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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thirty Years Later: Desire and Regret

Your Head Trucker about 1983, in the one short beardless period of my adult life.

I've been meaning to write a note about a significant milestone in my life.  I don't remember the exact day, but I know it was a Saturday night in February, 1980 - that's when I first had sex, at the very late age, so it seemed then, of 24.   (That fooling around I did with some other boys when I was 11 or 12 doesn't really count.)  I had missed out entirely on the Seventies, I am very sorry to say, all except for some Playgirl magazines and a lot of furtive whacking off - but that doesn't count either.

The previous fall I had finally worked up the courage to go to the gay rap group on campus and ease into the water, so to speak.  It's difficult, and amusing, to remember now how terrified I was of coming out, even just to other gay men.  But after a year on a large university campus I had taken those baby steps of connecting socially; and then after a few months of paddling around in the shallow end of the pool, it was time to try the diving board.

It was probably in January that I first went to the local gay bar, along with some friends from the campus group.  I would never have had the balls to walk in there all alone, I don't think.  Hell, I didn't even have a clue that there was a gay bar in town - that's how deep in the closet I was.  But as soon as we arrived, I was thrilled at the sight of all these guys - and some gals too, of course - dancing with each other.  Hot looking guys, like something out of my dreams; but who were also very ordinary, everyday guys in jeans and college T-shirts and ball caps:  not scary at all.  I don't know what I expected, but it was all very reassuring, and fun.

I don't remember if I even danced with anyone that first time; mainly I was just scoping out the scenery.  A few weekends later I went out with the guys again, still a bit shy and not expecting anything in particular to happen.  And that's when somebody introduced me to Greg, and suddenly - kersplash!

Continued after the jump . . .

Greg was my age, my height, same hair color, his body slightly more filled out than skinny me:  a very good looking guy.  Instant attraction.  I'm sure we must have danced a few times; what I do remember is off the dance floor, our drinks in hand, the way he smiled at me, and how he stood so close I could feel his body heat radiating in my direction.  The scent of his cologne.  His hand on my back, his arm around my shoulder.  Kissing my cheek.  Telling me, "You're so handsome . . . ."

I gotta tell ya boys, after a lifetime of nothing - I nearly creamed in my jeans right there on the spot. 

And as I discovered later that night, after you finally make that first dive, swimming comes very naturally.  No lessons required.

Greg was sweet and tender and funny, a guy from a small town about 40 miles away, handsome and sexy and unpretentious.  We were a good match, and I wonder now if the guys who introduced us didn't have that thought in mind when they did so.  A very good match indeed - and I do so wish now that this story continued on here, that I could write that we moved from joy to delight to happiness.

But no.  It ends right here, I am very sad to say.

Because I was too young, too inexperienced, too uncertain to let it continue.  Although I immensely enjoyed everything about that night with Greg, and no one could have had a better introduction to sex than that - the next day I felt uncomfortable about it all.  I didn't want to see him again.  For reasons which are now very hard to retrieve from the recesses of memory.

But I think it came down to everything happening so fast, so suddenly.  I was certainly a willing participant, oh my yes, let there be no doubt about that.  But somehow, after a little reflection, I felt - what? - too exposed, too vulnerable?  Or too cheap, too easy perhaps?  I think I was still all hung up on the idea that sex should only follow romance, maybe:  we'd never even been friends, never laid eyes on each other before that night.  I was so young, so naive, so green, not yet understanding the difference between the world of books and the world as it really is.  Somehow I just felt - oh, invaded is too strong a word - but as if we had crossed a line that my body was more than ready to jump over, but my soul was not.

And all I can think now is, what a terribly wasted opportunity.  I liked Greg a lot, we certainly had a good time together:  a good match, as I say, in several ways.  But when he called and asked for another date I made some excuse, and when he called again I made some other excuse.  Eventually, of course, he stopped calling.  And I don't remember ever seeing him at the bar again.  I have no idea what ever happened to him, whether he's alive or dead.  Yet I still remember his eyes, his stache, his smile, the heft of his body, those comfortable lips:  all fresh and sweet and warm still, after all this time.

Ah, what fools these mortals be.  Eventually, some weeks later, I tested the diving board again with someone else.  And again.  And in the course of things got pretty well acclimated to the water.  Guys whose names escape me now, even their faces washed from memory.  But you never forget your first, do you?

Greg was a beautiful man.  A good match, as I say.  Like a few others I let slip through my fingers long ago and far away.  If only I knew then what I know now . . . but there's no point saying things like that, is there?


It comes back to me now, I was introduced to Greg on my first visit to the bar, and he expressed some admiration then.  But it was on my second visit that he really put the move on me - an irresistible force working on this very movable object. 


Ray's Cowboy said...

Thank youfor sharing it with us.

Ultra Dave said...

Been there a few times myself Russ. I stopped beating myself up over missed opportunies and now try to reconize them when they present themselves. Sometimes a little too eagerly, but still searching for the elusive Mr Right.

Stan said...

I think we've all got a story like this to tell about what if? I remember that feeling too Russ of being terrified at first but then relieved about being among your own kind and just letting go to be your own true self.

David said...

Whether or not they stay with you physically, I think we all keep a place in our hearts for our firsts. And I think that's nice.

Mine is long gone from a freak accident. I wonder how he'd be now, but then again I think of a lot of awfulness that he missed too.

dave said...

Hell, Russ - No reason for regrets. You are the person created over time with all the experiences that bring you to the here and now - and that's a great person.

Jeepguy said...

Great post, Russ! Thanks for writing it. I really like hearing about other people's growing up times.

I would love to say that I live a life without regret, but that would not be true. Rather, I guess I try to make the most of those regrets that I do have.

I also liked what John Barrymore had to say on the subject:

"A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams."

Mareczku said...

That was very touching, Russ. Thank you for sharing. But still wish you had gone on that second date. Hugs - Mark

PS - Like the picture

Russ Manley said...

Thanks guys, appreciate your comments, every one. I figured most of you could relate some way, somehow.

CJ/Rick said...

I like your easy style. I'm amazed someone has the will power to wait to have sex. It fills me with some regret of what a whore I was in so many ways by the age of 20.

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