302aaaaaThe main reason Dirk and I started the Patreon fund to finance our shoots is because we want to do something different… MORE intense… MORE passionate… More graphically engaging with the shoots. We want to be able to pay the guys a bit (we’re all poor) and feed them and provide them with a few beers and maybe a pizza for their hard work…

But We’re looking to do something to push past the barriers of what we’ve done. I want to let the guys be themselves in these erotic settings… to be able to fully express themselves and make that passion sizzle thru the photo so that it almost burns your screen up. We want to try new things… maybe a bit of cosplay… graphic story telling….

I’ve wanted to do a graphic story of a young, sweet-faced and innocent looking. almost sad hustler being picked up off the street by a man whose initial intention was simply to engage in some wild. quick sex… to show how from the sex something else happens… they fall for each other… hard… and when the hustler goes to leave… just as he walks out the door… he pulls him back for a kiss that isn’t bought… it’s real…

I want to solicit your suggestions for shoots… authors have vivid imaginations and we can provide the beautiful bodies to make those visions come to life. I really want to push the envelope with the new stuff… classy…but hot AND a tad more graphic…

I’d like to be able to do one or two shoots a month if we can get the financing for that. We’re not asking people for life savings, but with so many friends who enjoy my work, if you gave us what you’d spend on a Starbucks or a meal at Rally’s… the cumulative effect would get us there quite easily…

We’ve got so many great plans.. but we need to get the ball rolling… if ya wanna help… here’s the place…

we love ya and thank ya and hope to give ya some really hawt and wonderful stuff..


The Patreon Friends donation site:



Now you can support the type of sensual, erotic male photographic art you enjoy!
By being a contributor to our Dan Skinner Art Patreon “Friends Club” you’ll become a member of our interactive resource in bringing you the finest, most beautiful male models and the most exquisite, romantic and titillating photo art ever!
Here’s what we plan to do: for your contributions we invite you to participate in telling us what you would like to see us photograph. Throw any exciting idea at us: flirtatious scenes, cosplay role-playing, romantic or  even naughty. We’ll give them to the guys when we shoot to see what triggers their playful imaginations. Each month we’ll have new guys, your new ideas and new shoots. We plan on doing newsletters chocked full of behind-the-scenes fun stuff and photos (especially the naughty stuff)…and even small vids of how we shoot scenes. Ya’ll like to see guys kissing; don’t ya’ll? We’ll do plenty of that. And yes, there will be plenty of the naked stuff. Romance ain’t romance unless there’s plenty of skin.
So here’s the deal: ya’ll can contribute.. as little or as much as you want. It will go to paying the models, finding the locations and the food and what-not we need on a shoot. Details on what we need to get a shoot going are on the Patreon site itself, but what’s great… with as many friends as I have, every little bit we get will get us to a shoot fast… and you’ll have the fun stuff even faster!
For authors who contribute $250.00 or more, we can offer in return a small video of the models promoting your book if you provide a link to the book. We’ll send you the vid which you can use on your own blog. What better way to get commercial attention?
Eventually we plan to offer interactive chats with the models once we get everything up and running. Even Youtubes and an eventual Vlog. Sounds great; doesn’t it?
Are you excited yet? Good. So are we! So contribute NOW and let’s get the ball rolling and the guys out of their clothes and kissing on camera!
see more of my work here:
and the galleries here:


Fist hand with rainbow flag patterned isolate on whiteI’m in a bad space and I can’t pretend any longer that I ain’t. Trump, this illegitimate President – this moron, narcissist (fill in every vile adjective you can come up with; I have thousands for him), has brought this on me. And it’s not that I’m a stupendously political person. I normally don’t even express political opinions. But this orange creature devoid of anything but self-love has opened his own Pandora’s Box of grotesqueries that are blanketing our country with a plague of Dis-ease, worry and fear. I am not immune. I have reasons.
For those who have followed my career as a gay photographer and author, you also know that I was raised by radical Evangelical/fundamentalist parents. I was born into their church. It was everything I knew up until the age of seventeen when I could take it no longer, rebelled and ran away. I’d been brainwashed, abused and even tortured by my parents at the command of their pastors because “I was too effeminate”, or “didn’t sit properly like a man,” or had “homosexual tendencies”, that made other parents in the church leery to have me around their own children. I had been beaten regularly, and when that no longer worked, I was tied up and left in a closet until I either repented or recited Bible passages verbatim to them through a keyhole as the password back to “freedom”. I’d never been allowed to associate with any kids outside of the church. We had been brainwashed that they were “liberals”, and that made them creatures of Satan.
When I realized I was gay I thought my life was actually over. That life had condemned me because I’d been taught that homosexuality was an abomination and that gay people would burn in hell for eternity. The God I believed in didn’t hear my prayers to change me and so I hoped, quite simply, to die before I became any worse.  I didn’t die. God obviously didn’t listen to homosexuals. I figured we were condemned to survive two hells. The one that came after living… and the one we endured while living. To tell you that my teenage years were black doesn’t convey the depth of that darkness. When you hear from the pulpit every week, and from your parents every day that everything in the world outside of the church is sinful and will eventually be cleansed by God’s holy fire, you realize there is no where to run. That leaves you in the abyss of yourself trying to deal with the horror of your life… and the imagined horror of the world outside it.
Near the end of my teens, for my sanity’s sake, I accepted who I was. I couldn’t change who I was. It was the only option I had left. I rebelled and was excommunicated from the church. This did not sit well with my parents – especially my father who grew more intense in his discipline of me. When I refused to cry by the beatings, I was knocked unconscious, tied to chairs or locked in shed in the back yard in the sweltering summer heat as lessons to try and bring me back to their way of thinking – the way I’d been raised… the way I’d been brainwashed. It didn’t work.
I know I have some form of PTSD from my childhood. There are huge swaths of memory that are missing. They’ve been compartmentalized or erased by that child, I guess, to keep me as sane as possible. I only have flashes of them in my nightmares. I struggle with the idea that my life was so horrid and untenable because my parents believed that “God” had made us his “chosen ones”, and we had to follow the strict teachings of the church and the proclamations of it’s pastors to assure our redemption before he brought it all to an horrific cataclysm.
I ran away. For years I never spoke to my parents. I blocked them from my mind. I tried to purge myself of the hate and fear and terror with which they painted my tender psyche. I made my own life in the world… “God” and religion-free. I became a liberated homosexual. I accepted myself and knew that I was as normal as any other living creature on the planet. But most of all.. I tried to put what had been taught to me by my parents and their church behind me because I knew it was vile, soulless and rotten to the core. It’s not an easy task. My formative years had been ruined. I had lost a childhood. There were no photo albums filled with happy pictures of family vacations. There were no memories of joyful childhood experiences. I had ran into the world without any normalcy to my life. It would be a struggle to try to begin and fill it with some.
And I did the best I could. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in spite of my origins. I’ve integrated into society as a proud gay person, an author and photographer and generally very decent person. But the anger was always there like tea steeping stronger in a pot; growing darker and blacker inside me. I was angry at what had been done to me; about the simple joys of childhood that had been stripped from me – about the beatings; the tortures, that all came with Bible quotes that, to this day, I cannot erase from my memory. I knew that my parents had been insane; that their church was a cesspool of insanity. I was thankful I’d escaped. So. I watered this anger down as best as I could through the years. I wanted to enjoy LIFE.
Like any writer I tried to purge myself of the bitterness with my work. Every single thing I’ve written has a taste for my disdain of religion. I consider it to be a perversity. And each thing I wrote seemed to lessen the weight of the burden of the blackness inside me. I thought I’d found a viable way to finally free myself from the tyranny of my anger.
That was when I began to notice what was shaping up in politics. From Jerry Falwell on, the Evangelicals have been slowly, carefully and meticulously slithering their way into politics. They wanted to reshape our country into “their world”, “their laws”, “their belief system”. I became concerned. More and more Evangelical politicians gradually began emerging in one of the parties of our government. And each one came in with their agenda. And I knew what that agenda was because I’d heard it every week from the pulpit when I was a child, and in the private conversations of each and every member of the congregation. “To destroy the unbelievers”. “To bring God’s kingdom to the world through the Apocalypse.” “To make liberal blood flow in the street as high as the horses bridles!”
We were taught that public education was Satan’s means of corrupting children. We’d been taught that Science was Satan’s tool to deceive. We were taught that the liberal mind was demon-possessed. We’d been told to prepare for a “War”. My family had a pantry stockpiled with food. Every family was taught to keep firearms hidden. They said when the war came that the liberals would try to use the art of “Satan’s tongue” or rational dialogue to dissuade us. We had been instructed to never listen to a liberal because it was like listening to a chorus of demons. And when the “Time” came, we would have to have the courage to face the demons and kill them without mercy. That was what “God” wanted. what is taught in the Evangelical churches. If you try to reason with them you have only put yourself in their gun sites. There is no reasoning with someone with this level of brainwashing.
AND they were infiltrating our government slowly and surely, one by one.
I thought for certain people would see, as I had, that they were insane and dangerous. But instead they made them into clown creatures to ridicule. But that didn’t stop them. More and more they began to take over House and Senate seats; Governor’s offices… all the way down to grassroots level. Like I said, they had an agenda. You’ll see it in everything they oppose: women’s rights, racial equality, freedom of the press, the arts and sciences; the various other religions… and homosexuality.
When Marriage Equality became an issue, it gave them a clear focus of determination. That, they said, was a sign of the “End of Times” and it was the starting gun for their “Crusade.” God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, in their interpretation, in retaliation for homosexuality. The rise of the homosexual in society, for them, was the signal that it was time for them to act on “God’s” behalf.
In a country that was Constitutionally founded on a separation of church and state, they made it clear that they would not accept this. In retaliation for Marriage Equality, they banded together to write opposing laws as “Religious Freedom”. They were making it abundantly clear that “Queers” were the final spoilers of society and they would not tolerate it.
I had high hopes. We pushed back and won on many. many levels. Intelligent reasoning and the sane laws of our country’s foundation worked hand-in-hand to protect what should have been our undeniable rights. Obama helped us make progressive strides forward. There was enough hope to make me believe we could stave the crazies off. Keep them harmlessly in their clown car where we could be occasionally amused by them.
Then Trump happened. The unimaginable.  A man so unqualified for high office that he was a joke. So undignified, racist, misogynistic and homophobic that an intellectual society would thoroughly dismiss him. And then he was in… and anchored to him… the Evangelicals.
His cabinet is festooned with their belief system: the despising of women, other religions; the blatant racism and the overt hatred for homosexuality.
The blackness I’d ran away from as a child in my home… had taken over the country. The Evangelicals were in place to rewrite laws to make anything and everything outside of their belief system an offense. The unimaginable now reared its serpent’s head and it’s fangs came loaded with fear for anyone who recognized them for the snakes that they are.
I know these people well. They will not stop. They cannot be reasoned with. There will be no rational dialogue. They will have no epiphany to bring harmony to those who believe differently. They are the blackness. They are soulless. They are vile.
So I am in this bad space. But I’ve been here before. The advantage is that even though they are in government, we outnumber them. There is a force of resistance out there. it’s vocal and determined, like I was back then; like I am now. We must become MORE determined than them. We must oppose them on every single thing. For every dark deed they do we have to throw a spotlight on it… the educated, thinking world will NOT allow these monsters FREE reign…
I truly believe that every struggle makes us stronger. Mine did. That I feel this struggle coming on again makes me more determined. It’s time for you to feel it too. I hope you do. The World is counting on us.
Dan Skinner #resistanthomosexual


Most authors never really talk about anything “behind-the-scenes” about their work, but I wanted to take the opportunity to do just that. As most folks know my novella, A Summer of Guiltless Sex” was my collaboration with my real-life muse, Dirk. His idea…his characters.. his story… I wrote it… I’m the one that is credited (by his insistence because he said he can’t write a lick), but it was very much a Dirk and “Doc” goodie.
It was also the fastest piece of writing I’ve ever done because he made it so easy to visualize who these people were and what this story was actually about. The title is what we called, “the fantasy spark.” We all have a reason we go into any venture and with our characters the spark was the idea that they could have one season of fun without any of the drama. And it was our tongue-in-cheek way of having fun by making ya’ll think it was nothing but sexual fluff. But we wanted to do something more… we wanted you to know these guys, Bill and Ted..(yes we named them that on purpose because of the Adventure We wanted you to see they were just like me and you… they were just normal guys who were trying to piece their lives together.. and find meaning in a meaningless world… AND that was what the story is truly about.. discovery… Discovering who you are… and more important… WHO you can be… and WHAT you can do…
Dirk is so proud of this book that he reads each and every email we get about it…and insists on answering them with me. I’m proud of it because in essence there is a little bit of both of us in this book.. We were looking for meaning in a meaningless world…and we discovered a friendship that did just that….
When you read it…think about all those wonderful people that are in your life..or that were in your life… that changed everything in the way you saw things…That’s your Bill and Ted….




I’m gonna quote Dirk’s mom (a lawyer) here because this says pretty much everything: “I hope when they impeach this imposter President it’s public, harrowing and humiliating. I hope the tentacles of his misdeeds drag every one in his administration down to drown with him. I hope the sinking ship takes that whole souless alien GOP party with it. And when they start over I hope they realize that religion has NO place in politics and say, “tax the churches until they shut their mouths once and for all!”

Dirk’s First Date Advice

TDMvolume4Dirk is in Houston with his Mom and Grandmama this week for some family stuff and was all excited about the new guy (Jake) at the gym asking me to his place for coffee. He’s had his eye on Jake almost from the beginning because he’s a beautiful bodybuilder with a headful of dark black hair and a sweet face.
DIRK: You ought to get a king-sized can of shaving cream and new razors and shave each other in the shower!!
DOC: Dirk, it’s a first date!
DIRK: Yeah, maybe coffee is the way to go…

Our latest Misadventures:


ANGER By Dan Skinner

When things were going smoothly in my life; when I was under the false illusion that things were hunky dory, I became a lazy man enjoying the comforts. I ate good, rich foods, I drank wine and I indulged in all the fine luxuries of someone enjoying his life. I had an extended period of this type of unchallenged paradise… ten years in fact… enough years to take a fit man and turn him into a bloated, self-indulgent slob who avoided looking in the mirror. That was what life was about; right? Enjoying it?
When jeans quit fitting, I start buying sweats and pants without belts and larger, looser shirts. I angled myself in the mirror when I stepped out of the shower to not notice so much of the overhanging gut and the legs that had taken on the girth of tree trunks. If I felt a moment of anxiety about the creature I was becoming… I poured myself another luxurious glass of wine and let it melt my concerns into an homogenous blur as I tuned in to something on Netflix and sprawled on the sofa with my snacks.
But beneath this blur was the realization that my “good life” was turning me into something I didn’t recognize. I’d been a fit person my whole life. A bodybuilder at one time in my early twenties. People had always said I was “beautiful”. That was their word. For a time I basked in it; actually thought it was a gift eternal and nothing I could do would take it away. I’d deluded myself in the daily routine of middle-class comfort.
Of course, all paradises are fiction. It’s only a matter of time before reality can’t be blocked by a third or fourth glass of wine and a gigantic slab of blood-soaked prime rib. Life goes wrong. That’s what Life does. There are no perpetually calm oceans or sunny days or temperate Blue Lagoon breezes. Storms blow in… things get uprooted… the calm is gone and you are left standing with raw reality the way I was when my comfortable life suddenly came to an end. I had to look in the mirror for the first time in years and evaluate what the “good easy life” had done to me. The overweight man in the mirror that no one would call “beautiful”. Not only my comfortable life was gone, but I’d allowed it to gradually drain away the essence of who I was along with it.
I remember the moment very clearly because I was talking aloud to myself as I looked down at a slovenly middle-aged man I didn’t recognize. “What the fuck have I done?” I said. I repeated it over and over like the horror of the realization would lessen with the sound of my voice. It didn’t.
And I became ANGRY. Not at my situation that had forced me to finally see myself for what I’d became, but at myself for allowing the comfort of that situation to feed on me as I fed on it.
Now my comfortable life was gone…. and “I” was too. This was unacceptable. I seethed with rage. I would not have this. This would not be me. This would not be my life. I would not look in the mirror and see this creature. I would NOT live in this horrible thing I’d turned into.
The situation became so untenable I began immediately tossing out all the things of “comfort” that had robbed me of me: the rich foods, the alcohol, the weekends on the sofa doing nothing but watching television. I slowly began working out. I was in such bad shape a trainer/friend came by every night and we started by taking midnight walks around the neighborhood to get me used to exercise again. And it was defeating. DEFEATING! I’d grown so out of shape my legs rubbed together and chafed when I walked. It hurt like hell and made me cry which in turn made me even angrier. I put bandages on the blisters….and then I walked EVEN further.  The next night….even further… the night after that…MORE. My anger compelled me to attack what I did not like and change it.
As the weight began to come off, I began to jog with him. Then we’d meet at the park and do calisthenics. I gradually began seeing muscles reappear underneath the dwindling layers of fat.
When I was forced to move and my trainer could no longer join me, it didn’t lessen my resolve. All I had to do was look in the mirror and my loathing refreshed itself enough to drive me out the door and onto the tracks, running. I go to where I could run a mile nonstop. Then a mile and a half… and in a year, five miles. The year after that I was running ten miles or more a day. I had dropped over fifty pounds. I had gone down four sizes in pants. My face had returned… the jawline I remembered. I ran a half marathon that year.
Four years later I can tell you that I was running fifteen miles a day without hardly sweating. I was back down to a weight I hadn’t seen since high school. I looked younger again. But more than that I felt like myself again. I didn’t feel like a slug or someone sliding into the obscurity of middle age sightless and unseen by those around me. I look in the mirror and it’s WOW!
The first point of this is the storm that wreaked havoc in my life that took all my comforts away… that made me ANGRY… made me do something about what I did not like in my life. It made me fight. It made me change…. and I accomplished something that I had thought was impossible.
The second point of this is the majority of us are all feeling this despair of a similar defeat with a new and most vile administration threatening us. I don’t know how many times I have seen people start sentences discussing it with phrases like “I’m afraid of…” or “what I fear is”… and then expressing how impossible the situation feels. After all, we had a halcyon eight years of Obama and we thought our perfect little Paradise would sail smoothly on after him. But the storm moved in and along with it the shock….. and the anger…..
Anger is a tool. Use it… I did…. Nothing is impossible…We will be victorious!

First Glimpse of Ryan (from the gay romance, Memorizing You)

I  knew  how  different  I  was.  I  was  made  aware  of  it  every  day  that  my  dad  asked  me  if  I  had  a  girlfriend  yet.  I’d  made  up  a  million  responses  to  that   question,  but  I  was  getting  tired  of  it.  More  than  that,  I  was  getting  tired  of   knowing  that  I  would  never  have  a  response  to  it.  To  avoid  the  question  I  took  to   running  during  dinnertime,  or  booking  a  lawn  job  just  so  I  didn’t  have  to  sit  at   the  table  and  be  faced  with  devising  another  answer  to  the  unanswerable  query.   The  world  just  was  not  constructed  for  a  person  like  me  to  fit  in.  I  wasn’t  bad-­‐‑ looking.  I  had  a  nice  face.  Pleasant  features.  No  acne.  Blue  eyes.  Decent  body.   Surely  someone  out  there  had  to  be  looking  at  me  the  way  I  looked  at  others.   Somebody  out  there  had  to  want  me  the  way  I  desired  others.  Were  they  out   there  looking  at  me  but  going  through  what  I  was?  Not  being  able  to  do  anything   about  it?  It  was  frustrating.

I  heard  my  classmates  talking  about  sex  all  the  time  and  I  felt  left  out.  The   only  guy  untouched  by  human  hands.  I  sat  on  the  sidelines  as  the  football  team   practiced.  Their  field  was  in  the  middle  of  the  track  I  ran.  From  the  bleachers  I’d   watch  this  parade  of  masculinity,  half  in  shirts,  half  skins  as  they  ran  and   grappled  each  other  to  the  ground  in  what  looked  like  a  sex  dance  to  me.  They’d   get  up,  pat  each  other’s  ass,  and  go  back  at  it  once  again.  All  of  it  so  seemingly   normal  to  them.  But  to  me,  it  was  a  personification  of  sexuality.  My  eyes  viewed   the  world  with  a  different  perspective.

On  one  particular  day  there  was  a  guy  sitting  on  the  bench  I’d  not  seen   before.  A  new  face.  He  was  just  another  one  of  those  joes  like  me.  Ordinary   enough  to  pass  by  on  the  street  without  a  glance.  Short  blond  hair,  a  lithe  but  not   consequential  torso,  but  with  the  most  extraordinary  muscular  legs.  They  looked   disproportionate  to  his  body.  Thighs  that  looked  impossible  to  squeeze  into  his   training  shorts.

I  would  watch  part  of  the  practice,  but  inevitably  my  gaze  would  drift  back   to  him.  He  seemed  uncomfortable;  like  he  didn’t  want  to  be  there.  Distracted  enough  to  look  almost  everywhere  but  the  field.  He  either  wanted  to  be  in  the   game  very  badly,  or  to  not  be  there  at  all.  I  could  only  guess  by  his  body   language.

There  was  a  scuffle  among  two  of  the  players  that  brought  the  coach  in  to   intercede.  Macho  yelling  from  all  sides  for  a  few  moments  before  the  shrill  bleat   of  whistle  pierced  the  noise  and  brought  it  all  to  quiet.  The  hoarse  voice  of  the   coach  began  the  reprimand  as  I  returned  my  attention  to  the  guy  on  the  bench.   He  stared  at  me.  Straight  at  me.  There  was  no  one  else  around.  I  was  the  only   person  seated  on  the  bleachers.  His  hand  raised  from  his  lap  in  a  small  wave.  I   made  a  small,  indecisive  wave  back  and  then  sat  there  in  the  strangeness  of  the   moment.  I  had  no  clue  what  just  happened  or  why.



Memorizing You By Dan Skinner:

What was your “first time” like? (from Memorizing You By Dan Skinner)

my“You  guys  have  a  fun  night!”  his  mom  called  after  us  as  I  followed  him   across  the  field.

“What  kind  of  surprise?”   I  said,  straining  to  see  ahead  in  through  the   encroaching  twilight.  Just  barely  viewable  halfway  across,  I  made  out  a  shape   that  looked  like…a  tent.  A  campsite.  A  ring  of  rocks  with  a  small  fire  burning  in   it.  A  stack  of  wood  next  to  it.

“What  the  hey?”  I  was  amused  by  the  idea.  Reading  scary  stories  by  a   campfire.

“I  thought  you’d  like  that,”  he  said,  running  ahead  of  me  toward  the  tent.

I  ran  to  catch  up  and  was  surprised  that  it  was  a  good  sized  tent  with  a   lantern,  a  stash  of  graham  crackers,  marshmallows  and  chocolate  for  s’mores,  a   couple  of  thermos  of  grape  Kool-­‐‑Aid,  some  pretzels,  and  chips.

The  fire  had  been  started  earlier  and  had  dwindled  down.  Ryan  threw  two   more  small  logs  on  it  to  rekindle  it.

“There’s  gonna  be  a  full  moon  tonight.  That’ll  make  it  even  better.”  The  guy   was  something  else.  Who  would  have  thought  of  turning  a  study  time  of  Edgar   Allan  Poe  into  a  campfire  side  story?

Darkness  fell  fast,  and  from  where  we  were  situated  we  couldn’t  even  see   the  lights  of  his  house.  Only  our  campsite  and  the   canopy   of  stars  in  the   cloudless  night.  We  pulled  the  sleeping  bags  from  the  tent  around  the  fire,  and   propped  the  lantern  on  the  outside  of  the  tent.

I  started  with  The  Facts  in  the  Case  of  M.  Valdemar.  The  story  of  a  dying  man   being  hypnotized  and  still  able  to  communicate  after  he  was  dead.  Ryan  listened   intently,  only  breaking  the  discourse  when  he  didn’t  understand  the  meaning  of   a  word.

Next  I  read  The  Fall  of  The  House  of  Usher,  then,  The  Masque  of  Red   Death,  and  finally,  The  Tell-­‐‑Tale  Heart.

Ryan  looked  at  me  after  the  last  sentence  and  said,  “Wow,  that  Poe  was  one   sick  puppy.  He  shoulda  been  in  a  home.”

“Yes,  but  he  was  probably  a  greater  influence  to  the  modern  writers  of   horror  and  suspense  than  any  other  writer.  He  was  more  readable  than  the   others.  The  terror  was  more  realistic.  That’s  why  he’s  so  important.”

In  the  flames  of  the  fire  I  could  see  he  was  looking  at  me  with  what   appeared,  to  my  eyes,  to  be  admiration.

“How  do  you  know  all  of  this  stuff?”  he  asked.  “Are  you  like  some  whiz-­‐‑kid   genius?”

“I  just  like  to  read,”  I  answered.  “Never  made  a  lot  of  friends;  wasn’t  good  at   sports  much.  So,  I  read.”

“Well,  good  for  me,”  he  said.  “I  get  a  tutor  and  a  running  buddy  all  rolled   into  one.”

He  made  s’mores  and  we  ate  them  watching  the  full  moon  rise  high  in  the   starry  night.  There  was  no  doubt  he  was  a  true  nature  boy.  He  loved  everything   about  being  outdoors.  He  sat  bow-­‐‑legged  in  the  semi-­‐‑darkness  listening  to  the   sounds  of  the  night  like  they  were  a  song  being  sung  for  him.

I  cannot  lie.  I  was  captivated  by  his  raw  beauty.  His  blue  eyes  shone  in  the   lunar  light.  The  curve  of  his  head  with  its  close-­‐‑cropped  blond  hair  made  me   think  of  an  imposing  Roman  statue  of  a  conquering  hero.  The  masculine   inclination  of  his  nose  from  a  square  forehead,  the  slope  of  cheekbone  to  a  strong   block  of  chin,  both  alluring  and  majestic.

“Such  a  beautiful  night,”  he  commented,  his  eyes  still  fixed  on  the  moon.   “People  lose  sight  of  how  beautiful  the  world  is  that  we  live  in  by  sitting  in  front   of  the  boob  tube  every  night.”

I  stared  at  the  curve  of  his  back,  the  full  bicep  as  he  raised  his  s’more  and  ate.   The  blond  hair  on  his  legs  gleamed  in  the  duo  of  light.

He  turned  to  look  at  me,  orange  embers  catching  his  face  again.  “Where  do   you  plan  to  go  after  high  school?  Which  college?”

I  explained  to  him  how  it  was  unlikely  I’d  be  able  to  attend  any  college.  Our   family  didn’t  have  the  finances.  That  I’d  probably  decide  on  a  trade  and  go  to  a   school  for  that.

“You  already  have  a  trade  that’s  making  money.  Why  not  just  build  on   that?”

“You  mean,  mowing  lawns?”  I’d  never  thought  of  it  as  anything  but  a  school   boy’s  way  of  making  cash.  Not  a  lifetime  profession.

“Why  not?  Everybody  needs  their  lawns  mowed.  There’s  apartment   complexes  and  office  buildings;  all  kinds  of  places  that  would  probably  pay   regularly  to  have  their  lawns  mowed.  You  just  get  more  clients,  hire  more  high   school  guys  who  want  to  make  extra  cash,  and  build  the  business  up  as  big  as   you  can.”  He  looked  back  up  at  the  moon.  “You  make  your  own  mulch,  sell  that   service;  do  shrubbery  trimming.  There’s  all  kinds  of  ways  to  make  money  with   that  stuff.”

Looking  back  now  on  how  easily  someone’s  words  would  end  up  shaping   the  course  of  my  life,  you’d  wonder  about  things  like  providence.  Retiring  after   forty  years  of  a  very  successful  lawn  care  business,  made  these  moments  shine   like  fate  was  a  gold  lamp  lighting  the  way.

The  moon  was  waning  when  we  carried  our  sleeping  bags  back  into  the  tent,   turned  off  the  lantern  and  listened  to  the  sounds  of  the  night.  My  mind  raced   with  uncoordinated  thoughts,  lying  so  close  to  him.  It  was  exciting  and   frightening.  But  I’d  not  make  a  fool  of  myself.  I  saw  what  it  looked  like  to  be  on   the  other  end  of  someone  who  doesn’t  feel  the  same  way.  The  image  of  Rosemary’s  face  was  always  there  to  remind  me.

“So  what  was  your  first  time  like?”  His  voice  came  from  the  shadows,   backlit  by  an  expiring  campfire.   It  was  odd  that  he  should  ask  that  as  I  remembered  the  pained  expression  of   the  girl  I  rejected.  “It’s  not  worth  talking  about,”  I  said  after  a  long  pause.

“That’s  why  you  were  running  that  first  day  I  saw  you,  isn’t  it?  That’s  why   you  were  angry.”

I  debated  whether  I  wanted  to  answer  it,  and  then  gave  in.  Maybe  I  would   learn  courage  from  him.  “Yeah.  I  hurt  someone  I  didn’t  mean  to  hurt.”

I  heard  him  shift.  His  profile  disappeared  as  he  turned  to  look  at  me.  He  was   in  darkness.  I  couldn’t  even  see  his  eyes.


I  tried  to  think  of  some  way  to  answer  that  question  that  didn’t  make  me   look  worse  than  I  felt  I  was.  “I  made  someone  believe  I  was  interested  in  them   when  I  wasn’t.  I…was  using  them.”

“Why?”   I  didn’t  want  to  explain  it.

I  didn’t  want  to  touch  the  subject  at  all.   “It’s  complicated.”

His  sigh  was  prolonged.  “Ah.  My  most  popular  answer  when  my  folks  ask     me  why  I’m  not  dating.”

So  many  moments  passed  I  thought  he’d  fallen  asleep.  I  could  hear  his   breathing.  The  night  sounds.  The  last  crackles  of  the  embers  in  the  campfire.

“It’s  hard  to  want  to  fit  in  and  not  be  able  to,”  his  voice  came  barely  above  a   whisper.  “They  make  us  feel  like  it’s  easier  to  lie  than  be  truthful.  Easier  to  hide   than  be  seen.  Make  us  feel  like  we  did  something  wrong  to  not  be  like  them.  Like   we  made  a  conscious  choice.”

It  seemed  I  was  breaking  down  inside.  It  wasn’t  out  of  self-­‐‑pity,  but  out  of  the  realization  of  the  helplessness  of  the  situation.  My  throat  was  stifling  me,  but   I  found  a  voice.  Small  as  it  was.  “I  didn’t  choose  it,”  I  said.  “It  was  just  there  one   day.”

I  couldn’t  believe  I’d  made  the  admission  to  him.  As  the  words  came  out  of   me,  I  felt  anchors  fall  away.  I  could  breathe  again.  I  could  sense  coolness  in  the   night  air  again.

I  heard  him  laugh.  “Sort  of  like  Mozart  when  he  could  play  the  piano  at   seven?”

I  could  feel  the  smile  curve  my  lips.  “More  like  Rudolf  having  a  red  nose.   How  the  hell  did  that  get  there?”

He  snickered  into  his  hands.  “So  true,”  he  snorted.  “They  think  it’s   like  we  chose  a  jacket  to  wear.”

It  was  astonishing  how  much  freer  I  felt  having  admitted  my  secret  to  him.   When  we  settled  down  from  laughing  at  ourselves,  the  silence  pressed  on  us   again.

“You  have  to  apologize  to  your  friend,”  he  told  me.  “You  can’t  let  her  go  on   thinking  it  was  something  she  did.  She’ll  carry  that  forever.”

I  knew  he  was  right.  I  hoped  I  got  the  opportunity  to  do  that.  It  wasn’t   something  I  wanted  to  carry  with  myself  either.  I  lay  there  listening  to  his  light   snoring  for  an  hour.  I  wanted  to  absorb  every  moment  of  this  night.  I  knew  it   was  special.  I  wanted  to  keep  it  locked  away  inside  me  forever  just  the  way  it   was.  When  I  closed  my  eyes  to  sleep,  I  thought  of  how  he’d  glowed  like  a  jewel   in  the  light  of  the  campfire.  The  way  the  flames  carved  him  against  the  darkness.   The  very  shape  of  his  head.  The  smudges  of  chocolate  and  marshmallows  on  his   fingers  and  lips.  How  the  hair  on  his  legs  looked  like  filaments  of  gold.  When  I   was  certain  my  heart  had  painted  the  canvas  in  my  memory…I  fell  asleep.

Memorizing You By Dan Skinner :