“What Turned You Poly?”: Grilled Cheese, Clerics, and Vampires

a closeup of an open mouth sporting vampire fangs
Image by Laura Tou / CC BY

I stare at the question on my screen.

You’ve been clear that you aren’t of the “I’ve always been poly” school. In that case, what turned you poly?

And maybe it’s because I’m exhausted, but I laugh so hard I scare my cat.

“What turned me poly?” I wonder aloud.

I know I should probably just take it at face value. Answer it. But instead I wonder at the spaces between the words. “Turning poly.” What that phrase could mean if I stop assuming I know its meaning.

It might be the poet in me.

What could “turning poly” mean?

I think of a grilled cheese browned on one side. Catching on the pan. And flip. A new surface contacts the heat. We have turned the poly. It’s absurd, but I love grilled cheese. And find that whenever I make it for others, I do a better job toasting the bread. The sandwiches I make for myself? Well, they have a way of coming out rough. Like a meal you make for someone when you’re angry.

But this line of thinking is leading nowhere. Except now I want a grilled cheese sandwich. And I’m not any closer to answering the question.

So I dip back into the “turning poly” pool. And this time I think of a cleric beset by hordes of undead. Holding up their hands and chanting the magic words. Destroying and driving away countless zombies. In D&D terms, “turning” them, which is about destroying them. But then again, wouldn’t this be “turning monogamy?” And besides, there seems like there’s an implied away involved. Turning away. Driving away. Or turning to dust.

“You’re such a dork,” I say aloud to myself, scaring my cat once again. But to be fair, he’s a neurotic cat.

Once Bitten, Twice Poly

And then a third idea hits me. I could turn poly like people turn into vampires. Converted by a sexy, fanged accomplice in the midst of an erotic act.

This analogy is probably fairer than the rest. After all, Megan gave one mean neck bite.

She was my introduction to polyamory. How I first even heard the word.  And there was an aspect of social contagion. Once the polyamorous possibility had been broached, it spread throughout our friends group. Some of us stayed mono. Some became swingers. And some like me? Well, we turned poly.

But none of us were ever the same.

And I can still see Seth’s face as we sat in an all-night diner 2 years later. “Sometimes, I like to pretend this place is run by vampires,” he confessed.

It was 2011, right after we’d moved to Cleveland, and we were both still adjusting to the big city pace. And the Midwest.

We were reconnecting after my first date with Skyspook. I was giddy from it. And Seth from the excitement of all the newness. The friends he was making. New girls to flirt with.

And the freaking amazing pie at this place that never closed. And whose core staff always seemed to be working, a physical impossibility.

*

“What turned me poly?” I ask myself.

I laugh. “Of course,” I say right before I type the answer: Knowing it existed.

It’s at this point, my cat rubs his face against my foot. Sawing at my big toe with sharp fangs as his mouth relaxes open.

 

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