Monday, July 30, 2012

Reckless Drivin' on Dirty Back Roads

Today’s essay is courtesy of a reader who wrote in the following question:

Give hope to the hopeless & tell us the funniest time you've mistaken someone's approach as something sexual when it was as mundane as wanting directions. If you have failures I may end up with one or two successes—and wouldn't you wanna help a brotha out?

I always want to help a brotha out. Here goes.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my early twenties. It wasn’t out of any particular timidity on my part to climb behind a wheel, believe me; I wanted to drive very badly, and concealing my lack of a license during my college years was both shameful and almost more work than the college courses themselves.

No, my dad very simply didn’t want to pay the exorbitant insurance rates on a teenager. I think he would have been quite happy to let me rely on him and on my mother for rides, and kept me on the mercy of the Richmond public bus lines until I was thirty, if he’d had anything to say about it—but when I moved to Michigan to attend graduate school there, I’d been working for a few years, had a little money saved up, and bought my first car from one of his colleagues. It was a dark blue 1979 Chevrolet Malibu with whitewall tires. Despite the fact it was over a decade old when I bought it, it only had something like 12,000 miles on it; the professor from whom I’d purchased it was a little old lady with a cane who drove it a mile back and forth to the campus every day, and then to church on Sundays.

Before I had my own family, and when my mom was still alive, I used to visit my parents in Virginia for all the big holidays. It wasn’t a small undertaking. It was the same thirteen-hour drive that I was still making when I started writing this blog, in fact—across the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes, then snaking down through Southern Pennsylvania and West Virginia to avoid D.C.., and finally into Virginia to Richmond. In those pre-internet days I didn’t have a cell phone to talk in, or email to check, or Twitter to keep me amused. I didn’t have an iPod. My car stereo consisted of an AM radio that seemed somehow only to pick up Spanish-language channels.

So what I would do would be to spend a few days beforehand recording seven or eight mix tapes of my favorite eighties hits (this was during the actual nineteen-eighties, so they weren’t retro, then). Then I’d put my ginormous boom box in the back seat of my car along with a bag full of D batteries and all those mix tapes, hop in the car, and then start the looooong trip to Virginia with the Thompson Twins or Vanity 6 blaring from the speakers. I’m a very neat person (generally), and I keep my cars immaculate (usually), but between the boom box and the tapes and the batteries and the bag of snacks I’d bring and the maps I’d keep in the passenger seat because of my conviction I might get lost—a conviction that’s been proved correct more times than I’d like to admit—my car could be a mess when I was making one of those trips home.

Again, in those pre-internet times, picking up men was a very different thing than it is now. These days, if I wanted to hook up on the way back to Virginia, I’d maybe place a Craigslist ad beforehand, or fire up Grindr or Scruff or Adam4Adam on my cell phone when I’d reached a suitable resting place. In those days, I could stop at one of the numerous truck stops or rest areas along the way and try my luck in the men’s rooms. Or I could simply look out the window as I drove.

Oh yeah. Those were the glory days of car cruising. It was not at all unusual for me to find men to fuck around with simply by locking gazes with a man in the passing lane and pulling off at the next exit to drop trou in the woods, or behind a barn, or fuck in a car. Especially when I’d drive through West Virginia or the rural parts of Virginia. One trip, a platonic gay friend of mine was making his way to Florida. I’d agreed to drive him to Richmond, where another buddy of his would be taking him the rest of the way. We crossed the West Virginia state line and the cruising started. Guys were leering and winking at us from their cars. We drove into Virginia and one not-too-attractive fellow followed us for over twenty miles, leaning over to open his mouth and circle his O-shaped lips with his slurping tongue, to indicate he wanted to blow one or both of us. He’d speed ahead, slow down to let us overtake him, then repeat the invitation, over and over again. (It probably didn’t help that my friend kept winking at him to tease him, when we’d pass.)


So I was on the way down to Virginia for one of the holidays—Easter, I think it was. It was fairly warm. I had my boom box playing something embarrassing in the back seat. The greatest hits of Ta Mara and the Seen, maybe. I’m driving down a lonely stretch of West Virginia highway with nothing in front of me when a man pulls up beside me in a red pickup truck. It was like one of those red pickup trucks you’d see in country videos—not too shiny, not too beat-up. Well-worn. Obviously used, and not an affectation. And that the wheel is the most fucking gorgeous slab of beef I’d seen in a dog’s age.

I still remember what he looked like. He wore a yellow T-shirt with the sleeves ripped out so that they showed off his big ol’ muscular shoulders and biceps. His hair was short on top and had been trimmed with a precision level, and a little bit longer in the back. Yeah, he had a mullet of sorts, but they were more fashionable then. Shut up.

Even from a lane over I could tell that his eyes were an intense blue. And he had one those square faces that one sees on professional wrestlers—just big, handsome features so broadly painted that his good looks could be recognizable from a football stadium away.

I had my mouth open, singing along to some cheesy song. I snapped it shut, when our eyes locked. And then I swerved because I’d gone a little astray, and I’d overcompensated in steering back between the lines. Whoops.

He zoomed ahead and pulled in front of me. I followed a while, then passed him. When I turned to look at him, he stared back. He nodded. I nodded in return, with my heart pounding. This guy was a stud.
He passed me again. He looked down in my direction. Stared. My cock throbbed in my pants. My throat was dry. Still looking over his shoulder, he passed me again.

For about twenty minutes we passed each other, back and forth. He didn’t lick his lips or do anything so obvious, but every time I’d pass, he would stare, and stare. Finally he passed me a final time, then cut in front of me. He put on his blinker about a half-mile before an exit, and pulled off onto it when it arrived. I bit the bullet and followed.

He pulled into some kind of former gas station or something, right off the exit. It wasn’t open, and there were no cars there. My heart was still racing. Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, I thought to myself. I would do anything for this guy and my car is a fucking MESS. I don’t know why it mattered to me; I think I was thinking that he wanted to screw, it’d be easier to do in the back seat. That Malibu was fuckin’ big enough. I could’ve hosted a small orgy inside and still had room left for a DJ. So for a frantic thirty seconds after I pulled into a parking space, I was leaning over in the back trying to dispose of a boom box, D batteries that had fallen out of their paper bag and were rolling everywhere, a grocery sack of snacks, and what seemed like a thousand mix tapes.

There was a tap on my window. The guy had gotten out of his truck and sauntered over. He stuck his thumbs in the pockets of his 501s. My view of him was of a sturdy but trim waist, his big basket, and that tight yello T-shirt broadening out into his big ol’ chest. I unrolled the window and looked out and up into those blue, blue eyes. “Hi,” I said. Only I’m sure it came out more like “H-h-h-h-h-huuuhh-h-h-h.”

He put his hands on his thighs and bent over. I could smell him. He smelled like armpit and motor oil—and that was fuckin' perfume to me! “Hey there,” he growled, in a deep porn star voice.

“What’s up?” I asked, trying to sound casual. I stretched out my legs so that he could have a view of the hardness in my pants.

“I noticed you back there on the freeway,” he said, but my Mental Sex Translator interpreted it as Boy, I’m gonna fuck that slutty little cumhole of yours ’til it bleeds.

“Oh yeah?” I asked. My Mental Sex Translator went Please, daddy. That’s how I need it.

“Yeah,” he said in his gravelly bass. “You should probably know your back left tire’s a little low.”

My Mental Sex Translator had already interpreted that as, Down on your fuckin’ knees, son, and choke on my big fat hog. But then I heard what he’d actually said and I was brought up short. “Wait, whuh?”

“Probably about five pounds flat, I’d guess,” he said. “Maybe seven. Just thought you should know.” He flipped me a two-fingered salute at his forehead, and turned to go, as my hope sank like the Titanic. Then he faced me again. “Oh. By the way.”

My heart went pitty-pat at his about-face. “Yeah?”

“Your gas cover door’s open, too.”

There was the crunch of his feet on the gravel, and then a cloud of dust as the pickup truck started up and turned down the state road.

My dick wilted in my shorts. I’d never felt so dumb in my life.

And I was still finding D batteries on the car floor for weeks and weeks afterward.


  1. I think we've all been there in thinking something hot was about to happen and it turned out to be nothing. It's funny how at times we can take something innocent and our (horny) minds can in seconds build a whole nasty scene around what turns out to be....'your tires low and your gas cap is open'.

  2. This left me laughing. Not because of how it turned out for you but because I have a friend that's exactly like your pickup driver. He's as straight as can be and will end up picking up guys and girls without realizing what he's doing.

    On one occasion he was being 'friendly' to a fellow navy guy in a gym by nodding and saying hello - several times - which led the guy to ask for his number. And another he had three college girls show up on his doorstep with a bed for helping them out with a problem in their space.

    He didn't get it either times and nothing happened. He had to be told. I personally laughed my ass off. He, well, shook his head.

    1. Anonymous,

      I think this is exactly what's going on here. The guy was just oblivious. I've known a couple of men like that myself—extremely, extremely handsome, could have any guy or gal that they want, but they're just utterly unaware of what effect they're having on others, or more importantly, oblivious of (and puzzled by!) other people's interest in them.

  3. """""“You should probably know your back left tire’s a little low.”""""

    I wonder how many guys would have smiled and responded with "My back side always needs filling" :-)

  4. That's a great story. And ANYBODY would have thought what you did. And who knows? Maybe you read him right and he just chickened out at the last minute. (And as a side note, I love cyberi4a's response option!). And that's a lot of sentences that start with the word "and."
    --and jonking

  5. I love this post. I love waking up to one of your post. Thanks Robb!

  6. Okay. I can't help it, but once in a while, I feel like you are writing just for me! I know, it's the sign of a good writer. Just so you know, I've never had an experience like that, but the telling of it sounds so personal. Like you're a good friend telling me a story about your past.

    So, speaking of personal, I'm gonna ask....just one more time (and maybe it's not the last time) but will you please reconsider recording one of your stories in your own voice and posting it for us to hear?

    Yah, my fear is you'll sound like Mike Tyson, and my idea that you'll have that syrupy southern masculine accent will be demolished.

    But maybe you'll sound like one of the narrators on a PBS Civil War documentary, and I'll get all gooey inside.


    Anyway, you're a good writer, and sometimes you speak right to me.

    1. Jack,

      I am writing just for you. If you wrote in that question, anyway.

      Otherwise, I think I'm writing for us all. :-)

      I finally located the headset and microphone in my storage unit when I bit the bullet and went looking for a few of my books, so perhaps FINALLY I'll be able to make that recording that I promised. If you're expecting a southern accent, though, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

  7. That was hilarious! I wonder if years later, out of the blue the kind blue eyed man got hit with the clue bird and realized you were hoping for more than just motoring advice?

    1. I sincerely doubt it, JFB. I think he was oblivious, and sweetly so.

  8. I've been reading you for awhile and thought I'd say hi, since there don't seem to be many of us heterosexual women in your comment section. Tip o'the hat to you, sir, for not only understanding the dazzle and darkness of sex, but for your excellent writing.

    And as for this 501-d stud, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been teasing on purpose. You can't be that hot and not know it. Sigh.

    1. Chris,

      I think you'd be surprised at the number of heterosexual women commenting here, actually.

      We're conditioned to believe that all hot people are conceited about it, simply because so many of them are. I've often run across truly beautiful people—men and women who could be models, or movie stars—who simply aren't aware of it, or don't believe it, or don't understand how they're any different from anyone else.

      It's refreshing when it comes from a genuine unawareness or skepticism of traditional looks-ism. When it comes from disbelief or damage in the past, it makes me sad, though. Most people are beautiful in some way; recognizing that and being able to embrace it is important.

    2. Well I'm looking forward to seeing more gals around, then :)

      I didn't mean that all hot people must be conceited, it was just the way you described this particular guy that made him come across as a potentially deliberate tease. I too have noticed a discrepancy in many people between their 'objective' looks [for lack of a better term] and their self-perception. But even in these cases, when the person does not identify with the compliments they get, they do tend to be aware at least of the fact that they have an effect on people.

      Regarding most people being beautiful in some way - absolutely!

  9. Once again, as the master story teller you have had every one of us in the palm of your hand, and sort of right there with you in that slightly disheveled Chevy.

    I drove a great many miles across the entirety of the country in pre-internet times, but was too innocent to cruise, and probably not sufficiently beautiful to serve as the object of someone else's cruising. Reasonably well built and fairly trim, though - the product of biking five to ten miles pretty much every day.

    In the mid 1980's, the men's room at the train station in York, England, must have been some sort of gay cruising mecca, judging from what I heard emanating from a couple of the stalls (and from what was visible under the partitions) while changing trains there. Washing up, a dark-haired man probably about 50 years old made some advances in my direction. He had yellowish teeth, baggy clothes and sort of a leering expression. I didn't find him attractive at all, so I bolted outta there. Makes me wonder whether, if I had stuck around, I would have ended up dying of AIDS.

    1. Mike, I appreciate the compliment.

      I'm fairly sure you didn't mean to imply that men and women living with HIV are leering, disreputable people who troll around in washrooms. It's certainly possible to have the virus passed on from all manner and means of attractive people as well.