He's telling me to check my heart-rate and that we've got 15 seconds until we start another hill. I find this very confusing because what he used to say is, "You came into this room like a bomb..... I wanna lick you."
Yes, it's true.
My Wednesday morning spin instructor has the exact same voice as a boy I slept with in college. The boy. Luis. The one who was unforgettable.
My instructor's name is Dominick, and he's cute but nothing special. His voice, though, is like a time machine. Amazing how it brings me back. I close my eyes to listen, and almost laugh out loud....
Luis came to see me in a show Freshman year; I was the lead in "A Little Night Music," and Luis was friends with the guy who played the part of the non-speaking butler. After the show, moving through the audience in my gorgeous auburn wig, collecting congratulations like long-stemmed roses, I spotted him for the first time and couldn't move.
That night I watched him watch me at our cast party. His friend brought him over to meet me. I don't remember what was said. Compliments were probably exchanged. Also, basic but important information: "My name is Kathryn. I have a boyfriend." He walked away soon after, diverting his attention to our music director Julie. But I watched all night.
I remember what he looked like as he swung her around to Otis Redding on the dance floor.
I remember the envy I felt watching him slide his mouth over hers.
Two years later, he would still be in my mind like a bookmark.
It was December of my Junior year and I was out on a dismal date--one of three that I had had all semester. The man was a math major, which should say enough about the date and the night and the kiss that followed: queer movements of the mouth, dry with funny little lip smacking noises. Very repetitive. Algebraic even.
I was bored and trying to look interested in the discussion I was having with my date, Jonathan, when in secret I was watching Luis at the bar with a girl. Her name was Emma, I would find out later. She was his kind-of-girlfriend at the time. Depended on who you asked.
They sat on two stools, drinking beer and looking very sexy--maybe because she was wearing red. I think he might have whispered something to her, and as I sat listening to my date talk about the benefits of uncircumcised penises, I was sure their conversation was better.
Luis looked good. No, not nearly accurate. Not good. He looked like a boy who had been on my mind for two years. He was aloof and thin and intellectual. But, so cool. I know it's overused and insufficient, but it really is the word I want. Cool like kids who listened to jazz music before their parents. Cool like that incredible girl from your high school who said the perfect thing in an argument with her boyfriend and did not, you were sure, congratulate herself for it later in front of the bathroom mirror. Cool. Ice cube in summer on a hot day when just a little trickle misses your mouth and falls down your chin, swimming a cold line over your collarbones and between your breasts. Cool.
Next to my date, Jonathan Boone Cryer, distant relative to Ulysses S. Grant and the Daniel Boone, Luis just seemed to fit. He was a fixture in the bar. Belonging to that moment and that atmosphere. Part of the smoke, the music, that girl in red. He was far beyond math or third dates, and certainly well past distant relatives of early-American heroes whose actual heroic achievements I would've been hard-pressed to name.
Jonathan Boone Cryer. Luis. That is it, really. In the end, the reasons are best conveyed by the names.
Luis. Take it apart. "L." Immediate. The tongue gets involved. The "ui" combination makes your lips purse a little. You're kissing the air, imagining the place where his mouth would be. And "s." What a close. Finished with a whisper. Even a whistle. Like the explosion of air after a sigh. Or a moan.
These are the things I thought about as I watched him drink his beer.
I dumped Jonathan Boone Cryer later that night right after our last mathematical kiss. Seeing Luis had made me want something different: no more linear contact, no diagrammable conversations, nothing exact or precise. I wanted skin and dizzy and endlessly arching. I wanted improvisation.
I wanted cool.
So I made it my New Year's Resolution to see him naked.
Best resolution I ever made. Only resolution I've ever kept.
I don't know where he is now. It's been six years since his nudity became my promise to myself, and now I'm living in Brooklyn and dragging my ass to the gym every day, fulfilling a different kind of promise to myself--one that is distinctly less fun.
But I do love my Wednesday mornings. Music pounding. And Dominick is telling us all, "Push harder. You can do anything for thirty seconds ladies." I close my eyes.
The face disappears. It's just the voice now.
A trickle of sweat swims a line down my collarbone and between my breasts.
You came into this room like a bomb.
Pushing harder. Straining. Cool.
I could ride that bike for hours.