Last September as I was driving through small-town Illinois on the way back from Indianapolis, I met Ryan H., a University of Illinois freshman, previously a high school track star from a small town.
For the next three months we chatted on Facebook and Snapchat. He invited me to visit him at Christmastime, and every now and then sent me a selfie to pique my interest.
And another, and another. Butts at first, but when I told him I was only into the front side, lots of shirtless shots. And cock-and-balls shots. Nude, aroused, fapping. [To protect his privacy, I changed his name and location, and none of these photos are actually of him.]
I was torn. 600 miles is a long way.
But he lives right on the way to my parents' house.
Besides, you never meet a perfect combination of face, physique, and Kovbasa++.
There was never really any doubt about what would happen. Wednesday, December 21st
I drive to Rock Island, work out in the spectacular gym next to the Holiday Inn, and get a Harris Pizza before going on Grindr and inviting a twink named Park over. He's not very cute, but he has a nice sized Mortadella+ for me to practice my oral skills on.
I'm going to need all the practice I can get before trying out Ryan's Kovbasa++ tomorrow night!
And I need a refresher on contemporary pop culture and slang. What does "stay woke" mean, for instance, and who the heck are the Chainsmokers?
Thursday, December 22nd
Breakfast at my favorite place in Rock Island, then a three-hour drive to Urbana. I get a room at the Holiday Inn and go to the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, where there's an exhibit on "Making and Breaking Medieval Manuscripts."
At 3:00 pm, I lift weights -- chest and biceps only. I want to be good and pumped when I see Ryan.
Then it's time to for a protein snack and a shower. I put on my new underwear, jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket, leaving nothing to chance, and drive to small-town Illinois.
5:00 pm: I expect to meet Ryan at a friend's house, or in a public place, but the directions he gives me are to a house in a flat suburb surrounded by cornfields.
A balding, paunchy middle-aged man answers the door, and offers me a handshake. "You must be Boomer. I'm Ryan's father, Marshall."
He told his father about me?
Not only his father -- Marshall leads me into a living room festooned with Christmas cards and holly, where I meet Ryan's mother and younger brother. They offer me eggnog (which I accept) and cheese-and-crackers (which I refuse) and ask the sorts of questions parents ask: "How did you and Ryan meet? What do you do?"
After about ten minutes, Ryan come down the stairs. As cute as I remember! White cargo shirt open two buttons, blue jacket, tight jeans with an obvious bulge. He wraps his arms around me and kisses me on the cheek.
"Don't keep my boy out too late, now," Dad says as we walk toward the door.
"Dad, I'm 19!" Ryan exclaims.
"And I'm 46. We both need our beauty sleep."
We climb into my car. "Your parents don't mind that you're dating someone my age?" I ask.
"No. They think older guys are more mature, so I'm less likely to get in trouble. My first boyfriend was way old -- 53."
I don't mention that I'm 56.
6:00 pm: I expected to go into Urbana to the gay bars, but instead we go to a varsity wrestling match at the high school. We sit in the bleachers with Ryan's bff Sam and two other guys!
Not my idea of a first date. Especially since I'm the only person over 40 in the stadium who isn't a parent.
But I make the best of it, looking for wrestling singlet bulges. And finding them.
8:00 pm: Dinner with Ryan, the bff, and the two other guys at a "family restaurant." I have the fried chicken.
It's sort of nice to be squeezed into a booth next to Ryan, our legs pressed together.
But so small-town...wholesome...tame.
This is the adventurous guy who snuck into a gay bar in Indianapolis with a fake id and had a three way with Harry Styles of One Direction?
Maybe Ryan is planning a group thing later.
Nope -- after dessert (apple pie), two of the three friends scatter., leaving Sam.
"So, back to my hotel in Champaign?" I suggest.
Ryan looks doubtful. "I promised Mom and Dad that I'd be home early."
"It's only fifteen minutes away."
"You guys can come hang out at my house," Sam offers.
Sharing, on a first date? I think. What will kids today think of next!
10:00 pm: Ryan and I sit on the bed in Sam's bedroom, watching Yoga Hosers on Netflix. Sam has a chair.
It's rather nice to cuddle with Ryan, feeling his body against my chest, holding his hand. Like being a teenager again.
But when are we going to get to the sexual activity? Is Sam going to join us, or leave so we can get some privacy?
When Sam goes to the bathroom, we kiss and grope. I feel Ryan's Kovbasa growing under my hand, and start to unzip him.
"Wait." He pushes me away. "Sam will be back any minute."
This is the guy who's been sending me nude selfies for three months? Who had a three way with a pop star? Come on!
12:00 am, sharp. I drive Ryan back to his house and walk him to his front door, hoping to be sneaked into the house and into his bed. Instead, I get a kiss.
"What are you doing New Year's Eve?" he asks.
"I guess I'll still be in Indianapolis."
"Perfect. The family's spending New Year's Eve in Indianapolis, too. I'll take you to a pizza party at a 21-and-under club. Text me."
He kisses me again and vanishes into the house.
There's no rule that you must have bedroom activity on a first date. I guess.
I drive back to my hotel, feeling something like this.
San Francisco, March 14th, 2003 A Friday. I'm living in Florida, but back in San Francisco for five days, anxious to visit my old hangouts and re-unite with my old friends:
Drake the Teddy Bear Artist.
Corbin, the Gym Rat with the Mortadella+:
Clay, who I picked up in the restroom at Macy's
Wayne the Ex-Priest.
Matt, my ex-boyfriend's ex-boyfriend
And especially Kevin the Vampire. When I left San Francisco, I was actually relieved to be rid of him: his smoking, his elitism, his weird paranormal powers, his exhausting bedroom calisthenics. But at least dating him was never dull.
David, the ex-Baptist minister who is trying to make up for lost time by hooking up with at least two guys every day, picks me up at the airport. On the way to his apartment on Alvarado in the Castro, he tells me that Drake, Corbin, Clay, and Wayne have all moved away or gone incognito.
I'm disappointed. Back in West Hollywood, almost everyone I knew is still there. I could walk into the French Quarter or the Fautline, and it would seem like I never left.
David shrugs. "It takes a lot to live in Gay Heaven. Not only money, but stamina, determination, passion. Most guys get burned out in a few years."
"Well, surely Kevin the Vampire is still around. I can't imagine him living anywhere else."
"Dunno. I just hung out with him because of you, so we haven't been in contact. Why don't you give him a call?"
I am embarrassed to admit that in a year of dating, I never got Kevin's phone number. He always called me, or showed up at my door.
"Well, do you know his address?" David asks. "We could do a drop-in."
"I never got his actual street address, either, but I know where his apartment is. I've been there a hundred times." I hesitate. "Only...we might not be able to find it. One of Kevin's paranormal powers was confusing visitors. If he wasn't expecting you, you would get lost."
"Desperately seeking Kevin the Vampire, a paranormal adventure!" David exclaims. "I'm in -- but only if we can hook up with some of the leads. I'm running a little low on my quota."
Saturday, March 15th
We have breakfast at Orphan Andy's, and then take the Muni out to the Richmond, where we find Kevin's apartment with no problem. It's on the third floor of a Victorian on 12th Avenue, just south of Clement.
When we knock, a cute black-haired twink answers the door, bleary-eyed, wearing only pajama bottoms. He introduces himself as Rome (or Roam) and invites us in for coffee.
"I've lived here for two years now, but I know who you're talking about. He was here when I came to look at the place. Not my type -- I like them muscular, like you guys." He puts his hand on David's knee. "But big eyes. Weird, hypnotic."
"Definitely one of his selling points," I say.
"Well, he sold me. I ended up going own on him, right in front of the landlord. And I'm never a slut! Weird, huh?" He pauses, lightly stroking David's knee. "Sorry I can't help you out. I have to go take a shower and get ready for work. So...unless you want to join me..."
I wait in the bedroom while David and Rome make out in the shower. When they emerge, I go down on Rome while David is topping him. Smooth hairless chest, average sized, cut, a lot of moaning.
That night David hosts a party in his apartment. He invites four guys, including Matt, the crazy Harvard boy who was with my ex-boyfriend Fred for ten years, and runs a nude housekeeping service. Matt's date is, of all people, Seth!
A cute science nerd in his 30s with a surprisingly muscular physique, a hairy chest, and a Bratwurst+ beneath the belt. The teaching assistant in my chemistry class in 1997, now a chemistry professor at San Francisco City College. He and Kevin dated after we broke up (or maybe before we broke up).
The ex-boyfriend of my ex-boyfriend is dating the ex-boyfriend of my ex-boyfriend!
The mind boggles.
"Kevin and I didn't really have a friendly break-up," Seth tells me. "There was yelling, and crying, and throwing things, and that was just my friends, when I told them about it. So I haven't seen him since. Sorry I can't be of any help."
Well, Seth was of some help. I got to go down on him again during a game of "Guess the Penis."
Monday, March 17th
While David is at work, I go to St. Mary's Hospital to see Marius (top photo), the Argentine German who was Kevin's boss and best friend. He's in his 40s, a hairy muscle bear with an enormous uncut Mortadella, and religious, a devout Lutheran who once planned to become a minister. I'm sure we would have dated, except that I only met him after I began dating Kevin the Vampire.
"Kevin quit a couple of years ago, and moved out of town," Marius tells me.
"Out of San Francisco altogether? That's odd."
"I know. But with rents going sky-high, he just couldn't afford to stay here on his salary any longer."
So Kevin the Vampire abandoned Gay Heaven for the most mundane of reasons, his checkbook? I am strangely disappointed.
"I have his address and telephone number back at my apartment, if you'd like to stop by later."
"Sure, that'd be great."
He smiles. "We could have dinner first, if you're free."
I check with David -- he's fine with not feeding me. So Marius and I have dinner at Thai Thai, and then go back to his apartment in the Richmond to spend the night. I go down on him, and he finishes with interfemeral while we're kissing.
Tuesday, March 18th
The telephone number that Marius gave me for Kevin doesn't work.
Wednesday, March 19th
My last night in San Francisco. I have to get up early to catch my plane, so David and I are staying in. He's busy in the kitchen, making arroz con pollo with a salad and fresh fruit, when there's a knock on the door.
"Could you get that?" David yells. "And if he's hot, invite him to stay for dinner."
Through the peephole I see -- Kevin the Vampire!
Shocked, I pull the door open. "Kevin...what...how..."
He grins. "Aren't you going to invite us in?"
"Sure, come in." Us? He comes in, followed by a buffed guy in his 30s with a short beard, a v-shaped torso, and impressive biceps.
David appears from the kitchen, staring. "Kevin...how did you get here?"
"By BART, of course. I live in Milpitas now, in an actual house, just like Ma and Pa Kettle. This is Charlie -- quite a beautiful specimen, isn't he? And you should see his penis -- well, most likely you will, before the evening is over."
Charlie shakes hands with us, unfazed at being called a "specimen."
"How did you know I was back in town?" I ask.
"Well, Boomer, you've been calling me for five days. You must have known that, sooner or later, I would answer."
"I haven't been calling you...the phone number Marius gave me didn't work."