I spent the last week driving up from Fort Lauderdale to PA to drop off my partner at our home in Dingmans Ferry where I’ll return to spend the summer in a few months. Not crazy about flying back, I took a train into Manhattan and Amtrak from Penn Station and spent most of the next 27 hours back to Florida with a 62 year old reformed alcoholic and drug addict who, tall and lean, reminded me of my Russian grandfather. He was still hooked on pain meds due to a bad back from years of truck driving cross country and talked about his percodans like I talk about men. Living on Social Security Disability and a pension from the military (he had lost most of his teeth in drunken brawls while stationed in Germany),Marty was determined to leave behind forever cold and dreary Wilmington Delaware, where he got on, and was debating as we were on the train whether to stay with his brother in Delray Beach whose wife couldn’t stand him or with his girlfriend in Lauderdale who he admitted only wanted him for his checks.
Finally Marty made up his mind to tell them both to fuck off and, over coffee in the lounge car, we searched Craigs List on my new Samsung Galaxy S III for “rooms to rent” in Delray Beach. That was in between me getting hits on GPS-driven Scruff, Growl, and Mister from guys in NYC, D.C., Jessup, GA, and a few other towns, big and small, along our route. Like I was going to hang out of the train and fuck ‘em as I flew by like a plane getting refueled in midair.
A heavy set, train wreck of a guy in his fifties who bragged about his four girlfriends and the fact he had drunk almost every drop of liquor on the train, had been playing buddy buddy with Marty for most of the trip, pestering him to get off with him in Orlando. When the guy finally stumbled out of the lounge car, Marty gave me a look. “The crazy guy wants me to stay with him at his place. What is he, a homo?”
If he only knew who he had been talking to for the last twelve hours …
Besides all his other addictions, past and present, Marty was a smoker and it struck me odd that he and his fellow nicotine addicts who knew Amtrak did not allow smoking, and offered only a few whistle stops on the way where they could get off and light one up, chose to train it instead of plane it. Three o’clock in the morning while the rest of us were trying to snooze, they were all lined up with their packs and lighters in hand, ready to feed their habit during a fifteen minute break at the station in Savannah.
In the end, one of the contacts we made on Craigs List actually came through and I was happy that my Amtrak buddy might actually have a place to go to when he left the train in Delray, two stops before mine in Lauderdale.
When you meet people like Marty, you thank God how lucky you are.
While driving up on 95 with my partner, we listened for a while to the all-gay station on Sirrus XM satellite radio, which was all over the story about Jason Collins coming out. O.K., O.K., maybe it is a big deal that he was first pro athlete, still active, to tell the world but let’s face it, he’s 34, not 24, and technically a free agent and so has less to lose then say somebody in the prime of their career.
But what really got me was how the gay media was so insistent that other gay players should now blow the bolts off their own closet doors. Why? So our gay sub-culture media mavens can gloat? Telling the world is a very personal, often conflicted decision which can still backfire (remember Collins is unemployed as of this moment) and there probably are many gay or bi athletes who now feel pressured or paranoid they may be outed because of Collins. And who stand to lose a lot more.
We gay guys have known for eons that we have brothers – and sisters – in the sports world, and unless they’ve been under a rock, most str8’s fans, even the six pack, tailgating variety, deep down know that too.
So, who the fuck cares?
And as far as the locker room goes, I think more str8 guys are sizing one another up then gay men staring at a buddy’s butt.