TRUE CONFESSIONS - 25
By Mighty Mouth
My very first love affair
I swear to you, dear reader, that everything I say is true and without exaggeration. In the late 40s there was a chain of informal eateries in Louisville called Thompson’s Restaurant. They were a favorite gay hangout. I preferred the one at Fourth and Walnut Streets. It was a place like the old Automats in New York, where people would linger for hours over a cup of coffee. On one occasion, Don, a close friend, I, and a few others were seated at the huge front window of the restaurant. A good-looking guy who looked to be my age, slowly walked by, staring at us. Then a couple of minutes later he passed by again, going in the opposite direction. Someone said, "What a cute little package." Another piped in, "Big things sometimes come in small packages." He was probably all of 5'5". I remarked, "Wow, I like him." Someone suggested I go outside and talk to him. I did just that, and invited him into the restaurant to join us. He accepted. His name was Lance. At that table I began the first love affair of my life. I was all of seventeen, almost eighteen.
He lived in an upper-middle-class neighborhood called Crescent Hill. His family owned one of the largest seed companies in town. I suppose he gave me his phone number, since my mother had no phone in our modest digs. I never dared to invite him to my place, mainly because I was ashamed that I was living in a not-so-great apartment, when I was accustomed to an almost mansion-like house. But he invited me to his place often. And for those who are curious, yes, his “package” was big. I met his parents and they invited me to dinner a couple of times. I suppose in a way they approved of their son’s choice for a “pal.” I was happier than I had ever been in my life Lance had to have an emergency appendectomy and spent several days in the hospital. I visited him every day. On his last day there he said he wanted to break off our relationship. This ended my six weeks of bliss. It was one of the most devastating moments in my life. I stayed at home for three days, staring out the window and not eating. My mother noticed this and asked, “What is wrong? Aren’t you feeling well?” I tearfully spilled out my guts to her, explaining why I was despondent. She got angry and yelled “You aren’t my son! My son died!” This only heightened my grief. I never forgave her for that. When she died, I didn’t shed a tear.
The Lance story doesn’t end here. Some twenty years later I was in Louisville and decided to visit my friend Fred’s favorite bar, the Beaux Arts, to take in a drag show. It was my first time in that bar. I bumped into a fellow I had known as a late teenager and we began to chat and reminisce. I mentioned my first love to him. He said, "Oh, I know him, I even have his phone number. He has often spoken about you. I can phone him right now and you can talk to him." I was dumbfounded by this coincidence. We used the bar’s pay phone, and Lance answered. He told me he was excited to hear from me and had thought about me over the years. I explained that I was in town for a few days and invited him to dinner. We had dinner, but I was rather bitchy. He looked about the same, but had a small paunch. After dinner I invited him to my hotel room and we had mad sex. I suppose he was trying to make up for twenty years of lost pleasure. He apologized that he had not continued our relationship as teenagers. We finished, he left, and I never made contact with him again. But I felt vindicated.
My friend Don was as mischievous as I. Once we were walking down the street, lamenting the fact that men could not hold hands in public in American society. One of us quipped, "Let s hold hands and see how many people we can spook." We continued strolling, hand in hand. We hadn’t gone more than a half block when an adolescent girl in front of her house screamed, "Ma, come out here, there are two men holding hands!" We split up in laughter. Pretty courageous for 1949.