u r a artist, lover?? read the text message I got, shortly before Christmas. My fuckbuddy, the muscular Puerto Rican who works as a furniture mover, texts me several times a day. Usually his notes are brief and perfunctory, expressing a need for my dick deep in his hole, or telling me how much he loves me and needs to see me. For the first time, however, he’s asked me what I did for a living. I tell him.
i am artist 2!! he writes back. i go 2 school 4 art in PR. And, lover I want 2 show u my art.
I tend to get on well with artistic types of all sorts, whether they’re painters or poets or photographers or decorators or hair dressers or dancers. I find myself attracted to temperaments that are passionate and express themselves creatively. I can’t prove it save anecdotally, but I’ve always felt that the lovers I’ve had with deep artistic streaks have often been the most passionate in bed; they commit to sex in the same way they commit to their crafts, with joy and excitement and an often total abandonment to pleasure.
And I’d had nothing but pleasure in my encounter with the mover.
It’s Christmas Eve. I’d been to a church service in the afternoon, and had a long, quiet evening ahead of me. Then I get the text from him. my sister is home cannot host, it reads. It’s followed by another. i have present 4 u tho my love. can u meet?
We arrange that I’ll drive over to his apartment complex, park across the street, meet him there. He’s already waiting when I drive up the steep hill that bears his street address and park the car, being careful to put on the emergency brakes. He’s a gray figure in the dusk, barely visible against the brick wall of the parking garage. He peers through the gathering dark at my black car, then beetles over and lets himself in the passenger side door.
“Lover,” he breathes. I admit to a certain thrill at being address so familiarly, after only one encounter with this built little sparkplug of a man. Then his lips are on mine as the internal car lights fade. His mouth is cold, but tastes sweet, like mint candy. His mittened hands run up and down the front of my leather jacket, then down to the warm spot between my legs. His next words are a barely-whispered sight. “Oh, lover.”
“I’ve missed you, baby,” I tell him, as I stroke his hair.
“I can’t stay for long,” he replies, only now looking around to make sure we’re not being watched. “My sister. . . .”
“It’s okay,” I tell him. “It’s nice just being able to see you.”
“But I want to give you this. I made it for you.” He’s been carrying something in his hand that he’d placed on the car’s floor when he jumped in. I’d vaguely noticed it, but since it was wrapped in a brown paper bag, I assumed it was a bottle of liquor.
And lest I be accused of racial stereotyping, I’d like to point out as hastily as I can, that it was also shaped like a bottle of liquor. He put the package in my hand. “In San Juan, where I grow up, I go to school to be artist,” he told me. “For you, I make this. For you. Just for you. On Christmas Eve.”
For a moment, it’s tough for me to breathe. Any gift is an honor. A gift made especially for me is a fucking thrill. “Gosh,” I say, because it’s my go-to phrase when I’m speechless. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Open,” he says, gesturing to the package. “Happy Christmas, love.”
I grin, and nod, and pull down the brown paper. . . .
. . . and I find myself faced with the ugliest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s like—well, I don’t know how to describe it, exactly. It was as if he’d taken an empty wine bottle, covered it in papier-mâché, and then while it was still sticky and wet, attached desiccated jellybeans in a random fashion all over the exterior.Then he’d painted the entire thing orange. Not a nice rust color, or a warm, homey orange. Hazard orange, or construction cone orange. Around the neck hung a sprig of artificial holly from the dollar store. The exterior is lumpy, and rough, and I can see the impressions of his thumbs on the surface.
“Do you like?” he’s asking. He’s anxious to hear the answer.
“Well . . . wow!” I say. The boner that had been bulging in my pants was slowly deflating. Because honestly, all I could think was, Holy fuck what the hell kind of art school TAUGHT YOU TO DO THAT?
“I am so glad, lover!” he said, almost bouncing up and down in the front seat. “So happy to make you happy.”
I’m trying to resist the urge to look around and see if Ashton Kutcher is going to come out and inform me I’ve been punk’d. “Just the fact you went to so much . . . so much trouble is the sweetest thing in the world,” I tell him, honestly. “Thank you.”
He grabs me again, this time so hard that I have to clutch onto the bottle to keep it from flying. The papier-mâché crackles slightly from the pressure, and leaks orange dust onto my console. He gives me a ferocious kiss that begins warming my groin again. Then, with a peck on the cheek, he’s opening the door again. “You make me too happy,” he tells me. “Merry Christmas, lover.”
Then the door closes, and he’s scurrying back to the warmth of the apartment building. I watch him go, bottle still in my hand.
The orange bottle has occupied a place of honor on the floor of my closet, ever since. But don’t get me wrong. How could I dislike any thing made for me especially, by someone who treats me so nicely? It might look like an orange wart, or a kindergarten teacher’s worst craft-time nightmare. It might flake paint like a Republican congressman flakes dandruff. It might even have a faint stench of vino and it’s possible that the paint has never completely dried.
But in the spirit of Christmas, I love that ugly-ass thing.