When I was living in Florida, Gerry was a fixture at Barney's gym. He arrived around 6:00 am, and spent the next five hours lifting weights, on the treadmill, and hanging out in the sauna and whirlpool. Sometimes he returned again in the afternoon.
Before you get excited: he was quite elderly, small, slight, and wrinkled, with arthritis and back pain that limited his mobility. His visits were strictly therapeutic. And to look at the cute guys.
He had been out for only a few years. When you are living in Georgia, working as a third grade teacher, and married to a Baptist minister's daughter, you don't come out. You would be fired and divorced instantly, and the court would deny you visitation rights to your children.
So he waited until he retired and the kids were grown up, served his wife with divorce papers, and moved into a condo in Wilton Manors.
Newly out, free to date for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration, he wanted to try everybody and everything. And older was attractive in Florida. But you had to be robust, active, and dominant, a leather Daddy or a priapric satyr (look it up). Like 63-year old Troy, who stole my boyfriend two years ago. Gerry was short, small, and frail.
And you had to be out there -- at organizations, on the gay beach, in the clubs. Gerry didn't have the mobility or the stamina.
He occasionally met someone online by doctoring his photo and saying he was 55. But they always made an excuse right away, or engaged in some desultory "pity" acts.
I shared his bed once, when he made a "hookup" date with a guy in Miami. Neither of them had cars, so I drove Gerry down for the hookup, with the proviso that I got to watch or participate. Unfortunately, the guy seemed to be mostly into me. I had to keep physically pushing him toward Gerry.
Gerry was despondent. He wanted a boyfriend, but he couldn't even find a decent hookup.
We each brought a "date" to introduce to Gerry. Barney brought a retired football coach who worked out at the gym. I brought a professor of Asian Studies who I met at the Club.
Both were robust, active, and dominant.
Both ignored Gerry.
But the waiter didn't.
He was in his twenties, taller than me, rather slim, rather flamboyant, with a long face and a shock of brown hair. His nametag read "Rick: Georgia."
When Gerry ordered the Eggs Benedict, Rick exclaimed, "You must be a Georgia boy, too! I can tell from your accent! What you doing hanging out with all these Yankees?"
He asked Gerry's name, and said "Why, darlin'! My drag name is Geraldine Delicious! We're twins!"
Then he pointed out the side dishes by wrapping his arm around Gerry's shoulders.
When he brought our food, he wrapped his arm around Gerry again and said "Careful, darling, the plate's hot."
Then he brought us some sweet rolls for the table. "On the house," he said, touching Gerry's shoulder again. "Can't have too many sweet things in your mouth, can you?"
Gerry was grinning broadly. He had never been the subject of so much attention before, not even when he was married. "Hey, do you think he's really interested, or just a flirt?"
I decided to find out. I said I had to go to the bathroom, and grabbed Rick on the way to the kitchen. He smiled at me. "Ready for the check?"
"The check and your phone number," I said, as if flirting.
"Gerry is your type?"
"You have no idea! I've always been into older guys, and to meet one from back home, and a cutie-pie to boot! I could just melt!" He pulled the check from his pad and scribbled down his number. "Excuse me, Daddy, I have to deliver the check right to the table, if you know what I mean?"
Three weeks later, Rick moved in with Gerry.
The relationship was a rocky one: within a period of six months, they broke up, got back together, broke up, became roommates, got back together again, and broke up again.
Gerry had the time of his life.