Saturday, May 5, 2012

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxxiv)

It was during June 1971 that Mike—the only guy in the Belmont neighborhood in which I lived who seemed somewhat hip and who, despite still living in his mother’s apartment at around 30 years of age, also hung out in Greenwich Village—suddenly reappeared one evening at the door of my cheap slum apartment. He hadn’t visited me there in about three months, so I invited him to step inside.

After offering me a joint to share with him, Mike then said: “I was hanging out in the Village. And I met this fantastic-looking chick. But the chick doesn’t want to go out on a date with me and go see a movie together, unless I can also find a blind date for the chick’s girlfriend. So that this chick’s girlfriend and her blind date can come along with us to see the movie. Can you do me a big favor and be her girlfriend’s blind date?”

After inhaling on the joint, I laughed and asked: “What are they into? She and her friend.”

“The chick has a car and she and her girlfriend are trying to find a cheap pad together in the Village. And I told the chick I know about a cheap pad there that they can move into at the end of the month,” Mike answered.

“I don’t have much extra bread to spend on dates these days,” I replied.

“Don’t worry. I’ll pay for the movie tickets if you’re willing to be the blind date for the chick’s girlfriend.”

So, despite my growing financial worries, I agreed to do Mike a favor and be the required blind date for his date’s friend. Mike then used my telephone to call up the apartment-hunting woman whom he had met and to tell her he had found a blind date for her friend. And it was agreed that she and her friend would drive up to the Bronx a few evenings later to pick up Mike and me in my apartment. And then she would drive all four of us down to the Upper East Side Manhattan theater in which the movie that Mike wanted to see was playing.

A few evenings later, Mike arrived in my apartment dressed up in a suit and tie, and looking as if he was about to go out on a job interview. In contrast, I was just wearing jeans and a turtle-neck shirt, and was dressed in a more casual way. And about a half-hour after Mike arrived in my apartment, his date and my blind date knocked on my apartment door.

Mike’s date was a white woman in her 20s, who was dressed in a skirt and blouse, wore earrings, used lipstick and make-up, did not have long hair, and looked pretty culturally straight and somewhat plastic. But most men in the USA likely considered her to be physically attractive and sexually appealing, although not someone who possessed a beautiful face. And since she seemed both friendly and intelligent when we all talked in her car, as she drove us down to Manhattan from the Bronx, I could see why Mike felt she was an appealing woman to date—despite her not appearing to be that much of a bohemian, beatnik or hippie on a philosophical level.

My blind date was also a white women in her 20s who dressed in a skrit and blouse, wore make-up and lipstick and looked pretty straight and plastic on a cultural level. But unlike Mike’s date, she probably would not have been considered that physically attractive by most men in the USA; and she seemed less interesting and desirable to me than Mike’s date, with whom she was looking for a vacant Village apartment. And also, as we sat in the back seat of the car and Mike and her friend sat in the front seat, I think my blind date quickly concluded that I wasn’t the type of guy she was looking for to get involved with.

It turned out that the movie that Mike had selected for all of us to see was “The Boys In The Band” movie that reflected some of the special problems gay men had to confront within the homophobic U.S. society before the 1970s. And I’m not sure that the two women liked the movie as much as did Mike.

It turned out also that Mike apparently didn’t really know about any cheap Village apartment that would be available for the two women to rent at the end of the month. Because about a week after going to see “The Boys In The Band” with the two women and Mike, I received a telephone call from Mike’s date—to whom Mike had apparently previously given my phone number to call in case she had couldn’t find the building in which I lived when she picked us up for our date together. And in an angry voice, Mike’s date complained: “Your friend Mike keeps telephoning me to ask me for another date and keeps promising me that I’ll be able to rent the apartment he knows about the next day. But every day he telephones, he always gives me some excuse as to why I can’t go see the apartment yet. Do you know whether there really is a Village apartment that Mike can get me?

“If Mike still hasn’t shown you by now the apartment he says he found for you in the Village, it sounds like you probably shouldn’t count on Mike being able to get you an apartment,” I replied.

“Well, you can tell your friend Mike to go fuck himself!” Mike’s date snarled before hanging up the telephone receiver.

I did not speak with Mike again, however, until about a month later, in late July 1971, when he again knocked on my apartment door, entered the apartment and offered me a joint again. And, surprisingly, Mike now announced to me that he had decided that he was a gay man and was now going to come out and start hanging out in the Village gay bars. And he urged me to join him there if I ever recovered from my financial difficulties. But since--by August 1971--my financial difficulties had led me to move from the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx and I never returned there to hang out after August 1971, I never bumped into Mike again. And I never learned whether or not he enjoyed his life during the rest of the 1970s and whether or not he survived the 1980s or made it into the 21st-century.