Meeting Charles in the Flesh

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Part II

Our chat was brief. From our profiles we each thought the other sounded like a nice guy and agreed the easy thing to do would be meet. Charles gave me his phone number but I was slow in calling him.

Why? I’m not sure. I was talking to three other people about getting together. Atypically one of them was older, taller and {ahem} butcher than me. We met, he was nice, and we might’ve met again. There was a very bright crossdresser, also taller than I am. We might’ve met but his work was keeping him very busy. And there was Dale, a very sweet, sexy boy who liked to wear dresses and makeup. We came very close to meeting.

Then I called Charles. I heard the voice of a very feminine gay man. It was a sound I’d been without for years. I wrote elsewhere “Hearing the voice of a "southern nelly gay man" was like the rediscovery of a forgotten favorite writer, singer or long neglected drug. It isn't womanly or girlish. It is the unique possession of gay men.” To Charles I wrote:

I mentioned when talking with you how good it was to hear your voice. And that was oddly enough the first thing I thought about this morning. I don't mean that in the foolish mushy sense. That would be stupid at this point. It is just that the sound of a southern nelly gay man delights my soul as the psalmist might put it.

In another email I wrote:

I'm glad I created the ILikeFrailMen screen name. I actually use all seven that AOL allows. I created ILikeFemGuyRTP not realizing that would draw nothing but crossdressers and guys who wear panties and want to be mistreated (mostly, ugh, married men). I'm also DurhamRomantic, DurhamQueerFag (nobody ever IMs him except a few black tops who take the name in a way that never occured to me), DurhamWantsLTR (currently retired), and, of course, RichardEvansLee. About the age difference for a second. When I was young I was only attracted to young or younger guys. But I swore that when I got older I'd never chase younger guys. I value you my self-respect. So when I came out of my shell earlier this year I started looking at people my own age and learning to appreciate their attractions. I also have tended to think of people changing a lot as they age. I certainly have. And didn't want to set myself up for becoming involved with somebody who had lots of changing in their future. I went into total shock and withdrawal at the end of my last and only important relationship that I'm probably a little too self-protective. But I was thinking just this morning how a couple of my best friends have never really changed all that much over the years. They've become a little more tolerant, perhaps. But fundamentally they are who they were long ago. So I'm less age worried than I was. I suspect you've already gone through much tempering: dropping out of Julliard to care for your mother. And having a long relationship at an early age likewise probably forced you to grow. With those things you usually either grow or go nuts.
Charles loss of his career as a recital pianist, his mother, his family’s property, his life with his love Mark and the home they shared had wounded him more deeply than I understood then. And it wouldn’t be until we’d lived together I’d really see how his terrifyingly poor health batters and bloodies his days.

Charles and I met on November 3rd, instantly entranced I emailed him that night:

You know I haven't spent seven hours with anybody the first time I met them in a long, long time.

We went wherever Charles wanted to go, did whatever he wanted to do. I couldn’t think of anything I could rather do. Charles took me out to look at some property he owned. His two lots on Dearborn Avenue were mistakes. Later he'd learn they are in flood plains, making development very expensive. He'd hoped to sell them at a profit or build a home there. The last is a pretty dicey idea, the neighborhood is not that great. A dangerous place for a skinny, visibly gay man.

My instant fondness gave me pause. On the 8th I wrote:

Trust me. I've enjoyed it. Although I'm worried I'm becoming too attached to you too quickly. I was getting ready to meet Dale (one of the guys I mentioned in Monday morning's email) and now I'm having trouble getting myself to set things up.

Scared that I liked Charles too much I planned to get together with Dale. Our assignation misfired.

I had to work Saturday; Sunday Charles was busy with his church organ job. We did spend Monday and Tuesday together. We stopped at BestBuy Monday night. Charles found something he wanted, gave me his card and told me to stand in line for him. Pushy? Yep. But I found it very sexy. In The Spell, Alan Hollinghurst uses the phrase "bossy bottoms and timid tops." That got a hearty Amen! from me. I've always been sexually drawn to energetic assertiveness.

Back in the 70s I spent many hours next to a jukebox when Abba’s Dancing Queen was aloft in the charts. For me it was a symbol of the most shuddersome pop. Charles had told me how much he liked them and that he didn’t have any of their CDs. Tuesday I bought him a greatest hits compilation.

The 19th:

Since my instant emotional attraction to you disturbed me I decided to finally meet up with Dale. So I suggested to him that we finally meet. He said fine.

But then you and I met for the second time and spent part of a Monday together. I simply could not feel interested in Dale. So I put that aside.

And we spent a lot of time the next day, election Tuesday. That was when I wanted to grab you and pull you to my lap and kiss the back of your neck (don't ask me where that specific image came from). At that point I didn't know whether I should be delighted or worried. Were the feelings real? What the heck would you think? I did give you a chaste peck on the lips. I felt like there was a neon sign flashing above me saying that I'd be delighted to make it more passionate. (That would certainly be an embarrassing sight.)

This morning I went and removed a whole of personal ads that I have up and running. I had four responses this morning. Regardless of what may or may not happen between us I don't want the distraction of the folks who respond to my ads while we're getting to know each other.

I wouldn’t hear from Charles for several days. He refers to the Abba CD as our engagement ring. My gift of it was a passionate enough gesture to make him feel the need to stop and consider what he was getting into.

I thought I’d never hear from Charles again. So I talked to Dale again about having him come curl up in my lap. By the time he heard from me again I knew that I wanted and was determined to get Charles. When I explained about Charles, Dale spat at me that I was “a typical AOL asshole.” A couple of other folks dropped me as well once I alluded to Charles.

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