Friday, May 08, 2009

Sorted Details

A few weeks after that first meeting, Phil e-mails: a friend from out of town, Saturday night, what could be bad. Back to the sub-division and into the car for our night out. I have written of that night, a post well named, Inexorable, a post I choose not to read today. The back seat with the friend, who knew what could happen back there, a night of dancing and drinking, and yes, a night of sucking and fucking: what could be bad. And the next day, arriving home not before dawn, but well afterwards, but I digress…

A week or so later, I get up my courage and suggest to Phil we grab dinner after work, two guys with the jacket and tie. In a testimony to my insecurities, I am surprised when he agrees. I am sure we played, but remember the walk after dinner, talking, taking in the familiar sights. So it started, white collar weeknights, not in the sub-division but in the City. As in any relationship, not so much steps as a ramp gently escalating from acquaintances to friends to more.

Of course I still have my family, children, Carrie, a life, so while I spend time with them, particularly weekend time with them, Phil has his time with Stan. Our circles continue to overlap – Phil may spend a day with Stan at the beach and I will join them for dinner, comfortable affairs, no expectations, no disappointments: a pattern that sounds strange in the telling but seemed quite normal in the being.

Stan was a confirmed bachelor of the gay world, happy with his friendships and his freedoms, not looking to get “married”, not capable of love as us straight guys once knew it. But a funny thing happened with the arrival of Nate: as Phil split his time and presumably his emotions, Stan realized that after seven years he had also been on that gently sloping ramp, he realized that he had quietly fallen in love. Ah, the plot thickens.

Not bad – I have managed to compress more than a year into a few paragraphs – the changes in dynamics gradual, the ramp ever so gentle. So a new pattern emerges. Phil has his time with Stan, I with my family, and we have our time together. But now the triangle is gone, and while I suspect that Stan can connect the dots, he no longer has any dots to connect. Phil doesn’t deny me, my existence secure, but he does not discuss me either. He is with Stan or he is not, my name left off the playbill. This iteration has lasted for maybe eight months now and it has been easy enough. Winters are a busy time, short days, busy at work, throw in some holidays and before you know it, spring.

But now that spring is sprung, I wonder how it continues to play out. Last summer we had those dinners in the sub-division, the triangle and more, salmon and wine. This summer I will see my family and I will see Phil. But it is inevitable that there will be days I will work and Phil will go to the beach with Stan and afterwards, there will be salmon and wine: I just won’t be there.

I of course am guilty in this also, on the positive side being cognizant of my family responsibilities – no, responsibilities sounds like a chore, more like family opportunities. But on the other side is also a bit of continuing to hedge my bets, this strange belief that I can go home again.

I have stretched my legs, wandered a bit, trying to end this post, but there is no end, yet another work in progress. And that is okay. When I found myself leaving the basement, moving to the apartment and realizing I had a boyfriend, all at once, my friends were concerned, fearful that I traded straight marriage for gay marriage, on the rebound no less, concerned that there needed to be some time to define myself not as Carrie’s husband or Phil’s boyfriend, not as my children’s parent, but as me. Not bad advice and not an easy task. As long as that ramp eases upward, the trip should be fine, where ever it may lead.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Of Sorts

Over the last two years there have been these cryptic references to Phil: on occasion my “erstwhile” boyfriend and at other times my boyfriend “of sorts”. On the whole I have not dwelled – nor delved – into Phil in these pages. Part of it was who knew how long the ride would be, part was some attempt at privacy after years of life on the stage, and I suppose another part was the difficulty of the story - difficulty in expressing a nuanced situation adequately and difficulty in unraveling my own very complex emotions. It seems that I am finally for a road trip in time.

Two years ago I was new in the basement still feeling my way – lots of blogging, an occasional married gay meeting, sometimes a Saturday night out: none of which yielded what was – and remains – an essential part of my definition my being gay – sex with men. So one Saturday night, home alone, I put an ad on Craigslist. A night spent e-mailing with some scary freaks (the one who wanted my address so he could come play with Carrie’s panties stands out), a night where I was a happy to be able to turn off the computer and was thankful for the disposable e-mail address: A night where my hand seemed both adequate and safe.

The next day I check that e-mail – hope springs eternal – and there is a response from two guys who liked the posting. An e-mail in proper English, an adequate description, and a desire to first meet in a public place. Too bad I had gone to bed early. We e-mail and a few weeks later we meet – a beer and snack in a chain restaurant, the horrific service allowing plenty of time to talk and become comfortable. As we pay the check, Phil asks if I want to follow them home. As you can guess, I did not need to ponder and soon found myself in an older sub-division, upstairs, playing with not one, but two men – the possibilities I had only fantasized about.

After some fun, some sucking and fucking, kissing and groping, I came. As I got up to leave, Phil said “Lay here between us for a few minutes” and I did, no pressure, no sex, just warm bodies in the after glow. I mention this because as I look back, it is what stands out. While not yet a dime a dozen, blow jobs I had down. Laying there in the quiet was a trickier business. Just over two years later, the moment still brings a smile.

Of course there is something missing here – this is of course my story and Phil keeps popping up, but I did say threesome, and three it was. Stan, the owner of the home, had been Phil’s friend for the past seven years. They are in the best traditions of the Odd Couple: Phil a widower on a second life, a man accomplished in his profession, a pillar of the community type and Stan… Stan, while living in a closet of his own design (Phil’s closet construction may need an entire post), has always been gay, pure gay, nothing bi there. He is a kind and gentle man and not at all unintelligent. But he is not book learned: a vocational diploma and blue collar skills. Stan is my age and Phil has a decade on both of us.

Phil is the king of compartmentalizing and compartmentalize he did. He had his old life – work, long time friends, social engagements – which kept him busy in a world that was not Stan’s, and he had his new life with Stan, gay bars and friends, nude beaches, a good time had by all. “And never the twain shall meet.”

So you can start to see a picture developing. When it comes to sex, three can really be a lot of fun (my inner slut lives on), but in the real world triangles are tricky to balance, particularly if there is one point which is always the center. There is much more to this story, but as my therapist used to say, we are out of time.

Monday, May 04, 2009


During my journey Chicago has become a second home, if not physically, emotionally. It was, like many things, an accident. Every year I go there for a few days at the beginning of May. Going back to 2005 – pre-blog, pre-out, in my mind pre-gay – I find myself downtown at my hotel and as I go for a late night walk I pass the sex shops, the discrete signage and solid doors and the small print: Buddy booths. The quick look around and then a dart and then you are in and anyone who sees you there should be just as embarrassed. I sidle to the back and know what I want – a man, no, just a specific body part back then, but this night it was not to be. Then it is May 2006 and bi / gay is in the air. I blog in advance fishing for approval – should I go on Craig’s List, maybe just go to Boys Town and practice the walk.

Craig’s List it is and I make a few dates, blow off the annual dinner with my group and take what in hindsight was the plunge. The details have been covered in
From 35,000 Feet and Accede To Reality, posts that even today three years later I hesitate to read: remembering the pain is enough. Suffice to say the entry into gayness was all I hoped and the re-entry from it was all I feared. I make a new friend and with the knowledge that it is a moment, a good moment but a moment none the less, I still want to go back. Chicago is my private playground, a land where I can climb the jungle gym away from prying eyes. So I decide to go back – a quick weekend to open up 2007, a quick weekend to close down nearly two decades. Before I pack my bags, the discussions of my return and then I am packing, but more than my bags: the basement era begins.

And then it’s May again and again my trip to Chicago. I will go to Boys Town, but will not blow off my conference. And after dinner that first night I am bought back in time leaping from 2007 to 2005 in an instant, brought back to a moment – a phrase I had forgotten uttering:
"I Am Lost". As I re-read the post I cannot help but notice the connection between art and pain, a post that sears in a way that I can no longer muster. I still remember the night – unable to sleep, unable to be: wanting to be straight, wanting to be connected, my hotel room as cell. As I re-read the post this weekend I was thankful my little diary still existed, a reminder of where I was and where, if poor choices are made, I an end up yet again.

This year my journey was a little different. My boyfriend was in Chicago for business and waited a day for my arrival. The first night was the group dinner – spouses and guests are invited though only a few come. In advance I considered the potential consequences of bringing Phil – would they think him a friend or would they guess more. After more thought than it ever deserved it struck me that I am out of the closet at home, at work, places where it impacts, or doesn’t, every day. Yet here I am worried about what a group I see once a year will think. I consider it some more and realize that the truth goes back two years and then two years more. It goes back to flirting with one of the women; it goes back to again wanting to be the straight guy. The fact that after dinner I will go back to the room with Phil, that we can have a night of great sex if we want… but what if Lori wants me, wants to relive a past that never happens… It is hard writing this not because of shame or embarrassment. It is hard because it is so wildly out of touch with any reality. Here I have what I want and somehow still looking to complicate.

Phil joins me for dinner – maybe people thought he was just a friend, maybe some suspected more. I cannot say because neither did they. The next day I have my conference and Phil wanders the City, and then I am back in the room, the conference is over and I am in Chicago and I am gay and I am with my boyfriend. It does not make for exciting reading – no tears, no angst, none of the conflict central to drama. No, not much for reading, but not so bad for living.