Early on in my youth i knew that there was something Terribly Wrong with me and then gradually figured out that it was same-sex attraction. And then when i got to college i read in the library about The Things They Did and found it all utterly disgusting and way too nasty to even consider doing myself. So i was stuck.
And then when i was in the Army i learned more about Them and still couldn’t imagine committing any of those acts of outrage. So i was totally oblivious to opportunities that arose and only in retrospect understood that i had been offered them.
Much later i finally saw that i’d been making some offers myself on a level so deeply repressed that i couldn’t see them for what they were.
Like that time when a couple of American girls came through Heidelberg with Jean-Pierre, the handsome French traveling companion they’d picked up in Strausburg. They needed places to spend the night, and somehow the two girls ended up crashing with a couple of the other lieutenants while Jean-Pierre ended up stuck with me.
Well, i was the only American who could speak French, and this was a chance for me to get some practice.
This was during the period when reinforcements were being sent to Vietnam rather than Europe, so troop strength had dwindled to the point that those of us remaining in the BOQ’s were given two rooms separated by the bathroom designed to be shared by both, which meant there was a sofabed in my other room for Jean-Pierre.
Before we retired, we sat on the sofa for a few more beers, talking, and it came up that Jean-Pierre was just dying to have a pair of levis, by which i mean Levi’s ®. See, in those days real, name-brand levis were not marketed in Europe and were thus highly prized and très cher on the gray market, really really expensive. And yet, all the American GI’s were prancing around in them since they could buy them in the PX.
So the following week i bought a pair for Jean-Pierre and delivered them to him in Strausburg, where he invited me to join the family for lunch. Being French, his mother turned out a delicious meal, the high point of which being fresh strawberries lightly sweated with sugar, a treat i’d never had.
But i missed a greater treat.
How, you ask, did i know the correct size to buy for Jean-Pierre? Well, we were sitting there on the sofa when this question arose, so without even thinking about what i was doing, i slipped out of the pair i was wearing and handed them, nice and warm, to Jean-Pierre to try on while i stood there in my tighty whities.
Turned out, they fit him perfectly.
And i was so oblivious that i didn’t even check out his tighty whities. He could have had a raging hard on for all i knew.
After we put our own pants back on, we sat there talking some more, and he wrote out a few lines of a French poem for me, which i read and tucked into my dictionary with an innocuous comment. Make that an oblivious comment, as the poem was about beautiful eyes.
Hell, i was so out of it in those days that if he’d admired my whities i’d have thought nothing of shucking those off for him to try.