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Stephen was really looking forward to meeting me.
We had been through the standard back-and-forth while becoming acquainted online.
He liked my sense of humor. He liked my photo. He liked my idea of taking on a summer boyfriend. He liked that I enjoy putting my cock inside the asses of cute guys.
Then he noticed my unusual first name. He googled me and found examples of my writing. Not this blog, mind you: the other stuff I write.
Are you by the chance the same Jefferson who wrote this? he asked, sending me a link.
Yep, that’s me.
Wow, I’ve read a lot of your articles. It’s nice to meet you.
Thanks! Glad you enjoy.
To be honest, I am not very comfortable when people make the link between my new life as pervert and my ongoing professional life.
For much of my professional life to date, I was married. I was glad that this excused me from vulgarity of some of my peers, who use their small measure of fame to impress potential sex partners and groupies.
My reluctance to use my writing to gain influence or to get laid made me feel more . . . I don’t know . . . pure. Professional. I published with only the best of intentions.
Now, here it was. Stephen was hot that I was someone he had read.
I rather liked that.
Mind you, I was relieved that he was already hooked because I am one hot-looking piece of man meat.
I don’t mind being adored for my mind. But please, only after I am adored for being so damn fine.
We decided to meet outside.
I brought water. I am thoughtful, this demonstrated, and I plan ahead.
He was grateful for the water.
Stephen blends in well in his neighborhood, Williamsburg—an artsy part of Brooklyn that is gentrifying faster than you can say decaf double mocha.
His jeans are ripped, and because there is a chill in the air, he is wearing two vintage t-shirts, one over the other, each inside out. The t-shirts are too tight, though he is rail thin.
He’s a young video artist with dark hair and blue eyes.
Even as we shook hands in greeting, he already knew his way around my bibliography. He also knew that I like to have my ass licked.
I felt a little exposed.
I also thought, in that first moment, that I just wasn’t that into him physically. Let’s see where this goes, I told myself.
We shared a few generalities, then fell into talking about video art. He asked me about some things I had written. I basically rehearsed what I remembered of an article he mentioned—this to make myself look as if I had at least read it too.
He nodded vigorously when I mentioned Bill Viola.
“He’s a big influence on me,” Stephen said into his water bottle.
“Oh yeah? Tell me about your work.”
Stephen described his work in some detail. I generally had no idea what he was talking about, but I nodded and repeated key words that made sense to me.
I offered to look at his work sometime. He said he would like that.
If I went to his place to look at his art, I wondered, would he assume that we were going to have sex?
If I were not that into him, I wondered, would we do it anyway?
He’s not bad looking, I thought, and he’s smart. If the art is good, that may put me over the edge.
I was eager to talk about anything other than art.
By way of shifting the conversation to sex, I picked up on some themes in our conversation about Bill Viola—life, death, redemption—to bring up Matthew Barney.
I referred to a “cerebral sensuality” in Barney’s work.
That term doesn’t mean anything special. It just the kind of thing one says.
Stephen’s brow furrowed. “I have a lot of problems with Matthew Barney,” he averred.
Fuck, I thought. Why oh why did I casually mention Matthew Barney? Of course Stephen will have a strong opinion about Matthew Barney. Everyone does.
And worse yet, everyone has to express that opinion.
Note to self: no more Matthew Barney on first dates.
So I listened as Stephen expounded his opinion. I nodded. And agreed. And dissented.
After he made what seemed to be his final point—or at least the final one he thought I would sit still to hear—Stephen paused.
“Jefferson, I have to say: it is really great to have this opportunity to sit here and talk about this with you. You have a great mind. It’s exciting.”
What great mind? I basically listened to him talk. I am at least that smart.
“But . . .” he began.
I thought I smelled a “but.”
“ . . . I just don’t know if I am that interested in you, you know, physically.”
“That’s okay,” I replied, a little too quickly, a little too defensively.
“Are you sure?” He reached for my hand. “You are handsome and obviously very smart, but it’s just . . . I guess you are not my type or whatever.”
“I just think it’s better to have those things out in the open.”
“No, you are right. And that’s okay.” Please stop talking about it.
“I do want to stay in touch. I would really like to continue this dialogue. It would be great to have you see my work.”
And write letters of recommendation, I continued the thought. And suggest galleries. And introduce collectors . . .
After a while we parted company.
“It was great to meet you,” he said. “I’ll be in touch.”
“Likewise. Let’s talk soon.”
I decided the next call would be on his dime.
A week has passed, and my phone ain’t ringing.