My virginity was seen by in own eyes as both a burden and a competition: cursed as a teenager with an increasingly petty streak, I had to be rid of it before the age of 19. 19 was the age that my brother had lost his v-card, and although we’d never speak about it, I wanted the quiet, bitter joy of knowing that I had beat him: despite my flab, despite my awkwardness and despite my homosexuality.
Although I’d thought mildly to myself that gays, as I knew them, wouldn’t find a hefty-bodied 17 year old attractive, I also forgot the one cardinal rule of all men everywhere, regardless of their gender preference: they all love sex and will do mostly anything they can to get it.
I am studying for my mid-year practise exams – for year 11 or year 12, I can’t remember which – in the depths of Philosophy or Literature or History or something that required actual study. (In actual fact, of course, all of my subjects required study, which could have been why my final results weren’t did bad, but weren’t as impressive as I’d hoped.) After a solid hour or two – enough to bring me towards the middle of the day, but not enough so that it’s dark outside – I somehow find myself scanning a myriad of gay hook-up websites with a teenager’s pornographic lust: first Manhunt, then Adam4Adam, and finally, the aptly (and uncomfortably named) Squirt.
With trepidatious fingers I sign myself up, upload a photograph – not too bad, I think to myself – and list my sexual interests.
I’ve never had sex, so how can I have any interests? I think. I randomly select four or five; the ones that don’t seem too intense (compared to BDSM, WATERSPORTS and the dreaded BAREBACKING) and hasten onto the next page, where a button announces: “Upload Your Profile and Get 5 Days Free!!!”
I appreciate the exclamation points at the end of the sentence; as if the owners of the website are so excited for you and all the male to male sex you’ll be getting across those five free days.
I swallow my fear, and click the button.
And I am sitting on an older gentleman – 35 to 40 years old, I’d guess, from the crows feet around his eyes, but not unattractive; certainly attractive enough that I’d question why he felt the need to engage in sexual relations with the likes of me – and allowing him to thrust away as I try not to look like a bored school-girl waiting for it all to finish. We’d met at a nearby park – predominantly so I could make sure he wasn’t an axe murderer, and him presumably the same; a trick I’d seen on Law & Order: SVU – and he’d driven us over to his family home, quietly muttering to himself: “You’re not fucking chubby, mate,” referring to how I’d described myself on the profile.
Oh, thanks, but I am, I’d thought. And despite what some people might say, that’s actually okay.
We’d progressed quickly to his bedroom, where – partly because of the family photo prominently featuring his wife and two very young children, and partly because his whole house smelled like Glade – I’d quickly lost interest, but hadn’t felt like I had any right to say “no” or extricate myself from the weight of his expectation. It didn’t help that he’d driven me to a place not too far away, but far enough from my own home that I hadn’t the foggiest how to get back without his vehicular help.
“Yeah,” he grunts to nobody in particular, and pulls me down to kiss him once more. I notice with a quiet revulsion the inconsistency of his body hair – black and wiry in parts, patchy and invisible in others – and skin – intermittently taut and loose across the fullness of his chest and shoulders – and think that it’s really nothing like the limited pornographic films I’ve managed to see at this point in my life.
“Yeah,” he grunts again and bucks me off onto the bed next to him, pushing up with his legs and wrapping me around the neck with his spare arm (the other, it seems, is violently Taking Care of Business.)
“I’m close!” he groans. I match his own speed, hoping that if we both come, it’ll all be over, soon, and I can get back to my Philosophy or Literature or History or whatever I was doing before I decided it’d be a good idea to meet up with this gentleman.
“Fucken’ come on my balls, mate!”
I think that if I hurry and focus, really truly focus, I won’t laugh in his face, and that’s probably for the best, given his bicep is still caught tight around my throat.
It is one year earlier, now, on New Year’s Eve, and we are somewhere in Ormond or nearby: suburban central. Me and my goth friends Cloe and Emma and Maddy and Kurt are all hanging out. Kurt is a strapping gay gentleman – not a goth, but friends with Cloe’s mother. Kurt is 34, but given his propensity for hanging out with teenagers, often acts like one and thus buys us alcohol more often than not. I am 16 years old. I have never kissed a boy. Or a girl, at this point, beyond “playing doctor” or “families” as a schoolchild; the sexless dry kisses of a youngster who didn’t really want to kiss or be kissed, but did want to know what it felt like, as if this would shed some light onto why the hell all adults everywhere seemed always to be kissing.
We stand and lean, casually, on play equipment in a public park, vodka cruisers in hand – those giant 1.2 litre ones that held 5 whole standard drinks a piece and were enough to keep you buzzing for the whole night, at that age, at least – and shoot back and forth with bored conversation. I can’t exactly remember what we were discussing, but it was probably inane and stereotypically counter-culture; something about how nobody understood us and our parents hated us and everyone was out to get us.
“I need to pee,” Emma announces, and departs, taking Cloe and Maddy with her in the teenaged belief that urinating alone was a sheer impossibility. There is silence, for a time, and Kurt and I size each other up, oddly, as I realise we’ve never been alone together in the six months we’ve each been aware of the other.
“So,” I say, moving closer onto the rope bridge strung out between us some six inches off of the tanbark; trying for smoothness and overshooting horribly. “How’s life?”
“Yeah, good,” Kurt replies, playing along as he too steps onto the rope bridge and closer to me, closer again. He turns to look at me head on, and I turn to look at him head on, and my heart is beating in my chest, hard and fast, not because I particularly want anything to happen, but because there’s a chance it might.
We step closer, wobbly on the confines of this children’s rope bridge like two erstwhile lovers at the end of the first act in a classic two-act musical. Our noses, now, are almost touching; the electricity and air between us crackling and firey and –
“We shouldn’t,” he says, and turns away. I grab the side of the rope bridge in childish anger; not anger that our union couldn’t, apparently, happen, but that it was taken from me as a concept when it might have happened.
“Fine,” I spit, thinking I’m doing a very adult job of hiding my true feelings but very much failing.
Then, a truly evil thought crosses my brain: “You should kiss me.”
“I’m not going to,” he says – not forceful, but calm, understanding.
“You should kiss me,” I continue, “Because if you don’t, I’m going to go across the road to see Graham and let him do whatever he wants to me.”
Graham is another neighbour of Cloe’s, a lecherous old homosexual of some 60 plus years with a penchant for drugs, cigarettes, and – according to Kurt – “forceful” sex. I have no intention of ever going across the road to Graham’s, but like a 17 year old 5”11 male Veruca Salt, I want it – where “it” is the chance to kiss another male – and I want it now, damnit.
Kids in school get to kiss whenever they please, I think, so what’s so wrong about me stealing just one?
Kurt turns to look at me, face clouded by confusion and anxiety.
“Really?” he says, unsure. After everything he’d told me?
“Really,” I say confidently, calling upon every acting bone in my body and lying through my teeth.
A pause, then:
His mouth quickly encapsulates my own, and the feeling of his stubbled sandpaper face rubbing across my skin is far more displeasing than I’d anticipated. His tongue worms through the insides of my mouth and he thrusts his hand down the front of my pants with vigour.
That was easy, I think. Too easy.
“You’re hung like a horse and I love it,” Kurt purrs, all hints of indecision gone.
I’m not, I think. Not that I’m particularly concerned about its size, but it’s just a normal, healthy penis size. What a bizarre complement to give.
Behind us, Emma coughs, and we turn, sheepish, to see that the girls have returned.
“I wanna go to Hungry Jacks,” Maddy says.
“I was like, so offended when I first met you, kinda,” he says. His name is Ryan, he’s a violinist for the musical I’m in, and the first time I’ve met and flirted with a fellow homosexual and felt like we, at the very least, exist on equal ground: I like him, and he likes me back. “I was like: who’s that faggot who’s too good to speak to me?”
And: In turn, I was super hyper aware of you, and not at all too good to speak to you, more just “too scared”.
And: I think you’re really attractive.
And: you make me wanna do things to you with my things.
And, in the innocence of youth: isn’t that kind of homophobic to use the word “faggot”?
“Haha, yeah,” I say, trying desperately to remain cool. “I wasn’t, though.”
“You weren’t what?”
“Too good to speak to you.” The words awkwardly spill out before I have the chance to grab hold of them. It’s all become very serious, very quickly, and it’s very much my fault. “I just…” I pause, unsure of what to say, and acutely aware I’m accidentally letting my crazy seep out in droves. “Yeah, nah, I wasn’t too good. I’m not.”
“Oh,” he says, either oblivious to my circular ramblings or else too kind to mention them. He takes my hand and gives it a quick squeeze. “Another beer?”
“Yes, please,” I reply faintly.
And some hours later, in the dark of the night, we lie hand in hand in the makeshift double bed I’ve drunkenly assembled with a fitted sheet and two single mattress thrown haphazardly down the stairs. We’re both lying on our backs, and somehow making out – not forcefully, or violently, just calmly and sweetly, now. The evening has shifted wholly into night, and after the performance, and the booze, and the insistent cast dancing, we’re both quite happy to lie in the comfort of each other’s arms, feeling the long, slow, soft beating of our respective hearts. Emboldened by the alcohol and the near constant kissing, my hand reaches, under the covers, towards his crotch. Silently, he takes this hand and pulls it up.
“No,” he says. “I want it to be just right. Just perfect.”
Perhaps because of this desire, I never see him again once the show’s over, some two or three days later.
“So, how’d you two gooooo?” A friend of mine goads me the next day. “How was your little date? It seemed like you were all over each other.”
Oh! I think. Really? That was a date?
“And don’t give me that face, it was totally a date,” my friend confirms. “I mean, come on: you two moved away from everyone else and spent the whole time making eyes at each other, and touching.”
He sits opposite from me as night bleeds slowly into morning; colours rising from beneath the earth to paint the sky around us. It is 2007 or 2008, and so early that it’s late, and:
“I just,” he says. “I really like you. I felt like there was something between us.”
“Oh,” I say.
Fuck me, I think. These situations really are awkward from the other side.
I pause, then:
I don’t know if I feel the same way.”
And it is 2010, now, and I’m walking with a boy down the street to purchase cigarettes, and we are nearly hand in hand, our bodies pulsating with the electricity that precursors two people coming together. My boyfriend is away on holiday, somewhere across the country, and his boyfriend is in the house we’ve just left, dutifully waiting for us to return.
His knuckles brush my own as we walk, and slowly, surely, I turn my head towards him; look him in the eye. He bites his lip in a soft and unconscious manner, and my heart (and penis) skip a beat.
“D’you think…” he says, and trails off. Our hands are still touching without holding, and our energy is still violently directed towards the other.
And now, of course, I look back at myself in anger: at the poor little insecure boy who couldn’t remain faithful, who took each sexual conquest as a tick in his corner; a confirmation that Hey, you’re okay, you’re not terrible and awkward! Or: You actually are super awkward and a little bit terrible sometimes, but it doesn’t really matter, apparently!
But then, of course, he kissed me and I kissed back; thrusting my hands down the front of his pants as I’d learned to do from Kurt some years earlier.
That’s a problem for future Chris, I’d thought. Or else, not thought at all, just simply done it, thinking regardless.
And I’m learning that it’s really not the first time that matters. It doesn’t say anything grand about the times to come; it doesn’t set a precedent for good or bad, it simply is.
A problem for current Chris: making each time as good as it possibly can be. Without fucking yourself or anyone else over.