At Setauket University in New York, the first-year grad students were a "cohort" who shared an office and took classes together. One was a lesbian, and most of others were nonchalant about the presence of gay people in their midst.
But not Jason: 22 years old, short, solid, with short blond hair, a fiery intensity, and a cute Upstate accent.
He was what we call a "true believer": preaching, with the zeal of a religious fundamentalist, that sociology alone could unlock the secrets of the universe. All other religions, philosophies, and academic disciplines were a waste of time.
Once he was working on an essay, and he wanted to use the famous quote "If I have seen far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." He asked around the office to find out who said it. Obviously a sociologist, but which one? Durkheim? Weber? Pareto? Mead?
It was Sir Isaac Newton -- a mathematician.
He decided against the quote -- if a sociologist didn't say it, it wasn't worth listening to!
When I brought Yuri as my date to the department Christmas party, Jason finally figured out that he was sharing his office with a gay person. He turned as white-faced and trembling as any redneck Bible-thumper. But in liberal late-1990s Long Island, you weren't supposed to be homophobic, so he stayed in the closet. It came out in subtle ways:
2. When we were going on a car trip, he wouldn't sit next to me in the back seat.
3. Once I accidentally went into the restroom while Jason was at a urinal. He whitened, zipped up immediately, and rushed out.
4. We were all talking about our dream classes (to teach). Mine was Gay Studies 101. Jason said, "Get real! No student would ever enroll in a class like that!"
"Gay students would."
"Yeah, but there's like -- what, six gay students on campus."
Long Island had 24,000 students. More like 2,400.
5. We were all talking about our first sexual experience, and I said "Ok, my turn."
Jason asked: "Was it with a man or a woman?"
"A man, of course!"
He turned his head away. "Please don't!"
1. "So, which of us has had bisexual experiences? Boomer, did you ever kiss a girl? Jason, did you ever kiss a guy?"
2. "It's the last day of the semester -- hugs all around. Boomer and Jason, you want to be alone together?"
3. "Jason, what do you think of Casper Van Dien from Starship Troopers? He's so hot, I'll bet you'd switch teams for him!"
In March 1999, several members of my cohort presented papers at the annual conference of the Eastern Sociological Society in Boston. I stayed at the gay Chandler Inn, but four guys shared a room at the Hilton, where the conference was held.
Mike, who was gay-friendly, shared a bed with Jason. He helped me design the mother of all pranks.
Jason liked to sleep in, past when the other guys left for breakfast, then take a long shower (we speculated that he was doing more than showering in there).
What if he came out of the shower and caught me and Mike "in the act"? He would conclude that Mike was gay, that he had been sleeping next to a gay person!"
On the third day of the conference, Mike pretended to be "still asleep" when Jason started his shower. I knocked softly, and he let me in. I stripped to my underwear, and we climbed into bed and put our arms around each other, poised as if we had been kissing.
And waited and waited. It was a long shower.
Finally the door opened, and Jason came out, combing his hair.
No towel, no bathrobe. Completely naked.
"Oh, hi!" Mike said. "I invited Boomer over for a little morning session. I hope you don't mind."
"There's room for one more," I added.
That might have been going a little too far. Jason ran back into the bathroom and slammed the door, and wouldn't come out until we admitted that it was a prank, that we weren't really doing anything, that Mike was really straight.
He still refused to sleep in the same bed with Mike.
Oh, well. At least I got a memorable Sausage Sighting.
See also: My Top 15 Sausage Sightings; The Truth about the Formosan Penis; The Ex-Wrestler.