Even if I don’t want to I will write about him. There is something to be said for just recording, for making sure that stuff gets remembered. He is gone now and I will never see him again and I only saw him once, just the once, and now that I have blocked his profile on Manhunt and erased his details from my phone I will never see him again. This man, this boy of 25. I could – even if he never did call me daddy – be his daddy. The gap between him and me is bigger than the gap between me and my mother, my mother whom I do not see anymore, who I do not want to see, whose name I have blocked from my phone and from my email address book. And of her, too, I do not want to write. Yes, Proust wrote people out of his life, but at the moment writing seems to be the thing that keeps people alive, that if you write about someone you have to keep having a relationship with them, you conjure them up and you talk to them and you shape them and describe them and it feels like they are here with you and because they are not with you, not really, not in their flesh and their blood, you fill that gap, that nothingness, with guilt and longing and shame and hurt. Nothing good can come of this.
He messaged me on Manhunt a few weeks ago and we exchanged messages. At the time he wanted to come over but I was going out to work or something, maybe to the gym. Last week he messaged me again and I told him to come over. We agreed on 2pm, then closer to the time he texted and said he’d be late. I said come another time, he said but I wanted to see you, I said, fine, you can have an extension.
“And I’m glad I gave you an extension,” I said to him later, in bed, him and I naked and kissing, sitting opposite each other, entwined, my cock in his arse.
“Me, too,” he said. “I’m glad you gave me an extension.”
But on the whole, to be honest, he was interested in a second time. Our exchange over the next few days was cool and reserved. I tried to be lighthearted. I did want to see him again. At the moment, I am not far from being needy. We’d had a nice time, laughed a lot, we seemed to have a similar sense of humour. There was something playful about the way we were with each other. And I liked his tenderness. He was gentle. There was nothing aggressive about him and he didn’t want me to be aggressive. He said that aggression was something he hated, that it turned him off. He didn’t like it when I put my hand around his throat.
“I might forget,” I said, when he asked me not to do that.
“Try to remember,” he said.
Ilario was Italian. A young Italian from somewhere near Venice. He liked older men. His previous boyfriend, who is now a good friend of his mother’s, was fifteen years older than him. I am somewhat more than that. There is that thing when I’m having sex with younger men that I am a bit puzzled why they are having sex with me, with a man much older than them, twenty years, even. I was never attracted to older men when I was their age, and I always felt there was something deeply unequal and coercive, even abusive about those kinds of relationships. Not as a rule; just where I was involved. I always felt when I was having sex with older men – and I did it quite a lot – that I was being forced to do it, that I was having sex against my will, even if I clearly was not. As if there was some kind of unconscious pull to repeat something, compulsively. This was in my early twenties. Later, in my late twenties, I stopped doing this, stopped getting into those kinds of entanglements and situations and started dating men closer to my age. My age or younger. I think when I realised I could attract beautiful men, I went only for them.
Now the beautiful men are in their twenties and I am in my forties and there is a considerable number of men in their twenties who are into men my age. It’s a fact. These men, though, are not very interesting to me, not intellectually, but then, I don’t meet many men of any age who are intellectually interesting to me. Ilario was vaguely interesting. He’d studied psychology at university but gave it up because he thought that being a therapist was “boring”. He didn’t want to listen to other people’s problems all the times. That is a favourite word amongst Italians – “boring” – mainly when they don’t want to go into the details about something, when they don’t want to explore the emotions behind what they’re feeling. Which is what I was doing quite a bit of this evening in my therapy session when the subject of relationships and relating came up, and the subject of my mother, and the subject of the relationship between me and my therapist.
“I’m bored,” I said.
What I really wanted was to close my eyes and go to sleep. I didn’t want to explore or analyse or relate. Though by the end of the session I began to realise that I don’t spend much time relating to myself, that I don’t give myself time to just be with myself, to look at what I really want, what I’m really feeling, or thinking. Like now, taking the time to sit here and just record the details of this encounter with the young Italian man who was gentle and loving but did not want to see me a second time. His last words to me, before I blocked any future communication, were: “Have a nice day.”