Inside my coat pocket, there was the piece of cake wrapped in cellophane, which I crushed the moment I saw him. I was coming from a party where I had spent most of the time being silent. In those days, parties just made me realize that life was happening somewhere else. I was in the habit of taking something from the places I went to. It didn’t have to be anything of value.
I had asked for the cake. It was dry, clearly not enough sugar had gone into the mix. The cake crumbled quickly under the plastic, while the marzipan remained intact, at least to start with.
It was foggy, but the park did not instil fear in me back then. No one had ever bothered me there, or beaten me up. That evening, the park meant a pleasant detour, a little gift to myself.
The man coming towards me was pushing his bike, so I assumed he didn’t live in the neighbourhood. He looked like my grocer, who I had never felt attracted to and who I suspected of using dodgy scales to boost his profits.
The leather of his jacket was as dry as his dull face. His hair appeared to have slid down his cheeks to his jaw, where it formed a beard. At that time, I didn’t have a beard, and I was very slim and eager to please. With his bike, he was wide enough to block the path. He was stopping there for me, that much was clear. And so I stopped for him.
‘Blowjob?’ he asked. ‘Want to suck me off?’
It wasn’t a spot for cruising, as far as I knew. That made his request so much better. And yes, he looked like my greengrocer, by which I mean he looked like the people I had left behind at the birthday party. I was convinced he had a wife, I could picture the faded duvet covers he slept under every night.
I took a step towards him and gave the piece of cake inside my coat pocket another squeeze as I asked him if we could make out.
‘No. Just a blowjob.’
‘What I really like most of all is kissing,’ I said. But the man knew I’d already agreed to his request, as he was resting his bike against a tree, without bothering to lock it up. He leaned against the slim birch tree beside it and unbuckled his belt.
Sometimes I refrain from eating or drinking something because I know exactly how I’ll feel afterwards. I’ll see a bag of sweets and I can already feel the sugar racing through my body. Or I’ll see a beer and the hangover is already taking its revenge in my guts. So I decide to pass. I didn’t know how this penis was going to make me feel.
The stretched hair follicles on his ballbag reminded me of goose bumps. Some men want you to touch them with your tongue. Some men are ashamed of their balls.
As soon as I took his dick in my mouth, the man became soft. He whimpered. The fog enveloped us, we were inside the vacuum where all the intimate contact I’d ever shared with men had taken place.
The penis was circumcised. The thing was threatening and pitiful, as every dick is. Particularly when it belongs to a stranger. It was salty, and dry. As dry as the skin on his face, as brown as his lips. I looked up and saw his nostrils.
The marzipan detached from the cake. I massaged it in my fist until it took on the negative form of my closed hand. I looked up again, at the open nose, the closed eyes. I didn’t find him attractive, but I did like unexpected sex, because sex usually announces itself. By means of drink, by friendship, by confusion, by messages, by awkward questions.
The whimpering sounded like crying but it wasn’t. ‘Thanks,’ said the man. ‘Thank you,’ he said, louder now, apparently unconcerned about the others in the park. ‘Yes, thank you.’
I wondered when his wife had last given him a blowjob. Do women still give their husbands blowjobs after their sheets have faded? Am I saving a marriage, here in the park? Am I keeping it going by fulfilling his needs? This, I decided, was something old, a thing for men, belonging to a time I had not been part of. This was sex, but it was also a form of assistance.
His thanks had an encouraging effect, giving me a brief injection of self-confidence that made me descend to his balls. I licked the goose bumps. The light from the lamppost gave his skin, and surely mine too, a green glow.
I was wearing nice clothes, but it meant nothing at that moment.
I am clever, but it meant nothing then.
I am an exceptionally good son, a considerate friend, an attentive passer-by. So attentive that I sometimes forget my own body. My knees were on the grass, had become wet. My penis raised its head, growing harder in small steps, climbing to the top of my underpants.
It’s hard to give a blowjob without thinking about choking, particularly if you’ve been haunted by an anxiety disorder all your life, but I managed it that night. I also managed to come before the man did. Then he sniffed and straightened his scarf before tucking his penis away.
‘Stand up,’ he said, as a father might say to a slow child. I stayed on my knees, as the man fetched his bike. ‘That’s asking for trouble.’
The fog was apparently no longer sufficient.
‘As is kissing,’ I said.
The man leaned forward to unlock his bike, stood back up after discovering that he had not actually locked it, and gave his scarf another tug.
I couldn’t feel the cold yet. For a brief moment, I thought the man was my greengrocer again, until he wiped the drips of mist from his eyebrows – the man who sold me vegetables every week would never do that. Not that way.
‘Go on, you can leave,’ I said, and without saying anything he climbed smoothly onto his bike and headed for the new side of the park, towards where I lived.
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