Fat Jason Bateman sloughs out of the steam room. He’s a Young Fat Jason Bateman, and I’ve seen him here before. He always makes eye contact with me and sighs a heavy sigh, as if he’s got a problem that only I can solve, and he’s already decided that I’m not going to help him solve his problem.
And he’s right, I won’t.
I like Young Fat Jason Bateman, but I don’t want to fool around with him in the steam room. He’s tall and bulbous, with a round rump and perfect, medium amount of hair. He stands up straight, and it’s obvious he was raised with a healthy amount of self-respect. He’s attractive. I’ll bet he does just fine. But he’s not my type, and we’re constantly acknowledging one another for a few seconds before he shoots me a look that seems to say, see, I tried to say hi to you, but every time I try to connect with you I never get the hand job I was looking for. When he does this I make deep eye contact, smirk, and ask how his day was. I’m trying to train him to see me as a human, and not a piece of meat he wants to try, but can’t. It isn’t going all that well.
Fat Jason Bateman had broad shoulders and he carries his weight well. I might be tempted to fool around with an older version of him, but there’s something too young about him right now. He has bright eyes and a white smile full of straight teeth. Bought and paid for, I think to myself, though I have nice teeth and never had braces, so I’m also aware of this ironic assumption I’m making.
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But, I guess that’s what people do to one another. We glide through our days, seeing the easiest, most convenient way to interact with the world, but not each other. The side effect of seeing folks but not interacting with them, is that you make up stories for them. Or, at least, I do. The young, plump, black woman with glasses who was stretching on a mat when I walked in today – she’s in grad school for radio communications. She’s from a working class family that made good investments, and now they’re relatively well off. Sometimes, she feels like the Equinox is frivolous, but she easily dispels that notion. She gets cramps easily and needs to stretch more than other folks.
I would imagine very little of my story is true, but I enjoy writing stories for other people when I’m in public, at the gym, at the grocery store, shopping. It passes the time, and keeps me engaged.
Fat Jason Bateman is back in the steam room now. He’s like this – in and out. Steam, shower, shave, steam, shower, moisturize, steam, shower, make out with someone in the steam room, or follow them to the shower.
He is flat-footed, which gives him an air of entitlement. As if to say, sure, everyone else glides gracefully around here, but I slap my feet, nearly stomping around like a little boy, or in quieter moments, indelicate, like a duck crossing from one pond to another on a sweltering summer day. Too lazy to fly.
A stray thought, an assumption – he was raised with excessive privilege. I’m almost sure of it.
There’s a cultivated air about him. He’s probably 6 feet tall, or a little taller. Maybe 225 pounds, and young. No more than 27 years old. But he keeps his posture tall and his head high. But, that’s not why I think he was born wealthy. There’s a way he curls up his lip at people, as if, sure, he’s listening to them, but there’s this look on his face that seems to say, I’m waiting for you to make a mistake, so I can get leverage on you. There’s an air about him that says, I’m used to getting what I want, and actually, it’s easy for me. I suspect that, no matter how many people he meets for frisky fun in the Equinox, he would never deign to have a conversation with any of them.
Sometimes that’s part of the bathhouse vibe. I was in a bathhouse in NYC once with a really good friend. We had split up and were meeting back up about an hour and a half later. I blew two dudes, he told me, excitedly. Awesome, I said. I had this long conversation with a French Existentialist. My friend yelled at me. That’s not what this is for! Socialize at a bar or an art gallery! This is for you to sift through the garbage and find what’s good enough for tonight! Gayness is subversive! Get in there and have sex with a stranger!
I just smirked at him and hummed along to the muzak in the bathhouse. Some song about finding love in a hopeless place. Sometimes I’m in the mood to be a little dirty. Sometimes I’m not. Certainly, if you’re doing gayness right – you don’t need to have sex with a stranger to be subversive.
Now, Fat Jason Bateman sits down next to me. It’s the only spot left. He glances at me, hope brimming in his warm, woody eyes. I smile, mouthing the word, hi. He looks expectant for a moment, then realizes I’m just being friendly. It must be frustrating for him to be so singularly focused on a difficult task in this relaxed environment. It’s not long before he realizes I don’t want to fool around. He’s back to putting on airs, and showing me his cold shoulder.
For a moment, it occurs to me to say something further to him. To ask about his day, or to strike up a conversation about broad, general things, but I’m mostly meditating here, and that’s my agenda. Still, maybe some day I’ll lean over and let him off the hook. I’m naked all the time in the steam room, but it’s rare that my penis has any life in it. It’s too hot and steamy for me to get into a sexy mode.
For a brief moment, I think to myself, maybe I could be friendlier with him if I found a way to let him know that, yes, I’m gay, but no, I’m not looking for a quicky in the steam room today.
Maybe I should explain that my penis doesn’t really react in the extremely hot environment. That he’ll understand when he’s 35 or so. For a brief moment, I feel some kindred spirit energy between me and Fat Jason Bateman. But, as soon as I’m feeling this a gorgeous black man enters the steam. Sleek and tattooed, lithe with muscle but no extra body fat – the man is magnificent. He ponders the available real-estate and selects a top-tier seat in the corner. I try to share a conspiratorial look with Fat Jason, but he’s staring at the black man with a dismissive sneer.
I finish my breathing and meditation exercise. I don’t speak to anyone. The idea of explaining that I’m 96.5% impotent in a steam room seems silly now. I glide out of the steam room leaving the beautiful black man, and Fat Jason Bateman spreading, manly and splayed – a look of consternation on his face. His final glance seems to pose a poignant, useless question. Why is the world so unfair?
I’m already into the cool air of the locker room. I don’t look back. A brief image of Fat Jason Bateman lingers in my mind, as I walk to rinse off in a cold shower. One last thought drifts through me before letting this whole thing go off into the galaxy where it belongs.
Figure it out for yourself, Fat Jason Bateman.
Figure it out for yourself.