The Boys of Summer …

Victory is always so sweet ...

Congratulations to Maine-Endwell Little League, the U.S. champions, on capturing the 2016 Little League Baseball® World Series Championship with a hard fought 2-1 victory over South Korea, the International champions. This is the first time since 1964 that a team from New York state has won the Little League World Series.

It’s also the first time the American boys have won the world championship since a team from Huntington Beach, California, did so in 2011. That 2011 victory was part of my inspiration for writing Summer Boys, Summer Dreams.

Hmmm … Kit wonders whether he should consider another story centered around baseball, perhaps with a somewhat different twist.

Perhaps as important as winning the World Championship, the Maine-Endwell team was also named the 2016 Jack Losch Little League Baseball World Series Team Sportsmanship Award winner.

Voted on by the 16 U.S. and international participating teams, among others, this award recognizes the team that exemplifies a tremendous amount of sportsmanship both on and off the field, including the team’s time in the dormitories, dining hall and interview room as well as their performance on the field.

That’s a very big honor and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of boys.

The best in the world ...

Chapter 13 …

pole dancer?

Last week’s chapter found Jimmy and Eric having lunch on Capitol Hill at a place called the Hawk and Dove. Unlike most of the places mentioned in the story, the Hawk and Dove (or Hawk ‘n’ Dove to be more precise) is an actual bar/pub/restaurant in Washington that’s been around for many years.

Opened originally in 1967, it has changed quite a bit since then. Indeed, that’s true for the Capitol Hill area generally, especially the Capitol itself and the surrounding congressional complex. Once considered the people’s house, the Capitol has been turned into an armed fortress these days that’s really only for political insiders, not ordinary Americans.

It’s a disgrace, but I digress.

The point is that the Hawk and Dove was a popular gathering spot on Capitol Hill back in the 1970s when our story takes place. While I’m told the current version is nothing like the original, feel free to check it out if you’re ever in Washington.

Most of the other places mentioned in the story are real in some sense as well. They’re fictionalized versions of actual places that existed in Washington a half century ago. In some cases I’ve tried to stay true to the original. The Hide and Seek, for example, is a fictional version of the Lost and Found, the biggest gay bar in Washington for many years back in the 1970s and 1980s.

I’ve tried to stick close to the original for many of the other places in the story like Exiles & Castaways and Outlaws. In some cases, however, I’ve taken liberties in one way or another for narrative purposes.

In tonight’s chapter, for example, you’ll be introduced to a place called Head & Tails. It’s an altered and somewhat cleaned up version of the Cinema Follies, which had a tragic but somewhat colorful history.

In trying to capture the era that I’m writing about, I’ve relied on accounts from others who were alive back then as well as on a lot of documentary records that have been collected and preserved about gay life in Washington by The Rainbow History Project.

The Project has done great work in preserving gay history in Washington. Feel free to contribute if you’re interested in supporting that work . . . and be sure to mention me if you do🙂

So, yeah, there’s a lot more that goes into writing a story like this than meets the eye; and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of capturing the era, I’d be the last to say I’ve gotten everything exactly right.

But feel free to let me know if you have questions about any of the places mentioned. I’ll do my best to answer them, but keep in mind that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the many gay establishments that existed back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s in Washington.

In any event, Jimmy and Eric discussed a variety of things over lunch at the Hawk and Dove, including Jimmy’s new outfit and his reaction to the bars he had visited that weekend. When Jimmy complained at one point about not having a job, Eric told him his job was to keep Jeff happy and that he should be getting an allowance for doing that.

In the ensuing discussion, the two exchanged thoughts on allowances and open relationships, revealed some secrets to one another, and finally got around to discussing the club Eric had mentioned to Jimmy when the two first met Friday evening.

Jimmy seemed interested in joining the club initially as a way of making some new friends. But once Eric explained how the club worked and what was involved, Jimmy became less certain what he wanted to do.

Toward the end of lunch Eric suggested the two visit a place called Head and Tails where Bobbie worked as a dancer and where Eric thought Jimmy might be able to get a job if he was still interested in doing so. Jimmy quickly agreed and that’s where this week’s chapter picks up.

I hope you’re reading this introduction since I left town on Wednesday and will not be back until Sunday. Scheduling these posts and a new chapter in advance is always a challenge for me🙂

Hopefully everything worked out fine. If so, have fun reading Chapter 13 at The Annex.

Chapter 12 …

fun in the sun 16

Last week Jimmy’s introduction to gay life in Washington continued, first at Exiles & Castaways and later at another gay bar called Outlaws.

At Exiles & Castaways Jimmy was exposed to hustling for the first time. Being paid to have sex was a new idea for him, one that didn’t sit entirely well with Jimmy. On the other hand, he was happy to be meeting some boys his own age for a change.

The experience did cause Jimmy to wonder how he would survive if Jeff ever dumped him. Later, when he saw Jeff talking to another boy about the same age as himself, Jimmy seems to have become a bit jealous.

Of course, that was after Jimmy had already spied another good looking boy talking to Eric. Whoever the boy was, he apparently made quite an impression on Jimmy. Sadly, however, the two never met. Instead, Eric took Jimmy on a tour of a leather bar called Outlaws.

While Jimmy didn’t find the place especially appealing, he did learn more than he was counting on about the gay hanky code. Later, he and Eric returned to Exiles & Castaways and then headed back to Capitol Hill.

The chapter ended with a brief phone conversation between Eric and Jimmy on Monday morning. Having previously agreed to have lunch, Eric invited Jimmy to a restaurant called the Hawk and Dove. That’s where tonight’s chapter picks up.

What I’ve been trying to do in the last couple of chapters is to paint a picture of how someone slowly gets exposed to things he’s never experienced before and how disorienting that can be. How Jimmy copes with this will be the subject of the next couple of chapters.

Will he end cracking like that young lad above? Only time will tell🙂

In any event, I wanted to mention two things this evening. First, I got back a little later than expected from my out of town trip so I’ve had even less time to work on Chapter 12 than expected; and next week I’ll be leaving town again so there won’t be much time to work on Chapter 13 either.

I’ll be scheduling the next chapter to go up in my absence. If it doesn’t for some reason, I’ll post it upon my return. Sorry I haven’t had more time for the story lately, but August will be over soon so try to hang in there. Hopefully things will get better.

Also, while I usually try to keep things fairly simple in my stories, tonight’s chapter features a discussion of a club that Eric’s a member of and Jimmy may be interested in joining. The discussion is a bit complicated and involved so be sure to read carefully as the club will play a key role in the next several chapters.

In any event, I’ve posted Chapter 12 at The Annex. Have fun reading.

Chapter 11 …

Future Master?  Really?

Future Slave?  Seriously?

If you’re reading this on the weekend of August 12, 2016, I’ve successfully scheduled this post to go up in my absence. Let’s hope I’ve been equally successful in scheduling Chapter 11 to appear as well. Otherwise you’ll have to entertain yourself with this future master and his very cute future slave🙂

As I mentioned last seek, I’m out of town and pretty much out of touch. Hopefully not as out of touch as Donald Trump, but likely unable to respond to any comments or e-mails before I get back Sunday evening.

Not that there’ve been many of those lately so maybe you’re not finding the story especially interesting. Whatever the case, hopefully the pace of the story will start to pick up a bit in this and the following chapter.

Last week we saw how Jimmy reacted to his first visit to a gay bar. While he seems to have enjoyed himself by-and-large, he didn’t react well to Jeff’s behavior in front of Eric. Determined to teach Jeff a lesson, Jimmy ended up calling Jeff a nasty name.

It wasn’t pretty, but Jimmy is still sufficiently in touch with reality to recognize he overreacted. In the end, he apologized to Jeff.

Conveniently for Jimmy, the two made up and the following morning we learned that his first two months in Washington had not been the happiest of experiences for Jimmy. Without a job or friends, he’s been feeling alone and isolated. Indeed, he seems quite dependent on Jeff for just about everything.

For his part, Jeff seems to be trying to help Jimmy make the transition. The day after their trip to the bar, for example, he takes Jimmy to a mall in Virginia and buys him some new clothes. The two have dinner together and then take in a movie as well. Jeff even agrees to go back to the Hide and Seek when Jimmy suggests that.

However, Eric and Bob whisk them off to still another bar across town, one where Jimmy’s education about gay life in Washington continued. Tonight his education will continue still more.

This was a busy week for me and I didn’t have time to make some of the changes I would have liked to this chapter. I think they would have made it more interesting, but it is what it is and I’ve posted it now at The Annex. Have fun reading, assuming anyone is still reading during these dog days of summer.

Chapter 10 …

The world turned upside down ...

Last week we got our initial glimpse of Jimmy in Washington. Taken to a gay bar called the Hide and Seek by Jeff, it seems like the experience left quite an impression on our youthful protagonist.

And why not? The bar was huge for after all, with multiple dance floors, an elaborate lighting system, and disc jockeys who knew how to bring the place alive and then quiet it down.

And then there were all the guys, of course, hundreds of guys who like guys carrying on in a way that stunned Jimmy. Like the boy above, it seems like Jimmy’s life is being turned upside down a bit.

Do you remember what it was like the first time you saw guys dancing together? Kissing in public? Carrying on? Suffice it to say it was a surprise for Jimmy, a big one. Fortunately, a young boy named Eric more familiar with the place introduced himself to Jimmy and the two quickly became friends.

Indeed, Jimmy’s education began almost immediately when Eric introduced him to a drag queen named Franny Fanny, an experience that was a bit overwhelming for Jimmy to say the least. Later, when Jeff rejoined the two boys, they learned more about each other.

Jimmy wasn’t too happy though when Jeff said and did things that threatened Jimmy’s self-image. In the end, Eric proved helpful in introducing the two to gay life in Washington. But where that will lead remains to be seen.

I’m going to apologize in advance for tonight’s chapter. I’ve had a frustrating week and haven’t spent as much time as I should whipping it into shape so it’s not the most exciting chapter I’ve ever written. Whatever its failings, I’ve posted it now at The Annex and it does help move us along.

I also wanted to mention I’ll be out of town much of next week, including next weekend, so I’ll be scheduling the next introduction and chapter to go up while I’m away. Let’s hope that works out okay.

If not, I’ll post the next chapter and respond to any comments when I get back Sunday evening; if there are any comments. I don’t know whether their absence means you’ve stopped reading, are completely confused or disappointed, or off doing fun things this summer.

Let’s hope it’s the latter.

Chapter 9 …

future dancer ...

Last week’s chapter began sometime in December, 1974, with Jimmy agreeing to move to Washington. But not wanting to leave North Adams right after Christmas as Jeff proposed, Jimmy suggested he move there sometime toward the end of January after Jeff was settled in.

Partly this seems to have been an effort to avoid any suspicion if both Jeff and he left town at the same time. North Adams is a small town after all, one where suspicions are easily aroused and gossip all too common.

But the more important factor in Jimmy’s decision seems to be that his best friend, Tommy, is coming home after his first semester at college and will be on winter break for most of January. Jimmy apparently wants to spend time with his friend, so much so that he quits his job at McDonald’s even before Tommy gets home.

Most of the chapter recounts their time together just before Christmas; a long telephone conversation the night Tommy gets home, a trip to Albany, New York, to pick up Tommy’s brother at the airport, an exchange of Christmas gifts, and then a long conversation at the lake on a bitterly cold Christmas afternoon.

We learn quite a bit in all of this, some of it quite interesting indeed. We learn that Tommy has been working out at UMass and is now in much better physical shape than when he left for college. Indeed, Jimmy barely recognizes his friend. In spite of that (and like Jimmy as well), Tommy doesn’t have a girlfriend and doesn’t think he’ll have much time for dating.

We learn Kevin, Tommy’s older brother, has moved to San Francisco, California, where he’s trying to figure himself out. Even in the 1970s San Francisco was already a gay mecca, a place far from home that attracted tens of thousands of young men trying to come to grips with their sexuality.

We also learn that Tommy and Jimmy like each other enough to exchange Christmas gifts, a rose-colored UMass sweatshirt from Tommy that it will comfort him to know Jimmy is wearing when he gets lonely at school; and a picture from Jimmy to Tommy showing the two boys cuddled up close together at the lake when they were younger.

And finally Jimmy learns what he already suspects, that Tommy won’t be coming home to work at the local newspaper once he graduates from college. That seems to make leaving town easier for Jimmy, but the two boys pledge to remain best friends forever.

Maybe it’s just me, but is there more here than meets the eye? But, then again, this is the 1970s after all. Showing your feelings to another guy isn’t easy or encouraged.

Last week’s chapter marked the end of Part II of our story. Part III picks almost immediately with Jimmy in Washington. It’s late in March and Jimmy’s been in the District of Columbia for almost two months. How well he’s doing remains to be seen.

Tonight’s chapter takes place in a large gay bar, what we would call a club today. It’s the first time Jimmy’s been there and the chapter begins with a song playing loudly. If you click on the link provided and close your eyes, you’ll be able to experience it with Jimmy.

I know quite a few of my readers are older so I would just ask you to try to recall your first time in a large gay bar. That’s what I’m trying to capture in Chapter 9, which I’ve now posted at The Annex. Have fun reading and let me know whether you think I got it about right.

Chapter 8 …

bw-hug

Last week’s chapter began with the aftermath of what happened in Chapter 6. Pressed about whether he liked what happened, Jimmy admitted he had and cited several reasons for that. Whatever he may have intended, Jimmy’s words caused Jeff to break down and cry.

While we never learn all the details, it seems being homosexual has not brought much happiness to Jeff up to this point in his life; indeed, that being homosexual has been a struggle for him. Would that be surprising considering the era in which he grew up? I suspect not.

Convinced Jimmy would be better off in a straight relationship, one where he could get married and have children and seemingly live happily ever after, Jeff apparently believes he did the wrong thing letting Jimmy have sex with him again.

Jimmy manages to calm Jeff down, telling the older youth he should let Jimmy decide for himself what’s right for him. At the same time, Jeff’s display of emotion leaves Jimmy shaken because Jimmy wants sex to be both fun and uncomplicated.

Oh, my, isn’t it amazing how naive we can be when we’re young🙂

In any event, the two talk it out the next day. Apparently resigned to never finding anyone who will genuinely love him, Jeff decides he’s open to having a relationship on Jimmy’s terms. He won’t ask Jimmy to do anything the boy isn’t comfortable with and he’s also apparently willing not to dispute Jimmy’s self-interpretation of who he is.

That allows Jimmy to continue the relationship, which apparently becomes a bit volcanic over the next several months. In November the congressional candidate Jeff is supporting wins the election and offers Jeff a job in Washington.

In turn, Jeff asks Jimmy to consider moving to America’s capital with him. He promises Jimmy he’ll be able to live for free in the place Jeff plans to rent and to pay for all the food as well.

Jimmy is initially hesitant. He wonders what he’ll do for a living in Washington, but Jeff promises to help him find a job or even let Jimmy live with him without getting a job at all in exchange for help around the place they’ll be living.

That makes Jimmy wonder whether Jeff sees him as his wife. Jeff denies it, even going so far as to tell Jimmy he knows who wears the pants in their relationship. Reassured, Jimmy promises to consider the offer, then satisfies a more immediate and compelling need.

I don’t know abut anyone else, but Jimmy can be frustrating at times. Instead of realizing who he is, he seems determined to perpetuate a myth; one that brings out the worst in him at times. And yet there are other times when he seems to genuinely care about Jeff.

Whether this conflict will ever be resolved remains to be seen, but I suspect it won’t be resolved anytime soon. If not, we’re likely to see more of this kind of behavior from Jimmy; i.e., selfishness mixed with a capacity for tender feelings as well.

Whatever the case may be, Chapter 8 is up at The Annex. Have fun reading and feel free to let me know if you think the story is too confusing.