Ken and I were sitting at a table in the pathetic little pub on campus, sipping beers and talking about how to break into the film industry, something we both desperately wanted to do. Ken made the obvious statement that it was “all about who you know” and I asked, mostly rhetorically, how you made Hollywood contacts while living in San Francisco.
“Through someone like me,” he responded cockily.
God, I thought as he proceeded to list off the rather puny catalog of connections he’d made interning one measly summer in Los Angeles, when I sleep with him, I really hope he doesn’t think this is why.
I had just broken up with my first girlfriend for about the fifth time and was trying to figure out if I had any desire left in me to be with men. I figured the only way to find out was to sleep with one, and Ken seemed like a good choice simply because I knew he’d sleep with me and wouldn’t be upset if I never wanted to see him again.
As a bonus, Ken was relatively attractive and actually quite fun to be around. We bonded over classic rock and hot chicks in our screenwriting class, much the way I’d always made friends with dudes. We had a lot in common, and it didn’t bother me at the time that our greatest shared passion was for the tits on a blonde in class. We got along so well that it was only logical to my twenty-two-year-old sexually experimental self that I should try to sleep with him.
My plan of seduction involved a lot of cleavage, some drinks, and some not-so-subtle sexual innuendos. Leaving the campus pub, I asked Ken if he wanted to grab another beer Friday night, and we agreed to meet up at a bar near where he lived with his parents, about thirty minutes south of San Francisco.
When Friday came, I dragged my roommate Talia along with me to Ken’s local pub, a place his family had been frequenting for years. As a group of us sat at the bar, the owner/bartender told stories of Ken as a kid, and we spend most of the evening walking down his memory lane. I learned Ken was a twin, and wondered openly if I’d picked the right brother. Ken’s friend added some stories about their high-school glory days but that’s about all he contributed; I’d pawned him off on Talia early in the evening.
Attempting to impress and entertain, I told a story that had been spreading through the film school about a T.A. (no one ever knew which one, but everyone always swore it was theirs) who’d heard a certain actor get a blowjob over a radio on the set of Cliffhanger. According to the rumor, the actor repeatedly asked his giver to “cup the balls, say the name,” while she gagged attempting to pronounce his three-syllable moniker. We all knew the story had no basis in truth but we liked it anyway.
Since we were on the subject — and since the bar was closing soon — I took the opportunity to emphasize how much I loved oral sex. It was obvious and not especially classy, but it did the trick. Soon we were all piled into my car, Ken and me blatantly groping each other in the back seat while Talia and his friend chatted up front. I remember wishing Ken would play with my nipples more, but before I could protest, we were at our destination and Ken was whispering in my ear, “Meet me in the bathroom.”
We both ran off saying we had to pee, leaving my poor roommate Talia to take one for the team and converse with Ken’s friend and possibly Ken’s friend’s parents, since — as I later found out — it was their house.
As he locked the bathroom door, I broke the bad news to Ken: my period had come at the bar and that meant sex wasn’t going to happen.
“That’s okay,” he said in what I only could assume was supposed to be his version of a deep, husky, sexy voice, “you can still blow me.”
Really? I thought, Can I? That’s so kind of you.
But, being a girl on a mission, I said nothing and instead took control and attempted to have some fun.
I wasn’t lying when I said I liked giving head. I get off on my ability to control someone else’s orgasm and, because of unusually weak gag reflexes, I’m pretty damn good at it — at least that’s what Ken kept saying as he reached down and pulled my tit out of my shirt, finally playing with my wonderfully sensitive nipples like I had wanted earlier. When Ken jokingly moaned, “Cup the balls, say the name,” I laughingly realized I wasn’t having that bad of a time.
That said, I still found myself bored and wishing I could do more. I felt a desire to be inside of Ken and kept reaching up for tits that weren’t there. I was annoyed with how easy it was to get him off and kept thinking how much more fun I could be having if he was a girl.
It was there, on my knees in a stranger’s bathroom, Ken’s little buddy in my mouth, that I realized just how gay I was. No matter how much I liked Ken and how much I liked giving head, neither would ever compare to the complete emotional and physical satisfaction I got out of being with a woman. I knew that from that moment on, the only cock I would suck was going to be made of silicone.
Ken was kind enough not to come in my mouth, and we shared an almost-tender moment as he wiped some sperm off of my chest. We had plans to meet up for a pub crawl through the Mission District the following weekend and I mentioned us potentially having sex after it, knowing full well I didn’t mean it. As if my body was trying to confirm my mind’s intent, three days later I came down with a chicken-pox-type virus called Pityriases rosea and had to cancel our pub-crawl plans.
That weekend, instead of sleeping with Ken, I stupidly confessed the whole incident to my ex, an emotionally inexperienced attempt to start anew with no secrets. It turned out she didn’t want to know about my bathroom blowjob, just like I didn’t want to know about her having sex with a guy on the hood of a car. The actuality that I blew a guy to prove to myself that I was gay and she screwed a guy to prove to her friends that she was straight shows just how messed up we were to begin with. Yet, somehow we still made it two more sadistic months before we finally imploded.
Occasionally, I’d see Ken around campus and say hi but we never hung out again. Eventually we both graduated with BAs in cinema and left San Francisco — him off to work in Hollywood, me off to teach English in the Czech Republic and eventually go to law school. I hear about how he’s doing once in awhile from mutual friends, and we’ve had some banter back and forth on Facebook, but nothing too substantial.
I’ve always wondered if Ken has any idea how influential his penis was in my coming out process. I’m not saying he turned me gay — I’m pretty sure playing softball did that – but that evening I realized what took most of my lesbian friends years to figure out. No matter how great a guy was, he was never going to be what I really wanted, and that was a truth I could no longer deny. Ken and his penis saved me years of heartache and denial and helped shape the sexual being I am today. So, Ken, if for some reason you’re reading this, thanks. I owe you one.
This article originally appeared in Nerve’s True Stories.