Love in the library: A first person column getting to know those who get down and dirty in the campus library
Pushed against the racks, locked in a study room, nestled in a cozy armchair off in the corner, sprawled out anywhere on the eighth floor.
Library hook ups.
People do it. I’d bet any amount of money. Aided by the Internet in finding an endless supply of wanton strangers, fueled by what could be repressed sexual need. Toss in the rather risque advertising campaign taken on by J. Murrey Atkins Library over the past two years and you’ve got a dynamite recipe for ‘love’ in the library.
Despite warnings from my coworkers at the Niner Times, I posted an ad on Craigslist hoping to meet a few of these mischievous people.
Deep in the bowels of the online cesspool lurks the Casual Encounters board. Here the individuals looking to hook up can easily find each other, identify their common urges and agree to take the plunge into physical intimacy. It was on this board that I not so innocently posted my ad, “UNCC Library Hook Up.”
The subject, written intentionally to mislead the Craigslist community, is all I suspect that half of the 98 individuals who responded looked at.
The other half, those who read the body of the message, would learn that my goal was not to get frisky in the files, but instead talk to these people and learn their motives for partaking in these so called casual encounters.
It took a few days to sort through the vast number of male appendages that flooded my email.
Then there were the golden few. Those few individuals, who despite that I had just tricked them into opening my posting, readily agreed to be interviewed.
My first interview subject, a criminal justice and psychology double major at UNC Charlotte, referred to as Luke to protect his identity, has spent almost two decades using the Internet to find partners for his sexual fantasies.
He found my ad, he says, because he was looking to hook up. Four or five times a week, Luke patrols Craigslist and similar websites searching for individuals to hook up with. Rarely, he says, does this searching help him find a partner.
“You can just look at any given time on Craigslist over the span of one hour. They’ll be two postings from a woman, one will be a hooker and one will be fake. [There will] be about 40 guys in that period of time,” he said.
Luke attributes this lack of female interest on websites such as Craiglist to two things. For one, he says, women tend to be more conservative with their wants. However he also says, “There’s the classic double standard of girls who do that kind of thing are sluts and guys are men. I don’t necessarily agree with it. I’m the first person for women to be empowered and to enjoy themselves and know what they like and want,” he said.
When he first began using the Internet to find hook ups in 1995, he says it was a different type of situation.
“Back then it was like, AOL was the big thing. Chat rooms and that sort of thing,” he says.
For Luke, the thought of hooking up in the library isn’t just something that sounds interesting to him but instead is something that he has firsthand experience with. The taboo of having a sexual encounter in such a public place drew him, and his partner at the time, in.
“The first time we ever met was in Prospector. We figured, you know, somewhere public. Before the end of the day we were messing around in East Deck,” he said.
“Later on in the library, we just happened to meet there. She in particular had a very specific thrill about people viewing her in a very specific way. She was quiet, reserved, shy. Things of that nature. To be blunt, she really liked feeling like everybody viewed her as a slut.”
His motives, he says, aren’t typical of the people he has encountered. He suggests that for many a public sexual experience can be empowering, but for him the exploits are appealing because he believes he should not be doing them.
“You ever have one of those experiences where it’s like, when you’re a teenager fooling around in your parent’s house when no one is home and they could be home any second? That danger feeling? There’s a little bit of that to it. A lot of that to it,” he said.
“Everybody in my family pretty much walked away with some kind of mental issue. My sister, pills. My father, alcohol. My mother, religion. And me, I thought I got away clean. I didn’t. I got a really really bad sex addiction. Very bad. For me it’s more the taboo aspect that’s a draw.”
Like any social situation, there are unspoken rules that must be followed in a hook up situation.
“The guy always brings protection. Make it some place comfortable. Meet in someplace public first,” he said. “And then after that, who knows.”
Despite the manner in which he meets his partners, Luke prefers to get to know the people he is with and have extended relationships with them, as opposed to the stereotypical one night stand.
“You don’t really get into a serious domination relationship unless there’s trust first. I mean, you wouldn’t let some perfect stranger tie you up and have their way with you and not know what’s going to happen. That’s crazy,” he said.
“You’re always missing something when you don’t have a relationship to begin with. But then to make it purely physical with someone that you don’t really know, someone that doesn’t necessarily care about you at all, it’s never going to be the way you want it to, it’s never going to work out the way you think it will.”
Casual hook ups, Luke says, are doomed to fall short of expectations.
“The fantasy was more important than the reality. The fact that it could happen, or might have happened, versus what actually will. Fantasy never meets up to reality,” he said. “It’s all fantasies and dashed hopes.”
His tendency to fantasize about what will happen with a specific partner has in some ways prevented him from maintaining these relationships longer term. One, he says, ended when the specific woman had desires that didn’t meet his own.
“Eventually I was like, ehhh. Too much take, not enough give,” he said.
He’s married, he non-challantly lets me know, lifting his hand and saying, “You may have noticed this. It’s an open relationship. It is what it is.”
His wife, he says, is bi-curious, though he says, “she’s very reserved about it.”
In addition to a wife, there is also a 4-year-old girl at home.
“She keeps her busy,” Luke laughs. “It’s not so much that that chapter of her life is over, it’s just that she’s had to tone herself down and censor herself. Repress, I guess.”
Luke’s interest in physical encounters goes outside an interest in hooking up in the campus library, a fact that I soon discovered as he began expressing his issues with hooking up in Charlotte.
“Coming from New York, Charlotte is a very very different animal in terms of how people act around here. I know it’s the Bible Belt and everything, but the people here are like, straight up repressed,” he said. “Here it’s insidious almost. I’m aware of like, one place here.”
Luke explains that the nature of the southern atmosphere has pushed the adult industry out of the city almost entirely.
“Here it’s like you’re not even allowed to do it within city limits. You’re going all the way out to Gastonia. And then they just cracked down on that, so there’s really only like one place that people frequent,” he said.
“I never, ever, ever go to play there. You’d really have to have a screw loose to do that only because of the risk factor. You’re literally playing Russian Roulette with every single person in the room. It’s not worth it.”
Regulations that caused the push of the adult industry from the city also are what Luke says may cause an increase in this kind of behavior.
“Trying to enforce morality through law is the first way to start making criminals out of normal people,” he said.
“You have a lot of people who want to break out of that shell and they won’t pull the trigger. They’ll go so far as to say, ‘Okay, I’ll post an ad.’ Or they’ll meet the person. But they won’t go all the way. And they don’t really think that they want to do that. They want to live out their fantasy but they’re too scared because everybody around them is telling them it’s wrong.”
If you or someone you know participates in the hooking up lifestyle, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could anonymously be featured in a future edition of Love in the Library.