I often look for him, the one who got away, in the men I meet. And by meet I mean have sex with, because very rarely do I meet men in the places I meet men and do not have sex with them. It used to be easier and for some reason, especially over the past few months, it’s not that easy anymore. Not that easy to have sex with strangers. The one who got away was many things that I like in a man. Not just how he was physically, yet there was a lot about his body that was wonderful to me, but it had to do with his soul. I am becoming increasingly aware of youth. I get a lot of pleasure out of young men, men who are younger than me, men who are full of a delicious kind of energy. And I say this because I meet men… I met a man on Sunday who had the body of someone much younger than he was but his soul… his soul. It’s like his soul remembered too much.
What I love about younger men is their lack of cynicism, their lack of bitterness, their lack of defeatism. The one who got away was a young man, but, to be fair, was not devoid of cynicism and hopelessness. And the more I think about it now, the more I unravel what I want to say here, I begin to realise that the one who got away is not The One, but Youth itself. Youth himself. If I can fuck younger men, and, too, what’s been happening recently, be fucked by a younger man, then I somehow can hold onto youth, as if youth itself were a body. I hold onto him as I hold onto my younger self, no, not my younger self, but me as a younger man, as I would like to have been. Beautiful. Hopeful.
“You’re bouncy,” I said to the young man who plonked himself down on the bench next to me in the sauna.
“Me?” he said, smiling. “A bit,” he said. “Yeah.”
“Did you just get here?” I said.
“A while ago,” he said. “But I haven’t done anything yet.”
He reminded me of my cousin, the cousin who taught me to jerk off, the cousin who was sporty and popular and rebellious and unafraid. The cousin who looked good in Speedoes, The cousin who has gone on to have three wives and six children and a multimillion-dollar business in California. This young man reminded me of him, but him when he was younger. And if him, then me, too. When I was younger.
I do not want to sound like an aging homosexual. Like a bitter faggot who is clinging to youth. That is something I have always dreaded becoming, and perhaps because of the dread… Be careful of what you dread, for you will become it. Is dreading a form of wishing? A self-fulfilling prophecy? Manifest your dread!
The young man liked what he saw. The one who got away liked what he saw. The one who got away liked me. He also had a father who’d left him when he was too young to remember what his dad looked like. And so he would play this game with me, this game in which I was meant to be the absent father, but he was the one who made me disappear. He hid from me, and then popped up like the child who yells peek-a-boo. And I didn’t want to be that kind of boo.
What I loved about the one who got away was his passion for things, his excitement, his curiosity about his own life, and his ease with his body, and the sense he gave of having his whole life ahead of him, that there was still so much time, that time wasn’t even an issue, time was not something he thought about, which meant there was time, too, to do nothing, to go off to Berlin for five days to party and be awake when the sun came up, and to drink and take drugs and be full of love and hope. When I was with him, he made me feel young. Like I was still, like him, in my early-twenties.
You know, I never thought I would say these things, that I’d get caught up in thoughts of youth and age and hope and dread. I never thought I would. Even in my most depressed moments, my most despairing moments, I never saw myself as old. And I am not old. But I am not young. I am full of plans and projects and things I want to do, but I am not young. And I am thinking, I am beginning to realise, that all this is finite. That there isn’t forever.
“Where’s the accent from?” I said.
“Guess,” he said.
“I don’t know,” I said. “You could just be from here, a Londoner.”
But he wasn’t, he isn’t. Renaldo was from Colombia. Renaldo works in catering.
On my way home I thought: I must stop meeting men in the catering business, men who work in hotels, men without ambition. The one who got away was not a man in catering. He played the guitar, and he knew about the insides of computers, and he could explain quantum physics to you, and he played in a band, and he painted.
“You’re cute,” I said to Renaldo, and I touched his chest, which was firm and trimmed and sweaty and rough and solid. And I touched his cock, which was thick and hard and long. And we smiled at each other, but I was so full of sadness by then, so regretting that I hadn’t gone home after the Picasso exhibition at Tate Britain (which was beautiful), that I had no desire left to play with anyone, no desire to be with a body whose soul would soon begin to wither. That’s what I saw when I saw Renaldo, and so I went home.
And then, twenty-four hours or so later, still not having come, and my head muggy with pent-up semen and longing for release, I jerked off with thoughts of Renaldo’s cock, his thick Colombian cock, and how he and I would have this threesome with some cute Chinese woman like the one who’d massaged me a few months ago and touched my cock and made it hard and I didn’t follow through. But in my head this evening I did, me and Renaldo in that room downstairs on Shaftesbury Avenue, we fucked and fucked and fucked till we came.