Have you ever had anyone kiss your ear? Not the sensual lobe-sucking that gets the motor running, but rather a full on smack right on the earhole. It’s really very loud. Painfully so. Clay and I do it to each other to be annoying. We just chased each other around the room trying to get one other. He got me real bad several times (my ears are still ringing). I climbed on top of him in bed and aimed while he swivelled his head back and forth, covering his ears. I was thwarted. We laughed so hard we cried. This is Friday night fun after 15 years together.
The other thing we do is the underwear snap. It usually goes like this: One of us pretends we’re not paying attention to the other one getting out of bed. Right when the riser starts to stand up and walk away you grab his elastic underwear band and just hold on as he moves forward. Then ‘snap’. Sophomoric? Oh yes, but it makes us laugh.
We are very comfortable together. You can call our pranks routine, or even our bickering. But there’s a strange comfort in all of it.
When Clay decided to rejoin the military after being a civilian for most of our relationship, I went with him to the recruiter. I was afraid he would get talked into something dangerous and I wanted to put my two cents in. So there I sat in a badly decorated wood paneled office, surrounded by awards and trophies and posters of serious-looking people with motivational captions. There I sat picking my nose, slumping in my chair, scratching my crotch and looking bored – my straight boy impression, in other words. Every now and then I’d jump in with a question or two, or to say something like “Clay talks a lot about XYZ career field…” if it looked like combat-related careers were being considered.
And thus began the dual life. After years of living out and proud as gay men – as a couple – Clay again became property of the US Goverment, and I was a willing participant. Our Yahoo profiles erased, our answering machine message deleted. Now, when we’re anywhere close to the base, I have to stop myself from instictively grabbing his hand, fixing his hair, kissing him, calling him pet names. And even when we’re far away I wonder if someone from his unit might happen to see us (we’ve run into his military buddies all over the damn country…)
But there are no guarantees in life. We knew what we were getting into… mostly. It’s just more difficult going back into the closet than I thought it would be, and I’m not even the one who’s got to play straight on base. I just have to pretend that he’s not the love of my life every now and then. Ouch.