State College was the only town with a gay bar in Central Pennsylvania. I drove nearly an hour every Friday night in the summer of 1988 to go to that bar. With nothing but farmland to view from the window of my white Cutlass Supreme, I followed the winding road up and down several high mountains and listened to George Michael’s ‘Faith’ on my tape player because maintaining a clear signal from a radio station in Central, PA is like finding a top in bale of hay.
Only a few college kids were at the gay bar. Chumley’s was filled with mostly middle- aged, white beer drinkers who all wore baseball caps advertising nearby farms and feed mills. They smiled at me with their toothless mouths, burping in delight as I strolled in with a high-top fade. They all seemed to have already had each other at one time or another—that is just the way it is in gay bars all over the world, and in small ones like the one in State College, a new piece of ‘trade’ is sometimes more important than a Penn State football game.
I accepted an offer from a black college kid for sex. He did not have a car, so after leaving Chumley’s, we jumped in my Cutlass and we headed to his off-campus apartment.
The sex was horrible. He had on way too much lady-like perfume and he turned into quite the girl when undressed. I kissed him and put my finger up his ass until he came. I quickly got dressed—hoping to get back to the bar before it closed.
“Can I get your phone number?” he asked after showing me a few paintings he was working on for school. I gave him the number to my job. I was working at a newspaper in Huntingdon and had my own secretary to screen calls.
He would not stop calling after that kiss. Weeks had passed and I still had the nasty taste of his beer breath on me. He was hooked and I regretted ever having given him the number to “The Daily News”. One Friday afternoon while I was working on an article relating to a boom in the water bottling business due to the long drought of ‘88, the State College artist called the job again—
“I just can’t get you out of my head. Every time I paint or sketch, it comes out looking like you. I don’t know what’s going on with me. It’s hard to focus. Can I please see you again?” He asked.
I lied and told him I was dating a girl. I told him not to call me again.
Later that evening the art student walked into Chumley’s. I was chatting at the bar with a guy who claimed to play football for Penn State. I had just explained to him that I just got out of Army. He was really turned on.
“Where’s your girlfriend,” the artist asked, blinking his eyes heavily at me. He appeared to be wearing mascara.
“I don’t know,” I replied, turning away from him, not ever wanting him to touch me again—those cold sweaty, artist hands and his need to incessantly put his stinky ass in my face.
I left the bar with the football player. The artist followed us down the sidewalk all the way to my car. He sucked his teeth as we got in.
“He’s an artist,” I explained to the football player.
“Yes, I know,” the football player confessed, “Aren’t we all?”