The narrator in the gay bar remembers the different reactions when
It was soon clear that Jack and Christopher were an item and after several visits, the young man began to relax in our company. Some of us began to like him, attracted by an uncertain but upright personality struggling to emerge from adolescence. Others were less generous, seeing only the hunger for money and status common to many of Christopher’s background and age. Not that that was necessarily a problem. It was Roy who said that young men who get rich by offering sex for financial reward are only taking the shortcut for which most gay men lack courage.
He was more at ease with some of us than others. Steve the ex-lawyer could talk to him as a near-equal, but he could also relax with Eddie, with whom, we assumed, he shared a childhood of poverty. With Tom and Fernando he could discuss dogs for hours. Most often, however, he would talk with young Richard behind the bar. Some of us eavesdropped on their conversations, but could not join in. We no longer knew the language of youth, its concepts and concerns were now too foreign. Still, we watched them from the sidelines, remembering young men we had known and young men we had been.
Of course the boy was often bored. If Steve was not there, Richard was busy and Jack’s attention was elsewhere, he would sit alone watching the tv or playing the pinball machines that we ignored. It was at such moments, when he was silent rather than when he spoke, that his presence altered the mood in the bar. Then he was set apart from us, a stranger stigmatized by his youth, his skin color and his attitude. Some of us watched him and resented his presence disturbing our quiet lives. Others welcomed the reminder of the world that existed beyond the dark walls of this, our home from home.
Foreman, Martin. Ben and Joe’s, Arbery Publications, 2013, pp 31-32.
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