Desert Goggles: Lessons in Love and Sex From Rural New Mexico

by: Brandi St. Clair

Earlier this year, I opted to take a position with a high-profile educational non-profit in rural New Mexico. (If you’re thinking of one in particular, it’s probably that one.) Before leaving for the literal and metaphorical desert, I was a serial dater, averaging about one relationship every 8-9 months followed by brief intercessions of fruitful dating. My stint in the Land of Entrapment (I mean “Enchantment”) has been the longest period of being single I’ve endured since the age of 15 and boi, has it taught me a few things.

Without further ado, here’s a list of things I’ve learned about love & sex since moving to rural New Mexico.

Femme? Fuhgettaboutit.

If you go out for your birthday, chances are your pixie-haired friend is the one getting seduced by the cute soft butch with the tattoos and the fauxhawk. Stepping out for a rousing night of trivia at the airport bar? Watch with amazement as your cute granola roommate gets snagged by the dyke in the hoodie with the spiky hair. If you even remotely enjoy lipstick, Forever 21, or wearing matching bra/panty sets, you have an iceberg’s chance in hell of scoring a cute girl out here.

The First Law of Dating in a Closed System.

As quantity of eligible mates decreases, attractiveness of available companions increases.

We have a name for this phenomenon out here: desert goggles. Never before had a thing for self-absorbed 5’3” Jewish men with the social prowess of a toaster? Guess what—you do now! Don’t worry, you’re not lowering your standards—you’re being resourceful.

M’s Corollary to the First Law.

There is a Linear Relationship Between Levels of Stress and Desire to Mount the First Thing That Moves.

Nothing is better for mitigating cortisol levels than some good old-fashioned sex. If you’re worried that your preconceived notions about casual hook-ups might prevent you from a dramatic reenactment of NIN’s “Closer,” rest assured that 16+ hours worth of work a day will make you rethink anything you ever held near and dear. This includes buying single bottles of refrigerated San Pellegrino at Walgreens to having, for lack of a better term, standards. Disappointed that Peter Lorre ended up underneath you? Don’t be. You can always use it to evoke more poignant sympathy when sharing horror stories later.

Let the townies buy you a drink once in a while. 

They can’t help the fact they look like Dale Earnhardt, and it’s still cheaper than a therapist.

It’s Cheap to Be Single. 

Think about the money you spend on having and keeping your S.O.: dinners out, cutesy gifts, out-of-court settlements… You don’t have to worry about any of that. Femmes, pretty boys, and other worshippers at the altar-of-self: no more shaving, make-up, hair appointments. Embrace life and forsake your gym membership.

Old Men Flirting With You Really Is an Inherent Day-Brightener.

You know it’s harmless, he knows it’s not gonna go anywhere, it’s all for sport. (Note: This rule does not apply to Alan Rickman. Meeowwww.)

You Haven’t Heard a Bad Pick-Up Line Until a Sixteen-Year-Old Hits on You.

“Ms. Stepp, you wanna be my Valentine?” “No, Tommy. Besides, didn’t you just tell me you have multiple valentines?” “Yeah, but you know where my true heart is.”

It Isn’t Forever.

There are over 6000 billion people on this planet. You might get lucky and meet someone incredible while you’re fulfilling your service obligation. Off the top of my head I can think of three engagements or marriages between volunteers. Chances are, though, you won’t, and that’s okay too. Just remember there’s a whole bell curve of partners who will be impressed by your selflessness on the other side.

Brandi St. Clair is currently serving as a Special Education Teacher with a high-profile educational nonprofit in rural New Mexico. She is a charter member of Durango Atheists & Skeptics and the founder of the New Mexiqueers group for LGBTQ educators in northwest New Mexico. She enjoys burlesque, vegetarian cooking, and pictures of Amber Rose in two-piece swimsuits.

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