Monday, March 19, 2012

Decoding the Park

When I was a wee little Breeder, and piecing together my first pieces of the sexuality puzzle—what exactly it was that men did together, how they did it, and where I could get in on some of that action—reading was how I figured out most of it. I read, for example, in a godawful sex manual that all homosexuals met each other for sex in bowling alley men’s rooms, which I took as gospel. Since the one bowling alley in Richmond I knew about had closed in the late nineteen-sixties, I quickly figured out that I’d probably have to improvise on that count.

So I checked out all the men’s rooms of everyplace I’d visit with my folks. The shopping mall restrooms were fairly barren of activity, as were the men’s rooms of my Presbyterian church, for some reason. But I hit pay dirt when I wandered into the basement restrooms of the downtown public library and saw all kinds of obscene graffiti decorating the walls. The first scrawl I read, in fact, said, I NEED SOMEONE TO SUCK MY BIG HARD SOCK. Titillating, yes, but I was still uninformed enough at that tender age to figure out exactly what sock-sucking was supposed to be. Frankly, it didn’t sound too appealing. My socks smelled. (It took me a couple of years of staring at that legend before I worked out that some wag had added an extra curlicue to the first C of cock.)

There were enough penciled-in dates and times on the dirty tiles of the restroom stalls, however, for me to figure out that the library was an acceptable bowling alley substitute, and that men probably met there. But on my first pre-teen detective venture into the bowels of that building, another scrawled sentence sent me off in another direction. hotel jefferson basement men’s room, it read, followed by a date that was relatively recent.

The Hotel Jefferson was only a few blocks down Franklin Street, in what was then a somewhat-marginal neighborhood. Today that same neighborhood is squeaky-clean, having been swallowed by the university and turned into dorms and shiny new classroom buildings, but back then, it was about as close to a red-light district as genteel Richmond got. The hotel had once been a showcase, a gracious and beautiful place to stay during the century’s first half; it had exalted guests, a grand staircase that allegedly was the model for the one that Scarlett O’Hara tumbled down in Gone with the Wind, and alligators in the lobby fountain. By 1975 or so, it was near the nadir of its decline. Transients shuffled in and out of a lobby that was a shabby copy of its once-grand self. The bored desk clerk didn’t give a crap who came and went. Prostitutes rented a lot of the rooms. And in the basement men’s room, the walls were covered with enough graffiti that I knew I’d hit pay dirt. (Later I was to have my first money-for-sex exchange in that restroom . . . but that was still a year or so down the road.)

It was in the Hotel Jefferson that first day that I read another scrawl of graffiti telling me to try the restrooms in one of the classroom buildings at the university down the street. When I followed up on that a few days later, I found my first gloryhole, where for months and months I chastely watched men fucking and sucking on the other side. So all in all, not bad for my first investigation as part of the Horny Boys detective agency—I only had to follow two clues to solve the mystery of where men in my town were having sex.

In a similar manner, I discovered the local park that was my number one source of sex for most of my teen years. Although I learned to ride a bicycle at the age of five (without training wheels, thank you very much), it wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that my parents allowed me to go anywhere other than around our residential block on the sidewalk. Even then, my mother gave me a warning. “Don’t go down to Bryan Park,” she warned. “It’s not safe.” Well, Bryan Park was a mile away, which seemed a vast amount when I was ten. I figured getting out that far away from home was remote, at best, when all I wanted was the freedom to bike to the dime candy store in order to fill out my Wacky Packages collection.

Only after I’d begun my sexual treasure hunt did I figure out what my mom had meant. One of the homework assignments I had all through sixth grade for social studies was once a week to clip out from the local paper news items, which we’d bring in to class and read aloud to each other until we were all bored to tears. I’d been making quite a reputation for myself by finding the goofy items about the man who grew the county’s largest watermelon, or stupid thieves who’d rob a bank but leave behind their wallets with their licenses and credit cards, ripe for the tracing. Well, some other kids had horned in on that act, so I was forced to go reading actual news items for my assignment.

While I was doing my homework at the very last second, in the few minutes before my bus arrived on the day it was due (a sad pattern I’d follow all the way through college), I ran across an item buried deep in the local news section about how over a dozen men had been arrested in Bryan Park, for soliciting homosexual activity. I pretty much had the skinny on what homosexual activity was by that point, and it only took a quick glance in the American Heritage Dictionary to figure out what soliciting meant. From that I figured out that Bryan Park was the place to be!

Suddenly that mile didn’t seem like quite the obstacle it once had been. I biked down there soon after and scoped out the place, figured out from the men’s room graffiti and the traffic where the action was taking place, and had received a few solicitations myself. I turned those down, though. I was still too chicken-shit.

Sixth grade was a frustrating year for me. I was itching to have sex and had settled on the man with whom I wanted to have it—one of my teachers—though I couldn’t get him to follow through. He’d work me up, then leave me high and dry with no option but to return home and masturbate until my dick was sore and chafed. When school was out, my summer resolution was not to be jerked around like that any longer. I lost my virginity within the first two weeks of the holiday, picked up my first restroom fuck (and my first pierced dick) within a few days after that, swapped sex for a cool fifty dollars at the Hotel Jefferson by the end of the week, and once I could walk again, hit the park for my first sex there.

I’d figured out by that point that most of the sex action in the park happened in the heavily wooded area at its rear, in and around a little brick, stinky public restroom. I was still too shy to do anything more in the restroom than pop in, see if I heard noises of men hastily separating and adjusting their pants in the stalls, and dash out again. But I liked to sit in the picnic shelter nearby, atop one of the tables, and watch the men come and go. Before, when the occasional curious cruiser would start to meander my way, hands plunged deep in his pockets to conceal his erection at the sight of a boy near the cruising area, I’d casually but quickly collect my bicycle and act as if I’d just been using the shelter for a quick place to rest.

On the first day I went to the park with my three experiences beneath my belt, I strutted into that shelter like the little man I thought I was, set my bike beside the table, and decided to wait until I had an offer for sex. I was determined to follow through on it, too.

It didn’t take long. I watched a man in a Dodge truck drive up the long and winding path. He parked, entered the empty restroom, and emerged less than thirty seconds later. For a moment it seemed as if he’d return to his truck and drive away, but he spied me, several dozen feet away. His body faced his vehicle, but his head was turned in my direction, frozen. I knew which part of him would win out.

“What’s going on?” he asked me when he approached. He had one of those Richmond accents, broad and sweet and spread thickly as honey on a Ritz cracker. “Enjoying your summer vacation, huh?”

I indicated that I was, though not in many words.

Despite the truck, I could tell by his dress shirt and polyester slacks that he was a white-collar guy. He sported a wedding ring on his left hand. “What’re you looking for back here?” he asked. His tone was low and insinuating. When I didn’t reply right away, he said softly, “You lookin’ for a mouth around that dick of yours?”

I didn’t answer again, but I didn’t shy away, either. He put one hand on my right knee and the other on the left, and pulled them apart. Then he cupped where he judged my cock to be. He made a pretty good guess. I was already rock hard, and he squeezed what dick I had back roughly. “Yeah,” he muttered. “You want a hot mouth around that hot dick bad, don’t you?” He spoke the words like they were the dirtiest he knew.

The tactic worked. I didn’t have to tell him I needed it. He’d already made the decision for me. He let go of my legs and leaned over to pick up my bike for me. Before I knew what was happening, he’d walked away with it. He lifted it up and placed it in the back of his truck, and jerked his head for me to follow.

Well, he had my bike. I didn’t have a choice, right?

He didn’t live very far away—no more than a quarter mile. I recognized the street as one I’d biked along before. He stopped the car in front of the house, removed my bike and wheeled it to his back door. I followed along silently, waiting while he unlocked the house and guided me through the kitchen and hallway.

We ended up in a bedroom at the home’s other end. It was obviously a girl’s bedroom. The sheets were decorated with Holly Hobbie, a illustrated urchin popular in those days who wore a sun bonnet and plain-spun gingham dress, like a refugee from Little House on the Prairie. The curtains were white and had frills. “Get undressed,” he told me. Then he disappeared. I pulled off my shorts and my shirt, and was wondering whether I should remove my tube socks when he returned with a towel in one hand and a tub of something in the other. I recognized it as Vaseline. He’d removed his pants while he was out, but he still wore his shirt, a pair of bulging white briefs, and his dress socks. He scanned me up and down. “Turn around,” he ordered.

I did so. He slapped my thin little ass, hard. “Nice,” I remember him saying. Then he pulled apart my cheeks and jabbed his fingers in there.

They were coated with a thick, grease glob of the Vaseline. It was cold, and I jumped. I’d thought that the deal was that I was going to get my dick sucked, not that I was going to get fucked. Part of me, though, was greedy to get fucked again, and my ego inflated at the notion that I was good enough that he wanted me that way.

I wasn’t going to get much choice. He’d thrown the towel onto the bed and I went sprawling on it at his shove. He pushed my head down into one of the Holly Hobbies, all while I protested at his bony fingers greasing up my hole.

Then he fucked me. I couldn’t tell you how big he was, because I never saw his dick. I couldn’t tell you how long it lasted, because most of the time I was struggling with the pain of it. I wanted cock inside me, back then. After my first fuck I wanted more—I wanted to try it again and again, despite the fact that it hurt like hell every time. It’s tough for me to explain so many years on what drove that compulsion to keep doing it, even when it caused me no little amount of pain. A lot of it was because I knew that it was needed. And some of it was because once I’d endured all that suffering and distress, I knew that it started to feel very, very good, and that the good part, no matter how short it was, vastly outweighed all the bad.

In this case, I am pretty certain that the good part was fairly short. His fuck was sweaty and unromantic. Once he was inside, he humped me like a rutting rabbit, jabbing away at me in short stabs that quickly brought him off. He smelled of dirty armpits and spray starch, I remember.

Suddenly it was over, just as I’d gotten over the ache of it and had let him fuck me into an erection. He pulled out, and had tugged up his briefs before I could slide off the towel and turn around. “Get dressed,” he said. “Then get out and don’t ever come back to this house again. You hear?”

I heard. He spun around and left the room. I fumbled for my clothes, achey and sore. Somehow I managed to pull them on and stumble out of the room and find my way to the back door, where I climbed on my bike and pedaled home. It was a ride home of several firsts—the first time I had to ride for a mile with a freshly-fucked hole on a bicycle seat, which wasn’t without its challenges. It was the first time I used an outdoor faucet at an empty house in the neighborhood to clean myself off before returning home. And it was the first time I had to dispose of a pair of underwear in another neighbor’s trash can so that my mother wouldn’t launder them and discover how messy they were.

The first of those I quickly learned to avoid by learning to pedal standing up; the third I managed to avoid after a couple of times by taking over my own laundry. Cleaning off in strange faucets, however, was one of those things I did until I moved away to college, at which point I just began cleaning up before I returned home in other people’s bathrooms.

I learned quickly. It happens, when one has the proper motivation.


  1. I love how quickly you learned. I suspect I would have made similar progress had my first time not been the bad experience it was and not resulted in me basically avoiding sex for an entire year. My progress was similar: grocery store bathroom to library basement to park to the bed of my mentor. Followed by truck stops and other such places. Just goes to show that the sex is there if you want to find it bad enough.


  2. Laughed my way through the first two paragraphs. Then found myself swallowing and breathing quickly throuagh my nose.

    As a kid/teen I was not bold--but remember being so horny that I didn't understand why more people were not prostitutes. Then, after my first kiss I wondered how adults could go through life not kissing all day long.


    1. Steph, I actually remember thinking as a kid that a life of prostitution surely didn't sound that bad to me. Admittedly, at the time, I didn't take into account the economic forces that drive some to that line of work out of necessity.

      But how do adults go through life without kissing all day long? That's still a puzzler.

  3. You should have read about the dozen men being arrested in Bryan Park, that would have perked up the classroom and maybe had your teacher passing out from the

    For your age you were very brave to go exploring the world of man sex and to act on it.

    It does make me wonder how every generation after mine has had it easier to explore gay sex at an early age. My generation didn't know about such things back then, with the TV shows of the time we wouldn't have had any hints about it either. Back then every 'married' couples on TV slept in separate beds and sex was not talked about on TV to clue a guy

  4. I wish I had started when I was in junior high and/or high school. I knew I was gay but yet in denial. I have heard from friends of all the fun I missed.

    It is interesting how over the years some things change and some don't. I am sure these hook ups are still taking place for youth today.


  5. I love reading the history you have to write about. I always imagine you as one of those kids in the movie "Stand By Me", out for some sort of adventure while the parents are happily unaware of the days activities. You never seem to find a dead body by the railroad tracks, but there were more than a few mean old men.

    1. I'm certainly GLAD there were no dead bodies in my past!

  6. You were so much braver than I as a kid and, I would guess, even now.

    1. Braver? Or more foolhardy and just plain horny?

  7. Some references are comfortably (and sexily) familiar from earlier reminiscences—the Jefferson Hotel, Bryan Park. New details seem even more intimate because of the familiarity of others. Your self-realization (at any age) is quintessentially you: "Part of me, though, was greedy to get fucked again, and my ego inflated at the notion that I was good enough that he wanted me that way." And the economical brushstrokes of your word-pictures ("He smelled of dirty armpits and spray starch") remind me that no one does it better.

    1. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Mr. Throb.

  8. As always, your writing is superb. I can relate to the coming of age storyline because I followed a similar path, though I had my hard on to top. Many of us who got started young have had the experience of the man who wants boy, goes after it, but once the sex is over lacks the balls to be kind, runs scared, and mans up with anger sending the kid packing. That moment is pivotal. For my father, when he had that moment of rejection, he took it to mean he was worthless. For whatever reason, when I reached that moment I assumed the guy was worthless. I always enjoy your posts, but this one is by far one of the best.
    Matt Darringer