Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Will: The Boy Scout Story

(This is the last of the Will series. Thanks for putting up with it.)

I’ve never been one of those romantics who believes in One True Love. Any adult with a certain maturity and an openness of emotion encounters a number of people throughout a lifetime who, if they were to communicate and work hard together, could form an admirable and loving partnership.

Life is abundant in its offerings, and anyone who’s not a hermit or a misanthrope, if he keeps his eyes open, will spot many chances for not one, but many true loves. I’ve fallen in love many times in my life, and recognize and honor the feeling for what it is—a joyous thank-you to the heavens for the plenty in my life. I loved Spencer. I loved Will. Neither man made me want to throw over my longer-lasting, much deeper relationship. (I might not believe in monogamy, but I believe in commitment.) But while they lasted, I loved as best I could.

After his return from the failed attempt to become a monk, Will found a boyfriend. He was a younger guy, chubby, naive, only two years older than his son. The pair broke up and got back together with roughly the same frequency and regularity as the high and low tides, but during the good times, they seemed to be compatible together. Will and I were still friendly when we saw each other, though we hadn’t had sex for well over a year—long before he’d gone off on his aborted holy mission. I’d moved on to other fucks. My butthole had begun to close up again.

Then one Saturday afternoon, I went to the baths. I seem to recall being lonely that day, and restless, and not even so much horny as in need of human contact. So I drove down the freeway, rented a room for the afternoon, stripped down, and sat on my bed with the door open and the lights low. Men passed by. Some slowed down, others whizzed by.

After a long time, one man stopped in the doorway and leaned there. He was naked, save for a skimpy towel around his waist and a dark blue NYPD baseball cap. His hands rested on his hips. He stared at me. “I saw you come in,” he said in a low voice.

It took me a moment to realize it was Will.

At the time, Will to me was the essence of masculinity. His hairy body was like Alec Baldwin’s in his prime. Though his waist was slim, his chest was broad and muscular. It had been so long since I’d seen him undressed that it was difficult for me to look him in his brown puppy-dog eyes.

I kept wrenching my own eyes away from Will’s perfect pecs. He looked like an gym equipment model come to life. “So, I’d been thinking about coming to this place for a while,” he said to me, since I was still obviously too surprised to speak. “But I didn’t really think it would be my thing, and then I ended up near here for dinner, so I said what the hell, and then I saw you walk in, and wow, here you are.” He looked down. It was obvious he was mentally adding the word naked to his sentence.

“Yeah, here I am,” I said. My arms folded over my body like a Botticelli Venus. “And here you are.” I felt embarrassed by his presence, though it was obvious we’d both come for the same reasons.

“So . . . you wanna make out?” he asked, finally. Tentatively. As if he expected a no.

My hands trembled as I pulled him in and closed the door. I instantly remembered all the things I loved about my previous times with Will. The smell of him—soap and faded cologne and armpit and crotch. The way his hands touched me. The feel of his mouth on my body and his lips on mine, soft and needful. The taste of his salty skin. The way he enjoyed holding me down, even as a formality I protested and begged him to slow down a bit, before forcing himself inside me when he’d had enough foreplay and couldn’t hold off any longer.

The way he fucked, long and deep and rough, his nails digging into my shoulders and his hot breath on my neck as he pushed and panted his way to orgasm. Then afterward, turning me over and wiping me off, and gently using his mouth to help me climax. Once I’d shot, he held my cock in his mouth until it was completely soft, and crawled up beside me.

I felt sad. Sad that I didn’t have twin lives to lead, with him dominating one. Sad that I spent my time with him in regret, instead of enjoying him as the blessing he was. I felt sad that I thought of sex with him as something that’s bad for me, like a rich dessert that I enjoy but deep down suspect I shouldn’t have.

“This is the worst of all possible places to have had this reunion,” he said, as both of us listened to the crappy music thumping from the loudspeakers.

“You’re the best person I could have met here, though,” I murmured, still sore and dozy from exertion.
“That’s a little over the top to say, don’t you think?”

I laughed. “It did sound cheesy. But you know I think you’re one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle-hearted people I know, though. I’ve never kept that a secret from you. Even when we weren’t, well. . . .”

“I know, I know,” He lay there for a moment. “And you are loyal, obedient, thrifty, brave. . . .”

“Liar. I bet you were a boy scout, weren’t you?” I asked, suddenly sure of it. I could see him as a kid in the uniform. “I bet you were an eagle scout.”

“No, no,” he laughed. “Never an eagle scout, though I was a boy scout for a while." He paused. "Do you want to hear my boy scout story?” I nodded, and he put his arm around me as he murmured in my ear.I felt safe in his arms once more, and luxuriated in the sensation of his warmth, the rumble of his voice, the fur against my back, his presence. “Okay. I went through cub scouts and then Webelos and then into the boy scouts—I’ve never told this story to anyone before. You sure you want to hear it?”

It felt like we were in the dark again, at his old bachelor apartment, in the early days. The days when our love had been pure and unaffected by awkwardness. I smiled. “Of course I do.”

“Well, okay, but you’re the only person in the world I’ve ever told this story to.”

I nodded, honored.

“I joined the boy scouts and everything was cool at first, then within a couple of weeks the scoutmaster said that we’d be having a boy scout jamboree. Some of the other kids got excited about that. They started holding up their fingers like this.” Will closed his thumb and forefinger into a circle, and then held up his three remaining fingers in the traditional OK sign. “I didn’t know what it mean, but it was like a secret signal from the kids to the scoutmaster. They had this tradition of de-pantsing the new kids at jamboree, you see, and they were asking the scoutmaster if they could. He gave them the signal back, telling them it was okay. You’re sure you want to hear this?”

"Stop asking me that."

“I didn’t know it until the week before, but the jamboree was like a camp, except just for the weekend. My dad went along as a chaperone. It was cold, and we were all put into these cabins that weren’t much warmer. One of the things they did right off was to tell me and the other new kid from our cabin was to go looking for a ‘bacon straightener.’ We were going to have bacon for breakfast in the morning, you see, and they needed this bacon straightener to make it. There wasn’t such a thing of course. We went to the cabin they told us, and they said, ‘oh, the bacon straightener’s in cabin thirteen,’ and then we’d get to cabin thirteen and find out they’d lent it to cabin eight, and so on.”

I smiled and nodded, expecting the story to go on in the same comic vein.

“So they make us go from one cabin to the next until we’d gotten to all of them, and were catching on. Finally we get to the last destination and we’re cold and tired, and these guys grab my friend and they start ripping his pants off. He was yelling and screaming and it sounded like the most horrible thing in the world. Then they started in on me, but they only got as far as taking off my shoes before I struggled free and ran off.”

I’d always hated the cruelty of boys, growing up. “Fuck,” I said.

He had to clear his throat before he continued. “I don’t know why I was so ashamed. I was only what, eleven or twelve? I was a shy kid, and Catholic, and I didn’t want other guys seeing my body. So I ran off in the woods and wouldn’t come back. I only had my socks on. It started to rain, and it was freezing cold.

“At last when I couldn’t stand it anymore, I went back. It was a couple of hours later. I was soaking wet. All the kids were standing out in front of the cabin with the scoutmaster, and my dad was there too. I walked up, all cold and wet, and my dad just looked at me. He said, Why didn’t you just let them take off your fucking pants, you little shit? Then he hauled off and slapped me across the face. He hit me so hard that it left a mark.”

I held my breath. I hadn’t expected it. It was only then that I remembered he’d never, ever mentioned his father to me before. I’d heard about the rest of his family, but not about his father.

Will was quiet for a moment, and his voice was husky. “I don’t know what upset me more. The fact that he didn’t mind slapping me in front of all those other kids, or the fact that he thought I should’ve just let them de-pants me. So we went home after the jamboree and two weeks later I told him I didn’t want to be in the boy scouts anymore." He paused again. "And that’s my boy scout story.”

I thought for a moment, and said what I was feeling. “That was a terrible story.”

He chuckled, sounding as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “Well. Yeah. I don’t know why I wanted to tell you that.”

But I knew.

He’d told me that story because he was afraid of me. He felt vulnerable, after letting himself have sex with me after we’d been separated for so long. He was that cold and wet boy who’s spent two hours out in the woods. He was worried I would slap him down, or that I’d set him up for humiliation.

Will was still that little boy scout, who’d run away into the woods and come back with his tail between his legs. He was still that kid who was perpetually frightened of doing wrong, when all he’d wanted to was save himself. He’d handed me the key to himself by sharing that story. I turned and kissed him deeply to thank him for the gift that he probably never even knew he’d given.

It was the last time we kissed, as it turned out. The last time we made love. It felt like closure, though. It felt like the end of a mystery, when much is explained and loose ends were tied. I took it for what it was, and folded it up and stored it away, so I could remember it later.

I often noted that Will had looked at me with skittish, frightened eyes—the eyes of a frightened doe in the woods, suddenly encountering a hunter. Now I knew they were really the eyes of a frightened boy scout, afraid of the mean boy who might yank the pants from him.


  1. Damn. That just makes me want to cry. The Boy Scouts have such potential for good, and yet there's so much destruction there as well. My uncle was a scout master for years and a really good one. I so wish that they were/are all like him.

    Erie Bear

  2. Erie,

    The real betrayal in the story that Will told me didn't come from the Boy Scouts. It came from his father. I don't think the point of his story was that scouting was bad.

  3. steve in vancouverJuly 13, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    You are a wise man Rob. The ability to see under the surface is quite impressive. I admire the talent, relish the wisdom and lose myself in the stories. You make me think and make me analyze a lot of human behaviour. You make my world a better place and it is much appreciated.

  4. Steve,

    Thanks. That's much appreciated.

  5. What a moving story.

  6. Man, some fathers can be absolutely TERRIBLE and not even know it. I think the worst part is that Will's father was probably angry out of fear for the loss of his son, but instead of being angry at the people who drove his son into the woods, he turned his anger towards his son and expressed it with violence and public humiliation. Two of the worst things a person can do as a parent. Poor Will didn't deserve that at all. I am deeply moved.


  7. Ace,

    It's rotten when the people who are supposed to love and protect us, betray us so blatantly. I don't think Will ever got over that afternoon.

  8. Thank you, Rob, for sharing his story with the rest of us.

    It is all too common for one single moment early in our lives to dominate our thinking for the rest of it. We get stuck in that moment in time and stop aging emotionally. I have tears in my eyes for that young Will as well as the Will all those years later.

    I started reading your blog because of the hot adventures you tell but I keep coming back for the tenderness your writing expresses.


  9. When I think about your dad's reaction to you after the police brought you home from the restroom incident and Will's dad and his slapping him -- it was his father who was the bully and the shit. Unfortunately - I had that kind of dad also. A bully and a shit! I still hate him to this day. And I continue to wish that his soul is living in the lowest level of Dante's hell. After reading your post about your dad I've wished I had your dad instead. This is an excellent series of posts and it was a joy to read and not a matter of "putting up with it." Thanks, once again, for sharing. Anonymous IV

  10. The Scouts don't sound as wholesome and they want the public to believe.

  11. Charles,

    Thanks for recognizing that the real point of the story wasn't to malign the Boy Scouts of America. Sometimes we do get stuck in that moment in time, and it colors our lives for years and years in ways we never imagine or intend.

    Thanks for understanding.

  12. Anonymous IV,

    There's no room for bullies and shits in my life, either. Even if they're family. I'm sorry you had one as a dad; it's a real shame that you had to put up with that. It makes me all the more grateful for the dad I have.

  13. Rob my friend,
    Thank you for that great post one more time. I read that one very slow cause it reminded me of myself with my dad. He didn't slap me in the face but i was always the first one to have the belt, the bad words and so on. I think i'm sitll a little like that even today but getting through it dat by day. It's a slow process when you are always alone. I'm glad that you saw him another time and told him how you felt about him. I'm sure that he was very afraid of everything going on. I just want to say thank you very much for all those great post and you open my eyes very wide on all the things that's happening to me. You are a great man and an angel my sexy friend.


  14. I love reading your stories - it's like you are there experiencing it too. Thank you.

  15. Andy,

    I was experiencing it! Oh, wait, I see what you mean. :) Thanks, friend!

  16. It's been great reading the stories about Will. So bittersweet, like many other stories you've told, makes me feel human. Thanks again for sharing them.

    As for many loves in one's lifetime, I agree that there's no such a thing called "the one".I also believe not everyone is fortunate enough to experience what you had, falling in love with many and be loved in return despite how great of a person he is.


  17. What a touching ending. I am a little baffled that somehow some folks only equated this really touching series into "boy scouts = bad". Perhaps in the movie it can be summer camp for fat kids or an ice hockey tournament.

  18. Your ability to bring out the emotional essence of your relationship with Will in such a frank and honest way is so moving and touching. Personally, I appreciate your point of view on relationships and commitment. I am struggling with that very situation and it is nice to hear someone express what I believe so eloquently.

  19. W.,

    Thanks for telling me I made you feel human. That's probably my ultimate goal here.

    Being loved is always a gift. I think it, too, arrives in abundance. I think that most of us, most of the time, push it away rather than embrace it.

  20. JFBreak,

    You and I are baffled at the same thing. It's been the first time in my blogging career I've really gone back to see if it was the way I wrote it, that created the confusion, or whether they'd genuinely missed the point.

  21. 11:02 Anonymous:

    Thank you. I appreciate that statement.

  22. Great series of stories. I'm curious what happened to Will?

  23. Chris,

    To be honest, I don't know where he is, now.

  24. I thought Will's father a cruel turd. I also took umbrage at the Scoutmaster enabling/condoning a cruel "tradition". Where was the leadership, maturity, respect, trust? How did Will's father and the Scoutmaster develop the scouts? Said men were at least as immature as the boys.

    I did take Will's punishment as a major point. I also took this installment as capping a series, and not only because it was captioned so. (Will quickly intriued me as unexpectedly
    unsure of himself and sensitive; "Why?", I wanted to learn.) Yet I am not so puzzled by Erie Bear and cyberi4a's observations. (Anyone reading this can tell I am neither.) Today's entry can also be seen as interlinking multiple issues, such as, 1) Will's father scarring his psyche and 2) responsible institutions' obligation to do as they say, say as they do. To the writing's credit, one can generalize from different aspects of the conclusion.

    Who can distill so ambitious an effort into a paragraph? A rainbow of commenters must select -- compromise, at best. While Will did not mean (and Rob does not intend) to malign all Boy Scouts, they did share frank doubts: Will about the scouts he knew, Rob about boys more generally (if not also about the scouts he knew). Even the most pointedly, purposively accomplished writing must pass through the lenses of reader experience, seldom as wide as a writer's.

    BTW: I was touched that Rob's father still regards Will, all the more after I learned of his own father's violence. (One example can define.)

  25. 6:03 Anonymous,

    I agree with you that ultimately, once a work has been released into the wild, whether it be a piece of music or a work of art or an essay like mine, it's the reader who gets to decide what it's about. Different readers are going to focus on different things.

    However. If enough people are misinterpreting what the author intended as his point, the author's got to question whether he really had full control over the piece to begin with. If several readers had written comments that read, I don't like straight bacon, myself. It's a shame that someone didn't try curly bacon, because then they wouldn't have had to go to all those cabins, and Bacon is unhealthy and leads to heart disease. It's probably a good thing they didn't find those bacon straighteners, I would kind of question (from an artistic standpoint) whether or not I'd placed an inappropriate emphasis on that story element.

    Instead, and I really don't blame the commenters, I just have to question whether I overemphasized the scouting elements too much.

    I always thought it was sweet that my father remember Will, too.

  26. That he shared his story with you was monumental, or I think that must have been how he felt. And gives you a measure of his feelings for you. This also seems like a closure for both of you, too.
    As for his story - wow! My father wasn't like his and it simply boggles my mind at how he acted to Will upon his return. Such scars, obviously, last a lifetime, and often are passed on. It's my guess, hope, that Will didn't do any such thing to his children.
    Throughout this whole series, though, I find your open heart to be incredibly touching. Thank you for sharing that.
    P.S. Straight or curly, I like bacon! :-P