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Part-time queer

September 7, 2019

September 7, 2019

As a child of perhaps four, I had an undifferentiated sense of sexuality.  I remember being in my babysitter’s house, that of Gordon and Alice Browder, two sweet people with a mildly southern drawl.  I was rummaging through one of their closets and got excited by a pair of rubber overshoes.  I know it sounds weird, but it was true.  The sexual excitement ebbed when Alice called me over for a snack.  Probably an apple slice.

My friend across the alley and I used to speak of sex.  We wondered what made girls different from boys.  The hair?  We couldn’t really identify any other thing.  “Thing” is a technical term for. . . anatomical difference.  We really didn’t know.  He and I peed together.  I used to poop in the bushes and he later said he would poke at my poop with a stick.  We poked our fingers into each other’s butts.  A sexual act he didn’t enjoy.  These were lame attempts that brought us no closer to understanding sex, but neither enhanced nor diminished our friendship.  We were more interested in other things.

We satisfied each other’s curiosity about each other, but we still were mystified by girls.  He and I were soon bored with each other, unless we had some kind of flammable fluid and toy soldiers.  Cap guns.

We lit my brother’s plastic model planes on fire and crashed them into the dirt.  Then we made a trail of Ronson lighter fluid down the sidewalk and lit one end of it.  Whoosh!  We killed ants with burning pieces of string.  Cruel.  Sorry.  We burned lots of plastic, made up many scenarios of war.

Then we discovered second grade.  A youngster in our class, named Melodie, attracted both of us, so we went to her house after school to sing her songs and tell her we liked her.  As I recall we hid in a coal shed in the alley.  Then we went out on her snowy lawn and her dad chased us away.  Some weeks or months later as I left Daisy Jacobs’ classroom, Melodie handed me a sub-wallet-size photo of her. Wow.  Made my day!

Sexuality reared its horrible head whenever I fell in love with a beautiful girl in one of my grades.  Usually manifested itself in my walking the girl home, carrying her books.  I couldn’t seem to get a kiss. I couldn’t seem to tell her my feelings, but I wanted to.

I took dance lessons at the Episcopal Church in the seventh grade.  Danced with Melodie, but by then, she wasn’t the little cutie.  She had become tall and gangly.  Besides, I had fallen in love with a dark-haired girl whose name I don’t remember.  I just remember that I wore a sweatshirt I had slathered with oil paints (for the Bohemian “beatnik” look) and some of it rubbed off on the FRONT of her white sweatshirt.  She complained about that, and that was the end of my infatuation with her.

My friend Paul taught me how to masturbate.  We sat in the back of the University Theater in Missoula.  Then we climbed a pole at the Clover Bowl.

Fast forward to the Marine Corps when I got into trouble and was thrown into jail.  This was my depressed, psychotic phase.  Helpless, I decided I was queer.  Only I wasn’t attracted to men, so I decided I was only part-time queer.  A fellow inmate told me I could either be queer, or not, but not both.  I didn’t buy his argument.  Thus, I stayed with my “part-time queer” identity.  This seemed to fit me the best.  I could still be who I was. I had erotic dreams of someone I announced to all of my fellow jail mates as “Mona.”  (I don’t know who Mona might have been.  Maybe I just made her up?)

One of my Millington Tennessee Marine base cell-mates told me he was queer.  He advocated melting the world down to a uniform gray sameness.  I told him I was opposed to that, and I still am.  And yet he had a beautiful tenor singing voice.  I don’t know what became of him.  He was probably discharged, unfortunately.

Then I married, had children, grew up, grew old.  Now I have a gay dog, who likes to march in Gay Pride Parades.

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