It is the disappointment that brings it back to you. You have failed, and all the failures of your life are there alongside this one. All successes fade and are impossible to remember. The times that you have shot the goal for the opposing team; executed the wrong throw and failed to move up to the next coloured belt; the telephone that did not work on stage during that scene, that terrible scene whilst you were stage managing.
This time you did everything you could to make it work. You cared too much. You lugged chairs, laboured over posters, you read and read, even the books of his that you didn't really like. You listened to podcasts of his voice and refined questions to a perfect pitch. You lost sleep. All that sleep. You wanted this event to be the best event. You wanted to relax into a quiet drink with him after it all, perhaps a meal, a chat, you wanted to give him a copy of your book despite the fact that you are nowhere near his stature. You put too much emphasis on it's perfection and it failed. Not miserably, but enough to deflate you. Enough to make you remember the worst headjob in the world.
This was something you prided yourself on. You once were on your knees before a lover who appreciated your attentions enough to dampen the roof with his sperm. It is something you have always done without forethought. You are orally fixated. Something in your mouth and your body takes the trip from there. It has always been something you do for your own pleasure first. He is superfluous.
So long ago now, but such a monumental failure of performance slinks up beside you onto the stage. Beside the inadequate sound system and the stifling lack of air conditioning and the complaints of the women in the back row. You will remember this always, this thing you wanted too much. The prize. The ultimate fulfillment of longing.
There would not be any other penetration. You had resigned yourself to that. He was only half invested in the act, and that half vaguely distracted by other potential lovers more suited to his needs. He allowed you, reluctantly to take him into your mouth. This sad fact gnawing at you, the pressure to make it the best headjob in the world, the impossible hope that your expert skill your pheromones, your good heart and your need of him would somehow make his need for you match your own. He didn't want you. You knew this from the first moment, the kiss which should have been a kiss to hold up in the dark and find your way by. The going-through-the-motions as he sucked your breasts from your bra. You, sad and regretting from the very first, but losing yourself at intervals because this is what you had wanted. This is what you had dreamed of.
You take him into your mouth and you could sob because there is no scent of need from him. He lies back into his take-it-or-leave it and you have suddenly forgotten the dance steps. Here is a penis in your mouth. Your brain takes over from your body and you try to move in the way that other men have enjoyed, you try to suck as he wants you to suck but there is such a bitter sadness and you can taste it in the back of your palate and perhaps you have touched him with your teeth because he has flinched, and you must abandon the project, salvage something of your self esteem. And it is over. The worst headjob in the world is over. You have delivered it. There was nothing to show for it. He lifts your head away from himself. Abandoned. Such a sad sence of abandonment and all the abandonments with you here too. All the failures. All that leaving and being left.
You pack it carefully away in your subconscious. It remains intact for so long, although it feels like a handful of days when you step up onto the stage and field the questions for this author who is hot and bothered and less than grateful for your efforts with the chairs, the bruises that will flare up in the morning, the sweat and your sore muscles and the slow delivery of nightmares, dreams in which you fail to consummate. Dreams in which you are condemned to relive the pointless suckling, the thing you enjoy and you are good at under other circumstances, this failed event. This failure.
Let me do it one more time, you want to beg him. Let me try again. But he has moved on to someone else that pleases him more.
The author has stepped down off your podium and your failure is another bookshops success. Your bad event coordination is subsumed by the next grand event all air kisses and real pearl necklaces .
You lug the last of the chairs. Your ridiculous shoes. Your terrible hunt to find a dress that might impress him. Your failures held in your face like that awful deflating moment that you will remember, always. Your recurring nightmare.