Friday, May 29, 2015

The Nazarene Sport of Bibles and Butts

When I was growing up in the Church of the Nazarene, most of the high school boys and a few girls competed in the jump quiz.

They announced the book of the Bible every year during summer camp, and we started preparing immediately, memorizing verses, quizzing each other, and doing set after set of lunges, squats, kickbacks, and leg-lifts.

This was a strenuous sport!

See Naked Nazarene #16

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Kept After School by my Science Teacher

Rock Island, November 1974

Mr. Peterson, who taught chemistry and physics, was the most physical teacher at Washington Junior High. Most teachers hide their bodies, trying to become pure intellect, but as he danced, ran, and skipped around the classroom, Mr. Peterson obviously had a chest and shoulders and biceps -- and, if you looked closely, a Bratwurst shifting in his slacks

He always wore his tie half-undone, as if his body was aching to burst out.

 When he walked down the row of lab tables to check on our work, you could feel his heat.

In the fall of ninth grade, Dan and I enrolled in his physics class, expecting discussions of black holes, teleportation, and Star Trek-style warp drive mechanics -- what could be more exciting?

Unfortunately, physics turned out to be deadly dull.

Levers and inclined planes and how pulleys work. Put this wire into that box.

Mr. Peterson tried to make it fun by singing songs and making silly puns, but still:

Gravity, friction, inertia. AC and DC currents. Calculate the velocity of a pitched ball.

Yuck!  We tweaked by with C's. And spent a lot of time whispering and giggling and making funny drawings in our notebooks.

One day we collaborated an elaborate picture of the ancient Greek view of the universe: a flat world surrounded by a vast ocean, with a dome of heaven above.  We labeled it "What we learned in Mr. Peterson's class."

We were so engrossed that we didn't hear Mr. Peterson approach and look over my shoulder.  "Looks like you guys have a lot of free time on your hands," he said with an incongruous smile.  "We'd better put you to work.  Report to the Chemistry Lab at 3:00 to wash test tubes."

Test tubes?

Five big boxes of them, a new shipment for Advanced Chemistry.  Before they could be used, they had to be soaked -- one at a time -- in a solution of hydrochloric acid, then washed in a special detergent and rinsed in de-ionized water.  Who knew it was such a complicated process?

Fun, though.  We got to wear goggles and gloves.

As we worked, Mr. Peterson tried the usual adult conversation starter: girls.  Do you have girlfriends?  What girl do you like?  Girls always go for scientists! And so on.

Finally I got tired of it and exclaimed "Girls are gross!"

Dan kicked me under the table.  In ninth grade, you couldn't express a lack of interest in girls.  The adults would say "Don't get smart!" or redouble their efforts to hook you up with "the girl of your dreams."

But Mr. Peterson said "Yeah, I guess girls are pretty gross," without even blinking in surprise.  "So, what do you like?"

I was too shocked to lie.  " with muscles."

"Muscles?"  He stared, but only for a moment.  "Right, physical fitness is important.  You guys like Bruce Lane?  Wow, he had some muscles on him!"  He began doing fake kung fu moves and singing. "Everybody was kung fu fighting..."

"Donny Osmond is cute, too," Dan said.  "He took off his shirt in Tiger Beat."

"When I was a kid, we liked Elvis Presley.  Did you ever see him in Blue Hawaii?  He spends about half the movie in a swimsuit!"

The three of us spent the rest of detention talking about cute and muscular guys, from Greg Brady to Tarzan!

Mr. Peterson framed his comments in heteronormative terms: "I bet the girls go for him!" or "He must get all the girls he wants!"  But grownups always tried to make everything about girls.  It was easy to ignore the side-comments, and just feel proud and happy to be talking about muscles.

When we were finished with the test tubes, he said,"You've been such good assistants, I want to treat you to a hamburger."

We didn't care that dinner was in about an hour.  He drove us to Mulkey's, and we sat in a booth on either side of him, close enough so our legs and thighs were inches away from his, and we could feel the warmth from his body.

When the waitress asked  "Are these your sons?", he said, "No, my research assistants.  We're scientists, conducting a very important experiment."

"On what?"

"Muscles!"  Dan exclaimed.  We all laughed.

Best detention ever!

We never got detention again, but we took Mr. Peterson's chemistry class in the spring semester, and occasionally he tapped my shoulder and asked "Seen any musclemen lately?"

My brother and sister both took his classes when they were in junior high, and he always asked about me.

Since he's on the list of Teachers I may have hooked up with, you're probably wondering if we did.

Answer after the break:

Not unless you count my fantasies.

I don't know about Dan.  Mr. Peterson hooked him on science.  He majored in physics in college, and finally became an computer engineer of some sort.  Maybe they reunited years later.

I was happy just to be talking about muscles.

Hooking Up with My "Uncle"

Rock Island, June 1988

Sunday, June 5th

I'm back in Rock Island for a week.  A swishy, flamboyant older guy named Gene approached me during the coffee hour after morning services at the MCC.

"Your last name is...what?"  he asked, offering a multi-ringed hand to be shaken. "Oh, Mary!  I tricked with your Dad."

"My Dad? I don't think so,..he's pretty straight."

"Your uncle, then. Steve Davis. Girl, she was such a hottie, back in the day!"

I shook my head.  "I'm not related to anybody in Rock Island.   My family is from Indiana."

"Distant cousin, then!  When that Cute Young Thing came into the Hawaiian Lounge, all the queens just swooned.  She was picky, though, wouldn't go home with just anybody.  You had to have class."

Could he mean Mr. Davis, my grade school math teacher?  Everybody assumed that he was my uncle back then.  He wasn't -- but I had a major crush on him!  Black hair, sharp features, big, expressive hands.  He wore a thin white shirt with no t-shirt, so in the right light you could see the contours of his body as he moved.  And tight pants -- the first time I ever fantasized about a guy's basket was in his class.

"But that was, like, twenty years ago. He'd be...."

"In his 40s?  A big burly muscle daddy?"

My interest piqued, I asked "Is he still in town?"

"Oh, no, Mary.  I heard she fell in love with one of those big burly rough trade types and now manages a glory-hole truck stop in Ottumwa."

Monday, June 6th

In the 1980s, you looked people up in telephone books, one for each town.  I went to the public library and looked for a Steve Davis in Ottumwa, Oscaloosa, Osceola, and Indianola.  Nothing.

I invited Gene to lunch the next day.

Tuesday, June 7th

"All this trouble just to trick with your Uncle, sweetheart?  And he might not even be hot anymore!"

"Well, yeah," I admitted, embarrassed.  "He was my first crush, he's gay -- how could I pass up the opportunity to at least meet him?  And maybe see if his basket lives up to my fantasies."

"Well, Mary, you're in luck.  I've been asking around, and one of the girls has it on good authority that Miss Thing is now running a stud farm in Keokuk. Rhymes know."

Back to the library.  Keokuk, Iowa, about two hours south of Rock Island, had a Steve Davis listed!

I called.  The number was disconnected.

Wait -- Dick, my former bully and current friend, had Mr. Davis in class, too.  Maybe their paths crossed.

I called him and got invited to dinner.

"Sure, I know Steve -- we dated for awhile, back when I first came out. He lives down in Normal now."  Two hours from Rock Island, the site of Illinois State University.

"Why didn't you mention that you dated our grade school math teacher?"

He shrugged.  "I thought he was your uncle.  Who wants to hear that his friend had sex with his uncle?"

Wednesday, June 8th
I called the number Dick gave me, and Mr. Davis -- Steve --answered!  He remembered me -- it's hard to forget a kid who everyone thinks is your nephew -- and even suspected that I was gay. He invited me to visit on Saturday.

The day before I was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles.

Saturday, June 11th
Aching with anticipation, I borrowed my sister's car and drove out to Normal, to a small white-paned house a few blocks from the campus.

A Cute Young Thing answered the door: probably an Illinois State student, mid-20s, slender, with thick black hair and a short beard.  He was wearing a yellow shirt, unbuttoned to reveal a slim, hairy chest, and very tight short pants.

"I'm Maier, Steve's lover," he said with a smile. "He's asleep, but I'l try to wake him up.  He's really looking forward to seeing you again.  Not a lot of his former students turn out to be gay."

Asleep, at 1:00 in the afternoon?  When you're expecting company?

He led me through the living room, down a hallway, to a closed door.  He knocked, and a weak voice called "Come in."

A rather buffed, 40-something guy was lying in bed in his undershirt, propped up on pillows.  A couple of books beside him -- I remember A Brief History of Time.  A box of kleenix and an assortment of vials and bottles on the nightstand.

I stared -- the situation seemed unreal.  He had a beard now, and some crags and lines, but it was definitely Mr. Davis, who I used to gaze longingly at in sixth grade math class!  Memories came rushing back.  The smell of big math binders, the feel of chalk squishing against blackboards,  That white shirt with his body visible underneath.  The basket....

"Hi, 'nephew.' Nice to see you again," Steve said with a weak smile.  A little raspy, but the same voice I remember talking about multiplying and dividing fractions.  "Sorry I look so awful.  Fever of 102. Some kind of summer bug."

"No, you look great.  Same as you did back in sixth grade."

"You don't -- you've grown into quite a hunk."

Maier and I sat on chairs a few feet from the bed.  I told my best West Hollywood stories, about my date with Richard Dreyfuss, my stalled porn career, and Alan helping me thwart a celebrity at Mugi.

Steve didn't say a lot, but Maier told me about him leaving Denkmann to take care of his ailing mother, moving briefly to Chicago, and then getting a job teaching middle school in Normal.

"I wish you could visit again in a few days, when I'm feeling better," Steve said, reaching for a kleenix.  "We were hoping that you would be up for sharing."

"Too bad I'm flying back to L.A. tomorrow."  I looked at him hopefully.  "Um...this is a little embarrassing, but...I was wondering...could I...get a grope?

"Sure, if I can grope you, too -- I'm sick, I'm not dead."  He pulled back the covers -- he was naked underneath.  Rather small, but that didn't matter -- I approached him and fulfilled a 20-year old fantasy.

I promised to visit when I came back to Rock Island again, but at Christmastime it was too snowy for a two-hour drive, and the next summer I was too busy, and so on, and so on.  It never happened.

But that moment of intimacy at Mr. Davis's sickbed was worth a dozen nights of passion.

See also: My Night with the Son of Mr. Blowfish.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Grade School Boyfriend and the Old Lady Schoolteachers

Rock Island, Fall 1984

You're probably wondering about my "boyfriend" Nick who saved me from The Killer one summer (I'm guessing the summer after 3rd grade, when I was eight years old).

The muscular, redheaded law student with freckles on his chest who took me out for an ice cream soda afterwards.

I don't have many more details, no long-ago smiles or glimpses of his shame.  He visited a few more times, that summer and the next -- once he took me and Bill for a ride in his convertible with the top down.

Then he vanished without explanation (or maybe he just happened to visit when I wasn't around.  I was busy every summer with Nazarene Bible camp and vacation and summer enrichment classes).

He left me with one connection: his grandmother.

Her name was really Mrs. Lindquist, and her companion was Miss Deverr or Devere, but everyone called them the Old Lady Schoolteachers because they had taught at Denkmann Elementary School for many years, beginning when it first opened in 1934.

I never knew their first names.

When I was growing up, Mom knew them from the PTA or the Safe House Program or something (Safe Houses had brown stars in the window, signifying that you could run there if a stranger tried to abduct you).  She used to go over and visit them -- maybe they reminded her of her own mother, who died in 1965.  Occasionally they sent banana bread or cookies back with her.

They always made popcorn balls for Halloween.

Sometimes my brother and I went over to shovel their sidewalks or mow their lawns.  We were supposed to do it for free, but they always tipped us a quarter each anyway.  They invited us inside once, while they fumbled about in their purses.  I remember dark, ponderous furniture, General Hospital on tv, and dozens of framed pictures of relatives. Nick was smiling in a graduation gown.

Miss Devere died when I was in high school, leaving Mrs. Lindquist alone in the house.

I brought my first boyfriend, Fred, over to meet her.  She gave us Swedish cookies and asked what we were studying in school.

Mrs. Lindquist died in 1984, during my year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas.  Since I was 1000 miles away, I didn't go to the funeral, but Mom and Dad were there.  They talked to Nick briefly: he was a lawyer, living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with a wife and two kids. No doubt he was still buffed, with freckles on his chest.

The obituary they sent filled in the details in the life of Mrs. Lindquist: born in Galesburg in 1896, graduated from Augustana College, married Axel Lindquist, had two children.  She taught at several Rock Island schools, and at Denkmann from 1934 to 1961, when she retired. Her husband and her son Jonah preceded her in death.  She had four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Miss Devere was not mentioned.

At the time I didn't think that they might be a lesbian couple.   After all, they lived on the next block!  They made banana bread!

But now I wonder: were they just heterosexual roommates, sharing the bills, describing the penises of their male lovers, on Friday nights gazing lustfully at aging sleuth Barnaby Jones on tv?

Or were they "together"?  Back in the 1930s, did they wear cravats and smoke cigarettes and read to each other from The Well of Loneliness?  Did they teach together, and then stroll across the grassy field to their house, a lesbian couple living freely and openly during the 1940s and police-state 1950s?

I might be able to find Nick on the internet, reunite with him, and ask for more details.  But I'm not sure I want to.  Living in Cedar Rapids, he's probably conservative, and might not amenable to the suggestion that his grandmother may have been a lesbian.

Besides, he's about 70 now.  I would rather remember the muscular redheaded teenager with freckles on his chest who rescued me on that hot summer day a thousand years ago.

See also: The Face of Pure Evil


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