August 8 1998, Saturday
n the late morning Kim and I met up with Spunky Lisa and her new beau, Josh, at the Northside Diner. It's a traditional family restaurant across nearby Maiden Lane within view of Kim's apartment. Kim is regular there and is well known by the staff, mostly intelligent laid-back college graduate types. She's always sure to leave a good tip there.
We had one of those endlessly changing discussions, simultaneously superficial and frank. Were eggs chicken abortions or chicken periods? Is the name "Total" such a good one for a Michigan gasoline franchise? We never discussed Matt Rogers or his heartbreak.
From back: Kim, Spunky Lisa and Josh pose in front of my Dodge Dart. Behind them is the Marathon gas station adjacent to Kim's house.
Kim went off to do landscaping work for her mother and I spent some quality time with my jealous website (as a correspondent recently described it). I've been getting lots of really interesting email lately, which means (of course) that I must have unsubscribed from diary-l yet again.
Oh, and this page is pretty fucking scary. It comes to you courtesy of Sara Mitchell.
n the evening, Kim and I hung out again with what seems to have become our sister couple, Spunky Lisa and Josh. I'm in a new scene: the couples scene, and it's really rather different and interesting. It seems more relaxed and stable because there's no strongly misplaced sexual tension (though there might be a little of the weakly misplaced sort). I'd grown to appreciate the uncertainty of chaotic sexual energy, but I'm delighted by the flourishing of non-sexual potential possible within the structure of established sexual connections. We four had a great evening together, starting out with beer drinking and giggle-filled conversation and ending up with bona-fide adventure.
he adventure tonight all began with a tip from Ben the Atheist Rabbi. In addition to his other unusual traits, you see, Ben is also a bisexual, and he often hangs out with a local group of gay men. Within this group is a faction of "naturists with an environmental agenda," and they all meet every second Saturday night of every month. Ben had told Lisa that anyone could come to these meetings, and today she brought up the subject of us possibly going to the one happening tonight. Though these gatherings are officially called "naturist meetings," we were already referring to them as "gay nudist parties." Kim said she was tired, but if I wanted to go, we could go. It sounded like the sort of thing I would most definitely go to, so I was enthusiastic for going.
Lisa and Josh picked up some Bass Ales and we all headed over to the slightly David Lynchian cul-du-sac in western Ann Arbor where the party was allegedly happening. Kraftwerk was on the car stereo: dorky, electronic but somehow cool all the same for its self-awareness. My new friends have decidedly different musical tastes from my old crowd. The house we were looking for was flying a big rainbow flag, but there didn't seem to be much going on there. So we crept around back until we heard a quiet discussion in a small square wooden building behind the house. Five guys were in there, and none of us knew any of them. It was all very awkward, because they were naked, middle-aged (with all that that implies), uniformly male and obviously gay and we were a mixed-gender group of straight 20-somethings (more or less). It would have been a lot easier had Ben the Atheist Rabbi been there, but he'd evidently just left.
We went into the house to consider our options. Inside, everything was very tidy and cozy, a good compromise between clutter and space. Little vats of fragrant crimson liquid gave off a sweet aroma that would have smelled pleasant had my mind been thinking other thoughts. Kim wanted to just slip out a side door and leave; she was very uncomfortable about the fact that we didn't know anyone. But Lisa and I were willing to try out the scene. We figured we could make it work.
Various other guys, stark naked mind you, appeared as we were making our decisions. They may have been all men, but there was at least one black guy, a big brick house of a man who popped up randomly from the basement.
We four went out in back and took off all our clothes. Kim, Lisa and I are somewhat exhibitionistic, so it was no big deal for us, and Josh played along too. Of course, with all our clothes off, certain things that hadn't been known now definitely were. "I didn't know you shave down there!" said Lisa to Kim.
We drank some beers and chatted with the host of tonight's nudist festivities, a guy named Steve.
For Steve, nudity was not in the slightest bit weird. He'd been raised a nudist by nudist parents. He was always nude as a child and can remember the Earth-shattering day when his parents broke the news that there were times and places where nudity wasn't possible. As a nudist, Steve goes about all his household routines in the nude, only putting on clothes on occasions when he must leave his house. He's been active both in the local gay scene and in the nudist scene. I have no idea what political or environmental agenda nudists might have; to us (Kim particularly) it just seemed like an excuse for a bunch of gay guys to hang out together nude in a hot tub, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Steve said he was currently living alone but would soon be joined by a lover from Panama who he'd met online. Jokingly I made a comment typical of the average uninformed American view of the internet: wanton sexuality and perversity.
When the original batch of men had left the hot tub, we all climbed in with Steve. Now, in my bigoted neural wiring, it was just a little unsettling to climb into a hot tub just vacated by five gay nudists, but I did.
All the other guys left at about this time. They exchanged goodbye pleasantries and banter with Steve, all in a delightfully campy way, as if lifted directly from the Gay Steelmill episode of The Simpsons. They were all supposedly heading off to "tuck into bed" one of their friends.
Steve said that women almost never come to these "naturist" meetings, and that many of his gay male friends are uncomfortable in the presence of women. But he said he himself was a proponent of diversity.
Steve talked about getting circumcised at the age of 29, something he did to better fit in with his nudist peers. Evidently nudists are more aware of their bodies' imperfections and peculiarities than most other people. I told the story of how, 15 years ago, I used a rock and a sharp piece of flint to fix an incomplete circumcision. When I said there were scars, Steve wanted to see. So I said sure, though I thought he'd let the subject drop.
But he didn't. As we were gearing up to go, Steve brought up my promised show & tell again. So I took everyone into the well-lit living room (well, Josh lagged behind) and showed them my scars. Kim said she hadn't noticed them.
We left a few dollars in a hot-tub-maintenance donation jar and then headed home, feeling rather pleased with ourselves for having found such an odd way to spend a Saturday Night.
It's amazing how similar to me Josh is to Charlottesville's John Arnold. He has almost exactly the same body language, posture, and sense of humour. And he looks sort of like John too. This similarity makes me like Josh more than I logically should considering I just met him three days ago.
one year ago
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