“On a live wire right up off the street you and I should meet.” —Smashing Pumpkins
I actually don’t mind kids these days,
but even still, spending the night reminding
some poor 19 year old guy who grew up
conservative in East San Diego County,
reminding him repeatedly “watch the teeth”
until finally I just give up and insist that we
switch places—that dance wears me out.
But every once in awhile, kind of like a rare
Pokemon you only see after playing for four
or five hours straight, every once in awhile
Kyle rolls around, says hello, sends a selfie.
He’s handsome, 33, has perpetual three-day stubble
and a smile at least ten years younger than he is.
The tattoo on his leg is the cover of Green Day’s
Dookie—the Green Day that was popular when
I was 19—and Kyle had hair on his balls before
Nirvana was in radio rotation as classic rock.
He talks about his wife. She’s a big woman, has
medical problems. He asks about my medical
problems. Suddenly I realize that he speaks an
entirely different language of bodies than I do. Also,
I guess he can’t hold a job, because each time we meet
he’s about to start a new one; it’s hard because he has
a daughter now. I kind of wish I could buy her something,
a toy from TV, something he’ll get once he finally
has that new job. Instead, I offer to take him for lunch;
I insist I really do want to be a friend, too.
But this whole time in the bedroom doorway he’s been
inching closer, he’s been flipping up his shirt to
scratch his chest—and as I notice, the flicker in my eyes
promises that yes, yes, he’s still got this corner
of his life, tucked away like a lucky $20 when you’re
broke, or like a fat loose joint found on a bad day. So
he stammers, he admits that he promised to fuck me,
but please—and he’s really sorry to have led me on—
please could he just jerk me off? Because after all he
still feels weird about—you know—putting himself into
another guy like that.
He does this every time, and when he asks, sincere
and halting, it doesn’t bother me, somehow; rather
a strange, strained dam inside me finally buckles
under pressure—it must be that, I must be
drowning because I’m breathless—but water
isn’t what’s choking my thoughts, it’s sound, it’s
Jimi Hendrix, Little Wing and “it’s alright,” I think,
“it’s alright. Take anything you want from me.”