We argued on our way to the orgy cum festival cum exploration of the human body cum disgusting self-indulgent festival cum parody cum marriage of our sentiments. It was after we smoked, listlessly guzzled gin, and heard a story about a serial killer in the subway. It (the orgy) took place in four warehouses that used to house a nut-roasting factory, but all you could smell was stale popcorn, rubber soles, sweat. Our argument centered around The Impenetrable Force That Is My Defenses. The ones that compel me to sneer at the world and shrug into my jacket, the one that is a cashmere blend but does not keep my fingers warm. They make me curl into myself but struggle. They make me feel encased in a sterile wrapper, they compel me to ball my hands into constant, small fists.
They distance me. I distance myself.
I struggled to keep up with the group and the last line of the story rang through my head, the one I stumbled upon while shopping for expensive shirts and jackets, the one that says, “he wanted to arrange a foursome, but there was no one available, so I saw him only at meals,” and ends with the perpetual grasp of dissatisfaction across an expanse of flesh. I have small reversed dimples where the corners of my mouth turn down now.
I recall this fact as it is my first reaction as we enter the throat, plush velvet walls poked taut at the corners and are hazily waved in by a scruffy figure in a tall, grimy pink fur hat and a neck-to-footy polka dotted knit suit with an exaggerated bulge in the crotch. The warehouse is red and purple, the fire exits are nonexistent. The rooms bleed into one another, the main punctuated by a DJ and swarm of bodies in pulsing shades of pink and tattoo and surrounded by amorphous beanbags shaped like bursting organs, plopped along the perimeter. They had the shape and palette of the green apple gumballs I used to buy in fistfuls at the hardware store, the cushy mindlessness of the feeling of spitting malleable globs onto the cement when the sugar disappeared, white and ephemeral. And they were covered in bodies overlapping, bodies writhing in tandem.
We wandered as a group, we split alone. Bottles of piss bracketed the corners, half hophouse, half art. The art, for the most part, is stupid. It doesn’t resonate with me outside of the static, erratic splaying of film on wall. That, I can relate to, and you can take the knitbombing and inflatables and leave the rest behind. There’s not much to see beyond the dark, but we’re drawn to the pillows on the floor, hot with sweat and limbs. She grabs the back of my hair and wrenches my brain upward, and we sit down and fall into the ocean.
The kiss feels like she’s fucking me with her mouth, jamming her tongue as deep as it will go, stopping the flow of air with her hands and mouth. She’s sealing me up and fusing us together. The moment is a study in surround-sound, with the projection light white-hot across our bodies, pink smoke and sky above. To my left, I hear grunts and a steady beat from an old Blondie song. Everything feels right even if it is falling apart. So what if it is? Her teeth punctuate and puncture. My moans lower a few pitches as I settle into the rhythm. I think I know her, sometimes, I think I have her all figured out. She grinds her teeth on my pliable creases and when I clench, she lets go.
Except when she doesn’t. She goes hard, she goes harder, she lets the bodies absorb me and lets the music muffle my screams. The final bite is like a crack of wind as a door is opened and I yelp ‘cucumber’ as my lip splits and she recedes, she lets go. It’s the first time I’ve ever safeworded with her. I don’t remember the last time I did it at all.
As soon as she’s on top of me, she’s gone. She wants to stay, she thinks, but she needs to find the group. She tells me to wait and I wait. Suddenly, I’m consumed with a panic and a pride that the most beautiful girl in the world has been swallowed by the crowd. Where I first wanted all, I now want none as I swivel my head wildly and realize that she’s really, really gone. I am bracketed by two men and two women and they’re all giving me sympathetic, kind eyes. There’s a soft brush near my feet, a tightness in my ankles and when I look down I realize there’s been a man there the whole time. He is rolling like I’ve never seen before, his eyes are closed but tears are leaking from them and he is whispering something into my black leather shoes, stroking the velvet of my pants with the most tender, minute touches. His hands never linger for more than a second and his fingers don’t stray above my ankles.
At first, I think he is a foot fetishist and I start to recede, words of consent and boundaries at my lips, ready to shoot, but then I see that he’s holding on for dear life, clad in nothing but a pair of silver underwear. He’s so coked out. He’s barely touching me but he’s curled up like we’ve just made love. I watch him for what feels like an hour, what is more like ten minutes as he brushes his beard across the toe of my shoes. His eyelids are covered in glitter. His face is doughy. He probably works in finance or as a digital media consultant and maintains a profile on OkCupid and considers himself an INFJ, but now he’s all alone in a private reality. I don’t want to be that. My feelings of magic turn to gritty reality. The beanbags are sticky and someone has just sparked a lighter to light something and the bodies are more fervent, metallic-stinked and taut with the shine of sweat and dime bags and I just want to leave. I don’t want this to ingest me because it’ll be harsh in the morning when I brush off and leave and realize there’s nothing to go back to but dirty condoms and anchor tattoos. I want Red to take me home. Seeing her face is like opening the door and realizing there’s a whole new world outside and I grab her hand and she whisks us away from the writhing sea.
The world is getting distorted, and when push comes to shove, all I want is fresh air and a pile of pancakes, so we head toward the exit. The air is crisp and clean on my lips, the first part that pokes beyond the brick and mortar and as I eke my way back into the light I realize my tie is askew, wrenched nearly to the side of my neck. We get a cab and the ride home passes us by gentle things. The dawn of 3:17AM, bruised purple like the bottom center of my lip, Yeshiva buses empty of schoolchildren with Hebrew lettering on the side, winding past the shuttered restaurants and aluminum bodegas and Polish lettering until we are finally somewhere that looks like a home.