Pedro in Love
Pedro (his name isn’t really Pedro but to me he is Pedro, like so many of them are, like we all are, my Pedro now) is outside the apartment. Somewhere between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Friday going into Saturday. There is little importance as to weather conditions, season, environment. I have known him through it all: rain or shine, dorm rooms and bathrooms, winter and summer, single and not single.
Once through the door, Pedro asks of my roommate—he’s on vacation I tell him. He already knew since I told him through text message but this is what he wants to hear, needs to hear. He wants to know the discreteness of us. He needs to know no one knows he is to become what he can never be: this thing, this thing which desires me, craves to be in me, feel me, this thing of a man wanting man. One Pedro to another.
He sits on the couch, awkwardly, all stiff and nervous and locked up. It is as if I make him uncomfortable. I do. This is typical of him so I’m not turned off. In fact, his awkwardness, his familiar distance to me, does the opposite. Sitting there tense on my couch he is a skinny musculature I cannot help but find divine. I imagine the clothes off of him revealing the treasure trail of curly black hair near his abdomen leading to his loins. I relish in his underbite, the seriousness it takes when I ride him. I celebrate his soft hands with their fullness of length.
I sit next to him, not touching him of course, getting on with the small talk. He replies in his quick manner, as if annoyed. He does not give direct eye contact but instead settles for darting side glances. To me it is thrilling. But for him what is it?
He needs me to initiate so I point to his shirt, and comment on it in some semi-flirty way. Gritted teeth laughter. Does he know what it feels like to have a man flirt with him? The shirt has some video game character on it. I know he likes video games. He disclosed that little bit of himself. I also know he babysits nieces and nephews which has impeded our plans of seeing one another once before. I know he used to love riding the bus with his grandmother and mother to the dollar store as a kid. Most recently I know he and his family, who have been settled in Brooklyn since the great Puerto Rican exodus, are about to be evicted from their apartment due to a rent spike. The little he tells speaks volumes.
While pointing at him, I take the chance to move in like so many times past: I glide my hands across his thin belly, moving up to the ribs, then finishing by palming his flat chest. He looks down, eyes averting mine, unable to handle it. I nuzzle his curly goatee with my nose, and my fingers stroke the strands. While there I breathe down his neck knowing it is a finishing move to his demise, to his submission, to his pleasure, to his hardening, to his manhood, to the unleashing of that thing in him he denies and hates and tramples on and loves so secretly, so deeply, so devoutly in his own special way. Pedro there on my couch—I know him.
The moment escalates. I do things and he lets me do things to him. That is what he wants and needs.
While on his lap, I feel him, his fingertips sinking into my hips, and I know him for all that he is, all that he wants to be. I know the deepest pit of his pain: a man, a Puerto Rican man once a boy, colonial condition shaping masculinities, a manhood in which his grandmother and mother pray on each and every bus ride through Brooklyn streets, praying he will defeat and topple the colonial legacy and be Man with a capital M. And it is in this pain, achieved in fingertips pressing firmly yet gently, that I get him.
There is no mistaking what we have—any of it—for love. I could die within a minute of his departure from my apartment and he couldn’t care less. I could safely say the same. But if—and this is a big if—there is for some reason an inkling of love, if love there is to be, small and undetectable, it is this: the mutuality of our bodies understanding we must never achieve a climax. For climax is the embrace of our finality, our acceptance of who we are in the world out there. He, on the DL, straight and straight-acting, acting the part of straight indifference, a wannabe actor who looks too Puerto Rican, too ethnic, too foreign, too almond-complexioned to ever be the Brad Pitt or Matt Damon his dreams dream up for him. Me, out to everyone but my father, a wannabe writer who writes too Mexican, too Puerto Rican, too ethnic, too foreign, too colored to ever be the Virginia Woolf or Shakespeare of the classroom. Never climaxing, for climaxing is to admit to a beginning and to an end, that there has to be an end to us, to our fully being Pedros.
Love, if this Pedro and I are to have an inkling of love, some kind of care and intimacy for the other, is the restraint we put upon one another, the restraints for the other so we can achieve our somewhat freedom, our momentary freeing. The phallus and the sphincter in suspense, juices and muscle and tendons suspended. Love is knowing the presence of us is little more than this prose. He, Pedro, and I, Pedro, together. Love is the riding of the hard dick and, when sensing the pulse of approaching climax, the fluids rising, the body trembling, retreating. Our breaths held, holding, hold it in Pedro. Love is he, in me, and I, in him. Our body particulars bracing, and embracing. Love is us, Pedro to Pedro, man to man, willing ourselves into shackles, becoming the fetters of our temporary liberation. Pedro with the skinny musculature, if love there is to be between us, Pedro who rides his bike all the way from Brooklyn to see me, these are the parameters of its expression.
Marcos Gonsalez (@MarcosSGonsalez) is an essayist living in New York City. His essay collection about growing up a gay son of an undocumented immigrant in white America, Pedro’s Theory: Essays, is represented by agent Lauren Abramo and is currently on submission with publishers. His essays can be found at Electric Literature, Catapult, The New Inquiry, and Black Warrior Review, among others.