I wrote this story, which is true aside from specific details of dialogue, when I was thinking about bisexuality, polyamory, fetishized sexual attraction, and about how sexual mores influence actual and perceived sexual identity.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but I think the story speaks in many ways for itself. I’d be happy to discuss ideas or implications if anyone wants to hit me up in comments.
I pull myself out of the chilly saltwater and dance over fiery sand.
I belly flop onto my towel. God, the sun feels good pounding into my tight shoulders. Almost like a massage. I let my whole body go limp. My eyelids force themselves down and I sleep, not meaning to.
I’m on the elevated Q train, clacking across Brooklyn toward Coney Island. Russian voices surround me in the crowded car. I’m hot. Too hot. The damn AC never works in the middle of summer.
I half open my eyes and find myself squinting at the speedo-clad bulge of a sleek, bronzed man just feet from me. I smell tropical fruit.
Speedos! In a train?
My eyes snap all the way open.
I’m not on the train. I’m still draped over a sweaty towel at Brighton Beach, one subway stop before Coney. I never go there. Too many teenagers. Too dirty. Too ugly.
The man lounging a few feet from me isn’t ugly at all.
He’s about 35, I’d guess. Maybe 40. Tight muscles. Glossy black hair falls around his ears in tight curls. His sleek black speedo announces that he’s either Russian or gay.
The shape of his face and the pink-clad woman lounging beside him sipping mineral water suggest Russian.
Still… his purple-brown eyes focus on mine for a second too long. I’m sure of it. I play the game in return. I grab his gaze and hold it. He’s bold, stares right back.
“Papa!” pipes a tiny voice as two small children run up and flop all over my cruising partner. They drip on him and giggle as he tickles them and gently settles them down for a snack while Mama growls and passes out drink boxes.
I pull out my Armistead Maupin paperback and roll over onto my back, losing interest. Daddy clearly has other things on his mind. I’m feeling pretty horny after a long swim and a sun bath, but I didn’t come here to have sex. Last week was stressful. I need some exercise and fresh air.
Sex can wait until I get home to Lenny.
My stomach starts to growl a couple chapters in, so I decide to head up to the boardwalk to buy an Orangina to go with the prosciutto pesto wrap in my backpack. I reach for my flip flops and stand up.
I’m a little tangled up inside my suit. As I discreetly adjust, I notice Russian Papa zoomed all in on what I’m doing. He notices me noticing and smiles. His eyes lock below drawstring level.
He’s hot. I can smell his coconut oil. The pouch of black nylon holding his package together is noticeably larger than when I first spotted him. A patch of short black hairs on his chest looks masculine but soft and in control. I shiver despite the beating sun.
Gotta get ahold of myself. Sex on the beach?
Please, Mary. We’re surrounded by big-boned Russian mamas and babas. Ain’t happening. This dude may think I’m sexy, but he doesn’t have the balls to do anything about it.
I forget about him as I weave around beach towels over hot sand up toward the stairs that lead to the boardwalk. Yes, I have to to pass the public restroom. Yes, it has a certain reputation. Yes, I might as well go in and have a piss.
And, yes, there he stands at the urinal next to me.
Speaking of balls, his are perfect — tight and heavy looking, but not yet drooping with age.
He points towards a loose plank that leads to a section that’s been closed for years. Closed but accessible. Everybody knows what it’s for.
Papa is a pro.
I pull the planking back far enough to slip through and hop into privacy. Papa follows close behind. I hear heavy breathing and groans around the corner suggesting that another couple beat us here. No problem. Plenty of room for all.
We duck into a stall and Papa’s huge hands grab my ass, squeezing like an iron vice as he pulls me into him. He pants frantically as he fumbles with my drawstring and yanks my suit down to my knees. I’ve already found my target, palpating, stroking and pumping.
He falls to his knees all in one motion, engulfing me. I grab his ears and thrust my hips. This isn’t enough for me, though. I want to change positions and take my turn, so I lift his head after a couple minutes and point at his engorged dick.
“My turn,” I rasp.
He grabs my hand and squeezes, stroking it. Stands up and moans. “Khorosho! Ochen’!”
Before I can drop to my knees, Papa starts to stroke my wedding ring. “You good married man,” he says. “Good man. Strong. You have good woman?” He’s using one fingertip to trace the outlines of muscles I regularly pump up at the gayest gym in Chelsea.
“Oh, no way!” I chirp. “I’m not really married. This is a ring my boyfriend gave me.”
Papa’s eyes widen in shock.
He falls back a step like I’ve pushed him. He must outweigh me by 50 pounds, but he’s acting like I’m a threat.
His dick deflates so fast it’s almost comical, like I can see it shrivel in front of my eyes. He pulls his speedo up and runs out of the cubicle, pulling enough air out with him that it swirls around and cools my feverish skin.
Well, damn, I think. Should I jerk off or have lunch?
Lenny laughed his ass off at me that night.
“I gotta teach you the rules,” he scolded. “Donchoo know that whenever a cruising trick asks if you’re married, the answer is ‘yes?’ Always!”
“But why? I don’t get it. He was totally into me.”
“He liked you when he thought you were a straight guy playing around. Getting away from the wife. Getting freaky.”
“It’s a thing, boy.”
“For some gay guys, it’s like a fetish, OK? Sex with straight men is hot! But this Russian? Look, if he knows you’re gay, then he’s having sex with a gay guy. What does that make him? But if you’re straight, then it doesn’t count.”
Lenny laughed again as he pulled me into the bedroom and stripped off my clothes. “Whatever. It don’t matter. But if you wanna get laid and a guy asks you if you’re married?
“From now on, say yes!”
James Finn is a long-time LGBTQ activist, an alumnus of Act Up NYC, an essayist occasionally published in queer news outlets, and an “agented” novelist. Send questions, comments, and story ideas to email@example.com.