Feel Good

The Mathematics of Hooking Up

by Olakunle Ologunro


veryone talks about how good the Amala in Ibadan is, but nobody talks about how horrible the Grindr is. Yes, these two things are on separate ends of the conversation, but if one must praise something about a city, they might as well mention the way it falls short, too. You have dodged a married man who wanted to fuck you in his guest toilet. You have fucked (and regretted immediately afterwards) a Yahoo Boy who vehemently refused your attempts at foreplay. Add that guy from Agodi GRA who lost his erection after exactly five thrusts. And the University of Ibadan student who went at it like a pornstar until you were sore. You didn’t come, he didn’t either, but he flopped down on top of you and said, That was good, right?


Too many wrongs, so you delete Grindr and move to Tinder with two pictures of yourself and a cheesy bio: I'm not a baker but I have cakes you can eat.

Conversation with the first man you swipe right on is stagnant.

How are you?
Fine. You?
Until you’re forced to ask him if he’d like to meet up, and he says, 'Sorry bro, I’m not a gay. I’m just here to chat and meet friends.'

You unmatch him.

In the mathematical equation of meeting people and hooking up, Tinder = long talk = sanity. And even though you have the capacity for long talk, the people you like don’t match your energy and the ones you don’t like are determined to text you until your thumbs are sore. When one of them asks you to explain your bio, you take it as a sign to abandon Tinder. You don’t delete it, but you leave it unopened for days, weeks even. Instead, you go out hoping that something about you will give off gay signals: the cadence of your laugh, the extra sweet smile you put on when a man approaches, the prolonged eye contact until it becomes slightly awkward. Intentional yet subtle signalling—enough to keep you safe from harassment, enough to make other gay people find you.

While you wait for results, you wank like it’s about to be banned. You reach into your spank bank and stretch what material you have there. You get creative, make up scenes and get to work. At first, the orgasms are intense. Orgasms that leave you panting, excited at what you can achieve when your hands work with your mind and a generous dollop of Jergens is thrown into the mix. Orgasms that knock you off to sleep so that you wake up with thin flakes of dried cum on your chest.

It satisfies you but soon comes a roaring, living hunger that wants more. You wank three times in one hour. You wank until your palm is slick with sweat and lotion and your dick cums air in protest. And yet, the craving does not give.

So you get back on Grindr, even though you’d sworn to stay off it.

In the mathematical equation of meeting people and hooking up, Grindr = insanity = instant gratification. But that doesn’t stop you. Your erection is the shovel; with it, you’ll dig through insanity to arrive at pleasure.

And that is why his first text throws you off-balance: Heyy. How are you doing? Where are you texting from, please? You know Grindr insanity. It is an abrupt hw va. It is age, role, location? It is an unsolicited, ashy penis picture accompanied by let’s fuck. Not a text message dripping with politeness. Hello, you respond. I’m good, thanks. I’m texting from Agbowo. You?

He’s at Bodija, he says. Just after Oju-Irin. Do you know where that is?

Of course, you respond. I'm not new in Ibadan.

You exchange pictures. He’s dark, sporting a low-cut and a smile that does nothing for his sleepy eyes. He’s not fine-fine, but he can get it. He’s just a bike or two away from you. Would you like to meet up today? Sure, why not? Alright then, he says. He’ll come over soon.

Nice place, he says when he enters your self-con. You bring his footwear inside, lock the door behind him, and pull the curtains closed. How long have you been living here?

The correct answer would be since university. The apartment is how you escaped your parents’ house in Sanyo. The University of Ibadan offered you admission, and that was all the excuse you needed for your own apartment. Even with its rough cement floors, the bloated ceiling that leaks when it rains heavily, you’ve spent approximately five years and some months here: four years studying Communication and Language Arts; one year serving at Sunshine FM in Iwo Road; and the months after POP, that you’ve spent retained at the radio station, while still sending out your CV.

But why tell a Grindr hook-up all that?

A while, you respond as you take off your shirt.

Lucky you, he says. I stay with my elder sister.

Ehya. You take off your trousers too.

Did you also finish from UI too?

Yes. You’re naked now.

I actually finished from Covenant. I studied—

Do you want to take off your clothes now?

He looks at you.

Ahan, somebody is horny, he says.

My dear. You don’t even want to know.

And it starts. His clothes come off and soon, his tongue is inside your mouth and returning to circle a nipple in a pleasurable rhythm. Soon, you whip out the condom and lubricant and he’s inside you. It’s not even up to ten thrusts when it happens: you paint all over him. One second, it’s pleasure, and the next, you’re scrambling for a tissue to wipe him and yourself and the bedsheet.

Let me do it, he says and holds your hand to stop the frantic dabbing.

Do what? Clean up a mess that you made?

He laughs and says, It's okay. It's a normal thing. Why should you feel embarrassed by your body’s natural reaction?

He gets the tissue and wipes you first. Then he wipes himself. He removes the bedsheet, rolls it up and asks for a clean one. You hand it to him, and he spreads it on the mattress. And then he says:

It’s okay if you don’t want to have sex again. We can shower together. Would you like that?

Yes, you would. But who is this man?

He soaps your back and tells you that you have great skin. You soap his and tell him he has a great butt. He doesn’t, but you’ll say anything to stop yourself from thinking about how awkward this is.

Thank you oh, he says. But yours is better. And I know you know that.
After the shower, he lies with you in bed and asks very gently, Can I hold you?

You actually want him to go so you can wank and erase everything from your memory, but you say Yes.

He spoons you, his body a little warm for someone who’s just emerged from the shower. The noise of children playing in the next compound filters in. Upstairs, someone drags a heavy object across the floor. A vehicle sputters to a stop, and someone yells, E ku irole o! Your breathing is a little too loud.

Are you good? He asks.

Yes, I am. Are you?


That’s when you feel his kiss on your shoulder. It feels like touching cotton wool to a wound: soft, with the intent to heal. It climbs up your neck, your earlobe, and when he finds your mouth, you turn to him like a flower turning to light.

You have been with men for whom tenderness is perfunctory. Men who ask you, Are you good? but continue thrusting without waiting for an answer. Men whose ejaculation ends the sex, never mind that you’re far from pleasure or climax. But not him. His tongue teases out pleasure from places you’ve never paid attention to; the stiff fold of your ears, the ignored flesh of your waistline. He listens, asks if he should go on and you nod yes, wonder hidden in the quickness of your response. He licks spots, tickles crevices until you're a squirming ball beneath him. When you can’t take it anymore, you hold back his head and ask, Come, did they send you to me? That a stranger would know your body so well is wizardry you cannot fathom. He laughs, does the cotton-soft kiss again, and continues until you reach climax with a stifled cry.

He falls asleep afterwards. In your bed, he looks like an egg dropped from a height: shell spread and scattered, milky yellow yolk spilling across the floor. You stroke his sparse eyebrow, his hairline; when your hand finds his chest, he mumbles, adjusts his position and continues to sleep. It’s almost 8 pm, you think. I should wake him so he can start going. But you don’t. He looks at home, like this is not the first time he has slept in your bed, like this is not the last time he will sleep in your bed.

The noise of a crying child upstairs is what jolts him awake at 8:46 pm.

And you didn’t wake me, he says as he gets up and begins to dress.

You want to tell him that he’s welcome to sleep over, even though you don’t usually let Grindr hook-ups do that. But there’s something plebeian, reductive about lumping him together with all the men from that app, and you can’t bring yourself to do that.

You’re trying to find the words when he hugs you and says, See you again?

This is one promise you never make, but with him, it comes easy: Yes.

When he shuts your door and leaves, you feel a mild sense of loss.

If you didn’t know better, you would call that feeling love. But it’s not love, right?


And that’s why, when the sex happens again and he holds you afterwards, kisses your forehead, and asks if you’re okay, you remind yourself that it’s just sex. He’s just one of the good ones, and who knows if he’s doing the same with every other person out there?

It’s just sex, but he comes over one day with a crate of eggs because he glanced at your kitchen counter the last time he came, and saw that you didn’t have any left. It’s just sex, but you start to text each other on WhatsApp. It’s memes and stickers at first, but soon you’re telling him about your day and he’s telling you about his, and once, you overhear his sister say, Ahan, who is this person you’re calling every night? I go love oh.

But who said anything about love?

Certainly not you. To fall in love is to willingly subject yourself to avoidable disappointments, and you’ve had enough of those. There was he-who-shall-not-be-named in your second year of university who told you he was staying celibate but had a threesome with your friend. Your friend himself told you after the sex was over, and you didn’t know which hurt most. You lost the friendship, the relationship and almost your mind, but how do you explain heartbreak-induced failure to Nigerian parents?

And then there was he-who-officially-does-not-exist who you were in the talking stage with for almost two months. Turned out he was in a committed relationship.

Still, you tried again with Vet. Medicine guy. You were both in your final year and had begun to speak of your plans using we: We’ll serve in the same place. We’ll live together. We. We. We. A month after you both agreed to be exclusive, he attended a Games Night and made out with three people without being dared. To exercise such spineless lack of control barely a month into the relationship was a flag too red for you to ignore. End of.

So why go down that path again? Sex is enough — get your nut and go, and if it doesn’t happen, well, sorry. Someone else will come along. In the mathematical equation of meeting people and hooking up, everyone just wants to fuck and go.

But not him. Because he soon starts to make plans with you.

Are you free this Sunday? He asks.

To do what?

I don’t know, get ice cream at Ventura?

Is it your birthday?

Does it have to be?

It soon becomes your thing. Sunday afternoons at Ventura Mall, trying ice cream flavours at Latitude or seeing a movie in the cinema upstairs. Random meet-ups at Frostyz ice-cream lounge, your ice cream melting to goo while he gestures at people and tries to create backstories for them. Saturday evenings at Xing-Yu, the Chinese bakery on Awolowo Road, where he makes you try the egg and bacon sandwich, and then the spicy beef shawarma from the vendor outside.

With each date, you learn something new about each other, anecdotes tied to locations and food. Ventura is where you find out he’s scared of lizards and hates strawberry-flavoured things. You don’t care about lizards, and you don’t hate strawberry-flavoured things, but you think the fruit itself is a scam. At Frostyz, you learn about the heartbreak that had him waking up at 2 am to cry with Adele’s 'One and Only' on repeat. You run him through your history of heartbreaks, and he shakes his head and says, Omo, our eye don see oh. You nod, but the only thing you can think about is his use of ‘our’. Xing-Yu is where you tell him you stopped believing. He’s still questioning his faith, and even though his family is slowly warming up to him being gay, not going to church is where they draw the line.

Wait a minute, you say. Your parents know about you?

Yes. He bites into his sandwich.

You told them?

Actually no, they found out.


Later that night, at your place, he tells you about his kito experience: the two guys from Grindr who set him up, beat him, and called his parents to demand money from them. It was why he was withdrawn from UI and sent to Covenant University.

But I went and collected heartbreak because this person found God and didn’t want to continue.

I’m so sorry.

Omo, it’s in the past now. My mother still tries to set me up with girls, but my sister is always laughing at her, and I’m just—

You crush him into a hug and don’t let go until you feel him exhale and relax into you. That’s the first time he sleeps over. But you don’t have sex. Instead, he holds you to himself. And when you wake up to the sound of rain pattering on your roof at midnight, he pulls you closer and you both snuggle against each other like cats seeking warmth.

It’s just sex, right?



But he’s here in your house and in your bed. His Spotify playlists are on your phone. His story is your memory and yours is his too.

It’s just sex, right?

Saying right feels like the wrong answer, so you push it out of your mind.

And it’s pushed out, obliterated when he starts kissing you by dawn. The room is cold and in the near-dark, purple-grey light of dawn, you’re not thinking if it’s just sex or something else. You simply respond by kissing him back, your hands travelling into his underwear to grasp the warm flesh of his buttocks.

It’s going well: he touches spots and your body yields. It’s like a door unlocking at the well-oiled entrance of the right key, a machine performing optimally in the hands of an experienced operator. You respond to his touch, your body shrugs off resistance, almost as though it has a mind of its own.

He pauses to look at you, his hand adjusting the pillow so your neck is balanced.

Are you good? he asks, his eyes trained intently on you. Do you want me to continue?

Of course, you’re good. Of course, you want him to continue. But when you open your mouth to tell him this, what jumps out is not the word Yes. It’s not even Continue. It’s an intrusive, unexpected I love you.

I love you. It comes out before you can stop it. When it does, it’s like a glass cup sliding out of wet hands and shattering to the ground before you can catch it. The aftermath is a wet floor littered with glass shards. For you, it’s a sudden silence filled with potential.

Time speeds, a second feels like three minutes. Why is he not saying some—

I’ve always loved you, he says and all your thoughts scatter. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was love at first sight. He smiles, kisses your forehead, his lips cold against your skin. I saw you, and I just knew I’d found my person. I’m glad you finally feel the same.

Your heart is beating a little too fast and it’s not from fear. You want to speak, but you don’t know what other ways your heart will collude with your mouth to surprise you, so you simply pull him to you and kiss him until he breaks free with a little laugh and asks if you intend to suffocate the love of your life.

But it’s become clearer to you. For you, it wasn’t love at first sight; it was love at first tenderness. Your body recognised it. Your heart too. A body that had been touched by untender hands and a heart that had gone through ungentle disappointments: surely, they would recognise the solace that tenderness brings. Perhaps it’s why they pushed you aside and made the right decision for themselves. You saved his number after you met him and gave room for a continuation—that’s enough to start with. In the mathematical equation of meeting people and hooking up, the body and the heart will always find the right answer.

Olakunle Ologunro

Olakunle Ologunro is a writer from Lagos and an MFA candidate at Johns Hopkins University. He was a finalist for the 2020 Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship from One Story magazine. His work has appeared in Lolwe, Queer Africa, the Gerald Kraak anthology, and elsewhere.

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