Saturday, June 27, 2015

The President's Not Cute

Indianapolis, Summer 1966

Everyone in the Boomer generation and older knows where they were on November 22, 1963, when they heard of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

My Cousin Joe remembers a murmur going through the school, a teacher crying, and being sent home early.

I was barely three years old, so all I have are some vague, confusing memories of people being sad.

I didn't know he was dead, or that Lyndon B. Johnson was the new President.  There were so many pictures of him on tv and in books, and people talked about him so much, that I thought that he was still the President 2 1/2 years later.


All the pictures showed John F. Kennedy as handsome and athletic.  There were shirtless photos in Life magazine.  He had muscles!  And the movie PT-109 (1963) showed him rescuing a buddy from a sinking ship during World War II!  My friends and I made him a key player in our "my hero" games.

So I was thrilled one day in the summer of 1966, when we were visiting Indiana, and my Aunt Nora, my father's sister, suddenly announced "You're going to meet the President!"

Later I found out that Indiana was celebrating its Sesquicentennial, 150 years of statehood, and my grandmother's family was important, descended from pioneers.  She and some other "pioneer women" had been selected to shake hands with the President at the festival in Indianapolis.

We drove down with my Grandma, my Aunt Nora and two of my older cousins, Joey  and Eva Maria.

I remember a parade with boy scouts, some people walking around in pioneer costumes with a covered wagon, and a merry-go-round like at a carnival (but it wasn't a "carnival," forbidden for Nazarenes, it was a "festival").  But the highlight was to be the address by the President.

My cousins and Aunt Nora and I stood at the head of the crowd, very near the row of chairs where Grandma was sitting and the podium where he would speak.  I couldn't wait.  Maybe he would come out in a swimsuit, like in the photos in Life magazine.  Or at least take his shirt off -- it was a hot July day, and lots of guys in the crowd had their shirts off.

"Isn't this exciting, Boomer?" my Cousin Joey said.  He was a grown-up, 12 years old (top photo looks like him).  "Seeing the real, live President, just like on tv. Maybe he'll shake your hand, too!"

Then a band began to play "Hail to the Chief," someone announced "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States,"  and....

An old, ugly guy marched onto the stage!

I tugged at Cousin Joey's shirt.  "Where's the President?"

"Why, that's him.  Doesn't he look the same as on television?"

There had been a terrible mistake!  Where was the hunky muscleman who ripped his shirt off and dived into shark-infested waters to rescue his buddy?  

This trip had been one big lie!

Outraged by the betrayal, I tore myself away and ran headlong through the crowd.  Joey chased behind and grabbed me by the cotton candy machine, with Aunt Nora and Eva Marie following.


"What on Earth is the matter with you?" Aunt Nora asked.  "You're a big boy, too old for temper tantrums!"

"It's your fault!" I said, starting to cry.  "You said we would meet the President!"

"Who do you think is talking up there, Bub?" Joey asked.

"Not the President!"

"What makes you say that?"

"He's not cute!"

Years later, Cousin Joe said that he "knew" that I was gay at that moment.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Nebraska Football Player on the Great Redneck Roundup

June 1995, Omaha

The Great Redneck Roundup of 1995 yielded 20 hookups in 20 days, but, surprisingly, few actual
"rednecks."

We were looking for country boys:
1. Heavy-set, not fat but thick around the belly
2. "Macho" jobs as truckers or factory workers.
3. Lived in small towns or on farms
4. Drove pick-up trucks
5. Listened to country-western music
6. Most important: were very, very, very well hung.

Instead, we met a slim smooth Hispanic guy who wanted to be a chef, and a South Asian medical technician who took us to the ballet.

Nice, but we could meet guys like that back in West Hollywood.  Where were the cowboys, truckers, and farmboys of the Straight World?

On Day 7, we drove 10 hours from Denver to Omaha.

"We're bound to pick up a country boy here," I said.

When I moved to Omaha with Fred during college, I had never been so far west before, or lived in my own apartment, so it seemed a great adventure, like a pioneer in a wild, untamed frontier.   Even the sky seemed a darker shade of blue.

The Mutual of Omaha insurance building, with its Indian in a headdress that glowed at night, was visible everywhere downtown.

  What better place to find wild, untamed guys?

After we checked into our hotel and worked out, I went cruising alone (we usually cruised together, but I was worried that the elusive country boy would be intimidated by two sophisticated California guys together).

Of the three gay bars listed in my Gayellow Pages, the Omaha Mining Company seemed like the best place.

It was a small, rather seedy gay bar in an old building with parquet ceilings.  There were barrels of peanuts you could shell and eat while waiting for your watered-down drinks.  Two tv sets showing a football game.

Perfect!

Wait -- August wasn't football season.  Even I knew that.

I sat down at the bar next to an obvious redneck: about my age, formerly muscular but now a little chunky, with a round bearded face.  He was wearing a red shirt unbuttoned so you could see his smooth, cologne-doused chest, very tight jeans with a prominent bulge no doubt augmented by a few socks, and a baseball cap.

He was drinking a Coors beer and every now and then yelling "Yeah!" as he paid close attention to the game.



"What's going on?" I asked.  "It's not football season."

"Son, it's always football season!" he exclaimed.  "This is a preseason game, Pittsburgh at Buffalo."

I knew fans always favored the nearest city, but both of those were pretty far from Omaha.  "Which one do you like?"

"Pittsburgh, definitely!  You?"

"Oh..um...Pittsburgh, of course."

Suddenly someone scored a point or something.  The guy yelled "Awright!" and raised his hand for a high-five.  I complied.

"That was a Pittsburgh point.  You're not a big football fan, are you?"

"Not really."

"No shame in that.  I'm Kevin."  We shook hands -- very big hand, very rough.  Instead of letting go, he guided my hand down onto his crotch.

Wow, country boys worked fast!  "Um...I'm Boomer.  Visiting town from West  Hollywood."

"You're kidding!"  He punched my shoulder.  "Man, I would love to go there.  Gay central!  Hey, can guys go down on each other right on the street, like in the pornos?"

"It's not really like that.  More of a small town, just almost all gay."

Between guzzles of Coors, yells of "Awright!",and rubbing my hand against his crotch, , Kevin asked dozens of questions about West Hollywood: coming from California was as attractive to country boys as gigantic penises were back home.  I told him about Alan the Pentecostal Porn Star, my celebrity boyfriend, and meeting Lou Ferrigno when I worked at Muscle and Fitness.

Kevin came from a small town in Kansas ("I've heard all of the Dorothy and Toto jokes").  In college he played for the Nebraska Cornhusker football team as "defense" ("because I'm big -- son, you don't know how big").  Now he worked as a recruiter, traveling to high schools all over the country to get kids interested in the University of Nebraska.

 "It so happens that you get a perfect view of the Mutual Indian from my bedroom window," he said expectantly.

What kind of a dumpy apartment would a country boy have?  "Well -- I'm visiting with my partner.  He's back at the hotel.  Why don't we go there?"

"Hotels!  You're in hotels every night!  Time you boys spent the night in a real bed!"

I couldn't tell him that in our six days on the road so far, we had only spent three in a hotel room.

We picked up Lane and drove to Kevin's apartment in a tall brown building just west of downtown -- a silver two-door car, not a red pick up truck.

His apartment was nicely furnished, with a leather couch, black stalk lamps, a brightly-colored print of a nude man from the backside.

We didn't have much time to check out the views.   Almost the moment we got in the door, Kevin was on his knees, unzipping me.   He worked on both of us for awhile, then tore off our clothes and pulled us into the bedroom.

Very nice physique, smooth hard chest, a little belly, long, thick Kielbasa, cut.

"So, which of you is the top?"  Kevin asked.  "Lane, right?  The condoms are in that drawer over there.  The second drawer, next to the lube.

Lane laughed, no doubt remembering Barcelona last year, when Ramon mistook me for a bottom.

Kevin frowned and lay flat on the bed on his stomach.  "So Boomer, you're the top?  I'm up for you.  You'd be surprised what I can take!"

"We're actually not into Greek," I said.  "No one in West Hollywood is.  Too many bad memories."

"Oh...right...I hear you.  He rolled over to his side.  "You lost a lot of friends to AIDS, back in the day.  Well, come here, and let's cuddle.  I haven't had two guys in my bed in a long time."

We lay on the bed on either side of him and kissed and cuddled, and took turns going down on him. Then I climbed on top of him and thrust between his legs.

"I never did it this way before," he whispered.

"West Hollywood boys know lots of tricks."

In the morning he took us to breakfast at Lisa's Radial Cafe, and then we checked out of our hotel and drove on to Des Moines.

Let's review:

1. Heavy-set, not fat but thick around the belly. Check
2. "Macho" jobs as a trucker or factory worker.  No -- college recruiter, middle class.
3. Lived in small towns or on farms. No -- Omaha, population 400,000
4. Drove pick-up truck. No.
5. Listened to country-western music.  Check. We didn't listen to music, but I definitely saw some cowboy hats on the CDs piled up on his entertainment center.
6. Well hung. Check

Three out of six isn't a great score, but Kevin had the most important Country Boy trait: enormous beneath the belt.  Plus very enthusiastic.

And before the Roundup was over, I met a trucker and an honest-to-goodness cowboy.

See also: The Great Redneck Roundup; Fred and the Teenager Downstairs

The Greek Orthodox Priest with the Pushy Mom

Davenport, Iowa, September 1981

I began my senior year at Augustana (1981-82) with a single burning question: grad school or a job?

My professors claimed that I could use an English and Modern Languages major to launch a career in journalism, public relations, advertising, translating, or publishing. Surprise -- you needed specialized training for all of those jobs.  300 resumes, and not a single bite.

So I applied to grad school:
1. Russian, University of Iowa (I know, I was just in first year, but I really liked my Russian major friend in Iowa City)
2. Law, Indiana University
3. English, Indiana University
4. Linguistics, University of Chicago
5. Byzantine Studies, University of Chicago

Why Byzantine Studies?

With my new Russian obsession, I wanted to try out Russian Orthodox Church, but the nearest was in Chicago, so I picked the next best thing: St. George's Greek Orthodox Church in Rock Island.

I was disappointed: the liturgy was in English, not Greek, there were pews (I heard that the Orthodox stood), and the sermon was on heterosexual marriage.  But I did meet Peter, formerly a Greek Orthodox priest, now a private investigator for an insurance company.

Being a clergy groupie, I eagerly accepted his invitation to dinner, even though he was substantially older than me, in his 40s.

He lived in a big house in Davenport with his elderly parents, a bedridden Dad and a frail, tiny Mom who talked incessantly of the old country (she left Greece at the age of five, but still remembered it as a "good place").

The dinner was awful -- lamb in some kind of disgusting white sauce, undercooked potatoes -- what happened to the moussaka, spanikopita, and stuffed grape leaves?  No desert -- not even baklava.  And Peter and his Mom drank incessantly.

Afterwards, Peter invited me into his study to see his books on Orthodox theology, Byzantine history, and modern Greek.  He told me about the Russian Orthodox Saints Boris and George, who were gay, and suggested that the Byzantine world was a "good place."

At least it was bright and colorful.

We went downstairs to the basement rec room, where his Mom was watching Fantasy Island. When it was over, she said goodnight and went to bed, and we watched a late movie on tv, something with Bette Davis in it.  Then Peter asked if I wanted to spend the night.

We went into his bedroom and began to get intimate.

I didn't realize at the time, but his Mortadella+ was one of the biggest on my Sausage List, #11.

Suddenly, when I was in the middle of going down on him, the door swung open, and Mom walked in.  No knocking, no words, no nothing.  She saw us, shrieked, and ran out.

"What was...why..."  I stammered.

"Oh, don't worry," Peter said.  "Mom knows that I'm gay."

"Why did she rush in like that?"

"She didn't realize that you were spending the night."

That wasn't a satisfactory answer.

In the morning Mom was perfectly gracious.  There was no breakfast except coffee and juice -- the Greek Orthodox fast before Communion.

Peter invited me over for dinner several more times in the fall of 1981, and afterwards Mom always asked "Boomer, will you be spending the night?"

I loved hearing about the Byzantine World, but he never wanted to go out in public, not even to the Greek Festival.  We would have dinner -- the food was terrible -- and watch tv -- it was always Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  Besides, Mom was a little creepy.  After about two months, I called it quits.

But not before I applied to the Byzantine Studies Program at the University of Chicago.

I ended up going to Indiana University to study English.

See also: Yuri Hooks Up at a Russian Orthodox Seminary
 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fantasy Hookup with the Chinese Food Delivery Guy

Dayton, October 2005

After the wealth of Asian guys available in California -- Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Burmese, Malaysian, Filipino --  I felt deprived when I moved to New York -- during four years, I was only with six Asian guys:
1. Peter, the Filipino undergrad who is #3 on my Sausage List
2. Jun, a Japanese gymnast who I met in Montreal
3. An undergrad history major from Shanghai. We had just one date.
4. A guy I met at the Eagle, whose name I don't remember.
5. Mario the teen model.
6. And  the Man in Black, a priest or something who cruised me in the street.

I felt even more deprived in Fort Lauderdale.  In four years, I was with only two Asian guys, and one of them, the Son of Mr. Blowfish,  I met while back in Rock Island for a visit..

By the time I got to Dayton,  I was desperate.  If I didn't get some Asian action soon, I'd be hopping the next plane to Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, the population of Dayton is less than 1% Asian, and I wasn't meeting any.

Then I ordered Chinese food.

Who hasn't wanted to do this to the delivery guy?

He's always the son or brother of the owner, young, cute, and smiling -- not like the grungy ex-cons who deliver Domino's.

He doesn't speak English well, so whatever you ask, he nods in agreement.

And he brought you food, so subconsciously you think you're on a date.

The guy from the Dragon Palace who delived my Hunan chicken was young, black-haired, and smiling, but darker and more muscular than I expected.  Three of the five traits I find attractive -- and I was deprived of Asian companionship.

This guy was getting in my bed.

One way or another.

"Um...I don't have any money for your tip.  Can I write you a check?"

"Ok, check," he said, grinning.  "My name is Long Wei Chan, but you can say Bobby Chan."

He walked into the kitchen while I wrote out his 50% tip.

"This is very nice apartment  You live all alone?"

"No, I have a roommate." I didn't really, but you never reveal to strangers that you live alone.

"How much you pay?"

I told him.

"Nice," he said, and left, while I kicked myself for not having a game plan prepared in advance..

I intended to wait a couple of days and try again, after I developed a cruising strategy, but a couple of hours later, Bobby knocked on the door.

"Hi -- did I forget something?"

"No, no -- sorry to bother you.  I want to ask you something -- can I come in?"

Absolutely!  Come inside, take your clothes off!  I yelled in my mind.  But I just said "Sure.  Come in and sit down.  What's up?"

Bobby sat on a chair, not the couch (Darn it!!!) and explained that he was planning to move out of his parents' house, and he wanted to bring his "friend" around to see how nice my apartment was -- maybe they could move into my building.

A hookup with Bobby and his "friend"?  Well, he didn't actually say "a hookup," but still -- what else could he mean?  My mind reeled.

We agreed to meet the next night for coffee and dessert. I invited Chuck, my "friend with benefits" over, because it isn't wise to entertain two strangers by yourself.

The "friend" turned out to be a Caucasian guy named Thad, a few years older than Bobby, and a lot more muscular, but a little too tall for me, with a long, bearded face that's one of my turn-offs.

They looked at my bookshelves full of gay books, beefcake movie posters, and statue of Michelangelo's David without surprise or comment.  Obviously a gay couple.

Still, I was a little disappointed -- I had been expecting another Asian guy.


I got even more disappointed.

"A place like this would be great for us," Thad said after the tour.  "You know, Bobby really wanted to move in with his girlfriend, but his parents said 'no way'!"

Girlfriend!!!!!!

"Together for two years!" Bobby bragged.


I excused myself, went into the bathroom, and ranted.

When I came out, Thad was waiting in the hallway.

"Oh, sorry.  It's all yours."

"Wait."  His hand pressed against my chest.  "Do you mind..." he stammered.  "I just want to see...I want to..."  Then he was kissing me.

I broke away.  "I though you and Bobby were straight."

"Oh, he doesn't know about me.  Frankly, he's a little naive.  He didn't even figure it out from your beefcake poster.  I mean, who wouldn't figure it out from that?"

Later conversations revealed that Thad had a special interest in Asian guys -- he met Bobby through an unsuccessful cruise.

He had a whole address book full of gay Asian friends and former boyfriends, including a very hot graduate student in political science at Ohio State.

So I didn't get the delivery boy, but I did finally meet some Asian men.

See also: Hooking Up with the Museum Guard; and the Hookup with the Water Delivery Guy.

Meeting my First Bisexual


Bloomington, Spring 1983

When I was in grad school in English in the early 1980s, we had to learn all about Great Literature, which meant long, boring novels about heterosexual men lusting after women.

And we had to watch Great Movies, which meant long, boring movies about heterosexual men lusting after women.

A group of English grad students went to the Nuart Cinema for "art films" every couple of weeks.  All horrible AND heterosexist:

Tempest, with John Cassavetes having sex with Susan Sarandon on the beach.
The Return of Martin Guerre, about a Medieval Frenchman who comes back to his loving family.
Sophie's Choice, about a young writer (Peter MacNicol) who falls in love with an elderly concentration camp survivor.
Koyaanisqatsi, shots of crowded city streets and things going by on conveyor belts.
The Year of Living Dangerously, with Mel Gibson falling in love in Indonesia
Liquid Sky,  about heroin users who kill each other while aliens watch.
Fanny and Alexander, 3 hours of Swedish kids watching their relatives do boring things.

I dragged my friend Joseph, one of the "Gays of Eigenmann Hall," along to share in the torture.

Joseph ("Joe" in the straight world) was a grad student in history, concentrating in Enlightenment Europe, fluent in French and German, and a fencing enthusiast with an impressive physique.

I tried hard to date him, and he did consent to share my bed a couple of times, but he wasn't particularly interested.  He liked husky, hairy blue collar types, auto mechanics and repairmen.  One day he was elated because he had managed to seduce the custodian at Ballantine Hall, right down in the boiler room!

At the Nuart, we were strictly closeted, of course -- coming out to a heterosexual friend in 1983 would result in, at best, a horrified stare and a stammer of  "Whoa, back off, man!"

So I didn't talk about gay subtexts, or point out attractive men on screen.

But Joseph went even farther to maintain a heterosexual facade. He joined in the nonstop discussions of feminine beauty, saying things like "You'd have to be an idiot to leave a hottie like Nathalie Baye (in Martin Guerre)"  and "I kept waiting for Susan Sarandon (in Living Dangerously) to show her breasts!"

One night he kept it up even after we said goodnight to the other guys and returned to Eigenmann Hall: "I can't believe how sexy Meryl Streep (in Sophie's Choice) was!"

"Don't you mean Peter MacNichol?"

"Oh, right, right."  He grinned sheepishly.  "Sorry, I was still pretending to be straight."

But I was suspicious.

When you grow up being told over and over that same-sex desire does not and cannot exist, you become very sensitive to subtle signs of erotic interest: a glance that is a little too open, a little too much attention to detail.

Gradually I became aware that Joseph noticed women.  When I referred to a female classmate, I might say "She sits behind us in Chaucer class."  He would describe her hair and face.  He looked women up and down, evaluating their breasts and curves in the same way that he evaluated the biceps and baskets of burly truck drivers.

Was it possible that Joseph could be bisexual, and not know it?

One day I invited him to my room for a Domino's pizza, and asked "Did you ever have sex with girls, before you realized that you were gay?"

"Oh, yeah, sure, who hasn't?  How could you avoid it?  When you're on the fencing team, the girls are all over you. Hotties, too!"  He caught himself.  "I mean...well, you know what I mean..."

"Not really.  I'm not attracted to women at all."

"Me, neither!" Joseph protested.  "I'm gay!  I mean, what straight guy fantasizes about big, burly truck drivers with gigantic stick shifts?"

"It's not always a matter of one or the other.  Some guys like both."  I picked up a copy of Playboy (displayed prominently on my desk to keep up my heterosexual facade) and opened to a page at random.  "For instance, if she walked into this room and offered to kiss you, would you accept?"

"Well, sure, who wouldn't?  Being gay doesn't mean I'm dead!"

"I wouldn't.  No way!"

He stared.  "But...I like guys...." he said in a small voice.

"I know.  It's like, after a lifetime of heterosexual brainwashing, realizing that you like guys is a joyous, liberating experience.  Then, when you find yourself attracted to women, you think that the brainwashing worked after all.  You feel like a traitor.  But let's face it -- some guys like guys, some guys like girls, and some guys like both.  There's nothing you can do about it."

Joseph denied it again, but soon he revealed, with a sigh of relief, that for dating, romance, and long-term relationships, it was men only.  But for sex, and for noticing attractive people on the street, he was into both hairy, husky truck drivers with gigantic stick shifts, and thin, athletic women with long brown hair.  It was nice to not have to hide anymore.  At least among his gay friends.

Fine, always nice to help someone recognize their true nature.  Except Joseph somehow got the idea that all gay men were attracted to thin, athletic women with long hair.  He began pointing them out to me with the avidness of a hetero-horny jock.


One Sunday night he knocked on my door to tell me that I had missed a really good episode of One Day at a Time.  

"Why, did Max (Michael Lembeck) take his shirt off?" I asked.

"What?  Are you kidding?"  he exclaimed.  "There was a really hot close-up of Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli), cleavage and all!"

"But...she's a woman.  Why would I...."

"Who cares if you're gay or straight?  If Barbara's cleavage doesn't get you going, man, you don't have a pulse!"

Um...some people are straight, some are bi, and some are gay.  They all have pulses.