Anxious he had started far too late to make peak condition for Independence week in Provincetown, Kayden began his preparations on January second with a seven-day juice purge to get his body ready for the rigorous regimen to follow. His ritual was as much mental as physical: he pledged to not even think of eating a slice of bread until mid-July at the earliest. “Carbs are your enemy,” his fitness and life coach constantly reminded him. “One bite of dessert can set you back a week,” his social media idols screamed. Food had always been his nemesis. Kayden had been pudgy in middle school and was forever scarred by having been teased for being overweight as a kid. Though he was no longer bullied in high school, he had been plain, ignored, and unwanted, and Kayden was convinced he would have had a better teenage experience if he had begun to work out at an earlier age.
Kayden only began to get buff in college when the dreaded freshman fifteen sent him to the gym. It took years to build the body he wanted, but by twenty-two he could finally look at himself naked in the mirror and like what he saw. Now five-ten and exactly one hundred and forty-two pounds with a thirty-inch waist, he looked perfectly okay for the winter. With upswept dark hair and deep blue eyes, he had a face that was naturally attractive, but that wasn’t good enough for the Cape in July. He had to be in the best shape possible, and he had only six months to drop seven pounds without losing any muscle.
He added three-a-week high intensity interval training sessions to his daily weightlifting in February, and his two-a-day workouts began in April. Kayden would get up at five for cardio before work and not return home until after eight to maximize his afterwork weight-training. Also starting in April, he addressed his lackluster weight loss by fasting twice a week. His efforts succeeded; by the end of June, he was ready to join ten thousand other similarly self-absorbed men in Ptown for a week of sybaritic partying. In a town of impossibly handsome men, Kayden turned heads as the best looking of them all.
No one knew how it started, but Fourth of July week in Provincetown had become a national event. Some called it circuit week though it wasn’t technically a circuit party because of its lack of around the clock dancing. Most called it twink week because of the abundance of thin, almost naked, smooth-bodied young men. Guys from all over the country came to Ptown to strut down the street wearing nothing but trendy sneakers and tiny bathing suits. They’d check each other out at Boy Beach at Herring Cove, parties, on the street, or in a club. They’d hook up with each other or perhaps not; many were always waiting for a hotter guy to fuck and some preferred rapt, but distant, admiration to sweaty, intimate sex. Giving up one of their two precious weeks of vacation that might have been spent with family or visiting far off lands – none were old enough to have earned more time off – these hyper-sexualized young men would stuff themselves into tiny, overcrowded condos, the rents raised to take advantage of the incredible demand. For seven days around the holiday, Provincetown was twink central and no exquisitely beautiful young gay man wanted to miss it. They were like cicadas, coming alive for a week to get loud, dance, and mate. Then they would return to wherever they came from, not to be seen for another year.
They adhered to a rigid schedule from Saturday at three, check-in time, to Saturday at ten, when they all left to make room for bear week, twink week’s exact opposite. Days began late morning, though Kayden had early on realized that it was imperative to be the first one to shower because the hot water always ran out, not to mention that he liked his daily shave down to take place in peace. Body hair was as alien to twink week as belly fat. Along with their coffees, the more carefree guys dared to drink fruit-smoothies for breakfast. Not Kayden, who denied himself pleasures great and small to maximize his sex appeal. He limited himself to rehydrated protein powder and bottled water during daylight hours. Kayden and his housemates would scramble to get to the beach because both car and bicycle parking were always in short supply as ten thousand twinks settled down on the sand like a great flock of birds preening, cooing, and moving as one. Lunch for those who indulged would be a protein bar, though most skipped eating because it dangled the prospect of too many unneeded calories. Kayden still remembered the horror and pity he had felt last year when he had come across a twink eating ice cream.
When to arrive for the tea dance at The Shoreline Inn was a tradeoff between arriving too early and risk being too tired to stay by the time it reached its height of sexual tension or getting there too late and having to stand in a line so long, you didn’t make it onto the deck until people were leaving. Contrary to what the many detractors said, twinks did eat dinner, they had to have some food or they’d pass out from hunger, but even then, meals were modest salads. In Provincetown on the Fourth of July, that meant there wasn’t a leaf of kale to be had after nine pm. Restaurants had to restore their salad supplies from outside New England, and rumor had it that each morning a caravan of trucks crossed the bridges carrying countless crates of leafy vegetable and barrels of vinaigrettes.
There were lines everywhere. It could take an hour to get into a bar, thirty minutes to buy a bathing suit. Even though twinks didn’t eat, they would stand in long lines to enter the town’s lone grocery store, and the wait to get a drink could take up most of the night. Opportunistic twinks used these lines to hook up.
A nice older gentleman, someone he thought was around forty, had once briefed Kayden on the origin of the term twink. It came from the popular 1960s dessert, he said. A twink meant the guy was sweet and attractive, but empty of any value. Though it was soon restricted to skinny, hairless men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, in practice it is often used to describe any attractive man under the age of thirty as long as they were thin and hairless. A hairy twink is an oxymoron and though they must have minimal body fat, the bigger their pecs and better defined their sixpack, the more in popular they were, with biceps always in fashion.
The whole week was about showing off and Kayden’s self-esteem rose every time someone extremely attractive lusted after him. Kayden was not in Provincetown looking for love. That wasn’t the point of twink week. Still, his friends accused him of being a romantic. “You propose marriage to any guy who licks your earlobe,” one friend had joked. Not this week. Kayden intended to have lots of handsome men tongue his ear and every other part of his body they could reach. He was there to be desired while walking down the street, dancing at The Barn, and standing in line at an ATM. He wanted to get laid with guys who were as good-looking as he was, or better. He didn’t care what race or ethnicity they were as long as they were the best. Despite knowing it was wrong, Kayden based his self-worth on the beauty of the men he fucked.
Finally on top of his student loans thanks to a promotion at work, Kayden’s accommodations this year were a bit more tolerable than they had been in earlier years when he was poor and couldn’t afford better. Instead of eight guys in a one-bedroom apartment on the edge of town, he was one of six in a two-bedroom, two-bath condo only ten minutes from The Barn, ground zero of twink week.
The house was put together by Seth and Brian, two coders from California who were definitely not a couple, just workout buddies. They took the large bedroom while Marcel, a physician assistant from Montreal, and Manuel, who came up from Miami, were on the foldout couch in the living room. All of them were as good-looking as a water polo locker-room fantasy. Kayden would be sharing a king-size bed in a tiny room with Trey, a handsome hunk of a twink from Philadelphia who had the same attitude towards romance during Independence week as Kayden: don’t let your heart get in the way of a perfect fuck. On the Saturday afternoon ferry ride from Boston, they promised to only keep their bedroom off limits to the other for an hour maximum. “If the guy you are doing it with can’t get off in sixty minutes, it’s time for them to leave,” was Trey’s opinion. “It’s every man for himself in these things.”
Trouble began the first night when Trey and Kayden invited Rafael, an Italian exchange student, back to the house for a spirited three-way. Tall and slender with a thick head of curly hair, Rafael’s body was harder and better shaped than a Roman statue, making him an ideal twink week fuck. They were doing a full Eiffel Tower on him, Kayden going deep from the front with Trey driving hard from behind, when both leaned forward to make out. Soon they were paying more attention to each other than they were to their guest, who enjoyed himself anyway. A very satisfied Rafael asked when it was over, “Are you two lovers or something?” Both immediately denied any feelings for the other.
Things got even heavier Sunday night. Going out when you’re only wearing sneakers and a speedo requires planning since there is no way to carry keys, IDs, money, or a phone. Instead, each time they left the house all six condo-mates had to stick together with one man designated the carrier of essentials for that trip. Only he wore shorts with pockets meaning that the others couldn’t go off on their own because they had no way to pay for drinks or even get back into the condo unless they arranged to reconnect with the key holder. Hooking up required negotiations not only with the potential sex partner, but with the group.
As they went from bar to bar, danced, and chatted up other groups of equally hot men, their housemates watched as Trey and Kayden talked Danny and Donny, two green-eyed, freckled, identical gingers with amazing bodies from Chicago, into coming back to the condo. As he and Trey fucked the twins side by side, Kayden had the eerie feeling he was being watched, and when he looked to his right, Trey gestured to Kayden to take Danny’s place under him. He thought for a moment, contemplating the pros and cons of an affair with Trey. Kayden had qualms about making it with someone from the group one on one. Orgies were always socially acceptable, but a duo might ruin the dynamics of the house, which had been so good, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to surrender even one of his precious twink week nights to Trey. Kayden also didn’t know much about him, not where he came from originally or even what his last name might be. Would Trey demand monogamy? Was he a serial killer?
On the other hand, he wanted Trey’s body which was the only one in the entire town that approached his own perfection. Together, they would be the best-looking couple on the Cape, and making it with incredible looking guys was why he had run up his credit card debt to be in Ptown. Then there was the matter of Trey’s pubes. As far as Kayden knew, Trey was the only man in Provincetown who had public hair. There wasn’t a lot, just a tiny patch several inches below Trey’s glorious naval that made his impressive dick look even larger, but to Kayden, Trey stubbornly keeping some pubes while style and custom strongly demanded absolute smoothness signaled that he was a rule-breaker, a bit rebellious. In the end, it was that independent streak, not Trey’s rocking body or striking sexual moves, that prompted Kayden to tell the twins, “Time to leave.”
Both men found the sex even better than anticipated and a single night wasn’t enough. After winking at Kayden, Trey announced at breakfast he would not be going with the house to the Herring Cove as he had had too much sun yesterday. Kayden then said, “Bummer. I was hoping to have the place to myself this afternoon because I couldn’t sleep last night. I was going to crash all afternoon.”
“Tell you what,” Trey said innocently. “You can have our bed while I’ll be at the dining table, doing work email. I won’t bother you.” In that way, they hid what was going on. They fucked all afternoon and were still in bed, exhausted, when the rest of the house made it back from the beach. Kayden was lucky to get a shower in before Tea.
They thought no one knew they were doing it but two minutes after hitting the deck at Tea Dance, Trey slid an arm around Kayden’s waist while he leaned in to whisper, “We should go back and fuck again before dinner.” No one else heard what Trey said but the effect on Kayden, who was only wearing a red speedo, was obvious. Guys who didn’t know either of them immediately assumed they were a couple.
The other housemates joked, “That wasn’t protein powder in Kayden’s breakfast drink, it was pure testosterone.”
Another added, “Now we know how Trey stays so thin. Keeping Kayden satisfied burns a lot of calories.”
It was all good because Kayden and Trey couldn’t get enough of each other. They fucked before they went to sleep and started again the moment they woke up. They stopped going to Boy Beach because the eleven to three time slot proved perfect for rolling around naked. And there is nothing like after-dinner sex to get in the mood to go out. Between repeated trips to their bedroom and their pawing each other at meals, by the time the group settled into their seats for the 9:00 p.m. drag review at The Standish Hotel on Tuesday night, everyone had an opinion on the relationship. Most were cynical. “Kayden might be moaning Trey’s name right now, but by Sunday he won’t remember who he spent the night with,” was how one housemate summed it up after the group listened to the very loud sex going on in the bedroom on the other side of the wall. Twink week love had a quick expiration date.
Despite his reputation, Kayden was inexperienced at romance. He had never dated in high school. There were a bunch of hookups in college and the summer of love two years ago when Kayden and a Venezuelan soccer player had mounted a tempestuous affair. But Kayden had no intention of settling down. Indeed, he thought his life was just getting going and he didn’t want the burden of a relationship. There was counterpressure. His mother wanted him to find a life partner. “All the other moms get to go to these lavish male couple weddings. I get nothing,” she complained. But Kayden resisted all attempts to slow him down.
Furthermore, he didn’t have the capacity for a relationship. If you add a ninety-minute morning workout routine and a two-hour afterwork gym visit to a ten-hour workday, there is no energy left for a boyfriend. In addition, given his diet regimen, he couldn’t have dinner or even go out for a drink. That would ruin his abs. One gym buddy put it this way. “You can devote thousands of hours to get a perfect body that is lusted after by everyone, but not have the time to get a partner. Or you grow a belly and have a boyfriend in an instant, but you will never want to be naked again.” Kayden was happy with his decision.
That was all in the past. Now, he was over the moon delighted by Trey as he struggled to find words to ask to continue their relationship past Saturday. For those rare hours where they weren’t having sex, they did everything together, always wearing nothing but color-coordinated speedos: red with red, blue with blue, and so forth. Nearly naked, they went gallery hopping in the East End, raced each other to the top of the Pilgrim Monument, and attended a poetry reading at the Herring Cove Bookstore where as Kayden sat on Trey’s lap, they learned more about genderfluid erotica than either man knew existed. They did shots at The Barn, Kayden intoxicated from the taste of the alcohol, the hundreds of hot, almost naked bodies dancing around him, and Trey’s hands feeling him up. They made out in the sweaty heat of the underwear party at The Sand and Sea with the bonus that Trey had borrowed underwear from Kayden because he hadn’t packed any. “Who brings skivvies to Ptown?” he asked everyone for the next twenty-four hours.
Thursday was the best because it began with the hottest fuck of Kayden’s life just after midnight. He and Trey were grinding each other at a party in the West End when someone suggested they try out the upstairs bedroom that was all mirrors. Kayden was happily overwhelmed as he watched from every angle their two impossibly beautiful bodies moving seamlessly in synch, motivated by complete lust and ecstatic desire. This was what Kayden had wanted all his life. This was why he had sacrificed so much. It was all done for the chance of having all-consuming sex like this. The day ended with them making out as they fell asleep sometime after eleven p.m. As Kayden held on tight to Trey, he felt life had never been so good.
As predicted by everyone except Kayden, the affair didn’t last. Friday, their last full day at the Cape, quickly deteriorated. Waking up, it took Trey several minutes to get hard as he was distracted. Frustrated because he needed to once again have perfect sex, Kayden realized he knew next to nothing about Trey. They hadn’t exchanged phone numbers because they hadn’t been apart, and Kayden had yet to learn Trey’s last name.
When they finally started having sex, it was too passionate and over way too fast, as if Trey was desperate to make it perfect and overshot. Not understanding what was happening, Kayden was licking Trey’s breath-taking abs when he heard, “Kayden, I like you a lot. And you are a great fuck. But don’t go crazy on me. This can only be a week at the beach fling. When I get back to Philly, I have a boyfriend.” Trey paused to let that sink in. “He and I have been through too much together to throw it all away.” Kayden wanted to pull back but couldn’t. “I probably should have told you that before the week began.”
Even if Kayden wasn’t tough, he was proud. He didn’t whine nor did he beg. They did it one more time, though neither put anything into it, and then they went off with the guys to the beach. Kayden ended up spending the night with a man whose name he couldn’t remember within seconds of hearing it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.
As he walked home from the ferry in Boston, Kayden reviewed his week. Some might have used the experience to question their lives or change their ways. Not Kayden. With only a year or two of twink life left, he began to plan his preparations for next year’s Independence week.
Russ López is the author of six nonfiction books including The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown, and Beyond. He is the editor of LatineLit, an online magazine that publishes short fiction by and about Latinx people, and his work has appeared in The Fictional Café, Somos en escrito, Bar Bar, Northeast Atlantic, Agapanthus Collective, Night Picnic, The Gay and Lesbian Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and elsewhere.