I could talk to you about the mind-expanding experience of taking on
rigorous academic studies in the context of an institution committed to
the liberal arts ideal; and I could talk to you about the joy of coming
to a new place and making it my own; and I could talk to you about a
dozen other things that were integral parts of The College Experience.
But what I really want to talk about is Sex Any Time I Wanted It.
If you don't get it...well, you haven't been to college.
When you're in high school, you have to be surreptitious about pursuing
the things that make a young man feel alive. You have to work
hard for opportunity, and, above all, for location. After all,
nobody wants you doing those things. No grownup, anyway.
But when you're in college...
...well, hell, everybody's after the same thing: higher
education. On all kinds of levels.
And the grownups go home at night and leave you to your studies.
All of them.
I had a couple of personal goals: to get to the end of my first
semester with a perfect four-point grade average; and to get my
physical needs met in such a way that I'd never need to masturbate.
In pursuit of that second goal, I wasn't experiencing total perfection,
but I was getting damn close. College life made it easy.
There was literally no one to set boundaries for you. And it was
a target-rich environment.
To be a successful snatch hound, it's not sufficient for you to be
horny. It's not even enough for you to be easy on the eyes.
I was both of those things, I guess, but those are just the
prerequisites. If you really want to use and abuse in service of
your quest for sexual gratification, you have to have game. And
game requires smooth talk and a quick mind. You have to be a
student of the ladies. You have to understand what makes them
wet. And you have to be prepared to give it.
There was an intellectual challenge to it. And isn't that what
college is all about?
I reveled in the game. I practiced it relentlessly, and got
Weekends became all about using my big head in service of my little
one. Did the grind of academic life leave me feeling pent-up and
stressed? No problem. Did soccer workouts get too
intense? Not to worry. The weekend comes, and the focus
shifts: Big Andy sets up Little Andy for a score or three. I met,
and used, large numbers of beautiful young women.
I assume that at least some of them had beautiful personalities as
well. But it's only an assumption; I can't really remember.
Neither Big Andy nor Little Andy was particularly interested in that.
It's no defense, but it's worth adding, I think, that my depraved path
through my freshman year was hardly a solitary one. It was
standard operating procedure for my soccer teammates. Hell, for all my male peers. At least
the attempt was. And,
truth be known, I think as many campus women as men were walking that
That first year of college, I steadfastly avoided anything that
threatened to become a genuine entanglement. Feelings?
Forget it. Lovemaking? Don't be ridiculous. This was
about getting off. Getting off was ecstasy; it was easy and
I'd approached joy with other people before--the kind of joy that
grabbed more of you than just your gonads, the kind that comes from
loving--but its backside was pain. And I was no masochist.
I'd learned from my mistakes. So from here on out, for the time
being at least, "other people" was just going to be about the
hunt. And about the singular, out-of-body moment when that little
teaspoon of life-essence fires out of you into someone else, leaving
you with a backwash of sensation so primal and powerful and
pleasurable, you literally go a little crazy.
I was dead-set on pursuing that sweet insanity with men too.
Women had soft lines and sensuous curves, and there was something about
their very "differentness" from me that impelled me toward them, aching
to be inside them: Bringing opposites together in an explosive
union. Fire and ice. Leather and lace. But deep
inside I was also feeling a growing need to wrap my arms around
strength, to lose myself in blood-and-muscle, in sinew, in the
world-shaping urgency that characterized maleness and distinguished it
I just wasn't sure how to make those connections. But I was
willing to wait until I had it figured out.
* * * * * * * * * *
Kyle Kessler was an enigma to me.
I'd never met a more talented backfielder. I could always count
on Kyle to feed me the ball. I loved having him on the
team. But there was something.
The soccer guys had bonded with each other early. We'd gotten to
campus a few weeks before most of the rest of the fall student
body. By the time school started, we'd become a tight-knit
group. Kyle was one of a couple of dozen. He ran with the
pack; he told the same stupid jokes everyone else did; he drank with
the boys and socialized with us; he bantered around like the rest of
us. We were brothers-in-arms.
Sports teams are that way. You routinely put your body out there on the
line for your buds. It pulls you together. Kyle was a part
of that brotherhood.
But Kyle had his quiet side. Especially when the sex talk
started. If the conversation ever turned in that direction, he
rarely had anything to say. Usually there was so much
cock-of-the-walk crap being thrown out by two or three in any given
bullshit session that not everybody could get a word in edgewise
anyway. But I took note.
The rest of them did too. Kyle came from a family of pretty
devout churchgoers; most of us figured it had something to do with
that. It's an odd experience, conversationally, when you're
joking around with someone and the talk turns to sex and all of a
sudden your guy-talk is met with silence. It makes you feel a
little uncomfortable when the other guy doesn't join in. You
wonder if he's judging you, what his deal is.
But even running in a pack, every guy has his quirks. Has to,
really, or he gets swallowed up, lost in the crowd. Kyle's quirk,
the pack's conventional wisdom finally concluded, was his "shyness,"
especially on matters relating to sex, which contrasted with his
kamikaze, balls-to-the-walls approach to soccer. A number of my
teammates had concluded that he was a virgin.
We all loved Kyle, though. He took care of business. So we
didn't fuck with him much over his reticence to talk sex.
A dozen of us or so were sitting around Brad Dennison's place one
Thursday evening when the shit hit the fan. Brad was a senior and
the team captain. He shared a three-bedroom house just off campus
with two teammates. We'd had a team meeting to discuss an
upcoming road trip. Rules, roommate assignments, other
miscellaneous details. After it was over, some of us had decided
to hang out at Brad's. They had a foosball table, two videogame
systems, an indoor hoops game, a dartboard, and a pool table. The
team also chipped in regularly for booze, so they also had a fully
stocked bar and a fridge full of beer. All of it was in heavy
use; weekends at college started on Thursday.
I was shooting pool with Brad when I heard my roomie call out.
"Hey, Mouth, you and me: foosball table. I need revenge for last
"Nah, I gotta get back to campus," Kyle replied, smiling at the ironic
nickname Trey had pinned on him a few weeks before. "I got stats
homework, and anyway, it wouldn't be sportsmanlike for me to kick your
ass two weeks in a row. Later, bro," he said, as he slapped Trey
on the shoulder and headed toward the door.
Trey frowned. "You're leaving? To study? C'mon, man, it's the
fuckin' weekend! And anyway, me and the boys, we got plans for you
Kyle paused briefly, furrowed his brow, and said, "What kind of plans?"
I noticed that several of the boys had moved in closer and were
grinning as if they were in on the world's funniest secret.
"Well, Mouth," Trey started, "you've heard about me and Andy and our
little adventure at Sparks, right?"
Kyle nodded hesitantly.
"The women are fuckin' wild there, bro, and I'm tellin' ya, they love
college dick." Several of the guys laughed. "We're headin'
out there in about half an hour. You're comin' with us,
man. You act like a guy who needs to get some real bad. And
Andy's buying lap dances for everybody."
Like hell I was. I was still paying off the previous trip to
Sparks. "Andy's buying shit for nobody," I said. "And how come I
didn't hear about this plan?"
Trey shot back, "I'm just fuckin' with ya, Phillips. But I
figured we oughta all treat Kyle to as many lap dances as he can
handle. And hell, maybe he'll get lucky. I mean, now that
we got Candy addicted to soccer jocks." Shane Flaherty and Brad
both hooted and high-fived Trey. Shane said, "Deal me in for some
Several of the guys started in on Kyle, teasing him and cajoling him to
come along. They were enjoying Kyle's discomfort, but I knew they
really wanted him to let go tonight and have some fun; they probably
figured if they applied a little pressure he'd cave and just go with
I looked over at Kyle. He was blushing and smiling awkwardly,
fending off the harassment with some light-hearted comebacks of his
But I thought I saw something else in his eyes.
Trey and Shane grabbed Kyle by the arms, led him to the sofa, and
forced him to sit down. "You're not going anywhere, Mouth," Trey
told him, "unless it's with us. We're not takin' no for no
fuckin' answer." Kyle tried to get up several times, each time a
little more forcefully than the time before. But each time he
did, Shane promptly pushed him back down into the sofa. Shane had
the muscle to keep Kyle there all night if he'd wanted.
By now, the whole apartment was in on it. It seemed as though
everybody had signed on to "Mission: Get Kyle Laid." They were
laughing and horsing around, so busy entertaining themselves that most
of them weren't paying Kyle a whole lot of attention.
I was, though. I was standing at the pool table, frozen in my
tracks. I couldn't stop looking into his eyes.
He looked into mine, too. Searching; pleading, almost. But
I didn't know what he wanted, and I couldn't respond.
Then his eyes narrowed, and something cold and determined seemed to
rise in him. I shuddered.
Shane noticed the change and backed off. Kyle looked away from me
and stood up. "I'm not going," he said, quietly, the ice in his
voice unmistakable. It was plain he was done being fucked with.
The room grew quiet as Kyle headed for the door. The change in
his mood had been completely unexpected, and tension spread throughout
the room. Nobody spoke.
Trey was indignant. "C'mon, Kyle, it'll be fun. You're too
uptight. It'll be good for you. We'd all have your back,
bud. Why the fuck won't you go?"
He looked into Trey's eyes with malice, then into mine once
again. I saw fright. And steel.
He turned to face the rest of the guys' stares.
And suddenly I knew what he was going to say.
"Because I'm gay."
He walked to the door and slammed it behind him.
Trey looked as though he'd been shot. Our eyes met. Regret
was written all over his face.
No one spoke. Finally, after a full stunned minute, Shane broke
the silence. "Oh, great. A fudge-packer on the team.
Jesus fuckin' Christ."
Trey walked up to him and gave him a shove. "Shut up, idiot."
Shane, wide-eyed, looked at Trey and said, "What the fuck, man? What's the matter
"You're talkin' shit," Trey said. "Quit being an asshole."
He looked around the room. "Does anyone know if Kyle walked
here? Maybe somebody oughta go see if he's okay."
Shane snarled, "Fuck
Kyle. Are you telling me you're okay with havin' a fag in the
locker room with us?"
"Yeah, that's exactly what
I'm telling you," Trey said. "How
do you think we just made him feel?" He shoved Shane again.
Shane fell back into the sofa.
He sprung from the sofa and grabbed Trey by the collar. "You
shove me one more time, motherfucker, and I'll fuckin' kick your ass
into next week."
I grabbed Trey from behind, pulled him back toward the bar, and
restrained him. "Back off, Andy," he shouted, but I kept my arms
wrapped around his chest. Gradually he stopped struggling against
my hold. I let him go and he sat down on a bar stool.
The other guys looked shell-shocked. Two minutes before, this had
been a typical gathering of college jocks.
Shane walked over to the fridge, grabbed himself another beer, tore
open the top angrily, and sat down at the bar. Trey got up and
went to the other side of the room. After taking a few gulps,
Shane said, "Don't be givin' me shit. He's the one who left; I didn't
even say anything to him. But I can't believe none of you
assholes are upset we have a goddam queer on the team. People
like that, they...they..."
"People like what?"
It was out of my mouth almost before I'd realized it.
Shane looked at me. His faced softened. "Dude...Andy...you
know what I'm talking about. It's fuckin' disgusting and you guys
make me sound like the bad
guy, just for saying what everybody already thinks anyway."
I walked over to the bar and sat down next to him. "What's
disgusting about him? You liked him an hour ago."
"That was before I knew," Shane said.
"Knew what? His personality sucks?"
"He's a bad soccer player?"
"He does fine on the field, okay? You know that's not what I'm
I scowled at him. "Are you afraid he's gonna come on to you when
"He fuckin' does that and he's gonna lose a dozen teeth," he said.
"As if," I mumbled. "Don't be ridiculous."
He glared at me. "I'm just sayin'."
I tried to sound patient as I asked, "C'mon, Shane, what's it to
"Are you kidding me?"
He took another swig of beer. "For starters, it's not natural,"
he said. "And especially for athletes. How can you be a
real teammate if you're always checkin' out the team? It's a
trust thing, man. I don't want to think about how he's lookin' at
me like that. How can he be a real teammate?"
"A real teammate like me," I said quietly.
"Exactly," he replied.
I looked back over at Trey. His agitation had quickly shifted
focus from Shane to me. Wide-eyed, he looked at me and shook his
head a couple of times.
Brad cut in at this point. "I know everybody's got different
opinions on this kinda shit. Andy's right, though. We knew
Kyle before, and we liked him before, and he's a good player.
Personally, I never had a problem with gay guys. But whether you
do or whether you don't, we're a team, and we gotta be a team. And we're not
gonna be a team if we start treating a player different, and start
fighting among ourselves over it."
"He's gotta go, then," Shane muttered. "We can get Coach to cut
him if he's disruptive to morale."
"It's not that simple," Brad said. "There are legal implications
to all this, and he's not disruptive
No one said anything.
"Is he?" Brad surveyed
the room. "This could be a real can of worms, boys. I don't
think you have any idea how big a deal this could become if we got Kyle
cut because he's gay. So we better fuckin' get the air clear
right now. How many of you have a problem with Kyle being on the
team? Raise your fuckin' hands."
Shane's went up immediately. Two other guys, a junior and a
senior, raised theirs, with some hesitation.
"How many of you are okay with it?"
Only four hands went up. Trey. Brad. Me. And
another freshman, Josh Starnes. Five guys didn't vote.
"I can't believe this shit," I muttered. Trey glared at me from
across the room and shook his head again.
I stormed over to him. "Just what the fuck do you expect me to
He looked down at the floor.
"Phillips," Brad said. "What did you say?"
I looked at the three who'd raised their hands against Kyle. "I
said, I can't believe that any of you still live in the fuckin'
nineteenth century. Even my high
school buds were more enlightened than you dickless
jerks." I turned to face the others and added, "That includes you
pansy-ass cowards who didn't vote. "
"Just because we don't like guys who like dick," Shane said.
"What the fuck is your problem?"
I looked back at Trey. He was still looking at the floor.
A tiny spark of fear flared inside me.
I slapped it down, disgusted with myself. I looked at Shane and
said, "Okay, asshole, here's my problem: I like dick! That's my fuckin' problem."
Several pairs of eyes zeroed in on me, but Shane wasn't
impressed. "Yeah, right," he sneered. "You. A faggot. I'm
sure. Fuckin' liberal-ass moron, think you can talk shit like
that, just to run to little Kylie's defense, and you think we're all so
stupid we'll just lick it up.
You don't like dick, asshole. Only thing you like is acting like
you're better than the rest of us."
The rational part of me was done for the evening. Rage, as red as
Shane's hair, took the wheel. I walked up to him and put my hand
on his shoulder. I moved my head in, close enough to his face to
hear him breathing. "I like yours especially, Flaherty," I
sneered, "all nice and thick and long, with them pretty red pubes and
all. I bet it looks awesome all boned up."
Several of the guys laughed. They shut up, though, when they saw
"Very funny," Shane said, knocking my hand from him shoulder.
"The biggest pussy-hound on the team..."
"Don't treat me like I'm stupid. I see what you're doing," he
said. "You can't chase women like you do and suck dick on the
side, and you can play all the stupid head-games you want, it doesn't
change the fact that Kessler's a faggot and something needs to be done
I pushed him away from me and
shrugged. "Asshole. You're just an intolerant, clueless
asshole." I walked over to the fridge, grabbed a beer, and popped
the top. "You don't know shit about me or anybody else. And
you know what? I don't give a shit about your stupid fuckin'
ignorant opinion. I'm just sayin' it's not only Kyle you're
dealing with if you got a problem with guys who like dick. You're
gonna have to throw me off the team too."
I looked around the room, defiant. Most of the guys were
examining the color patterns in the carpet. A couple were staring
at me. I wondered for a moment if I needed to leave too.
Trey looked at me. A resigned smile settled in on his face.
He came over to me, grabbed my beer, took a swig of it, and put an arm
over my shoulders. "It's true," he said. "He told me weeks
ago. Look, dammit, I'm his roommate and I got no problem with
it. What the fuck does it matter?"
"At least he likes pussy," said Dean, the junior who'd voted against
Shane. "It's kinda weird, I guess, but at least he...he...dammit,
you know what I mean." He paused and looked around. "Guy
who doesn't get turned on by women, now that's fucked up."
"C'mon, Dean," I said. "I didn't choose to be wired like
this. But I got it easy. I like women, so it's easy to
hide, you know? But Kyle, he can't
hide. He can't run off to Sparks like the rest of us and be a
part of the guys because he's not
wired like me. He can't drill a different woman up in his dorm
room every weekend. He must feel like a fuckin' alien when we
start talkin' 'bout women. And then he has to keep his mouth shut,
because of what we might all think if we knew what he really liked."
Imagining all that--how Kyle must have felt during all those
bragging sessions--made me feel ashamed.
I pleaded with my teammates: "How can you not feel for the guy? It took more guts to tell us than
any of you have; you think he
didn't know there were probably assholes on the team like Shane
here? How would you like it if you got hated
because of what makes your dick hard? Something he doesn't have
any control over?"
"That's just my problem," said Dean. He smiled a little.
"Him losing control. What if he's overcome with lust for my
I appreciated his attempt to lighten the mood a little. "Well,
speaking personally, I think you're overestimating yourself, there,
buddy." The rest of the room laughed. "But really,
Dean. Has he hit on you up to now?"
Dean looked at me. "No."
"You're totally straight, aren't you, Dean?"
"Abso-fuckin'-lutely, bi-boy," he smiled. "So don't even think
"I wasn't thinking about it; you got lousy abs," I said. A few of
the guys snickered again. "What I was thinking about was this: If
you're totally straight, are you in danger of losing control and
attacking girls against their will out of nowhere?"
Dean was silent. Finally he shrugged. "Okay," he
said. "But it's still fucked up."
Brad cut in at this point. "Nobody cares if you think it's fucked
up. But we're a team here, and what I want to know is if you can
set that aside to be a teammate, hundred percent, with Kyle. I
want a show of hands. How many of you can be cool with Kyle on
the team? And Phillips, for that matter," he added. He
grinned at me.
The guys who had abstained before all raised their hands this
time. Dean's hand went up, too. "Phillips doesn't even
count," he said. "He's not queer, he's just a pervert." I
shook my head as a few of the guys laughed again.
There were only two dissenters left.
"Well, that's it, then," Brad said. We can't kick anybody off the
team, but Shane, maybe you and Jason need to decide if you can play for
us. It's not gonna work if you can't find a way to get over this."
Shane muttered, "I can't believe you guys. And you, Phillips;
you're almost more fucked up than he is.
Don't you have any goddam self-respect?"
"Damn straight I do," I said. "No pun intended," I added, a
little uneasily. "Otherwise I'd have just kept my mouth shut."
Shane was still angry, but that's not what came through when he
answered me. What I heard sounded for all the world like a sense
"God made you to be with women," he said. "What are you doin'
that other shit for?"
Something bitter and wounded inside me laughed. I wasn't doing that other
shit. "That other shit" was shoved back into an empty corner of
my life, ignored, bleeding and crying for...
Well, for Matt.
After all, I could have hooked up with a guy by now.
The shock of sudden self-understanding took me away from myself for a
few seconds. For just a flash, I was looking at myself from a
distance. Cold. Analytical.
I saw myself in this room, in this crowd, standing up for a part of me
that might never see the light of day again. I'd been choosing to push it aside, to
starve it out. I couldn't separate my desire for men from my love
for Matt. And having failed at the love, I'd been refusing the
I shook my head and shut my eyes tight, distancing myself from the
razor-edged shard of insight that had just stabbed its way into my
awareness. Then I looked with fury at Shane. C'mon, motherfucker, I
thought. Just give me one
small excuse to blacken both your hateful eyes, and I'm there, asshole.
I opened my mouth to start a fight, but this time it was Trey's
turn to intervene. He'd been watching me. He got up out of
his chair and grabbed everyone's attention before I had a chance to say
anything. "Okay, can we talk about something else now?"
It was apparently a welcome suggestion. The room's tension level
seemed to drop instantaneously. Faces relaxed. Eyes lifted
up from the floor.
Dean nodded and laughed. "Yeah, let's do that. Here's a new
topic. You been lettin' Andy suck your dick at night?"
Trey didn't miss a beat. Raising his eyebrows, he looked at Dean and
asked, "How do you know I haven't been suckin' his?"
This time the entire group laughed, including the three guys who'd
voted against Kyle.
As the room settled down, Shane said, "I still think this is fucked
up. But I can see I'm outnumbered here by all you queer-lovers."
He looked at me. "I came here to play soccer. I can handle
my feelings about this. Kyle does fine on the field and I can
work with that. I can be his teammate. I won't give him no
shit, either. But I don't like him. And if y'all are
expecting me to change my mind, just forget it. It's wrong,
man. And I'm not apologizing for thinking that. From here
on out he's no friend of mine. And Brad, you damn sure better see
he doesn't room with me on road trips."
"Done." Brad looked at Jason. "What about you?"
"I think it's against God's plan," Jason replied, quietly. "I'd
like it better if he was off the team. I know he doesn't think he
chose it, but that doesn't make it right." He paused for a
minute. "But I won't go hatin' on him. That's wrong
too. I don't want him to suffer over it. I can be his
teammate. We can get along."
"All right, then," said Brad. "We don't even talk about this
discussion to Kyle, and if I see one of you jerks treating him bad, you
and I are gonna have a little talk."
I was relieved, but somewhat numb: I wasn't even being considered as
they thought through all this. Not even Shane seemed to have an
issue with my presence on the team. Somehow my big admission was
a yawner, not even worth discussing. It made me kind of angry, in
a way: Being attracted to women negated the fact that I was also
attracted to men. At least in comparison to how they all felt
about a "really" gay guy. I'd learn, as the years went by, that
bisexuals often have to face that strange disbelieving, discounting
attitude, from gay and straight people alike.
Before I could amp up my reflections into a full-fledged brood, Shane
said, "I'm not finished talkin' with you, Phillips. You and I are
gonna get into it."
"Leave him alone, asshole," Trey growled. "He..."
"Don't fuckin' tell me what to do," Shane snapped back. "This is
between me and Phillips. You're not his damn mommy."
I waved Trey off and nodded at Shane. "I'm not takin' no shit off
you, Flaherty. You got something to say to me, you gonna damn
well have to listen to what I have to say to you too. If you can't deal
with that, then we just better keep it to soccer."
Shane glared at me but didn't reply.
Casey Morgenthaler, a sophomore forward, said, "Brad, this isn't even
the whole team. What about the others?"
Brad was walking around the apartment, grabbing empty beer cans and
throwing them into the recycle bag. "I'm not calling a team
meeting about it, if that's what you're asking," he said. "I don't want
to make that big a deal out of it. But guys, until I say so,
let's not talk about this with anyone who wasn't here today.
Soccer players or anybody else. I don't think Kyle has come out
"He sure as hell is out;
now, anyway," said Aaron Spencer, our star forward.
"Maybe so," Brad said. "But we oughta respect him enough not to
spread shit about him until we know what he wants, okay? Let me
handle the rest of the team one-on-one."
After a little more discussion, Brad said, "Hey, it's gettin' late and
I don't see much point in going to Sparks anymore, so I'm throwing
y'all out, okay?" We helped him clean up a little, and one by one
the guys began heading out. Except for the three who originally
voted against Kyle, every one of the guys gave me a clap on the
shoulder, or a grin, or a good word, as we were leaving.
Once we'd made our way out the door, Trey looked at me, smiled, and put
his arm over my shoulders again, like he had earlier. "Fuck, Phillips, you got big
ones," he said, as we walked to his car. "Funny, though, how they
all kinda ignored you. It's like you weren't even a part of the
"Yeah, I noticed that," I
said. "And I'm not sure I like it."
He sighed. "Don't go
looking for trouble, bro." We got to his car and stood there for
a minute. "I was thinking of something else, too, while we were
talking," he said. "Hell, for all we know there could be someone else
in that room gay or bi who was just too chickenshit to speak up."
"Odds are against it," I
said. "But thanks for havin' my back."
He pulled me in a little
tighter. "I wanted you to keep your damn mouth shut. But I
was glad to find out most of the guys didn't give a shit. And I
was proud of you."
I raised my eyebrows at him
wickedly, and grinned. "How proud?"
He took his arm off my
shoulder, pushed me away from him, and laughed. "Not that proud." He unlocked his car
and we climbed in.
The subject never came up
again in a team setting.
* * * * * * * * * *
The weeks went by.
Things had settled into a routine. Studying, partying, screwing
around. The soccer team was having a good season; we held our own
with the other schools in our division. In fact, we were in the
top three in terms of win-loss record. Life was good.
I continued to date, and use,
women. I wondered if I'd ever explore my other side.
Jerkoff fantasies didn't count.
From time to time I'd think of
Matt. Funny; before the incident at Brad's, he'd faded from my
thoughts some. In the days following, though, it seemed as if I
was always thinking about him.
Again and again, I replayed in my head the discussion at Brad's
house, and thought about how it had made me realize that it
wasn't lack of opportunity that had kept me from finding another guy to
be with. And as I walked around that insight over and over,
playing with it, exploring its contours and its meanings, inevitably I
was drawn into thinking about Matt and how he was doing. I
wondered if he was getting as much playing time on the field as I
was. I wondered how he was handling his academics: I'd
flash back to all those years when I sat with him, talked him through
his studies; I'd remember the silent, private joy that flooded over me
when his eyes would grow wide with understanding and he'd smile at me
with sudden delight and, okay, with love,
after I'd helped him work through a subject that was giving him
I wondered if he ever thought
of me these days. Or if I were just a set of fading
memories. With everything I'd put him through our last year
together, I'd definitely given him enough reason to put me out of his
head, out of his life.
Once in a while, agitated by
these thoughts, I'd find myself fidgety with the need to call him or at
least e-mail him. I needed to hear his voice, or to read his words; to
touch him and be touched by him, at least over the wires or through the
But what could I possibly say to him? And what would he say to me?
I couldn't begin to figure out
how to answer the first question. And as for the second, I didn't
think I wanted to know the
answer. So inevitably, whenever thoughts of him surfaced, I pushed them
from my head. They led nowhere.
* * * * * * * * * *
There was never any overt
conflict over Kyle. Nobody tried to quarantine him in the locker
room, and except for Shane, everybody went back to treating him like
they'd treated him before, laughing and joking with him, including him
in all the conversations. I was proud of my teammates, and happy
for Kyle. He hadn't had to suffer, much, for his honesty.
He had to have noticed the change in Shane, though. To his
credit, Shane was never openly hostile. But it was as though, off
the field, Kyle didn't exist to Shane. I was sure that had to
have broken Kyle's heart. But he never once said a word about it.
As for me, guys would actually joke about it in my presence, asking me
what it was like to suck dick, asking me which teammate looked
the hottest naked; shit like that. But the very fact that they'd
talk that kind of trash with me indicated just how little it meant to
them. For them, it was just another quirk that defined me:
Andy the sex fiend. So horny he'll fuck anything. The truth
of it was that they didn't even think of me as gay or bi. They
thought of me as "straight," like them, with a kink thrown in for
color. A regular guy. And I was only seeing women anyway,
so it was all academic for them, I suppose, and as such, boring.
After the meeting at Brad's, though, I made sure not to spend too much
time in Kyle's presence in the locker room. I had no intention of
fueling any gossip.
But I found myself staring at
him a lot more often. Wondering. Wishing.
Some two weeks after Kyle had
first told us he was gay, I caught up with him after practice as he was
walking from the field to his dorm. I hadn't spoken to him for
any length of time since the evening at Brad's.
"Hey," I said, falling in next
"I heard what you did for me
at Brad's," he said. "Thanks." He turned to look at me, his
expression one of pure gratitude.
He was bare-chested; the late-afternoon sun gave gave a sheen to his
skin. I was struck by how good-looking he was. His eyes
drew me into him. I'd looked into them before, but I'd never seen
them for the work of art they were. God, the intensity of his gaze; it
made my knees go a little weak.
I came to a decision.
"Kyle, I...I'd really like to
talk to you some time, about stuff."
"Any time," he said.
I looked around nervously,
stalling for time, trying to figure out how to do this. "I...when
you told us...I mean..."
Damn; his eyes...how could
they be so green, how could I never have noticed his eyes before?
My tongue, my brain: What the fuck was
wrong with them?
"I...I just feel so damn alone
here, sometimes." Shit. How pathetic.
The look he gave me wasn't
sympathetic, but there was tenderness in his voice even as he
challenged me with his response: "Yeah, and you got the other team to
play for, too. Can you imagine how I feel?"
We walked silently together
for a while. My face felt hot. Nervous; so fucking nervous.
I tried again. "Kyle."
"I...I fell in love with a guy
once. A straight guy. My best friend. I fucked things
up between us because of my homophobic shit." I sighed. "I
swore I'd make things different in college."
"I think you're off to a good
start," he said.
"Thanks," I said. "But
what I meant..." Thoughts, half-formed phrases, kept stumbling
over each other in my head, falling over sideways and jamming the exits.
I told my brain to take five
and decided to continue on pure gut. "Okay, I'm gonna come right
out and say it. I think you're really good-looking. Do you
"Andy," he said, interrupting
me, "I'm sorry, but no way, okay?"
My stomach hit the gravel.
backpedaled. "No big deal."
We kept walking. I
listened to the sound of our shoes on the gravel. One foot, then
the next, in sync/out of sync with his. It was all I could focus
on. The rhythmic asymmetry in the sets of footfalls.
Well past the point where the
silence between us had grown uncomfortable, he took in a deep breath,
exhaled, and stopped walking. He got in my path and stood in
front of me, forcing me to stop as well.
"No," he said quietly. "We're not gonna play it like this.
a big deal.
Because now you're gonna get all 'rejected' on me."
Jesus, did we have to talk
"Forget about it," I
mumbled. "I won't break. I've been rejected before."
"By a guy?"
"No," I muttered. "I've
only been with a guy once. I just thought..."
"I know what you thought," he
said, breaking in on my words. "So I need you to listen
close. I want you to understand me."
"Sure, whatever," I nodded,
trying to mask my humiliation, trying to lay down "casual," trying to
prove to him that he hadn't hurt me.
"You're hot," he began.
"Part of me thinks I'm crazy for shootin' you down."
He looked off into the
distance. "But I have a past, too. I grew up in Houston,
man. I came out in high school. I been out there with the
whole Houston gay scene. It was bad enough dealing with my
parents. They think I'm going to hell. But even the gay
people I've met..." He looked back at me and sighed. "I've had a
chance to look at gay people, and I seen how fucked up so many of them
"What do you mean?"
He wiped the sweat off his
forehead. "How many old gay couples you ever hear about?"
"I don't understand," I said.
"What do you want to do with
I rolled my eyes. "I
dunno; how the hell should I know?"
"You don't have to map it out
for me; just gimme the generals."
"Okay." I thought for a
minute. "I guess maybe...I guess I want a decent-paying job, a
house in the suburbs, a wife, and 2.3 kids."
"Exactly," he said. "Gay
people aren't that different."
I looked at him. "I
still don't get your point."
He rolled his eyes. "You
guys with your women. You can fuck around like crazy, then decide
to get serious with one and it all works out."
"It doesn't always work that
way with gay guys," he said. "Hardly ever, in fact."
He grimaced. "Gay guys
fuck around like crazy too, and that's all they ever do. Nobody
ever thinks about the long-term. With you breeders, it's like some
interior signal goes off, and you start finding one another and having
babies. But with gay guys, it's just one trick after
another. And somewhere along the road they get old and ugly and
it's too late. They're alone. You ask any gay guy over
thirty-five how easy it is to find love if they haven't already found
I didn't know whether he was
right, wrong, or indifferent. I was just shocked that he took things so
seriously. We were only nineteen.
"I'm flattered, bro," he said,
"and you're beautiful. But I want the same shit you do. A
nice, stable life someday, with someone to love forever. Maybe
someday raising a kid together, if it won't mess him up too bad to have
two dads. But I have to pay more attention to that than you
do. I have to start earlier. It's too easy to fuck up if
you're gay. We don't get a lot of support from the world.
"When I go out with guys," he
continued, "I take it serious. I'm looking at each one thinking,
'Could you be the one?' I have to, or I'll just get on the
merry-go-round and end up like every other lonely fag.
"I don't do casual dating, and
I don't do casual fucking," he said. "I'll be honest, man.
When I heard what you did at Brad's, what you said about yourself, I
started thinking about you that way. I...you just..."
He looked around, scanning the
area to see if anyone was nearby.
He moved closer to me.
His hands were shaking as he placed them on my shoulders.
He smiled at me. It was
an uncertain, unsteady smile. Slowly he pulled me into him and
I was hard instantly.
And emotionally unready. I felt a part of myself cave in.
But there was an urgency
inside me stepping forward. I returned the kiss, forced my tongue
into his mouth.
Understanding flickered between us. Understanding...
And something else?
Just as things began to get
fierce--fierce and ecstatic--he pushed me away, violently.
"That's what I'm talking
about," he gasped. I watched him, dumbfounded, as his ragged
breaths slowed and he tried to steady himself.
"I could fall in love with
you," he said after he'd regained his composure. "It would be so
easy. But where would it get me?"
It was impossible not to hear
the sorrow in his voice, impossible not to see it on his face.
But my head was reeling from the kiss; I couldn't process what he was
saying. I looked around, dazed, to see if anybody had seen us.
"I can't imagine what it's
like to be bi," he said. "You're confused in the head," he
continued, "or maybe you're not. But you're gonna end up with a
woman, and your house in the suburbs, and your white-collar career, and
your 2.3 kids. And odds are, there'll come a time in your life
when sex with men feels like it was a daydream or another life or
something. Even if you and I fucked around."
I looked at him and
sighed. He pulled me close one more time. Staring deep into
my eyes, he leaned in and kissed me again.
I felt his arms around
me. Strong. Secure. Solid muscle and oh god his lips
so soft and the stubble on his face and the scent of him. This is what I
missed this is what I ran away from this. A moan escaped me.
Slowly he pulled away.
He turned his back to me, speaking into the breeze. Away from
me. Not facing me, not looking at me. "We'd start something
up, and we'd have great sex, and eventually you'd decide you didn't
want to do it anymore, because it was getting too heavy for you, or
because you were getting bored with me, whatever. You'd never be
serious with me. And If I fell in love with you and you fuckin'
"Kyle," I interrupted,
ignoring the tug on my feelings from deep within. "Dude, you and
me, we're too young to even be thinking all that. I like you, and
I just thought we could help each other out. Why do you have to
get all serious about it?"
I walked over to him and,
standing behind him, put my hands on his shoulders. He sighed,
and I felt his muscles relax. After a moment, though, he turned
back to look at me and frowned. "Did you not hear what I was
telling you? I can't look at it like you do. I have to
start thinking serious stuff about my life early. There aren't
enough gay guys out there to begin with, and the ones that are out
there, hell, lots of 'em don't want to think beyond their next
orgasm. And that's a recipe for being alone.
"I know myself," he
said. "Andy. God, Andy..."
He took my right hand and
clasped it with both of his. I was trying to breathe underwater.
I needed some distance, some safety, some air. But I couldn't
force my eyes away from his.
"I'd fall in love with you," he said, nearly whispering. "What's not to
love? And I...I'd feel like a total idiot, and it would break my
He squeezed my hand, then let
it go, and took a step back. "I'm not fallin' in love with a guy
who's not gay. Been there, done that. I almost didn't
The determination on his face,
the vehemence of his words, frightened me a little. He shook his
head and said, "Never again."
I looked at him and saw grief
and utter seriousness. I realized that regardless of what I might
do in college, he was right; I'd end up in a place that was easier than
anything he'd be facing. I might have been like him in some ways,
but in other ways, I had no clue how it felt to be in his shoes.
And in feeling sorry for myself over his rejection, I was being
selfish. It would be the worst kind of cruelty to use him just
because I wanted an opportunity to be with a man.
I felt awful. "Kyle," I
said, "I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to take advantage of you."
He smiled. "I know,
bud. We're all horny here all the time. You do the thing
with the women and you figured you finally found someone with a dick
you could do it with too. Just a little sex, right? I
can't tell you how flattered I am. And dude, I'm saying, it's not
that I'm not tempted. God, Andy, you..." He blushed.
"You're a fuckin' wet dream. And you're such a nice guy. I
hope someday I find somebody like you. But it's not you,
man. It could never be you. And we both know it."
He sighed. "I hope you
understand why I can't. And I'm not mad atcha for trying. I
know it wasn't just about trying to get an easy fuck with the slutty
We started walking again, side
by side. "I just wish I had the answers as clear as you," I
said. "And I don't care what you say, man, I don't think this
shit's goin' away. If it was, it'd be gone by now, with all the
women I've done."
"I don't know what to tell
you," he said. "I barely have my own answers, much less anybody
else's. I don't know how you're gonna deal with being bi.
I'm not saying you're a bad guy if you fuck around with guys. I'm
just saying I'm not available. You're gorgeous; if you need it,
there's plenty of guys who'd fuckin' kill to get with you."
I couldn't think of anything
to say. I was embarrassed, hurt, and guilty all at the same
time. So I said nothing. The rhythmic crunch of the gravel
underneath our shoes stole my attention again.
Finally he said, "Dammit,
Andy, would you stop it with the hurt-puppy shit?"
"I'm fine," I answered, a
little too emphatically.
"I think you're ten times the
man most of those guys are," he said. "The way you stood up for
me, and even came out when you didn't have to. I want us to be
great friends, okay? Don't freeze me out just 'cause I won't fuck
around with you."
I took a deep breath and tried
to shake it all off. "Okay," I said, smiling at him as we walked
along together. "I'll just have to pick my heart up off the
ground. You stomped that sucker flat, dude."
He laughed and slugged me in
the arm. "Yeah, right. You'll have forgotten it by your
second orgasm tonight." He laughed and said, "You're with
Caitlyn Stevens lately, right?"
I grinned. "Yep."
"And you're seeing her
"Nope," I said, "but the signs
He punched me on the
shoulder. "Shit, boy, when she's chokin' on a mouthful o'your
spunk tonight I guarantee you won't be thinking about me."
yourself," I replied. "She prolly don't swallow."
That cracked him up. I
returned his shoulder-punch with of my own, and added, "Anyway,
whatever; your loss."
I grinned at him; I had to let
him know we were okay. "You remember this moment," I
taunted. "Don't be comin' to me changin' your mind when you've
seen my dick one more time than you can deal with. This was a
one-time offer. From here on out, I'm just gonna have to be
the one you let get away."
The smile lit up his entire
face. "I'm good at drowning my sorrows in alcohol," he replied.
We'd reached the dorm. I
said, "Me too. What say you and I head up to Sixth Street
and get in some practice on that?"
"Let's give it fifteen minutes
to get cleaned up," he said, "and you got a date."