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Kirk Read

October 1999

Miss Scarlet, with cat poo, in the Castro

My friend Karin is good with confrontation. She'll go into the Express lane, tap on someone's shoulder and say "That's way more than 15 items." I'm from the South. We have to get drunk before that kind of toe-to-toe. Normally, that is. The other night, I snapped.

OK, so this guy invites me over from an America Online chatroom to his house. We had an 8K conversation, which is 10-30 lines of an AOL chat document. I save them. I'm obsessive about filing them in an orderly fashion, with dates and screen names. Not that I have Glenn Close as "Alex the bunny boiler" aspirations. Just that I'm passionate. Not that I need medication, like most of my family. Not that I have been called out by exes for acting inappropriately toward them. Forget that.

I go there at 11pm and ring his doorbell. I was meeting him for sex, natch. I admit it. I'm a loose woman, an adventurous lad. He'd told me to wear a coat and tie. We were going to do some sort of English schoolboy spanking scene. I'm kinky.

Boyfriend does NOT answer the door. The lights are out, the blinds are closed. Well, I've dealt with far too many of these AOL assholes. So I went home to make absolutely sure that I had the right address. I did. He's one of those rich queens with his own entrance in the Castro, you see.

So I got in the pickup truck and I drove home and every stoplight on Market Street made me angrier. And when I get really pissed off, I hear Jesse Jackson's voice in my head. So when I got home, I cleaned out my cat's litter box, and with each scoop, I heard Jesse say "I AM SOMEBODY." I bagged the shit up and I got BACK in that truck and I went to his house. I was out there defending every gay man in this world from bad sexually confused behavior. I'm a hero, really. You should thank me.

The TV was spilling four shades of blue through the window over the door. That queen thought I'd left. But no. I leaned on that buzzer for 15 minutes and nothing happened. I was a thoughtful criminal. I had latex gloves and packing tape. I watch COPS. I'm not naive. I taped a piece of gravel over his buzzer so that it would keep ringing all night.

Finally, he came out of the house and said "I'm sleeping" in this pissy sort of French accent, which matched his online grammatical performance EXACTLY.

And loud enough for neighbors to hear, I said "You asked me to come over the SanFranciscoM4M room for an English schoolboy discipline scene." And he said "I don't have America Online" in this whiny, faux-startled tenor, all innocent. If he'd had a fan made of feathers, he'd have shaken it. And then he said "You'd better get out of here before I call the cops." And he closed the door. And I spread that feline manure all over his front step, right under the outside gate. I AM...SOMEBODY.

One of the common mistakes you hear about criminals is that they often revisit the scene of the crime. For vanity, for other reasons, including a desire to visually manifest the consequences of your spree.

I drove by but didn't see any change in the still life I'd left, smellier. No stomping of feet to shake free the doo doo. No out on the landing dialing 911 on his cell phone. No hands on hips in the middle of the sidewalk, waiting for my return. Just the gentle blue light from his TV, wafting through the stained glass window above his doorway. Just the cars parked crookedly in front of his house, as they were. Will I return in the morning? No. I'm done. God forbid I should stalk this poor man.

But I'm tired of apologizing and forgiving the bad behavior of men around matters sexual. I include myself in that group, because Lord knows I've behaved badly. Too many times, men online flake out or disappear, with no regard for your time or ego. Their sexual repression trumps your feelings. And you're stood up, or jerked around, or lied to. And I say that's no longer acceptable.

Societal and familial homophobia are not reasonable excuses to treat someone like an insurance sales representative. It's not okay to make an invitation to another human being and then back out of it without appropriate prior communication. It's not okay to participate in the raising of someone's pheromones, only to retreat without warning. I say this as someone who is guilty guilty guilty. I'm amazed there isn't catshit on my front doorstep every day.

But this isn't about my bad behavior, it's about the bad behavior of others. Let's stick to the particular angle of this story. I don't want to hover too much in the area of "Kirk's incorrect conduct," for how self-reflective can one be when one is leaving kitty dung on the front porches of complete strangers?

I don't mean plural strangers, actually. It was a rhetorical usage of strangers. There's only been one. Tonight. With a French accent. In a house with a basement garage. Unshared by other tenants. Not that I'm embittered by his OPULENCE when I live in a town where all the young people live with 18 roommates. Never mind the fact that he can afford the luxury of "no" and feel protected by police when I attempt to let him know that his prank of human contact went unappreciated.

We as gay people need to address these matters of incivility with swift reminders that we will not tolerate mistreatment. By any means necessary, we must step up our arsenals of wit and creative retribution.

Say with me, children: I will not be stood up. I will not let the flakes fake me out. I will not shrug off my hurt feelings and pretend in the morning that it didn't happen. I will fight back. I almost feel like marching! I will fight back with kitty turds and obscene phone calls and dead roses. I will not be deterred by potential police scrutiny. I will not be derailed by the possibility that observant neighbors could turn into character witnesses. I shall not be moved. Say with me, children, "I shall not be moved."

So this guy, right? He gave me this nasty look before he closed the door. Sort of like he was disgusted by me. Like I was too gay for him. I was open enough about my sexuality that it didn't scare me to go to the houses of complete strangers close to midnight.

I rattled the door on his closet. The mere presence of a man on this man's doorstep was a flaming fireplace poker in this man's little comfort zone. I spend a lot of time working on projects and articles that are in tiny ways about dealing with this sexual terror. I know people are freaked out about sex. I know cops are. I know parents and teachers are.

I know children learn to be. As much as I wanted to be compassionate with this man and forgive him and go silently home, I just couldn't. I hope in the morning he falls on his ass. The next time he invites someone to get in their car and drive to his home late at night for sex, I hope he means it.

As Jesse would say, "Keep hope alive."

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Kirk Read lives in San Francisco and can be reached at KirkRead@aol.com


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