Less Than Butterflies, No. 23

I’m not going to lie to you here: I’ve had sex with a lot of men. And I do mean a lot. 103, to be exact. I’m the type of person who has such a terrible short-term memory that if I don’t document information, I’ll never remember it in the long-term. That’s exactly how my little black book of men I’ve slept with got started as an adult. I’ll never forget when I slept with the one hundredth man, either. Well … maybe I will. I mean, it wasn’t particularly special, nor was it even really that good. He was there. I was there. We talked about his job for like an hour before anything ever even happened, then he came about ten minutes later and I finished the job by myself because he was breathing so heavily that I suspected any additional work might throw him into cardiac arrest. That part I will likely forget.

Still, it’ll be hard to forget the occasion, if not just the man, simply because it had been my 100th partner, and that felt like something worth bragging about. Therefore I immediately made sure that Gwen knew what had happened on a Marco Polo chat, to which she proclaimed, “We shall call him Centennial Man!” Although that name lasted only a few minutes due to the fact that her son had heard her say this from down the hall and had sent her a text message saying, “What are you guys saying about Ten Tentacle Man?”

Most of the men, however, I could remember pretty well, while others were harder to recall. Some were in groups of three, some were in groups much larger. Some wanted to skip the kissing and hand-holding, others were more inclined to cuddle afterward and follow-up hours later about getting together again. Some wanted to be tied up, others wanted to tie me up. From one man to the next, there was at least some tiny uniqueness about them that made them stand out to me in my head; but if it hadn’t been for that one quality that was so nearly unnoticeable, they’d have all looked the same in a police line-up of undersized dicks and bad personalities.

But — Jesus, I’m blushing — there was this one guy that was unmistakable as I think back on him now. His body, his thick head of hair streaking into sexy shades of silver in some places, the thickness of his calf muscles on otherwise scrawny legs, the way he put his certain hands on me — sure he wanted me as I did him, but gentle enough to assert his nervous hesitation — all of those things stood out about him. Not just one small feature or aberrant quirk. No, no. This man was a man. Sweet and gentle, sexy and dominant, giving careful whispers containing unwavering words. And since I’d been with him, he was all I needed to think about for arousal to set in and goosebumps to ascend from my flesh. Just the very thought of his legs wrapped up in mine — hair brushing hair, toes tickling the bottoms of feet — was enough to send my body writhing around and rising upward from my mattress.

He had a name, but we’ll call him — for now —  Pistachio — simply because Gwen has always wanted me to name the men of this column after different kinds of nuts. And in spite of how badly I wanted him to then and how much I often still yearn for it now, he never made love to me. His name never blotted the pages of my little black book, neither in ink, nor blood, nor semen. But in the days since we almost had — probably should not have, but nearly did — I didn’t have to turn my attention to pornography or imagine illicit scenes of ravenous men clawing at each other’s backsides to get off.

All I needed to get myself to climax — and often very quickly — was to think about how he’d touched me and — if I was lucky enough to last that long — how he would have.

The story of how Pistachio came into my life will come later, but here’s what is important to know now:

“I want him. To put himself. Inside of me,” I told Gwen on her back patio one evening.

“Boundaries, Anthony,” she told me as she took a hit off of her bong. Of this much she was correct: Pistachio was not single and he certainly should not have had even as much physical contact with me as he’d had several weeks before. That’s not even accounting for any emotional contact that may have existed between the two of us. “If he were single, I’d encourage you to go for it. Until then: boundaries.”

I groaned and kicked my feet like a petulant child in the hammock chair in which I hovered above the ground. She was right: sleeping with Pistachio now would not have been the right thing to do. Had it been my boyfriend getting intimate with some other guy, I’d likely have a four-part Snapped special dedicated to me and my own verse of song in the “Cell Block Tango”. But the question wasn’t whether or not I was going to engage in an affair with a man I knew had a partner already. I certainly would not. I’m no fool; those situations never benefit the mistress (master? Nah. Mistress has more zeal) in the long run. After a year of pining after an asexual, a few wasted months with a man I called by the wrong name in bed, and at least 102 other sexual encounters I’d rather not explore again here, I’d learned my lesson:

Anthony Ramirez would wait around in the wings for no man. Anthony Ramirez stood in the spotlight and made them sulk in the regret at the loss of their chance with the star.

“I’m not going to do anything, Gwendolyn,” I sputtered through gritted teeth. “I just need to do something to tide me over when I get lost in these thoughts about him eating my ass and drilling me like an offshore BP rig.”

Gwen sighed.

“That is … I didn’t need you to be that descriptive.”

Chance — a newer addition to my friend circle — offered what was probably somehow the most annoying and yet most sage advice one could get. “Do you have feelings for him?”

“I don’t know! My penis certainly does. Not to mention, there’s always the …”

“The what?” Chance asked cluelessly. Clueless was sort of Chance’s thing. He was an extremely talented production designer and Montrose personality, but at the end of the day he was still a twink in his late twenties with holes in his cognition the circumference of the bottom of a bottle of poppers.

I leaned in and whispered, “You know … the … the hungry butthole.”

Chance’s jaw dropped.

“I thought you were a top!”

“I mean normally, yeah; but Pistachio is just one of those guys that you see and you want to make him feel like a man.”

“Gross,” Chance nearly gagged out.

“It’s not just the hungry butthole, though!”

“What else is there?!”

I leaned over the table and looked around to make sure I wasn’t within earshot of any old women or small children. “I want to put his penis in my mouth and suck his soul out of it like I’m trying to get to the bottom of a milkshake.”

“Well, in this scenario, you would be the bottom of the milkshake.”

I threw my hands up. What about this was no one understanding?

I. Was fucking. Horny.

“Are we even sure this is just a sex thing?” Chance asked as the waitress popped by. “Can you give us a sec?” he asked her without looking up as he signaled her dismissal with the upward point of only one finger. “Because it sounds like you’re catching feels.”

“I don’t know, Chance! It’s a little hard to be that introspective when all I can think about is how introspective he could be with my anus.

Chance shrugged, clearly not that interested in the details of whatever else I had to say on this matter. “You could always sleep with someone else.”

“I don’t want to sleep with anyone else. I want to ride him like I’m training a horse for the Kentucky Derby while I call him daddy until he’s so orgasmed-out that his hair turns completely gray and he comes down from the bedroom looking like he’s just spoken to a burning bush.”

Chance’s eyes widened and his ballcap nearly fell off of his head.

“My best advice: jack off.”

I let out a sigh as the waitress rounded back to our table. I had been masturbating on the matter for weeks. It wasn’t enough. Or maybe I wasn’t doing enough. I didn’t know.

“Can I get y’all anything else?” she asked politely, albeit a bit frightened by Chance.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “A milkshake.”

The way in which I came to think about my intimacy with Pistachio was nearly always the same. It didn’t necessarily happen at a specific time nor were my urges and fantasies necessarily concerned with what else I might be doing at the time. Still, the process of thought always began the same way.

It could have happened when someone approached from behind and was wearing a similar fragrance, or if someone gently laid a hand on my shoulder, or if I fell into bed in exactly the right position. But the thoughts started with his arms around me, his breath hot against my forehead, his fingers grazing skin over my lightly freckled shoulder. Then it fell into my fingertips, which gently touched his waist, then up to his chest, spinning gold out of chest hairs and playing Ring Around the Rosie along the perimeter of his areolas. It was the impression of my lips against his skin, my nostrils taking in his aroma — good cologne with just a hint of sweat. My legs wrapping up inside of his and his toenails scratching the skin of my feet like the paws of a puppy. The sound of him moaning as he wrestled with his conscience about whether or not to take the next step haunted me like an undeparted spirit seeking finality to its unfinished business.

But that’s what we had. Wasn’t it?

Unfinished business.

So much unfinished business.

Because that’s where it all ended. With gentle kisses on his chest and erect, untreated penises and the knowledge that we had done the right thing by doing nothing at all, even if instinct — maybe just carnal, maybe part emotional — was to keep going.

It ended, most usually, right there — with me dozing off to sleep as I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, too. With me wondering in what way and just how much he loved me. With me wanting to never leave that bed, never leave his side. Usually that was enough to bring me to climax, smothering myself with a pillow to drown out my screams.

But when it didn’t, when I couldn’t let go and let it end there, when the fantasy drew me in too deeply, he rolled on top of me and slipped his fingers between mine. He tore away my clothes with his teeth, and he kissed my chest and tummy as I relinquished self-consciousness to the earth who gave it to the gods to vanquish. And I wished to press my fingers into his skin, but I couldn’t, for he held my arms back against the bed by my wrists as he tasted me, held me in security yet yearning for him to cling tighter still. And when my briefs slid off, he slid his tongue down the inside of my right thigh, his eyes cast up toward mine, as he pushed my legs apart at the knees and drifted further down between them.

Ecstasy. Ecstasy unmatched by any other feeling I’d ever revelled in took over then. In my head he touched me in a way no man ever had before — with uniqueness unlike any of the 102 men that came before. They were nothing now. They didn’t even exist. It was him. There was only him. Men around the world evaporated into thin air, puffs of smoke gone up like boiling water from a stove, and all that stayed behind was us — he and I — now one being joined by flesh and spirit and heart. Our movements were commands — motions of a magic spell that’s rhythm sent strong and steady ripples out into the universe to make change. He was the Devil, and I the Witch made to worship him.

And when he finally accepted entrance into me, I wasn’t just feeling him in my mind anymore. The premonition of what could have been turned corporeal, even there in my bed alone. I needn’t even touch myself where I imagined him touching me or slide my hand down to my pubis in order to orgasm. This was a man who touched me telekinetically from afar, who I felt pressed against my skin when he wasn’t there. This was a man who now not only touched the mind, grazed the body, but who grappled the heart and squeezed until all the blood inside it was drained and wrung out and replaced with a feeling warm as liquid gold and much more beautiful.

This was literally the man of my dreams. The first man I’d ever been intimate with after I’d been raped by some stranger — even if all our advances never amounted to anything more than subtle intimacy and loving exchanges. This man was the only man in the entire world — the first and maybe the only man in a sea of dangers I’d been drowning in for so very long — a man who had the power to put me in his arms and tell me that he loved me and make me feel safe with the ease of a newborn child taking their very first breath.

But this man of my dreams, this man who took my pain and buried it in the earth to be recycled into euphoria — he had never been mine. Not to begin with. Not even that night in bed. Those short moments were stolen from another, even if they’d never turned to sex, and I was the thief who’d come in the night to take them.

Still, I thought he should’ve been — mine, that is. And maybe I still think that. Because even after climax — a screaming, writhing affair — I always found myself crying. Crying to live it just one more time, even if nothing more took place. Crying to realize as I rolled onto the pillow next to me that his chest was not there to lay my head upon. Crying to know that, it was true, he’d never been mine, and that he may never be. Crying myself into dreams of him and I and a life so happy in a way I’d never known before.

Chance had been right before — this wasn’t just about sex. This wasn’t just a fling between two people who only thought they knew about one another. So I had to stop masturbating and I had to learn to curb my thoughts away from him when they approached the borders of territory still uncharted. At least for now, while he belonged to another.

Because I was falling in love, and about that I could do nothing while he maintained a partner.

But that last time I ejaculated, thinking of my fingers running through that thick, silver hair as I clung to him behind me and he kissed my neck and nearly left his skin in rapture of the love we could have made, I told the empty air around me, “I love you,” hoping that even though he was nowhere to be found, he would somehow hear me, and wake from sleep, and think of me.

I had slept with 103 men in my life, and he was not one of them. But by God if there ever came a time when I could just be held by him again without hurting another person, I swore then and there that I would.

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