It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Then, just like that, it wasn't. It was imperfect and funny and human. A story, mortifying at first, but with time, like a good bottle of Burgundy, it matured into something rich, opulent, delightful.
Back in 2000 Bobby Davis was the talk of Chelsea, not once but twice. The first time was over a sleek and rather clever ad campaign featuring a shirtless boy wrapped in tight blue jeans. An explosion of abs and muscles that had everyone south of 23rd Street salivating like Pavlovian dogs at the ring of a bell.
The picture, plastered all over the gayborhood to promote the latest house music compilation, wasn't unlike many other muscle ads. Hot guy, beautiful body. But for some reason it stood out. Maybe it was the model's incredibly chiseled torso, maybe it was the fact that his face was purposely hidden from view, making it sexier, more seductive. Whatever the reason, soon it had everyone wondering, who is the headless stunner?
The campaign got so much buzz, that for the next year, the company released another dozen CDs, each with the same beautiful model on the cover, always the body, never the face. An expensive, well-executed musical cock-tease that caught every eye on Eighth Avenue.
Word had it that the 13th and final CD would reveal the young man's identity. By then the secret cover boy had reached superstar status.
When the last CD finally came out, much to our surprise it was Bobby's face smiling at us from the jewel box cover. Quiet, introspective, Bobby was one of those kids who'd completely managed to escape our attention. At parties he'd sit quietly by himself or with his boyfriend never saying more than a few words. The quintessential fly on the wall.
Not anymore. Within days of the final release, Bobby became the toast of gayville. An instant sensation, his face and tight body, the subject of many late-night fantasies.
The second time Bobby made headlines was for a far less glamorous yet equally fascinating reason. I'd just returned from a long trip abroad when I was greeted with the news.
"Have you heard?"
"Oh my God, you're not going to believe this."
"You remember Jeffrey right, Bobby's boyfriend? Well, he was working on their home computer one day when he came across some e-mails Bobby had sent to another boy. Steamy love letters, some pretty heavy shit. Jeffrey was so upset he forwarded them to everyone, a mass e-mail that read, 'If you think you know Bobby, take a look at this.'"
"I know, horrifying huh?"
"I say good for him"
"You're not serious."
"As a heart attack."
"Don't you think it's a tad over the top?"
"Maybe. But he cheated, didn't he? Made his bed... quite literally."
A week later I bumped into Jeffrey on the street. His shoulders slumped, his eyes unfocused, he looked like a lost pup.
"Come on," I told him, "let's get you a drink. I'm guessing you could use one. Or ten."
Three vodka-tonics later Jeffery was coming back to life.
"You've heard," he finally said.
"He's the love of my life, you know..."
It hit me. Jeffery did what he did not because he's evil or vengeful. He did it because he was heartbroken.
"You made quite the impression with that e-mail."
"Yeah, I know. And you? What do you think?"
"I think I have a new-found appreciation for you."
He paused, cleared his throat.
"I talked to him last night, he says he's sorry."
"Are you thinking of taking him back?"
"I don't know yet."
"Sure you do."
A stare, half a smile.
"Just be sure to make him grovel a little. Keep him on his toes."
I never spoke to Jeffery about it again. I heard from friends they got back together, dated for another year or two before finally calling it quits. I bumped into Bobby a few times after that, but we never talked. Maybe he was embarrassed. Maybe it was too hard, that invisible scarlet letter hanging heavy around his neck.
I'd completely forgotten about the whole story when a friend approached me at Mr. Black's.
"There's a hot boy you need to see. Totally your type. Come with me."
Before I could say a word, Danny was leading me through a maze of people all the way to the other end of the bar.
"Check him out," he said pointing to the crowd.
I followed the direction of his index finger until my eyes landed on a guy in a red cap. The boy in question was dancing with some friends not far from where we stood. He had his back to us but even in the dark of the dance floor he was hard to miss. There was something sexy about him. Tight body, cute butt. I watched him for a bit, hoping to see his face. Then, as if by cue, the boy in red turned around, opened his eyes, looked right at me. Bobby.
"Hey how are you man?" He said as he made his way over.
A stretched out hand, a handshake, a hundred little goosebumps up my arms, down my spine, all the way to my crotch.
"Should we go grab a bite to eat?" He asked.
Nine hours. It had been nine hours since we left the bar. Nine hours in bed.
Outside, in the daylight, Bobby was still handsome. Same smile, same pronounced dimples, same extreme shyness. I looked at him as we walked, trying to not to stare. There were some gray hairs I hadn't noticed in the dark, wrinkles under his eyes.
We ordered a drink, ate. Then it came. The explanation.
"I didn't cheat you know."
"I didn't cheat on Jeffrey."
The story, Jeffrey's sad eyes... He's the love of my life, you know...
I look at him, not sure exactly what to say.
"We made out once, a stupid, drunk moment. That was it."
"I thought you guys had an affair."
"And the e-mails?" I blurted, then immediately regretted it.
"One e-mail that explained how guilty I felt about that night."
I look at him, he seems sincere. He cares what I think. I like that.
There were three dates after that. Three beautiful dates followed by great sex and even better cuddling. Comfort I hadn't felt in a long time with anyone. Something about this kid. He knows what to do, where to touch, what to say. He's cool. I think I like him. At night, in bed, right before we go to sleep, Bobby's hands around my waist.
"Good night," he says. His lips slightly grazing the back of my neck. Quiver, goosebumps, my whole body melting into the cavity made by his knees and arms. It's perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Then just like that, it wasn't.
All at once a rattle so loud, a tremor so frightening it woke me up. What was that? I open my eyes. My heart racing. I don't move. Please, tell me I'm wrong. Tell me it didn't happen. I say a little prayer, though I know it's useless. His knees are spooning the back of my knees. His crotch, the epicenter.
"You did what?"
"I farted on him," I tell Jim at dinner.
Jim drops his fork, his hand covers his mouth as he laughs.
"Oh my god. Did he notice?"
"Helen Keller would have noticed. I woke myself up, it was so loud."
"I'm glad you find this entertaining."
"Did he say anything about it?"
"No. I haven't spoken to him since. It's been two days. He always calls the next day. He's not calling, he's never going to call."
"Stop being so dramatic, it's just a fart. He'll call."
"He's not calling. I farted on him, right on his lap. Oh my god, I'm the boy who farts."
Jim starts laughing. Unstoppable, loud. I'm laughing too. It's contagious, we're both in a restaurant hauling, holding our stomachs.
"I'm going to die alone." I say. "And gassy."
Before Jim can respond. A ring. My phone dancing on top of the table in a vibration that almost mocks me. I flip it open. Bobby's name flashing on the screen.
"Okay, maybe just gassy."