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I remember the fist time I did it. I was nauseous to the bone, and scared of what it might feel like. A number of my friends had done it before and they couldn’t stop talking about the exhilaration and excitement they felt. You look at yourself in the mirror and just know that tonight you are becoming a man. You read about it in the magazines you secretly buy for research purposes. You garner tips about what you should do and what not to say, what to wear and how to wear it.

But every gay boy knows that in order to be introduced to the scene and find a place he can eventually call ‘home’, he has to go out and do it. Yes, he must break the boundaries of straight and safe and emerge himself into the abyss of other nightly pleasures. And so, I find myself on the doorstep of my first time…

…to a gay bar!

I knew the rule regarding first impressions so I rigidly did all the checks. And because I was born in September and was blessed with the gift of being completely anal I had to check everything three times. And so the GAY CHECK was born: Shoes – not too butch and not too gay either. Jeans – tight, but still ‘leaving room for “improvement”’ (whatever that means – I read it in one of the articles of my research stash). Shirt – with buttons. (I know, I know… But because my mother was a firm believer in all things saucy (not that kind!) we ate everything, and I mean EVERYTHING with a little sauce on the side. Even soup!) And as a result, other things that were also on the side included my sauce-belly and hips. I wasn’t the skinniest chap, though I always told myself I could lose the puppy-fat whenever I wanted to. But sadly I was one of those unfortunate people who had heavy, bulky bones that no amount of dieting or exercise could get rid of – I mean, it’s my bone structure for fucks sake! Now that I think about it – it’s a genuine medical condition. So the only thing that hid at least five of the twenty five kilograms I was stuck with around my tummy, covering the wash board abs I would one day reveal in all its glory to, was this shirt with buttons. Nevertheless, the stripes on the shirt went downwards in vertical lines toward my groin, which my research mags promised would veer attention away from my belly and onto my genitals. The rest of the GAY CHECK was easy. Face – gorgeous. Hair – marvelous. Breath – fabulous. Armpits – minty with musk undertones.

I made my way to the extremely long queue of exceptionally well-built Adonis-looking men waiting to get in. Eventually, after feeling out of place for about seventeen minutes and thirty-five point nine million stares later – I entered the gay club through big, heavy wooden doors. The place was packed and swarming with hot boys. Familiar songs thump-thumped in my ears and I could finally verify the detailed information my friends had told me about their first times. The hormonal heat hitting me from all sides. The illustrious beats of the music hitting G-chords in my groin area. The sweat from the muscular bodies dancing everywhere, creating an underwater current of arms squirming like over-excited tentacles of an octopus. And then I saw him… A boy more beautiful than Fabio (with the big nipples), with a body that belonged to one of those half-man, half horse creatures. I was in love! And overdressed! He had blue eyes and blonde hair. A tight white little tank top clutching to his tectonic-plate pecks, and a very tiny waterfall of sweat trickled its way in between the two orbs of mystery. Suddenly, for a nanosecond our eyes met and the ground parted, swallowing my overweight body into a pit of fear. My mouth went dry and my palms were soaked. Why was he looking at ME?! I was sure he’d made a mistake. An optical confusion on his part. But he did it again – and this time I held his stare. We made retina-love from across the dance floor and all I could think was “Damn, I shouldn’t have had that second helping of Mom’s homemade mousse-pudding!” The next thirty seconds passed with our eyes locked, fixed on each other like a sour cream dip stain on a corduroy jacket. He made his way through the octopus’ tentacles until he was standing nearly seven foot tall to my right. My arms went numb and my tongue swelled up like the bee-stings of a grade three girl. What am I going to do? What should I say? How should I stand? Is he Jewish? He towered over me and with lust in eyes he opened his mouth to speak. My balls dropped all the way down to satan and all I could focus on was the gigantic black whole where his two front teeth were supposed to be. He muttered with fowl breath ““Scjooz me, mén. Beye mee a bjeer.” I felt like Dorothy who had been swept away from all things nice and spat out into a world where the most grotesque monsters lived. Was this my yellow brick road? Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house? Was it the second helping of pudding? The paw-paw incident in 1995?

With all the blood back into my brain I muttered something back in a fake Ukrainian accent and long-jumped over the octopus, barged through the heavy wooden doors and out to the street. My heartbeat soon went back to normal as I breathed in the cool night air. I spotted a twenty-four hour coffee bar and treated myself to the most fattening, chocolate-covered, calorie-induced donut they had on their menu. I was safe. At least for now…

[Published in The Gay Pages January 2009]