"You'll like him," Barry insisted. "He's from the Midwest, like you. And an intellectual. He knows everything about world history. Just ask!"
"What's he look like?"
He send me a picture -- not my usual type. In his 20s, tall, thin, pale, with long scraggly hair and a pretty, androgynous face.
"I like my guys with a little more heft to them, Sorry."
"Well...he's gigantic beneath the belt," Barry said. "And he really needs this. He hasn't been with anyone for months."
"Why, what's wrong with him?" I asked suspiciously.
"Nothing. He's just been going through some things. Some health problems. He can explain."
I was intrigued by the mystery, so I agreed.
On a Saturday in late November, I took the train out to Barry's apartment in Sayville (he had given up on the traditional Catholic community).
This guy was the polar opposite of the dynamic, loquacious Barry! I wondered how they had ever become friends.
"So, what do you do?" I asked.
"I work at the Fashion Barn. But I want to get into design someday." He held me tightly and nuzzled my chest. "Sorry if I'm a little forward...it's been awhile."
"That's fine. I like being the object of attention."
He disentangled himself for dinner at the Sayville Inn. He ordered only a salad, no dressing.
"How did you guys meet?" I asked.
"At church," Jared said. "I gave up on the church when I came out, but a few months ago I came back. Barry got me involved in Dignity [the gay Catholic group], and sometimes I go to Mass with Andre at the Catholic brotherhood."
Back at the apartment, the three of us hugged. I kissed Barry, and then tried to kiss Jared, but he pulled his head away. "Before we go any farther, I have to tell you something. I'm poz."
He meant positive for the HIV virus.
"No problem," I said. Actually, I was a little curious about what poz guys do in bed. I had never dated anyone who was poz before, that I knew of, or even had any poz friends. A couple of guys at the church, who I knew vaguely, and that was about it.
You're probably wondering how I managed to live in West Hollywood at the height of the AIDS crisis and not meet anyone poz. Literature and film of the period always describes losing most of your friends to AIDS, a dozen in just a few months.
I've wondered about that myself. I think it was just by accident.
The most common way to transmit HIV is through unprotected anal sex. I was simply not interested in that, so when I was asked, I refused, and usually didn't see the guy again. Since we typically chose our friends from among our ex-boyfriends, I built up a social circle of guys who also were not interested in anal sex, and remained negative. By accident.
I'm not blaming the guys who practiced anal sex -- they had no way of knowing that it was unsafe at the time.
Jared had a huge Mortadella+, but he doesn't get a place on my Sausage List, since I wasn't permitted to do anything with it.
We spent the night, had a replay in the morning, and then went out to breakfast.
"I thought my sex life was over," Jared said. "No one wants to be with a poz guy. But last night was great."
I hoped he wasn't implying that he wanted to start dating! Our evening together was nice, but he wasn't really my type physically, he was kind of weird, and what was up with the no kissing?
I can do without oral, but no kissing? The virus isn't transmitted that way!
A few days later, Jared called. "I'm coming into the City for my birthday. Free to get together?"
"Well...um...I'm a little busy, with finals coming up and all."
"I want to try something. I've been too nervous before. But it's my birthday, and I thought you could help."
"What is it?"
"You go to the New York Bondage Club, right?"
I monitored the situation as he was fondled, prodded, kissed, licked, tickled, teased, edged, and spanked.
Soon I saw him at Ravi's Bear Parties, too, wandering around, fondling, teasing, edging, but no oral.
And still no kissing.
The uncensored story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.