Ash Rehn (Stockholm University, Sweden)
The rugby jock with a lopsided sneer. The flannel shirted tradie in his ute. The hot dad, just out of the surf, bouncing a baby in his biceps.
A triptych of Aussie masculinity nestled between the ordinary boys, all in the palm of your hand. Camouflage or costume? It doesn’t matter. You know the first exchange of dialogue (it will be about sport, and you’re prepared) even if it’s just a bedroom game.
The doorbell rings and it’s him.
“Haven’t I seen you before?”
“I don’t think so.” This time you aren’t lying.
“Sure, we were at school together. Rod Boxer.”
Rod Boxer. 180 cm, 95kg and captain of the first XV. He rarely spoke. They called him Buddha. You assumed he was dumb as a rubber mallet. Tousled hair, lumbering around the school like he owned it. The man of your dreams back then and even now. Under him in the pack, silently smothered. Your cries for help muffled quiet by sweat drenched cotton jerseys and rolls of soft flesh and muscle.
Flash forward ten years. He’s lost some weight, he’s still hot and he’s in your apartment expecting sex. “Nice place. What do you do?”
He looks around, taking in your paintings. He gets the short version because you don’t want to put him off.
Rod Boxer. What’s he doing here? Doesn’t he have a wife and kids?
“How about you?” you say. But what you mean is Are you for real?
He starts talking software solutions or something. You want to know why he’s using an app to get sex but that would be too direct. And doesn’t everyone do it anyway? You decide to cut to the chase.
“Do you have kids?”
“Yeah three. Two girls and a boy.” Okay he’s nervous, his fingers are twitching. He looks you in the eye. “Where’s your room?”
Rod Boxer. Football legend, man amongst men. Champion of slow talking jocks who drink milk from the carton and chew with their mouths open. Future pin up boy for straight men on the turn. Soon to be fallen hero.
You’ve been here before haven’t you? In a couple of years time you’ll be together sitting in that grimy cafe near Taylor Square surrounded by tweaked up party boys. You’ll be drinking flat whites while Adele wails from crappy speakers. He’ll be sharing his new politics.
The whole gay marriage-have kids thing is just the mellowing of gay rights. There’s more important issues to focus on, like the position of gays in the developing world, gay mental health, homeless gay youth, gay seniors. It doesn’t bode well for us.
Of course no one would deny you this pleasure now, not after so many years of yearning. The trick of course is to have them before they fall.
“It’s just through here.”
Rod Boxer. How many times have you reclined on your bed or braced yourself against the wall of the shower calling to mind those massive powerful legs, those broad shoulders, his physical command, the very laconic presence of him?
“Wait,” you say. “Get undressed.”
It’s always corporal. That’s what you like about technology driven sex dates. Past and future put aside in the immediacy of desire.
“You want me to take my clothes off now?”
You nod and he begins to strip, a last heroic gesture.
And just in that moment you have him as you want him. Rod Boxer. Naked, hard, in the palm of your hand.
He will call again in a couple of days. And then again the next day. You won’t see him for a few months and then he will text you from out of nowhere and ask you out for a beer. The first time will be at a regular pub. But then he’ll suggest a gay place, in the afternoon when there aren’t too many punters about. You’ll stop having sex and start talking fashion. He already knows who cuts your hair. You’ll meet his kids and, eventually, the woman who has become his ex-wife. The conversation will be frosty but polite enough. Bare-chested on a dance floor in the early hours one morning he’ll pick up a 20-something kid from the ’burbs and they’ll start a life together. You’ll be invited to their wedding.
But this is the moment you will remember most.
“Okay,” you say. “Let’s do it.”
Ash works professionally as a webcam counsellor and is currently exploring his interest in narrative therapeutic practices through masters studies in Stockholm, Sweden. Originally from Brisbane, Ash has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney and has won a number of awards for his short stories. More of his writing can be found at: www.ashrehn.com