"It's not fair," I told David. "Since I left San Francisco, you've been out to visit me four times. Since he moved to London, Yuri has been out to visit me four times. But Lane won't leave West Hollywood. I always have to fly out to visit him."
"What's wrong with West Hollywood?" David asked.
"Nothing -- I love it there. But it's a long, expensive flight, and Lane has more money and more free time than I do. He should do some of the visiting."
When I met Lane in 1989, he was 33 years old, and he had only been out of Southern California twice, to visit relatives in New York and spend a year on a kibbutz in Israel.
"Why should I go anywhere?" he always said. "I'm already here."
During the seven or eight years we were together, I convinced him to go on trips to Europe and two road trips across the United States, but after we broke up, he had a relapse. For the last twenty years, he has only left Southern California once, to get married in his partner's home town of Salt Lake City.
"What you have to do is sell the Plains," David said. "Give him some overwhelming reason to come here -- other than seeing you, that is. What is he interested in?"
"Ok, don't stress the Jewish angle. Anything else he's passionate about?"
#2. Science fiction. He's read every science fiction novel ever written. But there aren't a lot of sci-fi bookstores on the Plains.
#3. Leather/bears/motorcycles. There's a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, but not until August.
"Well, what about men?"
"#4. Older guys, beefy Daddy types. But they're in short supply on the Plains. I can go on Grindr and get ten twinks in an hour, but...
#5. Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese food.
Both a rarity Finally I hit on it . #6: Mount Rushmore!
"The great stone faces that Cary Grant climbed at the end of North by Northwest? What's so great about them?"
"I don't know, but we missed them on our road trip in 1995 -- the highway was too packed to get through -- so it might be a big enough draw to get him out here."
It worked -- a promise of a trip to Mount Rushmore got Lane on a plane. He came during my week "off" between Indianapolis and Amsterdam.
Lane arrives at 4:30 pm -- alone.. He's 61 years old, balding, eyeglassed, but more buffed than when we were together, with thick hairy arms, a bulky chest, and a full beard. I take him to dinner a place that serves Ethiopian food on weekends, and then to the gay-friendly coffee house for dessert.
"I didn't arrange for any sharing," I tell him. "Since you and Ben are married, I figured you are monogamous."
He grins. "Well, actually, we've been bringing in third guys, sort of like when you and I were together. And when we're traveling, a close friend can substitute. So if you have a friend you'd like to introduce me to..."
"Well, guys our age are in short supply here on the Plains. I know a lot of twinks, but..."
To my surprise, he says: "Sure, no problem, I can handle being a Daddy. As long as he's not young enough to be my grandson."
So I go on Grindr and arrange a hookup with a physical therapy major named Dack: short, slim, smooth body, kind of feminine, rather small penis. Into kissing and anal (but Lane and I talk him into going down on us).
He's 19, young enough to be Lane's grandson, but in the heat of the moment Lane doesn't mind: "Wait until I tell Ben! He thinks 40 year olds are kids, and I went down on a 19 year old!"
We drive to Rapid City, South Dakota, and see the 19th century Norwegian stave church, the Berlin wall exhibit, and the art walk downtown. At Mitzi's Books on Main Street, Lane buys a rare first edition of Logan's Run, the 1967 dystopian science fiction novel that was adapted into a 1976 movie. (#2: Science Fiction).
We have dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant (#5: Vietnamese food), work out in the hotel gym, and then go cruising.
Rapid City has three gay-friendly mixed bars. We go to the Brass Rail, which looks like a straight bar except for the complete lack of women and guys hugging and kissing. We end up going home with a black guy who asks us to call him "Daddy," although he's only in his 40s, tops (#4: Daddies).
Oh, well, he has a reasonably buffed physique, a hairy chest, and a massive Kielbasa. A little too into nipple play, and an anal top, but he settles for me going down on him while he goes down on Lane.
Then we go back to our hotel.
"This has been a great day!" Lane exclaims. "I can't wait to text Ben. Imagine -- a 1967 first edition of Logan's Run!"
Leave it to Lane to find a science fiction novel more impressive than a Kielbasa.
Mount Rushmore is 23 miles from Rapid City, but the traffic is bumper-to-bumper due to construction, an accident, and summertime crowds. So we give up and backtrack to Deadwood instead.
It's an old gold rush town, full of Wild West lore -- and Jews!
In the 19th century, it had a large Jewish population, including Blanch Colman, who became the first female lawyer in the state, and Sol Star, who became a state senator (played by John Adams on the tv series Deadwood). One third of the buildings on Main Street were owned by Jewish merchants (#1: A Jewish presence).
We tour downtown and then go to Mount Moriah Cemetery, where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried. It has a "Hebrew Hill" with over 80 tombstones.
There's also a small synagogue, one of three in the state. We missed Shabbat services last night, but the student rabbi meets us for dinner at the Deadwood Grille. He's in his 30s, handsome, with black wavy hair. We don't hook up, but there are a couple of cute guys working out shirtless in the hotel gym.
"A synagogue in the middle of nowhere!" Lane exclaims. "That rabbi really had some guts to take a congregation way out here! I guess he did it for the history."
We have breakfast, go to the St. John's Episcopal Church in Deadwood, and then drive over to Sturgis, the home of the annual bike rally.
On other days of the year there's not a lot to do, but we see the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and have lunch in the Loud American Road House before heading down to Mount Rushmore again (#3: Motorcycles).
Bumper-to-bumper traffic again. We stop at the Reptile Gardens and then go on Grindr, and find someone interested in hosting on a ranch on Rockerville Road, about 20 miles away: Steve, in his 30s, who works as a paramedic and rents out the ranch. He travels to Europe every year, and has also been to Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
A husky, scruffy bear with a hairy chest and belly, thick hard hands, and a cut Bratwurst (#3: Bears). And he does ride a motorcycle.
I go down on him while he's going down on Lane, and then I finish with interfemoral.
By the time we say goodbye, it's too late to go to Mount Rushmore, so we drive back to Rapid City.
"I can't wait to tell Ben that I hooked up with a real cowboy!" Lane exclaims.
It's time to drive back home.
"Sorry we never got a chance to see Mount Rushmore," I say.
"Oh, I can always see photos. I got science fiction, Vietnames food, a Jewish community, a Daddy, a rabbi, and a cowboy. I'd say that's more than enough for one visit." He pauses. "So, tonight, do you know any twinks we could hook up with?"
See also: 21 Surprising Facts about Lane; Why You Should Visit Sturgis, South Dakota Next August.