John Scalzi openly flaunting his metrosexuality got me thinking: how many times has a gay man made a pass at me? I can count this on one hand, and that would be the hand of some guy who likes to use his band saw after two bottles of Thunderbird. Trouble is, that number still totes up higher than the number of hetero come-ons pitched my way. Not that I'm complaining. Gay come-hithers leave me feeling good about myself. After all, what could be more flattering than the approval of some fella who might one day star on Queer Eye? But the hetero advances never fail to leave me nauseated and vaguely confused. After nearly 21 years of marriage, I'm still getting used to the idea that my wife is willing to have sex with me. Of course, it might be relevant that, left out in the cold, I become unbearably pissy. Whining: Spanish Fly for the 40-something Guy. Back to gay men, and the few who thought I was hot stuff. In med school, I took my Preparation for Clinical Medicine rotation at the Palo Alto Veteran's Administration Hospital. I'd partnered with Fred, a classmate with biceps big as my thigh, a guy credulous enough to accept, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, my tale of the Latest Proceedings of the International Jewish Conspiracy. Yet Fred couldn't believe me when I told him about the slight-framed, red-headed male nurse who couldn't pass me on the ward without giving me the eye. Homosexuality was not part of Fred's world view. That sort of thing happened up the Peninsula, in shops like Hard-on Leather or bars like The White Swallow. You'd never -- never ever ever -- have to face that sort of thing here in the VA Hospital, surrounded by hordes of Bronze medal-punctured amputees with faded DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR tatts. One day, I got my chance to open Fred's eyes. I spotted my admirer from thirty feet away and elbowed Fred in the ribs. "Watch, okay?" I said. "Just watch." As we passed my little red-head, he winked at me with his whole face. It looked something like this: I'm really sorry you had to see that. Fred dragged me off into a stairwell, nearly dislocating my shoulder. "You weren't kidding!" "Of course not. I never kid. And, oh, by the way, we were discussing the fate of Your People at last week's IJC rally, and I'm afraid there are going to be a few changes around here." Kidding about that last bit.
***Flash forward to 1990. Internship at Los Angeles County General Hospital, which at the time (pre-Northridge earthquake) ranked as the nation's largest hospital complex. You would most likely know County from the exterior shot used for the opening credits of soap opera General Hospital. Mandatory reading for any new intern: Samuel Shem's The House of God, guaranteed to fill you full of misconceptions on the mechanics of internship -- the chief misconception being that every female in the hospital, from medical students to attending physicians, nursing students to ward clerks, would, sans warning, drag you off into a vacant call room/operating theater/pharmaceutical cabinet to jump your living bones. True enough, there were occasional sparks of interest, like the zaftig Filipina nursing student who always had a smile for me, or the Jewish medical student who had me pegged as a Jew the very first day, and whom I had to beat away with an IV pole because when I told her I'm married her response was So? But, with rare exception, no one got laid at LA County. No one. Men of ambiguous sexuality abounded: nurses, aides, clerks. You never knew where you stood with these guys; wedding rings didn't necessarily mean anything. Gay or straight, nearly all wore scrubs, so you couldn't pick up on visual cues. I remember one fellow in particular: a night clerk named Bub (not his real name -- for a change, I'm not being a total dickwad). Bub was a fifty-something Filipino who wore white shirts stained with Ensure and the various other brands of kibble County fed its patients; white shirts that did remarkably little to conceal his whopping V-bagging elephant scrotum-sized man-titties. One night, fueled by tapioca, Ensure, graham crackers, and Saltines (the only things available after the cafeteria closed), I worked past midnight on the ward, charting. I sat at the front desk across from Bub's torpid form. The night nurses floated in and out of my field of vision like huge clumsy moths. My zaftig cutie was there, fighting with an IV drug abuser who insisted on smoking in the central hallway, tangling up her femoral line in the process. I had just reset the femoral line, and I was busy writing up the procedure note. Not easy, considering that every two minutes Bub roused from his heavy-lidded fugue to ask me for medical advice. BUB: So. Doctor Hoffmah. What do you think of this thing on my neck? All of my nights on the ward had a dreamlike quality, and this one was no exception. Comes from being half-asleep. My pen kept scratching across the page; the nurses kept flitting about behind me; Bub left his station to fuss with a chart rack. At the dimmest boundaries of consciousness, I felt him behind me, moving about. You know how you can sense when someone's in your personal space, particularly if you don't really like that someone? I knew he was back there, but I kept on working, because the sooner I had finished, the sooner I could get back to bed. Then, without warning, I felt two of the warmest, plushiest breasts I have ever felt squeeze ever so voluptuously into my back and hold there for two full breaths, not that I was breathing, because (tapioca and graham crackers rising in my craw) I was too busy thinking
BUB!and then he moved away. I jerked my head around -- I didn't know what I was going to say to him but damn it I was going to say something. Interns are paid less than minimum wage! This is harrassment! What did I do to deserve this? I jerked my head around, and saw my zaftig cutie walking away. God damn! I wanted to scream. Get back here so I can enjoy it! D.