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Thursday, April 1, 2010

601

601 is an enigma I don’t know where to start with it, but there will never be anything like it again. It has a street name which I won’t mention since someone else lives there now, but we never used the street name anyway. Practically every gay man in Midland knew what you were talking about if you got an invitation to 601.

When I first laid eyes on it I wasn’t that impressed. It was 1978 and my friends Todd and Rick had just purchased it, or rather Rick’s grandmother had purchased it for them. It was simply a beige house built in 1938 with brown trim and a one car garage. It extended almost to the back of the lot since additions had been made to it over the years. I’m sure it started as a two bedroom one bath, but a master suite had been added to the back of the original house. It had a small kitchen with white tile countertops and the front bathroom was tiled in pink. It has central air and heat, but the back bedroom had a window unit in it.
It really wasn’t much to look at. The day they drove me over there it was in winter, so the grass was dead and there were still clothesline poles in the backyard. I pretended to be pleased for them as they told me of their plans for it, but I really couldn’t see much potential for it, boy was I wrong!

After a few months and several thousand dollars the place was transformed. Todd had a U shaped drive way put in the front, an eight foot privacy fence surrounded the entire front yard and even enclosed the front porch. He removed old trees and planted new ones, landscaped the yard, added an in ground hot tub, hauled in rocks, added lighting, statues, fountains, patio furniture and the place became a beautiful oasis. It was pretty during the day, but at night it was magical. The hot tub had a red light in it which seemed appropriate considering what went on in there most of the time. He even had speakers from the stereo inside the house disguised as rocks and hidden in the ceiling of the porch. They filled the house with beautiful furniture that was quite in vogue at the time. Oriental rugs on the hardwood floors, new appliances in the kitchen, oatmeal colored sofa with pillows covered in real fur, mink, opossum, fox, and beaver. There were wing back chairs, beautiful tables, lamps, a teak dining room set with a new chandelier, beautifully framed Japanese fans, Sarongs, and framed posters of the works of Marc Chagall, Monet, and Renoir. There was no television in the living room, but a huge Sony Trinitron in the bedroom with a VCR player and the entire house was wired with stereo speakers. I didn’t know it then, but the place would become legendary.

The glory years of 601 lasted from 1978 to 1983 and there will never be another time like that again. Disco music seemed to play continuously, liquor poured like water and sex was available any time you wanted it. There seemed to be a party going on all the time especially on weekends and you didn’t really have to have an invitation you could just stop by and Todd would make you a drink. The only rule was he’d make the first one then after that you had to make your own. He didn’t care how many you had, he just didn’t want to have to be getting up and down making drinks for people. Usually whoever was up would offer to make drinks for others, so you never really had to get up at all. Music played constantly on the stereo and often there was an old movie on television in the bedroom like “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, but more often than not a porno tape was playing on the VCR.

Usually there was just a small gathering of people in the living room in the winter and six could fit in the hot tub when the weather allowed. At larger parties you might walk through the house and someone would be having sex in one of the bedrooms, or there would be a pile of naked guys on the king size bed in the master bedroom. Rick was terribly jealous and would throw fits and tantrums whenever he thought Todd was about to be involved. A fight would ensue, or he’d get in his car and peel out in the driveway. Todd had silver 1976 Coupe De Ville they named “The Whale” and later traded it for a dark blue 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine. Now that was a sight seeing “The Limo” parked in the front driveway of 601. You have to remember most of the years of 601 were pre AIDS and in those days you couldn’t catch anything a big shot of Penicillin couldn’t cure. I remember being in the hot tub and some guy would crawl in and be passed from lap to lap as we drank our cocktails and enjoyed him. Rick would get so jealous of Todd’s indiscretions that he took every opportunity he could to get back at him. When a group of us would be going somewhere in two cars Rick would always say, “I want to ride in Sam’s new Cadillac.”, or whatever I was driving at the moment. Then he would proceed to give me a blow job on the way there getting out and wiping his mouth as he smile at Todd. Once, when Todd went to get a bag of ice Rick wanted me to fuck him on the hall floor while telling me, “Hurry up, hurry up!” just so he could feel he’d gotten revenge for one of Todd’s escapades. Rick and I had dated before he met Todd and Todd didn’t care who did who he just wanted Rick to stop his jealousy and join in on the fun.

I remember one night in particular when there were just four of us at the house in the hot tub, Todd, Rick, Ken, and I. When Rick realized where things were heading he excused himself and went in the house. After quite some passed Todd got out to see what he was doing. Ken and I kept talking and touching one another and soon thirty minutes had gone by and no one came out of the house. I wanted to get up and see what was taking so long, but Ken kept telling me not to worry. Then the front door opened and there stood Todd fully dressed as he looked back into the living room and screamed “ASSHOLE!” then slammed the door. I swear he slammed the door so hard I don’t know how we ever got it open again. Ken and I looked at each other and I said, “We’d better go in and see what’s going on.” He said, “No, I’ll go, you stay here.” “I’m not letting you go in there alone.” I said, as we both got out and put on robes. When we walked into the house we could tell all hell was breaking loose in the kitchen. We rushed in and Todd was on top of Rick on the floor choking him. Rick was fighting back until he saw us then he pretended to faint. After dating Rick I knew what kind of anger he could arouse in a person and I honestly didn’t know whether to get Todd off him, or join in choking him. Ken ran over and got Todd off as I helped Rick to his feet. Ken and I had no idea what had happened in the thirty or forty five minutes since Todd had gotten out of the hot tub, but later Todd told us he’d found Rick dressing to leave. Todd got dressed too and Rick grabbed the keys to Todd’s car and started outside. Todd tried to stop him and ended up chasing him down the ally and tackling him. They both rolled around in the dirt and stickers. After Todd finally got the keys from him they went back inside the house, that’s when Ken and I saw Todd open the door.

The majority of the parties there were pleasant and without problems. People would show up who didn’t even know who owned the house. Once Todd walked out on the front porch, some young good looking guy asked, “Who are you?” Todd said, “I’m your host.” The kid said, “My, aren’t you the Gatsby type?” Todd took him by the hand and led him to the bedroom. Todd could talk the pants off anyone and he liked them young. He wasn’t a pedophile, but even in his mid twenty’s he liked guys who were barely legal, Rick was only eighteen when they met. I once asked him, “Just what in the hell do you say to these guys? Hello little boy, now pull down your pants?” It was like he hypnotized them, or something.

On New Years Eve 1980 Todd and I stayed at 601 while everyone else drove to the bar in Odessa to celebrate because he’d seduced a guy I’d been trying to get into bed for two years. Todd knew how I felt and asked my permission first. I said, “I don’t know how you did it, but I don’t care as long as you share.” So we took turns ringing in the New Year with him.

Often I would go over and make Jambalaya, or Spaghetti for a group of friends and we’d all have a nice dinner and an enjoyable evening. Once, Todd had an old boyfriend of his over for drinks. As usual Rick had to show his ass and excused himself to go to bed while they had a guest. Todd was sitting in the wingback and Steve was lying on the sofa talking quietly when after about an hour or so, Rick got up and tip toed to the mini blinds looking and see if they were in the hot tub. As Rick carefully pulled the blinds apart Todd said, “Yesssss?” from the behind him. It scared Rick so badly, he played those fucking mini blinds like a harp and turned and went back to bed without saying a word.

Once at a rather large party there were people all over the house in the yard and in the hot tub. Todd and I were inside and suddenly he noticed the music had changed from disco to something scratchy and horrible. “Go see what the hell’s in the stereo.” He said. I walked to the front of the house where the stereo was located. It could play LPs, eight tracks, or cassettes, but by that time Todd was using cassettes almost exclusively. There was a homemade eight track stuck in the player with “Andrew Sisters” written on it, so I removed it and started the cassette again. I opened the door to go outside and there stood Rick with his best friend Jim. They were in the middle of toasting each other with glasses of pink champagne. It suddenly dawned on me who’d changed the music and I said, “Oh I’m sorry, did you put that in there?” Without saying a word Jim threw his glass of pink champagne on me. I was wearing cowboy boots, jeans, and a white pearl snap western shirt with a western belt and buckle. Rick immediately rushed me to the bathroom and began trying to clean me up. When I caught sight of myself in the mirror I went berserk. I ripped my shirt completely off, since it now stank of cheap champagne and was stained pink. I charged for the front door and looked around, “Where’s James?” I yelled, as I stood there shirtless. Someone pointed to the garden area behind the hot tub and said, “Over there.” I ran for him and started beating the shit out of him. I had him flat on the ground and I was trying to shove his head in the hot tub. I was on top of him and he was face down. I was determined to drown his sorry ass, but every time I had his face within an inch of that water somehow he would pull his head up. Someone went and got Todd he came out and broke us up. Todd didn’t have a clue as to what had happened, but all of us were quite drunk by that time and I wanted Todd to make Jim leave. He wouldn’t do it, so I went in the house got my shirt and headed to my Cadillac. Todd was standing by the car trying to keep me from leaving while I screamed at him for not being loyal to me. Rick wandered outside and saw Jim sitting in his car, disheveled, and drunkenly asked, “Did you know Sam got in a fight with somebody?” Jim looked up at him in disbelief and said, “Hell yeah, it was me!”

There were quiet times there too. I can remember Todd calling me after Rick had moved out and saying, “Hey I’m doing some planting around the drive way. Why don’t you come over and keep me company?” I was restoring a green 1957 Cadillac Seville at the time so I drove it over there, and polished the chrome with chrome polish and steel wool while he planted “Monkey Grass” and “Dollar Plants”. I drank rum and Coke and he drank rum and Dr. Pepper while we talked about anything and everything that came to mind. I guess it’s the wild things that just stick in my mind.

In all the years I’ve known Todd I probably haven’t seen him visibly drunk more than four, or five times. Most people slur their words, or stagger, but the only way I can tell Todd is drunk is that he’ll start making obnoxious noises, bird calls, and start slapping his hands on furniture, shaking his foot, or twirling his ring. Not that he hasn’t been legally drunk hundreds of times he just doesn’t show it and it usually catches me by surprise.
One evening in 1982 we planned a dinner party and I was going to make Jambalaya. He’d invited eight people and we usually split the grocery bill three ways with another friend while I did all the shopping and cooking. By this time Rick had moved out and Todd’s elderly grandmother had bought the house next door, so he could help keep an eye on her. I was in the kitchen chopping and cooking while I sipped a rum and Coke. One of the guests was a friend named Andy, he was in the kitchen keeping me company as I prepared our meal. Everyone else was in the bedroom with their drinks watching a movie. It was hot as hell in the kitchen, so I opened the door so some air could come in through the old screen door. I had just enough to drink that I was getting a headache and I asked Andy to go turn the stereo down since no one was in the living room anyway. Apparently Todd walked in just as Andy was turning it down and confronted him. They both hated each other and only tolerated one another because of me. Todd went over and started shouting at Andy, “This is my house and I’ll decide when the music is too loud.” as he turned the volume back up. I started wiping my hands on a towel and went into the living room and stood between them. I told Todd, “He’s turning the music down because I asked him to. I don’t care if it is your house, I’m in the hot kitchen and no one’s in here listening to it anyway.” We got in a slight shoving match and I realized he was drunk, but I pushed him aside and turned down the volume then returned to the kitchen. He followed me and continued ranting about it being his house, etc. He started shoving me backward and every time he’d repeat himself as if trying to make his point. The kitchen was small, so it only took three shoves until my back was against the counter. I’d been trying to reason with him up until that point, but when he shoved me the forth time I quietly reached up took off my glasses and sat them on the counter. Later he would say that was when he knew he was in trouble. I tore into him and began beating the shit out of him. I knew from years of experience with my heart problems that I had to win a fight quickly before I went into tachycardia. He kept body slamming me into the wall, but I finally got his arms pinned behind him and had him on his knees in the floor. I begged him to stop, but he kept screaming at me to get out of his house. In the meantime, all the other queens made a mass exodus out the front door and screeched away. Andy was the only one who stayed. I told him if he’d calm down I’d leave and this would be the end of it. I made him promise, but as I helped him stand up he body slammed me into the wall while yelling, “Get out of my house!” I’d had it by then, grabbing him by the collar and the back of his pants, I said, “Not until you go first!” and threw him through the latched screen door. He landed on the back porch in a pile of dusty screen and broken wood, but he got up and started at me again. My heart was already in tachycardia and I was loosing my breath, so I knew I wouldn’t last long. I beat him to the floor and since I didn’t want to risk him getting up again I kicked him repeatedly until I split the side out of one of my expensive anaconda loafers. I turned off all the burners on the gas stove and Andy and I walked out to our cars just as it began to rain. I was living with Kate again by that time and he and I drove over there and went to my room. As I was in the floor doing everything I could think of to stop my tachycardia, Andy was in the bathroom drying his hair with my blow-dryer. I was upset and crying because Todd wasn’t moving when we left. I was afraid I’d killed him. I asked him, “If I drive you back over there will you go in and see if he’s OK?” “No!” he said. “Why not?” I asked. “Because if I go over there and find out he’s not dead I’m going to finish the job you started!” He screamed. “Why did you stay then?” I asked. He said, “To see if you were going to need any help and obviously you didn’t. I don’t give a shit, I hope you did kill him. I’ll testify it was in self defense.” After more begging and pleading he drove me over to a friend’s house who agreed to go back with us and check on Todd. Andy parked several feet away in case Todd decided to attack me again. The friend came back and said, “Todd is OK.” and we all went home.

The next day Todd called me and asked me if I wanted to come over for dinner. He’d put all the food in the refrigerator and saved it including the garlic bread I hadn’t baked yet. I went over and we had dinner and never mentioned the fight. Later we went to a movie and ran into a couple of our dinner guest. We could tell by the looks on their faces that they were shocked that we were there as if nothing had happened. Todd and I are like brothers and ten years later when he and I were having a huge screaming argument his lover at the time tried to step in and take Todd’s side. Todd stopped in mid sentence, turned to him and said, “Shut up, and keep out of it. Tomorrow we’ll be over it, and you’ll still be pissed, so just go back to bed.” Somehow we’ve just always accepted the fact that we will always be friends and no matter what happens we’ll get over it.

The next year Rick and his mother finally made Todd move out. Todd went to her house and tried to get his dog back, there was an ugly scene and he finally let her have the dog and moved out. He kept all the furniture since he’d done so much work landscaping the house he deserved it. There were many parties and fights, to come over the years, but there will never be another 601.

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