Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sausage List #2: Hooking Up with my Old Bully

Rock Island, December 21st, 1984

December 21st, 1984, a Friday night.  I am teaching in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, the loneliest place on Earth --  I've had no dates all semester, except for some very weird one-night stands.  The high points of my semester have been a visit from Bruce and the student who got naked in my class.

Now I'm home for Christmas in Rock Island, the second loneliest place on Earth.

I've just had dinner with my parents, Tammy and her boyfriend, and Ken and his wife and kids.  Marriage and children are on everyone's mind.  The boyfriend asks, "Do you have a girlfriend in Texas?" My father shushes me before I can think of something witty and sardonic to say.

Then we watch tv: Benson, Webster, Dallas.

There are no gay people here.  Anywhere.

"Got stuff to do," I say.  "See ya."  I get into my car and head out into the black, clear night.  It's too cold to go to the levee, so I go to JR's, Rock Island's gay bar.

It's still early, only 9:30, and not crowded.  Most gay people are with their relatives now, lying, dissimulating, or keeping silent during conversations about boyfriends and girlfriends and the hotness of tv stars.

Then I see, across the room, my worst nightmare: Dick Sunstrom (not his real name).

Dick in Grade School
Dick was the biggest, meanest, nastiest bully at Denkmann Elementary School. He lived next door to Dewey's Candy Store, where Bill took me on our first date -- I think his grandpa owned it -- and he terrorized kids who tried to get after-school snacks.  Just boys he deemed insufficiently masculine: they were punched, kicked, tripped, spat on, and called names: Sissy!  Fairy!  Wuss!  Tiny Tim!  And the most devastating: Girl!"

At least once a week, Dick challenged a "sissy" to a fight, and the entire school watched as he pummelled the poor kid to death.  I was pummelled to death twice.

His reign of terror continued into junior high and high school, except that he got bigger and bigger, until he towered over us mortals, with huge hands and huge biceps and a beneath-the-belt gift that you couldn't take your eyes off.

He didn't fight much anymore, but he was one of the boys who pushed my future boyfriend Dan into the girls' restroom, and now he had a whole new repertoire of insults: Swish!  Fruit!  Fag! Homo!  The worst remained: Girl!

Now, six years after graduation, Dick is here in JR's, even bigger, more muscular, and meaner-looking.  Was he fooled by the country-Western decor?  Doesn't he realize that it's a gay bar?   I brace myself for the shouts of Sissy!  Fruit!  Fag! Wuss! Girl!

Dick sees me, clomps over, and claps a huge hand on my shoulder.  "Boomer!  How the hell are you?  I never expected to see you here!"

"Um...I never expected to see you, either.  How are you?"

"Great, just great!  Merry Christmas!  Let me buy you a beer!"

Turns out Dick is gay, a regular at JR's.  Really, shouldn't we have known?  He was a man's man who never spent a moment around girls.  He liked only male-coded activities like hunting, fishing, cars, and guns.  And the years of yelling: an obvious defense against the struggle that went on inside every boy who liked boys, when liking boys meant that you were a girl.

I should be angry over the damage Dick has done to a generation of feminine boys who heard his taunts of  Sissy!  Fairy!  Wuss!  Fag!  Girl!  But I'm not.  It took him forever to figure it out -- he was 22, in his senior year of college (he majored in accounting, of all things).  And in the last 2 1/2 years, he's had one-night stands but no boyfriends, no lovers.  He's more damaged than any of them.

Dick's house by the Candy Store
Dick invites me back to his house -- he still lives next to the Candy Store.  He shows me his cars, his fishing trophies, his gun collection.  Then he takes me into the bedroom and shows me the body that terrorized a generation of feminine boys.

It is magnificent (#7 on my Sausage List).

We exchange phone numbers, and get together whenever I come home for a Christmas or summer visit. Over the years he will meet my lovers, and I will meet his.

It's not so lonely in Rock Island after all.

See also: A Ginger Boy for Christmas

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Georgia Boy Hooks Up with the Waiter

Wilton Manors, February 2004

When I was living in Florida, Gerry was a fixture at Barney's gym.  He arrived around 6:00 am, and spent the next five hours lifting weights, on the treadmill, and hanging out in the sauna and whirlpool. Sometimes he returned again in the afternoon.

Before you get excited: he was quite elderly, small, slight, and wrinkled, with arthritis and back pain that limited his mobility.  His visits were strictly therapeutic.  And to look at the cute guys.

He had been out for only a few years. When you are living in Georgia, working as a third grade teacher, and married to a Baptist minister's daughter, you don't come out.  You would be fired and divorced instantly, and the court would deny you visitation rights to your children.

So he waited until he retired and the kids were grown up, served his wife with divorce papers, and moved into a condo in Wilton Manors.

Newly out, free to date for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration, he wanted to try everybody and everything. And older was attractive in Florida.  But you had to be robust, active, and dominant, a leather Daddy or a priapric satyr (look it up).  Like 63-year old Troy, who stole my boyfriend two years ago.  Gerry was short, small, and frail.

And you had to be out there  -- at organizations, on the gay beach, in the clubs.  Gerry didn't have the mobility or the stamina.

He occasionally met someone online by doctoring his photo and saying he was 55.  But they always made an excuse right away, or engaged in some desultory "pity" acts.

I shared his bed once, when he made a "hookup" date with a guy in Miami.  Neither of them had cars, so I drove Gerry down for the hookup, with the proviso that I got to watch or participate.  Unfortunately, the guy seemed to be mostly into me.  I had to keep physically pushing him toward Gerry.

Gerry was despondent.  He wanted a boyfriend, but he couldn't even find a decent hookup.

So Barney and I decided to play matchmaker.  We invited Gerry to brunch at the Courtyard Cafe, the Wilton Manors equivalent of the West Hollywood's French Quarter.

We each brought a "date" to introduce to Gerry.  Barney brought a retired football coach who worked out at the gym. I brought a professor of Asian Studies who I met at the Club.

Both were robust, active, and dominant.

Both ignored Gerry.

But the waiter didn't.

He was in his twenties, taller than me, rather slim, rather flamboyant, with a long face and a shock of brown hair. His nametag read "Rick: Georgia."

Waiters at the Courtyard Cafe always flirted for tips, but Rick seemed particularly flirty, and he immediately zeroed in on Gerry.

When Gerry ordered the Eggs Benedict, Rick exclaimed, "You must be a Georgia boy, too!  I can tell from your accent!  What you doing hanging out with all these Yankees?"

He asked Gerry's name, and said "Why, darlin'!  My drag name is Geraldine Delicious!  We're twins!"

Then he pointed out the side dishes by wrapping his arm around Gerry's shoulders.

When he brought our food, he wrapped his arm around Gerry again and said "Careful, darling, the plate's hot."

Then he brought us some sweet rolls for the table.  "On the house," he said, touching Gerry's shoulder again.   "Can't have too many sweet things in your mouth, can you?"

Gerry was grinning broadly.  He had never been the subject of so much attention before, not even when he was married.  "Hey, do you think he's really interested, or just a flirt?"

I decided to find out.  I said I had to go to the bathroom, and grabbed Rick on the way to the kitchen.  He smiled at me.  "Ready for the check?"

"The check and your phone number," I said, as if flirting.

"Sure thing, Daddy.  But only if you share it with that cute Georgia boy!"

"Gerry is your type?"

"You have no idea!  I've always been into older guys, and to meet one from back home, and a cutie-pie to boot!  I could just melt!"  He pulled the check from his pad and scribbled down his number.  "Excuse me, Daddy, I have to deliver the check right to the table, if you know what I mean?"

Three weeks later, Rick moved in with Gerry.

The relationship was a rocky one: within a period of six months, they broke up, got back together, broke up, became roommates, got back together again, and broke up again.

Gerry had the time of his life.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

David Picks Up a Homeless Teenager

Castro Street, September 1996

David was 43 years old, but an honorary twink.  He grew up in an ultra-conservative household in Arkansas, got married, and became a Baptist preacher -- then, on his 40th birthday, had his first same-sex experience.  He came out, quit his job, divorced his wife, and moved to San Francisco -- all in the same week!

He got an apartment and a job, joined a gym, bought a new wardrobe consisting mostly of leather, and went cruising.  Every day.  At lunchtime, after work, in the evening.  Sometimes on the way to work.

David was an equal-opportunity cruiser.  Young, old, black, white, rich, poor, he didn't care as long as you had either a nice smile or a big package.

But still, I was shocked when he cruised the teenage panhandler.

In San Francisco, panhandlers were everywhere, lined up outside ATM machines, restaurants, Muni stations, waving their cups, holding their signs that said "hungry!" or "Disabled veteran" or chanting  "Any change?  Any change?  Any change?"

Most people ignored them, figuring if you gave them money, you would be tagged as an "easy mark" and followed by many more.  Besides, you couldn't tell who was actually in need and who just wanted money for drugs.   There were many charities in town that could provide food and housing more equitably.

But even if you gave them money, inviting them home was quite a different thing.  No one did.  Ever.

Except David.

One day we went to Orphan Andy's for breakfast before work, and near the Muni station we passed a young panhandler, short, slim, probably in his 20s, wearing a baseball cap and an "Oakland A's" jersey.  His sign read: "Kicked out of the house for being gay!"

David dropped fifty cents into his cup, said "God bless you!", and moved on.

"Cute!"  he told me when we were out of earshot.  "I'll bet he's open for business!"

"You mean as a hustler?" I asked.  "Probably.  I hear that a lot of panhandlers will drop their pants and give you a show for a dollar.  Except they're not usually very attractive.  Living on the street, you don't get a lot of opportunities to hit the gym."

"Well, that twink was hot.  And I didn't mean as a hustler -- I meant as a date."

My mouth dropped.  "Are you crazy?  You can't cruise panhandlers!"

"Why not?  Worried that he'll stab me and steal all of my stuff?"  He patted my shoulder. "Just because they don't have a place to stay, they're automatically criminals, right?  Got a few prejudices there, Boomer?"

"It's not that," I said, embarrassed.  "But you know...."

"Oh, you're worried that he's poz (HIV positive).  I don't doubt it -- safe sex isn't exactly a priority on the street.  But I'm not stupid.  I never go downtown without a condom."

"Anyway, he's at least 20 years younger than you.  Middle-aged guys can't cruise twinks.  It's not done."

"Well, there's a first time for everything."

"Yes, but..."  I struggled to articulate.  "You're in a position of power over him.  Sex with him sounds like exploitation."

"Jesus had dinner with tax collectors and sinners," David said with a shrug.

The next morning we passed the same panhandler, and David gave him a dollar and shook his hand before saying "God bless you."

"I'm gay," the boy pointed out, as if that prohibited us from using the word "God" around him.

"The Metropolitan Community Church has an outreach program for homeless youth..."  I said.

"I know.  I've been there to take showers and get new clothes.  But I don't like churches much.  My Dad was a strict Baptist, and when he found out I was gay, he held my head under water to force the 'gay demon' out."

"I heard that!" David exclaimed.  "I used to be a Baptist minister -- they didn't get that being gay is a gift from God.  So is sex," he added.

The boy grinned.

"My name's David."


"Is this your usual spot?  Maybe I'll see you tomorrow."

As we walked away, David nudged me.  "Still worried about exploitation?"

"Sort of.  Give him some new clothes, buy him dinner, but having sex with him just seems exploitive."

"Would you like to supervise? Or share?"

I admit, I was curious.

On the third day, David gave Cole another dollar and a sausage-and-cheese bagel and invited him to have dinner at his apartment.  "Oh, and Boomer is coming, too."

That night, Cole arrived at David's doorstep, wearing a see-through t-shirt, and carrying a bouquet of flowers, of all things.

Over a dinner of chicken tetrazzini and tiramisu, Cole told us about his upper-middle class home in Tucson.  His father was a prominent lawyer.  He had three older brothers and sisters, one a lawyer, another married to a lawyer.

"And I'm the black sheep of the family.  Straight C's, suspended for fighting, arrested for smoking pot, and 'an abomination in the eyes of the Lord' to boot."

"You're not an abomination in anyone's eyes," David said.  They were holding hands under the table.

"You think so?  You should see how people at the Muni Station look at me.  Like I'm lower than dirt.  When they look at me at all.   They don't get that I'm just a regular, normal guy.  I like sports and stuff.  I like hot guys."

Soon they were kissing and ignoring their tiramisu. They moved into the bedroom.  I cleared the table and joined them.

Two weeks later, Cole was on a bus to Phoenix, where his older brother had agreed to take him in: "gay or not, he's still my brother."

What he needed the most was not money or a place to stay.  It was to be treated like a "regular, normal guy," not an abomination because he was homeless or gay.

See also: Pushing a Shopping Cart up Castro Street

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sharing the Orthodox Jewish Boy

West Hollywood, December 1989

Shortly after I got back from my semester in Turkey, I decided to make up for lost time with all of the ethnic groups that were rare in the Middle East: Black, Hispanic, and Asian.  First on my list was Black, so I went to a bar called the Zone.

Lane had just broken up with a long-term partner, and wanted to meet a black guy.

It didn't work out that way.  I went back to his apartment in West Hollywood, and never left.

Lane was about five years older than me, short, husky, a L.A. native, a big science fiction fan, and Jewish.

I never dated anyone Jewish before, although I was close friends with Aaron, the rabbi's son who didn't know he was gay, back in high school.

Lane had never dated anyone Christian before, and many of his friends were opposed to the idea, telling him that:

1. Christians were all anti-Semitic.  Every Sunday morning they gathered in churches to hear about how evil Jews were.  I might be polite now, but the moment we had an argument, the anti-Semitism would pop out.
2. The main goal of every Christian was to convert Jews to their religion, so Lane would be under constant pressure from me and all my relatives.
3. Christians didn't eat kosher, and they weren't circumcized.  Disgusting!

David (not his real name), a gay Orthodox Cute Young Thing, was particularly rude. He never spoke to me directly, he said insulting things in Yiddish, and he brought "nice Jewish boys" to the house when I wasn't around to lure Lane away.

It was time to teach him a lesson.  So just after my birthday, in December 1989, we invited him over for dinner.

I wasn't living with Lane yet, but I brought over a few pieces of home decor.

David arrived on Saturday night, and walked into a living room loaded down with Judaica, science fiction novels -- and a miniature Christmas tree.

" Hannukah bush," he said.

Instead of a map of Tolkien's Middle Earth, there was the famous Salman painting of Jesus.

"Is"  David stammered.

"Boomer gave it to me," Lane said.  "Isn't it campy?  Jesus is so feminine -- who knew he was gay?"

Whitening, David excused himself and ran to the bathroom, where he no doubt stumbled upon some books that my ex-boyfriend Fred lent me: Jesus Through the Centuries, A History of Christian Thought, and A Handbook of Christian Theology.

When he returned, it was time to sit down for dinner.  Lane was making his famous Avocado Burgers with potatoes au gratin.  "Do you want bacon and cheese on your burger?"  he asked.

"That's...that's...not kosher," David said weakly.

", I guess it isn't," he said, feigning ignorance.  "It's been so long, I forgot."

David ate his plain burger, staring at Lane as if he had just sprouted horns.

After dinner, we returned to the living room for dessert and coffee.  "By the way, did you want to go out to the Zone, or stay here?"  I asked.

Stay here meant "go into the bedroom."

In West Hollywood in the 1980s, dinner parties usually ended with everyone going out to the bars or else pairing off and going into the bedroom.

David stared at me.  "Um...well...."

"Have you ever seen one that's uncircumcized before?" Lane asked.


"Well, no time like the present."   I dropped my pants.

His eyes widened.

"So, the Zone, or stay here?"  I repeated.

""  He looked at the Christmas tree, then back at me, and sighed deeply, in utter resignation.  "Stay here."

See also: Our Date with the Teenage Beach Boy.; Gershom and the Gentile; and Lane and his Trophy Boy


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