Thursday, August 4, 2011

The crisis of "Puer Aeternun", or, Why Gay Men Can't Grow Up - PART TWO

I awoke the next morning to an empty cabin. The sun was bright as I crawled out of my bunk and carefully stepped down the wooden ladder. I looked around.  It was deserted. Every bunk was empty. How had I not heard everyone leave?

My hair was a gnarled mess.  For as long as I could remember I loathed my hair. It was a wild, untamed thing.  I needed to have it cut every two weeks or else I would feel itchy and uncomfortable. My Mother fondly said my hair was 'nastier than a Boar's Nest.'

I pulled on my shorts and my jacket. It was July, but, as my Father liked to say, 'colder than a witch's tit.' I ran to the mess hall at the bottom of the grassy hill.  I could hear the screams and clanking silverware of campers having breakfast.

My stomach was in knots. I didn't want to see Curt. That's not the truth. I did want to see Curt but I was afraid to see Curt.  I knew what would happen. It would be the same thing that happened to me every time in the past and it was never, ever good.

I had secret sex with countless boys when I was in Junior High and High School. The format was always the same: they would invite me for a sleep over.  The night would proceed as all the Normal Rockwell paintings told us it would proceed. We would watch TV, eat ice cream -- the things innocent boys do.

Then it would get late.  And then one boy would ask the other boy if he had ever measured his penis. This is where the scene departed from the typical Mr. Rockwell setting. Fumbling and awkward sex would ensue.

The next day at school would always be horrible.  I'd see the boy I had done inappropriate things with the night before and he would ignore me for the rest of year except for isolated moments when we would end up alone (situations, of course, the other boy orchestrated) and then I was his everything as he clawed at my clothes and we rolled around like two puppies in a playpen.

I knew what would happen when I'd walk through the double-swinging doors of the camp cafeteria.  I'd do my best to avoid Curt but I'd have to look at him,.  He would catch my eye, scowl or smirk at me, then turn away and never talk to me again.

I pushed open the doors to the cafeteria and closed my eyes.  I walked into the room. It was a huge, wooden construction.  The sound of everyone laughing, eating and talking was thunderous, like that of a two-hundred foot waterfall on a bed of flat, sharp rocks. 

I glanced in the far corner, to the bank of windows filling the corner of the mess hall, the picture perfect blue Puget Sound beyond.  The light was bright, glaring.

I saw our cabin's table.  All of the boys were inhaling their food. Chewing was an afterthought.  I strolled over casually, feeling the eyes of the entire camp on me, staring at me, ready to throw their food and plates.  I had been kicked, punched, scorned and openly hated with a surprising vigor in school.  I was accustomed to being abused.  I figured if I was going to get the shit kicked of me by Curt at least it would be in a nice, island setting.   

I walked over to the table, my eyes firmly on the floor.  I knew Curt was sitting at the side and I knew he was looking at me. I couldn't look up. Sweat rolled down my back. My teeth chattered. 

I peeked up and saw an empty spot on the corner of the table away from Curt. Thank God.  I could sit there and eat my breakfast and not have to endure the prolonged wait of another boy preparing to beat me up.  What Curt and I did at Chapel Rock was wrong. It was worse than wrong.  It was sinful and I deserved to be punished for it.  

I sat down, grabbed an empty plate and started to spoon up some of the scrambled eggs in the large container in the center of the table.

"What are you doing?"

I looked up. Curt was standing over me.  I swallowed hard.  My throat was dry.  "Nothing," I said.  "I wanted some eggs."

Curt leaned over me.  His arm graced the edge of my mouth.  His body pressed against mine.  He reached into the bowl of shredded cheddar cheese, took out a scoop and sprinkled them over the eggs on my plate.

"There," he said.  "The cheese makes them taste better.  You can tell they're powdered.  So gross."

He smiled and put the spoon back into the bowl of cheese.  "Lee said we're talking a field trip today.  We gotta be at the dock in half an hour. We're taking canoes over. Lee wants me to steer. I've never done that before.  Have you?"

I shook my head.  "No."  My voice sounded thin and high. 

"Oh, well.  You'll go in my boat, right? That way if I steer us all the way back to Seattle you'll beat up anyone who calls me a dork," he said, a grin spreading on his face, his cheeks tan and flush from being outside the day before.

I nodded.  I tried to say something but the words stuck in my throat.  

He touched my shoulder.  "See you in a few," he said as he turned and walked away, waving at me from the open doorway before disappearing from my view.

( be continued...)


1 comment:

  1. Geez, Mike, never knew high school was so hard for you :( But then, mine was difficult as well. Love you. Great writing.