Monday, December 11, 2017

In the Navy: Part 1

I thought I’d written about this incident in my long-ago youth, here in my blog. I alluded to it once, apparently. But I never followed up.

I was a sophomore in high school in the late nineteen-seventies when my Spanish teachers decided to organize a class trip to Mexico over the Easter break. Señorita Wiggins was an energetic and pretty young woman in her late twenties who, with her pert little Afro, her suede vests and turtlenecks, and her procession of plaid bellbottoms with truly astonishing flares around the ankles, walked the halls of my inner-city high school like a glamorous, living version of Barbie’s black friend Christie.

Everyone adored Señorita Wiggins. She was sweet and funny and enthusiastic about teaching, and always willing to try something new to help her students appreciate the language she loved so much. Her classroom would be set up as a Spanish flea market one afternoon, a South American kitchen the next. All the girls in school wanted to dress like Señorita Wiggins—a not-unattainable dream, considering that most of her wardrobe appeared on the more mod pages of the Sears Wishbook. All the boys developed crushes over her sunny smile.

I’d graduated from Señorita Wiggins’ class, however, into the allegedly more advanced tutelage of Señora Brooke. The Señora was a woman so close to retirement that she’d more or less given up teaching at all. On Mondays she’d give us a weekly assignment of translating a couple of paragraphs from our textbook, due Fridays. The rest of the week we spent playing endless rounds of Monopoly: Edición en Español, or the Spanish-language version of the French card game Milles Bornes. We’d learned a lot of vocabulary under Señorita Wiggins; Señora Brooke was supposed to provide us with an in-depth education on verb tenses and idiom. But since she was too busy with her English-language romance magazines, and we students were all arguing over who got to build hotels on Paseo Tablado, none of us really learned to be able to say much of anything other than in the present tense.

Which is, of course, ideal for traveling in a foreign country.

The trip was originally supposed to be open to everyone in either section of the two teachers’ classes. Only a half-dozen kids ended up going, though. The small numbers had a lot to do with the economic makeup of my high school, which drew its students from most of Richmond’s large north side. It was the tradition back then for Richmond’s white parents to send their kids through the public school system until the ninth grade, when they’d be abruptly transferred to a private school so they wouldn’t be ‘held back’ by ‘rougher elements’—that is, the same black kids their own children had been attending school with for all the other eight grades. My parents thought that kind of thinking utter bullshit. When it came to extracurriculars like class trips, though, the simple fact was that few of the African-American families wanted to spare the five hundred dollars. Even my own parents were dubious. In the end, the school’s sole white boy ended up in the Richmond airport on Easter morning, suitcase in hand, accompanied by five kids from the freshman class. Señorita Wiggins was our only chaperone. Originally Señora Brooke had been slated to join us, but when it became apparent that the group was going to be super-small, she exercised her option not to give a shit and happily resigned her place.

The descent into Mexico City was the worst I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I attribute a decades-long suspicion of air travel entirely to that one flight. As we flew over the country’s most mountainous regions, the plane would capriciously just drop in mid-air and leave our stomachs several hundred feet above while our heads were spinning down below. The plane would then tilt to one side, then the other, level out in order to lull us all into a sense of false security, and then suddenly just drop once again. The turbulence caused the Mexicans on the the flight loudly to rediscover their Catholic faith and the Padre nuestros and the Dios te salve Marias were flying as fast and as furiously as the clacking rosary beads. By the time we landed, most of the seat backs had fingernail gouges from the plane’s passengers gripping on for dear life. Our group was the last to disembark after the wild scramble for the open doors. Poor Señorita Wiggins’ milk-chocolate complexion had taken on a distinct tint of green, and we had to wait for her stomach to calm down before we dared leave.

Señorita Wiggins had never before attempted a class trip of any sort. She’d turned for help to a small company—a married couple, really—in Mexico City purporting to specialize in educational travel excursions. She’d handed over our money to them and in return, they were supposed to give us rooms in a luxury hotel and arrange tours for some of the most exotic and cultural sights of Mexico City. The couple met us outside the airport in a beat-up old Volkswagen van so beat-up and painted in so many motley colors that it made the Scooby-Doo gang’s Mystery Machine seem like an actual limousine in comparison. My recollections of the two tour guides are sketchy, since we ended up seeing remarkably little of them during the week. However, in the film version of my life, were I able to sit in on the casting sessions in a purely advisory role, I’d probably whisper to the director, Just pick out a pair of the shadiest-looking meth-heads you can find and I suspect I’d end up in the general ball park.

In their rickety old van, where we had to sit gingerly in the back and lift up our feet to avoid the giant hole in the floor, the pair drove us away from the airport and into the depths of the city. None of us, not even Señorita Wiggins, who had gone to school in Spain and prided herself on the pure Castilian accent she was passing onto her students, knew anything about the city’s geography. All we knew was that our luxury hotel was in the heart of the old city. And it seemed that to get to the heart of the old city, we had to start at the city’s rancid toenails and slowly work our way up. We inhaled fumes in that nasty van for what seemed like hours, visiting what definitely were the stinky crotch and dirty armpits of the city before finally pulling into a dark dead-end alleyway so narrow that cars entering it had to back out to exit. The van slowed to a stop. “Home, sweet home for a week!” caroled the female half of the couple, as we stumbled out. “Isn’t it authentic?”

Authentic was one word for it. Shithole was another, and probably the better. We’d seen some attractive photographs of the hotel’s exterior back home in our brochure; perhaps they’d been taken in the nineteen-thirties when the hotel had been built, and before the hulking slums existed that surrounded it now. What it was, in 1979, however, was a squalid, dirty stone turd festooned with candelabra sconces and peeling paint, lurking at the far end of a cul-de-sac that smelled like someone’s chamber pot. The hotel’s inside was vast and cavernous, black as Dracula’s castle and only half as comfortable. The scowling clerk of indeterminable gender who sat slumped at the front desk had a bald shrunken apple-head of a noggin covered with bulbous moles, each of which sported a long hair. He or she rubbed his or her nose, sniffed, and tossed some keys our way, working his or her tongue over a yellow set of dentures.

Our hosts had vanished, absconding with our hopes for a fun week, we discovered. Señorita Wiggins attempted to rally, though by this point she was looking grim and unwell. “We’ll get some sleep. Everything will be better mañana!” she assured us. She was so shaky from our flight that nobody protested when she went right to bed without dinner, though before retiring, she made us promise we would not under any circumstances leave the premises.

We kids were hungry, though. The shrunken apple-head doll at the front desk merely blinked slowly at us when we asked for a room service menu—and the hotel certainly didn’t have a restaurant. As the group’s de facto leader by virtue of my seniority, I made the executive decision that we would head down to the head of the alleyway and get something to eat at the Pizza Hut I’d noticed on our drive in. It was not a Pizza Hut, by the way. The restaurant’s name was Pizza Hut. It had a hand-painted sign proclaiming it was Pizza Hut. But any resemblance to the actual Pizza Hut chain ended there. Our Pizza Hut was basically an outdoor shed with picnic tables and a seriously case of trademark infringement. But I was able to tell the proprietor in present-tense verbs and my lisping, pure Castilian accent that we liked to eat the pizzas of pepperoni, and that we drink the Coca-Colas, and by the end of the little adventure we had full bellies.

Now that it was definitely past dusk, our walk back was fraught with a little more peril. Our hotel’s alleyway was lined with strange men. Some leaned against the doorways, smoking cigarettes, looking tough and mean. Others sat on the stoops in their wife-beaters and blue jeans and work boots, arms propped on wide-spread legs, daring us to look their way. Still more moved in pairs in the shadows, where they murmured intimately to each other in low voices. The younger kids, I could tell, were freaked out. I kept on the alert as we crept our way back, aware of every eye watching me. And I, with my several years of sexual experience, knew something with certainty that the freshmen didn’t: our so-called tour guides had booked us into a crap hotel in the middle of a gay red-light district.

After the other kids went to their rooms, I stood by the door in the lobby and did what I always did back then with a new cruising site: I watched what was going on, so I could figure out the scene for myself. For an hour or more I stood there, half-hard in my jeans, watching men cruise each other in the alleyway. Some men I could see clearly; one would approach the other, lean in to say something soft and low in his ear. They might share a private laugh. One would nod, and follow. Back toward the mouth of the alley they’d wander, presumably to one of their apartments. So dark it was that some of the men I could see only by the tips of their cigarettes, but I would follow the trace of those little red ovals as they approached each other, danced, and flew away like fireflies with a common destination.

Señorita Wiggins was right that everything looked better the next day. We were still in a shitty hotel on a crap alleyway, but at least it was an alleyway made more bearable by daylight. Our tour hosts arrived in their ratty van at the appointed time to take us to the floating gardens of Xochimilco. It was supposed to be one of the highlights of the week—a leisurely and luxurious trip in a gondola decked with bowers of blooms along a scenic waterway.

I’m not sure if the week we were there was in the off-season or what, but like everything else up until that point, Xochimilco was a huge disappointment. The colorful gondolas were faded and of dubious sea-worthiness. The thickets of full flowers that were supposed to adorn the boats were a few dried-out vines and some sad plastic roses. The canal was murky and the water choppy; the landscape was mostly mud. The boat’s incessant lurching sent Señorita Wiggins’ insides into further turmoil. We had to cut short the outing so she could purge her poor stomach in the restroom. Seeing one of the most naturally-sunny people in the world so sick made us miserable in turn. It didn’t help when our tour guides left us to sit in a gift shop for over an hour before returning with our van to take us back. Our grand first-day outing was done in a few hours; we were back at the hotel by two with nothing else to do and nowhere to eat for the rest of the day.

I’d confessed to Señorita Wiggins early that morning that I’d taken the other kids to the putative Pizza Hut the night before, when she was discomposed. I felt like I had to give her some kind of consolation, because it was becoming rapidly apparent that this trip was going to be something of a bust. In my retelling I played up the adventure of it, and assured her that we’d used our Spanish-language skills to order our own food, and that we’d handled actual Mexican pesos like pros. Somehow, in her debilitated post-vomiting state, I managed to assure her that I was just the person to venture beyond the head of the alleyway and investigate what else there was to do in this neighborhood.

The alleyway wasn’t anywhere near as crowded in the daytime as it had been at night, but it was pretty apparent that my suspicions of the previous evening had been correct; we’d been more or less dumped in the Mexico City equivalent of the Castro. Groups of men I recognized as gay hung in small groups along the walls. They’d suspend their conversations as I walked by, and I was once again conscious of all their eyes on me. I turned my head and caught one man’s eye. “American?” he asked. Even though in my head I had visions of being mugged for my thick American wallet, I nodded out of reflex.

“American!” he said happily to the two men with him. They all must have been in their twenties or early thirties; all of them sported little mustaches and had crammed themselves into tight jeans and form-hugging shirts of a cheap and shiny material suitable more for discos than the streets. “American!” they all cried out. And then, bewilderingly, they sang in three different keys, “In the nah-vee! You can sell the seven seas!”

I escaped their chorus and made my way out to the main street. A few women were in sight, but most of the people occupying the scene were men. Gay men. Gay men with mustaches and shimmering disco shirts and tight jeans. Acres of gay men. I’d promised to get the lay of the land, but already my adolescent mind was making gay lemons into gay lemonade and wondering how efficiently I could get some Mexican dick.

Pretty efficiently, as it turned out.

“American?” I heard someone call.

I had to look around to find the source of the question. A group of gay men sat in folding lawn chairs in front of a farmacia. A transistor radio blared out disco music on a rickety table between them. “Soy Américano,” I stammered out.

One of the other men leapt up to his feet and extended his hand. I held out mine, and he grasped it, thumb hooked to thumb, in a homie handshake. “American? Village People?” he asked. “In the nah-vee?”

In the nah-vee!” all three of them began singing. One of them put his arm around my shoulders and encouraged me to dance along with him. “You can sell the seven seas! In the nah-vee! You can put your mine dat deese!”

To this day, I have never heard anyone with as much enthusiasm for the Village People, or for that particular song, as the Mexican people. As it turned out, everywhere we would end up going, people ended up spontaneously singing “In the Navy” to us. Not “YMCA,” which was the bigger hit back home. I guess it was just freakishly popular in Mexico City that season.

For a few moments I was a white teen beanpole gamely dancing along with a gaggle of amiable Mexican gay guys in the middle of the street, which is probably not exactly the cultural experience my parents had envisioned when I’d wheedled them into ponying up for this trip. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. “You know the Village People?” I heard a very deep voice say.

I turned. I was a tall kid for my age, but the speaker towered over me. Where all the other men of the calle sported little mustaches, this muchacho had a masterwork gracing his upper lip. It was the Freddie fucking Mercury of mustaches—thick, heavy, and exquisitely-groomed. His eyes were dark. His hair gleamed with pomade without looking oily. Like everyone else, he wore one of those disco shirts of shiny material. But this man wore it so much better than anyone else. The sleazy fabric clung to his muscles and outlined his protruding nipples. The first button he’d bothered to fasten was roughly in the area of his navel. Coils of coarse, dark chest hair burst from a V of flesh that pointed like a neon arrow to the enormous bulge in his tight, packed jeans. When he shifted his weight, I noticed he wore shiny cowboy boots with polished metal tips.

This was at the height of the so-called clone look. I was hard-wired to respond to such a flagrant display of masculinity, just like any animal confronted with a blatant mating ritual. My gut lurched. My heart started to pound. My hole somehow tightened and loosened simultaneously. “You know the Village People?” he repeated. “You are American?”

“I’m American,” I managed to rasp out. “But I don’t know the Village People.”

His dark eyes were kind, even though I realized from the way he was looking me up and down that his intentions were anything but pure. “Como se llama? What is your name?” he asked.

I told him, without hesitation, in very prim and proper Spanish. (My name is . . . is one of the first things you learn in a foreign language. You don’t throw away opportunities like that.) “What’s yours?” I asked.

“Toro,” he said.

“Toro,” I repeated, feeling my insides unglue. Bull.

“You are lost?” he asked. “In this place we don’t see many . . . American boys.” The other men in the vicinity shook their heads and laughed a little in agreement.

I explained that I was staying with other people from my school at the hotel down the street. I couldn’t help but notice his nose twitch at the mention of the hotel’s name.

He placed a heavy paw on my scrawny shoulder. “I think you will come with me,” he announced. “If you want.”

Did I want? Hoo boy. Did I ever.

I felt Toro slide his hand down. He planted his palm in the center of my spine with wordless insistence, and gently steered me away from the crowd. The remaining men let loose with a cry I recognized as we moved away—the non-verbal approbation frat boys make when one of their brothers makes a sexual score. The universal sound of males whooping at the virility of one of their own. I heard the slapping of high-fives and some chanting of “Toro! Toro!” as the Mexican man in the cowboy boots led me off to some unknown destination.

And then, over the dissonance of the transistor radio, a chorus of voices raised in lusty song. “In the nah-vee. . . !”

(to be continued)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why I'm Not Attending That Other Orgy Anymore, Either

It’s all married men. We get together once a month in a motel room. A decent one, not that bedbug palace off exit 9. Everyone’s there by noon, then I lock the door and turn off the lights. After that . . . anything goes.

Anything? I remember replying. This was on Manhunt, several years ago, back in the day when Manhunt was a service that people actually logged into and used.

Fucking, sucking, you name it. Nothing illegal. No drugs. But once the lights are off? Anything your heart desires. The beauty of it is that we’re all married men. Married men know how to be discreet. Married straight dudes are just hotter and more masculine. Am I right? You’re a married man. You know what I mean? And at the end of the day, everyone goes home drained or loaded up or both, back to the wife and kids and no one is the wiser.

When my friend Bert recruited the other gentlemen in his little orgy group, this particular scenario might’ve sounded hot to the average closeted married slob in the suburb where I live—the kind of guy who would post a blurry closeup of his nipple and collarbone on Manhunt and call it a profile photo. The kind of guy who dutifully fucked his wife once a month, and spent the other twenty-nine days furiously masturbating to gay porn on the internet.

But honestly, I wasn’t really buying his particular line of bullshit. Married I might be, but I’m queer enough to know that what happens when a hotel door closes on a roomful of horny men is anything but straight. A married guy with his butt in the air taking a monster-sized dick isn’t any hotter or more masculine than a self-avowed gay guy in the same position. They’re both bitches in heat. There’s no shame in that—but at least the gay guy is the one owning up to what he wants and likes. Whatever untruths Bert’s friends want to tell themselves, individually or as a group, a bunch of married men discreetly having an orgy in a hotel room is no high afternoon tea with crumpets. It’s still a bunch of faggots getting sweaty and swapping cum. (Don’t get me wrong. This faggot is right there in the middle of it all.)

So I rolled my eyes when Bert originally approached me on Manhunt, trying to sell me on his group. I was ready to tell him that he could go shove his ‘safe’ group of ‘straight’ married men up his KY’ed asshole.

Sure. I’ll be there, my fingers typed instead.

Hey. The prospect of a steady orgy in my own backyard was nothing to sneeze at.

I ended up attending Bert’s married men orgy for several years. Once a month like clockwork they’d meet on a Monday during lunchtime. He’d rent a hotel room, accept guys through the door from eleven-thirty until noon, then lock the door and turn out the lights. And you know, the parties were, for the most part, pretty decent. Usually anywhere between six and fifteen men would attend—most of them in their thirties and forties, all sporting rings on their left hands. We’d all throw a few bucks in a jar to cover the cost of the room. Bert would lock the door. We’d all tuck our clothes into neat bundles in the closet or in dresser drawer. Then we’d fuck.

These suburban get-togethers of married men were the Golden Corral of sex parties, to be honest. That is, nothing on the buffet approached gourmet quality . . . but there sure was a whole lot of it to be had. If you wanted to bottom, there’d be a hard dick for your hole (probably mine). If you wanted to top, there would be all kinds of asses up, from which to choose. A musclebound married buddy of mine I was seeing on the side often attended with me, and we’d always put on a pretty spectacular show for everyone—growling, wrestling around, grappling to see who’d get to be on top of whom (position-wise, that is, as I was always the top when it came to fucking). One of the regulars was a local cop who would show up in uniform, which would drive some of the married guys crazy; at least he had a good sense of humor about topping guys and fulfilling their fetish fantasies while wearing his official hat.

Bert’s married group was moderately fun, but not outstanding. A lot of the guys attending simply didn’t have much experience with man-to-man sex. It showed. A few were awkward to the point that even I, who tend to be unfailingly patient with the shy in these situations, would just shrug and move on. Occasionally a guy who didn’t know any better would show up with a dirty ass—a mistake that would happen only once, as he’d taken aside by Bert for a private chat about douching out before playing. A couple of guys hadn’t been socialized well enough in these sexual situations to know when to take ‘no’ for an answer. I remember one particularly grim party in which a guy would keep grabbing my dick and grinding the head against the palm of his hand he’d licked wet. It was an unpleasant and even painful sensation, and I couldn’t get the fucker to stop.

I graduated from this particular sex party when Bert started hosting another regular orgy at his apartment in the city. The Manhattan parties were definitely a step up from their suburban counterparts. For one thing, Bert would curate his invites from a group on Manhunt that extended far beyond closeted married men. The men attending the big city orgies were bi and gay, married and single, and of such an extreme step up in sheer quality that sometimes I was a little intimidated.

Two weeks before each of the monthly parties, Bert would send out to all his invited guests an email stating the party time and the Manhunt screen names of the men who had confirmed they’d attend; he’d update the list a day or two before the actual event. Sharing the guest list with everyone gave all of us the opportunity to check out who we could expect to meet, and brush up on their likes and dislikes—which definitely made things a little easier at the parties themselves. But I’d thumb through these profiles of guys with uniformly muscular bodies and handsome, well-groomed faces and physiques, and for a few doubtful moments I’d think in the back of my mind, Man, THIS is going to be the party when everyone realizes I’M the dog.

Never happened. For one thing, I get confident enough in sexual situations that I don’t let what I’m convinced are my very modest attractions hold me back from having fun. For another, the other guys attending the parties would flood my box beforehand, begging me for cock. I’d always arrive at these parties already carrying a very full dance card.

The Manhattan gatherings were a more sophisticated affair. They’d always begin with a cocktail party of sorts—wine and appetizers. I’m maybe making it sound a little grander than it really was, since the wine came in boxes and the appetizers were usually peanuts and bags of kettle corn. Yet there’d always be a half hour of conversation of the type in which New Yorkers always seem to indulge, centered around rent prices and careers. Then someone (okay, usually it was me) would make a move on someone else, there’d be the sound of a belt unbuckling and pants dropping, and suddenly these staid uptown apartment dwellers would be getting as down and dirty as in any inner-city bathhouse.

The sex at these parties could be outstanding. Because there were usually more than twenty men at these things, and because we had the whole apartment to spread out in, as guys split off into pairs and smaller groups, there’d be ample room to get up to more athletic couplings than I’d find in a hotel room with two dozen guys jockeying for space on a couple of full-size beds. The guys were less inhibited; the asses were rounded, the holes opened up more readily. And like I said, I’d come to the parties having already promised some time to several of the men present. I’m not being immodest when I say that every time I showed up, I was very often the center of attention.

And gentlemen, it’s not because I’m spectacularly built, or because I have a hot six-pack, or because I take amazing torso shots. None of those things are true. Part of my popularity comes from the fact that I have a spectacular cock, true, but there’s way more to it than that. I’m a great love maker. I take the most nervous and shy fellow and, for the few minutes I’m eight inches deep inside his aching, stretched-out hole, I make him feel like the center of the fucking universe. I make him feel like he’s the most desirable, beautiful man on earth. It’s not faked. I don’t pretend. When I fuck, I’m not just shoving my dick into an orifice. I plunge into everything a man is. I accept him for the things that make him proud, and make him forget the parts of himself he despises. I celebrate him, and him alone. I let him know that he’s desired. I give him the freedom to feel happy, and loved. And I make damn sure to let him know how much he’s satisfying me.

That, gentlemen, is the secret of my sexual success.

At the parties I’d make love to a man while a group of a dozen naked horny fuckers were shoving around us on a rickety sofa bed, cheering us on. Even in that noisy, smelly crowd, I’d make that bottom feel like he and I were the only ones who existed. The only ones who mattered. Then, once he’d had an earth-shattering orgasm, I’d pull out, clean off, and gladly perform the same service for the next man on my dance card. Most nights I’d fuck eight, ten, fifteen asses, long and hard. I might not have shot off in all of them, but I’d damn well make sure they came from my pounding . . . and four or five lucky bastards would walk away carrying some of my DNA deep in their guts.

So yeah. I was popular at those parties. Bert knew it. He capitalized it. When he’d send out his invitations, my name would be at the top of the list. When he was trying to recruit new meat, Bert would ask guys to write me on Manhunt; I’d reply in a friendly manner assuring them that yes, if they showed up, I’d be more than happy personally to give them a good time. There were guys who would fly in from other states to attend the party—scheduling their work trips to coincide with the orgies. I was a good boy for Bert, convincing hot men to come to a hot party for a hot time. I was good to Bert, too. I’m always good to orgy hosts. I’d always save a special fuck and a special load for him, usually late in the evening when most of the men were tired and the air was drowsy and quiet. I’d ease him back onto the mattress in the master bedroom, use a couple of fingers to slide some lube up his chute, and slide right in as together we’d relive the highlights of the evening

And then I missed a party. I don’t remember why. Until I find a patron who’s willing to sponsor me for a life of orgies and naked guest appearances in porn, I’ll sadly have to keep, you know, working and stuff. That’s probably what I was doing the night I had to skip out. As usual, Bert sent out the party invitation. I RSVPed early to say I wasn’t going to be able to attend. I thought it was over, strangely enough.

But then in the two weeks before the party, I started getting a number of messages from guys on Manhunt. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday after next, they’d say. Hope you save a fuck for me. I’d have to write the guys back and tell them that I was sorry, but I wasn’t going to be available that night. But you’re on the guest list as confirmed, they’d say. Sure enough, when I checked the list, there I was, right at the top.

I wrote Bert and reminded him I wasn’t going to be able to attend. I just left you on there in case you were free at the last minute, he replied. I explained to him that if I actually were able to attend at the last minute—which I wasn’t going to be able to do—I would feel free to attend, but that I should be removed from the list until then. When he didn’t reply, I thought I’d made my point. Yet the day before, when he sent out the final reminder, there I was, still on the guest list.

That day and the day of the orgy, my appearance at the top of a list was only a minor annoyance. The day after the orgy, though, I started getting emails from men I’d never met. How come you weren’t there last night? I was expecting to spend some private time with you, said one. Another said, I flew in from North Carolina because Bert told me what a good top you were. Didn’t expect you to flake like that.

Flaking? Now my reputation was on the line.

I was pretty stern when I emailed Bert directly. I told him that leaving me on the list when I knew I wasn’t going to attend one of his get-togethers was doing me a disservice; guys who were counting on me to show up were writing me and accusing me of flaking out—which was unjust.

But you draw the guys in, he said. You’re good advertising for me.

So advertise when I’m actually going to be there. It’s not that tough! I wrote back. Again, I thought it was settled.

A couple of months later I had to skip another orgy. Same thing happened. I told Bert I wouldn’t be able to show up, yet when he emailed everyone, there I was again, right at the top of the list of attendees. This time I wrote Bert right off the bat and told him I really didn’t want to go through the same thing as last time, and would he please, please, remove my name from the guest list?

He didn’t. The emails showed up on Manhunt hours after the party. Why weren’t you there? Please don’t tell me you’re a flake.

This time around, I was infuriated. I’d asked nicely to be removed from the list. I given Bert a logical and honest accounting of why I’d prefer not to be listed as going to a sex party when I couldn’t attend. But you’re good advertising! he replied again. You bring in the hottest guys.
Bert, I can’t be your fucking mascot, I wrote back. Your parties would get on just fine without me, you know. I really don’t want guys writing me again accusing me of flaking.

Then maybe you’d better fucking show up, he replied.

Fuck this, I said. To myself. Not to him. Though I was tempted.

Sex I can get anywhere—I don’t have an issue with that. Treat me like meat, though, and dangle me as bait, without my consent? That kind of treatment I don’t need.

True story, though. After our blow-out, Bert and I didn’t talk for over a year. I didn’t go to any of his parties (which got along fine without me, of course). Mainly that was because I was no longer invited, even though at first Bert made sure to tell people to ask me why I wasn’t coming any more. (Irritating me further.) For months and months I didn’t hear from the guy. Until this week, that is, when I was part of a mass mailing on a sex site. He’s throwing a party in Manhattan, it says. Enclosed is a list of guys who’ve confirmed that they’ll be attending.

And guess whose screen name is right there, plain as day, even though he didn’t RSVP?

Yup.

And that, children, is why I don’t go to that orgy any more.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Why I'm Not Attending Your Orgy Anymore

When I lived in Michigan, one gentleman of my acquaintance threw consistently what were probably the best orgies I ever attended. He’d curate the list of guests carefully, inviting only men he’d met and could personally vouch for. Everyone in attendance was fairly attractive—usually I felt like the charity case of the bunch, honestly. He had a well-appointed basement playroom with mattresses for fucking, slings for fucking and fisting, and a couple of benches for restraints or paddling or whatever his guests felt like getting into. There were plenty of paper towels and a shower in the playroom for clean-up.

What he was mostly a stickler for was the proportion of tops to bottoms; as a bottom himself, he disliked the notion of any holes remaining empty at any given time. He’d invite enough tops, or at least versatile guys who’d happily mount an ass on request, so that each bottom would be happy. The parties were pretty much a well-run marvel. They’d start on time, last for hours, and except for the one party where I kind of ticked off the host (just a little, it turned out) by breeding all the designated tops, the host’s carefully-selected cast of pigs never went awry.

I’ve been to a lot of bad groups, too. I’ve attended orgies in which a dozen guys stood at one end of a hotel room, clothed or clamping their hands so firmly in front of their junk that they might as well be clothed, watching two or three others fuck but refusing to participate. I’ve gone to a couple of orgies—and never returned—in which sex was secondary (or even further down the list) to drug transactions. And I was far across the room when I attended one terrible, terrible orgy in which a guy getting fisted in a sling suddenly let loose with a geyser of diarrhea that sprayed with fire-hydrant force over most of the attendees, the host’s bedroom furniture, and expensive carpet. It was basically a scatological Monty Python skit gone wrong.

I’ve been to enough bad orgies, in fact, that I will no longer attend a group sex session that sounds as if it’s poorly organized or sketchy. Yet finding a good sex group organizer is no easy task. I was lucky enough, when I relocated to the East Coast several years back, to find a couple that suited me just fine.

For a little over the last half-decade I attended a midweek orgy thrown by a retired Yale professor. He hosts them every Wednesday without fail in his little New Haven apartment; I tended to show up every two or three weeks. New Haven is something of a haul for me. It’s an hour drive, even going opposite the early rush hour traffic. There’s also the little-observed fact that, despite what Ivy League fantasies you’ve seen brought to life on reruns of Gilmore Girls, New Haven is pretty much the stinking armpit of Connecticut. But the host is friendly and a great kisser, and enjoys nothing better than watching guys fuck like animals in his apartment once a week, so I’ve made the drive every couple of weeks, held my nose, and dove into that pile of ass.

The Professor’s parties are on an open invitation system, so they’re not as carefully curated as some. His attendees tend to be regulars, though, so they can be counted on gleefully to join in the action rather than stand around and watch. There’s usually a democratic atmosphere at the gatherings: anyone’s welcome, everyone can get some. There’s a core group of men who range from their fifties to their seventies, myself included, but all of them are pretty fucking desirable; and then there’s usually equal numbers of young guys from the surrounding colleges and universities offering up their holes and dicks to the daddies. Demographically, it’s almost a reverse bell curve—the numbers skew higher at the lower and higher age ranges, then dip low for guys in their thirties and forties.

And even though the accommodations aren’t grand in the least—literally all the action takes places in the host’s bedroom on one mysteriously sturdy queen bed and on the carpet around the bed’s three sides—for the most part, everyone has fun. Sure, there’ve been a couple of times I’ve gone and the attendance has been scarce, or the chemistry hasn’t been right, but I always enjoy making out with The Professor when that happens; I enjoy letting him shove his fingers into my greased-up ass and mumble about how he’s molesting me, while he licks and chews my nuts and deep-throats my dick. I’ve enjoyed the relations I’ve built with some of the other regulars over the years. It was always low-stress, midweek fun.

That is, until about a year and a half ago when I accumulated a stalker there. A thin, nervous-looking married fellow started attending. He was a good fuck; he knew how to suck my dick, too. The first couple of times, he’d come into the room naked, his eyes would lock with mine, and I’d grin at the sight of him, then nod him over to take his place between my open legs. The third or fourth time we met, I remember fucking him in such a contorted position—his shoulders, neck and head, were the only parts of him making contact with the mattress, and the soles of his feet were curled over his body and pressed against the wall over his head—that when he climaxed from the fuck, he sprayed his face and hair with his own seed. The guys at the group that week were cheering us on as I banged him. I made him a happy man that day.

He followed me out to the car, after I put on my clothes and exited the apartment. “I’m Peter,” he told me, shaking my hand. “I’ve never had a fuck as good as what you give me.” Then he entered my cell number in his phone, presumably so we could get together at some point.

Peter started out texting me once a week to see if I’d be attending parties at The Professor’s. But then, at the actual parties, he started cockblocking me from other guys, and cockblocking other guys from me; if someone had his lips around my meat, he’d actually pull the guy off and replace that mouth with his own. He started telling guys that all my loads were his and his alone, and a couple told me he’d threatened them to keep away from me. It got to the point that one new attendee confided in private that he thought Peter was my jealous boyfriend.

I was pretty popular at The Professor’s parties. Most days I was in a lot of demand. And honestly, when I’m indulging in group sex, I like to be generous with my attention. I like making the shy guys feel desirable. I enjoy helping the whores feel even more whorey. “You really can’t be acting like that,” I’d tell Peter, explaining to him that in a group situation, just about everyone should have an equal shot at sex with me as he did. I encouraged him to have fun with other big-decked tops who attended, and that I’d still fuck him . . . once . . . if he behaved.

But he’d laugh it off. “You can’t blame me for wanting your dick more than anyone else,” he’d say, or something else that managed to sound both complimentary and entitled. So when Peter would text me and ask if I were attending The Professor’s groups that week, I’d lie and say I wasn’t—and when he said he wouldn’t bother to go, then, I’d show up anyway. It worked for a while until one week I showed up after claiming I wouldn’t, and found him lurking in The Professor’s parking lot to catch me. After that, I just stopped going to The Professor’s for a long time.

The whole Peter thing came after all those other stalker types I endured in years prior. I was determined not to allow him to get to me the way other men had, in recent years. Missing a group sex session was a small price to pay to eliminate the craziness I could see he was threatening. I blocked him on my phone to stop his phone calls. I blocked his profiles on sex sites when he started trying to wheedle me through those; when he would create alternate profiles to try to get to me again, I’d block those, too. Eventually he stopped trying to get in contact.

It wasn’t until this last summer, though, before I opted to go back to The Professor’s place again. I saw The Professor’s profile pop up one day on my track list at a sex site; I sent him a quick hello and got a reproachful reply that he hadn’t seen me for a little over a year. I explained to him that I meant no discourtesy, but that I’d encountered some craziness with one of his other guests, and that I thought avoiding the group would be the best way to keep my life calm.

“Was the guy bothering you named Peter?” he wrote back.

I said I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble with him, but I was curious why he thought it was Peter.

“Because Peter has been stalking several guys from my groups,” he wrote back. “He’s been told not to show his face around here again.”

I might’ve admitted, at that point, that Peter was the guy.

Since The Professor assured me that all his groups in the future would be not only Peter-free, but free of all crazy people, I decided to go back. I had good fun the first time I attended. I fucked a lot of hot student asses. One super-handsome guy in his sixties with an enormous dick decided that I should be his fuckboy and bottom for him.

“It’s not going to fit,” I told him, frankly. His dick—and I’m not exaggerating here—was easily about eight inches around and a good nine or nine and a half inches long. It made beer can cocks look puny. I could look at it and tell that him trying to fuck me with it was going to be like trying to put a baseball bat through the eye of a needle, yet I was flattered enough by his attention that I got on all fours and arched my back and encouraged him as he banged against the back door with that battering ram. He didn’t break through—not enough a little. But we both were good sports about it.

Maybe, I thought to myself, The Professor’s parties would be viable again.

Two weeks later I gave the party another shot. It was a hot late summer day. When I arrived in The Professor’s parking lot, the sun was very nearly directly overheat. I was a few minutes early, so I pulled into a space, shifted into park, and waited.

Most of the attendees of the orgies tended to park in a certain area close to the westernmost entrance of the building. It wasn’t long until a car pulled around the building’s far end and sidled into a space a few away from mine. The driver had ginger hair and the freckled complexion that often accompanies it. I watched as he leaned forward and looked my direction. Our eyes locked. He smiled.

Well, well, well, I thought. A resident of the complex wouldn’t have pulled his car to a stop and remained inside; only someone early to the orgy would’ve done that. The guy was tolerable-looking enough that I didn’t mind his cruising me. In fact, I really wouldn’t have minded him inviting me back to his place and skipping the orgy altogether—because as much as I love group sex, I love a hot one-on-one even better. I turned off my engine, tucked my wallet and phone in my secret car hiding place, got out, and sauntered over to him.

He rolled down the window as I reached his car. “Hey there,” he said, looking me over. “Thinking of going to the party?”

“Yup,” I drawled, sounding way more Southern than usual. “How about yourself?”

I was kind of expecting him to ask me back to his place about then, so confident I was of my magnetic appeal. But instead, this redhead said, “Weeeeellllll . . . there’s kind of a story behind that.” Before I could ask what, or exert my better judgment and walk away, he said, “You know The Professor?”

“I do.”

“Well, he doesn’t like me very much, but he’s the host, and I don’t want to come in if he’s not going to want me there.” Oh god, already I was thinking. This is going to be 100% pure drama, isn’t it. “So I was kind of hoping that you might go inside and ask him if it would be okay if I came in?”

This request was so totally the opposite of what I expected that in the moment, all I could do is shrug and say, “Sure.”

“I’ll reward you if he lets me come in,” he said roguishly. But at that point, I really didn’t care.
I entered The Professor’s apartment as usual. I kicked off my shoes, walked back to the bedroom. The Professor was already busy with one of the regulars on the queen bed. He raised his hands happily to invite me into a hug when I poked my head around the corner. We kissed, and I began taking off my shirt. “I should probably tell you first,” I said. “There’s a guy outside sitting in a car, who says you don’t like him, and. . . .”

“Ohhhhhh, Christ,” said The Professor. “Is he a redhead?” I said that indeed he was. “What a fucking freak. Don’t let him on you. He’s a stalker. He hasn’t been here in a long time, and I was hoping he was gone for good. Why don’t you go tell him . . . oh, what the fuck. Go tell him he can come in.”
Honestly, I was kind of hoping that my turn as messenger boy was over. But just inviting a stalker into his home seemed kind of crazy to me. “I don’t mind telling him you said no.”

“Nah, tell him he can come in. But Christ, I hope he doesn’t end up stalking anyone this time.”

I rebuttoned my shirt, then left to put my sneakers back on. Basically I was stomping, all the way back out to the guy’s car. I’d arrived only a few minutes earlier ready to fuck and have fun. Playing ambassador between two warring nations had not been on my agenda. “He says you can come,” I barked at the guy in the car.

“Really? I can come? He said that? You didn’t just make it up?” He said it to my back, though, because I’d already turned and started walking back to the apartment. I wasn’t going to reassure the guy. I wasn’t going to tell him everything was all right. Everything wasn’t all right.

Maybe everyone else had fun that day, but I found the sex very awkward. Attendance was light. I found myself trying to avoid the red-headed guy the whole time. When you’re in a smallish bedroom with ten guys, avoiding one of them isn’t exactly an easy thing to do. I was face-fucking a college kid when he tried to get on his knees and shove my cocksucker out of the way. “Let me pay you back, like I promised,” he whispered.

I just smiled, patted him on the head, and pushed his face onto someone else’s cock while I moved to the other side of the room.

I was lying on the bed, getting head from one of the regulars, when he suddenly loomed over me, his average-sized dick pointed at my mouth. “Let me pay you back,” he said again.

“Nah. I’ve gotta get some water,” I said.

Finally, I was fucking a young guy whose endurance wasn’t extensive. The kid begged for a break after I’d pounded him for only a little while. The redhead instantly scooted over and dropped down on all fours. “Now it’s my turn,” he said.

“I just came,” I lied.

Then I went to collect my clothes.

Groups aren’t fun when one person mistakes good sex for a lifetime commitment. Groups aren’t fun when one person runs amok. Groups definitely aren’t fun when the host knows a stalker is outside and say, “Oh, what the fuck. Tell him he can come in.”

And that, sir, is why I’m not attending your orgy any more.

Monday, October 9, 2017

On the Grindr

When smartphones were just becoming popular—and I realize that already this story sounds like the creaky tale of an old-timer who just doesn’t understand why whippersnappers these days don’t appreciate the velocipede or the Edison cylinder phonograph—Grindr was the first sex app that really took advantage of geolocation features. But that doesn’t mean I liked it.

One of the reasons I avoided Grindr for so many years is that its most popular use, back in the midwest when it first launched, was for currying scorn. I’d go into a gay bar and see gaggles of guys clustered around someone with a brand-new iPhone 3G to peer at the tiny screen running Grindr; as they flipped through the photos, they’d play Fuck/Marry/Kill for each profile bold enough to post on the new service, only occasionally glancing up from their merriment to make sure the person in question wasn’t actually standing nearby. In the Midwest, at least, my impression had always been that Grindr was less about actually cruising for encounters, and more about weaponizing people’s unfortunate profile shots either for amusement or outright derision.

When I did download Grindr and gave it a try for a few days, I could watch my phone’s battery icon basically drain from full to empty right before my eyes. That was the nail in the coffin; the app didn’t last very long on my phone. I tried Growlr for a while (never met anyone from it who would actually meet), and Jackd (ditto, nor would I really want to meet anyone from it) before settling on Scruff for my geolocation needs.

Scruff has its share of irritations, mostly minor. The one that bugs me most is how, seemingly upon every login, the app asks me if I’d mind taking a ten-second survey of how they can improve their services. You can improve your services by stop asking me to take constant ten-second surveys of how to improve your services, I’ll reply in the comment box. Then later that day I’ll open the app to find it asking once again if I’m willing to take another ten-second survey of how to improve its services.  Jesus Christ, Johnny Scruff, stop with the nagging already.

Scruff also suffers from a peculiar kind of bloat as it attempts to be all things to all gays; it’s got a travel section that neither I nor anyone else I know uses. It allows people to designated themselves as ‘ambassadors’ of their home cities, and it seems to me that while some men consider their ambassador status (in New York City, at least) to mean that out-of-towners should feel free to message them with tourism-related questions, there are a handful of self-appointed ambassadors who seem to think their diplomatic duties should take place naked and on all fours, with a welcoming hole open to all visitors.

If only U.N. ambassadors were so outgoing.

No, but Scruff has a flexible and straightforward profile system. It makes searching and filtering fairly accessible, albeit with a lot of finger-jabbing at the screen. I like Scruff’s Tinder-like Match system, in which men who swipe right on each other’s photos are notified of their mutual interest. The system’s guys, by and large, are friendly and less twinkish than the alternatives. It doesn’t hurt that my face has been deemed pretty enough that I land on the front page with some regularity.

I’ve had some good hookups from the service. And every now and then a reader tracks me down there, to say hello. (Hello, readers!) Yet when I travel, and even in a densely-populated metropolitan area, Scruff is still not used by as many people as Grindr. And since I have occasional moods when I grumble about why do I have to have Chipotle’s limited selection of five items when I could go to Cheesecake Factory with its thirty-page menu, I have to admit there have been times through the years I’ve had Grindr envy.

Over the summer my spouse took me (as arm candy, naturally) to a fancy-schmancy business dinner function. I was off in the exile corner along with a small group of other wives and accessories sharing a bowl of tortilla chips and some incredibly bad salsa, while all the big shots talked business together on the other side of the room. Then an effete older gentleman, a vision in striped seersucker, wafted over from the big-shots group. I say he was an older gentleman; he was probably about my age. And very likely gay. Guilty by virtue of the matched seersucker and tasseled loafers, really. “Ladies,” he announced, tapping his fingertips together, “and gentleman,” he added, pointedly looking me over. “I’ve made it my mission tonight to bring you up to speed on what’s what . . . and who’s who.”

The man then proceeded to spill all kinds of innocuous dirt about various people attending the function that evening. There was one fellow, for example, who had spent bags and bags of money renovating his summer home in the months before, only to find that it had some irreparable flaw in its foundation. Now it likely needed to be completely demolished. Another fellow was going through a nasty divorce from someone who used to be a backup singer for someone I’d never heard of. This other man had been forced into a lateral transfer from one branch to another; everyone was terribly worried about that one over there, since he’d had a reoccurrence of a cancer scare.

“And that fellow,said Mr. Seersucker, relishing his own gossip as he nodded in the direction of a square-jawed, dark-haired fellow with the clean-cut good looks of an extra from Mad Men, “that fellow is on The Grindr.” For the benefit of the straight women in his audience, which was basically everyone but me, he added, The Grindr is like Tinder for the gays.” Finally, he added, “And his profile has plenty of scandalous photos!”

Well. You can probably guess who quietly excused himself to go get a drink while he pulled out his phone and surreptitiously downloaded Grindr for the first time in about eight years. Yes, I really did. My purpose wasn’t to hook up immediately with the fellow in question; I was just curious to see if he would show up as ten feet away from me. With a shirtless profile pic. And with ‘LOOKING 4’ followed by an eggplant emoji as his user name. You know. All the things a little gay boy grows up dreaming of.

The upshot of that story is that I never did see the square-jawed fellow (or his scandalous photos) on Grindr that evening. But this time around, the app has remained on my phone.

When I got home, I opened up Grindr to see who was in my immediate vicinity. I recognized a face or two from Scruff, but while on Scruff they might’ve been the photos closest to mine, on Grindr they were further down the list. Way further down, in fact. Where on Scruff there might’ve been perhaps three or four guys in a mile radius from me, out here in the bland white heart of suburbia, on Grindr there were dozens. A score or more, even.

I left my profile blank for a while. I didn’t really intend to use it. But after a week, once I’d confirmed the app wasn’t actually slurping my phone’s battery with the avidity of a vampire denied blood for a century or two, I felt emboldened enough to slap up my face pic and a few stats on here.
Boom. Almost immediately I felt my phone vibrate. Hola papi, some Latin twink was writing. Hi daddy, wrote another. You looking? wrote a third. Then another buzz. Que chulo!
Part of it was being new meat on an old service, of course. But now that I’ve been on Grindr for a couple of months, I haven’t exactly noticed the frequency of guys hitting me up declining any.
And you know what’s most curious? Of all the guys wanting to get together for sex on the app, about two-thirds of them send me messages like, Let me breed that hole or I wanna fuck that sexy daddy ass. When I received the first half-dozen of those in rapid succession, I was a little baffled. Did my photo look more bottom-y than usual, or something?

But then I realized that in my profile, I’d simply never specified I was a top. I’m so used to guys reading my online profiles and knowing from the get-go that I’m usually looking to fuck and breed a hole that being seen by new guys as a potential bottom is sheer novelty. Every time I get a new offer from a top assuming I want to get my hole stretched, I giggle like a shy geisha.

I still haven’t put my positional preference on there. But I haven’t taken anyone up on the offer, though. Yet.

So, here’s the TL;DR version for those of you with short attention spans: I’m on The Grindr now. And yeah. There are plenty of scandalous photos. Hit me up when I’m within 75 feet of you, would ya?

Monday, September 11, 2017

The 14th Reason

I decided to write my 13 Reasons series earlier in the summer when I realized I had a lot of stuff to get off my chest. Such a lot of stuff.

There often have been times throughout my sex blog in which I’ve discussed encounters that have gone bad, or my disappointments with various men. I do have a department of bad encounters tag that I use liberally, after all. On the whole, though, throughout my blogging career I’ve kept most of my entries upbeat and complimentary of my partners. I’ve portrayed my sport fucking as steamy, and fun, and adventurous. Perhaps even as enviable. I wasn’t wrong to do so; the sex I have has been all those things.

But there have been episodes, and periods, in which the bad has outweighed the fun and the good. The handful that made up my series were downright harmful.

I didn’t write about those encounters until now for many reasons. Some took time to process. Years, even. Others, like those involving cyberbullies and stalkers, felt like sleeping bears it might be unwise to poke. A lot of my bad memories, however, I avoided writing about because I was wary of how readers would receive them. Historically, my readers have liked it when I focus on the porntastic. When I write openly about what’s bothering me, they’re not as pleased.

My reader feedback in the last few weeks has kind of borne that out. “It was a LOT of Cory,” someone told me today. And yes, yes it was a lot of Cory. There was a lot of Cory in my life for a year, and to this day I’m still dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath. So yeah, for you, four entries might’ve been an awful lot of Cory. For me, it was either the appropriate proportion of Cory, or given how sometimes he lingers, not enough.

“These posts are painful to read,” said another reader. “Some have made me cry.” I get that. I get that people have been reluctant to comment on some posts because my emotions in them are too raw, or too vivid. I respect that stance, even. People don't visit sex blogs so they can wallow in someone else’s misery. Everyone has enough of his or her own. My personal challenge at the beginning of the series was to write everything out as honestly as possible and damn the consequences. It was a good exercise for me. I recognize, though, it wasn’t everyone’s pair of pajama pants.

“I wish that your blog had just continued from where it left off, a year or so ago,” wrote one reader this week. And, my reader, if you happen to be recognizing your words on my page, fear not. I’m not trying to make you feel badly for your wish. I wish my blog could’ve continued from where it left off, too.

But honestly . . . it couldn’t.

Not writing about these hurts was smothering me. Every time one of my readers would spend weeks telling me I meant the world to him, only to disappear or deceive after we fucked, it weighed me down a little more. When one of my readers would demand more of me than he should, when he’d feel entitled to more than he’d earned, it pushed me down more and more. Maybe the individual disappointments each weighed no more than the lead apron my dental assistant drapes across me during an x-ray. But lay one, then another, then another . . . the cumulative weight suffocates.

It’s painful. They’ve made me cry, too. I wish I could’ve just picked up right where I left off. But I can’t.

When I started thinking about this series, in a fit of pique after my encounter with Bill 101, I modeled it after the (mostly ridiculous) Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, in which a high school girl, prior to committing suicide, recorded thirteen 45-minute cassette tape sides accusing thirteen of her peers for driving her to the grave. Each side was a Fuck you! from beyond the grave to one of her classmates who'd pushed her to that extreme.

Snapping Welcome to your tape! at someone who had pissed you off had become the meme of the spring; I was amused by the thought of appropriating it for the screeds I’d never written about the men who’d upset me.

I actually kind of had to weed from the final candidates the many readers who’d just kind of pissed me off, versus the ones whose actions were actually toxic to my well-being. So out went the guys who’d stood me up, or the ones who made promises they never kept, or never intended to keep. I narrowed my selection down to men who had impeded my creativity, to men who seemingly had gone above and beyond to disappoint. All along I intended to end with the knock-out one-two punch of Cory followed by the boy who fell in love with someone else—which I did. But the story of Cory I had to expand by a chapter more than I intended . . . because, again, there was an awful lot of Cory.

Originally I’d envisioned that the very last essay of the series would have been about its real and most persistent antagonist. That is, myself.

Writing these essays has brought me face to face with my many and abundant flaws. When I write about my monstrous vanity and my inflated ego, I’m not being charmingly self-deprecating. I mean to tell you guys I really do have a monstrous vanity and inflated ego.

Week after week I've had to confront ugly facts about myself. For example:

If I didn’t have such a monstrous vanity and inflated ego, I probably would’ve been strong enough not to go down the rabbit hole after the men who fed emotional heroin to those particular flaws. If cartoon birdies didn’t chirp in my eyes and my pupils didn’t dilate into Looney Tunes throbbing hearts every time some reader on the make started a conversation with Wow, sir, I really love your blog, I wouldn’t have had to put up with half the shit I ended up writing about for thirteen weeks.

If I didn’t think so damned highly about myself, if I didn’t truly believe at heart that I am always, always right, I wouldn’t expect men’s lives to be magically changed by my influence or presence. And then I wouldn’t be disappointed when they turn out, after all, to be just as human and fallible as I am myself.

If I were a more ruthlessly honest person, I’d question the morality of keeping a sex blog at all. Readers of my blog who choose to embark on a physical relationship with me are somewhat fair game; they know the likelihood of being written about. But men who are strangers to the blog? Is it fair of me to write about them, afterward—even if (as I do) I change their names and their circumstances to protect their privacy? What about men in my history, who may or may not stumble across my writings and happen to recognize themselves? (It’s happened, more frequently than makes me comfortable.) What kind of ethical compass do I follow, here . . . if I have one left at all, anymore?

I came away from this series feeling like more of a monster than any of the men I carped about. Anyone who imagined that I enjoyed my pity party would be seriously wrong.

But one of the things I try to do nowadays is to be a little kinder to myself than I typically have been in previous decades of my life. I don’t dismiss my offenses off-hand. Instead, I recognize my imperfections where I can. I try to isolate where I might have gone wrong, and see the path I might have chosen instead. Then I resolve to do better. That was the theme of this series, right? If we could do better, we would.

And I want to be able to do better.

My last thirteen entries took my readers through some dark places. I’ve left the impression with a lot of my readers, it seems, that I’m still feeling in the dark. Let me assure everyone, though, that I’ve been writing from a place of strength, and from a stance of conviction. Devastated as I was after the last two men I wrote about, I bounced back. I had pleasing physical and emotional relationships. I’m healthy. Life is good.

Sure, I was disinclined for a very long time to write entries for my sex blog. (You would be, too.) Of course I’ve been extremely wary of friendly overtures from readers, and I’ve been guilty of extreme over-caution in dealing with them—even with some of the readers I’ve known for a very long time. I often activate my usual icy self-defenses more quickly, these days, than I might have in the past.

But that Divine Spark I wrote about in my Cory entries? The internal pilot light that motivates my curiosity, my sexuality, my creativity—the one I worried was snuffed out for good? It’s been burning again, steadily if not brightly, through every one of the essays I wrote for this series.



Let’s end on a lighter, odder note.

I was about halfway through my series when someone tried hitting me up on BBRT. A younger guy in Manhattan. After he oinked at me, I looked over the handful of public photos on his profile. Nice ass, I told him.

It’s yours if you want it, Sir, he wrote back.

Readers, you and I both know my probable reaction to that one. Hands up if you picture me licking my chops, rubbing my hands together, and preparing to move in for the kill. (My hand is up.)

So let’s discuss that, son, I wrote back, while in my mind a mental soundtrack of bow-chicka-bow-wow started to play.

First off, Sir, let this faggot say that your blog changed his life.

Cue the sound of a needle scratching off that soundtrack. What the actual fuck?

May I see your locked pictures? I asked the guy. He assented, and unlocked. Sure enough, just as I suspected, the face in the profile was of This Faggot, the guy I wrote about in my second essay of the series.

What was weird about our conversation, though, was that he seemed to show absolutely either no memory of—or no remorse for—the way he’d led me on just three months prior.

A friend of mine, whom I was exchanging unbelieving texts, kept trying to convince me that This Faggot had read my entry about him and was trying to . . . I don’t know. Get me to admit I’d written it? See if I’d fall for his schtick again?

My argument back to my friend, though, was that This Faggot didn’t really have a clear motivation for coming at me again, without disguising himself, without changing his approach, without seeming to remember any of what had already happened between us. If he’d read the unpleasant (yet thoroughly accurate) account I’d written of him, wouldn’t he be angry? Or, you know, a little more subtle about his revenge?

Or was he just a messed-up ball of denial living so deep in his own fantasies that he really didn’t have any recollection of our tiring encounter? Or maybe just a psycho meth head?

I didn’t know.

So I wrote This Faggot and asked, Don’t you remember talking to me before?

This doesn't think it did, Sir. This Faggot would have remembered the honor of speaking to you. This faggot just knows it always been a fan of your blog and it changed its life.

Right, I wrote back. And we chatted in May.

Can’t remember. Deleted the site for a while.

That’s when I’d had enough. Whether or not he was playing me, I didn’t care. I told him off and told him not to contact me again.

Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, right?



By the way, for the purposes of this guy’s privacy, I’ve completely obscured his profile name in the email exchange I’ve shared above. I’m one hundred percent certain that it won’t be remotely legible and that I totally didn't forget to smudge out his name. Because that’s the sort of kind, caring, fellow I am.

Monday, September 4, 2017

13 Reasons Why/Tape 13: Judas' Kiss

Tape thirteen: the ultimate in this series. What Judas have I saved for last, and what terrific sins did he commit to feature in the culmination of all the crimes I’ve so far documented?

But no. There were no betrayals, no angry recriminations, no furious grudges to be held, when it was over.

Sometimes the last nail to be pounded in the coffin is the softest and gentlest of them all.




I met this last Judas online, a year after Cory had left me for dead. It had been a long, long year of recuperation and regrouping. The winter was especially harsh, both in its extremes of temperature and weather, and in the personal darkness that seemed to descend around me for endless months.

I mourned. I stayed in my house. Within the confines of familiar walls, for month after month I mourned. It was not for the loss of Cory. I spoke in my last entry of how Cory snuffed out in me my own spark of the Divine—that urge to rise above, to be more, to see and feel more, the spark that motivates my creativity and sexuality both. I felt dead inside.

My urges to explore, to inquire, to be more than myself evaporated. In the wake of Cory’s destruction, I felt little more than a silly old man, unfit for human company. My days were long and leaden. Nights, I’d lie in bed awake, weighing the number of months my doctor had originally allotted for me if I’d failed to recover, against the gray and endless days that now stretched out to my horizon and beyond—wondering which would have been the easier burden.

Then he came along.




A man in his late twenties messaged me on Scruff. Right off he told me he was a reader of mine. From what I've read of your blog, it seems you and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to sexual tastes. I think that's the case. I was surprised to find out you're in the NYC metro area. Took me a little bit of time to work up the courage to reach out but I figured I had nothing to lose. You know?

Did I know? Yeah. I knew very well what it felt like to have nothing to lose. At this point, I’d lost my taste for men praising me for my blog. My enormous vanity had been gratified nearly to death; I’d lost my taste for moths gently batting their bodies against my glow, merely because I had the dubious talent of knowing how to type out a sex scene.

Writing isn’t a dispassionate act. It’s ruthless. The author of memoir—especially sexual memoir—dissects every memory, wallows in its viscera, mercilessly searches for the true and the real, and through a dark necromancy, resurrects it upon the page. Every written word should draw blood. The author’s own, if nothing else.

And you know what not writing is? Relaxing. For me, losing the drive to set thoughts to paper was sheer relief. In that period of my life, it meant I didn’t have to put myself on trial every time I cracked open my laptop, only to convict myself over and over again as stupid, vain, and weak. Shutting myself off, keeping my pants zipped, not feeling I had to produce either creatively or sexually . . . it had been pleasant. Dull as fuck, with nothing to show for the live I’d been occupying. It wasn't living—but it wasn't unpleasant.

I'm pursuing you because I find you super hot and very attractive. I'm not just looking to get a notch in my bed post. I've got enough of those already.

Well. Even a dormant vanity can’t help but be slightly tickled by that kind of come-on. And this flattery was coming from someone with the All-American looks of a movie star. Photo after photo he sent me, then video after video. They weren’t merely from his stock selection of x-rated shots, either. He took the photos for me specifically, and addressed me by name in the videos as he stripped clothing from his impressively muscular body and stroked himself to hardness. “This is for you, sir,” he’d say into the camera.

Deep within, what I’d assumed was dead stirred to life.

He animated me after I’d lain dormant for so long. For nearly a year I’d denied myself, frozen myself to need. This boy made me want again. Not merely want. Crave.

I craved his masculine good looks, his strong frame. I lusted for his sexy, photo-perfect body, his handsome face. I coveted his firm, round bubble butt. I was wary of the fact he was a reader of mine. Everything bad in my life had come from readers, the previous couple of years. The cyber-harassment from Mr. BipolarCockSucker, the real-life stalking of Cheater, the long slide in disappointment and poor health from Cory—all the disappointments that had numbed me had come from the men who claimed to admire and desire me for my writing.

Still, we met for the first time within the week.

He was amazing. What soil I thought barren flourished and became fertile once more. I desired him more and more. Miracle of miracles, he desired and needed me, too. When we weren’t seeing each other, we shared our lives with texts and emails. That was how he took me with him in his pocket on a trip to Israel, by pulling out his phone and sharing his experiences at regular, happy intervals. It’s how I showed him my life in the suburbs, from my everyday errands to the wildly erotic thoughts of him that night would bring.

We saw each other, what . . . nearly weekly? Every other week at most? I’d have to take a train into the city and then a long subway ride to his apartment—basically a two-hour commute each way—but for the several hours of sensual satisfaction we shared, it was worth the investment of time. Load after load I lost inside him during those hours. I’d tell my son how beautiful I found him. He’d sit atop me, willing my cock to shoot once again inside of his insatiable hole, and he’d tell me he never wanted any of this ever to end.

How would you feel if I were to write about you? I asked him, after the first time.

His reply struck me as unusually honest. My honest gut reaction is: I'm not sure. I know that's a possibility and I won't know how I feel unless I read it. And I may not do that.

I hesitated before telling him, Well, I wanted to give you a heads-up that I wrote a blog post about you for tomorrow morning. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to tell me what you thought of it, if you do. If you want to avoid it, you may. But I also wanted to let you know that I am unashamed of how proud and grateful I am to know you, and to be a part of you.

I was thinking of asking you if / when you might write about me. I wasn't sure how to bring it up and an appropriate time didn't seem to present itself, he replied.

There are going to be an awful lot of men envious of you, tomorrow.

I've done what I've done - from the very beginning when I reached or to you because I knew how well we'd fit together. Sharing that with others doesn't phase me. The truth is the truth.

It’s truly rare I meet someone as sincere in his appreciation as he happened to be. When he finally read the first entry I wrote about him the next day, he texted: You are a very beautiful man and an amazing lover. You have an amazing memory for details. I got to live our lovemaking again and enjoy it just as much. Thank you. You make me feel desirable, and special, and more. I can only try to give back as much as you give me.

Best thank-you I ever received.

This wasn’t the last entry I wrote about the boy. There were several, each as special to me as he had become. And as we got closer, the more we learned about each other. I told him in broad strokes of my let-down with Cory; he told me his own fears of abandonment.

I want you to know that I'm at my most vulnerable with you, he said early on. To be totally naked about it: I'm worried about what'll happen if I invest time and emotion in you, then end up losing you for one reason or another. Admitting this is a little scary for me. I've developed a thick skin through some rough times in the past, and the fears I’m sharing with you I’ve never shared with anybody. Not even myself.

I will not just vanish on you, I told him. I was thinking about Cody, when I tapped out the words. I wouldn’t wish vanishment on anyone. You bring out the protector in me. I can’t promise I’ll never be a dick—I can be, usually unintentionally—but I am also at a place in our relationship in which it would genuinely grieve me to upset you. Much of my protectiveness arises from the fact that you have shown so much vulnerability to me already.

Thank you, sir. I trust you.

Every time I met this boy I desired him more. He made me smile when the world seemed determined to make me cry. I’d thought the divine spark in me smothered, but with him it roared back into life.




And then.

Because you already know there must be an and then.

We had made love one afternoon in May. Passionate, connected love, in which he clutched me and begged me to impale him, while I whispered spur of the moment poetry into his ear, or sheer filth, or both as one. Exhausted after the third round, he held me in his arms, and we lay still for long, warm moments while we gazed out the open window at the blue spring sky above the Hudson. “Hey,” he said at last. “Can I ask your advice?”

“Of course,” I said. “What’s up, kiddo?”

“I’m feeling toyed with,” he said. For a moment, a hot rash prickled across my chest as I attempted to account for any wrongs I might have caused him. But then he continued. “I’m feeling pretty low because a guy I’ve fallen in love with gave me the boot.”

Mere moments before, this boy and I had formed the axis of the earth; the universe had revolved around the two of us. Yet even though he still held me, I realized our worlds had begun rotating in different directions. As our orbits spun away from each other, as I watched him recede further and further, he continued talking. “What makes me sad is that I don't feel like there's anything I can do about it. What can one do when someone brings you joy, and you bring them joy, then suddenly he abandons you, seemingly without reason? What happens when someone you love and who you’re sure loves you, turns out not to have the same affection you have for him?”

I said something. I’m not sure what. It was kind. It was gentle. It was supportive. But every word I uttered sounded hollow. Unconvincing. What can one do indeed, when someone brings you joy, and you thought you brought them joy—what can one do when someone brings you back to life, who makes you love living again, who makes you love being in the world again . . . and he turns out to have been in love with someone else all along?

When I could, I dressed, and collected my things, and made my farewell. “Hey,” he said, chucking me under the chin. “Thank you for listening.”

I mumbled some assurance.

Then, before I left, he kissed me. Softly, on my lips.

We never met again. I didn’t turn him down; he simply never asked. I didn’t expect him to. I’d gone from necessary to superfluous, from lover to the father figure one asks for advice about one’s real love life. Without warning, without a change in the barometer, somehow he’d let me go. I’d simply never realized until we were miles apart.

I was at my most vulnerable with this boy. I’d invested time and emotion in him, and then I lost him. The worst fear he'd confided to me had become my reality. He never seemed to see realize the irony in how we'd swapped places.

And that made me saddest of all. The last straw fell gently, it’s true, but it was the feather’s weight that made my burden too much too bear. That spark of the Divine he had briefly rekindled went out once more.

This time, I felt certain it would never return.





I saw the boy six months later. I was grabbing a bite to eat with two friends in a little restaurant in the Village and sitting in the front window, where I could look out at the passers-by on the darkening street. I wasn’t paying attention to the conversation of the pair I was with. I wasn’t paying attention to much, those days. But a familiar face strode by the window. It stopped, turned around, and my boy entered the shop. “Well, hey there,” he said, over the tops of the heads of the other customers.

“Hi,” I said back.

“That’s weird.” He seemed genuinely astonished to see me, though it was plain he felt he couldn't speak I front of my friends. “I’ve been thinking about you.”

I just smiled.

Perhaps sensing awkwardness, he held up his hand again. “Good to see you.”

“Goodbye,” I got to say.

He texted me later that night. I’m glad I spotted you. I had been thinking about you and wasn't sure if it was the right thing to reach out. I want to apologize for disappearing. I was going through some stuff. Still am.

I thought long and hard before I sent my heartfelt reply. As you work out whatever’s bothering you, I hope you keep in mind that at heart you really are a decent person who deserves a portion of the good things going on around you.

Godspeed, I was telling him.

Go on your path. Tread it well.

And next time, try to do better.

Thank you for those kind words, he texted back.





This was my last Judas. But no Judas’ kiss has ever been as sweet, or soft, or gentle, as the final kiss this boy gave me, the last day he’d held me in his arms.






Afterword

During my hiatus, I’ve received from readers a lot of very sweet emails wishing me well. Most of them have recognized the amount of work I’ve poured into my blog and have expressed their thanks. I’m so grateful for those sentiments.

Many people who’ve written, however, have made the assumption that the reason I have decided to take a break is because of the so-called haters—that is, the men who leave nasty comments on my blog, and those who go out of their way to make sure I understand how contemptible I am to them.
I’ve had plenty of haters over the years. They wear me down, yes. But more than anyone, the men who have sucked the joy out of my writing (and to a certain extent, my life) are those who meant well. They’re men who claimed to admire me, who wanted to meet me—and many of them did—and who then, whether out of clumsiness or fear or whatever, failed to recognize they’d gone too far. A man can only withstand so many successive blows to the ego (even an ego as Jericho-sturdy as mine) before it begins to tumble.

What’s more, every single one of these men read my blog. They’re men who subscribed to my point of view, who enjoyed my writing. Or read my writing, at least. Some of them wanted to be written about. Others never intended me to know they were blog fans.

Maybe one of these men is you.

If it is you? Although there’s a small and petty part of me that wants to flip a finger in your direction, I’m not going to. I’m moving on as I write this series. A friend of mine shared with me something his grandmother used to say that I truly believe: People do the best they can. If they could do better, they would.

My advice, if you think you recognize yourself . . . or even if you don’t: do better.

All of us could stand to do better.

Monday, August 28, 2017

13 Reasons Why/Tape 12: Cory 4

(Part 1 of this story can be found here. Part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.)

Of what I knew about Cory—or thought I knew, anyway—the one thing of which I was certain was how much he loved the disabled teen in his care. Cory doted on the boy. The kid was so developmentally challenged that he couldn’t recognize faces, or respond to questions, or even make his own needs known. He simply breathed, and slept, most of the time. Still, Cory spent hours every day finding ways to entertain his charge.

Once a week Cory would sweet-talk the nursing staff at the home where the boy lived and decorate the boy’s room with a new theme—construction paper cacti and cotton ball tumbleweeds for Western Week, cut-out comets and planets and glow-in-the-dark star stickers for Outer Space Week, bunnies and Christmas trees and pumpkins for the holidays that came around three times as often per year as they do for the rest of us. The home’s staff seemed to eat out of Cory’s hand, particularly when he was handing them small gifts during the thrice-annual Christmas celebrations; they’d drag out old decorations from the cupboards for Cory to use however he wanted.

During the long evenings he was on duty, Cory would sit in the chair by the boy’s bed. He’d paste into oversized albums all the photographs he’d taken of himself and his charge, or of the boy and his parents. Sometimes he’d blow them up for the multiple bulletin boards he’d hung around the room, all angled so that the kid could (in theory, anyway) see them from his stationary position in the bed, without turning his head. On bad nights, when the boy was fitful and restless, Cory would stay awake reading aloud to him. His dependent wasn’t aware enough to understand the stories, or really, whatever was going on at any point, but no matter. There wasn’t anything Cory wouldn’t have done for him.

At first, when I heard about all the many devotions Cory lavished upon his patient, I thought him a seemingly bottomless well of selfless love; Cory’s attachment was one of the things that I initially found most endearing. Later on, as he got to know me better, Cory told me the story of how the child ended up in a full-time care facility—and I realized that much of Cory’s extreme dedication to his job arose from guilt.

When Cory had first started working for the boy’s parents, a year or more before I knew him, the teen had lived at home. Cory took care of him in a wing of the parents’ house. Then there was an accident. It didn’t happen on Cory’s shift; it didn’t really involve him at all. Cory really only had one night off a week, and one week he chose to travel into the city for fun. Whoever was supposed to be looking after the boy in Cory’s absence simply didn’t. The kid twisted himself into a position where his breathing was restricted.

Cory arrived back home to find the find the family in the emergency room of a private hospital; the oxygen flow to the boy’s brain had been reduced to about twenty percent of normal. There was enough brain damage to an already-damaged brain that the prognosis wasn’t good. The boy wasn’t expected to live. He stayed in the private hospital from then on.

Despite the fact that it hadn’t been Cory’s shift, or remotely Cory’s fault, and despite the fact that from what I could tell, neither of the parents ever felt resentment toward or blamed him for the accident, Cory felt directly responsible for everything that happened. He blamed himself for not being there, for letting his dependent out of his sight for a single moment. He couldn’t give himself a free pass, despite the earned night off.

I spent many long mornings in bed with him, naked body to naked body, holding him tightly in my arms from behind as he sobbed about the incidents of that evening. Over and over he relived his perceived failures. Sometimes the snot and the tears would make him so incoherent that I couldn’t understand a word he’d say.

I didn’t need to understand the words. I felt as if I were tiptoeing around that black abyss of despair hand in hand with him. There was nothing I could say—nothing anyone could say—as solace for so deep a grief. No platitudes, no reasoning, would make him feel better. The guilt should not have been his to grapple with. Had I been Cory, though, I would have struggled with the same regrets.
So directly responsible did he feel for their tragedy, I honestly thought many times that there was no way his remorse would allow him ever to leave the family.




Which is why I was very surprised when, in late autumn of that year, Cory abruptly announced he was quitting his job. After the incident in which he lied about his recuperation from his anal surgery to trick me into having sex, he’d decided to take a week and visit his family back west. The week turned into two weeks, then three.

I was relieved for a break, to be honest. I wasn’t having to worry, every time I saw a men’s restroom, that Cory was in there forcing himself to upchuck; I wasn’t barraged by his never-ending woes and worries. The headaches and chills and fatigue I’d been experiencing for several weeks disappeared when he did—which made me realize all the more that they mostly like were a result of the relationship’s stress and tension. With Cory away I felt unusually light-hearted. More energetic. In a better mood.

For three weeks my shoulders unclenched. The furrow in my brow disappeared. I was able to spend my free time as I pleased. I still wasn’t having sex elsewhere, but I was beginning to envision a life post-Cory . . . if it ever came to that.

Then he returned. Cory had been back maybe all of two days when he invited me over and sat me down on his bed. “I’ve got amazing news,” he told me. “I’ve given my two weeks’ notice. I’m getting the fuck out of here and moving to Brooklyn.”

I’m not going to lie. I was stunned. For a moment or two I was fixated on the getting the fuck out of here part of his sentence. It’s the kind of thing someone says when everything is rancid and they can’t wait to get away. That might apply to his employers . . . but surely he didn’t mean to include me among the things he was abandoning? Or did he?

That was my first thought.

My second and more disloyal realization was that yes—the burden I’d been bearing for the better part of a year might be lifted if Cory were to move away. All those mornings I’d spend listening to his bitching, all those times I’d fretted about what he was and wasn’t eating, My constant worries about his colon were creating the same stresses I’d experienced with my mother, growing up. If Cory were in Brooklyn, though, those apprehensions would all be gone. Well, not gone. I’d still worry about him. I’d just be doing it at a safe, almost relaxing distance.

Almost immediately, I realized how terrible these thoughts really were. The shock of the announcement had set me off-balance. That’s all.

When finally I summoned speech, I somehow turned into my father. So, Cory was giving up a good-paying job with free room and board? For what? Did he have a job prospect already? No? How was he going to support himself in Brooklyn? What was he going to do?

Cory, however, had it all planned out, in a vague, millennial kind of way. He would be moving in with a friend near Prospect Park while he decided what to do next. Maybe he’d take up modeling once again—he still had designers urging him to return to the business. Maybe he’d get a degree in nursing. Maybe he’d just wait and see what opportunity presented itself.

He must have seen the stunned expression written plain across my face. “Hey, hey—we’ll see each other,” he told me. “Absolutely, we’ll keep seeing each other. You can visit me in Brooklyn any time you want. We’ll walk Poochy in the park. Nothing will change. It will be like now, only in . . . you know . . . Brooklyn. Okay?”

“Sure. Okay.” I said the words aloud, and then repeated them to myself as he proceeded to rattle off all the fantastic things he could do in the city that he couldn’t do out here in the suburbs.

My simultaneous reactions of feeling abandoned and feeling elated only heightened my guilt. I really should have celebrated with Cory; if he was really that miserable here, getting out was the best thing he could be doing.

I couldn’t muster enthusiasm, though. Quite honestly, I felt discarded and hollow. Cory and I weren’t boyfriends in any traditional definition of the word, I realized. I had no hold on him. I had no right to resent him for leaving me for greener pastures.

Yet we’d been so close, for most of the year. I still felt bereft at the thought of him so far away.

Why was I already mourning him when he hadn’t even left? Cory and his dramas had drained my energies and left me exhausted. Every time I visited, I felt heavier and less enthusiastic. My body was still sabotaging me as well; I’d feel feverish and fatigued on the days I was supposed to see him. Sometimes my muscles would be wracked with pains before breakfast that would vanish after my shower. My energy was waning, day by day. Gathering up the strength to visit took a lot out of me, even though we weren’t having sex of any sort.

Cory had a crapload of stuff to dispose of, though, in the two weeks before his departure. He had two closetfuls of clothes and a large room full of his scrapbooks, photo albums, and memorabilia. He made plans to stash it all in a local storage facility.

I suggested that I help him move his boxes in my car. Sure, he said. He’d be happy for my assistance.

Cory, however, seemed absolutely unwilling to start packing. I offered to lend a hand, but despite the hard deadline of when he had to be out of his employers’ house, he didn’t betray any concern about getting ready. A week slipped by in which he didn’t really do anything. At the week-and-a-half mark, I couldn’t tell any difference in his quarters. Two days before the move date, I made him swear he’d spend all his time packing. On the Thursday morning he was supposed to vacate, I said, I’d be over at nine in the morning. We’d make as many trips as necessary in my car to the storage cubicle. Would he do that for me? Did he promise?

He promised.

But when I arrived at the house on that last Thursday morning, I found him sitting in his room, seemingly without a single concern, pawing through old photographs. I clenched my jaw and looked around the bedroom suite. Cory hadn’t packed a fucking thing. Oh, there were a couple of cartons in which he’d tossed some dirty laundry, but all his clothes, his books, his bags of junk and memorabilia—it was all still there in the same old places.

Was he going to change his mind and stay after all?

When I asked that question, he looked surprised that I’d dare think such a thing. Of course he was going. He just had to get organized, that was all.

I was ready to spend the entire day—morning, afternoon, and evening if necessary—to help him move. He, however, didn’t seem rushed at all. “Maybe let’s just put these in your trunk.” Cory indicated the six cartons with the dirty laundry. “I’ll take care of everything else later on. You don’t have to worry about all this. A lot of it’s just rubbish, anyway.”

With what car was he planning to move the rest, I wanted to know? He didn’t drive. How was he going to get out of here by his deadline? Who was going to help him? He was all alone out here except for me.

“Oh,” he said, still looking at his photographs. “I have a friend. He’ll help.”

I felt betrayed on any number of levels at that moment. Who was this mystery male friend? I’d set aside the entire day to help Cory move. I thought I was the friend, here. I’d thought I was Cory’s only friend, honestly. Despite the fact that I felt like crap, I’d planned to sweat and get the job done, no matter what. Cory was making me feel as if my contribution meant nothing to him—as if all my depleting energy had been spent on him for zero purpose.

But at the same time, I felt too weak to argue much. My strength was at a low point. I knew deep inside that I didn’t have the vim to schlep boxes for hours on end. So with pressed lips and a dead heart, I moved the half dozen boxes into my car and coerced him into a few things into a couple more. Then we drove to the storage facility and dropped them off. The trip, including schlepping boxes into his cubicle, took all of twenty minutes.

“So is that it?” I demanded, when I drove him back to his house. I know I must have sounded upset, and hurt. “You don’t need any more of my help?” I was hoping Cory would change his mind. I was hoping he’d tell me he needed me. He’d always needed me. In some foolish way, I counted on him needing me.

Once again, I was hoping for more than I received.

Cory gave me a smile. In the ankle-deep golden leaves littering the driveway of his employers’ home, he pulled me close and held me. For a moment, out there in the fading warmth of autumn, enclosed in his arms, my head on his chest, I again felt protected. Safe. He thanked me, told me I should go home, then turned me around and pushed me in the direction of the driver’s side door.

“We’ll see each other in Brooklyn,” he told me. His big hands reached out for mine, and squeezed them fondly. “Nothing will change.”

Every time he’d said those words before, in the preceding fortnight, I’d believed him. Or I’d wanted to believe him, at least. This time, as he uttered the promise with his face close to mine, I knew he was lying. He was telling me goodbye.

I’d always felt as if Cory collected me. He was done, now, and I wasn’t wanted anymore. He was tossing me out with the rest of his rubbish.

I blinked, but said nothing. He gave my hands a final squeeze, opened my car door for me, and with one hand on my back, gently pushed me into the driver’s seat.

I started the car and rolled down the window, parting my lips to tell him that I’d see him soon, in Brooklyn.

“Oh,” he said, cutting short anything I might have had to say. He bent down and looked through the window open window. In an off-hand, light-hearted voice he added, as if telling me about possible traffic delays on the route home, “When I was in surgery last month the doctor said I had what looked like syphilis. I guess I probably gave it to you. So you might want to get that checked out.”
Then he waved and turned to go into the house, leaving me behind with my mouth hanging wide.

I haven’t seen Cory since.




The doctor was kind. He took my temperature, poked and prodded, and asked me questions after I told him what I thought was wrong. “Do you know who might have transmitted it to you?”

I knew exactly who. Yes.

“Um, a regular partner? A one-time. . . ?”

I’d been seeing someone, I said. For almost a year. He’d only told me the week before I should probably get checked out.

The doctor was sympathetic. “He talked you into doing things, didn’t he?”

I didn’t know how to answer that question. Had Cory sweet-talked me into becoming his satellite? What words had he used? What hex had he cast?

Or had I simply fallen into his gravity, unable to exit my orbit around him?

I could only shrug.

“Well, the usual early onset symptoms of syphilis include short-term fevers and fatigue, admittedly,” he said. “Did you have any sores?”

No. I knew to look for chancre sores. I’d never had any.

“You may have been asymptomatic. It’s not uncommon. Do you mind taking off your shirt?”

I could barely fumble with the buttons. When finally it opened, he bit his lip. “Well. This certainly doesn’t look good.”

I shook my head, not understanding.

The doctor stood me up in front of the mirror. All across my chest, from neck to waist, my skin was mottled. The rash covering me hadn’t been there in previous days or weeks. It hadn’t even been there that morning, when I’d dragged myself into the shower before my appointment.

“We’ll have to run tests, of course, but when syphilis has progressed to its secondary stage, it presents in rashes like yours.” He kept on talking, his voice reassuring, as I stared at myself, stunned, in the mirror. “Of course, I’m sure you’re aware, there are many other sexually-transmitted co-infections that can occur with syphilis, up to and including HIV. I’m afraid have to test for a wide spectrum of possible infections. We’ll cross our fingers that the syphilis is easily treatable via injection. I’d hate for you to have to undergo a spinal tap.”

“Spinal tap,” I echoed weakly. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the scarlet and white needlepoint of my skin.

The doctor put a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s take it one step at a time,” he suggested.

I barely had the courage to nod.




I tried to get in touch with Cory in the weeks after, as my strength slowly began to return. I sent off trial balloon text messages, suggesting we get together and talk. I tried sending emails saying it would be great to see him. My motivations were never angry. I didn’t want retribution. I didn’t want an apology. I simply wanted to know what had happened? Why had I been so essential one moment, and so disposable the next? I wanted to know, was he well? Had he moved on?

At what point would it be all right if I moved on, too?

For every twenty texts I’d send I’d receive one in return. Garbled, incomplete responses, often sent at four in the morning. I’d ask when we could get together, how his new place was, whether he’d found a job yet, when was he coming back to pick up his belongings, if he’d heard from his former employers. Eventually I’d get back a photo of Poochy, or an LOL, but nothing more. Even those rare replies quickly evaporated

Before he’d moved, I’d purchased a luxurious leather-bound photo album for Cory’s Christmas gift. Now that it was December, I proposed getting together for lunch or coffee so I could present it to him. Great idea, he answered—which was the only text I received from him after his parting that was close to an actual sentence. But Cory never replied when I tried to set up dates. In fact, he never responded again to anything I sent. After Christmas, I stopped trying.

That was that, I thought.





One year later I got a text from Cory saying he was here, in town. I immediately texted back and asked where he was staying, and for how long he’d be here. He never replied.

Two years after that, he did the same thing—he texted to say he was visiting again and would I like to spend my Tuesday morning with him? For a fraction of a moment, I remembered our Tuesday morning trysts, flashes of warmth and brilliance and flesh against hard flesh. Then I sighed, too tired to care. Too tired, in fact, once again to have my heart dragged around the same way a dog scrapes his ass on a sidewalk. I turned off the phone, and simply didn’t reply.

I couldn’t invest any more energy. He’d worn me out.

For the longest time I imagined that what Cory and I shared was something beautiful and special. I thought of our passion as a spark of the Divine. A gift from the universe. A warmth and glow that transcends the everyday.

When two men meet and make a connection that seems more than ordinary, when the fireworks they create are good, and true, and memorable, and worth celebrating—that’s the Divine in them both,  mingling and speaking through their lovemaking. Those fireworks are the universe rejoicing and crying, Yes! Yes, this why life is lived! Enjoy!

Cory killed the Divine in me, for a very long time. He cast water on the fire and trampled out the embers, leaving nothing but smoke and char.

I still have the leather photo album I intended years ago for Cory’s Christmas present. It’s sitting in my closet, in a gift box, waiting to be given. Several times I’ve thought of repurposing it, of passing it to someone else. But I bought the album for Cory, and to Cory I still think of it belonging. It’s difficult for me to exhume it, much less simply to give it to another.





It’s been difficult to exhume these memories, too. But here’s a coda—and I’m still not quite sure what to make of it.

Earlier this year I was going through some old digital photos on my computer. I cleared out duplicates, got rid of the crappy shots, revisited old memories. I was browsing through photographs I’d taken in 2012 and froze still, as I came across one that triggered a forgotten memory.

The photo came from a hot morning in late spring or early summer of that year. A visiting friend and I had gotten up early and taken ourselves to the train station near me, for an excursion in the city. I don’t remember what we did that day. The museum, maybe, or a park.

My friend and I were sitting on a bench on the Manhattan-bound side of the tracks when a young man climbed the steps to the platform. He was tall, lean, and handsome—a youth in floppy basketball shorts and a tank top and large, dark sunglasses. He smiled and nodded at me as he passed; I watched him side-eye me from behind the glasses as he kept his head facing forward.

I knew I’d been cruised and thoroughly checked out; my smirk of pleasure from the passing spark made my friend raise an eyebrow. The stranger strode past and sat down on another bench a little further down the track.

“I can’t believe that dude is taking sneaky shots of you,” my friend told me a minute later. I looked over, and sure enough, the young man was oh-so-casually holding his camera so that the lens pointed in my direction. His thumb was poised over the spot on his screen where the shutter button would’ve been.

I was flattered, and only slightly embarrassed. “Well, two can play at that game!” I told my friend, cocking my phone. Smirking, I took a single shot of the youth taking photos of me. I don’t know whether he saw me doing it or not. But it was a silly, comic start to what was a light-hearted day of fun with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. The train arrived, and I forgot immediately about the boy from the train station.

Years later, I found myself staring at that photo I’d taken that morning in 2012. His hair was slightly shorter, and the sunglasses he wore covered most of his face, but the youth I’d captured one bench down from mine, his phone stealthily pointed in my direction, had been Cory.

Unmistakably Cory.

Cory, an entire six months before I met him in 2013 for what I’d thought was that first time, lounged on the porch railing of that enormous house in the back country.

I couldn’t get over the coincidence of it.

What had happened, here? Had he known all along—? When I said I felt he’d collected me, did that mean—?

If it was coincidence, that is.

I stared at the photo for a long time, unable to move, unable even to breathe. One thing I knew about my percolating questions: because they had to do with Cory, I’d never have answers to any of them.

When finally I managed a deep breath, it felt ripping a bandage from an unhealed wound and causing it to hurt fresh, all over again.







Afterword

During my hiatus, I’ve received from readers a lot of very sweet emails wishing me well. Most of them have recognized the amount of work I’ve poured into my blog and have expressed their thanks. I’m so grateful for those sentiments.

Many people who’ve written, however, have made the assumption that the reason I have decided to take a break is because of the so-called haters—that is, the men who leave nasty comments on my blog, and those who go out of their way to make sure I understand how contemptible I am to them.
I’ve had plenty of haters over the years. They wear me down, yes. But more than anyone, the men who have sucked the joy out of my writing (and to a certain extent, my life) are those who meant well. They’re men who claimed to admire me, who wanted to meet me—and many of them did—and who then, whether out of clumsiness or fear or whatever, failed to recognize they’d gone too far. A man can only withstand so many successive blows to the ego (even an ego as Jericho-sturdy as mine) before it begins to tumble.

What’s more, every single one of these men read my blog. They’re men who subscribed to my point of view, who enjoyed my writing. Or read my writing, at least. Some of them wanted to be written about. Others never intended me to know they were blog fans.

Maybe one of these men is you.

If it is you? Although there’s a small and petty part of me that wants to flip a finger in your direction, I’m not going to. I’m moving on as I write this series. A friend of mine shared with me something his grandmother used to say that I truly believe: People do the best they can. If they could do better, they would.

My advice, if you think you recognize yourself . . . or even if you don’t: do better.

All of us could stand to do better.