After the wedding reception, Gabbie and I checked into our honeymoon hotel room at around 11pm. She hadn't eaten all day and was starving. The first thing she wanted to do was to order room service, which we did. She had a grilled cheese sandwich and a soda.
I assumed that sex on my wedding night was certain. I was wrong. As soon as Gabbie told me to order the food she said, "I'm exhausted. My feet are killing me. Can you rub them? I hope you don't care if we don't do it tonight, I'm too tired."
For our honeymoon we spent 10 days travelling in England. We spent time in London, Oxford, the Cottswolds, a few hours in Wales and a lot of time in Cornwall. It was an awesome trip.
The first year of our marriage was peaceful, even uneventful. Most of our social life revolved around Gabbie's friends from college. They all lived near us and we got together with them frequently. The one thing we did with one of my friends was to take a trip to Disneyland with Qais and his boyfriend.
At around our one year anniversary I decided that it was time for me to go back to school and get an MBA. In order to get a better job, I felt I needed it.
Because I had to keep working and we didn't have the money for a private school, my only option was California's State University system. As a public institution it was affordable and easy to get in to mid-year. The closest campus to where we lived was in Hayward, an unremarkable city south of Oakland.
Very early into my first semester I discovered that Cal State Hayward had an active Tea Room scene. A Tea Room, if you are not familiar with the term, is a restroom where men congregate in order to meet other men for sex. Before the Internet, Tea Rooms were very common. Now Craigslist serves the same function, but in a much better, safer way.
I first learned about bathroom sex in high school. I had read about it in some books at the public library and I had seen evidence of it at a local park. Once I got my drivers license I cruised a few Tea Rooms but never had any luck. I was both very shy and very picky; I did not want to be touched or even seen by any disgusting old guys.
Once I knew about the Hayward Tea Room I couldn't stop thinking about it. I expected that it would be unlike any Tea Room I had ever come across because it would be filled with young college guys. The idea of it was a sexual nirvana.
The problem, of course, was the gold ring on my left hand and the vows I had taken only a year before.
For more than two weeks I debated what I should do. If I did what was right by Gabbie, of course I wouldn't go. But what about me? Was it right to deny myself my natural need to enjoy sex with men? If I was going to deny myself, how long should I do it? Til death, of course. Was that possible? Was that what I had agreed to? Would I have gotten married if I realized that I was NEVER going to have sex with a man again?
That's a stupid question, isn't it? OF COURSE I should have thought about it. But I didn't. I was focused on why I should get married, not why I shouldn't. I felt that one part of my personality, being gay, should not take over my entire life. At no time did I consider the possibility that I was killing that one part of myself. No sex...with any man...EVER? I couldn't do it. I knew after one year of marriage that I couldn't do it.
As most cheating men will tell you, there's cheating and there's CHEATING. The difference is whether you cheat with your dick or if you cheat with your dick AND your heart. Cheating with your dick alone doesn't really count, as long as you are safe, because you always know who matters most, your wife.
Besides, is exchanging blow jobs with a guy in a bathroom really cheating? Shouldn't it be considered more of a hobby, like golf?
The Hayward Tea Room was not active at night, when I had my classes. I therefore assumed that it was active during weekdays, probably in the early afternoon when undergraduate classes finished for the day.
My work schedule was such that I seldom had a weekday off. At most, I'd have one or two days off a month. So, within a three month period I had spent only a few hours of a few days in the Hayward Tea Room, hoping to get lucky. But I never did. There was frequently fresh graffiti on the walls with times to meet, so I knew somebody was having sex there. But it wasn't me.
One time I almost got lucky. I unknowingly interrupted two young cruisers who were sharing a romantic 15 minutes together in a handicapped stall. Once they knew that I was more interested in watching them from a distance than I was in arresting them, they ignored me and proceeded to trade blow jobs. I would have liked one of my own but as soon as they finished they left in a hurry.
Pleased that I had at least been in the same room as someone else getting a blow job, I had renewed hopes for the Tea Room. I tried to check in more frequently, even on the weekends when classes were not in session. On one Saturday, around noon, I was surprised to find that someone was sitting quietly in a stall. This was very strange considering that the campus was empty. I was pretty certain that the lurker was a cock sucker but he could also have been a cop; I had to be patient until he made the first move.
My attitude about Tea Room cruising was that my stall was my castle. Once I took possession of it, I owned it. I decided who could put their hand, mouth, ass or dick in my stall. If you wore geezer shoes, your body parts were not permitted in my stall. If you wore jeans or shorts and your legs looked young and athletic, I MIGHT be accommodating. If you banged on my door and wanted to come in, you had damn well better be HOT because I did NOT like to show my face. I called all the shots and I could be as cautious as I wanted; no matter how horny the guy next to me was, he couldn't force me to do anything. Tea Room sex can be chicken-shit sex and chicken-shit sex was EXACTLY the kind of sex I was well-suited for as a young married man.
On this particular Saturday, the guy in the next stall appeared to be an acceptable catch---muscular legs, young looking hands, cool boat shoes with no socks. After the obligatory foot-tapping exchange he showed his wares and I thought FINALLY, I'm going to get some action. What I expected was some under-the-wall jacking with a nice suck-off finale. The dude had other ideas. He motioned for me to join him in his stall. I didn't like that. But he persisted and I reluctantly left the safety of my realm and stood at the door of his. His stall door swung open and standing there was a decent cock attached to a somewhat pudgy and graying 45 year old.
Not what I was expecting!
I felt duped, but committed. We exchanged blow jobs.
It was not a hot encounter nor was it what I was looking for. And yet that first guy was typical of most of the guys that I actually saw in the Hayward Tea Room. My fantasy that there were five or six hot, young college guys camped out in the bathroom waiting for me every day, it turned out, was wrong.
I didn't stop checking in on the Tea Room every once in a while but my enthusiasm for it faded.
For our second anniversary in the Spring of '92 Gabbie and I spent a four day weekend in New York City. It was our first and only trip there. Todd, my best man, had invited us. He had a nice studio in the basement of a brownstone in the Village. It wasn't big but we were thrilled by the invitation. Especially me. While we were in New York, Gabbie arranged for us to visit one of her best friends from college, Dario. I had never met him before but was looking forward to it because he was gay and because Gabbie and Dario had spent a lot of time clubbing together in San Francisco. I expected him to be a great guy and he was. We also met Dario's new boyfriend Matthew, who was originally from Buffalo. I found it interesting and a little surprising that the two of them had met through a personal ad just three weeks before our visit.
While we were in New York we did a few touristy things. Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Little Italy. But my highlight was the time I got to spend with Todd.
I would never have expected it to be the last time I saw him in person.
Two years later he came to San Francisco with his boyfriend and he called me when they were in town. But we couldn't make our schedules work so we were never able to meet. If he has been to San Francisco since that time he never told me. I haven't been to New York again but if I went, I would call him. We've had some email exchanges in recent years but I think it's safe to say that I am no longer an important person in his life. If we lived nearer each other or had the opportunity to meet more often, I think our friendship would remain strong. But that hasn't happened and the passage of time has created a gap between us.
In spite of the fact that we have hardly interacted in many years I still count him as one of my very best friends.
I must be a complete moron. Or a dreamer. Or most likely, both.
After the regular school year ended in May I knew my chances of finding any young guys at the Hayward Tea Room was very low. Therefore, I did a full restroom search at a nearby community college that held summer classes with the hope that I might find an active Tea Room there. I saw some writing in a few stalls that looked promising, but no active restrooms. I tried again a week or two later, on a Saturday, and was very pleasantly surprised to find three copies of several gay porn magazines tossed across the sink area of one restroom. This was a sweet find because it not only meant that the restroom was active, it also meant that I had just acquired my first three gay porn magazines.
As I looked through my new treasures I realized that I had never thought of going to a porn store to buy similar magazines. I had read a number of steamy gay novels (Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story and The Beautiful Room is Empty, among others) but setting foot in an "Adult Bookstore" was a whole new option I had not considered.
After a few weeks I got bored of the content of the three magazines so I did some research and found out that there was an adult bookstore in a nearby city. Hmm.
The store mostly sold straight porn but it also had a decent gay selection. I was so nervous even entering the store, much less buying anything, that I ran in and ran out in less than 60 seconds. But I did it. I bought one magazine, Friction. Unlike most porn mags this one was focused on the written word and not on pictures. The magazine had about ten long stories in it, each with a different scenario intended to appeal to different fantasies from "boy next door" to bondage to straight guy seduction. Some of the stories were stupid, most were ok, but a few were pretty hot. Overall, I was happy with my purchase. In fact, I returned once a month and bought the latest Friction issue and sometimes a picture mag.
I also continued to visit the community college tea room. About two weeks after I found the magazines I had my one and only encounter there. The guy I hooked up with a young Hispanic guy who spoke broken English. I was not particularly attracted to him but once he knew I was there cruising he got very aggressive; he pulled out his dick and said, "You suck it?" He had caught me leaving the restroom so it was one of the rare times when I did not have the walls of a castle to protect me.
He looked harmless enough so I said, "Sure." Then my new friend walked to the entrance of the bathroom and locked the door. That made me nervous.
YHG didn't speak again for a while but from his body language and hand motions, I knew what he wanted. I devoured him, slurped and tongued him for a good ten minutes. Then he stopped me and fished out a condom from his pocket. Say what??
My understanding was that my chances of getting AIDS by sucking on a dick were pretty low. Not impossible but very unlikely. I wondered if the guy was HIV+ and that's why he suddenly wanted to put a condom on. The fact that he had waited freaked me out. But I had misjudged his intentions...he wanted to put a condom on so he could put his dick in a different place.
"I fuck you." It wasn't really a question.
Considering that I had been sexually active with men for nearly 10 years it's odd to imagine that YGH was the first guy to fuck me, but that's the way it worked out.
Because he had the condom, I was willing to try it, but damn, I should have checked to be certain they were lubricated before I said "OK."
My friend made very little effort to get me ready. Then he unmercilessly pounded me for a solid 15 minutes.
I could barely walk for the next two days. I was seriously worried that Gabbie would notice. I decided that one Tea Room fuck was more than enough from me and in the future I would stick to blow jobs.
Ever since our second anniversary Gabbie and I had been talking about starting a family. I had very mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, my absolute greatest desire in life was to be a father. On the other hand, I had serious doubts about the future of my marriage. As much as I passionately wanted a kid, I did not want to bring him or her into a marriage that was broken.
Of course I could not voice my doubts and fears to Gabbie, so when she told me it was time to fuck, we did.
Around this same time a comedy club and bar opened only a few yards from where Gabbie worked. To help fill the club, Gabbie and her co-workers were frequently given free weeknight tickets. Gabbie is an extremely social person and once she started having fun at the club with her girlfriends she wanted to go as often as possible. I didn't mind because I wanted her to be happy. Also, I had night classes so it gave her something to do when I wasn't home.
By late July, Gabbie and her friends were going to the comedy club anywhere from two to four nights a week. They had no set schedule and would often go on a whim. With increasing frequency I came home at 7pm to find a message on the answering machine, "Hi Honey! I'm going out with the girls for a drink so I won't be home until later."
Soon I recognized this message as code for "see you after 11, enjoy your night and your dinner alone."
When I had class several nights a week and got home at 10, I didn't care. But when classes for the summer quarter ended in July and I was home alone multiple nights, for several weeks in a row, I was lonely. The loneliest I had been since high school.
As my feelings of isolation grew I began to fantasize more and more about meeting a guy and having a real relationship. Very occasional random sex in a bathroom was not satisfying. And it was dangerous. What I wanted was a partner. A guy who I cared about and who cared about me.
By early August I made the decision to place an ad in San Francisco's biggest alternative newspaper, the Bay Guardian. I remembered that it was through a personal ad that Dario had met Matthew. And, as I read through each week's ads I saw that the Guardian was a good choice because they printed a lot of ads from a great variety of men.
My ad said something like "SWM, 25, 5'8", 150. Closeted. Educated. Seeking a real relationship with a genuinely nice guy. Written replies only please, to PO Box 777..."
When you placed a personal ad, the Guardian assigned you a voicemail box. I didn't want that. I wanted to limit the replies to serious guys and I wanted to set a hurdle that made them put pen to paper and write about themselves.
Also, you might have noticed that I listed myself as single. I decided to do that because all of the MWM ads I had read were about finding a sex partner. I wanted more than that and I really didn't want to limit my chances of meeting someone great just because I was married.
The ad ran for two weeks. In total, I received about 45 written replies and many voice messages. Most of the respondents didn't interest me for some reason. Some were too old. Many wrote about their preferences and based on that I didn't think we were a match. Out of the 45 there were about 4 that I really liked. The one I liked best I replied to first. His name was Jim and he was a 19 year old junior at UC Berkeley. With his letter he included a small photo. He was adorable.
In my letter back to Jim, I included a photo and told him more about myself; I left out the fact that I was married. If he wanted to meet, I said, he should write back with his phone number and I would call him. And that's exactly what happened.
We spoke on Tuesday, August 18 and I immediately felt comfortable talking to him. We didn't talk for very long but in just those few minutes I KNEW we could be good together. We made a date for that Thursday. He didn't have a car so I was to come to his apartment and pick him up.
I had big hopes for Jim.
But as I knocked on the door to his apartment, I had no idea how completely my life would change in the next 24 hours.