Sunday, March 25, 2012


Amsterdam, late June 2005
Today, it was cloudy, overcast, and muggy.  I was fighting the urge to go the Day Spa (that's the gay baths) just down the block.  I decided to write instead.  It's so overcast, then suddenly the molten sun bleeds through the pasty sky, heating the skin on my face like the small Dutch oven heats and toasts the sweet cinnamon bread toast I treat myself to every morning from Health Wanker down the alley and across the street.  That's the local organic food store, a short walk away from here.  Here is the apartment I'm swapping and living in for the summer, near the Herengracht, in Amsterdam.
The sun feels so good, this silvery North Sea sun.  A ladybug wonders up the brick wall off the tiny back terrace (room for one) and jettisons off.  The overcast sky looks like the sky over Lake Michigan in a southern suburb of Milwaukee called Cudahy.  The name is so ugly spoken on the lips, it can make you feel sick to your stomach.  Just think of a cow chewing a cud of hay, and that's Cudahy, both the sound and the style of nothing in particular.  A name for a suburban town south of Milwaukee, in between St. Francis and South Milwaukee.  It's a town I survived living in from 1966-1972.  It's also where I survived the last years of living with my Father; and living through my high school and (middle) junior high school years.  Oh, the pain.
I can still see my fat father, sitting on the front cement porch of our four family apartment complex on South Lake Drive, summer, 1972.  He’s sitting with his stomach hanging out over his baggy blue pants, eternal cigarette in his hand, legs sprawled open, dreamy, angry, lost look in his eyes as he stares, off in the distance.  Maybe I can see a glimmer of sadness in that lost stare.  Does he suspect this is his last summer on earth? 
He's also wearing a white, silk muscle tee shirt, though God knows there’s no muscle but lots of fat, especially in his tits.  Like a fat farm woman’s, they are droopy hanging things, sloping down his chest like curvaceous mountains.  He wheezes slightly when he breathes.  The first heart attack has come and gone, more than four years before, when we lived over on Edgerton Ave. (another ugly name in the same town).  When it struck, he sat in his Laz-Z-Boy chair all day with a hot water bottle on the left side of his shoulder, sweating, and assuring us it was indigestion.  Later in the hospital the doctor told him he had to stop smoking, that it was a major coronary.  The third day a nurse bought him a new pack of Parliaments.  This was 1969. A year before both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been shot.  Then, Milwaukee had been under martial law for a few days.  The country had been close to a revolution.   But none came.
After his first heart attack, he returned home from the hospital.  I would take every new pack of Parliaments he bought, stick holes in them and try to bury then in the small garden that lined our sidewalk.  He made me go out and collect them.  He needed to smoke.  He was always smoking. 
Smoke.  Fire.  I recall when about I was about 3, he set himself on fire while cleaning a hot water heater with gasoline in the basement of our little white house on North Fourth Street in Savanna, IL.  He had forgotten to turn the pilot light off.  His screaming sounding like a monster.  I got up out of my Mother's bed, and stood at the top of the basement stairs.  Down below, he stood, jerking like an animal, on fire.  Mother drove him and I, up the hospital hill, in our big black marshmallow of a Buick.  I sat in the middle of the front seat between them, crying and staring to my left as one flame still burning, licked his forearm while he murmured and whimpered like a deranged thing, still wrapped in that white, stippled bedspread. 
In the parking lot of the Savanna Hospital, Mother slammed on the brakes and father flew out of the car door and up the stairs of the front entrance like a winged victory on fire, still nude but wrapped with that white bedspread.
Later I prayed to God for him to live.  I was on our neighbor Hattie’s screen porch.  I knew she was watching me as I prayed.  He survived.  Weeks later when he was back home again, healing, I couldn’t stand the sight of his bloody, skinned, monster body, the burned boils and the transplanted flesh exposed, dead, black skin still sloughing off, the whole thing festering, oozing and glistening like some living bloody, jelly monster.  He wasn't so fat then.  My brother and I were allowed to excuse ourselves from the table and sit in the living room, in front of the TV while we ate, otherwise we couldn't eat.  Dad couldn’t wear a shirt while he was recuperating.  Looking back at his accident, I’m in awe at the strength that he had, and that our family survived the experience and lived together until 1972.  We were strong stock.
Now move forward to after his the first heart attack and before the second one which came the in autumn 1972, during my first semester at Stevens Point, WI.  That was the fatal one.  The big one.  Stevens Point was my college of choice because the name of the school had my name in it.  No careful ivy league college education planning here.
  My brother has become a drug dealer, selling marijuana bricks.  He’s big into it.  His wife Joan (a dead ringer for an Ivory Girl, she later marries a preacher) has left him and is living with my parents.  At one point, Mom and Dad even try to hook me up with her, but I was probably too busy being nice in public and masturbating to pictures of naked bodybuilders in private. 
Life is going to hell in the 70’s.  Our family is imploding.  All the dysfunctions melting our veneer like Christopher Plummer burning and melting at the end of a B Dracula movie when the sunlight hits him or the stake nails him.  First Benji, our neurotic dachshund dies.  His back goes out after he has been sitting up, begging for food silently, at the side of every supper table, at practically every meal for the past ten years.  My Mother trained him well.  He goes into paralysis, and then he’s put to sleep.
I’m away at my first week of college when the Big One comes to take my father.  Here is Number Two.  I am awakened by a phone call, early that cold autumn morning.  My tearful Mother informs me Dad has died.  I remember in our last conversation, we had talked about pillows. “Come home son” says Mom. I sit in the car studying the crystallized design of frost on the windshield like the silhouettes of psychedelic white paisley jewels for September in Northern Wisconsin is cold. An older student with a handlebar moustache drives me to the bus station.  I am numb.  It’s finally happened.  I’m supposed to cry but tears aren’t coming.  This isn’t right, I think, I am supposed to be crying.  I pretend to cry, forcing myself and finally a few tears come while I'm on the bus back to Milwaukee and back to (oh that lovely sound again!) Cudahy.  Why aren’t there tears for this overweight man of 44 years who has died?  My feelings seem unnatural. 
They are almost as unnatural, as all the unnatural feelings I had living with this raging, self-centered, bullying, never wanting to get-deep, pseudo redneck thing called Dad, for some 19 years.  This fat, complex, dreamy, angry, swinging fat man called Duane H. Orr.
Again I see him sitting on the stoop.  Is is anger I see? or just a blank stare; sitting, as if he is in a trance,  smoking, dreaming, feeling angry, feeling alone?  Does he know he’ll soon be dead?  What if someone informed him of the future?  Warned him of impending doom and he took up jogging?  Had psycho-therapy?  Tried to actually connect to his family in a real way?  Fantasies.  These are mine of him and his life unlived. No, too much tension, cholesterol, rage.  Too much trying to keep a family together that’s exploded apart now as this bomb called the 70's hits it.  Too much for one man.  The “Ink Spots” are playing.  Dad’s lighting up a Parliament again and mixing fresh Manhattan’s for the dollies.  The dollies are the wives of the men he works with on the Milwaukee Road.  These are the couples he invites over during the "company's-coming" weekends.  He loves to schmooze with them and make them laugh with his stories, his sarcastic wit, his humor, and his fat power.  He's like Jackie Gleason, unstoppable.  And they, suburban white Milwaukee folks, love him, love his charm, his power, his overbearingness, his unspoken (and sometimes spoken) racism and his satire.  He's a fat, sexy man with balls.  They don’t see him raging on the phone, and if they did they’d say “There’s a man who loves his job, who works hard, who demands, who can frighten and intimidate and get things done!  There's man whose job is killing him!  But isn't he funny?  Isn't he entertaining?"
It is said that things happen in threes.  First the dog, Benji; and then the Dad--dead at 44.  His heart exploded early one morning after a big night out on the town, trying to forget with food and booze and cigarettes that his world is in break down mode, that his oldest son is a drug dealer and his oldest son's marriage is on the rocks, these salients fact probably killed him.  At home in bed after he makes love to my Mother one last time, death fucks him when an artery in his heart explodes.  The ambulance comes, they try to revive him, but there's been too many cigarettes, too many Manhattans and raging, screaming phone calls directing trains on the phone; and way too much freakishness with my brother because my brother has turned into, of all the ungodly things, a drug dealer.
Then the dreamy eyed, angry, sad, jolly fat man is a little shriveled thing in a coffin.  A cold, steel blue metallic coffin that shines like a car.  (Coffins are so expensive) and he’s wearing his Masonic apron and an American flag is folded over his waist (for he was a veteran of two wars).
We are the first to see him, it's open casket.  “His hands” my Mother says, "can you change his hands?”  They are like dried claws of a bird, curling at his groin.  The wet eyed, bald undertaker Cy Law with the thick black horn rim glasses asks us to leave the room for a moment.  I imagine him breaking, stretching, moving, manipulating the claw-like hands into a more natural pose, maybe one over the other, as if resting on a lawn chair in the sun.  No, then they’d be behind his head.  One over the other on his tummy is not Dad’s body language, but it will do.  I’ve never seen my Father look so peaceful.  But his nose isn’t right.  It looks like it’s stuffed with something, it's too full.  And that weird smile.  How can a dead man smile like that?  Probably quite glad to be out of it all.  Or maybe it's something manufactured by the funeral director.  I know they sew the lips together to prevent lip drift in corpses.  Maybe the weird, small smile is a happy by-product of a simple needle and thread job?
But before, before that Big One, I’m coming home from school and have to walk past him, which I hate.  He embarrasses me and I fear him.  It’s hard to breathe in the house when he’s there.  His anger is free-floating, everywhere like some dark cloud that's going to rain any moment.  It's in every room.  He is fear and cold.
“How’s school?” he asks, like every day and every day I answer the same as always “Fine”, dismissing his invasion of my private life.  The fine is sarcastic, but not too obviously so, for he attacks any evidence of me having a brain and expressing independent thoughts.  Fear rules in our household like the all prevailing smell of shit.  It's constantly thrown in my face "You think you're smart."  And I do think I'm smart; for I must think smart to be able to conceal the way I do.  In this family, you must play dumb to survive.  Now I reflect what if?  Like all the what if’s of the parts of a life that could have been, would have been, but never  were.  My unlived life goes like this...
“Oh really fucking good”, one day I respond to the same old question when he asks his usual "How's school?"
But today I'm writing the script; I'm in control.  I look him up and down, I plant my legs deep into the sidewalk. “Fucking swell.  I'm a big queer. Do you know what the fuck that is like? To have to pretend all fucking day, with fake smiles and fake looks!  And you?  You fat fucking, redneck old lady you!  You hear me?  I have to come home and look at you?!?  I'm a fucking queer and I hate fat!  I love muscle!  Yeah...there.  I love muscle.  And you?  You fired as a father.  Fired, hear me?  Now what are you going to do about that?  Throw me out on the street?  I can always sell my body!  I’d welcome that!  Anything would be better than this constipated, fucked up hell of a coffin you call a house that we live in.  Family?  What family?  We don’t talk.  We excuse ourselves.  We attack, demean, and control.  We demand pain.  We live on it.  It feeds us raw and bleeds us out!"
Oh the joy I feel.  It's like an exorcism just imagining that it could have happened.  But no.  I just respond with fine, again and pass him, afraid of his invasions, his eyes that stare into nothing, his fat, and his rage.  He can hurt me, he can hurt me bad.  Years later I realize that I’ve assimilated him into me.  Where there’s self-confidence in more successful people, there’s the self-bullying, self-loathing voice in me.  His voice.  It’s looping.  Beating me up inside.  “I’m sorry” is my favorite phrase when I really want to push someone down the stairs.  “Excuse me” a cue for the imaginary power drill I use to put people’s eyes out.
My Father was an only child and I heard that he was beaten by Edna Heckman, his Mother, when he was a child and throughout his life.  Edna was a strict, domineering, smart, charismatic woman.   And a child beater. That’s what Lucy Miller, Edna's former neighbor says.  She says she saw Dad get beat up a lot in that house where he was raised on the Hospital Hill.  And Lucy should know.  She lived right across the street.
Edna, "Nan", made the best cinnamon rolls in the entire world and even her toast made of homemade bread was to die for, literally.  Her secret?  Butter!  The men in my family all died of it.  Butter!  First my Grandfather, a dead-ringer for Robert Taylor, that hunky, suave, movie actor of the 1940's, until the fat got the better of him in his fifties.  Dead at 54 years old.  Then my Dad at 44.  The secret?  First the butter, then the rage!
Dead at 44.  I come home from college but only for a week.  I feel frozen, like the paisley designs of frost on the window shield of the car that morning that drove me to the bus station in Stevens Point, WI.  Frozen feelings.  I was supposed to feel sad.  But the frozen designs are beautiful things, as if art in nature itself is telling me "It is beautiful that he died.  You can be happy now, you can feel relief."  And I can’t cry.  Years later I would realize what a relief it was to have him gone.  Yes, I was feeling pure, unadulterated relief!  Benji is number one, Dad is number two; then comes number three.  Welcome Aunt Nina.
For the next two weeks Nina, my Mother’s older protective sister joins her on South Lake Drive, helps her arrange the funeral, and put things in order.  After a week I’m back at Stevens Point.  Another week passes and one morning, my Mother calls, again in tears.  Nina’s dead.  My aunt had returned to New Mexico and a few days later, was broadsided in a camper, by an 18-wheeler semi trailer truck, somewhere in the mountains outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  She had to be cut out of the truck she and Harry, her husband were driving.  After the jaws of death (courtesy of the New Mexico State Police) pry her out of the vehicle, like a mangled sardine from a tin can, she lasts for a few hours and succumbs in an agony of pain, before reaching the hospital.
Harry, her husband of some 30 years and a bit of a scalawag and a bully himself (like my Dad) later proposed to Mother within a few days of Nina’s funeral.  He had survived the crash without a scratch.  My Mom tells him no, as it wouldn’t feel right, for he and Nina had raised her for a time after her own parents died of (in something like this order) alcoholism, incest, a constant diet of mush during the Great Depression, and/or a series of nervous breakdowns.  Take your pick, my Mother's is a very talented dramaturge, only thing is, her stories are real.  Within a year Harry is dead of a heart attack.  Benji, Duane, Nina, and then Harry,
So there was number three; then four…
My Father, the charmer, the swinger!  I always pictured him as being bisexual for some reason.  I remember a photo he sent my Mother from Korea.  He’d reenlisted in the Navy again, after World War II.  He loved being in the service.  Hey Sailor!  It taught him to be a tough, manly man.  Being around other fighting men, taught him to swear and piss in the public and feel drunk and touch like one of the boys.  The fact that he tried so hard makes me suspicious.  In the photo, he is soaking in what looks like a corrugated steel metal tub.  Steam is rising from the water, soap in his hand, and that look.  Oh, that that sexy come-hither-look he’s got on his face.  I always wonder about that, about him and the guy who held the camera.  Hey Sailor!
Fire, breathing, bisexuality.  Breathing.  Before his first heart attack, one Saturday night (I was in seventh grade), circa ’68, Dad and Mom went out.  I got very involved in Mother’s make up, in their bedroom.  I had just learned how to masturbate and putting on her make-up gave me an erection.  I wanted to look like her, like a beautiful, perfumed Barbie Doll.  Like an eternal June Cleaver everything is perfect-Mom-of the 60’s.  Even when it’s not.  It's almost the 70’s and the world is going to hell in a hand basket, deconstructing before our eyes, but please can we not talk about it? 
So, I’m all made up and with a hard on and they are coming home way too early.  I smear cold cream on my fact and dive onto the couch, feigning boredom, staring at Alfred Hitchcock Presents as they enter our living room.  Oh oh.  ”What the hell have you got on your face?” my Father yells, as if I’m wearing dog shit.  As if I’ve been eating it.
"I wanna be a Goddamn Girl!"  I scream!  “I'm sick and tired of this fucking charade!  I am a girl inside you fat fuck!  The girl on the inside is showing on the outside!  That's what I've got on my face!  It's the real me!"
Oh delicious fantasy, better than sex.  But that's not how it went down.  I say nothing, and then, for the next 20 minutes or so my Mom goes on and on about how weird it is that I need to play in her make-up like a girl (Steve’s not a fighter.  All the queer signs.  He’s not a fighter; he’s the artistic one).  Christ how many times was that drilled into me until it’s no wonder I was a walking bulls eye for other kids to attack.  I was incapable of raising my hand to ward off any blows!  Nobody ever took the damn time to show me how to fight!.  I lie and make up some lame excuse about wanting to practice making up a monster face for Halloween.  Yeah, right.  A monster with big red lips and lots of rouge and eye shadow!  Clown drag is more like it. The beginning of the lies.  They were all there.  Mixed up and in with the feelings; walking on eggshells around the rage, mincing around in it.  Pretending pretending pretending.  But please, let's not talk about it.
Pretending at home, pretending at school.
"How’s school?"  Dad would ask.  Did he really want to know?  Did he have any clue?
“It’s alright.”  I answered.  The meek, shy teenager.  The lamb.  The closeted little homo scared of his Dad, scared of school.  It seems my life was built around fear.
At home was fat Dad fear.  At school was a different kind of nightmare.  Since moving to Cudahy, for my entrance into seventh grade, the first year of Junior High School, I was constantly getting beat up, spit at, verbally attacked and accosted by both boys and girls.  They hated me in Cudahy and oh how I hated them.  We had moved there from St. Paul Park in Minnesota, where I had so many friends, it was crazy.  I was Mr. Popular.  I was the cool kid on the block.  In the sixth grade in Minnesota, kids seemed friendly and fun.  It was light there.  Cudahy was dark and stupid like it's name.  Seventh grade, one wide-open, steel gray tornado sky nightmare.  Kids tortured me and I’m coming of age.  In this Polish-Slovakian neighborhood, I truly discovered the meaning of the words greaser, hood, and bully.  They spit on me from passing bus windows while I was just riding my bike.  They beat me up in homeroom when the teacher wasn’t looking, kicked my chair, my legs, punched me in the head and laughed and laughed.  I never fought back.  I just prayed the homeroom teacher would see them, sometimes she did, more often, she didn't.  The bullying was outrageous, it's easy to see where anger can be triggered now.
One day, a whole gang was following me home from school, calling me names, throwing things at me.  I was too afraid to even turn around and then, just as one almost jumped me, I turned off, into my back yard.  I was safe.  Home Sweet Home.  Safe at home.  Home is where the coronary is just waiting to happen...
My  few friends were the other losers, rejects, geeks, misfits, and insecure kids.  Joey Majewski’s Mom and mine, made an attempt to connect us, knowing we were both loner/loosers.  Joey had three chins, soft, fuzzy, short brown hair and talked with a stutter.  I can still recall his voice quivering when he attempted conversation.  Clifford Cook and I hooked up in the eighth grade.  Clifford was pudgy, had wire-rimmed glasses like John Lennon, and a big flip of Dondi-like, light brown hair that kept falling down over the right side of his face and glasses.  He would constantly be pushing back his hair and adjusting the glasses, all in the same quick flick of the wrist of his right hand.  Clifford also had the most sibilant s’s I had ever heard out of anyone’s mouth and he had crushes on Janis Joplin and Janis Ian.  We used to listen to "Society's Child" together and smoke cigarettes.  He made a supreme effort to seem straight.  Later on I’d heard he’d even married a woman.  Maybe he was straight, after all, in spite of the s’s.  He was always inferring that he had these secret crushes on various girls, and they on him. 
Once he shocked me, reporting that so and so at school had been caught jerking off.
“What’s jerking off?”  I said, feigning innocence and forcing my face into a purely neutral expression.  For recently, I myself had discovered the new found joys of jerking off and loved the feeling.  “Its when you go like this (he made a fist and moved it up and down real fast with an awful grimace) on your thing until this stuff comes out.”
“Eeww” I intoned making a face.  Now, thinking back here's my fantasy reply to Clifford.  “Oh I just did that the other night in the bathtub.  First I thought I was like sick or dying or something, but then, all this stuff came out of my thing and it smelled like pepper!  Then, the more I did it, the better it felt!  So I really started liking doing it, especially when I'm doing it to pictures of naked muscle men!"
The simply reality was, very recently, I had discovered jerking off, along with all the strange, strong, accompanying feelings.  I had also begun to fashion various props to assist me in my orgasms ranging from pictures of nude boys and men from underground Hippie newspapers, to tanned male surfers on the spray cans of Coppertone Sun tanning Oil.  But my favorite visuals were my brother’s bodybuilding magazines.  On one photo of a dark-haired bodybuilder, I had actually burned a small hole on the man's skinny black Speedo bathing suit using a magnifying glass and the sun, thinking that somehow I could reveal the treasure underneath if I burned through the speedos. 
Another jerk off toy was a small discarded plastic tube which fit perfectly around my dick and was great to twist manually to imitate a kind of slow screwing motion.  I would cum immediately and the tube kept the cum contained.  No muss no fuss.  I kept it outside my window in the eave spout.  It was well hidden from my Mother out there, and thunder storms would wash it clean.
I even developed another covert, self-pleasuring ritual, as a way, of getting back at my father.  I would tear plastic off from the dry cleaning in my parents closet, wrap it around my cock, in my underwear (in the bathroom) and fully clothed, return to the living room.  There, lying on my stomach, head in my hands, innocently watching, All Star Wresting, I would masturbate to my heart's content.  Just lying there, in the middle of the living room rug, right under the non-suspecting nose of my dear Dad, with his nose buried in the evening paper, glasses and cigarettes.  There was a deliciousness in doing it right under his nose.
There were a few (very few) high spots in Junior High.  There was that Mr. Young moment.  Mr. Young was the geography teacher and the kid's nickname for him was Conga.  He was tall, white, fat, wore bottle-thick glasses, and had huge, thick lips.  He used to constantly purse them together, either out of anger or in a vain attempt to show his troublesome students how they couldn’t get over on him.  One day Mr. Young went to pull up a map of the world covering the middle of the blackboard.  He fumbled with it, pulling it down, then up again, then down and up again.  FLAP!  It flew out of his hand, snapping up and rolling round and round, to reveal in large chalk letters, perfectly printed, the words CONGA IS MIGHTY.  The class went crazy.  And and Conga--er—Mr. Young’s face was beet red as if he was going to explode.
Mrs. Silk was my seventh grade English teacher and she discovered that I had a terrific flair for the dramatic.  I also had an awful crush on her.  So was tall, blond, gorgeous and extremely butch.  In one class presentation project, I invented a cereal called “Diet Crunchies” and did a commercial for it, holding the box and talking with an English Accent.  She went bonkers over me and had me coming in and performing it for all her other classes.  I also used to do imitations of Bobby Kennedy until he was assassinated.  The bullies watched in awe one day, as a neighboring homeroom teacher across the large hall (it housed four homeroom classes at once) invited me to come over to his class and perform do my Bobby imitation.  The other homeroom loved it!  I don't think the bullies ever saw me in the same light.
One of the darkest and most painful memories was when I was punched in the ear and side of the head by mean old Mr. McLymans, the shop teacher from hell.  Shop class was a queer student’s nightmare, right up there with gym class.  Cultural programming for boys on the how to’s of building and making things.  I hated it.  We were taught things like how to cut wood, cut wood and cut wood.  Also, there was lots of emphasis on how to cut wood.   I did come out of class with a great, pig-shaped bread cutting board, made out of maple no less.  That memory of being slammed by the old man-witch McLymans still festers.  The way it came about was so.  One day, goony Mark Spies (a pre-computer geek kid if there ever was one) asked me to do a staring contest with him.  We were engaged in for about three or four minutes when McLymans caught a glimpse of us and started screaming bloody murder.  He must have tagged us for queers staring into each other's eyes or something.  Screaming his head off like a maniac, he demanded we march into an adjoining room.  Here, he proceeded to belt us, one at a time, with very wide, powerful swings.  His fist was clenched tight, so that it felt like a hammer, pummeling the side of my head, right over the opening in my left ears.  Ouch!  The old fuck was strong.  My ear was ringing and in pain for days after the incident.  Immediately after the attack, he grabbed at a cloth towel hanging down from a wall dispenser nearby, haranguing “There!  You wanna cry now?  Girlies wanna cry?  Huh?  Here's a crying towel.  Here's a crying towel.  Cry!  Go ahead, cry!"
To this day I can only reflect that it must have been the old bastard’s innate homophobia and sex fear that made him want to attack and punish us so viciously for something which on the surface seemed so innocuous, yet to him implied something much more taboo, i.e., adolescent boys staring into each other’s eyes.  Heaven Forbid!  Kids razzed me for days about the incident “You want a cryin’ towel, Orr?”  I confessed what happened to Mother that night, but we both agreed not to tell Father.  I think this was before heart attack number one and he was probably stressed out enough with his railroad job, given his new habit of screaming on the phone about trains and tracks.
But back to social torture.  Once Karen Kovac in eighth grade taped a sign to my back that said “I am a Homo.”  During this English class, the kids all kept asking me “Is it true Steve?  Is it true?”  Mrs. Silk she wouldn’t have stood for it.  But in this class, the teacher was Mrs. Olsen, who was pregnant, with a face that was a cross between a clown and a orangutan) “Maybe” I intoned mysteriously, not knowing what the heck they were talking about.  Then they snickered.  Another day, Lynn Bernier, one of Karen's best friends, just went off on me in the hall in between classes for no apparent reason.  “You’re such a fem, Steve Orr!  Such a fem.  You fem!"  I didn’t even know what that meant, until Clifford with his sibilant “s’s” explained to me that it was short for feminine as in girlish.  Why did they hate me so?
The roots of hate and homophobia, beginning in childhood, are passed on from generation to generation.  I had a rage-aholic father and had to process a lot of toxic emotions within me.  Internal hate, self hate, and homophobia, outside and inside.  It still floors me when I think back on these experiences.  The cruelty of kids, and of people, not to mention the twisted roots of our culture.
Yes, there was a Hitler and there has always been cruelty and the general glee of giving pain to the weaker members of the tribe.  There is always an effort to finding scapegoats.  Do animals do this?  No.  There, the weak are simply devoured.  Is this some perverted form of survival of the fittest?  Attack the weak, the handicapped, the strange or different to insure the strong, the majority survive.  I don't know.  Why do Republicans come to mind?  But I do recall that years later at our twentieth High School reunion, a girl named Pat Delaney (who always seemed rather butch to me herself) going off on me as being the poster child for AIDS.  Her unprovoked attack went thus, “You queers spreading AIDS all over the place.  You!  You made it happen.  Spreading AIDS everywhere.  It's you!  You're the ones doing this!”  Yikes.  My friend, Robin, a female, and fellow star of the class of '72 theater, just looked at me after both Pat and her tirade were gone, held my hand, and simply said, “Don’t”.  That was a real bonding moment between us.  After the dancing, dinner and drinks, we were taking a walk by the lake shore, when my friend confessed to me that she thought there was something demonic about men fucking each other in the butt where the shit comes out.  This wasn’t new to me.  My Mother, when I was twenty or so, came up with that same complaint too.  It's that's timeless objection.  I responded something like, "That's just one aspect of gay sex.  Gay to me means not straight.  Being able to create whatever kind of kind of love with whoever you want."  That's what I told both women.  For all time, the debate will rage on, is sodomy a sin?  My answer is no, as long as it's consenting adults.  Many more people have died from religious wars than have ever died of sodomy.
High School was slightly better as I finally found a kind of tribe to hang out with, the hippies and the drama kids.   But for years after High School graduation, I had reoccurring nightmares that some problem had been discovered in my records, that I was really not officially graduated and had to return to school to make up the missed classes.  Nightmare.
Masturbation was a wonderful release for me and a kind of solace, I think for the awful pain of being a social misfit, a member of the uncool and a so-called fem.  Mark Snowpeck, a beauty of a little jock friend in Junior High, used to walk me to and from home during lunch in eighth grade.  I recall jerking off while on the toilet to visions of his tanned little eight-pack belly every day after I ate lunch.   Then, after lunch, I would meet him again for the walk back to school.  I think everyone had a crush on Mark.  Sadly, he never knew what a crush I had on him.  Years later, he was struck down while riding a bicycle, on a highway in Iowa, the victim of a hit and run.  They never found the coward, or the drunk who killed him.  Nice.
Now it’s a rainy afternoon in Amsterdam and I still want to cum.  Or meditate.  Or imagine a sun burning out all my frustration and feelings of loneliness.  Again I reflect on perhaps going to the baths, but I think I'll meditate and imagine I’m out of the East Village in the woods.  The lack of men and growing older is best handled by imagining self-happiness and a sense of inner peace.  HACK HACK!  I hear the pipe-smoking Dutchman below me.  His cancerous cough cuts through the thin walls here like muffled gun shots.  Maybe it's time for me to take another bath in that bizarre Dutch tub?  I love the deep, half tub here, and playing with the water, the way it comes out of that European spigot.
A rainy afternoon in Amsterdam.  Am I imagining the sun?  I can see the sky outside the windows here, not like that cave in the East Village.  I imagine moving out of the East Village.  I imagine never having to wait for the phone to ring again.  If it does, fine.  If it doesn't, that's okay too.  I can practice my Pilates, meditate, and be happy on my own.  Write, yes.  I can write out this life and try to put some perspective on the whole thing.  Fucking Noah’s Ark out there now.  Here comes the rain.  Hmm.  Maybe I'll take a bath, or go to the baths.  Either is no big deal, here in Amsterdam.  I'm free, an ex-pat.  Free to hang out my shingle and set up shop.  Hey boys, real New York masseur for hire.  And free to look back on it all.  Even rewrite it if I so desire.

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