Although he claims that punk rock saved him from becoming a science fiction geek, he reveals to me over dinner that he wishes he was 10 years younger, so that he could have listened to Morrissey in high school like I did. Of course he doesn't really mean Morrissey, he means the Smiths; but I don't correct him.

I'm here because I'm infatuated by his weird, shy reticence, his inability to talk about himself except in the most abstract terms. For instance, what does it mean when he says he wishes he could have had Morrissey instead of punk rock? If punk saved him from science fiction, what would the Smiths have saved him from?

Walking back to his apartment, we hold hands. Although this is strictly a fuckbuddy relationship -- we've already agreed not to get emotionally involved -- he wants to do things like cuddle in public. I put my arm around his waist and think about how his skinniness feels like profound physical fragility. I probably weigh more than he does.

Suddenly he blurts out, "You know that Morrissey song where he says, 'Call me morbid, call me pale, I spent six years on your trail'? That's my favorite."

He could certainly be described as morbid and pale. I have no idea about the "six years on your trail" part. Maybe he's obsessed with some woman from his past. I have to squelch a sudden rush of jealousy.

Now we're in his living room surrounded by his eccentric collection of books, posters, and 1950s kitsch objects. We're almost naked. He's announced that he's putting several Morrissey CDs in the auto-changer. It occurs to me that he does seem much more like a Smiths fan than a punk rocker. Perhaps that's why he became a writer instead of a musician.

Morrissey is crooning the song he mentioned on our walk --

Sixteen, clumsy and shy
That's the story of my life

-- and we're pressed together on the sofa, kissing endlessly. We're about to go into his bedroom and fuck. His lips are unbelievably soft; in the time between kissing and fucking I have one of those melancholy time-travel moments where you wish you could stretch yourself back into someone's past and touch them, love them, reassure them, whatever. I imagine him 20 years younger, a teenager, and I'm trapped somewhere between tenderness and violent arousal. For days afterward, Morrissey is singing in my head.