by shukyou (主教)
Despite what his name might suggest, Moe wasn’t a joker. He didn’t always get comedy, and he had five good jokes memorized for social purposes, even though I wouldn’t have sworn he understood why their punchlines were funny. The rest of our friends and I generally left him out of our good-natured ribbing and practical jokes, mostly because it didn’t seem fair that he wouldn’t — or couldn’t — reciprocate. All of which is why my I did not laugh when I opened the door to my apartment to find Moe standing there with a hollow expression on his face. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Javi, I’m straight.”
“Oh shit,” I said, standing back from the doorway and letting him in.
He stepped inside my studio apartment, still looking like he’d seen a ghost. It was a bananas thing to say, except … well, it was weird, but I could kind of see it on him. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I couldn’t see it on him. Like holding a metal detector over a sand pile and seeing the needle remain stock-still, only with gaydar. I had just knowingly admitted a heterosexual into my domain. Surely nothing good would come of this.
Without being asked, Moe sat down in his favorite spot. It was at the corner of what I’d like to call a daybed, except what I really had was a mattress pressed up against the wall that I used for general company seating, since the place was too small and I was too poor for a real couch. I got him a glass of water and he stared at its surface, maybe checking for flickers of his reflection.
“So, um,” I said, taking my place cross-legged at the other end of the bed, “when did this happen?”
“This morning.” Moe shrugged. “I just opened my eyes, and … here I was. Not gay anymore.”
I quirked my mouth all the way to one side of my face as I looked at him and thought. “What was your first clue?”
“I don’t know. What’s your first clue every day that you’re gay?”
Good question. “I just … know I am, I guess.”
“Well, same here.” Moe took a deep swallow of the water and sat with his eyes closed for a moment. He had a sweet, round face that still got him carded nine times out of ten, and it hurt me physically to see him the lines of frustration that crinked his smooth brow. If anyone deserved heterosexualty, it wasn’t Moe. “I just woke up and there it was.”
Leaning back against the wall, I sighed and tried to puzzle this out. “You know it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, right?” I asked, like some college RA introducing the new freshpeople to the Wide World of Human Sexuality. In fact, it was exactly like that, because I’d been that RA three years running. Crises of attraction, I could handle. “I mean, you know me, but if Janelle Monáe showed up and said she wanted me to see her vagina, I would dive right in.”
One of Moe’s dark eyes opened and fixed me with an accusatory glare. “Not the same.”
“Not the same how?”
“Because that is you being gay with an exception. A vaginal exception.”
A vaginal exception sounded like one of those horrible gynecological things my mother and stepsister were prone to discussing at dinner when both of us kids were still in high school. I enjoy accusing them of having scarred me into an alternative lifestyle, and my stepsister enjoys kicking me in the shins. Family. “It doesn’t make you less gay to have exceptions,” I pointed out, for my benefit as much as for his.
“No, it makes you less gay to not be gay.” Moe snorted, then straightened his spine and took a deep breath. “Sorry. Sorry. I’m just… I apologize. I don’t mean to be upset. Today has just been very frustrating.”
I had zero experience handling a coming-out conversation pointed in this particular direction. “Do you … want to watch some porn about it?”
“I tried. It doesn’t help.” With a deep sigh, Moe gazed at my TV. “I mean, unless you have some something featuring women.”
Considering my collection, I shook my head. “Not if you’re trying to avoid penises.”
“Hm. Closer. But still not quite.” Moe drummed his fingers on the side of the glass. “I did some … some experiments before I came here.”
“And?” Moe looked at me. “And then I came here.”
Enough said. I stretched my legs out along the length of the bed and sighed. What was it even like to be straight? I couldn’t imagine. I mean, there was a great big gulf between wanting to touch a boob and wanting to touch only boobs, and here Moe was, standing on the other side of it.
After a long moment of silent reflection, Moe sighed. “Maybe the lesbians will accept me as one of their own.”
I let out a low whistle. “Buddy, I wouldn’t count on it.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Moe said, sounding even more dejected. He and I ran in the same multi-queer circles, and I was sure he knew as well as I did that while lesbians, in my experience, tend to be a pretty accommodating bunch when it came to joining them, about the one thing they wouldn’t let you be was straight. I mean, sure, I hadn’t met every lesbian in the world or interrogated them about their membership policies, but I felt I had a good grasp of the fundamentals.
I watched as Moe raked his fingers through his thick, dark hair, which was not bowl-cut into submission, but curled out wildly from his head. I’d been into him every since we’d met three years ago through mutual friends, but I’d never gotten any signs from him that he was interested, so I’d never pushed the matter more than the occasional sly compliment or winking grin. He’d never returned either, so I’d considered the matter closed. And that was even before he’d gone through what seemed to be a spontaneous sexual re-orientation in my opposite direction.
Still, he was a friend, and he had a dilemma. “Well… how straight are you?” I asked, trying to focus our efforts in a productive direction.
“What do you mean?” Moe peered at me over the wide black rims of his glasses. He had an intense stare to begin with, made even more remarkable by the pale blue of his eyes.
“I mean, not all straight is straight straight,” I said, as though repeating the word would give it a new and nuanced meaning. “Sometimes being straight is just a thing you are while you still get on some really gay shit with other straight dudes. Like, you know, two-beer queers.”
Moe’s eyebrows furrowed sharply. “What on earth is that?”
“It’s when…” Oh, brother, how to explain my entire high school experience of underage drinking and plausibly deniable blowjob-giving? “It’s when you get drunk and stop being super-picky about the genitals of the person you want to kiss.”
“Let’s do that.”
“Let’s do…?” Puzzled, I followed Moe’s gaze over to my fridge. “Let’s do beers?”
“At least two,” Moe said. “Just to be sure.”
Thank goodness I’d thought to run by the liquor store on my way home the other day. Maybe my gaydar had a psychic component, or maybe it was just always good to be prepared. Beer prepared. That was my new motto. I handed Moe a bottle and watched as he took a deep breath and swallowed as much as he could in one go. He came up gasping, pulling the half-drained bottle from his lips. He wasn’t a big drinker, sure, but I’d seen him consume alcohol like a normal person on several occasions before. This was the drinking of a desperate man.
That done, Moe turned back to me and looked upward, as though he could see the top of his own hair. “Now that I’m straight, do you think I’ll have to cut my hair?”
“In what direction?” I asked.
“In–” He grabbed a handful of his hair and gave it a tug, straightening the curls until his hand wound up several inches from his scalp. “How do straight men wear their hair?”
“However they want, I guess?” I shrugged. His line of questioning made something click in my brain, though: “Are you afraid that you not only woke up straight, but you woke up straight wrong?”
“Yes,” Moe said, as though this should have been obvious from the get-go. He took the most miserable possible drink from his bottle. “I’m bad at everything.”
Where the hell was this coming from? “No you’re not,” I said, and not just because it was the polite thing to say. Moe was smart, probably the book-smartest of our circle of friends. He was great with computers and electronics, and all you had to do was hint that something was broken and he’d ask to take a look at it for you, no problem. He was always the guy who seemed to keep track of who was really hurting for money and knew how to pay a bar bill or cab fare for someone without causing a fuss about it. And on top of it all, he had money, because he was smart enough to hold down a steady job that made use of his tech talents. If you’d lined him, me, and all of our friends up and asked random strangers to vote on which of us had his shit most together, it’d be Moe by a landslide.
“Yes I am,” Moe spat back at me. “I’m bad at being gay. So you think, logically, I’d be good at being straight, but that’s not looking true either.”
“Hold the phone.” I literally raised my hand at him like I was a crossing guard. “Who said you’re bad at being gay?”
“It’s true,” Moe said, which meant that nobody had ever said it, but also that he felt they hadn’t needed to. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
“So? You think straight guys who’ve never had a girlfriend think they’re bad at being straight?” Then I remembered the internet and cringed. “Bad example. But so what? Look, you asked me how I know I’m gay every morning, and I said I just do, right?” I asked. Moe nodded cautiously at me. “Well, I haven’t had a boyfriend since last year, but it’s not like my gay expires or something. It’s not a use-it-or-lose-it thing. It’s not going to go bad because I left it out on the counter instead of put it in the fridge.” In that respect, at least, my sexuality was not like milk.
Moe, by now, was at the bottom of his bottle of beer, through some truly dedicated drinking. “I was never good at it. At the bars and the clubs, I’m not good at it. But now I’m straight, I’m not going to be good at the things straight people do, either,” he said, his voice thin, like it was on the edge of cracking. “So that means the problem is me.”
“Hey,” I said, reaching over to take his free hand in mine. “You know, lots of gay guys don’t like the scene. Doesn’t make them any less gay. Just means they use a lot less eyeliner.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Moe turned his hand over, though, until our palms were touching and his fingers curled lightly around the back of my hand. His palms were surprisingly soft, which may have been a weird detail to notice, but not the weirdest thing that had happened that hour, not by a long margin.
“Then what do you mean?”
Staring down at our joined hands, Moe took a deep breath and let it out in a long, soft sigh. “I mean, I’m bad at the bars. I like them. I’m just bad at them.”
Given that I’d never seen him cause any screaming drunken fights or get thrown out on his cute, plump ass by bouncers, I had no idea what his idea of being bad at bars must have been. “Bad how?”
Moe shrugged again. “Nobody cares if I’m there.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “We all love having you there.”
“No, I–” Moe gave a frustrated little grunt as he thought about his answer, and I knew I shouldn’t think it was cute, but it was totally cute. “Nobody actually cares. And that’s why I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
If I’d had an actual, physical lightbulb over my head, it would’ve snapped on at that very moment. “Wait, do you … do you think nobody hits on you?”
“Yeah,” Moe said, once more with the tone of a man stating the obvious.
I didn’t want to mock his clearly fragile state, but it took everything I had in me to keep from laughing in his face. “Cariño, they do nothing but hit on you. Or do you just have some sort of weird amnesia about all the guys asking to buy you drinks every time we go out?”
“They don’t really mean it.”
I came this close to lunging across the bed and strangling him for willful stupidity. “Then what do they mean, huh?”
“They–” Moe paused, caught in the truth trap of having his own stupid internal logic revealed. I knew that expression well; I had seen it on my own face more times than I liked to admit. “They’re just trying to get to one of you.”
“Oh, no. No, no, no.” I was being kind, but that didn’t mean letting blatant falsehoods stand. “To buy a drink for a guy to get the attention of one of his friends is a bizarre plan already. But to pay bar prices for it?” I shook my head.
Mow chewed at his lower lip. Were the wheels turning? I couldn’t tell. He was hard to read, I’d always known that much about him, but I was starting to get an idea of how hard the world was for him to read in return. That may not have explained everything, but it sure accounted for a lot. “It doesn’t matter,” he said at last. “I mean, I don’t want them to hit on me now. I’m straight.”
I squeezed his fingers in mine. “You can’t be that straight if you’re letting a gay guy hold your hand,” I pointed out with a smile.
“Yeah, but–” He stared hard at our joined hands, but he didn’t pull away. “You’re my friend.”
“Yeah, I’m your friend. And I hit on you all the time.”
Moe jerked his head up and looked straight at me. “What?”
I nodded. “I mean, I figured you weren’t interested, so now it’s mostly just for fun. But for the first six weeks or so after we met … fuck, I just thought your standards went a lot higher than me.”
“But you’re–” He made the logic-crash face again. “You’re like that with everyone.”
“I’m friendly with everyone,” I said. “But you will recall that I literally asked you, to your own face, if you’d like to come back to my dorm room and have sex with me, and you turned me down.”
“You didn’t really mean it, though,” said Moe, but he sounded a lot less certain there than he had before. “And then you left with Raúl.”
“Yeah, because you’d said no. But you got first dibs.” I brushed my thumb over the back of his hand. “Because I thought you were cute, and I wanted to take you home and ride you like a cowboy.” Instead, Raúl had puked on the way there and passed out on my floor, and though we’d fucked several times in the years since, I still gave him shit about that failure. “And you can be as straight as you need to be now, and good luck to you, but I’m not going to let you leave gaydom thinking nobody wanted you there.”
Moe didn’t say anything for a while then, and I didn’t make him. We sat there in silence together, hands joined, as he thought things over. He had the same look on his face I’d seen when he was confronted with a particularly challenging electrical problem, the frown of knowing how all the pieces worked individually but not understanding why they weren’t working together. Maybe human relationships were more like stereos than I’d ever imagined.
At last, he back at me, his brow still furrowed. “Can we … maybe, can we try and see how straight I am now?”
I felt my face break into a wicked grin, then took my free hand and put it on his thigh, curling my fingers close to the inseam of his jeans. “You mean like this?”
Moe swallowed hard and nodded. “Yeah. Please.”
“Sure,” I said, running my fingers lightly up the inside of his thigh, teasing at the distance there. “How does this feel?”
“Good.” Moe nodded again. “It feels good.”
“Not too gay?” I asked, unable to keep from teasing just a little. “I mean, it’s just a hand on your thigh. Just pressure and warmth. Could be anyone.”
“Yeah.” Moe’s voice already sounded rougher, breathier, and I could see from the front of his pants that I was already having an effect. I mean, making straight guys hard wasn’t really an achievement in my book, but Moe made it different. “It’s really good.”
I brought my hand up all the way to the crotch of his pants, putting light pressure against the growing hardness beneath. “That feels nice. Very nice. Like something I’d like to get my mouth on. Does that sound good to you?”
Straight or not, Moe gave a full-body shiver as I made my offer. “Yeah, but…”
“But?” I asked, expecting him to give me another line about being straight. I had my excuses all lined up, and I even had a wig and some lipstick around that I could put on for him. No one had ever claimed I made a passable woman, but I can’t say realism had ever been my goal with accessorizing.
He looked at me with those piercing blue eyes and cleared his throat. “I came to see you. And … if you can fix me, if you can turn me back, I don’t want it to be because it could be anyone. I want it to be you.”
Damn my lack of self-control, but a statement like that couldn’t go unrewarded. Leaving my hand over his cock, I leaned across the distance between us and pressed my mouth to his, pulling him into a deep kiss. He was a bit startled, perhaps, but far from unwilling as our mouths moved together. At least we both tasted like beer; that made it easier to ignore that part, and to concentrate on what was beneath it. His mouth was warm and soft and very kissable.
After a moment, though, Moe drew back and left our foreheads pressed together, but our lips an inch apart. “But, um,” he continued after a moment to catch his breath, “I don’t want me to be just anyone either.”
I frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I mean–” He took a deep breath. “I don’t just want you to be my exception. I want to be yours too.”
I didn’t follow. “Exception to what?”
Moe swallowed audibly. “To just inviting people back from bars. To just sex.”
“So…” I pressed my hand a little more against his clothed cock as I leaned in to put my lips against the corner of his mouth. “You’re saying that your official first act as a straight man is to go out and get your first boyfriend.”
“Is, um,” Moe stammered, “is that okay?”
I answered the question as best I could, which was by kissing him again, hard and deep. I leaned back against him and pushed him back against the bed, so that my body was holding him in place. He was both heavier and stronger than I was, but he submitted to this willingly, letting me climb on top. I ran my fingers through his dense hair, loving the grip it gave me. “Don’t you dare cut this,” I told him.
“I won’t,” he promised, his voice little more than soft air.
“Because I like it,” I said, pushing my cock up against his. Even through the jeans we were both still wearing, there was no mistaking what our bodies wanted. “It was the first thing I noticed about you, how wild it was. And all I could think was how much I wanted to grab it.”
“You did?” Moe asked.
I nodded. “I wanted to see you kneeling in front of me, and all those curls around your pretty face while you swallowed my cock.”
The mention of sucking me off, though, gave Moe pause enough that I could feel it throughout his body. Okay, straight boyfriend had a line there, and that was okay. Surely there will be plenty of those, but not so many that we couldn’t work them out together. And hey, it wasn’t like there weren’t other ways to have fun.
“Can I suck yours?” I asked, pressing against him again. “What do you think?”
From the way Moe nodded, I could tell that all his thoughts on the matter were uniformly good. “Yes,” he gasped, “yes, please, Javi.”
That was all the encouragement I needed. I, after all, was still gay enough that sucking cock was no hardship at all. I slid down his body on the bed until I was kneeling around his feet, then reached for the fly of his pants and undid them in one go. He wore plain white briefs underneath, a charmingly nerdy little choice. I reached in and pulled out his cock, which was short but thick and uncut. It rose up from a thatch of dark hair as curly as the locks on his head. I licked my lips, then opened wide and took him right in.
I’d known for many years that blowjobs override almost all sexual preferences, including some of my own. But with what Moe had said earlier, and with the way he reached for me, I got the clear impression that his reaction wasn’t in spite of me, it was because of me. Not because I was a man, or because he could pretend I wasn’t, but because I was who I was, which was myself.
I ran my tongue around the head of his cock, tasting the salty precome at the tip and testing for his particular sensitive spots. They were easy to find, because every time my tongue hit a bundle of nerves, his whole body lit up like someone had run an electric current through him. Even though my own hair was cut pretty short, he grabbed at it anyway, not trying to push me down or pull me back up, but just as something to hold. Instead, I took his hand in mine again and held it, our fingers laced together. I gave him a reassuring squeeze, and he squeezed right back. We were in this together.
Opening my mouth wide, I took the whole shaft between my lips. I liked that he wasn’t too long, because that meant I could take him all the way in without trouble. Moe was quiet except for his breathing, which meant I couldn’t listen for clues about how well I was doing. Instead, I had to feel for them, to press my body against his and learn what made him writhe and buck. There were few things I liked more in the world than having a man’s whole cock in my mouth, holding him there and knowing that for the moment, his whole world revolved around me and the things I could do with my tongue. Every twitch, every throb, I could feel intimately, like there was no difference between us. And at least for the moment, there wasn’t. If he was going to be straight, then fine; I’d just have to be as gay as I could be to compensate. Maybe one day we’d even get him to a point where his personal definition of straightness involved sucking cock. The future was full of possibilities.
When he came, it was with little fanfare or warning, just a clenching of his fingers at the back of my head that told me to be ready. Seconds later, he was spilling into my mouth as he arched his back up off the bed. I grabbed his hips to keep him from hurting either one of us, keeping him in place as I swallowed him down. If he was going to be my exception, then by God, he was going to be an exception so good it might be the death of me.
He collapsed at last back against the bed, panting hard, and I loomed over him like a lioness crowing about her kill. “Still straight?” I teased.
Moe cracked one eye open. “Not too straight to want to kiss you again, but straight enough that maybe you could brush your teeth first?”
“Fair enough,” I laughed as I climbed off him. I was still rock-hard, causing an bulge in the front of my jeans that caught Moe’s eye. “I could also take care of this while I’m in the bathroom too. I mean, no trouble to me. If, you know, it’d make you more comfortable.”
“I–” Moe began, then fell silent for a moment of thought. “No, I think I’d like to try to do something with it myself.”
“Vague yet intriguing.” I gave him a sharp wink. “That’s flirting with you, by the way. I am flirting with you right now.”
Moe looked more than a bit skeptical. “You don’t have to flirt with somebody when they’re already in your bed.”
“On the contrary,” I said, pointing to him, “that is the best time to flirt with someone, because that’s when you know they truly deserve it. And even exceptions aren’t exceptions to that rule.”
He rolled his eyes at me, but he was smiling at last, which did something pretty amazing to my heart. Who had ever said love was easy? Not me, that was for sure. But at least seeing him like this, gazing up at me with clear affection in his expression, gave me hope that nothing in this life was too difficult to overcome — not misunderstandings, not transfigurations, not even heterosexuality.