“You don’t mind being short, do you? I mean, since you’re gay and all. You don’t have that thing where you have to be the taller than your partner in heels.”
“When have you ever not been taller than your partner in heels?”
“Not me, but…” He shrugs. “It shouldn’t be about size, should it?”
“Gay guys care about size too. I mean—” I backtrack quickly, realizing what I just implied. “Some guys would like how big you are. It’s a thing.”
“Is it your thing?”
“Most of the guys I’ve dated have been about my size.” That’s not answering his question, but it’s as close as I’m going to get. “Muscle-heads tend to stick together.”
“Yeah? Seems a little narcissistic going for someone who looks just like you. Not that I don’t appreciate the work that goes into a physique like mine. It just doesn’t do anything for me in a sex way.”
“You don’t like guys at all, though.”
Another thing we got at the store is a six pack. Craig reaches between us to grab a fresh beer. He spends a minute opening it, as though that takes concentration, then takes several swallows. I assume we’re going to drop that topic of conversation, but he surprises me by starting it again.
“I think I’d be more into a guy like you.”
“If, you mean.”
“Sure. If. You’re cute.”
I don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted. Craig thinking I’m cute makes a little flutter of hope take wing inside me, but I can also guess he finds me more attractive than guys who look like him because, in his mind, I’m closer to being a woman.
I look nothing like a woman. I’m not a tall man, but I’d be on the tall side for a woman, and I’m not super built up top, but you can see the shape of my shoulders. I’m hairy where men tend to be hairy—not in copious quantities, but I’ve got a nice even coat on my forearms and calves and down my treasure trail. My features are male, and I dress like your average guy.
I’ve known guys who were campier or more femme, and I have no issue with them. I don’t like drawing rigid lines between male and female. But Craig saying he would prefer a guy like me feels like he’s putting me on one particular side of that line I don’t like to draw.
I realize I’ve gone silent and flash a smile at him, then hold out the marshmallow I’ve toasted to a perfect crispy brown. He takes this one with his fingers, though the way he licks them clean after is almost as distracting as his stick-fellatio technique.
“I didn’t mean to be inappropriate,” he says. “I wasn’t hitting on you or anything.”
“God, no. I didn’t take it that way.”
“Okay, well, good.”
He drinks his beer, and I roast my marshmallows. We gaze into the fire, listening to a chorus of crickets. Someone a few campsites over has music playing. The sound comes and goes with the wind, intruding sudden bursts of rap, like angry remarks thrown out by a passing stranger. The fire pops and crackles and Craig gets up to tend it, though there’s no need to build it higher. It’ll be burning for days already.
At some point we start talking again, about what we saw today and where we’ll go tomorrow, about anything except how attractive I find him and the subject of whether he finds me attractive in return, but later, in the dark of our tent, with three beers in me, I ask him, “Do you really think I’m cute.”
And he says, “Yeah, Braxton. I really do.”