Friday, November 30, 2007

An Early Writing Sample (lengthy, too)

Thanks, once again, to Jason Phoon, for encouraging me to write about the idea of gay-vampires-for-Jesus!

Thanks to Noel Alumit, a terrific Intro to Fiction writing instructor, for another week of last-minute desperation, caused by the need to come up with something to turn in on time!

Thanks to You, my small, powerful, and oh-so-significant Reading Audience, you people who are exactly the type with whom my mother hoped I would never associate!

Enjoy your acknowledgments, here, because there may not be room enough when the novel is completed and then published!


There were no vampires. Of course there weren't. It was just his imagination going into overdrive, fueled by the guilt of having had sex again.

Jaden knew his pattern, by now. He could abstain for only so long, be celibate for about three or four months before he needed a fix. And it wasn't as if he deliberately went looking for trouble. With hardly any conscious effort on his part, opportunity, or trouble, or whatever the hell you wanted to call a convenient hook-up, always seemed to find him, three or four times a year. And as part of his consistent pattern, he swore, after each time, that it would be the last.
Addicted to dick, he would joke to himself. Time to quit cold turkey. Again.
Usually, the post-sex guilt alone was enough to convince him that he would be able to get through the rest of his life without ever having sex with a guy again. But this time there was also fear involved, fleeting but definite, and a little pain, as well.

His jeans still unbuttoned, Jaden pulled down the elastic waist band of his boxers and tried to examine his crotch by the light inside his car. His Geo Metro's overhead light wasn't strong enough. What he saw looked like traces of blood, dark and wet, but he couldn't be sure. Instead of blood, it might be ejaculate, either his own or Nicky's, gleaming in the wiry brunette patch below his navel.

What have I done, he thought. I knew I was getting in over my head, pushing my luck, once again. Dear God, please forgive me enough to let me still be alright.

He waited until he got back to Pasadena and into his apartment, where he could see more clearly in the privacy of the small but well-lit bathroom. It was after midnight on a week night, so his roommate would not be awake. Jaden shut the door anyway, as quietly as he could, before undoing his jeans, again.

There was no mistaking the blood this time, dried to a dark purply-brown, and hardening into two small dots on his lower pelvis, one on either side of the base of his penis. Jaden smeared the still-soft scabs, revealing the cherry-red brightness of residual blood underneath.

"Easy, easy!" Jaden had begged, between small gasps, when he felt the scrape of Nicky's teeth. Nicky was a biter, and Jaden couldn't completely relax and enjoy the blow job. "I'm not really into the S&M thing," he joked. It was a wonder he had been able to maintain a full erection.

"I'm sorry," Nicky had said, coming up for air. "It's just that you're so hot and I can't control myself."

Even as Jaden had felt himself getting closer to ejaculation, his thoughts had formed the usual lecture: This is so wrong. You shouldn't be doing this. This is exactly what God hates. You're doing and being the abomination. There are no actions without consequence. Punishment will surely be a direct result of this, punishment and pain.

Jaden's normal pattern of guilt and worrying had morphed into fear as Nicky applied more pressure with his teeth. What if this guy were to bite extra hard and chomp my dick off, right now, and just sever it completely? Feelings of fear were at risk of mounting into outright panic, even as Jaden's physical pleasure heightened. He tried to push Nicky's head away.

"I'm close! I'm going to come!"

Nicky had been breathing gustily through his nose. "Mmf, hmf" was his response as the grip of his mouth only tightened. Swallowing was one of the 'high risk behaviors' but apparently Nicky was okay with that.

Jaden had felt a brief, sharp pain at the base of his shaft, at the precise moment his body had convulsed with the first wave of ejaculation. Although he was fully aware of the pain, he was too distracted, at the time, by how differently his orgasm had felt, how much more intense it had been.

It was worth putting up with Nicky's biting, Jaden thought as he searched for the cotton balls under the bathroom sink. Wasn’t it? He couldn't remember ever having had such an amazing orgasm before. Fuck Nicky, anyway, literally or otherwise, he thought as he flinched from the sting of rubbing alcohol. Fuck his kinky ways, and fuck him for being so damn friendly at the River of Life meetings.

The weekly support group meetings were supposed to be a safe place for Christian men who 'struggled,' not another pick-up joint. Fortunately, Jaden didn't feel much temptation among the other members. Most of them were middle-aged or older. Quite a few of them were even married and had children. Every one seemed to have a sob story to tell. Still, he considered them friends, especially those who were in his small group.

Besides Jaden, Nicky had been the only other member under thirty who showed up every week. And every week, no matter what the weather, Nicky always walked into the underground classroom at Fuller Seminary wearing shorts. Jaden had to make a constant effort not to stare at Nicky's legs, which were furry with the same dirty blonde color that poked out of the top of his tee shirt. Nicky wasn't girly-prissy blond. He looked more viking-heritage blond, in Jaden's mind, at least, and Jaden liked that.

If he managed to sit right next to Nicky, it was easier for Jaden to be more subtle about looking at his legs. He could probably get away with looking as though his eyes were downcast in contemplative thought. Also, there was the added bonus of getting to hold hands with Nicky in the closing prayer circle.

After feeling a few squeezes and thumb strokes from his oddly cool hand, Jaden had been only too eager to "grab a bite" after tonight's meeting, as Nicky had proposed. They never made it into Denny's, just the back part of the restaurant's parking lot where Nicky had led the way in his old Mustang.

Jaden replaced the white plastic bottle and bag of cotton balls under the sink. He thought over what he and Nicky had done while messing around in his Metro's front seats. Except for the oral sex, they hadn't had what could technically be called sex. Just a lot of heavy petting and necking. Jaden laughed to himself, despite his underlying concerns, for thinking of such an old-fashioned phrase.

It was such adolescent pawing, at first, reaching under each other's shirts to feel bare torsos and chests. Jaden had been excited at the chance of running his fingers through the thick growth of hair that he knew was underneath. He was glad that Nicky liked to french kiss until he started nibbling a little too hard, alternating between Jaden's tongue and lips. He had even managed to bite the inside of Jaden's lower lip, somehow.

While searching through the medicine cabinet for some antibiotic ointment, Jaden thought about body fluids. Exchanging saliva was pretty low risk, he had read, but maybe not one hundred percent safe. But mixing blood and saliva? There was definite risk involved with that. And if Nicky was willing to swallow, how much risky behavior had he done with previous sex partners?

Almost unexpectedly, Jaden recalled Nicky’s eyes. Normally a bright sea-grey blue, Jaden had thought Nicky’s eyes looked as if they were glowing with a greenish-yellow color during the bliss of fellatio. In the heat of the moment, he had simply dismissed it as the parking lot’s urine-yellow lamplight being reflected in Nicky’s eyes. Now that he thought about it, he had also thought that Nicky’s eyes had looked cat-like or reptilian in the dim shadows of his car.

Ridiculous, Jaden told himself. That was just your imagination running wild, again. Plus, you really can’t see anything objectively when you’re face-to-face and that close to something.

Jaden thought again about the feeling of fear that had coursed through both his mind and body, earlier. And his spirit, too? The feeling had been brief but intense, much like the amazing orgasm had been. Had the orgasm really been worth it?

He dropped to his knees and elbows, on top of the frayed bath mat, and cradled the back of his head with both hands. Okay, this is it, I swear, he promised both God and himself. I need to really commit, this time, to choosing to never have any sexual relations with another man for the rest of my life, whether that means truly being celibate, or marrying a woman and learning how to have a healthy sex life with her. I can’t do this by myself, and I need to rely on God’s power to help me accomplish this. I need to take tonight’s scare as a genuine warning. If ever there was a red flag, this is it.

God help me, please, if it isn’t too late.

(All opinions welcome, P.V.)

Monday, November 26, 2007


At one of our neighborhood food markets, the following has been taped at each register checkout:

Don't forget the fish the loving most of you!

I love that Domestic Partner and I live within walking distance of the Hong Kong market, which is smack in the middle of Hong Kong Plaza, here in West Covina. Not only are there more than half a dozen restaurants that run the pan-Asian gamut, and a feisty Korean lady who takes in my shirts for cleaning ("Why you not get married, yet?"), we also get a frequent dose of delightfully mangled English, such as the phrase above, or, "Engrish," as some of you well know.

Now, I'm sure that the above sign was meant to serve as a marketing reminder to buy some of the wonderfully fresh seafood available in the store, and that the translating author of the sign safely assumed almost everyone enjoys eating fish, since the majority of their customers are Asian immigrants and Asian American. That's my interpretation, at least.

But it's always fun to think about how else an Engrish phrase like that can be interpreted.

"Don't forget the fish that's enamored with you, but not all of you, just parts of you?"

"Don't forget the seafood, most of you who are loving people while a few others are not?"

"Remember that the majority of you are ichthyphiliacs?" Talk about'cher profiling!

If you're not already familiar with, click here now!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Family Skeletons, Barely There

The emotional drama in my family is between minimal to non-existent, more so since my parents have been divorced. Holiday gatherings for our family are not the ticking time bombs of pent-up feelings and held-in resentment just waiting to explode, as it may be for some families. The pleasant attitudes among my family may not always be completely genuine, but we get along peacefully, and for that I am grateful.

I don't send out Christmas cards, ever. I have nothing against that tradition, I've just never started, and I don't ever intend to. It's one less thing to worry about, and every year I save on the cost of stamps and stationery. So, needless to say, I don't even write out an annual recap newsletter.

My mom, however, has continued the annual family newsletter on her own, after the divorce. She has my sister proofread it before making copies of the final draft. This year, my sister emailed the rough draft of the letter to her siblings, to see if there was anything we wanted to add or omit, in our respective blurbs.

I took two seconds to speed through mine:

Dear friends and family,
Christmas 2007

Celebrating the birth of our Lord, the Savior, the prince of peace, and
the King of kings

Peter continues to enjoy working at the Los Angeles Recording School in
Hollywood admitting students from all over the country. He commutes
on his motorcycle on freeway. We are thankful for the Lord's
protection from any harm.

I emailed my sister back: Mine's okay.

She responded: Don't you want to include any trips you and Domestic Partner have taken together, or any details about new animals you two have adopted? I took a few more seconds to ponder that.

It would be nice if my mother chose on her own to include Domestic Partner. She includes the names of my siblings' spouses (when they are married), and those of any grandchildren. No, DP and I are not legally married, but we've been together longer than any of the respective four marriages among my three siblings. He is always welcome at any of our family get-togethers, for holidays and birthday celebrations, so there is no conflict there, even.

Ya gotta pick your battles. Was this worth getting upset over? Was this worth making a fuss about and bringing to my mom's attention?

I thought about it some more and emailed my sister back: Most of the recipients of this newsletter will be Mom's Christian friends, so I can understand her not wanting to highlight her son's homosexual relationship.

I personally know some of Mom's Christian friends, but many I have never met. In the end, what do I care whether or not they know what I've been up to? It doesn't change or take away anything that's really important in my life. And besides, Domestic Partner himself does not care, either way. He's just not that emotionally invested.

Was that too wishy-washy of a response?

Nah. It's trivial enough. If I really cared, I would get up off of my lazy ass and write my own damned newsletter to let people know how 2007 was for Domestic Partner and Peter Varvel.

I have too much to look forward to and work toward, in 2008, to waste any negative energy on this.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Iridescent Life

My entire bedroom was decked out in rainbows when I was in high school. My mom had bought a rainbow comforter and matching rainbow sheets. Two pillowcases shared the duplicated arc of the rainbow, blending in perfectly with the comforter. My mom even bought an extra set of sheets and made matching curtains out of them.

. . . I really should be a nicer son to her.

I had a little rainbow bathmat at my bedroom door. I had a ceramic rainbow on my dresser, something I had hand painted while helping out at Vacation Bible School ('God promised with a rainbow,' I had painted underneath the arc, in purple).
On the wall, above my bed, was a paper rainbow, an actual photograph of refracted light. I had attached clouds at either end of my paper rainbow. On the right cloud sat Kermit the Frog, strumming a banjo.

How my parents never suspected . . .

I even had rainbow suspenders from my junior high school years, just like Robin Williams wore on "Mork & Mindy."

This was all before I even knew about the gay pride flag, or pride colors, I swear to Buddha!

First Girlfriend Erin and I made rainbows 'our thing,' during the eighth grade, and it grew from there. Erin also had rainbow suspenders, but thinner than mine, dainty and petite. Her mother had hand-stitched a rainbow-on-clouds, on a tee shirt for each of us, complete with our names. We wore our matching tee shirts and suspenders on a date to Disneyland. We wore them in her church talent show, singing "The Rainbow Connection," while my younger brother hid behind a rainbow striped facade, animating a Kermit puppet with a paper banjo taped to it.

When I retire, I will spend part of each year in Hawaii, the Land of the Rainbows!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How to Play Elevator Roulette

BFF Kathy and I had made up a game, back when we were young and impudent, called Elevator Roulette. Here's how you play:

-Once you get in the elevator and the doors close, the first person lies on her or his back, on the elevator floor. This was my part.

-The second person then lies on top of the first person (yes, with clothes on--there is no time for disrobing!). This was Kathy's part.

-If no one is standing there waiting for the elevator, when the doors open, you win!

-But if there is someone there when the doors open, you lose, and you get up very quickly and rush out of the elevator, with egg on your blushing red face, hopefully to a nearby exit.

Or you can just stay horizontal on the floor and wait to see if they get in the elevator anyway, or if they simply wait for the next one.

Zero money risked! Happy gambling!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ay, Gahd, I Gotta Rest My Chi-chi Bo-bo's!

"Ay, gahd, I gotta rest my chi-chi bo-bo's!"

Thus sayeth the Divine Miss M on her comedy album from the eighties, "Mud Will Be Flung Tonight!" She is speaking in reference to her ample bosom.

This has nothing to do with tonight's post. I'm just a huge lifelong fan of La Midler and her bawdy, crass comedy. And that saying was on my mind as I sat down to type.

A writer writes. This simple statement was a quote from Alex Sanchez, one of the many authors I hope to emulate. Alex said he had thought that becoming a writer would mean becoming rich and famous, as well. He discovered that being a writer means that you write.

Who knew?

Well, it's obvious, yes. But who knew that it was allowed to be that simple in theory, if not in our actual realities?

I have wanted to be a writer since before puberty. That was a full three decades ago.
I have finally been taking some significant and substantial baby steps toward reaching that childhood dream. It's a major part of what has made the past few months such a good 2007 for me.

So, to the few and faithful who tune into this blog, I apologize for being so absent. I am writing! Just give me another month to complete the wonderful writing workshop that currently dominates my spare time, and I will be frothing more often, once again, with the plastic bubbliness that churns within the world inside my mind.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gay Vampires for Jesus (or, Sympathy for the Evil)

Guilt seems to directly define our worst fears.

How lucky am I that I wasn't raised Catholic? I had enough guilt as it was, having been raised Protestant, especially when it came to my sexuality. So, whenever I was sexually active, both guilt and my imagination fueled my paranoia.

What if the guy I was having sex with was actually a vampire? What if while he was, um, "goin' downtown to pleasure me," he sprouted fangs and decided to slake his sudden thirst for blood, right in the middle of it all?

I have never gotten through an entire Anne Rice novel. But I have always thought that the Christianity and homosexuality conflict would make a good background for a vampire story.

Being bitten by a vampire and then being turned into one seems to make a good symbolic parallel for blood infection, and for contracting HIV and AIDS. What if, in a fictional story, there was a support group for Christian men who had been bitten by vampires when they had sex with these night creatures? I could write the gay-Christian version of "The Lost Boys."

In real life, it would be too simple to say that ex-gay ministry teaches self-hate. It doesn't fit into that convenient of a nutshell, at least not with the support group that I had been involved in. But I'll confess that my time with them helped to influence the view of myself as something a bit monstrous, like the poor, deformed Phantom of the Opera, a soul not quite guaranteed salvation.

I don't miss ex-gay ministry. I'm glad that I checked it out, and that I made an honest effort toward achieving their goals. But I'm also glad that I'm past that part of my life, years past the self-pity of that time, and that I have been able to reach a point of being at peace with--and acceptance of--myself.

Thank you, Jason Phoon, for encouraging me to blog about this!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dancing Through Life

I am 41-years-old, and I was dancing around my kitchen, today, to the new Britney Spears CD. It's awesome! I love it!

It's radical! Cool! Boss ! Bitchin'! It's major! Gnarly! Like, tubular! Totally rockin'! It is off the chain! It's slammin'! . . . uh, it's dope.

That's it, mostly. Those are all the hip, current, and not-so-current colloquialisms that I can come up with, from the past four decades or so, to describe how much I really like this new album.

But when does it all slow down? When exactly am I supposed to be "too old" for certain activities? And even if I don't have to be too concerned about all of that, when does it start to be too creepy?

I was hired to do double duty on board my first cruise ship contract. When not dancing in the nightly revues, I was working as an assistant cruise director ("camp counselor for adults"). For the male dancers/ACD's, our required duties included having to dance with the female passengers on Big Band Night--or as we called it, "drag a bag." Of course, most of the women passengers were senior citizens. It wasn't too terrible, as I really enjoyed swing music, and any boogie-woogie from the forties.

But it made me wonder, back then in the early nineties: What will my generation be dancing to, in thirty or forty years, once we had achieved senior citizen status ourselves? What will replace Big Band Night when we're on a luxury liner in our golden years? It's hard to imagine silver-haired ladies and men bumpin' and grindin' to Madonna's "Like a Virgin," or Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

For some reason, my imagination keeps going back to a bunch of old folks getting down to Prince's "Darling Nikki," not that that was ever a big dance hit.

If you're ever in the North Hollywood neighborhood, near Universal Studios, try to go to Oil Can Harry's on a Saturday night. Normally a country & western gay bar (I think), the club has a retro night on Saturdays, playing seventies disco and eighties pop. It seems to be a more age-appropriate atmosphere for me, with a mostly middle-aged crowd. And in that club, among people in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and even older, how old you are does not matter.

It doesn't matter at home, either, or in my own mind, really. What matters is how endorphin-high I feel, as I get my groove on.