sex on her and she seemed intrigued, so that’s what we did. Then we had sex and I pulled out and came all over her stomach.
Lisa: Do you think because you’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and shelters you’ve had sex with wilder people than you’d be drawn to normally?
Rob: Yeah guys and girls that I probably wouldn’t ever come in contact with if I didn’t have this illness. But then when I’m out and have housing, I’ll look at a girl a regular girl and think, “You’re too good for me.”
Lisa: When did you start feeling sick?
Rob: Well, when I was eighteen I was in a car accident and I had a head injury my left frontal lobe was bruised. But I was crazy before. I always had a therapist when I was in high school. At first because I was picking on my brother and sister and hitting them, and then because I was just emotionally distraught. I would stare at this girl in class and want to talk to her, but instead I would write her a note that said, “I’m worthless. I’m not worth you.” After the accident, I started hearing voices. My first diagnosis was bipolar, when I was twenty. Now I’m diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which is a mild sort of schizophrenia.
Lisa: How old are you now?
Lisa: What does it feel like to be schizophrenic?
Rob: It feels like I’m on a trip but without the hallucinations.
Lisa: Is it ripply?
Rob: No, I act goofy a lot. I like to sing little songs when I’m alone. And I say things like, “I should have remembered that for,” and the “for” has nothing to do with anything at all.
Lisa: Sounds confusing.
Rob: It is confusing. It’s chaos. Recently I’ve tried to pay more attention to my mind, to make sure these doctors are right. Could be left frontal lobe confusion, not schizophrenia.
Lisa: Is that an actual diagnosis?
Rob: I think so.
Lisa: Do you think schizophrenia especially hearing voices has opened you up to sexual experiences you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise?
ROB: I’ve never eaten other people’s poo, or my own, but I think about it. I peed my pants one time and got off on it. Another time, I was at the Greyhound station and this guy drove up to me and said, “Get in.” He was like fifty, or even sixty-five. I was feeling vulnerable, so I got in and gave him a blowjob for money. Earlier, I’d taken a poop in the woods and wiped it all over my stomach for some reason. After he came, he said, “Get out of the car and wipe the shit off your belly.” So I got out and started wiping it off and he sped off without paying me. But yeah, voices tell me to do sexual things. They don’t say it outright. They say it like in code. It’s hard to describe. Yesterday I masturbated in a clean bathroom and a voice said: “At least he does it clean.”
Lisa: What was that code for?
Rob: I don’t know maybe that I didn’t touch anyone? I met my last girlfriend in a homeless shelter in Arlington. Her name was Grace. She was a nice girl. She was kind of weird she wouldn’t tell me her real age. I think she was maybe nineteen, maybe sixteen. I knew that she liked me because one time, in a dark corner of the entertainment room, she stuck my hand down her pants. They let us leave the shelter on New Year’s Eve. We went to a cheap hotel and had sex. It was good. She was young though she didn’t really orgasm. She smelled really good.
Lisa: Was it sort of romantic, meeting in a shelter, the cheap hotel like you’re rebels?
Rob: Yeah, she was like that anyway. She referred to me as “one screwed-up motherfucker who’s gonna fuck everything up.” She was screwed-up too. We were screwed-up together. Grace helped me get an email address at the library. When I got kicked out of the shelter for not coming back one night, and got sent to another shelter, we emailed each other. Then I got housing the end of January. I asked her to come over, and we panhandled and some lady gave us ten dollars. I bought cigarettes and coffee. That was the last time I saw her. I had sex with this other girl, Alexandria, in August of 2000. She was kind of smelly and she had bad teeth. After I spent my whole social security check on her so she could get a tongue piercing, we had sex. The next day we were at the bus station, talking about living together at her mom’s house once I got my next check. She said she had to get her purse that she’d left in the woods. She said she’d be right back but I knew she wouldn’t, so I got pissed and left. I went to DuPont Circle that’s where the gay people are and this guy picked me up and we spent the night at his apartment in Maryland. He was Hispanic and muscular. The next day I asked him for money, and he gave me five dollars. I’ve tried to hustle before, but it always turns out that you get like two or three dollars and a piece of chicken and that’s it.
Lisa: Do you think being so ambulatory makes your sex life more adventurous?
Rob: Maybe more adventurous, but more infrequent too. I haven’t had sex since Alexandria, except for one prostitute in San Francisco. These people that have jobs and stuff, they get to have sex all the time. At least that’s what it seems like.