A few months ago I bought a secret camera with the intention of taking pictures* in saunas and sex clubs and then posting them on this blog. The camera is imbedded in a pen. I’ve tried it out at home. It works well. Y0u can shoot pictures, audio, and video. It’s the kind of thing that would work well if you were a spy in a cafe. I should try it out in a cafe. The thing is, a pen is not the kind of thing you carry around in a sex club, never mind a sauna. And the prospect of being caught, just the thought of it, is pretty devastating. Today I wondered what it would have been like to be caught taking pictures of the men in the locker room at the gym. I imagined being publicly humiliated, punched. There was nothing appealing about that.
But, my God, the men in the locker room today were very appealing. More so than usual, and I don’t think it had anything to do with my level of horniness, which was not particularly high. There was a guy in the shower when I arrived who was so stunningly beautiful, he had that super smooth skin that turns to glass when it’s wet. I stared. If a man is naked in a shower, exposed to everyone else in the locker room and he turns to let the water run the soap off his back and gives you the full frontal nakedness, his penis thick and heavy at the base of a sparse bush of brown pubic hair… what can one do but stare? So I did. In the pauses while searching for a 50p coin to put in the slot in the locker; while finding my iPod and taking it out of my bag; while taking off my jumper and putting it in the locker… every pause was a moment to watch. Beauty is my headlights.
I did my workout. I lifted some weights, did some machines, ran on the cross-trainer and the treadmill. I felt good. I felt sleek. My body seemed to be working well, and so as not to jinx it, I will not say that, lately, I am pleased with the way my body is working. I’ve been running more than usual. My clothes fit me better. I am noticing more appreciative glances. I like the way men and women look at me.
You probably know this already: I do not always like the way I am.
What I really want to talk about is my time in the locker room after today’s workout. It was one of those experiences that stays with you, that sticks in your mind like a dream you wake up from that is so intense, so disturbing, that it seems to linger for hours, a whole day, sometimes more, before you can shake it off. The locker room today seemed to be teeming with men and their sons. Beautiful men and their sons. Muscled, toned, smooth, slim men and their young boys. Helping them dress and undress. Moving around the locker room with towels around their waists while their young boys, naked, chatted away – Daddy this, Daddy that – oblivious to what was going on around them. Oblivious to my (metaphorical) weakening of the knees in the presence of their fathers. I had to stop myself from staring at their Daddies. Not just staring, but overcome the desire to sit on a bench as one would sit down in front of a television set or in the cinema and gorge on their bodies.
And I thought: These men are enjoying the attention. They’re enjoying being naked or semi-naked, their healthy fat dicks swinging about while the fruit of their loins jabbers away near them. These men are enjoying each other’s company, showing off, revelling in their evidence of procreation. And that was beautiful. There was something beautiful about that, about being amongst them, as if this were a room in which they felt safe and encouraged to be beautiful and open and adoring. This was a room without women, where the desire of other men was not a threat and the expectation of women did not bring out the warrior in them. It was a kind of privilege to be there. Their beauty was everywhere. Young men who procreate.
My father was one of these men. Beautiful. Playful. Adoring. Vulnerable. Physical. Desired.
The past is here. The past sticks to us and never relents. It binds our hands, it whips us. Our body is bad. Our mind is bad. Our desire is bad. And that never goes away, but we have been here long enough, in this world, in this life, to know what it feels like to touch bodies like these, to desire them and have them. So what if we cannot have the men in the showers, in today’s locker room? That isn’t the question. That isn’t what’s at stake. But there is still a thrill, a deep overwhelming thrill that comes with being in the presence of naked men in a locker room. Naked men in public. It is different to being naked with someone in private or in a place where we are allowed to touch. But that, too, is not it. It is about beauty and the proximity to it. It’s about being this close to beauty that is naked and moving and occupied and engaged… and I was going to say vulnerable, but it’s not that. It’s just beauty, naked. Some men are exceptionally beautiful. Men like those in the locker room this evening, after my workout and before.
No one knows how this works. The logic builds up over time, burns into us from that first experience, that moment when desire came into being, the shape of it, sculpted into our psyche, onto our flesh. That moment when we realised how much we adore beauty and that we want only beauty, and with that, the knowledge that we can’t touch, even though we cannot remember how we knew that, how we got to know that to touch was forbidden. And so we have gone through these years revelling in the touch, finding the kind of men we have always wanted to touch, and touching them. The shock of that will always stay with us. The shock, yes, but the hunger, too – the hunger that touching beautiful creates.
* the images above are not my own.