Paul Leroux had a dream lover —mesmerizing, magnetic and memorable — for three years. And he’s kind enough to share the secrets that made that relationship work.
Meet Vincent—mesmerizing, magnetic, memorable, and (in memory) forever mine.
His name has been changed, of course, to maintain his privacy. But the man I call Vincent was (and is) very real.
Looking at early photographs of him, you might consider him an unlikely candidate for a future sex god. He looks at least a decade less than his actual age, more like a callow young lad than a man of mature years. There is, as yet, no hint of the masterful person he would become. He was on the cusp of fifty when I met him, and that’s when he hit his stride.
Our association was relatively brief, a mere three years. But, almost 15 years later, I still hear his voice and see his face in dreams, and he lives and breathes in an entire body of my literary work. He has been the direct and immediate inspiration for most of my poetry and short fiction.
During our time together, I gleaned a few inklings of Vincent’s inner workings that made his achievements as a lover even more remarkable. For one thing, he was very shy, intensely private. I was not privy to all aspects of his life. He drew a veil over some areas, and I respected his wishes.
He suffered hearing loss in both ears, which probably accentuated his shyness, and might have made him prone to withdraw from the company of others. On the contrary, he learned to overcome that shyness by forcing himself into social situations—not least of which was a career in teaching.
He was a tall man. At 6’4″, he stood head and shoulders over most guys in a crowded room. I’m willing to bet that his height was a disadvantage to him as a gangly teenager, yet another factor contributing to the shy side of his nature.
From what I’ve said about Vincent so far, you might be inclined to be skeptical about my assertion that he was an unforgettable lover. But, right from the very first moment of our relationship, he set the tone for what was to come.
I had no idea, when I entered my favorite bar one September night in 1994, that my life was about to change forever. I certainly never expected kismet with the tall, darkly good-looking fellow who happened to cross my path.
It has been my experience that most gays fail to look other men in the eyes. The fleeting, sidelong glance seems to be our stock in trade when cruising for sex or searching for love. We eschew the direct approach, perhaps afraid to commit too much and too soon to what might only be a one-night stand.
But not Vincent. Not only did he gaze into my eyes, but he pierced into the inner recesses of my being. In the movie Avatar, the highest compliment one Naavi can pay to another is to say, “I see you.” Vincent had learned and mastered the art of making others feel recognized, validated as human beings—really and truly seen.
Vincent went further than that. He rested his hand on my shoulder, bare that night in denim overalls without a T-shirt. He thus established a connection that was intimate, yet not overtly physical, heavy with sexual overtones or connotations.
And he spoke to me, just a simple hello, but far more than the majority of gay men would be prepared to exchange with a stranger. So, from our first meeting, I felt the beginnings of a bond between us, and he left me ravenous for more.
I readily admit that I followed him around shamelessly that night, wanting him to notice and “see” me again, as no one had done before. I got my wish. He came home with me when the bar closed at two o’clock in the morning. Thus began a regular series of meetings that spanned the next three years.
It is not my intention to discuss the intimate details of our being together. It is not his know-how or technique that matters here, but his attitude and approach.
In the Broadway musical of the same name, Evita sings, “I’m not talking about a hurried night, a frantic tumble, then a shy goodbye, creeping home before it gets too light…” Those lines could describe many a gay tryst, and certainly my own innumerable casual encounters over the course of a lifetime.
But Vincent was slow, thoughtful, deliberate, gradual in his build-up, raising me to a crescendo, a fever pitch of intensity. He was considerate, too, meeting my needs before his. Each of our times together was like an endlessly repeated yet endlessly varied ritual mating dance.
Not surprisingly, I began looking eagerly forward to the next time, then fondly remembering what had transpired between us. In this way, my entire existence became highly eroticized. Those hours spent with Vincent became my whole past, present and future.
Such was my state of heightened arousal when with him that, on one occasion, I trembled from head to foot without our bodies even connecting. We stood face to face in a crowded bar, with an infinitesimal yet infinite distance between us. The anticipation of his touch alone was enough to set me afire.
Those nearby acknowledged the intensity of our closeness. They moved away, leaving a wide swath around us. Whether alone or in a public setting, it was always just Vincent and me. No one else mattered when we were in each other’s company.
Our connection was not solely and purely physical. Vincent appealed to every facet of my nature. He possessed not just my body, but my heart, mind and soul. He encouraged me to open up to him emotionally as no one had ever done. The result was a steady flow, an outpouring, of love sonnets and erotic short fiction.
Even in my second (unpublished) novel, Shielded in My Armor, our relationship is transmuted, as if by medieval alchemy, into the yearning of a page, a squire, for the exalted knight he humbly serves.
How many can say they have served as muse to a writer? How many can say they have been immortalized in story and verse? Only a truly special person can stake that claim, and Vincent was indeed such a man.
The Greeks told the story of Semele, one of the many lovers of Zeus, who begged to see him in all his divine Olympian glory. The sight was too much for her. She was consumed in flames.
So it is with all great loves and grand passions. It is beyond the limited capacity of mere mortals to know perfect happiness in this life that does not someday come to an end, or wane and ebb in its intensity. After three years, Vincent and I parted company and went our separate ways.
But memory endures and persists, long after the thrill of physical sensation has subsided. I am no longer 40 but 55. Time and distance have interposed themselves between Vincent and me. But, when I least expect it, his deep slow voice makes itself heard, and those piercing eyes make themselves felt, in my nightly dreams.
So what makes a lover like Vincent truly memorable and utterly unforgettable.
It has nothing to do with outward appearance, with chiseled features, a gym-trained body, six-pack abs. Vincent was no slouch in the looks department, not by a long shot. But he wasn’t male-model handsome, either.
On the other hand, he made me feel beautiful. He called me “beautiful dreamer”, in the words of an old song, and once told me, “I miss that look you get when you look at me.” That was music to the ears of someone like me, dealing with issues surrounding body image and self-esteem.
When we were together, I never felt Vincent wished he was somewhere else, or with someone else. He focused unwaveringly on how we interacted with each other. For the space of an evening, nothing and no one existed on the face of the planet, only us two.
He shared little about himself, but he was receptive to all I had to share. Everything I “knew” about him, I extrapolated from things he said and did. Everything I felt about him, I poured into my writing. Everything he knew about me, he drew from the depths of my soul.
How can you be a dream lover, the one they can’t and won’t ever forget? Do what Vincent did. Gay or straight, you can learn a lot from his unique way of being with a partner.
Remember Shakespeare’s advice in The Merchant of Venice: “Tell me, where is fancy bred? In the heart or in the head? How begot, how nourished? Reply, reply. It is engendered in the eye…”
Make the object of your affections feel truly seen, recognized, validated. Have eyes (and ears) only for him or her. Focus your whole and undivided attention on what he or she has to say.
Make him or her feel beautiful, inwardly if not outwardly. Encourage your lover to express his or her thoughts and feelings. Value and cultivate his or her unique talents. Be his or her muse, as Vincent was to me.
Take time to build your relationship, both emotionally and sexually. Savour every moment of your intimacy together, instead of rushing headlong toward some hoped-for climax.
Use your sense of touch to inflame your lover’s desire, until he or she craves that touch so much that its absence causes a delicious and delightful ache.
Be fully present to your lover. Be each other’s one and only. Don’t let your eyes or your thoughts ever wander astray.
It doesn’t matter if you are not Adonis, if you are innately shy, if (like Moses) you are slow of tongue and slow of speech. Vincent overcame each and every one of these seeming obstacles, and so can you.
I guarantee that, if you do as Vincent did, you will become to your lover what he was, and still is, to me: my body’s constant yearning and my heart’s undying desire, long years after the last hours we spent together.