Monday, October 08, 2007

The gestures of intimacy in that loneliest of spaces

I'm thinking more about the idea of picking people up at bars, I mean it's preposterous because I don't drink and I don't usually go to bars, but also there's so much allure because it's a skill I’ve never mastered. That fear of crossing other people's sexual boundaries but then really I think it would happen and it would be okay -- I do have confidence in my own ability not to do something awful, it's just that fear from before I could articulate anything, I mean literally. My mouth reaching for something like a scream, it didn't matter my father's hands over my mouth nothing ever mattered how could I make it?

Much later, when I started having sex with men and bathrooms -- I was 14, they were anywhere from 30 on up and what I wanted to do was to learn not to feel it, this terrible thing I knew it made me worthless. I went to these bathrooms almost every day, every day trying not to feel some guy would be sucking my dick and then it would be over I didn't want anything in between like pleasure. Later I decided only there among the tiled floors mirroring fluorescent lights, the space between stall wall and tile, my knee warming the floor -- there it was okay, somehow I learned how not to be afraid. Or not as afraid.

A few I can remember from the rest, the first guy just his dick next to mine at the urinal but later someone who held me we hid in a stall, his briefcase next to us. Or the guy who liked to lick my feet in his car, wanted to take me home to his wife he said his wife understood. Or the guy who gave me his lobbyist business card, I wonder what would've happened if I'd called him.

But later then all of this, much later still I thought about those early days in the bathrooms when I wanted to disappear, I wanted not to feel because then maybe I would win over my desire -- this part was conscious, or close to it -- deeper, I also wanted to win over my father who made me feel so much pain, by not feeling it I mean not feeling this. There were things I couldn't do for so long, or I could do them it's just that I would leave my body for whoever was there: take this. My neck, oh my neck -- gateway to all that went on and my head, drifting away you know this story.

It all goes deep so fast -- but still I want to get back to cruising at bars, my fear of crossing people's boundaries but also it's like I'm 12 and I don't know what to do with other people's attraction I freeze. No one knows -- that's a problem too because outside I'm still looking collected, maybe even looking confident while inside it's like I no longer have a stomach, my whole body is geared toward organs of elimination -- I can rush to the bathroom and shit, chew on a toothpick until it's just splinters in my mouth I'm waiting for someone to make a move but if I sense his hesitation then I also go back to that space of not wanting to risk crossing into an aggressor role maybe all of this doesn't go through my head at the time but it's stuffed in there poking out making my head lopsided.

The other thing I can do, is that even when someone's cruising me in the most blatant way, I can convince myself that really he's not interested at all, probably just interested in my look, he likes my hair or my clothes but he'd never go home with me, I'm too queeny for the rules of attraction. The funniest thing is that I'll convince myself that some guy who's cruising me must be straight, he's just cruising my fashion -- and there is a certain type of straightboy in this category, but probably not at the gay bar.

I want to get to the point where none of this matters, where I can embody sluttiness both inside and outside the backroom, where I can feel present at a bar even when I'm not dancing. Do you know what I mean? I want to feel something like confidence and an ease of motion, a familiarity with the gestures of intimacy in that loneliest of spaces, the gay bar I mean, and then when I get to that place then maybe I'll be able to get there anywhere.


James said...

Mattilda - have you thought about going to a bar that has a drag show? To me, on a night that a bar has a drag show, the feeling is more festive, not 'lonely' people sitting around a bar. Though, I suppose one has to like drag shows. I do like to tip the queens, and I do like to drink, and my history is: I have met most of the men that I have been with in bars. So that is me, I am comfortable going to bars...

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

James, not a bad idea at all -- you're right, the mood on drag nights is more festive... although here in San Francisco we have some incredibly sceney drag nights that are more monstrous than anything else really -- in terms of attitude, consumerism, cliquishness, racist, classist and misogynist pageantry, etc. -- although there are others...

I also think there's something about the cruisy bar without backroom and my fears within that I want to overcome perhaps -- we shall see...

Thanks for the suggestion!

Love --