I'm in no mood to be back in Rock Island: I just got back to West Hollywood after my semester in Turkey, and I just started dating an amazing guy named Lane. If I'm gone for too long, someone else will snatch him up.
But it's my baby sister's wedding, and I have to be in the wedding party, even though I detest the heterosexist ritual, and I'm not too fond of her fiancee Terry.
He's definitely cute: curly blond hair, round face, glasses, hard biceps, Bratwurst+ (yes, I got a sausage sighting). But he is intensely boring, all about cars, sports, repairing things, and girls, girls, girls!.
And he drifts easily from heterosexist "She's every man's fantasy" to blatant homophobia, telling "fag" jokes, making limp-wrist gestures, exclaiming "Everybody with AIDS should be shot!" and "Why don't we just put the homos on an island and be rid of the problem?"
Tammy tries to squash him, not always successfully. Hasn't she told him that I am gay? Doesn't she know? We never actually had a coming-out conversation, but she met Fred and Viju, and she's heard all about Alan, Raul, my celebrity boyfriend, and most recently Lane.
Terry and Tammy dated during their last year of high school, a disastrous year of college, and a year in the workforce at the same auto dealership in Davenport, so I've seen him lots of times on Christmas and summertime visits. I've met his parents and his three friends, who I call the Three Jerks.
They're rather hot also.
1. Rod, Terry's oldest friend (far left), a grinning, round-faced Augustana student (biology major) and jogging enthusiast.
2. Anky, his next oldest friend, a history major at the University of Illinois. He is short and tightly-muscled, with swarthy Mediterranean looks (second from right).
3. Paul, a tall Nordic blond with a swimmer's build, slicked-back hair, and beady eyes, Terry's most recent friend. He's a little older, about my age, and works at the car dealership.
Regardless of their hotness, the Three Jerks are loud and boisterous and way, way heterosexist. The minute they burst into the house for a Christmas party or into the back yard for a Fourth of July Barbecue, they bore me with talk of cars and sports, and pepper me with questions about the "hot girls" of California, and how many have I bedded, and could I get them the telephone number of Heather Locklear?
Two Days Before The Wedding
Tammy is out somewhere. Terry and his three friends, aka the Three Jerks, still damp from swimming at Longview Park, descend upon our game room to yell loudly while playing foosball. Then they settle down to watch a VHS tap of Big Trouble in Little China.
I join them, squeezed onto the couch between Anky and Paul -- it's rather fun to sit with hot guys, heterosexist or not, and I can ignore the hooting at Kim Cattrell's breasts.
Paul nudges me. "Is she as hot as your girlfriend in California?"
I should respond according to the rules of survival drummed into my head in West Hollywood:
Never come out. When asked about your girlfriend or interest in girls, lie. Make something up.
But I'm tired of being mistaken for straight. "Gross! I don't have a girlfriend!"
"No girlfriend!" Anky exclaims. "With all those foxes around in California? Well, maybe you just need some Midwestern talent."
"You just leave everything to us," Paul says. "We'll check out the guest list, and make sure you get laid tomorrow night -- right, Terry?"
Terry shoots him a pained look, but says, "Sure, I'll see what I can do."
We gather at the United Methodist Church for the rehearsal.
The wedding is going to be entirely heterosexist, with the men filing down the church aisle, arm in arm with the women, separating for the ceremony, and then coming together, arms around each other in heteronormative bliss, for the photo. Then we're going to be seated together at the reception.
Sure enough, the Three Jerks have fixed me up with Charlene, one of the bridesmaids, Tammy's friend from high school. She's heavily made up and stinking of perfume.
"You are so lucky, bud!" Paul grins at me. "Cream of the crop! A lot better than those fags in California, right?"
Terry shoots him a pained look.
Anky presses his hand on my back. "And I hear she puts out. You'll definitely have a story to tell all your friends back in California."
We start down the aisle:
Anky, the Best Man, with a girl. Then: Paul, me, Rod, and my brother Ken, each of us arm-in-arm with our corresponding girl.
But instead of grabbing onto Charlene, I take one step back and latch onto the arm of Paul! He looks stunned, but walks a few feet with me until the preacher stops us and tells us to try again.
This time I take a step forward and latch onto Rod!
"Boomer!" My mother commands. "Do it right, or don't do it at all."
I grudgingly comply.
Later, at the rehearsal dinner, Anky buttonholes me. "What's up, man? It looked like you were deliberately trying to ruin Terry's wedding."
I am sick of hiding. "Oh, no, I just have a hard time figuring out the moves. I'm not used to boy-girl pairs. Back in West Hollywood, it's all boy-boy pairs."
"Boy-boy pairs?" He repeats, staring. Then he breaks into a wide grin. "I had no idea you were...we'll talk later, ok? After dinner."
After dinner Anky walks me out into the parking lot and reveales that he is gay!
"I've seen you maybe eight, ten times over the last three years. Why didn't you tell me before? I ask.
He shrugs. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Well, why didn't Terry tell me that his best friend was gay? Or tell his best friend that his fiancee's brother was gay?
Turns out Terry didn't know. Neither of us lisped or swished, so he couldn't "tell" from visual clues, and everybody who did know was following the rule: Never come out.
And he still won't know. Anky makes me promise not to out him.
He still goes to Terry's bachelor party. I claim a headache and bow out.
The Day of the Wedding
Anky and I sit together at the reception, and then visit my ex-bully Dick for dinner and "sharing." He has a slim but firm physique, nice hands, and an average-sized but beautifully shaped penis that presses straight up against his abdomen. He goes down on Dick and me at the same time, and then he lies on his back so I can go down on him while Dick is topping him.
We get together a few more times, when we're both back in Rock Island for Christmas or the summer, but eventually we lose contact.
See also: How We Survived the Homophobic 1980s; My Date with the Groom's Grandson at a Gay Wedding; and Sausage Sighting of My Parents' Contractor