Friday, 29 June 2012

Lost Son


In Greece some years ago, I succumbed to an obsession with an Albanian boy young enough to be my son. I was forty-six and he was sixteen. Sixteen, straight, and one of my students, he couldn’t have been further out of bounds had he (or I) been in a North Korean work-camp. I always felt he wanted me to notice his developing male sexuality, or maybe it was just that my eyes were drawn to it, as male beauty leaves me helpless as a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming juggernaut. He was a small, wiry, muscular, masculine kid, lean and lithe from kick-boxing. I wrote in my diary after class one sweltering evening:

'A. places his chair right in front of me and leans way back, his track-suit bottoms pulled up to his knees and his T-shirt hiked up to his nipples. Hairy blond legs, golden skin, fuse of gold hair from his navel down to his cock. I still wonder - what's he doing? Is it a blatant come-on or do I misread it all? I never trust my judgement in this area.'

Ah, come on. He must have known damn well - mustn't he?- the effect he was having on me. He was by no means unaware of his sexual allure. He had some affection for me too, shown on one astonishing (for me) occasion when he came up and embraced me in the street, and on another when he embraced me again as I was leaving Greece, and said ‘take me with you’.

Not him, but close.

My diaries for 2006 to 2008 are full of him and I googled his name every now and then over the last few years, but found nothing. Today, it occurred to me to anglicise the spelling, and bingo, there he was on Facebook. How many times have I wondered what he would look like now at 24? How much would he have changed? I have so often reconstructed his face in my mind's eye to bring it from spotty but handsome twink to glorious young manhood, and now here was that young man, looking pretty much as I had constructed him.



My reaction to his photo shocked me – I thought I had outgrown the feelings that now burned like acid reflux. There was first a sense of total exclusion from his presence, since he’s half the world away now, and in any case I’m a forgotten, irrelevant figure from his adolescence. Then it seemed to me that everything not connected with him was commonplace and ill-favoured, and me here condemned to live with all this banality. There came the oppressive thought that he has so much opportunity ahead of him, his present situation appearing most promising, whereas I feel at such a dead end, and it’s my fault that I do. I felt a wretched, worm-eyed envy of his youth. I despised my age, cursed the fact of aging, raged that his handsomeness is ephemeral and that I have no way to caress or possess his beauty: I understood cannibalism. In short, I had absolutely the most un-fucking-Buddhist fifteen bloody minutes of my adult bloody life thus far, before I stood up, slapped myself, down-sir-downed the eructations of regret and resentment, and went and did the washing up. Ah, what do I know of the lad, anyway, I asked myself. Well, then and now, his passions are cars, girls and sports; what would we talk about? I thought of the qualities that had so endeared him to me - impetuousness, enthusiasm, pushing boundaries by clowning in class and eventually addressing me in the Greek familiar second person form, something no Greek kid ever does. There was his comical pride in his new blond stubble, and his lascivious snicker when he stretched out in his seat and looked down at the forward curve of his dick. I was touched by the way he sought my approval of his plans for the future and his taste in girls: 'sir, this girl you see with me yesterday, it was good?' What of this would survive his seventeenth birthday? The boy I knew no longer exists.

Καυλάκι το τεκνό, ε;
I realised after writing all this that I was possibly the only adult in the lad's life at the time who listened to him and talked to him as an equal, as his parents, driven mad by his teenage rebellion, did little other than nag and threaten him. His father once called the school and asked me to try to persuade him not to pack in his English classes. He would be more likely to listen to me, apparently, than to his father. So that showing-off of his developing male assets was maybe not a come-on so much as an assertion that he was no longer a kid. I feel stupid now for having taken seven years to understand that.

I am not qualified to pronounce on the topic of archetypes, but there has been for many years lurking in my brain a grieving parent, although I am not a parent and no close relative ever died in childhood. Nevertheless, every so often I feel as though I am mourning a dead son. This complex was last activated when a lad I knew carnally but otherwise hardly at all was killed in a car accident twenty-two years ago, and the grief I felt was perhaps disproportionate to the length of our acquaintanceship. My Albanian ephebe is a part of this 'missing son' complex, as he goes about his life in the USA, oblivious and indifferent and never again to be the boy he was.

*****
Song here from the album Blood, by This Mortal Coil. For Jonathan, Scott, Andrew, Nicholas and Andreas, variously rendered unattainable by age, time, orientation, distance, mismatch or death. I always imagine the girl singing this as a ghost addressing a living person who is oblivious of her presence.

17 comments:

Candy said...

Yep, but aren't we all? I still want to be the person I was when I was cool and lovely and unselfconscious. I mourn the me that once was before adulthood was forced upon me. I rebel constantly, but it's too late. I may behave like a child, but I still have to work and pay the bills and be sensible with money an make decisions about stuff I don't want to be bothered with.
I reckon your hankering is for something similar - a dream that just maybe.... MAYbe...ah, sod it.

Vilges Suola said...

I'm not hankering after a lost past - I wouldn't go back to yesterday! Basically, I just want to hold him, and it's a bugger he doesn't want me to. My dad might have felt the same about me.

Bo said...

Much empathy from me, albeit a few years behind. Strange how the ghosts of one's past can so overwhelm.

Cerdo said...

Both desire and memory can play tricks with us. Although many say that the past is best left in the past, it isn't always easy to do so, and when the memories come back, they start with a small trickle, but then have the danger of flooding. I fully empathise.

Vilges Suola said...

Thanks for the fellow-feeling - and while I remember,for your e-mail last month, to the account I access so rarely. Sorry about the lack of response, only saw it a short time ago, and have been marking tests and writing dreary reports.

Rob said...

(1) 'dreary' is a great word

(2) in spite of everything, I dare you to press the 'friend request' button.

Vilges Suola said...

I left him a message, which he has either not yet seen or decided to ignore. Of course,it gives no hint of unnatural uranian invert paederastic desires, or offers to jerk him off.

I did actually become a 'friend' of one of his near-contemporaries from Klamata, although not one for whom I entertained the same feelings, so age 'per say' as so many now misspell/hear that phrase on You Tube need not be a barrier.

Did I use the word 'dreary' in that piece? Or is that just how it struck you?

Vilges Suola said...

Also, how did an Albanian get a job in the USA? He's a machine operator in a glass company, so it's hardly a job beyond the competence of a US citizen. I once inquired about teaching EFL in the states and was told I stood no chance, legally at least. But if he's illegal,what's he announcing it on Facebook for???

JR said...

The feelings you describe aren't exclusively male, or exclusively gay. Or even exclusively middle-aged. (And I sob as I type that, knowing that that's how many would describe me. And therefore you, what with you being a couple of years older an' all.)

I remember a nice boy at uni who fancied me but who I just wanted to be friends with. We lost contact buth I tried to make contact with him several years later, only to discover he'd been killed in a car crash. There's still a hole there, knowing that I won't ever be able to get back in touch with him. Similar sort of thing for you and this lovely Albanian boy, I suspect. Is it a recognition that a daydream has ABSOLUTELY NO chance of ever coming to fruition?

We must meet up for a beer some time. Don't even know what part of the country you're inhabiting nowadays, but I'm sure there are trains or roads or similar. And if you still cook (I'm still at the 'basic' stage) I'd be very happy to let you feed me!

Doomed But Cheerful! said...

You are not the first, nor the last to experience one of those Tadzio moments. It's a nightmare at the time, but the memory is food for thought in one's declining years, sipping whisky and dreaming as one stares into the log fire =]

Vilges Suola said...

@ Jenny I had, parochially I suppose, unthinkingly assumed this was a gay male thing. Did I know the boy who was killed? I have an image of a fair-haired musician - don't know if that is the right one. I live in Stamford, near Peterborough, not far from Cambridge. Where are you?

@ DBC I hope to be living more in the present than the past when I'm old - never been good at that so I'm starting to work on it now! I actually think the film 'Death in Venice' is a load of beautifully shot, ball-achingly tedious twaddle; older men fall for younger ones all the time, so why blow it all up like that?

Rob said...

You used the word 'dreary' in one of the comments above - not the piece.

Unrequited love is awful; even after you realise that there is no chance at all of it being returned, you still go on imagining that it might be.

Keep us posted if he replies to your message.

Vilges Suola said...

Right, yes, just seen it. No reply so far, so am not holding my breath.

Candy said...

Read this again - breaking my heart....you are so achingly honest, but clean and unapologetic: something I have been striving for forever. I just land up sounding feeble and daft and simperingly apologetic.

Vilges Suola said...

Well, glad it moved you, anyway. I left him a neutral message on facebook 3 weeks ago. I thought he'd decided to cut me, but yesterday evening I got a friendly and positive reply and a friend request from him, and the surge of affection and adoration was as strong as the sick feeling I described in the blog. Keeps me feeling young, if nothing else. I'm glad I'm not a total middle aged grump.

Candy said...

How wonderful - I often feel like Shirley Valentine and wonder "why we are given all these dreams and feelings if we're never going to use them." But then sometimes we do and the reason we have them is blindingly obvious....

Vilges Suola said...

Alternative is wearing a flat cap, and going round saying 'they don't know they're born these days'.

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