Teasing the Truth

Blaine was a beautiful young black man who teased me about having a quickie every day that we worked together. Monday through Friday he drove a forklift moving pallets of expensive paper around a warehouse while I balanced the books for our employer, a small company called “PaperWorld” in the industrial district of downtown Oakland.

PaperWorld’s manager was a middle-aged gay man named Roy. He lived a drama-laden life with his long-term partner Jack and he loved to hire temptation. Roy offered Blaine a job as soon as he saw him without even filling out an application.

One morning when Blaine made his playful suggestion to me, I said, “Sure. Why not? When do you want to meet?” He was surprised but didn’t hesitate. He said we could take a long lunch in his room at his grandmother’s house. Blaine was nineteen years old and I was twenty-five.

I arrived at our meeting point expecting to get right down to it. But in his grandmother’s house on his own bed, bravado turned to angst and I became a surrogate mother. He said he wanted to talk, then had a difficult time saying anything so I asked him about his room. It was clean and uncluttered. His clothes were all pressed and hung in a tidy closet. It didn’t look like it belonged to a nineteen-year-old. He appreciated that his grandmother had dedicated much of her life to providing for him. He said he loved her and was afraid to disappoint her. I told him that was easy to see.

Eventually, he brought up work. He said he knew why Roy had hired him on the spot. That he only hired male help he intended to seduce. All you had to do was keep Roy interested but that in itself was a job.

Chances were good that Blaine was gay and chances were even better that he wasn’t ready to admit it. I listened rather than questioned, then echoed the first thought that entered my head. "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." Which was exactly what I needed to hear.