Still Learning How to Fly ~ Chapter Eleven: "Cowboys and the Porn Star" (Pt.3)

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 15th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1vep0381/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Biography & Autobiography

My co-worker Mike (whom I've secretly fallen in love with) unexpectedly returns from college 2/3 of the way thru his junior year and asks for his old job back. We take an overnight trip ALONE back to his college to gather his belongings. Uh-oh! What happens??

Gymnaturism

I did what any gay man would do. I joined a gym.

Okay, I didn’t run right out and do that right away, but that evolved in not too long a time. You see, a couple of things evolved from my fit that loud and emotional afternoon. First and foremost, I stopped fighting my gayness, at least I accepted it. Not that I was happy about. It would take years yet for me to grow into an acceptable level of comfort with it, and I didn’t know where it all fit into my life, or what I was going to do with it. It was just there. It was a side of me, a part of me that was me, and that I accepted. And I had fallen in love with a man, and a man who does that is at the very least at his core somewhat gay, he has to be.

Because I’d fallen for Mike, I grew to want to take better care of myself again. Since my days of being built like a brick barn when I worked at the tire plant, I’d fallen back on bad habits and gained back a few unsightly pounds. Nobody else ever noticed because of my long gaunt-looking face and slender fingers and hands, but I’d gained four inches in the waist. I always carried the extra pounds right around my middle in the proverbial spare tire right above my flat ass. God has a sense of humor.

And so I joined a gym which was located just a couple of miles from the office, and I could stop off right after work three days a week, and in no time I’d dropped the extra pounds and from the cardio workout I was doing my heart was in great shape. Great! Plus the workout was great for strengthening my back muscles and my weak left knee.

However . . .

There proved to be a downside or an upside to working out at the gym depending on how you viewed it.

Eye candy.

Lots and lots of naked men. Showers, and saunas, and whirlpools. Oh my!

And the guys were not shy about their nudity, and so I learned not to be shy about mine either. It was during this time at the gym in west Lansing that I learned to become somewhat of a naturist.

One day as I quietly sat soaking naked in the whirlpool after a thorough workout, I was joined there by two somewhat younger college-age men equally naked and already deeply engaged in conversation. They sat on the opposite side of this twelve-man pool, and I didn’t give it a lot of thought other than they were both kind of cute, and the one with the rose tattoo on his shoulder looked kind of familiar and was also reasonably well-hung. I wasn’t paying any attention to their conversation, but they were talking just loud enough so they could hear each other over the sound of the whirlpool jets and naturally I picked up bits and pieces here and there.

“Yeah, He wants me to come back out there and do another film,” said Rose Tattoo.

“Well are you gonna?” replied his buddy.

“I dunno. I’m thinking about it,” said Rose Tattoo.

The seed from the bits and pieces of this conversation I took home with me that afternoon got me to deeply wondering. From my loiterings at the local newsstand, I had purchased two male magazines which were very deeply concealed at home (you see now the double life I was nurturing), and in one of these gay male porn video releases were reviewed complete with pictures. I went home to dig into my tiny treasure trove to see if my hunch was correct, because there was no way it could be. My eyes must have been seeing things.

Damn! I was right! I knew I’d seen that rose tattoo somewhere before, and here he was in all his erect glory. DAMN! It would appear that he may have been helping to pay for the college tuition by appearing in a film (or two, or three?) for Falcon Studios one of the premier gay studios in the porn world (located in San Francisco) I would go on to learn. And I was sharing a hot tub with him in Lansing. And many more times after that.

Actually, from him and his little hot tub buddy and their little future whispered conversations I would learn that Mr. Rose Tattoo also appeared as a stripper now and then in one of the clubs around town though I never went so far as to go and look in on him. I didn’t have to. I got my eyes full every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the gym. And if I wanted to look at the full-sized specimen, I only had to go back into the closet for that. The things we do. Men, I tell ya. I was rationalizing. I wasn’t cheating on Nancy. But yes I was, deep down, with my heart, and certainly with my eyes. Only it would take me years to realize it. And then finally admit it.

The Trip (Or Cards Left On the Table Unplayed)

I never did learn all the details, but late in the winter of 1988 Mike returned from Michigan Tech and asked for his old job back part-time. He also had something else in the works jobwise though over the years I’ve forgotten what that was. We were overjoyed, of course, because we’d never filled his position, and I’d resumed doing double duty between inside sales and the packing table. The UPS guy I’m sure was more than happy to see his friendly face again. And I certainly was if only on a part-time basis.

He was surprised to see what I’d done with my health, and it wasn’t too long before he joined me at the gym. But before he did, he asked me to take a trip with him. A long one. Way back up to Houghton. He’d left in such a hurry that he’d left much of his heavy belongings, furniture and stuff at the off-campus housing he’d been sharing with three other guys, and from what little he told me about the trip we would take back up there and from what wasn’t being said, I gathered they either weren’t too happy about his departure or for some other reason he wasn’t crazy about facing them alone. Of course, I would drive to the ends of the Earth with him, though I didn’t tell him that, but it was at least a ten-hour drive one way, alone in a small truck cab (his dad’s) with a guy I was in love with. What was bad about this picture? Plus, we were going to have to spend a night together at a motel up there. Overnight. In a room. Together. Alone. Uh-oh.

It was just after the first of April when we left, but there was still snow on the ground as we got way Up North by The Bridge, not an unusual sight at that time of year, and as we hit dusk, for the first time in my life I saw them, the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, and they were magnificent. I thanked Mike on the spot for bringing me along otherwise I may never have seen this, both of us peering out the front window of the truck and trying not to run off the road as we gazed out in wonder. We finally pulled off for a moment. God knows, I wanted to kiss him so badly, it was the most romantic moment of my entire life! Standing by the highway under the evening sky with a man I loved under the Northern Lights. If only I knew how he felt about it.

It was quite late when we got into Houghton which is clear at the northwestern end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and so we found a decent but cheap motel and checked in. We would get his stuff first thing in the morning for the return drive home, but now it was time to sleep. We got a room with two beds, but we still got a quizzical look from the desk clerk, and I’d be willing to lay down good money he listened at the wall that night.

And I’ll never forget that night for it remains one of the most difficult and restless I’ve ever spent in my entire life. There were so many things I wanted to say to Mike. Of course, there were so many things, I wanted to do! We lay six feet away from each other and yet a thousand miles apart. It took every single fiber of my being not to jump into bed with him and just cuddle . . . JUST HOLD HIM! I wanted to do that so very, very badly that I almost screamed! And the worst part was he was over there in his bed tossing and turning just as badly as I was. Was he going through the very same torture that I was? I was the older male. If there was a move to be made it would have to be mine. But what if I was wrong about him? He never dated girls. Well, yeah he did, I reasoned. He had a date . . . once. When was that? I tried to remember that one date he went on with somebody way back when. It was a double date, wasn’t it? Hell, I couldn’t remember. But I knew he had a date, with a girl. ONCE. Once upon a time. Was he straight? Or was he questioning too?

I lay there tossing and turning, and I heard Mike tossing and turning, clearing his throat. And I thought about Cubby and Nancy.

Okay. I was in love with Mike. There was no doubt in my mind and my heart (and my loins) about that. But in the final analysis, was I ready to leave them for him? Was I ready to start something here that I wasn't ready to finish later? And what if I was wrong? What if he was straight? It was a long ride back to Lansing with someone who’s mad at me, and I still had to work with him later totally embarrassed. Plus, at the very least, he was my best friend and little brother. Was I willing to risk all of that? I was not. My reasoning in the dark that night would win out over the urge for reckless abandon, and I eventually fell asleep. Mercifully.

In the morning we quickly gathered his belongings from his old apartment where I met his old mates, and we fled the cold confines of Houghton for the Lower Peninsula and home. However, I’ve never forgotten this trip, nor have I regretted it over the years for it made me face my love for Mike head on. Up close and personal. I just wasn’t ready to make a single parent of Nancy. Looking back on it, perhaps I should have, but we’ll never know. The grapes weren’t ripe yet. Still I’ve always wondered about Mike. And there’s always a little corner of my heart devoted just to him. One cannot forget ever the eager look in those steel-blue eyes.

Running Away

We all fell back into a lazy routine at the firm as 1988 wore on. Mike and I were working out at the gym together as our schedules permitted. I was more regular then he was, but we joined in the ritual nudity of the place finally getting to see each other naked, not that we did anything about it. We just acted cool like two brothers would. But it was simply amazing! We almost looked like brothers in a way. Two furrballs, one big and one smaller (okay, I’m referring to skeletal size here). Put us together and you had Yogi Bear and Boo Boo! It was quite comical.

Nancy had gone on to get her CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) certificate and had been licensed by the state of Michigan to work for a company which had her placed in various homes throughout the region. Plus my pay had finally advanced a little bit, so we’d finally moved up into the middle class, and so we’d moved into a somewhat better apartment in Mason, a quad. It still wasn’t expensive, but it had a real fireplace and a washer and dryer in a full basement. You’d have thought we’d moved to Park Avenue!

While we lived here in the quad, Cubby and I used to go over to the nearby municipal tennis court. He was in the 5th and 6th grades by then, and he’d really grown, still not as tall as me, but compact and strong like his grandpa, my dad, in fact he’s built just like my dad whom he’s named after. I’m not a great sportsman, but it took Cubby only a matter of about two weeks to start beating me at tennis, and my reach is a lot longer than his. That kid was fast! And we shall not talk about basketball! I am basketball-challenged in every way known to humankind! And possibly more. But these months we played tennis at the courts in Mason are the most memorable I ever shared with my son, and I’ll never forget them. I wish there had been more.

As the year wore on and gave way to 1989 our major parts supplier, the one whose subsidiary office was located in the Chicago suburbs and with whom I talked on the phone constantly several times each day became interested in me for a job. Actually their home office on Long Island in New York had been interested in me first, because I’d originally contacted them. How all of this started was that while I loved my little company, I’d really dead-ended there, and worse yet, I could foresee the end of the line swiftly coming for the end of the firm. I knew that it was going to be not more than two years and they were going to have to close up shop if for no other reason than the market was slowly shrinking in our area. GM was a major factor in this. More and more lines were going down, one by one. The same thing was being visited even in Lansing that had already devastated Flint, Jackson, and Detroit. It was just slower to get to Michigan’s capitol city, but it was getting there, and so what we were selling was being needed less and less as time went on, and I knew eventually my job as going to go bye-bye. I was not getting caught with my pants down, and I was going to be on top of things, and I started marketing myself. The main parts supplier on Long Island had an educational unit which they were considering me to become a part of and one of the team had interviewed me at Detroit Metro Airport one day when he was passing through the area. I’d had to surreptitiously take a sick day to make that meeting, and pray all the way there. While it had been a good interview, they decided against expanding their educational unit. It was okay, because I wasn’t crazy about moving to Long Island anyway.

However, the folks at the subsidiary we dealt with in Chicago everyday got wind of it, and they started talking to me about it behind my boss’s back, about the possibility of my coming over there instead to do what had been discussed at that meeting at Detroit Metro. I would start out on the phones like I was doing in my job in Lansing doing exactly what I was currently doing, and as soon as they could arrange to set up the educational department there we’d move it into that phase. All of this had the blessing of the higher ups in Long Island. Plus they would reimburse me for my moving cost. And as if that wasn’t enough, I’d be receiving a 50% pay increase from what I was currently making in Lansing. Granted, the cost of living in the Chicago area was higher, but not 50% higher, however, Nancy wouldn’t be working right away, but then perhaps she wouldn’t have to.

How to break this to my current boss? Don’t worry, I was told. My new boss-to-be said he would tell him. He did. It didn’t go well, but what is one to do? The vice-president of our company was really great about it though. He understood perfectly, and wished me nothing but good luck and happiness, and eventually the company president came around. I understood that his feelings, his pride had been hurt. But what he couldn’t see, what he couldn’t understand was that I couldn’t go through any more periods of not providing for my family. I saw his ship sinking, and I wanted off.

But it also went deeper than that. While the economic picture represented 75% of what was happening, there also happened to be another 25% I was not telling anybody else about. I needed to put some distance between me and Mike. If I’d stayed there much longer, I knew in time I was going to open up to him how I felt about him, and I was afraid of where it might lead. I was running away. Running away with my wife and kid to Chicago late in the fall of ‘89.


((This concludes Chapter 11. In the next installment which begins Chapter 12, my family and I move to the suburbs of the big city which means a lot of adjustments for all of us . . . some good and some bad, but all new growth and ultimately necessary!)


Link to next installment . . . http://nut.bz/3ygjfxnq/


Link to last installment . . . http://nut.bz/3t8y3rvl/


Link to beginning of book . . . http://nut.bz/1db-8lks/

Tags

Autobiography, Gay, Gay Community, Gay Experience, Gay Lesbian And Bisexual, Gay Love, Gay Men, Gays, Glbt, Lgbt, Memoir, Memoirs, Memories, Memory, Non Fiction, Non-Fiction, Nonfiction, Porn Stars, True Experiences, True Stories, True Story

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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