I bought the book. It is sitting on my bedside table. I’m part way into the story. And I broke my own rule about first reading the book, before seeing the film.
There are films, that I have seen, from this particular genre, over the years. Each one of them evoke particular emotions and feelings. As I began reading the book, the other night, one particular emotions was drawn to the surface.
It has happened in my life, that feeling of crossing the divide into love, for the very first time. Happenstance, if you will. Once, when I was nineteen. And on another occasion, when I was just a bit older.
It was the Summer of my 19th year. My mother was in a resentful battle with her sister, miles away. My mother, ever the bitter bitch, forbade me contact. I ignored her.
Her battles were not my battles. And her resentments were not my resentments. Just to be clear, I never carried forwards the hatred that my parents carry to their graves.
But I digress …
I flew home to Connecticut for a few days. One night there was a party. Drinking ensued.
Yukkafutz, is a 2 gallon mason jar, with a cup of sugar at the bottom, all kinds of fresh fruit, and on top of that, ice. Followed by 2 gallons of Vodka.
The top is sealed, and the jar is covered with a towel. Everybody in the drinking circle takes turns shaking the bottle, as the ice melts, the sugar melts and the vodka infuses the fruit, in the jar, the jar eventually ices over …
Everybody has a straw.
The jar goes around and around until the vodka is gone. Another cup of sugar is added, more fruit, and more ice, and another 2 gallons of vodka follows.
By the end of the second round, everyone is pretty plastered.
There was a particular man, at this dinner party. Blond hair, tanned physique, I did not know if he was gay or not. All I knew was that, he was not going to drive home drunk, and that eventually he would end up in my bed that very night.
Hell, I wasn’t sure if I was gay either. I’d never acted on my sexual orientation up until then, not even with a woman. I mean I’ve kissed a girl, but that is as far as my womanly education went.
We drank, and hooted and hollered. As the night wore on, I moved closer and closer to where he was sitting, until I was practically, sitting on top of him. With teenage lust in my heart.
I took his keys from his pocket, and I hid them where neither of us would find them until we at least sobered up, by the next morning.
As darkness fell, people who were staying, went to bed. Others left, quietly, by car. Alas, my man friend, was not going anywhere.
As the house grew quiet, I pulled the sofa bed out, and my friend took the sofa, off to the other side of the room. Not knowing quite sure what to do, I followed the guidebooks, that my father had left for me to read.
I will never forget that night, as long as I live.
We saw each other over the next few days before I had to return to Florida.
Our parting was as bitter-sweet as Oliver and Elio.
I kept that secret for more than two years. Nobody knew that I had slept with him that night, under my aunt’s roof.
That was, hands down, the boldest thing I had ever done in my life up to that point.
Gay men, of my ilk, of my day and age, had a particular philosophy. One, that it only takes three drinks to turn a straight man gay, and Two, some believed, that a coupled man, was more of a hunt, than a single man.
Meaning … The hunt was much better, if you could bed someone, who was already dating, or involved with someone else in particular, if you did bed that man, you win the grand prize.
On top of my medicine cabinet, to this very day, sits a bottle of OBSESSION, by Calvin Klein. A memory of an act I perpetrated, long ago.
I had two room mates, older than me, in that year. We had three friends, who worked at the Tragic Queendom. Charlie, Dustin, and David. Charlie and I were riding the hobby-horse, until he left from his contract season. Dustin was gay. David, on the other hand was straight.
David was terribly attracted to the scent of Obsession.
Every time he came to our apartment, I would douse the bathroom and my pillows and sheets with Obsession. My devious plot, was to bring David, over to the dark side.
After a night of drinking, and a little concentration of Obsession, I put my plan into action. That was the one and only conquest I ever attempted, in my life.
Let’s just say I was in heaven for about a week. Floating above the clouds, because David was particularly good-looking and sweet.
My bedroom was in the back of the apartment. One of my room mates had the Master Bedroom, just inside the front door, of the apartment. My third room-mate had the middle bedroom off to one side.
One afternoon, I came home from work early, and walked into the apartment. As I walked in, I noticed that my room-mate was entangled in his sheets with someone.
That someone happened to be David …
Unbeknownst to me, my room mate decided that he was going to bed David too, behind my back. Color me surprised !!!
That was a particularly bad scene, to say the least. I had to continue to live under that roof, until I found someplace better. I never spoke to David again.
Gay men, of my day and age, had no scruples. They would stab you in the back, in the blink of an eye, if they felt they could get one over on you.
That would not have been the first time, in that particular time period that I got burned badly, by another gay man. Because it happened more than once.
I was a stupid naive gay boy back then.
I wasn’t the backstabbing kind of boy, and I am not that kind of man today.
Call me by your name, and I will call you by my name …
Elio, Oliver, Elio, Oliver …