Scenes from a past Valentine’s day
February 13; one of my favorite malls. I lock gazes with a man as I am browsing at National bookstore. M is 30 years old, dressed like a young executive, with a brown Jansport backpack slung on his broad shoulders in place of a briefcase. We end up watching a movie, fingers entwined, his head on my shoulder. In the comfort room, a man in a white shirt and blue corduroy jacket smiles at me as we stand in front of the mirror, washing our hands. His jeans barely contains his thighs. And buttocks, I discover when he turns around. J and I shake hands then start to kiss. He pulls me out of the room when three laughing boys enter.
We talk in the lobby. M, whom I had almost forgotten, looks for me in the toilet and clears his throat after finding me in the lobby. After a few awkward seconds I introduce them to each other, and for a while we chat. Small, autobiographical, non-sexual talk. But it soon becomes apparent that we are not there to talk. I discreetly lace my fingers against J’s fingers. M amiably hangs his arm over my shoulders. We grin foolishly. Laugh like mischievous Catholic schoolboys.
We check into a motel near the mall, splitting the bill equally among us. J calls room service and orders six bottles of beer. M fishes out a pack of fried peanuts from his backpack. He is shivering. Tells us it’s his first time to enter a motel with guys. J, who’s my age, laughs. “With a guy or two guys?” M says both. But after half a bottle of beer, he is raring to go. Soon we all are. After coming, M gets up, grabs a towel and rushes into the bathroom. The sound of the shower nearly drowns out J’s languid, sleep-laced speech.
When M emerges from the bathroom, he explains the rush. He’s married. The wife should be mildly worried by now. It’s almost midnight. We stare at him as he puts on his clothes, combs his hair, and fixes his tie. Perfunctorily he asks if we’re staying and leaves without really waiting for our response. J laughs. We didn’t even get M’S last name.
Alone again, we snuggle. Lap up the remaining beer. Kiss. Laugh. Make love twice. While resting J blurts that he ought to stop cruising at the theater. I ask him why. “My lover. I don’t want to keep on hurting him.” This is it, I think. No more round four. “I think you two should discuss this. If you can’t be faithful, you might want to open the relationship.” J says the lover wouldn’t be pleased. “Well,” I said, “it’s either that or you change. Which is more possible?” His smile is heartbreaking in its sweetness.
It’s almost three when we walk out of the motel, our hair still wet from the shower that we took together (round 4, as it turns out). His calling card is a brittle weight in my breast pocket. We hail the cab that I will be taking. He opens the door. As I’m about to get in he holds me by the shoulders and plants a wet kiss in my mouth.
“Happy Valentine’s day!”