Dec 4, 2013

Fall 1983: the Bodybuilder on Crutches

When I was in graduate school at Indiana University, there were 30,000 students wandering around on the 2,000 acre campus, but still, everybody knew Jimmy, a graduate student in psychology.  He was a familiar sight, tromping across the campus on his forearm crutches.

 Jimmy had cerebral palsy, so his legs didn't work well, although he could walk slowly without crutches inside the house.  Also his hands were a little stiff.

Do you know what happens to a guy who doesn't use his legs much?  His chest, shoulders, and biceps overcompensate.  He becomes "cut" in bodybuilder lingo, a pale hard slab of marble.  Incredible.

One night in September 1983, while Viju and I were cruising at Bullwinkle's,  he came in.  I yelled "Score!" (or the 1980s equivalent).

Jimmy  invited me back to the terrible house he shared with two other psychology grad students, who hadn't cleaned the place since 1978.  There was a half-full carton of milk on the kitchen table that expired six months ago.

Sometimes we went to the apartment I shared with Viju, but not often: it was up a flight of stairs, and the only way he could get up and down was to be carried.

We dated through the fall semester, going to dinners and movies and to the bars.  Sometimes we went into Indianapolis to the bars or museums, to see Pippin and Godspell.

Jimmy had just come out a few days before we met in Bullwinkle's, so none of his family and friends knew that he was gay.

His best friend Tony found out when Jimmy invited him to our Halloween party, and for some reason he went into my bedroom and saw that my wall was emblazoned with pictures of hot guys torn from magazines.

"Where are the pictures of girls?" Tony asked, dumfounded.

He didn't handle it well.  First he yelled at Jimmy for hanging out with a "pervert," and when Jimmy said that he was gay, too, he accused me of brainwashing him.  When he discovered that there were other gay guys at the party, he ran screaming off into the night.

Jimmy helped us decide if Professor Singer was gay by going along on Viju's  intel-gathering mission.

At Thanksgiving he invited Viju and me to his parents' house in Crawfordsville, but to avoid another scene, we played it cool.  I even responded to a question about "my girlfriend" with a story about a tall blonde soccer player from Iceland.

On December 3rd, a little over a week later, when Jimmy told me: "We didn't plan on it, but I fell in love with another guy.  We're moving in together."

What guy?

Steve (I forgot the last name.)

One of my students!

Grad students at Indiana teach their own classes, and Steve was one of the back-of-the-class students in Intro to Literature, getting straight C's, never participating much.  He was sort of cute, but not very muscular.

All I could think was: What chutzpah!  Stealing the professor's boyfriend, just before final grades are due!

And I told my parents that I was bringing someone special home for Christmas.  What would they say?

Steve spent the last week of the semester grinning at me, daring me to give him a vengeance F.

I didn't.  He got a C.   Then he moved into Jimmy's horrible house where nothing was ever cleaned, and I invited Viju home for Christmas.

During the spring semester, I often saw Jimmy tromping across the campus on his crutches.  He looked happy.

See also: The Night I Drank One and a Half Beers; and How to Date a Blind Guy