4 min

Pining for puckering

A pillow is a poor substitute for the real thing

ATTRACTIVE BEDDING. It was better than doing it with girls. Credit: Mia Hansen

Fourteen months of no boyfriend has meant 434 nights of no sex, no kissing and more nights of holding my cats tightly at night than a grown man really should.

I tell my friends how I love being single, how it fits in with my busy schedule, how a boyfriend’s not a priority for me right now. I chuckle at their suggestions that I find somebody soon. Sometimes I chuckle too much, and I think it disturbs them. They clutch their boyfriend’s hand a little tighter and later that night probably have the best sex of their lives.

Okay, so maybe it’s getting to me. I’ve lived alone so long I have conversations with my cats, but lately I’ve also taken to chit-chatting with myself, so at least now that’s three people to talk to. My de rigueur dinner conversation usually starts out with me staring at a plate of half-eaten mashed potatoes and whispering “I’m a man, I have needs.”

I remember nothing about what having a boyfriend actually feels like. I had one for two-and-a-half years once. Sometime in the ancient past, the warmth of my naked body against another naked body. I remember nothing of how it felt. I could’ve been cuddling with a cruise missile. I suppose I can live without that for a little longer, but it’d sure be nice to kiss again.

I learned how to kiss in 1986, at an all-guy sleepover. There were five of us. It wasn’t sexy. We were kissing our pillow as part of a lesson by our host Steven, one of my best friends.

“Think of the lower part as her tits,” he instructed as he held the pillow to his face. Steve was the essential straight kid. Life was all about the big tits, wet snatch and (what when said even today makes me cringe like one who’s just witnessed someone coughing up and then swallowing their own snot) hair pie. I would pretend to admire his Grace Jones poster collection.

I kissed the pillow that night with the rest of the guys because, well, nobody wants to be the party pooper. Besides, kissing a pillow wouldn’t be that different than all the winters I’d spent tonguing frozen flag poles at recess, which I was always more than eager to do. I was, in fact, the only kid who never had to be dared.

But I didn’t think of the pillow as a girl. At first it was just fabric, then it turned into a boy. And within seconds, I’d discovered a new addiction. Later that night, when us macho guys were tucked into our sleeping bags, I waited for everyone to fall asleep. Then I kissed my pillow.

One thing led to another. I was 13 and for the first time in my life, I was in a situation where I wanted to jerk off, but knew I would get crucified on a stake if anyone caught me. Which of course made it all the more urgent that I did jerk off. I began not in a fiery hormone-induced rage, but cautiously. It was agonizing silent in the room, so even the tiniest sound under the sleeping bag amplified and echoed off the walls. I’d never slept in a sleeping bad that sounded so crispy. Near the end, as my excitement overwhelmed my sense of caution, I might as well have been shaking a pair of maracas against tin foil.

At home the next night, I looked at my pillow with a new set of eyes. I’d never seen my Garfield bedding look so sexy.

As the months passed, I managed to convince myself that by kissing my pillow, I was just “practicing.” I was a closet kid, and I reasoned that I’d practice on imaginary guys with the pillow, then eventually graduate to the real thing, ie girls. But it wasn’t long before I blurred the fragile boundaries between “honing my technique” and rocking my world.

By 10th grade, Steve and the rest of the pillow gang had girlfriends. Whenever they asked me why I didn’t, I’d tell them because there weren’t any girls my type at school. When they’d ask what type of girl I was looking for, I’d say Grace Jones. Never mind that she could crush me like bug on a marble floor.

I finally kissed a girl, a real kiss (which is to say with tongue) in 1991, with a 17-year-old girl who had the libido of an incarcerated male convict.

Each time before we’d kiss, I’d convince her we needed to have a little drinkie-poo first, and when alcohol wasn’t available, I’d only offer the bare minimum of kisses. I spaced them out methodically – only enough to raise the least amount of suspicion. I couldn’t wait to get our little sessions over with. There was always a sense of overwhelming relief after each one for me, as if I’d just staved off the angry gods from sacrificing the village virgin for another day.

The first guy I kissed was better than both the girl and the pillow combined, minus the grape lipstick and soft Downy scent respectively. I met him in first year university. His skin was rougher than any of the pillows I’d kissed and he had a tongue which gracefully and forcibly thrusted itself towards my larynx. I was still closeted, which strained our relationship from the start. I’d always insist he shut the curtains tight in his apartment before we kissed, as if sharpshooters were in the apartment opposite just waiting for the chance to cure the world of the gay problem. But at least I finally knew what real love was. I was 19, it lasted maybe a week.

As for being single and not kissing these days, I need to revisit why it is I’ve gone so long without.

In the meantime, pillows are out. I swear. Using a pillow to teach a gay boy to kiss a girl is as effective as taking dating advice from your mashed potatoes. Some things must never be done.