It's been far easier to write the funny stories down. I've enjoyed remembering them, writing them and then going back to read them again. Just like all the others, this happened exactly as I've penned it here, and this one makes me sad to recall. I haven't seen Robby in more than 30 years, though I've heard he isn't a happy person. I wish I could go back and do this one over. I'd try to make it have a better ending.
I was 16 when the school band went on a trip to Disneyworld. I had written about this trip before, since at this time I had a confusing crush on my buddy Ryan, one that was becoming more sexual and infuriating to me every day that passed.
Boys were grouped four to a room, and happily, adorable Ryan was in mine and would also be my bedmate! But the room next door to ours was not such a happy place. Robby was one of the four boys there, grouped with three strangers. A year younger than me, Robby was a challenged boy. Tall and always more physically mature than the others, Robby was shockingly effeminate. All the other boys mocked him mercilessly, especially the way he walked, sticking their butts out and swinging them back and forth with each step, almost like a parody of a Las Vegas hooker. Robby wore designer jeans with flared legs, his sneakers were far too clean, and he lisped and talked like a girl, laughed nervously and affectedly waved his hands around on limp swiveling wrists as he talked animatedly.
Robby frankly terrified me. I was so afraid that others viewed me as I saw him: feminine, freakish, and unspokenly homosexual to the core. But I felt bad for him too, and tried to be kind to him even when it caused me to take some little heat. My conflicted emotions often caused the sparks of a short circuit in my psyche. In an attempt to be compassionate I would take him aside and counsel him uselessly.
'Robby, why the hell do you have to stick your ass out like that when you walk? Stand up straight and walk normally like a guy. And don't talk like that! You don't have to sound like such a girl-stop waving your hands around like that when you talk! Cummon, BUTCH IT UP, for Christ's sake.'
Robby would blink slowly at me behind his designer turtle shell aviator's eyeglasses and flip his long dark blondish bangs out of his eyes with a little toss of his head and a flick from his fingers. 'Huh? What do you mean?' he'd ask, confusion registering in his face. 'I don't know what you mean!'
He was hopeless. When he'd laugh and talk at lunch, I'd see other boys nearby making fun of him behind his back for all his gay mannerisms. I just wanted to go over to him and shake him by the neck. If he'd only listen to me I could coach him to not sound and act like such a fag. Even the way he sat, legs intertwined and stretched to the side as if he had learned his posture from watching Elizabeth Taylor movies was enough to make my blood boil.
Today, I know that my fixation with his behaviour was mainly because I was so hypersensitive and insecure about my own appearance and image. (And, I really believe it is true that those who act the most homophobic towards other often have the most confusion with their sexuality inside themselves. I was living proof of that.) As far as being 'gay', I had no confirmation what Robby's actual sexual preference was, and really didn't want to know. It was so easy to simply assume that he was homosexual; there was really no need to ask. Researching further would have been almost like trying to prove that water was wet, as far as I was concerned.
Secretly powerfully conflicted about my own sexuality, I had been first attracted to Robby a year or two before, but very much like a moth is to a flame. Almost as a first overture, instead of even hanging out with him or inviting him over to hang out with my other friends, I had quickly invited him to sleep over, not because I had a lot of interests in common and wanted to build a friendship with him, but so I could have the opportunity to observe him in private, away from my normal friends, and away others' prying eyes. Sitting together in our skivvies reading comic books on my bed, I slyly passed Robby a racy adult magazine that I kept hidden in my closet. 'What's this?' he asked nervously, and he grasped it tentatively, like he was holding a dirty diaper. He flipped through a few pages and I was interested to see his erection rise in his undershorts immediately in response. The pictures were of naked women, but it wasn't at all a conflict to me that if Robby was gay that he might also have an erection from seeing naked girls. After all, I know I always did. Reaching the centerfold, Robby blushed as he opened it only halfway. Stretched out on the bed lying on his side, his penis was at full mast, straining behind the thin fabric of his far-too-small tight whites so that every nuance of it was clearly visible. He blushed, and handing the magazine back to me he said 'Maybe I shouldn't look at this.'
I was amused but didn't tease him about it. I didn't escalate the situation, to urge him to show me his stiff dick or to masturbate with me, but I had achieved a goal: adding an element of humanness to his unwittingly cartoonish persona, learning that he was easily sexually excited, as was I. I filed this knowledge away for possible future use.
We slept in the same double bed that night, and I could hardly sleep as he lay beside me, me wide awake and staring at his tall, slim body covered by the thin sheet as his breathing became slower as he clearly fell asleep. Carefully peeling the sheet back I saw that his penis again stood erect in his shorts, and after a great long time of staring intently, with hands shaking I reached out in the moonlight to touch it for just a moment gently through the cloth, and found it rigidly firm; turgid, stiff and warm. My hands shook so much with a case of nerves I was afraid I'd wake him. The room wasn't very dark and my eyes had adjusted well to the light, and with the sheet thrown back I stared at his cock so vividly outlined in his underpants. So close, I could see it twitch ever so slightly with each beat of his heart, and the notion that I was looking at an alive thing that craved attention even as its owner slept, unaware of its needs, was very exciting to me. If ever an opportunity existed for me to nudge Robby awake, and see how he would react to my caresses of his body as he lay beside me, this was it. But I was too afraid: afraid that he'd say no, even more afraid that he'd say yes. But probably I was mostly afraid that this simple act would confirm in my psyche that I was truly doomed to be a homo freak. So instead, I lay silently beside Robby and staring at his arousal in the dark, I masturbated myself to a fast, guilty climax to release the incredible sexual pressure that had built up inside my 14-year-old body over the past few hours. I recall it was a pleasureless, mechanical exercise, much the same as a maintenance man would release steam from a too-hot boiler as a mundane part of his job.
It seems so sad to me that I was unable to have an open conversation about sexuality with Robby. But he was only 13 and I was 14, and I was just not ready to be honest with MYSELF about such a heavy, heavy topic, let alone discuss it with another person. I fell fitfully asleep next to him, confused and agitated. Not till two years later did we discuss sex again, when Robby admitted to me shyly that he masturbated, but only after I boldly asked. Again, I was glad to know that Robby and I shared something in common, but he was so frighteningly and flamingly homosexual to me that I was still too afraid to do anything more with the knowledge.
Returning to the scene, all of us boys were reveling in the freedom of being on a school overnight trip far from home. It was just before curfew, and for a single wonderful hour boys and girls roamed the wrought iron railing boundaried outdoor hallways of the sleepy southern motor inn. The night was warm and pleasant, and the voices of happy teenagers filled the air. I won't retell the story (see: Falling Hard for my Straight Friend Ryan, linked above) but that night I was truly a sixteen year old in a silent raging battle involving my own sexual orientation. My heart was pulling so strongly with deep attraction for my younger friend Ryan, my mop-topped blue eyed fourteen-year-old friend whom I was falling hopelessly in love with completely beyond my will, and who I'd room with on this trip. Yet at the same time I had taken up with a pretty blond blue eyed girl in pigtails named Brita, and was newly infatuated with holding her hand and especially (I think) having others see me holding her hand.
It was getting close to curfew and I had just left Brita, after holding her hand in the moonlight for the past hour, smelling her sweet lavender scented perfume and wordlessly resting my cheek next to hers. Returning to my room, I was flushed with pride at my 'conquest', more sure than ever that I certainly must not be gay, because if I was, why would I enjoy being close with Brita? There was a knock on the motel room door, and when I opened it, I was surprised to see Robby, standing there, clearly fighting back tears.
'Brad I need to talk to you. Can I come in?' he asked, barely controlling his shaking voice.
'What? Yeah, sure, come in Robby' I said, pulling him past me into the room. Robby immediately collapsed and sat on the floor at the foot of the bed. He breathed heavily as he fought back the urge to cry. 'What happened?' I asked. I had never seen Robby like this before.
'The guys in my room poured ice and water in my bed,' he said, looking into my face as I sat on the floor beside him. 'I can't sleep there.' He began to cry openly, and I didn't know what to do.
'Why did they do that, Robby?' I asked, not totally surprised. Robby was a constant target of the other boys, both older and younger, but I had to admit that this was a particularly mean trick, considering the circumstances of being far away from home like this.
'I think I'm gay. When they asked I told them. I told them I like boys, not girls,' Robby confessed through heavy sobs.
I'd like to be able to say that I was a compassionate friend, sharing my maturity and wisdom and that I did the right thing. But instead, I'd rather like to be able to stop the clock and rewind to this spot, because at that moment in time I reacted in a way that I am still most ashamed of.
'You idiot!' I said to him, punching his shoulder roughly. 'Why did you do that? What a stupid thing to have done!' Robby sniffled and cried harder. 'I don't blame them for throwing you out! What were you thinking? I can't believe you would be so incredibly stupid!!'
I was filled with a new terror of my own... the kind I might have felt should a murderer have staggered into my room and confessed his savage deeds to me while still gripping the murder weapon... maybe even handing me the tool of death to hold in my own hands, imagining that any moment the police would bust through the door and catch me holding the bloody object and draw obvious conclusions that would forevermore make my life an endlessly living hell.
I had to get Robby out of there quickly before anyone saw him. This story was sure to spread like a gasoline fire, and all I could imagine was how would it look when others found out that it was ME that Robby had turned to for compassion and understanding when the other boys had punished him for his foolish, shameful admission. They'd assume the worst about me too, that we were two peas in a pod, that because I was friendly to Robby that likely I was his lover too. I was so angry with Robby for intruding on my heterosexual bliss that night especially, a night that I had banished thought of my own probable homosexuality, if even for just a short while.
'Get out of here!' I ordered him. 'Stop crying, and go back in there RIGHT NOW and tell them that it was a joke. Tell them you were only kidding! Lay some towels on your bed and sleep there. My God, how could you have been so stupid Robby?' My foolish words of wisdom came from my heart, I'm afraid. I shared with him what I believed, what I had been taught, what I knew deep in my heart.
I remember only sleeping fitfully that night, in bed beside Ryan, slim, smooth and boyish, sleeping in only our undershorts, smelling and feeling his musky-sweet body heat and hearing him and feeling him softly breathe. As he slept, I wanted him so badly. But I vowed: this certainly wasn't the way my life was going to turn out. No way in Hell.