stripes & stench

I walk into the bedroom to find the bed’s been made. My new sequins mermaid snuggie from T.J.Maxx is laid out over the gravity blankets. Arlo reversed some of the sequins to make a heart. I smiled and took a picture.

* * *

It’s been awhile since a guy has made my bed. Not that long, really. A month or so. Spud used to make it every day even though I told him not to. He stopped shortly before he moved out, when I think he realized that cleaning up after me wouldn’t make me fall in love with him.

Arlo is one of the few people I say “yes” to even when I’m feeling indifferent or leaning towards “no”…except when the police are involved. The law is my boundary. I can say “no” just fine when he asks something of me that may result in expensive and time consuming penalties.

Police weren’t going to come to my house so I said ‘yes’ without words and I remembered how the massive gaps of time between seeing each other have no effect on how comfortable we are with one another.

I can never predict when I’m going to see him again. I think that’s where the yeses come from.

We started the movie at 2 am. I gave him a pair of patterned pants from Thailand to get comfy in. I wore my pink teddy bear shorts from Japan. Sometimes after midnight I want to eat and/or travel.

I paid close attention to him on my bed. It’s been at least two years since he was on it last. He was comfortable with the twin size mattress immediately, hardly making any adjustments to get situated.

I noticed patches of red, inflamed bumps around his elbows. His face was breaking out. He left a pile of fingernail clippings in front of the monitor. I commented on their length, surprised that a farm boy who usually rips his hangnails off with infection oriented fervor, would let nails get that long and was even more surprised he had a pair of nail clippers on his body. “Now I’m self-conscious,” he muttered, as he swept the clippings into his hand to throw them away. ‘They grow fast.”

He doesn’t make me self-conscious. At all. He was the person who got rid of it. He was the first person to go down on me while I was bleeding, the first person to be intimate with me when I was covered in dirt and stunk. While he massaged my feet I didn’t care that only eight out of my ten toenails were polished and that the skin around my heels was hardened and peeling. I’d care with other people.

I caught myself participating very little — something I’m good at. It comes from hanging out with men who like to service. He was doing all the prep work. I had to make a conscious effort in letting the participator in me emerge.

He complimented me on how I always intuitively know where to touch him even though I’m not trained in such matters. (He’s certified in shiatsu massage.) He purred. I continued.

Hours before, as we made conversation in the car, I shared a memory. We were sitting on concrete steps at a music festival around 6 am, watching people who hadn’t slept all night move their bodies. He asked me what my spirit animal was. “Peggy Bundy,” I responded.

“You’re more like a baby skunk,” he said, never saying why.

I finally asked him. Seven years later. “It’s because people want to get close to you but they have to keep their distance. They want to check you out, knowing chances are high they’ll pay for it.”

He’s right. Those who have gotten close are paying. I’m crying right now thinking about it.

Spud called a few days ago to say we need to postpone our friendship for at least a year. He got close and he got sprayed. Jason’s upset from learning I’ve taken on benefactors again. “I don’t like that, and that’s who you are, so I don’t like who you are.” He decided to get close when he knew early on what my lifestyle was like. He got sprayed. The list goes on.

It hurt to have Jason condense the whole of my being to one interest of mine. There’s a laundry list of things Jason does that I don’t like, none of them affecting my like of him as a person…

but that doesn’t matter. We are different people with different tolerances.

Spud used to impersonate Pepé Le Pew, gurgling, “Allo, mon chéri,” while kissing my arm.


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