"The Sambia people are a tribe of mountain-dwelling people whose society is well-known by cultural anthropologists for its ritualised acts of male homosexuality. Among their more widely-recounted practices are semen ingestion and oral-anal contact, especially between males of inter-generational age."
I scanned down the rest of the page and then through the remainder of the chapter. Nothing. There was plenty of information about ceremonial fellatio between the males of the tribe, and there was even a picture of a battered earthenware bowl showing, fairly unequivocally around its edge, men engaging in anal intercourse together, but there wasn't a single additional comment, note or reference on the fact that these tribes-people liked licking each other's butts.
I slammed the book closed and put it back on the shelf. I was getting nowhere here.
It had become clear that, while the internet was teeming with links on rimming, filtering out the snippets of potentially useful information from the myriad of spurious and pornographic websites was nigh on impossible. So I had decided to retrace the footsteps I'd left decades ago as a schoolboy and headed to the town library to research the subject using the simple sword of the card index and the trusty shield of the Dewey Decimal numbering system.
And yet the abundance of books on the shelves had proven to be equally frustrating. References to male-on-male rimming, although often tacitly and ambiguously worded, could be found in almost every section, especially in anthropological studies which had just been browsing. Even dear sweet Enid Blyton's back catalogue could throw up the occasional oblique reference to the practice ("From his vantage point, Julian could see Uncle Quentin and Mr Forbes skulking from the pantry, looking shamefaced and with their eyes darting around furtively. The stains around his uncle's mouth were, he observed, patently not chocolate").
However, I wasn't interested in finding out that the practice existed - I was well aware that it did. Nor even that it was enjoyed between men from all walks of life and of all sexual persuasions. I had, after all, discovered without very much room for doubt that such an interest existed in myself, and I was just about as average a guy as you could hope to find.
What I wanted to know was what could entice heterosexual men to do such a thing to one another. It was on that point - an extremely pertinent point from my perspective - that I was drawing a definitive blank.
Seeing my frustration, the librarian, a tall dark-haired man who I'd noticed watching me for a while, walked over and asked if he could help.
"I'm doing a bit of research," I said vaguely, loath to reveal the topic which I could imagine a man in his position being appalled by. Smiling, I added, "I... er... don't seem to be getting very far."
I noticed his name on his badge. Silas P Langley. Chief Librarian.
"The card index is a bit out of date," he said, glancing at the list of numerical shelf locations I was working my way through. "All the books we've bought recently - from about 2002, actually - are only recorded on the computer system."
His voice was a little camp and that, coupled with the way he was fiddling with his tie for some reason, gave me the impression he was probably gay. Perhaps the topic of my research might not be so surprising to him. He might well have nuzzled his face between the occasional pair of buttocks himself.
"Each book has been scanned, so you can search them for specific words or phrases," he went on helpfully. "That might speed things up a bit."
"I assumed I had to be a member to be able to log on...?"
"Not at all." He added, with a rather pointed smirk, "I operate a policy of open access."
I'm sure you do, I thought.
"Well, that's very helpful. Thank you," I said.
"What is it that you're researching?" he asked. "Perhaps I can point you in the right direction to... you know... get you started off...?"
The sly look on his face made me wonder whether I was being hit on.
"It's... er... for my son," I lied. I didn't like to drag Jake into this but I felt the guy needed to know that I had managed to father offspring, albeit a few years ago, and so was likely to be straight. In spite of my fledgling interest in certain anatomical areas of my own gender, I was far from ready to be chatted up by a gay guy.
"It's for his... sociology project," I went on, fully aware that sociology was the last subject Jake would ever study. "It's about sexual tastes and... er... why people are drawn towards certain... well... practices."
"Which practices in particular?" he asked with a half-smirk and one eyebrow raised. I wondered how long he'd spent in front of a mirror perfecting such an expressive look.
"Homosexual practices," I answered, hoping to knock the wind out of his insinuatory sails with my directness.
He nodded, his smirk broadening a little and his eyebrow arching a little higher. He didn't seem at all thrown by my admission; if anything he seemed encouraged by it.
I wondered if perhaps this is how gay men flirt together.
"That's still quite a wide net to cast," he said, softening his expression into a smile. "Can you be more specific?"
"I think my son was asked to look into certain... er... taboo practices. Acts which were, at the time, culturally unacceptable... and... er... what motivates men to do that kind of stuff."
He nodded, still smiling. "I think the history section would make a good hunting ground." I followed him over to the right area and he pulled out a large volume from one of the shelves.
"Why don't you have a look through this," he suggested, "and I'll see what else the computer can drum up."
"I don't want to take up your time," I said, after thanking him. "You probably have a lot of other things to do."
"It's no problem," he said with a rather affected flick of his eyebrows and handed me the book. "In any case, we're pretty quiet today."
As he walked back towards his desk in the reception area, I noticed that his backside was nicely muscular - no doubt the result of an exercise regime far stricter than I could ever keep to - and I momentarily considered where flirting back with him might lead.
The book he'd given me had the snappy title, "British Sexual Offences during the Late Victorian Era: 1872-1901". It was primarily a collection of court proceedings from around the country, most of which concerned young women who had been caught soliciting. There was, however, a whole section summarising "Offences between Men" and it was to this that I turned after I had taken the book over to one of the reading desks, complete in time-honoured tradition with its own green-shaded lamp.
Leafing through the cases, it seemed that most of them were for what were referred to 'unnatural crimes' between apparently consenting men who had had the misfortune to have been witnessed indulging in surreptitious sexual encounters. While the details of their ill-fated trysts were usually unforthcoming, the tone of the accounts being condemning rather than descriptive, I was interested to discover whether any of these unfortunates had been caught rimming, and, if they had, what on earth the incredulous judiciary of the day would have made of men committing such an act together.
The accused in these pages came from professions as diverse as blacksmiths, soldiers, cigar-makers and coffee-shop proprietors, as well as solicitors and men of the cloth. Their brief unions seemed to have been formed with complete disregard of the strict class codes of the time: a school master had been caught with a coachman; a village rector with a butcher's apprentice. Often the men were punished for their 'indecent and abominable conduct' together and it was time and again noted in the court summaries that the facts of their cases were 'unfit for publication'.
But not always.
Occasionally the surviving records were rather more lurid and sometimes there were just enough tantalising details for me to recognise that occasionally - very occasionally - the men had been witnessed indulging in acts substantially more intimate than plain old buggery.
I found a case from the Central Criminal Court of two men who had committed what was described as an 'infamous crime'. One of the men was a labourer called William Beevers, the other a soldier serving in the Scots Fusilier Guards. The shameful deed had taken place in the overcrowded terraced house in which Beevers was a lodger, part of a long-since demolished and redeveloped area of London near Westminster. It had been witnessed by 'a very respectably dressed woman named Mary-Ann Piper' who was a fellow lodger in the house.
Mrs Piper had been asked by the landlady to sit up late to make sure that another lodger, a man with the wonderfully Dickensian name of Theophilus Craze, did not abscond from the house without paying his rent. She had positioned herself on the landing between the first and second floors but had not seen Craze, him having retired to his room and presumably gone to bed. Instead, late at night, she had heard Beevers let himself into the house accompanied by the guardsman, and had crept to the top of the stairs to see them down below in the hallway behaving towards each other in manner which she described as 'very indecent'. They had then gone to the back kitchen and had closed the door behind them while the intrepid Mrs Piper had tiptoed downstairs to listen in on their 'lewd conversation'.
Eager to assure herself of what was taking place between the men, she had peered through the keyhole and had seen the labourer committing an 'abominable act' on the soldier. She had then crept back upstairs to the landlady's chambers and had told her what was happening, only to return to the scene of the crime in time to hear the tinkle of a few coins being given to the soldier before he departed the house.
When questioned in court about what exactly she had seen, Mrs Piper had replied simply that it was 'the thing which a woman will not do to a man'. This piqued my interest. Clearly, she could not be referring to sodomy because surely a woman cannot, rather than will not, do that to a man, no matter how adept and versatile she is. I wondered whether Mrs Piper could have been of such a delicate disposition that she might regard oral sex as beyond the faculties of a woman. Or, for that matter, masturbation.
I read on, intrigued.
Mrs Piper had been asked whether the soldier had found the act which was being performed on him agreeable. She had replied that she could not tell because he had been turned away from her and she could only see that 'his britches were hitched down at the rear'. Beevers, however - who she could see very clearly - had been in a state of 'some agitation'.
She had then been asked to more specific about which parts of the labourer she could see through the keyhole. "His face", she had replied, "in all its sinfulness... doing that which any godly person would find deplorable. And his lower part in his hand... so appallingly inflamed."
At that point the judge, Chief Justice Levene, had declared that the matter should be thrown out of court and ordered that neither man's record should be tarnished by these allegations. There was, he decreed, "no evidence of sexual impropriety which warrants retribution by this court, but merely an inappropriate choice of setting on the part of Mr Beevers to express the unfathomable curiosities which nature saw fit to endow him with". Case dismissed.
I read the passage twice to make sure I had fully understood its meaning. The judge was basically saying that if the labourer had been seen penetrating the soldier, he'd have banged them both up. But he was not prepared to accept that rimming - which was, I assumed, what the meddlesome Mrs Piper had been alluding to - was a homosexual act. What he'd said suggested he regarded it as a natural biological impulse between men; an innate urge which was so distasteful it could not even be openly discussed, but which it would not, nevertheless, be appropriate to punish.
Chief Justice Levene had been, I suspected, a man very much after my own heart.
It didn't answer my question as to why men were drawn to do such things to one another, but it was fascinating to discover that at least one judge was sufficiently enamoured with the practice to be able to rule, even within the deeply repressive atmosphere of a Victorian court, that it did not warrant punishment.
I flicked through the rest of the section and found only one case which was in any way comparable. This involved a cab driver and a gentleman who had been caught together in a 'shocking position' in the alleyway behind a public house. Two female witnesses had attested to the 'vileness' of the gentleman's conduct as he "knelt low to indulge himself behind the driver who had assisted him by lowering his attire". And yet, as with the case of the labourer and the soldier, the case had ended with neither man being punished.
I glanced back up to the top of the page. Chief Justice Levene had, once again, been the presiding judge.
Silas the Chief Librarian interrupted me with a printout of a few further books which matched my enquiry.
"Has that one proven useful?" he asked.
I shook my head. "It gives examples but it doesn't explain why men are compelled to do this kind of stuff. In a way, the danger of incurring so severe a punishment makes it even more curious as to why some men were still willing to take the risk."
He smiled. "I suppose, the more intense the sense of gratification, the greater the gamble someone will take to achieve it."
"At the risk of death? Capital punishment was still routinely meted out for some of these crimes at this time."
"Homosexual sex has, it would seem, an appeal which exceeds such concerns."
I smiled. "It must be pretty good, huh?"
He grinned at me. "I've heard it has its own... singular charms."
"The question I'm trying to find an answer to," I explained, trying to steer things back to the task in hand, "is whether there's a natural desire in all men to experience physical intimacy with one another. That's the crux of it."
"You mean, that's the question your son is trying to find an answer to," the librarian corrected me with a smirk.
"That's right," I agreed, feeling my cheeks colour a little. My ears have a tendency to turn scarlet at such times. "My son... yes, of course."
The librarian looked down his list and drew a cross next to the name of one of the books. "You could try this one. The author comes across a bit pompous at times, but he tries to answer questions about why people are attracted to certain things."
"Have you read it yourself?"
He shook his head. "I've only flicked through it. It's quite a popular book for guys who are... well... struggling with certain issues."
He threw me a knowing look and I realised he thought that's what I was. I had to admit that I was indeed struggling with certain issues, but not the ones he was probably thinking of.
Nevertheless, I went over and found a copy of the book he'd suggested and took it back to the lamp-lit reading desk to leaf through it.
The author, Thomas Franklin, was an American doctor and a long list of letters denoting his various qualifications followed his name on the cover of the book. I wondered if that was a good sign.
I glanced down the contents page and went straight to the section entitled, "Why are some men gay?"
Disregarding the first half of the chapter in which he spouted his views about the genetic and cultural bases of homosexuality, I was drawn to the subheading, "Gay men and anal sex."
Maybe there'd be something useful here.
First off, though, he seemed to be of the view that all gay men practised anal sex. I was sure that wasn't true: there'd been an item about it on 'Embarrassing Bodies' on Channel Four. The immaculately coiffed presenter - who'd seemed like the kind of guy who would know about such things - had said that some gay men don't enjoy anal sex in either role and instead prefer an eroticism centred on each other's penises. He'd had a name for it but I couldn't remember what it was.
Nevertheless, I read what Thomas Franklin MD FCFP MRCS MB BCh BAO thought about why gay men supposedly find bottoms so deeply erogenous.
"The fetishization of the male rear is the gay variant of the heterosexual male's fascination with feminine curvaceousness. The voluptuous shape of a full pair of buttocks, especially in younger men, is directly comparable to the rounded swell of a woman's bosom. Indeed, the potent sexual appeal of the breast-like shape, inherently found in males of all cultures, is intensified in gay men by the inclusion of the anus between the buttocks - a hole which lends itself with relative ease to penile penetration."
That's all very well and good, I thought, and it certainly helps to explain how my interest in women's breasts has been so effortlessly widened to include a fascination with other men's backsides, but it doesn't even begin to enlighten me as to why I'm attracted to putting my face down there.
I read on.
"American gay culture seeks to beautify the male rear and glossy magazines targeted at young gay men depict models flaunting their buttocks, and sometimes their anuses, in overtly provocative poses. Such a focus on the male behind as a breast-substitute and thus an object of sexual titillation has had the effect of promoting many gay men to experiment with the practice of analingus."
Analingus? The 'anal' part must obviously refer to the anus and 'lingus' part - if my schoolboy Latin served me correctly - to the tongue. I figured the guy must mean rimming.
"In this, the heterosexual male's natural desire to stimulate the breasts of a woman with his mouth and tongue is transferred in the gay male to equivalent practices using his partner's backside. Some men prefer generalised oral contact with the whole buttock region in a direct mirroring of the heterosexual norm, while others prefer to lick the anus itself in a more specialised and uniquely-homosexual variant."
Uniquely-homosexual my arse, I thought, and then smirked at my unintended pun.
But seriously, this guy had no idea what he was talking about. He clearly had no concept about what was so exciting about the taste and smell of a man down there. About what made it so arousing, even to a straight guy like me who had never previously thought my own gender in a sexual way.
I scanned down the rest of the section to see if he mentioned anything relevant to men like me, but he just kept labouring the point about the backside being the gay version of a woman's breasts.
I wasn't buying it. If I wanted to work my mouth over a pair of breasts, surely I'd direct all my efforts into a finding a woman who'd let me. I would hardly go sniffing around another bloke's arse to see if it was workable as a substitute.
No. This guy was way off the mark.
I looked up and saw the Silas the Chief Librarian peering over the desk lamp at me.
"I can see from your face that one wasn't any good," he said.
"Not hugely, no." I passed him his list back. "Are there any others on here which might be better?"
He ignored the list and handed me a book he'd found using the computer search.
"Try this one," he suggested. "This book was cited about half a dozen times using the keywords I put in."
"Oh, you know," he said, grinning rather salaciously. "Homoeroticism... clandestine pleasures... secretive male encounters... things like that. Just the kind of keywords to get the computer's juices flowing..."
And not just the computer's, I thought.
"That was very... er... inventive of you."
"No problem," he smirked. "Once you get going, such things just sort of roll off the tongue, don't you find?"
I smiled. This guy really was out to get me.
"I can't say I've had a lot of experience..."
He raised his eyebrows before suggesting, "Well, perhaps you're about to make a few discoveries..."
How far was I prepared to go along with this? Was I really interested in this guy? I realised that there was a distinct possibility that my visit to the library could give my research a far more - how should I put it - participative direction.
I glanced down at the book, playing along with his banter. "Perhaps I am," I smiled. "Let's see if I can come across an interesting passage..."
He beamed at me. "Well, if you need any more help... you know, a hand with something, or whatever... I'll be over at the desk." And then he walked back over to the reception area, his arse flexing most invitingly in the back of his trousers as he did so.
He was making it quite clear that he was interested in me sexually, and I wondered again what would happen if I were to be more direct in my reciprocation. Might this really be an opportunity for me to see how it would feel to get sexual with another man? Might he let me rim him so that I could see if I was as excited by doing it to him as I had been with Guy? Not here, of course, but maybe we could meet up later, after he finished work...?
It might be risky to approach a gay man for such a thing: he'd be far more practised than me and might expect me to do things with him that I wasn't comfortable with. Even worse, he might seek commitment from me that I wouldn't be prepared to give.
On the other hand, though, his experience and knowledge could prove invaluable in helping to answer the questions that were currently troubling me. Better still, he'd almost certainly be no stranger to the pleasures of rimming and would probably enjoy having a novice experimenting on him. And with the arse he was showing off, it looked like I'd be in for rather a treat.
While I mulled it over, I looked through the book he'd given me. It was by a female author called Carolyn Ashbrook and purported to cover all aspects of sexuality.
Finding both 'rimming' and 'analingus' absent from the index, I instead took up the trail leading from 'anal sex' and turned to the relevant pages.
Ms Ashbrook explained that, in her view, we find other people's buttocks attractive because they provide an indication that they will make worthwhile partners if we're in the mood for baby-making.
"In humans, fat on the breasts advertises reproductive health," she wrote, "and available resources for pregnancy and nursing. In other primates, the buttocks have also been recruited as billboards for this advertising function with males as well as females attracting mates by displaying their rears as indicators of their fertility."
Tell me something I don't know, I thought. Jake and I had watched a Robert Winston documentary about this very subject a few years ago. (I'd found it painfully embarrassing to have so many nude bodies paraded on TV in front of my son. Jake, however, had insisted I didn't change channels; it wasn't every night he got the chance to ogle a succession of breasts under the pretence of it being for educational reasons.)
I glanced further on through the chapter.
"Some men enjoy not only anal penetration but facial contact with the buttock area and sometimes with the anus itself."
Ah, here we go.
"The pleasure in such activities, like enjoyment of exhibitionism discussed earlier, is derived entirely from its negative connotations. As humans we have been taught to be ashamed or embarrassed about our anuses and so the act of having intimate contact with that area of another person challenges this psychological taboo. Doing something which society has condemned as disgusting and humiliating brings its own titillating appeal. The added fact that putting one's face close to another person's bottom has a bestial connotation - dogs, to name just one example, sniff each other's backsides - no doubt serves to enhance the excitement of participants."
It seemed I had finally unearthed a plausible explanation as to why rimming might appeal to me. I liked it because, in effect, I wasn't supposed to like it. I was - quite simply - being contrary.
It was an attractive suggestion, but it seemed over-simplistic and too convenient. Had such thoughts passed through my mind when I nuzzling into Guy's undercarriage? Had I been thinking about how... well... 'naughty' I was being? Was that what had excited me?
I didn't think it was that straightforward.
I put the book down and looked over at the reception area. Silas the Chief Librarian was behind the desk, bending over a chair to look at something on the computer and showing off that very attractive backside of his.
As if drawn towards him like a wasp towards a pot of jam, I wandered over to the desk.
He glanced up at me as if he had expected me to appear and smiled.
"Was that one any good?"
"It was interesting," I conceded, "and had a few ideas in it I hadn't really thought of. It's given me a few suggestions to... er... give my son."
"Ah... your son... that's right," he smirked, his voice laden with sarcasm.
He stood up and walked over to me.
"I've... er... a few more books out back," he quietly informed me. "In the storage area... maybe you'd be interested...?"
I nodded. I knew where this was headed, but hadn't expected him to be so up-front.
"Sounds good. Do you want me to watch the desk while you fetch them for me?" I asked with a look of affected innocence.
"I thought you might like to come out back and look for them with me...?" he smiled. "I'm sure the desk will survive being unmanned for a while."
I smiled back. Things might be the on verge of getting very interesting.
Did I really want this, I asked myself. What might I be getting myself into?
Before I could dissuade myself, I hastily replied, "Sounds good to me."
I followed him through a door behind the reception desk and down a short corridor. This opened out into a long narrow room tightly packed with storage shelves piled high with a disarray of books. It was much colder in here and the lighting was weak and cast long shadows.
He turned to face me, his back against the end of one of the shelves.
"We might not have long," he said. "Some old biddy is going to be calling down the corridor any minute now for me to check a Danielle Steel back in."
"So where should we start?" I asked.
"What exactly is it that you're after?"
"Whatever it is you have in mind," I offered.
He walked over to me and put his hand on the front of my trousers, found my flaccid penis through the material and raised his eyebrows, probably surprised by my generous size. Gently massaging it between his finger and thumb, he whispered, "Something like this?"
He continued rubbing at my organ, feeling it slowly stirring to life through my trousers, and smiled at me. "I knew you'd be up for it... the second I saw you!"
"I'm not sure that I am... I'm pretty new to this..."
He threw me a sceptical look and then smiled. "How about I show you the ropes, then?"
He grabbed my right hand and put it against the front of his own trousers. His cock, unlike mine, was already stiff but felt much smaller than mine was even in its softened state.
He held onto my wrist and worked my hand against his excitement, making slow masturbatory movements back and forth along his length.
"There," he whispered appreciatively, his breath hot against my face and smelling of stale coffee. "That's how you do it."
I wasn't sure I was enjoying this - it felt awkward to be so close to another man and touching his crotch like this - but I went along with it, enticed by the possibility that he might at some point turn around.
I worked up a steady rhythm on his organ, rubbing and squeezing it through his clothing, as he vainly tried to awaken mine by doing the same.
After a minute or so, he pushed my hand away and undid his belt and fly. Yanking down the front of his baggy boxer shorts, he pulled out his cock which arched upwards with its deep red head fully exposed. It was perfectly formed, but much smaller than those I was used to seeing. Perhaps I'd looked at too much porn and now had unrealistic expectations about what men kept in their underwear.
He put my hand back onto his cock and I wrapped my fingers around it. He directed me to make a jerking motion up and down it and muttered, "Yeah, that's it..."
On my side, my cock continued to refuse to co-operate. I quite liked the sensation of his fingers playing with me through my trousers, but not enough for me to become aroused by it.
Perhaps to try and stir my interest, or more likely for his own enjoyment, he pushed my head down towards his erection and commanded me to suck him.
Anticipating that this might give me a route towards his backside, just as it had with Guy, I complied and knelt down in front of him. I took him into my mouth and gentle tongued the head of his cock. It had a sharp, curious taste and oozed a warm dribble of salty liquid into my mouth.
He groaned in gratitude and grabbed my head, working himself in and out of my mouth as I sucked him.
I reached around and felt his backside. It was large and round: very inviting. That was where I wanted to be: right between his firm, meaty buttocks; not slurping away at his dick like some backstreet whore.
I hitched my thumbs over his belt and pulled the seat of his trousers down. He muttered something, perhaps in encouragement, and I went back up to do the same with his boxer shorts.
Now his backside was exposed, the skin silky smooth and the cheeks flexing in time with gentle thrusting of his cock into my mouth. I worked my fingertips into his cleft, feeling the coarse hairiness inside, and swept them up and down, becoming more excited by the alluring warmth of his crack and promise of what lay in store just out of reach.
He started jabbing himself more forcefully into my mouth, his breathing quickening, as I tried to pleasure him as best as I could.
I was more focussed on his bum: pushing my fingers deeper towards the prize I was yearning for and feeling myself slowly stiffen at the slight wetness I was finding as I closed in on it.
He pulled back from me and announced, "I want to suck your cock."
I stood up. "I don't know..." I was flattered that he'd ask but I'd never really enjoyed the sensation of a mouth around my organ.
"Come on," he asserted. "Pull down your trousers."
Jesus. For a camp guy he was surprisingly dominant.
"I don't want to do that," I said. "Like I said, I'm kind of new to this."
"Bullshit!" he snapped. "You're well up for it!"
He lunged towards me and I pushed him away. Was this really turning nasty? We were in a pretty isolated part of the library - if it came to it, could I take this guy? He was younger than me and quite well worked out, but with his trousers halfway down his thighs, I'd have the advantage of being more lithe.
He came back at me and tried to grab my waist. I slammed the palm of my hand into his sternum and forced him away from me.
This was getting far too physical for my liking. How on earth would I explain it if I were to emerge from my visit to the library with a black eye?
"I don't want you to suck me," I insisted, more firmly.
This time he held back. His cock was still erect; more or less undiscouraged.
"Okay," he said. "What do you want to do?"
I felt like I didn't really want to do anything now, other than make a bid for the doorway, but the prospect of him turning around and letting me taste him was still too potent for me to easily dismiss.
"I want to rim you."
"I want to rim you," I repeated.
Having never said the word 'rim' out-loud before, at least not in this context, I half-expected him to laugh in scorn and tell me nobody called it that or that I was pronouncing it completely wrong.
But he didn't. He just stared at me in surprise.
After a second or so, with his cock starting to droop, he asked, "Is that what this has all been about? You've had your eye on my arse?"
He seemed disgusted; as if I was asking him to participate in something obscene.
"I wouldn't say it's 'what this has all been about'... I mean, I was actually looking for a book... but yes, I'm only really interested in rimming."
"Oh God," he almost spat. "I know how to pick them."
"I thought you'd like the idea," I argued. "With you being... you know... gay..."
"Oh right - so you assume all gay men are into each other's arseholes?" he sneered, pulling up his shorts and then his trousers. "What you see in internet porn isn't necessarily an accurate depiction of what gay men really enjoy, you know..."
He did have rather a point.
"I just thought..." I stammered.
"There's a line to be drawn," he cut in, zipping himself up. "And I draw it a long way short of the brown hole. Sorry but what you're asking... ugh... there's no way I could ever do that."
I was going to point out that I was asking to do it to him but, as he seemed determined to draw our encounter to a close, I headed for the doorway which led back out to the corridor.
"Yeah," he said with satisfaction, as if he was propelling me from the library himself. "Get the hell out of here, you dirty sod."
"I'm going!" I snapped back. "There's no need to get abusive."
He finished doing up his belt and followed me back out in the reception area. An old woman was standing at the desk looking around for service but, as far as I could tell, she didn't have a Danielle Steel book with her.
As I was leaving through the double doors, I heard Silas the Chief Librarian greet the woman as if nothing had happened. "Good afternoon, Mrs Padbury! Isn't the weather awful! And what can we do for you today?"
I got outside and spent a few seconds recovering myself under a bus shelter which offered some protection from the cold October drizzle.
"Well, that went well," I thought to myself sardonically.
Clearly, I mused on the way home, rimming isn't as prolific among gay men as I'd assumed it to be. Hooking up with a gay guy wasn't necessarily going to give me a taste of what I was fantasising about; it might not, in fact, deliver anything more than a humiliating expulsion from a public building.
However, I'd learned a few snippets from the books Silas the Chief Librarian had shown me and so at least had come away with some clue as to the appeal of what had transpired to be a decidedly minority interest. I realised I had probably also come away with a lifelong ban from the town library, but... well... such is life.
Next story: Adam and Steve