The manager smiled as we entered the joint, leading us to a booth dressed with paper placemats. We didn’t even look at the menus.
“I’d like a cheeseburger, medium well, French fries and a coke.”
“And I’ll have the cheeseburger deluxe with bacon and swiss, onion rings and coffee, please”
We handed the menus over, smiling at each other. Our conversation consisted mostly of play-by-plays from the lunchtime gathering, peppered with a few of the choice exclamations that Mike had written in his post-jerk email. Turns out he'd had a very, very good time.
When the food arrived we reverted to autopilot: pickles and cole slaw changed places.
We dressed our burgers and devoured our food.
Jefferson recited some favorite riddles of Lillie’s: What has eyes but can’t see? A potato! What kind of flower can talk? A tulip!
I was swinging my legs under the table and realized that it was supported by two legs underneath.
“This is superfluous, no? It’s a small table! Why does it need two supports?”
“So that I can bring my kids here and say, 'Children, do you know what has two legs and can’t walk? This table!'”
a-hahahahahahaha! That’s the spirit, baby. Take the inane jokes and make 'em your own.
We finished eating. Somehow it didn’t occur to either of us to ask for the check or, once we’d gotten it, to stand and leave. We just sort of sat there grinning.
On the walk home we passed several people out walking their dogs. Mostly small dogs. Mostly wearing coats and boots.
“Ugh, that makes me totally crazy.”
“You have an opinion about dressing dogs?”
“I have an opinion about treating dogs like babies. The clothes, the little carrying bags, the fucking doggie-snuglis… they are DOGS.”
“Do you also have an opinion about doggie Halloween costumes?”
“Fuck, man, don’t even get me started…”
"What about baby Halloween costumes?”
“You mean, like, those little pea pod costumes? Ack…listen, I don’t mean to sound like a negative bitch, and I get the baby stuff to an extent (Because when else is your child gonna let you dress them up as a legume?), but the whole glamour dog thing is just out of control. It’s just more evidence of gross American consumerism. I find it tedious and stupid. Blech.”
“Well, who knew you’d have such a strong opinion?!”
“Yeah, that’s really the only opinion I have. You know that I don’t read papers or watch TV or speak with adults, so this is really all I am equipped to discuss.”
Back home we had a few hours to kill before leaving for the concert. Jefferson poured bourbons and we got comfortable on the bed to watch a DVD he’d been sent: Gay Sex in the Seventies. It’s a documentary about gay culture in New York from Stonewall until AIDS erupted in 1981, using interviews and footage from the period of ‘cruising,’ bath houses and clubs.
What is it about gay men that fascinates me so much?
I think it’s the attitude which was fostered by the Stonewall riots in 1969. Gay men were still living in an in-between world of passing and nondisclosure until then. Codespeak, looks and gestures served to identify one to another as ‘bent.’ Until suddenly, being gay became less a personal issue and a more political one. Reveling in this new freedom, their collective nose was thumbed at society’s preconceived notions. Freedom to live as they wanted, to love and fuck whomever they wanted became an matter of pride and entitlement. No, promiscuity in the gay community was not a new phenomenon, but with this invigorated sense of community came a sense of pride in living the life they wanted. I get it.
We watched as the interviewees reminisced about the Christopher Street Baths, the Westside piers and trucks, gay clubs and parties. Their memories were interspersed at times by thoughts of lovers lost, of orgies missed, of relationships formed.
When the movie ended we talked about its merits and shortcomings. My head had started to ache; not enough food, maybe? Too long between meals? Sinuses? Damn it, I didn’t need a headache tonight. I pressed on some acupressure points and massaged my temples.
The clock read nearly seven PM. We had to be at the theatre by eight. I went to the bathroom, took two Tylenol, dusted my face with powder and put on mascara. It’s about as much makeup as I can stand. While Jefferson shaved I stepped into stockings and a strapless black Lycra slip.
“I think you should wear just that,” he joked.
“Ha! Are you saying you have a Lycra fetish I don’t know about?”
He just grinned and pulled a black suit from the closet.
I padded to the back bedroom where I’d hung my dress. As I fastened the strap behind my neck I returned to check on Jefferson’s progress. I peeked around the corner, hiding in the doorway. He was changing his shirt. Damn, he looked handsome.
I have a thing for men in suits. More specifically, I have a thing for the dressing ritual a suit requires. I love seeing the pieces building upon each other, culminating in the jacket being swung around the shoulders, the shrugging and collar straightening/head turning/tie knotting.
I love a man dressed in a suit.
He caught me watching him. I smiled, “You look hot.”
“Whoa, look at you…you clean up real good. Lemme see.”
I turned slowly, his eyes traveling down the halter with the sheer fabric covering my shoulder blades to the fluted hemline just past my knees... around and up to the deep neckline which, had I worn a demi bra, would have been swelling. Instead, the barest trace of soft flesh was visible: an understatement. My preference.
He whistled, “Very nice, darling.”
“Thank you. Now, for the accessories.”
I put on my shoes: black slingbacks with a kitten heel, and held up two necklaces. The first was bold: a slim collar from which hung a hammered silver and bronze medallion surrounding a large slice of jasper. This is the piece that draws attention to itself; the rest of the outfit quietly fading into the background. The second necklace was a cascade of garnet beads threaded onto a ribbon, drawing the eye downward to whatever lay beyond the neckline of my dress.
“The red. That’s gorgeous.”
“I thought so, too,” I said, as I fastened the clasp and hooked the earrings into my ears.
“Ready. I’m so excited for this, baby.”
He held my coat and I slid my arms into it.
“Me, too. Let’s go.”
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