Gay shame 

And the man in you

Grant says I should fuck a fat black man. But that might be his advice for everything these days -- just like years ago, when his advice for everything was suicide.

"Grant, my throw pillows don't fluff properly, what should I do?"


Today, for some reason, Grant thinks fucking a fat black man will solve everyone's woes -- and I didn't even know I had woes. I thought I had everything kind of quasi-handled. So why would I need a man in my life?

"I didn't say you need a man in your life," says Grant, "I said you need a man in you."

It's the day after Grant's 109th birthday (or so he says), and he thinks that makes him sage enough to dole out advice. "You're a fine one to give advice," I tell him. "You've been gay for six entire years and last weekend was your first appearance at gay Pride."

I've even been to Pride more often than Grant. Trapped in my hetero-ness, Pride is like a drool fest for me with all its beautiful men, all these awesome physical morsels dancing about like chew toys on the end of a string. I usually go with Daniel and his brother Darryl, who has recently gotten himself immensely buff, and even his head is more muscular now. Leave it to a gay man to figure out how to improve muscle definition in his forehead. Maybe it's all that oral sex.

Daniel's boyfriend, Mitch, has nicknamed Darryl "slut," and Darryl doesn't seem to mind. I wish everyone was that unfazed by the word. When I was 13, I hung out for a time with a genuine slut named Mary, who had an extra-long thumbnail she said she could use to steal extra cocaine when the mirror was passed to her. I didn't understand what she was talking about, so she illustrated by bringing the inside of her thumbnail to her nostril and sniffing mightily. I still didn't understand, but pretended I did.

Mary lived a few blocks from me, and before my friends and I got to know her, we knew of her. Everybody did. She was pleasant but sloppy looking, with a very developed body for a 14-year-old. She could have passed for 18, which evidently she did, because my father knew her from the neighborhood bar where he spent his days. My father told us that she picked up on men at the bar and had sex with them in their cars in the parking lot.

"She's a slut," he'd say. Why my father expressed contempt, rather than concern, for a 14-year-old girl who fucked his friends in the parking lot of a bar escapes me.

Later, after my friends and I got to know Mary, she introduced me to Marlboro 100s, as opposed to the Marlboro regulars I'd been stealing from my father since I was 9, and Neil Young music. She was the first girl I met who was passionate about a particular music even though the singer, as she put it, "is so fucking ugly." Up until that point, I don't think I knew ugly people could be talented.

Mary normally acted very self-assured and knowledgeable, but she was only 14 after all. And we were even younger than her, so it was only a matter of time until her youth reared itself, her toughness wore off and she began to goof around. Once, Mary peddled me around town on the handlebars of my bicycle. She wore a safari hat, I waved a tennis racket in the air and we sang "Old MacDonald" at the top of our lungs. It was testimony to our immaturity that we thought this was the most fun to be had this side of piloting your own Apollo moon buggy, and we laughed so hard we almost turned our tonsils inside out.

As we rode toward my house, I asked Mary to slow down because I needed to use the bathroom. She asked to come inside. Though it was the middle of the day and my father should have been at the bar, I could nonetheless see his car in the driveway, which meant he was home instead. I had to tell Mary she wasn't allowed in my house, and asked her to wait for me outside on the sidewalk. "My father says you're a slut," I told her.

For some reason, I didn't think she'd be hurt by that. I thought she'd think it was cool. But Mary was very hurt by it; there was nothing I could say to make her feel better. She wouldn't wait for me, and stormed away, confused and tearful.

She never spoke to me again. But years later, I heard she got herself a girlfriend. "Who would've thought that trashy Mary was really a lesbian?" laughed some of the codgers who hung out at the bar with my father. Today, when I go to Pride, I see a lot of women who could be her, and they seem happy. But to this day, I feel sorry for what I said to my slut friend Mary, and especially ashamed for asking her to wait for me outside.

"I feel so guilty," I say to Grant.

"Honey," he begins, "what you need is a fat black man ..."

But he is talking to the air, because I am already gone.


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