Walking Into Clouds

by Rick Beck

Chapter 6

Auto Erotic

While sitting in a car on a side street in town, I had no urge to cut and run. Teddy and I had some understanding I didn't understand. He was older than I expected I'd like, but his easy going style and his interest in making sure I didn't feel crowded or pushed, made him someone I didn't need to hurry away from.

I felt a kinship to Teddy I hadn't felt with Jeff. Teddy and I were gay and while our meeting place wasn't at the top of my list of places where I thought I wanted to have sex, it had been intimate and kept us close enough to touch each other but not too close.

I liked it and I was curious about the man in the driver's seat.

I didn't have a serious desire to discuss being gay with my parents. They had never discussed their sex life or sexual feelings with me. When the time came, they'd find out I had fallen in love with a boy. My parents would deal with that once the time came.

I could marry that boy but I didn't know if I would. I was quite enthusiastic once LGBTQ people could get married. That didn't mean I wanted to get married. I'd discuss it with the boy I loved and we'd decide what was right for us.

Having kids at school point at me, saying, 'He's that gay lacrosse player,' isn't how I wanted to be known. I was a lacrosse player and a soccer player. The gender of the people I would love was nobody's business.

Once I decided to find people like me, I took control of who to love and when to love him. The questions I had about sexual aspects of being gay needed answers. Once I got those answers, I might make a better lover, but because of the nature of being gay, and because of societal resistance to embracing everyone as equals, there remained more I didn't know than I did know about being gay.

For the first time I thought I understood the power in what my buddies did together. I couldn't imagined how stimulating it was until Teddy showed me. It answered questions involving mutual masturbation. If I'd known the pleasure that came from lending your buddy a hand, while he lent you his, I wouldn't have been able to resist the temptation. I didn't have any regrets about waiting.

Perhaps I was all wrong and as my buddies grew into the straight boys they were sure they were, none would look at me with suspicious eyes and say, 'You really like feeling a dude's dick.'

School was out. My buds were getting on with their lives. I was moving on with mine. I didn't come out in school and now I got to experience what coming out was all about, and it gave me more control over what steps I took and when to take them.

I needed to make new friends. I needed to make friends more like me. Going through school with the same guys was the safe way to go, but school was out and it was a new ballgame.

The experience with Teddy in the front seat of his car made me feel warm and relaxed. His presence didn't bother me and Teddy was OK. I felt like I broke through my reservations and fears with him. This wasn't something I intended to do very often, but it was something I could do and enjoy in the future if I decided to do it.

I couldn't ask my friends what they felt for each other while we were growing up. It's something I wanted to ask them, but feelings weren't discussed, and if we didn't speak about day to day feelings, talking about our homosexual feelings was out of the question.

It would have been so much easier if I could have told my buddies that I was gay. Because of how guarded boys were taught to be, the guys you want to open up to, discuss things with, were the most dangerous. Saying the wrong thing could cost me my friends.

I had a secret and I kept it to myself because of the risks. It was the guys who were closest to me who could hurt me. It wouldn't do to be rejected by my only friends, and once rejected, you were on your own. I'd thought it through and silence in my case was golden.

If I'd known a better way, I'd have been better at finding what I was looking for. The people I'd met so far couldn't hurt me. The knew only what I decided to tell them. For the time being that wasn't much.

I was learning and each lesson took me closer to where I was going.

I prayed I'd know I was there once I got there. If I found the boy of my dreams, I wouldn't complain.

My wandering mind took me far away before I found myself back in the car on a street in the seedy side of town.

"Where'd you go? Do you always react that way to your moment of truth?" Teddy asked, chuckling like he was amused.

Slowly I returned to the here and now. I didn't know why my past came back on me when I reached the peak of passion. It too was new to me, as most things were. My past had a much stronger influence on me than I realized.

Teddy hadn't moved and neither had I. He noticed when my mind was returning to his car.

"You OK. Where'd you go. You really spaced out," he said.

"When I get off I go off on tangents of the mind," I said.

"That sounds complicated, Why do you think that is?" he asked.

"You sound like a shrink. I don't know. I didn't come out in high school, but I knew guys... well, let's say they fooled around. I didn't because I was gay," I said.

"And being gay, you were afraid you'd like what they did too much and you couldn't take that chance," Teddy said.

I looked at him with disbelief on my face. How did he know that?

"Close enough. I think about it a lot now. I find myself wondering about what they felt for each other, especially while they were doing homosexual things. It's something I'll never know, but now that I'm doing what they did, I keep thinking about them. What they felt. I think about all the times I could have joined in."

I had no more to say and Teddy said nothing more.

Our eyes were locked together and I felt an amazing sense of well-being. It was far nicer than how Jeff sent me on my way, and I was about to be on my way again, but this time I felt good about it.

Teddy was probably too old for me to fall in love with but he had been nice and he'd answered questioned I'd had about my friends. Making a guy feel good, while he made you feel good, beat the hell out of being perpetually horny.

"That was nice, Clete. You are a virile young man. Thank you for sharing intimacy with me. I love a guy who gets into what he's doing the way you do."

"I wasn't sure how this would go down, but it was nice, Teddy. I hesitated because I haven't done anything like this before. I'm not sure what I want or how to get it. It's intimidating because I was taught sex was supposed to be private," I said. "This isn't that."

"We're told a lot of things, and in certain circumstances it works fine. You'll find much of what you are taught about sex only applies to people who fit into a specific group. If you aren't in that group, you'll need to improvise, Clete. You'll need to find your own way," Teddy said without a doubt.

"I'm right here and I know you are looking for the same thing I'm looking for, but when you invite me into your car, at the moment I should be saying, 'yes,' I say, 'no.'" I said. "I don't know what's wrong with me. Why is this so hard?"

"Which confirms the complexity in the search for sexual gratification for those of us who aren't in the primary group for whom the rules are written," Teddy said. "Clete, I'm going to give you some free advice. It's my policy not to offer advice to anyone I've been involved with. In your case I will break that rule."

"Sex and sexuality in this country are taboo. Yes, sex is all around us all the time. We're sexual beings. We think about sex a lot."

"Tell me about it," I said. "Lately, I think about it all the time. Lately, everything I do ends up with me wanting to have sex. I was never like that before."

"Because of the mixed messages, and with societies desire to control everyone, the truth about sex and sexuality is lost. They often don't follow the rules they issue and promote, because sex is far more varied and creative than they want people to believe. You'll decide what's right for you. Since you're already straying far outside of societal norms, you're on your way to figuring out what you need, but I'll try to make your search a little easier on you," Teddy said.

"Forget about toeing the official party line. Most of us who don't fit into society's idea of sex must find our own way. We blaze our own trail because we're ignored in any official discussion about sex. That makes it difficult to come by straight-forward information on sex. The notions, rumors, and speculation of others comes from uninformed sources. Believe what you hear at your own risk. In most cases you will hear what others want to believe is true. These vignettes have little to do with your feeling, and feelings are a tricky commodity."

Teddy paused. He looked away from me to compose his next thoughts. He had my undivided attention. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about and I wanted to hear what he had to say.

"You need to give some thought to what you want. An orgasm is nice but when another person gets involved, it changes the equation. Being happy is not what you want. Being in love is not what you want. You want to find what you like and what you want from your partner, or in some cases partners. By being able to communicate what you need will allow you to get your needs met. Getting your needs met will make you happy and eventually your happiness may turn to love," Teddy said. "Don't make it more complicated than it is. It's common sense."

"You'll be better prepared and happier if you know what you like and if you find out what your partner likes. Don't be afraid to communicate what you like with the person you love. Find out what your partner likes before you decide to spend the rest of your life together. If your are compatible, you'll have a lot more to talk about," Teddy said. "Have more in common with your partner and you'll have a better chance at enjoying your time together. That gives you a better shot at an enduring relationship."

"Knowing what you want out of a relationship and communicating it to your lover is half the battle on the path to love. If you communicate what you want, your partner will feel empowered to tell you what he wants. You don't need to, and you won't, like everyone who likes you. You can appreciate that people find you attractive without feeling obligated to go out with them, but you don't need to be cruel. That way you have an admirer and not an enemy."

"You let me set the tone with what we did and you seem happy with how it turned out," he said. "I'm stating the obvious but if the need is serious enough, you'll settle for a lot less than what you started out to get. It's human nature, Clete. By being honest and straight forward about your feelings, someone who you aren't interested in will look at you more favorably for not letting them waste their time when you aren't interested. Being considerate of others' feelings is an asset. Not being considerate of others' feelings will leave you lonely."

"If you know what you want, It'll be easier to find satisfying partners. Happiness isn't something that happens to you. Happiness is a state of mind. For each of us what makes us happy is different. I might be satisfied with mutual masturbation. That may not be satisfying to you. In this case, because you aren't sure what you are looking for, it turned out fine," he said. "I'm happy for that. I'd rather get my partner off than get myself off. You were terrific. I couldn't have guessed I'd be so lucky when I left home."

"You don't need to settle for less if you have an honest conversation with yourself. Decide what it is you like and tell your partner. I can't stress that kind of communication enough, Clete. Learn to talk to each other and it will head off trouble."

"That makes sense," I said.

"We aren't bound by nonsense and hypocrisy, even when society claims we are. You get to decide what you like and who to love. Society be damned with its contradictory nonsense. I'm not saying most people aren't able to fit into society's rules. Most people are similar enough to the rule makers that they can follow the rules if they decide to," Teddy said.

"For those of us who do not fit society's idea of sex, we end up being far more inventive and flexible about who we love and how we love them. For centuries those of us who don't fit society's idea of normal have been figuring out what and who we like."

"For those of us who don't fit into society's sexual agenda, we find fetishes galore to tickle our fancy. Sex becomes more of an adventure and less like a prescription. The trick is not to mind our society's propensity to tell us what to do," Teddy said.

"It can seem crazy for people who fail to feel what society says we must feel. When you decide society is full of it, you'll be better able to decide for yourself what you feel, Clete. Our culture isn't exactly awash with empathy and compassion," Teddy said.

"With those words of wisdom ringing in your ears, you'll happily make your way down the bunny trail," he said. "That is life according to Theodore Newman. You can take my advice or don't. Either way, I've certainly enjoyed meeting you."

"I can say the same for meeting you. Thank you," I said. "I've got to say that it turned out a lot more exciting than I anticipated."

"I wasn't sure when I first saw you but I decided that tonight I'd take a shot. While I may not be your cup of tea, you were terrific, Clete. You will make someone a fine lover, once you decide what you need and want, it'll be easier for you and the men you decide to spend time with," Ted said.

"Men?" I said.

"Few of us find the right lover the first time out of the chute. Some of us aren't looking for a lover. Having well ordered lives, bringing someone into that life would be too much of a distraction. Being honest with your lovers starts with being honest with yourself. Figure out what you want and that will make it easier for you to bring about the results you are looking for," Ted said.

"That's doesn't preclude you finding a man you like and as time passes, you learn to love. Getting to know someone, without the sex act being involved, can eventually lead to love. Love at first sight, suck, or screw, is a popular fantasy but life doesn't always work that way. That's according to my experience and it's not written down."

"You sound like a shrink," I said, not knowing what a shrink sounded like.

"Yes, I do. Funny you should mention that. I'm a clinical psychologist. Theodore Newman at your service."

"Why are you driving around picking up guys on the street?" I asked.

"Because that's where the boys I like are. I find the most interesting boys are on the street. When I get in the mood, I drive around to see what I can see. It's probably not recommended in the psychology guide for clinical psychologists, but it's what I like to do from time to time. I'm one of those guys who has a full life and taking on a lover isn't what I'm after."

"So you think I need help?" I asked.

"Absolutely not. I think you simply need to know you are fine. There's nothing odd about what you are doing. We each find our way by trial and error. That is in the Psychologist's handbook. Experience is often the best teacher."

"Why is it so hard?" I asked.

"That brings us back to society and sexuality. If you try to feel what they say you should feel, you'll be lost fast if your feelings don't mesh with society's rules. Rules are for those who can fit into those slots and that's if you don't mind being told how and with whom to do it. Because so many of us can't live by those rules and still have an enjoyable life, you have clinical psychologists. We spend our lives trying to explain how to live without the the rules and stay out of trouble while you do it. Not following the rules can lead to trouble if your actions are too cavalier."

I laughed. It sounded funny.

"Why don't they just say, 'find our own way'?" I asked.

"Society must constrain the people. It wouldn't do for kids to be screwing between the desks at school. Because we are sexual animals, those with the dirtiest minds often judge everyone according to the lowest common denominator. Because someone would do that, everyone must be protected from it. It goes with the theory that we're inherently evil. The men who think this way are men who lust after power. They don't explain how they escape being as evil as everyone else. It's hard to figure out what makes them better able to lead than you or me. Not a discussion they want to have. Because men are not inherently evil, most of us see what they do as overkill, but while they're making a ruckus about protecting us from kids screwing between the desks at school, they're picking our pockets, because money is the root of all evil for common folk. The system is constructed to distract us with its inefficiency, so they can liberate the cash and thus keep us safe from our greed, if not theirs."

"No one would do that," I said.

"There is that, Clete. Not until you say no one would do that and someone will prove you wrong. Hence society's need to protect everyone. Without society's rules, we'll all degenerate into screwing mobs running from one conquest to the next, irregardless of physical limitations and the fact many people simply aren't all that sexual. We are governed by what's in the minds of those who seize the power. By looking at the rules, you can see what's on their minds most. If you follow the scandals involving those in charge, you know all you need to know about their rules. They can't even follow them."

"Thank you for the advice. I'll give it some thought," I said.

"Now, I'll drop you where you want to go. I suggest getting out somewhere that's better illuminated. Wouldn't do to get out on a dark street and have some pervert try to pick you up."

We both laughed.

"Yeah, that sounds good," I said. "Just let me off where you picked me up. I know how to get back to the main drag from there."

"Think about it. Is that really what you want or is that the easiest thing for you to say? Where would you like to go, Clete?"

"Is there an area where I can find gay men? I've wanted to find the gay section since I started coming downtown. I haven't seen any place that looks gay to me."

"Have you asked someone to point it out to you?"

"No," I said. "I'm embarrassed to ask that."

"It's OK to be gay. You can't undo what nature has done, so learn to ask for what you want, but first, have some idea of what you want," Teddy said. "I'll take you to the most gay area nearest to here. There are restaurants and bars outside the red light district, where LGBTQ people hang. You'll need to judge for yourself if you want to go into such places. They change character often and the people who go to such places change. If the people you meet want to go to a place you know nothing about, it's probably safe to go with them. That's not to say you aren't capable of taking care of yourself. Looking like you can take care of yourself means it will discourage bullies and troublemakers from taking you on. The gay people with you will see the advantage in having you as a friend and ally," Teddy said.

"Troublemakers?" I asked, wanting more information on them. "I'm using the lowest common denominator again. There are a certain number of troublemakers. You'll run across one from time to time. Not to worry. I'm being thorough. Gay places are no more dangerous, or less dangerous, than straight places. You'll be fine. With your look, and with the temperament of bullies, you won't have a problem, Clete. Keep your eyes and ears open and you'll be OK."

"In spite of being athletic, I've never been in a fight. It's pointless and a waste of time," I said.

"We aren't singled out for hate as often these days but our trans brothers and sisters are attacked at an alarming rate. The struggle for them has only gotten more difficult with the talk of banning them from bathrooms consistent with their gender, and while students are willing to accept someone's differences, after they are declared, there are hate groups, parents, and administrators, who aren't willing to give an inch to them on their struggle for rights. If it was OK for their grandparents, it's OK with them, which isn't to say it's OK with us.."

"Trans as in transgendered?" I asked, wanting clarity.

"Yes, trans is simple and easy and it doesn't go into gender and sexuality. Once you touch the third rail of human nature, sex, you are going to illicit an immediate, and most likely, a negative response. Keeping the word sex out of the equation allows leveler heads to prevail. While a homosapien doesn't raise eyebrows, a homosexual does every time. Which means the use of homo as an insult is inaccurate. Language has become more important than ever before, Clete."

"Don't get me wrong, people who love to hate have put our trans brothers and sisters in the crosshairs. They have relaxed their attacks on gay people in general, accepting Windsor as settled law for now. They are watching the courts being packed and turned into ideological snake pits," Teddy said.

"I don't get what that means," I said.

"As Windsor was decided in favor of LGBTQ rights, they see future cases going against gay marriage and gay people. These folks have been preaching hatred against us, LGBTQ people for a half century and longer. They're waiting until the courts are properly packed with ideologues who fit their agenda, and then they'll go after LGBTQ people again. They haven't gone anywhere. They're ready to go into action at a moments notice. We need to be ready to stop them."

"Can they do that?" I asked.

"Yes. They not only can do it, it's their plan. You, as a young adult, as all LGBTQ young adults must be aware and ready to fight for your rights. That's if you wish to keep the rights you have."

"So sooner or later I'll have to fight," I said.

"You will. The hate hasn't gone anywhere. They haters are waiting for more favorable winds. Then, they'll be back," Teddy said.

"You make it sound ominous," I said.

"It's only ominous if you don't educate yourself on what people like us face. If we let them regain their footing and challenge our rights, we'll need to fight for ground we've all ready won," Teddy said.

"I don't know much about gay rights. I've mostly been worried about what we did tonight. I am more worried about fitting in," I said.

"And that''s fine. You find your way and you're doing what you need to do for now. You need to be aware that your rights aren't secure. People who think we have no right to be gay will do all within their power to take away our rights. If you know what you face, you'll be prepared. That's important for younger LGBTQ people," he said.

"We can marry but we aren't protected in our jobs, in our homes, or our person. We need hate crimes protection. We need to be free to live our lives like everyone else. We need full equal rights and nothing less."

"When I started out, I wanted to find the gay section," I said. "Now I find myself in the middle of the fight for equal rights. What I want doesn't seem nearly as important now. Thanks, Teddy."

"You might say it's part of my job. Whether in my practice or in my social life, I've always wanted to inform the uninformed," he said.

"This started for me when we were watching Prop 8 go against us in California. We lost the right to marry in the most progressive state in the country. If we lost California, what chance did we have?" he said.

"I was devastated. Four years later, 2012, four states less progressive than California, the people voted for gay marriage. Seven years after Prop 8, the Supreme Court decided Windsor in favor of Windsor, and gay marriage was the law of the land. That's how fast things changed. That's how fast change happens."

"I didn't know any of that. I haven't been paying much attention to the fight for our rights. I was busy in school," I said.

"That's why I'm telling you. I don't want you to be complacent. You are struggling to find your way, Clete. If I let you get out of my car without telling you the lay of the land, I'd be remiss. You need to be aware of the facts. You need to know where you stand," Teddy said. "You need to know what's coming and you can tell others."

"It's a lot to think about," I said.

The car stopped.

"Here we are. Keep your eyes open and you'll be able to find a place you like and that fits your taste," Teddy said. "The street ahead of us borders the gay section. The shops across the street aren't in the gay section but they are popular with gay guys of every description. Both Gene's and the Broadway serve good food. Broadway is pricier. As many gay people as straight use those shops. The arcade is popular and always has the latest new arcade games. On this street there are three bars, small to moderate size, and on the next two streets to the south are more bars and shops.

You'll find a lot of variety on these three streets, and with that, I wish you well, Clete. It's been delightful," Teddy said.

"Yes, it has," I said, shutting the door when I got out.

Once I got out of the car, I watched Teddy drive away.

'What an extraordinary man,' I thought.

Teddy left me with a lot to be considered, but first, I wanted to examine a new street without flashing lights. It wasn't that busy but there were people coming and going. I need to establish where I was.

Teddy left me off smack in the middle of the Yellow Brick Road.

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