Eric recalls a Truly Bad Date: "I'm usually perceptive and a good judge of people, but this one time I felt like my life was at risk. This guy was physically massive, and as the night went on he got more and more forceful - he was probably on crystal and who-knows-what-else. I suspected I'd hooked up with a dangerous psycho, so I started to scratch and said I thought I had scabies. That worked: He opened his door and ordered me to split."

Of course, many of us mess around with a variety of strangers and never come close to anything like real danger. But it's a rare sexually active fellow who hasn't, somewhere between arousal and wiping up, figured that he's made an awful mistake. And there is always the drama-queen possibility that the fellow whose mouth's on your dick will turn out to be a loony, right?

This sort of danger is more prevalent in the Internet age. Time was you'd almost always meet a man face-to-face before you invited him over to your place. Even answering a classified ad was an elaborate, time-consuming ritual. Nowadays, though, you can get horny, go online, and end up with an order-out trick in minutes, on the basis of little more than an enticing screen name and a hot digital photo. Risky? Well\x85

Eric's scabies gambit worked just fine for him. But let's face it, a true serial killer is unlikely to quail at the thought of parasites. So when entering a strange situation (or inviting a stranger to your place) an exit strategy might not be the worst thing to keep in mind. If you find yourself at the I-gotta-get-the-hell-out stage of things, agility, physical strength, cleverness, and willpower all can help.

Most helpful of all, though, is not getting yourself in that sort of jam in the first place.

Rule number one: Don't think only with your crotch. Most of us have a pretty good sense of intuition, but a stiffy can starve your brain of blood. Whether at a bar or a computer keyboard, stop cruising long enough to try getting an accurate impression of the male in question. Ask him a question or two that requires a response more complex than "I want to hump your hole."

If you're shopping for meat online, remember that people can lie more easily when they type than when they talk. "I just don't hook up with guys from AOL unless we've spoken by phone first," says one cautious cruiser. "It's not foolproof, but it's better than just typing 'u want 2 cum over?'"

Still, guys take risks. One dominant Daddy marvels, "I'm constantly amazed by the number of strangers who just walk into my house and let me blindfold them and tie them up. When I switch and go out to bottom in a kink scene, I always leave the guy's address with my roommate. Maybe that's a bit paranoid, but it lets me enter the scene feeling more relaxed."

And if you have sex when you're high? It goes without saying that one's sense of judgment is pretty well shot if you're blotto drunk or bombed on drugs. While many of us use intoxicants precisely because they lower inhibitions, if you find yourself with regret-filled morning afters, it might be time to take a long, hard look at your behavior.

And keep in mind that Mr. Right Now is not your very last chance to ever have sex. If he seems dangerous, or threatening, or weird (or at least weirder than you want to deal with), walk away. Don't invite him over. Or kick him out. You will, in the long run, be glad you did.

And hey, you can always jack off.