by Leo Racicot
I’m 67 years old and I have never been to bed
with anybody. I don’t count the two times I
found myself briefly on a mattress. The first
time was with a handsome hustler, Rosenberger,
who could only get off if the trick slapped one
ten dollar bill after another into his outstretched
hand while sucking him. Rosenberger joked, “I’m
making money and getting my balls off.”
In the shower room of the Embarcadero “Y”,
1986, a hairy, fat, mustachioed Armenian walked
right up to me, boner in hand, and said, “You got
room here?” I was so unused to being
propositioned, I led him down the hall. He
motioned me to lie on the bed, face up, mounted
me, used my body for a frotting rock. He smelled
like a garlic farm. In less than a minute, he blew his load on me, got up, burped and left. Neither of these episodes can be found in The International Annals of Lovemaking.
I don’t know why I’m being flip about this. I’ve been denied one of the basic aspects of human experience. I’ve never cuddled or spooned with another human being. I’ve been kissed fewer times than Flannery O’Connor was kissed. There must be other reluctant monks out there but I’ve never met or heard of them. I don’t know how this happened. Or, do I? I learned from an early age that my being gives off not the slightest trace of sexual ethos. To put it another way, never have I instilled lust in anyone. One guy was cruel enough to look me in the eyes and state, “Leo, you’ve got the sex appeal of an uncooked egg.” Jan Morris, of all people, once noted I was the most androgynous person she’d ever known. Jan Morris! I mean, come on! Even clergy had a more active sex life than I did; it was known in the parish that two or three times a week, our Father Conway jogged up Adams Street in his Lycras to his girlfriend’s house, gave her a good screw then jogged back in time to say the 9 o’clock Mass.
Whenever a man showed even a smidge of interest, something or someone would come along to thwart it. It took on major mojo proportions. Karmic. One time, a fellow and I began to tussle in a very direct way in my kitchen when whose ugly face should appear in the window, big as life, but his girlfriend’s, ugly not because her features offended but because her timing did. Needless to say, I never saw that guy again. It didn’t help that I suffer from a touch of Borderline Personality Disorder; if a guy so much as held a door open for me, I was ready to pick out the wedding rings. On another occasion, a blind date ended our very brief encounter with, “You, sir, are a eunuch.” I did look gelded in my multicolored pastel K-Mart shmata, green corduroy elephant pants.
Still another time, I found myself alone in a Motel 6 with a former member of the boy band, Menudo. Angel more than earned his name; his face was among the most beatific I’ve seen. By contrast, he had a mouth filthier than the possessed child in The Exorcist. A steady Latino stream of “I’m gonna fuck you and fuck you and fuck you more! I’m gonna fuck you to the moon. I’m gonna be your forever fuck and Fuck Fuck Fuck you.” But, like William Styron’s Leslie Lapidus in Sophie’s Choice, Angel could say fuck but he could not do it. When I got on all fours and wiggled my goods, Angel screamed not unlike Janet Leigh in Psycho and was out the door, like smoke.
I could fill notebook after notebook with stories of aborted consummations. Some people are skeptical that I’ve never had my cherry popped. Only Edmund White believes me, commiserating, “Poor dear; at this point, it’s probably a sun-dried tomato.”
One big problem is that I’m mostly if not always happy. This makes people suspicious. It led one guy to want to slash me with a butter knife. It’s definitely not sexy; it draws folks in who need a clown or jester fix. I have a propensity for attracting depressives. For years, my friend, Joe, called me, “Egg/Bird/Fish/Pizza Leo”, a reference to my genderless etheric. I attracted sexually confused heterosexual males and lesbians. The males usually blamed me for their confusion.
Oh, why pussyfoot around – I was fat, homely and shy. In the
gay world, three strikes and you’re out. At least in the gay
world of my day. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, there were no defined
sexual categories, no bears, geishas, nerds. If there were, I
was a kid and knew nothing about them, never knew a heavy
man could be viewed by others as “hot stuff”.
Who knows? Maybe all that unused sexual energy channels
into my creative efforts. It’s got to be going somewhere.
William Carlos Williams enjoyed a healthy sex life but not
nearly as healthy and lusty as he wanted it to be. Biographers
point out his massive output might be attributed to sexual
frustration, a hypersexual tension that went into his poems
instead of the many pussies he dreamed would be his. Ditto
Emily Dickinson, who turned unrequited passion into a cottage
industry. Her work writhes, tumbles and jumbles more
energetically than any four-poster acrobatics she imagined
alone in her bed. Not that I put myself in a league with
Williams or Dickinson. And not that celibacy is a needed
ingredient for writing well. I know a prolific writer. In his 80s, he continues to have sex once a day with enough oomph left over to produce essays, short stories, broadsides, blurbs, reviews reviews reviews and a book a year. When they were handing out extraterrestrial energy, this guy cut to the front of the line.
Maybe my sexless existence opened me up to agape, the unconditional, open-hearted regard one man has for all mankind regardless of circumstance. Years ago, my friend, Quentin Crisp, in a letter empathizing with my chronic lack of romance, wrote, "There is no more to be said for loving one person than for loving the whole world.”
Leo Racicot is an award-winning essay-memoirist and poet. His poems Vermont and Richard, 1998 are in the Exquisite Pandemic Archive.