Denial is Not Just a River in Egypt
Spotted on a bumper sticker: My sexual orientation? Horizontal, usually.
There’s an elephant in the room. She’s big and pink and she’s got an annoying smirk on her face, because
she knows I’m the only one who sees her.
The guys we work with certainly can’t see her. Hell, there are days I swear I could fuck Starsky right in the middle
of the squad room floor, and those turkeys would just shrug and say, “There go Starsky and Hutch again, always clowning
Seriously. What would you think if you knew two guys were living together? That their apartment only had one bedroom, and
that in that bedroom there was just one bed?
Well, if you were any of the guys we know, you’d say, “Hutch, he went to college.” Or you might say, “Starsky’s
from the East Coast... New York, you know.” Like that somehow explains everything. College guys, New Yorkers, they’re
all a bit eccentric. But they’re not gay.
My mom still thinks I’m going to get married again some day. Starsky’s mom periodically sends him pictures of
eligible Jewish girls.
And Starsky... He’s the worst offender of all. That elephant’s standing right in front of him – hell, she’s
got her feet parked squarely on his Adidas – and he still refuses to admit she’s there.
The first sign of trouble hit me about five minutes after the first time Starsky had an orgasm that was unmistakably the result
of something I’d done.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, apparently in Starsky’s mind his other caused-by-me orgasms had all been
excusable on the grounds that there was a girl present in the room. And that time we watched Flesh Gordon together?
Well, it was obviously all those hot women on the screen that did it for him, not me. Gets a guy worked up, that kind of
movie. He couldn’t help himself.
So in retrospect, I should have seen it coming. But honest to God, I had no clue.
“We’re drunk,” said Starsky, that first time. He was sprawled on his back, deflated, exhausted, his hands
tucked tidily behind his head. I remember thinking he looked like an invitation to sin. To sin more, I mean. To keep on
sinning and never stop and never regret a thing and, since I’m going to hell anyway, this is the way I want to go.
The Presbyterian in me comes out at times like these. The best thing religion ever did for me was slap a whole bunch of taboos
around sex. Breaking them is the biggest turn-on imaginable.
But anyway, he said what he said about us being drunk. So, I rolled over and leaned on my elbow, and looked at him. I looked
at the convex curve of his stomach, and the dip where his breastbone began. I looked at his side, and at the way it was defined
by his arms raised up over his head. I could have touched him then, run a finger along the arc of a rib, but instead I wrapped
my free arm around my midsection, and trapped my hand under my body. I was worried I might shatter the moment, somehow.
I should have known he’d do it to us all on his own. “I mean, we’re really drunk,” said Starsky.
“An’ accidents happen when you’re drunk, right?”
“Yeah, right,” I said. “We got drunk and somehow I accidentally ended up sucking your dick.”
Starsky smiled brightly, evidently deaf to my sarcasm. “Yeah, that’s right!”
It was lucky for Starsky that I didn’t have a free hand; I might have slugged him. “Shut up, Starsky.”
“Are you mad at me?” He sounded puzzled.
“No,” I lied. I threw myself down on my back and reached for the blanket. As I pulled it up over my face, I
said, “I’m going to sleep. You can stay, or go. Your choice.”
Starsky stayed. And in the morning it’s best friends, best buddies, and oh, that sex thing? Never happened. Don’t
know what you’re talking about.
I still don’t know why I didn’t slug him.
I had the next day off, and spent all of it repotting plants that didn’t need repotting, recovering from my hangover,
and coming to terms with the fact that sex with Starsky was A Very Bad Idea. I even told the spider plant all about it, while
pinching off baby spiders and staking them into empty pots. Based on the number of offspring she regularly produces, that
spider’s a sex addict, so I figured she’d know all about relationship issues.
Unfortunately she had nothing to say on the topic. I should have known better than to try comparing notes with something
that reproduces asexually.
Around six that evening, my doorbell rang and I found Starsky standing on my doorstep with a six-pack under his arm and a
hopeful smile on his face.
“You got company?”
I stared at him, wondering why Starsky’s jeans seemed to be getting tighter every time I saw him. As far as I could
tell, this last pair had been painted on. His t-shirt looked like it had shrunk two sizes as well. His hair, on the other
hand, seemed to have survived the wash in better shape. It was looking especially clean and fluffy.
If I had any self-respect, I would have sent him down the stairs with my boot print on his fine little ass.
Starsky’s smile got a bit uncertain, and a worried look came into his eyes. He shifted uneasily, balancing the beer
on one cocked hip.
You know what? Where he’s concerned, I gave up my self-respect years ago. I don’t even miss it.
I stepped back from the door. “Come in.”
It’s a repeat of the previous night, right down to the next day’s hangover.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… A week passes, and then another. Starsky has become a permanent fixture in my bed. And
me? Let’s just say I’m on a rapid downward spiral towards liver failure.
So, two weeks after it all began, Starsky handed me a beer and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t take any more of
this. The sex might be great, but the alcohol was killing me.
I took the beer out of Starsky’s hand and put it down on the coffee table.
“We can’t keep doing this,” I said.
Starsky blinked bloodshot eyes at me. “Why not?”
“Because we can’t do the job hung over all the time! Even Dobey’s starting to notice.”
“He made some very pointed comments about our social life today.”
“I don’t remember...”
“No, you were heaving your guts out in the men’s room.”
“Oh.” Starsky seemed to shrink in on himself.
He looked miserable and I felt like the world’s biggest asshole. “It’s not the sex that’s the problem,
Starsk. It’s the alcohol.”
He seemed to accept that, but we still steered clear of the bed that night. Starsky sat on my couch instead, staring thoughtfully
at my TV screen. Meanwhile, I just stared at him and wondered if I’d just put an end to the best sexual relationship
I’d ever had.
See, by this point I’d already resigned myself to a life of regularly falling into bed with my best friend and both
of us pretending we’d really rather be fucking girls. There must be a masochistic streak in me a mile wide, but I was
prepared to settle for that. I just couldn’t take any more of the booze.
Nothing happened for a few days. Work was the same as ever. There were bad guys to catch, reports to write, and the usual
parade of unlikely characters. Dobey stopped making disapproving noises every time we staggered past his office door. But
I had a nagging feeling that we were in a holding pattern, just waiting. It reminded me of something Starsky once described;
the ball was in the air and the crowd was holding its breath.
By the fourth day I was beginning to worry that the crowd might die from oxygen starvation while waiting for Starsky to make
his play. But that night my doorbell rang again. I opened my door and found Starsky, stone cold sober, standing on the other
“It’s not about the sex,” said Starsky.
Interesting, I thought. Because, hell, I thought it was all about the sex. What we had Before Sex...
BS? Like BC? My life permanently demarcated by the first time I fell into bed with Starsky?
Anyway, before sex our relationship was nice... uncomplicated. After Sex with Starsky (ASS, hah), it was still nice, but
it was also a hell of a lot more complicated.
He slapped my chest, impatiently. “Hutch, you got to focus. What I’ve got to tell you is important.”
I stepped aside and let him in.
He made himself comfortable on my couch, his elbows over the back and his sneakers up on my coffee table. “You’re
my best friend,” he said. His right foot bobbed emphatically.
I nodded, and moved the plaster cupids to a safer location.
“We got a connection.”
My mind went immediately to the last time he’d had his dick up my ass. But I was reasonably sure that wasn’t
the kind of connection he meant, so I kept my mouth shut and nodded some more.
“What we got between us is something different from anything else. It’s not like the kind of love you get between
a man and a woman, or a man and a man.”
Just replace me with one of those bobblehead dolls, nodding up and down, up and down. I had no fucking clue what he was on
about, but I hoped that if I just kept listening, it’d all eventually come clear.
“When two people fall in love, it’s usually about the sex. You see some hot chick and you wanna... y’know.”
Ridiculously, Starsky blushed. The guy fucks me, is fucked by me, and yet he still can’t talk about sex with me. I
think he could have used a few more religious taboos growing up. Obviously secular Judaism just doesn’t give a boy
enough to rebel against.
“You want to make love to her,” I said, helpfully. If I hadn’t, this could have taken all night while he
fumbled around with ‘you know’ and ‘stuff’ and ‘whatchamacallit’.
“Right. And then you get to know her and she’s a nice girl and maybe you wanna have kids with her and buy a house
and stuff like that. But what it’s really about is the whatchamacallit.” He took a deep breath, turned a deeper
shade of red, and finally spit it out. “Sex.”
More nodding on my part.
“But, you and me, it’s not about the sex.”
“It’s not?” As far as I could tell, Starsky was declaring that he wasn’t into me at all. But if
he wasn’t, then why the hell had he been pouring beer down my throat and fucking me night after night?
“No! It’s about us, being best friends, being something more than just two people who have sex.” He was
excited, sitting up straight and talking so fast with his hands I was worried he was going to put someone’s eye out.
Probably mine. “Hell, Hutch, I’d still love you even if you had no dick at all!”
Well, that set me back on my heels. I mean, the image of me, dickless. It’s kind of nice to know Starsky would still
be there for me, but... hell.
But before I could say anything, he kissed me.
Starsky’s kisses are about the best conversation stopper I’ve ever experienced. One good buss from him, and I’m
not interested in arguing anymore. Whatever he says, it’s all good with me just so long as he keeps on kissing me.
Anyway, for Starsky at least, that cleared everything up. From then on we had sex regularly, sober and with intent to sin.
And apparently it was okay, because what we had was something so special, so unique, it defied the boundaries of normal convention.
Yeah, I could live with that.
We moved in together about three months later. We’ve been living openly as a couple for over two and a half years now.
We don’t try to hide it. We don’t have to. Like I said before, everyone at the precinct is wearing blinkers
where we’re concerned. They don’t want to see it, so they don’t. When I hear about the prejudice other
gay couples have to suffer, it makes me feel like I should be doing something.
On this one occasion last year, I wanted to go to City Hall to participate in a rally Peter Whitelaw was organizing. A gay
bookstore had been raided and a bunch of books seized, and I wanted to say something about how they should have the same laws
for gay porn as they do for straight porn. It’s only fair, right?
But when I brought it up with Starsky, he gave me a puzzled look and said, “Why? We’re not gay.”
“What do you mean, what?”
“Did you just say we’re not gay?” I wondered if I’d imagined the past couple years. If so, it’d
been one hell of a hallucination.
“Just what I said. We’re not gay.”
Other people have six foot invisible rabbits named Harvey. I’ve got Starsky.
He looked at me like I’d just grown a second head. Or a third, if you want to count the big one and the little one
as two. “We’re straight, Hutch.”
“We have sex!”
Starsky sighed, patiently. “I already explained, Hutch. What we got ain’t about the sex. It’s about love.
I love you, and you love me. And we have sex, because it’s fun. But we’re not gay, because if we were gay we’d
be into other guys, and we’re not. We’re just into each other.”
And God, aren’t we. Several times a week. It used to be several times a night, but things have calmed down a bit now
that we’re settled. And to be honest, I’m relieved. My stamina isn’t what it used to be now that I’m
into the second half of my thirties.
I went to the rally anyway, without Starsky. While I was there, I ran into Peter and asked him what he thought.
“I think you’re in a relationship with a straight guy,” he said.
“How do you figure that?” I demanded. “We live together. We sleep together! He’s even given up
girls for me.”
He just shook his head. “You can’t make people into something they’re not,” he said. “If you
want him in your life, you’ve got to accept him as he is.”
Goddamned politician. I think I was better off talking to my spider plant.
Out of everyone, besides me, Huggy’s the only one who’s ever noticed the elephant in the room.
A couple of days after the protest march, Starsky and I went to The Pits for lunch. Huggy greeted us with a wide grin and,
“Congrats on the happy carnal revelations! I always figured you dudes were driving the other way up the turnpike.”
He must have figured we were finally out of the closet, even though Starsky wasn't at the march. Then again, the way we're
always together, anyone who recognized me probably assumed he was around somewhere - maybe tucked into my pocket.
I started to say thanks, but Starsky interrupted me.
“Hey, we're straight. We've always been straight!”
Huggy gave Starsky a dubious look.
Starsky leaned on the counter and met Huggy’s gaze. “Look, just because me and Hutch like to get it on a whole
lot, that doesn't mean we're gay!”
Oh boy, I thought, when I saw the expression on Huggy’s face. Right away, I started looking for the nearest exit.
Huggy may be an irresistible force, but Starsky is the proverbial immovable object.
“You.” Huggy pointed one long finger at Starsky. “Are in love with him.” He pointed at me.
“Yeah,” said Starsky.
“And he pumps your gas.”
“How many straight dudes do you know who do that with each other?”
Starsky crossed his arms, scowling. “I don't care. What me and Hutch have is special. And we're not gay.”
I think I was sitting at the bar with my head in my hands by this point. “Just let it go, Huggy,” I said.
The sound Huggy made was eloquently disgusted. I suspect it’s no coincidence that right after that he suddenly remembered
our bar tab hadn’t been paid in six months.
See, what it all comes down to is, I never thought I’d end up stuck in the closet.
Starsky seems happy enough in here with me. He’s got his comic books and a flashlight and there’s a chili dog
on the plate by his knee.
Most of the time, I don’t mind it very much. This closet is large and comfy and it’s got all the mod cons. But
sometimes I think I’d like to come out.
I would, you know. I’d even drag Starsky out with me. I think he’d like it out in the real world, if he gave
it half a chance.
It’s just that there’s this big pink elephant blocking the door with her ass.