Call Me By Your Name …


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 …

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.

David swung…

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 …

Friday … Let’s Talk About Sex

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Canada is about to write off Winter … The balmy temps, the lack of snow, the rivers that did not freeze, the ice rinks that are useless right now, are all playing into Winter misery for Canada as a whole. But the TV people tell us that next week, temps are going to plummet. Mid Week next week we will hit substantial negative temps for the first time in weeks.

It was a usual Friday, that kind of sorted itself into a theme of sorts. I read the Big Book with one of my guys earlier today, we are working the book again, so that he can work it with one of his guys. We covered Step four, and the reading we did this afternoon came up again, in the meeting this evening.

Instincts, Society, and Sex …

People tend to clam up when these topics come up, because it is personal to many sensibilities. Tonight we heard candor, honesty, and truth.

And tonight, I wasn’t the only fruit in the basket, but my story is harsh, brutally honest, disgustingly sad, and totally, 100% mine.

When I did my Fourth Step, my sponsor ignored my sex inventory. Not sure if that was a good thing or not, this time around. And I don’t talk about it to anyone else, except one person, my best friend.

Tonights reading talks about instincts and what we are God given to survive in this world, and then create society. It closes with mention of our sexual natures as being something given by God, to be used correctly and wisely.

Sex is a taboo topic usually. Nobody wants to air their dirty laundry, but when we hit our steps, the main idea is to be rigorously honest. But this is usually not the case, the first few times around. Because, really, who wants to talk about the dark and desperate things we did when we were drunk and high?

It is fact that when I came out, my shrink told me to go to the bar, have a couple of drinks, and see what happened. He said the only way into the Gay community was going to be through a bar, and the associated alcohol.

And where do all young gay boys go who live in Florida go for their Coming Out Experience, but Orlando and the Parliament House. And where do we work? At the most Magical Place in the World, the Tragic Queendom.

The alcohol was good. The drugs were even better. And for every human being in my very wide social circle, sex was the main course, after the appetizer of alcohol.

I was caught up in a world that was amazing, cruel, beautiful, and ugly, all at the same time. I never knew backstabbing could be an Olympic Event.

My twenties was a blur of drugs and alcohol. And that posed a serious problem for me, but nobody clued me in to that at any point. That was part and parcel of who we were and where we lived, worked and partied.

I was great at never staying in one place. And I, like many people in the rooms, suffered from loneliness, and the “Hole in the Soul.”

Then in sobriety we have to look at those times when we were Selfish, Self Centered, Self Seeking and Dishonest and Fearful…

Young and Beautiful got you only so far, to close the deal, that required the right amount of drugs and alcohol.

In the end, this deadly mix, was my own undoing. Here is where my story deviates from the norm, and falls into the pit of hell, misery and death.

It took a long time to recover this specific memory. I know where I was, what I did and with whom. A fatal decision that almost cost me my life. In those days, it did cost me my life, the life I thought I had.

Falling in Love and breaking up is a universal story across orientation lines.

Nothing compares to having to tell the boy you are dating, and are in love with, that you are sick, and going to die, then watch him pack his things leave and never return.

What follows is unthinkable but was very real. Everybody walked away. Family, Friends, Lovers, you name it.

I went from Hero to Zero in a matter of hours. The distance between feast and famine are very slim, when it comes to AIDS.

We bemoan being alone these days, nobody really wants to be alone. We all need to be loved and to love. When everybody in your life walks away, all you have left is you. There is no other choice.

Thank God for Todd.

This was the harshest lesson I ever had to learn, to see the true nature of human beings at their worst, in the face of death and destruction. In mere days, hours and minutes, I witnessed human being turn, from human to animal, and watched them do things to other human beings that were unconscionable.

And Unforgiveable…

I would not know love for a very long time. I would suffer the slings and arrows of the hole in my soul, and the need to be loved at any cost; secrets, lies, geographics, drugs and alcohol.

Another deadly combination.

It was in sobriety that I learned how to be alone, and be ok with it. I was done fucking with my life, I was ready to grow up, and I did everything that I was told to do, even if I really did not want to listen, because my life depended on it.

I learned good values and good morals. I learned how to be part of society and build my life from the ground up. I had love in my life, albeit from an odd source, but it was there for a while.

Then an ego showed up and wrecked the fine balance of sobriety between us.

And on that fateful day, in St. Leon’s Church basement, love walked through the door. And I knew, in my heart, that hubby was it.

I would never be alone, ever again. Love came. Not without trial and tribulation. God tested the bonds and the vows well before we hit the church, and well before I popped the question.

There are five non-negotiables:

  • Money
  • Sex
  • Infidelity
  • Alcohol and
  • Drugs

For most people, but most notably for the gays, if one part of this equation is lost, then one becomes unloveable, leaving is all but certain. This was very true, very early in my young life.

Last night we heard a man tell his story, in vivid detail, about the man he was when he drank, and what he did, and where that got him. And he spoke in front of his wife and a room full of sober folks.

How many of us identified with his descriptions, feelings and shortcomings.

Selfish, Self Centered, Self Seeking, Dishonest and Fearful … These questions appear over and over in the book. The important inventory duties we have to do OFTEN in sobriety IS a must.

The past is the past. I am sober for today. And there is love in my life.

I am very grateful for small mercies and God’s grace.

Another day in the books. Goodnight.