Before I grew into the gay male version of Carrie Bradshaw, I was a suburban teenager. I spent considerable time at the mall, ate at hot dog on a stick, shopped for sneakers at Nordstrom’s, walked from my high school to the record shop weekly & spent endless hours at Borders creating wanderlust for exotic places in the travel section. However, the suburban lifestyle wasn’t for me. Therefore, I dreamed of being a gay boy in New York.
For gay boys spending their teenage years in Riverside, there was a glimmer of hope. “Back 2 the grind” was an independent coffee house. It had bands, arty types and gay boys seeking refuge from their more conservative surroundings. It was a wonderful place to meet boys without stepping foot in a loud sweaty club.
One particular night, I picked up my friend Richie. He lived in an old craftsman style house in Riverside. His room was adorned with kitschy posters from virtually every John Waters from Pink Flamingos to Hairspray. We would listen to some funky tunes at his pad, which would get us pumped up for a night out at the coffee shop, listening to bands & looking at cool art.
After listening to some funky folk music, I would drive us down to the coffee shop in Downtown Riverside. I used to ride around in an old Chevy Prizm, which my friends always teased me about. “Oh dude, you’re not gonna get laid in that car,” Was the usual reaction I received from driving the babe mobile. We met up with Richie’s friend.
There he was curly haired, glasses, slight scruff & reading Ezra Pound. Hello Mr. English major! After a night of vulgar jokes and riveting intellectual debate, I made the moves on Mr. English major. While Richie went home early with another friend, I took Mr. English major to the backseat of my car for a make out session.
Whoops, I felt a scratch on my face and then another. His beard was rough and after our little snog session, my skin was red. I looked in the mirror and it appeared that I had just experienced a facial.
“No big deal,” I thought to myself. Then I realized my mom was an insomniac & would probably be up watching the Trinity Broadcasting Network. “Shit!” I said goodnight to Mr. English major and started driving around with the windows open, naively thinking the cold wind would cure my reddish skin.
I have naturally rosy skin, but the irritation was a different shade then my usual pink. Taking the long way home, I knew I would get grilled. As I opened the door to our modest home while mom shook her leg in a frenetic pace. She did this all the time, the nervous leg twitch that is. Every time, I came home she had arms folded. Her body language was saying, “You were up to no good.” I really was up to no good though.
She stared me down as I entered. “Where were you?” she asked. ” The coffee shop talking about the bible,” I replied. ” I just really bull-shited her” was my first thought.
Mom fell for it and went back to watching a praise-a-thon on TBN. She ignored my odd skin tone. When I walked into the bathroom, I noticed something. “Wow, my driving around with the windows down worked.” I didn’t see any redness. My mission was accomplished.
Years later, I grew into a proper New York City boy. My options for places to meet men grew by infinity and beyond. I didn’t have to worry about being a little red in the face after kissing a scruffy boy.
In fact, being red in the face would be a badge of achievement. Before any date my roommate Morgan would yell, “don’t get pregnant” as I walked from our stoop to the subway. While strolling to the subway I though to myself, “If I knew I was gonna be the gay male version of Carrie Bradshaw, I would’ve learned to walk in high heels.”