Dec 8, 2013

Fall 1984: Bruce Figures It Out

You remember Bruce from Augustana, the English/drama major who was pro-gay rights, but flew into a rage when anyone insinuated that he was personally gay?

When we graduated in 1982, he spent a year in grad school at Southern Illinois University, then dropped out and by the fall of 1984, he had somehow ended up in College Station, Texas, working as a cameraman at KBTX.

It was only 100 miles from Houston, where I was teaching at Hell-fer-Sartain State, I mean Lone Star College.  2-3 hours, depending on the traffic.  "We should get together," I suggested.

"Great -- we'll come down for a visit next weekend!  Do you have a spare bed?"


"Um...not really.  Two rooms, with only one bed.  Maybe I could come there..."

"College Station is the pits! We're dying to see Houston! We'll bring sleeping bags.  See you Friday."


Turns out that Bruce had a girlfriend, and they were both descending upon me next Friday! I had visions of Tampax in the waste basket, pantyhose on the shower rod,  and the sounds -- and maybe the sights -- of incessant heterosexual sex!

Besides, I wasn't out to him, so I would have to take down pictures, hide magazines, and censor my conversations.

But maybe I could have some fun with it.  I left the pictures and magazines up, including this issue of In Touch for Men, to see if he could figure it out.

They arrived around 7:00 pm on Friday, in time for Chinese food and tv.  The girlfriend, Gladys (I don't remember her real name) was short and round and somewhat jealous, seething in front The Dukes of Hazzard while I told Bruce all about my visit to India and Chad, the hot Australian jock who took off his clothes in my class.  He never figured it out!

Brunch at Baba Yega
I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of heterosexual sex from the sleeping bags on the living room floor, and the next morning there was damp pantyhose hanging from the shower rod in the bathroom.

On Saturday we drove into Houston for brunch at Baba Yega, my favorite restaurant in the Montrose.  Wall-to-wall gay men in couples and groups. I pointed out how attractive some were.

Bruce still didn't figure it out.

We spent the afternoon in the Museum District.  Suzanne, one of Gladys' college friends, joined us, making us look uncomfortably like two heterosexual couples.

And uncomfortably like a heterosexual hookup.  I kept trying to maneuver to walk next to Bruce, leaving Suzanne and Gladys to take up the rear, but they kept renegotiating to shove us together.

Not once in the six years I'd known Bruce had I mentioned liking girls.  They just assumed.

 It was time for vengeance!  I chose a tactic similar to the one I used on the homophobe Tad a year before.

The former Babylon
After dinner at The Hobbit Cafe, which in spite of its name, served Mexican food, I suggested "a show."  They thought I meant the Alley Theater or the Houston Ballet.  No, I drove them to Babylon:

The hottest gay dance club in Houston (now apparently some place called #2).  Wall-to-wall gyrating muscleboys and lasers.

To my surprise, Gladys and Suzanne were both cool, but Bruce's eyes got as big as dinner plates. "Um...I think this is a gay bar,"  he whispered.

"Of course.  All the best clubs in Houston are gay.  And there's a great drag show at 10:00."

"But...but...what if someone thinks we're gay?"

"They'll be gay, too, so what's the difference?"

"The difference is, they know, grab us!"

"I wish it was that easy!"  I took him by the arm.  ""Don't worry, we'll form a protective shield around your heterosexual maidenhood.  Come on, ladies, let's dance!"

We dragged Bruce out onto the dance floor, and when no crowd of gay men assaulted him, he began to relax.  I wandered away to cruise, and by the time the drag show began, I had invited a muscular Detroit transplant named Tim to join us.

We sat at our table, Tim stroking my knee, watching a drag queen perform "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."  Bruce leaned over and asked "Is there anything you want to tell me?"

"Yeah...there might be four of us for breakfast tomorrow."

"Why didn't you just tell me you were gay?"

"When did I ever tell you I wasn't?"

They ended up spending the night with Suzanne, and I stayed over with Tim, and we all reconnected for brunch and goodbye Sunday morning.  Bruce might be pro-gay, but he didn't feel comfortable sleeping in the next room with that sort of thing going on.

And, by the way, he stopped writing to me after that.  I think he was more homophobic than he let on.

See also: The Cowboy Cop in my Bedroom; Straight Guys Never Figure It Out

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