The Duckball Team Goes to London
On Sunday, February 13, 1977, when I was still quite new to the gay experience (having finally come out the year before), I went to a Valentine Day Party here in Columbus, Ohio. Not long into the evening I glanced around and saw a man standing some distance away to whom I was immediately strongly attracted. By that I don't mean that he was beautiful or the epitome of my sexual fantasies, but simply that I knew getting to know him was very, very important. We were meant to be together. I know this sounds like "Some Enchanted Evening," and I can't help that. It just happened. I walked over to him and asked if I could borrow a cigarette (he was smoking, and this sort of opening gambit was very common in 1977, when everybody smoked). His name was David, and, luckily, he had the same overwhelming reaction to me. The Italians call this phenomenon "The Thunderbolt," and I assure you it's quite real. By the end of that week we were living together.
But there was a complication a month later when I had to leave David for ten days for a scheduled vacation in London with eight gay male friends. It was too late to change things so that he could come along, and, indeed, in the end David house-and-dog-sat for one of the couples on the trip, Pat and Fred. This meant that at a moment when I was very much in love, I had to leave for a trip I no longer really wanted to take. I spent much of this vacation longing for Columbus and David. During the trip I kept a diary to show to David when I returned, and any unexplained quotations in what follows below are from that diary.
On March 17, I flew with Pat and Fred to New York, where we met up with the others: Howard and David (NYC natives), Richard and Gary (from DC), and Bob ( a former student of mine) and his long-suffering partner Paul (both ex-Columbus-ites now living in Chicago,). I say "long-suffering" because Bob was forever hopping into bed with every good-looking man who passed by, a trait that was all too much on display during our UK visit.
|Duckball Game (click to enlarge)|
My diary entry for Friday, March 25:
Sunday, at the airport after checking our baggage:
"The most delightful incident happened at the Gatwick airport coffee shop. We were all sitting around a very long serpentine counter (with me at the end of the nine-member duckball team), when suddenly the British man sitting with his wife next to me asked loudly, 'Might I be so bold as to query you about this game of yours?' Apparently he's overheard our banter about the previous night's loss to Nepal and become curious. CAUGHT! was the expression on all our faces, but Bob, unfazed, plunged into a discussion of the game of duckball, and, thus emboldened, we all joined in. We described our three humiliating games, but assured him that the English team was still in the running for the International Duckball trophy, so they should look for updates in the newspaper. It must have all sounded very real since we had much detail, and corroborated each other constantly with reminders about incidents we'd invented over ten days of banter. At one point Fred got up to check on something, missing much of the fun. But when the British couple asked who was our goalie, we all looked around, and then, as one, answered, 'He just walked out.' That sort of thing added verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative."
We flew home that same day, I returned to a great life with David, and the American Duckball Team disbanded forever.
"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010
"A Fanatic's Tale: This Isn't Pretty," April 11, 2010
"Milking Cows," June 8, 2010
“The Thunderbolt,” September 3, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013