Friday, June 19, 2015

Rob was my first real best friend. There'd been others, but they'd all been "better than nothing" types. Rob had an incredible, bizarre sense of humor: I'm still trying to decipher half the things he said to me, like "Growing up in Ohio it used to rain so hard the food stamps stuck to my lips." He was also so smart the professors at the University of San Francisco went to him when they didn't understand the curriculum.

We were neighbors in the dorm and quickly became inseparable. It was the perfect symbiosis: I was a freshman, and he was a grad student. I was young and naive and he was a cynical old soul. I was attractive, and he looked like a Doonesbury cartoon character. I worshipped him and he loved being worshipped. With his zen friend Steven and Larry, a disabled musician, we became a foursome. We were like San Francisco's version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles if Donatello's power was finding great drugs.

The roommate I'd been assigned was Roger, another senior and Rob's best friend. Roger was a rarity in San Francisco: a real man's man. He went camping. He went fishing. He was tall and broad-shouldered, easily identifiable with his long red hair, bushy beard and plaid shirt. Leave me alone for an hour and I'll eat a muffin and wonder why my t-shirts smell musty; leave him alone for an hour and he'll build a coffee table and rescue six cats from a tree. They say it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one. Me, I figured rich was out of my league, so I went with the guy who could rebuild the engine of a VW Bug.

I think Roger was envious of my popularity. He'd spent a few unremarkable years in San Francisco so I think it surprised him to see that seconds after arriving I'd grabbed hold of the city with both gay hands and shaken it until the fun fell out. It seemed like every time I set foot outside, Jefferson Airplane would be playing on the Panhandle and hippie couples would offer me daisies and drug-fueled three-ways. I dated business executives, stockbrokers, bankers, and politicians after just turning sixteen. San Francisco was a small pool but I was making a little splash.

One night I met a man on Castro Street and I went home with him. Since this was Gay Central it wasn't exactly a rare occurrence, though "home" usually wasn't a gated estate in the Napa Valley. A few days later when he dropped me back at the dorm I was shocked to find my placid roommate freaking out.

"Where have you been?" he asked. "It's been days! I called hospitals. I even called the police."

"The police?" I asked, surprised and worried. "What did they say?"

"They didn't sound surprised. They said, 'Oh, we're already looking for him.'"

I appreciated his interest so I figured I'd ramp it up on my side. One night when we were both in separate beds I didn't have to twist his arm.

ME: I think everybody needs to try gay sex just to see how they stand on it.

ROGER: Really?

ME: Absolutely. I mean, nobody's entirely gay or straight, so you need to experiment to find out where -- "

ROGER [leaping in next to me] Okay. What do we do?

The next half hour is a bit of a blur. I don't think it was crazy to assume Roger would take charge, but he didn't. Instead I had to deal with this giant pink thing waiting for me to make the first move. I went with the basics. Afterward Roger didn't exactly give me rave reviews.

ROGER: Is that all there is to it?

ME: What do you mean?

ROGER: We just rub our dicks together? Wrestle around while making out? Basically gay sex is just masturbating while lying down?

ME [peeved]: How the hell am I supposed to know? I've just slept with three guys more than you.

This incident confirmed to Roger that he was hetero and confirmed to me that I was in love with him. It was classic "negging" strategy: criticize my sexual prowess and I'll want to do it again to prove that I can do it right. Roger was hot and hunky and apparently knew how to fuck; me, I was struggling for one out of three.

Unfortunately, Roger soon found a girlfriend, which meant I now had an ex-boyfriend I loved (1) living with me, and (2) fucking women in our room. This wasn't quite the party atmosphere USF had promised. I begged the Resident Advisor to find me alternative housing but being straight he absolutely could not give a fuck. Roger and I yelled, screamed and hollered until Rob intervened.

"I don't care that Roger has a girlfriend," I said. "He can fuck every woman in San Francisco for all I care. I just don't want to meet them, and I don't want them fucking in our room."

"What's the problem?" Rob said. "Roger's a single straight guy. Why shouldn't he fuck around? It's not like you two slept together."

"No," I said, "we did."

I didn't see Rob for a while after that. This incident cemented the fact that he was being left out of non-cerebral life. Luckily, the school year ended. Roger went back to wherever he was from, and then Rob announced that he'd found a house to rent on top of Potrero Hill.

Once again, it was one of those things that only happens to the chosen few. Rob had just happened to run into a gorgeous 19-year-old blonde, and he'd just happened to enchant her, and she'd just happened to mention that she owned a spare house on Potrero Hill that we could have rent-free. Larry, Steven and I knew the deal: she loved his brain and he loved her body. "But who knows how that'll end up?" we thought, drawing straws for bedrooms.

Christine took to all of us, and soon she was hanging around our house more than her own. I'm still not sure of her story. She claimed to know everybody famous, even recounting how Mick Jagger danced around her fireplace on her last birthday. I'd have doubted her stories if she'd been poor or plain but rich and gorgeous means anything goes.

No matter how much people like each other, factions develop when there are gays in a house of straights. We all ate dinner together but after dessert it was time for the tribes to separate. "I'm going to go get a drink or two," I announced. "I'll see you all tomorrow."

"Can I come?" Christine asked.

I thought for a second. It'd probably be okay. Forget Folsom, with its punk rock and leather daddies. Forget Castro, testosterone-fueled home of the Clones. Polk was female-friendly: lined with dance clubs, it was almost bisexual. Fingers crossed that she wouldn't cramp my style too much, I said, "Sure. That sounds like fun."

The night wasn't just fun: it was like being royalty for a night. I thought I'd been treated well as a hot young guy, but add a sexy blonde to the equation and the world is at your feet. The gay clubs didn't just ignore the fact that we were both underage: the bouncers literally begged us to enter and then we drank all night for free. Our baccanale lasted until the sun came up and then we drunkenly staggered back home.

The same thing happened the next night. Christine cooked us rabbit for dinner, maybe trying to prove that she was simultaneously domestic and wild, and stood up before I did. "Are we going out again?" she asked.

"Sure," I said. "Great!"

Grumbles came from around the table. Clearly the heterosexuals hadn't had quite as much fun as we'd had. "Can I come too?" Rob asked.

"You'd hate it," Christine snapped. "It's all glam and glitter and loud music. Too loud to talk, and half-naked men. It would drive you nuts."

Though her assertions were correct I wasn't convinced of her conclusion, but Rob got the hint. "Okay," he shrugged, and Christine and I hit the road.

Once again, the night was spectacular. Every door opened for us, and every attractive person fell at our feet. When we finally stumbled back to Potrero Hill at daybreak we felt like Meryl Streep after the Academy Awards. This time, however, Christine followed me up to my room and dove onto my bed.

CHRISTINE: I think everybody needs to try hetero sex just to see how they real stand on it.

ME: Really?

CHRISTINE: Absolutely. I mean, nobody's entirely gay or straight, so you need to experiment to find out where -- "

She was game and gorgeous so like anybody else in the universe I thought what the fuck.

ME [leaping in next to her] Okay. What do we do?

Christine took total charge, giving me instructions down to the last detail. I'm not sure how our housemates didn't hear the screaming, though maybe they just assumed I'd found a Chuck Norris movie on TV. A good time was had by all, though her thin, smooth, buxom body proved to me that I played for the other team.

The next morning I woke up to a knock on my door. Rob entered and sat on the edge of the bed. "Christine wants you to move out," he said.

Fuck, I thought. Fuck.

"She wouldn't tell me why. Did something happen last night?"

"No, nothing. It was terrific."

"I tried to talk her out of it. There's still a chance she'll calm down. I mean, you guys were getting along so well. It's bizarre. Out of the blue. I mean, it's not like you slept together."

"No," I said, "we did."

As I packed my bags to head back to Los Angeles, I knew my adolescence had come to an end. I'd simultaneously discovered a bright new world and had its inhabitants throw cold water in my face. I never talked to Rob again: I knew he conspired with Christine to get rid of me, and I felt completely betrayed. I Googled him so I could write a followup to this piece and immediately regretted it: Google said he was a lawyer, a doctor and a Harvard professor.

It made me feel awful. How could I go on hating him when he still hadn't gotten laid?


Yet Another Steve said...

Wow, I think I've found the secret! Leave my Mac in the shop for three days and find FOUR new postings by Roman Hans. SO much more effective than just checking the site every day.

RomanHans said...

I hurt my finger so I've been writing more. Because I can't cook, clean, eat or exercise. By the time it heals my cat is going to be carrying me around like a chew toy.

Yet Another Steve said...

(Knocks on Roman's door, hammer cleverly concealed behind back)

"Who's there?"
"FIngernail inspector. Just stick your fingers out through the mail slot."

Hey, whatever it takes.