Friday, February 13, 2009
I awoke yesterday on Riley's couch at 1:30 in the morning with a start. I'd passed out there sometime after 11, as far as I could remember, after a long stressful day and a few beers. When I'd pulled my hood over my eyes and closed them there had been a television on and guitars playing on the sofa next to mine; when I opened them again the room was empty and dark save for a dim bulb above the stove in the attached kitchen space.
The house is a case study in entropy, and Riley fights the good fight, but it remains inhabited by 5 very male people, cut from the cloth used to sew together the Man Show and dive bars. This also means they share their house with a host of dirty dishes, and random messes which materialize without owner in the communal spaces. The men there have nothing boyish about them. They're full grown bucks, with beards and body odor and nothing that could remotely be ascribed to metrosexual culture. They all smoke, be it cigs or marijuana or sheesha or anything else that can be lit and breathed in, and there is a cat in perpetual heat that rubs on anything new, so for those with allergies or breathing issues it's not the most comfortable house to relax in. But I love Riley, and it's primitively satisfying to hang out with the rest of the cave dwellers and feel all Cro-Magnonish, so I go there just the same.
I'm digressing, because this story is about why I woke up when I did, but I need to lay down a little about my surroundings before I get to that.
Of all the roommates, Riley gets along with Jason best (although, as men, they're still prone to the occasional manspat over this or that). Jason is built thick, large but not fat, as if the frame his flesh draped over was just a bit wider than the others. He's a little over six feet tall, I'd put him at 190 lbs if I had to guess, and he rocks facial hair like he's paid by the follicle. Likes Parliments and plays guitar, the classic shit. A guy's guy.
There is also a girl named Stephanie, a diminutive mixed-race cutie that lives either in the downstairs unit or next door. She's young, and looks more so with her hair poofed out in a gentle afro, and barrettes pinning the more undisciplined strands closer to her head. She's got a small, flat nose and a laugh that makes me think of a dining triangle being played by a preschool version of herself.
She also has the total hots for Jason, and sometime before December the kinds of things that happen when a guy's guy and a cute girl who likes said guy live close to each other happened: they started hooking up. Now I see her almost every time I'm over at their house, loving the boisterous attitude and the testosterone that seems to collect like a film on the walls and counter tops. She's teased by the other guys spiritedly and Jason treats her like a runt, but in the good kind of way, you know? She falls over herself for the attention, this young girl, not quite twenty, suddenly the focus of a group of dudes who are most definitely not boys, not by any stretch of the imagination. I doubt the relationship will last the next housing lease, when proximity's convenience is removed, and they find the new distance between their houses forces them to realize they really don't have much in common. They'll go their separate ways, and some day five years from now she may be taking mental stock of her lovers and wonder how that guy sneaked onto the list. Maybe not though; I'd hate to make it sound like Jason is without his charms. He's actually very personable and considerate, with a winning smile.
When I woke up I was startled and disoriented. It took me a second or two to get my bearings and remember where I was before I turned my attention again to the thing that had woken me. In the hallway down the living room, coming in clear enough for me to assume the door was wide open, came Stephanie's moans in slow crescendo. By the time I gave them a focused listen they were well into it, and if I had to judge those moans (which, laying motionless on a couch 20 feet from them, I did) I'd say they sounded wholly genuine, as if a wood nymph was pleasuring herself in a glen.
I was wide awake now, as you can imagine, and as much as I fought against it I was developing a massive hard-on, the kind that can only come from those ohs and sighs born of sincerity and ecstasy. I also had a bit of a dilemma. I had no desire to stay the night on that couch, alongside the drafty window with winter's fingers curled firmly around the seams of my pants and jacket, legs half dangling off the edge, and my neck already beginning to crick. But when to leave?
Absent loud sex noises I would have stood up and made my way to the foyer, where I would have put my shoes back on before heading down the creaky stairs and out the doors, the sticky wooden one that takes effort to close, and the wispy screen one that refuses to close without a gunshot slam. This is one of those old, noisy houses, so ill-kept, that students find and live in all along campus, and despite the fact her moans were becoming more urgent and pleading I would not have been able to leave without being detected. I imagined the moment - they would lean in hesitantly and whisper in each other's ear, "I think someone's awake in the living room!" and they would slow and stop, one still inside the other, maybe reddening a little at being so uninhibited and having been heard, their late-night sanctuary punctured by my exiting footsteps, waiting patiently for the tell-tale doors to signal that the intrusion into their lovemaking was over.
So, rather than cause them any interruption or embarrassment, I waited patiently for them to finish. It was already late, a little later wouldn't hurt me, and I assumed they'd been going for a while, so I expected to finally hear Jason's part in this symphony before the sounds would fade and they would pass out much as I had done alone on my couch. But there were movements left to play, and pause after short pause she'd come back, having found her lungs again.
I waited it out, long as I could, politely turned on but at least keeping the illusion of their privacy intact. I thought on their relationship, its inevitable end maybe less than months away, and these two people very much enjoying themselves. I remember, too, being twenty. It's that all-too dangerous time when two years of college seem to hang like heavy pelts from the belt of experience and you feel adult and empowered, long before you have the maturity and awareness to recognize just how young you really were. I had that relationship, with the girl far too old for me, but I could talk a good game and I was as virile as I was naive. We stayed together until distance, too, showed us just how really far apart we were in temperament and life.
Lost for a moment in the glow of my own memories, I zoned back in to her moans that showed no signs of stopping, indeed they were forming words now (the usual things that get said in the heat of the moment, your oh gods and what-have-yous). My patience for their coda had run out, and I was getting sleepy again and missing the warmth of my own bed and reckless youth. I stood up, put my shoes on, and began the audial fanfare that would signal my presence. The sounds from the bedroom stopped, and as I went down the stairs I heard her ask, in sotto voce, "did you hear something?"
"I did," I thought to myself as I drove home. I had heard the notes of a playful romance harmonizing with the sighs of my own wistfulness as I reminisced on who I'd been before.