THE COCK AND BALLS BOOK CLUB (A Free Episode from The Misadventures of Doc and Dirk)

privatenakedboysonlyThe Cock and Balls Book Club

How a middle-aged man ended up in a cold “hot” tub with six buck naked college boys has to do with, believe it or not, books. Specifically, my books. The ones I’ve written.

The water is thankfully cool because the tub had been recently filled. Thankfully, that is, because it’s summer and even under the canopy, the temperature has topped ninety degrees. The humidity is rising, threatening a steamy rain for the end of the day. It chased everyone away from the pool to the tub where the cooler containing beer and soft drinks is. The naked part happened because the young gentlemen I’m with have been drinking and according to them, hot tubs are for naked people. I didn’t know that rule in spite of being twice their age, but I’m not complaining. I’m a gay man, this is a good-looking bunch, and I’m treating it like a karmic gift.

To my immediate left is Marty. He’s a university rower. He looks Olympian. He’s lithe and tan, talks expressively, and seems bright. Next to him is Art. He’s quiet, of average build, paler except where he’s now burnt a bit around the edges from the pool outing, and genuinely reminds me of a young Matthew Broderick ala War Games. Next to him is Tom. I’ve met Tom a couple times before. He’s a stocky young man with close-cropped hair, a matter-of-fact personality and is fairly laid back. Alongside him is Colin. He’s the science major they refer to as Brainiac, which has a distinctive geek feel to it that doesn’t correspond with his blond, All-American looks and charming, polite charisma. Jim almost completes the circle of guys in the tub with me. He’s Hispanic, compact in his muscularity with an inquisitive face and a striking smile. Between Jim and me is my muse/apprentice, Dirk. His head bobs like he’s watching a tennis match as people talk. His eyes are glittery. That usually happens after a couple of beers. He has christened this, “The Cocks and Balls Book Club.” The others have toasted it, so I am assuming it’s become an official title. I am also assuming my work will never be written up in USA Today because of this.

Excluding my muse and myself, the rest of the seven are straight. I’m assuming most of you are wondering how a gay author and his likewise gay muse have ended up in a tub of naked straight men discussing his gay science fiction novel?

Nowadays, when a novel is released, even if you’re a well-known author, it’s a hit or miss gamble that it will find an audience and take off. The market is glutted with authors and novels and if you aren’t Stephen King or Patricia Cornwell there just aren’t any guarantees – no matter how great a novel you’ve written. That’s just the facts, Ma’am. It’s no longer dependent on how many good reviews you’ve garnered or how many blogs have discussed your literary pride and joy. Everyone has to do their part, no matter how famous they are, to sell their work. It’s why you see everyone from Ann Rice to one of my favorites, James Rollins on the various social media hawking their new releases. It’s not just a means to be informal and socialize any longer; it’s marketing strategy. And it’s tedious, time consuming, and fraught with competition and of course… trolls. It’s also why, for the longest time, I avoided it and my books found their audiences by what I call the slow burn – word of mouth. Over time, the more people discovered my works, the better they did and the faster other people found them. But it was still like trudging through waist-high muddy swamp water with the release of each book. I had no plans of changing my approach. My books were doing okay.

Enter my hyperactive, always creative and ever impatient muse, Dirk… and change was in the air.

Dirk had a personal attachment to my work with the last two books – the gargantuan-sized science fiction, Xperiment, and the subsequent aperitif, A Summer of Guiltless Sex. With the first one, he acted as my sounding board and often acted out scenes I’d just written, trying to give me better, more authentic dialogue for a character. I would gradually adapt his personality to the character. The second one was directly inspired by one of his fantasies and is, in fact, dedicated to him. In his mind, that meant each was a bit of a Harry Potter Horcrux for him. A bit of him was tied up in both books so their success was something he took very personally.

Not content to wait for the sparks to ignite the slow burn, he became my publicity pyromaniac, dedicated to lighting his own fires to draw attention to the books. And he had an unconventional plan for that. If he didn’t have control over where, what, and when reviewers were doing with the books, if there were no guarantees that posting them in the social media forums would cause them to stand out amidst the swollen glut of other books posted alongside them, he would take it to the streets like a cub reporter in a search for real humans to whom he could relate. And his first choice of arenas was the one he inhabited – college.

I didn’t discourage him, but I did remind him that the book had gay MCs and advise him that he might want to be upfront about that when soliciting readers from his own age group.

This was his response and it was adamant. I actually saw a vein stand out in his forehead as he said it. “Xperiment isn’t about being gay. It’s about being a hero! The heroes just happen to be gay. It’s no different than when in all the other movies that the heroes were guys, until Alien came along with Sigourney Weaver and they showed women could be heroes too!”

I wasn’t going to argue with him on that. It was out of my hands, anyway. When Dirk makes up his mind to do something, by the time you can even react, he’s already halfway across the field from you.

He tackled the venture with a verve of a political zealot. Within the first week, he’d had a dozen of his college friends, mostly sci-fi film buffs and nerds like himself reading the book and openly discussing it chapter by chapter in their own on-line chat forums. He would tell me each day what they were saying and it intrigued and excited me to know that his generation had totally keyed into what the book was about. I was soon invited to join the forums and found myself up until the wee hours of morning engaged in the liveliest of conversations about every facet of my creation. Once I became a participant in these forums, the number of readers began to grow every day. Dirk was creating a virtual book club. He was doing something at a grassroots level that was working on a larger scale. We were no longer an author and a book looking for an audience; Dirk was literally reaching out and bringing the audience to us. I suddenly had more sales in the week in which he’d begun this enterprise than all of the six months of sales prior.

“It’s because we’ve made it personal,” was his explanation. “You’re not just some author out there dropping a book with no one knowing who you are. People like to know the behind the scenes stuff. They want to be able to ask you questions about things. When you talk with them, you make the process real. They like being able to know what went on in your head when you write a whacked out monster book. These guys are Trekkies and Cosplayers. They go to Comicon because they want to interact with others who like the strange shit they like. When they can talk to the guy who wrote the strange shit, you become one of them. That’s the best publicity in the world.”

And he was right. The more I interacted with these new readers, the more they told others and the more the book that languished for months was selling to a whole different crowd. Straight teenaged college students. Who woulda thunk?

And he’d been right about the “gay thing” as well. These kids didn’t give one hoot that the characters were gay. They identified with them because they were outcasts, people that society had discarded and disregarded as inessential or unimportant. That made my characters one of them. Their sexuality had no bearing whatsoever on the importance or content of the story other than that fact. This not only surprised me, but delighted me. I’d grown up in another era where we, as gays, had to fight for every bit of recognition and significance and acceptance we got. That this generation so easily accepted it was heartwarming and inspiring.

However, I’d entered a new learning process of being an author. I not only had to communicate to them through my words, I had to communicate with them personally. The whole concept of book promotion and publicity had changed for me. I was now directly involved in it, and it would change even more for me because of Dirk’s notion of how it should be done.

Becoming directly involved with the readers meant making a number of changes in my life. Number one and most challenging was that I was always a very private person. As an author and photographer, I’d always been behind the scenes. Dirk was changing that. My readers wanted to know more about me. I began having to answer more personal questions, which helped them to understand my mindset while writing a novel that was so heaped with personal observations and opinions about many subjects that intrigued or troubled them… like gun control, climate change, theocracy in politics and the growing threat of the return of Fascism because of radical right-wing politics. These discussions would go on for hours. I had to adjust my sleeping habits to stay up with the Red Bull drinkers to the wee hours of morning. I had to conduct Twitter discussions to answer the sudden influx of mail I’d get there. Everything about selling the book had changed drastically for me, but every day more people were reading the book. Real people. They weren’t reviewers, upon whom we authors had heretofore depended on to help sell our work. These were people reading the book and then telling their friends to read the book who, in turn… well… you get the idea. In olden days, they were called fan clubs. But that was when there was still a certain amount of distance between the fans and the object of their admiration. This was becoming a friend club. But they wanted more… and Dirk knew that and was ready for it. They wanted to meet me and talk to me face-to-face. They wanted to hear me read their favorite parts of the book aloud, in my own voice, with my own emotions so they could feel the impact of the words I’d written. I didn’t know if I was ready for that. I’d never done public speaking – in my entire life.

There’s a lot of mental readjustment one has to go through when one has lived a quiet, unobtrusive life in the background and suddenly is thrust upon the stage so to speak. Some people are born performers and love that spotlight. Others, like myself, approach it with dread. So I decided to take it in baby steps. I would begin by simply meeting some of my young readers. Dirk arranged it to be as informal as possible. The first one would be a pool party, a small group. And it went easily.

There were five of the students I had been chatting with in the forums for a couple of weeks that turned up. They were Dirk’s age. Youthful, full of energy and enthusiastic to meet me.

As anyone who knows me is aware, I do not do pools. I have an aversion to water, at least pool depth to ocean depth. Bathtubs and hot tubs are excluded. But while they were in the pool enjoying themselves, I sat in a chair under the comfortable shade of an umbrella. Our discussion took place later over the pizza Dirk had ordered for them. Being a Vegan vegetarian, he doesn’t eat cheese, so he prepared black bean burritos and homemade pineapple salsa as well. This was when I was besieged with questions and observations about my book. Again, it was compelling for me to note that the homosexuality of the main characters in the book was never brought up. These young men, all straight by declaration, were more captivated by the world of transgenic monsters I’d created that could smell and track evil. The science of the book fascinated them. The notion I’d raised of accelerating the evolution of humanity into another species dominated the conversation, along with the fact the hero of the tale was a blind musician. This seemed to please them above all else.

To sit face-to-face with people who had not only read my work, but had been enthralled by it to the degree of verbose discussion is a true and rich dessert to an author. What I’d dreaded turned out to be something that encouraged me even more. Every author experiences self-doubt when casting their work onto the proverbial waters of the readers. To net such a positive reaction is indescribable. But still lurking in the back of my mind was the question… how did these heterosexual boys who grew up reading heterosexual novels and seeing heterosexual films, feel about the protagonists in my book being gay? Was it foreign or strange? I knew how my muse felt about the subject, but did his straight friends feel the same way? I didn’t think there had been any moment in the conversation where this could have been easily asked, so I told myself I’d save it for another day. My appearance that day at a pool party garnered a sale of fifteen more books. Each one of the guys I’d met had become a walking salesman of my work. I now had sold more copies of this book using Dirk’s strategy than by any other promotional means since its release. That something so simple could produce such immediate results was staggering. And even though it wasn’t on the level of sales that a King or Koontz would have with a release, I was not a King or Koontz, more people were reading my work, and that, as they say, is another brick in the wall.

At the end of the day we’d found his mother reading the book, which is brick-sized and took up most of her petite lap. By the middle of the week, she’d be added to my list of promoters with ideas of her own. What makes this interesting is that Rebecca, Dirk’s mother, comes from a lineage of lifelong Republicans. I am so left leaning that some of my friends nicknamed me racetrack – nothing but left turns. My book, Xperiment is saturated with liberal ideologies. They are, in fact, what propels the plot of a new evolution of creatures that can smell evil and track it like a lion on an antelope. The evil in my book is based on the right-wing conservative ideologies that I was raised by and ran away from as a child in a cult church. The evil in my book comes from the politicians and evangelists trying to choke these same kinds of beliefs down society’s throat against its will. The creatures systematically dispense with these real monsters. So a woman raised as a Republican (who in recent months had defected to the Democratic Party), was going to recognize those I’m depicting as the bad guys in this book. I got her call in the middle of the week.

Mind you, I do not expect everyone to like this book. I’d even predicted to my editor that I expected a lot of bad reviews once a right-winger stumbled on it. I had no clue what to expect from Dirk’s mother.

As it turned out, she and her mother, Dirk’s Grandmama’s, defection to the left side of politics came because they no longer could accept the misogyny that had been manifesting in the right side of politics. They are both strong women and the ugly rhetoric had steered them in the direction of the campaign of Bernie Sanders. And by chance, the very issues I’d addressed in the book as being the root of the world’s calamities were the ones that had help move them in their new direction. In other words, my book had hit a very sensitive nerve with her. She liked its ideological narrative and decided she wanted to share it with her friends, all former Republicans, now in the Sanders camp. She said I’d given them enough real information in my work of fiction that they believed they could use it in campaigning for their candidate. I was more than honored to hear that. I was less than thrilled to hear that she wanted to put together a meet and greet with the author at her office for her friends. The idea of public speaking was becoming more real.

Dirk was overjoyed. I was nervous. His idea to take the book to the people had expanded from his college buddies to the professional friends in his mother’s world. That was a huge jump. This was going to be something I had to seriously prepare for. Late at night, I began reading passages of the book to Dirk via Skype. It was nerve-wracking as I imagined having to look up at a room of eyes staring at me. But I was adjusting to the idea that this was something every author had to do in order to get his or her book to the public. Books don’t sell themselves. Authors do.

The turnout was bigger than I expected. The conference room at Rebecca’s office was jammed as I arrived. I’d anticipated ten people; there were five times that number. When I saw the crowd, my impulse, naturally, was to turn hightail and run. Before that could happen, I was spotted and pulled into the room. And then something unusual happened. As I was taken around and introduced to people one by one, as they shook my hand and smiled, I began to realize that these were folks just like me. They weren’t something frightening or imposing. Most had already read some of the book and were eager to discuss it with me. I was never presented in front of a crowd to deliver a speech as I’d dreaded. I never stood up and read anything publicly. Everything happened one-on-one and was as easy as having conversations at a party. People would read portions of my book to me and then ask me questions. It was more like conversational interviews. Nothing could have been more non-stressful. The blood, sweat, and tears incurred in anticipation had been for naught. The event lasted four hours. I had new readers and Dirk was bouncing like a cartoon jackrabbit. It was coming together.

Now every morning my email was filled with new readers enjoying my book for different reasons. The college crowd because they were digging the far-out concept of the new monster species and the science fiction aspects of the book. And the older professional crowd because I was giving them perfect political ammunition with the book’s ideology. Truly different strokes for different folks. Again, the subject of the main characters being gay had no bearing on why these two disparate groups were enjoying the novel. They were treating it, in fact, no different from mainstream fiction.

But Dirk was far from slowing down on ideas. He knew I still needed to practice for that day when I’d have to stand up in front of a crowd and read my work. It was an inevitability, and I was an amateur. That meant we needed to practice my reading skills. He found a way we could do that and a good deed at the same time.

My books hadn’t peaked to a point that they warranted audio-versions. That meant that the vision-impaired couldn’t enjoy them. Dirk suggested that practicing my skills as a reader might inspire me to take my books in that direction in the near future. And as it happened, he had a college friend who was intrigued by my work who was visually challenged. His name was Harris and he’d expressed interest in my period epic gay romance, Memorizing You. Dirk invited his friend to his house as an overnight guest and the two of us took turns reading chapters from the book to Harris. Mine would come via the video chat.

Harris was a delightful young man of mixed heritage. His skin was a pale cocoa color that the light made look radiant. His had an unruly head of Lenny Kravitz curls, making him look fashion-perfect. The photographer in me loved his aesthetics – the high cheekbones, the broad arch of his eyebrows, the voluptuous curve of his lips. He was tall and a bit thin, but his stylish clothes made him a visual treat. He wore a simple brand of sunglasses that seemed natural to the lines of his face. He was an animated talker in the same manner as Dirk. His hands went everywhere as he spoke. Dirk informed me his sexuality was ambiguous, but he had explained to him the novel was a gay YA romance which meant that there was no sex on the page. He was enthusiastic to be the listener in our mutual reading experience.

Dirk made him comfy on his bed, brought him coffee and some chips and homemade dip. Then Dirk began to make himself comfy.

As I’ve noted before, I believe the boy was born with nudists genes. He appears to dislike clothes – especially when he’s in the comfort of his own room. No sooner had I pulled up my book to read, Dirk began pulling off his clothes. This is not an abnormal routine for him when we are conducting our Skype chats. His attire for the majority of these video calls is a pair of boxers and his socks. If he wants to be more at ease, just the socks. Most of him remains hidden beneath desk level except for the occasional glimpses of his naked ass when he jumps up to make or get a cup of coffee from the machine at the back of his room and scurry back with the cup held in front of himself. This was going in the only socks direction… Dirk assuming that his guest couldn’t see him anyway. I, however, was alarmed when he grabbed the waist of his boxers, sat, and clearly, though unseen by me, disrobed entirely.

“Dirk!” I hissed at him through the screen.

Harris leaned forward in the background. He was smiling. “He’s getting naked; isn’t he?” he asked.

Dirk seemed surprised. “H-How did you know?”

Harris chuckled. “My dorm mate is like you, doesn’t like clothes either. When he starts to undress he gets real quiet like the silence won’t give away what he’s doing. But it’s the silence that gives it away. You got real quiet.”

Dirk stared at me through the screen with disbelief. “The logic of that is screwing with my head,” he said.

With that, Harris began slipping out of his shirt. “You don’t mind; do you?” he asked as he undressed to his tan-colored BVDs. We both stared at him – long, lithe legs and undies sporting a most significant bulge as he leaned back on the bed, almost naked.

“Oh my God, he’s hot!” Dirk whispered, moving close to the screen.

“I’m blind. Not deaf. And thank you!” Harris spoke from across the room, now smiling broadly.

Dirk reached back under the table. “Maybe I should put my underwear back on,” he said in an even softer tone.

“Blind. Not deaf. And thank you again. I’ve been working out.”

Dirk pressed his face to the screen and mouthed the words, “I am so hard!” before sinking in his chair, looking flustered.

We took turns reading chapters to our guest. This was good practice for me because there’s quite a difference in reading a book to yourself and hearing the words and dialogue aloud. You learn you have to act, to convey emotion and action through your intonations. Dirk performed this instinctively. It was a learning process for me, but I was getting the hang of it.

When it rains, it pours. My next call came from Dirk’s Grandmama. This is one helluva grand lady. She’s seventy-something, classy and dynamically energetic. She neither looks nor acts her age. Her hair is salt and pepper but her personality is piss and vinegar. Despite the designer clothes and expensive manicure, I believe there is a hippie lurking inside. She likes to drink but I suspect she could roll a tight one to compete with any of Dirk’s campus buddies. The short version of this is age is only a number. An attitude is ageless, and hers has a portrait hidden in an attic somewhere. She’d been reading my work. More specifically she’d just read one of my more erotic gay tales, A Summer of Guiltless Sex and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, that she wanted to present me to a club of her lady friends to do a reading from it.

Yes, my mouth dropped open. A group of seventy-year-old women wanted to listen to me read from my novella about two guys arranging for buddy sex for one summer. And if you’re wondering if it’s graphic… well, I actually blushed when she told me the book selection. Mind you, it has nothing to do with the age of the audience, considering the mindset of the woman arranging it. My discomfiture was the idea of reading sex scenes aloud… to a group of people… period. Now I genuinely had something about which to be nervous. Dirk was eating my anxiety up like fairground cotton candy.

Naturally, they selected one poignant scene… and one very raunchy scene for me to read. The one many readers comment about in the mail I receive. It takes place after the two male MCs go skydiving, are surging with adrenaline, and meet in the men’s restroom afterwards. Your imagination can direct you to the logical conclusion of what takes place. Graphically. Now picture reading that aloud to a roomful of women. The thought alone made me blush.

I expressed to my MuseNerd several times that I was having serious reservations about it. He wouldn’t accept that.

“I have an idea!” he announced when I’d made the complaint for the dozenth time. “Let’s play roles. I’ll be one character, and you the other. That way there’s two of us acting it out and you won’t feel like all the attention is on you.”

Normally I resist his ideas. They tend to be impulsive. But this one seemed to have a real solution to my dilemma. We began practicing reading the scenes with the role-playing and it actually made me more comfortable. Even with the explicit nature of the sex, the notion that the attention wouldn’t be entirely focused on me seemed to allay my case of jitters. He’d struck gold again.

This particular occasion was set up more formally than the others that had been arranged. So I treated it like a formal occasion. An author meeting his readers. I dressed with a bit more formality – slacks, dress shirt and shoes. I wanted to put forward my most professional appearance as any author would. Dirk missed that memo.

The meeting was taking place in the living room of his mother’s house. I arrived an hour early so I could mentally ready myself for it. My body was layered in roll-on antiperspirant in preparation for it. I still felt a few prickles of sweat on my lower back. Rebecca had served me some decaf as I awaited my reading partner. He strolled into the room in a pair of khaki short-shorts, barefoot, dressed in a t-shirt that read, “I’m Very Fondle You,” and a black beret I recognized as having gone missing from my box of props a few months earlier. He was the antithesis of me.

I stared at the tan lines that began and stopped at his knees, and then square in the face. There was no doubt my expression mirrored my disapproval. Rebecca threw up her hands and turned her back to us. She was taking herself out of the wrestling ring.

“What?” he asked, feigning innocence, though the look was more devilish than coy.

If you assumed he came to his senses and changed his attire before the reading, you’d be wrong. He stood next to me like a mocking demon-cherub as we read, wriggling his toes as we got to the tastier bits of the sensuous scene, casting an eye in my direction as he delivered each raunchy line with realistic relish. I wanted to wring his neck. The strange thing about this taunting behavior is that it worked perfectly with what was happening on the page, and we ended up delivering a performance that the ladies applauded. I’d been so distracted by his behavior that I’d completely forgot that I’d been uncomfortable.

On purpose or not, his tactic had worked, and I’d made it through my first real reading. He was ecstatic. I was relieved. I sold more books. The ladies told their friends and the word continued onward person to person about my work. My gay fiction was being sold to a straight public. As peculiar as the kid was sometimes, he seemed to come up with ideas that actually worked. It made me think that genius was sometimes as easy as simply understanding people. Over the years, I’d forgotten the meaning of the personal touch to communicating. Dirk lived by it. He thrived on seeing people’s reactions. And innately, I believe he understood that we all needed it in a world growing more impersonal because of all things social media. Detached communication. Trying to sell things to people without having to deal with the people directly. We’d lost sight of the true meaning of being salesmen by buying ads and dropping promotions instead.

That’s what muses do. They deliver epiphanies.

The key to understanding what resources social media offered had to come from someone who had grown up with the technology, not someone who had been attempting to adapt to it. Older generations, like myself, he said, tend to look at it as someplace to post your ad on a billboard and hope someone reads and buys what you’re selling. According to the teenager who Snapchatted and Instagrammed and Grindred, Skyped and Twittered, social media was a much different apparatus. It was a tool to put you in touch with a wider world than you got by simply walking down a corridor, sitting in a class, or meeting someone at your local coffee shop. The younger set knew it was a means to actually meet and talk with people, if not in person, on video. And that’s where its potential resided.

When it was impossible for me to meet people in person to discuss my work or unfeasible to round people up because of scheduling conflicts, we began having Skype conferences and Twitter discussions about my books. We used the medium to actually have real conversations, question and answers… and even debates. People really do want to know things about an author. They want to know your thought processes. They want more than just surface knowledge of how your work came to be. And they want to share with you how it affected them, made them think, or the emotions they felt. This is how social media best serves someone such as an author. One hour-long conversation with real people using one of these mediums can sell more books than carpet-bombing every book forum you can find with your sparkly, glittery tantalizing promo or meme that is promptly buried by the next in line. An old dog was definitely being taught new tricks.

Which brings me full circle to the hot tub filled with six naked college boys on a hot day as a summer storm finally moved in. Rain beat down on the canopy above us, but was mostly ignored because everyone had already had a few beers. Except me. I don’t drink.

The get-together had been arranged to thank these five particular guys for their participation in reading, and helping promote my science fiction book to their friends. Dirk had sprung for all the goodies. Only my presence was required for the event, because these were the most avid aficionados of the novel. Some had even sketched pictures of my imagined creatures. They were the diehards, like Trekkies, who lived and breathed their appreciation of science fiction and fantasy writing. They’d even christened Dirk Hyper-Spock. Logical, but intensely so. They were an interesting group of guys, more so when they drank because, as one of them seemed to notice, inebriation was expanding their stream of consciousness. They talked so furiously I could barely interject a thought, even when directly asked for it. That didn’t bother me. I’m a listener.

As I mentioned earlier, I was curious how these self-acknowledged straight young men reacted to reading a book written by a gay author with gay main characters… and of course, the sex? I was waiting for the right opportunity to present the question, when Dirk, obviously more brazen and inquisitive, asked it first.

“Did the gay parts fuck up the story for you any?” he asked.

Tom, his closest friend in this group, was first to answer. “Everyone behaves like straight guys don’t understand gay shit. We watch porn all the time. There are guys in straight porn. If you don’t think we’re not watching the guys in porn and getting off to them then you gotta think we’re all aliens or something. Women don’t fuck themselves. You gotta have dicks to see fucking. So yeah. We’re watching dicks and getting off to them.”

The others nodded.

A newer addition to the group named Art, agreed. “Most guys I know have their first sexual experiences with other guys. It might not have to do with preference as much as what’s available or how curious we are, but I bet most everyone who’s gotten off for the first time has done it with a buddy.”

Colin had something to add. “You ever hear Ron White the comedian with the redneck comedy tour? He’s got a whole skit about all guys being bisexual to one degree or another. It’s just a willingness or unwillingness to admit how much. I think he pretty much nailed it.”

More nods. More agreement. I’m enthralled with this conversation because to me, it represents a new era in sexual enlightenment that just did not exist when I was their age.

“How did you feel about reading the gay sex parts of the book?” My question this time, me asking.

It’s Marty, the university rower who laughs the loudest this time.

“Sex in a book is like a popcorn break at the movies. You get all this crazy intense stuff that makes you all nervous and uptight so you run to get some popcorn to bring it all back down to normal. Sex is the part where ya say… see… we’re all human.”

The whole circle laughs at this. “When is sex a TURN OFF, dude?” It’s Marty again. “Everybody gets off on reading about people getting off.”

I have to admit I feel a little relief at this. These guys really liked the book and I was worried if the gay sex had dragged them out of their enjoyment of it.

“What part did you think was the hottest?” Dirk again. (And he’s really enjoying this a bit more than me because his grin was as close to salacious as you could get without him actually engaged in something overtly obscene.)

Five out of five named the same scene from the book… the chameleon scene from early in the novel. I was surprised. I completely expected them to say something else. I asked what in particular in that scene affected them more than some others in the book did. (There is a scene in a sex club in this book. I totally thought would be the one they picked.)

“Because we’re all deviants, dude. We all wanna sneak in and see what other people do. That’s human nature.” Colin said this.

So it’s the human part of my monsters that these guys relate to… and I like that. I also like that I’m learning something new every day from people half my age. It just goes to show that no matter how long you live, you will never be the smartest one – even in a group of youngsters, because every generation produces a newer and different level of wisdom. I was learning a lot from this generation… thanks to the muse seated next to me in a cold-water hot tub with a sly smirk, trying to keep his eyes above the water.

Find more Dirk Tales here: https://www.amazon.com/Dirk-Tales-Book-Misadventures-Doc-ebook/dp/B01MRLFPMB/

Editing services by: http://www.allyeditorialservices.com/

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