Most women know by now that straight men serve few viable purposes in their lives other than “pointing and clicking.” That is to say, if he can’t take a decent photo and video of you for the sake of helping you promote your manufactured life, then what’s really the use of having him around? It makes him, in short, worse than a decorative item… in that he can’t even be bothered to add aesthetic beauty into your world. Amelia Fontaine, in her role as an influencer, was only too aware of that. Yet she still, for whatever reason, never gave up on her naïve hope to “have a boyfriend”—which was honestly so much more challenging than having a pet. Sure, she could just get one of her assistants or interns to take photos of her for the socials, but there was something so much more meaningful about having a boyfriend do it. Or, at least, a simulacrum of a boyfriend.
Most men nowadays were simulacrums anyway. Perhaps they couldn’t help it after being beaten into “subjugated” submission by the reckoning that started to arrive in the mid-2010s, when male behavior (specifically, white male behavior) had simply become too untenable. Not only was it rife for constant mockery, but the “laugh to keep from crying” method also turned into all-out rage as exposés and protests became the norm. A regular occurrence with which to remind men that they were no longer being taken “seriously” (not that they ever really were, it’s just that women had to pretend to for their own survival). And yet, how could Amelia deny that she still wanted a hard dick now and again? Or at least a hard click… of the camera.
She could feel the pressure of “finding someone” in time for Valentine’s Day mount from the instant January arrived. And, although many “alternative” forms of celebrating the “holiday” had become arguably chicer than the original intent of lording being a couple over other single “losers,” it wasn’t part of Amelia’s “brand” to be single. She had built her entire “empire” on being a serial dater. Someone who was so desirable that it would be unfathomable (nay, disgusting) to her followers to see her alone on Valentine’s Day. Her last “steady,” Diego, turned out to be a cad like so many of the others. Luckily, she unearthed that he was cheating on her in fairly trackable ways before her followers could point it out to her and proceed to humiliate her life choices, which were meant to be held up as a beacon of “how to live.” Amelia didn’t fucking know how to live, and it was a wonder to her every day when she woke up and saw that people were still turning to her as though she actually knew. Actually possessed some arcane knowledge of how best to “be.” This included the increasingly antiquated notion that one ought to have “that special someone” in their life.
And to get that “special someone,” one needed to be a certain way. That “certain way” cultivated by the having of the “necessary things” to “get” a man interested. So it was that capitalism and monogamy (or, at the minimum, the pursuit of monogamy) went hand in hand, which is why Amelia couldn’t deny that there was far more potential for product promotion, therefore “synergistic” sponsorship, as a straight female influencer. Even if her sexuality leaned more strongly toward somewhere else on the spectrum, she would probably still pretend to be hetero. For there were just so many other hetero suckers who wanted wares peddled to them. Wares that were supposed to make them alluring, irresistible, etc. They wanted to be told how to exist so that they might “attract the right energy”—“right energy,” these days, being a less desperate euphemism for “right man.” And that’s precisely what Amelia needed to do in time for Valentine’s Day, for she had already promised to unveil her alleged boyfriend at a party for Lavelo, the sex toy company that promoted a “sex positive” lifestyle among couples. This really being just another way to say: you should use a vibrator on “ya girl” to keep her interested in what would otherwise be ho-hum, orgasmless sex. Utterly intolerable “over time,” let alone a lifetime. The amount we’re told marriage is supposed to last despite all evidence to the contrary.
Not wanting to “advertise” that she didn’t actually have a boyfriend at the moment and was still looking for one, Amelia figured the novel approach would actually be the old school one: trying to meet somebody in public. Of course, many men were rather skittish about striking up a dalliance with a girl too close to Valentine’s Day—it put too much pressure on him, and a lot of blokes had grown wise to the “scam” of being targeted too close to February 14th. At the same time, though, there was a small smattering of the male population that actually enjoyed romance, that wanted to be targeted. Amelia was hoping to find that man somewhere in the Tuileries Garden, a veritable hotbed of tourist activity, where she might be able to pluck someone guileless enough to believe in the power of Parisian romance.
She started going there almost every day in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, stopping at other cliché spots along the way to get her “influencer shots” so that she could tell herself it wasn’t all a total waste. Her strategy was fairly simple: rotate around various benches and chairs throughout the garden to act aloof while secretly appraising if anyone nearby was temporary boyfriend material. To her dismay, she had apparently forgotten that the majority of tourists in Paris are comprised of couples. People who are already together and in search of no one new. She supposed she had conveniently forgotten because it was too painful to remember during those rare occasions when she actually was single. But now that she was forced to reconcile with the reality—the oh so difficult reality—of what it took to “meet” someone, it was enough to send her into a deep melancholy. Not just because she knew she wasn’t going to be able to force an encounter that would lead to a date for the Lavelo party, but because when she looked around, it was everywhere. The women posing for the camera as their boyfriends or fiancés or husbands obligingly “got the content.” This is what modern “love” had been reduced to. And it might be comical if it wasn’t also rather depressing (which is why it is so often said that there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy).
Maybe Amelia didn’t want a boyfriend after all. Maybe it was time for a “rebrand” that was more in line with Miley Cyrus’ message on “Flowers.” Or maybe that’s just the idea she was consoling herself with out of necessity. Feeling also partly responsible for what social media hath wrought in relationships. Everyone wanted to be photographed in a “curated” manner, so why not use the person theoretically closest to you to secure the desired shot? But it had caused a ripple effect in the long-term. It was as though, more than ever, if you had no skills in the photographic and/or cinematographic realms, you were more likely to be written off by your girlfriend. Cast aside for the sake of her finding someone who could really get the job done. It had become yet another equivalent of having a small, unsatisfactory dick: not being able to take a picture or film a video that made your girlfriend either envied by women or lusted after by men.
Is this the vicious cycle I want to perpetuate? Amelia asked herself. And then the answer arrived when Giancarlo did. He happened to sit down next to her at the bench she had almost abandoned in defeat, striking up a conversation with her that made her stomach (and clit) flutter. He was an older gentleman, but as Amelia soon found out, he just so happened to be a successful professional photographer living in Milan. He would be the perfect companion not just to the party, but for everywhere she went thereafter—in need of that personal touch only a lover could lend to an image. So it was that, with Giancarlo’s eye, Amelia’s account activity skyrocketed in the subsequent months. What a fool she had been to briefly fall prey to the idea that a boyfriend should ever be considered for anything beyond his skills with a smartphone.