I'm a big bibliophile. When I move, it takes 30 boxes just for my books.
The highlight of visiting a new town is checking out the bookstores.
If I walked into this scene, I would check out the books before making out with the guy.
So during my awful year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, when I ran ad in the Montrose Voice, Houston's gay newspaper, looking for a boyfriend, I specified "must like books."
It was a boyfriend ad -- I was 23 years old, conservative, romantic, not into "tricking" (the 1980s word for hookups). I wanted dating, romance, a relationship. So, to make sure we had a lot in common, I specified more than my sexual tastes: "into bks, tv, f/sf, mus, dts only.
Into books, tv, fantasy/science fiction, bodybuilding (muscles). Dates only (they charged by the letter).
Most guys who answered didn't even read the ad -- they just answered all of them, in search of an elusive hookup.
Others misunderstood, thinking I meant "pornographic books, transvestism, and fisting in San Francisco."
Others were "into books," but strongly disapproved of the "mindless, infantile dreck" on the rest of my list.
He was from Ottumwa, Iowa (about two hours from Rock Island); he had a bachelor's degree in psychology (I had a master's degree in English); and he claimed a love of books, movies, tv, and science fiction (at least he knew what sf meant).
So I agreed to a date.
When I arrived at Hank's apartment on Kipling Street in the Montrose, Houston's gay neighborhood, he answered the door in bathrobe.
Cute: short black hair, deeply-set eyes, sharp chin, high cheekbones. From what I could see through the bathrobe, a nicely toned, smooth chest with flat nipples and a hint of six-pack abs.
"I'm still getting ready," he said apologetically. "Have a seat, and I'll be with you in a minute."
It was a small one room apartment with a single window that looked out onto a fire escape, and nowhere to sit but an unmade bed. A kitchenette with unwashed dishes in the sink and open boxes of cereal on the counter. A coffee table with more unwashed dishes on it. A small dresser and a black and white tv.
I shouldn't complain -- I had a small apartment, too. But at least I knew how to wash dishes and make a bed.
I have books in every room the house, including the bathroom. Hank had none. A bookcase full of knicknacks; snow globes, toys, figurines. No pile of novels waiting to be read. No coffee-table books for visitors to browse through. Nothing.
For that matter, no magazines or newspapers, either.
Hank bounced out of the bathroom in a t-shirt that revealed a v-shaped torso and very thick hard biceps. He plopped down on the bed next to me. "So, what do you want to do? Go out to eat, go to a movie, go cruising?"
He had never had Japanese, Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese food. We went out to dinner at a...yawn...steakhouse, where I subtly quizzed Hank on how much he really liked the four things on my list.
Books: His favorite author was...um..Shakespeare. His favorite gay author was...well, what difference did sexual orientation make, as long as the book was good?
TV: He used to watch The Brady Bunch when he was a kid. He had a crush on Greg. Contemporary shows? Well, he didn't have much time for tv.
Fantasy/Science Fiction: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is science fiction, right?
Bodybuilding: He went to the gym.
After dinner I suggested that we browse in the Wilde and Stein Bookstore, which specialized in gay fiction. I bought The Boy Who Picked the Bullets Up, a gay coming-of-age story. Hank looked bored.
We returned to his book-free apartment and sat on the bed.
I was ready to bolt. This guy was cute and all, but I was looking for a boyfriend, someone who shared my interests.
"I don't think this will work out," I said, sighing. "We don't have much in common. I'm really looking for a guy who is into books."
Charlie an the Chocolate Factory
The Little House on the Prairie
The Boxcar Children
The Hardy Boys
"Um...have you read anything lately?" I asked.
"Well, I don't have time to read a lot, but look -- have you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth? It's about a boy named Milo, see..."
"I don't think...." I began.
"Look..." Hank wrapped his arm around me to draw my attention to the book. A hard bicep against my back, a big hand on my shoulder. I fell against his chest.
There was a definite bulge in his pants.
"We don't have to look at my books," Hank said, "If there's something else you'd rather do."
There was something else I wanted to do: kiss and lick his chest, and gradually move my way down to his beautifully shaped Bratwurst+. I eagerly thrust up and down until Hank lay on the bed and pulled me on top of him for interfemoral and kissing, then into 69.
Ok, there are some things I like more than books.
See also: Anal and Astrology in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas