My Life As a Gay Man – 9/11 and Sam: Part I

My Life As a Gay Man – 9/11 and Sam: Part I

Anybody remember Y2K? The possible end of civilization as we knew it when we hit January 1, 2000 and all our digital clocks and computers, not programmed with “20” would close everything down and reap havoc on us all?

Well, I spent New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1999 at my hospital on Staten Island, NYC’s forgotten borough, as did all us senior execs just in case the monitors went haywire and life support machines and ventilators attempted to snuff out a few lives at the stroke of midnight and the new millennium. Boy, were we relieved when nothing, absolutely nothing happened.

But our collective euphoria was short lived. Just a year later, in February of 2001, we were taken over by our bigger sister, St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan’s West Village, and while I survived the merger, I suddenly had a new boss who slept her way to the top, politically at least, and knew one tenth of what I knew about the business.

Three months later, George’s trading house on Wall Street went belly up and at 55 he found himself almost unemployable. He begrudgingly put his pride and ego aside and accepted a job at my place that I had been able to finagle – as a security guard.

Then came September 11.

It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and I had a corporate meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. at St. Vincent’s in Manhattan. I would usually take the Staten Island Ferry into the City if I had business, but that morning I instead drove my car over the Bayonne Bridge which connected S.I. to New Jersey and took the PATH subway system which had recently opened a station in Bayonne on the Jersey side. It left me off right on Seventh Avenue and 14th Street, a short walk to the hospital, and I decided to kill time having an overpriced cup of java at one of the coffee shops on Seventh. Then, at about 8:50, I began my walk to St. Vincent’s, a few blocks away.

Up to then there had been no sounds or commotion, but as I strolled briskly to my destination – Seventh and 12th Street – I noticed more and bystanders looking up. “Why?” I thought until I looked up too. From this vantage point, the World Trade Center towers usually resembled a picture postcard that tourists from London or Peoria would send to the folks back home. Only now, there was a gaping hole with billowing black smoke right smack in the upper third of one of the towers. Funny, but in person and real time, it looked fake, like a Grade D sifi movie from the 50’s, and actually appeared more real later when I saw the moment replayed again and again on TV.

When I got to our corporate PR offices in the hospital, my colleagues were glued to the television although we could all see what was transpiring right outside our office window. Everyone probably thought the same thing I did, that a traffic helicopter or small private plane had gone bad. After all, the Empire State Building had been hit by a plane in 1947. But after the second jet plowed into the other Tower, we all knew this was no accident, and our corporate PR boss immediately mobilized us into action teams. St. Vincent’s was the closest hospital to Ground Zero and our job for most of that terrible day was to control the media circus that soon converged at our doors.

Seventh Avenue which fronted St. Vincent’s was closed, the blocks surrounding it  barricaded, and ambulances, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare personnel waited patiently for victims that never materialized. For the most part, you either walked out of the towers or you were dust. It was there, keeping the press outside at bay, that I witnessed the collapse of the two towers. From that point, ten or so blocks from Ground Zero, there were no sounds of destruction. A thick cloud mushroomed from the site like an atomic bomb, then nothing. It was easy to forget people were still in those buildings.

Later in the afternoon, I was assigned to staff one of the tables that had been hastily stationed just outside the hospital entrance, manned with lists of who had been brought to our place. Like zombies out of “Night of the Living Dead,” people who were searching for family or friends in the chaos listlessly came up to our tables to see if we had their loved one. And here, right behind me, on St. Vincent’s brick facing, they began posting those heartbreaking “Have You Seen…” notices that would engulf the City in the weeks ahead.

At about 7, I was released, but because the PATH system was out of commission – the WTC station had been obliterated in the disaster – and there were rumors the Staten Island Ferry terminal had been turned into temporary morgue, I left a message for George on our home phone that I was stuck in the City and that I would see him when I saw him.

On the week of my father’s wake, I was in the baths almost every night (George thought I was with my family). So mayhem or no mayhem, I was determined to turn this national catastrophe into a personal – read sexual – opportunity.

My Plan B was the hit the baths on the West Side, walkable from the Village, but my first target was a gay guest house in the Twenties off 8th Avenue. My guess was whoever was there would be open for some distraction. Distraction I needed bad right now. If not, it was a place to spend the night.

 

Friday: Sam- Part II

My Life as a Gay Man: Gary

My Life as a Gay Man: Gary

I’m something of an archeology nut and by the early 90’s, I had seen all the ancient ruins I had ever wanted to see – Machu-Picchu, Tikal, the Pyramids, ancient Rome, the Parthenon and gave up international traveling for closer, domestic destinations. Places where I could also fuck around, ionic gay meccas like San Francisco, splashy metropolis targets like Atlanta or Houston or Chicago, or lazy beach towns like Rehoboth Beach – or Fort Lauderdale.

But even though these trips were in the good old U.S. of A., George still wasn’t interested in joining me. A vacation to him was watching a week of Mets double-headers. Hell, he didn’t even want to go to the stadium which I would be willing to do despite the fact I thought baseball with all its inaction was boring as shit, but as he replied, “I can see more on TV.” We were living under the same roof but were living increasingly more separate lives. About the only thing we shared in common – besides bills – were our dogs.

Plus, frankly, I had gotten used to the free and breezy lifestyle of an inter-city whore.

Had his disinterest in me and doing things together made me one? Or had it always been in my blood?

One summer, I was on a drive vacation to Chicago and decided I’d stop at some smaller cities, along the way.  Places like Columbus, Ohio. It was a late Friday afternoon and after checking into a sleazy hotel downtown and grabbing a Subway for dinner, I showered, then ventured out, my Damron gay guide in hand, dressed in a leather vest, red T, jeans and boots.

I’ve forgotten the name of the place but one glance said bear/leather/levi bar. It was hot and sticky (the bar had only ceiling fans) and when I saw a few other guys shirtless, I slipped off my T and my leather vest and strung both through my belt loops.

“So you gonna enter the contest?” asked the burly, bearded bartender as he handed me my Bud Lite.

“Contest?” I asked.

“The best hairy chest contest. We do it every Friday night. Winner gets fifty bucks.”

Then he reached over the bar to stroke my chest. “Yep, you sure do qualify, mister, yum yum.”

Not exactly being shy, I signed up with the MC but knew that bars held these things to milk the crowd for more drinks, so that “Contest at Midnight” actually didn’t happen until closer to one.

I was on my second Bud when Gary strolled in. Tall, lanky and hippyish with long flowing black hair and a long scruffy beard, he wore big horn rimmed glasses, a baggy, button down shirt that he had open to his navel to show off some fuzzy flesh, and baggy black jeans. I was used to mentally stripping the superfluous off a guy, though, and could tell underneath his disguise that he had the bod and the looks. I was holding up the wall by the bar as he came over and stood next to me.

“Ten more minutes til we crown this week’s hairiest chest!” announced the MC along with a drink special. Gary used the cue to open up.

“So I hope you entered buddy. I’m sure you’ll be the hands-down winner.”

“You don’t look too shabby yourself,” I replied, staring at his half bare chest.

“Hey man, I live here and I can tell you nobody I know has got you beat. Not by a long shot.”

I laughed. He groped. I told him about my trip. He told me about his life as a sometime employed graphic artist.

“Listen,” he went on more in a whisper,” If you win, will you come home with me? I live only a few blocks from here.”

“And if I lose?” I asked.

“Then I’ll come home with you.”

“Hotel, you mean.”

“Hotel, motel, convent – shit. As long as it’s got a bed.”

There were only three other guys up there competing with me and frankly, it was a slam dunk. Hell, I had more hair on my left ball than one of them had on his whole body.

I collected my money and fifteen minutes later we were in Gary’s cramped cluttered apartment, naked on his waterbed, foreplaying away.

That’s when he sprang it on me.

“You into breath control?”

I tried to look and sound ecumenical.

“Never tried it but if you like me to do it to you …”

With that, Gary stood up, reached for his jeans he had flung on a chair and slipped off his wide leather belt. Then he lay back on the bed, tucked a pillow beneath his head, and handed me the belt as I sat down on his belly, straddling him.

“I want you to put it around my neck and pull it tight.”

As I did what he told me to do, I could see his chest first become more agitated, then his breath more labored. I stopped.

“No, no,” he said softly, grabbing my hand. “Keep going. Don’t worry, I’m O.K.”

I hesitated a second, then continued my tug on the belt until his face turned blue and he appeared to fall into unconsciousness. That’s when I panicked, slapped his face a few times, and getting no response, sprung up, grabbed my T and headed for the door.

“Where you’re gonna?” he shouted in a gruffed tone. “I’m not done yet.”

“I am,” I shouted back, slamming the door behind me.

It wasn’t until after I got back to my hotel room that I realized that, in my haste to escape, I had forgotten my $125 leather vest.

 

A week and a half later, after getting very familiar with Chicago and its Steamworks bath house, a three level temple to Dick, I took Route 80 back and pulled into our property in PA where George was supposed to be spending the weekend.

Only there was no George. Yea, his Dodge Tracker was there, and so were Mikey and Cleo, our third generation of dogs, milling around on the deck, but no George. Stranger, too, was the lawn mower sitting in the middle of the half cut yard.

For the pure hell of it, I called our number on Staten Island but got a machine, and with no cell phone to reach George on, I waited. And waited. And worried, and waited.

Finally, at almost 8 o’clock that night, George called, sounding a bit doped up. He was at the local hospital in Port Jervis, a good 40 minutes away. He had been cutting the grass that afternoon with open sandals and had a bad habit, which he told me to mind my own business about, of bringing the machine way too close to him as he mowed. He didn’t realize he had almost severed his big toe until he saw the blood gushing over the lawn, but being the ultimate pet lover, and not sure if I was arriving today or tomorrow, he threw food down for the dogs before he called 911.

At the hospital, it was touch and go on whether the doctors could save his toe, but somehow they managed to sew it back together and were holding him overnight for observation.

So while I was sucking dick and eating ass, George, who detested human deformity of any kind, had almost made himself a gimp. And he never let me forget it. After Peter, snide, sardonic comments about my alleged secret sex life always seemed to crop up in even the most banal conversations. But I kept my cool. My playing true confessions would be like throwing gasoline on a fire.

And guilt was a word that had been deleted from my vocabulary a long time ago.

Wednesday: Sam, who I met in Manhattan on 9/11 and helped me forget the chaos around us

 

 

 

 

 

My Life As a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part III

My Life As a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part III

It was a beautiful June evening when I got home from work that Friday to find George sitting on the deck of our above ground pool.

“Why aren’t you in the water? “ I asked him. “I can’t wait to get out of this monkey suit.”

“Peter called,” said George in an uncharacteristically low, calm voice.

I put my attaché case down, and sat down in the other lawn chair

The gig was up.

“You had to fuck around with somebody we knew?” he continued, again, very quietly, very un-George.

There was no rationalizing out of this one. Peter had told him everything.

Everything.

“So you want to break up?” I asked, matter-of-factly.

“What do YOU want?”

“Right now, I want to get my clothes off and get a stiff drink.”

I never did give him a straight answer but we barely said a word to each other for almost a week.

Maybe I should have used the opportunity to call it quits.

But I didn’t.

We didn’t.

Neither of us went up to Rainbow Mountain for the rest of that summer. And I didn’t bother calling Peter to yell. What the fuck was the point? The damage was done. Besides, in a strangely twisted way, I think he had done this, lashing out at me through George, because he had loved me.

Really loved me.

More than I loved him.

Two years later, we ran into Peter at the bar. He was with a taller, haggard looking guy who looked like his new paramour. Funny, even when he had the balls to come up to us to introduce Harry, neither he nor George acted as if anything had happened. And I just continued playing Mr. PR.

Looking back, I think I was a silly boy for not leaving George for this rich slab of man. Peter might be dead by now, and I would have been set for the rest of my life like some jerk I met on the beach years later in Fort Lauderdale who after taking care of his “partner,” 30 years his senior, for 15 years, and not working a day all those years, is now living off a trust fund.

But hell, at least Peter didn’t hire a hit man when I deserted him. And years later, when I named my new shelter dog, a chihuahua terrier mix, “Pete”, George, never one to forget, was convinced I had named him for the guy I let get away. (I didn’t.)

P.S.: Years later, John the Cop retired with his fat pension and his slim lover to Miami where he bought a home on the water. He was an avid bike man and nothing made him happier than being with his motorcycle bros, str8 and gay, traveling the highways and byways of Florida. A non-believer in wearing a helmet in a state that didn’t demand it, he was thrown off his bike one breezy afternoon by an truck making an illegal U-turn and found the thousand pounds of machinery he loved come crashing down on him.

He was 49, and the handsome, burly blonde with the million dollar personality had a closed coffin at his wake.

 

Monday:Gary, a guy I met on vacation in of all places Columbus, Ohio and who introduced me to kinky sex.

 

 

 

Wedding Cakes, Heresy, Jock Talk, and Will and Grace

Wedding Cakes, Heresy, Jock Talk, and Will and Grace

The Supreme Court has decided to hear the infamous case where a bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on the grounds their religious beliefs would be compromised. The Trump Administration has supported religious liberty as a legit reason for businesses to discriminate against us and is looking to the Court to allow such an exclusion to “expressive” enterprises like bakers, photographers and musicians. Where would it end? Aren’t plumbers “expressive?” This is a big one;  If the Court sides with Trump it’s the beginning of the end for winning equal rights for us.

Maybe forever.

 

The Pope has been accused of heresy for his “liberal “ views on divorced couples and gays by a super conservative bunch of Catholic theologians. Just shows how out of touch Church zealots are with the real world  Heresy? It thought that went out with burning Joan of Arc at the stake. All of them including the Pope who admitted the Church has been a *little slow” in dealing with the pedophile issue should look under their noses – or maybe their robes.

It’s like Trump worrying about the NFL bullshit while North Korea aims its missiles at us.

By the way, I agree with Trump that these football players should be fired. I am a Protestant but when I worked for a Catholic hospital and put on my ID I followed the rules of that organization. Freedom of speech belongs in their personal lives, not on the field where they are making millions of dollars paying a boys game. If they think there’s a better place to live I’m sure lmmigration would be happy to escort them to the nearest airport.

 

I’ve subscribed to Men’s Fitness for years only to be told after renewing that they will no longer be publishing. My theory: the young hunks they glorified in their pages no longer read magazines and can get a shitload of free stuff off the web, while the the mag largely ignored us old farts who still do  – read that is.

 

The revived Will and Grace debuts tonight. I’m one of the few gay boys who did not watch the show when it was first on – l don’t watch sitcoms, and l thought the show’s premise silly. And from l read, it sounds like the show will resume as if nothing has happened in its characters’ lives. Frankly, I think its relevance has come and gone. Besides cable has vastly diluted the network sitcom audience since Will and Grace debuted almost twenty years ago. And for younger gays there’s a new diversion.

It’s called the web.

 

 

My Life as a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part II

My Life as a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part II

About 45 minutes away from our new place in PA was, of all things, a gay resort, called Rainbow Mountain, run by an older lesbian couple. It attracted a NYC and Philly crowd, but its pool and dance bar were also a mecca for local gays, men and women, on the weekends. Despite the ride on a winding country road that at night was frequented by deer, I think the stupidest animals God created, I managed to pry George off the couch and out to the pool on a summer afternoon or to the bar on a Saturday night. We even began meeting other couples and singles and were cultivating a social life we lacked back in New York.

Now one of the first guys we met, actually who came up to us, was thirty-something John, a NYC police detective, a broad, burly blonde and very personable guy who lived a closeted existence in the Bronx with his folks but led his secret life up here at a place a few towns over with his much younger Puerto Rican lover. It was John, who in turn, soon after introduced George and me to Peter, that swarthy Italian piece of beef who had just lost his long-time partner to cancer, then often used as a code word for AIDS in those early days of the genocide when guys were still too ashamed or afraid to talk about it.

His eyes opened wide as he shook my hand and I was seasoned enough by then to realize that there was more going on at that moment than simply meeting new friends.

A few weeks later, Peter invited us to a pool party at his summer home in Bartonsville, about 30 miles from us, a house, or I should say a mansion he built himself. You see, Peter had worked in construction, had even run his own company, and at 49, had recently retired, living off his rental properties, Treasury note coupons and tax exempted munis. But with all the gumba boys at his party, str8 and gay, I had my suspicions his money wasn’t all clean. But, hey, I lived and worked on Staten Island, where it seemed everyone was Italian and somebody’s cousin, and I learned not to ask questions.

Maybe it was my paranoia, but he seemed to be watching me all afternoon with that same wide stare and silly grin I remember the first moment we met at the bar. Only this time, we were able to feast on one another’s near naked bodies – after all this was a pool party. And his was a five course meal for this fur hungry boy. Massive shoulders, bull arms, barrel chest, only a bit of a belly, and thick thighs, all covered in dense black hair. There was some gray on his chest but even if his beard looked dyed black, he was all man, and after a few drinks he asked if I could help him in the kitchen with the appetizers. George was engrossed in some jock talk with John the cop and a couple of Peter’s buddies so in I went.

It took Peter all of three minutes to ambush me from behind, enveloping me in a bear hug.

“So you fucken hairy sexy fucker, does George ever let you off the leash?”’

George was maybe 5 yards away but I knew I wanted Peter too and I followed him to the den where he closed the door, peeled off his speedos, shoved me to my knees and stuck his huge, stiff, thick cut cock in my mouth. It didn’t take much for him to cum down  my throat, but not a totally selfish guy, he pushed me down on the neighboring sofa, threw my legs up, rimmed my hairy hole, then blew me like a pro.

Not another word spoken, we were back outside with the pigs in a blanket and chicken fritters 15 minutes after I had left G, who was still bullshitting with his new jock buds.

At first I thought it was all a one-time thing though I masturbated in the silence of my bedroom at night imagining Peter’s hairy dick in my face. So when he called me at work – he obviously had made it a point to dig me up – and asked if I wanted to get together again, well …

The next time, we rendezvoused at his home – another estate – a bit closer to the City in Caldwell, Jersey.  I took the afternoon off from work to play, and this is where Peter introduced me to a new kink, electro-stimulation, e-stim for short.  With us squatting on the bed, face to face, he placed a long metal rod beneath our ball sacs wired to a large lantern battery and another wire around the base of each of our hard cocks, then flipped some switch and began slowly racketing up the voltage with a dial. It was the first time I shot without touching myself, and the sight of globs of cum spurting from our twitching cocks up onto our furry bellies and chests almost in unison would have been a ratings winner on xtube.com if it had existed then. To this day, I attribute my big balls to Peter’s little experiments.

But it wasn’t all sex. Peter liked to kiss, in fact, was a great kisser and knew again how to turn this hairy guy on with just a few soft strokes against my chest. As for me, my tongue and his burly furry body became fast friends.

Funny, I thought with the tool between his legs Peter would sooner or later ask to fuck me. But he never did. Was it because he was positive, though he didn’t look it? After all, I still thought his partner of ten years, Carl, had been a victim of the gay genocide. Who knows?  All I do know is that each time we got together, I felt more relaxed – and more fulfilled as a gay man.

Plus George thought he was a nice guy.

Then one day, as we were playing up in PA on a weekend George was stuck in the office with end-of-month options, Peter popped the question I never expected.

“So when are you gonna leave George and come live with me fucker? You know I’ll take care of you, Christ, I got enough so you’d never have to work another day in your life.”

I had just turned 42, was already a VP and had my own wad of dough put away, maybe not Peter’s millions, but I didn’t need Peter or anyone to support me. Yet as much as George and Peter were alike in demeanor – masculine, manly, furry and cock-sure of themselves – I knew which one would keep my cock hard.

But I was headstrong about my career and I cherished my independence. And I was a self-reliant bastard, and never wanted to depend or count on anyone, not George, not my parents, no one, unless I had absolutely no choice.

I had learned that lesson very early in life.

I was 8 and my sister, Gina, was 3. At the time, my mother worked in a cookie factory, and one of her co-workers offered to pick the three of us up for a Saturday romp to Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore. How I, even more than my sister, looked forward to that day. So that morning, with sand pails and shovels and blankets and beach chairs in tow, we trotted down to the pre-designated spot where Mom’s friend would swing by and pick us up.

Only she never came.

After an hour of our futilely waiting and me counting cars whizzing by, Mom forced us to face reality and turned us right around for home.

What I learned that day that I never forgot was never put your faith in other people and always rely first and foremost on yourself.

But instead of being upfront with Peter, I back-pedaled a few more weeks, then just stopped answering his phone calls.

That turned out to be a big mistake.

Friday: Part III

My Life as a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part I

My Life as a Gay Man – 1985, Peter, Part I

The closest I came to being adopted by the Mafia, besides living and working on Staten Island, a borough of the Big Apple, and the most Italian American county in the U.S., was Peter, a short (like me), stocky, swarthy, hairy, Italian gorilla with a shaved head and thick black beard and a build that Tom of Finland would have used as a model.

Plus, looking back, he made me an offer I shouldn’t have refused.

It was 1985. George was still on Wall Street, doing well as a back office processor for a trading house called Rothschild; I was doing even better at St. Vincent’s Hospital on Staten Island where I had climbed the corporate ladder from an assistant to the director of community relations to vice president of public relations and marketing when my hospital took over another and several nursing homes and expanded into a system, giving my old boss a place to move up to as a senior vice president of operations..

But my six figure salary also meant heavy taxes (feds, NYC, NYS), and looking for tax write-offs, I figured buying a house – with George – in what was then the hinterlands of Staten Island’s West Shore just made good financial sense.

Financial sense, yes, but everything else about prolonging our twosome was crazy.

We fought like cats and dogs about the silliest shit, not, like most str8 and gay couples, about money and, sure as hell, not infidelity. I really think he had no one he was fucking around with on the side, and many times I wish he had. He also rarely wanted to go out to the Village or out at all – I was a Mets widower in the summer and a Jets widower in the fall. But I knew George too well, super conservative George who frowned upon almost every aspect of gay culture except for sex with men, and even mentioning a possible “open relationship” would have led to fire and brimstone. Maybe I should have, that would have been the end of things and both of us would have moved on. But I didn’t and neither did he.  And Saturday nights on my own, plus his occasional Saturday days in the office, and my weekday evening “community meetings” as a PR guy gave me plenty of opportunities for discrete play.

So I played. Not just for the sexual pleasure but for the attention and adoration, something I didn’t get at home.  With George, I could have my cake – dick – and eat it too – someone to share the bills and household chores with, and even an occasional argument. It beat talking to myself.

Maybe.

For me, there was the more seasoned crowd at the East Side Baths off Third Avenue in the 50s; the younger crowd at the West Side Baths in the 20th’s; and the no-nonsense, let’s-fucken-do-it  crowd at Wally’s sex club, run by the same old man who would later open the country’s quiescent leather bar, The Lure. Then there was a trio of fuck buddies, two in Manhattan, Joe a cancer researcher for Sloane Kettering, and Mike, a chemist for Pfizer; and Rob in Jersey, who worked as a cameraman for NBC. All had significant others just like me; the difference is they didn’t live with them.

Mike gave me my first taste of Viagra which Pfizer had initially developed as a high blood pressure med until it discovered from its own guinea pig employees that it had other, more pleasurable side effects. And to Rob I owe my first taste of coke.

I continued to travel the world solo. George would later criticize “lovers” who would go off on these vacations just to fuck around. True, but at least they were together.

In the summer of 1989, we decided to take a vacation – together – and rented a small house in rural Pennsylvania just across the border from Jersey and New York in a no-nothing town called Dingmans Ferry. This way, we could take the dogs – we were on our second generation: Charlie, George’s beagle, an apartment dog all his life whom George had promised a big backyard in the country, passed away at 16 just before we moved to the house, like Moses never entering the Promised Land. Now we had Mollie, a beagle terrier mix, who we got at a local no-kill shelter, and Annie, a stray terrier who just showed up at our door one day in a storm, wet as a mop.

One rainy day while there that week in PA we went to a local retail estate agent purely out of curiosity and ended up buying a little bungalow of a house on three quarters of an acre, away from it all, all for fifteen thousand dollars. Now we would have a getaway place to take the dogs and maybe have a life together.

Instead, I can blame Dingmans Ferry for my first real “extra-marital” affair.

Peter.

Wednesday -Peter, Part II

My Life As A Gay Man- 1971: George, Part 2

My Life As A Gay Man- 1971: George, Part 2

George gave me the address of the George Washington Hotel and asked if I could meet him after work around 6 the following day in front of the place.

“OK, once I know the room number, I’ll come down in about ten minutes and let you know, then we both go in acting like we don’t know one another and go up the elevator.”

These were the days before cell phones, and Gay Liberation was still in diapers.

Inside, behind the locked door and windows shaded in plastic shower curtains, George went from hesitant to horny, enjoying my fur as much as I did his. We sixty-nined on a bed with yellowed sheets smelling of urine and a thousand musty johns. He lit up a cigarette when we were done – he wouldn’t give up the weed for another year when his asthma got the best of him – then gave me a kiss which I didn’t expect from a guy who was a fart from being bi-sexual, and said energetically, “I think I just might fall in love with you, cute guy.”

GW became our default address for a few more romps – oral sex was fine by G, who even loved to rim but never brought up the f word. Then came a weekend at a gay resort in upstate New York called Roundtree which, while not exactly in terrific shape, gave us a chance to be together for more than a few hours. It was at Roundtree that I also met Charlie, G’s lumbering beagle, who would be the first in five generations of dogs we would own, love and bury in the decades ahead – all told an even dozen.

By now we were talking about getting an apartment together, G to get away from his clinically diagnosed schizophrenic sister Jeannie who he was left with after all three of his brothers had moved out of their Bay Ridge, Brooklyn walk-up and married; and me from my hyperactive, slightly psychotic Jersey parents.

So what was a middle of the road place to move to for a guy from Brooklyn and a guy from Jersey? Well, of course, NYC’s forgotten borough, Staten Island, which I had never heard of before. And we landed a two bedroom, two bath apartment with a terrace and a to-die-for view of the Verrazano Bridge for just six hundred dollars a month. And the landlord even allowed pets. It seemed perfect.

I had less of a problem cutting the apron strings since my parents were about ready to sell their house in Wallington and take early retirement in a 55 plus community in South Jersey. But though G’s sister was stable, on meds and collecting SSI which her brother had fought hard for her to get, George still felt a ting of guilt about leaving her all alone and made his weekly visit to her a given til the day she died, prematurely at 57 and alone, from I what still believe to this day was a fucked-up combination of heart meds and psychotropic drugs her docs never picked up on. I saw her frequently and found her to be a very quiet, deeply introverted woman, almost an echo of myself years before I broke out of my shell.  Over the decades ahead, we would share in the deaths of his brothers, their wives, my parents and my aunts and uncles. Til no one was left but his adult niece and nephew and my sister, brother-in-law and their kids.

Which meant quite simply there was no one we could really count on but one another.

Just before we moved to SI, G coaxed me into taking a long weekend to P-town which he had apparently gone to almost religiously every July Fourth week with some gay friends from work who he claimed were the ones responsible for bringing him at least half way out of the closet. I found the drive, particularly those last miles on Rt. 6, to be an eternity and the quaint seashore town a bore by the second day. But that weekend did give me an opportunity to find something out I had been meaning to ask G for a while but didn’t have the balls to.

So one afternoon, while he was taking a nap, I snuck into his wallet and pulled out his driver’s license.

Shit, he was 35!

Older than he looked and almost 10 years older than me. At that point, I thought it wouldn’t make any difference, but as we co-habited I found this generation gap was a serious canyon to cross in our relationship.

For you see, I had come out on the cusp of Gay Liberation and had no real hang-ups about being gay or about the gay scene. Meanwhile, George had had his first fuck – with a woman – when I was still in grammar school, and had entered young manhood in the ‘50’s when “The Life” was still hush-hush, a stigma he never outgrew.

Then there were our differences in interests. He was a fanatical New York Mets fan, and when he was watching a game, (often 5, 6 times a week), I couldn’t say a word. I, being the nerd, found sports, particularly baseball, and a yawn and, interested in infant technology, gravitated to collecting mechanical antiques like Edison cylinder phonographs, turn of the century typewriters and old cameras. All of which G thought was junk.

After we had just moved to SI I, by luck and timing, landed an assistant director’s job in the PR department of a local hospital, St. Vincent’s, which cut my commute from an hour and half by ferry and subway to fifteen minutes in my car, a reality G, wedded to Wall Street, envied.  And as I began to make some real money, I decided to pursue long time wanderlust: travel. Ah, but while couples would automatically travel together, I soon realized I was with a guy who among his many phobias couldn’t eat foreign food (not even a cake made in Canada), nor fly. In the beginning it was awkward and a little scary to travel alone to strange, often forbidding places, but as I got more seasoned at it I came to prefer the solo route. During the 70’s and 80’s, when it was still cheap and airport security was a kiss on the wrist, I went all over the world, playing strictly tourist -no sexual dalliances – in Egypt, Greece, Russia, Italy, Europe, Central and Latin America, Australia, even Slovakia, the land of my grandparents birth, when it was still Commie and your life was neatly laid out for you. All while G munched pretzels watching his beloved Mets, Jets, Islanders – name the season, he had a team.

About the only quirk we had in common, besides a conservative political streak, atypical for two gay men, was that we were both Type A’s, all CAPS, which didn’t always work well either if we didn’t agree on what was worth getting Type A’d over.

Now if sex were still in the equation, maybe the rest wouldn’t matter that much. But by six months into our cohabitation, George showed less and less interest in me or frankly anybody else though in our later knock-down arguments about my fucking around he would admit boldly to a tryst or two along the way. Saturday nights he preferred watching TV to going out, but I, who had worked all week in the burbs, needed the decadence of the West Village streets. So I went out alone.

Picking up a gay rag one night in the Eagle, an iconic Village levi/leather bar, I noticed an ad for a place called “Man’s Country.”  It was a bathhouse in the West 20’s (easy parking) and for two bucks on a Tuesday night you could get a locker and play for four hours.

I had never done the bathhouse scene before, not even in LA, but used the excuse of running evening community seminars at the hospital as my cover. And there we were – all of us young, virile gay boys, in the prime of our sexiness, screwing like there was no tomorrow – all for the price of a light bulb. It was there that a trick introduced me to poppers which to this day I am psychologically addicted to and associate with good sex. He also gave me the tip on how to avoid a headache if you did too much of the shit – drink plenty of water.

Had I known about the baths before G and I had met, we probably would have lasted two weeks. Looking back now, I was never the marrying kind.

And raising the issue of an “open” relationship or even just a plain buddyship was never in the equation with G who abhorred gay culture and would take an argumentative stance on almost everything. Most guys – and str8’s – would argue about money and infidelity. We would argue about what plants to put on the terrace. It was either G’s way or the highway.

But stay with G I did, maybe because he was responsible and did his share of the shopping and cleaning and all the other shit that goes along with living; maybe because for a long time he never questioned where I was on a Saturday night that became my weekly tubs excursion; maybe because we shared financials which just made it easier.

Or maybe because, to this day, I never met a more str8 gay man or more real guy than G.

And now know I never will.

Monday: Peter, the older Italian stallion who wanted to keep me – I should have taken him up on his offer