The Journey — what a long, strange trip it has been.
Caution: This story is about a subject that is important though it contains mature themes.
At 19, George was inexperienced and terribly naive. Sure, there were a few girls he liked and some he even found attractive, but he had never had a real date, and had never even kissed one. So you can imagine his distress when he fell in love for the first time; the object of his fascination was a twelve-year-old boy!
Leif was the son of his good friend, Bud, who didn't have a problem with George hanging around. But when George realized that his head was turned around and his world was upside down, he seriously considered suicide. Yes, there had been bouts of depression from time to time, but even though he was a loner and a nonconformist, he certainly didn't want to be a "queer" ...what was he to do?
Fortunately, Leif's father was the kind of person he could talk to, so that's what George did. "Bud, I have a problem. Is there someplace we can talk in private?" And they sat in the car while George spilled his guts to the only person he could trust with this kind of thing. "I think I'm in love with Leif. I think about him all the time, and I want to be with him all the time." Bud thought for a moment, and said, "If you really care about him, maybe it would be best if you just stay away from him and leave him alone." That was the last thing George wanted to hear, but he valued Bud's wisdom, so that's what he did — he stayed away; and the pain was terrible.
Just the year before, George and a couple of his friends had volunteered to work as counselors at a summer camp and he had discovered that little kids, 9 or 10-years-old were delightful to be around, but to fall in love with a twelve-year-old boy was the worst thing he could think of — this was not in his plans. After all, he was going to be a priest, wasn't he?
George considered himself to be smarter than the average person, so he thought about this problem as best he could, being so deeply involved in it himself. "OK, so I like boys; is that a bad thing, or can I use it in a good way?" And he made a conscious decision to do just that.
The church he was associated with had recently started a Boy Scout troop and George knew one of the fellows running it., so he went to him and asked, "If I said I wanted to work with the Scouts, would you have a place for me?" Lonnie said, "Yes, we need an Assistant Scout Master, and it's going to be you." So George started working with the Scouts and was a big hit with the boys.
At the parents meeting soon after, the boys gave him a standing ovation, and George didn't know quite what to make of that. After all, he was just being himself. The Scout Master, Bob, said that George "bridged the generation gap" and pointed out that he was "always for the under-dog."
George had learned that if you just give kids a little time & attention, they really eat it up. Now, instead of having one special friend, he had about 30, and they kept him pretty busy with all the badges & outdoor skills they had to learn.
When Bud (Leif's father) learned of this latest development, George working with the Boy Scouts, he asked him, "isn't that sort of like setting a fox to guard the hen house?" But George calmed his fears with "I need to do this. If we are together for a good reason, and we're doing something productive, then I can just enjoy being with them, and the other problem doesn't even arise." "Hmmm," said Bud, "we'll have to see how it goes." And Bud actually had both Leif and his little brother, Tom, join the very same troop and checked in from time to time to make sure everything was alright, but never spoke a word to Bob or Lonnie (the Scout leaders) about the private conversation he'd had with George.
George loved music, and all along he’d been singing in the church choir. But then two crazy things happened.
A really attractive eighteen-year-old girl in the choir, who no doubt got a lot of unwanted attention, noticed that George wasn't interested in her, so she became interested in him. And Connor, a fellow a few years older than George, asked him out to lunch after church one Sunday. Having few friends, George willingly went to lunch with his new-found friend, and they had a nice conversation about religion, music, and Connor's recent divorce.
Upon parting, Connor said, "Peace," this being the hippie era, and wanting to connect with a younger person — but George countered with, "Love," being a young person himself, and a weekend hippie at that. Well, Connor heard what he wanted to hear, and could hardly wait until next Sunday so he could see George again.
The next time they had lunch, Connor asked George point-blank, "Have you ever had a homosexual experience?" George hesitated momentarily and thought to himself, ‘If we're going to be friends, then I have to trust this guy.’ So he admitted, "Well, yes; I do have a gay friend I met through one of my girlfriends," emphasizing the ‘girlfriend’ part.
At this point, all Connor said was, "It's two o'clock; I live in Belmont." The ball being clearly in his court, George considered this, and said, "Let me stop by my house and get the clothes that I'll need for work tomorrow." And that's how George met Connor. Shortly after that, they got an apartment together, and George said that it was the first time in his life that he ever really felt loved.
Connor had two little kids from his recent marriage, and although they didn't live with him, he sometimes had them over the weekend. Gary was ten and his little brother, Donny, was almost nine and became fast friends with George. The fact that Donny & George were both blond and wore glasses helped, and they had a deep affection for each other that was quite apparent. They were inseparable whenever he was there, and would even take naps together.
About this time, the pretty eighteen-year-old girl in the choir started inviting George over to her house for one thing or another — swimming, dinner, and things like that. Not being one to pass up a free meal, George began spending a little time there, but that ended abruptly when they happened to see young Mark Lester, of "Oliver" fame making a guest appearance on a TV show. Without thinking, George blurted out, "Oh my God; he's beautiful!" and totally shocked everyone in the room. Oddly enough, while George wasn't interested in the 18-year-old girl, he did find her 13-year-old little sister quite attractive.
So George was singing in the choir, and one Sunday offered a ride to a teenage girl who was new in town and she said that she had just had a baby, out of wedlock. She was staying with some friends of her parents to try and get her life back on track. George invited her to a drive-in movie that night, and during the show, she confessed that she had "taken on" the whole football team and didn't know who the child's father was. "Hmmm," thought George, "this is interesting." So he rolled down the window, dumped the movie speaker on the ground, and started the car's engine. "Where are we going?" she asked. "Up to my apartment," replied George. And that was his first time with a woman.
Connor came home during their tryst and feeling "left out" busied himself making dinner. When George and his lady friend came downstairs, she was a little embarrassed, so he took her home, and returned to tell Connor that she wanted to get married. Connor told him, "well, you can't live here if you do." George hadn't thought that far ahead; he had been living with his parents because even though he had a job and made good money, he had the idea that he couldn't support himself. So he told the girl that he didn't really like her and didn't want to get married, both of which were true.
Now Connor's ex-wife started giving him fits and he decided that although he wanted to be near his kids, he could make better money in a different state and be more supportive of them in that way, so he proceeded to pack up and leave.
And George suddenly found himself back at his parent’s house again.
Then the mother of one of his Scouts told George that another boy, Kyle, had gotten into trouble for breaking into the school and stealing things, so George went to pay him a visit under the pretense of making sure that Kyle had everything he needed for an upcoming camp out. While he was there, Kyle's little brother climbed up onto George's lap and sat there.
He was cute, smart, funny and affectionate.
Needless to say, George started spending a lot of time at Kyle's house, and little 10-year-old Blain became his total obsession.
By the time George finally met their mother, she had heard so much about him that she was "interested" in him because he was interested in her kids. She had just divorced their father, who was an alcoholic, and wanted some love in her life, so George moved in. But, she too wanted to get married.
Being still young & foolish, George wasn't through "sowing his wild oats" and decide that he needed to "play the field," but the second time he came home with "something" that he had caught, she told him that she couldn't be involved with him anymore.
Yet he still hung around, and helped with the kids any way he could, taking them places and doing fun things together.
One of the things that George was doing during this period was making more friends in the gay community. He met one young fellow he took a liking to and was complaining to him about still living "at home" with his parents and not being able to support himself. His new friend, Carl, being wise to George's ways, said, "show me your check book," and asked, "how many of those checks were written in restaurants?" Then Carl showed George that he actually did earn enough money to afford his own apartment if he would just stop eating out in restaurants.
"Gee," exclaimed George, "I never really looked at it that way." So George and Carl got an apartment together in a nearby town where George worked.
Meanwhile, George continued his friendship with Kyle & Blain and would go down early on Sunday mornings to help the boys with their paper route and then take them out for breakfast. Anyone who saw them together knew there was some kind of connection between them, because they were so intimate — it was obvious that they really loved each other. There was even some talk about George possibly adopting young Blain, but nothing ever came of that.
Now George started to miss the work he had been doing with the Boy Scouts before he moved, so he inquired at his new location and found a troop that needed help, and soon found himself not Assistant, but Scout Master of his own troop!
And this troop really needed help. The membership was small, they weren't earning badges, didn't wear uniforms and they hardly ever went camping!! George immediately set about making the necessary changes, and soon had them all in uniform, camping out once a month all year round, and even going on day trips to places of interest.
The following year, the Boy Scouts were having a Jamboree in Idaho, and had just lowered the requirements to attend; you no longer had to be First Class, but merely a member to go.
George jumped on this idea and told his assistant, Jerry, that since this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of the boys, they should consider going. Well, Jerry liked the idea so much that he did all of the work involved in getting their troop to the event, and George only had to go along for the ride. Well actually, he drove one of the cars, but you see what I mean.
Then George had a great idea; why not take one of "his" boys from his old Scout troop, like Kyle. Well, Kyle had gotten into trouble again, and was grounded, so he couldn't go, but then he asked Blain, who said "YES" and that was what George had really wanted all along. So Blain went with George on his first big road trip. And a wonderful time was had by all. It was quite an experience, from San Jose, California to Coeur d'Alene Idaho; 2 or 3 days up, camping along the way, a whole week camped at Lake Pend Oreille, and 2 or 3 days back down. They even stopped and camped at Mt Rainier, WA one night.
His style of leadership meant that he tried to be buddies with the kids, especially the older boys. His favorite method was to let one of the Senior Scouts actually run the troop, while he stayed in the background, acting as a coach, or a counselor. He'd train the older boys to train the younger boys, and they even had a representative democracy. It really worked quite well.
Another trick was to treat the older boys as his equal ... not only spending time with them, but taking them to lunch or sharing a beer — things like that. George was young enough that they even enjoyed the same kind of music, so that helped, too. This encouraged the kind of rapport that the boys trusted him and would be honest with him.
On one occasion, when the boys had just returned from summer camp (George hadn't gone) he asked one of the boys if there was any "grass" up there. The boy immediately said, "NO" — a little too fast, and then looked at George and remembered who he was talking to. Then he admitted that yes, there had been "a little" and George asked him if he had tried it. You see, they could actually talk about those things. One boy thought he was being clever and hiding his drug use by using code words, so George told him, "I'm not blind or stupid; I've probably done everything you have, and a few things you haven't." And then they became good friends, even expressing "love" for each other ... in a strictly Platonic sense, of course.
But when one of the boys "approached" him, he knew he had to draw the line.
"Roger," he said, "you know I'm very fond of you, and while I don't think it's wrong for two guys to mess around, I do think it would be wrong for a Scout Master to fool around with his Scouts."
And now, after being Scout Master for a whole decade, George had gotten to the point that he no longer enjoyed it, so he gave up Scouting, which gave him more time to concentrate on his new-found interest, recovery from alcoholism.
By this time, his roommate, Carl, had realized that George wasn't really interested in him, and he moved on to greener pastures.
George discovered that he really preferred living alone; he enjoyed peace & quiet and liked the fact that he could read without anyone bothering him. And he did love to read.
All this time, George had stayed in close touch with Kyle & Blain, taking them to San Francisco several times, buying them presents and even taking them on their own private camping trips. He had other little friends, but these were the two that he favored, and once in a while, one or the other would come and spend a weekend with George at his place.
One of the gifts he gave the kids was a mini-bike. But this was something special; it had a motorcycle engine and you had to actually shift it.
Around this time, Blain got a new best friend. Chuck was a truck driver who liked to take a kid along with him whenever he could. And the darned fool was letting Blain drive the damned truck! Suddenly George had some competition for Blain's affection. Blain said that if George had a truck he would be with him and not Chuck, but that's life.
So George bought Blain a full-sized motorcycle.
George had been riding "bikes" for a while, and had even taught his kid sister to ride, but when Blain was riding it scared George, really scared George. Since Blain was still too young to get a license, this was all off-road, and it seemed like he had no fear whatsoever. George was afraid Blain would kill himself.
But Blain mastered the machine, even though it was way too big for him, and by the time he turned 16 he was fully skilled with both the truck and the motorcycle. So on his birthday, the very day he turned 16, Chuck drove the truck and George took the MC down to the DMV and Blain passed the tests for both vehicles. It was kind of funny, too, because they had never heard of a 16-year-old getting a Class "A" license, and had to call Sacramento to see if that was OK. Blain said later that the examiner really put him through his paces to make sure that he could actually handle the truck, and when it was all done, he said, "OK, you've got yourself a truck driver!"
So I guess all that time he spent with Chuck really paid off.
Now Blain is getting older — he went through several cars and even became a pretty good auto mechanic, yet his real love was driving trucks and he began to have less time for George. But George knew that if he wanted to keep his friendship, it had to be on young Blain's terms, so he stayed in touch as best he could, while Blain was working, driving all over the state.
There was a lot of fear involved in hearing about truck wrecks and every time knowing that it could be his beloved Blain… but it never was, so eventually he got over that fear.
So Blain was growing up, and he had discovered girls. A young guy driving a big truck is something of a chick magnet, and the hot little car that he drove on cruise nights was getting a lot of attention from the girls, too. Before long, he had a steady girlfriend and shortly after that, she was pregnant. So Blain married Darlene and soon little Blain, Jr. was born. And little "B" Jr. was delightful; what a neat kid.
As they settled into their own home, Blain gave up the motorcycles and went to work full-time driving trucks. And then they moved to a different town, about an hour away. So now if he wanted to see them, George had to drive for an hour to get there.
And he did.
Every holiday would find George at Blain's house, and he got to know Blain's other children as they arrived in the world.
Being an old friend of the family, he was given the honorary title of "Uncle" George, and kept it to this day.
"Uncle" George is now retired and lives in the same town as Blain, Blain Jr. and Blain Jr.'s kids.
George is still friends with Blain, who is now 50-years-old, and even Blain Jr.'s kids call him "Uncle George" too — three generations.
I know you're still wondering about the whole “gay” angle — well, George was smart; after checking out the gay scene and deciding that wasn't what he wanted for himself, he chose celibacy. He knew also that an attraction to boys could be disastrous, and wisely decided not to act on it, and consequently managed to stay out of trouble his entire life.
NOTE: this is a work of fiction — any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
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