Hot and Cold
It’s not something we put on our online profiles, but we could have. If this relationship fails at any point and I need to be on the market again, I may include it. I get cold really easily. I not only have cold feet all winter but, with the way I sweat, my skin stays cool even in summer. Nacho says that touching me in the summer is wonderful.
Even when it’s 100 degrees out, I sleep covered up. It creates a kind of microclimate that I need so as not to feel cold. Nacho’s the opposite. He gives off heat all year round. That’s why, in the summer, he sleeps buck naked. If I get up to take a leak at night, when I come back I love to stop in the doorway for a minute, half asleep, and observe him in the blue light of the alarm clock, naked and radiant. But in the winter, it’s just the opposite. It’s wonderful to get between the sheets and discover they’re already warm from the heat of his body. He even puts up with it when I stick my cold feet between his own, which are always toasty warm. But later on, when we fall asleep, he wraps himself in the blankets like a cocoon, keeping all his heat inside. The shock of the cold wakes me, but he sleeps like a log and there’s no way to unwrap him. So I’ve learned to sleep with another blanket by my side, for when I find myself suddenly uncovered.
It’s almost better that we didn’t include this detail about one of us always being hot and the other always cold in our profiles; on paper (or on the screen), it might have seemed like one of us would quench the other to create a tepid relationship, friendly but with no spark. But the truth is that it’s been just the opposite, in part because we’re both very flexible in our sexual desires and appetites and that means we never get bored. We’re like the yin and the yang, forming a whole that’s greater than its parts. And taking turns in sharing those two forces between us.
I always loved trying to guess what Luis was making for lunch by the smells that would hit me when I opened the door every afternoon after getting home from work.
“Something with balsamic,” I said, following the olfactory clues through our apartment to the kitchen, where my boyfriend was standing at the stove. “And potatoes.”
“Just in time,” he greeted me, giving me a quick kiss before turning his attention back to the frying pan. He set a plate on top of it and flipped the tortilla española, with a perfectly executed maneuver, not splattering anything, the way I would have.
I turned toward the other countertop, where I found two plates ready to be served, with some greens sautéed in the balsamic vinegar reduction that I had smelled from the doorway, on a bed of baby lettuce.
“It looks straight out of a cookbook,” I said, in astonishment. “You must have spent all morning cooking.”
“I missed you.” He hugged me from behind, kissing the back of my neck, his hands (no longer distracted by the food) holding me across the chest and then playfully traversing my torso while he rubbed his crotch against my backside.
“I can see that,” I answered, laughing, and without turning around, I grabbed his ass with one hand, pulling our bodies closer.
Suddenly, my stomach started to growl, and we let each other go, both of us laughing.
“I think my body wants to satisfy other appetites first,” I said.
Luis turned the gas off and slid the tortilla onto a plate. Then he took me by the hand: “Let’s go to bed.”
“It’ll taste just as good cold,” he assured me. “I know you. You won’t feel like it after eating. You’ll just want a nap.”
He was right. After eating, I always feel slow and sluggish, and sex feels uncomfortable, like nothing more will fit inside me, not in my mouth or in my ass, no matter how appealing it was at another time.
“Come here. This is what doesn’t taste as good when it gets cold.” And he lowered my hand to his crotch. My stomach let out another growl, but my dick started growing once I touched his erection, hot and eager, through his jeans.
“Let’s go to bed,” I agreed. “For the first course.”
“And to work up a real appetite!”
A Beard for Two
I hadn’t even thought to pay attention to the clean-shaven man who was right beside him: beards are simply magnets for my eyes. Not to mention for my dick. As they were coming toward me down the sidewalk, I suddenly realized that the smooth-faced guy was watching me look at the bearded guy at his side–his partner? A friend?
I thought, at first, that he was upset.
But when our paths crossed, with the guy I found hot still unaware of my interest, and his beardless companion still staring at me fixedly, I realized that, far from being angry, he was looking at my own beard.
Lawrence Schimel was born in New York in 1971, but he has been living in Madrid since 1999. He has published over 100 books as author or anthologist and is a prolific translator of a wide range of literature, ranging from poetry to adult prose to graphic novels and children’s books. His many awards include the Lambda Literary Award (twice), the Spectrum Award, and the Independent Publisher Book Award. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages.
The 100 short pieces that comprise Una barba para dos y otros 99 microcuentos eróticos (Editorial Dos Bigotes, 2016) [A Beard for Two and 99 Other Erotic Micro Stories] are small slices of 21st century gay life. They run the gamut from snapshots of the most touching romantic relationships (both “Hot and Cold” and “A Beard for Two” are examples) to images of passion and fleeting hook-ups in our ever-connected world of texts, Facebook, and Grindr. One of my greatest challenge as the translator was to maintain the directness of the language and the naturalness of the dialogue, while also capturing the humor, warmth, and passion of the original.
This is the first of his fiction for adults that Lawrence has written in Spanish, or as he calls it, his “step-mother tongue.” When I began this project, one of my greatest questions was what it would be like to translate for a very successful translator, and into his native language to boot! I even had a number of colleagues warn me off the project, simply because they believed that any author/translator in this situation would inevitably and naturally struggle to give up ownership and control over the translation. I’m pleased to report that this concern was almost immediately laid to rest, when Lawrence read my first draft of the first group of stories, and his comments back to me were both extremely helpful but also respectful and kind. We have worked through close to half the book together at this point, and it has been a real privilege to learn from his generous yet gentle literary suggestions.
Lawrence Schimel writes in both Spanish and English and has published over 100 books as author or anthologist, including THE DRAG QUEEN OF ELFLAND, FAIRY TALES FOR WRITERS, and UNA BARBA PARA DOS. He has twice won the Lambda Literary Award (for PoMoSEXUALS and FIRST PERSON QUEER) and has been a finalist on 13 other occasions. He lives in Madrid, Spain and tweets in English as @lawrenceschimel and in Spanish as @1barbax2.
Professor of Spanish at Lycoming College, Sandra Kingery’s prose translations include Ana María Moix’s Julia and Of My Real Life I Know Nothing, René Vázquez Díaz’s Welcome to Miami, Doctor Leal, and short stories by Julio Cortázar, Liliana Colanzi, Natalia Moret, Claudia Hernández, and Federico Guzmán Rubio. Kingery’s poetry translations include Xánath Caraza’s Black Ink,Ocelocíhuatl and Syllables of Wind. In 2010, Kingery was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship.
Original Artwork: Michael Welsh is an artist, writer, and curator living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He is a founding member of GWC Investigators, a paranormal research group and publisher of New World UNLTD. Welsh's work has been exhibited throughout the United States at High Desert Test Sites, Joshua Tree, CA; American Medium, Brooklyn, NY; Printed Matter, New York, NY; Appendix Project Space, Portland, OR; Bric Arts Media, Brooklyn, NY; GCA, Brooklyn, NY; Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Helper Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; among others. His artists books can be found on the Publication Studio and Social Malpractice Publishing labels.