RomaBear was first. I was twenty-one and I was spending the year abroad. He was over fifty and he was a Roman, living his Roman life as a failed opera singer. He could sing but he could not act, he told me. On a night so late that the night was now the morning, we were sitting at his apartment drinking glass after glass of bad grappa. We were watching the sun come up over the dome of the Pantheon through his window when I started talking drunken nonsense. He told me I should stay over, that he had extra beds for guests. I stumbled up, I stumbled over, I fell into a cot in the corner. I put my jacket over my head to block the sun and then I slept. A few minutes later I awoke to find that he had undressed me, tucked me in to clean-smelling sheets and a blanket. He had also taken the liberty of climbing in. I was suddenly very awake at this. He hovered over me, his fists pressing into the mattress beside my shoulders like he was either going to do a push up on me or collapse his elbows, crushing me, to collapse my heart. I thought to myself, “Jesus, this man could kill you.” Then I thought, “Just go with this until you don’t like it, then you can just say stop.” His head went down. He used only his mouth to get me into his mouth. He drew one out from me and rubbed it into his beard. I remember wondering if that was an Italian gesture of love. He then got under me. Returning the favor, I went down and took him in my mouth. Inexperienced as I was, I had to use my hand. I remember when I began there was a strange music in the air outside the window. The sound was muffled by the blanket I was under. It was neither music, nor was it only a sound. It was something in between music and a sound.
His cock was small, uncircumcised, and there was so much hair surrounding it that I felt like I had by accident started performing my first blowjob not on a man, but on someone’s loyal retriever. He was a giant man, covered in fur, a belly on top of his belly. He also had bellies on his thighs, bellies on his arms, a belly on the back of his neck. I remember thinking, “A belly is like a tit but it’s on a man and it’s bigger and in the middle and it’s lower and it’s just better. Plus, the hair.” I’d been with only women up until then and I wasn’t doing too great of a job. He pulled me up with a tug and then jerked himself off under the sheet while having me give small kisses to his neck and cheek. He began to snore before his stomach had had the chance to dry and he was now a slumbering beast taking up most of my cot. I was enjoying the nice-smelling sheets and blanket so much that I just climbed up and laid right on top of him like he was a swollen and furry human bed. I pulled the sheet and the blanket up over us, and I joined him in sleep.
A few hours later, I woke up in a fright and with a headache. “Oh no. Oh God,” I remember thinking. The grappa we had been drinking the night before was without a label so I should have known that that was coming. But I had no idea that this was coming. I remember that I was afraid to open my eyes. I could feel him there beside me. Fat and hairy, scratchy and soft. I thought I could feel him looking at me. There was a sweet breath coming from inside of his beard. I opened my eyes. He was right there beside me, propped up on his elbow and he was smiling and batting his eyelashes. He looked so happy. Of course he was happy. I was gorgeous at that age. I was twenty-one. He asked me, “Come ti senti?” “How do you feel?” Or more literally, “How do you feel to yourself?” I answered in a weak voice, “Can you get me some aspirin, please?” He hopped right up, dexterous for a man of his form and age. He looked younger now. He looked thinner. I remained in the cot and closed my eyes again. There was too much happening. As he got dressed he told me all the great things we were going to do for the rest of the day. He had a special place he wanted to show me. A place that most Romans don’t even know about. It was beautiful outside, he said. We would take the motorino. He was to show me his Rome, the best Rome. He was whistling a happy tune as he left for the store to get me the aspirin. I thought I heard him clap his hands and dance a couple of clumsy steps in the hall. I sat up and I threw my legs over the side of the cot. (I might have held my head in my hands.) I stood and walked over to the kitchen. I washed my face in the deep sink and dried it with an apron that smelled like rosemary. I saw that my clothes had been folded and stacked neatly on a chair by the window. He’s so happy, I thought, as I dressed and looked out at the Pantheon. And so nice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy or met someone so nice in my whole life. I wondered if he might be in love with me. I wondered if that would be good. Then all of a sudden I felt very hopeless and very sad so I sat down in the chair where my clothes had been stacked. Before he returned, I was gone.