In Raleigh with Charles
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Charles did call again. We arranged for me to go spend time with him in Raleigh while the Sad Scientist in whose house he was living was in Spain. Ostensibly I was going so I could help Charles quite smoking. He just wanted for us to be able to hang out.
Which was what we mostly did. We spent way too much eating out. Both of us were shocked when we discovered we’d blown $80.00 on steak and daiquiris in a mall restaurant.
Charles introduced me to Will & Grace. I knew there was a primetime show featuring gay characters but mostly thought of my TV as an adjunct to my VCR. (One of my AOL screen names was AtheistHatesTV.) The only network show I watched at all regularly, about once a month, was Frazier. And that was only because of the involvement of the funniest gay novelist of all time, Joe Keenan.
We were chaste enough to shock the average heterosexual to say nothing of gay people. I'll never forget the night Charles asked me to put my arm around him. There were few things I'd missed more when Siobhan left me.
Charles was full of mistrust and wariness. He'd met other people online. However gentle they seemed their basic message was that if he wasn't ready to fuck he should hit the road. As I came to understand only later the failure of his life with Mark had left him fearful of any romantic faith in another. At least he had to know that his ‘femininity’ didn’t disturb me as it had some of the men he’d met from the AOL chatrooms.
So I don't have any stories of our days in Raleigh. We fell in synch and just enjoyed each other's company. Simple, uncomplicated, something that hadn't happened in half a lifetime.
The Sad Scientist knew Charles' mother. When he was a young man she was one of the many people she aided with gifts of money. When the cancer was murdering her she called The Sad Scientist and asked him to take care of Charles.
After he found Mark in bed with the guy Charles had thought of his best friend and Mark threw him out of their house Charles lived with assorted friends and acquaintances for a couple of years. Eventually he found himself living in The Sad Scientist's house.
A nightmarish life. The Sad Scientist had a younger lover of many years standing, Scott. A kept boy, an alcoholic. Scott was so damned that if nothing else was available he'd guzzle mouthwash or perfume. Like many drunkards he was often nastily aggressive. With Charles as a handily available target. The Sad Scientist was often willfully blind to this. But Scott's behavior eventually found him legally forbidden to live in North Carolina.
Scott's departure did not make Charles' life happier. The Sad Scientist was not a bad man. But he made the mistake of trying to play parent to an adult. He'd require Charles tell him everywhere he went, everything he did. Charles felt he was living in a police state. His means of coping was to stay stoned all day long, every day.
I've met The Sad Scientist only a few times. Never for long. He's about 60. A fact he tries to hide with a wig that looks like a road kill smothered in brown shoe polish. He seems to have a fair number of acquaintances but no intimates. Very affluent but equally parsimonious.
In the back of his mind may have been the hope that Charles would become his lover. I don't think Charles knew that. I'm extrapolating from something The Sad Scientist said to me. After Charles left The Sad Scientist took up with a new young alcoholic ripe for codependency. It is always pitiful when an older gay man won't seek for love among his peers.
I could tell that Charles' misery from living with The Sad Scientist's would never allow for us to explore forming a life together. I begged, cajoled, and badgered him to come live with me at Gordon’s. It wasn't an easy sell. He was sanely fearful of the dangers of a 'whirlwind courtship.'
I knew myself how reckless I was. Sometimes you have to stand at the edge of the precipice.