Venturesome in Philly
Hey, VIP: Before I give you a reasonable answer, Lt. John Cerrone, commanding officer of Philadelphia's City Wide Vice Enforcement Unit, is gonna give you a scolding. Is paying a masseuse to give a hand/blow job illegal in Philly? "Yes, it most certainly is," said Lt. Cerrone. How often do massage parlors get busted? "Well, I can't give you that information. But prostitution is an illegal act. It comes under our authority, and this man should know that we enforce the laws against illegal prostitution regardless of where it occurs." But how likely is it that you'd get busted? "Quite truthfully," said Lt. Cerrone, "when it comes to this sort of thing, we have our priorities, as we do with anything. We respond to complaints, and since street prostitution generates more complaints [than massage parlors], a large part of our efforts are geared toward open, public street prostitution."
Now, that's where Lt. Cerrone left it, but I'm sure he expected us to do the rest of the math. Add it up: The police receive more citizen complaints about street prostitution than any other kind of prostitution; consequently, the police are likelier to bust street prostitutes than girls working in, say, massage parlors. Therefore, if you want to pay someone to give you a hand/blow job, and minimize your risk of getting busted, don't go to a street prostitute. The implied advice from Philadelphia's City Wide Vice Enforcement Unit? Go to a massage parlor.
Hey, Faggot: I have a problem, and would like an outsider's input. I'm a male, with a male friend. A month after we met, he moved out of town, but we've kept in touch. He sent me a holiday card, and it read: "I've come to the conclusion that everything we do is to have sex. We eat to have energy to have sex. We work so we can rent/buy a place to have sex in. We shop to buy clothes to impress people so they will have sex with us." Inside the card it said: "Anyhow, better wrap this up, gotta take a shower, cuz ... well ... you know." When we were living in the same town, he never gave me the impression that he might be gay or bi, and he doesn't know that I'm bi. He always told me about his girlfriends. But this card has me excited and a bit confused; is he trying to tell me something? The couple of times I've visited him, he's been very affectionate -- lots of hugs -- and he always insists on me sleeping in his bed with him, though he wears his pants to bed (he normally sleeps in his underwear). This is very teasing and tempting. Your thoughts?
Hey, E: In these sorts of situations, it's sometimes hard to tell where one person's wishful thinking ends and the other person's subtle signals begin. That card may mean something, or it may not; the hugs may mean something, or they may not; the sleepovers may mean something, or ... you get the picture. While some of the behaviors you describe would have been highly suspect 10 or 20 years ago, more and more straight boys are secure enough with their own sexual identity that they no longer fear hugging or sharing a bed with another man will make them gay, or give people the impression that they're gay. And while you see much meaning in that card, it seems the least significant signal: Plenty of straight boys -- even violently homophobic ones -- send each other dirty cards, gag gifts, blow-up dolls, etc., and it doesn't mean a thing.
So, it comes down to this: Either the guy is bi and he's sending you signals -- entirely plausible -- or he's a laid-back straight boy and you're reading things into his actions that are not true -- equally plausible. Until he sends a less subtle signal, there's no way of knowing for sure what's up. You, however, have the power to break the stalemate by sending an unsubtle signal of your own: Tell him you're bisexual. Don't tell him when you're under the covers together, or just before he goes to hug you, as that might seem opportunistic. But the next time you go for a visit, take him out, get him very drunk, and casually mention that you enjoy sucking dick. If he responds, "Hey, me too! May I suck yours?" then you were right, and he was sending you signals all along. If he says, "That's cool. Not my scene, but that's cool," then you were wrong.
Hey, Faggot: Love you, love your column, hate your uncharacteristically inhumane response to the teacher in love with his high school student [Feb. 11]. I'm a product of just such a union: Mom was the young English teacher; Dad the student body president and captain of the football and track teams. The age difference was seven years (not quite Mary Kay Letourneau, but the same as the teacher who wrote you). They did have the good sense to wait until after graduation, though. They conceived two kids (I'm the second) before my mother sent my father away. She wanted him to marry a more "socially approved" partner, and he did: a well-to-do professional a year older than my mother. Well, my mother regretted that decision, and spent the next couple of decades sleeping on the couch and punishing herself.
Finally, she and my father ran off together. They're now a very loving couple in their 50s, and I love them. The key issue in the letter you received was the lack of reciprocity in the relationship, not the teacher/student thing. As you already know, all human interactions carry a sexual charge, and the heart has its own reasons. We fall in love so rarely in this life, why deny it to people like my parents?
An Open-Minded Daughter
Hey, AOMD: Geez, for the last time: I don't think teachers who fall in love with their students should be burned alive. I merely pointed out that, judging from all the hyperventilating TV news anchors, a plurality of my fellow Americans would seem to think so. Personally, I think that if two people fall in love, even the taboo variety, well, that's a beautiful thing. And, frankly, I can't understand why Mary Kay Letourneau is in jail and Woody Allen is not. If the two folks in love can hack it -- if they can tough out icy receptions at family reunions, tell-alls penned by their exes, and those pesky 7-1/2-year imprisonments -- well, more power to 'emn.