Some Musings
                                            Garrett Fowler

Some Musings 
              Garrett Fowler 

Tell Your Sister You’ll Be Okay

I met Marco at a vintage market near my house when I first moved to Atlanta. He was plopped down on an old leather sofa that sat atop a falling-apart tartan rug in the back of the store. While a girlfriend of mine flipped through a collection of old band tees, I took a seat in a chair facing him and started up a casual conversation. We chatted for a while, swapped Instagrams, and after giving my “I’m looking for community here in Atlanta spill,” he suggested we meet up later that evening. My friends and his. For drinks and video games and whatever else we wanted to get into.

And we did.

And now, a few months later, here he was — clad in wool, nearly-knee-length socks sitting on my bed and feeling nervous as a wave of sexual tension saturated the room. I feel like the wave could be seen and felt rolling in from afar, but instead of swimming away, we just sat there, prepared to let it crash over our heads. We wanted to feel it sweep us under, contort our warm bodies in violent motion for a moment or two, before we came back to the surface for a gasp of salty air.

The bedside was littered with empty, sticky-bottomed glasses, stained crimson from the evening’s dousing of sweet vermouth. Before the vermouth was the champagne. And even earlier was the bottle of Chardonnay we downed while devouring a roast chicken I had made to show off my blossoming cooking skills.

We talked about indie films. About how we both wanted to make documentaries. I played the piano and sang for him. We professed our mutual love for beat up sneakers and vinyls and Japanese street fashion and herringbone pants and reading and polaroid photography and New York City.

“I feel really comfortable around you. And like, I was a bit nervous before coming over because I didn’t know if I was going to be awkward or what we were going to talk about. But, here we are. I’m glad I came,” he said to me.

“Aww. Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. We definitely need to hang out more often.”

This wasn’t one of those scenarios where I was blowing smoke up his ass and feigning interest and fake-smiling and all that just to get laid. I was actually feeling something for the first time since breaking up with my ex-boyfriend. I was enjoying myself and was confronted with someone who also cared about making art. Who cared about debating the poignancy (or lack thereof) in award season films. Who cared about my newfound love for cooking and guitar lessons and studying Italian.

Careful to not confuse drunk feelings with real feelings or anything like that, I kept giving myself micro pep-talks in my head to stay present and realistic.

“He’s straight, you idiot.”

“Don’t fuck this up.”

“Communicate your intentions so things don’t get weird.”

“He definitely wants to mess around but you can’t just go for it because then he’ll know you're on to him and then he’ll feel like a big, non-discreet piece of shit and it’ll be all your fault.”

“Just pour some more vermouth.”

“Didn’t he say he was into trans girls the first time you met him? That practically makes him queer already, right?”

To get out of my own head, I poised a question that kind of fluttered out of my mouth without me giving it much thought:

“You’ve really never been with a dude before?”, I asked with a tone that implied every man who calls himself straight in this day and age has definitely done a little bit of same-sex experimentation.

“Nope.”, he says back to me in a hushed tone. A reply without eye contact. Lips unevenly pursed and resembling a smirk. A stare meeting the ground as he sits perched on the edge of my platform bed.

“Oh. Interesting.”

“Yeah, I guess I’ve thought about it a lot before, but it’s never really done anything for me.”

“What does that even mean?”, I thought to myself. “Done anything for him? Like, how does he even know what a dick or a man-on-man kiss or anything of the sort does for him unless he tries it?”

A quiet blanketed the room for a moment, even though it seemed like an eternity. I leaned forward and put my hand on the small of his back. He looked up at me, his lips slowly pulling apart from one another at this point, a touch of punch-drunk, tipsy boyishness in his face. My cheeks were warm and the amber light from the bedroom floor lamp gave the room a foreign feel to it that could have been anywhere but where we really were.

We kissed, slowly and intimately, and afterward, to appear like I was playing it cool, I leaned back onto the pillow where I was previously positioned and smiled at him.

“So, how was that?,” I asked.

“Interesting. Very interesting. But not so bad,” he replied as he let out a restrained chuckle.

I waited on him to come to me. To make the next move, leaning down and laying on top of me as we would continue to kiss and rub our bodies against one another. I wanted to keep our clothes on as we kissed until he could no longer restrain himself. I would patiently wait for the curiosity within him to explode into a ravaging, primal moment of passion and release.

But instead, he asked something that caught me off guard:

“Have you ever been bullied for being gay?”

“Mmm, I mean I guess, but nothing horrible. Why?”

“I was just thinking about how, growing up, I was bullied pretty badly for being Latino. Hispanic, as the kids and their parents used to say when I first moved here. Ya know, kids threw rocks at me. They spit in my school lunch. They called me a wetback. They bullied my sister too. Somehow, after a while, they called me a faggot too. I guess they called me that because I didn’t fight back. I never did anything. I just stayed quiet. Or cried. Or let them do things to me.”

“Oh shit. I’m so sorry, Marco. That’s awful.”, I said quietly.

Talk about a change of energy in the room. But yet, I wasn’t upset that things had taken this direction. Rather, I was listening and feeling sympathetic toward him. I really liked this guy and that was the only thing keeping me in the moment. The man on the edge of my bed, now rendered a boy in his socks and basketball shorts and his oversized tee shirt.

I thought he might cry or go to the bathroom or just leave, but rather, he kept going:

“One time, this guy who was definitely a teenager and much older than me shoved me down behind the school bleachers after a pep rally. He called me a faggot and pissed on me in front of a group of other boys. My sister saw what was happening and just looked at me from a ways away and was crying. She had tears running down her face and I had this dude’s piss running down mine. I feel like I was such a bad brother. I feel like that is why my sister and I don’t talk that much and aren’t that close. It was so dark and sad and I just don’t know why I let it happen.”

I wasn’t sure if there was anything I could say in that moment to make things go back to how they were when we were kissing. When the energy in the room was still glowing from the embers of the evening we had taken part in up to that point.

Maybe that wasn’t what I should have been aiming for. Something that just minutes before was aglow now felt damp and cold. Like a wounded animal that now needed more care than ever to make sure it made it through the night.

For me, something that felt erotically seismic, yet tender and smooth had somehow managed to evoke something dark, buried, and deeply hurtful within Marco.

Our sexuality is a meandering road that has a way of leading us past reflective pools we would, at times, rather not glance into. For Marco, to question his sexual identity, meant to glimpse over his shoulder, backwards into a world that he didn’t want to remember.

Faggot Hispanic covered in piss while his sister watches on.

Boy sitting on the edge of my bed wanting to kiss me and to be inside of me.

A wave crashed over us and the cold water was a surprise. It felt good until it kept coming, pouring over us and dragging us down deeper and deeper.

Sticky glasses, completely emptied on the blue carpet by my bed. I taste the vermouth on my lips and wonder if Marco can taste it too. Can he taste me? Or has he gone to that place in his head and I’ve lost him for good? At least for tonight. The orange light of the room now feeling gray and empty.

The sun begins to peak through the curtains of my bedroom window as we both realize we have managed to stay up until dawn.

“I should probably head home. I have this thing where like, I don’t know I’m like an anxious sleeper and I can’t sleep unless I’m in my bed. And you said you have to work in the morning and it’s already morning and so, you need to rest,” he calmly says while looking at me.

I walk him downstairs and we look outside. It’s drizzling rain and we can both tell it’s cold outside before we ever open the door. I tell him he should call a car but he insists on walking. We share an embrace that must have lasted at least fifteen seconds, each rubbing the other’s back and telling each other how good of a time we had.

Marco walked into the rain and I shut the door, letting out a sigh and starting to feel anxious. He looked like a lead character in one of our beloved indie films walking past the red stoplight by my house in the early morning sprinkle. I can’t help but think if I will see him again soon. If he will call his sister and tell her he is strong now. And that he will be okay because he met a boy who he likes and who knows how to roast a whole chicken and who will never hurt him because he really cares.

Reading 1 ︎︎︎Mobile Homes

Reading 2 ︎︎︎TBD

Reading 3 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 4 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 5 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 6 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 1 ︎︎︎ Mobile Homes

Reading 2 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 3 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 4 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 5 ︎︎︎ TBD

Reading 6 ︎︎︎ TBD

Some Musings by Garrett Fowler