I visited a gay sauna recently.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept: A gay sauna is a facility where guys have sex with anonymous strangers in dimly lit conditions.
The first guy to hit on me was a chubby guy with a funny accent.
“Hi, you pretty boy,” he said as he sat down next to me and laid his arm around my neck.
“Thank you,” I said, as I pushed his arm back where it came from.
“Where you from?”
“I live in the Caribbean.”
Silently, we sat next to each other for a moment. Not wanting to be impolite, I stretched our conversation somewhat: “Where are you from?”
“Wow. What’s it like being gay over there?”
“I’m no gay. I have wife and kids. I’m bi.”
“So does your wife know you go to gay saunas?”
“No, she not know. I’m no gay. Only once a year I come here and fuck boy. You boy.”
I wished my Eritrean bisexual acquaintance good luck on his quest for a boy that was not me.
The second guy was clearly on drugs.
“Do you think my hair looks scruffy?” he asked.
“You mean curly?”
“No, I know it’s curly. It’s supposed to be curly. It just feels scruffy. Really scruffy.”
“I don’t think anyone will notice in this light.”
“How about my teeth?”
“What about your teeth?”
“Is there plaque on my teeth?”
The guy showed me his smoker’s teeth. I told him his teeth looked fine, though he reminded me I really ought to quit smoking.
The third guy had a job at airport security. He told me he sent off passengers for flight MH 17 last year, the one that got shot down over the Ukraine.
“There was this one man who arrived at the gate late, afraid he had missed his flight. I helped him get on board. I remember his relief for having made it.”
“It must be unreal to realize you saw so many people that were just hours away from their deaths.”
“Yes, it was. I needed some time to cope with it. So, are you a bottom?”
“I don’t think that’s relevant at this point.”
It’s nights like these that make me miss people like Guy #17.
Guy #17 could have been the real thing.
I believe every body goes through life aching for and because of that real thing. A gay sauna is a place where intimacy meets up with lust, the way a symphony orchestra could accompany a rock band. It’s a place where people can find love with minimal amounts of hurt. It’s also a place where people get high on poppers, XTC and roofies, or just plain weed in my case. I believe we take those drugs because they obliterate the hurt that comes with love, in each and every sense of the word.
Guy #17 was a nerd, living proof of the fact that the brain is by far the sexiest organ. Seriously, I get really turned on by a guy who can have a conversation about quantum physics during sex.
We ended up dating for a few months. I mostly remember how much I felt at home whenever we simply lay in bed together, against each other, not saying anything, exhausted from all the physics we’d done.
I think Guy #17 fell in love with me somewhat. I on the other hand wasn’t ready for that. I knew there was still so much I wanted to explore. If love were to find its way to me, I figured, it would have to be perfect in each and every way. And Guy #17 wasn’t perfect. For example, this one time he got a little drunk and I didn’t really like him that way.
So there was that.
Of course, the only place I ever met the perfect guy was at a gay sauna. And Guy #106 was only perfect because he never called me back, and because I was high at the time.
Guy #17 and I never broke up. We simply stopped seeing each other. I wasn’t ready to commit myself to someone with imperfections. The distance flowed naturally from there on out.
Still, in the dark corridors of a gay sauna, where complete strangers engage in a battle of lust, love, rejection and ostensible perfection, it’s easy to miss a guy who could explain relativity to me when it mattered the most: during sex.