Becoming Beautiful
March 9, 2009, 4:25 AM
Filed under: Misery and Woe, Sex, Soul-Searching

Preface to “Becoming Beautiful”

While I’m not without my dramatic side, I’ll have you know that this blog is unacceptably emotional, not to mention atypical of me to write in the first place.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.

That being said, these feelings, at least at one point, were legitimate.  The blog was written the day after the event being discussed, so it’s rather choppy and nonsensical, but I kind of like it that way.  I was torn about even posting this for fear of judgment or even worse, sympathy.  This isn’t meant to tug at your heartstrings and make you feel bad for me.  If anything, this is for myself.  I’m hoping and praying that in a month or so, I’ll re-read this and rear my head in laughter.

I’ll also have you know that this situation has now completely passed, and I have had ample time to heal after the damage it’s done.  I am no longer the broken man who wrote this blog.  If anything, I am stronger, more resilient, and more capable than before.  I am posting this to remind myself of this time of weakness, because even though I was at such a low, there is something to be gained from taking a microscope to yourself.  You learn a lot.  And who knows?  Maybe you will too.

Becoming Beautiful

I was having a phone conversation with my little sister and, like most of our conversations, the topic of the day was men. I enjoy these conversations with my sister; while we have very different tastes in men, our approach with them is usually the same. We both tend to become involved quickly, letting our hearts do the talking while silencing our better judgment, only to get burned in the end. And as they say, misery loves company, so whenever something in a relationship goes awry, I dial her number and let the commiseration begin.

I brought up in passing that a man had recently told me I was beautiful, and at this, she giggled. “I’m sorry,” she said, “It’s just strange to hear a guy call another guy beautiful I guess.” I couldn’t blame her. Even for me it was a word I wasn’t accustomed to hearing. Cute, yes. Sexy, sometimes. But beautiful? It’s a rare word in the gay community, so her confusion was understandable, and on almost all levels, relateable. “Yeah, well,” I began, “It’s nice to hear sometimes.” To this she responded, “Yeah, I guess it would be.”

Excluding friends, family, and random drunk middle-aged men I met at Switch, I have only been called beautiful twice in my life. Whether I believed the statement or not, it was still said, which, oddly enough, made it that much harder to believe. Beautiful is a trigger word. For me, it’s all I need to hear. Once said, I’m a lap dog, a trained animal, willing to do anything to please the man who delivered the word. I mean, I may throw the word “love” around like a dollar store frisbee, but the word beautiful is reserved for the special people. My mother, for example. My best friends. My entire family. Bjork. It’s an elite squadron of those who are not just aesthetically attractive, but also impactive on my life in a positive and healing way.

“So, this is the plan…we should just be friends. Nothing more. It wouldn’t work.”
“Yeah, I know…”

During the third or fourth month of mine and Dave’s relationship, he announced that he would be going to the Bahamas. Naturally, I was excited and couldn’t wait to take off school for a week of tanning, sight-seeing, and fizzy umbrella drinks. Of course, he had to reiterate that HE would be going to the Bahamas, not WE. While I was upset, I had to realize that I couldn’t even afford to pay Dave rent at the time, and I was foolish for assuming that he would have floated me the money for a ticket. Still, I was excited for him, but I also knew I would miss him, especially because we had just begun living together and I still felt like a stranger in the apartment.

Before I moved in, Dave had a roommate named Aaron. Aaron, on the surface, was likable enough, but he never formally introduced himself. In fact, whenever I was around, he, deliberately it seemed, made himself inconspicuous. It was as if he was camouflaged: sometimes I thought I might have saw something move, but usually I’d tell myself it was a trick of the light. It wasn’t until he spoke, murmuring a small, “Hey” or “What’s up?” that I would freak out, wondering where the hell he came from. Aaron was basically lint that graciously paid utilities with baby blue checks.

Aaron also had a cat named Milo. I assumed Aaron bought Milo to make up for the personality that Aaron lacked. For the first few weeks, Milo was viciously attentive, hopelessly adorable, and mind-boggling noisy. He always had something to say; it was almost as if Aaron had was using ventriloquism with Milo as his dummy to assert his authority in the house. Of course, it didn’t work, because Dave and I just saw Milo as a rowdy cat rather than a force to be reckoned with.

When Dave left, I was heartbroken. I didn’t go to school the entire week, which was not a smart move, because all that meant was that I was going to have to avoid Aaron’s passiveness and also Milo’s aggressiveness. I confined myself to our room for the majority of the week, sleeping until 4PM, escaping my dungeon for a quick bite to eat, and then sitting there for a few hours staring at the wall, wondering how many more hours I had to sleep before Dave returned.

“I have to be honest…I don’t regret what happened that night, do you?”
“I…can’t answer that.”

Dave came back right on schedule with a bag full of presents for me. They were all small and slightly hokey, but it was the sentiment that counted. After our break up, I threw away the shirt and the license plate with my name on it, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the mug that said “I ❤ My Soldier.” In fact, I still use it sometimes. You would think that after such a painful time in my life, that using it would only bring me more pain. It’s actually the opposite.

That night, Dave and I didn’t have sex. We did, however, share one of the most passionate moments of my lifetime. For the most part, our clothes stayed on, which was exciting because I knew that we were both dying to tear them off of each other. He kissed me, and I sunk into the kiss, letting him take command. He molded me, like putty, into whatever he wanted me to be in the moment, and I more than happy to oblige him. About an hour in, he stopped and looked at me with his crystalline blue eyes completely ablaze. It was the only time I ever saw that look from him. And it was right before he said, “God, you are so beautiful.”

“I meant it when I said that I think you’re a beautiful person. You are.”

To say one is beautiful is romantic. It’s beautiful in and of itself. To say someone is a beautiful person is a let down. Beautiful is all-encompassing. It’s like saying, “Wow, that car is fantastic!” as opposed to “Wow, that car is a fantastic blue!” Beauty is like talent. You’re just born with it. Saying someone is a beautiful person implies that it is a learned skill, something they have achieved, rather than something they were bestowed with.

“You told me I was beautiful. It’s not something I hear very often, you know.”

After Dave and I broke up, I became the gay man I promised myself I would never be. I was going out bar hopping at the age of 18, meeting guys, charming them, and fucking them. Then I would sit by the phone, hoping they would call, and they never did. Ignorance might not be bliss, but it’s certainly a welcome distraction from harsh reality. For a year, I was a revolving door. People would find me, come inside me, and then leave. For them, it was just another venue they yearned to explore. But what is there to explore when you’re the destination?

My relationships, or as I like to call them “jokes”, during that period were full of turmoil and disarray. Even when I was having fun and enjoying myself with someone, I couldn’t help but wonder if they would do the same as so many others had done to me. My trust in men and in people in general faltered. For a while, I lost the so-called spark that others had seen in me, and I became almost stationary. Stationary until someone found a use for me, and whether it was awful or painful, whether they were ugly or boring, I was grateful for the attention. I was glad that someone, if even just for an hour, had found use for my body, which was becoming less of a body and more like a piece of furniture you’d find at a rummage sale.

“That’s like that hat you were wearing when I saw you.”
“When I first saw you. You were wearing a hat just like that.”
“You remember that?”

In March of last year, for some unexplained reason, I bought a fedora. It wasn’t expensive, or even anything special, but it made me feel proud, powerful, almost. It was black and white with a dangerously low brim that I would tilt to cover my face like I was a mobster carrying a venomous secret. When I was at ASQ, the ladies all called it my “pimp hat.” I embraced the title graciously, since even pimps are regarded highly to some, even if it is just their whores.

Shortly after buying it, my roommate Brittney asked me if I wanted to go to the Pancake House with her and our other roommate Jessie. I decided to go, donning my new outfit, fedora and all. My other friend and old roommate Hannah also worked there, and when we sat in her section, she was elated that we had decided to visit. A few minutes into my conversation with Hannah, and something else caught my attention, and it wasn’t the Canadian bacon.

A man walked by across the room. Usually when I see an attractive man, I get all flustered and excited. But this was a different feeling. A wrenching, sinking pain. The pain, however, only catalyzed my interested in him, as did his smile, which was almost too breathtaking to handle. Finally, I snapped my eyes back to Hannah, “Hannah…who…who is that?”

The man and I didn’t talk or see each other for a year after that. And then as what I like to call “rigged chance” would have it, we ended up meeting again and befriending each other.

“Are you still with him?”
“Yeah…but…C.J. I don’t want to be.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do anything unless you end things with him.”

The friendship continued, flourished even. I began to realize that not only was he stunning and sexy, but he was funny, charismatic, genuine, and a great conversationalist. I was falling for him, but of course, there were strings attached.

“I’m not looking for anything serious. I just want to spend time with you.”

I ended up telling him my feelings for him at the end of December, after we had hung out a few more times. Of course, I was completely drunk, but I was also curiously lucid: the conversation lasted for two hours, no tears, no hurt feelings. Just mature conversation. I felt better, and we were going to remain friends.

“When we had that conversation, I thought that was my closure.”

Closure is not real. You tell yourself that you talked and “got closure.” Nothing is ever finished. People walk into your life, and they walk out. But more than likely, they’ll walk right back in again, at the worst moment, looming over your head, punishing you with remembrance, with feelings, with emotions. Closure is what we call the end of a chapter. Death is the end of the book. I suggest not confusing the two.

“I’m going to be giving you so much attention in a few minutes.”

I’m incredibly naive, and apparently, easy to please. Drop a few lines on me, and I’ll become soft and malleable in any situation. When he and I had started hanging out more, this was one of the many messages I had received that made me malleable. But this one stood out in my head. Maybe because he realized I wasn’t really enjoying myself where we were. Or maybe because he was anxious to be with me. Regardless, I had intended on keeping this text no matter what, because I was amazed at the sweet perception of it. But a week later, I deleted it.

“Can I…try something?”

And he did. Our first kiss was incredible. Wonderful. Exactly how I thought it would be.

“I didn’t come here for this. I just wanted to spend time with you. You’re so smart and sexy and beautiful.”


We awoke the next morning. He fully intact, me ripped to pieces. What could I have done? I saw that same look in his eye as I did with Dave. Or maybe it wasn’t the same. But he still said it. And I wanted to believe him. So I forgot my sanity and my intelligence and everything I knew about the situation. I suddenly didn’t care. Now I was living with the reality of my decision.

“I’ve had guys tell me that they could see themselves spending the rest of their lives with me.”
“Well, don’t worry, I don’t think that.”
“I know.”
“I’m not like all the rest of them, you know.”
“I know.”
“I think you’re an amazing person.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Well, I do, I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want to hear it.”

It wasn’t that I couldn’t stand to be without him. It wasn’t that I wanted to even be with him. But to hear the word and not have the option was too much to bear. He may have said I was, but did he have any idea what he was saying? Beautiful. To him, it was just another word.

Him: “I’m sorry, but, I’m getting tired.”
Me: “No, it’s fine. I get it.”
Him: “But we’re not done talking about this.”
Me: “No. We aren’t.”
Him: “Alright.”
Me: “You’re going to be fine.”
Him: “I know. We both will.”
Me: “That’s right, we will.”

I left the car, feeling like the right decision was made, and in the end, it was. But the emotions were stabbing at my eyes, burning my retinas, and as soon as I entered the house, I began to sob uncontrollably. It had been such a long, drawn out process. So full of hopes and texts and closures and dinners and laughs…and it amounted to what? One night. One night, and I still have no idea what to make of it.

(I almost excluded this next part from the blog. I felt that this was almost too personal, that it was something that I never wanted anyone to know I did. But I thought about it. Yes, it was humiliating. Yes, I’m ashamed. But I still did it. And talking about it can only help.)

Later that night, I laid on my bed and began to take my clothes off, slowly. My shirt, followed by my shoes, socks, pants, and finally my underwear. I stopped for a moment, letting the hot tears roll down my cheeks and onto the pillow. And then, gently, I touched myself. Within minutes, I was pleasuring myself. Screen shots of the week before were flashing through my head.

“Can I try something?”
“Do you want to go to your room?”
“You’ll be wearing…just…your…tie.”
“Ohh, CJ…”

I orgasmed. I laid back again, taking in the scene, my body. I examined the crevices and imperfections. The twirly and straight hairs that peppered my chest and stomach. The blemishes on my arm, the scars on my thigh. And just like that, I began to cry again. I didn’t cry for him. I didn’t cry for anyone. I cried because I was beautiful. In that moment, even with everything that had happened, I was still beautiful.

“You’re so smart and sexy and beautiful.”

Now I believe him. I just can’t see why he didn’t want it. I can’t see why nobody does.