Thursday, May 31, 2012

'Illusion' Review

An absolutely lovely review by Cole Riann of my very first novel, The Rest Is Illusion HERE. People seem to be discovering this of late, even though it's out of print. I'm tickled pink.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Reality of HELL

The other night I was watching Ghost Hunters. I have no excuse for this other than I was bored and that show, believe it or not, relaxes me. Anyway, they were investigating an old TB sanatorium in Louisville not far from me called Waverly. In the course of the investigation one of the crew asked the ghosts "Are we in Hell?" Meaning, "we" as in all of humanity. There was no answer.

When I was a bright young thing in high school, I had a journalism teacher who had then just recently been diagnosed with MS. She was a woman who kept her emotions hidden, especially from her students. I was the co-editor of the yearbook and got to know her since she was the advisor working on it with us. One afternoon when it was just the two of us in the journalism lab we somehow got on the topic of the afterlife. More specifically, Hell. We wrestled through the various incarnations of the place and when I mentioned that maybe we were in Hell already, that it could only get better from here, her eyes lit up. I imagine my eyes looked the same to her because the idea had only just come to me then.There was a strange comfort in the thought, and I think we both felt it.

Growing up a Jehovah's Witness, I was taught that there was no literal Hell. There was a literal Heaven, but only 144,000 anointed by God would see that and I wasn't one of those. Hell, in the JW belief, is simply death. You die and you never wake up. Jw's believe that after Armageddon there will be a resurrection. Everyone who has ever lived. (Can we say "over-population"?)Those who are not of the 144,000 will live peacefully on a paradise Earth for 1000 years. Then, there will be a...ahem, cleansing of sorts, wiping out those who went back to their ghastly heathen ways, i.e. the gays, the feminists, etc. Those that remain are the ones who get eternal life. It always sounded a bit Orwellian to me. What a mess. Anyway, my point is, no literal Hell.

Whether it be the underworld of the ancient Greeks or Dante's Inferno, Hell has always brought to mind agony and twisted pain. As if anything in the afterlife could be worse than what we think up here, worse than what we do here. Just turn on the evening news. If you listen to them, Hell is right next door. I am left to wonder how many people actually still believe in a literal Hell. I for one think that if there is a literal Hell then God is a jerk who doesn't deserve my worship. He's but an omniscient sadist. 

Hell is different for everyone. I think it does exist, but as a state of mind. 

Hell is indeed other people sometimes. 

Hell is doing the same thing over and over, a trapped spirit in a dark house. 

Hell is being trapped in paralysis. I had a brief taste of that. Very brief, but it felt forever. 

Hell is the situation you can see no way out of. 

Hell is being alone. 

Hell is shattered dreams.

But buck up, Bucky Boo! There is a way out. There is always hope. I think, like everything, change and evolution happen because people will it to happen. Human will is a powerful thing, an almost supernatural thing. The great collective soul says, "We've had enough of this. Let's move on." And we do. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes with the simple nudge of a book or a film. Our minds, our beliefs, have given us great leaps in evolution in the past. I think it's time to jump again. Let's make better hells. Ones that are easier to control and ones that we can eventually get rid of altogether.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

EXCERPT: Prometheus

Here be my take on the ancient story of Prometheus. You can find this in my anthologySlight Details & Random Events from Dreamspinner Press. There's a gorgeous piece of art byHvH that goes along with it too, but it's a little adult for this nice, clean-cut blog ;-) Anyway, enjoy!


One spring morning while walking in the woods that surrounded his home Jeremiah Bluker came across a man tied to a very large tree. The man was naked, and blindfolded with a strip of gold cloth. He sat calmly at the base of the tree. His hands were tied above his head with silver chain link. His large legs were sprawled in front of him and his goodly-proportioned manhood rested on the ground for all the forest to wonder at. His beautiful, muscular form was undeniable to Jeremiah who blushed upon looking on him. Jeremiah was a simple farmer, and naked men tied to trees was not something he had ever heard of before. Being that the man was blindfolded he took the opportunity to let his eyes wander over this marvel of creation. The huge phallus must surely be useless, for no woman could fit it inside her, and no mouth was wide enough for it either. Such abnormalities and the prospects they present titillate the senses.

“Are you he?” the naked man spoke. He was still quite calm, though helpless and at the mercy of his surroundings.

“Am I who?” Jeremiah asked, approaching the stranger cautiously.

“It is you. I know you by your voice.”

Jeremiah was certain he had never met the man. He would have remembered such unnatural beauty. Yet, his sleep of late had been disturbed. Perhaps he had met this man in the village, but by some temporary amnesia was unable to place him.

“I do not know who you think I am,” Jeremiah said, “but you seem to be in need of help. I shall undo your bonds. Who tied you thus?”

“You may do as you wish,” the beautiful man spoke gently. “But you will be unable to loosen the chain and free me.”

“It’s simple enough. The chain looks to be only wrapped around and tied to that tree limb.” He examined the chain more thoroughly, taking his eyes for a moment off the phallus on its bed of leaves. “Yes. Most easily undone.”

“That might be. But you will not be able to accomplish this task. You will be distracted. You always are.”

Jeremiah stopped and stared at the man. What a strange thing to say, he thought. Could this man be insane? Was he tied here in the woods, left here, because of some mental defect?

“How did you come to be here? Who did this to you?” Jeremiah asked again. He felt the chains, the smooth and ice of them. He tried pulling and felt some give. But his eyes were beginning to lose focus on what he was doing. They began to wander again, to drift downward in the area of the stranger’s crotch. The beautiful man’s manhood began to grow like a snake twisting through the undergrowth of the forest. It rose, climbing to an awesome size such as Jeremiah could never have fathomed. And it was stunning. Perfect. A flawless work of art carved from flesh. Veins ran through its neck like azure jewelry. Beneath the great sluice lay a sack of the fullest, most delectable balls. Canons had not shot balls as large.

Jeremiah tried to restrain his glance, to focus again on the chain, but his fingers no longer cared for that task. They wanted another to keep them busy.

“You are unable, you see?” the man said.

Jeremiah dropped to his knees onto the fallen leaves and grass. “Why am I unable? What is it that draws me to you?” He heard his voice as if in a dream. It echoed and was muffled by a haze of lust.

“Explanations are beyond us. I am your task now.”

Jeremiah hardly looked at it as a task. He relished what the man had invited him to do. Something that was forbidden in the village. But here in the woods he was able to indulge. A fever permeated his entire form. He felt his hands hotter for the touch of the man, as if they would scorch the very flesh of the stranger’s manhood that was now being touched, stroked, kissed, and licked. As if his fingers might boil the fine, large eggs that he now fondled and brought as best he could into his mouth. The impossibility of it, trying to take the phallus into him in any way he could. He was becoming obsessed with the struggle. The more he was thwarted, the harder he tried. The friction of Jeremiah’s attempts at possessing made the thing larger, more gorgeous. Jeremiah was dazzled as the bulbous head of the shaft turned a deep, shining purple, then exploded with a shower of white that seemed not to want to ever stop. Even after that the shaft stood erect, dribbling, and non-defeated. Jeremiah went down again and again. And every time the stranger’s phallus would burst into the world its new seed. Jereamiah was unsatiable and continued with his play well into the night. He would have taken the man inside him by more pleasurable means if he thought he could survive it.

At last, the jeweled neck became placid, and Jeremiah found his desire too was fading and he only wanted to sleep. Feeling incapable of finding his way back home in the dark, he curled up beside the chained man, resting his head on the stranger’s broad chest.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, sleepily. “Why could I not release you?”

“Explanations are beyond us. We are what we are. We must be satisfied with that.”

“You are like Prometheus, I think. Unable to be freed. Drained of your seed every night for some sin against the gods.”

“Possibly. But I am blindfolded. If I have sinned, I do not see it.” He paused. “And you? Do you see yours?”

“I can remember no sin,” Jeremiah said with a yawn. “I’ll free you in the morning.”

“No, my friend,” said the man. “You will forget I am here until you go for your morning stroll. I am chained by some other man’s wish, but I remember things. You are free to do what you will, but ignorant. What is your sin?”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The List

1. Received some new sketches of my comic book 'Bubbles n Gordy' which I'm doing for Class Comics. Absolutbleu lives in my head. He's an amazing artist. This is going to be one filthy comic. I feel dirty just talking about it. I imagine it will be released sometime in 2013.

2. Exciting news on the library front: My short story She's Come Undone from Untreed Reads has been bought by at least two libraries - one in Pasadena, one in Ontario - for their digital shelves.

3. Why, oh why, are they remaking Soapdish?!

4. Word is, two of my favorite TV shows, Cougartown and Community, are having rough times. Cougartown has switched networks and next season will be airing on TBS, and Community - from what I hear - will have a final, shortened season next year on NBC.

5. My laptop finally bit the dust. Thankfully I didn't lose anything important...other than files and files of sexy nekkid mens and their big bootays.

6. I have a bit of a dilemma concerning my Jasper Lane books. As you may or may not know, the third in the series, SuburbaNights, is set for release on July 11th from Dreamspinner Press. I'm thinking it might be the last in that particular series. The reason: the television show Suburgatory. I know "I was here first", as they say, but I can't help feeling a bit redundant now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Interview: Havan's Heavenly Haven: Like a Virgin with Eric Arvin...

Havan's Heavenly Haven: Like a Virgin with Eric Arvin...: When Eric Arvin was a virgin… So…in honor of my first solo release, Emery's Ritches …I've decided to celebrate by talking to some very ...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beautiful People

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."

I wonder how many people on the planet can say that and mean it. That would take quite a bit of self-confidence. You would need to be in love with yourself. I'm not talking the "you need to love yourself before others can love you" type of love. I'm talking "if I could find a way to clone myself and fuck me, I would." SIDENOTE: If anyone discovers how to do this, I would love to watch. Because I'm a pervert.

The fact is, most people have some form of bodily dissatisfaction. Once we grow out of infanthood and look around, we are at once bombarded with images of so-called perfect bodies and we become instantly aware that WE are not like THEM. At least, I did.

When I was younger, I became obsessed with the models in the "International Male" catalogue, as embarrassing as that is. There was one issue I remember where the cover image was a beautiful man's face. He doesn't know it to this day, but he gave me a great BJ. I laid that magazine on my bed, and...well, you get the point. So did he. OH! Score!

When I first saw the Calvin Klein cologne ad with a sexy naked man being carried on the shoulder of another sexy naked man with a KILLER ass, it was masturbation material for months. I also had stacks of workout and bodybuilding magazines, some more embarrassing to purchase ("Exercise For Men Only", though I'm not certain that counts as a "fitness" magazine) than others (Muscle & Fitness). And so my obsession with obtaining the unobtainable began.

And it is unobtainable, this perfect body. There is not a bodybuilder alive who will ever get to where he/she wants to be. There is not a model alive who will ever think he or she is as beautiful as they are portrayed. Perfection is a myth and our culture thrives on it. We spend oodles of cash on things that promise to make us younger or more beauiful and in this way the world keeps going round. There is no end because no one will ever be perfect. We're all just playing along. We are sexy guinea pigs.

Having played a bit in the bodybuilding world, I can tell you every big pair of biceps I've ever met is just as body wary as you. The mirror mocks, but politely. As if saying, "Almost, but not quite." Nothing is ever good enough. Nothing is ever big enough or symmetrical enough or defined enough. Sometimes bodybuilders pick on each other, like kids in a clique, to make themselves feel better. This is human, to mask our jealousy.

This struggling with our bodies, from what I gather from older friends, goes on and on. It doesn't stop once you reach a certain age. Women and gay men are the two groups who seem the most prone to bodily dissatisfaction, but straight men are gaining. Just look at how pretty - I mean, pretty - straight guys have gotten in the last ten years. Metrosexuals and bromances, right?

Sometimes I feel bad about posting all those photos of pretty men on my Daventry Blue site. Like I'm adding to the world's insecurity. I hate to think of someone looking at some of the pictures on my blog and feeling the worse for it, feeling like they don't matter as much because they don't think they have an ass like this guy or arms like that one.

Too, I wonder about the models in the photos. Are they present enough to appreciate, if only just a little, their physical beauty? Can they take their hands and move them along their thighs and truly appreciate what they have and how little time they have it? And finally, are they just as lovely on the inside?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

EXCERPT: The Rest Is Illusion

The opening of my now out-of-print book, The Rest is Illusion.
Suddenly, a great steel clamp seemed to twist inside of Dashel. He gasped, and his body contorted. The pain was immense. Unrelenting. He fell to his knees, using the chair to steady himself as he grabbed at his gut. He tried to raise himself, but fell with a carpeted thump back on the floor. His arm struck a large stack of papers and they tumbled down over him into an avalanche of disorganization.
On his back, the pain traveling up his entire body, he gasped again. His hands tensed and crumpled some of the papers that had fallen about. Hands drawing up in the pain his father had known. His father’s hands. And his father’s tears of torment flooded from his eyes.
He rolled over onto his stomach, trying to regain footing. Trying to get to the bed. To writhe on a softer pallet. But another sweeping spasm hit him, and out of his mouth came a stream of red. Bright red. Red, like when Wilder had hit him with the ice and snow. Red, like the blood on the dinner table after his father’s first attack. It spread out onto the white sheets of paper, soaking them. He saw the blood pool spread before his eyes.
Realizing then he would not make it to the bed, he rolled over onto his back with his arms held outstretched, his hands still inflected in ineffable anguish. He stared up at the ceiling, his eyes wide in the pain his mouth could not find the strength, nor words, to utter.
But then the room became nebulous. Frosted with a dream-like vapor. The ceiling vanished, or was lifted away, and above was a beautiful blue sky. A veil was lifted and everything else around him evolved, shifted, into a greater use. Colors more vibrant. Life more vivid.
He was flying now, and down below was a great river…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Did You See What That Jackass Wrote About Death?

Why are we made to feel guilty when we point out an obvious flaw about someone who has recently passed?

I had this conversation recently with a friend, and it confounded us both. I mean, if someone was a complete prick in life, then why should he/she suddenly be deified in death? Even if they weren’t to the right of Genghis Khan, what’s wrong with pointing out a few of the negatives concerning a person? Honestly, if I hear nothing but wonderful things about someone after they’ve died it sounds a bit suspicious. No one is a complete angel their entire lives. Everyone has their bad days…weeks…decades. When I kick the proverbial bucket I guarantee there are going to be a few who shrug their shoulders and whisper, ‘Jackass.’

I can understand the ‘respecting the dead’ thing to a degree. I mean, life is hard and to get through it at all takes courage and determination. But just because you’ve survived the flow doesn’t mean you can be King Jerk-Off of Putztown. If I did not like someone in life, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say I like them now that they’re dead. (Even if I do, in fact, like him/her better that way.)

For example, (and you knew one was coming) when Jerry Falwell kicked it a few of years ago, I was okay with that. The guy was a prick. Think of all the lives he and his evangelical gay-bashing helped snuff out. Sure, he didn’t have a direct hand in the teen suicides and therapy bills his anti-gay ravings caused, or the anti-gay violence that is still prevalent in our country due in large part to the encouragement of his Moral Majority, but it was direct enough. I’m sorry, but Falwell and those like him scar the world. I’ll speak ill of the dead in his case, because he did something far worse: he spoke ill of the living (I know: cheap turn of phrase, but it works here). Young innocents were the victims of his rhetoric.

On TV around here, as I’m sure is the case where you live, every time some unfortunate is killed the media always find someone to give the same rehearsed speech: “He was such a good person.”

Oh, yeah? Prove it.

That’s what I want the reporter to say. Of course, that will never happen. But honestly, if this interviewee is going to proclaim to the world that the deceased was such a good person they should be able to back that up, right? Prove to me, the viewer, that Mr. Jones there – stabbed 45 times, clutching a rifle – prove to me that Mr. Jones is a good guy. We’re all ‘good guys’ in our own heads.

Could it be that there’s some superstition that still exists? That by speaking ill of the dead we're afraid we might anger some boogeyman and he’ll seek revenge on us for not weeping enough at his funeral – or eating way too much at the wake (“You didn’t look sad enough chowing down on that ham salad sandwich! I shall haunt you!”) It’s a strange notion, but I think it just might be there in the back of all of our heads with all those other monsters of the unknown.

Now, having said all of this, I would certainly never wish death on anyone, not even the worst among us. Life is precious, and there’s always room to grow, right? My point in this meander is, we don’t know what happens after death. Could be nothing; could be everything. Could be better than this; could be worse. Whatever the case, the dead guy or gal has done moved on or out. I’ll keep my memories about someone, but I’m going to be honest about those memories; as honest as possible. And when I kick it one day, I expect at least one person to say, “Did you see what that bitch wrote about respecting the dead on his blog? What a jackass!”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

EXCERPT: Honeysuckle Sycamore

From my anthology Slight Details & Random Events, I present to you, good reader, the first chapter of the "Honeysuckle Sycamore" novella contained therein. It's a dark fantasy piece about creatures I call Passions that live in a river valley. This was originally a miniseries done with HvH and posted on his site, so when it was published in the anthology some of his illustrations naturally made it. Anyway, here you go:

Honeysuckle Sycamore
Eric Arvin


In certain places of the world Passions manifest themselves into physical form. These are the whispering places, the in-betweens. They are neither here nor there, neither truly seen nor unseen. The River Valley, as it was simply known, was one of these places. The folk who lived there knew of the valley's power and, for the most part, lived in harmony with it. For the Passions when given form were in the least playful diversions and at most mischievous jokers, using a pumpkin patch for a night’s sleep or stealing the clothes from a scarecrow.

Once every so often, however, there came a Passion into existence that was so dire, so hateful and belligerent, that it would cause much pain and upheaval. To this point, many of the river folk would leave the valley to its battle. This is the story of one such battle. This is how a fairytale grows up.

There was a young Passion of immeasurable beauty named Honeysuckle Sycamore. He was named this because he had been manifested under a honeysuckle-adorned sycamore tree while two young lovers consummated their adoration for one another beneath it. Born of their love, he was christened by the dew of the early morning. He stretched, yawned, and hopped to his feet as naked as a newborn. From his head hung a garland of honeysuckles and from his glittering skin came the scent of the sweet flower.

Honeysuckle was a joyous sprite, finding awe in everything he came upon. Hummingbird or grain of sand, it was all magnificent to him. The river folk gazed upon him with delight and reciprocated his laughter with giggles of their own.

Of all the sprites in the valley, Honeysuckle’s most favorite - his absolute favoritest in all the wide world (which to him was a long flowing river and the hills above it) - was Dogwood. Dogwood liked nothing more than to sit beneath his trees and let the pretty white buds fall on him. He loved how they tickled his skin like kisses. His hair was a mussed bushel of white flame. Yet his skin was sun kissed and dark.

Dogwood and Honeysuckle would play all day and all night by the river and among the thick trees of the forest. They would wrestle and kiss and romance the day away. Such was the free and gleeful existence of a Passion and river sprite. Many a human was envious of their frivolity.

One perfectly pleasant evening Honeysuckle and Dogwood skipped along the shore of the river, keeping awake the denizens of the valley with their laughter and guffaws. When they were shooed away by a rather gruff and particularly surly woman (“Git on witcha!” she squawked), giddily they ducked into a narrow hollow neither night fly nor hoot owl frequented. Their glee was quickly replaced by trepidation, however, as the journeyed farther inward. Their bare feet toppled the small pebbles and wet rocks of the hollow floor.

“Let’s leave,” Honeysuckle implored, pulling Dogwood’s arm. “I do not like it here! Not one bit.”

“Hush,” Dogwood said, paying no heed to his friend’s advice. “Do you hear that? Something is crying.”

And sure enough, Honeysuckle heard the rasping, muffled cry. It was as if something were struggling to hold on to its last breath. It was a whinnying, shrill sound.

“Let’s not go any farther,” Honeysuckle said again, as quietly as he could.

“Quiet, Honeysuckle!” Dogwood commanded, adamantly. “It’s just up a bit. Why not see what it is? Maybe we might help it if it be a deer or a lost stallion. We might ride it out of the hollow if it’s not too distressed.”

The narrow walls of the hollow lead them to a dead end, a high cliff that shot into the night sky like a giant of the kind they had envisioned in one of their varied imaginary adventures.

“Look there!” Dogwood exclaimed.

At the base of the cliff, now silent and still, lay the form of a woman. Her white gown was fanned about her like wings about to take flight. Sitting beside her weeping was a young man with a bloodied knife in his hand. The blood dripped from it like molasses to the mossy rocks. He looked at the two sprites, imploring sympathy.

 “She had found another,” he wailed. “She was going to leave me.”

He looked despondent. Lost of all life, and completely aware of the hopelessness of his situation.

“Brother, what should we do?” Honeysuckle gasped. His sweet breath tickled Dogwood’s elfin ears.

Dogwood hadn’t the time to answer, however. In a flash of confusion, they saw the young man plunge the dagger deep into his own chest. He gasped with a gurgle and a squeak, then fell back on the stony ground.

Honeysuckle and Dogwood clutched one another tightly. “Let us be gone!” Honeysuckle once more exclaimed. His voice sounded frail throughout the hollow.

As he said this, a deep, moaning pitch issued forth from the ground surrounding the dead couple. The two Passions stared around in fear. From the earth, from the moist ground rose at first a shadow. But as moonlight flooded the hollow, it became a great quivering hulk of naked flesh bathed in the blue glow of twilight. A Passion had been birthed. And it was one born of such jealousy and vile contempt that the sense of it began to permeate the valley almost immediately. An air of hate woke even those river folk who could sleep comfortably through the strongest summer storm. They sat straight up in their beds as if poked in the ribs with a fork and began to think of ways to leave, places to go.

The newborn Passion focused its coal-black eyes upon the two much smaller sprites. He was an awesome sight, and his name was Peat Moss. On his head was an emerald crown of lichen. With massive steps, he walked over the dead couple. The hollow groaned as he came for Honeysuckle Sycamore and Dogwood.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Proof of Reincarnation

Me,  Born May 6 1975

Rudolph Valentino, Born May 6 1895

Never has there been stronger proof that "everyone recycles." Am I right? Am I right? Yeah. You see it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Label-Maker, 2012

I wrote this about four years ago. I still hold to most of these POVs, but there are one or two I'd give another thought to now that I'm older and wiser.

Labels are for soup. Not people.

We all know - or should know - that labeling someone this or that is narrow-minded, but we all do it anyway. Sometimes it’s just an easy and harmless way to describe someone, i.e. “This is my gay friend John”, "This is my porn actor friend Carlo", etc. As if they’re the only gay man or porn slut that the speaker has ever known. Other times the sole intent for the labeling is sheer spite and derision that has most likely grown from the label-thrower’s own insecurity. If you’ve ever been on the tail end of one of these hateful descriptions, you know it’s painful and can stay with you long after said labelers have already forgotten it.

As a gay man, I used to hate the word “gay." This was because it was used as a taunt; a word more commonly followed by "wad" rather than "pride." Even with my distaste for the word, I always used it. It is universal in meaning. It would be great if I didn’t need to explain myself in that particular way, but the world ain’t that forward yet, folks. People around my neck of the woods still assume a person is “straight” unless you say otherwise. 

There are other terms that the world uses to refer to gay people, of course. More malignant ones. You know what I’m talking about, so I won’t repeat them. Some of these terms, the “gay community” (such a strange phrase…like we all live in little huts just outside of Houston or something) has adopted as their own. “Queer as Folk”, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Some think it is a way to claim the word so that it doesn’t mean what it once did. Got news for you: the negative connotation still lingers on that word no matter how it’s used. It’s like that coffee that’s made from monkey poo: it may be packaged up all nice for expensive retailers, but it’s still shit. "Queer” means “strange” and I don’t see myself as particularly strange. I’m not normal either. Nobody is normal, and thank God for that.

The term “homosexuality” did not rear its ugly head until 1869 when sociologist Karl Maria-Kertbeny coined it in a pamphlet against a Prussian anti-sodomy law. (That’s right, boys and girls. It was coined by a man who today would be referred to as a “gay.”) His coining of the word, however, has led to much divisiveness. I imagine that’s not what he intended. But now, it’s out there. Gay, straight, black, white, red-state, blue-state, Obi-wan, Gandalf. There’s so much that separates us these days. Sometimes I think we look for wedges just so we can have reasons to get shitty with each other.

Of the more modern phrases that I have grown up with, (and have even used and accepted before I knew better), there are some that raise my dander more than others. “Straight-acting” is one of the dumbest phrases I’ve ever heard. There’s even a website you can go to and get your “straight-acting” rating, like some merit badge to paste on your personal webpage. WHAT.THE.FUCK.

Think about that term. It implies that being gay is not as good as being straight so one should try and mask being gay…somehow. What does that mean exactly? I am not a “feminine-acting” man, and because of that people refer to me as “straight-acting.” I’m not heterosexual, nor would I want to be. I am completely satisfied with my sexuality just the way it is and always has been. I know a lot of gay men who are more “masculine”, if you want to use that word, than any heterosexual football player I have ever known. And counter that, just because a guy does hair at Becky’s Boutique and listens to Judy doesn’t automatically make him gay. It might make him “gay-acting”, though. See how stupid that sounds?

“Sexual preference.” What dumbass came up with this? And I’ve used it in the past, so I’m just as big of a dumbass, I guess. Sexuality is not a preference as far as my experience has shown me. There is no choosing involved…unless of course you’re threatened with ostracism so you choose to “straighten up.” Unless you then choose to grin and bear a life of self-hate and posturing.

“Tolerance.” On the one hand, tolerance is good. Intolerance is bad. But you tolerate the weather. You tolerate the smell of salmon. You tolerate a headache at three in the afternoon so you can be done with work faster and get home. You don’t “tolerate” people. You accept them and you respect them.

Finally, “lifestyle.” Me falling in love with another man and devoting myself to him is not a “lifestyle.” It’s a life. Now, if me and said man o’ my dreams are deciding whether to live in a bungalow or a condo, THAT would be a style of living (I think I’d choose the bungalow). Again, to me “lifestyle” implies some choice. It is not conducive to my definition of the world. It is not helpful or instructive for those around me either. They need to know where I’m coming from, and why. Seeds are planted by the words we say.

So, here we are. Struggling through the politics of language. Still. It has nothing to do with being politically correct, though some may argue with that. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to hanging labels on people and drawing assumptions from those labels. I still have to jump on myself regarding my prejudices (and I realize that’s what they are) against very religious people. But I’m trying. It’s one step. I make mine. You make yours. Soon we’ll be moving along just fine.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

EXCERPT: The Things We Want

Today's excerpt is once again from my anthology Slight Details & Random Events from Dreamspinner Press. It's a chapter from one of the two novellas in the book, this one referred to as the "Cat/Gael" stories by readers. It was at one time an original and much larger work, but I decided to keep most of it from publication for the time being and just exhibit it in short story form. It's the closest thing to a memoir for me, and much of the original book is still too painful to put out there. The chapters that were published, however, have amassed a nice little following. Who knows? One day maybe the whole thing will be read by someone other than me. I'll publish it posthumously.

The Things We Want

The fraternity house was on the very edge of campus near an overgrown patch of woods that hid the narrow, winding, treacherous drive that was once the main road on to college property. It had since been abandoned due to the dangerous inclination to speed among the young students, and the stubborn propensity to fall of the hulking boulders that surrounded it. The house itself was regal, yet it looked almost overcome and defeated by the surrounding trees. It was as if the vines and roots of those withered giants would imminently wrap themselves around the old fraternity and drag it into the dark netherness that secret old, places have always held. 
During the school year, the house was a lively place and looked proud and unique among the other, more conventional Greek houses on campus. The trees behind and around it also served a purpose in the eyes and hearts and groins of the brethren. The old arbors and the air that surrounded them were known to emanate a very relaxing odor in the hours between midnight and dawn. Needless to say, the woods allowed ample cover for ne’er-do-wells and the rest of us to play the way we do in the dark. A guy could get away with a lot living so far from the heart of campus. Wants and needs of the most carnal kind could easily be obtained.
School was out for the summer, though, and the house appeared saddened and alone when I first saw it. The vitality given to it by the students who had lived there had been sucked away. The fraternity looked weary of the trees that reached toward it with their crooked, knotted limbs. It was clearly going to be a heavy task for Cat and me to bring life back into the old house as we cared for it for the season. Our pay was free room and all the left-overs in the kitchen. Of course, we had other jobs on the side.
The weather was muggy and oppressive. Sweat dripped from us like molasses as we worked that first day on our living arrangements. We brought all the fans we could find in the house (those left behind by the brothers) and assembled them in the house director’s room where we were staying. There was no air conditioning. The brothers’ house money was spent instead on parties and pledge events.
That night, after all had been moved in or about, Cat and I laid siege to the room in hedonistic abandon. Everything that we considered to be responsible-or could be construed as such-had been done earlier. I had worked at the fitness center till noon, done my workout, and then gone on my cherished dusk-light jog with Cat. He, for his part, had gone into town, rented some movies, and purchased anything we might need, which included a bottle of gin. 
We began drinking early. It was still very hot in the room, so we set the fans to circulate in our direction. We had the volume on the TV turned up almost as far as it would go to cover the roar of the fans, but we still perspired. Colleges in river valleys are extremely humid. 
Cat sat on a recliner with one leg stretched over one of the arms of the chair. He had stripped down to his tight briefs. (A cute boy in his underwear. If there’s anything better, I don’t know of it.) He held a tall paper cup of 7-Up and gin, as did I.
“This is sweet,” Cat said in a lazy tone. “Ain’t this sweet? Just us. None of those wise-acres to jump around and holler.”
“Yep,” I agreed. “It’s the simple stuff. I mean, who needs it.”
“Needs what?” he took a large gulp from his drink.
“All that...crap,” I said gesturing to the TV as it flashed random images of things neither of us might ever be able to afford. “Nobody needs all that.” I could feel the slightest effect of alcohol on my senses already.
“Who can afford it?” he retorted. “I need gin, a good baseball game, and I need a fan when it’s hot...”
”Lots of ‘em,” I interrupted.
“But you’re right. Who needs the rest.” He said it lightly-almost too lightly to be heard over the army of fans.
“The rest of the guys in the house seem to like their little gadgets,” I said. I had seen their mp3 players and ipods scattered about, left behind as if they had cost nothing at all.
“Yeah. But they probably didn’t have to buy those. Most of the guys are better off than I am.”
“I wouldn’t say they’re better off,” I said, sensing the slightest hint of envy in his voice.
Cat looked at me and smiled. “No. You’re right again. But they have more money and that makes things easier, I suppose.” He strummed a hand down his sweaty abdomen wiping away some bug or sweat bead. “My daddy never had nothin’ and he turned out fine. Worked his ass off to get me here.”
I wanted to say “me too,” but the truth was quite different. My father had died before college had ever entered my mind. And besides, his religious inclinations would have been against socializing with the world outside my childhood, the world which I had escaped. Maybe I would share that tale with him some day...but not this day. 
We left the lights off as it grew darker, leaving just the TV to illuminate our surroundings. The night came on like a thick woolen blanket. The heat never let up. But we had our fans, and I enjoyed hanging out in my underwear with Cat. It was as close to being intimate with him as I had ever been. We drank gin, watched movies, and sang along to music from the assorted CDs the house director had left behind for the summer. When Cat slipped in Ricky Martin, we both got up and did our best at dancing, though neither of us had anything resembling rhythm. It was simply a chance to let loose in the summer night. I was in my blue boxers. Cat in his tighty-whiteys, and both of us were shaking our butts. Cat definitely had considerably more booty to shake-he was a ball player, after all. It was a moment of heightened excitement for me when my hand “accidentally” brushed his ass.
We then collapsed into our chairs and welcomed the wind-makers on high. Dancing was fun, but it was definitely hard work in this heat.
After a while, things started to get a little hazy for both of us. Gin, the Green Fairy, took complete control of our faculties. I could see Cat almost drifting off. He looked sweet, almost innocent.
“Man, I’m gonna crash,” he slurred.
Like a child being told to go to bed, Cat rose from his chair a little hesitantly. The alcohol had impaired him tremendously. Realizing, I suppose, that his bed, which was a high bunk, was not a remote possibility that night, he slowly felt his way to the carpet at my feet. The fans surrounded him like watchmen or tiny windmills. There, he curled up in the fetal position. The itchiness of the carpet didn’t seem to bother him at all.
I did not wait for an invitation. He looked too precious. I rose from my own seat as smoothly as I could, turned off the TV, and descended to the carpet as well. I didn’t hesitate as I pushed my body against Cat’s clammy back, spooning him as if we were two boys on a camping trip in the back yard huddling together to keep warm. The sweat between us mingled. I felt my own heated breath on his soft, tanned, strong shoulders. It would have been a perfect moment if not for the damned gin muddling things up. It was as romantic as I could have imagined. My arms wrapped around him slowly, my fingers strumming his abs. It was a moment as precise and sharp as the fan blades. 
“What do you want from this?” he asked, startling me as he broke the silence. I thought he had already fallen asleep. “From this life, I mean. What do you want to get from it?” 
I was a little relieved that he had restated the question. At first I had assumed he meant to know what I wanted from him at the moment, with my arms around him and the hardness he now surely felt pressing against his backside. I was readying to loosen my grip and shrivel away like a salted slug before he asked the question again more clearly.
“I don’t know. I want a lot of things I guess. Too many things. Mostly things that don’t matter.” I stopped. Material things, contraptions and gadgets, popped into my head like those I had seen earlier on TV. But was that the answer? The real answer? “When it comes down to it, I guess I want to be content like everyone. Why? What do you want?”
“Two things. I only want two things from life,” he said. “I want to travel, and I don’t want to die alone.” 
I could tell he was drifting off to sleep from the tone in his whispering voice. But his quiet proclamation had awakened me a little. I raised my head so I could more clearly see the side of his face shadowed by the night. He was peaceful and beautiful. What he said had made me see him differently, though. I had been given an inside look at the miracle. He had shared with me an insight into his fears. I was moved almost to the point of tears.
“You’re not going to die alone, Cat,” I assured him. “That will never happen. You’re going to live forever, and I’ll...” but I stopped there and swallowed my thoughts. I’d tell him some other night...but not tonight.
“As far as traveling, there’s a course in Italy next spring term,” I whispered. “Maybe we should look into it.” 
“Today was a good first day, huh?” he whispered. “A great first day of summer.”
I could have replied but he wouldn’t have heard. He was asleep. So instead I stole a kiss from behind his ear.
I rested my head back down on the carpet and I breathed once again, happily, on Cat’s smooth shoulder. There were so many things I wanted to say to him, and for the first time it looked as if he might understand. I wanted to explode my secrets all over him. But I kept those words for later. At the moment, for as long as I could keep my drunken eyes open, I would enjoy the feel of him in my arms. With my heart racing, I hugged him like a pillow.
Everything I had to tell him, all my wishes, had to wait until morning...or some other day. Maybe later in the summer. Yes. That would be best.