Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Satyr Schemes to Keep Me Away from Troy

Upstate, Spring 2009

Me and sports don't get along.  My eyes glaze over during discussions of rbis and forward passes.  If I am forced to go to a sports match, I try to focus on the biceps and bulges.

I can barely tolerate having friends who are sports nuts, and I've almost never dated any.  It's on my list of top turn offs, along with being elitist, tall, thin, and feminine.

But what if he looks liked this?

At Christmas in 2008, my boyfriend Chad and I went to a Christmas party thrown by the Rich Kid.  Troy came as the Rich Kid's date.

He was tall, slim, athletic, very handsome, except for the big black earrings and a pink triangle tattoo.

As new meat, he was mobbed by the Gang of Twelve, especially the Satyr, but he kept close to the Rich Kid.  We chatted briefly: he was 22 years old, a senior at the University, president of the Gay Student Association, and a sports nut.  He started out as a physics major, but switched to French, and planned to become a high school teacher and coach.

"I go to Paris every year!" I exclaimed.  "We should talk."

"Sure.  Friend me on Facebook," he said, while both Chad and the Rich Kid glared at us.

During the spring of 2009, I saw Troy regularly on campus and on dates with various members of the Gang of Twelve.  Three days after Chad and I broke up, I began making overtures like "We should get coffee and discuss Paris" or "There's a good movie playing in Cooperstown."  But he always gave curt, noncommittal answers.

Usually I can take a hint: after two rejections, I back off.  But I could tell that Troy was interested.  He was just...reluctant.  In March he said "Ok, I'll go if Chad will be there, too."

Did he have a thing for my ex-boyfriend?

It was too soon after the breakup for hanging out with the ex, so I refused.

Soon Chad and I managed to become ex-boyfriend friends, and started hanging out together again.

In May 2009 Troy graduated with a degree in French.  But he was out of money, and you need an additional year of graduate study to become a teacher in New York, so he took two jobs: a sandwich maker at Subway, and a baseball mascot, Damien the Bulldog.

I claimed to be a baseball fan and got the Satyr and Chad, who had season tickets, to bring me along.  It wasn't bad: he looked like Scooby Doo on steroids, with muscular arms and an incongruous basket.  And he was very athletic, doing somersaults and backflips to get the audience enthused.

On the 4th of July, the Rich Kid held a barbecue at his summer house.  I  came with the Satyr and Chad, and Troy came with the Pitcher with the Secret Move.  Apparently he was going through the Gang of 12 one by one, just as I had.  Or maybe he had a thing for women's underwear.

As I was talking to him, the Satyr approached.  "Boomer, where's Chad?" he asked.

"I don't know.  Maybe over by the hot dogs?"

After the barbecue, Troy and the Pitcher disappeared.  "I think they headed down that trail," the Satyr told me.  "The Rich Kid brings all of his boy toys there -- it's secluded, perfect for a quick make-out session.  Or more, if you have the mind."

Jealous, I followed, and caught up with them.  "Hi, guys, I guess we both had the idea of going on a hike.  Mind if I tag along?"


We trudged through the woods.  Troy was wearing tight shorts that bulged outrageously, and one of those t-shirts slit at the sides, so every time he moved, you got a glimpse of his chest.

"Hang on, gotta go," the Pitcher said. He disappeared into the woods, leaving us alone.

"My friend Eli from Amsterdam is visiting next week," I said.  "Since you're a native of Upstate, you should help me show him the sights."

Ok, I'll go...if I have time," Troy said doubtfully.

"The Pitcher can come, too, of course."

"Oh, he's not my boyfriend.  This is our first date.  We haven't even had sex yet."

"Then you don't know about his secret move?  Let me tell you...."  I leaned in to whisper in his ear about the Pitcher's crossdressing, but suddenly we were kissing.

"Ahem!" the Pitcher said, returning.  "Can I join this party?"

We all kissed and groped for awhile.  Then Troy was on his knees.

No, it wasn't public sex -- this was on the Rich Kid's property.

Even after all that, Troy "didn't have time" to help me show Eli around!

What was going on?  We weren't dating anyone else, he was perfectly willing to get on his knees in the Rich Kid's back yard, but whenever I asked him for a date, he blew me off.

I went to more baseball games with the Satyr and Chad.  I stopped by Subway to eat their awful sandwiches.  I invited Troy to movies and dinners, only to get rejected.

At the Gay Pride Festival, which in Upstate is a picnic held in the Sunday before Labor Day.  his date was the Bodybuilder in the Park.

"Great, the last of the Gang of Twelve!" I thought.  "Maybe now I have a chance."

Nope.

The last straw came on Saturday, September 19th, when he showed up at the Rapper's birthday party with Pete the Water Guy, the one who had a wife on Long Island!

I cornered Troy by the gift table.  "Ok, what gives?  The moment we're alone you fall on your knees, but whenever I ask you out, you make up a lame excuse and go out with Pete the Water Guy instead,  What, I'm good enough for you to have sex with, but not good enough to get coffee with?"

He looked around anxiously.  "I'm sorry that happened, ok?   Now be quiet -- your boyfriend will hear us!"

"Boyfriend?  What boyfriend?"

"Chad, of course."

"What...er...um...we broke up six months ago.  Who told you were were still together?"

"His roommate the Satyr."

We quickly figured it out.  The Satyr had been dropping strong hints that Chad and I were still together, in a monogamous relationship.  Maybe he was angry that I had broken up with his bff, and wanted us to get back together.  Maybe he was miffed because Troy rejected him.

It didn't help that I kept showing up at events with Chad.

Troy thought that I was inviting him to cheat.  Which would render him undateable forever.

Devious!

Troy and I had our first date the next day, on Sunday, September 20th.

We were together for the next five years.

See also: The Satyr and his Boy Toy.

The Stonewall Veteran and the Bodybuilder in the Park

Upstate, May 2009

When I moved to Upstate New York my social calendar was soon crowded with invitations from members of the Gang of Twelve, guys who had known each other for years, and who shared everything, from gossip to boyfriends.
1-2. The Rich Kid and the Crying Truck Driver.
3-4. The Rapper, and the Grabby Nurse.
5. The Satyr and his roommate Chad, who I dated through the fall and winter.
6-7. The Klingon and the Sword Swallower.
8. The Pitcher with a Secret Move.

Date #9: The Stonewall Veteran

One day in the spring of 2009, the Rich Kid told me "There's a guy you have to meet."  I thought he was setting me up on another date, but instead, we drove to an assisted living facility in Cooperstown.  There was an elderly man in a wheelchair sitting by a window in the dayroom, reading a large-print version of Tales of the City.  The Rich Kid hugged him affectionately.

"Is this your lover?" the Stonewall Veteran asked.

"No, no.  We went out a couple of times, but it didn't work out."

"Your loss.  Can I have him?"

The Rich Kid grinned.  "Sure -- he's yours.  If you can handle him."

"Oh, I've handled some big ones in my time."  The Stonewall Veteran patted me on the knee.  "Let me tell you about my night with James Dean."

The Stonewall Veteran told me that he grew up in Cooperstown, served in the Korean War, worked as a longshoreman, slept with James Dean, belonged to the Mattachine Society (the first gay rights organization in the U.S.), and participated in the Stonewall Riots, the dawn of the modern gay world.

In 1982, he moved back Upstate to take care of his elderly parents, and got a job at the Otesaga Resort.  There he met the 18-year old Rich Kid, and became his first lover.

"He was quite a hunk!" the Rich Kid exclaimed.

Over the years, he was also in relationships with the Satyr, the Grabby Male Nurse, and the Truck Driver.  He was a fixture in the Gang of Twelve.

He retired in 1998, and lived on a fixed income in a tiny apartment in Cooperstown.

In 2005, the Rich Kid paid for him to move into an assisted living facility, and visited him every Saturday afternoon.

Not really a date, but nice.



Date #10: The Bodybuilder in the Park

I saw the Bodybuilder long before I knew he belonged to the Gang of Twelve.  Whenever I went jogging in the park near my apartment, he was there.  He had a weight bench on the grass, and he was doing some bench presses and bicep curls with weights that he brought over in a battered red pickup truck.

He was in his 50s, a little shorter than me, with a rather scraggy, unattractive face, but ripped!  Massive chest and shoulders -- six pack abs -- not an ounce of body fat anywhere.

Then I saw him at the Utica Gay Men's Social.

Asking around, I learned that he preferred younger guys -- both the Klingon and the Rapper had dated him -- so I figured I was out of the running.  But no, the Sword Swallower called him and arranged for us to meet in the park.

Right after his daily workout -- so he was positively shredded!

As we walked the three mile jogging path, the Bodybuilder told me the harrowing story of his life.  Growing up fundamentalist, marrying a preacher's daughter.  Guilt over same-sex desire pushing him into alcohol and drugs. Losing his job and his house, living on the streets for awhile. Having his first same sex experience at the age of 42, unprotected, and getting infected with HIV.

Now he was clean and sober, living in a residential hotel near the park, and in good health, thanks to the United Methodist Church, the Rural AIDS Project, and his AIDS Buddy, the Sword Swallower.

He recognized that this was a lot to spring on a guy on  the first date. But there was more.

He was on a strict macrobiotic diet, meditated for an hour every morning, went to bed at 9:00 pm without fail, and practiced only the safest of safe sex -- no deep kissing, condoms for everything else.  "Are you sure you want to go forward with this?"

Well...you know, he was shredded.  Besides, I was running out of gay men in Upstate. Why not give it a try?

So we went back to my apartment and did things that didn't require the exchange of body fluids.  Then the Bodybuilder said "I've been waiting all my life for this moment."

That was a little weird! But it was nothing compared to our second date.

We went to lunch at the Undercover Eggplant. a hippie-vegetarian place in Cooperstown, followed by the Catskills Art Fair.

Which was fun.  But the Bodybuilder's conversation wasn't:


"Can you come to church tomorrow?  I want to introduce you to some of the guys." Ok.

"We're having dinner with my brother and his family on Thursday. I said we'd bring a macrobiotic dessert."  Meeting the relatives on the third date?

"When's your birthday?  I want to start planning your party now."  Um...not for six months. What makes you think we'll be together then?

"I don't need to give notice at the hotel.  It goes week by week.  So I can move in whenever you want." Ok, too fast.  Way too fast!  What's next?  Cemetery plots?

Since we only went out twice, I didn't think there was any need for a formal break-up.  I just didn't call anymore.  Our only contact was at the Truck Driver's birthday party and in the park: I waved as I was jogging past.

Still, for months, the Bodybuilder told all of his friends and colleagues that we were a couple.  Two months later, I got an invitation in the mail to a support group for the partners of HIV Positive men.

The Klingon and the Rapper told me the same thing -- one or two dates, then no contact, and the Bodybuilder continuing to cling for months.

This turned out to be quite a problem with dating new guys.  They often hesitated, thinking that I was proposing an illicit affair.

Shared Stud #14: My Night and Day with Sammy Blowfish

Mount Vernon, Iowa, July 2003

In the summer of 2003, I visited my old speech teacher, Mr. Lundquist, aka Mr. Blowfish, in Washington, Iowa.  I ended up asking my sister-in-law if I could borrow her car for another day, then driving an hour north to Mount Vernon, Iowa, to spend the night with his son, Sam.

Well, Sam was extremely hot: shorter than me, dark skin, red hair, and a tight, lean physique.

Besides, I was suffering from Florida's dearth of Asian men, and Sam was Asian (actually half Vietnamese, half Swedish)..

Besides, he had just taken a tenure track job at a small college in the heart of the Straight World.  I sensed that this might be my future, and I wanted to see what it was like.

He had literally just moved in to his apartment in someone's house a few blocks from the campus.  We had to walk through a clutter of boxes to get to the bedroom, where the bed was unmade and the lamps were sitting on the floor.

"Sorry about the mess," he said, wrapping his arms around me.  "When you drive down to spend the day with your Dad and brothers, you don't really expect to bring someone home."

Sam was very energetic and very passionate -- maybe too passionate.  We didn't get much sleep that night -- every time I dozed off, he would initiate another session.  Of course, he was 26 years old, but still, it seemed odd.

In the morning he took me to breakfast at a weird diner stuck in the 1950s, where scruffy men in overalls ordered things like "The Farm Boy": 3 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 3 sausage links, hash browns, pancakes, and toast.  He tried to grab my crotch under the table, but I pushed his hand away.

Then we toured downtown -- 3 blocks of depressing brown brick buildings, mostly bars and small, deserted boutiques -- and the campus -- more of the same.

"Why Cornell College?" I asked.

"Well, I wanted a liberal arts college where I could really get to know the students.  And I'm basically going to be the entire art history program.  This year I'm teaching Italian Renaissance, Asian, and Precolumbian.   Try doing that at Stanford."

"Did you get an offer from Stanford?"

"Actually, my only other offer was in Utah.  Mormon country, full of rattlesnakes and homophobes!  Cornell is much more gay-friendly."

"But does it have a gay presence?"

"Um...I don't think so.  There's a gay bar in Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles away."

"20 miles isn't bad."  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I lived a 3-block walk from a dozen gay bars, restaurants, beaches, and boutiques.

"Besides, Des Moines is only 2 hours away, and Chicago is 4 hours.  I'll be driving to one or the other every weekend."

We both knew that he wouldn't -- once the semester began, he'd be too busy, or the weather would be too bad.  On most weekends, he'd be stuck in Mount Vernon.

Next Sam took me to his office, which was very nice, with real bookcases and a window looking out onto the quad -- actually, an alley, but if you stood right up against it and looked to your left, you could see the King Chapel.

He shut the door, drew me close, and started kissing me.

"Hey, wait -- this is your office!" I exclaimed, shocked.  "Anybody could walk in at any moment."  Besides, I was sweaty from walking around the campus on the second-hottest day of the year.

"Come on, it's Sunday -- there's nobody around," he murmured, nuzzling my neck.  He started to unzip my pants.

I've spent my whole life on college campuses, as student and professor.  But that was the first time I actually had a sexual encounter in a professor's office.

Sam drove us into Cedar Rapids that afternoon.  It was more of a city: there was a nice Vietnamese Restaurant, a nice park with jogging trails -- he tried to go down on me on the jogging trail, but I refused -- and an art museum that specialized in the work of Grant Wood.

He suggested that we finish the day in Cedar Rapid's one gay bar, but I was tired from lack of sleep, so we went back to his apartment in Mount Vernon and watched a movie instead.

Followed by another night of outrageously energetic bedroom calisthenics and another gut-buster breakfast.

"How long are you going to be in the area?" Sam asked.

"My flight to Fort Lauderdale is on Wednesday."

"Great, that gives us three more days...."

He wanted me to spend the rest of my visit with him?  But -- I came back to the Midwest to visit my family and friends! "Well, I have to get my sister-in-law's car back."

"No problem.  I'll follow you to Rock Island, you can drop off the car, and then we'll drive back."

"Um...it's about 70 miles."

"I don't mind...in the country, you have to drive a lot."

"Besides, I need to get to the gym," I continued.

"You can use the campus gym as my guest."

Suddenly I realized what was happening: Sam had latched onto me as an escape from Straight World isolation and tedium. If I didn't act fast, I would become "the boyfriend."  He might even ask me to stay in Mount Vernon.   "I have a better idea.  Let's spend the day in Rock Island -- I want to introduce you to some friends of mine.  I just have to make a couple of phone calls first."

After we worked out, Sam followed me to Rock Island, where we dropped off the car and toured all the old sights of his childhood.  In the evening we had dinner with Dick, my old bully, now a muscle bear in his 40s, and his partner Jack.

A night of energetic sharing followed.

Dick is bigger than me, both in height and in beneath-the-belt gifts -- #7 on my Sausage List, a Kielbasa+.  Sam was suitably impressed.

The next day he drove back to Mount Vernon with their phone number in his pocket and an invitation to visit anytime.

And I got to visit my family and friends.

See also: My Night with the Son of Mr. Blowfish. and Hooking Up with the Pizza Boy

Friday, October 2, 2015

Troy and My Friend with Benefits

Upstate, September 2011

The problem with being a twink magnet is that younger guys aren't really experienced in the vagaries of sharing and three-way relationships, so hookups can easily turn into romance.

Sunday, September 18th
In Upstate New York, my partner Troy and I go to a Bear Party thrown by the Satyr.  When Riley comes in, I'm thunderstruck.  My jaw literally drops.  He is the most beautiful guy I have ever seen.

I wait while he strips -- slim body, average beneath the belt gifts, but who cares?  We chat.  I vageuly remember hearing that he is 19 years old, spent a year at the University but had to drop out due to lost financial aid, and now has a job at a party store. But I keep thinking "Why are we talking when we could be kissing?"

We spend an hour lying on a mattress in the Satyr's playroom.  The sex is over quickly; just touching him does the trick.  We spend the rest of the time kissing.  Afterwards he returns to our apartment for more kissing, and probably sex.  Who can remember?  Troy technically "shares," but mostly he just lies there.

Tuesday, September 20th.
We make an appointment for a hookup while Troy is at work.  Riley calls the night before, saying that he caught a cold at the Bear Party and feels miserable, but we can get together anyway as long as we don't do anything physical.

We end up picking up Chinese food to eat at home, then cuddling and talking for about an hour.

"Are you sure Troy is ok with us?" Riley asks.

"Oh, sure.  We have an open relationship.  We can have sex with other guys.  We just have to get together for the socializing."

"Isn't that the opposite of how open relationships usually work?"


During the next three days, Riley and I text constantly, friend each other on Facebook and Gay.com, and find out about each other's lives.  I begin thinking of a three-way romance.

Friday, September 23rd.
It's our third anniversary, so Troy and I invite the Gang of Twelve and some people from work for an anniversary party.  In the end there are 24 people in our small apartment, standing room only.  Riley is there, feeling better.   I try to be cordial and not touch him very much.

But some of the guys are suspicious.  I see the Satyr eyeing me, and the Klingon, who wasn't at the Bear Party, asks, "So, how do you two know each other?"

"Oh, we've known each other for a thousand years," I say.  And I really believe it is true.  We've always been together, and are just now reuniting.

After everyone else leaves, I invite Troy and Riley into the bedroom.  Troy says "No, thanks, you guys have fun."

Riley and I go into the bedroom and start kissing.  "Are you sure it's ok, making out with another guy on your anniversary?"

"We'll be together later, no problem."

We spend about an hour kissing, and then get around to the sex.

The next day Riley texts me: "Are you sure this is ok?" he repeats.

"Three way relationships are quite common," I tell him.  "As long as we don't date, Troy is fine with it."



Tuesday, September 26th

Riley and I make an appointment for a hookup at 11:00, just before lunch.  But he has to work late, and doesn't arrive until 1:30, and I'm so hungry that I insist we go out to lunch at a barbecue place first.

Then we spend our usual hour kissing and gradually getting around to intimacy.

"You had lunch?"  Troy asks later.  "That's a date!"

"We just grabbed lunch before jumping into bed.  Not really a date, just hunger."

"I don't like it!  He's younger and cuter than me, and a lot better in bed."

"That's not true!  Anyway, who cares?  You're my partner.  Riley is just a friend.  But I want him in our lives.  We're taking him out for his birthday Friday."

"What..birthday?  But doesn't he have real friends to do that with?"

"They're going out on Saturday.  Friday is for me.  Us."

Friday, September 30th
Riley comes over about an hour before Troy gets home from work, so I can give him his present, and we can make out.

"Troy is a little jealous," I tell him.  "We should try to include him more."

"I don't want anybody to be left out," he says.  "But whenever you ask him to share, he refuses."

"He wants to share in the socializing, not in the sex.  Just be sure you're really nice to him tonight."

We go out to dinner and then for frozen yogurt.  Back at our apartment, Troy and Riley discuss video games for about an hour, while I sit there, bored.  Finally I say "Who wants to go into the bedroom?"

Riley does.  Troy does not.

Afterwards I say "I can't wait to see you again.  When are you free?"

"Um...very busy week at work, getting ready for the Halloween rush.  Not until Thursday."


Wednesday, Oct 5th.

I spend the next week texting and facebook messaging Riley, with only a few, curt responses.  On Wednesday I don't hear from him at all.  Finally at 10:00 pm I text him: "What time can I expect you tomorrow?"

"Can't tomorrow.  Can we reschedule?"

"But...we made an appointment!  I've been waiting all week!"

"Sorry, the Klingon asked me for a date."

The Klingon!  That chubby nerd?  I roil with jealousy.

"But...you had a date with me!  I understand you wanting to back off -- things were getting very intense.  But you have to meet your commitments!"

Thursday, October 6th.

Troy says: "I've been thinking it over, and I don't want you to see Riley anymore.  Even if it's just for sex, sex can lead to falling in love."

"No problem," I tell him, "We broke up."

"You weren't dating, so how can you break up?"

I don't know.

See also: Troy's First Video Booth; Our Date with the Teenage Beach Boy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Day I Turned Japanese

Rock Island, April 1971

When I was growing up in Rock Island, almost every kid had a "homeland": their grandparents or great-grandparents came from Sweden, Germany, or Belgium, or less commonly Greece, Poland, France, Italy, or Estonia.

Except me: As one of the few plain generic Americans, with ancestors from Indiana and Kentucky as far back as anyone kept records, I was always left out.

My Grandma Rani belonged to the Potawatomi tribe, but she wasn't a blood relation, so she didn't count  I checked.

Teachers were constantly assigning us reports on our homeland.

We had to bring food from our homeland to club meetings and church socials.

We had to learn the song of our homeland for pageants.

Every new acquaintance asked "Where are you from?", and wouldn't take "Indiana" for an answer.  "No, where are you from? What's your homeland?"

One day in the spring of fifth grade, my boyfriend Bill said "Why don't you just pick a country?  You can be adopted!"

That was a great idea -- I could adopt a country!

I was already making a list of "good places," where boys could hug and kiss openly and grown-up men could live together without wives.  I could be from a good place.



During recess Bill, Joel, and I went to the school library to look for a place.  We sorted through all of the My Village books,  by Sonia and Tim Gidal, photo stories of real boys in villages in Germany, Ireland, France, Switzerland, and so on.

Bill liked Yugoslavia, because there was a picture of two boys hugging.

Joel voted for Finland, because there was a picture of the boy naked in the sauna.

I liked Italy, because the boy had a lot of hunky adult friends.

But wait -- why did it have to be a European country?

I knew where the men were always naked!



I took Joel and Bill into our house, down to the basement, where my mother's old set of  Collier's Encyclopedias sat on a lonely shelf.

"These books have all kinds of naked guys in them," I said, handing them the pertinent volumes.

We leafed through old black-and-white photos of naked men.

Bill liked some Indonesian athletes, because they were holding hands.

Joel liked African tribes, because they were muscular and naked.

I liked the Philippines, because the guys were cute.

"Wait -- I know where we can get pictures in color!" Joel exclaimed.



We ran over to his house.  In his basement there were shelves of old National Geographic magazines -- his older brother once had a subscription.

The guys were never naked, but there were lots of shirtless pictures.

Cambodian boys splashing in the ocean.

Dour Amazonian men carrying blowguns.

Pygmies of the "Belgian Congo."

Japanese athletes in singlets with noticeable bulges.

"We shouldn't decide just on a couple of pictures," I said.  "We should do research."

Through the spring semester, and into the summer, we worked on our project, reading geography books like The Land and People of Israel and Come with me to India, looking up old magazine articles on Switzerland, New Guinea, Ethiopia, Bolivia, and Spain.

When we had sleepovers, we interrogated the Fifth Boy about his homeland, the food, the costumes, the songs.

For my birthday trip in May, we went to the Putnam museum (with Randy the Golden Boy tagging along) and got a whole new revelation: why did it have to be a modern country?

Why not the Aztecs, or the ancient Egyptians?

Or ancient Greece, where they worshiped naked musclemen?

For that matter, why did it have to be a place in the real world?

Soon we were looking at Leonard Wibberly's Encounter Near Venus, the Basidium of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, and the oxygen-rich canals of Robert Silverberg's Lost Race of Mars.

It was time to reel it in, get back to the basics of men with muscles.


One day in Joel's basement I leafed through the December 11th, 1970 issue of Life Magazine, and found an article: "The Samurai Who Committed Hara Kiri."

It was about the ritual suicide of Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima (without mentioning that he was gay, or that his novels were infused by gay themes).

I was already taking judo lessons.  My sensei, Sammy, turned out to be married, but I was reasonably sure that he liked boys, not girls.

Mishima's gleaming, muscular physique and suggestively packed fudoshi settled it.

"I'm from Japan," I announced.

When sixth grade began, and our teacher assigned yet another essay on "our homeland," Bill wrote on Indonesia, Joel wrote on Ethiopia, and I wrote on Japan (without mentioning the suggestively packed fudoshi).  She gave us all B+'s, with the comment "very imaginative!"

Se also: The Romanian Hustler at the Gay Bar

Yuri and the Bodybuilder Who Never Got Naked

Wilton Manors, September  2004

At every gym, there are two kinds of guys in the locker room.

Displayers: guys who strip and then nonchalantly stop to chat, who wear their towel on their shoulders as they head for the showers, their beneath-the-belt gifts swinging between their legs for everyone to see.

Hiders: guys who turn their backs to change, wrap a towel around their waists, and shower in the stalls with curtains.  

The displayers always have superlative beneath-the-belt gifts, while the hiders are almost  always small, afraid of being judged or even sneered at by their peers.  Especially in gay culture where bigger is better.

So when Keith joined Barney's Gym in Wilton Manors, and spent every moment in the locker room hiding behind a towel, we figured that he didn't have much down there.

I was shocked when Yuri asked him out anyway.

"But you're the world's number one size queen!" I exclaimed.  "You won't even look at a guy if he's less than a Mortadella!"

"That's not true.  I was with lots of little guys."

"Sure -- one date apiece.  Once you find out they're not packing, you send them packing."



"Wise guy!"  He punched me in the shoulder.  "But you don't know he's small.  And look at how he's hot!"

I had to admit that Keith was exactly Yuri's type: early 40s, tall, balding, bearded, pleasantly muscular, with a hairy chest.  Plus a sports nut, a former college football star who sometimes sat in the lounge watching this or that game.

"Anyway, he's out.  After Jim, I can't stand closets anymore."  Yuri had just broken up with Jim the Baseball Player, mostly over the issue of outness.

So Yuri and Keith went to some sort of sports match, then returned to the house to spend the night.

In the middle of the night I had to go past Yuri's room to get to the bathroom.  The door was open to take advantage of the breeze.  They were lying in each other's arms.  Yuri was naked, but  Keith was wearing boxers.

Wait -- he had sex, then put his underwear back on?

At breakfast in the morning, Keith told us that he had been in a monogamous relationship with his college boyfriend for 18 years, and only started dating when they broke up.  He had never been to a bear party or a bath house, and never shared a boyfriend.

I wanted to ask, Is that why you're so shy about displaying yourself?  But I kept mum.

"I'm anxious to try everything, though" he added with a grin.

I noticed that they were holding hands under the table.  Apparently the date went well.

They left at the same time, so I didn't get a chance to ask Yuri about Keith's beneath-the-belt gifts.  I sent him an email, but he didn't respond.  So that night I grabbed him the moment he walked in the door.

"Details!" I exclaimed.  "Details!"

"What do you mean?  We had a nice time.  I will call Keith for another date tonight."

"And...."

He blushed a little, and looked away.  "And...he likes to kiss.  In bed he is a top."

"You know what I'm talking about, Mr. Size Queen!"

"Oh, that! Well -- there is something.  I don't know if I can tell you."

Why was he being so mysterious?  "We tell each other everything.  Don't leave me in suspense -- just give me a number!"

"No, no.  I don't know how to explain it.  You should see."  He headed toward his bedroom, then paused and turned back.  "Ok, this is what we will do -- when I date Keith again, we will share."

I stared in surprise.  "On the second date?  Are you sure?"

"Sure, sure.. He said you are hot, he won't care."

I spent the next few days in suspense.  What was the big secret of Keith's beneath-the-belt gifts?  Was he remarkably small, or gigantic?

On Friday the four of us -- Keith, Yuri, Barney, and me -- met for dinner at Rosie's Bar and Grill in Wilton Manors, and then went cruising at the Filling Station.

I kissed and groped Keith a bit -- nothing unusually small or large presented itself.

When we got home, Barney excused himself and went into his bedroom.  Yuri wrapped his arms around Keith and asked "Is it ok if Boomer comes with us?"

"That'd be great!" Keith exclaimed.  "I'm anxious to try this sharing thing!"

We went into Yuri's bedroom and stripped.  Except Keith kept his boxers on!

He climbed atop Yuri, they kissed, and soon he slid his boxers off.  Soon I was watching his butt as he topped Yuri.  Without a condom!

"Hey, Yuri, you forgot something!"  I said.

"No, not a problem," he murmured, reaching for me.

Not a problem?  Because somebody found a cure for AIDS while I was asleep?  Because Keith was monogamous for a long time?

When they finished, Keith stood to go into the bathroom and wash off.  I saw it before he pulled his boxers back on.

His penis was average sized, not gigantic but nothing to be ashamed of.  But beneath it was smooth -- no testicles.

"Yeah," Keith said, noticing me trying not to look.  "I'm a little self-conscious about it."  He went to the bathroom.

"That's what I want you to see," Yuri said.  "I never saw that before, no...um...balls."

Keith returned and sat down on the bed.   "I've never produced any testosterone, so I have to get shots every few weeks.  That means that my testicles have atrophied, and I have orgasms but don't produce any semen.  So I don't need to use condoms."

"Don't they have prosthetics?"

"Sure, but why bother?  They'd just be good for showing off in the locker room, and I wear a towel. Besides, my ex didn't care."

"Who cares if you do not make semen?"  Yuri asked.  "I don't want to have a baby."  He pulled Keith on top of him.

When we talk about beneath-the-belt gifts, we're always talking about the penis.  Does testicle size matter?

Not to Yuri.  They dated for about three months.

See also: The Naked Baseball Player in My Kitchen

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why My Nickname is Boomer

You've probably noticed that I started using the nickname Boomer for all of my autobiographical posts.

It has nothing to do with Linwood Boomer, creator of Malcolm in the Middle, the dog in the 1970s Here's Boomer, Canadian television personality Boomer Phillips, or with being a Baby Boomer.

There are three reasons.  

Warning: the third is dirty.









1. My Grandma Prater died when I was 7, so I don't remember much about her, except she was plump, brown, had a thick Southern accent, and a jovial sense of humor.

One day my cousin and I were roughhousing at her house, and we bumped into a bureau containing her collection of ceramic figurines.  A priceless blue jay toppled and fell to the floor with a horribly loud crash!

We were terrified.  We thought she would get a willow switch from the hill and wallop us.

But when Grandma Howard came running in from the kitchen, she wasn't mad.  She laughed.

"Why, aren't you little terrors?  I'm going to have to call you the Buster and you the Boomer.  Now run get a broom and help me clean up this mess."

After that, we called each other Buster and Boomer, but only when we were alone. They were secret names, representing a special bond between us.

Cousin Buster and I drifted apart when we grew up.  He died a few years ago.


2. When I was in fifth grade, I read a Harvey comic about a strong, powerful, and very hot guy named the Boomer.  I recently tracked it down: Wendy Witch World #44, dated June 1971.

The Boomer causes mayhem with his monumental voice.  First he yells "Boo!" like a ghost, but he discovers that he is even more powerful with "Boom!"

I wanted to be strong and powerful, too.

One day at recess we all decided to pick secret nicknames.  My boyfriend Bill was Mad Dog; Joel was Robin (Batman's sidekick); Greg was Barnabas (the vampire from Dark Shadows); David Angel was Muscles.  I was Boomer.

We went around calling ourselves Robin, Mad Dog, Muscles, Barnabas, and Boomer for months.  I demonstrated my power by sneaking up behind random people and yelling "Boom!"

Eventually most of the guys grew tired of the game, but Bill and I continued to call each other Boomer and Mad Dog until we drifted apart in junior high.

Ok, the third reason doesn't involve a long-lost friendship:


#3. I'm noisy in the bedroom.  Sometimes I keep it down to a few groans, but usually everyone within a mile's radius can tell what I'm doing.

Which can be embarrassing in an apartment with paper-thin walls.

In 1997, when I first moved to New York and was living in graduate student housing, I invited Yuri the Russian Meteorology Major to a Christmas party, and afterwards to spend the night.  He claimed to be straight until the moment we climbed into bed.  Then, suddenly out, he was quite energetic.

In the morning, we got up, dressed, and walked out into the living room, where my straight roommate Max was sitting in his bathrobe, drinking coffee.

Max was the Roommate from Hell, completely obnoxious, but not homophobic.  He looked at us and grinned.

"Negro got himself a fine piece of a** last night!" he exclaimed in his annoying faux-black accent.  "Now I know why you be letting out all them sonic booms."

"Sonic boom?"  Yuri asked.  His English was still faulty.

"Yeah, man, boom -- you musta turned him inside out!  I wish some of these honeys knew your tricks!"

Now Yuri understood.  He blushed and nuzzled against my chest.

"Well, that's my nickname," I said, remembering Rock Island.  "The Boomer."

After that Yuri always called me Boomer.  Eventually he forgot what it meant, and just started introducing me that way, so I am Boomer to all of his friends, and to everybody in Florida and London.

Today, if anyone asks, I tell them about my Grandma Howard and the broken blue jay.


See also: A Boy Named Angel; Gay Panic and the Obnoxious Roommate.

Childhood Crush #14: The Boy Named Angel

When I was in grade school, I had a regular boyfriend, but I liked lots of  other boys: Craig, who sat next to me in class; Joel, who also liked looking at boys with muscles; Robbie, a hookup at the bookmobile one summer: and David Angel.

Not the David Angell who produced Cheers and Frasier.  A slim, shy boy, puppy-dog cute, with dark hair and dark blue eyes and nice hands.  We played occasionally, but never became friends, I think because there were so many bigger, bolder guys around.  It was one of those relationships that might have gone somewhere, but didn't.

I have three good memories of David:

1. One day at recess we all decided to take nicknames.  David wanted "Muscles."
"But you don't have any muscles!" I protested.
"Sure I do. I'm real strong!  Feel."
He flexed a small, hard bicep.  I cupped it with my hand.
"You're right.  It's really big."  Flushed with an warmth that I didn't understand, I moved quickly away.

2. In the spring of sixth grade, shortly after we went to "A Little Bit O'Heaven," Joel invited some of us over for a sleepover.  His small twin bed was only big enough for two; everyone else had to make do with sleeping bags.  We spent the evening wondering who would be the Fifth Boy, the boy invited to share Joel's bed.

At bedtime, Joel said "Everybody else here has been in my bed before, so it's David's turn."

My heart sank.  I wanted to be the one!

"That's ok -- I like the floor," David said.  "Why don't you let Boomer?"

Joel glared at him, and my boyfriend Bill glared at me, but neither of them could say anything as I took my place beside Joel.

3. In junior high, we had gym class together, and I got one of my first sausage sightings of David in the shower.

And three bad memories:

1. We were playing once when a middle-aged woman appeared.  "Your father won't let me in the house," she told David.  "There's food cooking -- I need you to go turn the stove off, so it won't burn."  Weird and creepy.

2. David never invited anyone over to his house to play or watch cartoons.  We were intimately familiar with every other house in the neighborhood, but not his. So one day Bill and I knocked on the door, ostensibly to invite him to go to Schneider's and look at comic books, but really to get a glimpse inside.

He came to the door, pale and nervous.  "Are you nuts?" he whispered.  "You can't be here!  My Dad sleeps during the day!"

"We were just..."

"Get out!" he whispered.  "Get lost!"

3. One day in junior high gym class, David was stripping down, and I saw a large red-and-purple bruise on his chest.

"Wow, how did you get that?" I asked.

"What, this?"  He quickly covered it up.  "That's nothing.  We were just playing around.  It happens to everybody."

"Who was playing around?"

"Um...my cousin and me.  Just playing around, no big deal."
I couldn't imagine what kind of playing around might cause a bruise like that.

Ok, I get it now: these are obvious signs of domestic and child abuse.  But what kid in the 1970s would think of that?

And one mixed memory:

During our senior year in high school, Bill told me that  David went crazy.  All of a sudden he forgot to how speak English, and he only knew a few words of Spanish, so he started yelling "Te amo!  Te amo!  Te amo!"

We went to visit him at the East Moline State Mental Hospital.  We were directed to a big, airy room where patients in bathrobes were playing pingpong and foosball.  At the far end, several sat on chairs watching One Life to Live.  

David was sitting on a white couch, in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms, laughing over a paperback edition of Tom Sawyer.  I hadn't seen him, except in passing, since junior high gym class -- my first thought was "He's gotten really muscular!"  He had a hard, smooth chest and thick biceps. He still had a shy, wounded puppy-dog expression.

But he didn't act shy or wounded!

"Hi, guys!"  he exclaimed.  "Rapley let you out early, huh?"

Bill and I glanced at each other.  Mrs. Rapley was our fifth grade teacher.

David laughed.  "I'm just joking with you.  I know what year it is.  Let's have a hug."

He stood and gave us each a bear hug, and sat us down on either side of him.

"So, what's new with you guys?  You still an item?"

"An item?" Bill repeated.  "What...what do you mean?"

"An item -- you know, like giving each other flowers and chocolates and carving your names into trees with little hearts!"

My face burned.  "David, you know that we're both boys, right?"

"Come on, Boomer, you know the soul doesn't have a gender.  We're infinite beings trapped in one-dimensional bodies, so what does it matter if you have the same plumbing?  Get married already, march down that aisle.  God knows you were meant for each other!"

"What are you talking about?" Bill asked in a curt, angry tone.

"David is confused," I told him.  "He doesn't mean to imply anything."

"Hey, just because I'm crazy doesn't mean I can't see what's right in front of my eyes!  Now you gonna kiss, or what?"

"Um..actually, we broke up awhile ago."  I figured that was the only way to end the uncomfortable conversation.


"Yeah.  We're still friends, of course, but we're dating other...um...guys now."

"That's too bad.  You make such a cute couple! Maybe you'll find each other again later on, in your next life."

We chatted for awhile longer, about other things, and then left.  In the parking lot, Bill said "Wow, David is worse than I thought!"

"Completely delusional!  Where'd he ever get the idea that we were...you know?"

"Next he'll be claiming that we're little green men from Mars!"

Two months later, I finally discovered what David had known all along.

The adults are lying -- only real is real.
We stop the fight right now -- we got to be what we feel.

I recently tracked down David again, thanks to Facebook.  He moved to Missouri to stay with his aunt and uncle, graduated from high school a year late, studied biology in college, and worked in a zoo.  Later he moved to Denver and became a dog trainer.  He still suffers from anxiety and depression, but he is taking medication.  He is heterosexual but has never married.

See also: Why My Nickname is Boomer.


Liam Gives Me a Present on his 18th Birthday

When I applied to grad school on Long Island, the admissions director said "Oh, yes, we're only eight miles from New York City.  You can get there in ten minutes."

He meant eight miles from the hinterland of Queens, by car, without traffic.

When I arrived, I discovered that the gay neighborhoods of Manhattan were thirty miles away, two hours by train!

Cut off from the usual venues for meeting people, I started hanging out in online chatrooms -- you waited there until someone attractive showed up, then started an Instant Message conversation.

But you had to be careful.  Profile pictures might be ten years old, or of someone else entirely.  Guys dropped 20 pounds, added a few inches, and changed their age.  Sometimes they were really much older. Sometimes much younger.

Once I had made the date and was getting ready to go out the door when the guy said "By the way, I'm not really 25.  I'm 15."

I ran.

Soon I learned some strategies to weed out the underaged:
1.  They didn't want to talk about their jobs or school.
2.  They talked about their parents a lot.
3.  They wanted to "hang out," not go out on a date.
4.   They wanted to know "what it's like" to have sex with a guy.

Of course, some older guys who were closeted might be eliminated, too, but it didn't matter. There were lots of choices in the chatrooms.

Liam started hanging out in the Long Island chatroom in the fall of  1998.  I didn't need clues: he told me right off that he was in high school.

I immediately crossed him off the list of potential boyfriends, but we continued to chat. We had a lot in common.  He was from a working-class household: his dad was a truck driver, and his older brother was an auto mechanic.  He wasn't out to anyone.  He liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pokemon, and the Harry Potter books, and he was taking piano and judo lessons.

We didn't talk about sex -- that was my #1 rule in chatrooms, regardless of age -- but we talked about cute guys, dating, coming out, and gay culture.   I heard about his crushes on his judo sensei and his English teacher, and encouraged him to come out to his best friend.  He heard about my research projects and my romances with Blake and his roommate Joe.

Liam began his senior year in high school in the fall of 1999.  I heard about his senior project, his first date, coming out to his brother and his parents.  One day in February 2000 he emailed me: "Hey, I'm coming to the City to talk to some admissions reps at NYU.  We should hang out while I'm there."

Did he mean hang out or hook up?  He was a senior in high school, of legal age --  but  a 20 year age difference?  What would my friends back in West Hollywood say?

"Oh, and my brother wants to meet you, too."

In that case, fine.  

Liam turned out to be a little shorter than me, firm but not muscular, with sandy blond hair and blue eyes and a warm handshake.  His brother, Ozzie, had massive biceps and a ready smile.

We browsed at the Different Light and went to a Japanese restaurant, and once Ozzie took me aside and said "Thanks for being such a good friend to my brother.  You really helped him."

I did that?

"None of us knew anything about being...you know, gay.  You really helped."

I did that?

"And it was so great that you haven't put any pressure on him to have sex.  You could have really taken advantage of him."

"Well...you know, I can restrain myself."

Liam decided to attend NYU, and in August 2000, he moved into the Goddard Residence Hall on Washington Square East, about a mile from my apartment.

"Only a mile away!" he emailed me.  "We should definitely hang out.  Guess what -- my 18th birthday is coming up on Friday!"

"18!  The big one!  What are you going to do to celebrate?"

"Nothing really.  It's too soon to go home for the weekend, and I don't really know anybody on campus yet."

"You're in the biggest party town in the world. We'll figure something out.  I'll invite Yuri."

But Yuri couldn't make it, so Liam and I went out alone, to a barbeque place in the West Village, then for frozen yogurt, then for a walk along Christopher Street, where Gay Liberation began.

"You're old enough for a 18+ dance club," I said.  "Do you want to go?"

"Maybe later.  Right now I'd like to see your apartment."

Did he mean....?

"I want to look at your books on gay history."

A little disappointed, I said "Ok, fine."

We returned to the apartment I shared with Edward the Art Appraiser.  He was camped out in the living room, so after saying hello, we went into the bedroom.  I sat on the desk chair, and Liam looked through my bookcase.  Eventually he took down the massive 1978 edition of Gay American History and sat down on the bed to leaf through it.

"You can sit next to me, if you want."

"Well, it's a little warm in here."

"Yeah.  We should take our shirts off."

We sat on the bed, side by side, shirtless, thighs and arms touching.   I wasn't going to push myself on Liam, not after his brother's vote of confidence, not without a clearer signal.  But there weren't any clear signals.  We were two friends  leafing through a book.

Sigh.

Suddenly Liam looked around the room.  "Do you know what time it is?"

I checked my clock.  "A little after 11:00.  Why?"

He put the book aside, leaned over my lap, and started kissing and groping me.  I responded.

The next morning we had another session, then got up and went out to breakfast.  "I had no idea that you were interested," I said.

"Well, I don't think we should be like boyfriends, but I wanted to thank you for being so nice.  Sort of a birthday present."  He laughed.

Ok, I was a little disappointed, but who can complain about a night with a hot guy?  "Why did you ask the time before making a move?"

"I didn't want to get you in trouble, so I waited until it was legal for us to be together.  I was born at 10:36 pm, so technically I wasn't 18 until 10:36 pm last night."

"Well -- thanks for being cautious."

I didn't have the heart to tell him that the legal age of consent in New York is 17, not 18.


See also: My Date with the Teenage Model and The High School Bodybuilder.; Yuri and the Penis Size Contest

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cruising at the Bookmobile

Rock Island, July 1969

Other kids spent the summer waiting anxiously for the ice cream truck.  I spent the summer waiting anxiously for the bookmobile.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were hundreds of bookmobiles, vans carrying an assortment of books for those underprivileged readers who couldn't get to the public library.  Such as kids.

 You could check out up to 3 books at a time, and keep them for two weeks. If you read 10 during the summer, you got a prize.

I don't remember any of the prizes, but I remember the books.  Some of my top childhood favorites came from the bookmobile, like  My Village Books of Sonia and Tim Gidal,  The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom PlanetTom Sawyer, and the boys' adventure books of Robert Louis Stevenson.




The bookmobile pulled into the parking lot of Denkmann Elementary School every Tuesday morning at about 10:00 am. Other neighborhood bookworms had to wait on the blacktop.  I could hear it coming from inside the house, and then run over.

But soon I discovered a reason to wait with the others: the bookmobile was a good place for cruising.

I met a lot of cute guys while cruising at the bookmobile. Like Greg, the Boy Vampire who gave me my first kiss.  Joel, the curly-haired soccer player who came with me to A Little Bit O'Heaven.

And Robbie, a dark-haired boy wearing a red muscle shirt.


I was only about 10 years old, but I already knew the rules of gay cruising:

1. Select a venue with mostly guys.  Check.  The early birds were usually boys; girls came later.

2. Cruise early. Check. The bookmobile came in the morning.

3. Cruise with a buddy.  No, I went by myself.


4. Do not drink while cruising.  Check. I hadn't had any soda or candy all day, in case a cute boy invited me to Dewey's Candy Store.

5. Gather information. Check.  Robbie was waiting to check out a book on caves, because he was going to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky with his parents later that summer.  He was a Cute Young Thing, a year younger than me.  He liked Star Trek, and his favorite subject was math.

6. Don't discuss sizes or acts.  Nope.  I definitely asked about his size: "You have really big muscles.  How strong are you?"

7. Word the invitation carefully.  If you invite him to do something specific in the future, it's a romance. Something vague in the future, it's a friendship.  Something vague right now, it's a hookup.

After we checked out our books, I asked, "Wanna play?"

Hookup.


8. Invite him to your place.  Check.

9. Take your own cars.  Well, we were walking.

10. Make sure someone knows where you are. Check. My Mom was upstairs.

11. Clean your house in advance.  Mom always had the house clean.

12. Hide your valuables.  I was a kid.  I didn't have any valuables.

13. Bring condoms.  Um...I was a kid.  We sat on my bed to look at our books, then we played space explorers in the back yard. I did get to feel his biceps.

14. Don't kick him out afterwards.  Check. Robbie stayed for lunch.  Mom made us hot dogs and potato chips.

15. Don't pretend you want a relationship.  Check. I didn't give him my phone number.

I saw him at the bookmobile a few times after that.  We talked politely, but I didn't ask him over again.

Not a friendship.  Not a relationship.  Just play.

See also: The Joy of Playing Outside