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.
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.