Monday, September 22, 2008

Homes - Part 4: Denver

After spending a few months in southeast Arkansas, Denver was an abrupt change of pace. JH had rented a loft apartment on 16th Street in downtown Denver in a building which had at one time housed a large department store. It was a small one bedroom adjacent to a fairly spacious kitchen and a living area which became my "bedroom." Actually I got the better deal because I had two huge windows looking out onto the bustle of Denver.

Being responsible for half the rent, I had to find a job. Soon I was working just a few minutes walk down the street at a bank in their credit card payment processing department. It was about as thrilling as it sounds: pulling checks and payment stubs from an envelope and running them through a processing machine which would read the data and post the payment to the customer account. Then repeat. And do this thousands of times a week.

The weather in Denver was also a bit unpredictable. I'll never forget waking up one morning and putting on a t-shirt for my short walk to work. At noon I went out for lunch and it was a beautiful day, sunny and mild temps suitable for my attire. When I left work at 5:00, it was breezy and about 2°F.

Then there was the afternoon around Memorial Day when I went to the movies and came out to find five inches of snow on the ground.

The nice lofty kitchen.

Denver didn't excite me for the job. But the job provided for me to have a fun nightlife, dancing at clubs until the wee morning hours and/or lingering in a smoky coffeehouse called Muddy's until the wee-er hours. What better way to spend a cold winter's night than huddled with friends around a table clutching mugs of hot coffee, smoking cigarettes, and watching the snow fall outside.

Cassanova getting ready to go seduce the boys.

It was during one such night when I became friends with a woman I'll call KD. This was a friendship which clicked immediately and built into a close bond. Sometimes those last and sometimes they flicker after awhile and burn to a cinder. This friend would prove to be the latter scenario.

My Toyota Corolla was grossly mismatched to the climate and altitude of Denver. I was prowling various car dealerships looking for a replacement when I spied what was probably a 1978 BMW 530i, silver with red leather interior. The owner was there trading it in on a jeep and I bought it that day for $3,300. As you might expect, it had high mileage. I seem to recall 133,000 being the number. But it drove wonderfully and had a sunroof which worked if you coaxed it correctly.

As nice as the downtown apartment was, I needed my own space after a few months. I searched around and finally decided on a "penthouse" apartment in this building which backed against Cheesman Park, a very gay-friendly Denver neighborhood. (In the same sense that San Francisco is gay-friendly!)

It wasn't exactly luxurious. It was just a studio apartment, no separate bedroom. But the kitchen was ample and my futon was on the living area floor next to a sliding glass door which lead onto a small balcony.

That's my futon covered in a red blanket in the foreground. There was a small closet in the back which did house a washer/dryer combo (very nice!) and a small bathroom to the right.

While Denver was a blast, it was becoming obvious to me after a year that I was merely at a temporary stopping point on a longer journey. I had already quit my job at the bank and begun working as a cashier in a nearby university bookstore. That really wasn't paying the bills but the people were more fun than those who worked in the bank.

The relationship situation wasn't working out either. I had a notable slut-puppy episode which makes me laugh to this day.

I was out at a dance club one night. They had a slightly elevated stage at the back of the club which on that particular night had a white curtain drawn across the front of it. I would occasionally see the silhouette of someone dancing behind the curtain. In my slightly intoxicated and horny state, I decided to go back there and check this guy out.

He was most definitely sizzling hot, and dancing alone holding a beer between his legs very suggestively. A konagod has gotta do what a konagod does best. I thought it might be a treat to provide the other club patrons with a shadow show behind the curtain. I slid down on my knees in front of this hottie while he was holding the beer bottle fully "erect" from his crotch, and I slid my mouth several inches down the neck of his bottle. Then he put his thumb over the bottle mouth, shook it, and sprayed beer in my mouth.

Apparently that was just enough to get us hot to trot, and trot we did... right back to my futon for some unbridled passion and a rather awkward unsuccessful attempt at sex, which abruptly ended around 5:00am when I realized he car was in danger of being towed from where he parked on the street. After telling him he had to get dressed and go move his car, I never saw him again.

There were other strange things going on. Like the guy I met who took me to his place and wanted us to bathe together in his big tub by candlelight. He also had a lot of amulets he was waving around to ward off bad spirits and to "protect us." Wow, I was kind of happy to get away from that one.

KD was encouraging me to purchase a VW Beetle. It would suit my style better than that BMW she insisted. So we shopped around and finally found an orange one which I purchased for around $600 from a woman who seemed very nice. She needed to get her hands on the title and promised she'd have it in the next day or so. Her demeanor immediately went from nice to completely insane within the span of 48 hours. She would be hostile when I called to inquire about the title. I think she said she was going to call the cops and tell them I was harassing her.

This stalling for time went on for a few weeks and KD would call her as well. KD's brother in San Diego was a lawyer so I think with some veiled threats, the woman finally caved in and said she'd fork over the title. I hired a notary willing to travel to her home to collect the title rather than go there myself. When he showed up at my place with the title, I was so relieved to have this ugly scene behind me.

The car was a piece of crap. I kept the BMW for the days when the VW wouldn't start or had a flat tire or dead battery.

During the final few months in Denver when that was going on, I was also having a different type of relationship with a guy named Hank who played in a band. It was different in the sense that it wasn't based on lust or love, more of a convenience situation, and the fact that it went on for the better part of a year was surprising to me. Hank needed to get very drunk in order to be very gay. I was feeling trapped and not sure how to end this. We weren't really friends at all. We got together when we needed to get off. He'd twist the top off a bottle of vodka and then we'd end up in bed. Then I'd drop him off at work the next morning.

Meanwhile my friend KD was plotting a move to San Diego and had been trying to convince me to move out there with her so we could split expenses. She wanted to be closer to her brother. She loved the city kept telling me I needed to get out of Denver, with her, for a new life.

Having always been drawn to the west coast, I decided this was the move I needed to make. And because I knew for some odd reason that my best hope of finding a real partner in life was there. So I quietly began packing my stuff, gave notice of my intent to vacate my apartment, and on moving day, I simply left. No farewells to many of my friends, or to Hank. I just disappeared.

Certainly there are other ways to get out of a dead-end relationship, but this was at least clean and easy. And I was on the road again, with a U-Haul full of KD's stuff, and her cat, as well as what few things I owned, and my orange VW Beetle in tow. I'd have to fly back later and pick up the BMW which I did. And I haven't been back to Denver since.

A lot happened in that city in a short span of time. I moved there in January, 1989 and was out of there in the summer of 1990. And it was a fun time, aside from the time I was knocked head over heels off my bicycle by a car. That still hurts to think about.

Next up: Road trip to San Diego with a lengthy blistering hangover in Las Vegas!

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