What is it about this video? Why am I thinking about it on the bus, watching it when I come home from work, and staring at it before bed? Why do these two men dancing in a room hold my attention so utterly?
First of all, because I am attracted to this type of man. I watch out of desire. I see a rough masculinity in the short haircuts, sportswear, and stubble. And I like it. Not just the aesthetic but the tough-guy demeanor that goes with it.
Secondly, this video makes me feel like my desire can be reciprocated. The men demonstrate an intimacy with each other that I don’t associate with that masculinity. An intimacy I read as more than friendship, closer to love. This gives me hope, because usually this type of man feels out of reach.
Usually I see this type of man as showing affection through smack talking and play fighting, by pretending to repulse the other. To show love by not loving. And if loving means behaving in an unloving way, then it becomes very hard for me to read this type of masculinity. A man’s distant and at times aggressive behaviour can be interpreted as anything from Hatred to Love.
Reading men like that becomes impossible. I imagine attraction where there is none. I am unable to gauge reciprocal desire, to know if I am wanted back. I desire but fear expressing it. I fear the gamble of reaching out.
And yet I watch this video on repeat because, perhaps, I can reach out after all. The men possess that gruff masculinity I desire, but they also seem to show an open tenderness towards each other which is intoxicating to watch. Sure, they play fight and can be rough with one another, but they also express themselves in hugs, ass slaps, laughter, a kiss on the forehead. As they dance, one beckons to the other and their lips come close, separated only by a joint. One blows smoke into the other’s mouth.
It feels like the video is telling me that I was wrong. Men like that can be openly tender towards each other. Men like that can be openly tender with me too…?
But in that moment of intimacy there is something missing.
They don’t kiss.
One cradles the other’s head in his hands, their eyes are closed, necks crooked, yet distance is preserved between them. The men’s tenderness with one another implies a final moment of connection, but it is absent.
And I realise that for me to believe that these men could openly love each other, that this type of man could openly want me back, I need their lips to touch.
But they don’t, and I see that my hope of a kiss is fantasy.
My hope of an open tenderness and connection is fantasy.
I desire a masculinity that can only exist out of reach.
Because distance is crucial to its survival. If that masculinity loves openly, it stops existing. An open tenderness, the touching of skin, contradicts a behaviour which actively disguises love and affection, which emotes in code. It can’t do both. If their lips had met, that masculinity would have disintegrated.
So if I am desiring something I can never have, then what am I to do with my desire? Knowing I desire the unobtainable doesn’t quench the desire itself. Should I try and unlearn it? Can I retrain my gut reaction?
Fantasy sounds easier.
I’d rather just press repeat.