I bought this Dodge Maxivan from a friend of my step father my senior year. It had an eight track tape player and two captains seats. That was it. The rest was completely empty. A cargo van. It was ripe for a cool seventies customizing. Shag carpet, quadraphonic sound, velvet covered banquette, wet bar. Yeah I did none of that. I put in an old twin bed and hung up a Lord of the Rings poster and that was it. It got cold as hell in the winter and the stereo could not be heard past the two seats but we regularly filled that ugly tan monstrosity to capacity and drove through rice fields and suburbs and past pastures and prisons, cases of Lone Star and ten dollar bags of weed being consumed as well as gallons and gallons of gasoline at seventy cents per.
My friend Clint and I were the only ones out that night. I don't know where everyone else happened to be, but it was just us.
We were the wise guys of the crowd we hung with. Each of us always competing for who could get the best zing in. We got pretty mean with each other at times but we had a certain sympatico amongst ourselves. We sensed ourselves somehow different from them and somehow akin to each other. We were on the same wavelength as it were.
That night we had been through a couple of beers as well as a couple of joints and driven all over the town, and its myriad surrounding farm to market roads, looking for something to do to no avail. We still had the better part of a twelvepack and plenty of weed on us. We parked in a field and just sat in the van and drank more beer and smoked more joints. Cold clear night. Out in small towns you can see the stars at night and there were a million of them. No moon but so many bright stars in the sky. We sat under the spreading oak trees and periodically turned on the engine to run the heater. We were pretty stoned and were getting antsy just sitting in my van in a field.
"Hey Clint, wanna drive down to the beach?"
"What for? It's freezing and there ain't nothin' to do down there neither."
"I dunno, I'm just fucking bored."
We drank another beer. Losing more inhibitions.
"Hey Walter, we should do something crazy."
Clint thought he looked like Andy Gibb. I never saw it back then, but now that I look at old high school yearbooks I have to agree with him. Whatever. I thought he was cute.
"Hey Clint, lets drive down to the beach with no clothes on."
"Seriously. You said we should do something crazy. What could be crazier than driving down to the beach in freezing weather with no clothes on?"
He agreed I had a point there. It was something two guys from there usually did not do in the dead of winter in the dead of night. At least as far as we knew.
So we stripped to nothing and drove down to the beach, eighteen years old and stark naked.
Proved to be rather uneventful. A little uncomfortable as the seat were vinyl.
We drove down the backroads to the beach drinking more beer and smoking more joints. Drove up and down the beach too. Nobody out, passed maybe three of four cars the whole trip.
Coming home, we were driving across the top of a levee, The twinkling of a million stars above and the twinkling if a million lightbulbs of a refinery to my left. On my right roadways were cut into the levee leading to the marshes where people fished and crabbed by day and partied by night. There were about a half dozen of these roadways along the seven mile length of the levee before you get to the highway. Between these roads were fishing villages with houses on stilts. I turned down one of these roads farthest away from the nearest copse of shantys. Blissfully desserted it was.
I went down to the end of the road and turned the van around. Put it in park. Cut the ignition.
The air was very thick. We each opened another beer. We were naked. We were trembling.
We started joking with each other, lighthearted insults. Getting meaner but never hurtful. As if to invoke a shove on the shoulder, as in, "Ah, fuck you." And then shove him on the shoulder. And then he says, "Ah, fuck you!" and then shoves me on the shoulder. Which is exactly what happened. Then we started shoving each other a lot. Then we started sort of wrestling. Each of us in our captain seat in the front of the van so we had to lean over real far. So our heads and hands were near each others laps. So our hands were landing in each others laps. Getting nearer and nearer.
We touched each other. We had sex, sort of. Kissing, touching. We were way too young and green to do anything serious or hardcore. Plus we were scared as hell. Gay wasn't something allowed in that world, in that time. It was scary and thrilling and confusing and a lot of things I'll never be able to put into words. It was something I will never forget. That first real coming together with another man in a real way. Not some adolescent circle jerk, but real kissing and holding and caressing, exploring another human I was attracted to who was attracted to me. Damn! Eighteen!
We put our clothes on and drove back up the levee. We didn't talk for a while. Driving past the chemical plants and back into the darkness we looked at the stars. Then he said, "Please don't tell anybody what happened."