“Cut it out Enzo,” I said trying to push by him.
“Come on, Antonio. You’re the only gay guy I know. Just answer my question,” he said as his body made it quite clear I would be unable to pass.
“This is not funny, Enzo.”
“Listen, do you think gay guys would be attracted to my big guns? I mean, I know the ladies are – trust me, I know the ladies are. These big things have gotten me laid more times that I can count. But I’m trying to put myself out there as a caring, open-minded metrosexual and someone told me that meant I had to be nice to the faggots . . . oh damn, that’s not a nice word . . . I meant to say the gay guys. I’m sorry, Antonio.”
I was floored. Not because of what he was saying, but because he actually apologized and changed the term every man in the extended DiMarco family to describe people like me ever since before I was even born. It made me stop and actually look my cousin right in his pleading eyes. He smiled, showing me that his apology had been sincere. The big ape was actually trying. That floored me.
“Geez, thanks Enzo. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a DiMarco boy correct himself. For the record, though, faggot doesn’t bother me. I view it like a term of endearment.”
“A term of what?” Enzo asked and, immediately, we were back to the Neanderthal stage. “I was told that this shirt would be hot if I wore it to gay clubs…”
“Wait. What? Did you just say that you are going to go to a gay club? Why?”
“For the chicks, Antonio, for the chicks. Hot women love gay bars. I figure I’d finally go with some co-workers who’ve been asking me to join them for a while.”
“You know . . . to meet new people. Open up my horizontals.”
“To open up your horizons. Horizons . . . never mind, Enzo. What’s the real reason you want to go?”
“Fuck, are all gay guys mind readers? You always know when I’m not telling the whole story. It’s like when we were in junior high together and I told you I was joining the drama club to learn to talk better and you asked me what girl I liked. I bet you even knew it was Iris Loftus, but you were too shocked I liked an Irish girl to say her name.”
“Who’s the girl this time, Enzo?”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about. I hadn’t even mentioned a girl and you already knew it. No wonder you graduated Harvard with those things called honors.”
“Who’s the girl, Enzo?”
“Why does there always have to be a girl, Antonio?”
“Because it’s you, Enzo.”
“Okay, okay. It’s Carla Luigi.”
“The singer from down at the club?”
“Enzo, your taste is improving. It’s like you’ve gone from zero to ninety in mere seconds. I’m impressed. Careful now, she’s an out and proud liberal.”
“I know, Antonio! That’s why I’ve got to change. I can’t be calling guys fag . . . um, names, anymore. I need to know about dressing right, where to get my hair cut, and about wine that doesn’t come in a box. You’re my only connection to class, Tony. Help me, please. We’re going to some place called ‘Beefeaters’ tonight and I gotta seem cool – and I ain’t ever worried about being cool before. So, help a poor guy out, cousin. Will the gays like my big arms? I got this shirt specially for tonight.”
I looked at my cousin and felt the same stirring at my crotch whenever I gazed at Enzo. He was one good looking guy. Granted, his hair could be improved, his wardrobe lacked a little class, and the guy really needed to go back and finish high school – but none of that mattered when you gazed upon his dark brooding eyes, his thigh-quivering stubble, and what he always used to call his ‘gigantic bazookas.’ The man had the kind of arms that made you suddenly feel puny and weak whenever he was around. They didn’t just scream power – they yelled it from the highest mountain nearby. He had the kind of body that most men worked all of their life for and never achieved. The crazy thing was Enzo wasn’t a gym rat or powerlifting fiend – he just responded well to the workout he got at his construction job in addition to frequent use of the set of free weights he’d had since he had been in eighth grade. It was like some muscle fairy godfather had blessed him with a body that grew just from lifting the milk carton. I came home each Christmas specifically to get a lift-you-off-the-floor hug from those monstrous arms – both when I arrived and when I was leaving. Enzo used to protect me in school. No one dared bully Antonio DiMarco or they’d have to answer to the ‘gigantic bazookas.’ A visit from those arms usually meant you’d be dangling by some pipe the back of your pants was attached to after being lifted off the ground or, worse, literally being stuffed into a locker. The first part of my senior year was hell because Enzo, only a junior, decided to drop out of school. My protector was no longer there. After he heard I was having some problems, Enzo dropped by the school to say hi and remind the bullies I was off limits. The silent threat worked.
“Enzo, there’s not a breathing homosexual on this planet that wouldn’t find those arms stellar.”
“Cool. Stellar is good, right?”
“Very good. Now listen, I have a few other pointers that I think will help you a lot tonight, if you care to hear.”
The man seemed like I had just handed him the keys to paradise. He broke into a huge smile, grabbed two beers from the fridge, and ushered me into the dining room so we could sit and talk without being interrupted. I could tell he was all ears. I was impressed he didn’t take out some paper and a pen – he always made lists of things he wanted to do, but then promptly lost the list. He was actually going to listen and remember what I said. This was, indeed, a new Enzo. He looked at me like an eager puppy ready to please.
“First of all, gay clubs are a lot different than those places you call a bar. And most of the gay men you are hoping to impress – along with your girl, Carla – are not like the guys, and even, forgive me, the girls you know. With your regular group of friends, it’s fine for you to act like a bull in a china shop.”
“A bull where?”
“Um, it’s fine for you to come on strong – really strong. I’ve been out with you and you’ve flexed your arms more in one night than all the guys in the Mr. Olympia contest put together. It’s like you’re some power-hungry mafia guy that busts into a place wielding heavy artillery.”
“Very cool analogy, Antonio.”
“When did you start using words like analogy.”
“Since Carla started talking to me.”
“Remind me to thank Carla. Anyway, in a gay bar like ‘Beefeaters’ you want to be really subtle . . . um…”
“I know what subtle means, dude.”
“Of course,” I said and I could feel my face turn red – causing the big man to cup my cheek with his big hand to show me all was okay. “So, you want to be subtle. Let those monstrous arms…”
“You’ve always been into my guns, haven’t you, Antonio?”
We stared at each other for a few seconds in total silence. This was all new territory for me. There wasn’t a DiMarco family member that had ever discussed anything personal with me, except my mom and that was always limited to ‘have you met a nice doctor’ or ‘Mrs. So and So needs some decorating advice.’ This was someone actually calling me out on what I was into. I knew, however, that the new Enzo was ready for honest answers.
“Yes. I think they are stunning. And so will everyone at the bar tonight if you just let them do their thing naturally. There’s no need to announce them loudly like a foghorn on a cloudy night. Their size will let them speak for themselves, when you are taking a sip of beer, waving to a friend, or scratching the back of your head – which, by the way, I would suggest doing quite regularly.”
“That’s kind of funny, since that’s what I do when I don’t understand something and I have a feeling I’ll be doing that a lot tonight.”
This kind of self-awareness in a DiMarco man was unheard of. I suddenly felt a surge of love for this big dude that had never existed before. Evolution had never really been a thing I thought about, but I had a feeling Enzo’s growth as a human was going to make me read some books about it. He could tell I was impressed by something he said and this made him sit up taller – which made him look even more huge.
“You want people stealing glances at your arms all night long. Trust me, if you don’t make a big deal about them from the get go, they’re going to be what everyone in the group is talking about when you go to the bathroom. Now, forgive me – I know you’re a changed man, but I feel I need to also say – no loud burping, no sliding your fingers down the front of your pants while resting, no spread eagle adjusting of your family jewels, and do not – this is huge – be the first to take your shirt off on the dance floor. Let other people convince you to take it off. I’m pretty sure some of your co-workers will be tugging on that tight thing and pulling out your shirttail pretty early on. Let the anticipation build. Let there be lots of other guys that have their shirts off before you unveil that body of yours. I have a feeling lots of shirts will immediately be put back on when yours comes off and that’s what you want.”
“Why didn’t you tell me all these things I’ve done for years weren’t cool.”
“Enzo! They were cool for your group of friends. Do not be ashamed of who you are. Remember, you hugged me and said those exact words to me when I came out to you. It was one of the most moving moments of my life. You’re simply doing something most DiMarco’s don’t do – you’re going out to experience a different culture. And when you’re in a different culture you need to strive and learn their customs, their preferred way of living. Now, have you thought about what you’re going to do if some guy hits on you?”
“I thought I’d tell him I was flattered, but that he wasn’t my type.”
“Who told you to say that?”
“No one, I came up with it myself.”
“Our little boy is growing up,” I said, grabbing both of his cheeks and squeezing. “The old Enzo would have lifted the guy and shook him like a rag doll or back-handed him across the room. I’m impressed with your new plan of attack. And, trust me, it will impress Carla, as well. I think you’re going to have a successful night.”
“I know I am,” Enzo replied. “With you as my wing-man how can I fail.”
“What? Oh no, buddy boy, I’m not Beefeaters’ material. That place likes their boys chiseled and gorgeous. I’d feel so out of place.”
“Why do you say that, Antonio, you’re very handsome.”
His sincere words moved me. I looked for any sign of the normal DiMarco sarcasm in his statement, but it didn’t exist. He again cupped my face and brought his close to mine.
“Everyone says you’re the best looking DiMarco.”
“Thank you, but I’m still not going.”
“Yes, you are, cousin. You owe me, Antonio DiMarco.”
“Owe you? For what?”
“Junior high and high school protection!”
And with that, he leaned in closer and kissed me hard on the lips. The kiss lasted a lot longer than was acceptable between two Italian guys. I knew he was giving me a gift. I knew he realized I had dreamed of kissing him for years. His hand, at the same time, reached over and grabbed my crotch. His hand quickly found my hard meat and he squeezed. He pulled his head away and shook it in dismay.
“The most handsome Dimarco and with the biggest sausage in the family. Life is just not fair.”
Enzo got up from the table and walked away – sure of the fact that I would be heading to ‘Beefeaters’ later on. I knew the crotch grab meant nothing. Ever since childhood the DiMarco boys had compared their endowments like you might show off a new car. I didn’t partake of the custom until around age twenty when five of us were down by the river drinking one night and my cousins drunkenly held me down and pulled down my pants so I’d finally be part of the crazy club. The shocked faces and total silence when my piece had been unveiled, plus the way they quickly let me go and returned to their beers, made me realize my assumption that all DiMarco men were huge below the belt was not true. From that moment on I had been treated with a lot more respect than ever before at family gatherings.
“Yeah, well you’ve got the biggest arms,” I yelled at him as he passed through to the other rooms.
“That’s for damn sure. We’re leaving at ten!” he shouted back.
(To be continued…)