16 August 2013

Flashback Friday: College Mentor

For my first Flashback Friday, I wanted to share the above watercolor painting of a San Francisco street scene. It was given to me by the artist, Bob Serrano, in 1987 (the year after I graduated from college).

Back in the day...and I mean BACK in the day...the only ways to find "like minded men" was to either go to a gay bar, a gay bath house, a bookstore, or by placing an ad in the Pink Pages of the Advocate magazine. As a 21 year old, I opted for the latter because it seemed to be the thing to do. Not surprisingly, an ad stating I was 21, a virgin, and exploring my sexuality yielded many replies. Oh and let me clarify: this was through snail mail. I had rented a PO Box for my correspondence and all mail I didn't want sent to the house (I lived at home and commuted to college).

One of the (many) respondents was a gentleman named Bob. We corresponded erratically until we finally talked on the phone. This was probably in the 1984-85 year. We finally met for dinner one evening. I don't recall where we met but he picked me up and we went to dinner at Charlie Brown's and then we went down to Laguna Beach to a country club to talk and share some wine. That country club had a lovely pool room. *wink* I probably should have been freaked that this man fucking me was a little older than my mother - but I didn't let it bother me.

Bob, who was 28 years older than me, became my personal and academic mentor. We discussed gay life and Bob introduced me to the finer side of being gay: the smart clubs, the smart cocktails, the scuttlebutt on closeted celebrities, all those tidbits that make a newly out boy awestruck. I'll be honest: Bob introduced me to some very interesting sexual techniques as well. I was eager to learn. But it wasn't all personal; he advised me academically although he worked at a different college. I interviewed him for one of my writing projects (on which I got an A). 

Bob was an artist and often his work appeared in gay porn magazines as "accompanying art." Often his picture was hotter than the story. We talked about many great things and I admitted to having a desire to see San Francisco again, having been there on family vacations and on high school band tours. 

I graduated from college in 1986 and got involved in the local theater, got a full time job and unfortunately my time with Bob became a thing of the past. We reconnected once more - I won't bore you with the story of how he played a trick on me with a very hot motorcycle cop - where after satisfying each other sexually, he presented me with the water color as a remembrance.  I tried to keep in touch via letters; he retired and moved to San Luis Obispo to care for his ailing mother.

In 1989 I took a road trip to SLO and looked him up. As I walked up the driveway he stepped out and asked what I wanted. He didn't remember me and that kind of hurt but knowing he "advised" many frat boys for Sigma Phi Epsilon throughout his career it was understandable that any young man walking up his driveway was not unusual. We talked and made plans for dinner that night. After dinner, we went to my motel and had one last round.

I'm not certain when Bob passed away; in the 1990s I tried looking him up in SLO but the phonebook had his brother's name. I called, inquired about Bob, and found out he had passed. The brother wasn't very friendly or forthcoming with information so I assumed that Bob passed from complications of HIV. 

I came across the watercolor recently. I put it in a frame and now have it hanging in my bedroom. I learned so much from Bob and he was a good friend. I hope he enjoyed life to the fullest until the end.



Howard in CT said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

And what a beautiful work of art by which to always remember a very special friend.

Nik_TheGreek said...

That's a very nice painting. It's so nice to have it to remember Bob. I assume he still has a great sentimental value to you.
Very nice story...

Stan said...

Thanks for sharing such a lovely story. You were lucky to have Bob in your younger years. I remember too trying to connect with my "own kind" back in the early 70's but the only gays I was sure existed were in NYC so that's where I had to go and "explore." I never met anyone like Bob though. Guys like him were hard to find.
I did meet nice guys like this eventually but they too started to succumb to full blown AIDS later on. It was heartbreaking to see them suffer.
Until this day I ask why I'm still here and didn't contract HIV.
I love the painting. Treasure it for his memory I'm sure he would have liked that.

Rick said...

That's a great story Mark. I too had a couple of older lover/mentors. At times, I've been bitter thinking that they only showed me attention because of my youth. Nevertheless, I have fond memories.
Great painting!