Dec 6, 2013

Fall 1984: Fake Names at Hell-fer-Sartain State College

Many people have been asking about the real name of Hell-fer-Sartain State College, where I taught for for a year after getting my M.A. (it was actually only 8 months, if you don't count Christmas and spring break, but that was more than enough).

It's Lone Star College now.  Back then it was North Harris County Community College.  In a far, far, far northern suburb of Houston.

What I liked about it:
1. The student who got naked in my class
2. A visit from Bruce
3. The redneck boy in the trailer court next door who worked out with weights in his front yard.
4. Male nudity in Italian Class
5. Spring break in New Orleans.
6. Trip to Italy to track down Giovanni, my high school crush.

What I hated about it:

1. I had a dreary two-room apartment on a dead end street, with an illiterate redneck landlord upstairs and a headbanger neighbor.

2. Everyone in the rust belt moved to Texas in the early 1980s, which meant that everything was grotesquely crowded.

3. The gay neighborhood of Montrose was only 20 miles away, but due to traffic (see #2), it took an hour to get there.  I hate traffic, so I usually stayed home.

4. Everything else was 20 miles away, too, in grotesque traffic.

5. Due to the great migration from the rust belt (see #2), everyone was new at their job, they took forever and made lots of mistakes, which made every chore from banking to going to the gym a daunting enterprise.

6. Everything was under construction, resulting in constant delays, and more flat tires in nine months than in my previous 8 years of driving.

7. The campus was all ugly concrete slabs and treeless scrub grass.

8. My students were illiterate, surly, and very, very homophobic.

9. And so was everyone else.  "You're not going into Houston?  Nothing but homos down there -- be careful you don't get grabbed!"  It was nearly as bad as Turkey five years later.

10. All gay men were very, very closeted, "closet queens," as we used to call them, giving you fake names and fake phone numbers.

  I put a personal ad in The Montrose Voice, the local gay weekly, asking for a "long-term relationship," and got questions like "Are you gay?"; "Why do you want to know my name?"; "Can we go to your place -- my wife is at home!"; and "Are you a cop?"

(Gay people were Cooperstowninals in the State of Texas until 2003.)

And when I did get a date, we had to drive far, far away lest anyone they know see them; we couldn't go back to my place, too many people around; and if they spent the night, they invariably gave me a fake phone number in the morning.

I got even with a guy named Hank, a recent graduate of the college, now working in a department store, who claimed to want a relationship, but gave a fake telephone number.  He didn't realize that as a faculty member, I had access to all student records.  So I looked him up and called.

" don't...I mean," he stammered, trying to figure out how he managed to accidentally write down his real number.

"You said you wanted a relationship.  So -- dinner tomorrow night?"

He didn't want dinner.

See also: My Most Embarrassing Hookup.