Thursday, September 6, 2007
Idaho, No You-da-ho!
by Clinton Fein
I don’t usually write about my sex life. But to all those who asked, or plan on asking me questions about secret codes in the wake of Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho’s sex sting arrest in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom, from people who just assumed I would know, I thought I would lay it all out.
Let’s just say I’ve been around the block once or twice.
I couldn’t possibly count the number of people I have had sex with. Math was never my strong suit. I’m not bragging or strutting my prowess. It’s simply a fact.
I’ve done it everywhere. On a plane, in a car, on a beach, in a forest, in a park, in a parking lot, in the ocean, in a pool, in a hot tube, in a sauna, in a steam room, in a school toilet (I was a student at the school at the time).
I’ve had sex with a Fedex carrier, a plumber, an electrician, a painter, a mechanic, a yoga instructor, a personal trainer, a film star, a porn star, a politician and almost every other profession under the sun in almost every city in the many countries I’ve visited over the years. There have been twosomes, threesomes, foursomes, and fivesomes (and higher numbers too, but who’s counting?) There’s hardly a porno fantasy that I’ve seen that I haven’t actually experienced myself.
Yet even the times that I did it in a public place, the likelihood of being caught by anyone was slim to none. The thrill, you see, wasn’t about getting away with a risky situation, but rather unwillingness to deprive oneself of an opportunity that was presenting itself right there and then.
Maybe it’s just an innate sixth sense, but I’m pretty good at picking up what the score is. Even without the help of the Internet, (or travel guides before that), I can usually sniff my way around until I find the most conducive spot, where the attainment of my desire has the highest probability.
Perhaps this is why my friends assumed I would automatically know what happened to Senator Craig in the airport bathroom.
But in all my years, and uncountable encounters, never have I known about a foot-tapping code in a public restroom, nor the bizarre signal of sliding one’s hand under the stall of the intended, neighboring target. While I am astounded that Senator Craig seemed to be so familiar with the conduct he denies ever happened, it makes sense that a closeted person seeking an anonymous encounter would need to be familiar with such codes.
Who would have thought that there was something new to learn in the cruising for sex realm from an anti-gay, conservative, closeted, Republican senator? Why hadn’t I ever heard of nor encountered these tawdry mating rituals?
Had I been in the stall next to Senator Craig, I would likely have mistaken his foot tapping for impatience at his bowels for ignoring the pressing time restraints of his tight flight schedule.
Maybe it’s because I don’t need to do an elaborate, toilet-inspired tap-dance to get laid. It’s not that I consider myself unusually good looking by any means, but I do know what it’s like to be objectified, and to be desired for my looks alone, my brilliant mind, alas, having no bearing on the situation whatsoever.
Could it be that I don’t feel a need to conduct my sex life in the shadows, embarrassed over who I am? Maybe it’s because I haven’t half-heartedly taken sacred vows and fraudulently committed myself to someone who expects my shrill rhetoric about “protecting” families and hatefully embracing of “values” that “strengthen” marriages to match my conduct.
Yet gleeful as I am about the uncomfortable plight of an anti-gay politician, who doesn’t believe gays are fit to serve in the military (but fit to service him in the john), and as unconvinced I am about his denials, and his supposed “wide stance” that would have him “mistakenly” touch the foot of the man in the next stall (would love to see him demonstrate this seemingly acrobatic stance that would qualify him for a role in Cirque de Soleil) his arrest is disturbing because the whole purpose of a code is to determine a level of interest from someone who, by virtue of merely understanding the code, is likely looking for the same thing.
So when Senator Craig determined that Sgt. Dave Karsnia, the arresting officer, was not responding to the foot-tapping, either by foot-tapping back, or making some other gesture that demonstrated his interest, he should have had the common sense to quit. That's why there are codes, idiot! It’s that clouded judgment, along with immediately pleading guilty to make it “all go away” that suggests he is ill equipped to serve as a representative of the people of Idaho, let alone in any leadership role.
Since I would never find myself in the same position as Senator Craig, I tried to imagine what I would do from Sgt. Dave Karsnia -- the entrapper’s -- point of view, or if I was minding my own business in a bathroom stall and some strange, liver-spotted, gnarled hand swept across the underside of the stall. My guess is I would probably yank off the wedding ring, and walk out, making sure to flush first. Etiquette always.
But then again, if I was Sgt. Dave Karsnia, I would be too busy thinking about what to tell my family when they ask me how my day was, or what to tell my kids if they wanted to inform their peers what their father actually does as a “first responder.”
“Well actually I spend my life pretending to be taking a crap, hoping some desperate closet queen will tap his foot in the stall next door. And then, respond I do.” The self-actualization he must feel is heart warming.
I understand addictions and compulsions, and recognize that for some, seeking to satisfy these urges includes the risk of a dangerous encounter – like a public toilet at a busy airport. For me, there is no excitement in that sort of risk, just like there is no joy in trying to convert someone who is sexually predisposed to a different gender; no matter how attractive they may seem on the surface, or committed to pleasing me.
As I write, criticizing the players in this sordid drama, I’m sure my many critics will jump at an opportunity to condemn my immoral behavior, and the extent to which I indulge my hedonistic urges for what I term first-encounter sex (not to be confused with anonymous sex, which in turn is not to be confused with sex in a public place). While some will chalk up my promiscuity to my fear of intimacy, (many close friends already do) I prefer to see it as rather disenchantment with repeats or dissatisfaction with third encounters of the close kind. Metaphorically, to the extent that there are new, ravishing delicacies yet to be tasted, why would one keep on eating the same meal, no matter how good, over and over again?
Senator Craig saw fit to announce on the floor of the senate, that Valentine’s Day happened to be the anniversary of the first date he had with his wife Suzanne. “Am I a romantic? Well, maybe just a little bit,” he said coyly. One can imagine the romantic gift. Glade toilet spray?
"I am not gay. I never have been gay," Senator Craig doth protested defiantly following a news conference after the story first broke. A week later, as his adult children make the rounds on national television, defending daddy’s honor (and exacerbating mommy’s humiliation), proclaiming that his specious explanations had addressed all their “tough” questions to their satisfaction, Republican hypocrites like Trent Lott, Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Mitt Romney (to name a few) are now sweating like whores in a church at the prospect of Senator Craig retracting his “intended” resignation, and fighting to not only have his plea changed to “not guilty” but to retain his seat in the senate.
Senator Craig, who is up for re-election next year, will never be able to erase the screaming subtext from whatever façade he chooses adopt as a campaign theme or slogan, and politically and strategically will have no choice but to, once again, acknowledge who he isn’t and apparently never has been.
“Larry Craig for Senate 2008. I’m not gay; It's just my stance.”
Clinton Fein can be emailed at
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