You go not knowing what to expect. You think that maybe because it’s 11pm there’ll be a good crowd that’s heated up and looking to get off. But you also think that because it’s a Monday there might only be a few guys there, stragglers, guys who didn’t get anything over the weekend. But you also think that you don’t really like going to naked night at the sex-club because guys seem to be overly-focused on dick size, and although you have a nice-sized dick, and thick, you are not in the 8″ category. Still, you go to the night of the eight-inchers. You have been at home all day, working, trying to write something that you’ve been writing for a long time, a story about an alcoholic, or a drug-addict, or is it about your grandfather who abandoned his family and went to live at the other end of the world. You need people, you need touch, you need skin, and since the sauna burnt down a couple of weeks ago (or is it just a week?) the sex-club is the closest place to home.
You swallow a Viagra pill to remove the anxiety about staying hard. You’re hoping to fuck, and going on past experience, the sex-club is not a good place for you to perform. You’re happier in the sauna, no matter how large the scrum or the audience. The evening is mild and you cycle through Islington, through Barnsbury, past the house of a poet-friend of yours, a guy you fell out with a couple of years ago when you told him what you really thought about his attempt at a novel. You didn’t like it. You thought you were doing him a favour by being honest.
“A shit sandwich would have been fine,” he’d said.
Because you hadn’t even bothered with niceties either side of the truth. The novel never found a publisher, and he went back to poetry, but by then the relationship was damaged and he’d found a boyfriend. Recently, though, you’ve started bumping into each other at events or readings, and you’re happy to see each other. Once or twice you’ve even gone out for a drink.
The streets are empty. You’re not used to being out this late at night on the side streets around Caledonian Road and it makes you think of summer, for some reason, of being carefree and everything feeling easier, lighter. Maybe it’s because the clocks have just gone forward and the days have started to feel longer, the way night is where night should be. You pass King’s Place and St Pancras International, and cycle the backstreets behind the British Library and on over to Eversholt Street, then right towards Euston Road, and you’re almost there.
The place is pretty near empty. There can’t be more than ten or twelve guys, and only three of them are cute and they’re young and into each other and as they move from space to space – playing with each other’s cocks, but not much else (I think two of them are boyfriends) – as they move from the bit where the stand-up cubicles are, then to the side bit with the chain curtains and the sofa, and finally to the main bit with the barrels in the middle of the floor, that open area near the changing room, everyone else seems to follow them, hovering, groping. It’s not an unpleasant site, but it is slightly comical, particularly because no one seems to be enjoying themselves.
I’m standing in the narrow passageway in the cubicle area and this Malaysian guy is making eyes at me. He comes to stand next to me and rubs his arm against mine. I like to be wanted, but he’s not sexy, quite overweight (but so are you! so are you!) and leering. I don’t like leering, especially when I’m not reciprocating. He touches my nipple, then licks it. I stand still. I do not move. I do not change the expression on my face, though my cock is getting hard. It’s as if I don’t want anyone to think that I’m enjoying this, that in any way I’m wanting to make out with this chubby guy. Then he bends over and puts my cock in his mouth. I stroke his back, play with his nipple, reach for his cock, which is no bigger than an inch and a half, the smallest cock I have ever come across, though it’s not entirely unattractive. I’m not here for cock. More than anything, I’m here to be here. The body is here for its own joy. As for the soul, fuck knows.
I do like having my cock sucked, and he’s good at it. So on it goes. But then I’ve had enough and I wait for him to stand up again so I can move away. Later, he will try to pick up where we left off, even try to kiss me, raise himself on his toes to reach my mouth, but I will turn away, just as one of the cute guys – probably Spanish, maybe Brazilian – will walk away from me when I try to lean in and kiss him. We’d explored each other for a bit earlier on, stood there in the passageway and stroked each other’s chests – his was flat, his skin soft, his stomach slim, though not defined (a bit like the guy in the picture) – and then he’d moved on. There was no major chemistry happening, but he was nice to touch, and he was handsome, and he had a beautiful tattoo on his back. Him and I were the only two with tattoos, though that was clearly not a bond between us. I think he just wanted to touch people, and his boyfriend did not want to join us.
Later, when I saw him standing just inside the door of one of the small cubicles (from my angle, I couldn’t see who was in there with him) I moved in closer, and when he bent over to take the other guy’s cock in his mouth – a guy who turned out to be obese and flabby with sagging tits – I stroked his arse, ran a finger gently along his crack. He stood up and made to leave the cubicle and I leaned in to try and kiss him but he moved his head away and left.
It was a rejection. And I landed up thinking a lot about rejection. Cycling home through King’s Cross I thought about how there was something karmic in what had happened – I had rejected and been rejected. There was a part of me that was devastated, that felt hurt by his rejection… Okay, let’s back track. Let me be honest. There was a moment when I was getting dressed and I saw myself in the large mirror in the changing room and I – as I often am – was surprised at how large I am, how overweight I am. Not fat or flabby, but big, stocky, chunky – whatever – but definitely not as slim and agile as I feel I am. I am not a lean young man anymore, and in a way, that is where the rejection lies. This strange incongruity between the imagined and the truth, between wanting to kiss the Spanish boy, and because there is that desire, still believing it’s possible, yes, that the desired outcome exists on some alternate plain, but then there are the facts: he walked away.
We experience rejection when we take risks, when we are willing to show the world that we are alive and that we want things and that we’re willing to try to get them. Rejection is part of life. I felt good for taking that risk. And I felt warm towards the Malaysian guy who’d taken the risk and touched me. The Spanish guy doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know whom he’s rejecting; all he’s rejecting is the image he has of me, and of his own narrative that he has in his head, and there are some images that fit into that narrative and some that don’t. He’s not rejecting me, but rather something that does not fit into his narrative. Yes, it sounds like a rationalisation and it probably is, but I think what I’m realising is that you have to take risks and you have to keep taking risks, it’s just proof that you’re alive.