Loving Men-Pursuit

I am a hunter.

I am not the hunted. I’ve been hunted, earlier in my life, but I never enjoyed it.

I’ve been hunting men all over the world: Vancouver, Palm Springs, Montreal, NYC, Buenos Aires, Atlanta, London, Paris, Belgrade, Munich, and Johannesburg.

And not two are alike: “Vancouver” is 26, Latino; “Palm Springs” is 42, Italian; “NYC” is 25, Latino Lit grad student; “Buenos Aires” is Luciano, of course, 31, beautifully Argentinian; “Paris” is my Parisian, 31, softly Parisian; “Munich” is 71, stunningly handsome, and an expat; and “Johannesburg” is, of course, Artem, 29.

i wish I considered these men my trophies. But I don’t. They’re men that I’ve met, men that I have slept with, men that I have loved and that have loved me, men that I have laughed and cried with, men that care for me.

I love loving men, with all their boyish charms and aged experiences; I’ve had the fortunate luck to discover these many treasures all over our tiny planet. And the one detail that has always surprised me, is that, all these men, from various continents and cultures, various languages and songs, they’re all remarkably similar.

All of us, men and women alike, we’re all looking for the same thing: a hand out of the rain, a tissue on a particularly blue day, a greeting card after a long weekend. All we want is the peaceful knowledge that someone, somewhere is thinking about us, especially when they’re not thinking about anything else.

We want to know that we matter someplace else, that others in different parts of the world are placeholders for our souls.

Loving Men-Buenos Aires

His name is Luciano.

He whispers to me in Spanish. And even if I can’t understand the words he’s whispering, I understand their meaning. His language is so soft, it just purrs, like a very content kitten. Even thru the telephone, I can understand his sentiments through the lilt in his voice. He could be reciting the yellow pages for all I care.

In response to his whispering, I then shared with him: What do I consider sexy? Open lucianocollared shirts that hint at throats and chests; crisp cotton shirts where I can lay my head and bathe in a man’s aroma; worming my hands up a man’s back between their shirt and suit jacket; kissing a man’s throat; teasing a man’s tongue out of the shell of his mouth; gnawing on a man’s shoulder; biting a man’s lower lip gently; bathing with a man; greeting a lover courtside with an embrace, feeling the dampness of his skin and recalling the same dampness after making love; traveling and staying in luxurious accommodations with featherbeds, down comforters, and a dozen pillows; laughter and a great deal of humor; honesty and truthfulness; humility.

There is something truly intoxicating about Luciano’s voice; his laughter is infectious; his hushed tones are inviting.

A friend said to me today, “Harlan, you’ve got a man in every city.”

Hm, I thought to myself, I guess I do.

Lucky, lucky me.

Loving Men-Tuesday Rule

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been on dates.

Decades.

I’m not even sure if I remember how to behave on a date. I’ve always been a believer of gaykiss1the Tuesday Rule. What’s the Tuesday Rule? Well, it goes something like this: Let’s say you ask someone out on a date on Friday evening. Let’s say it goes very well. And you decide to ask him out on Saturday night as well. Here’s where the Tuesday Rule comes into play.

TUESDAY RULE
1. Never kiss for at least four days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday);
2. Never sleep naked for at least ten days;
3. Never allow your date to select your meal for you at a restaurant for at least three weeks;
4. Never say “I’m in love with you” until the following things occur, and in this order:
a. You forget what they look like;
b. You forget the cell number;
c. You don’t recognize theirs;
d. You can’t understand why it takes them so long to text/call you back;
e. You clear your entire social calendar just in case he wants to pop over;
f. You still draw on your blotter at work what your first name looks like alongside his last name;
g. All you can think about is him:
1. His eyes;
2. His smile;
3. His beard against your throat;
4. His kisses upon your clavicle:
5. The muskiness of his aroma on your clothes after he leaves for work.

I can guarantee that if you utilize the Tuesday Rule you can pace your attraction and your infatuation, carrying it from a fast burn to a long campfire which burns for ten gaykiss2times as long.

I have used the Tuesday Rule time and again. When we stretch attraction like salt-water taffy, we do deny ourselves certain yearnings, but these yearnings turn to hunger or thirst, they drop us to our knees prostrate, they make us desirable in the eyes of our amours.

gaykissAnd isn’t that what we’re all really after, anyway? To be desired way beyond the physical and into the spiritual?

Ah, I love love.

Loving Men-Wants

I’m not used to being alone.

Or better, I’m used to being half of a relationship.

No, wait . . . I prefer to spend my time with others and to share my dreams with one specific person.

Frankly, I don’t understand how single people survive?

I’d been in a wonderful relationship for over 30 years. I understand that I behaved in ways which ruined my relationship. But even today, when I begged for forgiveness, begged for the chance to reconcile, begged to come home, his reply was cold and unsympathetic: We need distance in order to establish ourselves independently.

What had I done, I keep asking myself, what on earth could I have done to find myself staring at the back of a man that I spent the better part of my lifetime with?

How did I go from husband to the gay divorcee? My spot in the house has been replaced by a no-name roommate.

I know I think too much. But time stretches like a napping kitten. My days pass so slowly. gayloverI chat with friends, introduce myself to others, call my Parisian and talk on the phone. Yesterday he asked me, “Harlan, what is it that you want? Do you want to fly back to Paris? Fly home to Chicago? Stay in Charlotte?”

“I want to be with someone,” I said, gulping down air to stifle my crying, “I’m not used to being single. Call me weak, or call me scared, I don’t care. I’m better as a pair.”

 

Loving Men-Future

I smell Paris.

This morning in Charlotte I opened my suitcase and the smell of my hotel room in Paris paris2wafted out, filling my room with all kinds of memories. I discovered a shirt I had worn with my Parisian, the odor of the shirt reminiscent of his cologne; pants which I wore there smelled of him; an Alpaca scarf which the hotel gave me for the rainy and chilly Paris days reminded me of the languid garden hours in which I wrote and smoked cigars.

Last night while sleeping I had visions of my future. “Let it go,” Wisdom told me in a dream. “Your future is already here; simply step into it.”

It is with great peace that I know my Parisian and I will see each other again. But yesterday, on at least four separate occasions I found myself crying on the airplane;crying crying because I missed my Parisian’s closeness; crying because I missed his laughter; crying because I wasn’t certain what my future would hold without him.

But here’s the odd part: I have no future without him, just as I have no future without Paris, or Chicago, or Pretoria, or Ghana. I am a sum of my parts. My future is but another number in an already long equation. Every man I meet, date, love, or fall in love with, will help carry me into the future.

And it’s in my future where I will find true happiness.

The Artist and The Academic (novel excerpt)

alistairdoorAlistair opened the vestibule door with great purpose. He glanced at Mrs. Carmichael who rose quickly from her desk and dogged him as he stormed into his office where he spotted Qiana Reece, Curator of the R.J. Cooper Collection rising from one of the handsome yet hard winged-back chairs. He turned quickly to glare at Mrs. Carmichael.

“God-damnit, Mrs. Carmichael!” he said loudly.

Mrs. Carmichael stopped, “She insisted, Dr. Deveraux.”

“Everyone insists, Mrs. Carmichael! That’s why you sit out there! To stop them, insistent or not!”

“It’s not in my character to be rude,” she said while turning, “Even if I do work for a boor,” she said while closing the door.

Alistair was careful to never receive personal correspondence at his office because Mrs. Carmichael, the entrenched secretary that came with his office and which was well-known to use information addressed to him to finagle her self-selected title:

Senior Executive Administration Administrator &
Secretary to Dr. Alistair Devereaux, Vice Chancellor and R.J. Cooper Chair

and who must never tear open any letter from R.J. Cooper. The information contained therein was of such a private nature that he didn’t even allow its delivery to his home because he knew Elloise much too well. He’d already rehearsed her behavior thousands of times in his mind: She, being the wife of an academic, and as nervous as a Jack Russell terrier would serendipitously greet the postman, who would hand her a single envelope that was hand-addressed on a buttery, engraved linen paper whose return address was the signature of the sender and beneath, in great simplicity, Coopertown, NY, NY 10001. Her interest piqued, she’d open the door, step out onto the Braen Stone driveway, shield her eyes, and confirm that Alistair’s figure couldn’t be seen through gaps in the thickets lining the private roadway. She’d hastily close the door and with an almost giddy demeanor, open the small drawer of the eighteenth century hall table, retrieve a letter-opener and deftly slice the top edge withdrawing a scrawled note of which she’d immediately read hastily, then begin to slow until she dropped both the envelope and letter-opener and collapsed, aware that the information would granulate everything.

As soon as Mrs. Carmichael left his office, Allistair walked to the door, closed it with a bang, then turned to Qiana.

“So, what is it, Qiana?” he asked.

Handing him the already opened envelope she said, “I think you’ll want to see this.”

Taking the envelope from her, he sat down on the hard mid-century modern sofa and felt the creamy, butter-like envelope. “Another painting,” he asked.

“Uh, no. Worse. Much, much worse.”

He studied the creamy cotton envelope, stamped, and postmarked New York, NY. On the back flap engraved meticulously read L.O. 18 Blount Street, Cooperstown, Hastings, New York 10165. Hastings, Hastings Alistair repeated quietly to himself, why does that town sound so familiar to him, as if he’d opened a dusty trunk in the attic, only to discover remnants of his long-forgotten past.

Alistair reached inside for the crisp paper, folded in thirds with a heavy crease. Upon unfolding the letter a piece of paper fluttered onto the Persian carpet Elloise insisted should be laid beneath the sofa. He bent down to pick up the paper and set it on the table, much more interested in the hand-written letter. The cotton paper was embossed at the top: Lila O’Riley, Assistant Curator, Cooperstown Gallery of Illustrative Arts, Cooperstown College of Liberal Arts, Cooperstown, Hastings, New York 10165. Lila O’Reilly, he kept repeating as though her name was a piece of hard candy.

“Jesus Christ!” Allistair said emphatically. “What the fuck!”

“I know, Dr. Deveraux. That’s why I thought you should see it right away. That’s why I insisted that Mrs. Carmichael. . .”

“Do you know what this means, Qiana?”

“I suspect,” she added quietly.

“Suspect? You suspect? You better damned well know. This means we’re all fucked! All of us! You, me, this fucking lousy college! All of us are fucked!” he says as he stands from the sofa and walks to the window over-looking the college’s common area.

Qiana walks to the table, picks up the loose piece of paper, and walks next to him.

“You didn’t see this,” she says.

Allistair looks down at her hand and sees a boarding pass for a first class seat on the 7:05 pm flight to New York.

“What’s that supposed to be?” he asks, “A god-damned ticket to his funeral?”

“Might be,” Qiana adds. “But I have a hunch it’s more than that.”

“Like what?” Allistair asks, devoid of concern.

“RJ never liked loose ends. You said that yourself. He was tidy. Complete. I think there’s something else waiting for you at the other end of that flight,” she says cooly.

 

Loving Men-Adieu

I can’t write.

I can’t find the words.

gregoirAnd for a writer that is very troubling.

All I can say are the truths.

I came to Paris to find true love. I expected it to occur on one of the many bridges which straddle the Seine like concrete humpback whales; or, in the cloisters of Notre Dame amidst whispers; or, at the Rodin Museum while ogling famous sculptures. That’s where my imagination said I’d find true love.

But true love, I have discovered, is found in the hours and hours and hours of mindless chatter; of watching romantic movies on my laptop in my hotel room; or sitting in the comfort of my hotel restaurant dining on French menus while laughing at our own personal foie pas.

You see, I found true love in a friendship with my Parisian that has drilled down so deep into my heart that I know that he and I will be friends for a very, very long time. And it isgregoir3 with a great degree of heartache that my Parisian and I have bid each other adieu in the lobby of my hotel, and about which I am still reeling.

I haven’t been able to stop crying; I already miss him, even though I don’t leave until tomorrow. I can’t wait to tell strangers on the airplane about why I’m so crushed leaving Paris; I can’t wait until this heartache turns to longing.

I’ll never be able to express how I truly feel about my Parisian. Except that he and I have gregoir2dug deep holes into each others’ souls; deep holes that will never be filled by the passage of time or the miles separating us. I’ll never be able to tell him what he really means to me because these foolish words can’t possibly describe the depth.

I’m a writer without words.