Below is an excerpt from my upcoming book How I Got Turned Out that will be released in a few weeks, hopefully in time for the Christmas season. The book is a collection of five true to life stories about the transition and transformation of men into the world of homosexuality.
This book is one of those projects that just “happened.” It wasn’t planned or something I would have ever considered being involved with instead it was the result of a challenge presented to me during an appearance at a book club I was invited to; totally unaware I would be among an all gay audience. Long story short one of the members asked me how many books with homosexual themes had I written? I responded none. He challenged my response and ultimately I as well as the other guest authors were tasked with expanding our creative thought process to include gay themes or at least a few gay characters into our future work.
I explained to the book club members the reasons (aka the excuses) I could not write gay novels which are described in my book but my compromise was that I would compose a book based on the lives of the men who were present that day. As also explained in the book, this project was more of a learning vehicle for me than it was a writing process. As a straight male, some would go as far as to call me a homophobic (I’ve since been relieved of that inhibition-read confessions of a homophobic)-I just didn’t understand homosexuality. I was so bad that during the book social I was nervous being in the presence of a room full of gay men and I was even more uncomfortable listening to the graphic stories of the men who eventually participated in this project. But the experience turned out to be valuable because I now understand that there are many factors that are involved in a man’s decision to pursue a homosexual lifestyle and it’s not based on his desire to have sex with another man (how misinformed and out of touch was I). It could be genetically prompted (which I was a life-long disbeliever of) or it could be the result of a lack of love and attention from a male (father/father figure) during his adolescent years thus forcing him to seek what he was missing in another man. Some men are drawn into a homosexual lifestyle because it offered a means of acceptance or it provided protection. Of course we know that sexual abuse can be a precursor and surely the environment that a person grows up in is relative.
One last note, my initial involvement in the composition of this book was to simply find out what are some of the events that happen throughout the course of a man’s life that would lead him to commit a homosexual act. That’s the part I could not comprehend; I felt that in order for me to change my views and opinions about homosexuality I needed to get a clear understanding on what actually forces a man to seek companionship with another man. Once that was accomplished, the publishing of the book became critical because I felt it was necessary for other narrow-minded people like myself to gain the same insight I was privy to which hopefully would eliminate or at least reduce some of the prejudices and stereotypes many people carry towards gays and lesbians. In return the book would become a vehicle to initiate discussions between those needing to open up about their identity and those preventing them from opening up (the father who the male knows will disapprove of his lifestyle, members of the church or closed-minded co-workers and friends, etc.). Slowly, the book’s purpose expanded even more; I felt it would be a great resource for those who are fighting the internal conflict of accepting that they are gay because it would give them something to relate to via the experiences of those in the book. It was explained to me that accepting and revealing who you are (coming out of the closet) is one of the hardest things to do because it carries with it a double-edged sword. On one hand it’s the first step in the acknowledgement of a person’s lifestyle which helps to eliminate one less burden a gay man has to deal with but at the same time it opens up the window to the pressure associated with being an open gay man (discrimination, harassment, bullying and abuse-physical and verbal). All and all the book benefits a wide audience and I’m especially appreciative for the journey each man took me on, not just the five men in the book but all who participated in the project. Their journey helped me with my growth and my reception and acceptance of individuals who live a nontraditional lifestyle.
Please note, the book and this excerpt is for all to enjoy but hopefully those who are adolescents will read the book and gain strength, knowledge or a bit of wisdom from the information given by the five presenters. I read that suicide among gay and lesbian teens is almost 70 percent higher than it is for straight boys and girls because they are facing other issues such as identity suppression and feeling misunderstood among the other factors they are challenged with. So I hope that this book is a valuable resource to them. Also, a portion of the proceeds from the book will go towards programs in the Baltimore\D.C. area that provides help and support for gay and lesbian teens.
The following is the first of three excerpts from David’s story as told to me.
David’s testimony is unique because it presents the reader with a realistic situation that every homosexual man has to address: the moment he realized he had an attraction to another man and what to do from that point forward. David had an affinity for men at a very young age but I’m not sure if he realized those feelings were linked to homosexuality as opposed to what he thought was admiration.
But what makes David’s story so interesting are the subplots: his willingness to leave his hometown and move to the District of Columbia without a clue as to what he would do to survive and his compromising of his integrity and values for the chance to live a life among the wealthy and powerful. But most of all, his story also gives a quick glimpse into the inner workings of the sexual underworld that controls the political structure of our Nation’s Capital and those who run it.
Interesting enough, David still appears to be searching for acceptance into the exclusive aristocratic society that Washington D.C. has to offer despite being engaged to a wealthy, well-established and connected real estate developer. But until he does achieve that great feat, his material possessions will suffice for what he is lacking socially as evidenced by his need for me to know that he was wearing a tailored suit and shirt with complimenting hand sewn Italian shoes and that he owns a Mercedes that he is contemplating trading in because it’s already two years old. He went on for nearly 30 minutes about his to-do list that included planning his multiple vacations and looking for a winter home in South America. But what really had him in a flux was whether or not he really wanted to travel to England to get a purebred English Bulldog. Silly me, I’m just an Author but I thought you could find a purebred dog with papers right here in the US of A.
Again enjoy David’s story.
I came to the District of Columbia in 2005 hailing from the great state of New York. Unfortunately I’m not from one of the five boroughs that supposedly defines what New York is all about; rather I’m from a small town called Poughkeepsie. I was an only child so my parents would send me to the Hamptons during my summer vacation to stay with my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Syd. They said it was a great opportunity for me to spend some time with my cousins Jenna and Bernie but the truth is that my parents sent me away so they didn’t have to bother with me. My presence meant I would interfere with their alone time, and worse, if I was home with them they would have to show me some attention. I loved the Hamptons because it was the epitome of wealth, but more than anything I enjoyed being around my Uncle Syd. He was a sharp dressed, charismatic, straight forward, right to the point type of man. Kinda fit the image of an old school mobster. As the saying goes, he ran a tight ship. He spoke with a heavy southern drawl although he said he was born and raised in New York his entire life-I could only take his word for it. He was an early riser who was normally out of the house by 7 a.m. As I got older I made sure I was up just as early as he was so we could spend some alone time together; breakfast was the only time he was willing to give me his undivided attention. Depending on the weather, he would eat his breakfast either in the sun room or on the deck while reading the Wall Street Journal and in the background, his small antique looking radio played political talk shows. He would have a cup of steaming hot coffee sitting in front of him that remained untouched until he finished his last bite of food, by then the temperature would be just right. He refused to take even a small sip claiming it would mask the essence of the taste of the fresh fruit and the rest of his meal. His favorite saying was ‘only a moron would drink anything but water while enjoying delectable food.’ Also on the table would be a pen and two index cards-a blank one and the one from the previous day that had his notes and other information on it.
I loved the time the two of us spent together because he would engage me in conversation as if I were a grown man. Often he would read an article from the newspaper, have me read the same article and then we would share our opinions which turned into a mini square off. Or we would listen to something on the radio and then have some light-hearted conversation about it.
There was a cook and a housekeeper on the premises but they were prohibited from doing certain duties when he was present. Instead he wanted my Aunt to be at his beck and call and to give him her undivided attention. He must have figured it was the least she could do before she headed to the city to frivolously spend his money. So he kept her as busy as he could for the few hours he was home each day. It wasn’t until my Aunt cleared the table before he took his first long savory sip of coffee. Then he began working on his index cards; he would cross off a few things that were on the old card and put the leftover task on the new one and he also jotted down other ideas as they popped into his brain. With all the things scribbled on his card he would never have more than 5 goals written down. He knew it wasn’t humanly possible to accomplish each goal in one day but the purpose of the index card was to serve as a daily reminder of the goals. To constantly see them was the key, not think about them, not to talk about them but to look at them. From that, you got a real visual of your progress or lack thereof. He constantly reminded me that success comes with the effort in pursuing your goals not necessarily with the outcome.
With all the talking we would do and the advice he gave me, he prefaced most conversations by saying if I were to really be successful I must take pride in what I do regardless of what it is I’m doing, to always conduct myself as a man and more importantly to be accountable for what hangs below my belt because the asset between my legs is one of the most prized possessions most men overlook. He felt like many men diminished the value of their penis by their barbaric actions. He would go off on a rant about men in the city who can barely afford to take care of themselves but are responsible for making five or six kids who are deserving of a decent standard of living but live anything but that. He was adamant on a man being able to provide for himself and his family.
It was the passion, reverence and brutal honesty Uncle Syd spoke with that intrigued me. I guess I was always fascinated by men of power especially those who were great communicators. There is something unique about a man who has the ability to captivate and inspire people by his words and his persona. Uncle Syd could have been an outstanding politician. His ability to dissect and analyze complex situations and relay his message to the comprehension level of his audience was remarkable. Not to mention he was persuasive. My interest in politics and people with power was evident from an early age but grew stronger as I got older. I loved to watch debates between Presidential candidates and I lived for the State of the Union Address and press conferences by Governors and Mayors. This might be crazy but when there were State of Emergencies due to natural disasters or national security threats and a government official would be in front of the camera giving a calm and reassuring message to the public-nothing was more entrancing. I would even listen to military men give speeches during Veterans and Memorial Day. If I wasn’t watching a political station on cable, I was guaranteed to be watching court television. Lawyers had a style all of their own. The way they presented themselves many times outweighed the content of what they were saying. I don’t think I cared about the facts related to the cases, I was more interested in the manner in which the facts were delivered. I would have given anything to see Johnnie Cochran live in a courtroom.
Despite not being a Democrat, I’ve always admired Bill Clinton because he was a master of communicating. I’m not a Rush Limbaugh supporter but he is a person who has attracted a large following in part because of his effective way of disseminating his ideas. It’s not the classical approach but it works, his massive following is proof of that. On the other hand Jimmy Carter who is a great person and who still does a lot of great things for humanity and for this country is not a great communicator in my opinion. Maybe it’s his voice or his delivery style which are some of the small variables that goes into making a person a great deliverer of information that in my opinion he lacks. In every speaker, I would look for those small idiosyncrasies making him distinct such as; the amount of time paused between his sentences, the way he pointed his fingers or moved his hands when he talked, his posture, his body language, the way that he smiled and the tone of his voice. Some men can make it appear as if they are talking directly to you while some appear to be talking at you.
Once breakfast was over, Uncle Syd would head to the bedroom, put on a white shirt, a solid colored tie, grab his suit coat and passionately kiss my Aunt who would be lingering around the door that led to the garage before he headed to the city. That was another one of her assigned duties, to make sure he was given a kiss goodbye when he left for the day and a welcome home kiss when he returned. There were a few times when I would catch him squeezing her buns while they embraced. It was obvious he loved her dearly.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but one thing was for certain, I had to get out of Poughkeepsie and get to a place where politics and power was the order for the day. I was reassured of that when our high school offered a trip to Washington D.C. The highlight of the day is when we visited the Capitol and the Senate Office Building. I was inches away from some of the same lawmakers who were regulars on CNN, Meet the Press and various political talk shows. We personally had a chance to meet the representatives from our state and a few other members gave us 3 or 4 minutes of their time before an assistant would shuttle them off to their next appointment. Those men had an heir about them television absolutely did not capture. Their confidence and poise was evident yet what really blew me away is how every one of them were dressed in a manner that exuded power. It was late May and the temperature was extremely hot not to mention the humidity was outrageous but everyone we saw was wearing a heavy starched white shirt and a dark suit just like Uncle Syd and amazingly each one of them were calm, cool and collected as they walked through the building corridors or along the city streets.
Our class was introduced to college students who were serving as interns to members of Congress. The official Washingtonian term was “Interning on the Hill.” They seemed to enjoy the concept of themselves not having any power but being able to work for someone who did. I said to my best friend, “someday I will be living in D.C.”
Deeply inspired by my trip, I went into my Senior year with a completely different mindset. I changed my persona to mirror that of my Uncle and those who I encountered during my D.C. trip. The 15 hours or so I worked each week helped to pay for my second-hand dress clothes I started buying from the Goodwill store and yard sales. I was taking my shirts to the cleaners to get a heavy starched look-my days of wearing t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops were over. I was getting a haircut every 2 weeks and not just whenever I felt like having one of my friends experiment with giving me a new hair style. I ran for class president, not because I thought I could win but it was my first attempt in doing something with my life-I came in 4th out of 4 candidates. That was one of the first goals I had on my index card I was now using. I tried to get involved in as many school programs as I could and as the moderator of the trip suggested I tried to improve my grades but it was a little too late to make a difference with my GPA.
I took the SAT three times, all of my results were atrocious, a better word might be embarrassing. I was hoping if I at least did well on my SAT, those scores would carry more weight than my grades. My parents paid for two college applications and the rest were up to me. They never went to college but were intelligent enough to recognize that writing checks to Ivy League Schools for a boy who had a C average and ranked almost at the bottom of the percentile on his SAT wasn’t the smartest use of their money. I sent of a total of 9 application packages and waited for the news.
Yale was the first to respond, silly me, I just knew it was a congratulation letter; instead it was the first school to say no thanks. Part of my regrets as a man now is not being adequately prepared for the world as a kid. Not solely blaming my parents, they didn’t know any better, but in my honest judgment it was the town itself that didn’t prepare its residents for life outside of Poughkeepsie-just my opinion. The trip to D.C. for those few hours gave me a true sense of what the world had to offer. I now know there are hundreds of thousands of kids with damn near perfect SAT scores and nearly perfect GPA’s who are fighting for the opportunity to get one of the limited seats offered by a prestigious university but back then I was clueless. So with my hopes high and adrenaline running, I opened my letter-my parents listened as I read outloud: we thank you for taking the opportunity to apply to our university but regrettably we …………. Good luck.
Talk about a feeling of emptiness and to add insult to injury, neither of my parents had a sense of empathy for me at the dinner table. They enjoyed the pork chops and gravy as if everything was alright; they couldn’t understand why I didn’t have an appetite. I sat and stared at them in disbelief as they laughed and snickered about their day and who did what at the warehouse and the supermarket. Meanwhile I’m feeling like my life was sinking fast yet all they could offer was for me to ‘keep trying son.’ What the hell, this wasn’t golf or me practicing free throw shots. You don’t just keep trying. It’s not something you have endless opportunities to do. You don’t get the rejection letter, resubmit another application to the same school and hope they didn’t remember the last one because they don’t have your information on file that says denied and after the 10th application you sent them they will say, ok we feel sorry for the lad, he really wants to go to our university, let’s give him a chance.
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I had a steady girlfriend who convinced me we should get an apartment together. Why not, anything to get out my parent’s house but I went from shit to shittier. I left two narcissistic people whose life evolved around Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune to live with a woman who was immature, selfish, had very low self-esteem and absolutely no ambition. She was someone who thought the “ditzier” she was the more appealing she was. Her only purpose in life was to get enough money to go to bingo on Tuesdays and to the bars starting on Thursday nights. I don’t think we had one decent conversation during our relationship. The sex got old quickly; you just couldn’t imagine the turnoff caused by someone who made stupid comments during an intimate moment. Little things like, ‘did you feed the cat’ or ‘is there any peanut butter left’ will absolutely ruin the mood just about every time. Needless to say, the relationship wasn’t a healthy one.
For the next 3 years, I lived a miserable life. Each day started with me looking at my index card, at the top of my list was relocating to D.C. Mentally it’s debilitating to re-write the same goals on a new index card day after day and not have any progress. It appeared the reality of me achieving my number 1 goal was all but a dream. I thought about Uncle Syd and what he would say to me if he was aware I haven’t made any attempts towards obtaining a life goal. Uncle Syd always said, success comes to those who pursue it not those who wait on it.
I felt a mental meltdown coming on so I went to see my Aunt and Uncle. The real purpose was to see Uncle Syd; Aunt Phyllis and I never had much interaction. I needed to pick his brain and get his input on some things I had been struggling with.
That weekend I had my first taste of Scotch. I wasn’t 21 but Uncle Syd was a firm believer that a number didn’t determine whether you were ready to drink or not, but it was the level of maturity that determined if a person was ready for any of the rules or policies set forth by society. Amazingly, he was able to drink, watch television and still hold a conversation without missing a beat with either one. That weekend would be the last time I would see Uncle Sydney ever in person. He gave me the confirmation to follow my dreams and move to Washington. He put it as forthright as it could come-‘if I didn’t have anything holding me back then what was I waiting for!’
Over the next several months I worked on getting myself prepared for my big departure. My last day in Poughkeepsie, strangely enough was a Wednesday, I figured it would be better to arrive in D.C. during the week giving me a day or two to get my resumes circulated right away. That might have been the rainiest day I can remember, I was hoping it wasn’t an omen for what awaited me. I went to work with my bags ready and as soon as my shift was over, I headed to the bank to cash my check, I long since cancelled direct deposit once I decided I had to leave, and put every penny of it in my pocket. I even withdrew what I thought was rightfully mine out of our joint account-basically everything. I’m sure the first thing Amanda would do when she found out I was gone would be to head to the bank and take all that was available-heaven forbid she miss Bingo. I caught a cab to the bus station and got a one way ticket to D.C.
I woke-up to the bus driver saying welcome to D.C. everybody. We were on Route 50 which turns into New York Ave. I was shocked to see so many trees lining the highway leading into the city. I didn’t notice them during the field trip. We passed a run-down Days-Inn hotel and a Checkers restaurant on the right and as we passed through the intersection of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue, there was a little green establishment on the left that could have been a fast food carry out establishment in its past life but was a gathering point for half-naked ladies standing outside. I would later find out it was a popular strip club. For some reason, I never pictured D.C. as having strip clubs nor all of the run down store front properties and used car lots we were passing by. Regardless of its title as the Nation’s Capital and despite the powerful people who control the city I totally forgot about who the laws and policies are actually for: the permanent residents as well as those temporarily calling D.C. their home for several months out of the year , the constituents and visitors. I would have never guessed that the deplorable conditions that seemed to have been around for years would be allowed considering all of the resources the city possesses.
My arrival at my new living quarters was mortifying. Needless to say, I don’t use Craigslist anymore. The next morning I walked over to the nearest bus stop on 14th street, a few blocks from the house. I knew I needed to get to Independence or Pennsylvania Avenue. I remembered that those two streets housed many of the federal buildings. I envisioned the bus ride being filled with people laughing and talking amongst each other; discussing politics or conversing about the rich history of the city or just having an overall interaction that was vibrant and meaningful. It never happened. People were into their own world: listening to whatever through their headphones or checking PDA devices and it seemed like everybody was sipping coffee. All I wanted was for someone to say hello, good morning. Welcome to the Nation’s Capital-anything.
In less than 20 minutes I was at my destination ready to pursue my dreams. Before I got off the bus, I looked at my index card, said a prayer and just as my feet hit the sidewalk I yelled out, gimme what you got D.C. I’m ready for you. I stood at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th street totally motionless. The sense of nostalgia derived by the activity going on around me was incredible. In New York City, it’s the bright lights, the glitz and the glamour and the fast pace of the “know it alls” who are constantly on the move that provides the euphoric feeling making people from all around the world want to visit. The same feeling held true for me as I stood among the fashionably dressed people who were sipping lattes and responding to emails and text messages while walking without looking and crossing the street not caring if a car was potentially going to hit them-I must admit D.C. is a very pedestrian friendly city. And then the true moment of inspiration swept over me, I looked down the street and as clear as day, way off into the horizon was the Capitol building. To me it’s the equivalent of the statue of Liberty and the symbol of hope it carries.
My feeling of hope was quickly taken away when I entered a Federal building hoping to look for job openings posted on the wall as it was done back home. The guards stopped me in my tracks and told me that I had to apply online for a federal job and that the days of going to the HR department of any agency and looking for a job were abolished 25 years ago.
What was I going to do?
Feeling rejected and like a piece of crap I made my way up 7th street and settled into a coffee shop. In D.C. they are called cafes and they are everywhere. Nearly all of them serve as a place where people come in to use the free wi-fi services more than they come in to patronize the establishment. I ordered something cheap and did like those around me-looked and acted occupied. It didn’t take long before I was forced into a conversation with a high-strung, can’t keep still type of guy who without invitation sat across from me. He was wearing a cyclist suit; the black spandex pants with a mesh shirt and those funny little cycling shoes-a very popular outfit in the District. In between him playing with his electronic devices he inquired about my life while he told me about his as a Washingtonian. He had been living in the District for about 17 years and had been employed here and there but was now a courier. He told me the first thing I should do is get a bike. It was a convenient way to get around town and it’s faster than the bus. Second he told me where to hang out. I was told of the different locations to go depending on what side of town I was on and what my purpose was. There were some standard partying areas for guys my age such as; Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, certain sections of K Street, areas in the Northwest section of the City and Barracks Row. But most of all, he gave me the rundown for socializing based on my needs: where to go and what to do if I wanted to get laid, buy some drugs, or simply be part of a crowd where people with a pocket full of money gathered.
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One morning I was headed to Union Station to follow-up with a guy I met at a bar who claimed to have an inside lead for me with the D.C. Public School System. I now had the official look of a D.C. Trekie: I was traveling with my laptop, my phone in hand and my backpack filled with the few clothes not taken from me by my housemates. I blended in with all of the others who had some sort of bag they were carrying or dragging with them as part of their daily commute.
I was standing on the platform reading one of the free newspapers they pass out to the morning commuters. I was laughing uncontrollably because the content of the information was literally yesterday’s news at best. How was this tolerated in the Nation’s Capital? Maybe I was accustomed to the NY Post and receiving relevant and timely news. I get it that most of the readers have the capacity to receive news and events via their phones or electronic devices but my thought was why put the effort into printing useless information. Maybe reading that paper is something nobody can really explain but has become one of those weird and quirky geographical traditions people continue with for no good reason or it might be one of those cleverly concocted plans by some think-tanks who realized the paper is some type of calming mechanism for the commuters when the train is regularly delayed or overcrowded etc., more than it is a relevant source of news.
A man standing next to me asked what was so funny? I told him nothing in particular just the irrelevance of the information I was reading. He laughed. He asked how new was I to the District? He too had a paper in his hand. Jokingly he gave me 6 months before I would be lulled into the routine.
While waiting on the platform, we engaged in some small talk. He was a very charismatic gentleman who was sharply dressed in a blue and white Sears sucker suit with a pair of white suede hush puppies and orange argyle socks. He asked what agency I worked for? A standard first questions asked in D.C
I was honest and told him I was out of work and was desperately looking.
He asked what type of work was I interested in?
I was like as long as I get a paycheck at the end of the week, it didn’t matter what I did.
He demanded I make some rounds with him and he wasn’t taking no for an answer-he guaranteed our time together would be well worth it. What did I have to lose! I would get in contact with the guy from the bar later in the day or tomorrow. We transferred to the Red line and entered a building called Judiciary Square by the locals. He introduced me to a few key people before he sent me to the HR department while he went into a meeting.
About an hour later he came back to get me and offered to buy me lunch. That’s when he made a key phone call. Be mindful I could only hear his side of the conversation; the flow seemed a little odd but how was I to judge the content of what was being said with hearing only 50 percent of the conversation. He was looking me over as he explained to the person on the other end how I had all the right credentials required to fill one of his positions. He described my height, my weight, my appearance, how well I was groomed and then he said, I wasn’t from the area.
Richard and I never discussed my level of education nor did we go into detail about my work history so I was a little confused on how he could judge my credentials. I could only assume he was talking about my positive attitude, my willingness to work, my demeanor; you know all of the intangibles he might have picked up on during our short time together. The call ended with him assuring the person on the other end he would bring me to the upcoming event.
A few weeks later Richard invited me to an affair he promised would be beneficial to my existence as a rookie to the District, it was the type of gathering that could send me to the next level or could send me back home to New York depending on how well I was received.
I was nervous the entire morning of the party. A million things were running through my mind: for starters where was I going to live in a few more weeks, how much longer could I continue to live the way I was, relying on happy hours as a source for getting food. Often times, chips and salsa would be my only meal for the day. What would it be like to be homeless? Was I cursed? How would I be received at the party? Who would I talk to or about?
Richard picked me up in a Range Rover and we headed to the Northwest section of the City. I expected him to be one of those guys deeply concerned about the environment and was all about leaving his green fingerprint whenever he could. So a gas guzzling Rover was the last thing I expected to see. We didn’t say much on the ride over instead we listened to music ranging from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles to the Beach Boys-neither one of us could hold a note, we sounded like two yelping dogs. We ended up in an area near St. Johns College High School. The house was just off of Oregon Avenue. To this day I still can’t believe that area is considered Washington D.C. and not Maryland. It’s a suburban area within city limits; very Hampton like minus the water.
The cars lined up on the streets were indicative of who was going to be inside. It made the walk to the house even more intimidating. I was probably at the point where I was drenched in sweat from being nervous. The house we headed to had glass stretching across the entire front of it so I could see the people laughing and interacting as we approached.
During the walk, Richard gave me some words of wisdom: if asked if you are working, respond by saying you are transitioning and do not elaborate. If they follow-up and ask what do you do, I was instructed to keep my answers generic by using terms such as I work in Finance or Real Estate or something broad. He told me not to limit myself because many of the people attending the party are in a position to place me not necessarily where my skill set can be utilized but where there is an opportunity available and normally the compensation is well worth whatever they throw your way. But with all of his advice, he emphasized and re-emphasized under no circumstances was I to ask for a job.
We made a few rounds before the moment of truth approached. I was going to be on my own. Richard was about to leave me and do his own thing. He walked me over to the bar so he could get a refill and that’s where he left me. He reminded me of what we discussed on the walk over, especially the part about asking for a job.
I spotted a few other guys looking as uncomfortable as I did and eased into their space. We struck up light conversation based on our level of interest and knowledge-YouTube videos, the latest celebrity news and other trivial social events. We made our home in a little corner isolated from the main flow of traffic and commotion. Ironically we made sure we spoke in a whisper because we didn’t want to expose to others what we were talking about. Slowly other people came over to us and tried to get into our conversation but we learned to disassemble and reconvene elsewhere. That night I learned that three or more people talking will attract others, especially if the conversation appears to be exclusive.
Many who popped in and out of our circle asked a routine question to us over the course of the evening: “business or pleasure?” Richard didn’t brief me on that so I figured it was appropriate to say business. After all, I was there trying to get a job.
A few hours into the party and the scene started to change. More of a relaxed social atmosphere began to develop. Business conversations and discussions about politics were put on the back burner and talks about sports and other light-hearted topics took over. Eventually the two guys who I was talking to, who were also looking for a job, were escorted elsewhere. I made my way back to the bar and held a conversation with the bartender.
Richard returned with a guy named Douglas. No introductions were exchanged instead Richard went straight to the point and asked him what he thought about me. The guy looked me over and smiled.
Douglas wasted no time making his presence known. He presented himself as if he was the gift to mankind. He stated he was a very powerful man with many connections and could improve my lifestyle with one phone call.
He asked did I need a job? While I was trying to process all of the information Richard briefed me on before I gave my answer, Douglas grabbed and held my crotch. No one else could see what was going on except for Richard because of the way we were situated. Douglas and Richard were facing me, positioned so they were facing the bar blocking the view of anyone behind them. It wasn’t like he grabbed me and immediately let go, his hand stayed there while he asked me how soon did I want to start working?
Talk about uncomfortable, humiliating might be a better word. When he finally let go, he asked if I was enjoying myself as if what he just did was normal. What an introduction. Before he left to finish mingling he made it perfectly clear that under no conditions was I to leave with anyone else or entertain any other job offers.
The night came to an end and it was worked out I would be leaving with Douglas and not Richard. Richard gave me a quick briefing: told me Douglas was going to basically use the time spent in the car as a chance to get to know me and to give me an informal interview and if all goes well I should be offered a job by Monday. He winked at me and told me everything would be ok. He also said what happened earlier was Douglas’ special little way of being friendly and I shouldn’t take it personally, he only does it to people he has an interest in.
The ride was far from an interview but more like an interrogation. He wanted to know if I had any kids, if I was planning to get married, my thoughts on abortion, gay rights and a host of other questions that had nothing to do with getting a job.
We never made it to my house, instead Douglas insisted we make a few stops in the Adams Morgan area. I was introduced to some guys in my age range, the oldest might have been 25 and that’s stretching it. They did several rounds of shots and downed a few beers before he picked up the tab and gave them all intimate goodbye hugs.
I was informed that we would be making a quick stop at his house-I would be given some paperwork needed for Monday. I was a little apprehensive at first but how bad could he be if all the guys in the bar liked him, plus he was a Council member-he had to have a certain level of decency about him. Looking back, I could have waited until the morning to meet with him but when you are weighing the consequences of only having a few dollars left to your name and literally days left on the lease against securing a decent job; the decision was easy compared to what was at stake.
Inside his condo which is his second residence-his primary house is a gorgeous Victorian in the Capitol Hill area, were guys just hanging out. It might have been about 4 or 5 of them lounging around and drinking and making the most of it. Everyone was friendly, almost too friendly.
Then the unthinkable happened. Things suddenly took a turn without any type of warning.
Stayed tuned for part two of the three part series of David’s story