I knew I was gay from when I was a boy at the tender age of eight with my first crush on my teacher, Mr. Barton. Mr. Barton was lovely, just newly qualified so about 22, and athletic. On gym days, he’d dress in his tight white shorts and t-shirt, pull on his trainers and go out to rally our unenthusiastic class. His toned, muscular legs were covered in a dark matting of hair. My attention was always diverted watching those legs move, up and down, side to side, the hairs reshaped around the calf and thigh muscles. I wasn’t particularly sporty, but this was made worse being in Mr. Barton’s presence. I could never catch balls or run in a straight line, as I couldn’t focus on anything but his legs. In class, my attention was then firmly fixed on his face. He had a marvelous thick beard with a moustache that curled gently to the sides. I was intrigued in how it moved when he spoke and wished I could run my hands through the rough hair on his cheeks and play with the ends of his moustache as I did with the tassels on my grandmother’s sofa in her best room; but I never did. As an eight-year-old, you wouldn’t, but my fantasy of being with a bearded and hairy man started at that precise point. Being in a family of clean-shaven men who were pretty much hairless, my attention was always diverted when I came into contact with a hirsute member of the male variety.
Being a teenager in the 1980s was a fun period: Parents were out in search of more money, better spouses, more extravagant cars, luxury homes with all the latest gadgets and through a natural process, we had access to more things and had more time to ourselves without parental supervision. Subsequently, I was very precocious and acted grown up before my time, and so did my friends, all of us trying to outdo each other. Most of my peer group became sexually active from the ripe old age of thirteen; we all experimented with each other, in every which way. I started my sex life with girls, but moved swiftly onto boys. But the mystique of sex was broken. I soon realized that there isn’t any angst with sex, especially when you are young and good-looking. Then I felt liberated and embarked on my new found power. I was the boy next door in your stereotypical television show for an ideal teenager: no problem of bad skin, straight white teeth and a hairstyle that was both classically preppy and yet trendy for the time. I embarked on my journey to find a Mr. Barton figure to follow through my fantasy with. The members of my social group were hair-less; you don’t get many bearded teenagers. Aiming for a teacher would be inappropriate and, although I had the opportunity, I chose not to. Not due to a moral decision, no, not at all. This was the 1980s; morals didn’t come back into vogue until the 1990s.
My attentions were diverted to my best friend’s father, William Stone, a rugged forty-something bear of a man. He had a light Scottish accent, a trimmed full beard and a furry body—not as much as Mr. Barton, but acceptable. I was 17, school athlete, the swim team champion, my best friend Mark was a shy blond boy, not vastly academic and not sporty, but we’d befriended each other at the age of 11 and he fitted into our social group. Our friendship could have been more, but I didn’t sleep with Mark. He had a statutory girlfriend at school, the local vicar’s only daughter who didn’t believe in drinking, alcohol or sex before marriage. Mark didn’t feel left out of the sexual hi-jinx. He eventually lost his virginity at the age of 24 to a guy and he’s still with him 14 years later. It took me longer to find the forever man.
Anyway, I set my sights on the straightest chap you could imagine. This was a man who could rebuild a car engine, re-roofed his house, was a senior manager for IBM, a family man with a wife of 20 something years. Their family consisted of two sons, Mark and Adam, both with similar blond looks but Adam was more outgoing and academic, younger version of Mark. They even had the Volvo Estate, Labrador and a sociable cat.
I had a busy life with various school and sports activities, but I always gravitated to their family home. My mother was in-between husbands so I enjoyed feeling part of their family atmosphere, having William to look at was equally pleasurable. I just had to plan an opportunity to make my move. How could I fulfill my fantasy with such a straight-acting and -looking guy? But I was full of confidence: a guy who’d just got his driving license and a snazzy convertible car (part of the divorce settlement from my mother’s second husband). To convert him to a bit of guy-on-guy action wasn’t a problem in my eyes; him being straight didn’t bother me. Mark was going through his long angst-ridden period with his parents and hated them for pretty much everything. This allowed me to be the ideal perfect son and well liked by William. They lived in this massive monster of a property, a fixer-upper of a house. They had a five-year plan when they bought it over 10 years ago and it still looked like a building site. I loved it, lots of nooks and crannies, loads of original features, fireplaces and their eclectic furniture of antiques and hand-me-downs made it a fabulous home. Mark was envious of my streamlined and modern home, clutter-free and everything new and unused. I spent very little time at my home in preference to his, but he relished curling up on the uncomfortable but stylish sofa listening to my mother’s stereo playing CDs. He hated his parents’ vinyl collection with its vast array of 1970s music. I loved it: the images on the covers and the crackle as the record player needle first made contact to the large black discs. Mark loved seeing his reflection in the small circular discs of my mother’s “must have” latest chart hits. I often wished Mark and I could switch places, but fantasizing about shagging your father is very wrong; it’s the moment in a film where dueling banjos come into play.
Did I feel wrong about planning my move on his father? Did I worry that I would be splitting up a family? I was a hormonal driven teenager that already had offers from colleges and his next few years were sorted. So, no, I didn’t. My only focus was to have my long desired fantasy fulfilled; consequences never entered my mind.
How did I plan my move? Mark was off with the band—he played the trombone with the school orchestra—playing in support of the football team his brother was on. I knew his mum did yoga lessons, then swimming followed by the local ladies that lunched. So I had three, maybe four hours to fulfill my fantasy.
I chose my outfit carefully the night before: some dark blue Levis 501, a wide leather belt with a large silver buckle with “BOY” in capital letters emblazoned across the front. I bought it from a SoHo shop when I went on a school trip to the city. It had cost a month’s allowance, but I’d seen it in some pop music magazines and one of the gay magazines in the tinted windowed newsagents on a back street in town. I had a white shirt with press-stud buttons, something I could pull off quickly. I wore my leather deck shoes with no socks. Everything was easy to pull off. The buttons on the 501 were a bit tricky but I’d thought about that and decided against underwear.
I’d not really thought how I was going to approach the situation, I was just focused in getting him, the piece of meat. Converting my schoolmates to a bit of one-on-one action had been easy. But this was the mother load; this was a fantasy that was moments to being fulfilled. The summers’ day in 1989 was warm and bright, the precursor to what would be a heat wave, so the roof was permanently down on my car. I’d become addicted to playing the tape of Pet Shop Boys so much so I’d had to get it replaced as the first one became worn out. And with the melancholic electronic orchestration pumping out of my car speakers, I headed off to my fantasy.
I arrived at the house, pulling my car into my usual parking slot. Mark’s banger of a car was sitting in its usual puddle of oil so my gleaming white convertible outshone the rusty neighbor. William walked up the drive, wiping his oily hand on an equally grubby cloth, wearing boots and cut off jeans; they were more like hot pants and showed off his muscular thighs. The singlet he was wearing highlighted his wide shoulders with the tuft of wiry hair bursting forth like heather on a mountain. On his head was a welding helmet with the tinted visor down. The whole workman look was working for me. I had an immediate erection pulling against the buttons of my Levis. I smiled and switched the engine off.
I got out of my car ready to pounce. He lifted his visor up and my throbbing erection immediately disappeared.
“Mark’s off with the orchestra, he won’t be back until late,” he explained, smiling.
I stood dumbfounded, speechless. He looked at me and I stared back, eventually finding my words. “Your beard.” I pointed like a child in a toy store at his face.
He stroked his clean-shaven face. “Ah, yes. It’s been some time since I’ve seen my face, but there was too much gray so it came off this morning.”
I made my excuses and left with my fantasy shattered.
I spent that summer occupying myself with school friends.
I do wonder if I’d have acted sooner with William what would have happened. I doubt I would have been disappointed, or him for that matter. The precociousness never really left me, even as an adult. However, that moment taught me to act now rather than over plan.
I did eventually fulfill my fantasy. But that’s another story.