There have been many men. One from Hull, one from Manchester, one from Australia, the Venetian guy, one from London, one from Bangladesh, one from Glasgow, a guy I’d had sex with before, a really smooth guy, like the one from Hull and the one from Manchester, all three of them with very smooth bodies, so smooth, that in the dim light of the cubicle at the sauna near Waterloo I asked the guy from Hull if he had something Asian in him. He laughed. He was the kind of guy who laughed at things, one of those Englishmen that assume you’re trying to be funny so that even when you say something like “I’m not looking forward to cycling home” (as I did) – he laughs. He thinks you’re being funny. It’s that kind of laugh, an irritating laugh, a laugh that is not the laugh of someone who thinks it’s funny, but rather someone who thinks you’re expecting a laugh when actually all you’re doing is stating a fact.
It’s been raining for days. Heavy tropical rain. Torrential I think they call it here. My friend from Chicago was here yesterday on her way to somewhere else with her husband and kids. They had a 10-hour stopover in London so they came into town, took the kids around on the open-top bus, and we eventually met up outside Buckingham Palace at around 5pm. At which point it wasn’t raining, though as we approached the Palace gates it began to pour, and then it poured even harder. We gave up trying to shelter under the trees in Green Park – this is why they have such big parks in London, the husband said to the children, because it rains all the time – and walked towards Piccadilly and found a nice pub on a side street where they allowed kids into the dining room upstairs and that’s where we sat for the next couple of hours.
My god, I can’t bear conversations around a table with children, young children in particular, especially when you’re trying to catch up with someone you’ve known for 25 years. It’s exhausting, and nothing gets explored in depth, nothing has any life to it. It doesn’t help if you don’t like the husband. The kids are great. They’re intelligent and creative and insightful, and they’re only 11 and 8. And my friend is good to talk to. But everything gets interrupted or thwarted somehow or another. Nothing satisfies.
Which is really how all these many men have been. A lot of them. One from here, one from there, etc. But none of them satisfies. The Venetian guy was potentially going to be satisfying, but then he pulled out. He didn’t want to satisfy. Maybe I was not satisfying to him. Two weeks after we met, after he’d gone monosyllabic and I’d blocked him, he texted to see how I was, if I wanted to meet up. My friend Jean was staying with me when he texted. She, too, has been seeing a lot of men. A Kurd, a Vietnamese guy, a Zoroastran, and an ex-yeshiva-student from Brooklyn. She’s that kind of person. She gets involved with them all. So Jean was in town for a conference and was staying over at my place for a couple of nights, and in the morning when Ilario the Venetian texted, she advised that if I wanted to see him again, I should say yes. She would.
“But then I’m less intense about these things than you are,” she said.
Which is true.
I like intensity, and sometimes, like now, the lack of intensity in my encounters with many men has become disappointing. The sex itself is intense, but I’m starting to miss an emotional intensity to go with it. I can have intense sex. I do intense sex. Men like that. I do things with them that many of them have never experienced before. The guy from Hull had never been slapped.
“Did you like it?” I said.
“I did,” he said. “But I wasn’t sure if I was meant to slap back.”
“You could have,” I said.
He was not an interesting man. His body was more interesting than his mind. It was firm and exceptionally smooth (I waxed my chest this morning, he said, and I said, but not your arse, and he said, no, so I said I’d like to wax his arse and then fuck it when it’s nice and smooth, and he made the kind of sound you make when you’re enjoying someone’s finger in your arsehole, which is where my finger was) – so yes, not an interesting man.
What makes a man interesting? Engagement, surprise, curiosity. A man who asks questions about his own life, who is inquisitive, who frowns and wonders and who, when you talk to him, you can see that he’s thinking, that he’s processing stuff. A man with complexity. Simple is not interesting. Even my friend’s kids were more interesting, which makes me think that men who are complex and interesting are like that from the start. They are puzzled by the world. They’re trying to work shit out, trying to figure out what it means to be a person in the world. They’re interested in stories. In their own, in others, in trying to make new ones. For them, being is not enough. A job that pays and a house with a mortgage is not what drives them through life.
I woke up this morning wanting company in bed. My body felt incomplete. My being, that is. I wanted another body pressed against mine, for someone to be there to hear the birds, to see the way the light shone in through the window, which I’d opened just a bit. It is Sunday today. I woke up wanting to be attached. It was a physical need. To be known. To be connected. And now I am hungry and it is time for lunch.