“You have to hold it like this,” he says, forming a diamond between his two hands.
“Like this?” I ask. He steps closer to look at my grip on the dumbbell.
“Yeah,” he says.
“Okay, thanks,” I say, hefting it over my head, “It always felt kind of funny the other way.”
He smiles and nods “Any time”. He sustains the eye contact for a few more moments and I kind of forget to breathe until I look away. I lower the weight behind my head. He’s right, I can feel the difference. But I guess he should know, being a trainer.
A trainer. One of those gay fantasy icons. Hell, straight fantasy too. I look him over as he does shrugs, watch the tiger tattooed on his shoulder ripple and stretch. Old enough to be my dad, I think. Which has never been a problem for me in the past. We smile again at each other’s mirrored reflections, and I imagine kissing him, imagine him without clothes. I can picture the sex, can’t picture a date. Guys his age seem to want more, though, like I usually do. But consciously or not I’ve been aiming younger. Do I want to grow old with someone closer to my age? Is it vanity?
He keeps looking back, and I’m conflicted. Should I encourage it? Am I leading him on?
Oh relax, dude, I think. One smile and you’re getting married. My head; it’ll keep me from anything. Let life bring you what it wants. Hell, maybe he’ll train you for free.
The night I spoke he wore a Brooklyn sweatshirt. Last night he was wearing Philadelphia. Both looked pretty good. “I’m glad I heard your story,” he said, pulling up a chair for me at the meeting last night. “Made me think about some things.”
I’ve done a good job avoiding Ski. If you could call avoiding a friend good.
As the meeting began he ran his hand over my back, kneading the muscles. Like he has done before, and like I’ve done before I closed my eyes and savored each moment. I returned the favor a few minutes later, and I could hear him groaning softly.
My head hurts. Unfinished business. I interpret every word, gesture, glance. It needs to stop. Maybe after the meeting, I think. But later there are people everywhere, all around us. I’m a wimp. I don’t pull him away. “You want to do something this weekend?” he asks.
“I’m going to Palm Springs,” I say.
He laughs. “Wow, that’s going to be challenging for you.”
I laugh too. “Yeah, swimsuit weather.”
“You’re like me,” he says.
“Okay, I’ll call you for next weekend.”
I nod and walk away, towards home. Up the hill as the sky darkens. I could leave a message on his voicemail, I think. I know he’s not home yet. Wouldn’t that be best? Just spit it out. He won’t need to respond; he can just think about it.
But I can’t. It’s not right; it needs to be in person. I can’t drop a little bomb and then run off to the desert. Wait a little longer.
I come home. I read a stroke book. I go to bed.