Justin's Life...

~ March 2000 ~
~ March 6th - 13th ~

March 6, 2000 - Monday
6:44PM Central Time

On the first of two planes back to LA, again via Houston, I have to say this weekend turned out nothing like I expected. As I alluded earlier, I thought two of the guys, Jay and Brian, would be the main focus of my attention and that the third, Matt, would be something of a handful. From our conversations on Friday, he seemed like the "bar ho" while Brian and Jay seemed like two guys more in tune with what I'm all about. Yet I couldn't have called it more wrong. Indeed, if Matt hadn't been around, it's likely that I would have checked into a hotel Saturday night, rented a car Sunday morning, and drove to Kentucky for the day; that or catch the next flight back to L.A.

Candidly, I arrived at the airport and thought something along the lines of, "I wasted all that time creating those Strip Uno directions" as they came into view. Perhaps being afflicted with that LA-inspired skewer of beauty ideal and beauty standard, I immediately wrote them off as someones I would not want to see naked. They seemed nice enough through our online and phone conversations, but as always, I was hoping for that drop dead gorgeous red headed knight (secretly passing himself off as a brunette until I saw him and decided his hair was red.) And I'm sure they got hit in the artificially inflated expectation crossfire.

So, we walked to the car, headed back to Matt's apartment, and sat around the living room. Even if Mr. Red Headed Knight had been there, I wouldn't have wanted to whip out the cards immediately, but given the situation as it was, I didn't know if I wanted to whip the cards out at all. That was really all I had planned in the what-to-do department and the guys had nothing in mind either. The night before they had gone to a gay bar, but they knew that wasn't really my thing, so going again wasn't a great option. We talked for a bit, but that was strained. I searched for common ground, figuring it had to exist because of the diary and the invite, but I found practically none. It was more like a job interview, where I asked them open ended questions that had no real "right" answer and where they were baffled for an answer at all. I felt like a comedian on a stage where no one was laughing. I needed an out, an ice breaker, anything to get the ball rolling, so I mentioned the Uno deck.

Before long, Matt had agreed to play, but Jay and Brian were out. With just the two of us willing to disrobe, should the game play call for it, that didn't work either. Brian eventually said that he'd play, too, but Jay was a stalwart. No way, no how was he playing when his clothes were at stake. Yet with Brian, Matt, and I ready to play and with no logical reason in my mind as to why Jay wouldn't want to play, I pressed on. Before long, I became the "big bad guy" in Brian's eyes and he was protecting Jay. The last thing I wanted to do was feel like a predator; to me it was only the possibility of getting "naked" down to your t-shirt. But Brian was telling me to "leave him alone" and I started to feel like I was being demonized. That, in turn, caused the awkwardness to get even worse and I was so wishing I wasn't there. Needless to say, when Matt again offered me a drink, I said yes.

A few drinks and awkward attempts at conversation later, I suggested that the four of us just play and exempt Jay from the clothes removal part. That was agreeable with Brian and Matt, so we began. Finally, we were having a little light hearted fun.

Before long, Matt was in his boxers, I had lost both socks, and Brian had lost one. Continuing on, as luck would have it, I lost a couple games by no more than a couple points: that meant I had to loose the boxers.

So I retired to the bathroom to make sure things weren't too "un-fluffed" and then came back in the room, still in my t-shirt and boxers. As I sat down in the floor again to join them, off came the boxers as well.

Next went Matt's boxers and another round where I lost (thereby losing nothing). Then as best as I can remember, we started cahorting against Brian, as the continual play would eventually lead to his clothes removal as well. But, before he even lost another sock, he or Jay decided it was getting late and Jay was going to head home. I couldn't argue with Brian's logic: He would indeed end up "naked," but I tried once for the continuance of the game then gave up.

As Jay was leaving, he asked if I wanted to come stay the night as his house. And I said I'd be ok at Matt's. I hadn't really connected with any of them, but the closest was no doubt Matt, and given the assurance that I wouldn't wake up next to someone who wasn't there when I went to bed (as had happened the night before I arrived to Brian), I opted to stay there. Brian, however, said that he'd stay at Jay's and a few minutes later, they were gone. Matt and I were still in the floor, t-shirts tucked down over things, but nonetheless boxer-less.


March 7, 2000 - Tuesday

Once Jay and Brian were gone, Matt and I started talking. I asked what had gone wrong, and Matt said he didn't know but tried to suppose as best he could. We continued talking for the next couple hours and he was being forthright, honest, and understanding. He said that Brian had misspoke, that he had said that he had an M.B.A. when I asked about school earlier in the night. I had heard him correctly even though he said he didn't say what I'd heard. I mean, I don't think he intentionally lied, but it was nice that Matt had also heard him say what I'd heard. Finally, I had the makings of a kindred spirit... in the guy I thought was least likely to be kindred.

Also, as the night went on, Matt and I stopped worrying about just wearing our t-shirts and we just talked. I showed him some random stuff on my computer and he showed me the picture that he'd received of Brian before they met.

An hour or two later, drunk but still fully aware, one thing lead to another and Matt ended up jerking me off while simultaneously jerking himself. I hadn't planned that. It was supposed to be a nice, respectable game of Strip Uno. (said tongue in cheek, but with an element of truth)

Feeling dirty, literally forcing myself not to wretch from guilt, I took a shower then came out to find Matt going to sleep on the couch. He told me to go sleep in the bed, but I insisted that I wasn't putting someone out of his own bed and that he let me sleep on the couch. Finally, around 5AM, I on the couch and he in his bed, we went to sleep.

Less than three hours later, I woke up and quietly sent this e-mail to Larry:

Subject: I wish I were home...


I couldn't talk last night as they were right there and things weren't as I'd expected. Nobody looked like his picture; Jay to the worse, Brian to the better.

Long story short, we were all drinking heavily last night. Jay & Brian clicked/stuck together, and Matt and I ended up jerking off. I felt so bad immediately afterward that I started to wretch. That SO wasn't what I had planned. We finally went to bed at around 5AM, with me on the couch.

Now, it's just before 8AM and I really just wish I were home. I feel bad physically and mentally. I've got a headache and a slight hangover... but more I just feel guilty and somewhat dirty. I know it was just jerking off; not even a kiss, but I love you and only you.

So, I don't know if this is an apology letter or just a status update, or a bit of both.

Wishing I were home, but going to tough it out for the next 32 hours.

Yet I wasn't quiet enough not to wake Matt. He came into the room and we talked for a bit before him telling me to go back to bed. It had been only a few hours since we went to sleep, so I agreed and he went back into the bedroom.

Around 11AM, we woke once again and I called Larry to get his reaction to the e-mail. He said that he hadn't gotten it, but when I explained what happened, he told me to stop worrying and just have fun. It was so nice to hear him say that; I didn't have to add worrying about his being mad at me to the stresses, and in fact, with his ok, I knew that I could better relax and just go with the flow.

Of course, adding to the go-with-the-flow was Matt. Throughout the morning, we continued talking about life, about Jay and Brian, and we just had a nice time. He understood me, and I him. It was relaxing and pleasant and reassuring, and he was a superb host. Quite ironic since before I left, I was wondering how I was going to shake him to hang out with Brian and Jay.

So, anyway, after lunch, we talked to Jay and Brian on the phone and agreed to go see Drowning Mona at the local theatre. We stood in line for tickets, where we saw an ex-boyfriend of Matt's and a current red headed boyfriend of someone else. (A gay red head is something of a rarity, especially in LA. Indeed, Larry said he was more worried about me flying back to Tennessee and finding a cute young red head than meeting the guys, and casual research would show that FAR more red heads live in that area than in California.)

So, we stood in line, sightseeing, and got the tickets. A few minutes later, Jay and Brian arrived and we headed on into the theatre.

When the movie was over and we were back outside, it was again like pulling teeth. I even said, "You guys haven't said more than 200 words since I've been here." I was expressing my exasperation, but it didn't help. We stood, staring at each for a bit in front of the theatre, then Brian said that he wanted to go to the Opryland Hotel and walk around the shops, that we (Matt & I) should go along.

Long story short, we went to the hotel with them and I continually felt like I was beating my head against the wall. I tried opening after opening for conversation, but the answers to most of my questions were "Yes" "No" or "I don't know". Nothing lead anywhere. The only "good" part of it was that Matt completely understood my frustration.

Speeding along now as the three day entry is getting unwieldy, from the hotel, Brian and Jay went to Bob Evan's restaurant to do some souvenir/collectibles shopping, and Matt and I went back to his apartment to meet them there a little later. On the drive back, I said that I was thinking that I needed to go rent a car for Monday (as Matt had to work and the plan had been that I would go with Jay and Brian). Matt said not to worry, that he'd take the day off, and I was relieved.

So when the guys got to the house, we talked for a bit, still strained, and at Matt's suggestion, we started playing a game called "Catch Up!" or something like that. The goal was to pass the "hot potato" around until the timer went off, but before you could pass the word-wheel, you had to make your partner guess the secret word(s).

Matt and I played as a team against Jay and Brian. Our gamepiece moved around the board, from start to finish, without Jay & Brian's ever getting off start. I just needed a couple seconds each time and Matt had the word. It was great and just further showed how much we were on the same wavelength.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't have been too fun, especially for Brian and Jay, if Matt and I continually won. (Well, ok, it would have been fun for Matt and I, but it would have been evil fun. ). So I suggested we switch partners and the game became more competitive. Matt and I still had evidences of our similar brainwaves as we'd raise our hands in "Me! Me! Me!" fashion whenever the clue was beyond obvious to us, yet a complete mystery to Brian or Jay, but I think our rudeness was lost on them at the time.

When that was done, we decided we'd go eat and we headed out to Houston's steak house. During dinner, Jay and Brian actually started talking. I was amazed. We asked them questions, like when they went to bed and what they did staying up so late, and they actually answered. The answers were coy, laced with "We don't kiss and tell"'s which about drove me insane, but at least it was a conversation, and I eventually found out that they'd slept naked with one another in the bed. They hadn't done anything. Indeed, Jay had never seen another real live penis up close and personal until that night, but it was a step, both for him and for conversation.

When dinner was over, we parted ways and Matt & I stopped at the video store to pick up a copy of Austin Powers. We watched it, played around a little, and again went to bed with me on the couch and he in his bed, but this time it was at 12:15AM.

Then yesterday morning, the four of us met for lunch at another steakhouse, Longhorn's I think, and Brian and Jay finally started talking, somewhat openly. We went to the mall for a bit, played at the arcade for a while, and then the three of them took me to the airport and saw me off as I entered the plane to head back to LA.

The weekend was nothing like I'd imagined. And Jay and Brian weren't bad guys, not at all, but I'm a very talkative, in your face, kinda guy. Our styles didn't mesh well until Sunday night. To his credit, I think Jay is making giant leaps and strides towards accepting himself. He had his first kiss the night before I arrived, he slept in the same bed with Brian the night after I arrived, and yesterday morning, he closed the deal on his new house with Brian present. He further insisted upon paying for his and Brian's dinners at the restaurant on Saturday night, fairly clearly establishing the couple line for the straight waiter, and he'll be fine.

Brian, whose idea it was for me to come, is a nice guy as well and I'd bet with just a little more time, things would have been all the better there as well. To his credit, he wrote me a nice "Thanks for coming" e-mail that I got when I checked e-mail after getting home and when I said something about the Uno game yesterday, he hiked his shorts and showed me his wares. It wasn't the playfulness of the game at the time, but I appreciated the effort.

And Matt, what a shock that turned out to be. He really was great. He seemed to understand everything I was saying and we just had a great time, both without boxers and with. It's so nice to have someone understand you, and I think for Brian and Jay, that's what they have with each other.

Interestingly, I got e-mail from Matt this morning which read:

Just wanted to send a note to check and make sure that you made it back to CA all in one piece. I'm unable to access the internet from work today for some obscure server reason, so I'm unable to see if you make an update to the journal.

I had a really nice time getting to know you better and I hope we didn't completely bore you here in Nashville. Jay and Brian both really opened up again after you left. I think they both have idolized you to a point where they are really scared to talk to you face to face. It's very interesting and I don't understand it.

Anyway... tell Larry I said hello, and I'll talk more later... right now I have to get all of these jerks at work back into a productive environment. It amazes me how quickly people forget how to do things where you're not here to remind them.


Perhaps Matt is right. I did tell Jay that he sounded like a nervous school girl when I was talking to him on the phone Friday night... but if that's the case, things would have gone so much better had they broken down that wall and just started talking. I myself said that I wasn't Kathie Lee Gifford making a guest appearance. I'm just me, and that initial not talking created a rift that took the better part of the trip to get over.

I don't know... here in the present, looking back at what I've written, I'm worried about Jay or Brian reading this and taking it too fatalistically. They weren't bad guys, but it really was "Us Against Them" until Saturday night. I guess the important thing is that it "ended" well. And to Matt's credit, if it hadn't been for him, I never would have gotten to the "ending." I would have simply up and left.

Anyway, I have to get back to work and write e-mails to the guys... just goes to show you that nothing is like you expect it to be.


March 8, 2000 - Wednesday

Re-reading the entry about the weekend, I realized the paragraph about not wanting to see the guys naked was too harsh. "I immediately wrote them off as someones I would not want to see naked" has more of a tone of "Eww, yuck. I sure wouldn't want to seem them naked." That's not what I meant. I just meant that they were not someones that I immediately saw and said to myself, "I'd sure like to see them naked." The thought was much closer to indifference than disgust, but I don't think that's how it came across.

And adding to things, I talked to Matt this morning to find out that Brian's pretty upset about what I wrote. Matt's going to have lunch with him and try to smooth it over, but still, I don't really enjoy making someone that "idolizes" me upset.


March 9, 2000 - Thursday

I have to preface this next entry with the request that you do not e-mail Larry about it. In general, I ask anyone that "knows me in real life" not to e-mail me about stuff I write online under the idea that if I had wanted to talk about it with him or her, I would have brought it up directly.

I don't care who reads what I write, but getting e-mail from someone I know "in real life" about something distressing me, that I didn't tell him about directly, is just awkward. Yet, when I first wrote about Daisy's recent illness, Larry was the one getting the e-mails. In total, he got about half a dozen due to what I wrote here. It's painful enough without having to "know" that the world is watching. I mean, he does know that I write about pretty much everything, but he chooses not to read the journal. So, I have to ask that you don't e-mail him about what you read here, about Daisy or otherwise. Believe me, there's nothing that happens that he doesn't know about, but there no need to bring the thought of others reading about his pain to the forefront of his mind.

So, with that out of the way and with your tacit agreement to not e-mail him about my journal, Daisy's pretty sick. She's so thin she looks more like a greyhound than an boxer, and this morning she had a seizure of sorts before collapsing in the kitchen floor. I thought she was dying right then and yelled for Larry to come quick.

It turned out that she was ok, but she's been puking and bleeding internally for a while now. She hasn't eaten in weeks and the other night at a restaurant, when we were talking about taking something home for her to eat, Larry said that he doesn't think she'll ever eat again. He was somber and serious, and it about broke my heart hearing him say that. I could see his heart was breaking.

In some ways, he's resolved himself to that fact that she's not going to make it. Chemotherapy, vets, etc. aren't going to bring her back. Today he even asked if I thought he should have her put to sleep. Before, he's talked about how that thought is too painful for him and cried randomly, but today, I think he realizes that the time is near and that her quality of life is slipping. While I was asleep last night, he said Daisy had it pretty rough, apparently puking uncontrollably.

And if it were anyone else, I'd say, "She's just a dog." But there's a connection between them like I've never seen before. Indeed, when people ask, I say the order of importance is "the dogs, me, and the kids" in that order. But Eugene doesn't have the bond with Larry that Daisy has. When she's gone, he'll have Eugene, but Eugene is much closer to a dog than to a dog with a human-like personality. Larry has been a wreck since Daisy started getting sick, but I've a feeling that the anguish has only begun.

And me, I don't know what to do. I try to be strong, stand unaffected yet comforting. I hug him and I have been showing him extra affection, but what else can I do? Indeed, when Daisy was shivering this morning, I found myself bent over her, rubbing her side, saying, "It'll be ok. It'll be ok." Yet it won't be ok. I was outright lying and even though she had no definite comprehension of what I was saying, I knew she understood the tone and I felt I was betraying her. I was lying to her... as it obviously will not be ok.

So, please, don't e-mail Larry about her, as much as you'd like to lend your emotional support. "We'll make it through" I almost just wrote, but for Daisy, she won't.


March 10, 2000 - Friday

Daisy's gone. This morning I went to the vet with Larry to euthanize her, and it was undescribably sad. As Larry laid with her in the floor and said, "I'll see you in heaven" I started crying myself, yet he and I both knew it was time. Her quality of life was so low and there was no hope for recovery. Larry had done more for her than anyone else I've ever known would've done, yet it just didn't help.

First one shot was given to sedate her and then another to stop her heart. A few short seconds after the second shot, she was gone. I didn't know what to say. I tried to mentally pull myself out of the situation, but all that came to my mind was my pet name for Larry. It's what I say when I want to say something, but can't think of anything to say. It's just a little "I'm here for you" in non-"I'm here for you" terms. Through tears, I told him that was all I could think to say.

Continually breaking down and crying, then pulling himself back together, Larry laid with Daisy until any possible life was gone... and it was so sad that I can't even figure out how to describe it.

If there must be a positive side, it's that Larry's no longer worrying about her suffering and that she is no longer suffering. She had the best life a dog could have ever wanted|


March 13, 2000 - Monday

I just wanted to write to say that Larry's dealing fairly well with Daisy's death. This morning he went to the crematorium where he said his final goodbye's then this afternoon he picked up her ashes.

Tonight, he's off for a much needed business trip to New York City, which he had been postponing for about a month now. Andrew, who flew in on Saturday for his spring break, and I will stay here with the kids and Eugene.

Click here for the next set of entries.

© 2000 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's