I eagerly anticipate his next words.
“What if I pretend to be the teacher and you’re the naughty schoolboy?”
“What if we don’t use a condom?”
“What if you’re the one?”
But nothing can prepare me for his next words.
“What if I told you I wasn’t attracted to you?”
I am 17. I have just met this man at a bar. We flirted for a while before he suggested we go back to his house. A joint and an oven baked pizza later, we are on his futon, kissing.
In school, they teach us that honesty is the best policy. But who knew that honesty could be so humiliating? Honesty is an ice dagger piercing my cocoon of weed, pizza and the belief that I am sexy.
For the first time in 17 years, I am lost for words. I force myself to be ok with this situation. I force myself to say something funny. Because if I don’t make him laugh, then I have nothing left. If I cannot amuse him in some way, it means I am neither attractive nor funny.
“You think you’re the first person to tell me this? Think again, honey,” I’m not saying it with anger, but rather a hint of sass and desperation. He recognises this and smiles, which is a relief. I can work with a smile.
He starts to make up some half-hearted excuses.
“You look like my ex…” he suggests tentatively. They broke up 3 years ago, it is not the case.
“I had a wank earlier,” he is 23 years old.
At this point, I find myself seeking the cold, hard truth, again. I crave it.
“You don’t make me hard.”
It doesn’t happen a lot, he tells me, but when it does, they usually react a lot worse than me. Ergo, I am winning.
Regardless, I want to spend the night with him. We could talk about Kate Bush and pubic hair and gay culture. In 100 years, there could be folk stories about us. The gay men that met at a bar and spent the whole night talking.
I want to say more quirky things to him. But then he suggests I go home. And just like that, he robs me of my voice as well as my sexuality. I become a body, heavily placed on his futon. Ironically, this is exactly how my friends had warned me the night would end. Except, he isn’t a serial killer and I’m not a victim.
He then offers to drive me home. Stoned. Although I tend to make awful life decisions, I wisely turned down this offer. I’m standing in his hall, waiting to leave, part of me wanting to go home and wash the shame for my body, another part willing him to call me back. Then I hear the familiar ping of a hook-up app and I know it’s all over.
I want to leave a sign to the next person whose honour this man offends. I consider writing “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum” on the wall as a warning. I consider burning his house to the ground. Or perhaps a light castration. Hell has no fury like a twink scorned. Eventually, I rid myself of these feelings of revenge, instead resolutely deciding to steal the other pizza I saw in his freezer.
Arriving home, I tell my friends my adventures. They cringe and laugh, the night of humiliation and trauma rapidly fading into a hilarious anecdote. We cook the pizza and, like Vikings toasting their victories, we eat it triumphantly. It’s off-brand, but it will do.