said I snore too loudly for him to sleep (I do, and it could be)
and that "the dog" does, too (she doesn't. She just talks in her
And A Bunch Of It, Too
by R.C. Hampton
of Kinyesi: Part I
So here I am.
Ruby is of course waiting with me. Trying to look cool. Trying to
catch my reflection in the glass so that I can get a little pose
thaing goin' on. I'm not even sure I'll recognize this guy from
his pictures, but I figure that me and Ruby are the only two hounds
waiting. In the end my nerves finally caved in and I had to turn
away from the deplaning passengers and pick up some magazine left
lying around. I think I was holding it upside-down.
their hand on my shoulder and spoke my name . . . in that voice.
I had prepared myself for a possible Quasimodo, and I was pretty
much okay with that, I thought. Slowly, I turned around and . .
He was beautiful,
just like the laughing pictures.
And then the beautiful
man who had described himself as balding and having a belly turned
out to have fine blonde hair, and while I suppose you could tell
he didn't live in a gym, for a man just starting to slide into middle-age
he was trim and fit. I introduced Ruby and we turned to go grab
his stuff. I can't recall what it was that I said to him, but I
imagine it was something about the generally underwhelming aspect
of our airport. Although we're a capitol city, we still only have
four real gates and about that many jet flights in and out each
What I was thinking,
however, was another matter altogether. Lines from early emails
that had wooed me into a correspondence with this man boiled up
in my mind. In response to his initial email note I wrote back that
I just wasn't relationship material, but, essentially, thanks for
the thought, to which he replied:
You remember me. WOW!
I am flattered. I don't see myself as that memorable. Then you take
up an entire paragraph extolling my virtues. All of which are completely
true, by the way. THEN, you ass, you tell me you are just not relationship
material. But can you stop there? NO, NOT YOU. You have to send
me two great shots that instantly give me a huge boner. Don't make
me come out there and lick your ass. I mean kick your ass.
And again I was remembering:
I had asked why, if he wasn't a twisted-up psychotic mess, he was
still single, and I recalled his email answer:
Seriously man, you're
killing me here. I am not a "stone psycho, way high-maintenance,
creepy or have a disability that is too much to cope with" Yet you
eliminate me from your life before I even get my chance. Now I ask
you, How fair is that? The least you could do is sleep with me first.
(A comment I took to be, at least in part, lighthearted.)
As we made our way to
grab his bag and hit the bricks I'm sure we said all the mundane
things people who meet one another for the first time at airports
say, but I can't remember them at all. My mental transmission was
slipping gears, wouldn't leave those past emails alone. I was still
thinking of them, and wondering why they all, collectively, had
brought him to this point and place:
So why am I single? I
have come to the general conclusion that despite all notions to
the contrary and with knowledge of what is out there to choose from,
that I am one surefire damn catch. Honest and sincere to a fault.
A one-man guy willing to do more than my part to establish and maintain
a relationship. Yet here I am...shamelessly hitting on you even
after you tell me you're practically a monk.
I'll be the first to
admit that anyplace in the Corn
Belt just ain't no great shakes. For the second largest city in
the state, and the capitol to boot, there just isn't a whole lot
to say about this place, but I'm sure I was trying hard to keep
the chatter up, and to overlook any crabby remarks that someone
who has just flown across the country to meet you might utter upon
finding such a clearly dull city, and a boy and his dog of indeterminate
worth. The thing is, I don't recall my pretty visitor as being crabby
at all. And as long as we are going to be talking about him for
a while, let's go ahead and name him. Since I think of him as a
nice guy, why don't we just call him "NG." (It's a family thing
with me. For generations none of us have used our real names, instead
opting for nicknames or our initials. So, Nice Guy becomes NG.)
NG is younger than I
am, so just maybe he didn't understand that he had for quite a while
been calling Ruby by the name of a particularly nasty form of measles,
"Rubella" (often called German Measles), that had had a real banquet
going on for itself when I was a kid. I had it. So did everybody
else in school. There came a vaccine, but not before a whole truckload
of birth abnormalities (read: severe), death, and sterility in adults.
It was a big and ugly deal back then. Perhaps I should have seen
As I mentioned in the
previous installment of this tale, I was dressed if not to impress,
then to look alright, and it was clear even before we got out of
the minimalist airport's jetway that something about me made NG's
pants proud. There was something in those khakis of his that was
sniffing me out like a Blue Tick hound, and because that expression
of interest just happened to be going on pretty much in the vicinity
of my at-wheelchair-height face, I couldn't help but notice.
After not too much time
NG commented upon my very observation, so I began to think that
unless one or the other of us did or said something just really
awful before night fell, it was probably not a waste of money to
have gotten some nice bedding, because I had pretty much made up
my mind that if this guy didn't have some Cyrano writing his email
for him or coaching his phone calls, I was gonna tumble for the
whole package. It was just a matter of waiting until nighttime to
make it seem right. Besides, I hadn't gotten the silk rose garland
wrapped around the headboard of the bed or the hunks of cedarwood
scattered around, and I was hoping to have a chance to do that beforehand,
just to make things a little more memorable, as though flying across
half the nation wasn't enough of a reminder that this was not just
your run-of-the-mill trick.
We had debated over the
phone where to go for the dinner NG promised to take me to as part
of his visit. Dressy or Not Dressy. I voted for not. He was leaning
towards dressy. Since they closed the private club upstairs in my
building, if there is a place in town where you must
wear a tie, I don't know where it would be, and I would not be too
inclined to go there if I did know. I think we had sandwiches most
of the time. Out. There is nothing in my refrigerator less than
six years old.
But you, all of you,
are wondering about the sex bit. I didn't get a chance to slip in
and string the silk roses and scatter the cedarwood. But I am pleased
to report that none of my potentially treacherous bodily functions
took over the show, as I had feared they might, and while I'm a
bit rusty and NG purports to be a man of limited sexual experience,
I thought things went well that first time, even if the climax of
the show was over before I had a chance to whip out any extra-special
moves. I always figure that after the first shot is fired the good
stuff that comes after gets slower and better, with a better kick
at the end. NG felt an urgent need to jump up and wipe himself of
any jizz whatsoever, which I thought was funny at first until I
realized that he really did want to. I was perplexed, but there
was always later, and a number of days and nights to go. I slept.
When I woke, NG was not
beside me. A cursory look around my place (big and open) found him
almost at the other end. He said I snore too loudly for him to sleep
(I do, and it could be) and that "the dog" does, too (she doesn't.
She just talks in her sleep).
Shopping. We did a lot
of shopping while NG was here. I don't shop. I go out and purchase.
Got it? Get it! I'm gone with it! Throw that (fill-in noun here)
in the trunk and let's rocket. It was one of the shopping runs that
kind of messed things up, I think. NG has a job where he truly and
simply cannot come out. I consider it to be the
most noble job there is. On one of our early shopping forays I got
him a gift, something to equal the balance between us for him having
flown out to visit. Something to aid him in his work. Something
that he wouldn't have gotten for himself. (Maybe the fact that he
would get complicated "window treatments"
done fairly often should have told me where his priorities lay.)
He wasn't comfortable with this token because it made him feel like
I was trying to buy him off. A far as I was concerned, my gift came
with no strings attached. If this thing between us blossomed, he
might use it and think of me with love; or if not, then he could
use it and think of a friend in the Breadbasket of Our Land. That's
During our intimate time
that night something occurred that pretty much split apart the crack
the gift had made in whatever serious thing might have happened
between us. Despite NG's warnings of imminent nuclear meltdown I
didn't pull away and grab a towel. Since he had assured me he was
free of The Virus and any other STDs I did the gentlemanly thing
and took the (relatively) low risk of simply swallowing. NG was
aghast. From his reaction you'd have thought I had done something
horrid rather than something maybe a little sordid. Many years ago,
another man was kneeling over me as I fucked him with one of those
little swing-away Quickie wheelchair arms (it's okay folks, it wore
a condom). After he came and I removed the arm, he shit on my chest.
I didn't react as badly to that as NG did to the swallowing
thing. Whatever might have been was nipped in the bud. Those khakis
of his were never to look proudly in my direction again.
But wait! There's more...
NG has bills to pay,
for things like flying out to meet people like yours truly & Ruby,
not to mention complicated window treatments, this last being his
only source of comfort because, and I quote directly, "I don't have
a man to spoil." To afford these little extras, NG falls back on
his previous line of work, interior decorating. Evidently he is
quite good at it. He has aligned himself with a couple of really
wealthy families whose members own several houses apiece, all in
need of nearly seasonal decoration. Not to mention that they often
buy and sell their houses, or add or subtract chunks of them.
One of the things that
allowed NG and me to chatter on and on until the phone companies
were burning out circuit boards was that the son of one of these
really wealthy families had recently married and the loving couple
had a brand new baby. The mother, bless her heart (my granny used
to say you could say anything about anyone as long as you said "bless
their heart"), she didn't have enough sense to feed
the poor little mite. It got so bad that her husband hired NG, at
his usual salary, to teach his new wife how to cook, clean, feed
her child and . . . decorate, or as NG said, "To do everything gay
Soon NG was runnin' and
steppin' and fetchin' for Little Missy (as we came to call her),
and caring for that baby far better than she could do or ever cared
to do. But then one day NG overhears her, on the phone, calling
him one of her "servants." NG waxed roth at this and went to his
confidante, Big Grace, the Matriarch of the clan, in righteous indignation.
Big Grace is appalled. She's pissed. She's angry. She calls Little
Missy on the carpet, so to say. NG is avenged.
Now all of this inside
dish pertains to NG and me in the following way: hanging out with
the rich folks has made him take certain things for granted, certain
things he doesn't see much of around here. It took me a while to
figure out that that was what he meant when he so often asked, "Where
are all the pretty people?" Funny
thing is, the Pretty People were right here under NG's nose. In
my building alone there's an antiques dealer who contributes heavily
to gay causes, a former governor and his wife, a big-time heiress,
a best-selling children's book author, a multiple-Emmy-winning producer
of documentaries (who has at last
come out of the closet everyone
could see into except his wife), various trust fund babies, a corporate
lawyer who makes it hand-over-fist (and who I know uses an out-call
"escort" service from Omaha). Jeeze, here they are, if that's what
You can even find Queer
Pretty People hereabouts. On Saturday at the Farmers Market I hollered
and beckoned NG to come over and meet all the Power Queers at the
coffee shop where it is de rigueur to languish if you are one of
them. (NG was busy buying a string of old Christmas lights for something
like twenty-five cents.) When I feel like being nasty, or when I
want something for the "community" badly enough, I'll go to their
tired parties. Floating in the pool at one of these High-End Suburban
Events I listened to Jon tell Lucas that he and his lover were going
to ski in Switzerland, or maybe Austria. They just couldn't make
up their minds. Lucas commiserated. I bumped into them and said,
"So, since it's been the big issue this year, what do ya'll think
about Health Care for Domestic Partners?" Jon looked at me like
I had just farted. "My lover has his own HMO," he said. "I don't
see the problem."
That's just it. They
don't see the problem. Until a half-dozen drunken linebackers take
one of them off, just like they did to a friend of mine years ago
in Texas. A tiny and sweet man he was, too, but there was never
a charge made against those jocks, no one to vindicate him. Wait
till your partner is getting out of his Lexus SUV and a band of
drunken jocks comes to meet him. Will you be empathetic then? Ah!
I'm sorry. I'll climb down from the pulpit.
There are Pretty People
and there are Friends. I have a dear friend who has The Virus and
who cannot get out much anymore, but I had begged and pleaded with
him for weeks beforehand to meet this new guy, this NG. We had a
meal at one of my favorite restaurants and then went to see the
movie "A-I." My friend and I wept over how cruel people can be to
the helpless, particularly when they are children. We wept at the
endurance of an unrequited love. We were humbled by the span of
time. NG didn't get it. He grumped that it should have been three
movies or a miniseries or something. Another night we got together
with my friend and former lover Eric, but that went even worse.
Finally it came to pass
that NG needed to lie down for a rest and I needed to do the same
thing. I asked him to join me on the bed, to rest together. He stiffened,
and I don't mean in a good way. "Look," I said, "I asked you to
lie down with me, not to fuck !" And so we did. I said that I had
been feeling this growing chill, a drawing back. What's up? Neither
of us thought of this as a "ring thing," but what's on your mind?
NG went off on his "two
different worlds" jag, and I said swell, contrast is where synergy
comes in. He said, "You love that dog more than your life," and
I replied, "If a man will abandon his dog he will abandon his lover
someday." "We are so different," he said. "We just covered that,"
I said. " We don't have anything to talk about." "Yes", I said,
"that must have been what was running up those phone bills that
will take months to pay off."
NG touched with his toe
a rainbow string ring, and complained, "this house . . . it is so
gay !!" Aside from a bunch of gay literature on my bookshelves
the only other overtly "gay thing" I have in the house is another
of those string streamers and some magnets on my refrigerator door.
My home may be in bad taste, but it's not particularly GAY. When
I had my friend Alston's Living Wake here the guest list was his
own. I didn't know a soul. One of the guests marveled at how cool
the place was and did I know the host? I said that I had just arrived,
but that I thought it looked rather nice myself.
"And there are your friends
. . .," NG complained. (Whom you find of no interest or have vetoed
meeting, I thought.) "Gay is what I do,
not what I am!" he huffed. "So,
in short," I said, "I am not the man you'd bring home
to meet your mother because I am vulgar White Trash?" NG was quick
to deny that: "Oh, no . . . well yes, you are
vulgar! But you have a fine mind!"
So I guess you have to be vulgar and in bad taste and be stupid
to be trash? I'd better go put that on a sticky-note. I'll use it
for daily meditation.
But back to this "Gay
is what I do not what I am
business." Here's NG, a middle-aged single man with a houseful of
fussy window treatments and a clutter of antiques. If that doesn't
scream "'GAAAAAY!" I don't know what does. When you meet the guy
you are gonna try long-term and full-time with, I wanted to ask,
will you tell him with the same sincerity that you told me, "They're
Vulgar but with a fine
mind. Hmmm. But I can clean up.
I don't have to use the word "fuck"
in every sentence. I can use the
proper silver with the proper dish, both American and European.
I know a little of the good bits of a whole lot of things, quite
a bit about quite a bit of stuff, and a whole lot about a few things.
So just what are these distinctions NG is trying to draw?
Both of us grew up in
The South (capitals intended), and we know how stratified things
still are, along race lines, class lines . . . it is just done a
little more subtly now. But
here's the thing: I betcha that if I asked NG to name his relations
with Big Grace and all the other Pretty People down home, he would
say, "They're my friends." If you asked any of them
about NG, they would take a moment to compose a reply (bad news
right there) and, if female, touch their pearls or their hair and
say, "NG! Oh, law . . . we go way on back. You've seen my sunroom,
haven't you? It was just the ugliest thing until NG got ahold of
it. He is just so good at what he
does! And he's so . . . colorful
. Just so funny". The men, if you
pried it out of them, would call NG "A real card! What a character."
The true name of those
relations will be revealed the day NG finds himself a steady man.
A woman at some social function will touch another woman's shoulder
and ask quietly, "Honey, who is that who seems to be with NG over
there?" The reply, after a pregnant pause and a quick glance at
the first woman, will be something like, "I don't really know much
about him . . . something with fiber optics, I believe. They're
very . . . close you know." And
just like that the Joker turns into the Two of Spades. One fag is
tolerable, even attractive. Thought real well of. You put two together,
it scares straight people to death. They're afraid we'll breed like
bunnies until we are just all over
the place, and then what? No more
invitations to nice galas, nice dinners, all of that. Add another
man to the picture, you might have to actually talk about . . .
What NG does
is his day job. What NG is, is a man who likes to have sex with
men, but doesn't like himself enough to let his own jizz linger
on his body. But let's not be so harsh on him, he is only passing
on down the line what that guy did to him a while back, remember?
Seduced him and then pitched him. I suspect that we have all done
that. We have all been dumped because we were too fat or our dicks
were too small or too big or because we fucked too hard or not hard
enough or for the color of our natural hair or whether we were gym
bunnies or too prissy or too butch, and I'll bet there are a number
of guys that have been dumped for all those things by different
NG asked me if I wanted
him to go home early, and I said no. He said he guessed he was just
a snob and I said, "Boy, fuckin' howdy!" Me, I'm a former whore
street kid who slept where I thought I could find a safe place and
ate out of fast-food trash cans when I had to, so I don't have the
option of being a snob, and I hope I never get to where I set myself
above anyone else. We're all just here for the lessons. Sometimes
we get a free ride, sometimes we gotta work. But here's the funny
thing, the thing I can't get my brain around. I've been dumped and
overlooked by men for just about all those things I named a minute
ago, and ever since I've been a crip I've been dumped and overlooked
mostly because of that. Before NG
got here, that's what I thought the reason would be, if things didn't
work out. I figured he'd dump me because I'm a crip. But never for
being white trash, sitting up here in this big ol' place. I don't
know whether to laugh or . . .
Anyhow, that NG is a
nice guy. He'll make someone a good partner someday. I have faith.
But just now he is a boy who can talk the talk, not a man who can
walk the walk. Maybe he's just waiting for the Lucky Break that
I know the God/dess gives every one of us. Trouble is, most of the
time it comes when you're so jaded and beat and fucked-up that you'll
piss all over whoever offers it. I sure do hope that NG's Lucky
Break gets delivered soon.
© 2001 R.C. Hampton
has written for BENT before
and Radio Ghosts).
We hope he does again.
BENT: A Journal of CripGay