I was thinking today about my first group of gay friends. I was maybe 23 or so (kind of old, come to think about it now) and very naive.
Not that I'm not still naive, but imagine me at that age.
I had met a guy in an art class named Patrick. He was very tall and skinny and fixated on two things:
*younger guys (though all of 20 himself)
(ok, so I said only two things, but at least two of those three are pretty much the same, if you think about it, right?)
His paintings were always of bloody figures at war, it seemed. At the time, he was squatting at a house near the Fairgrounds (next door to the scene of a notorious satanic cult murder a few years later, so I remembered reading with horror in the Times Picayune…..human hearts buried under the floorboards and everything)
I, however, had no clue as to that sort of thing. Actually, I had no clue period, about *anything* at that age.
One of my most vivid memories of that time is bringing over freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and light bulbs. They had burned them all out at the house and had no money to buy more. Wanting to be helpful, or just plain pathetic, I drove up to the nearly dilapidated house, next door to the Satanic cult, parked my Escort on the street and, like Little Red Ridinghood, brought the cookies (in a basket for God’s sake) in.
The cast of characters was always changing, but the main players were:
Patrick, the violent, pre-pedophile, Madonna fan.
Joao, an 18 year old Brazilian model/prostitute who constantly practiced his gymnastic routine (he was going to the Olympics he insisted).
Daniel, a straight native westbanker for whom Patrick had an unrequited lust. Daniel had an encyclopedic knowledge of music. I remember he initially sneered at me, making fun of my suspected musical tastes. Within a few minutes, however, I had redeemed myself and he completely ignored Patrick Needless to say Patrick was livid with jealousy.
Bill, an overweight Disney store employee who was reviled for his old age (30!). He shared the pedophilic tendencies of Patrick. The stories he told of the Disney store exploits are not fit to print….well, yet.
To round it out, there was the ever revolving cast of Patrick’s tricks. One of the more memorable of these, whose name I can't remember, was from New Jersey. He was a hustler and a crack addict. It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone doing crack.
I actually asked him, "what are you doing?" I thought it was a craft, no doubt.
He told me, "some crack, man."
He was very nonchalant and actually pretty nice. He talked incessantly of “ ‘shrooms.” He kept looking in the yard for them. I helped.
Hell, I had read a book about truffle hunting in Normandy somewhere along the line, hadn't I? Somehow I won him over too. I think it was the cookies. Of course he disappeared the next morning with Patrick's lighter and 50 dollars.
The most bizarre member of this group, however, was clearly me...me and my basket of cookies and lightbulbs. You don't get much more bizarre than that.
After Patrick left for San Francisco, I decided not so much to go back "into the closet," as "back on the shelf."
Clearly, I was not cut out for gay life, I decided. I mean really, this was not at all what I had thought this whole "gay" thing would be. Not at all.
I had pictured "gay" life to be....
oh, I don't know...Noel Coward dialogue...or Wham! videos...and, above all, gentrification. Certainly not squatters and lighter thieves.
It took a few more years before I met my next set of gay friends, who were a bit more domesticated, not quite, but a bit more. And now, ultimately, the third and current set are the most "domesticated" yet. In the best way. When I contrast the two groups it just makes me smile.