Oh, San Francisco…
“Should you see this man, don’t discuss to him or give him any cash.”
The flyer is taped to the vacuum cleaner hose machine I’m ready for on the self automobile wash on the nook of 10th and Harrison.
There’s a photograph on the flyer. It’s of a person with a half-smile and bloodshot eyes whimsically wanting upward. The picture is such a close-up portrait, he was clearly posing for it.
Positive sufficient, I flip round to ensure: This is identical man frantically taking a squeegee to my automobile home windows after listening to me say no thanks.
His eyes are nonetheless whimsical in particular person. Additionally they say “I’ve nothing however time and nothing to lose.”
I be certain I’ve some money in my pocket.
“Don’t fear in regards to the wheels, my man. I like them soiled.”
He doesn’t cease.
I hand him $3. He takes it and retains scrubbing.
My automobile is gray. When the chrome rims are soiled, they match the paint job.
I get into the automobile. The scrubbing continues.
I begin the engine. He doesn’t flinch.
It isn’t till I begin driving away that he strikes on to the Ford Expedition within the subsequent stall. No ceremony, simply shifting on.
My automobile is a charcoal gray Saab 900. After I obtained right here 20 minutes in the past, it seemed like a dalmatian due to the proper smattering of white fowl shit everywhere in the roof and hood.
Now, as I drive to my therapeutic massage studio, it’s pure, shiny charcoal gray once more. With two wheels filthy and two in chrome so gleaming it hurts your eyes.
And now, the touchinghttps://19f3c74b1f076b55cc824f02b38415b3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Again in my therapeutic massage studio, I prepare for my first shopper of the day. It’s going to be Patrick, in all probability my most loyal (that means frequent) shopper — a mysteriously rich man with impeccable manners and an ideal physique who is available in for a 120-minute therapeutic massage so commonly that he’s single-handedly paying my San Francisco lease.
It seems like a match made in heaven. It form of is — San Francisco lease is excessive, and for my lease to be paid by one single particular person carrying a corduroy blazer with suede patches on the elbows, that’s fairly good. He will get wonderful bodywork, I get a roof, everyone wins.
The place it will get bizarre is the presents.
Patrick brings me bouquets of contemporary lavender. Contemporary kumquats the scale of golf balls. Contemporary figs bigger than way-oversized kumquats. And he palms them to me like they’re candies on a primary date. Relating to therapeutic massage, I’m 100% obtainable for Patrick. However when he needs to take me house, I’m without end out to lunch.
It’s a tough function I’ve to play: the giver who should maintain again.
Making purchasers really feel good is second nature for me. Iron their muscle groups like high-thread-count bedsheets. Stretch their frames again to states of peak perform. Caress their necks like they’re infants and I’m the mom with limitless love. However then they pull on me somewhat too laborious and I’ve to let go of the rope.
Theo is available in subsequent. He’s the shopper lined from collarbone to ankle in tattoos that appear to be a full-blown DMT imaginative and prescient in fixed movement — a swirling, heaving, undulating cauldron of monstrous characters, bulging waves, crackling flames, gooey rivers, mechanical legs, and mighty tentacles. However not a drop of ink is mostly seen to anybody — it’s all hid behind clothes. Fingers, ft, neck, face, clear as a choir boy. It isn’t till he will get therapeutic massage classes that his artwork will get to breathe, he mentions. For all I do know, I’m the one particular person conscious of his secret aside from the tattoo artists that put in the key.
He’s been coming in as soon as a month for 4 months and speaking to me a mile a minute the entire whereas. I really feel like I can ask him now.
“So Theo, does your loved ones know you’re lined in ink?”
“No. No one is aware of.”
A marked interval of silence, then I press on.
“Do you need to inform anybody? Do you assume they’d … um … thoughts?”
I sputter the questions out with an harmless naivety devoid of any calculated eloquence. He’s bare and weak, so I suppose I can discuss to him from the attitude of 11-year-old me. 11-year-old me likes this color-drenched character and desires to be buddies.
I should have struck a chord with that final query, as a result of following his clipped “um, I don’t know” the room goes silent for the remainder of the session. As silent as a defunct tennis court docket floating in outer house.
11 is a bizarre age. Wedged between the frailty of childhood and the brutal discomfort of puberty, 11-year-olds roam round in a continuing state of vulnerability. One unlucky social alternate — say, a good friend strolling away while you need them to validate you — can solidify as an unanswered query that continues to be a gap within the psyche for many years.
My workday concludes with a session on Morgan, the triathlete.
I don’t understand how trendy it’s to confess this, what with being a person amidst the present local weather of newly empowered warriors battling in opposition to the rampant patriarchy that’s been unchecked for lots of of years. However the fact is, I’m a human being who finds another human beings attractive. And when a triathlete is available in, not solely does time transfer effortlessly as a result of I’m engaged on a physique that appears like all of the anatomical charts I studied in therapeutic massage faculty. However the factor is that this: Morgan’s physique is drop-dead attractive. It pulls my strings, and time just about flies out the window within the type of a brick that hits the fireplace hydrant outdoors with a clink.
“Thanks, Morgan. See you quickly. Good luck within the … um … triathlon.”
Steam wafting off each of our heads, Morgan leaves.
I sit right here within the studio lastly alone, and I scan my physique to take stock of myself after 4.5 hours of veritable energetic intercourse with — for many intents and functions — veritable strangers.
I’m dazed, and I really feel swelling round my throat like I need to yell one thing.
It’s fairly clear: I need to marry Morgan.
I really feel a void in my chest the place the 11-year-old me had an odd alternate with Theo. As his therapeutic massage therapist, I’m afforded the license to achieve in the direction of him as he beckons me in. That’s, no less than with my palms, elbows, and ears. For after I opened my mouth in the present day, I reached too far and he rotated.
I really feel a stirring in my intestine. There’s an unstated bond between Patrick and me. Apart from the proper symbiosis of our skilled relationship, I’ve the facility of seeing him metaphorically bare and weak, showering me with presents as a result of he has a crush on me.
I see him actually bare and weak too, so issues are additional deep.
I spend a lot time making purchasers really feel good, I contemplate myself a born giver. However the deeper we go, the longer these relationships develop, new boundaries hold showing.
In the long run, typically I really feel like I’ve received and misplaced a tug of conflict whereas having a limb minimize off earlier than being thrown right into a vat of heat crème fraîche and strawberries.
Like I’m positioned between a barbed wire fence and a brick wall, nevertheless it’s concurrently sunny and snowing — and the snowflakes are made from chocolate.
Or one thing like that.
“The miners got here in ’49, the whores in ‘51.”
Calling that previous gold-rush adage a parallel to in the present day’s local weather of human connection in San Francisco is likely to be a stretch, largely as a result of I don’t contemplate therapeutic massage remedy akin to prostitution. However there’s all the time been a legacy right here in San Francisco: individuals come and fill their wallets however then face a scarcity of intimacy.
This explicit void may give start to marvelous, unusual phenomena. Again then, when San Francisco’s inhabitants was one thing like 95% male, it laid the groundwork for this little, windswept peninsula to nurture an acceptance of almost-prototypical trans individuals — typically burly, bearded males donning lace-fringed robes to steadiness out the butch quotient and heroically receiving the pent-up testosterone of their entrepreneurial brothers.
And right here in present-day San Francisco, the place the tech growth has created a mountain of riches atop which the climate is simply fucking freezing, my heroic heat will get my lease paid, will get my outsized fig wants met for years, and will get my very own craving 11-year-old coronary heart some one thing — whether or not it’s love, consideration, appreciation, a way of steadiness, I’m undecided.
I simply want it have been less complicated. The higher I make purchasers really feel, both the extra they need to date me or they only run away screaming.
Again within the studio
I’m engaged on Patrick once more. He’s a bit too previous to be a part of the tech wave, so I ponder what his story is. If I labored at a deli and have been making him a pastrami sandwich, I’d have a couple of minutes to say one thing silly like “so, how’s life?”
If I have been a banker, I’d know instantly the place his cash got here from.
If I have been his hairstylist, I might ask him any variety of questions for 30–45 minutes, ranging in depth from topical just like the climate to intimate like how usually he has intercourse, with whom, and utilizing what kind of lubricant, if any.
Hairdressers appear to have a tendency in the direction of such matters. I often discover it tedious as a result of I’m not a lot of a talker and need to consider watching the stainless-steel craft going down atop my very personal cranium. However in faculty, I had an outlandish, tall black trans hairdresser who gave me wonderful haircuts each three weeks and at one level lured me into an (fully consensual) session to have my balls waxed in the future within the not so distant future. I dropped out of college earlier than our rendezvous ever occurred.
Alas, I don’t have a lot verbal interplay with Patrick. However our connection remains to be deep. As deep as my elbow in his piriformis muscle, as deep because the wide-legged stretch I’ve his physique in, and as deep as his labored respiration which I’m now noticing nearly makes the room rumble.
The place he’s in, I discovered it in therapeutic massage faculty. It’s referred to as frog, as a result of it resembles a frog’s leg. Image somebody face down, knee bent 90 levels and splayed out to the facet, hip open. Apart from giving me a superb angle from which to do some severe deep tissue work on the rotator muscle groups, it leaves the shopper’s physique fairly open within the pelvic flooring area. That’s layman’s phrases for saying Patrick’s butthole and the again of his balls are beaming in the direction of the ceiling.
And right here now we have the fantastic thing about issues!
This man is filthy wealthy, very engaging, mysterious, and poised to glide via life the topic of envy. And now I’ve him sprawled out in probably the most weak place, groaning like a pet canine. Our connection is beautiful, nearly holy, a superb steadiness of give and take, push and pull, outlined by a way of unstated nuance so delicate it’s one thing of a miracle in itself, 120 self-contained minutes of energy and reverence and sweetness.
As I pull Patrick’s leg again to a straight place, he tightens then shudders oddly and lets out some defeated groan. It’s in contrast to something I’m used to on this context.
“Are you okay, Patrick?”
“I .. um ..”
“I unintentionally made a multitude.”
He ejaculated on the therapeutic massage desk.
Cognizant that he’s in a weak state, I make it my foremost obligation to downplay this case.
“Oh! Ha. No downside in any respect. This occurs on a regular basis.”
That is the primary time this has occurred.
“I unintentionally ejaculate frequently! Everybody does.”
Lies. However I’m right here to serve.
“Right here’s a towel. You possibly can tuck it beneath you, and I’ll end your different facet. And actually, don’t fear about it.”
The reality is I’m a bit shocked. And I really feel like one thing has been shattered.
My nurturing self has nothing however understanding and compassion. However my intestine needs nothing however distance.
The session ends finally, tedious and stained and labored.
I suppose it’s no enormous shock that I by no means hear from Patrick once more. He ghosts me. In all probability as a result of he felt sexually ghosted by me, his strictly-therapeutic therapeutic massage therapist.
I ponder the recollections. We had a bond. It was beautiful, like a wine glass. Evidently so delicate it shattered from the burden of the wine. I really feel unhappy. However I’m capable of lean into the wholesome sense of boundary I keep as an expert therapeutic massage therapist.
Days later, I’m within the studio once more.
Morgan is again.
Morgan. My favourite shopper. Morgan.
I’m lit up like the highest of Luxor pyramid in Las Vegas. Shiny and beaming. Story is, you’ll be able to see that mild from the moon.
“How’s the strain, Morgan?”
“Excellent. This feels superb.”
The therapeutic massage is in its first thirty minutes and steadily unfolding. I glide up and down the desk like a dancer, mild, and nimble.
Thirty minutes later, I’m swooshing up and down Morgan’s physique, from ankle to shoulder and again once more, like a boomerang.
Within the closing thirty minutes, already supple muscle groups diminished to taffy, my wingspan stretches from Morgan’s occiput to heel, elongating the backbone and gracing this specimen with maybe one other inch of top.
“And voila, there we go. How was it?”
“Ah. Might. Zing.”
I stand triumphant, ready for this dazed shopper to snap again to actuality. I take into consideration therapeutic massage faculty ten years in the past. I take into consideration San Francisco and its craving hearts. I take into consideration Patrick from final week, gone right away after an oddly extraordinary session.
As I’m staring on the wall, I cock my head to at least one facet and I feel deeper: it’s a bizarre world, this therapeutic massage factor. However once more I’m so prepared for it. Knowledgeable.
In a swift and sudden flip of occasions, Morgan and I are kissing.
To be extra correct, we’re frantically making out.
Making out, panting, making out, panting, making out.
Grabbing one another’s heads, squeezing, pulling, gasping, making out, panting.
Steam wafts from our our bodies and fills the room. It wafts upwards and in all lateral instructions like a beautiful plague intent with all urgency to achieve completely the whole lot round. It covers the room’s each floor with a thick layer of moisture. The partitions, the window, the vegetation, the blinds, the crown molding, all glistening.
The room is a sauna. I can’t see something, simply odd shapes in an inferno of thick, vaporized sweat. A blur of ethereal white, fleshy tan, bits of darkish brown, all floating and flailing.
The cycle continues, making out, panting, gasping for air and nearly wrestling. With each second, the steam builds up and the moisture begins to coalesce into precise droplets of scorching, salty liquid.
A drop types on the ceiling above. It grows and grows, heavier every second, and begins to fall. Ripping itself from the sticky ceiling, it plummets with the pace of a down feather in the direction of my face, ferocious and but so gradual I’m able to watch it with awe.
The furnishings is sliding round. It’s thick, dreamy chaos.
The room is shifting in gradual movement like we’re within the midst of an underwater earthquake. It’s a nascent inferno, salty limbs akimbo, and I stare at this drop of liquid falling in the direction of my face.
It’s one second that looks like 100 years.
100 years that go by in a flash.
The drop lands on my proper cheek, a couple of quarter inch from my lips, the place it splatters. I can style it. I’m shocked.
“I really like you!”
That’s what Morgan simply stated.
So if I’m not mistaken, Morgan simply stated:”I really like you.”
Morgan who I lust over however is already married.
It’s like wanting up and seeing a snow leopard leaping via the air from nowhere, blowing you a kiss earlier than scampering off and retreating to its native habitat 7,400 miles away, leaving you reeling.
It was an pressing whisper. Blink and also you miss it.
I need to look twice to ensure. However you’ll be able to’t look twice when one thing is uttered by a beautiful triathlete as soon as, presumably by chance.
As I’m pondering, half right here and half not, there’s a loud explosion. It’s the fireplace hydrant outdoors. It burst and is spewing water on the constructing wall with monstrous pressure. I stare in the direction of the window — although I can’t see something via all of the steam.
It snaps me again to actuality. Right here. Therapeutic massage desk. I really like you.
Morgan is gone as fast as all this materialized. In all probability already at house ingesting an acaí smoothie.
And I’m left right here, in a daze, observing my empty therapeutic massage studio that’s useless quiet and completely nonetheless. The carpet sits heavy, the partitions unmoving, the window a glimpse of the one vigorous factor round in the meanwhile: the sound of the water outdoors draining out to the road. Moments later, that too subsides and it’s utter nothingness.
Like I stated, I’m nonetheless in a daze. However I really feel like an previous button that’s been pushed. A Russet potato baked to perfection.
And I’m nonetheless ready for the therapeutic massage studio to fully dry.
After the approaching weeks and months, coronary heart palpating like a butterfly, amidst odd textual content messages that by no means fairly land, I by no means hear from Morgan once more.