Gay Times and Hetero Harbours. Part 3
This is the 5th part of the Berlin Life series and the 3rd on the gay scene. I promised it some time ago, then forgot to post it. Sorry!
Anyway, we can’t see his face, as it is well covered in a shirt and he presumably (like me) has only limited vision. That isn’t stopping him. He climbs into the fountain basin and wades trough the water, but trying to avoid the fountain. It must be an attempt at keeping dry. Can’t be done.
After two rounds of the fountain, he is soaked. At the end of his fountain odyssey he stops, and punches the water vertically – piston fashion – two or three times with his left arm which has a strange dark blue colour. I can’t identify why or what he is wearing on his arm. He then climbs from the basin and walks off, head still covered, jeans still rolled up to over his knees, as though his actions must be comprehensible to his audience. I realise the dark blue arm colour is a plaster-cast or something similar to hold a fracture firm. Perhaps the tour round the fountain gives him a few minutes relief from itching under the plaster.
‘Does he do that every evening?’ I venture to ask – she who is next to me and is no longer reading.
‘No idea. I’m not usually here,’ she answers.
‘Looks almost like a ritual,’ I risk saying.
She returns to her book. I now dare try a disruption. Her face has me so enchanted that I have to chance something.
‘What are you reading? Looks like poetry or very short stories.’
I’ve done it. Now she knows I can see nothing but shapes at one meter fifty.
She says something I don’t understand. Now she knows I don’t hear too well either. I ask for a repeat.
‘They are essays,’ she says slightly louder.
Essays. That’s not giving a lot away.
She falls back into silent reading.
I consider many times asking her to go to a nearby café and share a wine with me. I don’t do it. But I so need to sit opposite that face. It’s like an illness. I want nothing from her but to look at her face. Why don’t I just tell her that?
An old man walks round the circular perimeter path looking at all the seat dwellers. Is he a voyeur enjoying the youth making out and hoping to see a grope or two? More likely he is trying to pick someone up for the evening. He stares long at me every time he passes. If I so much as twitch, I’m sure he will approach me. It would be a disaster. Petrified sums me up.
I realise for the nth time that I have no interest in some aging gay. How dare he look at me lasciviously when I’m in the presence of a stunning woman?
It must be clear to him that I don’t, in any way, belong to the stunning woman. She is by no means beautiful but she has ‘it’, that je ne sais quoi of good years spiced with experience. She has the joy of the good times and the character building of the bad ones, lined in her face. She is so special!
He disappears behind the water cascade. A couple enter the square; I keep calling it a square but it is clearly a round. A couple enter the circus ring from stage right for that is what it has now become. He is tall and elegant but so clearly proud of his acquisition that it is tasteless. His acquisition is stunning. No. His acquisition is startling; has bodybuilder physique with such monumental pectorals that they can double as a bosom and she flaunts them as such and wears very tight trousers with slightly high-heeled sneakers at their base. The combination causes a walk like a man not used to heels and skin-tight slacks, which I deduce as they approach, is exactly what he is. I’m sure I can detect a hint of lipstick. They are so proud, one can’t be cross with their vanity. I am mesmerized by so much bad style and I fail to notice what is going on next to me.
The wind blows and the trees rustle. All other sounds are momentarily blocked out and I have looked away from her for just a minute while I consider my options and admire the audacity of the gay couple. I think of Julian Clarey. I admire him, not for his gay send-up comedy, but for his outrageousness. What courage? And while I’m thinking that, under the cover of the rustle, she has got up and walked away, with a cute and provocative ‘bye’.
I just manage to return her farewell before she is out of earshot and the face has gone forever. Run after her!
For Christ sake. At my age? What do I have to offer her? It would be an insult to try to get closer to my goddess. Get old gracefully with the proven woman, whom you love to bits and give up on pipe dreams. You wanted nothing from her. If she had gone along with an adventure, it would have been out of economic necessity. The world is full of women who have given their life for a cause – man or family or both – and end middle-aged paupers. It would be disingenuous to pretend I can be anything to her. I once had a colleague who screwed his way round the Balkan states, promising to take young women from their destitution and then moving on before they had time to get their side of the deal. He was very tall so he got his comeuppance. All the bed-work played havoc with his back and he died well short of sixty. I know not from what; shame I hope! Or perhaps a cousin or brother of one of the cuckolded women caught up with him. I warned him that they settle scores in Slovenia differently to us.
The fountain suddenly stops. The quiet is awesome. I leave.
On the way home I find myself cycling behind a girl, maybe eighteen. She has chosen very tight slacks for the evening and knows her backside is a treat for an old man in a dry month. She can’t carry it off. Her body language reveals serious embarrassment. Why wear them if you feel awkward? I accelerate even though I am tired, just to put her out of her misery. She drops a long way behind.
Although we are on the four-lane Sachsen Damm, it is lonely and troubling in the twilight. The cycle path is far from the road and the cars move quickly. To the right is a deep cutting, hiding part of a motorway junction and to the left, businesses, long shut up for the night. No one would have seen or heard a predatory attack. Perhaps she is more scared than embarrassed. I’m suddenly glad I made the effort to overtake her. She’s scared? – I’m scared! Thinking of predatory attacks has made me realise that I’ve been foolish, and unlike the girl with the nice arse, my danger could have easily been avoided by taking keys to the main entrance of my apartment block. On my way out the house, I noticed the bicycle exit from the building had been used by junkies to prepare their fix. The tell-tale squares of charred aluminium foil were around the door. I only have a key to the bicycle cellar entrance. What do I do if a half dozen crazed crack buddies are shooting up in the lonely bicycle cellar when I arrive? I certainly won’t try to get by them, because once on the wrong side there is no quick exit from the other end. I could be overpowered and robbed in seconds and no one would hear. And why wouldn’t they attack and rob me? To them, I have everything.
Just like the young woman with the cute butt, I worry about nothing. There is no one waiting to rob me.
Fear of crime can be worse than the crime. Fear of sexual orientation is always worse than reality.