From the History of Sexuality

Because of the reaction of the innkeeper’s wife, I’m a criminal. Before then, I wasn’t branded. Now I can’t help but see the scar myself. I deserve what I’ll get if I ever go back to that part of town, where I’ll certainly be recognized.

Yes, I committed a crime. I came from a place where love meant just that, only love. My parents (if they even knew any better) never hinted at my “ambiguous nature”, and they never let on that it was wrong not to embody a finite definition. I am dual. So what?

In the newspaper this evening there is a report of two sailors kicked out of the Royal Navy for sodomy. The monarch has publicly denounced their actions. Certain leading ministers have gone on record: what the two sailors did was reprehensible, a crime against nature. I’ve never done anything as definite as that. I don’t know if I’m capable.

What’s true is that once, long ago, I was a romantic. I fell in love with one of the boys from my village. We didn’t think anything of it, and neither of us had ever loved anyone else before. Like all the others, we had our places to go by ourselves. If we wanted privacy, that was for good reasons: it’s better to be as far as possible from screeching chickens and nagging mothers. When I thought it was time to leave the village, and to make something of myself, we said our goodbyes.

It’s wrong to fall in love with another man’s wife, but I couldn’t help it. I was attracted by her fat arms, the way they rescinded in delicate parabolas to her fine wrists. There was something vital in her fleshy white voluptuousness, the pecking comments she directed at me, lingering over my breakfast, as she rolled her doughs by the stove. The innkeeper was stout and flat-footed. His cheekbones looked like they’d been carved, chipped is more like it, out of rock, and they were covered with a fine and irregular black moss. He glared at me, from the very moment I met him, as I suspect he must have glared at all of his male lodgers, recognizing, in some dim, unconscious gleam stirring in his lizard brain, that he was well cuckolded. His wife didn’t seem to notice his sourness. She sang in the morning while she baked. When he was finished his oatmeal, the innkeeper dragged himself outside to chop wood, resolutely setting up one log after another on his block.

It was only a matter of time, as I expect it must have been for everybody. But when the time came, we didn’t consummate. She took one look at me, and she shrieked. It was then that I realized my inherently criminal nature.

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