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The Buddy Booth scene, like gay bath house craze of the 1970’s, has fallen ill to some sort of unseen illness. A type of mass depression has overridden these caves of sort; gay men, like cave men during the ice age, must move to warmer environments if the species is to survive.

It seemed the recession of 2009 was the cause of the emotional crisis of these underground sissy hot-spots, or perhaps the threat of being posted on social media, performing oral sex acts in a hole cut in plywood, was the cause of the loss of popularity within these New York City porn shops.

Whatever the cause of this exodus from a once hot gay Eden, the fact is, these places have been overridden by insatiable bottoms who now have become very territorial and will fight one another, tooth-and-nail, over any half masculine, straight- appearing dude who stumbles into these abysses, appearing to be the one who prefers to have his penis sucked upon.

One will find more action in Times Square with the seedy comic book characters who demand payment from tourists for posing in a photograph.  

Bill Miller drank beer like a wide-mouthed bass when he fished in the Juniata River. Six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon were secured with trout and catfish on a stringer and kept cool in the creek. He tossed his catch back into the river, after retrieving each new beverage, as a woman laundering there, generations before, may have tossed a pair of overalls or a simple dress made from sackcloth. 

Gradually, the load decreased in weight due to consumed cans of beer and a lack of biting fish. The sun was hot. The river drained his hope, but the beer was good and one could still throw the empty cans in the weed patch behind a fallen maple tree. 

Bill Miller was raised along the murky waters of the Juniata. He knew every bend and rapid. His fisher- heart remembered what it was like during the Depression when, with this muddy creek, his family was fed like multitudes of Christ, nourished by a simple act of faith– praying with line and good bait. 

There was no sense praying for the fish bite now. Even if Jesus showed up along the crick and told Bill to “cast your line over there”, he probably would not, because fishing had now become a hobby. It seemed Jesus was dead in America anyway, and besides, Bill’s family got food stamps and kids back then did not eat fish from the Juniata River, despite what the good book had to say about miracles and bread. 

His own offspring did not like the catches he brought home. Bread was fifty-cents a loaf. Bluegill and sunfish were ignored as a type of pest, like insects. By the 1970, most of what Bill caught while drinking beer was fed to the dog– a Siberian Husky named Sam. His children said fish from the Juniata River were smelly. The three girls and four boys had only a taste for the eggs from bottom- scouring catfish. Bill rolled his catfish eggs in flour and fried them into crispy hash-brown pellets in his well-greased cast-iron skillet. Many of the catfish from the Juniata weighed over ten pounds. Such a waste of fish, but lots of cat fish eggs. He called the caviar ‘scrambled cat eggs’ just to kid the kids to consume them. They were good with ketchup! 

Bill cooked for his children mornings before school, frying everything in Crisco. It was hard cereal they preferred now– not like the perch with spiny fins that sustained Bill when he was a lad and school was still an option and fishing was the way that a boy learned to read, after milkin’ the cows. 

Food stamps now– Booberries and Cheerios. 

The seven children would not eat fish from the Junitata River if it came in a box with a prize inside. They smelled that river every day when they awoke, squeezed tight next to each other, tangled in layers of electric blankets and sheets over-perfumed in inexpensive laundry fabric softeners. They slept soundly, wrapped as worms on hooks in upstairs beds. Their blonde heads housing blue eyes tossed gently on shared pillows as the orange sun of yesterday came back over the ridges that surround Petersburg, seemingly warmer than ever– full of hope and promise every day. 

They rattled to life each day as hooting whistles of locomotive trains passed through town at precisely 6 a.m. 

The whistles were as much a part of life as the calls of bluejay birds that are abundant there. The trains were headed to large cities East– places where the work was. Those trains rolled by every day on tracks that Bill helped to lay when he was still young and working. Now the only industry in Petersburg was fishing in the river that the train tracks followed through Pennsylvania. 

The railroad industry was gone. Bill fished days between odd jobs laying brick. Work was rare. It was all he had to do to pass long summer days when hunting season had lapsed. He needed to fish to keep his head straight. He wanted to shoot bastards like Jimmy Carter who ruined the world economic system.They were sending all the work that men like Bill did to China and Japan. 

Bill thanked God for his fishing pole and for being born in a time and place where China was still something to eat off of. 

The beer came in convenient cans now, although one could not use food stamps to buy it. Bill fixed lawn mowers and rota-tillers and used the cash to purchase a lure for life– Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer– and the funny thing was, there were enough broken lawn mowers in Petersburg that one did not have to go to church to pray for more wine. 

Larry got fired last Friday. After learning Larry refused to work for the Amazon.com cardboard box section of our NYC based shipping company, Steve, the floor manager, told the six year veteran of the place to “Take a hike. We had an agreement and you shook on it! Get the fuck out of here. You are fired.” 

Larry showed up at the job on Friday to pick up his paycheck. The towering six-foot five inch or so tired- looking black dude with a shinny head, obviously shaved a dozen or so times with the same Bic razor, managed to crack a smile at me as he said good-bye, and this– 

“It’s in the Lord’s hands now…Hey, let me ass you this, don’t they hold back the first paycheck here?” 

“That was your last paycheck, Larry,” I explained, “We get paid every Friday for the work performed the week before. The check you just got was the check they held back when you first started here.” 

Larry thanked me and turned to walk out the door. I’ll never forget the day he tried to start a fight with me when I was new, just because I had stacked one of those awful Amazon cardboard boxes in the wrong sorting bin. Larry was so upset with me– almost like a floor manager or something, back when he was in his own mind, the Employee of the Month. 

As the counter to my blog turns the 100,000 mark, I reflect upon nearly a decade of serious writing and almost want to kill it all because what is popular among search engines are the journalistic articles I wrote regarding seedy gay sex. 

Although 100,000 seems trivial in an age when one goes viral overnight, the original counter to my blog once turned the quarter million mark before wordpress suddenly removed the counter and I was forced to start counting all over again. 

Just as I was about to delete all my work regarding seedy gay sex, I found myself unable to do so because of the comments other gays have left on my space, such as this one from Harold: 

“Excellent article. native new yorker here who remembers well the pre buddy booth scene. this author perfectly conveys the hate/love addictive nature of the anonymous gay sex scene and how it challenges one’s own self of individuality and self respect. hope to see this expanded into a book.” 

I decided not to commit suicide to my blog after realizing that on the bottom of page one in a google search for “buddy booth”, one still finds Charles George Taylor with his mouth wide open at the bottom of the page, waiting for readers and not big dicks. 

Search it for yourself, the article is called “Buddy Booth Review– Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn” 

https://www.google.com/#q=buddy+booth 

Our tender minds were rattled awake by the sound of pounding upon tin trash cans. Summer in South Carolina, 1986—the hottest Ft. Jackson had seen since World War II when the wooden, un-air conditioned barracks of Tank Hill were first constructed—the loud banging—sand everywhere, even in the white sheets that we kept so tightly tucked.

Tall fans seemed to suck hot air from a full moon above and blow it right into the wooden ovens in which we rarely slept and right down our throats as we all scrambled in brown t-shirts for a drink of water from a fountain that managed to cool off only the first few glasses of heavily chlorinated Carolina water that the government must have somehow recycled from a nearby, soupy hot Atlantic that pushed fierce thunderstorms ashore as we ran in long-sleeves in our Army camos.

Some called the lack of a desire for sex “Salt- Peter”, yet we were told there were no such psychological drugs being placed in our food by Uncle Sam. A war on Homosexuality seemed the case—why else keep a young man’s dick down—and what if that salt peter is why everyone who comes out of the service is fucked up in the head?

Maybe it was just too hot that summer in South Carolina for anyone to have even a wet dream upon those white sheets covered in green wool with crumbs from the salt-petered Atlantic all over our balls. There were hot, young men just like me all around and not once did I desire to suck anyone or all of them off!

“Everyone I see come out of that office on a Friday usually leaves here,” Michael Day proclaimed as I exited Steve’s office, holding my head high. 

Day is a veteran at Lasership. He has worked as a New York City messenger for most of his post-recovery life. I learned much about him one afternoon last summer while delivering my paychecks down in the Lower East Side. He pushed his cart through Grammercy Park and I walked by his side with a well-worn newspaper boy bag strapped over my shoulder, with just a few paychecks remaining inside. 

Other couriers pretended to be sorting through piles of boxes and stacks of paychecks when I walked out of Steve’s office. Day was the only man brave enough to cut right through the office drama to find out whether or not I had been canned. 

“Well it looks like I’ll be taking much of the 2-X route from you, Mike. Steve just ordered that I take over that route, and I know that you often do this work.” 

“That’s fine with me,” Day said, although I know the very reason why it was the 2-X route had been assigned to me. I did it during the snow storm and got every one of the snow-drenched boxes of books delivered. I don’t just leave post-it notes on people’s doors informing them that their shipment of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Backslidden” had an attempted delivery that day. I actually wait until a neighbor is entering the building and sneak in with them, pulling my handcart right onto the elevator and dropping the novels right in front of our customer’s doors. I have yet to leave little business cards advertising my own self-published novel. 

I was in no mood to share in warehouse office gossip, even if it was Mike Day fishing for dirt first thing in the morning. I told him to continue to do as many of the boxes as he wanted and to look at me as his back-up, even though if Steve had heard me, he would have used the opportunity to reduce Mike to the point of early retirement. 

I quickly left the warehouse with my newsbag filled with more checks. Day followed and tapped me on my shoulder just as I was carefully avoiding a patch of snow that some doorman along 29th Street had neglected to put salt on. 

“Where are your boxes?” I asked. 

“I’m on my way to my doctor. Don’t worry, I’ll be back before ten and will take all the 2 X’s.” 

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m not worried. I don’t know how you can put up with such shit, Mike. How can you work for such bastards for so long without hurting someone?” 

“That’s because I know what it feels like to be homeless,” Mike shared. I didn’t say a word. I just kept walking with my checks. 

“Yes, I was sleeping on the street with my dog before she died. I told that dog I’d never leave her, and I didn’t. But this nun ran into me one day and told me she could have my dog kept in a fancy grooming place until I pulled myself together. I was fortunate to have a brother who allowed me to live with he and his wife. I saved up my money and got my own place.” 

“Oh, please tell me you got to live with the dog in your new place before it died.” 

“Oh, yes I did,” Day shared. I noticed a little tear forming at the corner of his well-wrinkled eye. 

“Hey look, I gotta go this way,” Mike informed while turning left on Seventh Avenue. 

I immediately felt better about my morning and walked into the rays of a rising sun.

Juan Vargas nearly ran over my toe in the middle of Times Square on Friday afternoon. He was pushing a hand-truck filled with Barnes and Noble Cardboard boxes. It was the second time I bumped into my co-worker at that exact location on Friday afternoon. Several weeks ago when I first saw Juan there, he begged that I watch over his cart while he made a delivery to a business along Eighth Avenue. There is a porn store just up the street. I was relieved the poor, tan lad did not see me sneak into the hot buddy-booth spot. On Friday, Juan took a fifteen minute break just steps away from the glory holes, and spoke to me about the drama that unfolded in the office at work earlier that day— 

“I hear you are doing the 2 X’s now,” Juan said with just a slight hint of Mexican dialect rolling from his soft pink tongue. 

“I thought for sure I was going to get fired. Steve called me into his office to ask why I refused to go out on a second run with boxes on Thursday. I was fucking exhausted, Juan. The two snow storms this week were hard on us. My feet were wet and cold all week. I just couldn’t do it, so I told what’s his face?– the new dispatcher– that I had to go to my other job.” 

“What did Steve say?” Juan asked while smiling, appearing to believe that I just made up the part about being a part-time porter. 

“He asked what my other job was, so I told him. I’m a porter for the building in which I live, Juan, and I actually put that information on the application when applying for this awful job. Can you believe we have both been here for so long? I remember how you looked so much like a little Mexican boy then. This place has really hardened you—made you look so much older, and look at how skinny I got Juan—nearly the spittin’ image of you with just a little grey hair. I thought for sure I was going to get fired like nearly everyone else does at Tasership, but not only did I keep my job, but Steve gave me the 2 X route. I don’t think I can do it all Juan. Those 2-X’s are the Lower East Side and nobody but me is dumb enough to take on that route. Now I got boxes too? It’s only a matter of time before they get rid of me. I can feel it coming.” 

“You should just talk to Steve, Charles. Don’t just walk away from all you built here. Besides, you’re the only cool white guy at Tasership.” 

“That’s because I’m not a Jew Juan.” 

“Oh,” the lad said as he pulled his cart onto Eighth avenue and walked like a tumbleweed pulling books. 

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