Saturday, July 16, 2016
My email to my friend Eli in Amsterdam contained only one word: "WTF????"
He had just told me that he was taking a job in Oman.
That's right, Oman, the sultanate just south of Saudi Arabia, on the Indian Ocean.
I called. "But...but...but it's the Arabian Peninsula! I wouldn't set foot in any country where being gay brings the death penalty."
"No, that is Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In Oman the penalty is only three years in prison."
"Only three years in prison?"
"Most of the states in the U.S. had worse penalties. Besides, it is only if you are discovered."
"But...you live in Amsterdam, where everything is open. Gay life in Oman must be incredibly closeted. No bars, no bathhouses, no organizations."
"They have Grindr. And it is a very good job, and it will last only one year."
Eli's Dispatches from Oman (modified slightly for grammar).
"You were thinking mud streets and minarets, yes? Oman is modern! The Food Court in the Muscat Grand Mall has Charley's Grilled Subs, Curry in a Hurry, Hungry Bunny, KFC, Papa John's, Mr. Pretzels, and Wok and Roll."
"Half the people here are guest workers from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Last night I met a very cute boy from Bangladesh on Grindr. He never met a black guy before. We went to my flat and kissed for awhile, and then I went down on him. Kovbasa+, at least 25 centimeters, uncut! Here's a picture (top photo)."
"Muscat, the capital, is beautiful! There are so many interesting sights! I like the Omani French Museum, the Bait al Zubir, and the Museum of Modern Art. And there are two beaches!
"The assumption is that gay people exist only in the West, so straight guys have no qualms about hooking up with each other while waiting to marry. Today I hooked up with a Pakistani guy on a crowded bus. He just started fondling me! Before I knew it, I was aroused, and he was doing me through my pants! When I finished, he moved away like nothing happened.
"Another Grindr hookup, this time with a real Omani Arab named Jamal. Because I am black, he thought I was from Kenya He wanted to know if all Kenyans are gay. I told him 'Most.'
He was about 30 years old, tall, bearded, with a smooth chest, a Bratwurst+ beneath the belt. I let him top me with my legs in the air. "
"Today I had lunch with Jamal at a place called The Steak Company. He's married, but often has boyfriends on the side. His wife doesn't mind -- she often has boyfriends on the side, too."
"Jamal and I shared one of his boyfriends, an Indian boy in his 20s with long hair and a little goatee. He had about a Mortadella+, but he was a total bottom, only interested in going down on me and having Jamal top him.
The Arabs are really attracted to Indians, almost as much as to black guys."
"Today I hooked up with a guy from Zanzibar. A tall black guy with big muscles and an enormous penis. I went down on him in a secluded spot on the beach. Can you believe it?"
"I know you are into languages. I've been studying Arabic, but I rarely get a chance to use it -- everyone speaks English all the time. Did you know that Oman has 7 Semitic languages besides Arabic? Also they speak Baluchi, which is a language from Iran, and Urdu and Swahili."
"You think that Oman is all Muslim, but about 20% of the population is Hindu or Christian. There's a big Catholic church. I went with my friend Jacob, who is an American, a blond-haired blue-eyed cowboy. You think that black guys are popular here, you should see all the action blonds get!"
."I started dating an Arab guy named Mohammed, or Mo. He is in his 20s, slim, rather feminine, but super-hung, with a thick Kielbasa. He's only into oral, but I don't mind -- because I'm black, everybody wants me to top them.
Most of Mo's friends are gay. No one notices, not even when they 'camp' at lunch. He says his family knows, and doesn't care. This is the first guy I've hooked up with who spends the night."
"Mo and I drove out to Nizwa, about 1 1/2 hours from Muscat, to see the Nizwa Fort. It's really a giant palace that dates from the 17th century, where the walis would govern during the Caliphate. Nizwa is an old, traditional city with adobe buildings and an open-air souk, but also a Domino's Pizza on the outskirts of town!
There was a boy, about 17, working there, very handsome with big eyes and a slim frame. We brought him back to our hotel and took turns going down on him. Then he topped me. Bratwurst+, but rather thin, so I didn't mind.
"I hooked up with another Arab guy on the street. We met at the Family Bookshop, which has a good selection of English books (you can't find Dutch books in Oman). He had a remarkably hairy chest and a Kielbasa+. I went down on him while he kept talking from a porn movie 'Yeah, yeah, go down on that big cock, yeah, yeah.'"
"Mo took me to meet his family. They asked me if we would get married! Of course, same-sex marriage is illegal in Oman, but legal in the Netherlands, so if Mo comes back with me. I'm not realy looking for a permanent relationship. I think it's time to say goodbye to Mo."
"All of the guys I've met so far, Arab, Indian, even American, have been super-hung. So I was disappointed when the Grindr hookup I had last night, an Arab guy with a thin beard and nice pecs, turned out to be only average."
"My year in Oman is almost over. Would it be ok if I come and visit you on the Plains before I return to Amsterdam? I could use a quiet, peaceful vacation after the nonstop sex of Oman."
See also: The Dutch Caribbean at the Horseman's Club; My Best Day in Amsterdam
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
I arrive in Minneapolis at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday to visit my sort-of boyfriend Dustin.
Dustin is 21 years old, an animation major at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, short, with thick brown hair, a handsome square face, and a slim, tight physique with an outtie belly button.
He has an apartment in an old Victorian across the street from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, with two straight roommates who are gone for the summer
Over dinner at the Red Dragon, he asks "What do you want to do while you're here? If we ever make it out of the bedroom, that is."
"The Institute of Art, of course. The Walker Art Center. And a lot of Asian cuisine. All our tiny town on the Plains has is not-very-good Chinese."
"There's an epic Malaysian place a few blocks away. And Vietnamese and Thai, and we even have Tibetan. Anything else?"
"A play at the Guthrie?"
"They're doing South Pacific this weekend. Lots of gorg soldier boys to perv on. But I was wondering if you were up for a more erotic evening."
"Sure, I'm up for that. What do you have in mind? Or who?"
He grins. "It's a surprise."
Wednesday. Dustin has a summer job doing some sort of illustration for a software company. He's taken Thursday and Friday off, but today I'm on my own. I work out at the campus gym with a guest pass, and go to the Art Institute and the American Swedish Institute.
We have dinner at the Tibetan Kitchen-- curry chicken and fried dumplings -- then go to a gay-friendly coffee house to hook up with Dustin's friend Mike.
I feel a bit lost in their conversations of video games and anime, but I warm up back at the apartment. Mike has a pale, slim physique and an enormous Kovbasa, easily 11 inches. I go down on him while he and Dustin are kissing, and then he finishes with interfemeral. It feels like a baseball bat pressing against me.
Thursday. After breakfast, Mike leaves. I tell Dustin, "Thanks for the surprise. I haven't been with a guy that hung in ages."
"Oh, that was just my home boy. Your surprise is coming up later. You have to be patient."
We work out in the campus gym, and then Dustin takes me on a grand tour of Minneapolis: some great architecture downtown the waterfall in Minnehaha Park, a science fiction bookstore, and a comic book store. Then dinner at the Pho Hoa, one of the eight Vietnamese restaurants in walking distance of Dustin's apartment!
No hookups, but here's a naked man to tide you over.
Friday. The campus gym, the Art Institute again, two historic churches, and the gay neighborhood of Loring Park. We have dinner at the Bombay Bistro with three of Dustin's friends -- no sharing after. Then we go to South Pacific at the Guthrie, followed by the JetSet bar, where we pick up a gym rat named Shawn.
He's in his 20s, smooth, buffed, with very nice pecs and washboard abs, rather small beneath the belt, but very passionate, into kissing. He wants me to top him, of course -- every twink I meet seems to -- but I talk him into going down on me and Dustin at the same time. Then I go down on him to finish.
"Very nice surprise," I tell Dustin after he leaves. "Not nearly as impressive as Mike, but not bad."
"Oh, that was just a hookup. The surprise is coming. You have to be patient."
I only have two more nights in town! When is the famous surprise going to come?
Saturday. We work out in the campus gym, then visit The Mall of America. the biggest shopping mall in the world, with 4 floors, over 500 stores, an amusement park, an aquarium, and four theaters. I don't buy anything. Back home, we pick up some groceries, and I cook dinner -- barbecued chicken, wild rice, a salad, and melon.
Then we sit cuddling on the couch, watching Netflix, while I wait expectantly. I'm only in town tonight and tomorrow night -- when is this famous surprise coming?
Finally Dustin says "Ok, I've tortured you with anticipation long enough. You're always talking about how much you like bathhouses."
"Sure, I love bathhouses." The dimly lit corridors, the blaring dance music, the steam, the guys of all sizes and shapes wandering around in towels, the gym, the darkrooms and glory holes, But the sex isn't even the main thing. Ir's warm and comfortable, a safe haven, a refuge from the turmoil of everyday life. "But there aren't any in Minneapolis -- I checked. I think the nearest one is in Chicago."
"Well, I found you one. Very clandestine, very word of mouth. I don't think it's exactly legal. It's only open on Saturday nights, from 10 pm to 2 am. It's Adventure Time."
We drive to a small, dark warehouse on a side street in northern Minneapolis. The windows are all boarded up. It looks abandoned. We push through the door to a dingy foyer with two old safe-sex posters and some bar rags. A guy behind a glass panel is waiting to take our $20 cover charge.
It's not a bathhouse, it's a sex club. No pool, jacuzzi, steam room, or showers. No music. No lockers. No nudity. Just long, dimly lit corridors leading to big, empty rooms. Some of them have a few chairs, some have bare mattresses on the floor.
It's uncomfortably hot, dank, smelling of mildew and urine -- someone has been using the corner of a room rather than the bathroom downstairs.
A buffed Hispanic guy lies on a mattress, fully aroused, his eyes closed as if asleep.
A leatherman is topping a superchub, groaning as he approaches orgasm.
Dustin and I kiss while a slim twink with Maori tattoos goes down on us. Then I kneel on the hard, dirty floor and go down on both of them together.
We've had enough. We drive home, shower, and go to bed.
"Sorry the surprise didn't work out," Dustin says. "I never been there before. I didn't know it was so...primitive."
I nod. "Not like a bathhouse at all."
"You have one more day in town. What can I do to make it up to you?"
"Metropolitan Community Church followed by Sunday brunch at a gay restaurant. Twin Cities Leather and Latte. Boneshaker Books, where all the queer radicals hang out." I pause. "And could you invite Mike and his Kovbasa++ back?"
See also: Hooking Up with My Son's Host at a Heterosexual Party
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
And flights are always overbooked, a practice that would be illegal in any other business. If you buy a theater ticket, that seat in the theater is waiting for you. If you buy an airplane ticket, they may sell your seat to someone else, betting that both of you won't show up and they can get paid twice.
1. Take off your coat, shoes, and belt and pile them in a little gray bin.
2. Take your laptop out of its case and put it in another bin
3. Put everything in your pockets into a third bin.
4. Don't forget bins for your carry-on luggage.
5. And your toiletries, including expensive carry-on sizes of your toothpaste and mouthwash.
5. Follow the orders that the gruff TSA agent barks at you.
6. Collect your stuff and get dressed again.
7. Replenish your water supply with their expensive bottled water.
Sometimes I've just said "forget it," and turned around to go home.
In 2011, University of Cincinnati architectural student Aaron Tobe performed a protest. When he went through security, he took off his shirt, revealing te Fourth Amendment (against "unreasonable searches") on his chest.
He was arrested for "disorderly conduct" and interrogated for 45 minutes about whether he belonged to a terrorist group and whether he was planning to blow anything up. Finally the charges were dropped.
Maybe they just wanted to spend 45 minutes staring at Aaron's chest.
In the years following 9/11, I was chosen "at random" for an extra pat-down every time every time I got on a plane.
Every time, without exception.
Eventually I figured it out: I wore a beard, I had a leather jacket, and I traveled light. Terrorist!
The beard came off, the jacket came off, I brought along an extra suitcase, and the pat-downs stopped.
But I'm still chosen "at random" nearly every time for those special scanners that show you naked. I've had my penis on display more often at airports than at bath houses.
Maybe the TSA agents just want to check out my package.
See also: 36 Hours of Cruising at Lambert International Airport
Monday, July 11, 2016
There are several rites of passage between a boy and his Dad:
When he teaches you to shave.
When he lets you drive for the first time.
When you can beat him at arm wrestling.
But the biggest is The Talk, when Dad sits you down and explains The Facts of Life.
By which he means the mechanics of biological reproduction, how sperm and egg cells merge their chromosomes to turn into an embryo, and nine months later, a baby.
Why is this the sole subject matter of The Talk?
Biological reproduction may be interesting, but it's irrelevant, the physiology of the past. What about your respiratory, circulatory, nervous, and muscle systems? What about the nutrition and exercise necessary to ensure that your body works properly? Surely those are Facts of Life of more immediate importance.
The reason is obvious: The Facts of Life Talk isn't really about biological reproduction. It's about Sex, aka heterosexual intercourse.
Dad assumes that the quest for heterosexual intercourse, will occupy your thoughts, color your decisions, throughout your life. You will choose colleges and careers solely on the likelihood of heterosexual intercourse, marry to be ensured of a regular partner, get a job and a house and have kids to ensure that she sticks around, and spend your declining years on a park bench, gazing at "all the pretty girls" and wishing that you could have heterosexual intercourse with them.
By the time Dad sat me down for the Talk, I already knew all of the Facts of Sex, except for one. I heard them through:
1. 7th Grade Health Class. The teacher showed us a drawing of a man and a woman, facing us like the greeting to aliens on the Pioneer Space Probe, with the testicles and ovaries circled. He explained that sperm from the man's testicles merged with eggs from the woman's ovaries, which was then embedded into the uterine wall and developed into a fetus.
Ok, but how did the sperm get to the ovaries, when they're a good five feet from each other? Teleportation?
2. Sunday School. Ok, so we reproduced through sex. That must be why Brother Dino admonished us not to have sex before marriage, or God would strike us with incurable diseases as a punishment. He didn't want kids having kids.
But what exactly was sex?
"Good question!" Brother Dino said. "It's not just sex. God hates anything that defiles the body."
Which didn't answer the question.
3. Summer Camp. At Nazarene summer camp the summer after seventh grade, I asked an older boy named Marty to explain the procedure. He told me about going from first base (kissing) to second base (feeling the girl's breasts over her bra) to third base (feeling under). He even demonstrated by feeling my chest under my shirt. But then he got nervous and left before the home run.
How did feeling under a girl's bra make sperm go from your testicles to her ovaries? The two organs were still a foot or more apart!
4. Mike. In eighth grade, my friends and the jocks claimed that they had sex often, a dozen times a week. As we walked down the halls, they would say "I've had her...had her...had her..."
"Ok," he said, "The home run: you put your penis inside the girl's vagina." (yes, he used the technical terms). "That's an opening that leads all the way up to her ovaries. So the sperm comes out and goes right up the tube to the egg."
"But...but...pee comes out of your penis, too!" I exclaimed. "How do you make sure that sperms come out instead?"
Mike began to blush. "Um...when you get older, sometimes...you know, it gets bigger...and like turns into a baseball bat."
"Sure, I know all about...um, baseball bats," I said, feeling very grown up and sophisticated. No one had ever mentioned that Fact of Life before.
"Well, when you're like that, only sperm can come out. When you're not, only pee."
"But..you can't control when that happens. How do you get it to happen when you want to have a baby?"
He laughed. "Oh, you'll find out, Bud. Believe me, you'll find out!"
So I sort of knew the procedure. But Mike left out the most important Fact of Life.
Can you think of what it was?
"You had Sex Ed, right?" he started off. "You know about sperm and eggs, and all that?"
"Do you have any questions?"
"Well..." Yes, I had a question. "I already learned about running the bases, and what to do with your penis if you want a baby. But I hear guys talking all the time about having sex when they don't want to make a baby."
"Don't do it!" Dad said sharply. "God will punish you with incurable diseases."
"Sure, sure...but...why would you want to? I mean, if you don't want to make a baby, what's the point?"
"What's the point?" he repeated, staring at me. "What do you mean, what's the point? It's a girl -- let's say a really cute girl -- and you've been kissing her, and feeling her breasts."
I didn't realize that I had said too much until it was too late. Dad stood abruptly, snarled "Don't be a wise guy!" , and nearly ran back to the house.
Dad left out the most important Fact of Life. It took me years to figure out it out on my own:
Some boys want to hit a home run with boys, not girls.
See also: A Naked Man for Christmas