Recently Phil and I were driving along the west side – an area that now gives new meaning to urban renewal but once was the seamy side of town. While being gay is not seamy per se, let’s face it – gay leather biker bars… not exactly part of mainstream society. As we drove I realized that the tenement buildings that once housed the Ramrod were now high rises – expensive high rises.
Many years ago – had to be 1974 – I had a college roommate. When we reached a certain moment in our senior year I walked over to the hair stylist – a trendy East Village place at the time – and cut off my pony tail, put on a suit and joined the working world. Michael was cut from a different cloth – he imagined being a writer but his vision was not so much of a typewriter as it was a bottle of Bushmills and a pack of Camels or maybe Gauloises if he was feeling both flush and French at the time.
As you might expect he did not have much money in his pockets and found cheap housing – a third floor walk up above the Ramrod, a view of an elevated highway and abandoned piers. Now he was straight and with a cigarette dangling walked the streets unaware of the surroundings and, I suspect, the surroundings were happy to give him his berth.
All of this came back to me as we drove past the spot or more specifically a moment was recalled. One night Michael and I were out and I drove him home – yes, with the real job came a real car. I cannot remember the circumstances of our being together but I can tell you it was a Saturday night in the fall, somewhere around that midnight hour and the Ramrod was happening – Harleys lined up, men without shirts, a world before aids. I rolled to the curb and he hopped out and scampered up the stairs. I watched the scene for a moment and then eased back into traffic, heading home. I cannot tell you where I was living – an age of moving around, cannot remember any faces on the street, but in some sense I can still feel the evening, in a vivid sense emotionally.
There are other stories like that from that era. Being in an elevator – the Friday night visit to my Village friend – with a man whose nipples stood out. Even now knee deep in the gay world, I have not seen a pair quite like those. A fleeting moment yet a clear memory. There are others…
I share this with Phil, struggling to explain it. I did not think of it as being gay – did not think of me as being gay – yet the moments were undeniable. Phil says “stirrings” and the word catches me. Indeed there were stirrings, stirrings as one barely approaching puberty, stirrings as a college student, and stirrings beyond.
There came a point when I suppose I graduated. I had different words then. If I lay in bed and imagined a man it wasn’t that I was a homosexual or bisexual: I was just sexual. It was easy to do, especially when having a more than satisfactory heterosexual relationship. Though I suppose if I was to write of those times I would need to change the title of the story. I guess if you have enough stirrings it is inevitable that one day you will wake up to longings.
Last night I had a quiet evening and at one point was online watching a gay video chat room. Usually the fare is someone showing their thing, lazily jerking off until the moment when it is no longer lazy. Last night had an addition – a popular one at that: a man most noticeable by his bulging midriff lying back while a boy gave him quite the blow job. The boy looked about eighteen or nineteen – too young for my tastes and bordering on questionable judgment on the part of all. Yet I did watch for a while and as I thought about it afterwards I came to understand the attraction. I did not want to be receiving a blow job from him – I am quite happy with the experience of age. I wanted to be him, to be eighteen, to be giving a blow job, to be accepting this part of who I am. To have had more than just stirrings.