I still had a few days in New York, and I found myself wandering through the hallways of The Blue, a gay video arcade in Chelsea. I entered the porn shop in the front, which was like any other porn shop, and walked past the jockstraps, underwear and lube to the very back. There was no turnstile or desk, and no cover to pay — you can just walk on through the door and go down the rabbit hole.
I could hear doors opening and closing, locks twisting, and moaning from inside of the booths. The hallways were filled with the shadows of skulking men: hustlers and thugs, juice heads, twinks, pickpockets and meth heads. But there were also clean-cut men, straight men, gay men, young and old men, confused men. And then there was me, comfortably nestled in between. I observed scenes play out between the patrons — the cruising, the eyes connecting, and the whispering a word or two. One would follow the other into the adjoining booth, and after some time they’d both come out and do it all again with someone new.
I wondered what led these men to this moment in time. More pressingly, what led me here?
A man in his mid-30s started following me through the halls. He had a blond crew cut, and was wearing a white polo and khaki shorts. He reminded me of Mark, the ex I had lived with and had dated for a year and a half. He was the sort of guy you could introduce to your family and could imagine yourself marrying. We had shared a very normal life, but I knew from the start that it wasn’t enough for me. My head was always in the clouds, daydreaming of having, wanting and needing more out of life. He was happy with what we had, but I couldn’t live like that. I gave up.
We’re taught that love means settling down, building walls around yourself and planting your roots. Settling has never been an option for me, something Mark and I painfully learned together.
But now his doppelganger wouldn’t stop following me around, so I turned a corner and entered a booth.There was a TV screen with a control pad inside the booth, and what seemed to be a mail slot on the sidewall. I could hear him entering the booth beside mine, and after some shuffling, the slot opened and his cock slid through. It was cut, maybe six inches, and not totally unattractive. I tried this already, I thought. I don’t want this. I unlocked the door and went back into the hall . . .