I've been putting off the story of Carl the Nazarene boy, because it's kind of embarrassing.
He was one of my brother Kenny's friends, a 16-year old sophomore at Rocky High (all models in the nude photos are over 18) . I had seen him around, and talked to him a few times, but we didn't start dating until Kenny invited him over for a party on May 25th, 1979.
He was short, with a round baby face, wavy brown hair, dark brown eyes, a smooth pale chest, and slim abs with an outtie belly button.
Obviously too young for me: I was in college, a mature adult, and he was still a "little boy." It would be social suicide if anyone at Augustana saw me hanging out him.
But he was cute, and very enthusiastic, and besides, how many gay guys had I met during the year since I figured "it" out? Two, and neither of them wanted to date me. You take what you can get.
As it turns out, we started dating at the worst possible moment: the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend.
I had a trip to Colombia and a week in Indiana coming up, and he had a family vacation to Minnesota and a week at Nazarene summer camp.
So between May 28th and the end of July, we had three "dates," but really sort of hookups.
1. Swimming at Longview Park Pool (with Kenny along as a chaperone). Afterwards we went upstairs to our bedroom to change clothes. Kenny finished quickly, but Carl and I dawdled so we could have some time alone for kissing and fondling. Carl was just starting to go down on me when Kenny called up "You guys want ice cream?"
2. Carl and I sat together in church, and then he came over for Sunday dinner. Afterwards we went up to my office, got naked, and kissed and fondled, and I went down on him. But it was uncomfortably hot, so we ended up just beating each other off.
Finally I asked Carl out on a real date. Unfortunately, he was a Johnny Nazarene, strictly devout in spite of the preacher who screamed about "homa-sekshuls" in every sermon, so:
No restaurants that served alcohol
No Quad City Angels baseball game (they had beer).
3. Our date consisted of broasted chicken at Mulkey's and then parking on the levee to watch the sunset over the Mississippi. We made out and fondled each other through our clothes, and when it got dark Carl went down on me.
This wasn't working. I wanted to hold Carl in my arms, feel his head against my chest, cuddle with him all night. I wanted us to sleep together, like I used to do with Bill, but with full knowledge that we were boyfriends, that this was "real."
How to get him into my bed?
"I'm sixteen," he said gruffly. "I'll be a junior in the fall."
Sleepover were common in grade school, our main social event: four or five boys,with your brother invited by default. They became increasingly uncommon in junior high, and they generally ended by high school. But not always...
"You can still have them in high school, for sort of nostalgia. Invite your old friends. It will be fun."
"Hey, I practically had to pay you to get to have my last sleepover!" Kenny exclaimed. "Why are you so hot to have one now?"
"Well, you could invite Carl, and then..."
"You're not going to do weird gay sex stuff in front of a bunch of normal guys, are you?"
"No, of course not. Well, maybe a little, after everybody is asleep. But we'll be able to kiss and cuddle under the covers, like boyfriends."
"Who knew that homos like to kiss? I thought you were all about the dick."
"Well, dicks, too, of course, but kissing, cuddling, all of that romantic stuff."
"Ok, ok, you don't need to draw me a picture." He patted my shoulder. "I wouldn't dream of standing in the way of two homos in love! Don't worry, I'll give you your gay make-out sleepover. "
So Kenny invited four of his friends over Saturday night for a sort of "ironic" sleepover:
2. Todd, his best friend.
3. Marshall, who was at his last sleepover, a baseball player with a stunning physique and bulge to match.
4. Pete, a sports nut who was Marshall's best friend.
A few days before the sleepover, Marshall broke his leg sliding into home at a baseball game. He would be in a wheelchair for 10 days, and then crutches for two months.
"Mom and Dad said I should cancel," he told Kenny. "I can't play a lot of rough games, and I can't climb the stairs to your room."
"Don't be stupid," Kenny said. "We can't have the sleepover without you. We'll just play games that you don't need legs for, and carry you up and down the stairs. It will be fine."
"But I also need to keep my leg elevated at night, so I have to sleep with a special attachment to my bed."
"We can get that! No problem at all."
So we carried the fold-out bed from the basement to our attic room, and installed the special rise.
Carl in my bed all night! Cuddling, kissing, our chests pressed together, my legs wrapped around him! I couldn't wait.
Saturday night we used the living room instead of the basement rec room. We played Risk and Trivial Pursuit and watched Chuck Acri's Creature Feature.
I noticed that Carl was being very helpful to Marshall, bringing him sodas, helping him maneuver in his wheelchair, but I didn't think anything of it. He was just being nice.
He was sitting next to me on the couch, after all, and we were sharing the same bowl of popcorn.
When it was time for bed, Kenny and I helped Marshall up the stairs to our attic room.
"I hope you did all the bathroom business you need for the night," Kenny joked. "I'm not carrying you downstairs again."
The best part of every sleepover was deciding who got the beds, and who got the sleeping bags on the floor. But this time there were three beds, mine, Kenny's, and the fold-out bed for Marshall, so no one would get the floor.
"Ok, Todd goes with Kenny," I said. "Who's going with Marshall?" Obviously Pete, since Carl would be in my bed, but I didn't want to make it obvious that we were a couple.
Then out of nowhere Carl said "I'll go with him."
My face started to burn. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. "Huh? But...you..."
"I've never slept on a fold-out bed before," he said with a grin. "It will be fun."
"Don't I want to what?" Carl asked, blinking innocently.
He was my boyfriend! The whole point of this sleepover is to give us a chance to sleep together!
But of course I couldn't say anything as he took off his shirt and pants and climbed into bed next to Marshall. Pete, meanwhile, stripped down and climbed in bed next to me. Kenny shrugged and turned off the light.
I've thought a thousand times about what I should have done. I've replayed a thousand scenarios in my head.
But I was eighteen years old, still an adolescent, and completely new to all of this, so what actually happened was:
I never spoke to Carl again.
See also: The Juvenile Delinquent's Bare Butt; My Little Brother's Friend is Gay