M is a writer, like myself. We met on Twitter last year and once IRL for coffee. Now he’s visiting from Brisbane and wants to hang out. I’m on my way to a Catalyst meeting when I inadvertently send M the following text:
M and I have been talking about sexual frustration and our shared desire for a sex buddy. My best friend is at the receiving end of my freak out and gives me two options:
Cover my tracks
Come clean (100% openness could work to my favour)
I go for #2. Then this happens:
So we’re having sex now? I spend the meeting horny and distracted anticipating M’s idea of being ‘down to clown’, i.e. laughing and going down on each other in a public toilet.
M meets me at my house and walks me to Trippy Taco. We spend 10 minutes standing out the front because both of us are too shy to ask to be seated and there are no free tables. After, we buy beer and listen to hip hop on my bed.
We take turns holding and scratching the cat through her Elizabethan collar (she has scabs). I glance at M’s arms, inches from mine, and his face. I want to kiss him but I’m afraid what it will mean later. I notice that both of us have reclined on the bed and neither of us is talking.
‘I feel awkward about the “down to clown” thing,’ says M. I agree, pause. ‘I’m in a bit of a complicated situation.’ ‘I figured. What is it?’ ‘I have a history,’ I say, ‘with my housemate.’
By this I mean I’ve been sleeping with my housemate since I moved in 8 months ago – but I don’t tell him that. We get stoned. I curl up while M sits over me – reaches out and strokes my hair. I listen to his breath: slow, restrained. My face feels hot so I close my eyes.
We go to the pub and spend our time mimicking and creating narratives for other patrons. M touches his hand to my arm each time he laughs. I’m comfortably buzzy in his company, but conflicted. The closer the night gets to ending the more I feel I’m doing myself a disservice by withholding out of respect for a hypothetical.
Back at mine, I say ‘Sorry things are so confusing’ and hug M goodbye.
Saturday – night
M and I catch up one last time before he flies home. We watch poetry videos in my room and then I walk him to the bus stop. It’s sunny and there are orange leaves at our feet. I feel sad yet hopeful – respected. Being with M is easy.
We hug – bump fists. I agree to visit him in Brisbane.
When I was 18 I turned down sex with a guy because he said ‘It’s just sex’. He’d pulled into a parking lot to fuck me after 1. Having a road rage attack, 2. Keeping me waiting at a music store for two hours while he chose an instrument and 3. Texting his ex-girlfriend on the way to said parking lot.
I was in a relationship of 2+ years when I gave him my number at the café he worked at. He wrote songs about grief and sung them to me on the beach. I was infatuated and inexperienced: I thought his interest in me was genuine, just as I thought mine was for him. Because he showed me attention, told me I was special, and didn’t run away when I told him that I’d fall in love if I slept with him.
But he didn’t respect me. Anyone who respects you knows that sex is never ‘just’ sex: it’s a collision of bodies, minds and emotion.
A week later
My complicated situation has been simplified, if not terminated, and now I’m crying into my brother’s shoulder in the club at 5 am. Still high, I cab home: trip over milk crates in the dark and bruise purple. I feel used – betrayed by my integrity and selflessness knowing that M staying would have made 0 difference to the state of play. Was I wrong to expect mutual respect from my housemate? Surely it should be a given when surrendering to an act so intimate as sex.
I book a flight to Brisbane en route to Sydney. Two nights with M – taking things as they come. No expectations.