"if I stay here with you tonight, we're not sleeping together," I said. "Just
so you know."
One-night stands are not what they used to be. Hardly a revelation, I
realize, in this age of AIDS and tight-laced mores. But as I stood in
Seamus' sad, little, cramped room at the B & B, the lights blazing, a green-and-yellow
flowered spread covering the sagging bed, part of me longed for the
days of wild, irresponsible sex with semi-strangers.
I'd met Seamus that night at -- where else? -- an Irish bar. He was
vacationing, he said, from his native Donegal, where he was a solicitor. "Left
the wife and kids at home?" I inquired evilly. Adjusting his gold-rimmed
spectacles, he laughed. "Just cut to the chase, don't you? No, I'm not
I narrowed my eyes. He seemed to be telling the truth. Nonetheless, he didn't
live here and what's more, he was on his way down to L.A. the next day to
perform his role as best man at a friend's wedding. Despite my fuzzy
judgment, made all the fuzzier by Jameson and Guinness, I could see that
Seamus was a good egg. I should, I thought sadly, bid him adieu, kiss him
chastely goodbye and make my way home, solo, to my comfy bed and possessive
In our wilder days, Isabel and I used to go to the clubs in San Francisco and
dance to the wee hours of the morn. Isabel sported a blond mohawk and I had
various shades of red and black hair, cut in various lengths. Ah, yes, we were
very cool. We hung out at the Mabuhay and saw the Dead Kennedys and the Black
Dolls and the Circle Jerks at the On Broadway. We went to shows at Wolfgang's
on Columbus, where we knew Mel, the doorman and Isabel's boyfriend. We listened
to the Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Mutants. We had a coterie of gay boyfriends
who were just as eager to stay up all night and find interesting things to do. We were 16,
and no one ever thought to card us.
At the Oasis one night, Isabel and I were dancing poolside. In those days, we
could hardly be bothered to flirt. She began talking to some guy next to me,
whom I remember as looking awfully old. (He was probably all of 25.)
He was a cynical, derisive guy; he didn't like the Culture Club kind of music
that was playing, he didn't like death rock; he was into the Sugar Hill Gang
and rap and said it was the only important music ever made. I asked him if he,
as an obviously well-fed white boy, didn't think this was a little ironic. "I
what?" he asked.
Then we went home together.
I didn't even really like this person very much, but it didn't stop me from
having sex with him that night. Condoms? Well, it was 1981. Little did I know that in five years' time every single one of my gay friends would be dead. The next morning, I got up and went to my
summer job at the record store on Polk Street and left him, sleeping, his
hands folded up under his chin. We wouldn't be seeing each other again; why
Standing in Seamus' bedroom some 15 years later, I wondered why
my erotic adventures these days always come to this awkward point, with me trying to delicately
extricate myself from the situation, like the cat in the Pepe Le Pew cartoon.
The idea of the comfortable and secure bed at home is usually so much more
But it was four o'clock in the morning. He'd worn me down. "Okay," I said. I
began to lay down the ground rules: We would sleep in the same bed, but no fornication.
No, it didn't matter that he had condoms. No full frontal nudity. Well, the top half
was okay, but not the bottom half. Oral sex would be decided about later, when and
if pertinent. No, we would not be going to my apartment instead, despite the
added privacy. "Ca va?" I asked cheerfully.
Seamus looked tired and... well, glum. "So much for wild and woolly San
"I think you're about 15 years too late," I said briskly, as I began to
unbutton his shirt.