Thursday, May 26, 2005

Oh Yes They Called It The Streak

Starbucks is abuzz!

Last weekend, on Friday and Saturday nights, there appeared on the genteel streets of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a man naked except for sneakers and a Zorro mask. He approached and harrassed a few women.

Our local police force, for whom I have zero respect, turned the apartment of one of my fellow Starbucks regulars upside down, but didn't find a Zorro mask. Now, it's common knowledge at Starbucks who the culprit is here. And even though the guy is considered to be a freak, no one is going to drop a dime on him. Why? Because the general consensus is that it makes life in this burg a wee bit more colorful.

So streak on, I say!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


It's one of my favorite Queer Eye episodes! The straight guy is kinky! When Carson, Kyan, Thom, Ted, and Jai are rampaging through his apartment, they find tit clamps, ben-wah balls, a leash and collar, and handcuffs attached to the headboard of the bed.

We are everywhere!

And I really like the fact that the straight guy, who dreams of being a sports caster on New York 1, is totally unabashed about the whole thing.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A Tale Of Two Coffee Dates, Or, There Is A God!

So on AOL several days ago, this guy flags me down. Likes my profile. Calls me Sir. All hot to trot. Let's meet up. He was a blond rugby player, lived not too far away. I suggested we meet up at Starbucks in Doylestown. To see if the connection was good for both of us, or whatever. As Lolita once told me, "The internet doesn't mean shit; you gotta smell'em."

And, it turns out that I didn't look at my schedule before making our Starbucks date. And I actually had to do some rearranging. But when I got there, on time, he was waiting for me.

Okay. So not immediately visually arresting. We got coffee and found an open table on the porch.

And it was torture. Just so awkward. Like our parents had set us up or something. I did my best to b e affable and pleasant--and I do really good affable and pleasant--but after about fifteen minutes, he said, "Oh, excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom."

When a half hour had passed, I decided that he had, in fact, fired me.

Yeah, well.

Of course, it was a stunning day at Starbucks, and all the hot Starbucks hangin' boys were out in force. All the straight Starbucks hangin' boys.

"Dang it!" I said as I drove home, "Why the hell can't there be just one gay man in the Delaware Valley who isn't one of those gussied up inebriates with elaborate hairdoos from the Raven?"

(Okay, not that they're all gussied up inebriates with elaborate hairdoos. Why just last night I chained up a man in my garage who definitely is not a gussied up inebriate with an elaborate hairdoo.)

Then today, I was hanging on AOL, chatting with one of my latest internet buddies, a Grand Poobah of the Leather World from SF who, it turns out, is a really warm, wise, and engaging man. And I get flagged down by this guy. His screen name was some unintelligible string of alphanumerics. k203r498ua or something.

He liked my profile. I checked his out. Huh. Military. That might be promising. We chat for a while. Seems like he can hold down his own in a conversation. So I suggest we meet up at Starbucks. He's down with that. But not the one in Doylestown. One down in Warrington, south of me. But I figure I can make it in a half an hour.

I get there fifteen minutes early, and sit in my car. And he gets there ten minutes early.

And... gosh... he's kinda got it going on.

He kayaks, too. In fact, I'm a punter compared to him. He's kayaked around the world. So I decided I'd drive him up and show him Lake Galena, where I do my kayaking. We talk.

And he's pretty great to talk to. Full of stories, and some interesting experiences for one so young. (He's 26.) Okay. And then he mentioned... that... he was... Russian.

We were off to the races. I was telling him all about my love of the Russian people, my time in Moscow, he was telling me about Russian generals he was working with in Bosnia telling him they liked him even though he was "on the wrong team."

We had a great time. It was blah blah blah blah blah. The whole time. And I really like the guy.

We ended up back in the parking lot of Starbucks, in agreement that we had to get together again.

Gosh. A hot, butch, hunky little Russian bear cub. Wouldn't he be fun to show off down at MAL. ("And this is my boy...") And go to the beach with. And go kayaking with. And take him to the Leatherman to get him his first vest. And... and there's a Russian banya down in Southampton PA!

Okay okay okay. Way ahead of the game.

But a solid possibility of a hot boy I can spend time with who lives a half an hour away from me...


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Perchance To Dream

What have I been up to lately?

Well, softball this Saturday. And it was a grim affair. We were scheduled for two back-to-back games against the Saints, a team new to the league. I stayed in on Friday night, as our first game was at 10 am. That meant I had to get to NYC at 8 am. That meant I had to leave home at 6 am. That meant I had to get out of bed at 5 am.


And I did. We were pretty ebullient. All set to kick some Saint butt.

In the first game, it was pretty competitive. They scored some runs early on, and we clawed and scraped our way out of a hole to gain the lead by two runs. But, then there was the final inning. And the Saints seemed to fly around the bases at a dizzying speed. And we lost.

During the interim, we compared notes. They had great hitters. Their infield was amazing. Their outfield was amazing. We... we... we were outmatched.

Second game. First inning. They scored six runs. No Ballbreakers crossed home plate. And after that, we all sort of fell apart. Phoned it in. They beat us by a score of something like 328-4. We got bitter pretty quickly. Blaming each other. Blaming the league. Blaming ourselves.

It totally put me in a foul mood.

Back at the bar, we griped some more about everything under the sun. I complained about my performance to one of my team mates. Specifically, my hitting. I couldn't hit the damn ball out of the infield. Which was bad news for whoever was in the lineup ahead of me. Y'see, he'd get on first, and then I'd come up. I'd hit the ball in the general vicinity of the second baseman. And the poor guy would be tagged out. Except the time I flied out.

"Well," responded my teammate, "look at it this way: you're hitting the ball."


That's true. I'm hitting the ball. And that wasn't always the case, now was it?

Anyway. I gathered up what was left of my self esteem, grabbed an iced venti quad one-pump-vanilla easy-ice latte, and headed north on the West Side Highway.

Y'see, I had a date.

Back up a minute. The West Side Highway. Perhaps you heard on the news about the landslide that shut down the West Side Highway. And you would be correct in assuming that landslide would be right in my path. No matter, I gave myself plenty of extra time. And I wanted some time to get my head together.

Because my date was with a guy with whom I had come in contact via America On Line. (Never a good sign.) And his scene was KO. As in, Knock Out. As in, putting me out cold.

Well now that's kind of dangerous, right?


Especially given the fact that the whacko factor on AOL is just off the spectrum.

Oh. And did I mention that we were meeting at a hotel in Danbury, Connecticutt? An anonymous hotel.

Nothing like an inherently dangerous scene with a stranger, right?

So what's up with that?

Okay. I'd checked the guy out as much as I possibly could. He had coherent answers to every question I posed. And I felt I needed something like an adventure. Plus, I don't know anybody who has ever done that scene, so that would give me some bragging rights. And, Top that I am, I love it when I'm the heaviest bottom in the room. (Okay! Okay! Selectively heavy!)


So there I was, sitting in the parking lot of the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury, Connecticutt, calling Mr. Sleepytime on my cell phone to let him know I had arrived. He gave me the number of the room he had rented, and he ran over his instructions to me one more time. I was to knock on the door and he'd pass the key under the door. I count to twenty, then come into the room. I strip, and take a shower. After the shower, I put on the pair of undies he left out for me, and go lie down on the bed.

Stuffing my second thoughts, I found the room, knocked, counted, entered, stripped, and jumped in the shower. While I was in the shower, behind the opaque shower curtain, I heard the door creak open.

Oh very cool.

But nothing happened.

I finished up in the shower and pulled back the curtain. The bathroom was empty. And there were the undies. They were a cheesy acetate affair with a Christmas motif, reading something like "Jingle Balls!". And about three sizes too small. Verrrry slutty.

Okay. Deep breath.

The suite was dark except for a television in the bedroom. Everybody Loves Raymond was on with the volume turned low.

Another deep breath.

I crossed the suite to the bed. I heard movement behind me. His arm was round my neck. A rag was forced over my mouth and nose. A weird perfumey but not unpleasant smell. Chloroform.


I did some nominal struggling. Held my breath for a bit, but then took a good deep breath. Nada. Another deep breath. And I felt it.

It was strange. Like my perceptions--sight, sound, sensation--were limited by a spotlight that got smaller and smaller and smaller with me at the center. Till then there was blackness.

I came too. I got put out again. I came too. I got put out again.

At one point, I came too, and Mr. Sleepytime was counting change or something. I curled up. Hugged the pillow. And went off to sleep without assistance.

I woke up and the clock read midnight. And I was alone in the suite. There was a note.

"Dear Seth, Sorry I couldn't stay. Had a great time. I rented the room for the night, so you can stay here. Just please check out before 11 am tomorrow."

Okay. Here's the part where I critique the Top.

First off, my name's not Seth. That's a pretty important detail. Secondly, where the hell did he go? Thirdly, I would toss out a line like, "You'll take good care of your boy while he's out, right, Sir?" and he'd be like, "Yeah, whatever, out you go!" Now that's hardly fodder for fond memories and recollections useful for jerking off, right? Right.

But the overall synopsis is... I have no idea what to think about all that. I mean, it's weird. I feel like the scene went on without me. I'm not sure what contribution I made. Although, I think I made a significant contribution. Specifically, I think I was really brave! Maybe the boys are lined up for this dude. Maybe he got my name wrong because last weekend he did three Seths.

But somehow I don't think so.

I got up on Sunday, had breakfast, found cheap gas, and headed home. I imagined that Mr. Sleepytime and I would have breakfast together after a good-morning bang, bidding a fond farewell. But no, it was a solitary egg sandwich at Mr. Bagel of Danbury, Connecticutt.


Later that evening, I felt as though the weekend had sort of gone by and I had... I dunno... slept through it.

So I headed down to the Raven to have a beer and a cigar before doing the grocery shopping.

And guess what! It was the final event of New Hope's Pride Parade!

NEWS ITEM: New Hope celebrates L/G/B/T Pride! Leather Community severly under-represented! Inebriate gay men with elaborate hairstyles and mall clothes out in force!

But I chatted with some new guys. And it was a good cigar.

Monday was a typical work day. Followed by Starbucks. Followed by the gym. (It was a bit chilly for kayaking.)

Then today, I rushed home after work so my dad and I could go vote. (Primary day here in Pennsylvania.) Then I hit Starbucks. I had a date. Some AOL guy wanted to meet up with me, so I invited him for a latte at the Starbucks in Doylestown. He was waiting when I showed up. Decent looking guy. And then we started talking.

How do you say... Awkward?

Oh. My. God.

Like pulling teeth.

After about fifteen minutes, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. After waiting ten minutes for him to get back, I opened my book. Forty five minutes later, I finished up another chapter, and I headed for home.

KO scenes in my future?

To quote my saintly white-haired grandmother, "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Brace Yourselves

This may well be the weirdest thing you've ever read here on SingleTails.

It's not about my sick and twisted fantasy life. It's not about pooping my pants in the supermarket in Plumsteadville. It's not about wearing my stepmother's panties to her funeral. (Nothing new in any of those, right?)

This is about a messy divorce.

You see, I have recently realized that my Ex from the seven-and-a-half-year relationship dug up the remains of my beloved cat, Ned, dumped them in a hefty bag with some of my clothes and books that I couldn't take with me when I left, and had them delivered by the movers I hired.

"Realized"? What's up with that?

I was sitting with a guy at Starbucks recently, and he told me about how his dog had died over the winter. He and a friend of his snuck into a local park at night, and he buried his dog in the woods where they would frequently walk.

Such a sweet story, huh? I was thinking about it later, driving home, and it dawned on me. My Ex dug up my beloved cat Ned, and...

Okay. Here are the facts.

1. It was an argument about my beloved cat Ned's cremains that made me decide to leave. Y'see, the year before, while we were on vacation in New Mexico that I got a phone call from Pennsylvania. My sister had died. Her death was not unexpected. But still. We flew home a day early. I found Ned in the laundry room downstairs, lying on his side. We rushed him to the vet. He had a blood clot. The same thing my sister had died of. We took him to the vets. A day later, the phone call came. Ned had died. A month later, the vet sent his cremains. "So," asked my Ex, what do you want to do with them?" I told him how I wanted to bury them in the back yard. Ned loved that yard. He'd be out there, sunning himself, stalking bugs and birds, quite the New World for a city cat. I liked the idea of Ned out there frolicking in the moonlight for all eternity.

And my Ex exploded. "I do all the work out there! I'm the one who waters it every day!" I was used to his anger and his yelling, but a month after my sister had died, at a moment like this... It was too much. I decided that that was enough. I wouldn't try to make it work any more. I was outta there. And in a year, I was.

2. So then, after I left, there was the issue of all the stuff I hadn't been able to fit in my jeep when I said goodbye to Brooklyn and him. We decided that he would pack up everything, and I would hire movers to bring it to my new place in Beautiful Downtown Jersey City. We were discussing this on the phone, and he said, ominously, "Be very careful when you're going through the bags. There's something important I don't want you to miss."

3. So there I was, unpacking it all. I found all this ash in one bag. I assumed that it was incense that we used to burn.

I am positive that... well, that my Ex dug up the cremains of my beloved cat, Ned, and sent them to me in a Hefty bag.

In a way, I'm surprised. I never gave him much credit in the Diabolically Vindictive Ingenuity department.

I haven't spoken to him since we split, but if and when our paths cross again, I sure know what I'll be saying to him.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Eighty Times Around The Sun

Rock On!

It was perfect! All those hours of watching Queer Eye paid off in spades! (Don't forget flowers!)

Okay. So maybe not flawless. I forgot to get beer, and we ran out of ice. But other than that...

•They loved my food! Passing around the plates of rumaki (an evil concoction of chicken liver wrapped in bacon and smothered in barbeque sauce) was like tossing fish to seals! Snap snap snap! Ditto the shrimp cocktail and the pigs in blanket! I was a huge hit with the old people. At one point, discussion turned to Mother's Day, which would be today, and I realized why. The old ladies were all laughing about how maybe they'll get a card. Or a phone call. Or whatever. Alas, they should have birthed gay sons. Cuz we know all about how to do a Thing.

•Lucky for me, there was enough infirmity on the guest list that the size of the crowd was manageable. We didn't run out of anything, and there were enough chairs to go around. And the weather more than cooperated, serving up a wonderful warm but not hot Spring day. So we all crowded onto the porch.

•I took the bright orange gerbera daisies I got, cut their little heads off ("You look like Morticia Addams!" observed the Baron von Philadelphia), and floated them in clear glass bowls, adding some may apple tops I gathered in the back forty.

•The surprise visit from my brother and his wife went great. They called him on their cell phone from the driveway, and were going on about 'toweling off after a dip in the pool' as they walked in the room. My father continued talking on the phone for a full fourteen seconds before he realized that they weren't apparititions, but there in the flesh.

•Slowly, slowly my father caught on, first I went and picked up the Baron at the train station in Doylestown, then my brother and sister-in-law show up, and then, at four o'clock, car load by car load, the front porch filled up with old people. Everyone was commenting about how it's been years and years and years since they were all together. Everybody had a great time, but my father was absolutely bowled over.

•The Baron and sister-in-law rose to the occasion, and were incredibly helpful. I have almost no work to do cleaning up today. The whole day went so smooth. I am grateful.

And here's the kicker... My father was grateful! And demonstrative! He's thanked me several times! I am not without my flaws, but heck, I sure have my good points.

And I had a realization yesterday, too.

This is my life.

I've been looking at this as taking a break from my life. Like when you pull off the interstate on your way to somewhere to grab a latte at one of those blessed rest stops that feature a Starbucks.

But that's not it.

I've got my eyes open. I'm growing as a person, as they used to say in those movies-made-for-television back in the fabled 1970s.

I have learned, for instance, that sometimes, you do without. Sometimes, even though you want something really bad, you just can't afford it, of make it happen for logistical reasons right now. And you get by without it.

I have learned, furthermore, that it's never about him, or her, or them. It's just about you. You can't look to other people to get your needs met. Because it's not about them. If you're not getting your needs met, getting the affirmation you need, or the solace, or the consideration, or the tender loving care, then it's never his, her, or their fault. It's up to you to figure out how to make that happen. Or else it doesn't happen at all. When he, she, or they step up to the plate and do offer some of that, well then that's gravy. And be really grateful for it. But don't come to rely on it. Because ultimately, you are not, in fact, the reason that God put him, her, or them on the planet. Back in the days of the seven-and-a-half year relationship, it was always his fault when I felt shitty or lonely or sad or angry or whatever. Nope. Wrong-o. It's never about him, or her, or them.

I have learned, perhaps, to play the hand I'm dealt. Not to be thinking in terms of, "I know! I'll go to grad school and learn to be a radiologisit! And then I can have all the things I want and everything will be perfect and I'll be happy all the time!" This is where I live. This is my job. This is the car I drive. This is my dog. This is what I do with my weekends. "Dese," as Mr. Durante observed, "is da circumstances what prevails." This is the big clap pot of red lentils I have been served, and it may or may not contain a few rubies of joy. "Find your bliss" is not a call to sling your bag over your shoulder and head off on the open road. Finding your bliss means looking at the things right in front of you, the tattered stuff picked up at the rag and bone shop sitting there in your lap.

Anyway. Today is another beautiful day here in Bucks County. I'm sitting on the porch, goosebumps raised by the sweet, cool Spring breeze. Faithful Companion alert to bugs and birds and squirrels. Waiting for this skinhead boy from Philadelphia to show up to help me clear out the garage. I plan on exploiting his strong back to tackle the filing cabinet, the refrigerator, and the table saw.

Tomorrow, the wheel of the work week starts to spin again. And next weekend, I'll be in NYC for the New York City Tattoo Convention. And softball with the Ballbreakers. (Akshully, I won't be attending the tattoo convention. Can't afford it. But I will be making the social at the Eagle hosted by Gay Men Into Extreme Tattooing or whatever the unwieldy name is of that group I belong to.) And Saturday night, I'm heading to a motel room in Connecticut because this kind man has offered to show me how to do a sleeper hold. (Sounds risky? Hope so!)

And, y'know, hopefully staying awake.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Big Day!

Howard is awash in birthday greetings! He has even received some cards from people he knows! He and I both extend our sincere thank-yous for everyone who took the time to send a card.

I met my brother, up from Florida, tan and (newly) buff at Starbucks for coffee. I told my father that in fact I wouldn't be going up to NYC to play softball tomorrow, but I'd be staying here with him, and he was actually grateful for that.

Now, all I have to do is get ready for the forty old people who will be showing up at 4 pm tomorrow. This means cleaning the house, and the yard, and making all the food.

For the food, I've decided to go with hors d'oeuvres that harken back to the early 70s, when these folks were young and spry and entertaining. I'm making pigs-in-the-blanket, rumaki (remember rumaki? It's chicken liver wrapped in bacon, doused with barbeque sauce, and cooked in a hot oven), shrimp cocktail, roasted vegetables en brochette, and a cheese board. In deference to my vegan sister-in-law, I'm also having humous. Since at least half the room will be Baptists (my father's senior citizens group meets at the local Baptist church; when I was little we used to go down and watch them do submersions in the Delaware River), I'm serving some iced tea along with the California Zinfandel I picked out.


And I wanted some flowers. Lilacs! I love lilacs! They're my favorites. When I was working at the needle exchange, I would bring in a bunch this time of year and put them on the counter. The latin name for lilac is 'Syringa,' so I thought that was appropriate.

Anyways, I stopped at a florist, so-called, in Doylestown. Not only did the florist, so-called, not have any lilacs, but she told me that "they aren't in season yet; maybe we'll have them in a few weeks."

Uh huh.

I picked out some orange gerbera daisies and drove home with my booty, passing probably a dozen lilac bushes in full flower as I went the eight miles to the Humble Abode.

And now, at the late late hour of ten o'clock, I'm headed to bed. I have a verrrrry full day tomorrow. First I've got to clean this place, then I've got to make all that food. I'll be way too frazzled to do much in the way of socializing, so I'll busy myself passing around trays of rumaki and the like.

I think my father will be pleased. Especially when all the little old ladies present him with fudge and such.

And then it will be over. Praise be to God!

For the next decade, I should be able to make due with just baking a cake.

Hope for the best, folks!

And thanks again for the cards.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Email Problems

I don't know what the problem is.

Okay. Actually I do. My account with .Mac ran out, and I took my old sweet time renewing it. And I couldn't get the krrrush email address up and going again.

So, I'll have to spend countless hours on the phone with chirpy tech support people to solve that problem.

In the mean time, if'n you want to contact me, you can do so at raisedbywolves-at-mac-dot-com.


Sorry about that.

Hit By A Truck

"The point of life," reads a profile on WorldLeathermen, "is not to arrive at your grave intact, but to slide in leaving a trail of your own sweat and blood, screaming, 'Holy Fuck! What a great ride!'"

I would be much closer to approximating that Dionysian ideal if every weekend of my life was like this weekend. And, probably, the 'sliding into the grave' would go down a lot quicker, too.

First, the context. I have to be at work at 7 am. That means, I get up around 5:30 am. After work, I hit Starbucks, hit the gym, and go grocery shopping. Sometimes picking up a video at Lackluster. I get home around 8 pm, get dinner on the table for my father, and finally get to bed around 11:30. So, monday through friday is all about Sleep Deprivation, and I do my best to make up for that on the weekends. I tend to avoid making plans for Friday night, because by the time 11 pm rolls around, I'm yawning like Carlsbad Cavern. But, I opted to make an exception to this rule of thumb.

Y'see, on Thursday, I was invited to Dine Out For Life. (The name of this apparently national fundraising event for AIDS organizations hits my ears as though it was a sentence passed down on someone who has recklessly abused the kitchen in his home... "You are hereby sentenced to Dine Out For Life!!!" Considering the lives of many New Yorkers I know, it's almost the standard.) Anyway, the deal is that you go out to a restaurant, and a portion of your tab goes to local organizations doing good work in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The kind and wonderful men who thought of poor li'l ol' me, alone and barely stirring from my hearth in the Howling Wilderness of Bucks County, were two guys I know slightly, one from Inferno, and his boyfriend, a recent import to Philadelphia from the West Coast. They were planning on having their Dining Out For Life (...for Life!!!) experience up here in New Hope, and invited me to join them.

So, after work, I ran home, got my father all set with dinner, and headed down to meet them at the Starbucks in New Hope. The drive down the river was wonderful. Bucks County is all but unbearably gorgeous this time of year. The dogwoods and the cherry trees and apple trees and daffodils and everything are in bloom, and I was treated to breathtaking displays of bucolic beauty in the gathering dusk all the way there. We wandered the town for a while, unfortunately finding that Le Chateau Exotique (oops! gender agreement problems in that nomenclature!) shuttered for the night. Then, we repaired to the Raven.

Now, back in December, my Sir and I ate at the Raven when we made our tour of Pennsylvania. The meal we had then was absolutely extraordinary. My venison was outstanding. It was truly a meal to write home about. The Raven is now under new management, and it seems that there's been some kind of turnover in the kitchen staff. I had a corn chowder with bacon and halibut with Spring vegetables. The corn chowder was a disaster. Y'see, when soups made with cream sit too long, they "break," taking on the flavor and consistency of wallpaper paste. And this chowder had defenitely passed that point. And the halibut was nothing special. And the vegetables were undercooked. Alas.

But, the company and the conversation was wonderful. Absolutely nothing old or pastey there. And how cool to hang with other leathermen, just enjoying one another's company.

After dinner, go home, go to bed, get up at 5:30, go to work, work all day, go tearing outta there when the bell rang at 3:30... because I was driving down to Philadelphia to meet up with Icarus, a longtime internet correspondent who was in Philadelphia for the weekend to do some family stuff.

I packed a toybag, and I've been thinking all week about how I might make Icarus' trip to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection a memorable one. I had all my chains in the back of the jeep, and threw my padlocks and boxing gloves in the bag.

Icarus and I met up at Milennium Coffee. And it worked kinda well. I got there first, ordered up my latte, and then asked for the key to the bathroom. Like the bathroom pass in high school, Milennium attaches the key to something big and bulky, to minimize the chances that you'll slip their bathroom key in your pocket and walk off into the night with it. In this case, it's a wooden stick, about 1 3/8" in diameter, and maybe eighteen inches long. When I emerged from the bathroom, there was a man I took to be Icarus standing at the counter. As he was engrossed in ordering his coffee (and probably wondering how disappointing that was going to be so far from Seattle), I walked behind him and gave his firm, luscious rump a good thwack with the bathroom key stick. And then we greeted each other warmly.

Icarus and I had met, briefly, years and years ago, when I spent a sublime night in the cage of Master Aubrey Sparks. As I remember it, while I was passing through the kitchen on my way down to the basement dungeon, Aubrey briefly introduced us. Icarus, as I recall, was bareass naked, standing there fixing himself a snack or something.

Icarus and I plunged right in to conversation. Blah blah blah blah blah. His keen intellectual acumen, spirited pessimism, omnivorous quest for Things To Know, and filthy filthy mind made him an interlocutory feast.

What Ho! Who should wander past Milennium while we were sitting talking but my Dining Out For Life ("...for Life!!!") companions from the previous evening!

Both being hungry, Icarus and I headed to the restaurant I had in mind, El Vez. But alas, El Vez had the Philadelphia equivalent of Bright Young Things spilling out onto the sidewalk. So we headed to a really good place called Villani, on Spruce Street. The food is good, and the crowd tends to be on the Bright Young Things end of the spectrum, but I've never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table.

And the food was sooooo much better than at the Raven. I had the cuban bread salad, which I've had before, and when I finish it, I have to fight down the urge to order up a second helping right away, and the a fish dish with Pacific rim spices that I also couldn't get enough of. And we split a chocolate pôt de crème for desert.

And, of course, much more of the blah-blah-blah. I couldn't get enough of Icarus and his thoughts and ideas. Such a great guy. Such great connection. I'll offer this one wee tidbit: at one point, it occured to me that SM presents the possibility of holding the Dionysian and Appollonian aspects of the erotic in perfect balance, so that neither one can subsume the other one. Sure beats yacking about Bush's plans to gut Social Security, huh?

But, alas, when I checked my watch as we were leaving, I was dismayed to realize that the hour was late. I would not have time to chain up Icarus and beat him senseless, as much as I dearly wanted to do that. I had to get in my jeep and drive home. I made this announcement, which was received with dismay equal to mine.

But... But... Icarus will be at Infernon this year! And although I'm flying rather than driving, so I won't have my chains with me, I got a raincheck and I'll make sure to cook up something special for him there.

And a side note, how much am I totally looking forward to going to Inferno??? Alpha will be there! Edge Play Guy from LA will be there! Mountain Climbing Guy will be there! And Icarus will be there! It looks like my dance card is full, and I haven't even sent in my check yet.

Fighting sleep on the way home wasn't too much of an issue. Thank the Lord for Rosenberger's Iced Tea! And all the singalong songs on my iPod.

The next morning, Saturday, was all about softball.

Last weekend, my father convinced me that since my enemies at the Weather Channel were predicting rain, there would be no softball, so I ended up staying home. Meanwhile, my team, the Ballbreakers, were playing and winning two games. Albeit in the rain. So this weekend, I told my father that even if the Weather Channel was predicting sleet, thunderstorms, and hailstones the size of canned hams, I was going to NYC to play softball.

Luckily, the games we were scheduled to play were at noon and 1:30, so I didn't have to leave the house until 8:30 instead of the crack of dawn, as is the case when we have 10 am games. The ride up through the drizzle, under grey skies, went smoothely. I didn't make it in time to meet up with the Ballbreakers outside the Dugout at 10:30, but I got to the fields at the East River Park about the same time they did.

Ah... the first softball game of the season.

Y'know, I have to admit, that faced with the prospect of getting up at an ungodly early hour on saturdays and driving two hours up and two hours back from now through August, I am tempted to just hang up my spikes and bat and glove and pack it in. But all it takes is some time spent on the field of dreams, and I'm committted again.

We had two games yesterday against the Wings. Not only are they sponsored by that pathetic excuse for a leatherbar called the Eagle, but they're kind of our arch rivals. Y'see, they're sort of the 1980 World Series Toronto Blue Jays, and we're the 1980 World Series Phillies. They have practice during the week. They have Team Meetings. They do Drills. And we're sort of a pudgey bunch of unkempt loveable wrecks with our shirt tails hanging out. And we have this knack for beating the pants off them. So it's not so much that we hate them, it's more like, they hate us and we hate them back. And, being the Ballbreakers, we do it with panache that they can't hope to aspire to.

Okay. First game. First inning. We win the coin toss and get to be the visiting team (last at-bat). I'm playing right field. The first guy up at bat hits the ball, a beautiful line drive, right at me. And the ball sails right by me. By the time I retrieved it, he had crossed home plate.

I hate myself! I hate myself! I hate myself!

I have no business playing softball! I suck! Can't hit, can't throw, can't catch. I suck suck suck suck suck.

Luckily, I was taken out of the field and became EP after that debacle. So I'd just be batting. Hopefully I wouldn't be making the out that loses the game for us at the plate. The Wings scored 4 in the first inning. We were demoralized.

At one point, we were down 9 to 3. Things were looking bad.

But then, we got our heads in the game, and started playing good ball.

Okay. So my first at-bat. We had two outs and hadn't scored in the inning. Their pitcher was inconsistent. She walked a few of our guys. So everybody up at bat would take at least one strike before looking for one that looked pretty. However, she seemed to find her stuff with me. I think I got one ball on her, before she sent one right over the plate. S-s-s-strike!!! Panicky, I went for the next one. I fouled. Strike two. So she was way ahead of me in the count.

Here comes the ball. Looks good. No-it-doesn't-yes-it-does. I swing. Crack. Solid connection. I hit easily get to first base. And after that, our bats come alive. I round the bases and cross home plate, and so do two more Ballbreakers. It's a two-out rally.


And I did pretty well in my subsequent at-bats, too.

So in the first game, we managed to claw our way back from a 9-3 deficit. We're only one down. Final inning of the game. They're up by two. Winning the game. I come up at bat. Again, I get down in the count. Two strikes on me.

I could lose the game for the Ballbreakers.

Here comes the ball. I swing. Crack! I fly down the line to first base. Broken ankle and all. I'm on base, and I'm the tying run. The guy after me gets a hit. I advance to second. He's on first. So the tying run and the get-ahead run are now on base. Next batter gets an out. It's make or break. Our next guy hits a beauty. Finds the hole. I head for home. The runner behind me follows me around the bases.

We've won the game.

But wait! What's this? It seems that our third base coach, who totally knows better, touched the runner, the guy behind me, when he was crossing third. That means the runner doesn't score. That means it's a tie game.

Oh hell.

So, we won, but we didn't win. I know I know I know. Almost only counts in horseshoes. But still. What a great goddamn game it was!

Second game, once again, we had to fight back from losing in the early innings, but we ended up solidly beating the Wings by 13-7. And making some amazing plays along the way.

Oh. And you gotta hear this.

Our coach pulled a muscle in his calf. He needed a courtesy runner. This was in the first game. So at one point, while everybody else is on the field, I offered to massage his calf for him. He gratefully accepted. So my magic fingers are going to work on his calf.

"No, a little to the right. No, wait, back to the left! Agh! Yeah! Right there! Oh man yeah! Right there! Oh that really hurts!"

"Yeah?" I said, with an evil glint in my eye, "I'm making you hurt? Tell me about how I'm making you hurt?"

Although in agony, he laughed, and got right into it. And so did I. "Yeah... You wanna hurt for me, buddy? You wanna take some hurtin' from me, huh? Yeah, tell me how you want to hurt for me."

So after that, whenever I was up at bat, to cheer me on, my coach would be yelling out, "It hurts! It hurts! Oh you're hurting me!"

And considering my performance at bat, it seemed to do the trick.

And another great thing happened yesterday. Y'see, we're big on nicknames. One of our guys, very early on the first season we played, somehow got the incongruous appelation of "Filthy Whore." Whenever he's up at bat, we start in with his personal cheer: "Fill Thee Whore! Fill Thee Whore!" This always serves to totally psyche out the other team. Gosh, if that's how they treat their own guys, what are we in for? And there's Oompah (from the Oompah Loompahs), and one of our number who had a drug problem was Dana Plato for awhile, after the star of Diff'rent Strokes who was arrested robbing a liquor store so she could get money for crack, and Eve for a newcomer who aspired to strip a player from the original Ballbreakers of his position of catcher, and Gilligan and Skipper for a couple who... uh... bear an eerie resemblance.

Now I've been called FistFest, which is the name my team has given to Inferno, although as I've explained, fisting is not a big thing for me there. And they called me Jeffrey Dahmer when we played in the tournement in Milwaukee, but quit it when they feared it would upset the locals.

So a few weeks ago, when it was announced that the Nickname Committee had come up with a Good One for one of our members who has put on some pounds in the off season (He's now Fat Actress), I opined that I feel I've been slighted by the efforts of the Nickname Committee. They've never quite come up with a nickname that suits me.

So yesterday, broken ankle and all, I hit the ball and fly down the baseline to first. I'm arguably the best base runner on our team. I can move. Fly! Fly like the wind! On many occasions, I have literally beaten the ball to first base. Watching me run from the dugout, one of my teammates said something like, 'Look at him run! Damn! He's like a gazelle! Like a deer!'

And thus was I christened Bambi.

And I love that!

Besides the innocent young fawn with the huge eyes of Disney fame, there's all of those Sex Kitten associations.

So Bambi it is.

Okay. So after winning the second game, we retired to Ty's on Christopher Street to celebrate.

And as I was walking from my jeep to the bar, my hurting set in. Oh man. All my parts hurt. My moustache hurt. But especially, my lower back, my ankle, and muscles I pulled in my thighs. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. And sitting in the bar, I just started to stiffen up. So that when it was time to shift position or go and refill my plate with complementary hotwings, I would just about cry. Ouch ouch ouch ouch.

Uh oh.

Y'see, last night GMSMA held a dungeon demo. And I had a longstanding date to flog one of the founding members of that august organization, a man who is a member of my SM and Spirituality Discussion Group. And no matter how good you are, you just can't flog someone from a supine position. And I absolutely positively would not back out.

So what to do.

I hobbled down the street to the Factory Cafe and had a latte to think it over.

Walk it off. That'll help. Walk it off.

So I did. I walked up to Dave's Army Navy at 6th Ave and 16th Street. As I went, it got easier and easier to move. But it still hurt a lot. And at Dave's, which fortuitously was having a sale, when I would drop a shirt I was looking at on the floor, it would take some planning to negotiate how I was going to pick it up. But, I found three pairs of shorts at good prices. Then I walked back to my jeep.

I was still not sure if I would be able to pull this off. Ankle, thighs, and back were all giving me a lot of trouble. But I decided to persevere.

The GMSMA dungeon demo was being held at Paddles. After the LURE closed, GMSMA would hold them at the Eagle. This just didn't work. The space just didn't lend it'self to it. And the crowd of chelsea boys in flip-flops were much more interested in tossing back appletinis than they were in SM.

The big question about Paddles is that it's largely a het club. Would gay men turn out for it?

Well, lemme tell ya, if they don't they're fools. Paddles totally rocks. It's an amazing space. Great feel, great equipement, and you can get banana splits at their ice cream bar.

I greeted the men of GMSMA whom I knew, staked out a piece of equipment for the scene I was going to do, and then--with excrutiating pain--changed from my softball uniform into my leathers.

Well, when the doors opened, the place really started to fill up. Attendance was really good. There was a nice whipping scene, Diabolique did a great scene with a verrrry hot boy up in the loft, lots of good bondage, a really beautiful sculputre made with clothespins, candlewax, and a guy, and the like.

My partner for the evening, founder, arrived in due time. We had to wait for a bondage scene to conclude before we could start in, so we sat and talked. He is such a wonderful, wonderful man. When he asked me if I would flog him at the dungeon demo, I said yes without hesitation. When I first met him, I was pretty awed by him. Founder of GMSMA, founder of MAsT, author of an amazing book (I still haven't read the final chapter because I don't want it to end, to have to say goodbye to the characters) keynote speaker at the recent Leather Leadership Conference in Phoenix, he is one of the great minds of mondo BDSM.

Then, we started in on our journey together. founder has bad knees, so standing for that length of time wouldn't be an option. So, I found a nice piece of dungeon furniture that would allow him to sit, braced with some borrowed sofa pillows (I playfully batted him with the sofa pillows at the git go, suggesting that we do a scene that would confirm the suspicious of the critics of the ethos of Safe Sane and Consensual, which he had a hand in authoring), and restrained his wrists.

Okay. First off.

founder is not quite the regular gym goer.

But man oh man! The back on that man! This wonderful canvas for me! Brutish proportions! I was slavering! At the starting point of pure physical, animal flesh, this was definitely going to work.

My biorhythms must be peaking or something.

I had played some great softball that afternoon, and speaking as objectively and as humbly as I can, I gave a great flogging that evening. I just felt so on top of my game. Every stroke I laid was just where I wanted it, and with exactly the intensity that I was after. Because the light was dim, I asked founder to be vocal. And he was. All manner of moans and grunts and growls were coming out of him. Such wonderful poetry.

And we just went to this amazing place together. It was beautiful. I didn't want it to end. He just gave me so much. It was positively one of the best flogging experiences I have known.

When it was over, I caressed him, thanked him, and reluctantly removed my restraints from his wrists. And we returned the sofa pillows. He got to his knees, and thanked me properly, by kissing my boots.

And it was over. We had gone to that amazing place. Visited SM land, and jarringly came back to planet earth. At this point, the place was packed. Other scenes were wrapping up. The Paddles regulars were starting to come in.

Time to grab a quad venti latte before the Starbucks at 16th and 8th closed, and drive home.

My back was bothering me some on the drive home. When I got into the driveway, I could barely get out of the car.

"Bed!" I thought. "Bed."

Slowly shuffling, I managed to take Faithful Companion for his final walk of the night. "Please don't pull, buddy... okay? Daddy's hurting really bad when you do that..." I brushed my teeth, stiffled my groans and ows as I stripped, climbed into bed, and I was out like a light.

And so this morning.

I feel like I've been hit by a truck. Everything hurts. Ow ow ow ow ow!

But my head is filled with joyous images. The flowers of early Spring in Bucks County; big built Icarus smiling at me as we kissed goodbye in Philadelphia; the ball I hit sailing over the heads of the opposing players; my foot slapping home plate as I score; founder's wonderful back reddening under the ministrations of my floggers; the warm smiles of welcome from my fellow leathermen...

I'll welcome that truck turning down my street anytime.