Recently I saw a man who has a special distinction. Special at least to me. Actually I am the only one who knows about it. He was the first man I ever had sex with in Japan. Obviously this was some years ago now, since I met him that first time.
I was in job training, it was my first day off, and I'd spent all morning searching for Shinjuku ni-chome, the gay district of Tokyo. I knew I'd found it when I noticed a sporty young guy grinning, and gesturing to me from a stairwell.
I followed him up the stairs and wound up fucking him, outside, on the staircase, beside some bar that wasn't open, where thankfully no one chose to show up early to work.
It wasn't particularly epic or passionate. Actually I was rather distracted, and somewhat concerned, because I'd only been in Tokyo a week, and in Shinjuku ni-chome three minutes, and already I was fucking a stranger in public on a staircase. This seemed to me shocking. Actually it was quite in keeping with my standard of self-control, good sense, and propriety at that time.
I saw the young man often after that, in just about every dark corner I frequented. It was sobering to realize that, by fucking that guy, I'd pretty much fucked the entire Tokyo metropolitan area, upon arrival. He never asked for a second round. Maybe I wasn't that good. Maybe he was in a hurry to get to the next one.
Whenever we saw each other after that, entering a darkroom, coming out of the steam, we nodded once, politely, and then ignored each other.
For a few years I saw him very frequently. Later I saw him less. He got fat for awhile, then he got very thin. I looked very carefully at his face, at his belly, at the back of his neck, to see if he'd seroconverted, gone on retrovirals. Probably.
I didn't see him for a long time and then, today, there he was again. We nodded once, as usual. He looked fine, he's a good-looking guy.
I noticed that he has begun to grow old. Not that he's there yet, not by a long shot. But there are the first signs: long thin lines beneath his pecs. Maybe from gaining and losing all that weight. His face is changed: he doesn't need to make a disappointed face to look disappointed.
Do I have lines on my chest now? That face, certainly, is also mine. Evidently we have entered a new stage. We were Young Hotties: never grade A, maybe B plus. Now we've arrived at Officially Attempting Macho.
I'd like to ask him how he's doing. But I'm not sure how to interrupt. He's on his way into the steam, and obviously on a mission. I'd like him to know that I wish him well, that I do care for him , somehow, even if it was just ten minutes on a staircase years ago.
It's a perilous procedure, in which I almost never succeed: to inform a stranger he is significant to me -- that he is obscurely but truly beloved -- without confusing or alarming him.
I want him to be all right. I hope he doesn't suddenly get sick, or lose all his hair. I hope he doesn't sit alone and drink or punch the walls. I hope he doesn't cry himself to sleep. I hope he doesn't stand forever in the shower, scalding himself and still not feeling clean.
I hope that when he's walking down the street alone at night his heart is very light. I hope someone cares for him; I hope he cares for someone. I hope he takes good gentle care of himself. I wish him well. I wish he would get his act together, finally, stop hanging around dark corners, like this one.