Miriam

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I wonder if I’ll always feel shame about sleeping in. Even though I haven’t been a church regular in almost thirty years, I still feel shackled by Catholicism. I was standing in the lobby of the theater beating myself up for not having gotten out of the house earlier and squandering the day. But in an attempt to walk amongst the living rather than the digital, I’d gone out the night before to an “underground fetish” party. I was on the fence about it but then I got a text from __ who said he wasn’t “ready for a love affair,” even though we’d had this super romantic time together. I was disappointed so I thought Yeah ok, get out of the house. You had to register online to get on the list for the party and then a few hours before the event they emailed you the address. Very Eyes Wide Shut. I didn’t have any fetish wear to sport other than one of my jock straps. I did bring one my paddles on this trip just in case I met someone who was up for that but I was confused about whether or not to bring it to the party. What, I was just going to walk around carrying it? Too much responsibility – it’s not like I have a huge investment in being recognized as a person who likes to paddle other guys. I rarely even do it anyway. The party was advertised as being queer/queer friendly and for people “who can’t fit into the regular scene” or something like that. I didn’t really qualify in that sense because I’m not some big outsider who pines for the few hours when he can walk around in rubber. Honestly, in this country I am much more self-conscious about how dark I feel next to all of the ultra-white and blonde people.

I got caught up in figuring out which t-shirt to wear: Was it too much to go sleeveless or not? I thought I’d wear a t-shirt and carry a sleeveless one with me in my jacket pocket and change if the vibe seemed to allow for it. Then, as I waited for the taxi to show up, I was like, What the fuck is wrong with me? It’s a fucking fetish party and I’m a grown man. What do I care what these people think of me and whether or not I can still pull off a sleeveless t-shirt?

The driver was hyper friendly, almost unbelievably so. You’d think he was driving me to a cotton candy festival he was so chipper. I affected a dispassionate cool, like I used to do when I was younger and worked as stoned stripper. Short answers delivered in a low, breathy monotone. At some point in early adulthood this got lodged in my mind as being sexy but I think I’m wrong. As it happens now with almost anyone outside of the States, we got to talking about the idiot president, but I said Please let’s not talk about that.

The party, oh the party. I messaged my friend: “It’s like a casting call for Girl With the Dragon Tattoo crossed with an 8 year old’s birthday party.” It really was. Very happy young people all dressed in various skimpy black outfits. A guy ambled by in head to toe latex with a puppy mask. I stood behind a cute young dyke couple in the coat check line. So much unblemished skin – maybe this was just an elaborate launch for a new Neutrogena product. I wandered around awkwardly and made my way to the fairly small dance floor. The DJ was at his table with this 90’s looking projection on the wall behind him and everyone was bouncing around but facing him. I don’t really understand why people do that when there’s a DJ. Literally there was nothing to look at and the projection was as visually complex as a traffic light. I think we should all face different directions when we’re dancing, or at least, each other. But people find their bliss in commonality I guess. One young person was front and center, beaming joy, moving arrhythmically. If you took him out of his black clothes and facial piercings he might as well have been at a Phish concert.

Techno music is boring as fuck to dance to unless you’re super high so I got a soda pop and leaned against the wall. The one boy in the place who I thought was super cute cruised me – that still happens! He was in jeans and a nylon bulldog harness. He was standing with his friends but he kept looking at me with his puppy dog eyes. He came over and talked to me. He was an art restorer and Yes, he had made the harness himself. I told him I’d brought my body pillow with me to Sweden. He found this absurd and I was like, How is it absurd, I’m here for two months. Ok ok he said. We made out and his kissing style was short, shallow kisses with a light touch. I was aware of how eager I was to re-direct my romantic disappointment of just a few hours before. Fuck that other guy, I was supposed to be with the art restorer! I have to go to the bathroom he said and took off. What was the protocol here? Was I supposed to follow or ask him if he wanted company or…? I opted for paralysis and waited nervously by the wall. When I saw him next he was in line waiting for a drink and he glanced at me briefly before turning away. He got his drink and walked right by me to the dance floor to his friends. I was thrown off. What did I say? Maybe he wasn’t into the way I kissed, or smelled. Or maybe the body pillow convo really had been a deal breaker for him. I felt like a heartbroken teenager. Fuck this I’m outta here. Being blown off is bad enough, but at a fetish party? Ouch. I went home and stayed up till 6am watching The Americans.

And so most of the day had gone by and I had finally gotten out of the apartment to check out a thrift store but it was closed by the time I got there so I thought I’d get to the theater early so that I felt like I’d had some sense of purpose to the day. It was in the middle of a street, sort of inconspicuous. Everything here is so design-y, considered. Even this theater’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance gave it a kind of speakeasy cool. I was one of the first people there so I stood reading some art rags on the shelf and then I turned and there she was all of a sudden, just sitting on a bench. At first I thought she was someone who had been in a workshop of mine and I racked my brain thinking of where it had been. But right alongside that thought I was like No wait it’s her. But her features were darker than I remembered so I googled her on my phone and yep it was her. I know her brother is a dancer but I remembered also that she had worked with J the choreographer and T, whose show I was there to see, works with J also sometimes so ok it all made sense why this global superstar was patiently sitting in the lobby wearing a leather jacket and track pants waiting to see a dance show. Did it occur to me that it was slightly unbelievable and perfect that I was seeing the quintessential Swedish pop star on my fifth night in the country? Yes. Yes it did. But I really like her music. There was a whole season in Brooklyn when I listened to her record non stop and then when A and I did a new version of TPWD, we used her super sentimental song with the driving beat for the second half. I hate the music video – she’s running through all of these animated shapes. It totally misses the pathos of the song.

I ended up sitting just three seats away from her during the show, which was kind of distracting. I really like T but I wasn’t so into the show – it was just about his hands moving around while this thumping dance music played. I mean he is super sexy and a really really good dancer but I couldn’t find the necessity in the project. My attention lit up for a while when he came out and interacted with the audience doing this thing where he passed his hands over people’s bodies, as if he were a Magician/Reiki Master. It was hot and in my head I was like Me me, please give me your hand magic. But he walked past me and right towards her though I don’t think he did it on her either – too obvious. She stood in the lobby afterward with this tall guy who looked like he was probably her boyfriend and they waited to say hi to T. I generally think you should thank your heroes if you ever encounter them but I was struck with shyness.

I found the guy who blew me off at the fetish party on Scruff and wrote him Hey you blew me off and that sucked but I still think you’re cute and you look good in your harness. He apologized and said he’d been on drugs and was acting stupid. See that’s the thing I always forget that people are on drugs when they go out. I guilt-tripped him into buying me dinner next week so things are looking up.

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