Photographs Not Taken
The same old fears and prejudices threaten to overwhelm my brain. Their grooves in my thoughts are well worn, and their pain is all to familiar. Let me lay them down for a moment and see if I can find a new thought...
Hopefully, I made a new friend tonight. A woman. A young woman.
I was nervous about going to meet her. The day before, I was filled with anxiety and felt a host of familiar questions. Questions that I have felt from the very first time I ever went to meet a woman outside of work. How should I act? What should I feel? How can I be honest about sexual attraction yet sensitive to her feelings? How do I not “miss” an opportunity for sharing pleasure, without being crude?
These thoughts are not helpful, if I want to retain my self respect, if I want to continue a path of being kind and being a “gentle” man. I tend to hide these thoughts. I push them aside, bury them. Once, I did so out of shame. Much of that is gone now, but my old shyness and fear of rejection remain. And, there still is the persistent desire to make love to the beauty of youth all men seem to carry with them to their graves.
I know I come by this desire honestly. I do not create them within myself. I can, with help and practice, moderate them a bit. As it turns out, I was able to do so this afternoon with my young friend.
I had prepared for the meeting as if it were a “date” rather than getting together for me to take photographs of her. We first met through my photography and I had asked to take more photos. My mind translated the word, photographs, into much more than images of light on paper. I carefully showered and dressed in one of my few non t-shirt shirts and a pair of slacks.
I am embarassed to confess this, but I even stopped by Hy-Vee, the local grocery store, to pick up some condoms. I got the fire and ice brand that I have seen advertised on TV. You know the ad, the one where the young couple, fresh from lovemaking, run in and buy before madly rushing out again, presumably to have yet more exciting and unrestrained sex.
Earlier that day, I had stopped by the local camera store to buy film for my adventure. I bought 14 rolls, maybe a little excessive for a single session but I felt it best to be prepared. I bought both black and white and color. I imagined myself taking pictures of “body” scapes, the name I used back in the 70's for photographs of the curves and lines of the nude human body. Such sessions more than once ended in hot sex. Dishonest of me perhaps, but my “partners in crime” seemed to enjoy the session as much as I did.
Well primped, equipped for sexual safety, and armed with enough film for a photo session with a female soccer team I arrived at my destination -- at precisely two minutes after the appointed time. My friend stood at the counter ordering tea. She was as radiant as I remembered. I also, ordered tea, peppermint. I ordered peppermint mostly because another young woman had suggested it to me earlier in the day.
As we waited for the tea next to my friend (let's call her Laura), I made my opening gambit.
“Laura, have you heard of Yerba Mate?”
Her brow furrowed. “No, I haven't. What is it?”
I launched into an explanation of Yerba Mate, something that I had seen a friend of mine Adam Weinstein, use as pickup line. I thought my lecture was enthralling. I ended with a half hearted invitation to go to the Red Poppy and sample one of their blends after we finished our photo “shoot”. She replied that later, she had to go cut her friend's hair.
I took a breath and relaxed. The pressure was off. There was no need to continue the pursuit of fantasies. I would have to make do with what stood in front of me, for however long it might be there.
Laura is short but has added thirty pounds of lean muscle in the past year. She is a sight for these tired old eyes, and, I dare say anyone else with an eye for the atheletic female form. Her eyes, are vibrant as I mentioned earlier, her breasts are firm, and her arms and legs have the look of a ju-jitsu artist ready to throw you to the ground. All of this is covered with creamy skin dotted with freckles of cinnamon. Sigh...
I suggested we sit and get to know one another better, shuffling the idea of photo shoot aside for another day. I had totally forgotten to bring my cameras inside anyway. (Now, that I reflect on it, she probably thinks the whole thing was a set up since I came in without them, oh well.)
We ended up sitting outside making our tea last as long as possible. We spoke of many topics. I waxed eloquent on some of my latest theories of how to depict the process of hypomania via mathematical formulas. She shared about her art and art studio.
I suggested that taking pictures at her studio would be better than just taking posed photographs. Several times I became confused, I felt I was getting mixed messages about Laura's feelings. I am sure that I was being confusing as well. My sexual feelings continued to arise and I imagined that she felt some attraction to me. I brushed these thoughts aside. I tried to remain focused on her words, but again and again, my eyes were drawn to hers with an intensity that I could not shake.
“Down that path lies madness,” I said to myself.
“Even if it were true, you need to consider the fact that she is just getting out of a difficult relationship. Think of her feelings rather than your lust.”
We talked for longer than she had planned, or at least that is what she announced as we finally rose to leave. I told her that I would wait for her to contact me and that she was safe. Stupid. Who tells a young woman that she is safe, other than someone who has anything other than “non-safe” sexual desires for a young woman? I waxed on about the fact that even though I might be interested in her, I was too shy to be a serious risk.
Finally, my imagined date, my evening of tea, my photo shoot without photos, ended. I followed Laur for a few steps even though my car was in the opposite direction. I stopped in at the Motley Cow (where I had a great meal by the way). Laura walked on to see her friend. The one in urgent need of a hair cut.
I analyzed and reanalyzed the evening in my mind. I became certain that I ruined any potential for future contact by my repeated reference to nude photographs. Only time will tell. If she reads this I hope she will know that I truly enjoyed the evening even if we never see one another again (how sad for me if that is true). After all, it allowed me to create this little piece and get outside of the darkness that often inhabits my mind. For that, I thank her and that which created her.