1973 – the conclusion of the Vietnam War means all my base friends’ parents are getting discharged or transferred and leaving Alaska. It’s also the year of Watergate.The hearings run endlessly on TV. The adults prefer this lulling sense of disaster to the rapidly approaching disruption to their own lives. It must be soothing that the President is also losing his job. My dad retires after twenty years and has a job with Teledyne in Miami. For me, it’s just another move, no big deal.
First comes the annual summer vacation to our New England relatives. Since his family is moving too, Tom the snowmobile thrasher, gets to come with me south. Dad drives 100 mph on the Al-Can Highway south to Haynes. Mom moans about hitting a moose and dying. Tom and I sit in the back of the station wagon, playing cards and farting. We stop to catch up on the latest Watergate news in Great Falls MT, where our Elmendorf friends relocated. The highlight is going to the drive-in to see “Deliverance,” pretty normal outdoors adventure action with Burt Reynolds, until the hillbillies rape the fat guy. As he squeals like a pig, Tom & I watch in wide-eyed wonder. The parents keep quiet. Heading east we leave Tom at his grandparents who live twenty miles off the Interstate at an old railroad water stop. Now it’s a bunch of retirees living in trailers around the town’s one attraction, a pool hall & bar. It’s cool because they let us in at night to play pool. The bartender asks Tom if we want a drink. He orders two beers. All the old-timers smile as we get root beers, big time laugh in the sticks. When we get ready to leave, Tom gives me a big hug. I realize we’ll never see each other again. He’s cool for someone a year younger. I’m fourteen that summer, ready to turn fifteen and go to high school.
We eventually get to New England, just in time for the Fourth of July, the summer highlight in Stockbridge MA. Aunt Helen is my dad’s big sister. She lives in the old house that was my grandparents, with her husband Terry and my cousins. In the room over the garage you can still smell the cherry pipe tobacco Grandpa smoked. My older cousin Joey lives up there now. The tobacco smell nicely masks the pot he smokes. Joey’s 19, out of high school, and a hippie. As he’s five years older, he always ignores me. I remember when he had to babysit my cousins and me. He tickled me, not stopping until I pee’d my pants. He always brings it up; I was six when that happened. When Joey was in high school, he stops being a pain and just ignores me; he changes then, with long hair and a teen attitude. Uncle Terry now harasses him, while Aunt Helen usually takes his side. It makes him even more distant. This year Joey is a lot cooler to me, perhaps because I’m finally going to high school.
My other cousins, Jeff and Jerry, are ten and eight. They always spend most of my visits hanging on to me like I’m their personal plaything. This year I ask Mom if I can sleep somewhere other than the boys’ room. I say I need my privacy. I think it sounds cool. When we arrive, Mom announces, in front of everyone, “Timmy thinks he’s too old to stay with the boys this year.”
“Why Timmy, don’t you know how much the boys look forward to your visit?”
“Yes, Aunt Helen. I just thought I could sleep on the porch this summer, it being so hot and all.”
So Jeff pipes in, “Can’t we all sleep on the porch, Mom?”
“Well, okay, but I don’t want a mess. No loud noises to bother the neighbors. Is that all right with you, Timmy?”
“Yes, Aunt Helen.”
“Just call me Helen, if you want.”
“Yes, Aunt Helen.” So much for privacy.
Except this time, Joey takes me aside. “I know what’s up. You can hang out in my room this year. It’ll be cool.”
“Really?” Now I know what the boys feel about me staying with them.
“Yeah, I said it’s cool.”
Joey converted the room over the garage from Grandpa’s weekly poker den of iniquity to his own complete hippie pad. With a water-bed and posters of Hendrix, The Who, and Dr Zigzag, lit up by a black-light; it’s cool. The ceiling is covered by a madras cloth. He even has a bong which he tells Aunt Helen is a lamp. The first night Joey says he’s going out and not even to ask about tagging along. Stockbridge is famous because the painter Norman Rockwell lives here. He illustrates all those American magazines of the ‘30s and ‘40s. They are the pictures you see on doctor’s walls of families doing normal things during the Depression, like eating Thanksgiving dinner.
Of more fleeting fame is Alice’s Restaurant; you know the Arlo Guthrie song: ‘Walk right in, it’s around the back, just a half mile from the railroad tracks. You can get anything you want from Alice’s Restaurant…… exceptin’ Alice.’
Sherman, Garry / Guthrie, Arlo
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, THE BICYCLE MUSIC COMPANY, Royalty Network
It’s still right there in Stockbridge. Arlo lives somewhere near.
So I ask Joey, “Are you still hanging out at Alice’s?”
“Naw, not so much, but you know the line about getting what you want? That’s me that’s getting’ it now.”
“Forget it. Gotta go.”
It feels cool just being accepted for the first time. Joey is changed. His hair isn’t so long and wild. He doesn’t wear bell-bottoms anymore. Now he’s being cool to me. I hang out with Jeff and Jerry that night. It takes them about a minute to forgive me for not staying with them on the porch. All they say is “How can you stand Joey? He’s a weirdo and everything.”
I tell them someday they’ll grow up.
When Joey gets back that night, I’m already asleep on the old leather couch. In the morning, he sleeps until noon. Aunt Helen makes us breakfast while Uncle Terry comments about it being lunchtime and why isn’t he looking for a job. Joey just takes the food to his room over the garage. When I go up there later he’s listening to music on headphones. He asks if I want to listen.
“Here’s a song about Alaska.”
Except it’s about a prostitute who’s as cold as Alaska.
“Who that’s?” I ask.
“Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.”
“Oh. ‘Walk on the Wild Side?’”
“You’ve heard that?”
“Sure. I’m not that uncool. I smoke pot.”
“So, what happens?”
“What do you mean?”
“What happens when you smoke pot?”
“I throw up.”
“Great. No, what happens to you? Does it change your life?”
“I guess. I’m growing up.”
“No. Doesn’t anything cosmic happen?”
“I looked at the stars, start to spin out, and threw up. Then we listened to Black Sabbath all night. I thought you liked Heavy Metal, too?”
“That was last year. Now I’m into Glitter.”
“You know. T-Rex, Bowie, some Alice Cooper. I’m going to see some bands at the Fillmore East this weekend.”
“You’re going to New York!”
“Yeah, but don’t even ask. I had to kill to get a ticket. Anyway, it seems like Sabbath is too much for you.”
“That happened before we listened to the music.”
“Well, it’s not that cool to do drugs.”
“Well, you’re the expert.”
“Oh, a wise ass.”
“It runs in the family.”
“So does this,” and he pops me on the arm. “Remember, shit runs downhill around here.”
Some things never change.
Later that night, Joey asks me to go out with him. Of course, we go to Alice’s. Joey parks me at a table and proceeds to visit just about everyone there. I wonder why several people give him money. He tells me he’s buying them things at the concert in New York. A couple of his friends come by to talk with me, like, “What’s up?” “What’s happening?” It’s boring. Being at Alice’s reminds me of a junior high dating disaster that year. When the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” came to Anchorage, I’m jazzed and get everyone to go. I ask Julie to go with me. She’s the teen queen we all immortalize on the Bobby Sherman song, “Julie Julie Julie, do you love me?”
I plan on impressing everyone with my personal connection to Alice’s. Part way through the movie, Julie gets offended by the foul words and insists we leave. The mom driving agrees, so we all leave. I don’t see any advantage in noting my personal experience with such a disgusting place and group of people. Needless to say, Julie moves on to bigger junior high conquests. While driving home in Joey’s van, I tell him the whole story. We laugh at how uptight the whole world is, except, of course, for us. I really feel part of his world when he brings out the bong and swears me to total secrecy. I also agree to go outside if I need to throw up.
“So, was this Julie the main squeeze in your school? Was she a slut?”
“No way. She was the ice queen of Alaska, like the Lou Reed song.”
“So, have you gotten laid yet?” The question of death for all 14-year-old virgins.
“Naw. It hasn’t come up yet.” And, we really laugh at that idea.
“So, it doesn’t work?”
“No. It checks out fine. It’s waiting to be discovered. So, tell me about your conquests.”
“I don’t kiss and tell, man.”
“Well, you don’t look like a virgin, but you never know.”
“You’ll find getting laid is different from what you think. I’ll leave it to your imagination.”
He gets out a couple of headphones and turns on his stereo. I’m so tripped out listening to the Moody Blues’ “Knights in White Satin,” that I fall off the stool where I’m rocking back and forth.
The next morning is the Fourth of July. We both sleep past noon. When we do come down, the boys look disappointed in me.
Uncle Terry’s comment to my dad, “Looks like Joey’s found a convert. Once he sucks his blood, they won’t get up until after sunset.”
I realize how easy it is to ignore adults. I do try to play with Jeff and Jerry, but they remain aloof. I guess they write me off as another victim to teenage doom and gloom.
When I go up to the room, the door is locked. I yell to Joey to let me in. He tells me to cool it for a minute. After five minutes he comes down and unlocks the outside door. He has a towel wrapped around his head and his face looks funny.
“I’m getting ready to go to New York.”
“I thought the concert was tomorrow?”
“Yeah. Things ta do, places ta be, people ta see. I leave in a couple of hours. Here, take a toke on this joint.”
“Jeez, let me in so no one sees.”
After getting high, I ask what he’s doing.
“ I toldja, getting’ ready for da City, doin’ my hair, face, outfit. So, whadda ya think?” and he takes the towel off his head. He’s cut off most of his hair. What remains sticks straight up and is dyed bright red.
“Oh, Man, you’re crazed.” For years I’d tried to grow out my hair, with little success without parental permission. “I’ll never cut my hair.”
“That’s because ya neva had any to cut. Check out this make-up,” as he sits in front of the mirror and begins to apply mascara to his eyes. I stand there wide-eyed for the half hour it takes to do his face. I totally forget about the joint. When he’s done, there’s a stripe, like a lightning bolt running down the center of his face, with heavy blue eye shadow over a pancake base, and a light dusting of glitter in his hair. I ask where his false eyelashes are. I’m about to ask about his false tits, but his glare stops me.
“You tell anyone and you die. You’re just a hick from the sticks; whadda ya know?”
“No, Joey, man. It’s cool. I just never saw a guy in makeup before.”
He picks up an album cover and throws it at me. It’s David Bowie. He looks even cooler.
“Man, you really got the look. What are you going to do tonight?”
“Just hang at St Mark’s.”
“Man, I wish I could go.”
“Yeah, but ya woodn’t make yaself up.”
“Yes, I would!” I jump at the possibility of going.
“Well, ya betta learn how it’s done. ” He sits me down in front of his mirror and starts to put pancake base on my face. Soon I look like a ghost, then a skull with blackened eyes, and finally a clown with stripes running every which way.
“The hair’s wrong,” he says, as he reaches for the shears.
“No way man, the hair stays.”
“Then smoke some more of this,” as he shoves the joint in my face. Soon I look like a poodle home from the doggie salon. The facial makeup does look better. I’m too stoned to care. By this time, he’s put on long, tight jeans, a body shirt that make it obvious he has no muscles, and tall six-inch platform boots with glitter on the heels.
“Do I look hot or what,” he pushes me away from the mirror. “Well, gotta go. Later days and better lays. Turn off the stereo when ya leave. And don’t touch my stash.”
Then he’s gone. I half expected him to ask me along. I’m too stoned to care. I just stare at myself in the mirror for half an hour. Then Jeff yells from outside, “Hey, Timmy, let me up. I saw the weirdo leave. Come on.”
“No way Jose. I promised Joey I wouldn’t.”
“Aw, man. Well come on. We’re ready to go to the fireworks.”
Oh, shit. “I’ll be down in a minute.” I jump out of my clothes and into the shower. After about twenty minutes of scrubbing, I think I look okay. When I meet everyone on the porch, I’ve forgotten about my hair.
“What happened to you? Get caught in a lawnmower?
“He’s joining the Army.”
“Timmy, what has come over you?”
”I’ll bet the weirdo did it. He’s under his spell.”
“It’s okay. Just ask next time you want a haircut. We can afford to pay for a decent one.”
It goes on like that endlessly. I feel distant from them, for the first time. The fireworks help. They never seemed so vivid and bright. I actually flinch from the explosions once or twice. I split from the family and meet kids I knew several years before. It seems easy to hang out with them, my normal shyness gone. When I get home that night, I put the Lou Reed album on the stereo, stick earphones on, turn on the black light, and fall into a dreamless sleep on Joey’s waterbed. I don’t care that he never changes the sheets. I come down late for breakfast to the same derision normally reserved for Joey. I say I was up late with the kids I met at the fireworks. My mom inspects my hair. Aunt Helen makes me breakfast. When I start to take my plate up to the room, she stops me, “Whoa cowboy. You’re not Joey yet.”
I stay at the house and actually enjoy playing Monopoly with everyone for the rest of the day. Instead of watching the Watergate hearings on TV, I go to bed early. I put on the headphones, and smoke the remainder of yesterday’s joint.
Swiftly I reach la-la land.
Sometime in the middle of the night I awake to Joey swaying unsteadily by the bed. He is buck-ass naked. In the black-lit room, his skinny, white body seemed to glow like a zombie’s. Until he falls into bed, he doesn’t know that I’m there, too.
“Joey, it’s me. How come you’re home?”
“Aw, man. What’s happening? Give me back my bed. No, just move over. I’m too fucked up to care. Shit. What a trip. I am so wasted.”
He’s all sweaty, but touching him, he’s cold.
“Are you sick?”
“Yeah, I’m sick. I itch all over. Be a good little cousin and scratch my back. Yeah, up and down. With your nails. Now, over on the right side. That feels great. Just keep it up. Long strokes. All over my back. Now do my scalp. Yeah, use your nails. Hands on both sides of my head. Now, my back again. Aw, that feels so good. Do my shoulders. Up and down my arms. Careful inside my elbow. I got a cut there. More and more on my butt. Yeah. You’re the greatest.”
This scratching seems to go on for hours. Joey has an unquenchable itch. He lapses into what seems sleep, but if I stop, he says he just nodded out. I keep scratching him. I do his chest and stomach, all the way down to his pubic hairs, then his legs and feet. The more he moans and tells me to keep going, the harder I scratch, and the harder he moans. His body starts to writhe like a snake. He says it feels so good. As I start to scratch higher on the fronts of his legs, he begins to carelessly caress my chopped hair. He rolls over and says to do behind his knees, then higher on the back of his thighs. He arches his back, and, then taking my hands, he lays them on the white mounds of his butt. I scratch back and forth, watching them jiggle like jello. My thumbs rub the top of his butt crack, slowly working down into the fine pubic hairs of his ass. Joey arches more and more as my thumbs scratch the pubic hair. His breathing becomes deeper. Then his feet reach around behind my legs and pull me tight against his body. He takes my right hand and sticks the middle and forefingers into his mouth, first sucking on them, then covering them with spit. Firmly he places my fingers in his ass. I massage his hole with the wet fingers. Slowly the hole expands as he arches back and forth, pushing himself onto my fingers. While my fingers work in and out, the other hand keeps rubbing and scratching his left butt, pulling it aside while my right fingers moves inside his butt hole. The spit makes sucking noises as I push and pull my fingers into and out his ass. His butt hole clenches and loosens when I touch certain spots. His legs wrap around the back of my thighs and his heels hold me against him. The water-bed is moving in steady waves. Finally, lying on top of Joey, I realize I have the worst hard-on ever; it’s so rock hard, I fear that the skin will break. Joey spits into his own hand, wipes it all over my dick, grabs it by the shaft, and sticks the head into his butt, while arching to take it. As soon as I enter him, his whole body relaxes. I think I’m pushing into the water-bed and that he may drown. At the end of that first thrust, I grab him around the stomach and pull him out of the water-bed. His butt tightens on my dick, squeezing it hard. I thrust again. He loosens his butt to receive my entire dick. As soon as my thrust ends, his butt squeezes even harder than the first time. I feel my dick being squeezed out his asshole. I thrust strongly. He groans as we go into the water-bed again. His butt relaxes to receive even more of my dick. Again and again I thrust into him; again and again he tightens and threatens to push me out his butt. I grab him first by the shoulders, then by the hips, holding on for all my worth. His legs reach around behind my calves, his feet rubbing from my knees to my ankles. Each time he tries to push me out, I thrust harder. The water-bed is like a sea storm, as we slosh back and forth, side to side. My breathing becomes as heavy as his, pulling in air in the rhythm of our fucking. My feet find the sides of the water-bed frame as a brace for my thrusts. I hold Joey so he can’t move, thrusting faster and faster. My dick which I had totally ignored, suddenly feels incredibly great. I can feel the head grow even larger. I pull it completely out of him, as he gasps, then thrust it completely in; in and out; again and again. Joey squeezes as hard as he can, but his asshole is wet and loose. He pushes his butt back and forth in unison with my fucking. I suddenly know I’m about to cum, but it feels ten times stronger than when I masturbate. My thrusts become faster and faster. Joey stops moving as he readies to receive my orgasm. My breathing is short and hoarse. I moan in high-pitched squeaks.
Joey laughs, “Slow down.”
“I can’t. I’m going to cum.”
With that I thrust as deeply as possible, holding on to Joey with all my might, my dick throbbing inside him, my teeth clenching, fingers pressing into his chest, and my hips pushing my hard-on as far as possible into Joey and the water-bed. For seconds we remain locked immobile, then he slowly starts to fuck back. His butt hole tightens and releases as he moves up and down my rigid, motionless hard-on. I’m more than ready to explode as his motion increases. I begin to thrust again, in and out as he tightens and loosens. I start to cry with tears streaming down my face onto his back. In the final frenzy, I pull my dick fully out of him, and then, thrust its full length up his butt. His tightened buns clench, milking my hard-on. I explode inside him, again and again while he continues to spurt ejaculate on the water-bed. As we finally slow and stop, my whole body shakes, then relaxes.
Next I know, it’s morning. I wake up curled up next to Joey.
“You awake, man?”
“What time is it?”
“About six. You slept like the dead.”
“You mean we slept all day?”
“No. It’s morning. I didn’t sleep yet.”
“Man, I gotta piss.”
“Go ahead and water Helen’s flowers out the window.”
“How can you call her Helen?”
“That’s what she wants. She’s entering her cool stage.”
“Well, she’s cool to you.”
“Cooler than good old dad. He so wants me outta here.”
“My folks could care less what I do.”
“Don’t knock it. What are you looking for?”
“My underwear. What did you do with it?”
“They’re probably under the water-bed. It turned over last night. Just piss out the window. No one’s gonna see you. You look better without them.”
“You really are a fag.”
“Go piss. We got things to do today.”
“Yeah. You’re my new partner, little dude. I’ll explain later. Let’s get some coffee. You do look good, especially your little white butt.”
It’s my chance for the answer to a burning question, “So tell me– what’s sexier, boxers or briefs?”
“Nothing’s sexier. Just pull those jeans on over that hard-on. You’ll know what I mean.”
He’s right. Wearing nothing feels best. The end of another junior high mystery.