I reach the top of the stairs, breathing heavily. No matter how many times I come here, the five-story climb kicks my ass. As usual, after buzzing me in, he left the door partially open, and the sweet smell of marijuana and tobacco waft out. I push the door open and holler, “Ha-lloo!” – Even after more than a year here in Berlin, all I have perfected in speaking German is the sing-song hello of the Berliner. He comes to the door naked (he is always naked) and smiling that ridiculous crooked grin of his as he kisses me in greeting.
I watch his long, lithe body and skinny ass head back to the couch and settle in. His eyes watch me appreciatively as I come into the flat, lay my bag down, and start to undress as well. That’s a rule here. Everyone is naked. There are so few rules in our relationship, and this is an easy one to follow. Once disrobed, I climb onto the wide couch next to him. It is so big that it comfortably fits us both laying side-by-side. I sit on the edge next to Stefan and tuck into the meal he brought home and laid out for us before I arrived.
The comfortable, easy feelings I have now when arriving for our dates is a strong contrast to the first time I came for a visit. A naked man greeting you at the door on your second date is intimidating enough, but the first time I got all the way in, I wasn’t so sure this whole thing was going to be my cup of tea.
The flat, while only two rooms, is a traditional Berlin Altbau, which means the ceilings are incredibly high, making even a small space feel cavernous. The room was lit only by the light of his 50-inch flat-screen TV and red candles in black candelabras, both on the floor and in black wrought iron sconces on the walls. He had covered the massive couch with an animal print. The whole thing felt like a 70’s porn scene. A real shiver of fear and curiosity went through me when I saw the giant black leather sex-swing hanging in a place of prominence in the room.
I tried so hard to keep my eyes from returning again and again to the enormous metal chains holding it to the ceiling and the small crop and feather implements hanging off the sides. What had I gotten myself into? (And somewhere in the depths of my mind, I not only asked myself, “what had I gotten myself into” but, “how can I get into that swing?”)
He gently reminded me of the no clothes rule. However, since it was my first time in his apartment, he was kind enough to allow for my shyness, and I kept my bra and panties on as I looked around the rest of the flat. I quickly scanned the bedroom; it lacks a door and is located directly off the living room. It’s only as wide as the bed that completely fills the space to the left, with room enough for shelves that fill the wall to the right. I can’t help but notice the hooks with handcuffs hanging from the wall, a blindfold casually thrown on the bed, and the tiny black lacy panties hanging from the ceiling light. The kitchen, off the other side of the room, is small, compact, and dirty, like only a busy bachelor’s kitchen, can be.
We finally settled onto the couch, and I sat next to him while he smoked a bong. As I looked at the table in front of me, I noticed bottles of lube and various oils mixed in with marijuana paraphernalia. He offered me a hit. I blushed in the face of this question and his obvious assumption that I could smoke from a bong. I felt embarrassed explaining to this uber-cool, cosmopolitan German guy that I couldn’t inhale. The only way I could really smoke weed then was to have someone exhale into my mouth. The embarrassment was only compounded by the fact that he was sitting naked next to me on his couch, and we hadn’t yet kissed.
But in true Stefan style, he took my inability in stride. With his next hit, he leaned in, motioned for me to move closer, placed his left hand on my thigh, pursed his lips, and blew gently into my mouth. I inhaled both the smoke and as much of him as I could—a very heady combination.
I took a moment to really look at him. He’s tall and lean with ropey muscles. Some of his tattoos are faded and reveal skin that is well lived in. He confidently sports a pseudo comb-over; with his hair shaved short on the sides and a long flop of thinning dark blond hair hangs down the middle or falls off to one side. His five o’clock shadow has hit 8 o’clock. He has a lopsided grin and lovely straight teeth. I reached out and touched his hairy chest (he is very fuzzy). The bars pierced through each of his nipples made me want to touch them and see what would happen next, but that would be too bold. I couldn’t make the advance, not this time.