Cold Foot

October 9, 2009

The recollection came as a shock, a snapshot suddenly projected into the insides of my retinas. Cold, as a central theme in one of my earliest short stories. It was, for me, vividly autobiographical without having to do anything with reality; a view into a dream landscape through the eyes of a boy. I may not have been a teen particularly full of angst, but there was enough to dream up a story of teen attraction, a girlfriend, walk back from school, making out on the bed, ending on the stylistically functional “oh how cold her fingers are, he thought”.

I would have liked to have re-discovered these melancholic memories during a silent moment, maybe alone in a busy café, surrounded by students and tourists, baristas who barely speak any English shouting to each other. Alas. However, the memory comes back to me vividly as the girl reaches down my pants and cups her hand around my balls. She is straddling me, we are in her living room, sitting on the floor. We have been kissing, intensely, for the better part of an hour. The TV is on, the bright glare of advertising envelops us like a blanket. Her breathing is fast, and I have modified mine to follow suit, as a signal. My hands are already on her skin, under her top, my fingertips pressing against her flesh. Exciting times.

She bites my lip, just hard enough, in that cliché way, the one we all have seen in scores of movies, TV series, erotica pictures, porn clips. I’m hit by the thought that we’re saturated with the image of a hot girl biting on the lip of a hot boy. And then she does it. Her hand slides down inside my pants, her long fingers cup my balls. The cold, when it hits, is sharp and sizzling, like the inverted effect of butter hitting a hot frying pan. Only it’s my balls and cock and the cold, from her fingertips, like tiny lightning bolts, running all the way up to my brain, exhuming the memory of that first short story, about the feeling of cold. In an instant I vividly see the room in which the fictional boy was making out with the fictional girl. The bed, the slanted ceiling. Based on a real room, but not a real room, the fiction just as visual and real now as it was then, when it was written and submitted to a well meaning but slightly mousy literature teacher. “Oh how cold her fingers are”.

I jerk away, and without being able to control myself blurt: “damn, your hands are like ice”. She looks shocked. And then I start laughing. It ends quickly, a defensive laughter saying “sorry I broke the moment, please let us continue”. She gets it, I think. At least the immediate result is that she stands up, takes my hand and leads me into her bedroom.

The sex happens. I will spare you the details, not out of any sense of dignity, but because it is boring to describe. All the usual stages happen. Mouth, face, tongue, breasts, body parts entering into other body parts, the sounds that go with it. My teeth are leaving marks on her body, which she will have to cover tomorrow; her toes are in my mouth. She is all over my face, I am all over hers, et cetera, et cetera…

I walk out of her apartment the next morning. It is barely seven, she is still asleep. I haven’t made any excuses or tried to come up with an explanation. This is not the first time, and the exit is part of an unspoken disagreement we have. The city is quiet, the Sunday air is cool but not cold, not entirely unpleasant. The cloud cover is like a goose down duvet, soft and light, protective, but stifling. I close the door behind me quietly, even though she is not a light sleeper. Images of her naked body are still engraved into my retinas. The smooth cream colour of her skin and the the outline of my hand on her ass. The occasional blemish of a birth mark. A scratch on her lower left arm, her red painted toes, her nipple, chin, earlobe, vulva – all come against me like a torrent of soundless images, stills taken out of some erotic exhibition. I can still smell her on my face and on my hands.

I stand on the porch of her house, one front door leading in to three flats. I take a deep breath, close my eyes. More images come, but strangely, none of her face. We don’t have faces when we have sex, she and I, we disappear inwards, become disconnected. The harder we interlock, the more we disconnect.

I’d like to say that the moment seems poetic, that emotions wash over me, that they cover me in warmth, or despair, or angst, or that I feel empty because of a lack of emotion, but as I stand there, listening to the faint humming of an airplane above me, I am devoid of being filled. There is no sense of cleanliness or dirt, no laughter or sorrow, no music in me. It is as if I am reaching out, in this moment, to everything. I reach out, but touch nothing, and everything flows through me, a wide stream. Of things, ideas, pictures. Empty of desire, I take a step, then another.

Rinse… Repeat…

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