As Iâ€™m approaching the cafÃ© I can see that heâ€™s already there. Amidst the bustle of the crowds milling their way through the streets just north of Shaftesbury Avenue he sits at a steel trestle table, nonchalantly finishing off a cigarette. And even as he spots me ten metres away and greets me with a loose wave his eyes drift off to scan the passing throng, admiring and inspecting.
As I sit down next to him he stubs out his almost-finished cigarette in the ashtray and reaches for the Mocha thatâ€™s sat next to it. It always was a Mocha I recall. There was no way he could just content himself with a Latte or Cappuccino, satisfied with the delayed kick of caffeine. He needed chocolate as well, to double the effect, to drive home the jolt.
â€œI got here early so I ordered oneâ€, he says. No â€œHelloâ€, no â€œHi, how are youâ€. These things are taken for granted when we meet.
If we meet.
The waiter comes over and before I can tell him what I want Aaron beats me to it. â€œAnother Mocha and a decaf Cappuccino. Thatâ€™s if youâ€™ve not changed?â€
â€œIâ€™ve not changed.â€
â€œFine. Thatâ€™ll do.â€ For Aaron thatâ€™s the end of the conversation with the waiter and the guy takes the hint.
â€œSo, how are things?â€ I ask. The reply is as descriptive as it gets.
Sometimes, having a conversation with Aaron is like getting blood out of a stone. You have to squeeze and squeeze just to get anything of value. Itâ€™s like when youâ€™re making fresh orange juice and you get to the last bit of the pulp where you know thereâ€™s some fluid lurking but youâ€™ll be damned if it can be found.
â€œI hear you and Andy split upâ€. OK, so I hadnâ€™t just â€˜heardâ€™, Iâ€™d driven past and seen the â€˜To Letâ€™ sign up, rung Paul and discovered about the argument that theyâ€™d had. â€œTell me what happened?â€ Itâ€™s a simple request but it may not get a simple response.
â€œI just went off him. It was lots of things. The way heâ€™d stay out late and wouldnâ€™t tell me where he was, the way he treated the flat as though it was a hotel, the way he left his washing up in the sink.â€ I interrupted him before he could continue his litany of complaint.
â€œYou went off him.â€
â€œI went off him.â€
Thereâ€™s silence for a moment and Aaron fills it by reaching for another cigarette. The packet of Benson & Hedges is almost finished and I know that in one more fagâ€™s time heâ€™s going to get even more edgy. He takes the penultimate offering of nicotine and lights up with the same bronze lighter with the horse-head crest heâ€™s always had since we spotted it in that antique shop in Chiswick. Aaron had noticed it and straight away just had to have it. No haggling with the dealer, just straight in and straight out. Iâ€™d told him afterwards that he could have got it for at least twenty-five pounds less but he didnâ€™t care. With Aaron itâ€™s all â€œsee – gotta haveâ€.
Surprisingly for Aaron, he picks up the pack and offers me the last stick of tobacco. â€œDo you want my last Rolo?â€ he asks cheekily.
â€œI donâ€™t smoke.â€
â€œNo of course. I remember. No change there then.â€
He takes a drag.
â€œWhy Benson & Hedges?â€ I ask.
â€œBecause thatâ€™s what itâ€™s always been.â€
â€œEver thought of giving up?â€ I say. He looks at me briefly and then turns away, blowing out the smoke from his last inhalation into the ever-present crowd still walking by on the street. A passing girl coughs as she swallows a lungful of tobacco, which makes her look round and give Aaron an evil glare, not that he notices.
â€œNot really. Not sure I could.â€
â€œNo will power?â€
â€œWho knows why. Perhaps I just donâ€™t want to stop.â€
â€œI wonder if the desire to smoke is genetic?â€ I ask.
â€œOf course notâ€, he replies, â€œitâ€™s the nicotine. Besides, if it was genetic youâ€™d have whole hoards of lost tribes cultivating tobacco to satisfy their needs, but that isnâ€™t the case. What a stupid â€¦..â€
And then he stops, because he knows exactly the point Iâ€™m making.
â€œHow is Helen anyway?â€ he asks.
â€œGreat. Sheâ€™s had another promotion at work and now sheâ€™s leading her whole section. Sheâ€™s responsible for over 60 people.â€
â€œWho thought working in a call centre could be so much fun?â€
â€œWell she loves it. Thereâ€™s nothing she likes better than talking to all the people who phone up and helping them with their banking. She finds that if she in some little way can help people run their lives then that makes her day.â€
â€œAlmost a vocationâ€, jokes Aaron.
â€œUtterly a vocationâ€, I reply. He smiles for the first time and I grin back.
â€œAnd you stillâ€¦â€¦â€
Another drag. I know what’s coming and prepare myself for it. The questions, the denials, the chase, the kill. Aaron puts the cigarette down and stares straight at me.
â€œI donâ€™t get it. I just donâ€™t get it.â€
â€œDonâ€™t get what?â€ Actually, thatâ€™s a bit of a facetious question on my behalf because I know exactly what he doesnâ€™t get. And despite the fact that he doesnâ€™t get it he keeps on bringing it up whenever we meet. Sometimes it takes an hour or two to get to that point but this time it was just a few minutes.
â€œItâ€™s just so â€˜Bob and Rosieâ€™. I still donâ€™t get it.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s there to get? Perhaps Russell T Davies can write good TV drama after all? Itâ€™s not all Queer as Folk.â€
â€œQueer as fuck. He should stick to writing Doctor Who books and those werenâ€™t any good either.â€
â€œBut thatâ€™s just fiction. Weâ€™re talking about fact here.â€
â€œSo you keep telling me.â€
â€œSo I keep telling you.â€
â€œI still donâ€™t get it though. It just doesnâ€™t make sense. Leopards donâ€™t change their spots.â€
We met at London Zoo, in front of the big cats. I guess the red ribbon wasnâ€™t that big a clue these days but the way he smiled at me when I smiled at him was. We both junked our friends and spent the afternoon laughing at baboonsâ€™ bottoms and avoiding the marauding herds of school children. Who needs zoos when itâ€™s already a jungle out there? We agreed to meet up again the following day and duly had coffee at the Starbucks in Kensington, Mocha and a decaf Cappuccino. Then we had another. And then we had coffee at his place. And the rest.
We saw each other for a few weeks and then drifted apart. He was always on the move, restless, never satisfied with what he was doing and I was starting to realise that this wasnâ€™t really what I wanted at all. But despite going our separate ways we stayed in touch, hence the Mocha and the decaf Cappuccino. Initially we saw each other about once a month but for the past 3 years weâ€™d only talked 4 times. We both knew it was because he was avoiding me, because he didnâ€™t want to face who I was, what Iâ€™d done, what Iâ€™d become. And a little of both of us knew it was because he was avoiding himself as well.
â€œTell me again how it startedâ€
â€œI read a book.â€
â€œThe Bergner book.â€
â€œThe Bergner book. Have you still got the copy I sent you?â€
â€œItâ€™s in a box somewhere.â€
Of course I knew the answer before he said it. It was the same answer the time before when we had dinner at that Italian place in Pimlico. In fact I could tell you exactly how many pages heâ€™d read.
â€œI read 23 pages and then put it to one side. I didnâ€™t like it. It screwed me up.â€
â€œWhat didnâ€™t you like?â€
â€œJust the whole idea. What a joke.â€
â€Oh yeah, sure. Look at me. One big comedy act.â€
The waiter turns up with the coffees, placing my decaf down first before putting the Mocha in front of Aaron. â€œThanksâ€ I say as he turns to leave. Aaron says nothing. He grabs a packet of brown sugar from the stand on the table, tears it in half and pours it into his mug. He then takes the spoon on the saucer and stirs it in.
â€œNot sweet enough?â€ I ask.
â€œNever sweet enough.â€
He finishes stirring and, resting the cigarette in the ashtray, takes a sip. I take a mouthful of the decaf and remind myself of summers spent on the continent where people really know how to drink coffee. Somehow a cafÃ© in Soho is never quite the same as Demel in Vienna or Lewandowsky in Salzburg. Just second best. You think itâ€™s good at the time, you think itâ€™s the final answer in lazy afternoons with just a friend and a mug of something hot, but once youâ€™ve been and tasted the real thing, you realise just what you were missing.
â€œI changed. Itâ€™s not funny. You can too.â€
I feel like weâ€™ve done this conversation about a thousand times, but Aaron never gets bored of initiating it. He wants to know, he wants to hear and deep down, well, he just wants.
â€œI guess, but how? How can I change something thatâ€™s so utterly built into me, something I was born with?â€
â€œYou ever seen those Magic Eye pictures?â€ I ask. â€You know, the ones with the strange swirls and patterns?â€
â€œYeah, Iâ€™ve seen them. I could never make them work, never get round the idea that underneath there was a duck or a car or something.â€
â€œYup, me neither. Anyway, your life is like that magic eye picture. You think you know what it is, you think you understand what itâ€™s about, but actually itâ€™s something else entirely.â€
â€œLike a duckâ€¦â€
â€œâ€¦or a car. Yeah right.â€
â€œBut I could never get those pictures. I just couldnâ€™t do them. Despite my sister going ape because she spots a cow or something I never saw anything. Just a swirl of lines and blobs.â€
â€œBut do you believe that there was something there, even though you couldnâ€™t see?â€
â€Sure, my sister and her mates got it. All of them saw the sodding cow. Everybody except me. Of course the cowâ€™s there. I just couldnâ€™t see it.â€
â€œAnd when I tell you about Helen?â€
When I tell him about Helen, something stirs. It shifts itself from the deep recesses of his mind where it’s been hiding for years, desperate to make an escape bid. And now, slowly, cautiously, it makes it’s way forward, testing the ground, checking for traps.
â€œIâ€™ve never been to France you know?â€ he says.
â€œIâ€™ve never been. It exists though right? Iâ€™ve read the maps, seen the pictures. Paul and Gary went over last summer to Marseilles and came back raving about it, how great it was, about all the clubs and the bars. It exists, Iâ€™ve just never been.â€
He pauses and the stiring something pauses as well. Suddenly it’s faced by the jailer, by the absurdity of trying to free itself. What was it thinking?
â€œSo, cure meâ€, he sneers.
â€œCure me. Shouldnâ€™t be too difficult to do. Just a prayer or two. Once around the rosary and I should be done. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with theeâ€¦â€
â€œYou know thatâ€™s not what itâ€™s about.â€
â€œYeah, but itâ€™s a cool picture. I can see them now. The front row of the Liquid Lounge, all dressed in nuns habits. Thatâ€™s drag and a half. Really â€˜Sound of Musicâ€™.â€
â€œI can picture itâ€, I laugh. Aaron takes another drag on the cigarette and looks around, as though to check whether anybody’s listening. Then he leans in.
â€œBut seriously, what do I have to do? I want to be straight; what do I do?â€
â€œYou donâ€™t do anything, thatâ€™s the point.â€
â€œSo is it you? What are the magic words youâ€™ll say? No, let me guess, a dozen copies of Razzle and a man-sized box of tissues is all I need.â€
â€œYou need to get beyond the symptom and look at the causeâ€, I reply, ignoring his remarks. â€œYou need to find out whatâ€™s made you feel the way you do and sort that out. You canâ€™t cure somebody of homosexuality because thatâ€™s not what needs to be sorted out. Itâ€™s just the manifestation of whatâ€™s going on underneath.â€
â€œAnd what is going on underneath?â€ he asks. â€œCare to put your X-Ray specs on and let me know?â€
â€œTell me about your Dad?â€
â€œWhat? You want to throw that one at me. Tell you what, I hear Freud works just around the corner. Let’s go fetch him and see if he can tell me anything about my Oedipal complex?â€
â€œTell me about your Dad. Just tell me. Humour me.â€
â€œWell, heâ€™s 55, works as an accountant with his own firm. He and Mum own this huge house in Wilmslow. I think he should retire, he can easily afford to, but I guess he just keeps on working to earn more and more.â€
â€When was the first time he said â€˜I love youâ€™ to you?â€
â€When was the first time?â€
â€œUm. Iâ€™m not sure. Let me think.â€
â€œWhen?â€ Iâ€™m pressing him.
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œHas he ever said â€˜I love youâ€™?â€ I stress the â€˜everâ€™ and wait a clear ten seconds but Aaronâ€™s only reply is to take another drag on the cigarette.
â€œThatâ€™s a â€˜Noâ€™ then?â€
â€œThatâ€™s a â€˜Noâ€™â€
In the four years Iâ€™ve known him, Aaron only spoke about his dad once. That was when we arranged to meet up a year or two back, but he had to cancel because his father was coming down to London and heâ€™d arranged to see him. It sounded far more obligation than desire on his part. Apart from that Aaron never really spoke about his family. There was a sense of estrangement; being ostracised from his parents, as though they were the people who conceived him and that was really all their role in his life was.
â€œEver go and play football with him?â€
â€œLook, will you just fucking shut up about my dad?â€
â€œI think you shut him up a long time ago.â€
â€What do you mean?â€
â€œWhen you were a child, who did you want to be?â€
â€œWho did I want to be?â€ He smirks at the idea. â€œBatman!â€
â€œWouldnâ€™t it be good to be somebody important and powerful? Nobody knows who you really are but they all admire you. Thereâ€™s a sense of purpose and direction but none of the hang-ups of background and family. Batman was just Batman.â€
â€œAnd you werenâ€™t.â€
â€œI so sodding wasnâ€™t. I was about as far from Batman as there was. I wasnâ€™t vaguely close to being Robin or even Alfred the butler, I was just nothing. Have you ever known what itâ€™s like to wait to be picked for a game of football, and youâ€™re always the last to be chosen and the teams are complaining over which one gets you, because neither wants to be lumbered with you? No wait, have you ever known what itâ€™s like to run home from school at full belt because if they catch you theyâ€™re going to beat you up. Or even better, having to keep hold of your rucksack all day because if you let go of it theyâ€™re going to spray-paint â€˜queerâ€™ on it.â€
Thereâ€™s a silence in which I canâ€™t think of what to say so I donâ€™t. In the faces of the turned heads of the others sitting near us I can see that they don’t know what to say either. That doesnâ€™t stop Aaron completing his tirade of anger.
â€œFuck, I hated them. I still hate them. Look at me, itâ€™s almost 20 years later and I still fucking hate them. I canâ€™t picture any of their faces but if I ever see themâ€¦â€
I wonder what itâ€™s like for the puppy thatâ€™s the runt of the litter? I wonder how he copes as the others beat him to their mother and get the milk before he does? As he falls behind in suckling he gets relatively weaker and weaker and soon he just doesnâ€™t have a chance. Whatâ€™s going through his mind?
â€œWhy werenâ€™t you any good at football?â€
â€I donâ€™t sodding know? Itâ€™s not as if I didnâ€™t try. I just wasnâ€™t any good. It was alright for them, out on Saturday mornings with their perfect fathers, playing for the local boys team, wearing their Man United strips. Dâ€™you know, I never had a Man United strip. I never had any strip. Iâ€™d have liked a Man United strip.â€
â€I had the boots, a second hand pair from my cousin. I used them once. Theyâ€™re probably still sat under my bed at home.â€ And by home he meant his parentâ€™s home, the place where heâ€™d grown up, gone to school, passed his exams and finally fled to discover a new life at University. To begin again, start over without the hang-ups and hurdles of the past.
â€œExcept you can never really start over.â€
â€œSorry, thinking aloud. I was just wondering whether we can ever really make a fresh start. You know, wipe everything under the carpet and just get up and begin from scratch. Do you think we can do that? Start again playing football?
â€œWhat the hell has that got to do with it?â€
â€Would you like to start again?â€
â€œHow? How am I going to do that? You suggesting that I should just pack up everything, go somewhere else and behave as though I didnâ€™t exist before? Suddenly I can be David Beckham? Is that how to escape my past?â€
â€œYou canâ€™t do itâ€, I reply. â€œImagine applying for a job. You go in and the first thing they want to know are your qualifications. Thatâ€™s a link to the past. Where have you been working? Have you always lived here? What are your hobbies? You canâ€™t escape who you were and what youâ€™ve done.â€
â€œSo, Mr Blindingly Obvious, I canâ€™t escape the fact that I was crap at football and just about everything else.â€
â€œAnd you canâ€™t escape the fact that you hate your Dad. You can try and ignore it, push it to one side, box it up and put it on a shelf or up in the attic, but itâ€™s still going to be there, like that pair of football boots under your bed at your parents house. You may have forgotten about them but theyâ€™re still there. Itâ€™s not going to go away.â€
â€œAnd the point of this is?â€
Aaron sets the question and leans back, taking another drag from the cigarette. Heâ€™s almost finished it and his next action will be to reach for the packet and light up the last of the twenty.
â€œWhat if you could have been Batman? What if you were meant to be Batman? What if something happened to stop you becoming Batman even though thatâ€™s who you were destined to be?â€
â€œNope, youâ€™ve lost me. Besides, black and blue arenâ€™t my colours. I think youâ€™re on a non-starter here.â€ He leans back and smiles at his own joke.
â€œWork with me on this. What could have stopped you becoming Batman?â€
â€I didnâ€™t have a Bat-Mobile? I always secretly wanted to be Cat-woman?â€
â€œWhat if nobody had shown you how to be Batman?â€
â€œSo Batman went to superhero school to learn how to fly the Bat-Mobile?â€
â€œPerhaps. And if he hadnâ€™t been taught?â€
â€œThen he wouldnâ€™t be able to fly it? And this affects me how?â€
â€œWho taught you to be a boy?â€
Do you know that the Azande people of northern Zaire believe in magic? They live under a perpetual fear of being cursed by their enemies and they are constantly going to witch doctors to help foretell the future. There is no such thing as luck and every misfortune is the result of a spell cast on you. The only way to break the spell is to cast an even more powerful one back to overpower the forces of your opponent. This cycle of action and reaction just continues to spiral and spiral till nobody knows what started the conflict in the first place, but theyâ€™re still all paying witch-doctors to cast spells for them to win a struggle whose source is way back in forgotten memory.
â€What kind of a stupid question is that? Nobody taught me to be a boy. I just am. Look at me. Stubble, dick, adamâ€™s apple. Itâ€™s a dead big giveaway.â€
â€œOK, so thatâ€™s you physically, but what about emotionally, relationally, psychologically? What makes you a boy in those ways?â€
The cigarette in his hand is almost finished and he stubs it out in the ashtray, but instead of reaching for the last one in the packet he grabs his Mocha and takes a sip. He grasps the mug in his hands, transferring the warmth of the coffee to his hands, pauses and then takes another sip. Finally he puts the mug down.
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œHow do you learn to drive a car?â€
â€œSomebody teaches you. You practice till it becomes natural, till youâ€™re not thinking about what to do when you change gear and instead itâ€™s just one simple flowing action. Clutch, shift up, shift right, shift up, declutch in one fluid action, as natural as breathing in and out. Then you take a test and if you donâ€™t cock it up you get your licence. I passed the second time.â€
â€Who taught you to be a boy?â€
â€œNobody? How can you teach that to somebody?â€
â€œHow do you play football?â€
â€œYou kick the damn thing.â€
â€œWhen did you practice that?â€
â€œI never did. My dad never took me remember? We did this half a coffee ago.â€
â€œAnd while he wasnâ€™t teaching you football, was he teaching you fishing or how to tie your shoe-laces or how to build sand-castles or simply what it meant to be a man?â€
Another drink from the Mocha. Another pause.
â€œNone of those.â€
â€œNone of them. Anything at all.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to talk about this.â€
â€Yes you do. Why did you call me up to meet? Why again? You want to do this, youâ€™ve just got to face up to the reality of the situation. You canâ€™t hide behind the swirls and shapes of your magic eye picture and pretend that there isnâ€™t anything underneath. Thatâ€™s rubbish, thatâ€™s not the way forward. You need to talk about the kids at school. You need to talk about your father.â€ My voice is raised, but not in anger but in passion.
â€œI donâ€™t need to talk about my father. I hate my fucking father. What would I want him to teach me anything? Why would I want to be like him? Look at him. He didnâ€™t care about me. If he did heâ€™d have spent time with me, taken me to football games, gone fishing, taught me to tie my laces. He didnâ€™t do any of those. Why the hell would I want to learn anything from him? Why the fuck would I want to be like him?â€
He reaches for the last cigarette, lights it and inhales deeply to settle himself. His left hand raised to his eye wipes away a speck of sentiment. The couple on the table next to us glance briefly towards him and then look nervously away.
â€œThatâ€™s just the point. You were born to be like your father, to learn from him, to copy him, to discover who he was and shape yourself on him. Your purpose was to play football, go fishing, learn to tie your shoelaces. So, when he wasnâ€™t available who did you learn that off?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t. My mum. Who knows?â€
â€œYou rejected your maleness because you rejected your father. You didnâ€™t like who your father was so you rejected him, but he was all you understood maleness to be, so you also rejected that. But that wasnâ€™t the answer, because you were born to be a man. How can you reject an identity that you are?â€
â€œAnd that made me gay?â€ he says taking another drag.
â€œCannibalsâ€, I reply.
â€œCannibals. Do you know why cannibals eat other humans?â€
â€œThey like the taste?â€
â€œThey want to ingest their qualities. They want to get hold of the things in them that they admire, perhaps the intellect, the charm, the skills they have. Itâ€™s almost a compliment.â€
â€œAre you saying itâ€™s an accolade to be eaten by a cannibal, that I should aim for it?â€
â€œSomething like that. But now look at yourself. What makes you tick sexually? Who are you attracted to?â€
â€œWhyâ€™s that important?â€
â€œLook, answer a different question. What kind of guy would you like to be?â€
â€œNo, seriously. If you could change one thing about you what would it be?â€
â€Iâ€™d change my hair. I hate this black stuff. Iâ€™d much rather have it blond.â€
â€œWhat donâ€™t you just peroxide it?â€
â€You know thatâ€™s not the same.â€
â€œOk, now answer me this. What things did you like about Andy?â€
â€œHis smile, his laugh, his blond hair, the way â€¦. Well fuck me.â€
The penny drops. In fact, it doesn’t just drop, it goes into overdraft. It draws out and extends as much credit as it can. But this is a loan with as yet no purpose, no spending plan. It’s as though Aaron just inherited a fortune from his long lost Aunt and he has no idea what to do with it. The only thing he knows is that he doesn’t have to eat Tesco Value Baked Beans ever again.
“Bugger me, Iâ€™m a cannibal.â€ The cigarette drops from his hand into the ashtray and he doesnâ€™t notice. His eyes are looking slightly above and beyond him, as though heâ€™s spotted a bird heâ€™s never seen before and heâ€™s concentrating on working out exactly what its colours are, the wingspan, the shape of the beak.
â€œYouâ€™re a sexual cannibal. Youâ€™re missing so many things in yourself, or more importantly you think youâ€™re missing these things, and youâ€™ve eroticised the desire for those missing things. At the same time that testosterone was making the boys in your school interested in the girls, in the ones who were different to them, it was doing the same in you, making you attracted to the ones you were different to. But you never established your similarity to the boys; they were always different because you hadnâ€™t learnt to be like them. So instead of puberty sparking off heterosexual desire, you found yourself sexual attracted to the guys in your class. You never got to be the man you were designed to be because you never went to that school. Youâ€™re still trying to teach yourself the lessons, but how can you do that if you donâ€™t know what the syllabus is?â€
â€œStop. Stop it now. Just pack it in.â€
â€I havenâ€™t even started. You hate the boys in your class because they were different and they didnâ€™t let you in on their difference. They spotted that you didnâ€™t fit, that you didnâ€™t belong and they exploited it mercilessly. They probably called you â€œqueerâ€ and â€œpoofâ€ before they or you even vaguely knew what the words meant. But those were the labels that you digested, swallowed until they were really you.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to get up and walk awayâ€ he warns. He looks like it as well. He’s poised ready to jump up and run away from the truth that bearing down on him. I got to let him know that this isn’t the answer, that a solution needs to be found, not avoided.
â€Thatâ€™s what youâ€™ve been doing your whole life Aaron. Youâ€™ve been walking away from the things that you canâ€™t handle, from the truth of the situation. As a child you subconsciously walked away from your father and what it meant to be a man. You didnâ€™t even realise you were doing it, it wasnâ€™t your fault but thatâ€™s what you did. But you can walk into nowhere; you have to have someplace to go. You werenâ€™t headed for â€˜well-balanced maleâ€™ so you created something else, somewhere separate. You had no identity as a child or a teenager because you didnâ€™t want what was offered, so you joined in a created one to replace it. You took on this label of â€˜gayâ€™ because it gave you purpose and meaning, function and status. It explained how you felt, how you acted, your emotions and desires. But itâ€™s not really you. Itâ€™s a false place, a fantasy, a fabrication that hangs in front of and hides your true destiny, your real identity. You arenâ€™t gay because there is no such thing as gay. Thereâ€™s just thousands and thousands of guys who never discovered what it really meant to be a man, desperately searching for meaning and purpose.â€
â€œAnd love. Of course you want to be loved. We all want to be loved and to love in return, but that foundation of love comes from our parents and family. If we never really experienced what it meant to be truly loved, how can we express it? You so want the love of a man, but that goes back to your childhood. Youâ€™re trying to complete the stages of emotional growth that you never went through, but itâ€™s all become screwed up and sexualised. Itâ€™s perfectly valid to love a guy. I love my friends, but sexual expression of that love is inappropriate, it doesnâ€™t do me any good. I was designed to relate sexually to a woman, to complete and compliment what she is. I can never do that with a bloke. I canâ€™t complete him because heâ€™s already got what Iâ€™ve got. The desire inside us is for â€˜the otherâ€™, but with you men are â€™the otherâ€™. Thatâ€™s why youâ€™re attracted to them.â€
The cigarette is still lying in the ashtray and Aaron hasnâ€™t noticed that itâ€™s almost burnt through. Heâ€™s concentrating on every word I say. â€œThis isnâ€™t the place to have this conversationâ€, he says.
â€œSo where is?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Frankly, I donâ€™t know if I want to hear any of this anyway.â€
â€œSo why are you still here?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t know anything at all. I feel like youâ€™ve just blown up my entire world. I feel like I did the night Andy walked out and I just felt empty, as though everything I though was real wasnâ€™t, as though my whole life was fake but there was nothing I could do about it.â€
He looks down at the ashtray and sees the remains of the cigarette. He scowls remembering the empty packet.
â€œI know what I do want to do now though. I want to have another fag.â€
â€œWhy donâ€™t you just give them up, right here, right now.â€
â€œI canâ€™t. How can I give up something thatâ€™s such a part of me? Itâ€™s as though I was born smoking.â€
And as he speaks, two girls pass us arm in arm wearing leopard skin pants, but with a twist.
The spots are all blue.