When Sully Met Harold

Contributor: Dave Riese

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A man in the gay fathers’ group is obsessed with Sully.
“What man?” I ask.
“Harold. You don’t know him.”
Apparently Harold joined the group after I stopped going. I don’t recognize the name. He’s in his fifties and came out when he divorced his wife. Sully, in his late twenties, thinks fifty is old. At least I have three years to go.
“He sits next to me at every meeting. Touches me whenever he has the chance. He’s not obnoxious about it. Barely brushes against me, little pats on my knee. And everything I say is the most interesting thing he’s ever heard.”
Sounds like my ex-lover Karl at his smarmiest, I think.
“And he kept asking me to come for dinner—”
Obviously Harold recognizes a weakness when he sees one. Sully enjoys eating more than anything else. Even sex, I sometimes think. Just ask his waistline. Not that Sully’s fat really, but he has a chubby, cherubic look about the face.
“You didn’t go, did you?” My futile hope to change history.
He shrugs his shoulders as if he’d had no choice. “Last Friday.”
“Sully, you have to learn to say no. Dinner was only a pretext.”
“I had an excuse to leave right after dinner. Instead the kitchen caught fire.”
“My God, what happened?”
“Not the whole kitchen. Just the curtains over the sink and some wallpaper but it was scary all the same. It wasn’t really my fault.”
As Sully tells it, Harold did all the cooking when he was married and loves to prepare elaborate meals. After his divorce, he hated going to all that trouble just for himself. “He said, if I came for dinner, he’d make a fantastic meal.” Sully planned to tell Harold the moment he arrived that he had to pick up his son at a neighbor’s house right after dinner.
“Kids are a great excuse,” I say, “until they get their license.”
“He met me at the door wearing a cravat and smoking jacket for God’s sake.”
“And you in your jeans.” Sully wore jeans, ripped in all the right places, everywhere.
“I wasn’t even in the door before he gave me a big hug, pushing his pelvis against my crotch.”
“I hate that.”
“And he was hard, let me tell you. Said how good it felt to hold me. And he smelled like he’d taken a bath in Old Spice.”
“Sounds like sexual assault to me,” I said. Harold could be Karl’s doppelgänger. Does something snap in a man’s brain when he turns fifty?
“Harold said dinner would be ready in half an hour. ‘In the meantime let me give you a tour of my apartment,’ he says. Like it’s a forty-room mansion for fuck’s sake! I could see most of it from the entry hall.”
“I’ll bet everything was immaculate. Like he licked every corner.”
“When we got to the boudoir, as he called it, Harold said he wanted to tell me his fantasy about what will happen after dinner. I must have turned beet red because he quickly said his description could wait until dessert.”
“Yah. You were dessert! When did the fire start?” Sully can never tell a short story.
“That was later. The main dish was coq au vin. Fabulously mouthwatering. Meanwhile all through dinner I prayed one of us would choke on a bone and be rushed to the hospital.”
“You could have pretended.”
“Yah, right. The last place I wanted Harold was behind me doing that Heimlich thing. After dinner, I offered to do the dishes before dessert, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He’d gone to a lot of trouble with dessert and couldn’t wait to unveil his pièce de résistance.” Sully took French in college so he can trill these phrases off his tongue.
“He’d made Bananas Foster. Something like that. I was in charge of the matches while he poured rum over it. I don’t know what went wrong but when I struck the match the dessert went off like a blow torch. What a stink those curtains made! Every smoke detector started honking.”
“Jeez. Now that’s a flaming queen.” Sully ignores my joke. Okay it wasn’t that funny. “He never interfered with you?”
“Oh, no. Not even close.”
“And you made your escape.” A dramatic end to the story.
“I did. He was happy to see me go actually.”
I lean across the sofa and put my arms around Sully. I’m happy Harold didn’t have his way with him. “You learned a valuable lesson, young man.”
“When on a date: always carry a Molotov cocktail for emergencies.”
Sully laughs, already putting the mishap out of his mind. But I can’t dismiss it so quickly. Oh God, I pray, don’t let me become a Harold or a Karl.

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While enjoying retirement, I am writing a novel which I hope to finish this year. Travelling, reading, gardening and visiting grandchildren are much more fun than working.
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