One of my readers this week chastised me about the way I've been going about writing about the years I spent with Earl.
I have to make clear that I'm using the word 'chastise' in the mildest possible sense. He wasn't crabbing at me about it. In fact, he took exquisite pains to make clear that he loved the stories from my teen years, loved hearing about my relationship with Earl, and got excited every time a new installment came down the road. His main concern, however, was that as a long-time and regular reader, he finds that often so much time passes between one Earl entry and the next that sometimes he loses track of the story and its various characters. He finds it tough to have to dig back through my entries and figure out what's happened in the story thus far. Plus there's the fact that he just wants to find out what happens next, while he's still anxious and excited from a cliffhanger ending.
I get that. I totally do.
The Earl story is very personal so me. When I call it 'the Earl story,' I'm vaguely aware that I make it sound like some kind of fictionalized serial. So perhaps I should reiterate that like my other entries here, it's not a novelette populated with fictional characters, but a messy chapter from my life. Earl wasn't my first man by any means, but the relationship we had was intense and, despite the depravity it involved, pure in a way. That is, he knew exactly what he expected of me, and I provided it without question and mostly with the satisfaction of knowing I was filling a need.
The emotional components of our bond were simple. We both knew well what we needed from the other, and we gave it without hesitation. If he wanted me to travel to dark places for his sexual satisfaction, I did it, knowing on some fundamental level that he'd keep me safe no matter how low I went. I adored the guy. I would've done anything he asked, and did. I wasn't in love with him in a traditional sense, but he wasn't with me, either. And that was fine with us.
The near-purity of that relationship (and again, I know the ironies involved in using the word purity to describe it) is tangled up with Topher and Jim, though, and with missed opportunities and words not spoken, and with guilt and shame and fear and a whole mess of other things that to this day I'm still trying to sort through. I left a lot of this story unexamined for years and years, almost as if I hoped that it would simply vanish if I didn't revisit it.
Even when finally I convinced myself that it was a tale worth telling, it's been difficult to pick out the relevant threads that make a clear-cut story. There've been times the path seemed clear after I scythed my way through, only to find it more impenetrable than before.
Of course, the biggest obstacle is that the whole thing is a little bit to me like picking at a scab. You know you shouldn't. You want to. When you do, it doesn't feel good.
So those are my excuses, and here's my apology: I'm sorry if I've prolonged the telling. It's possible to revisit earlier chapters in the Earl story by clicking on his keyword phrase link in my sidebar—the same for the chapters of the story specifically involving Topher. And as I draw closer to the story's inexorable end, I'll try to speed it up a little. I appreciate your collective patience.
Let's get to some questions I've collected from formspring.me, shall we?
What brands of underwear do you have?
Gap, Banana Republic, and a boatload of Calvin Klein.
Is there anything you do solely because you think others expect it of you?
Twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a freakin' year. Of course things are expected of me. I'm over the age of ten.
If you mean sexually, the answers pretty much the same.
Pepsi or Coke?
I would like to pretend I'm all hoity-toity and sniff and say that I don't drink fizzy beverages, but in reality I love Diet Pepsi.
Ever worn high-heels before? What was it like? What was the occasion?
I have not. I don't believe I've ever worn a single garment of women's clothing in my life, though it's not out of any overreaction that to do so would affect my masculinity. I simply have never had the desire to in a recreational manner, nor have I done it for Halloween at any point.
I did, however, carry around one of my mother's old purses. When I was five. I used it to hold my toy soldiers, dinosaurs, and Matchbox cars.
What's your favourite sex position?
Do you use poppers when having sex?
I do not, and one of the great secret shames of my life is that never have I even attempted to try them.
Do you think overweight people have only themselves to blame?
I'm not really entirely comfortable with the way this question is asked—as if being overweight is automatically worthy of blame and criticism and disdain.
Some people are heavier than others. Some of them carry it well. Some of them don't. Some are perfectly healthy; others aren't. Lumping them together in a group and implying they're worthy of being blamed dehumanizes, to an extent, a varied group of individuals. And I get very uncomfortable when people do that, because it's so very easy for others to do it to me.
If an overweight individual wants to lose weight and does nothing about it, then sure. He has himself to blame. But I'd say the same thing for an unhappy skinny person who wants a better life but does nothing to achieve it, or the sexiest person around who wishes for love yet never gets out and meets anyone.
Ultimately not only do we all need to recognize what we're lacking in our own lives and what needs to change, but also we need to start taking the steps to make those changes. No one else is going to do them for us.
What's the most you've paid for a haircut?
Probably far less than my hair stylist friends charge. With my last stylist, whom I saw for a good ten years, I had a barter system in place. Sexual barter, to be frank.
How much do you charge for a haircut?
Have you published commercially (as memoirs & erotica) any of your nonfiction? I've Googled without success.
I've never had nonfiction published, no.
I met a guy for sex, but we clicked and are spending more time together. When I thought it was just a hookup, I lied about my age (subtracted 3 yrs, & he's 10yrs younger than I am), but since it's become something more, I need to speak up. Any ideas how?
I think it's important to be honest about one's age in relationships. If it lasts, he's going to find out and feel anything from annoyed to betrayed that he was lied to. If it doesn't last . . . well, it's almost as if you were betting on that from the start, and that never bodes well for anything lasting.
I said 'in relationships' above, but hell. Why not always be open about your age? If a younger guy is going to get into a snit over three years, chances are that down the road he's going to be even more inflexible over something more important.
Could you survive a year cut off from all technology?
Survive? Yes. Would I enjoy it? Probably not.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
The Professor. Yes, the one from Gilligan's Island. I was seven. Shut up.