In Real Life
Life is full of seminal moments -- those thresholds of experience or decision that, after transitioning them, change things permanently. You can't go back after one of those. The world is too different.
I am lucky enough to have once had two of those moments at nearly the same time. It was a wonderful autumn day about ten months after I had graduated from college and moved to a new town to start a job in the "real world". I was way up on a famous scenic parkway on the back of my friend, Ethan's, Triumph Bonneville motorcycle.
But first, as always, a little background...
Ethan was my neighbor. He lived across the hallway from me in the apartment building I moved to after graduation. It was an upstairs apartment, which is good because you don't have to listen to anyone walk around over your head but bad because you have to move all your stuff up a narrow flight of stairs to an equally narrow landing and into a perpendicularly placed door. I met Ethan because I accidentally leaned on his doorbell while Angel and I were wrestling my mattress into my apartment.
I fell backward into Ethan's arms when he opened his door, and Angel fell out of my door and onto the mattress when I dropped my end of it. That is to say that Ethan's first introduction to us was as two sweaty, panting, busty women, one in his arms and the other spread-eagle on a mattress outside his front door. I would have felt like I'd won the lottery if I was him.
To his credit, he was a gentleman and helped us move in the rest of my stuff with neither complaint nor compensation. He was just that kind of guy, and it was a great help because it was January and pneumonia-making conditions going in and out of the cold while sweaty.
Apart from that first meeting, I didn't see Ethan much other than occasionally coming and going on his bike and the occasional neighbor needs: "Hey, is your phone working? Mine has no dial tone", "Do you have any AA batteries I can borrow?", "I've got some leftover lasagna that needs to get eaten. Would you like some?", etc.
It took a couple of months to get to know him and longer actually say that we were friends. He had a mousy girlfriend named Michelle who hung around sometimes, and she seemed to have a big jealous streak. It was actually a little worse than that, I found out after I had been there about three months, and she helped me carry groceries up to my place one day.
"Who's this?" she asked after we put all the bags down on the kitchen table.
She was pointing to the big framed photograph of Angel and me that I had hung prominently in the living room among several other photos. It was taken by my friend Rodney on the night of the honors' banquet right before Angel graduated. Angel and I were both dressed to the nines and looked extremely hot. It's still one of my favorite pictures of us.
"That's my big sister, Angel."
"Sister? Y'all don't look alike."
"Oh, there's a certain prominent family resemblance," I smiled.
Michelle looked from the photo to my chest and back to the photo.
"I guess I can see that," she said after an awkward moment. "Why doesn't this one have a real picture in it?"
She was indicating another, smaller frame on the wall. I laughed.
"That's my friend Jessika. She's a model, so she looks like the person you get on the inlay card when you buy the frame. That's really her though. It's a copy of one of the proofs she did for a catalog shoot last year. That dress was the ad product."
"Huh... no boyfriend pictures?" she pried, scanning the rest of the photos on the wall.
"No boyfriend," I informed the nosey so-and-so. I was starting to feel defensive, but it dawned on me what she was doing.
"I just moved to a new town and started a new job. I'm not looking for a relationship right now," I said in a direct attempt to get her to shut up and get out.
"But you are single?"
Fine, I thought, let's fuck with her head.
"I've just come out of the dissolution of a year-long relationship, and I need to give my heart a rest before opening it up again."
"Really? What happened?" she asked, taking the bait.
I indicated the photo of Jessi-K again, "We had different career paths. She needed to follow hers, and I needed to follow mine. It wasn't meant to last."
"Oh! Yeah... well sometimes things like that happen," she said with big eyes. "Yeah, 'k bye."
With that, she scurried out the door and back across the hall. I waited to close my door before bursting out laughing. The chick was shallower and more transparent than Fabulous, and that's saying something.
"Hey," Ethan said when I opened the door to his knock a few hours later. "Can I come in for a minute?"
"Sure, what's up?" I said and pointed him at a chair.
"I want to apologize for Michelle."
"She came in a few hours ago all frizzled about you, and I finally got her to tell me that she'd been in here asking personal questions. She shouldn't have invaded your privacy like that."
"It's no big deal, but I thank you for respecting me that way. That's very kind."
"It's a bigger issue than that," Ethan sighed. "Ever since you moved in, she's been on edge. She's got control issues about who I talk to and who I spend time with. It's been driving her nuts to have a single lady living across the hall from me, and she's constantly on my case about whether or not I've seen you or talked to you or spent any time with you."
"That doesn't sound so good, if you don't mind me saying."
"It's not. It's a complete drag, but it's something we've been working on. She's harmless, but I just wanted to let you know that she's like that and to not let her disrespect your boundaries."
"I'll do that. Thank you again. What did she say about me, out of curiosity?"
Ethan looked uncomfortable for a moment then shrugged, "She said you only date lesbian supermodels."
I couldn't help it. I laughed out loud. It was enough to overcome the awkwardness of the moment and to make Ethan smile as well.
"I'm sorry. That sounded ridiculous didn't it?" he mused.
"Yes, but it only because I planted that idea. I didn't expect it to go to such an extreme though."
I pointed out the photograph of Jessi-K.
"That's my ex-girlfriend Jessika. She isn't a supermodel, but she does modeling on the side, and that photograph is from one of her jobs. She's a fashion designer up in Montreal."
Ethan looked like he really wanted to say something but couldn't figure out the right way to do it.
"You're trying to find a way to say, 'I didn't know you were gay' aren't you?" I asked.
"Well no," he said. "I actually thought you and Angel might be a couple. I was trying to figure out how to say that Michelle especially shouldn't have pried into your romantic relationships and most definitely shouldn't have yapped about it."
"Oh, you've surprised me there," I admitted. "Most people get hung up on the other because I 'don't look like a lesbian'." I did the air quotes.
"That assumes that you can tell a lesbian on sight, which I know isn't true," he smiled. "Though I made my own assumption when I saw the way you and Angel looked at each other. You seemed very much in love."
"We are, but that's because we're sisters," I explained. "I love her deeply, but not like that. She's hetero too."
I wouldn't go any further into it than that. If he respects privacy as much as that, he won't ask again.
"And I'm not a lesbian, strictly speaking," I continued. "I'm bisexual, but my long-term relationships have all been with women. That's way more than you needed to know, and I don't know why I just blurted it out, but there you go.
"As far as Michelle is concerned, I can be as gay as necessary if it makes your life easier. I'll even leer at her if it will help," I volunteered and made a face.
It was his turn to laugh out loud, "That would almost be worth it just see how she'd react, but no, that would be mean. Anyway, I don't want to be in your business, and I don't mean to badmouth my girlfriend in front of you. I just wanted to clear the air a little between us."
He got up to leave, and I stood up with him.
"I appreciate the effort more than you know," I told him. "Next time we'll talk about you."
He paused at the door, "Deal. We'll do that. See you around."
"Come back any time."
We did just that actually. As the weather got warmer, we'd hang out on my balcony or his (sometimes with Michelle and sometimes not) and just talk. I found out that he was a mechanic at a local motorcycle dealership. I guess technically he was a "certified technician", but he described himself as "a wrencher". I found this fascinating. As a mechanical engineer I understood engines in terms of power, torque, pressures, volumes, and heat transfer. He got all that too, but he also understood them in terms of rhythm and soul. Apparently, he was the guy to go to in town for tuning and modifying vintage race bikes. It gave us something to talk about, and since Michelle had categorized me as "one of his motorcycle guys", she only resented the time he spent talking to me rather than resenting me personally.
We got close enough that I trusted him with a key to my place so he could take care of Fabby while I went out to the west coast for a week to get some training for work. I penny-marked my underwear drawer and locked up my sex toys and other private things just out of general paranoia, but nothing was disturbed when I got back. He even emptied the trash where the cat box waste goes. What a sweetheart.
Penny marking, for you who don't know, is a useful thing I learned in college. Slip a penny between a predetermined place on the flange of a dresser or desk drawer and the body of the dresser or desk. The closed drawer holds the penny in place. If anyone opens the drawer, the penny will fall, and there's no way he will be able to put it back exactly like you had it. That way you'll know that someone snooped. It works on doors too.
Ethan broke up with Michelle in July citing, "She's just not worth the trouble I have to put up with." That sounds heartless, but from my view on the outside, I couldn't tell that he got anything out of the relationship other than stress. She finally quit coming around about mid August.
Fortunately, I wasn't around much those couple of weeks due to deadlines at work and visiting Angel, so I didn't get caught in the middle of any of the minor drama of her trying to win him back. Angel did send me home with a red velvet cake with a file baked in it and the word "Liberation" iced on it to cheer him up. He loved it and took it to work to share with the guys -- who were also happy to be rid of Michelle and could always use a good file.
After that, we started having dinner together about once a week just to have someone not tied to our jobs to spend a little time with. It was never anything fancy, but we both looked forward to it, and besides Fabulous had decided that she was madly in love with Ethan. Something about his hands just turned her on. She'd crawl up in his lap, give him her most seductive kitty look, and purr like a thunderstorm.
I think it was about this time that I started having more-than-friends feelings for him too.
Ethan was attractive, but not in the way you would ordinarily notice. He was handsome, but not distinctively so. He was strong and fit, but not in an overtly muscular way. He wasn't especially tall either. He could have been anybody reasonably good-looking man in his late twenties. What set him apart was a wonderful kindness of feature and demeanor and a very easy self confidence. He tended to be at ease wherever he was and put everyone else at ease as well. It was magnetic in a quieter way than Angel's dynamic charisma, but powerful in its own right. He felt good to be around.
I never figured we'd have a relationship more complicated than neighbors and friends, but I found myself making more excuses to spend time with him. Then I found myself making excuses to touch him -- little casual stuff like his hand here or his shoulder there. I hugged him once when I got some really good news at work, but that was it. It didn't feel sexual, but it was more than friends, or at least it felt like it to me.
I think I still categorized him as off limits in some way, like he was still somebody else's boyfriend. I wasn't wrestling with the idea of being attracted to a man (I had dated guys before), so much as that the man was Ethan. I also think I was still his "gay friend" in his mind. We ladies joke about how many subtle cues that men miss, but I can't fault him for being black and white on it. The last he knew, I only had serious relationships with women, and I wasn't looking for a relationship now. He probably took my amateur flirting as nothing serious.
Angel was no help: "Kiss him. If he kisses you back, you'll know."
"That would probably work," I admitted, "but I'm not even sure what to hope for the outcome. I think I want more from our relationship, but I don't want to wreck what we have."
"It's probably the normal dilemma," she answered. "Are you tossed up between waiting to see what will unfold naturally and the anxiety of waiting too long and missing an opportunity?"
"Something like that."
"One thing to remember is that he may be doing the same thing. It's not all up to you."
"I don't know. I think I may still be 'one of the guys'," I said.
"Look for subtle clues. You'll be able to tell if you're looking. Trust yourself."
"I'll try," I said and then confessed, "but I'm out of practice with men. Girls are easy to read. They think like I do."
"Trust yourself," Angel repeated.
I figured the simple thing to do was to elevate my status from "one of the guys" to "desirable woman" in simple and subtle ways. This really wasn't difficult. It just took a little staging. For example, I made sure that Ethan got a chance to watch me walk from behind from time to time, especially up stairs. Angel had taught me how to walk like a woman years before; it's all in the hips. The only trick is to not overdo it, but I learned from the best.
Also, if you have tits like mine, you have to work hard to not look like you're showing them off. I just stopped working so hard at it. I wore things a little tighter or lower cut than normal, or if I was in my normal t-shirt and jeans, occasionally I wouldn't wear a bra. That let things move more than normal and was a reminder of my femininity that was difficult to ignore. Ethan was definitely paying attention. He was genteel about it, but I could tell. I was encouraged.
I also made an effort to really watch his body language. This was another thing I learned from Angel. Ethan began to more consciously sit with this posture open toward me. He also sat closer to me and didn't fold his arms across his chest when he talked to me. Angel said these are all cues that he was receptive to me and trying (even if at a subconscious level) to engage me.
That was all the encouragement I needed. I made the next move and asked him out on a real date.
"You mean as friends?" he responded.
"No," I said and smiled.
He let that sink in for a minute and then grinned broadly, "I'd love to. Where do you want to go?"
"Well, isn't there a Labor Day vintage bike race this coming weekend?"
"Yeah, there is."
"I've never been to a motorcycle race, but I figured I could take you and you would help me experience it properly, if you're interested."
"With an invitation like that, I could just marry you now and save us a lot of time."
"Let's start with the race, and we'll see about marriage next week."
"I think I'm okay with that," he said with mock seriousness. "If you're taking me to the race, will you let me take you to lunch first?"
"Sure, I think that would be nice."
It was. It was very nice, and the race was a lot of fun -- loud as hell -- but a lot of fun. It was a great start.
Things unfolded slowly and naturally after that weekend. This was different for me. As you know, my relationships tend to be spontaneous and intense. The here-and-there other dates I had been on (both male and female) didn't rate page space in this narrative because nothing really happened other than the date itself.
Ethan was different. It was a real growing relationship. We started out as friends, and now it was slowly becoming more than that, but neither of us felt in a particular hurry about it. I have to say, it was really cool.
I think coming out of the relationship with Michelle put him in a mind to not rush things, and I was on the same page, still getting over the Jessi-K whirlwind to an extent and getting used to the idea of being in a hetero relationship again. All that is to say that we didn't rush into any sort of physical intimacy.
We held hands on that first date, and he kissed me on our second date. It was just one, and it was very nice. After a couple of weeks (told you we were moving slowly), we had an honest makeout session on his couch. It was just kissing, but lots of it and our tongues became well acquainted. I know I got really turned on, which I hope he could tell by my breathing and my body language, but we both seemed to be afraid to take it any further than that. Oddly, I was not frustrated by this. It was comforting to me that there was no pressure and that I had the time to get used to him in a physical sense.
Let me explain...
Up to this point I had seen several penises in real life, but only actually touched one; and then it was only briefly in the back seat of a car. I had kissed several guys -- with tongue, as well -- but never really enjoyed it other than the momentary excitement of it. I had felt a man's hands on my body only through clothes or at minimum once through a swimsuit. I had certainly become aroused looking at men, thinking about men, kissing men, and touching men. I definitely found men exciting, but there had never been time to learn a particular man.
Men are different. They're all angles and hardness and strength. Sometimes that is a turn off because it translates into an unattractive urgency in their physical approach. Men smell very different. Men move differently. Men react very differently. Men are not anything I can identify with on an instinctual level, like I can with women. Men, for all the crap that we women give them about being simple and transparent, are mysteries.
Where I melt is when a man knows how to use these differences to interest me and arouse me and enliven me. Ethan was turning out to be that kind of man. I knew that we were moving along toward a deeper emotional connection and that a deeper physical connection should follow, but it was going to take something significant to push us there.
It was a wonderful autumn day, and I was way up on a famous scenic parkway on the back of Ethan's Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. He had finally convinced me to go on a ride with him by borrowing some good safety gear from a lady at the dealership where he worked and choosing the most beautiful weekend to ride the parkway through the mountains. It took me a good hour into the ride to relax and get used to the idea of clocking along at sixty miles per hour with no metal around me and no control over the vehicle. I think I probably squeezed all the air out of Ethan the first time he broke thirty miles per hour and leaned the bike around a corner.
His instructions had been simple -- place my palms against his chest when we accelerate and against the tank if we stop suddenly; lean with the bike in a corner and look over his inside shoulder as we move through it; don't bang my helmet into his; relax and have fun.
Ladies -- if you want to grow close to a man quickly, then go for a motorcycle ride with him. You'll be amazed how much of yourself you wrap around him to feel safe and out of the wind. Without trying to sound cliché, it's amazingly erotic. There is the feel of the bike and the road coming up through your spine and your legs wrapped around him and your breasts pressed into his back as you give him a hug that lasts as long as the ride.