Some people are passive, some are aggressive and some are passive-aggressive. For the most part, I fall into the passive category although I've been known to employ passive-aggression when I think it'll get me what I want. Sometimes I can be a real butt, that way. Growing up in a household where the consequence of even the most innocent error was a smack across the side of the head, I learned early in life that passive behavior and a low profile were the keys to survival.
My older brother never did learn that lesson. He was aggressive to the point of open defiance of our parents resulting in his getting the shit beat out of him on a regular basis. Life was hard for him and he wound up spending nearly half his years in some sort of correctional facility before he died in a motorcycle accident at the age of thirty.
By her mid-teens, my younger sister had taken solace in booze and fucking anybody that would keep her supplied with her drug of choice. She didn't live as long as my brother.
Before you give up on this story as being just too depressing, let me promise you a happy ending. I'm simply pointing out that people like me are blessed with innate survival skills, while others are in a race to learn them before circumstance catches up to them with a disastrous outcome. My siblings and I were merely three of many millions of kids born to parents who had no more business raising children than a slack-jawed idiot.
Along with my mild-mannered nature, I have a functioning brain and did really well in school. Since I learned early on not to flaunt my academic talents, I wasn't very often the target of the school tough guys. They pretty much ignored me and that's exactly what I wanted. On the rare occasion that I couldn't talk my way around a dispute, I was fairly successful at verbally shaming my opponent into submission. When that didn't work, I sometimes got a fat lip for my troubles. As a fighter, I made a very good punching bag.
Around the age of fourteen, puberty began asserting itself in the form of voice change, body hair and growing genitals. As I watched my male classmates strut and preen and listened to them tell lies about their sexual conquests, I gradually became aware that I was actually sexually ambivalent. I mean, I had desires and erections and all that, but the objects of my desires were as likely to be male as female. Both could stir up lustful sexual fantasies. It didn't take a genius to appreciate that this was not something you discussed with your teammates on the soccer field. I grew up in a society where homophobia was a badge of honor. Being saddled with the epithet 'fag' or 'queer' was a sure path to social ostracism as well as a few bruises.
So, consciously suppressing any attempts to get too close to guys that stirred up my hormones, I played the hetero game with reasonable success. I had sex with someone other than my right hand for the first time when I was fifteen. She wasn't my girlfriend, she was my nineteen year old rather homely and somewhat overweight cousin who was always telling me I was 'pretty'; not an adjective a guy wants to have applied to him if he's trying to stay below the radar. Anyhow, she took my hand and pulled me into the woods at a family reunion picnic and gave me a blowjob that lasted less than a minute before she got a mouthful. I enjoyed it but I think she felt cheated.
By the time I went off to college – the first ever in my extended family – I'd dated, made out in the back seats of cars, even groped my fair share of boobs, but I'd never had real sex with a girl other than my cousin and that hardly counted since I never got into her knickers.
When I finally 'did it', it was with a girl I met in my freshman English Comp class. We became very close friends and I loved her dearly but I wasn't IN love with her. I can say that now but, at the time, I didn't have enough experience to make the distinction. The sex happened one evening when we were in her apartment smoking pot and creating solutions to all the world's problems. We got to giggling and tickling each other and wound up touching enough of each other's body parts that the most natural next thing to do was to fuck.
We had sex pretty regularly after that. But then, as the novelty wore thin and as it became more and more apparent to me that I didn't feel about her the same way she felt about me, I began to withdraw into my passive, isolation mode. The harder she pushed me to respond to her, the more I closed myself off. Well, relationships can't exist in that kind of emotional vacuum so I wound up losing both a lover and a friend. I've felt ashamed of the way I treated her ever since. Like the old song says, 'Growing up is hard to do'.
I might have gone through the rest of my life living in this sexual limbo if I hadn't accidentally run across a kindred spirit. Although I intended to get my degree in English, I had a strong interest in the sciences as well.
My partner in the dissection lab of a zoology course was a guy who was pre-med. Gabor was his name and his family had moved here from Hungary. He had a noticeable accent but his English was excellent. Gabor was very bright, witty and about as nice a guy as you'd ever meet. Watching him dissect our fetal pig, I could easily imagine him probing deeply into someone's brain.
One day, about half way through the fall semester of my junior year, I saw him sitting alone in a corner booth at the Heidelberg, a campus hangout known for its pizzas, calzones and classical music LPs on the jukebox. Go figure! He was munching on a slice, sipping a glass of beer and reading a textbook. He waved me over when he saw me and I slid into the booth across the table from him.
"How's it going, Ethan?" He asked. "Ready for the zoology mid-term?"
"Ready as I'll ever be, I guess. Looks like you're doing some last minute boning up." I said, pointing to the textbook.
"You know how it is with pre-med students. Anything less than a 4.0 is unacceptable."
I laughed, "No, I don't know how it is and I don't want to. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."
"Who the hell is Gunga Din?"
"Nobody you need to worry about. You'll read the book someday." I changed the subject. "You told me you were going to try to get a date with that fox, Rhonda. Have any luck?"
He grinned and nodded his head. "This Friday. We're going to see Pepe Romero. We were incredibly lucky to get tickets."
"Ahh! You lucky dog, you! I'm jealous! That guy's absolutely amazing. I think I've got everything he ever recorded."
"So, you're a fan, huh?"
"Like the Pope's a Catholic!"
"Well, as it happens, my dad's boss has box seats at the theater. That's how we got tickets and I'm sure we could squeeze in one more."
I'm sure my mouth was hanging open. "Jeez, Gabor! If you can do that, I'll promise you anything you want, including sex if you're so inclined."
I thought I was kidding but Gabor looked at me for a moment and said, "Don't make promises you won't keep."
It took me a minute to decide he was being serious. "I always keep my promises, my friend."
He smiled and let it slide. "OK, then. Meet us in front of the Chez Henri at six and we'll have dinner before the show. Oh, and, wear something besides jeans and a sweatshirt, Ethan."
"That means I'll have to go shopping but, for Pepe Romero, I'll do it. I've got a class in ten minutes. See you guys Friday at six."
The whole rest of the week, I was excited on two levels. Hearing and seeing Romero do things with a guitar that nobody else could do was something I'd treasure forever. That Gabor even hinted that sex with him was a possibility gave me a boner every time I thought about it. He was one of those guys who could really stir up my hormones. I was anxious to find out if he was serious but I had to be very careful. The last thing I wanted to do was throw a big monkey wrench into a perfectly good friendship. I didn't intend to make that mistake twice.
I'm one of those people who have all the fashion sense of a three-year old but I followed the recommendation of the saleslady and went with a nice tweed sport jacket and dark brown pants. She also took the tie I was considering out of my hands and selected a considerably more conservative one.
I'm glad I took her advice because when I met up with Rhonda and Gabor, he said, "My god Ethan, you look absolutely civilized!"
"Thanks, I think. Rhonda, you're looking especially gorgeous tonight. How did this troglodyte talk you into being seen in public with him?"
"With the promise of diner at Chez Henri and a chance to see Pepe Romero; that and the prospect of wanton sex later on. I've always had a thing for troglodytes." We all laughed but the mental image it stirred up in my brain also caused a stirring in my shorts.
I'll take a moment to describe my friends. Gabor is just short of six feet with black hair and olive skin, no doubt Mediterranean in genetic origin. He's an avid footballer, soccer player to us Yanks, and keeps himself very physically fit. His pale blue eyes contrast sharply with his swarthy complexion. That combination and a smile that could melt stone makes me catch my breath and wonder what he finds attractive in a plain John like me.
Rhonda? Well, Rhonda is just Rhonda. Eyes follow her wherever she goes. She's one of those rare fortunates who have it all; soft brown hair, creamy skin, beautiful brown eyes and a figure most women would kill for. You can add to that the fact that she's on the Dean's Honor Roll every semester. It actually made me a little jealous that she and Gabor were such an ideal match.
.... There is more of this story ...