Episode 33: The Shiny Red Ball

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Enjoy this episode where we explore the social dynamics of the Shiny Red Ball.

Shiny Red Ball (noun) 1. term describing an attractive new person in a community who becomes the subject of attention, desire and jealousy from more established members. For many years it was thought that Shiny Red Balls were women pursued primarily by men with short attention spans. However, in recent years it has been observed that both men and women are attracted to Shiny Red Balls, and that Shiny Red Balls are represented by both sexes.


Narrator:  This program is intended for mature audiences only.

Woman 1:  A long time ago I noticed a pattern.  Every time a new woman came around, the men in our community at Onetaste would practically trip over themselves for access.  "Ahhh.  Look at the new shiny red ball.", they seemed to say.  "Look at how pretty she is, and smart, and turned on."

I wanted to scream at them, "Don't you see the trapped, scared little girl inside?  She doesn't know who she is.  And can't you see that the turn on she is showering on you isn't even real?"

I was into the attention the men put on these shiny red balls.  Here I was doing all this work on myself, and they hardly noticed me.  They wanted the newbie.  Out of spite, I wanted to pop the women's bubbles, let them know that all this attention was just a phase, and they really weren't all that special.  "Enjoy it, because it won't last long.", I wanted to say.  "The next wave of women will come and you'll be left standing in the dust wondering what happened." 

Sometime last fall I noticed a new pattern, and my perspective changed.  While I used to think that the shiny red ball phenomen applied only to men who chased after every pretty new thing, it seemeed that we women were equally and quite willingly suceptible.

New men were coming in, and they were cute and interesting.  And we hadn't had new, cute interesting guys come in in a while.  And I noticed all the women strutting and puffing out their feathers.  And in that unspoken way that women do, we were making deals.  "You can have him, but I want him.  And i fyou want, we can trade." 

I found myself wondering, "I wonder what he would be like.  And him, and him."  There was the sensitive but fun buddhist.  The young one who was eager and turned on.  And the tall good looking one who turned out to be more perceptive than a first glance would indicate.

After I read about the shiny red ball phenomonon last year and posted it on the Onetaste chatboard, the term caught on and become part of the Onetaste Lexicon.  People loved it.  It described a certain, until then, unspoken social dynamic that I think is present eerywhere and not just at Onetaste.

The shiny red ball is the sparkly new person.  They draw our attention, breaking up the mononity, adding excitement, and possibly hope for a future that will be different than the one we have known.

From Onetaste Urban Retreat Center in San Francicso we bring you "A Taste of Sex: Reality Audio".  A pod cast featuring stories and perspectives from people engaged in the conscious exploration of connection, sensuality, and relationship.  Today's topic:  the shiny red ball. 

Part 1:  one man's perspective on the social heirarchy that exists in community. 
Part 2:  A woman who found herself perpetually chasing shiny red ball after shiny red ball.

I'm J .  Stay tuned.

Part 1:  The social dynamics at Onetaste are really no different than anywhere else.  We just happened to live in community, in close quarters, and in constant observation of each other.  So whatever dynamics there are, we notice them. 

The following was written by Chris, who derived a taxonomy for the men at Onetaste in one, shall we say, playfully sardonic moment and posted it on our chatboard, which is at Onetaste.us.

While the categories are seemingly specific to Onetaste men, listen closely.  If you're a guy, you just might recognize yourself.

Chris:  Dear Onetaste men.  I've been watching you for a while now, and I've observed some patterns in the way that you play and act around here.  I've noticed that you all fall into one of the few select categories.  Listen carefully and trust me, you're in one of them. 

Experienced vets.  Also known as enlightend players.  You're producing and putting into the system, and you've done the hard work I know it takes just to stay in the system for any length of time.  So you guys have earned your bones, and whatever you have, you fully deserve it as far as I'm concered.  You've settled into a certain kind of equilibrium, so you are confident that you have what you want.  You are not starving and grabbing everything in sight.  Oh, and I've also figured out many of your games and patterns.  So as long as you stick to them and don't surprise me with any erratic behavior, I can feel more comfort thinking I know how you are likely to move in a given situation.  And even if you do pull a fast one on me, I actually trust that you are acting and playing for people's freedom, not selfish gain.  And I'm willing to roll with that. 

Disengaged vets.  There are two sub-categories for this type of player.  Sub category one, otherwise known as kick me players, because you walk around like you have a kick me sign on your back.  You guys have been around for a while, but you don't have much confidence.  As a consequence, you don't try that hard or have that much.  And rather than take responsibility, you like to blame the women who won't give you what you want for what you don't have. 

Sub category two:  masher.  You try really hard, but come across so needy to women that you're ineffective and actually work against yourselves.  So no real threat there. 

Doormats and saviors.  Ah, I know this one so well.  You guys hustle around trying to please and save the women.  Giving backrubs, playing chofear, taking them shopping.  The list is endless.  You are the nice guys who never get anything.  And while it's fun to watch you run yourself ragged, it stings a little when I see you being taken advantage of played gratuitously.  I see too much of myself reflected in you.  And there's a part of myself that wants to scream "Wake up!" when I feel the dissapointment you inevitably experience when you get nothing for all that effort and earnestness. 

Shiny Red Balls.  I suppose I was one of these once.  Your newness and freshness gets them twitter baited.  You might be cute or even down right good looking.  At any rate, you're the fresh meat.  And you draw attention because you're so new and give off the thrill of undiscovered potential.  In fact, you might even be the man of their dreams.  Part of what bugs me about you, is that when I was a shiny red ball, I didn't really leverage the opportunity when I had the chance.  So if I see you coming in and getting alot, I silently hate you retroactively for having more than me.  My main consellation here is seeing your heart broken and the sweet and delicious [xx] I feel when I see your cold shivering body lying on the side of the road as her tail lights fade off in the distance.  On the other hand, your gluttony is the vein of my existence.  Seeing you fall into eager turned on arms night after night makes me seeth will jealousy.  Burn in hell!

Unelightened player.  No matter how much you get you're like a cookie monster.  You eat and eat and you're never full.  Still, you've been around a while now.  And in spite of myself, I've grown to like you.  I can't just blow you off.  At the same time, your hunger for sex and women's approval does not seem to abate.  And you have a hard time settling into the abundance of your surroundings.  So you keep playing like there's still not enough to go around.  And you either continue grabbing at everything you can get or you get super anxious and jealous when you see someone taking something you wanted for yourself.  I mean, geez, when are you giong to realize that you're trying to fill a black hole and your deepest desire is hidden in plain sight.  All you have to do is open to receiving the full energy of what you have and you can drp this compulsion towards take take take.  You should try being grateful for once instead spending inordinate amounts of time chasing ass and trying to grab for more.  Oh, and if you're good looking and have some skill, charm, or seduction, I hate you double because you should be using your power to serve and not take.  You know what I'm talking about mother fucker.  Of course, I wouldn't know anything about this last category.  Heavens no.  How could you even suggest such a thing? 

Anyway my fellow boys to men, one of these categories is where I have you pegged, just in case you were wondering.  Oh, and if you're also wondering why I don't seem to like you or want to connect with you, well it's a safe bet that I have you slotted as either a shiny red ball or unenlightened player, the categories that threaten me the most. 

Ok.  Let the games resume!

Beth is somewhat of an expert on shiny red balls.  Her pattern is to keep a few balls in the air at once, if you know what I mean.  For her, catching the balls is actually the easy part.  The challenge is when the shiny red balls turn not so shiny.  That is, she gets to know them and reality sets in. 

What do you find so appealing about the shiny red ball.  Here's someone who like, new guy comes in, face gets really bright, you become friends with them really quickly and he loves you for a really long time.  And then at some point disillusionment sets in.

So I'm wondering like, what's that initial hit that you get? 

Beth:  The combination of, "Ooooo. A new person to discover."  It almost feels like going to the amusement park and I get to try out a new ride.  You know, like what are they going to react to?  I love playing with people in different ways and just like testing them, testing them, testing them just to see how do they react to stuff.  It's a thrill to me to discover that.  It's like unwrapping a present.

J:  And is it true for both men and women or do you have a preference? 

Beth:  No it's for men.

J:  Ok.  What's that about?

Beth:  Because women I'm more scared of.  And women I'm more threatened by.  And I feel more competitive with women.  And men I've just been studying them for so many years.

J:  What's your pattern?  And can you give us an example too?

Beth:  Yeeeeees.  The pattern is, I'll notice a moment when I'll feel boredom.  It's when my life gets quiet and there's not as much drama as usual, I'll have that moment where I'll know I'm on the hunt.  My eyes will lock on the target and I'll just know it.  And I'll have the thought, "thats him."  And then I'll find a good reason to talk to them.  And this has been true in almost every single one;  the reason that I find to talk to them has something to do with flattering them, and I act like I don't know I'm doing that.  So then the pattern goes like they are so entranced.  And then the more they get entranced the less entranced I get and I start to get bored again because it's not hard. 

J:  How long does the stage of equality last where your into them and they're into you?

Beth: It varies.  It could be from minutes to weeks.


It really depends on how much other stuff I hvae going on and how well they play with me.  But when my level of interest starts to go down, I know there going to be bed on what I've given them so far for a little while.  They have something to tide them over.  And they can't see clearly. 

J:  Because you blinded them.

Beth:  My interest will start to go down but I can still hide it.  Like I'll no on the inside, "Oh honey you don't have a chance."  But I'll never show that.  I'm really good at hiding that.  So then they'll have a moment when they realize I'm not as interested.  And then they'll feel really confused and then that's the moment when I'm really really good about seeming to make it about something that they did or didn't do. 

After I blame them for something, even if it's kind of like a sideways blame, then the next step is I'll try to remind them that they came to Onetaste to open up.  And then what happens is they'll explore their interest in other women and I'll get really jealous and angry with them.  And it will have the feeling inside of me, which will then be inside of them, that they failed a test somehow that they didn't even know about.

J:  Then what happens?

Beth:  It never really goes well after this point. 

J:  You've been listening to A Taste of Sex.  We'll be back after this short break.


J:  Welcome back to A Taste of Sex.  I'm J . 

Beth:  It's just so different for me lately J because I had that one person that I had my attention on for such a long time.  It was like he was my safety net.  And so I played this game much much harder knowing that I always had that one person to go back to.  It's different now.  It feels like the stakes are higher and I don't know what the pattern will look like from here on out when I don't have that idea of one partner who will catch me if I really fall. 

J:  You have more of an investment in the shiny red balls?  Is that what it is?

Beth:  Also, I think I am maturing some.  I have more of an interest in seeing how people work.  But I also have an interest in making sure that my sexual needs are filled and that's reallly strange not having a guaranteed person that I know the sex was always really good.  He's just not available to me.

J:  Are you scared?

Beth:  Yeah, I am.  Because part of the "fun" of this game before is that I had that underlying arrogance that no matter what happened I had my safety person.

J:  Do you feel yourself growing more vulnerable? 

Beth:  Yeah.  Definitely.  I'm like, oh my gosh.  I don't have a coming out muscle of coming out to meet someone.  I know how to, you know, like shoot off a pretty flare so men come running, and I know how to like go in dramatically and grab their attention, but just that place of meeting someone in the middle and partnership, it feels like what I want to learn and the thing that I'm most scared to learn; the place that's the most intense.

J:  So in a way, once they move from shiny red ball to person it gets very vulnerable for you.

Beth:  Yeah.  Yeah, cause then it's not like I have the upper hand or like I'm the dependent on them.  You know, our roles change back on forth and that really throws me off sometimes. 

J:  So would you say that's where the relationship really begins? 

Beth:  Yeah.

J:  Do you catch yourself looking for the next shiny red ball?

Beth:  Totally.  I used to do it all the time without knowing what I was doing.  Almost every guy I passed on the street there was this feeling of, "Is it you?  Is it you?  Is it you?"  And I pictured all of these things and I had all these imaginary relationships. 

J:  Can you give me a description of each of your shiny red balls?  And how many are there right now?

Beth:  [lauging]  Oh my gosh.  I would say there is potential for shiny red ballness with at least 20 people. 

J:  Oh my God!  I had no idea.

Beth:  Yeah.  Yeah.  I would say I have four main ones at the moment.  One guy, he's like in the pole positioin for shiny red ballness.  He's like professional, he's understated, and he's tall.  And so I love laying my head on his chest.  That's a place where my knees turn to jelly.  We have had sex.  And it was amazing.  That is another one of the hallmarks of the shiny red ball thing is sex really quickly off the bat it's amazing and then reality sets in with that to it's own point.  And that's kinda why I slow it down.  So, that's one.

THe second, we're just really good friends.  And there's a place where I just don't have a way to hold that in my body; that I could have a friend who is also interested in other women, they also love me a lot, and we have fun together.....

J:  So in a way to admit that he's not the one but he's still a friend?

Beth:  Yes!  Yes!  It's very confronting.  It's very confronting for me to have excellent sex with someone I know I'm not moving towards a relationship with.  Then it has me feel like, "Well if he gets that then a bunch of guys are going to think they can have that and it's going to open up this floodgate.  And I need them to know it's harder than that."


J:  Yeah.  I'm sure a lot of women can relate to that. 

Beth:  The third guy is someone who deosn't live at Onetaste.  I know him from a different community.  He is like hot and quiet and suprisingly spiritual and a great dancer.  And I enjoy his company.  But then also I found that with him I had a situatioin of my same flaring up, jealousy, and possessiveness.  And I made a complete fool of myself one night.  We went out and he started dancing with another woman.  And I was talking to another guy.  And just because he didn't like come in and get me out of it I got furious and I was convinced that he had forgotten about me and all these other stories.  And I left without saying goodbye like I was in eigth grade again.  And then I wrote this like two page email the next day.  And he was all, "Uhhh.....Beth?"  So that's pretty humiating.

The fourth one is like my retirement dream guy.  He's like a meditator and really sweet, and really supportive, and loving.  And I'm sad for him cause he's like the guy I call when I'm down.  And I'm like, "No.  You deserve better than that.", you know, somewhere in my mind.  And, "Don't put up with that."  But then, I don't neccesarily want to call someone who has a really slow pace when I'm like, "Uh!", then I have a lot of energy.  I feel like for people to play with me they have to be able to go up and down.

J:  Have you ever tried with him?

Beth:  A little bit.  But then he gets really affected by the energy and he kinda spins out.  So the thing I like about number one is that he stays grounded no matter what.  So then I feel like, you know, he's this really solid force.  He doesn't ever pull me down, but I can always kind of know where my ground is at in relation to him.

J:  So it sounds like number one is the highest contender.

Beth:  At this moment, yes.  But I also find lots and lots of things that aren't acceptable.  The way I used to break up with people and get over it is I would pick a mantra;  something that I hated about them and then just repeat it to myself over, and over, and over again.  So almost as soon as I start a relationship I find those things to keep in my side pocket for safe keeping.  So I definitely  have the list ready to engage when necessary. 

J:  [laughs]  Ok. 


J:  I love your face when I'm talking about [xx].  You're like, "Oh my God."


Beth:  Yeah, I mean like, one guy.  That's all I can see.  I get closterphobic when it's like that.  I just panic.  I'm so scared it it will fall through the floor.

J:  I mean, do you think that maybe the reason you are like this is that it's just hte way you are?

Beth:  Oh my gosh.  I haven't thought of that.  I always think of it as something I have to get over or grow out of.  That's a realy good point.  But the thing I don't get is, I can dish it out but I can't take it.  You know, I can be this way about keeping my attention on other people and not feel like it takes away from the others.  But then when guys do that, it drives me nuts and I feel really threatened and unspecial and all this stuff.  So it's kind of a hypcrotical pattern in a way. 

J:  So then if there were some good in this behavior......I mean, you are really good at putting your attention on people when you feel like putting your attention on them.  So it's like, do you see if there is a light side to this?  There's a dark side and there's a light side.  If the dark side is like you are just feeding some part of you that's insatiable and maybe not so nice; just needs in some way, you know in some way, like your ego has to be fed.  So what's the light side?

Beth:  I started this approach to life, which I keep up with with varying success, which is thinking of people as food groups.  Instead of like just one food that I have to eat all the time, I see how different people carry different nutrients for me.  And so then I try to apply that to myself.  Like, "Oh, I'm just a food group for someone else.  I can't possibly be the whoel course from start to finish or the whole mean.  I can't.  No one person can be everything for someone else."  So hopefully I'm headed towards that.  But just at the moment and for the time being it feels like the emotions are just so reactive.  And it's like walking in a mine field.

J:  Inside of you?

Beth:  Inside of me.  Yeah. It's like these mines get detonated when I'm wondering through it.  And so the light side of that is there is  place I ddin't even know I was unconscious.  And it's getting exploited.  And I feel it so strongly that I can't ignore it.  And for someone who's ignored my feelings my whole life, it's a gift to have something this powerful moving through me.

J:  Thank you.

Thank you for listening to A Taste of Sex.  You can find us on the web at www.onetaste.us.  For transcripts of this show go to personallifemedia.com.  And finally, if you would like to email me, I'd really love to hear from you.  That address is [email protected]  Thanks for listening.

Shiny red balls.  Your glottuny is the bain of my existence.  Seeing you fall into eager turned on arms night after night makes me seeth with jealousy.  Burn in hell!

Narrator:  Find more great shows like this on personallifemedia.com.