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A story about men friends

Copyright © 1999 by Adam

 

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Earlier this week ... Wednesday, I believe ... one of my buddies dropped by for our men's group here at the place i call my "treehouse." He arrived a little earlier than the others and it was pleasant to catch up with him a bit. Work had been keeping him tied up and it was a minor miracle that he was even able to get away for an hour or so to relax. He arrived dressed in faded blue jeans and a white t-shirt, a subtle complement to his sky-blue eyes and snow-colored hair.

We started talking about how wonked out Silicon Valley is and how many hours go into a work day, quite unlike the conventional 9 to 5 of our parent's era and with less real assurance of any real security on the other end of it. We talked about the need for support from other people and, as the conversation evolved, we started talking about buddies. Most of us have had a best buddy in high school or college that we chummed around with and did *almost* everything together. "Almost " meaning exploring sex together. Most of us were afraid to cross that invisible barrier that lingers between an exuberant hug after winning a game or an arm across the shoulder to a kiss or a sensual fondling or just plain naked mutually enjoyable guy sex.

My friend described how he and his buddy had biked all over Europe together, a wonderful adventure made even more exciting by having someone special to share it with. I sat on the couch and listened to this handsome even majestic man describe the pleasure he had taken in his friend's company, of the great spirit of the road that can unite two guys as almost no other experience can. On any road trip, you are in and out of so many unexpected situations, brought together closely just by the rambunctious roll-and-tumble of life as it happens spontaneously around you. Eating and drinking together, showering and bathing together, meeting new people and seeing new places. It's a lot of time together and a lot of intimate time at that. At some point, in some private moment, maybe under the influence of a lager or two, he had made some overture towards his biking partner . Europe has a way of opening people up like this. Unfortunately, it was met with a rebuff of the offer but not a complete rejection of him as a person. Things like that happen and it was obvious that "no" just meant no to the offer not "no" to him as an entire individual. And they continued to have a great time on their biking trip and nothing else was ever said about it.

As he spoke to me across the charcoal-colored couch, I could see this attractive masculine man with such a strong healthy sportman's body and a vibrant executive intelligence soften visibly with the memory of this friendship. He told me how he still wished for a close buddy ... someone that would be there for him through the ups and downs of life, work, marriages, children ... and that he could feel proud to have as a friend. Someone that he could take hiking, biking and exploring nature together here in the wilds of Northern California. And, yes, someone to whom he could offer the embracing sensuality of his skin without reservation and be met in return on some solitary mountainside under the stars away from the judgment and scrutiny of the world.

There is always something remarkable that takes place when one man opens up his sensitive side to another. It has a way of reaching in and pulling your own truth up and out of you in spite of yourself. I found myself talking about my own best buddy Birch who kept me company in my college days in Santa Barbara. We ran around and did everything together ... museums, concerts, movies, art exhibits, tavern -hopping, surfing, studying, horseback-riding ... Birch was a fine-looking guy with shooting-marble-brilliant brown eyes and an impossibly perfect natural physique. He was both an intellect and an athlete. We spent many golden afternoons on the beach, reading and surfing and playing frisbie with his dog, Spookytooth. We were fairly well-matched in physical coloration both being brown-haired and olive-skinned with basically the same height and weight. We were like the Greek boys, Castor and Pollux. Often people assumed we were brothers and I always thought that it was the rapport that they sensed between us more than the physical resemblance. There was always some figment of sexual attraction there between us but both of us were too shy to admit it into our relationship.

Birch lived with his aunt in a small estate in Carpinteria and I lived in a cottage in Summerland a little north of there. His cousin was an extremely attractive blonde guy who was the maitre d' of a celebrated French restaurant in Los Angeles and whose lover was a famous book illustrator. Birch always spoke highly of the two of them and we had weekend parties whenever they came up to visit to get some fresh air in their lungs. There was always an acceptance and respect of their relationship and an unspoken understanding that a lover is a lover regardless of what sex they may be. It was a pleasant amtosphere to thrive in as a young person. We'd build a fire in the fireplace, sing around the piano and have wonderful dinners by candlelight and talk way into the night until we toddled typsy off to bed.

Birch had had a series of bisexual girlfriends and, inevitably, they migrated from him towards other women. It was already a pattern in his life starting from his first year in college. We'd talked a lot about bisexuality but from the safety of a men-looking-at-women perspective rather than being at all forthcoming about ourselves. I always assume if a guy is attracted to bisexual women, it is very likely he has a strong bi streak himself. It's kind of an electromagnetic principle of having both a positive and negative battery and needing to be with another bi-polarity to feel balanced physically. That bi-polarity can be either a male or a female. If we can just back off the societal conditioning, I think all of us can relate to the idea of needing our batteries charged now and then which is what I think sex is fundamentally about.

Quite a few years later, when I was living in a flat at the top of Russian Hill on Hyde Street in San Francisco and working as a graphic artist for one of the larger advertising agencies downtown, Birch came up for a weekend visit. With all those years of intimacy behind us, it seemed absurd to offer him the couch to sleep on. I invited him into bed with me. No problem. I still remember how slowly he undressed. I remember the little moment of hesitation where I could see he was wondering whether or not to step out of his white cotton briefs. I pretended not to notice but I remember thinking "Oh God, please, let him feel comfortable enough to get in bed with me." We'd been naked so many times before in so many different situations from waiting to use the shower at his aunt's house or changing clothes at the beach or skinny-dipping up in Lake Ojai. But there was a kind of electricity in the air that night. Well, this was San Francisco, wasn't it?

He stripped off his underwear and slid into bed next to me, turning over towards the light to continue reading a novel. I dozed off and eventually, from a great distance, I heard him snap the lamp off and turn over towards me. I was almost asleep but I felt him gently shove his knee against the back of mine and felt his foot rest against the sole of my foot. And then we both fell asleep. I really didn't need or expect anything more than that. I was happy and at peace, knowing my friend was resting near me and had no fear of my body near his.

When I woke up the next morning, the sun was laying across the bed through the venetian blinds in warm alternating lines of light and dark. Birch's knee and foot were still pressed close to mine, never having changed position. But his arm had somehow slipped under my armpit and lay across my chest, his left hand cupping my right pectoral muscle gently and unconsciously. I didn't move. You will probably think that I was a fool not to embark on some softly sensual exploration at that time. Maybe I was. But for me, it was enough to simply lay there feeling the warmth of the sun over us and the weight and smoothness of that beautiful strong familar golden arm and that wide square hand resting against me. I could feel his slow regular breath against the back of my neck. And I fell back to sleep.

We had never had sex together and for some reason I chose not to initiate a sexual experience. I knew that if I had that morning, I wouldn't have been rebuffed. Deep in my heart, I knew he would have responded and met me more than halfway. He would have made love with me and considered it an honor that I wanted him sexually. We had always done everything with 100 per cent gusto. And if we were going to have sex, it would have been real, honest-to-God passionate heck-yeah! male sex with absolutely nothing held back from each other. But, for where I was in my own self-understanding and self-acceptance, it would have changed the relationship for me. Maybe not for him ... in many ways he was and is ... we're still good friends ... much more advanced than me and his comprehension of life larger, richer and better informed.

In San Francisco, you could go out and get sex just like grabbing a quick burger at MacDonald's. I guess you still can. But love and brotherhood aren't so easily arrived at and I believe that is what most of us have always wanted. It's what we've always wanted though we've sometimes settled for less. But that's only human. That morning, to simply lie naked in the arms of my best friend and to experience the nearness of his life-force and the heat of his clay-colored body at rest next to mine was enough for me. It was a beautiful experience, beyond any conventional labels or categories , and simply reliving it through writing this for you has made the afternoon drift by pleasantly.

I can only wish the same comfort and happiness for you ... and much more of it.

Adam is a regular participant on the MenWeb Men's BBS. He can be reached at adambenhur@yahoo.com


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