Friday, October 28, 2016
A Hookup with the Nephew of My First Time
I was fifteen years old, in the summer after my sophomore year in high school, at music camp in Decorah, Iowa. I shared a dorm room with Todd (not his real name).
My first big crush: soulful eyes, tight smooth chest, nice abs, square hands.
His mother was Lebanese. I've found Middle Easterners sexy ever since.
He was Catholic, not Muslim. I've found Catholics sexy ever since.
It wasn't much -- I went down on him, with no kissing, no cuddling, no reciprocation. But my first time! Afterwards I tried everything to make Todd my boyfriend, including dating his girlfriend, but nothing worked. He didn't want anything to do with me.
During my junior year, we barely spoke. I don't recall seeing him at all during my senior year.
The years passed. I went to college, then grad school, moved to West Hollywood, moved to New York, got my Ph.D., moved to Florida, taught in Ohio, Upstate, and the Plains, had friends and boyfriends and hookups.
In 2016, 40 years after that night in Decorah, Iowa, he enrolls in one of my classes!
Plains, September 2016
Ok, it's not him. This Todd doesn't even look like my Todd. Much paler, thin, with an oval head and short black hair. Nice hands. Cute, but far short of the angelic beauty of my Todd, at least in my memory.
But it's not a very common name, so there must be a relation. Could this guy be my Todd's son?
Not likely. Maybe nephew or...gulp...a grandson?
I stalk this Todd on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He's 20 years old, from a small town in Minnesota. He played hockey in high school. He's a social work major who volunteers at the domestic abuse shelter, and he is a canvass leader for the Democratic Party.
There are pictures of him fishing, playing hockey, and with his arm around a girl.
And with a rainbow flag over his profile stating "We are Orlando."
Probably straight, but certainly a gay ally.
Maybe he was named after his Uncle Todd, who is living in the gay neighborhood of Minneapolis with his partner of 30 years, who flies a rainbow flag from his front porch and marches in every Gay Pride Parade.
Unfortunately, he drops my class after two weeks, before I have a chance to ask.
I'm not going to give up that easy! I get his class schedule from the registrar and "accidentally" run into him in the hallway just as one of his classes is letting out. He's walking by himself, texting furiously.
"Hey, Todd!" I exclaim. "You dropped my class!"
He looks up and smiles, flattered that I recognize him from a class of 150. "Yeah, sorry. It was interesting and everything, but I over-extended myself. I'm a canvass leader for the Democratic Party, and with the election coming up..."
"Oh sure, no problem." I begin to walk alongside him. "The reason I remembered you is, you have the same name as one of my good friends in high school, so I thought you might be related. It was in Rock Island, Illinois in the 1970s."
"I'm named after my uncle, but he's from Wisconsin. Cool coincidence, though. It's not a very common name."
Dead end! Oh, well, at least I got to talk to a cute guy.
Todd flashes that unmistakeable cruising glance -- face, crotch, face. "If you have some free time, we can always use guys to canvass for Hillary," he says, grinning, with a touch to my shoulder. "There's pizza afterwards."
Unfortunately, I'm really busy this semester, too busy to go canvassing for Hillary in the hope of hooking up with Todd.
I run into him again a week later in the Student Union.
"Hey, it's my best friend from high school!" I joke.
"I wish!" Todd says. "You must have been something else way back then!"
"Nothing wrong with me now. I can do 48 pushups in a minute."
"Oh, no, I didn't mean....you look great! Um..." Flustered, he says "I just meant you would have been fun to hang out with."
A couple of weeks later, Todd shows up during my office hours. "Guess what? I went home last weekend, and asked my Dad. Turns out they did live in Rock Island for about five years during the 1970s. Then they moved to Wisconsin."
"So your uncle is my old high school friend, aftr all!"
"Looks like it! I brought some pictures and Dad's old yearbook to show you."
He hands me a yearbook from Green Bay East High School, 1979. Todd's father stares at me from across the years.
"Hot!" I exclaim without thinking.
Todd grins. "Yeah, I never thought about it, but I guess he was kinda built. Do you recognize him?"
"No. To be honest, I didn't even know that my Todd had a brother. He just mentioned a sister."
More pictures. My Todd among his brothers and sisters. His college graduation. His wedding. Then only a few photos, taken at family functions. His kids as babies. Christmas. Thanksgiving. His kids as teenagers. Their high school graduations. Todd in middle age, very bald and very chubby.
"Thanks for bringing these," I say. "It's so weird to meet the nephew of my high school friend, after so many years. Funny, I thought he was gay. I wasn't out yet, at the time, but I definitely got a gay vibe from him."
Todd is completely unfazed by my subtle coming out. "Uncle Todd? He tells more homophobic jokes than Seth McFarlane [the producer of Family Guy]. He's a hardcore Republican, pro-life, against gay marriage, against Syrian refugees...you name it, he's against it. Mom and Dad are really progressive, so they don't get along very well. Um...sorry to burst your bubble."
How the mighty have fallen!
"That's ok," I say, though I am actually crestfallen. "A lot of guys I went to high school with turned out to be homophobic. It was a homophobic era."
Drive three hours across the Prairie to the birthday party of someone I don't know, to reunite with someone I had sex with 40 years ago, who is now an ultra-homophobic jerk?
Staunch Democrat Todd obviously just wants me there to scandalize his conservative Republican uncle with a gay "ghost from the past."
"Sounds like fun!"
"Great! I'll tell Dad you're coming. But just so you know -- there will be a lot of people in the house, so you'll probably have to spend the night in my bed. That won't be a problem, will it?"
I grin. "Not at all."
New Ulm, Minnesota, October 2016
It was fun, making the bald, chubby, ultra-conservative homophobe who I once had a crush on squirm in his seat as I described my life in West Hollywood, my ex-boyfriends, my research on gay communities. I didn't mention that night at music camp, of course, but you could tell he was worried that I would bring it up and "out" him to his family.
I could hear him thinking: "I had sex with a homo! If anyone finds out, I'll be ruined!"
But I couldn't help wondering if it was his first time, too.
And if he'll be telling this story in 40 years.
See also: My First Sexual Experience