Should I live to be an octogenarian in some nursing facility, merrily messing my pads and staring emptily at a tv screen in the lounge, may I somehow manage to recall the unequalled joy of my first guy love affair. Ironically, his name happened to be Guy. He was an extra-special bonus that came with my college production of BOYS IN THE BAND. He was an actor in the play with me. I had never seen him before on campus, since he hadn’t done any theatre, being an art major and also because there happened to be nearly 20,000 students in our University. He was a sophomore, and a very, very young 19 years old. Even though our two characters had little interaction in the script, I singled him out immediately as a person of interest on the very first rehearsal.
He was dreamily handsome to me. Tall and quasi-tanned, (soon I would learn it was only bronzer), he had a sweet, dimpled smile. His nose was strong and seemed purposely sculpted to give a look of elegance to the rest of his features. But Guy’s hair was definitely his crowning glory, naturally curly and a warm sandy-brown color. It was beautifully cut in a fashionable shag style, quite the rage at the time. He seemed genuinely friendly, but a little guarded and uncomfortably stand-offish which made me even the more fascinated. By this time in my nearly three years in the theatre department, my own personality had become so gregarious that I could bring out the shyest of the shy from their protective shells but Guy was not one of those. Yet I would never pursue anyone if I thought there was more than a fifty-fifty chance of being rejected. Wait a minute, was this what I had in mind? Was I actually going to go after another man in pursuit of romance? I think this is what one might refer to as a pivotal point in life and I needed to get ahold of myself, or maybe not.
Some background information is necessary here. My sexual experience up to this point was somewhat limited. I was technically a virgin all the way through high school. I had dated my high school sweetheart into the better part of my freshman year of college and I’d only gotten to second base with her. My sophomore year of college saw me determined to lose my virginity, which I did with the only woman in my life, Elizabeth. We were together for most of the school year in a great, sexually healthy relationship. That all ended (for me, at least) one morning in spring when I woke up next to her, as we had nearly every morning we were together, and I thought to myself: “is this what I want to do for the rest of my life”? I realized nearly immediately the answer to my query was a resounding “no”. And it was not just no to Elizabeth; it was a no to all women. This was not the me I had become and now I was not able to fool even myself anymore.
My sexual experience with men at this time was what I would term playing doctor graduate level. My best friend from high school, Billy and I had played during the summers when we came back home from college. It wasn’t much more than mutual masturbation with a little puerile sexual experimentation. I remember at one point early on he had tried to kiss me, and I pushed him away knowing that doing that would take it further than I was ready to go. To this day I still feel guilty for rejecting his kiss, because it wasn’t him I was pushing away, but rather my acceptance of where our sexuality was headed and it frightened the hell out of me. Billy’s and my “friendship” was something I will cherish forever, because we grew from boys to men-from innocence to worldliness.
BOYS IN THE BAND rehearsals started in the middle of a long school break. Not many other students were on campus yet, and when it was just the townies, our college town looked and felt empty. It was a weekend afternoon, and probably our third or fourth rehearsal and as I gathered up my things to go back to my off-campus apartment, Guy approached me, smiling a melt-my-heart little smirk. I could tell he was trying to be casual, but there was a nervousness behind the grin. “Are you doing anything, or would you like to go grab a coffee?” he asked. Am-I-doing-anything? This is the moment I had been waiting for since I first laid eyes on him, but I was going to be together and cool and not let on that my heart was leaping in time with the butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I was going to either pass out right then and there, or possibly piss my pants. Luckily I did neither, just smiled and matter-of-factly said something to the effect of “I could use a cup of coffee and a cigarette right about now” (I smoked like a Turk in college-Tareyton 100s). He had a car, a little white Triumph Spitfire that was almost as cute as he was. He certainly didn’t need a car to be more attractive to me, but it sure didn’t hurt either. I felt like a prince climbing into his sports car to sit next to him. Off we went to a little diner that was popular with the theatre folk, not that the food was so special, just that it was located within walking distance from the theatre building.
Normally the place was packed, but this late afternoon they had closed off most of the sections, so only a few tables near the door were being used. We found a table and ordered a pot of coffee. I lit up, offering a cigarette to Guy. He still seemed a little edgy, nervous, preoccupied with something. He took a cigarette, and I could see he was holding it like a novice, or someone who only smokes a cigarette or two after they’ve gotten stoned. He admitted he was a bit nervous and that he rarely smoked, but it acted like the ice breaker he needed to relax a bit. He said he had noticed me from the first day and that I seemed to be one of the friendlier boys in the play, and that he was nervous about the part and fitting in with the rest of the cast. It was his first theatrical venture, except for dance classes he’d taken as a kid. He still loved to tap dance he admitted. I assured him he would be fine, that all shows start off shaky. He began his bio: he was an only child, spoke about his mother a lot and his father very little, lived at home in a city only about eight miles from campus, but rented a room in a house off campus where he stayed during the week most nights. I took in everything he told me about himself, making mental notes as though there might be a pop quiz at any moment. I was grinning until my face almost hurt, so happy to finally be alone with Guy and loving that he was sharing so much about himself with me. We were quickly becoming not strangers. As he spoke, I carefully watched his face, those graceful gesticulating hands, his small, golden-brown, piercing eyes punctuating his dialogue and at the same time I was savouring my own good fortune.
Suddenly, in the midst of this prologue, he announced: “I’m bi”. I almost laughed, having just assumed by now the boy was gay. It seemed so obvious to me, but he was being as honest as he could be and I respected his candid admission. Hoping to make things easier on the both of us, I leaned into him closely so that we were nearly nose to nose. “I’m gay”, I whispered, “but I think you already knew that when you invited me on a coffee date”. He started to laugh, a huge, billowing laugh and his entire face and body relaxed like magic for the very first time. I joined in the laughter, roaring myself, and no doubt the few people in the diner must have wondered what those two silly homos in the corner were carrying on about. We talked for at least another pot of coffee and most of my pack of Tareytons.
He said he’d drive me home, but insisted first on buying me cigarettes. On the way out he invited me to see his room. He said he hated it because it was just a place to sleep, and that the room had no personality because he spent time only sleeping there. Looking back, I really DO think all he meant was for me to see his room that night, and that’s all I expected from the visit myself. It was a tiny room, and he was right, it didn’t have any personality, just a cot-sized bed and a window. It was spartan incarnate and made the two bedroom apartment I shared with a roommate Versailles at the very least. We sat on the cot and continued talking, the both of us chain-smoking and chatting and laughing and drinking diet soda, which was all that he had. Hours were passing and by now it was evening, late evening. He suggested I could stay there. We had another rehearsal early the next day. His landlady had an air mattress in the basement we could put on the floor if he got rid of the cot. Now, I was getting scared, because there was only one place this was going. I thought I was ready for this in my head, but the reality of physically dealing with him in the flesh made my heart pound, but more in fear than from passion. Together we wrestled the cot out of the room and into the back hall, and carefully maneuvered the air mattress to fit into the itty-bitty room.
And there we were, face to face, with no distractions, nothing to look at but each other. We began to undress and I had already decided I would sleep in my underwear, even though normally I slept nude. I was so nervous, I didn’t even think to notice if he was nervous too. We found our places on the mattress and he turned out the only light in the room. It was pitch black. I wanted a cigarette so badly, but my lungs were aching from hours of power smoking and I had no idea where the pack, lighter and ashtray had ended up. I doubt that a minute had transpired, when I felt Guy’s body shift suddenly, and the warmth of his face over mine. And in seconds, his lips were on my lips as he kissed me, and I opened my mouth in amazement and our tongues met and the flame was lit in an instant.
(to be continued)