Friday, February 19, 2010

Stepping Out

The Midnight Sun is "San Francisco's Premier Video Bar" if you believe their website www.midnightsunsf.com/

It's world famous!

Actually, it's one of the most obvious pick-up bars I have ever seen. You can't even sit at the bar or a table if you wanted to. No dancing. All people do is stand with a drink in their hand and watch videos.

Not really. They watch each other.

Qais did his best to explain gay bar culture to me, but the whole scene made me nervous. Before entering I told Qais that I didn't want to meet anyone. Yes, I was gay, but I didn't feel the need to dive into the bar scene.

On the other hand, I was curious to see what gay nightlife was like. At that time bars and discos were the essential element of almost every gay man's life. There just weren't that many other options if you wanted to meet other gay men.

Different bars have different vibes and different reputations. For whatever reason Qais decided that my first bar should be one that specializes in posers looking to spend a night with someone.

About every 10 minutes he would say, "That one over there is looking at you. He likes you." And I would casually check who he meant, then invariably reply either, "No, he's not looking at me." Or, "Not my type."

Neither of us was ever approached and we never approached anyone. Qais later told me that no one would talk to us because they thought we were together. I don't know if he was right or if he was just being kind.

On a few more Saturday nights Qais took me to other places. The White Horse Inn in Oakland, "the nation's second oldest gay bar." Some techno bar in Oakland, a small old-boy bar in Hayward, and some huge bar in San Jose with a name I never knew.

You would think that after all this bar experience I would have gotten more comfortable. And to a degree I did. I got comfortable entering and standing around with a beer in my hand, but I never got comfortable cruising. If I was going to meet a guy, I wanted a relationship, not random sex. Random sex was the quickest way to get AIDS.

Our bar nights came to an end after only a few weeks. Qais had to go with his family on a trip to Germany for a month, starting in mid-July. Quite coincidentally, I was already planning a trip to Germany and Austria. I had committed to a Fall semester at a school in Oxford so I was planning to travel alone for two weeks before school started. When we compared our schedules we realized that they overlapped by 3 days. Once Qais saw that, he pleaded with me to meet him on a Friday night in Hamburg. "It is the best gay city in Germany, except maybe Berlin."

I hadn't told Qais yet, but my two weeks of travelling alone in Europe were going to be more than a sight-seeing tour. They were going to be the first two weeks in my life where I could be out and never be worried who might find out. It also meant that I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. The idea of being so free was exhilarating.

As we had agreed, I called Qais as soon as I arrived in Germany and he explained where to meet him on that Friday. Until Qais had told me that he was going to be in Hamburg, that city had not been on my itinerary. My plan was to start in Cologne.

Cologne is a beautiful city with a relaxed atmosphere, an incredible cathedral and several fascinating museums. I had mapped out my plans in advance so I knew exactly where to find the youth hostel where I planned to stay. I had never stayed in a youth hostel before and I hadn't given them a lot of advance thought. All I knew was they were a cheap, safe place for young people to sleep while they backpacked around Europe.

The hostel in Cologne was clean and well-maintained. The room I was assigned slept about eight guys. I arrived at the hostel just before they closed at 9pm and by the time I got to the room I was shocked to find everyone else in bed asleep. After the long flight, the train to Cologne, and the walk through the city, I was exhausted too. I fell asleep in seconds.

The sounds of voices in a language I did not understand woke me before 7am. All the other guys in the room were up and getting dressed or shoving their belongings into a backpack. I thought they were insane. It's not even 7am!! In a short time almost everyone cleared out of the room and I went back to sleep. I eventually dragged my ass out of bed around 9:30 and learned that I had missed breakfast. If you could call it breakfast. It was a croissant, a wedge of cheese, and an apple.

I spent the first day in Cologne sightseeing alone, as expected. What I hadn't realized was that staying in a youth hostel meant a 9pm curfew. I couldn't believe it. 9pm??? In college we went to bed somewhere around 1am. What was worse, the ridiculous curfew made for a serious challenge when it came to finding gay nightlife. I checked for other places to stay but they were either full or too expensive. Resigned to my fate, I ran into the hostel at 8:58. When I arrived at my room I was again surprised to find that almost everyone was in bed. At 9:15, the lights went out and no one even talked. Boring!!

The next morning I got up earlier, before 8am, so I didn't miss my bread and cheese. Even then I was late compared to everyone else. When I returned to the room there was only one guy still there. He surprised me when he said hello and introduced himself as Philippe.


Philippe was French and from a small town in the north-east of France. He was very friendly and not at all like the arrogant French stereotype. He was cute too. Unfortunately I never got a gay vibe from him so I never outed myself. Instead, I made a new friend and we spent that Wednesday and Thursday together, hanging out in Cologne. One of the highlights was meeting up with a group of Danish girls and drinking with them in a beer hall. We had so much fun that we ended up missing the 9pm curfew by about 10 minutes. It was only because we were a large group, making so much noise by shouting from the street and pounding on the door, that we were allowed in after curfew. It was a close call but it proved that German youth hostels took the curfew cut-off very seriously.

The following morning, Friday, Philippe and I parted. He was headed to Munich and I was due to meet Qais in Hamburg. Although I left Cologne in the morning, it was mid-afternoon before I saw Qais waiting for me on a corner in St. Georg, the gay area of Hamburg.

We had fun that afternoon and evening checking out the cafes, shops, and bars in the neighborhood. Qais loved to people-watch and was always pointing out the best looking guys. After dinner in a small cafe we decided to hang out in the biggest gay bar we could find, which actually wasn't very big. And our timing was not great. Qais had to leave at 9:30 and I had to take an 11pm train to Berlin.

We had been in the bar about an hour when a young and good looking German boy came in with a friend. He and I traded shy glances. I was always shy in the bars but the fact that my German was very poor made me even more shy. If the guy actually came over and spoke to me I would have struggled to understand him. Qais immediately noticed our mutual interest. "Go say hi to him."

"Why? I'm leaving in two hours. And, I probably won't be able to understand him."

"He speaks some English. Most young Germans do."

"Well, I'm leaving soon anyway. It's not like we're going to fall madly in love and run away somewhere together."

"You might be surprised! But seriously, go talk to him. He will not come to you. Germans will never approach you. They will always wait for you to come to them."

"Why is that? What's the point of everyone being in a bar together if no one talks to each other?"

"I don't know. It's just the way they are."

As I learned in the coming days, Qais was absolutely correct.

I stayed alone in the bar for another 45 minutes or so after Qais left. All I could do was people-watch, which was ok, except the bar never had that many guys in it.

The highlight of my trip from Hamburg to Berlin was being awakened by East German soldiers shortly after crossing the border of the two Germanies. The soldiers worked in pairs and were dressed in very formal uniforms; they looked like SS guards from the Nazi era. None of them looked like they even knew what a smile was.

Berlin is a fascinating city, filled with history. I visited at a historic time and was able to experience the city before reunification. I got to see an operational Checkpoint Charlie, the wall and the heavy guarded border.

The Berlin hostel was a very large, stately mansion. It had a large, nicely manicured lawn that surrounded it and a thick, heavy iron fence. The fence was so high and so severe looking that it was like a wall that divided the hostel from the city.

The hostel's curfew was midnight and because it was a Saturday, I really wanted to make the most of my night. At the very center of the city I found a huge disco that was listed in a city guide as being a popular gay club. With the curfew in mind I paid to enter the disco shortly before 9pm. It was desolate. But I could see that it had a good atmosphere so I decided to be patient and see who rolled in.

Steadily more and more guys came in, although it never became crowded. I crushed on one particular guy and we traded stares. But Qais was right, he would not approach me. Still filled with the same anxieties of "my German is poor" and "what's the point of meeting anyone in Berlin?" I never approached him either. Knowing that I needed to head back to the hostel, I left the club at around 11:40.

The walk took much longer than I had estimated; I arrived in front of the hostel's huge iron gates at 12:20. The gates were locked and no one answered the intercom. The nicely manicured lawn was now a moat and the heavy iron fence was a prison. Unless someone answered the intercom, there was no way I could get in. How I wished I had a loud group with me to force the gates open like in Cologne!

Resigned to spending the night outside of the hostel, I thought about going back to the club. But I decided not to. I'd have to walk there and back again, plus I didn't want to pay the cover to enter for such a short time. Besides, who exactly was I expecting to meet there?

Not knowing what else to do alone at 1am in Berlin, I found a nearby bench, curled up on it, and dozed intermittently through the night.

Homeless in Berlin, oh joy!

Thankfully it was August and the night was not unbearably cold.

The next day was Sunday and I could tell from the lack of people on the streets late in the day that the clubs would be empty. Besides, I was tired and wanted to sleep on a real bed. So after playing tourist for a final day in Berlin, I took the train the next morning to Vienna.

Vienna is an incredible city, I would love to go back; I was only able to spend two days and one night there.

The one night was a Monday and therefore not a great night for clubbing. I was quite surprised to find a small but busy gay night club. The patrons were somewhat older than the ones in most discos but I hoped that they would be more outgoing too. As usual, I did my best wallflower impersonation.

I had a midnight curfew and just as I was thinking that I should leave, a guy started to talk to me. He was older, around 40. He was not unattractive but he looked worn for his age. I learned that his name has Cesar, he was Argentinian, and he worked as a silver smith. The fact that he was Argentinian, I guess, explained why he actually spoke to me. When I told him that I had to leave soon, he asked me to stay. I thought about that for a minute, and after being alone in so many bars, I decided that I would. I was just grateful for some conversation.

Cesar and I chatted as best we could but his English has weak and my German was minimal. After a lot of awkward pauses, Cesar excused himself. I was not exactly sad to see him go.

Now that I had missed curfew, again, I decided that I would stay in the bar until closing. I didn't have anywhere else to go anyway.

The final hour in the bar was astounding. There was a flurry of activity as men that had not spoken to each other started to talk, then shortly thereafter left together. As the minutes ticked by, the intensity of finding someone to go home with dramatically increased. It was like everyone was racing the clock; if you didn't find a partner by 2am, your life was over.

I had no designs on anyone. Cesar had other ideas. With about 30 minutes remaining before closing, he approached me again. After a few more minutes of awkward conversation, he apparently thought that he had invested sufficient time with me and that I should go with him. "We get a room." It wasn't a question.

Now I was in a real quandry. Spend another night on a bench, or, spend a night in a bed with a guy I was not interested in??? Sensing my indecision, Cesar pulled me by the arm to a dumpy hotel very near the bar.

I was mortally embarrassed as the woman eyed the two of us while he asked for a single room. My regrets only grew as Cesar told the woman that we were going to split the cost of the room. What??? I didn't have extra money to spare and I would never have paid for a room for myself, even at half the cost. In fact, half the cost was still more than a night at the hostel. But I felt trapped. I gave the woman the money.

The room was a disaster; tiny and filthy. The bed was a twin-sized cot. The only good thing was that the room came with a package of freshly laundered sheets.

As soon as the sheet was on the bed, Cesar was ready to get busy. Sadly for him I was not. If I had anywhere else to go, I would have left. But I didn't. After some very unromantic, but safe, tugging, slurping and "oh yeahs" we settled in to sleep.

Cesar was about average height and weight but he took up the majority of the cot. I curled into him, as best I could, but mostly I "slept" on my side, on the very edge of the bed. The bench in Berlin was only slightly less comfortable. As soon as it was light, I left Cesar sleeping in the room.

I spent most of the rest of the day alone, sightseeing in Vienna.

To be continued...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Qais

College is expensive.

The first thing I did when I returned home for the summer after my freshman year was to get a job. I wanted as many hours as I could get and after a little checking, I discovered that one of the local department stores was hiring for their men's department.

The department was one of the largest in the store and had about 15 people working in it, more women than men. All of the women were older, at least 40. The men were younger, between about 25 and 35. At 18, I was definitely the youngest of everyone. Although some of the older women could be cranky at times, everyone was easy to work with. The few guys were nice enough, but no one was looking to make life-long friends. I really enjoyed working in the store and I ended up working there three summers and two winter breaks.

A woman named Pat was one of my favorite people to work with. She was from Tennessee and had a strong accent. For some reason, it made almost everything she said very funny to me. Workplaces can get to be very gossipy, and the women very catty, but this place was not like that. Most of the time. About three weeks into the summer Pat said to me, "Do you think Qais is gay?" Although I thought he probably was, my instinct on such matters was always to conceal so I answered, "I don't know."

"I think he is. He hadn't said he is, but I can tell by the way he acts and the way he dresses."

She was right. Qais (pronounced Khice) was always perfectly quaffed and neatly dressed. Sometimes he even wore a purple dress shirt, which made him stand out from the rest of us who always wore white.


I had not worked with Qais very often, but when I did, I found him to be quiet and polite. He was also somewhat imposing. When he looked at you, he seemed taller than he actually was, and proud, but not arrogant. When he walked past you, you felt as if you should back up a little, to give him room. Not because he was a big guy but because it seemed like he inherently deserved special respect. It was like he was the unknown son of an ancient, royal line. He wore no crown and had no pretenses yet his pedigree still showed through.


Pat's question to me about Qais caused me to think more about him. I wasn't attracted to him but he definitely was an intriguing enigma. From that point on, whenever we worked together I spent as much time with him as I could, without being obvious about it. As I got to know Qais better, I grew to like him more and more. In time, I learned his story.


Qais and his family were Afgan refugees. Before the Soviets invaded Afganistan in 1979 his father was a general in the Afgan army and faithfully served both the king, who was deposed in 1973, and the civilian government that ruled from 1973-1978. The family was very wealthy and highly respected. Qais grew up in a house with servants to wait upon his every need. He was very spoiled but he knew no other life until the Soviets came. Then, everything changed. The Soviets took everything the family had and expelled Qais' father from the country. The family fled with him and were not permitted to take anything. With the help of some friends and relatives the family eventually made their way to Germany.

Qais was then 17. Due to the sudden and extreme poverty of his family he took his first job, at a McDonalds. The first night he worked he was forced to stay late and mop the floor; he had never worked before and he had certainly never mopped a floor. It took him hours. When he came home from work that night he cried. He cried for all that he and his family had lost, and because he had never felt so humiliated.

In time Qais learned to accept his new life. Although he was not college educated, he took his work seriously and did his best to help provide for his family. After about two years in Germany, the family moved to California. Qais' father then returned to Germany and sometimes to Pakistan, all in an effort to get any fraction of his former life returned. With his father absent, it was Qais' job to provide for the family. He, his mother, his sister and his young brother lived together in a small apartment.

Qais did not tell his story to me all at once, nor was his story very well known to others at work. Over a long period I would sometimes ask him about his past and only then would he tell me more. Sometimes it was hard to get him to be serious. After we became friends I learned that Qais had a very dry sense of humor. Often, he would make dead-pan jokes with me about different things, especially the crazy customers.

By the end of the summer Qais and I were good friends. I didn't communicate with him once I returned to school in September but we picked up where we left off when I returned to work in December and then again the following June.

About three weeks into that summer Qais said to me, "There is a birthday party with some people from work this Saturday night. Do you want to come?" Because I had been gone for six months I didn't know the birthday person, nor many of the people who Qais said would be attending. I was very reluctant. "Please," he begged, "It will be fun." So I caved and agreed to go.

The party was pretty tame but there was some beer and decent, danceable music. I didn't know many people but had fun anyway. When the party broke up, Qais had to drive me home because I didn't have a car. We piled into his car and I fastened my seatbelt. Then I looked over at Qais because he had not put his on. Answering the question apparent on my face Qais said, "Do you have a few minutes? I want to talk to you about something."

"Sure, I do. What's up?" I really didn't know what to expect. He wasn't acting particularly serious so I didn't think it was anything major.

"I want to tell you that I am gay. I hope you are ok with that."


There was a few milliseconds of silence while he looked at me for my reaction. I smiled, then said, "Qais...I hate to tell you, but I am not surprised."

We talked about his revelation for a few minutes and I made it clear that I was his friend no matter what.

As we talked, I considered coming out to Qais as well but I was a little worried that he might have a small crush on me. If I told him I was also gay then it could become awkward between us. I liked Qais but I didn't lust for him. The fact that we were alone together in his car further complicated the matter. Although I was glad to know Qais trusted me with his secret, I was ready to put an end to the night.

Qais wasn't going to make it that easy for me.

"Cam. I was wondering if you have anything to tell me?"

"Like what?" What is he getting at??

"Well...Do you think, maybe, you might be gay too?"

Holy shit but I didn't see that question coming. Not once, ever, had anyone asked me that question. I hadn't even planned an answer for it if someone ever did. And now I was forced to reveal myself or think quickly.

I just looked at him.

"I didn't mean to offend you if you are not."

"Actually Qais, you're right. I am gay."

He laughed. "I thought so! After I saw your dancing tonight I thought you might be gay."

"WHAT?!!!"

"No, you dance so well. Most straight guys do not dance as well as you do."

"I can't believe you think my dancing is gay! Does everyone think that?"

"No, I don't think so. Only I could tell. I'm really good at figuring out whether someone is gay or not."

That made me feel a little better. But in truth I felt so insulted and self-conscious about the dancing that I had practically forgotten I had just come out to a friend.

Qais wouldn't let me dwell on his unintentional insult. He kept me on my toes, firing off one question after another. "Have you been with anyone?" "Does anyone else know?" "Do you like anyone?"

I answered all his questions truthfully, especially the one about whether I liked anyone. I suspected he was hoping I might say him but when I said, "Not really anyone," he didn't act hurt or make any confessions of his own.


I will always be glad he was so tactful about asking. I would not have wanted to hurt his feelings but I honestly had no sexual feelings for him at all. His somewhat subtle question provided him the answer he wanted, but at the same time, he kept it from ever being awkward between us.

As we talked more, I was so glad that Qais pushed me into confessing to him. He agreed to keep my secret and now I had my first gay friend. I could actually, finally talk to someone about how I honestly felt. Wow!

As he drove me home Qais said, "I should take you to some gay bars. Then you can see what it's like. Would you go if I took you?"

I thought about that for a minute. What could happen? Who might see me?

"Um, I don't know."

"Yes, you'll go. I'll be with you to make sure nothing bad happens."

"But I'm only 19."

"It's ok, they'll let you in. I know a place that will let you in."

"Where?"

"In the City. The Midnight Sun. They don't check IDs."

"Um, ok. I guess I'd go. ... If you don't meet someone and abandoned me there."

"I won't. ....So it's a date then? Next saturday?"

"Gaah! You're so pushy!" We often teased each other like that. "OK, ok. Next saturday. I'll go."

And so the following saturday night, I visited my first gay bar.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

College!

The profound, crazy love I have for my undergraduate experience is a fundamental part of me.

It was only after I began to experience the diverse, intellectually lush jungle of my small liberal arts college that I realized that I had spent my prior 18 years in a sagatious wasteland.

In college I discovered what it's like to be surrounded by modest yet fantastically talented people who bubble with a vibrant passion for everything they do and learn. Every single day was an adventure, a shared journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

As life-changing as college was for me, I spent relatively little time focused on sex. I was very much in the mainstream in that regard. You would think with a very liberal atmosphere and no religious affiliation we'd be humping like bunnies. And some did. But mostly we felt like a family. Desiring your brother or sister just didn't seem right. Random hook-ups did happen and there were always some attached-at-the-hip twosomes, but mostly we hung out and did crazy things in groups. Mostly...

***

By the end of high school I felt ready to reinvent myself. Attending college far from home was an easy way to make it happen. It wasn't a radical makeover, but I shortened my name to the more relaxed "Cam" instead of the formal "Cameron." The name change was intended to reflect my new casual, out-going and self-confident personality. For a minute or two I even considered the possibility of being open about my sexuality, but the truth was I didn't feel ready. How could I take the plunge of going some place where I knew no one and then immediately ostracize myself by being out? It was too risky and not a priority.

It wasn't until the second week of college that I was aware of anyone else who was gay. A tall, heavily pimpled and generally unattractive boy was one of two people staffing the "LGBT Alliance" table at the start of the year Clubs and Activities Fair. His partner at the table was a short, stocky, mustached girl who was even more unattractive than the boy. During the hour or so I was at the fair I watched the table to see if anyone remotely appealing approached. If one did, I thought I *might* consider joining. Independently, I saw two different women sign up. Both looked as if they would fit in nicely. One had long, ratty hair and was dressed in army fatigues and a tie-dye t-shirt. The other was an average looking red head who could pass as normal if someone would just explain to her that most people do not wear entirely different shoes on each foot.

Unable to see myself as part of the Social Outcast Alliance, the decision to stay in the closet was a no-brainer.

September, October and November flew by and in no time Winter Break arrived. During the break I saw Brian for the last time and learned about his sexcapades. With our bond broken, I felt free to be more aggressive about finding a boyfriend when I returned to school in January.

My method for finding a man? Advertise on bathroom walls.

This tactic did not work.

Instead of seductive replies by potential partners I was answered with silly retorts or well-intentioned but unhelpful advice. Within a few weeks I realized that I needed a new strategy. The best I could think of was to leave notes in several of the best gay books in the library.

I must say that the selection of hot, gay books at the public library back home was much better. Most of the college's books were scientific studies of some sort, which don't make for good porn. Jacking off to a regression analsyis of various neuropsychological experiments is not my idea of a good time.

There were a few decent books, only one of which I remember now, The Best Little Boy in the World. The book was originally published in 1973 under the nom de plume John Reid. At the time The New York Times Book Review said it was "uniquely frank ... a splendid book." It was republished in 1998, this time with the real author Andrew Tobias pictured on the front cover. Some people don't like the book because Tobias comes off as arrogant and shallow but I have to say, for an 18 year old in 1985, it was a damn good read. I should read it again to see if I still feel the same way.

About two weeks after I left my personal ad in the books, I received a reply. Success at last!


My potential boyfriend set a time and date for us to meet in the library, "in front of our favorite bookshelf." Libraries are great places to meet. With stacks of books and cubicles in which you can pretend to study, there are a million ways to watch a certain location without looking like you're watching. It would be just my luck that my suitor would be the unattractive LGBT boy. There was no way that I was going to identify myself unless the guy was appealing.

When the day and time arrived, I nervously waited in a distant cubicle with good visibilty of our meeting spot. A number of sexy possibilities passed through the stack but no one hesitated or stopped until a tall, thin bespeckled guy walked directly to the correct stack, folded his arms, and stared intently at the books on the shelf. The boy wasn't much of a boy, but neither was he a man. An almost man, I guess. His hair was wavy and mousy brown. His face was pale and long. His most noticeable features were his eyes, which were covered by huge circular glasses. He looked like an owl.

But he wasn't completely unattractive. Armed with my new self-confidence (not really) I nervously made my way to where my date was waiting. When he noticed me approaching, he betrayed his own nervousness by looking around quickly for anyone who might be watching. I could only make eye-contact for a few seconds as I quietly asked, "Were you, um, supposed to meet someone here?"

Again he looked quickly around us, then said, "Let's go for a walk."

As we left the library, I learned that my date's name was Doug and he was a senior. I was afraid to be seen with him and I think he was just as afraid to be seen with me because within seconds of leaving the library he said, "We should find a place to talk....I have a single in a quiet building just off campus. Do you want to go there?"

I said "OK" mostly because I wanted to be out of sight of anyone I might know, as quickly as possible.

Once in his room, we shared some basic information about ourselves. I learned that Doug had created his own major, Costume Design, and that he was from Illinois.

Even as we talked more openly, however, my anxiety about meeting Doug did not fade. I didn't feel drawn to him and our conversation was stilted and awkward. Doug did not appear to be much more at ease than I was. I felt so uncomfortable that the thing I remember best about our meeting was when Doug offered me home-made cookies. As I took one and ate it all I could think was: What if it is laced with drugs or something?

After yet another awkward silence, Doug bluntly asked if I wanted a blow job.

Who can ever say no to that?

Doug's technical ability to give a good blow job was solid. Brian wasn't nearly as skilled but my lust for him more than made up for his sloppiness. Doug wasn't so fortunate.

After I came all I wanted to do was leave. Doug seemed to be a nice enough guy but I did not want to be with him. He asked me if I would reciprocate and I said I was sorry, I couldn't, I had to go.

***

The campus is small so it is surprising that I only saw Doug once more before he graduated. He was riding alone in the back seat of a buick convertible. In the front seat were two friends, I guess, but I didn't know them. All I saw was Doug's face, covered with a wide grin, that immediately faded when he saw me. We just looked at each other as the car drove past.

Seeing Doug again made me feel awkward and bad about ditching him but I didn't care enough to do anything about it. Instead, I realized that our encounter was an important lesson: if you are closeted on a small campus and you fool around, you had better be prepared for a lot of future awkward moments.

About two weeks after my encounter with Doug I decided to run for the student senate. There were eight slots and 16 candidates for an at-large election. By "at large" I mean that freshmen competed equally against sophomores and juniors. I mounted a somewhat innovative campaign and ended up receiving the 4th most votes and was the only freshman to win. Thereafter, student politics and other extra-curricular activities became the focus of my college career.

Increasingly pleased with my public persona and the awesome friends I was making, the possibility of coming out became less appealing than ever. So, as sex-filled as many guys' days are in college, Doug was the only guy I ever messed around with during my entire time on campus.

What is ironic is that I have since learned there were many attractive gay men all around me, including my best friend, my worst enemy, a roommate, a floormate and nearly a dozen others. Not one of those guys came out publicly while in college, though many of them came to know each other through, of all places, the school's GLBT Alliance.

One other thing I learned a few years after I graduated: Doug died at the age of 31. I assume it was from AIDS, but I don't know for certain.

Doug, I'm sorry for being such an ass.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Morning After

"It doesn't look that bad."


I scowled at Brian. What the fuck car was he looking at?

The impact with the tree had stopped the car from plunging further down the hill, but, the passenger's side had a long, wide crumpled gash that ran half the length of the car.

Neither of us was injured.

As I slowly backed the car away from the tree it occurred to me that only 10 minutes prior I had been sleeping blissfully with my beautiful boyfriend. I guess neither of us was fully awake when I allowed him to drive the car. Brian was definitely not alert when he drove off the road for no reason at all.

The good news---if there was any---was that Brian had found an ideal time and place to wreck my parent's car. Not a soul had seen what had happened and even as I backed the car onto the college's main road and we inspected the damage, no one saw us. At a complete loss as to what to do next, I drove back home.

It was still early. My parents were not awake. It was an easy decision to let them sleep longer. I came back out to Brian who was waiting in the car.

"I have an idea," he said.

"What??"

"Tell them that the car was parked and someone hit it."

I wrinkled my nose in disbelief. "No one will believe us."

"They will! Trust me."

I was eager to hear any reasonable story that would keep the blame off of me so I was very willing to consider Brian's idea. It sucked that I was going to take the heat yet I was not the one who had crashed the car. Also, how was I going to explain hitting a tree at 6:30 in the morning?? Telling the truth could expose me to many questions that I did not want to answer.

I inspected the damage again to see if the lie could be at all plausible. "I guess if we take all the tree parts out no one will be able to tell what happened."

We quickly left my house and found a vacant parking lot some distance away. As we (mostly me) picked the tiny shreds of wood from the folded metal of the car, Brian refined our lie. The story was that we went to the mall so that Brian could buy some sunglasses and while we were in the store someone hit the car and we came back to find it damaged. Because the stores didn't open until 9am we waited until after 10 to return to my house.

The lie did not go over very well. Our persistence, however, caused my father to eventually gave in a little. He decided that we should all go to the mall and see if there were any witnesses. He got the mall's security force involved and by 1pm, with no witnesses, no paint scrapes on the car and no debris found, no one was convinced by our story. And yet no one said "bullshit" either.

In the days that followed, a dark cloud of suspicion hung over me but I was not punished nor was I subjected to any more questioning. Perhaps my father could tell that I was never going to change my story.

Later in the week when Brian learned that I was not being punished he said, "That's awesome!! Now we can go to the beach this weekend!"

Asking for a sleepover would have really been pushing it so instead we agreed that I would come pick him up at around 9am on Saturday.

When I arrived at his high-rise none of the usual parking spots were open in the front of the building so I was forced to try the small lot in the back. That lot was cramped and nearly full as well. Fortunately someone was leaving so after I got out of their way as best I could, I pulled into the open slot. But the car was at an awkward angle.

Frustrated, I backed the car all the way up and *smack* hit a car parked behind me.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. This is fucking unbelievable.

Pissed about everything bad that had ever happened to me, I parked the car, inspected the damage, which was minor, and went up to see Brian.

I didn't tell him what had just happened as he was somewhat frantically preparing for the beach.

A few minutes later the phone rang. Soon after Brian answered it he turned to me and asked, "Did you just back into a car?"

I nodded yes.

In a very dismissive voice he said, "Well you'd better go talk to this guy, he's pissed!"


Fuck you Brian.

Only days before I had GONE THE DISTANCE for him. My accident was nothing compared to his.

Brian's hands-off attitude cemented my foul mood. Once I talked to the guy and made arrangements to pay for his repairs I told Brian that I was in no mood to go to the beach. I said I was sorry, maybe next weekend, but I was in just too bad of a mood to even hang out.

When I returned to my car, I pulled a note about my accident from the windshield, shoved it into my pocket and drove home.

A while later I decided that a shower would make me feel better. As I pulled off my shorts in the bathroom I found the note I had taken from the car's windshield. I wanted to get rid of it but I didn't want to leave it sitting in the waste basket so I flushed it.

Later my father slammed open the door to my room. "You hit someone last week and lied about it! Here's the proof!" Spread out on a plate was the very wet and somewhat blurry note that I had flushed.

Given the choice between taking the full blame for Brian's disaster or simply accepting responsibility for what I had done, I decided to tell a slim version of the truth. "No, there were two accidents. That one happened today. It's just a very bad coincidence."

It took some convincing but eventually my parents believed me, at least about the second accident. They pushed me hard again about the first one but still I didn't budge.

The nightmare of suspicion eventually faded but not before I took a lot of grief for both accidents and the fact that the car had to be totaled. My dear mother will still bring it up today, provided there are guests present to hear it. "I remember when Cameron totaled our car when he was in high school." Shut the fuck up mom.

Around Thursday of the following week Brian called me wanting a favor. "Can you drive me to Hayward?" He said he wanted to see a friend and he'd make it worth my while if I drove him 20 minutes away and dropped him off. Of course I could not refuse him.

That was the last time I saw Brian for more than four months.

Two days later he called me to say that he was leaving for a month to visit his father in Oklahoma. He was going to return just before school started in September. The problem was that I was leaving for college at the end of August and we had already agreed that we wouldn't hold each other to a commitment when I left.

"I guess this is it then," Brian said.


Our telephone good-bye sucked not only because we couldn't see each other but also because we'd spent so little time together since the disasterous sleep over. Little did we know that the sleep over would be our last good time together.

Neither of us expected that I would call from college, but we did agree that we wanted to see each other when I came home for Winter Break. So as promised I called Brian in December as soon as I got home. We met late in the afternoon that same day. The sun was already starting to set when we first saw each other.

Perhaps it was the fading light but Brian looked darker to me. Less boyish, certainly. He was also more subdued. We had walked to meet each other, which meant that we were in public so we couldn't even hug hello.

After talking for a few minutes he asked if I wanted to go back to his building "just like old times." I said "sure" so we walked there. Along the way he sort of was half-talking to me and half-talking to himself as he gave a critique of my appearance. Although I mostly looked the same, he said, I still had too much acne. Such a fucker... I haven't seen him in 4 months and that's what he says?

Once we arrived at his building, he took me up to the common room on the penthouse floor. We made out for a bit then exchanged blow jobs. Sex was sex so in that sense it was fun but the intensity we had enjoyed over the summer was gone. Being together did not feel special or intimate.

Because we were in a public room we quickly zipped up and whatever post-coital bliss there was dissipated. I'm not sure exactly how it started but in short order Brian began to make some confessions about the summer. Basically he told me that he had been seeing other guys while he was seeing me. These included the guy at who's apartment he had left his sunglasses and the "friend" I had driven him to see in Hayward.

I took what he said in stride. Although I still had feelings for him, I knew that I could never be with him again. We were too different.

That was the last time we ever spoke. I tried calling him the following summer but the number was disconnected. I had no way to contact him even if I wanted to.

In a lot of ways Brian was a bastard to me. He was a cheater, a liar and a user. All that really mattered to him was his own pleasure. Still, regardless of all his bad qualities I have a deep affection for him. I would love to see him again. Brian Taylor. Raised in Oklahoma, born about 1969. Gay. Tell me if you know him...

Sadly, I doubt that Brian is alive. He was a reckless hedonist. His vibe was very much like the stereotypical gay partier of the 80s. Party all night, sleep with whoever, repeat. Although I hope I am wrong, I expect that he died from AIDS before he was 30.

Brian, you gave me some very happy memories and for those I will always be grateful.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Romantic Night

After about two weeks of hanging out together whenever we could, Brian said, "I have to tell you something."

"What?"

"I'm not really 17."

"What?!! How old are you then?"

"Guess!"

"16."

"Nope!"

"18?"

"Try again."

"15?"

"Yep! I'm really 15 not 17."

I was a little shocked. Why did he wait to tell me that? Why did he lie in the first place?

"Um. Ok. Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

"I thought you'd want to meet me more if we were the same age."

This little confession of Brian's marked the beginning of an almost daily revelation from him. The revelations that followed weren't admissions to lies he told me, as the first one was, however, they were no less jarring to me.

Over the following two weeks I learned that he had been kicked out of his father's house in Oklahoma, that was why he had moved to California recently. I also learned that he was frequently in trouble with his mother, for, among other things, stealing money from her.

These revelations were the first clues that Brian and I were less suited to be together than I had first thought. I was a dutiful student, who never did anything crazy and certainly never got into trouble. Brian was now an admitted trouble-maker who reported his vices to me with a certain relish that I did not understand.

We had been together about four weeks when I was driving him around our town, showing him where I had gone to elementary school. As we left the school's parking lot, he started to direct me to turn right onto a certain street and then left onto another. Then, as we passed a small local park, Brian jumped from his seat and said, "I know those guys!" He was pointing to a group of kids who looked to be having baseball practice. My instinct was to leave the area immediately---I was inherently shy about our relationship---but Brian's instincts were completely different. "Let me drive!"

"What?? You don't know how to drive!"

"No, I do. My dad let me a few times. Let me drive!"

"Why?" I was mystified by his request.

"Because I want those guys to see me driving! It would be so cool!"

Then he started begging.

Reluctantly, I moved the clutch pedal in, shifted out of gear, put the parking brake on and got out of the car to move to the passenger's side.

Brian was ecstatic. He giddily jumped into the driver's seat, then with some guidance from me, proceeded to drive VERY slowly past the friends he knew playing on the field. To be certain that he was seen, he yelled out, "Hey, Andy!" to one of them, then waved as he continued, still driving very slowly, past the park.

As soon as we were out of sight, he stopped the car with a lurch. The car died as he took his foot off the clutch.

"That was so cool! Thank you! You're the best!"

"You're welcome....Although I'm not sure how impressive it is to drive a piece of shit Datsun station wagon."

"Just driving is enough!"

***

About mid-week of our fifth week together Brian said to me, "Let's have a sleep over this Friday night."

While I certainly liked the idea of being about to spend an entire night with him, to have sex, to cuddle, to wake up with him, I couldn't see how we could pull it off. While on the one hand I had been blessed with mostly clueless parents---they had no concerns about where my new best friend they had never met had appeared from---there was no way I was going to invite him to sleep over at my house. I hadn't had a sleep over in YEARS. The whole idea sounded weird...17 year old boys having a sleep over?

When I explained to Brian my concerns, he agreed with me. His mom wouldn't like it if I slept over at his house. "But you know what we can do? You tell your parents that you'll be at my place and I'll tell mine that I'll be at yours."

"And where will we really be?"

"We can camp out somewhere in the car."

I thought his plan was nuts. I could not imagine that both sets of parents would say yes, particularly without ever talking to each other and discovering the truth. His mother had at least seen me once, but Brian was very much the Invisible New Best Friend as far as my parents knew. I was genuinely shocked when both of us were cleared to go.

As part of the plan, Brian wanted to go to the beach the following Saturday morning. So when I picked him up around 6pm on Friday, the first thing he told me was that he needed to go pick up his sunglasses.

Huh?

I thought he meant go to the store to buy some sunglasses but I was soon proven wrong. Instead of a store, Brian directed me to an apartment complex about a mile away from his. As I pulled up to the front he said "wait here" then jumped out toward one of the several buildings. A few minutes later he came jogging back with a pair of sunglasses in his hand. "Ok, let's go!"

"Where'd you get those sunglasses from?"

"A friend borrowed them. I had to get them back."

And so we began our first full night together.

While it would make a far more interesting story to make up outrageous things that we did that night, it wouldn't be the truth. We drove around, we ate, we had sex, we drove around some more. By about midnight I decided it would be romantic to drive to the top of a local hillside that offered a panoramic view of our town and many points beyond. It really is a beautiful site, especially at night.

The best location I could think of was the top parking lot of the local junior college. The junior college was built entirely into the hillside and had seven tiers of parking lots scattered across the length and height of the hill. The very highest level offered a stunning view and it was there that I wanted to park.

At the top of the hill we sat cuddling together, watching the the city lights twinkling below us. It was peaceful and very romantic sitting together with Brian. As was typical, it did not take long before romance evolved into desire and we were ferociously pawing at each other. Just as we were about to get into some serious fun a security car from the college cruised slowly past.

I did not want to be surprised with a flashlight on my face just as I was going down on Brian so I told him that we had to go somewhere else. Twenty minutes later we decided to park in the second lowest of the college's lots, in a somewhat hidden location. Feeling free of any prying security guards we had our fun, then wrapped ourselves tightly together in the back of my parent's Datsun station wagon. By about 1:30am we were drifting off to sleep and I was so very happy that Brian had suggested the sleep over. Although the car was not especially warm or comfortable, it was fantastic to be able to hold Brian close to me while we slept.

At a little after 6am I awoke with a serious need to pee. In an effort to get up and out of the car I woke Brian. He peed too then we huddled together under a blanket in the back of the station wagon. Although it was July, the early morning was cold.

"I'm starving," Brian said.

I was too so we decided to go in search of some food before heading to the beach. Just as I had pulled the seat beat across my lap, Brian begged, "please let me drive for a little bit, just to the bottom of the hill."

"But you don't know how to drive!"

"I do. You know I do. Please! Just let me drive down to the main road at the bottom of this hill. Please! I'll do ANYTHING for you!"

How could I resist such an offer?

I switched seats with Brian and helped him get the car started. He sputtered and killed the ignition a few times trying to get the hang of handling the manual transmission. After a few minutes he was doing better so I told him to start driving down the hill. He complied and turned out of the parking lot and followed the winding road down toward the lowest parking lot. As the road curved toward the left, Brian did not. Instead, he steered the car straight ahead, over the curb and into a tree-filled field of dead grass.

Just as we bumped over the curve I yelled for him to stop but he didn't seem to know how. I felt completely powerless as I hung tightly to the door next to me and the seat behind me. The car was out of control and careening down the hill. Milliseconds later I thought we were both about to die when a tree appeared directly in our path. Unable to do anything about it I could only scream, "Watch out for the tree!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Glorious Days of Summer

By the end of my senior year of high school I had expanded my search to find another gay kid like myself; I engaged in an aggressive advertising campaign, writing "Gay 17yo looking to meet similar 415-490-xxxx, Cameron" on every already graphitied bathroom wall I could find.

In mid-June I finally received a call. "Uh, hi." He sounded young and nervous. My heart pounded hard and lept to my throat as I realized that this could be THE call that I had been waiting for. "Is Cameron there?"

Now I was shaking. "This is Cameron."

"I, um, I saw your ad. Um...I saw your ad in the bathroom."

"Cool....what's your name?"

"Brian."

"Cool, I'm Cameron. I'm 17. How old are you?"

"I'm 17 too."

"Really?? Wow. Where do you go to school?"

"Kennedy. But I just moved here a few months ago."

And that's all it took before we were chatting away. After about 15 minutes we agreed that we wanted to meet as soon as possible. He didn't have access to a car but he said he would meet me outside of the apartment building where he lived. I knew his building well, it was the only high-rise in the city. I said I could be there in 30 minutes and he said that was cool.

When I hung up the phone I just sat and stared down at the floor. I was stunned. I was completely stunned. After all this time I was finally going to meet another kid like me?!!! FINALLY! And he sounded so cool.

As I turned into the parking lot of his building, every nerve-ending in my body tingled with nervous anticipation. I was excited. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I was afraid.

I looked around for a kid. Where is he?? He said he'd be waiting out front.

I waited in the car for a minute and a half, but I just couldn't sit any longer. I got out and started toward the building's glass-fronted main lobby. As I nearly reached the door I saw a young teen with strawberry blond hair wearing a pink polo, khaki shorts and a black pair of Vans move from inside the lobby toward the door I was now approaching. For a second I wondered if this boy was Brian because he didn't seem to be looking for anyone. Then, as he reached the door and opened it, he turned toward me, smiling, and said "Are you Cameron?"

Brian was CUTE. Clean cut and preppy, with a very slightly up-turned upper lip, a handsome, boyish face, and fashionable, spiky hair.

Our conversation in person picked up where he had left off on the phone. At first we wandered around the outside of his building but then we felt too conspicuous so Brian suggested that we go sit in the building's empty pool clubhouse.

The more Brian and I talked, the more I liked him. He told me that he had been raised in Oklahoma but had moved to California with his mom and step-dad a few months earlier. He said he was a virgin and had never been with another guy before. He wanted to know if I had gotten many calls from the bathroom thing and I told him the truth, that he was only the second call. I told him about my experience with Tex and he agreed that it was weird that such an old guy would call a 15 year old. Then, Brian confessed that he had actually been with one other guy before. He said that it was at a wedding in Oklahoma, the summer before. The guy was working there as a waiter and they kept looking at each other during the reception. So eventually Brian said hi to the guy and they started talking. Then they went and fooled around.

"I guess we've each had one experience each," I said.

"Yeah."

With the possibility of sex now hanging heavily over us, the conversation awkwardly stopped. It was the first pause since we had met.

He looked at me, smiled, and shyly turned his head and looked down. I did the same back to him. Then we laughed. Then he stared intently into my eyes and I felt myself being pulled deep into their stunning blue beauty. My heart was pounding. The moment I had dream of, imagined and fantasized about for many years had arrived. I had found a boy I could love and who could love me. But I was so nervous and excited I didn't know what to do next. I couldn't make the move and touch him. A little saddened by my fear, I broke our dreamy gaze and instead stared down at my hand resting near his beautiful bare leg, yet not quite touching it.

"Hey... Look at me," he said quietly. I looked up.

"Give me your hand."

Brian held out his hand, palm up, toward me. I smiled big and gently placed my trembling hand into his.

As strange as it might seem, holding hands with Brian that time was the most memorable physical sensation I have ever experienced. It was like angels singing in Heaven, glorious fireworks, and pleasure so extreme that your eyes roll backwards, all at the same time. It was electric. It was erotic. It was liberating. It was the highest high I could ever have imagined.

Soon, our hands explored each other's. Then we moved to our arms, then our shoulders.

As we gently moved to our necks, we pulled in closer to each other. We stared deep into each others eyes, all the while grinning madly as our faces moved closer and closer together. Our lips touched and we passionately kissed. Softly at first, then more urgently.

It was magical, sitting in that pool house, making out with such a beautiful gay boy.

Best of all, he seemed to like me as much as I liked him.

I'm not sure for how long we made out. Fifteen or twenty minutes maybe. Then came a woman's voice, "Brian! .... Brian are you in there?"

Shocked, we instantly moved apart. Each of us quickly leaned back and pretended to be very casual as Brian's mother stood at the entrance to the pool house. She seemed to hesitate slightly when she saw someone was with her boy. Then she said, "Come on Brian, we've got go!" and walked back out of the pool house without ever looking directly at me.

We said our "see you laters" and I watched as Brian walked away from me. My god, he is a dream come true.

***

Brian and I met the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. We talked on the phone several times each day and each time we told each other how fantastic it was to be with each other, to have dreamed the dream and to have it all come true.

The second day we met, Brian brought some blankets from his apartment and we camped out in the (mostly) unused staircase of his high-rise building. That was the first time we had sex.

The staircase had proved awkward so the next time we went up to the building's penthouse common room and messed around. After almost being caught there twice, on future days we started doing it on the couch in his family's apartment. Fortunately for us, we had no school but his parents had to work.

One of the most vivid memories I have of being with Brian is sitting on the couch, with the nearby sliding screen door to the patio wide open, allowing a warm breeze to filter throughout the entire apartment. The thin white draperies would periodically lift up, reach inside toward us, then fall back and stick to the screen.

Playing loudly on the radio was David Bowie's "Let's Dance." Brian was standing before me, dressed only in shorts, holding a hairbrush upside down and singing into it. As the song ended he pulled off his shorts so that he was naked, then laid next to me on the couch. He looked at me, grinning widely.

Then he wrapped his arms around his legs and pulled them both toward his chest, revealing his hairless taint. "I want you to fuck me."

I was both a little stunned and a little honored.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Crush of a Lifetime

I am still in hot, deep lust with Rick. He could now be bald and fat and a real son of a bitch but in my eyes he would still be the hottest 17 year old I ever got to wrestle with.

I met Rick for the first time when he was starting his junior year of high school and I was a senior. Not long after meeting him I had to check the yearbook from the previous year to try to figure out why I had never noticed him before. The one year difference was astounding. As a sophomore he was a mop-headed, scrawny, pasty little stick of a kid. Go to any sixth or seventh grade class and half the boys there will look like he did as a tenth grader; at 15, Rick was the model of pre-pubescence.

At 16, he was a god.

To this day I can't believe that anyone could grow like he did. I was FINISHED growing at 15!

When I met him he was 6'1" with a hard, defined muscular body and a handsome, chiseled face with a look somewhat like Josh Hartnett. At the time we met he was in especially great shape because he had spent the prior six weeks in training for the varsity football team.

I met Rick in the first month of senior year because I was good friends with his girlfriend Debbie. Debbie was Senior Class President, pretty good-looking herself, and extremely athletic. I don't know how she and Rick originally hooked-up but clearly they were two A-listers meant to hang in the same circles. Except ---- for the first 15 years of his life Rick was a complete geek.

Even more than his looks, Rick's Heart of Geek was ultimately what made me so obsessed with him. If he had always been white hot, with dozens of girls falling all over him, he never would have been the modest, somewhat shy nerd that he was.

As I got to know Rick, and endlessly lust over him, I loved him all the more. The guy was a genuine brainiac AND he was hysterically funny without ever being obnoxious or theatrical. My very best memories of being with Rick were the many times I was able to "trick" him into wrestling with me after school. He out-weighed me by about 40 pounds and towered inches above me, but if I puffed out my chest and called him a wimp I was CERTAIN to have him pressing his muscled body all over me in seconds. Honestly, every "match" was like sex to me. And yet he never seemed to acknowledge how blatantly sexual my interest in him was. It still astounds me because he was a very smart guy and I was practically slobbering all over him every minute he was near.

Rick and Debbie were together our entire senior year. As time wore on, Debbie confinded more and more to me about their relationship. She didn't tell me any real gossip - she wasn't that kind of girl - but she did express some frustration because he kept writing her sticky-sweet love notes and she did not know how to answer them. I thought she was nuts to be put-off by them and it took a lot of restraint on my part not to tell her so. The knowledge that he was a dopey romantic just made him all the more irresistable to me. By the end of the year the guy was about as close to Jesus on Earth as any man ever could be.

And I wasn't the only one who thought so. His junior year he was elected school Student Body Vice President and the following October he was crowned Homecoming King. I think his ego may have inflated his senior year but I wasn't there to see it.

Instead my memories of Rick are of the wrestling and a few key incidents. Sadly, none of the incidents make for hot stories but I will write about them anyway because they illustrate my state of mind at the time.

By the Spring of senior year I had a lot of freedom to come and go from my house, even at night. Eventually I realized this afforded me the opportunity to "see what Rick might be doing." It was just my luck that his bedroom was only ten or twelve feet from the street and there was no fence between. He shared his room with his brother but that did not stop me from sneaking up to his window at night and listening in. I guess that made me a stalker...

I never saw him in his room but once I overheard him and his brother listening and laughing to "The Dr. Demento Show." Another time I watched for a few minutes as Rick and Debbie were 'parked' in front of his house. I couldn't see anything though because their car's windows were all steamed up.

About that same time, on a whim, Rick decided to play on the badminten team. Once I learned he was going to play I immediately signed up. I had hoped I might catch him shirtless in the locker room a few times. I only got lucky once but it was worth it.

In the many times that we wrestled there was never any skin-to-skin contact, except for maybe hands on a bare fore-arm. Then, during the very last week of school, when we got out early every day, I got the thrill of my life. Rick and I, plus two good female friends, decided to grab some frozen yogurt. It was a hot day and we were all wearing shorts. After we got our food we sat a small table and while we were eating and laughing Rick moved his very muscular bare leg into my own bare leg. I expected him to pull away immediately but he didn't. I certainly didn't move my leg. In fact, I could barely breathe, almost like a mini-orgasm. We sat there for a good 5 minutes, knees and legs embracing, and I was certain that I felt him press seductively into me. After all this time could Rick really be coming on to me????

For days afterwards I analyzed the situation and carefully watched him for any indication that my lust for him could be in any way reciprocated. I never saw a clue. At the end of the summer I had a dinner out with friends for my 18th birthday and Rick was there. I made damn sure to sit next to him and also made damn sure that our legs touched at least twice. Both times he moved his leg away. Even before the party I had figured that the Bare-Leg Rubbing Incident was innocent, but the pulled-away-leg at my birthday dinner seemed to prove me right. Still, Rick instinctively knew how to torture me. As the dinner ended we were going to all drive to Debbie's house to hang out for a while. Several of us needed a ride but as I was the birthday boy Rick insisted that I ride with him. Remarkably, it ended up just the two of us in his car. Sitting near him in front seat of his car was the most private, intimate 15 minutes we had ever spent together. As we started the drive, I really wondered what he would want to talk about, particularly since he had insisted that I ride with him. But by the end I was disappointed. He was no different with me alone in the car than he had been with me in front of lots of other people. He was friendly, funny and personable but never put out any sort of gay vibe.

I ran into Rick one more time before I left for college but it was a quick hello. I don't remember seeing him at all after high school, although I heard about him through others. Although I didn't see him, he remained one my primary fantasies for many years, until I was about 30.

Through friends I learned that he had become a math teacher at a high school about an hour from where I lived. All the stars aligned for me one day when I had to drive to a meeting for work in the same city where he worked. I had previously done a few visits to high school college counselors on behalf of my alma mater so I decided to use that as an excuse to go to HIS high school. I carefully researched and timed my visit so that I would catch him after school when the kids were gone but before he left. So there I was, 30 years old, dressed in a suit and tie, standing with my hands on my hips in his classroom when he looked up to see who had entered.

"Can I help you?" he said, a slightly puzzled look on his face.

I was beeming, happy to see him again. He looked good. Athletic, but not as bulky as in high school. "I came to say hi to the Homecoming King," I replied.

"And who are you?" Oh, how devastating not to be recognized!

"Can't you guess?"

"Um..." He squinted at me for a second and then said my name with a little happy surprise in his voice.

Sadly for me he did not rush over, throw his arms around me, and tell me how great it was to see me. He was friendly and polite but noticeably more restrained as a teacher at 29 than as a kid at 17. We caught up for a few minutes and I explained how, by sheer coincidence, I happened to know how to find him. Then he apologized and said he had a departmental meeting and had to go. Trying to be as casual as possible I said, "No problem. I just thought I should stop and say hi since I was here." I don't think we even shook hands, but maybe we did.

A few days after I visited I sent him an email in an attempt to stay in touch. He politely answered but clearly there was no spark. So, I let him go. And my fantasies about him shortly thereafter came to an end. Looking back at my history with him, I couldn't help but feel ridiculous. I had spent twelve years pointlessly pining for him and yet when reunited he could only muster polite conversation. Clearly I was a casual high school acquaintance to him and nothing more.

Rick was the biggest - and last - significant crush I will ever have. Seeing him again was a luke-warm slap that made me realize that I should live in the real world, not one of my imagination.

Luckily for me, I got a positive dose of reality not long after seeing Rick again.

Gay Boy Dates Catholic Girl - Imagine all the sex!

Tex called a few days after our meeting. The passage of a few days did not change my mind about him. I found it uncomfortable to reject him, but I did so anyway: "I really want to meet someone close to my own age."

It was a long time before I received another call from my bathroom ad. More about that later.

Junior year of high school was good. One of the highlights for me was that I took on some leadership roles, one of which was in student government. By January I had become good friends with a senior girl who was also involved with student government. She took me under her wing, so to speak. I enjoyed the attention and I think she enjoyed having someone to order around. Mindy was a lot of fun. One of my favorite memories is shooting suction-cup darts at people and cars while driving crazy through parking lots and parts of our city. We did this numerous times with a few friends and I was always in charge of the gun while she drove her 8 cylinder Buick tank. That car could haul ass yet still turn on a dime.

Mindy was a devout Catholic which was new to me. My immediate and extended family had no real interest in religion. She brought me to her church a few times to hear her sing in the choir. One of the great things about Mindy was that she had an older boyfriend who was away at college. This meant that our friendship was never awkward. Neither one of us ever expected that we would be anything more than friends.

The fact that we were never going to get involved meant that Mindy felt free to play matchmaker for me. Around April Mindy started talking about her "very nice" friend from church, Kathy. The first time I met Kathy was at Mindy's high school graduation party.

Kathy was the same age as me, now 16. She was short, very quiet, attractive but not sexy. She was intelligent and upbeat. She was definitely likeable.

I saw Kathy at Mindy's church maybe twice more over the summer. In late August Mindy had packed her bags in preparation for college and had one last gathering at her house to say goodbye to her friends. Our high school was a pretty generic place. Built in the early '60s it mostly served unambitious, unimaginative, unmotivated lower middle class kids. I think when I started as a freshman my class had over 500 people in it. When I graduated there were only 230 who received a diploma. I don't know what happened to all the others. They were people I had never known. The place was so provencial that when Mindy left the state to go to college the notion was a revelation to me. I can leave??? Mindy's example of leaving the state proved to be a watershed event for me. Once I started thinking seriously about college I was certain I wanted to be anywhere but close to home.

But I'm jumping ahead.

By October of senior year Kathy and I were dating. As you might imagine, a relationship between a gay teen and a quiet, conservative catholic girl was not exactly full of fireworks. But I never expected any so I was perfectly happy to give it a try. I felt that it was important that I test a romantic relationship with a girl because I would learn more about myself, particularly what was important to me in life. How could I truly know that I didn't want to be with a girl if I had never given the option a try? Also, it was nice to have an official companion, particularly one who was not threatening in any shape or form.

After about seven weeks the novelty our relationship had worn off. We were both nice people, very respectful of each other, but honestly we didn't have much chemistry. When I broke up with her she said she felt the same way. Still, it was sad for both of us. As far as rounding the bases went, we got as far as first. That was as far as either of us wanted to go.

Kathy didn't know it but part of the reason I felt compelled to break up with her was because I had met someone who stirred my soul. Poor Kathy had no chance compared to my developing crush on Rick.

I think almost everyone has a major teenage crush and Rick was certainly mine.

Delicious doesn't even begin to describe him.