Superbowl Sunday

This is the third and final part of a set of postings about my guy J’s and my sexual and affectional lives: yes, about our loving relationship, but (as I repeatedly stress to people) also about about sweaty, noisy, animal sex, so that it’s entirely inappropriate for kids and the sexually modest.

Previous installments in thumbnail form:

my 12/30/20 posting “Manual labor”, about a project of J’s, to become (in effect) the world’s authority on how to please me by masturbating me.

my 1/4/21 posting “Decline”, in which J’s sexual abilities disintegrated, fairly rapidly, to zero, though he still sometimes recalled his intense desire to please me.

In today’s installment, J gives me a great gift of love.

The texts here come from two 1996 postings on Superbowl Sunday that year (about a visit to the gay baths in San Jose CA); the texts are as I posted them on AZBlogX on 10/3/10, with various bits of commentary from me today:

— AZBlogX on 10/3/10: “Superbowl Sunday (Part I)”

— AZBlogX, on 10/3/10: “Superbowl Sunday (Part II)”

Superbowl I.

somehow this year I know that the Superbowl (which I have figured out is a football game) is in Tempe, Arizona, at Sun Devil Stadium … I even know that the Steelers were involved, and suspect (on the basis of the name) that they are based in Pittsburgh.  I’ve already forgotten the other team (ok, just looked it up, the Dallas Cowboys)

… Jacques decides to watch the game. I am itchy for sex, which (long sad story) my sweet man has been unable to engage in for some time now [this is the profound ED noted in my 1/4/21 posting “Decline”, the onset of which I estimated in that posting to be the early 1990s — a dating now supported by this 1996 note that J had been unable to engage in sex for some years then], and I want to escape to the gay baths for, frankly, dirty debauchery, for play outside the envelope of this discouraging real world. [In this 1996 posting I castigate myself for being a selfish shit for abandoning J for an afternoon so that I can get the sexual pleasures he was no longer able to provide for me , though now in 2021 I’m inclined to be somewhat less hard on myself]. I tell Jacques (who’s still able to manage on his own at home for a while, though just barely) where I’m going [before J came apart, we continued some sexual practices established in the days before we came out and became a public couple, of cruising for sex with men in the subterranean worlds of gay sex — J finding tricks primarily in gyms, me finding tricks in t-rooms and the gay baths, the two of us sharing brief reports on our adventures] he wistfully kisses me, says he hopes I find a nice man, he’ll watch the game, I drive off .

The crucial part:

(NICE1) I tell Jacques … where I’m going, he wistfully kisses me, says he hopes I find a nice man

The easy bit: sharing brief reports on our sexual adventures with other men. Brief, so as not to be threatening to our relationship. It turned out that I seem not to understand how jealousy works, so J could tell me in great detail about his sexual adventures, and that merely entertained me and aroused me. J, however, was more insecure, so I had to edit what I told him fairly carefully (though he was fascinated by my postings on the complex social order of the gay baths and often asked me expand on my stories).

In fact, my visits to the baths came when I was in other cities for academic responsibilities or came during the summer, when J was off with his family in Maine, so these adventures of mine weren’t matters of my choosing to trick with other men — say, on a Sunday afternoon at the baths — when I could instead have enjoyed sex, or just a companionable time, with him. Even so, my reports were pretty carefully edited.

The hard bit: so NICE1 wouldn’t have happened at all if J had still been sexually competent. But he wasn’t any longer and, sadly, he was (still) entirely aware of that. I could have lied about where I was going — there was almost always work I could have been doing at Stanford  that I could have used as a cover story — but I chose instead to tell him the truth. which in unvarnished terms was that I was going off to get something he could no longer give me (this is the selfish shit part).

The remarkable thing is that he didn’t respond with hurt or anger, but with loving concern for me, with the wish that I would find someone who could provide me with what he no longer could. It’s possible that I was counting on that, expecting him to behave as the sort of loving partner who (recall) would decide to become (in effect) the world’s authority on how to please me by masturbating me. In this case, he was looking out for me by hoping I could find a guy who woud fuck me the way he knew I loved to be fucked — and who would also treat me with the kind of affectionate regard that J himself held for me. (No more sex, but we slept curled up around one another, enjoying the feel and scent of each other’s bodies.)

If I was counting on that (frankly remarkable) response from Jacques, well, then, I was one lucky bastard, because that’s what he gave me. A great gift of love.

Superbowl II. Meanwhile, back at the baths, I had just the sort of experience J was hoping for me: a long satisfying encounter with “Mark Ericson”, who fucked me repeatedly and beautifully; we were loud, dirty-talking faggots, both given to very publicly audible outbursts of sexual ecstasy, putting on a flagrant show for other men in the baths.

And then in the private sexual after-time, wrapped in each others arms under the sheets, talking in low voices only for one another, we exchanged life stories with one another — telling our stories of trying to fit our gay natures into an often hostile and threatening world.

First the sex, then the becoming acquainted.

Usually these after-sex moments are sketchy but nevertheless revealing; I have learned an enormous amount about the outlines of gay lives vastly different from my own, and used this information in my writing about sexuality. However, the sex with Mark established an extraordinary level of mutual trust, leading us both to pour out, at great length, the details of our lives and our feelings about our histories. I realize that this isn’t the sort of thing most people imagine happening at the gay baths, but there it is.

Oh yes, with the mutual trust comes the affectionate regard J was hoping I would find.

Then from the 1996 postings, Part II:

More aftermaths. Jacques actually watched the game. Well, tried to; the cable system went on the fritz at the end of the first quarter. He wasn’t able to figure out which team was which, though, and when I got home he asked me – long before he asked me where I’d been – what the colors of the two teams were. He was dismayed that I hadn’t a clue [I am basically a sports idiot]. And still amused that I was mildly ashamed to know the little bit I did, about team names and all that.

Eventually, he thought to ask where I’d been (he’d forgotten, of course; new things don’t stick in his mind very long). When I told him I’d been to the baths, he asked if I’d found someone nice, and I said yes, very nice (trying not to sound too appreciative), his name is Mark and he lives in San Francisco. He said he was glad, and kissed me, partly because he likes to kiss me, partly to reassure me that it was ok for me to have hooked up with another man, partly (I think) to find Mark’s taste in my mouth.

The crucial bit:

(NICE2) When I told him I’d been to the baths, he asked if I’d found someone nice, and I said yes, …  his name is Mark and he lives in San Francisco. He said he was glad, and kissed me, …  partly to reassure me that it was ok for me to have hooked up with another man

As I said, a great gift of love.

I then made a stir-fry dinner for J and me, and a little while afterwards we curled up in our bed together.

Soon thereafter, J’s memories for any of this were gone, and he was deviled by hallucinations and delusions. After spending one last summer in Maine in 1998 (during which I sold the Columbus OH house and moved full-time to Palo Alto), J returned to Palo Alto and soon afterwards I transferred him to a dementia care facility in Menlo Park. Then I no longer had a man, even a severely damaged one, in my bed. The scent of his body lasted a little while in our bed, and then literally disappeared in the wash.

3 Responses to “Superbowl Sunday”

  1. julianne taaffe Says:

    Such beautiful (and extremely colorful) stories of your life with Jacques. You were so lucky to have found each other.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Lucky indeed. We were wonderfully attuned to one another, and became partners at (I think) just the right time in our lives.

      Meanwhile, I’ve been musing on your choice of the wording “extremely colorful”. I don’t believe my writing has ever been called “colorful” before, much less “extremely colorful”.

  2. Another 1966 Superbowl moment | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] in the day I described in my 1/5/21 posting “Superbowl Sunday” — a report from the San Jose gay baths on Superbowl Sunday […]

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