One summer, several of the other boys in the neighborhood and I decided to make a tree house in the woods. In spite of the fact that I was a known faggot, the other boys either didn’t care or thought they knew better because we had all grown up together. I passed a zillion sissy tests to prove how tough I was—jumping off this, riding my bike over that, setting fire to something else. Perhaps they were even titillated by the idea of my being a cock sucker. In any case, they never gave me any shit about it. Not far from our neighborhood, there was a plant that manufactured rubber products and behind it were huge stacks of wooden pallets with piles of rubber mats on them. We dragged a bunch of the pallets through the woods and constructed ourselves a tri-level tree house that you could stand up in, with a roof. We decided to line our tree house with the rubber mats to keep the cold weather out, so we nailed them inside and outside the pallets with about three inches in between for insulation. Our tree house had a door and a window, a mattress and a cooler. Once finished, it became Michael’s and my regular spot for after-school sex.

One day, when we were thirteen, Michael was hit by a car and broke his leg. Going up to the tree house became impossible. I would have to visit him at his house, a place I generally avoided due to the tension with his older brother. Although I wasn’t exactly his mother’s favorite person in the world, she seemed to be softening to me, as I was the only one of Michael’s friends who came to visit him on a regular basis when, due to his crutches, he was unable to pursue his Dudley Do-Right lifestyle of delivering papers, mowing lawns, and all the other activities that made him shine so brightly in the eyes of the neighborhood adults. His mother thought it was nice that I would come and keep him company. He would make himself comfortable on a bean-bag chair in the TV room with his leg elevated and I would sometimes give him blow jobs when he was in that position, making sure that I was positioned in just the right spot so that I could lean on his leg and make him scream in pain while I was sucking his dick, just so he knew who was in charge.

In the evening his parents were usually in the TV room, so we would go up to Michael’s room and do “homework.” It was a Sunday night and Michael was in bed with his leg on a cushion. He had just gotten a new Sonny and Cher record and we struck a deal that I would suck him for ten minutes and then he had to suck me for ten minutes while we listened to side one. He had gotten a new digital clock for Christmas and it was right by his bed. Trust me when I tell you I had my mouth on his cock and my eyes on the clock. As soon as my ten minutes were up I took a standing position next to his bed because his leg wouldn’t bend and I was six minutes into my blow job when I heard a rustling in the hallway and there stood Evelyn Hunter with a look of shock and rage such as I’d never seen. Her teased and frosted hair went paler in the dark shadows of the hallway and her voice bellowed out, “What are you doing!? No . . . I don’t want to know. Get out! Get out!” She became hysterical, and told me to never set foot in her house again. She screamed at me as I zipped up my pants, “I should call your mother right now!”

“Don’t call my mother!”

“Well, will you tell her what happened?”

“Yes, I’ll tell her as soon as I get home.”

“And you tell her that this time it was your fault, you sick freak!”

“Yes, I will,” I replied in tears. “Just don’t call her. I’ll tell her, I promise.”

Mrs. Hunter had no reason to doubt me as I had already confessed to having sex with her other son a few years earlier. As I rode my bike home in the cool fall air, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t need to tell my mother anything. I thought, what’s Mrs. Hunter going to say? “I caught my son sucking your son’s dick.” I didn’t think she would do that even though I almost wished she would. This was a very liberating moment. I’d been honest with my mother and hoped for understanding once before and as far as I was concerned she had ruined my life with her hysterical response. If I hadn’t been honest with her then, I wouldn’t be in this jam I was in now, so I resolved to keep this latest development to myself. Once again, I was riding off into the future feeling like the worst was behind me. I also resolved never to have sex with Michael Hunter again, but of course, I did.

It’s noon and I’m lying on my bed listening to the lilting voices of the neighbors waver with abandonment, teetering on the verge of happy hysteria. They are intoxicated, summer, weekend voices. BBQ gathering voices.

Excitable voices.

Gay.


Literally.

Under the purple rain of the flowering jacaranda tree next door lies a picnic blanket rife with fabulous cliché.

I mean no condescension, no judgment, no malice- but there is a collection of screamingly fey voices drifting over the back fence that have infiltrated my thoughts and invited themselves into my bedroom to rearrange the furniture and borrow my shoes.

I am eavesdropping on West Hollywood gossip. The highs and lows and ins and outs of the botoxed and be-muscled set. Offers of cocktails and declarations of “Ooooooo, yes!”

I smile.

The boys club is having a ball today.

The high pitched conversation makes my mind wander.

Growing up I had a lot of male “Aunties”. Gay couples were normal in my world. Two men together never once seemed strange or perverted. It saddens me that for some people it is such an issue. It glaaddens me that so much progress has been made.

My mother and I were so inured to homosexuality that it wasn’t even something we thought about much. Or discussed.

My nanny was a tranny and we didn’t even notice.

Her name was Ngaire (a Maori name traditionally pronounced “Niery” but which my stubborn, cross-dressing babysitter insisted was “Na-Gair”).

My mother hired Ngaire in all her 1920’s glamor when I was about ten years old. I loved her from the outset. I loved her eccentricities and elegance, her regal stature, her doting, grandmotherly love for me, her ability to lose at backgammon and never draw attention to the fact that I’d changed the rules.

I remember that she was in her late fifties, maybe.

She wore white satin gloves pushed in silky ripples up past her elbows.

She wore drop waisted dresses and curled, bobbed wigs.

She asked me to design outfits for her- purple hooded capes and fancy, beaded frocks with lace sashes. Then she had them made.

She wore strings and strings of low-hanging pearls.

She was an Agatha Christie character come to life.

She was my tranny, granny, nanny.

I remember the scandal we went through when we realized we’d been fooled.

It lasted about thirty seconds.

One day my mother had several guests over for drinks before heading out to a party, and one drunken lout saw through the (probably quite obvious) ruse and announced it to us when Ngaire was out of earshot. My mothers beautiful face took on an air of shock and bewilderment, her brain tick-tocked and did the math as she turned to me with a quizzical face.

The wigs. The costumes. The deeper voice. The bashful demeanor. The white satin gloves… worn to hide the mans hands!

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We looked at each other.

It made sense.

We smiled.

We laughed and shrugged.

Then the party left and Ngaire and I sat down to play backgammon.

I won.

Rules are made to be broken.

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