Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cute Nerd or Creepy Old Guy?

Rock Island, August 1979

The summer after my freshman year at Augustana College.

There were no gay organizations in town, no gay books in the library, no gay dating sites on the internet.  There was a gay bar, but I was only 18 years old, and you had to be 21 to get in.

There was no way to meet gay men -- or straight men on the downlow -- except randomly, in the course of your daily activities.  Of course, neither of you would come out, for fear of violent reprisal.  So you played a game.

You made eye contact for a little longer than usual.
He glanced at your crotch, and made sure that you noticed.
You glanced at a hot guy passing by, and made sure that he noticed.
He asked if you had a girlfriend.
You asked if he lived in the dorm or with his parents.

When you were quite sure, you got him alone and made an undeniable move: you touched his face or his basket, or leaned in for a kiss.  But you were never completely sure.

He might jump away and yell "Whoa, man!  That's not my thing!"
Or call the Dean and have you expelled.
Or kill you.

During my four years at Augustana, I only met two or three guys that way.

One was a cute nerd.  Or maybe a creepy old guy.  I couldn't decide which.

In the main reading room of the Augustana Library, there was a bookcase filled with discards and donations.  You could get a hardback for fifty cents and a paperback for a dime.  Many students browsed there, sometimes a faculty member, but rarely anyone from the community.

I had a part time job in the library, and I often noticed Trevor (not his real name), a slim, rather cute guy in his 30s or 40s, with brown wavy hair and horn-rimmed glasses, who always dressed formally and spoke in over-grammatically correct English.  He came in most Tuesday afternoons at 3:00, just as the new books were put out.  He bought at least three, sometimes four or five, week after week.

When he came up to the circulation desk to pay, we made eye contact for a little longer than usual.  I glanced at his crotch, and made sure that he noticed. He glanced at a hot guy, and made sure that I noticed.  I asked if he lived in the dorm, and he said, "Oh, no, I'm not a student.  I live in town."

I, not we.  Not married.  Maybe gay, maybe interested.

But there was only one way to be sure.

One day he found a treasure: a ten-volume set of the works of Martin Luther in German (the library had just received a new edition).  "I'll take the first five volumes now, and come back for the others."

"I'll be happy to help you carry them to your car."

"I don't have a car.  But don't worry -- it's just five blocks."

I thought for a moment.  "Hey, we're running a special for our best customers -- free taxi service.  My car's parked out back."

He hesitated.

"It's 90 degrees out there.  You can pay me back with a bottle of pop."

Trevor lived five blocks from campus, where 5th Avenue turns industrial.  There was a factory across the street and an Irish pub next door.  No neighbors.

"Do you live alone?" I asked.

"It was just Mother and me until she died five years ago.  Now it's just me."

Suddenly I thought that this might not be a good idea.  Serial killers always lived alone, or with Mother.

Or with Mother's corpse.

Trevor piled the books on the enclosed front porch and fumbled about for his key.  "Your payment awaits within -- one bottle of pop," he said with a weird lunatic grin.

Besides, in a big house isolated from all the others, if he got violent...

Today I would never set foot inside that house.  But I was 18....

Trevor opened the door onto a large, rectangular parlor with parquet ceilings and two old chandeliers.  And books. Books and books. Wall-to-wall bookcases crammed with books.  Books piled on the sofa, on the coffee table, books in neat piles stacked near to the ceiling.

At a glance, I saw Modern Astronomy, Reading Norwegian, Shakespeare's Festive Comedy, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Look Homeward Angel, Murder on the Orient Express, five Complete Works of Shakespeare, and about a dozen paperback copies of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

"I run a rare book service for collectors," he said, noting my surprise. "This is some of my inventory."

He pushed aside a pile of books from a 1950s-style couch, invited me to sit down, and disappeared down a book-lined hallway.  A grey cat appeared out of nowhere and jumped onto my lap.

Other than purring, the room was utterly silent.  I imagined the terrible emptiness at night.  There wasn't even a tv or radio.

Trevor returned with two A&W root beer mugs filled with soda and a plate of cookies. The tray depicted a weird scary Santa Claus drinking a Coke.  "The cookies are homemade.  My secret ingredient is allspice," he said with a nervous giggle. "I see you've met my roommate,"

"Your roommate?"

"George the Cat."  He put the tray down, sat next to me on the couch, and started to pet George, his hand coming perilously close to my crotch.  I began to redden.  "You're quite athletic, aren't you?  How many push-ups can you do?"

"Um...I don't know.  I never checked.  Don't you get lonely here?  Or do you have friends over every night?"

"No...I'm afraid I don't get many guests.  Sometimes a client stops by.  But usually it's just George and me, and my books."

I wasn't worried about Trevor being a serial killer anymore.  I was worried that he was me in the future, going through life alone, with no friends, no lovers, just a cat and piles of books, the only gay person in a world of husbands and wives, a creepy old guy trying to pick up college boys.

Suddenly a phone rang.  I jumped a foot -- I hadn't noticed it behind a pile of books on the end table.  Trevor excused himself and answered.  "No, I haven't started yet...chocolate fudge, I suppose....ok, then, lemon...."

He hung up.  "Sorry about that. I've been drafted into making a cake for a birthday party tonight. You're welcome to stay, if you like.  We can talk while I bake."

A life devoted to cats, books, and cooking. Even worse. "Thanks, but I have to be going."

I didn't stop to ask who he was making the cake for.  I figured a nephew or neighborhood kid.

Trevor continued to come to the library book sales, but in the fall my schedule changed, and we rarely saw each other.  Two years later Professor Burton, who held the famous handcuff parties, "introduced" him as one of his gay friends.

I heard about his wide circle of friends in the Cat Club, the Iowa City Rare Book Club, the Friends of the Library, the Celtic Heritage Society, his cooking classes at the community college.  Male, female, gay, straight.

Trevor had carved out quite a nice life for himself.  Even though he was rather weird.  And lived in a small town full of heterosexual husbands and wives.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mario the Teen Fashion Model

New York, September 2000

When I was living in West Hollywood, there was a strict age segregation.  If your boyfriend was more than five years older or younger, tongues would wag.  More than ten years, and there would be snubs and disinvitations to parties.

So when I moved to New York in 1997, near my 37th birthday, I assumed that my boyfriends would be in the late 30s - early 40s range.

Instead, I was cruised by every Cute Young Thing in sight, guys in their 20s, even teenagers.

What did I have in common with guys 10 or 20  younger than me?  I had never heard of Puff Daddy or the Spice Girls.  I didn't watch Dawson's Creek.  I didn't play Grand Theft Auto.  And I was ready for bed by 10:00 pm.

But guys in my age range were usually in long-term monogamous relationships or married to women and closeted.  Or else they had major personality flaws.  So why not try the Cute Young Things?

But they had drawbacks of their own.

Fall 2000. I meet Mario (not his real name) at a party.  He's somewhat more feminine than what I usually like, but short and muscular, two of the five traits I find attractive (the others are dark skin, being religious, and having a large endowment).

A student at Columbia University, majoring in education -- "I've always loved kids"  -- and a professional model. He did some fashion catalogs and a nude photo shoot for Freshmen.

I call him the next day.  "Would you like to see Saving Silverman next Friday night?  I hear there's a lesbian character in it.  And afterwards we could go to the Empellon Taqueria.  That's where I went on my date with Andrew Lloyd Webber."

He giggles.  "Dinner and a movie?  So old-fashioned!  Sounds great!"

We see the movie, which is entirely heterosexist, all about "changing" lesbians.  Then, over quesadillas and chiles relleno, we discuss my brief modeling career and porn movie, compare growing up fundamentalist in the Midwest with growing up Catholic in New Jersey, and reveal our lists of favorite cities (mine are Paris, Tallinn, and Brussels, his are Paris, London, and New York).

That's when he tells me that he's only 19 years old.

I can count on one hand the number of teenagers I've been with, and the dates usually end up badly.  What would the guys back in West Hollywood say?

But I figure, We're having a nice conversation.  Why not give it a shot?

It's 10:00.  I'm ready for the evening to end with a kiss on the doorstep, or an invitation inside, but Mario says "Let's go to Webster Hall!"

It's an 18+ dance club, bright with flashing lasers, throbbing with techno-indie music, crowded with teenagers wearing glowing neon tubes and sucking on pacifiers.  Mario and I dance until I'm sweat-soaked and wishing I hadn't eaten that quesadilla, and then he dances some more, grinding and flirting with every guy in sight.

I'm fuming.  I rush over, pull him from the embrace of some guy, and tell him, "You don't cruise when you're on a date!  It's not done!"

He doesn't stop dancing.  "What's cruising mean?"

"Flirting with guys!"

"Oh, come on, don't be jealous!  I'm just having a good time!"

It's midnight.  My head is throbbing, and my shirt reeks of cigarette smoke.  "Can we go somewhere quieter?"  I ask.

"Sure.  I know a place."

We take a taxi to a dark, scary warehouse-type building.  We pay a $10 admission fee, deposit our clothing into lockers, and enter a dimly-lit maze where guys are walking around in towels.

"You brought me to a bath house?" I exclaim, astonished at his chutzpah. "But we're on a date!"

"Don't be a prude! Seeing all the hot guys will get us all excited for later, right?"

There are lots of hot guys around, more and more as time passed, until the hallways are just as packed as the dance club.  You have to push your way through, being grabbed a dozen times on the way.

At least I can to take a shower.

2:00 am.  I lose track of Mario for a long time, and think he's gone for good.  I'm about ready to get in a taxi and go home when he appears, nude and smiling. .

"You lost your towel," I point out.

"Oh, yeah," he says absently.  "I must have left it in someone's room. So, where to now?"


"But I'm starving.  A quick bite first, ok?"

Mario's "quick bite" is The Cafeteria in Chelsea, an all-night eatery patronized by actors, models, and wannabes.  While we wait for our signature macaroni and cheese with grilled green beans, two of Mario's model friends come in, and they sit and gossip, and gossip, and gossip.

4:00 am.  The four of us walk out onto the cold, dark streets of Chelsea.  "Home!" I exclaim.  I mean that we should go to our own separate homes, but I'm too groggy to protest as Mario pushes me into a cab and gives the driver his address -- a dormitory on 114th Street.  He has his own room, with a sink, but the bathroom is down the hall.

All I can think of is sleep, but Mario has other ideas. Lots of them.

I wake up at the same time every day, no matter when I go to bed.  So I'm up at 6:00 am, after about 45 minutes of sleep.  I take an early-morning subway back to my apartment.

The Gay Community Center is advertising a meeting of SAGE, the gay senior citizens club.  I think I'll find my next boyfriend there.

See also: Liam's 18th Birthday Present; My Most Embarrassing Date.

I Land a Date with the Water Delivery Guy

Upstate,  April 2009

Chad the Satyr's housemate and I broke up around Valentine's Day, and I was ready to start dating and hooking up again.

I was getting tired of the Gang of Twelve, the guys in Upstate New York who all had dated each other over the years and knew each other's secrets and gossipped constantly.   So although I continued accepting dates with the Klingon, the Sword Swallower, and the Pitcher with a Secret Move, I started looking at other guys.

Like the water man.

That spring water coolers were all the rage.  Tap water was unsafe, or at least the media said so, so everybody installed a water cooler in the kitchen, with a 5-gallon, 40-pound tank that had to be changed every week.

It was tricky changing the tanks yourself without splashing water all over, so the water companies offered a service whereby "the water man" would knock on your door once a week with a new bottle to replace the old.

They hired only the most muscular guys for the job, and my water guy, Pete, was no exception: in his 30s, short, dark-haired, with a v-shaped torso, an oval face and big hands.  And a wedding ring.

None of the Gang of Twelve had ever heard of him.

Not gay.

Still, every Wednesday afternoon, when Pete arrived with my water, we chatted a little longer than usual, made a little extra eye contact.  Sometimes I "accidentally" had my shirt off to see if his eyes widened.

They did.

Pete told me he was from Long Island, where he and his wife owned a house.  He came to town studying music at the University.  It was very expensive trying to maintain a house and an apartment, so he took the water-delivery job to make extra money.

"What does your wife do?" I asked.

"Sally is a teacher back on Long Island," Pete said.  "We're separated."

Separated?  The precursor to a divorce?

It made perfect sense.  Why did he choose a music school upstate, when there were so many options closer to Long Island?  He wanted to get as far from his wife as possible, to make a fresh start as he explored the gay world.

Now I just had to seal the deal.

#1: Let him "figure it out."   Straight guys always assume that everyone in the world is straight, but gay guys are always looking for clues.  I said "I just broke up with someone, and I'm trying to rid my apartment of all of their stuff.  Could you use some cds of Haydn, Bach, and Tchaikovsky?"

His eyes lit up as he deciphered someone and their as closet-speak for a guy and his.

#2: Physical contact.  We had chatted several times during the winter and spring, but I never actually touched him.  I said, "Hey, could you teach me how to change the bottles?  In case I run out before the end of the week?"

I changed gigantic bottles of milk and soda when I was in grad school, but he didn't need to know that.

I "accidentally" slipped, spilling some of the water on the floor.  Pete grabbed me. Massive hard chest against my back, shoulders against my shoulders, both of us laughing and sliding.

"Are you ok?"

"I will be in a minute."  I turned.  We kissed.

Pete had more deliveries that day, of course, so he couldn't stick around.  He returned in the evening, ready to go -- apparently he wasn't newly out, but had been seeing guys "on the downlow" before he and his wife separated.

His beautiful physique was all from "genetics" and lifting bottles of water -- he claimed that he never worked out.  He was small beneath the belt, but still a top, which I didn't mind for a change of pace.  The only thing I didn't like were his fetishes.  The clothes pins and whips were ok, but I drew a line at the lady's underwear.

We dated for about three weeks, long enough to count as boyfriends, at least by gay community rules.  A movie, the opera -- Wagner's Das Liebesverbot -- and two music recitals at the college, plus the antique and collectible shops of Cooperstown -- Pete was big into the kitchy nostalgia of the 1950s.

Muscular, musical, and into pop culture -- there might be a future here!

But I was hearing an awful lot about Sally, the separated wife back on Long Island.  She loved Thai food.  She was a big fan of Elton John.  She was looking for a new job.

One day at breakfast in Morey's Restaurant, he mentioned that Sally had a head cold.

"Wait -- how do you know she has a cold?" I asked.

"I just talked to her last night," Pete said nonchalantly.

"What for?"

"I talk to her every night."

I started to feel hot.  "What for?" I repeated.  "You're separated.  You have a new life now.  Shouldn't you be severing ties?"

He stared.  "That's right, we're separated.  By 200 miles.  I think about her all the time.  I can't wait until we're back together again."

Not a legal separation, a physical separation!  Now I was feeling really hot.  My stomach was churning.  "But...but...then what are we?"

"Why, friends, of course."

"But the bedroom...."

"Oh, we have an open relationship. In fact, if you're not doing anything on the 9th, how about coming back to Long Island for a visit?  Sally would love to watch us, or maybe join in.  Are you into three-ways?"

"What?  Are you crazy?"  The thought made me nauseous. "I gotta go...."  I bolted from the restaurant and fled to the safety of my car.

No more weirdness for me!  From now on, I'm meeting men the old fashioned way -- picking them up in bars.

See also: The Museum Guard in My Bed.; My 12 Porn Movie Hookups

The Rabbi's Son Who Didn't Know He Was Gay

Rock Island, May 1977

 During my junior year in high school, I was acting the Johnny Nazarene, going to all of the church activities, going to the altar, and planning to attend Olivet, our Bible college on the prairie.  And dating Verne the Preacher's Son, sort of.

At the same time, I became obsessed with all things Catholic: I read The Little World of Don Camillo and The Seven-Story Mountain, saw Brother Sun, Sister Moon, even bought a small crucifix (which I had to keep carefully hidden from my family, of course).

And I became obsessed with all things Jewish.  I read the novels of Chaim Potok, watched Lanigan's Rabbi, and occasionally broke through the crowd of girls surrounding Aaron, the rabbi's son, to ask him a few questions about kosher laws or Hebrew School or his bar mitzvah.

We had a sizeable Jewish community in the Quad Cities, mostly Russian, some Polish.  There were three conservative Orthodox synagogues, a Reform synagogue, and the Tri-City Jewish Center, where Aaron's father worked.

Aaron was Reform -- he rarely wore his yarmulke, unless he wanted to make a political statement, and he didn't keep kosher.  But he was constantly looking out for Christian incursions into his religious freedom.

In orchestra, he refused to play selections from Jesus Christ, Superstar.  In Spanish class, he refused to read a story about "La Natividad."  When the English teacher assigned My Name is Asher Lev, he kept raising his hand to point out that the novel was set in a very conservative Hasidic community -- all Jews weren't like that.

Naturally, we became friends.

Aaron was always surrounded by girls, friends and admirers, but he never dated them.  Instead he was dating a Lutheran boy named Mike.

He didn't know that he was gay yet.  In fact, he was exceptionally homophobic.

One day in May 1977, just after  my naked conversation with Verne, we were walking down the hallway when a passing senior invited us to the Drama Club Spring Play, Tom Stoppard's Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead.

“And don’t worry, it’s safe to come,” he added. “We deleted lines implying that  Rosencranz and Guildenstern are. . .you know.” He flashed a limp wrist.

He walked on.  I asked Aaron "What lines imply that they’re. . .you know?”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea!” Aaron exclaimed “I never saw it, and you better believe I’m not going to! Are you?”

“Of course not!" I said.  "No way am I a Swish!" I would never go to a play about them!"

"I would never read a book about them, either!"

“Well, I wouldn’t even touch a book about them!”

“I wouldn’t even touch a book that mentioned them just one time!”

“Well, I wouldn’t even be in the same room with it.”

Eventually Aaron won by declaring that he wouldn’t be in the same universe with a piece of paper that had the word "gay" written backwards,  in Bulgarian, in invisible ink.

But we had to end the contest.  We were meeting our boyfriends for lunch.

The Daddy with a New Lover Every Week

West Hollywood, March 1990

"I thank God for bringing me my new lover," Cal announced during the "joys and sorrows" segment of the service at the West Hollywood MCC.  We all looked eagerly, and with some envy:

Cal had only been attending the church for a few weeks.  He was new to West Hollywood, newly out, with an ex-wife and kids back in Baltimore.  Middle aged but too scrawny to be a bear, bald, eyeglassed, not attractive.

But he was holding hands with a stunningly handsome, curly haired beach boy in tight jeans.

During the coffee hour after the service, several guys approached the new lovers to congratulate them and invite them to "do brunch," perhaps hoping that they would be able to "share" Cal's prize.

The next week, Cal sat in church alone, brushing off the questions of "Where's your lover?"  During the "joys and sorrows," he announced, teary-eyed, that he and the beach boy had broken up.  "It's been hard on me, but I trust that God has a plan, and He'll get me through this!"

During the coffee hour after the service, several guys approached Cal to offer their sympathy and invite him to "get back out there."

The next week, Cal sat  with a stunningly handsome, curly-haired gym rat in a white tank top.

"I thank God for bringing me my new lover," he announced during "joys and sorrows."
I stared.  How did he find a new lover so fast?

It was the height of the AIDS crisis, and tricking (our term for hookups) was strongly condemned.  You never went home with someone you had just met; you asked him for a date (in four or five days, to avoid appearing over-eager).

The first date involved going out to dinner, a movie if there was a beefcake-heavy one playing, dancing, cruising (looking at cute guys), and then home to spend the night.

The second date was more of the same, except that at some point you met his friends, who approved or not.

The third date was a momentous step: it marked you as lovers (permanent partners).

Treated as a couple by all of your friends.
No other sex partners except for shared friends
Planning to move in together.

And requiring a tearful, face-to-face,  "it's not you, it's me" breakup.

There were a lot of first and second dates in West Hollywood, but not many thirds.  In a decade, I only had about five.  How did Cal manage to get two in two weeks?

The next Sunday, Cal was sitting alone in church again.  He explained that his lover wasn't feeling well.

But the following Sunday, he was praising God for giving him a new lover -- a slim, curly haired twink who worked as a waiter at the Cafe Etoile.

Ok, what was going on?  Did Cal meet guys on Tuesday, have the dates Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, become lovers in time for Sunday morning congratulations and brunch invitations, and then break up?

Why would you do that?

Unless you were using "lovers" as a socially acceptable way of tricking, going through guy after guy at the speed of light?

I decided to do a little sleuthing.  I tagged along on one of the brunch invitations to start a friendship with Cal.  Then, the next Sunday, when he announced that he and his lover had broken up, I invited him to dinner next Wednesday, with Lane.

And a guy from the gay synagogue: Joel, a lawyer, early 30s, pale, bookish, with glasses and a sparse beard (top photo).  Black curly hair. Conservative, not into "sharing" (we tried -- he's #5 on my list of the Guys Who Got Away).

 And most importantly, an interest in older guys.

The matchmaking worked fine: Cal and Joel were both impressed, exchanged phone numbers, and went home (separately).

At Shabbat on Friday night, Joel told us that for their first date, Cal was taking him to dinner at in the restaurant at the top of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.

"He really wants to impress you!" I exclaimed.  Entrees started at $30.

"Yeah, it's really more of a third date place," Joel agreed.  "He said he works for Paramount.  Maybe he has money."

The date was on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, like clockwork, Cal announced "I want to thank God for sending me my new lover.  He's Jewish, so he's not here today."

Lover? Permanent partner?  How was that possible?  They had only been on one date!

At the coffee hour after church, invitations to brunch were scarce, perhaps because there was no hunk on Cal's arm, or because congratulating people becomes tiresome when they have a milestone every week.

"So, you and Joel hit it off pretty well?" I asked, tentatively.

"Pretty well!" Cal exclaimed.  "He's fantastic!  I never met anyone like him before.  We have everything in common.  We're soulmates, for sure."

"After one date?"

"When it's The One, you know after one glance!  He's moving in next weekend."

"Well, after the dust is settled, invite us over for dinner.  We're the guys who brought you together."

"Sure -- but no sharing!" Cal said with a smile.  "I want Joel all to myself."

I didn't get a chance to talk to Joel during the week, but at Shabbat on Friday, I asked, "How are things going with Cal?"

"Things aren't actually going," he said.  "We went out Saturday night, then again on Tuesday, but no more.  He's nice and all -- I know he's your friend -- just not my type."

"That's funny -- in church on Sunday he announced that you had become lovers."

"That's the thing.  During the first date -- we had only just barely climbed into bed -- he started saying we were soulmates, meant to be together, he had never met anyone like me before, and so on and so on.  Sunday morning he talked about moving in together!  It was way too fast!"

So Cal wasn't using dating as a substitute for hookups.  Quite the opposite.  He fell in love instantly, like many guys do who have been deprived of same-sex relationships until midlife.

"Poor guy.  I'm surprised you hung around for the second date."

"Well, I thought he would calm down a little.  Besides, I wanted another chance in bed with him."

"Good in bed, huh?"

Joel grinned and spread his hands apart like a fisherman. "Biggest I ever saw."

Unfortunately, I never saw it, but from other guys who dated Cal, I'm estimating a Kovbasa+.

See also: My Top 15 Sausage Sightings; 10 Guys who Got Away

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Date with the Nastiest Guy in the World

Kew Gardens, New York, April 1998

During my first year in New York, I was living in graduate student housing near the university on Long Island, nearly 2 hours from Manhattan by train, and trying to figure out a way to move to a gay neighborhood.

While looking, I spent a lot of time in gay chatrooms.

You actually met people by "instant messaging" them.  Inside the room itself, the conversations were usually limited to "anybody here?", stats, and insults.

A guy named Troy terrorized the Long Island chatroom.  There all the time, making insulting comments about everybody and everything.

Me: Grad student in sociology.
Troy: There's an exciting degree.  The art of studying the obvious!

Me: I lived in West Hollywood for 13 years.
Troy: How many auditions did you bomb before you gave up on your dreams of stardom?
Me:  I just got back from visiting my parents in Indiana.
Troy: How fun, chawin' tobaccy at the general store with Ma and Pa Kettle!

Even his profile was obnoxious: "I take care of my body and expect you to.  No fats, femmes, or grandpas.  If you aren't extra large beneath the belt, don't bother."

So I was surprised one day when I announced, "Looking for a room in Manhattan or nearby," and Troy instant messaged me.  He wanted to share his apartment in Kew Gardens, only 25 minutes from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad.

"How far is it from the train station?" I asked. "I don't have a car."

"Only five minutes."

It sounded ideal, but -- share an apartment with the nastiest guy in the world?  Well -- maybe if he was in his room most of the time, making snarky comments in chatrooms.

So one Wednesday afternoon I took the train to Jamaica Station, and Troy picked me up.

He was much older than his profile picture, with a weird Satanic goatee, but quite muscular, almost a bodybuilder's physique.  If it wasn't for the nastiness, I could see us dating.

We drove down Jamaica Avenue, three, five, six blocks.

This was a little far to walk every day.

Under the Van Wyck Expressway -- then to Kew Gardens Road, then to Lefferts Boulevard.  Finally we pulled up to a weird apartment complex 1.5 miles from Jamaica Station!

"This is easily a half-hour walk, across two busy streets and under a freeway!" I exclaimed. "I told you I don't have a car."

"Oh..I thought your car was in the shop."

That was crazy.  Most people in New York didn't have cars.  "No way can I live here!"

"I guess not."  He paused.  "Tell you what -- I feel bad for bringing you all the way out here, so how about I buy you dinner, and then I'll drive you home."

"Sure, ok."  He owed me that much.

He took me to Mehak, an Indian restaurant with very good tandori chicken, with ice cream for dessert.  I refused the wine.

Troy turned out to be very nice in person.  No snark, not even when said that my mother was from Kentucky.

"Why are you so nasty online?" I ventured.

"I'm not nasty, I'm just honest.  I won't lie to you.  I'll tell you if you're a chubbo, or you have a twig down there."

"Most people prefer a little tact. You know, to avoid hurting someone's feelings."

"It's not tact, it's lying."

Maybe I actually found him attractive, maybe I was flattered that he hadn't called me a chubbo with a twig down there, or maybe I wanted my "money's worth" for the wasted time, but when he suggested that we go back to his apartment, I agreed.  

After kissing, cuddling, and criticizing Wednesday night sitcoms, Troy suggested that we move into the bedroom, and I agreed again.

He started to pull out the couch.

Then it dawned on me -- this was a studio apartment!

"Wait -- I've heard of guys with one bedroom apartments renting out their living rooms, but in a studio -- where did you expect me to sleep?"

Troy looked away.  "I...well, actually, I don't really need a roommate.  I just wanted to meet you."

"So you conned me into coming over?" I asked, stunned.  "Ever hear of asking someone for a date?"

He grinned.  "This way worked, didn't it?"

It did.  I spent the night with him anyway.

The next day, online, The Nastiest Guy in the World was back: "Boomer is bigger than me, but inside he's just a little sissy boy.  Oh, use a little tact!  Oh, you're hurting my feelings! Wah, wah, wah!."

See also: A Search for a Roommate in Philadelphia

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Carl, the Cowboy Cop on My Sausage List

Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, April 1985

You probably know the type of guys I find attractive:

1. Short, the shorter the better.
2. Muscular or husky.  Fat is good.  Bodybuilder too.
3. Dark-skinned.  Black, Asian, Hispanic.  If you're Caucasian, then maybe Italian, Greek, Spanish.
4. Religious, or better yet, clergy.
5. Gifted beneath the belt.

So how did I end up with a guy who was taller than me, thin, a fair-skinned blond, and not religious?

Well, at least he met trait #5: he was the third biggest guy I've ever met, #13 on my Sausage List.

It was during my horrible year at Hell-fer-Sartain State College in Texas, the worst place in the world.  I drove into the Montrose, the gay neighborhood of Houston, to the Wilde and Stein Bookstore.  While I was browsing in the fiction section, a guy approached me -- very tall, at least 6'8" to my 6'1, lanky, blond, wearing tight jeans and a lumberjack shirt.

"Don't I know you from somewhere?" he asked, in retrospect the oldest line in the book.  But we chatted, and it was a relief to meet someone who wasn't deeply closeted or was overloaded with weird quirks.

 His name was Carl, he was 27 years old, and a real life cowboy -- he grew up on a ranch near Abilene.

We went to dinner at the Hobbit Cafe, which, in spite of its name, served Mexican food, to the mall to buy me a pair of cowboy boots, dancing -- at a regular gay disco, not a cowboy bar, and then back to his apartment.

 It was such a relief to meet someone who wasn't closeted or kooky that I didn't mind his lack of the traits I usually find attractive, or that he lived in Pasadena, on the south side of Houston, a good 40 miles from me.

During the usual date small-talk, Carl told me that he worked in human services.  Now, sitting on the couch in his apartment, he said "You know what?  I'm just going to come out with it.  I'm not exactly in human services."

"What, then?"

"I'm a cop."

I felt the blood draining from my face.  Same-sex acts were illegal in Texas (they would be until 2003), and the police actively sought to entrap "homosexual deviants" in the bars and bookstores of Montrose.  Put your hand on his shoulder, you're under arrest for lewd conduct.  And we had been dancing together, groping, and kissing....

"It's not like that," Carl said, sensing what I was thinking.  "I'm gay.  In the closet, of course."

"Of course."  If he were discovered, he would be instantly fired.  "Um...the gay community doesn't have a very good attitude toward the police."

"I know.  That's why I don't usually tell people until the second or third date.  It scares them off faster than finding out that I'm bisexual."  He conked himself on the head.  "Whoops, I let another one slip out, didn't I?"

"You sure did.  Any more closets you want to open?"

"Yeah.  I'm an atheist. I grew up in a fundy household, and all of that God crap just riles me up!"

Hmm-- I believed in God, and went to church, but I decided to not mention those few details.  I wanted to see this guy in the bedroom!  "Bisexual, atheist, cop," I joked.  "I'm surprised you haven't been lynched!"

We went into the bedroom, and Carl revealed that, although he was missing traits #1-4, he more than made up for it with #5.

On our second date, he came up to my apartment, with a pizza -- 45 minutes late.  He explained that he had stopped to help a lady fix her flat tire.

A good Samaritan, too.  This one might be a keeper.

We sat in the living room, eating our pizza from the coffee table.  Carl started checking around the room.   An Eastern Orthodox icon.  A Catholic crucifix on the wall.  A small bronze statue of The Madonna of Regensburg that I got during my semester abroad.  A bookcase containing Church and Society, Halley's Bible Handbook, Dag Hammarskjold's Markings, Three Treatises of Martin Luther, God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis...

"Don't tell me you're into that God crap!" Carl exclaimed, his mouth full of pepperoni.

", I was raised Nazarene, but they're way homophobic, so when I was in grad school I started going to the Metropolitan Community Church.  There's one in Houston.  I don't get there very often, but...."

"Church is church.  It's all about hating homos!"

"No, the MCC is different.   It was founded by the Rev. Troy Perry, who's gay, and most of the members are gay."

"Self-loathing, no doubt."  His voice changed to a squeaking falsetto.  "Oh, I'm gay, I'm so worthless, I need God to wipe my sins away."

"But the MCC teaches that gay is ok.  God loves gay people, and..."

"Enough is enough!  I didn't come here to listen to the whole God spiel!"

I was starting to get angry.  "Well, Carl, if I don't mind that you're an atheist, you shouldn't mind that I believe in God, right?  Difference of opinion and all that?"

"I don't have to respect ridiculous opinions.  What if you thought the moon was made of green cheese?  Should I respect that?"

We went on like that for awhile, and Carl ended up leaving.

Turns out that I was lacking one of the traits that the bisexual cowboy cop found attractive.

The Only Time A Guy Has Criticized My Size

Dayton, October 2005

I'll admit that I like them big -- #5 on the list of the Traits I Find Attractive is a Kielbasa+++ beneath the belt.  But small ones have their benefits.
1. No worries about your teeth getting in the way.
2. "Sure, go ahead and top me.  No problem."
3. They're extremely sensitive.
4. They're always a surprise.
5. Guys with small ones tend to have low self-esteem, regardless of their other qualities, and it's fun to work on building them up.

The biggest drawback is: they don't take off their pants easily.  They hide behind a towel at the gym.  They don't go to bath houses or M4M Parties, or cruise for hookups.  25% of men in U.S. have 5" or less, but you never see them.  Only the whoppers are on display.

The small guys never see other small guys, either. Leaving them to believe that they are even smaller.  Making them less likely to display it.  And so on, a vicious circle.

I've only been with a few guys in the 5" and under category, and almost never for a hookup.  Sharing here and there, a date once in a while.

I dated a firefighter in Dayton who was about 3.5"  He said that sometimes guys changed their minds and left the moment he dropped his pants.

One of the M4M Party regulars measures at 4.0", and that's being generous.  But he's not at all self-conscious about it.

Comic Book Guy in Florida was attractive, and into kissing, but he wouldn't let me in his bed for a long time.  When I got there, I found out why: an angry inch, maybe two.  That wasn't the reason we broke up, though.  His sleeping arrangements were just too weird.

The smallest guy on my Sausage List was Leronne, the ex-boyfriend of my boyfriend Charlie, the high school football coach.  One night Charlie invited him along on our date, to have dinner and hopefully "share."

"He's shy," Charlie warned me.  "And he's very self-conscious about his size, so don't say anything."

"Please, I'm not that rude!" I exclaimed, offended.  "How could I fault a guy for something he has no control over?"

"Just kind of build him up, praise him for how nice it is.  Pretend you want him to top you."

"Ok, fine."  I was wondering just how small this guy was, to require building up even after you have agreed to go to bed with him.

Leronne was an African-American twink, mid-20s, short, slim, light-skinned, with a lithe, non-muscular physique.  Not exactly my type, but close enough.

We had dinner in Yellow Springs, the hippie enclave -- Charlie was too closeted to be seen anywhere in Dayton.

 This was the 2000s, past the era when coming-out stories were standard parts of dinner conversations, but Leronne told me his anyway.  Growing up in southern Ohio, feeling isolated and alone because he was attracted to men, because he was black, and because he was "puny."  He hated gym class because guys would always laugh and point at his puny package in the locker room, call him a "girl" and a "fag."

"But it was even worse when I came out." he continued.  "Guys were all like, 'Come on, hottie, let me see your giant sausage,' and when I pulled it out, they like lost interest.  I was afraid to even go to the gym."

"How did you end up with a football coach?" I asked.

"I always liked them big," Leronne said with a smile.  "Big muscles, big package.  No Princess Teeny-Tiny for me."

"Double standard, huh?"  I thought.

We all agreed to the sharing, so we returned to my apartment, sat on the couch to "watch a movie," and started getting intimate.  Leronne was a good kisser, but reluctant to strip.  Both Charlie and I were naked before he unbuttoned a button.

Finally we took him into the bedroom -- he insisted on leaving the lights off -- tore off his shirt, and unzipped his pants.

Average size, maybe even a little bigger than average.  Nothing to get all ashamed of.

I pretended excitement.  "Wow, what a monster!  I hope you're a top!"

He was actually a bottom.  Charlie and I double-teamed him for awhile, and then I lay there while Charlie finished up.

I woke up at dawn.  Not wanting to wake the others, I put on a bathrobe and sat at my desk to work on my computer.

After awhile, Leronne got up, said "Good morning," and went to the bathroom.  "Got a spare toothbrush?"  he called.

I went to show him.  My bathrobe hung open.

He stared.  "What happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"You're so small!"

"That' know, it gets bigger when you're with a guy."

"I know, but last night you were like,  huge..."  He spread his hands in a fish-catching gesture.  "And now you're like...that."

"I'll have you know that I'm in the A Category in the Horseman's Club in Amsterdam," I said, getting angry.  "No admission fee.  I'd like to see you get anything higher than a C!"

"Sorry -- I didn't know you were sensitive about it.  I'm not into size, anyway.  C'mon, let's go wake Charlie up."  He bounded back into the bedroom and climbed atop Charlie -- who also got bigger when he was with a guy.

Weird how even being accused of smallness can sting.

See also: My Two Boyfriends; The Truth about the Black Penis

Monday, September 14, 2015

Moving to West Hollywood #2: The Move

June 1985

After spending a year at Hell-fer-Sartain State College, I managed to escape by being admitted to the graduate program in Comparative Literature at USC: so I would be moving to West Hollywood.  My friend Tom, who I visited in Los Angeles in 1980, offered to let me stay with him in Van Nuys while I looked for an apartment.  Dick, the former bully who I met at a gay bar, offered to drive along as far as Denver.

But I was worried.

I heard so much about AIDS decimating gay communities. Maybe West Hollywood was a ghost town, its residents all dead and dying.

Was it still there?

On June 28th, the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we left Rock Island.

We spent the night in Omaha, with Thomas, the priest with three boyfriends.  He had only one now, and they didn't invite us to "join them."

June 29th: To Denver.  We stayed with Dick's straight, married cousin.

June 30th:  We went to church at the gay MCC of the Rockies, on Evans Street (they've moved; the building is now a gym).  It was packed.  But of course a church would be packed during an epidemic.

Afterward we went out to lunch with some guys we met, and to a beer bust at the Denver Eagle, a leather bar.  It was packed, too, wall-to-wall denim and muscle.  But there was not a lot of cruising going on, and everyone looked rather subdued and worried.

July 1st: Fishing with Dick's cousin (I liked to use fishing as bait to meet cute guys), then back to the Denver Eagle.  Not packed on a Monday night, but a muscle bear invited us back to his house  (safe activities only). He told us that Colorado hadn't been hit hard by AIDS; there were only about 100 cases.

It was the gay ghettos that were turning into ghost towns.

July 2nd:  Dick was staying in Denver to look for a job, so I was on my own.  On the way through Utah, I stopped at the Delano Inn where I met the Mormon missionary during my trip back from Los Angeles in 1980.  He wasn't there.  A casualty, I wondered?

 I drove on to Las Vegas, and went to a casino and a drag show.  They were having an AIDS benefit.  It was packed.

Michael, a cute guy my age, escaped to West Hollywood from Montana two years ago, only to flee to Las Vegas.

"Most of the guys here are refugees," he said.  "They can't stay in West Hollywood anymore, with all of their friends dying."  I remembered the courtiers who fled plague-stricken Florence in Boccaccio's Decameron, and sat around telling stories.

"Is it still there?" I asked.  "Or is it a ghost town?"

"It's nothing like what it was.  People are dying."

Michael invited me back to his apartment, but only to cuddle.  He planned to be celibate until they found a cure.

July 3rd: I left at 9:00 am, and by noon I was over the mountains, zooming through the sprawl of Pasadena and East L.A..  I should have kept going, into the San Fernando Valley to Van Nuys, where Tom lived.  But I wanted to take a detour into West Hollywood first.

I wanted to see if Michael was right.  If it was a ghost town.

I got off the freeway and drove down Santa Monica Boulevard to La Brea, the border of West Hollywood. It looked grim and industrial, with parking lots and nondescript, windowless buildings.  No one on the street.

 Like a post-Apocalyptic America.

At La Cienega, Santa Monica Boulevard veered left.  The first thing I saw was AIDS prevention poster starring Zelda Rubenstein of Poltergeist.  

Then a huge gym, with musclemen churning on exercise bikes.

Two guys in tank tops buying cookies at an outdoor Mrs. Fields.

A guy walking out of the Different Light Bookstore carrying a gay magazine.

A banner advertising an AIDS Benefit at the Rage

Male couples sitting al fresco under the awnings at The Cafe Etoile

Gay men shopping, eating, working out, buying groceries and books, coming home from work, dozens of them, hundreds.  West Hollywood was still alive, still vibrant.

I was home.

See also: Moving to West Hollywood #1.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Finding a Boyfriend in the Girls' Locker Room

Rock Island, Spring 1973

Bill and I began to drift apart in junior high, when we took different classes and joined different clubs.  We still hung out, but we never slept over, and I think both of us were actively looking for new boys.

I tried dancing with boys at the weekly school dance for a few weeks, but teachers soon caught on and gave me detention. 

On a bleak Monday morning in February 1973, white with clouds that threatened snow, I was leaving school late after a club meeting, when I heard scuffling and voices from the eastern corridor that lead through Viking territory. I pushed past some onlookers and saw three Vikings dragging a Fairy (a feminine boy) kicking and squirming toward the girls’ locker room. (One of them was Dick, who I would meet again at a gay bar years later). His yellow button-down shirt was nearly torn off, his pants were bunched up around his ankles, and a Viking was jerking at his briefs. They were going to force girls to see him naked, and force him to see them!

When our eyes met for an instant, I recognized him as Dan, a slim, tanned seventh grader with dark blue eyes, glasses, and thick dirty-blond hair. I had him in three classes, but we rarely spoke unless a teacher forced us. Now, as I saw Dan's smooth chest, his warm tight belly, and his sex organs freed from their white briefs, I felt the gasping ache of joy that I usually felt watching men with muscles.

At the end of the hall, a teacher swung through the gym door to investigate,  concluded that the assault was for Anders’ own good, and silently retreated.

If the adults wouldn’t intervene, I thought, than I would have to! I propped my book bag against the wall and leapt onto the shoulders of the depantsing behemoth.

A moment  later,  Dan and I were both sliding through the double doors into the girls’ locker room. Fortunately, the team had a short practice session today, so most girls were dressed and gone, and the stragglers quickly covered up.

Dan was sobbing, and his hand was bleeding from where his watch snapped off. I put my arm around him while some of the girls gathered the books, clothing, Dan's glasses, and a clear-plastic protractor broken neatly in half. Then the gym teacher finally intervened and sent Dan – not the Vikings -- to detention.

On Tuesday I had wrestling, but on Wednesday, I waited for Dan at the portico outside the east door. “Hi, Dan!” I said, deliberately using the feminine form instead of his last name, the correct masculine form. The Fairy barely slowed as he muttered “H’lo, Davis.”

“Hey, do you like Donny Osmond?" 
Dan  slowed a little more. “He's pretty boss, I guess.”
“I got his new album, Alone Together.  Do you want to come to my house and listen to it?  I live on 41st Street, over by Denkmann."

We ran joyously to my house and sat on the floor in my basement room and listened to "The Twelfth of Never."

Soon I was meeting Dan at his house every morning to walk him to school, and sitting with him and Darry every day at lunch. After school, when I didn't have to stay late for wrestling or clubs, we went to Dan's house and listened to teen idol music or watched tv or played chess. On Saturdays we rode our bikes, and went swimming and hiking. During the summer of 1973, I saw him kissing Bill at the Longview Park Pool.

Dan came to all of my wrestling matches and judo tournaments, even the one in Urbana, three hours away, and as we drove home across a prairie dark except for car headlights and the occasional dim light on a water tower, he nodded off and lay his head softly onto my shoulder, so close that I could feel his breath against my neck. My brother Kenny, sharing the back seat with us, glanced over but did not comment.

But we rarely slept over, rarely shared a bed.  Dan said that we were "too old" for that.

Too old to share beds and rooms, and houses and lives?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...