Essayeurs were men employed Parisian brothels. They would touch the girls, feel them in front of potential clients. This sexual attention excited the punters to engage in sexual activities with the prostitutes themselves.
I stand with a friend who is single. I stand between them and the one that they desire. I know this to be true. It is some intimacy divulged to me in private, or a hunch. I have read the body language and I know that the consummation of a passion is imminent if things fall the right way. I find myself flirting with the object of his affection. I pour my attention on her. I am leading by example. This is a habit I have that I have little control over. It happens more often with someone that I like. I find myself becoming the conduit between them, the essayeur, exciting the object of my desire by showing him the way forward in this instance. Sometimes in dreams I am the one who provides foreplay. I see myself beginning to arouse the desired woman, stepping away to let the man that I desire find his place where I had been.
I am not quite sure that I understand the reason for this. Am I being kind? Leading the way, delivering my desired person to their pleasure, or am I setting myself up to be the one who is ultimately rejected. This behaviour is troubling but it is repeated, a pattern that I am swept up in. The essayeur who shrugs into his coat and leaves the client to enjoy the spoils whilst I trudges homeward in the cold and dark.