My week of Harvard draws to a close. We call Trudie and Joan at Smith. They’re leaving for their holidays. Trudie invited Joan to visit her family in White Plains. Jack instantly invites them to join us in the City for Christmas shopping – Mummy’s annual ritual of ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Park Avenue window shopping, and excursions to the wild environs of Greenwich Village for eclectic gifts. Jack sitting on Santa’s lap for a photo at FAO Schwartz has only been dropped in recent years. The plan is to take the train to the City for two days at the Dakota. I’ll then fly to Ames for Christmas, meeting Jack in Miami in time for our New Year’s Eve performance. With plenty of Lampoon money in my bank account, I don’t feel like a poor relative mooching off the Stone’s hospitality. On Sunday we take AMTRAC out of South Station, Boston, to Penn Station, NYC. At the stop in White Plains, we jump off and meet our girlfriends, ready for our New York Christmas adventure. They’re breathless from excitement, chatting inanely about whether they brought the right outfits. Jack is the style maven, assuring them they need not worry. Spying the heavy suitcases they lug, I assume we’ll see many outfit changes over the next two days. I carry both suitcases for them.
Mummy is sitting in the limo outside the Penn Station, as excited as the girls are about our shopping adventure. Now that we have girlfriends, Mummy has great expectations that run from gossiping over tea to forthcoming grandchildren, hopefully all girls. It is all so giddy. After we’re settled into separate bedrooms, Mummy announces tea is being served, I drag Jack away to 407 to get high with the 14-year-olds. He’s horrified that I’m smoking pot again. Jules and I are laughing, while Nina and Jack look on with disdain. Jules observes that Christmas is all about acting jolly, not actually being jolly. I suggest we dedicate the holiday to Jesus. He gives me a funny look. We both start laughing.
Returning to the Stone apartment, we find Father Frank enjoying his tea with the ‘girls.’ Trudie instantly discerns that I’m high, getting Joan to triple-team me with Jack. There’s no escape. Although we already attended Mass that morning at St Paul’s, Father Frank convinces us to take in the Vespers service at St Patrick’s for the holiday carols. My only respite will be Isabelle’s Sunday supper. I can’t wait and invade her kitchen. Trudie comes with me, apologizing for mocking me about my pot habit. I ask her if she wants to meet Julian Lennon and get high. We stick to speaking Spanish with Isabelle. I have the munchies and sample all the dishes as they come out.
Jace appears once we’re seated at St Patrick’s. He revels in revisiting the scene of his resurrection. It also makes him nervous that he may soon be absorbed by the spirit world. He’s sitting with Father Frank, engaged in a long discussion. Jack and I are with the girls, unable to listen in. The choir is good, although the carols are slow and ponderous. No wonder kids prefer the ‘smoking on a rubber cigar’ version of We Three Kings.
Leaving the Cathedral, Jack is anxious to hit the Sunday night music scene. The obvious spot is Max’s, but I’m not anxious to run into Monte and Paul, my three-way partners. We decide that CBGB’s is more authentic. Convincing the girls not to dress up in their red berets with blue and white outfits, we remind them about Boston’s Rat and to dress down-scale. The cousins, Trent and Bent, are in Vermont for the holidays, to my relief. Trudie and I are sharing their bedroom (officially the girls are there while Jack and I sleep in his room). I explain how lame the cousins are. Trudie goes through their underwear drawers, hoping to find hidden evidence of some kind of perversion. She gives up after only finding Brooks Brothers boxers of dull colors. The boys have no imagination. Even Abercrombie & Fitch would have been marginally hopeful.
We take the downtown subway, to Jack’s chagrin. It’s still early by City time to hit the clubs. We give the girls a tour of the Chelsea, from our slumming days. Bill Burroughs is home in his cubby hole. He demonstrates the magic typewriter from ’Naked Lunch.’ The girls both ask it what their chances are with the two of us. It types out ‘better get track shoes to keep up.’ They are momentarily discouraged but swear they’ll never give up. Love at eighteen. (sigh) Burroughs is highly amused. I notice that he has the original Gorey drawing of himself delivering the benediction at St Patrick’s, signed by the artist and hung among all the other detritus in his room.
We head for CBGB’s, with the girls hanging onto to us for dear life in the bowels of the Bowery. It’s not the safest place to be walking at midnight. We arrive just as the band is going on, my favorite, Television.
Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell are cool. The band is cool. The music is cool. The girls are unsure if they like it as much as they liked our performances at Rahar’s. The Neighborhoods have more energy than these New York scenesters.
“It’s mood music,” I explain.
We dance in the little space before the band. CBGB’s seems so small to me now, after the Whiskey and Starwood in Hollywood. It’s intimate. Remembering how two years previously we terrorized there makes me realize the world is growing smaller as I grew older.
“I bet you don’t remember kissing me on stage in ’73,” I challenge Johansen.
“Sure, ‘Trash,’ and I still don’t pick it up,” he jokes. “You were a little kid, then.”
I beam. He remembers me.
“I hear Andy is yer patron now.”
“I’m working in Hollywood on a movie.”
“We wanna play Hollywood,” Thunders pipes up.
“I can get you booked at the Whiskey, but you’d like the Starwood better.”
“Why’s that?” Johansen asks.
“The kids go there. The Whiskey don’t pay shit.”
“Kids really like us?”
“Yeah, they’s all perverts in Hollywood.”
The band is droning on as we talk.
The girls are nervous, not being asked to sit down. David gives me his number. I promise to have Tony call him. I lean over and kiss him.
“Now, we’re even,” I assert as flashbulbs go off. He stares at me and then at the girls, shaking his head.
We find a table.
Jack laughs, “Do you have to get your photo in the Post every time we go out?”
“Why go out if no one notices.”
The girls are used to my flaunting it. We watch the band and have a drink.
“Is this even rock n roll?” Trudie is the critic.
“It is if they think it is. At least they’re playing what they think rock is. It’s their way to rock out without expending too much energy.”
A couple of twenty-something guys come over, asking how we know the Dolls. I tell them we played here two years ago.”
“You’re the guys in False Gods. I thought you were gay teenagers. You have girlfriends?”
“We’re in college. We’ve grown up.”
“Weren’t you running around in your underwear last summer at Max’s?”
They’re up-to-date on Page Six celebrity. “See. We have grown up.”
That wasn’t the answer they want. I pull out a joint. They’ve been hoping. I glance at the bar and see Bill Page giving me the evil eye. We retire to the ladies room and smoke out. The girls act as lookouts. The rest of the evening is a blur. We take a cab back to the Dakota at 4 am. Trudie claims I’m so stoned that she refuses to take advantage of me. Joan sleeps in the cousins’ room with her. Jack is pissed.
“You should have gotten stoned. Then, you’d see how funny this is,” I claim as I slip into bed with him. He is totally confused,. We go to sleep.
I’m up at daylight, having coffee with Daddy. He has the Post out, which he slides to me as I sit down.
“The Post seems to know when you boys are in town.”
“We’ll soon age out of celebrity.”
“They seem shocked that you boys had dates.”
“Making news by being normal.”
“I hear you shook up Universal Studios. They almost dropped your movie.”
“Revenge of the Dartmouth guy for being demoted. He contacted the Tabloids about our star.”
“Nobody believes the Tabloids.”
“Mike Antonio’s assistant saved the day. The National Lampoon threatened to shop the film and Universal backed down. Thanks for advice about legal representation.”
He smiled. “Edgar Bronfman called me about his son who keeps getting him to sell off the family assets so he can make it in the movie business.”
“Edgar Jr just wants to be important. I’ve found him a band that’s a sure hit. He’s better at music than movies.”
“I’ll tell his dad to have Universal start their own label.” He winks at me. We’re in business together. “You sure you have time for Christmas shopping with your girlfriends?”
“The movie’s on hiatus until January. We got the script approved. Mike’s assistant negotiated the music rights and we cast a band to play in the movie.” I show him my bonus check.
“Professor Feldstein tells me he’s submitted your case study to the Harvard Business Review. I thought they only published MBA students?”
“I collaborated with a B School student. He says no one has done an entertainment industry case study before.”
“No one knows you’re a spy?”
“I work for my boss, the Director. My old Lampoon bosses are just out for themselves. I’m golden. Professor Feldstein showed me how to keep my personal involvement out of the case study.”
“I see why Jack’s so upset. You’re having too much fun being an adult.”
“I don’t know what will happen with us. He needs to be on his own. He can’t just be my understudy. He played for 30,000 fans at The Game. He was in a funk because I didn’t show up. He’s oblivious to his own talents.”
“Will you return to Harvard?”
“It’s so ironic. They hired me to be a TA in the Religion Department. My dad won’t have to pay tuition. I’ve done everything wrong but they push me back on track.”
“You’ve learned that opportunities can come your way because you’re at Harvard.”
I thought about what he said. “My boss started working at Fox at 16 and skipped college. He’s the best director in Hollywood now. He says you can’t let opportunities get away.”
“What’s your dad say?”
“He’ll be so pleased not to pay tuition.”
“Com’n, Tim. What’s he really think?”
“That I’m always plotting three moves ahead. They can barely keep up with me today, let along next year.”
“Don’t give up on Harvard. They seem to like you.”
“You’re right. I already have enough credits to be a sophomore. They seem to give me enough rope to hang myself. I’ll just hang in there.”
Jack comes wandering in, not looking pleased that his dad is treating me like a son.
“The girls will be in soon. We should order breakfast,” he is grumpy. He needs coffee.
“Take Mummy her coffee. I’ll send the girls in. Mummy will be so pleased.” Daddy grins.
It’s like Doug’s bedroom except Mummy doesn’t have her head planted in her pillow. We sit on the edge of her bed and sip coffee. The girls jump into the oversized queen bed. Mummy beams. Plans are set for our day of Christmas in Manhattan. The girls can wear their berets at last. Jack and I are told to wear sports coats; we compromised with top coats and scarfs. Soon we’re off to Rockefeller Center for ice skating. Mummy has a reserved table. We take turns between entertaining her or skating circles on the rink. The hot chocolate leaves something to be desired. I’m spoiled by Molly’s Iowa version.
“You will be there for Christmas?” Mummy is all about plans. “Will Johnny go, too?”
“I think he plans to go with you to the Gables.”
“Oh,” she is surprised. “Is all well between you two? You have been together now for almost two years.”
Trudie is all ears.
“Everyone thinks we’re breaking up. Having girlfriends now makes it easier to stay together.”
“That’s an interesting point of view.”
“Well, it means we’re growing up without growing apart.”
“My, Tim, does Johnny think as you do.”
“He’s just flying blind. It’s worked so far.”
“Have you always lived in Westchester?” Mummy asks.
Trudie goes into detail on suburban life north of the City. I pretend to be interested. Jack and Joan come off the rink and sit down. I whisper to Jack to follow me into NBC’s studios. We ask where the SNL rehearsal is going on. We walk in on Belushi in his samurai burger chef’s outfit, regaling random girls who are waiting on him in his dressing room.
“Tim, I need burgers and fries,” he yells.
“Cheeseburger, cheeseburger. Coke, not Pepsi,” I answer.
“Who’s your friend?” he points to Jack.
“Meet my boyfriend, Jack. We’re on Christmas break.”
Belushi gathers his maidens, points at me and tells them to attack. “Save this faggot from going to hell.’
I’m surrounded by purring sex-cats. Jack looked dismayed, until one sidles up to him.
“That’s better,” Belushi declare. The girls run back to him. “But, I am the babe magnet.”
“I am the walrus,” I respond.
‘But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood’
Songwriters: BENNIE BENJAMIN, GLORIA CALDWELL, SOL MARCUS
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., WARNER CHAPPELL MUSIC FRANCE
“Okay,” Belushi admits, “but don’t be fagging off with my best friend in front of me.”
“I’m his best friend. We’re roommates,” Jack disputes the comedian.
“How cute. Do you make his bed for him?”
“What do you do for him?”
‘We fuck sorority girls together. We don’t do anything for each other. That would be gay.”
We all laugh.
“Stop fighting over me,” I complain.
‘You’re right. You’re so not worth it,” Belushi decides.
“We need to get back to our girlfriends,” Jack proudly announces.
“I gotta see this,” Belushi gets up and the girls follow him.
Back we go to the skating rink. Mummy and the girls are obliviously enjoying their hot chocolate. We arrive with Belushi’s whores and a pack of SNL fans following the paparazzi snapping our photos. Joan and Trudie jump up to greet us with kisses. The cameras click repeatedly. Mummy looks horrified, then puts on her best hostess smile, unsure if she wants to be on Page Six.
I introduce Belushi to our patron, as a TV personality and the star of ‘my’ movie. I sound like Chris Miller.
“Oh,” Mummy admits, “I can’t stay up for late-night TV, but I’ll be sure to watch for you in Tim’s movie.”
“Look for a chubby guy in his underwear,” Belushi describes his role.
“That seems to be a Tim trademark,” Mummy is in the know.
Belushi is being besieged in tourist central and needs to herd his girls back to the studio as well as several fans he has his eye on.
It’s time for us to hit Park Avenue for shopping. Trudie and Joan are atwitter by their brush with celebrity. Our limo awaits. No subway for Mummy.
“Where do we go first, Jack? FAO Schwartz on Fifth Avenue?” Mummy asks. I realize this was Jack’s Christmas tree; no Santa in a sleigh, but a limo with Mummy as Santa.
“Oh, Mummy. I’m not a little kid anymore.”
“I won’t sit on Santa’s lap this year,” Jack moans.
“We will,” the girls squeal.
“I love these girls,” Mummy effuses.
The limo lets us out in front. All four teens rush to get into the Santa line. We are all taller that the rest of the line up. Nice to be looked up to, even though one child bursts into tears. We tell Santa we just want a group picture, which is the whole point. Mummy waits for us in the VIP lounge, hidden away on the first floor. She has been coming here with her boys every year since 1940. The girls love the over-stuffed animals. I’m entranced by the train set-up. Jack finds it a bit passé, having been there every Christmas until his Escape from Switzerland last year. Soon we gather Mummy from her espresso and take the limo up Fifth Avenue. The driver inches along as we window shop from the backseat. The girls want to open the sun roof, just like my twin sisters in Iowa. Excitement overcomes the cold air. We stop at Zabar’s on Broadway and 80th. Mummy has a long list of family and friends to receive Christmas gift baskets. I see that both sets of my parents are on the list. It’s the first time I’ve felt weird about having two pairs. The girls protest that it isn’t necessary to include their parents. Mummy isn’t about to exclude any potential in-laws for Jack. We then head for the Village to discover unique stores where we find (and can afford) gifts for our friends. I soon over-use my bank card, adding gifts for my Hollywood friends Jake, Alice & Nicky, Doug/Jimmy/Tony, John and Debbie Landis; for the Ames Iowa family and friends, and all the Miami band crew, including baby clothes for Little Greg. I make a serious dent into my Christmas bonus. By then, I’m exhausted. The girls berate me for not keeping up. At the next shop, Jack and I let the girls pick out the gifts they like for themselves. They get two gifts from each of us. It’s weird having Mummy grinning in the background while the girls kiss and hug us. Bisexual dating is complicated in the 70’s.
It’s late as we head back to the Dakota with the sun already setting. The driver takes us by Rockefeller Center again to view the lit Christmas tree. All the lights in stores and on the street make New York a winter wonderland. We walk the girls into Central Park, all four of us hand-in-hand. We note how our first date started with a walk around Smith.
“You sang that monkey song to us,” Joan notes.
“You want an encore,” I ask.
“No!” they scream.
Jack and I turn them around and sing a duet of ‘White Christmas’
Jace appears and sprinkles snowflakes all around us. The 15-year-old romantic. The girls are entranced. Jace is between Jack and me, arms on both our shoulders, singing away the Christmas blues. I’m so sad that the girls can’t see him. I can’t stop the tears. Everyone thinks I’m being maudlin.
Back at the Dakota, Isabelle prepares a signature feast after our day of Christmas shopping and celebration. Jack’s two older brothers and their wives join us, meeting me for the first time. They are better prepared for Jack having a boyfriend than both of us having girlfriends. Good manners are a family trait and the introductions go well. Edgar Jr (Eddie) and Rick are versions of what an older Jack will look like. They lack his fey beauty but know they’re handsome and well-bred. Their wives are a bit stand-offish but take to Joan and Trudie. I can catch snippets of their gossipy conversation about Jack and me. To our girlfriends credit, they are forthright about their feelings on dating a gay couple. The fact that they are Smith roommates helps explain how we manage to get along so well. Jack’s sisters-in-laws laugh hilariously when they learn about the weekend we met the girls’ parents.
Jack announces that the five of us have rehearsed a short Christmas entertainment. No one questions who the fifth party is. Jace is ready with copious snowflakes which his ghostly hands keep cold. The four of us repeat the singing of Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas.” The brothers both spent time at the Vermont family farm, making it a home state favorite from the movie. As the song picks up steam, Jace starts sprinkling his snowflakes over us and on the guests. I tell everyone later that I learned cutting edge Hollywood special effects. Suspension of disbelief is a Stone family trait. Over dinner, which I take seriously while everyone else spends engaging in small talk, the brothers attempt to bully Jack into applying to Porcellian.
“I’ve already accepted at Fox,” he declares, to everyone’s surprise, including me. I’m pleased he is striking out on his own. “Tim has been asked also, and the Mower girls will have associate memberships as Fox’s first female members.”
“Who are the Mower girls?” Rick asks.
“We have ‘Cliffies on the third floor. They’re our best friends.”
“Our fag brother is quite the feminist,” Eddie (Edgar Jr). snidely remarks.
Everyone laughs, somewhat nervously, so I sit down. The brothers look ill-at-ease until their wives make them sit. Such well-trained lap dogs.
“When the boys were in high school,” Mummy rises to my defense, “they performed in the streets. Tim often defended Jack from bigoted ruffians. The Miami Police call him Teen Jesus.”
I don’t correct her impression. The brothers just slink further into their chairs.
“No doubt Jack couldn’t defend himself.”
“He swings a mean guitar,” I assert.
“Let’s have you boys play something, rather than using your instruments for fighting.”
Jack has his MOOG nearby. I run and get my SG and a practice amp.
“This is the song we wrote about the girls and performed for Joan and Trudie’s parents at Smith’s Freshman Parents weekend.
We play our version of ‘Sunday Afternoon.’
The Moody Rudes are a hit with an older crowd. The girls are more impressed with ‘their song’ in a less stressful context. I even manage a few tears at the memory of our breakup with our girlfriends. Everyone notices. I score points for being the ‘sensitive’ one. Jack is skeptical as he sees how quickly I supplant him in the hearts of his family and loved ones. For once he allows his heart-felt feelings to warn me that he knows I’m a fake.
The ‘adults’ are done in. My in-laws need to drive back to Connecticut. I suggest to the girls that we visit Nina and Jules in 407 and maybe play more music.
“You just want to get stoned,” Trudie is on my case as usual.
“True, but when did it become such a sin.”
“They’re just little kids. Drugs are inappropriate for children who are still developing.”
“They’re the ones who have the pot,” I argue.
“Don’t encourage them.”
“I do want to play guitar with them. Paul McCartney teaches Julian. It’s like being taught by the Beatles.”
“You’re just a fame junkie,” Trudie decides.
“Well, watch how pot affects Jack. Joan may want to stay in our room tonight.”
The girls look at each other and scream. Jack is conflicted about which side he’s on. Hormones are hormones. No matter who sleeps with whom, there will be pheromones in the air.
The kids are surrounded by their junior high acolytes. I’m relieved not to see Aaron and Paul there. Jack and I have brought our instruments. Jules is intrigued by Jack’s MOOG.
“Maybe you can replace Linda in Wings. The critics love to criticize her singing,” I tell Jules.
Jace appears and is helping Jules with the settings. The sound brightens up from its Moody Rudes depths. Instead of sounding dirge-like, the notes are sharp and ringing, like carillon bells. Nina starts singing single lines
‘So this is Christmas’
‘And what have you done’
He changes the chord
‘Another year over’
Then back to the original
‘And a new one just begun’
‘And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young’
‘A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear’
‘And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong’
‘And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight’
‘A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear’
Jules and Nina alone sang
‘And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
‘And so this is Christmas
‘I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
‘A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear’
All the while the youngsters are singing back up
‘War is over
If you want it
War is over
Songwriters: JOHN WINSTON LENNON, YOKO ONO
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Peermusic Publishing, Downtown Music Publishing
We applaud ourselves for being in the holiday spirit and being so original. Nina runs downstairs and collects her and Julian’s parents (plus baby Sean). We sing the Christmas song for them. All the parents clap, except John.
Julian pulled out a two-page lyric sheet. “It was just lying around. We play our own music.”
“Well, don’t take credit where it isn’t due.”
“It’s Christmas, Da. We’re just spreading cheer.”
John relaxes and decides he likes playing with Julian and his son’s friends. He goes over to Jack’s MOOG and rips into “Good Golly, Miss Molly’
All the kids were on their feet, bopping and rocking. We treat them to a medley of 50’s dance hits.
After over an hour, Yoko orders a limo and the junior high kids are delivered home. Jules’ crash pad is busted, at least for a night. John puts an arm on his wayward son’s shoulders and leads him to his real bedroom downstairs. Nina leaves with her parents. We all go to Jack’s, splitting into our separate sex dens. Trudie is reluctant to go at it instantly. It has been a long and exciting day that went on forever. I practice infinite lovemaking, not pressuring her for penetration or other overly stimulating activity. She is putty to my hands. We fall asleep with her hand on my dick.. It remains well-behaved. I wake up early as usual. Trudie is also awake, staring at me.
“Didn’t you feel attracted to me last night,” her doubts assail her.
I pull her closer and proceed to ravish the reluctant Smithie. Her doubts are assuaged. When we finally get dressed and go for breakfast, it’s past ten. Daddy is reading his Times in the sitting room.
“You boys go out again last night?” he’s surprised I can sleep in, forsaking my country ways.
“Just upstairs. We put on a dance party with John and Yoko for their son’s friends.”
“Well, Jack and Joan are in the dining room. You’d best get your order in before it’s time for Isabelle to start lunch.”
We hustle away, with Daddy smiling into his newspaper. Our hetero-normal behavior is still a novelty to the parents.
Father Frank asks us to visit the St Patrick’s Jace’s Place Shelter. He explains about the changes and wants our input for the challenges they face. The four of us walk across Central Park and find Father Frank in his office. I discuss my involvement with the Dignity Group at St Viktor in West Hollywood. He explains that it is a trial project for the American Catholic Church. His opinion is that it will be short-lived with entrenched opposition in conservative circles. ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ is the universal prescription for deviancy. I just thought ‘how deviant of them.’
The big change in New York is the opening of an all-girls Jace’s Place. The exploitation of homeless boys may be the most egregious vice in American cities but the number of teen girls being exploited dwarfs the male numbers. Success with the boys makes it obvious that the larger problem needs attention. Jace appears, touting his recent heterosexual activity as a better understanding of how the feminine mind works. Even Father Frank laughs at him. The Archdiocese had found another apartment building which is being renovated as an all-female shelter. An order of nuns is designated to supervise the shelter. I recommended the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco, but Father Frank is up on transvestite comedy groups and just laughs at me. I have several actual suggestions.
“You’ll need to find counselors who have experienced the sex trade in order to gain the confidence of these abused teen girls. Also, remember it is by standing up for themselves that made the boys’ shelter effective. Teaching assertiveness to girls is a more complicated concept. I suggest that you bring in feminist drama co-ops to put on role-playing and actual drama productions to allow the girls a safe way to assert themselves.” My Hollywood bias is showing.
“What about mixed co-ed social activities to teach the boys how to be respectful and the girls not to fear males of their own age,” Jack suggests
“Jace always believed in the same age sex rule, encouraging teens to only explore their sexuality with others their age,” I add.
“The Church is not ready to encourage teenage sexuality,” Father Frank asserts.
We smile for having an expert of being a girl, instead of our warped points of view. Not being a Catholic makes her more optimistic about Church views on sexuality.
I call Paul and Aaron to get them to meet us at the Jewish Jace’s Place. They are taken aback to find we both have girlfriends now, raising questions about their own sexuality.
“How come all your friends in New York are so young?” the girls want to know.
I promise to take them to the Bronx to meet Tina and Pete. They are uncomfortable about going to the ‘Ghetto.’ I also note that they had met my 72 year-old friend, William Burroughs. We end up teaching the Temple E-Manuel kids the Sham 69 ‘Kids are United’ song. I laugh at my use of punk music as gospel. I worry that song may offend the kids at Abyssinian Baptist as British punks were pretty racist. I’ll go slowly.
It turns out the Jewish Jace’s Place has already incorporated homeless girls into the program. We listen to the counselors explain the issues that come up and how they handle them. They find that the more confident, assertive girls have no problem living with the boys, just as we had found in our college dorm. The less confident and needy boys are a better fit in the mostly girls’ shelter. They encourage as many co-ed activities as possible, including sports. Good sportsmanship is a basic tenet of gender equity. Father Frank takes notes. The Temple counselors all volunteer to assist the Catholic and Baptist Jace’s Places in making the transition from single sex living arrangements. I notice that Paul and Aaron are taking notes on how well we get along with our girlfriends, as well as when we need to deal with issues as just guys. It makes me sad that they feel the need to test their sexuality when it has been so firmly established since first grade. Best to encourage open skepticism, rather than dogmatic adherence to what they have always believed. At fifteen, it’s best to be flexible. They will always be best friends.
The girls are taking the train to White Plains that evening. After leaving St Patrick’s, we cross Central Park to Tavern on the Green for a farewell late lunch. It isn’t busy. We sit by a window, sheltered from the December weather yet still enjoying the Park. Jack and Joan are back to the soul stares with each other. Trudie whispers that she missed being ravished the previous night. She appreciates my sensitivity to her feelings as well as her total satisfaction with morning sex. We laugh at how Jack and Joan are both virginal in their first love affairs, gay sex not counting for Jack. Trudie and I are more grounded which means we know from experience that it isn’t all red roses. I tell her how we passed out black roses at the Moody Rudes first Mower concert.
“You are so Goth,” she decides.
“We had lost our girlfriends,” I explain. “Or, so we thought.”
We take the subway to Penn Station and wait on the platform saying goodbye. It’s a familiar feeling, mirroring the departures from Harvard Square. Trudie asks me to whisper how I plan to ravish Jack after they leave. I play it off, knowing she will shock Joan with graphic descriptions if I reveal our secrets. I whisper that Jack and I have been going through a rough patch with me being away in Hollywood. She asks me if I’m cheating on him. I tell her I never kiss and tell. She’s shocked taking it as a semi-confession that I’m fooling around. She swears that it doesn’t bother her that I have other lovers, as long as they aren’t girls. I just thank her and don’t correct her misconception of my slutty ways. It’s time for the train to depart. Longing kisses overcome any suspicions of a deceitful heart. I promise to call more regularly once I’m back in Hollywood. She is surprised that I had my own phone when I write her the number.
“Are you really coming back to Harvard?” she asks.
She is right about my ravishing Jack after they leave. First we entertain Jack’s parents, plus the Lennons and Bernsteins who have become closer friends with Mummy and Daddy. We sing only show tunes about New York, ending with Bernstein’s ‘New York, It’s a Wonderful Town.’
He laughs at our chutzpah at singing his song and out-Sinatraing Sinatra. The guests stay for dinner. For the first time in my life, I enjoy the adult company more than the kids we had been with that day. I feel so old, I let Jack take over for the first ravishing.
“What’s wrong?” he asks. “Are you mad at me?”
“No. It’s just a shock to be back to my old life. Hollywood is so different. I have to work every day and often at night. Here I have so much free time. I feel out of sync. Come here, you slut. It’s time for payback.”
He giggles and presents his butt for my pleasure. We quickly find our groove. I laugh at how reluctant he was when we first got together to have sex at his house in the Gables. He’s shameless now, with his parents just a few yards away. We’ve become an old married couple, with girlfriends on the side and cheating whenever the opportunity arises. At least, that is how I see it, if I am honest with myself. Jack is probably deluded and unhinged from the truth, trusting I will never leave him but ready to accept it when it happens.
The plan is I go to Ames for Christmas while the Stones go to Miami. I’ll rejoin them for the New Year’s Eve party at Michael’s. At the last moment, Jack makes a desperate plea to go to Ames with me. I tell him he is being insecure and to handle being separated for the actual holiday. It’s just a matter of a few days. His parents tell him he needs to accept that not everything is going to go his way. The nerd is spinning in place. I kiss him goodbye at La Guardia and head west to the plains. It’s a great relief to leave his neediness behind.