Timothy and Agrimony

(Plants, but also gay male life, with the latter focus leading to talk of mansex in street language (also with some deeply carnal (but fuzzed) photos of 69ing), so not for kids or the sexually modest.)

My morning names for 2/15: timothy and agrimony. A familiar crop grass (for grazing and hay) and a yellow-flowered bitter-tasting medicinal herb. Then these personified as two queer types: Timothy — called Timmy — the twink, a cute country boy, a hayseed, sometimes found with a stalk of grass between his teeth; and Agrimony — called Agro — the bitter old queen, jaded, sharp-tongued, largely disaffected with the queer community and feeling alienated from those in it.

The two men are of course unlikely to hook up, or even have anything to do with one another socially, but they share one bit of their sexual makeup: they both adore 69, find the exchange deeply satisfying. But characteristically, they prefer different positions for the act.

The plants: timothy. From NOAD:

(#1) Phleum pratense plants at various life stages

noun timothy (also timothy grass): a Eurasian grass which is widely grown for grazing and hay. It is naturalized in North America, where many cultivars have been developed. Phleum pratense, family Gramineae. ORIGIN mid 18th century: named after Timothy Hanson, the American farmer who introduced it to Carolina from New York (c. 1720). [So it’s etymologically Timothy’s grass.]

Timothy blooms in spikes of florets (which then bear the seeds), so the plant is naturally phallic. Occasionally quite vividly, as in this photo of one spike curved down like a half-hard dick:

(#2) Grass porn

The sociocultural types: the hayseed. The stems of timothy and wheat have a bit of a sweet taste, so the stalks are nice to suck on — that’s right, sucking on timothy shafts, I’m sorry, the metaphor is just unavoidable — and, since I grew up around fields of timothy and wheat, this was a small pleasure of my childhood. Yes, I was (sometimes) a hayseed boy.

The hayseed is an American sociocultural type, embodied most famously in the cartoon figure of Li’l Abner (see the Page on this blog on Al Capp’s creation). From NOAD:

noun hayseed:  1 grass seed obtained from hay. 2 informal, chiefly North American a person from the country, especially a simple, unsophisticated one. [typically male, stereotypically with a stalk of grass between his teeth] [some rough synonyms: bumpkin, clodhopper, country boy, hick, hillbilly, redneck, rube, yokel]

Now here I have a very clear mental picture, of Li’l Abner looking youthfully muscle-bound, goofily amiable, but densely clueless — with that grass between his teeth.

Unfortunately, I can find no representation of Li’l Abner as a literal hayseed lad; apparently, no stalk of grass has ever passed between those big white teeth. What I have is a false memory, an imaginative improvement on the attested Li’l Abner. (This is an immensely dispiriting discovery, after I spent two fuckin’ hours searching through hundreds and hundreds of Li’l Abner images on the net. Also, no such images that I could find of John Schneider in The Dukes of Hazzard or Max Baer Jr. in The Beverly Hillbillies. Even worse, all of the actual grass-tooth photos I found turn out to be owned by organizations that demand a fee for use. So, I’m sorry, but I have no image of a literal hayseed lad to offer you — though if you’re an American of a certain age you surely can call up that image in your mind.)

But on the gay male porn sites, where photos are passed around indiscriminately without any clue as to their origins, you can find some excellent depictions of hayseed twinks (though still lacking dental grass stalks), for example this adorable young man, whose ass is being claimed by a rougher older top (merely suggested in this photo):

(#3)Timmy’s buddy Joey, who’s happy to be handed around

The plants: agrimony. From NOAD:

(#4) Agrimonia eupatoria in bloom; again, flowers in spikes, so more phallicity in the field

noun ágrimòny: a plant of the rose family bearing slender flower spikes and spiny fruits. Native to north temperate regions, it has been used traditionally in herbal medicine and dyeing. Genus Agrimonia, family Rosaceae: several species, in particular A. eupatoria, which has small yellow flowers. ORIGIN late Middle English: directly or (in early use) via Old French from Latin agrimonia, alteration of argemonia, from Greek argemōnē ‘poppy’.

The Herb Shoppe in Portland OR on agrimony tincture:

Agrimony is [bitter-tasting,] mildly astringent and tonifying, making it useful for tightening tissues and holding back fluids and discharges.

The key notion here is astringency. From NOAD:

adj. astringent: 1 causing the contraction of body tissues, typically of the skin: an astringent skin lotion. 2 [a] sharp or severe in manner or style: her astringent words had their effect. [b] (of taste or smell) sharp or bitter: an astringent smell of rotting apples. noun astringent: a substance that causes the contraction of body tissues, typically used to protect the skin and to reduce bleeding from minor abrasions. ORIGIN mid 16th century: from French, from Latin astringent- ‘pulling tight’, from the verb astringere, from ad- ‘towards’ + stringere ‘bind, pull tight’.

And that takes us to:

The sociocultural types: the bitter old queen. The type characterized above as “jaded, sharp-tongued, largely disaffected with the queer community and feeling alienated from those in it”. Inclined to be bluntly in your face. Often assumed to be largely or entirely out of the sexual marketplace, whatever his history or his current desires might be. (Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.)

The boq type treated self-mockingly in a blog by an observer of the lgbtq scene in general and chronicler of its history in Chicago:

(#4)The blog of St. Sukie de la Croix:

Bitter Old Queen is a blog that gives the reader a glimpse into the world of a ’60s gay radical who is losing his patience.

A note on the author, from Wikipedia:

(#5) His 2018 autobiography

St. Sukie de la Croix (born Darryl Michael Vincent, September 16, 1951 [in Bath, Somerset]) is a writer and photographer. He is most widely known for his 2012 book Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall. His works have explored the underground cultures and aspects of Chicago’s LGBT community dating back to the 1670s.

A boq (I pronounce it /bok/, to rhyme with bloke and broke) is first of all a (homosexual) queen, at least in one of its widest senses, as in NOAD:

noun queen: … 6 informal a homosexual man, especially one regarded as ostentatiously effeminate.

(Usage can be highly contextualized: a macho gay man can be a t-room queen (a practictioner of mansex in mensrooms), for instance. For whatever reason, t-room queer, t-room gay, t-room boy, t-room man, etc. never caught on, but t-room queen got conventionalized.)

Second, a boq isn’t necessarily old, though St. Sukie is (he’s pushing 70); many a boq is merely experienced beyond his years, and you can get there at 25.

Finally, the bitterness of a boq ranges from mere acerbity to deep misanthropy. St. Sukie is mostly hyperbolically bitter, and therefore entertaining. But I have boq acquaintances who have been genuinely damaged by their experiences, and that’s not funny at all.

What is clear is that, of the many possible ways of characterizing the sociocultural type, this particular one — bitter old queen — has gotten conventionalized; compare the note on t-room queen above.

The type has been around for a long time. When I was a teenager, I recognized it in several middle-aged men, who were, however, encouraging to and supportive of me, not bitter at all with me. I assume they saw in me the fagling they once had been, sunny and enthusiastic, before things went sour for them, and they were doing what they could to help me preserve that and not become them. There was never any suggestion of sexual interest. But I could sniff out queerness keenly by the age of 16, though I had not the slightest idea of what to do with those perceptions. (I also worked with several men who were bitter old breeders, straight parallels to the boqs of my experience.)

I’m quite sure that at the time I’d never heard the expression bitter old queen. Not until I found queer spaces, and then (at least as I recall things) it was already a stock expression. For a while in the mid-1960s I palled around (socially but not sexually) with a guy from the gay bars, funny, smart, sharp-tongued, and piercingly faggy. The other bar boys referred to him twittingly but affectionately as a bitter old queen — you know the way guys talk, they call each other fuckin’ assholes and that’s a mark of bonding and respect — and he wore the label with pride.

He was, at the time, in his mid-20s, a grad student in psychology. And certainly a boq.

I’m dipping into personal reminiscence here because I’ve been having so much trouble tracing the stock expression bitter old queen. It’s not in any of the standard lexicographical sources, or in the indices of the gay histories and encyclopedias I’ve consulted. So it’s not within my competence (or resources) to pursue the question further. I’ll forward this posting to the American Dialect Society mailing list in case there’s someone there with interest in the historical question and the abilities to try to answer it.

Timmy, Agro, and 69. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect Timmy and Agro to intersect with one another. But I can see Agro coming across Timmy in the bars and taking an interest in encouraging and supporting him, the way those boqs did for me when I was a teen. Then the two of them discover their shared enthusiasm for 69. (Gay men generally suck cock and have their cocks sucked, but feelings about 69 are all over the map. Many guys find the divided attention cuts the pleasure of both acts; some seek 69 out for the doubled sexual intensity it can afford; some do it as occasional spice; some are fine with it if that’s what their partner wants, but wouldn’t otherwise think of it.)

Timmy and Agro decide to share their pleasure. But then, but then… how do they align their bodies? I’m assuming they’re 69-ing horizontally, vertical 69 being something of a stunt (see discussion in my 3/16/18 posting “Extended 69”), but: side by side, or one man on top of the other? The two experiences are quite different, both in their physical feelings and in their emotional resonances.

Timmy’s a side-by-side, or lateral guy:

(#6) Side by Side by Timmy (music by Sondheim), from the “Extended 69” posting (with some dick fuzzing)

It’s emotionally egalitarian, and physically easy for both men.

But Agro’s a stacked, or layered, guy, preferring 69 that’s an analogue of fucking, with a top and a bottom (and he likes the bottom role):

(#7) The top man is, in effect, fucking the bottom man’s mouth, while giving him a blow job (the photo has extensive fuzzing of the bottom guy’s dick)

Different emotional tone, and it can take some balancing work on the top man’s part.

(Photographic notes. It took some work to find photos easily adaptable for WordPress. Most available photos are designed to show as much cock as possible, to satisfy the viewer’s / user’s desire for dick. But those require some tricky fuzzing over, if the result is not to look ridiculous.

Meanwhile, 69 brings bodies into close engagement with one another, allowing for formally satisfying arrangements of them. #6 and #7 are both quite attractive compositions of intimately related bodyparts. (Of course the sources of the photos are unknown.)

One last image. Just so the cocksucking in #7 won’t be the image that gets sampled from this posting. So, as an extra, a sweet man-kiss: a twink — could that be Timmy? — kissed by an older man, maybe Agro sweetened up by affection for the boy:

(#8) Kissing the twink

It would please me for the story to end well.

3 Responses to “Timothy and Agrimony”

  1. Gadi Says:

    The names remind me of a friend’s ex-boyfriend, an utterly delectable ebony ubertwink named Argeny. I barely knew him, and briefly at that, but the memories remain quite fond.

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