We met because we live 827 metres from each other; that’s what Grindr tells us. And even though he isn’t the type I usually go for – he’s short and stocky – we meet regularly, almost once a week. We started having sex a in April or May and from then onwards Cheng has fucked me every time. We fuck, then we have lunch (I cook), and he talks about his family in Malaysia, about looking for a job, about men he meets on Facebook who invite him to their homes in Brussels, Cologne, Marseilles. He accepts their invitations and goes to stay with them for a few days or a week. They show him round their cities and he fucks them. Last week when he came back from Paris he brought me an over-sized macaroon with hazelnut bits in it.
The guy either just worked for Air Namibia or he was from Namibia, too; I don’t quite remember. He had long brown hair that he wore up in a sort of bun, which I persuaded him to let down and he did and it was thick and lush and I held it in my fist while we had sex. The hair is all I remember about him, and that he worked for Air Namibia. Around the same time that I met him (was his name David?) and at the same sauna, I met a guy from the Netherlands who fell in love with me. He did that thing I have done before: fall in love with someone after one meeting, and then become slightly, if not very, obsessed. The Dutch guy read my first book and read all my blog posts and wanted to comment in length on everything. His wife knew he was having sex with men and encouraged him to be comfortable with his sexuality. He had a good job and was wealthy… the only problem was that I didn’t find him attractive. He was too soft. Too needy. A man I fell in love with from New Zealand was not soft at all. He’d been working out since he was sixteen and had this amazing pumped-up body, the most muscular guy I’ve ever been with and he was completely hairless. I worshipped him for a couple of years. He did love me back, but he had a girlfriend when we were going out; for the past seven years he’s been with a guy, some rich American with whom he goes on holiday a lot. We met up a few years ago by chance in a sauna and landed up having a threesome with a tall and beautiful Dutch guy. That was the last time I saw him.
I’m beginning to think that this geo-erotic alphabet is a kind of stock taking, a looking back. I suppose every catalogue is, by its nature, a stock-taking. My friend B and I were talking last night about the businesses our fathers had built up and how they expected us to take over at some point. B’s a therapist now, and I am this. We talked about the time of year, every year, dedicated to stock-taking, two or three days where the business would shut down and our fathers and their employees, the one or two they trusted, would go through everything on the shelves, counting whatever was there. “Every single bag of sweets,” B said. First there’d been a general store, then his family opened a stationary wholesalers and a print shop in Mombasa. My family sold textiles in the Cape Province. We talked about how stock-taking is a reckoning of what remains, and how that relates to what has been. The now in relation to what used to be. What was, what has gone, and what has yet to go. We talked about our fathers’ search for new things: new designs, new lines, new items to sell. And now this catalogue, what of this stock taking of men?
What am I left with? What new lines can I introduce?
Almost a year has gone by since Tariq and I met. What I liked about him was the simultaneity of his identities. Canadian, Pakistani, English, queer, immigrant, surgeon, multi-lingual. We bonded around that. It shocked him when I told him I ate pork. I think he wanted us to have that in common. We had such a good time together. We went dancing, we went out to eat (there’s a halal Nando’s near where I live), he loved holding hands, he liked to be cuddled, he liked to talk, he liked to show me his arsehole and call it a pussy. Then it all went wrong. It might have been my fault, though he did tell me, as a throw-away remark, that he’d tried to kill himself a couple of weeks before we met. The Polish guy I dated after Tariq also had a suicide attempt in his history. He, too was surprised that I ate pork, but his shock had more to do with his limited knowledge, an ignorance shaped by a deep-rooted anti-Semitism about Jews and what Jews do. Felix the Pole loved being fucked. The other bits – kissing, touching, body contact – were not particularly interesting to him; all he cared about was being fucked, in any position, and hard. If we’d lasted longer than we did, I’d be fisting him by now. A friend of his from Portugal tried to kill himself when Felix and I were together. I never met the guy, but the call came through when Felix was at my place. I went to Lisbon once for a few days, and the only sex I had was with a Brazilian guy. I’m sure there have been other Portuguese guys, because I’m always taken aback by how big their cocks are.
Some guys you see regularly at the sauna; they’re there almost every time you are, or at least that’s how it feels. And then you stop seeing them and you wonder, like I wonder about the guy from Singapore, who seemed to look more and more gaunt each time I saw him. Is he dead? Ong was a dancer and he was the first guy I met when I started going to the sauna about ten years ago.
[to be continued]