I am an artist. I have rules. I live by them. Without them, I would be nothing. Worst still, ordinary.
I’d just left the record store and was halfway down the block when I first saw him. He couldn’t have been but around 16. I’d always loved skater boys, especially the scraggly ones, but this kid was too much. His dirty blond hair was completely buzzed off, which to me is the perfect haircut for any guy, regardless of age. He had pale semi-blemished skin and a crooked nose. I followed him another whole block before I saw it. As he slowly cruised down Haight Street on his skateboard, passing the stupid shops peddling Jerry Garcia’s image on everything from t-shirts to cigarette lighters, he nodded to some of the little shit pigs camping out on the sidewalks spare changing. He was wearing a pair of cut-off shorts and his open button up shirt was flapping in the wind, exposing a smooth but taughtly muscled stomach. I love the new fashion the skater kids have “appropriated” from blacks, wearing their pants or shorts far down and off their hips, revealing a hint of boxer underwear. That shit gets me fucking crazy. But this kid, casually rolling down the streets of hippie heaven, had his shorts down really low. I could never figure out what the fuck kept their pants up. I like to think some delicious protruding knob, the gravitational anchor of his father’s loins. His shirttail was sort of covering it, but each time the wind would whip it up and out of the way, I could see it. His shorts were revealing his entire ass! But this kid did not have on normal underwear. Well, they were normal, but they were so threadbare he might as well have had nothing on at all. And the kid’s ass was fucking perfect. For a skinny kid, it was quite round and full. I could see the fuzz formations on his ass cheeks the cloth was so thin, curly cues of fine golden hair coming up from his tailbone.
I did my best to keep my distance, but I had to get closer. The closer I got, I could see his ample buttocks bounce as he rolled over cracks in the sidewalk.
I am an expert at my art, the art of passive aggressive touching. I hear it’s all the rage in cities like Tokyo and Mexico City. The object is to touch without letting the touched know. I have perfected my art. I practice my art in three distinct styles, each culminating into the next. I call these styles, respectively; The Art of The Touch, The Mistaken Touch, and Screaming in The Wind.
The boy stopped in front of a tattoo parlor for a moment and then went inside. He was perusing some large catalogue at the counter as I entered.
Level one; The Art of The Touch. You must be absolutely certain to get it right. This is the most crucial of all three steps as it establishes, that is to say, sets the foundation for all the rest. I noticed below the counter that there were more drawings, examples of tattoos the shop displayed for potential customers. I was less than four feet away from the boy who stood in front of these drawing. I moved in quickly. Still some four feet away, I bent and kneeled down so as to present myself to the boy peripherally, to make him think that I was a potential customer shopping for tattoo design ideas. I slowly approached the boy while still bent down, and waited for the boy to turn. I knew that he wouldn’t turn to his right, as I was right next to him, looking at the drawings. This meant that he could only turn left, the desired direction. I waited, and then when he turned, I reached out as if to touch one of the drawings but in doing so, I casually brush the palm of my hand lightly across his buttock. Sometimes the subject notices this slight friction, but not usually. I have been doing this for a long while, and as I have stated, it is an art.
But like any artist, I, will admit, that once begun, the art becomes obsession. Like Picasso, Van Gough or Rodin, it becomes a starving; a thirst that must be quenched, and I will not be satisfied until all three steps have come to their fruition.
I continue to act as if I am a genuine patron of the tattoo arts. Eventually the boy tires of the place and leaves out the front door. I wait a count of twenty-five, watching to see which way he goes, and then do the same. As I leave the tattoo parlor, I hear the girl behind the counter ask me if I need help which I ignore completely. I look up the street and see that my boy has traveled some distance. I have to high tail it, which is not usually my method, but this one is fast and well worth the extra effort. From a distance of about forty feet, I see the boy cross the busy street, weaving through cars, then go into a bookstore. I wait for traffic to clear and do the same.
Level Two; The Mistaken Touch. I follow the boy throughout the store, still keeping a safe distance. He browses the shelves, looking at the covers of very typical books for a boy his age; Naked Lunch, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a small volume by Beaudelaire. I cannot take my eyes off of his ass. It is too delicious and inviting. I see him now making his way back toward the front of the store. But first, as I would have predicted, he stops and looks at the magazines.
Again, more predictability; Skater and hip-hop magazines. Then the dirty devil reaches for a smut rag, but is instantly angered as the shop has sealed the naughty periodicals in plastic. I stand right next to the boy with a very respectful copy of Architectural Digest in front of my face. He puts the dirty magazine back onto the shelf and mutters aloud, “fuck!” I instantly lower the magazine just as the boy makes eye contact with me and flashes a quick and devilish grin. I think I may swoon. But I also may have jeopardized the next level of my work. Acknowledging my presence to the boy by looking directly at him could have compromised any further proceedings, but it was a risk I was willing to take. Besides, the smile was well worth the chance. In that second’s glance, I saw that the boy had a full set of braces on his teeth.
Then the boy pops his skateboard up from the floor and moves swiftly toward the door. I know I must move fast. I watch and wait again to see which way the boy turns. Again, I must time the next move very precisely. I wait by the newspapers at the entrance, watching him. If the boy goes right, I know that I will go left, and if the boy goes left I will go right. He goes left, so quickly I move in. I time it so that once the boy turns, I must be right on his heels and with my arm closest to him, I reach out, and once again brush against the plump object of desire. It is very important to keep moving. The subject usually, that is, almost always, feels the second “brush-up” and usually stops to see what has happened. I have perfected the art of swinging my arms in an exaggerated fashion so as to create the illusion that it is my natural gate, that is, the way I walk, to project the idea that I might have touched him accidentally. Of course, if you’ve been doing this as long as I have, even though it is tantamount to plain stupid to turn to see his reaction, I almost always do anyway, relishing the innocent yet bewildered look of confusion. The subject is very fast in these instances and usually looks directly at the offending hand and then to see the person to whom it is attached. If played correctly, they usually shuck it off to accident or more likely than not, convince themselves that they weren’t touched at all.
I continue walking for a while in the opposite direction, so as to throw the subject off, hoping to eliminate any suspicion he may or man not have. I usually go for a count of thirty to forty, but this kid is fast, so I stop at twenty-five, turn around, see the kid crossing the street again, and then continue his direction.
Level Three; Screaming in The Wind. By now, you are insatiable. You are Picasso’s eyes! You are Van Gough’s ear! You are the cunt of Camille Claudelle! You cannot be satisfied. No amount of rationalization or common sense or civility can pull you out of the dizzying pleasure you are experiencing, knowing that you have succeeded in your wicked, clandestine acts.
But there is still one more level. More often than not, one does not even attempt this third and most brazen of levels. But today was different. Today, I knew, without a doubt, that I was willing to take it all the way.
How the hell did this kid get away with it? I mean, showing a little flesh is one thing, but his ass was quite literally and completely exposed. Oh I know nowadays kids like to show off, but boys are usually a little different. You might get a peek at a little fuzz on a stomach, or a pit shot, or heaven help us, a little ass crack, but no kid, and I mean no kid, rides a skateboard in the middle of the day down a busy street like Haight Street, with his ass out like that!
I keep my eye on him. I do not let him out of my sight. I see that he is now waiting for a bus at the corner. I cross the street and mix in with the rest of the passengers and wait. This could be very dangerous! There are at least forty people on the bus. But you do not care. Again, once you have committed to Level Three, there is no turning back. And so you position yourself behind the subject, and you wait.
I see the boy reach for the rope to indicate to the driver he wants off at the next stop.
I am anxious. There are two people between him and me. As the doors open, the kid jumps off of the bus and steadies himself on the sidewalk. I step off the bus and hesitate, watching his movements. I feel the wind. The storm is upon me. I must turn into it and face nature’s unbridled, brute force. As the boy turns, I walk directly behind him, and in a third and final gesture, I reach out and I brush once more against him. And then, the boy turns and looks me directly in the eyes. In that brief moment, everything comes streaming back to him. The undeniable look of recognition registers and suddenly, the tattoo shop, the bookstore, the magazines and the smile…you! There you are again. Once more. The kid turns to me and he screams. He screams, “what the fuck! Who the fuck are you…and what the fuck do you fucking think you’re fucking doing!”
At this point, the kid could crack me right across the snout with his skateboard for all I care, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters. I have succeeded all the way to and past Level Three; Screaming in The Wind. The boy, suddenly turning savage, his innocent smile twisting into some mutant battle cry. “…You fucking faggot! Who the fuck do you think you…” Suddenly the sweetest music pours through me. I stand there and let it wash over me. I don’t do anything but stand there and take it. The people look at me and then at the kid. They shake their heads. But I don’t care, it was all worth it.
Finally, the winds subside. But the boy is still there. He looks at me one last time, and then he gets on his skateboard, pulls up his shorts, turns, and flips me off.
As he rides away and quickly disappears, I sit on the curb, and relish the life of an artist.