Remo called from Paris and caught me at home one night. “Hey, how’s things?”
“Things are good. Well, depending on what things, but you didn’t call to check up on me, did you?” I was doing the math in my head. It had to be, what, nine hours later for him? “What are you doing calling me at the crack of dawn?”
“I’m in the Paris airport, making a last transfer to London. I’ll be home day after tomorrow. Everything all right at the house?”
“It was on Monday.” I’d gone there to record some sample tracks to give to Chernwick for a gig that didn’t pan out. “Want me to swing by there tomorrow? The pool cleaners should have come today if I remember your schedule right.”
“I’m sure everything’s fine. So, have you and your boy made plans for Thanksgiving yet?”
“You know, we haven’t even talked about it.”
“Well, if you’re in town and don’t have other plans, I’m thinking of having some people over at the house and would love if you would come.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”
“Yeah yeah, just checking. The connection’s fuzzy.” It wasn’t actually, it was that I was somehow surprised by the offer, or by the thought that Remo cooked Thanksgiving dinner. Having lived in his house for a couple of weeks, I wasn’t certain he did much in that kitchen other than make coffee and heat up canned soup. “I’ll ask Jonathan.”
“You don’t think he’ll want to?”
“I’m sure he’ll want to. He loves parties and talking to people. But you know. I don’t want to assume.”
“Sure, sure.” He made one of those uncomfortable coughs. “While you’re asking him, see if he wants to have dinner this Friday. Or come stay for the weekend and we can catch up.”
“I’ll ask.” I figured we’d be a yes for dinner but I didn’t want to stay the weekend because I knew that would mean no sex. We’d fallen into a reliable pattern–that is to say, I relied on it. Any Saturday afternoon when we didn’t have other plans was completely safe territory. So was Saturday night, but we more often went out to see bands or sometimes a party. Sunday was pretty good, too, but not as reliable, so I considered Sunday sex a bonus. “So how was the tour?”
“I’ll tell you everything when I get in.”
“Crap, I guess this means you need your truck back.”
“I suppose it does. I’m only back for two weeks, though, before we leave for Asia. I can rent something.”
“Or I can rent something, which would make more sense.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Where is my head?”
“Right. See you when I get in.”
“You want me to pick you up?”
“I can take a limo.”
“I’ll pick you up and you can give me the fifty bucks you would have given the limo.”
“For picking me up in my own car?”
He laughed. “Will you carry my bags, too?”
“Naw. That costs extra.”
He was still chuckling a little. “It’ll be good to see you. Got a pen? Write down my flight info.”
I wrote it down, and for good measure I wrote Friday? Thanksgiving? so I’d remember to ask Jonathan. He was at a work thing–they’d hit some benchmark or something and were all going out to dinner together and I wasn’t that interested in tagging along on that. It wasn’t like other people were bringing their boyfriends or girlfriends as far a I knew.
I had some microwave mac and cheese and amused myself sitting on the terrace to work on a song with the Ovation. But during my warm ups I started playing some old stuff and I ended up just sitting there playing whatever I felt like, going from song to song, like I used to when I busked in the subway, when it didn’t actually matter whether anyone listened or not, so I played whatever my fingers felt like. Snippets of songs I had never written, snippets of songs that were yet to be written, and bits of songs I knew, some original, some not. I just let it flow.
He hadn’t returned yet by the time I felt done, which was just as well, because then I wouldn’t feel compelled to play for him, and I got in bed with a book.
He came in quite tipsy around midnight, and crawled into bed with me and whispered, as if someone might be listening, “I would really like you to make love to me right now.”
“I would be happy to,” I said, and kissed him.
“You don’t mind?”
“Shut up and lie back so I can get your shirt unbuttoned.”
He was drunk enough that I wondered how he’d gotten home. I found out later a co-worker had dropped him off, but at the time I didn’t think about it too much. I was much more concerned with how excellently warm his skin was, how his belly tasted when I licked a stripe down from his navel, how fantastic it felt to have him flow under my hands the way the notes had an hour before.
When we were done I felt I’d picked up some of his buzz, the room spinning a little as if the bed were on a giant turntable, as we lay there, damp and limp and content, my arm across his chest.
“That was nice,” he said, as if mildly surprised.
“All you have to do is ask,” I answered, without really thinking about it.
“Do you really mean that?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, do you mean that all I would have to do is ask?”
I thought over what we’d said and then got into thinking over what we’d said before and before long I was trying to recap every conversation about sex we’d had and that took way too long, so I simply said “Yes.” Then I decided to check myself. “Haven’t you asked me that before?”
“Kind of. I guess it still hasn’t sunk in.”
I made a guess. “Did some previous boyfriend hold out on you a lot?”
“Not really.” He sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s that I feel like I’m being unfair to you.”
“Because I don’t always say yes to you. I can’t make you that same promise.”
“It’s not a promise, J. It’s just a fact. And I said a while ago that if I wasn’t willing for whatever reason I’d tell you.”
“But you never have.”
“So maybe it would be a rare thing.” I shrugged and wiggled around so I could see him. “I like sex. I like sex with you. I haven’t ever had a reason to say no. You’ve had plenty of reasons to say no. It’s okay, J.” In the back of my mind I was thinking: since when did I become the guy who figured it all out and explained it and J. become the guy who was insecure about sex?
“You wish we did it more often.”
“Once a week is perfectly adequate to my needs.” Oh jeez, I sound like Lacey, I thought.
“But twice a week would be better.”
“If you wanted twice a week I’d say yes in a heartbeat.” Which was true. And I admit I got really hopeful that was what he was offering, and I admit I think I showed that hope way too much, and that made me feel like I was pressuring him, so before he could say something else, I tried to fix the hurt I might have made: “But really, every Saturday afternoon is fine.”
Which just goes to show I didn’t know shit after all, because that was when he got that hurt look. “Is it really every Saturday afternoon?”
“Regular as a metronome,” I said.
“Ouch. I didn’t realize we were in such a rut.”
“We’re not in a rut,” I said, even though I pretty much thought we were. “That’s like saying because we eat every day we’re in a rut. Isn’t it?”
“Did you like the sex better tonight than you did on Saturday?”
“No. I liked it plenty both times. This was nice because it was unexpected, and Saturday was nice because it was expected. Do you get what I mean?” I nuzzled his neck and licked the sweat that had dried.
“I think so.” He sighed and ran his hand down my bare back. “Would you do me again right now, if I asked you to?”
“Absolutely. Well, it might take another fifteen or twenty minutes for me to recharge, but there’s plenty we can do to stay busy until then. I mean, if you’re leading up to actually asking.”
“Would it be weird if I said I wanted to see you come again and I didn’t care if I did?”
“I have no idea if that’s weird or not. If what you’re really asking is would I mind, though, the answer is no.”
He kissed me then and said he wanted to use his hand so he could watch my face, and he used lube, and I felt the orgasm really intensely even though not a lot came out.
“Thank you,” he said, and kissed me when I was done.
“No, thank you,” I insisted. “I think we had another conversation where I saw everything backwards from you.”
“What’s backwards? I asked you for something, you said yes, so I thanked you.”
“Okay, I guess I still felt like you did more for me than I did for you.”
“Because you’re the one who came?”
“I guess? Doesn’t that make sense?”
“I guess it depends on how you look at it. What I get out of sex with you, Daron, is a lot more than an orgasm. It’s an extension of being with you, of living with you, of everything that you are, everything that I get to enjoy about having you here, under the same roof with me. You’re not like anyone else I’ve ever been with. You’re… God, I hate cliches but it’s so true… you’re special. You’re really special.”
When I guy gives you a speech like that while his hand is still coated in your jizz, you’re supposed to hear violins in the background, you know the ones, with the sunset in the background and the crashing waves and little hearts floating up like soap bubbles. Thing is… I hate cliches, too. I’ll play them all day long in the studio if that’s what they’re paying for, but when something’s mine? That’s different. I didn’t like the sound of those violins. Did I feel special? I did, but not in a way I liked. It would take me weeks to figure out why. Yeah, I felt special, the way a leopard in a zoo is special, exotic, different. I didn’t much like that feeling.
But I did feel loved. Confusing as that sounds. I did. So I stuck with that as the take-away from the conversation.
(Wow, I had forgotten what a generic power ballad this song was. And John Waite with generic arena rock hair! Jeez. -d.)