Friday, August 8, 2014

How Stupid by Oscar Davis

Oscar Davis recalls three of the formative events of his life - stupidity or self-discovery?

CHILDHOOD - ALL ABOARD!

Okay, this is iffy territory. We're expected to do some stupid things as children, to serve as valuable life lessons. It's when we continue to do the same stupid things over and over that our judgment is called into question.

Back in the early 1960s, my family and I lived in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama. My father was a workaholic and traveled constantly, so my poor mother was charged with doing practically everything: she fed us, cleaned us, chauffeured us, entertained us, and disciplined us. The discipline was very important to her, since she somehow equated well-disciplined children with safe children, a notion drilled into her by her mother, Grandmother Muddy, who was without a doubt the Queen of the Worriers. If she didn't have something legitimate to worry about, she invented things. She was the kind of person who dove under her bed whenever she heard a clap of thunder. Tornado season was especially trying. What a lovely example to set for her two daughters, and four grandchildren, who visited her often. We soaked up Muddy's fears and anxieties like sponges, wringing them out onto every facet of our lives, ensuring regular therapy sessions for years. I am not bitter. I am not bitter.

I was ten years old, the oldest of four children, and mom relied on me to be her unofficial, assistant disciplinarian, and I did keep my brother and two sisters in line by bribing them with sweets and telling them ghost stories at bedtime, which they adored. If the infractions were too grave, mom made sure our overworked, humorless father was notified of the bad behavior. His predictable response was to halfheartedly whack my siblings on the rump a couple of times with his belt. While a paltry punishment, it was enough to scare them into impeccable behavior, for a few days anyway.

I may have given you the impression that since I was the oldest child, my behavior was always perfect. Not so. Sure, I could be a real sweetheart - obedient, funny and pleasant most of the time, but as any ten year old boy will eventually admit, I occasionally succumbed to the siren song of rebelliousness. Boyhood friends Joe Holman, Starkey McDonald, and Frankie Wilson (names have been changed to protect the guilty) were usually the instigators of a variety of stunts, and I always went along because I desperately wanted to belong. Our favorite stunt was to rise early on a Saturday, and stay gone all day long, without bothering to inform our parents of our intentions or whereabouts. Upon returning at dusk from these day long expeditions, we were met with angry parents, some of whom had feared the worst, having resigned themselves to the likelihood that their precious child had been snatched, and sold to the highest bidder. I remember being told what Mrs. Wilson, a pensive, weary woman, once said of her Frankie when she discovered he was missing. "I hope whoever ends up with him knows what they're in for." Frankie was not well-behaved.

Yes, I did willfully participate in these outings. One weekend though, I picked the wrong Saturday to pull the famous disappearing act, and it really pissed off my mother. She immediately handed me off to my father for punishment, not something that usually happened. Ordinarily, on those occasions when I misbehaved, mom and I usually negotiated our way past any punishment I might have received; I'd always agree to her suggestion that I take on more duties around the house. This worked well for a time, but ten year old boys being what they are, I gradually stopped doing the agreed upon chores, until mom was again doing everything. Strangely, my father, who was doubtless exhausted from his grueling job, did not punish me with his belt. (For the record, I've never once received any spankings from my father, not unless you count the time he gave me three anemic taps on my bottom with a Bolo paddle because I wouldn't settle down for my nap.) So instead of swatting me, he lectured me in the most annoying monotone, and made me promise not to do it again. I'd have almost preferred the belt.

I failed to mention what we four hellions did during our Saturday outings. Not much. Usually we threw rocks, filled mailboxes with pine cones, and played tag in the middle of the street. Of course there was a great deal of spitting, cussing, and shoulder-punching, especially by Joe and Frankie. Starkey and I usually abstained. My non-involvement met with catcalls of "queer" and "sissy." Starkey was a stocky kid, and exuded a "don't screw with me" vibe, so he didn't receive any catcalls, only me.

One Saturday we embarked on what turned out to be an unforgettable outing. We were all feeling especially adventurous, so we went somewhere we'd never been before. A few hundred yards from the outward boundaries of our neighborhood stood a large, overgrown thicket, which had a narrow, obscure dirt trail leading into it. As we drew closer to the entrance, Starkey said we had to be careful, since he was sure that a bunch of ignorant hill people lived deep inside the thicket, occupying dilapidated shacks. Starkey added that none of these people had many teeth, and all of them smelled bad. How Starkey knew all these details was a mystery. He'd been told that these wretched people routinely captured boys and kept them chained up, forcing them to do menial chores. Now and then they'd beat the boys, just to keep them in line. Joe and Frankie told Starkey he was crazy and a fat liar, but Starkey just laughed. My reaction to these horrible revelations was palpable, and I was not at all interested in pursuing this particular adventure. But after receiving a vicious razzing at my refusal to accompany them, I agreed to go, much against my better judgment.

Leading the pack was Frankie, a nasty boy in every sense of the word. He considered himself superior to the rest of us since he was twelve, practically a teenager, an enviable status. Like me, Joe and Starkey were ten. "Hurry up ladies," Frankie singsonged. "Can't you move any faster than that?" To punctuate his prompting, Frankie snapped his fingers directly beneath my scrotum, causing a blinding pain that can only be understood by males. Immediately I distanced myself from Frankie, dropping to the rear, recovering from his vulgar assault on my mid-section. We cautiously entered the thicket, anxious to find out what lay ahead, but also a little scared at the prospect.

We continued our single file march through the thicket for about twenty minutes, and were rewarded with only more bushes, trees, and the occasional muscadine vine, just loaded with ripe, purple muscadines. Of course we had to stop and eat them whenever they appeared, so our progress was slowed considerably.

Starkey, who was in line ahead of me, said he was disappointed at not finding any ignorant hill people living in shacks. I couldn't understand why he was saddened at not finding such horrible people, but I didn't say anything, except to suggest that we might encounter some further down the path. That brought a smile to his fat little face. Go figure.

We plodded on for another half hour or so, discovering only more of the same monotonous greenery, and beginning to grow bored with our little adventure, when we noticed something shiny ahead, glinting in the harsh sun. As we drew closer we realized it was a set of train tracks, which seemed out of place, stuck out in the middle of the thicket. Suddenly we were supercharged with energy as we went running down the tracks, laughing and pelting each other with pebbles from the road bed. Out of breath, we walked the rails for what seemed like hours, and weren't prepared for what stood before us. The tracks jutted out onto an enormous trestle, easily a hundred feet or more above a shallow stream, the trestle spanning approximately the same distance, from one side of the gorge to the other. The rails didn't look too sturdy, and rust was visible on much of them. There was little room on either side of each rail, giving the trestle a rickety look. So narrow were the tracks crossing to the other side of the gorge, that a strong gust of wind could easily send someone over the edge.

We wasted no time in starting the cross, because, well, it was there. Blame it on budding male machismo. We were nearly at the halfway point, but Starkey had made the mistake of looking down. He fell on all fours and froze; no amount of prodding could persuade him to stand and continue walking, so the four of us stood in place like statues, not sure what to do next. Out of nowhere a loud clap of thunder sounded, taking us completely by surprise since there hadn't been a hint of bad weather. Lightning streaked across the sky, followed by ground-shaking thunder that rolled and rolled. The skies darkened quickly and rain began falling, lightly at first, then more heavily, in big, intermittent sheets. The modest stream began swelling and could be heard churning below. I looked at poor Starkey, still down on all fours and completely drenched. He was crying and saying something I couldn't make out; the rain and thunder prevented all of us from hearing each other. The storm intensified, rain pelting us to the point of pain. It was even difficult to see, so we had no choice but to remain in place until the storm passed. Great gusts of wind buffeted us, threatening to hurl us onto the rocks below. We could only hold on to the rails with both hands and wait. Yes, we daring and stupid children were stuck on that damned trestle for almost two hours, and when the storm weakened we scurried like frightened rats to the other side as quickly as we could, remembering to NOT look down under any circumstances. We stood on the other side, drenched, panting, but grateful to be alive.

Frankie was first to voice the obvious. "Damn, that was a bitch! Glad that's over with."

I didn't have the heart to mention that we still had to get back.

So, did the four of us adventurers learn any valuable lessons from our experience?

Nope.

Over the next three years, we crossed that same trestle four more times before finally tiring of it. How stupid.



ADOLESCENCE - BEACH BLANKET BIMBOS

Fast forward to me at seventeen, in high school, with hormones in overdrive. I should probably mention that I had a notion I was gay. Not that I'd had a physical experience with another male, but the feelings and leanings were definitely there. I played it safe though, small towns being what they were, (we'd since moved to my father's boyhood town, much smaller than Birmingham), and "dated girls" with reckless abandon. I was even diagnosed with mononucleosis after our senior class trip to Washington, DC. Becky, one of the more intelligent and funny girls in my class, wasn't a great beauty or anything, but boy could she kiss. We had to travel to DC by train, for god's sake, and there wasn't much to do except make out, which Becky and I did, all the way from Birmingham to nearly North Carolina. I had to be hospitalized for twenty-eight days, ordered by my doctor to lie in bed and NOT MOVE A MUSCLE. (I was permitted to brush my teeth once daily, but no other activities.) I was to ring for a nurse if I needed anything.

Graduation was fast approaching, and it wasn't clear if I'd be released from the hospital in time to participate. On the day before graduation, I begged my doctor to allow me to graduate with my fellow classmates, and after some deliberation he struck a deal with me. He'd permit me to attend, give my little speech as class prophet, but I'd have to return to the hospital immediately; I would not be allowed to march, or attend any after parties. We agreed.

On the day of graduation, from the moment the ceremony began, people, both in the audience and on stage, complained that they couldn't hear much of what was being said. Several speakers spoke, but it was difficult to understand them. I was last up, so when my turn came, while glancing down at my notes on the podium, I noticed a single chromium switch set to the "off" position. I flipped it, began speaking, and the entire auditorium was suddenly filled with the sound of my voice, easily heard and understood. When the ceremony ended, several people complimented me on my speech, noting in particular how clear and forceful I'd sounded. I had to laugh.

After a full recovery, and with graduation over, it was time for my family to prepare for our annual trip to Florida, a tradition we'd enjoyed for many years. The destination of choice was always Panama City. The sands were sugar white and the gulf waters had a blue-green, jeweled look to them. My family nearly always stayed at the same place, "The Krystle Court," an older, two-story structure on the Gulf of Mexico, situated just two or three miles out, away from the fray of yelling teenagers and honking car horns. My dad knew what he was doing.

Dad and Mom took full advantage of these vacations as a time to really relax on the beach. They'd set up their lounge chairs and oversized umbrella in the mornings, then chat and doze for most of the day, interrupted occasionally by my siblings showing them the latest sea shells they'd discovered, or to share the sight of something dead and smelly they'd scooped out of the water with their little plastic pails. Early evenings found us reluctantly returning to our rooms to clean up for dinner. We always took our evening meal at Skipper Jack's, a hopelessly touristy seafood restaurant about ten miles from our motel. The place was always crowded and noisy, but had good food. We left "stuffed," having consumed an insane amount of food, most of it fried, and always we enjoyed slices of homemade Key lime pie.

We continued living the beach life at a pleasing, leisurely pace, but knew that in two days we'd be returning home. I was savoring the gulf breeze, warm sand, and the sight of fellow tourists who continually strolled up and down the beach, gawking at boats out in the gulf and at the sunbathers on the beach. I was sad about leaving Panama City, and although I'd enjoyed my stay, I was hungry for something different to happen, something exciting.

I got my wish.

"Whatcha lookin' at?"

I looked up from where I was sitting on my beach towel, at a blond-haired man who looked to be in his thirties. He stood tall, and wore skimpy red trunks and a yellow tank top that showed off his build. The hair on his legs was burnished gold from the sun. He was really handsome.

He asked again. "Hey, whatcha lookin' at?"

"Oh, nothin'. Just the water I guess." My heart was racing, partly because he'd startled me, and partly because he was so damn good looking.

"I'm Greg," the blonde said.

"Hi, I'm Oscar." I stood up awkwardly and offered my hand. He shook it firmly.

"Like the award."

"Huh?"

"You know, like the Academy Awards," he said, smiling broadly. (God, he had such perfect, white teeth.)

"Oh yeah. Never thought of that before."

I remember feeling so totally inadequate at conversation. Greg was so smooth and relaxed.

"Say Oscar, how old are you?"

"Seventeen, but my birthday's tomorrow. I'm a Gemini, you know."

"Eighteen? Tomorrow? Well, that's just great," Greg said, smiling even more broadly.

Greg explained that he and his two friends, Gino and Ralph, had recently driven down to Panama City from their home in Cleveland, Ohio, for a little rest and relaxation. Gino had relatives in Springfield, Florida, just a few miles from Panama City, and decided to kill two birds. At that moment two men walked up to Greg and me, giving me the once over, more than once. Greg introduced everybody, and we all sat down on my beach towel and began discussing plans for the evening.

Ralph was the shyest of the three men. Whenever you said anything to him, he'd blush a little before he spoke. He was soft-spoken and kind. Gino was, as the name might imply, Italian - handsome, sure of himself, but a bit creepy. More than once I caught him staring at my crotch, then he'd look at me intently, with those damp, brown eyes of his. Then there was Greg. He seemed sincere and friendly, but I soon decided that he too was the lecherous type, just like Gino, only Greg hid it better. After more talk of evening plans, Greg asked me, point-blank, "So Oscar, are you gay?" All three looked at me intently, anxious for my reply.

"Sure. Why not?" I sighed.

Well, they thought that was hilarious, and howled and rolled around on the sand, pounding it with their fists. Greg wiped away tears before he spoke. "Oscar, you're A-OK with me!" Ralph and Gino gave me playful shoulder punches and tousled my hair. I felt like their beach mascot.

Evening plans included lying on the beach atop Ralph's enormous blanket. Greg said there would be a full moon tonight, so the scenery was not to be missed. Then, around midnight, we'd pile into Greg's car and visit an establishment called "The Royal Room," supposedly Panama City's only gay bar. I'd never been to a gay bar, and was worried, but Greg assured me that it was no big deal - just a bunch of queens sitting around drinking.

I peeked at Greg's watch and saw how late it was. I told them mom and dad would be looking for me soon, if they weren't already. I explained to the guys that I had to do the "Skipper Jack's" restaurant thing with my family. Then, after they'd retired for the night, I'd head for the blanket. Greg was dubious.

"You sure you won't skip out on us?"

In all solemn sincerity, I assured them that I'd be there, and that I was really looking forward to seeing all the drinking queens. Again, the three of them broke up, and as they departed, each of them tousled my hair again. They were still laughing as they walked up the beach and out of sight.

It had been relatively easy to nip out of my motel room later that evening; my siblings had long since fallen asleep after a full day of swimming and running up and down the beach. Unfortunately, my parents, who normally turned in early, saw fit to stay up later than usual. Behind their closed door I could hear them murmuring now and then as my dad turned the pages of his newspaper. Finally, they turned out their light around ten thirty. I waited a few minutes more, in case one of them shuffled to the kitchenette to get a glass of water or something. Once satisfied that all was quiet, I grabbed my room key and escaped into the windy, moonlit night. I walked up the beach toward where Greg said the blanket would be, but I had trouble locating it, even in the ample moonlight. Seems Greg and company weren't the only people out to take advantage of the "scenery." Most of the inhabitants were couples, and I'd hear a giggle now and then.

Suddenly I was roughly scooped up by a man and carried a few yards back the way I'd just come. It was Greg, laughing himself silly. "We saw you walk by, but you didn't see us," he laughed, pleased at himself for spooking me. I was not amused.

"Christ, you almost gave me a heart attack!" I was panting, my heart thumping a mile a minute. I am easily startled. Have been ever since I can remember. Greg apologized as he gently lowered me onto the blanket next to where Gino and Ralph were sitting.

"We were sure you wouldn't show, so it's good to see you!" Greg said, smiling that blinding smile of his.

I apologized for being so late. I looked around at the beach, the gulf, and especially at the sky. The full moon really put on a show that night. It was enormous, and spilled its blue/white glow everywhere. We sat quietly, admiring the beauty of it.

Greg looked at his watch. "It's after eleven, so maybe we should head to the bar now. What do you guys think?" No one objected, so we trudged to Greg's car and headed for "The Royal Room."

I was really nervous about visiting a gay bar, despite Greg's assurance. I had heard and read things about gay people being harassed, arrested, even beaten up, just because they innocently patronized a certain bar. I voiced my concerns to the guys.

Gino said that "The Royal Room" was an old establishment, and catered to straights and gays. To his knowledge there had never been any trouble, and he doubted there would be any tonight. Greg and Ralph agreed, and I felt better about it.

I need not have worried. The bar was disappointing; it was decorated with lots of fake palm trees, sea shells, netting, and plenty of plastic sea horses and fish festooning the main bar area.

The clientele was especially disappointing; they were very ordinary-looking people. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but I'd imagined wild merriment, with lots of effeminate men drinking umbrella drinks, mincing around, shrieking with laughter. Instead, we discovered five people at the bar; one elderly man was so drunk he could hardly stay on his stool. The other four comprised three men who couldn't stop laughing at the lone female, hideously intoxicated and having great difficulty re-applying her lipstick. She kept missing her mouth. Each attempt brought gales of laughter from the three men.

I glanced at Greg, Gino, and Ralph, and you could tell they were disappointed, but Greg ordered beers for us anyway. To my amazement, I was not carded. The bartender hardly even looked at me. We sat at a table in the corner of the room, since no one wanted to sit close to the freak show going on at the bar.

"Happy birthday Oscar," Greg said.

"Huh?"

"It's after midnight. You've been eighteen for all of twelve minutes," Gino said, suddenly all cozy and attentive.

"Well thanks. Funny, I don't feel any older," I joked. The guys all laughed, a little more hardily than was necessary.

We hung out in the bar for another hour, and except for a couple of new arrivals, two men who looked as if they'd just washed up on the beach, no one else came inside. Greg took a vote.

"All those in favor of blowing this dump, raise your hand." As a reply, everyone headed for the exit. The ride back to the beach was uneventful, except that Gino thought it would be fun to tickle me. That got old fast, and I told him to cut it out. I glanced at Ralph, who sat silently, a serious look on his face.

We arrived at Greg's motel, and decided that we'd re-visit the beach, and sit on Ralph's big blanket as before. The moon, now directly overhead, was still beautiful. We just sat and drank it all in.

At Gino's suggestion, we decided to take a quick dip in the gulf, so we peeled off down to our underwear, and marched into the warm water. It felt great. The gulf was smooth as glass, so we gave in to the temptation to swim out further. I reached the point where the water line was just above my mouth, and I was tip-toeing on the sandy bottom, luxuriating in the water, when I felt a hand on my ass. I didn't even have to look because I knew it was Gino. I removed his hand and told him to stop horsing around. Ralph moved toward me suddenly, and for a second I thought I'd need to fend him off as well. But Ralph just positioned himself between Gino and me, and stood there, giving Gino a fierce look. I'd had enough, and began swimming toward shore, and soon we were all on the blanket once again. I noticed it was nearly 2:00am, so I decided to call it a night, but before I could open my mouth, Gino started tickling me again, causing me to tip over from my sitting position. Then Greg moved in and started kissing my neck, and while that actually felt nice, I became increasingly afraid. As I struggled to break free, Ralph came to life. He stood up suddenly and bellowed. "Gino, Greg, over here!" He motioned for them to follow him to a spot several yards from blanket.

I couldn't make out their faces, but it was obvious that Ralph was angry. Even though I couldn't hear what was being said, it was clear that Ralph was giving Gino and Greg an earful. Abruptly all three returned to the blanket, and we sat in total silence for what seemed like forever.

I don't know what Ralph said to them, but from that moment on, Gino and Greg were respectful, and never again did either of them touch me. Wherever you are Ralph, thanks!

It was the ideal time to make my exit, but I lingered, admiring the night sky a while longer. Before long, I stood up.

"Guys, I'm gonna head back to my room. I'd hate it if my folks woke up early and saw I was missing.

Thanks for showing me around, and, well, thanks for your, uh, interest." I leaned over and hurriedly gave each of them a kiss on the cheek. Then I left.

Where do I even begin? When I recall this experience, it makes me shudder when I think what could have happened to me. Had those men been violent criminals, I would likely have ended up in either the gulf or a shallow grave. Worse, I would have sentenced my poor family to the misery of never knowing what happened to me. And swimming in the gulf? At night?

This was truly one of the most foolish things I've ever done.

How stupid.



YOUNG ADULTHOOD - THE THRILL OF THE CHASED

To state the obvious, many young men in their twenties are obsessed with sex. They spend nearly every waking hour planning it, pondering it, relishing it, and reliving memories of it. Casual, innocuous conversations invariably veer toward the carnal.

I was a typical twenty-something gay man, living once again in the bustling city of Birmingham. I held a job in the advertising department of a well known department store downtown, where I toiled as Assistant Ad Manager. Advertising, especially in a retail setting, is like a sexual smorgasbord; there's way too much to consume, but it's fun to nibble. I, however, chose not to, as my friend Mike put it, "flitter in my nest." I'd heard too many horror stories about co-workers hooking up, eventually crippling or even destroying a perfectly good working relationship. So, I needed to meet guys using another method, since workplace romance wasn't an option for me, and bars really weren't my thing.

There is a particularly beautiful section of Birmingham known as Highland Avenue. It is somewhat hilly, generously landscaped with enormous trees, glorious blooming shrubberies, and contains many fine mansions, most built circa 1910, lovingly restored to their former glory. Many, for the most part, skillfully carved up, housing tony shops, architectural firms, coffee houses, intimate eateries, even luxury apartments. Most were multi-story homes, complete with cellars, music rooms, solariums, even ballrooms, and some had beautiful wrap-around porches, where inhabitants could sit and observe the movement of humanity along Highland Avenue. Many structures were Greek influenced, with Ionic pilasters, columns, and porticoes. Interspersed among these grand structures were numerous apartment buildings, many newer, contemporary buildings, and also older, expertly remodeled ones dating back to the 1920's. Highland Avenue meandered about four miles among all of this beauty, skirting four enormous public parks.

I'd been fortunate to find a small, one bedroom apartment directly on Highland Avenue. It was on the top floor of a four story building, with a cozy screened-in porch facing Highland. From that lovely perch I could survey the sidewalks and street below, assessing the considerable number of men who drove, biked, jogged, walked, or otherwise passed my building with astonishing frequency. Highland was wildly popular with the gay crowd, and a local wit had dubbed it "vaseline alley."

Whenever I zeroed in on a promising specimen, proudly jogging or walking past my building, I'd race to my front door and practically hurl myself down several flights of stairs in order to hopefully catch up with him and strike up a conversation. Surprisingly, this had proved an effective method of meeting guys a couple of times, so I made sure to be "street ready" with jogging shorts, a tank top, and running shoes.

It was a beautiful spring day, a Saturday, and I was reading a newspaper on my wonderful porch among the treetops. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a shirtless jogger on the sidewalk below, heading toward my building. As he neared, I got a good look at him. You know how when you're observing someone attractive from a distance, headed in your direction, but when they get really close, you realize they weren't that attractive at all? Well, this guy had the opposite effect; from a distance he looked average, but the closer he got, the better he looked. I was immediately captivated, and jumped into action, flying down the stairs as he passed my building. His "jogging," if you want to call it that, was halfhearted. He seemed more interested in looking around. This was a very good sign.

I was jogging about twenty feet or so behind him. I caught up, staying more or less parallel to him, remembering to make manly, heavy-breathing sounds, even though I wasn't the least bit winded, yet.

I grunted "Hey," then shot ahead, leaving him in the dust. I stopped at a park bench and pretended to tie my shoe, and was delighted when he stopped jogging, and stood about five feet from me, hands on his hips, panting like mad. After some banal chit-chat about jogging and the weather, we introduced ourselves (he was called Dieter). Our eyes locked. Dieter asked me if I would join him for a cold drink.

I accepted, and began suggesting places where we could buy some, when he informed me that we were standing in front of his apartment building.

"Why don't we just pop in to my place? No sense in buying anything," he said, logically.

We climbed the two flights of stairs to his apartment. Once inside, I was immediately impressed with the flooring; the great room area shone with beautiful, honey-colored hardwoods, expertly installed.

Oddly though, there was no furniture whatsoever, not even a rug. I noticed there were no pictures or mirrors on the walls either.

"Just moved in?" I queried.

Dieter looked confused. "No, what made you think that?"

I couldn't think of an answer, so I quickly changed the subject and asked if I could use the bathroom.

"Down that hallway, second door on your left," Dieter indicated. "While you're gone I'll fix our drinks." He had the most delightful German accent.

I walked down the hall, but opened the first door on the left by mistake. Hanging from the ceiling were dozens of plastic dolls, each about eight or so inches in height, hung by the neck with twine. There were so many that you couldn't walk about the room without bumping into several of them. On the floor, in a far corner of the room, was a worn, filthy mattress. My heart began thumping wildly in my chest, and I quickly exited the room and opened the door to the bathroom. More horrors. There were suspended dolls in there too, except these dolls were hung upside down, the twine wrapped around their ankles. Did I mention that all of the dolls were naked?

"How are you doing in there? Our drinks are ready." Dieter yelled.

I flushed the toilet for effect, and quickly vacated the bizarre room.

I discovered Dieter, now completely naked, sitting lotus-style on the floor, with a tray containing our drinks on the floor in front of him.

"Please, sit!" Dieter commanded. He handed me my drink, a purplish, bubbling concoction nowhere near cold.

"What's this?" I asked, eying the drink as if it contained radium, trying mightily to control my growing panic.

"Drink it!" Dieter yelled.

My eyes widened in terror."I'm really not as thirsty as I thought I was. Gosh look at the time. I have to go. Listen, thanks for the drink. See you 'round," I blurted, running all of my words together.

I'd almost reached the front door when Dieter stood up, in all his magnificent glory, and ordered me to sit down and drink my drink. (Why was it that the really pretty ones always had a screw loose?)

I raced as fast as I could to my apartment building, and hid out for a few days. The last thing I wanted was for Dieter to find out where I lived.

After this jolting experience, I decided to meet guys in more conventional ways, and leave the street pick-ups to others.

When I think of how that experience could have ended, when I think what might have happened had I drunk that drink, I just shake my head.

How stupid.



Thankfully, I no longer indulge in risky behaviors, not unless you count driving, eating, walking and running. With age, a kind of protective filter has descended, and remains firmly fixed between me and stupid behaviors. This is not to imply that I no longer do stupid things, but such occurrences are now confined to relatively inconsequential events, such as forgetting to turn on the clothes dryer, or driving off with my notebook and a latté perched atop the roof of my car.

I hope you enjoyed reading these examples of stupidity. Please pause for a moment to give thanks that:

  1. You're still alive
  2. I'm still alive
  3. There's hope for all of us

Just pray for that filter to hold.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Oscar Davis,

    I'd prefer to get married with a nice and wise girl. I really cannot understand G-A-Y-S!

    Well, here we had three separate stories! The first one (when you were still innocent :) was interesting but not original. I have read lots of stories like that.

    The second part was less boring.

    The third part was the worst. Easy dirty imagination.

    Many thanks!

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  2. Compulsive reading. Whether I was crawling along under a rail - 100 feet over a flooding river, swimming at midnight in a gulf, or desperately trying to find my way out of a doll-bedecked apartment, I was riveted.
    ...You know I've asked myself that same question, and the answer I always come up with is that we humans are like cats. We too have nine lives.

    Brooke Fieldhouse

    ReplyDelete