“I never sleep with someone until they fall in love with me first,” said Akash simply. “I don’t kiss them or hug them either. I can’t. I tried pretending I had a leather fetish when I was in college. That way every part of my body was covered — it was one of those leather suits with the mask also you know, and a condom would take care of the rest … of the stuff … and then there would be no skin to skin contact … at least as long as you didn’t kiss — and I didn’t, at least after I figured out what was happening,” said Akash and paused, lost in a second’s thought. “But leather is not comfortable, man. And it gets tired also. You can’t always pretend to want to have outlandish fetishized sex. People crave normalcy more than the other stuff. Heck, I crave normalcy more than the other stuff and I am anything but normal.”
“I know what you’re thinking. It’s not a curse, it’s a blessing, right? If you could make someone fall in love with you just by touching them, heck, you would be the happiest person alive. Either you would have a happy family or you would be sleeping with all the women you laid your eyes on. Either way, you’d be king of the world, right? No, you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t be happy. Love doesn’t work like that. People don’t love you like you want to be loved. They love you like they want to love. That means your aunt abuses you when you’re five, because that’s how she shows ‘love’. It means your best friend falls in love with you and gets very confused because he’s not gay. It’s how you get a stalker when you’re just casually dating in college. But the worst is when it’s a normal person, a nice person, a person you could actually see yourself ending up with — then you’re thinking are they in love with me because of what I am or because of who I am.”
“Because love fades — at least romantic love fades, and I seem to only be able to induce romantic love. It’s never forever and undying and surmounting of all odds and evils — no matter what the films try to brainwash us with. So when that’s gone, will she leave me? Depends on whether she liked me in the first place. But I can’t afford to find out ten years later. I need to know before it gets serious. And so I can’t touch her. And I’ll be honest with you. That makes relationships and dating hard. I wear gloves sometimes so that we can hold hands. I pretend to be a slight germaphobe — that’s the other thing … you can’t come off as being too paranoid or finicky either. I always wear full sleeved clothes. You should see my wardrobe. It’s a nightmare during summertime.”
“So, anyway, I guess I am saying all of this because … I have a date later tonight. Our fifteenth-ish. And I think it’s getting serious, but I don’t want to mess it up. If I kiss her tonight, it’ll seal the deal but I am not completely sure if we’re there yet. I feel like we are, but if she isn’t then I’ll just have messed it up. But if I wait too long and don’t make a move, she might lose interest or think something’s off. And I obviously can’t tell her any of this. She would just think I was a psycho,” Akash said and then gave a soft sigh before continuing.
“Anyway, that’s what’s been weighing on my mind. Thanks for letting me share!”
Akash sat down back. There was soft applause as about a dozen people sitting in chairs in a circle clapped their hands.
A woman with the clipboard sitting across from Akash spoke up. “Thanks, for sharing Akash! I hope you are able to figure it out. And we are here for you whenever you want to talk.” She looked around the room. “Samaira, do you want to go next?”
Samaira nodded and got up. “Hi everybody. I am Samaira and I am an Anomaly …”
* * *