glbtq: the online encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer culture

Kurt Heintz

1984. In a taxi on Lake Shore Drive.

We're heading north from Grant Park. The traffic isn't very fast, but the night has been. She's sitting behind the driver. Me, on the passenger side. Siegel’s Jazz Showcase is still wet on our foreheads, and we’re nodding to syncopated sax, heady drinks.

She falls back in the corner of the cab, not asleep, lips pursed, and I do the courteous thing. I give her a light kiss. Over the course of the date she's endeared herself. OK, this isn't what I meant to do -- get involved this way -- but it feels harmless, even sweet. It's very lovely, until she pulls me in closer and takes more of my mouth than any other woman ever.


1989. A bedroom in Hyde Park.

"Asymptotes," I say.

"Asymptotes?" he asks.

"Asymptotes," I repeat. "They're those curves that approach a limit but never touch it. The curve gets infinitely close to the limit but can never quite equal it but for one small constant that keeps the curve and the limit from touching."

"So I'm an asymptotic six," he says.

"That's right," I say, "because you had an experience with a woman or two... or three…"

"Three," he says.

"Three," I say. "And they will always figure into your Kinsey Index."

"OK," he says, and he pauses momentarily. "But you never have?"

"No," I say. "Never with a woman, ever, at all."

"Six-point-Oh," he says.

"That's right," I say. "But that doesn't mean it didn't hurt."


1983. Lincoln Park.

Some picnic, all of us anonymous and still whooping it up like old friends. We know nothing of hypertext, not any of us, nor of online chats or the veil of a screen name. That's an unforeseen future at least a decade ahead. But we've been writing crap collaboratively in the free weeklies for a year, submitting it all under pseudonyms. Microfictions, 25 words or less, free insertions.

And that was the point, sexing each other in print for no necessary reason than the rush of a reply. Seven days later, more three-by-five postcards, twenty-cent stamps, clandestine office behavior.

Personals. Epithets and missed connections traded in the mail between the Reader’s LA and Chicago editions. You need both to get the full dialogue sometimes. In this crowd, it’s dirty to be called "all talk and no type", especially when you’re measured in column inches. That kind of size matters.

Girls, boys, at least one indeterminant person somewhere at this picnic. We all find the third tree along the path parallel Stockton Drive, just North of North.

Hotdogs: burned. Beer: cheap. No real names among us all afternoon except somebody says they saw Harold Washington walk through the park nearby with clowns and balloons.


1989. A bedroom in Hyde Park.

"But you say you had a date with this woman," he says.

"That's right," I say.

"And you didn't fuck her?" he asks.

"You don't have to fuck a woman just because you go on a date with her," I say.

"I know," he says.

"OK, so what's the problem?" I ask.

He pauses momentarily.


1983. Lincoln Park.

I meet a woman at this picnic. She’s self-proclaimed as cynical. We talk about jazz, something missing in the country's political life, something missing in the buzz, missing in the ear. She's a writer, a music reviewer for another local paper. A flirt. Fun. Good company, fast wit. Nice eyes, good conversation.

Nice eyes.

I like her. She's attractive. And I don't want to out myself among total strangers. I’m still not convinced that the anonymity here is pure at all.

"Hi," I say.

"Hi," she says.

"So they tell me you're the one who writes those sardonic personals," I say.

"Sardonic? Well, maybe. Sure, I guess they're sardonic," she says.

"And you write about music?" I ask.

"Yes," she says. "You like Elvis Costello?"

"Not really," I say. "He sings like he's always got a stuffy nose. But I like Brian Eno."

"Too bad," she says. "Eno makes music like he's got a stuffy brain. Anyway, my Elvis Costello can beat up your Brian Eno with one hand behind his back."

And so I think I'm taking a beating, too, and loving it. It’s an open debate as to who’s on top.


1934. Some language by Gertrude Stein.

She is sweetly there
and her curly hair is very lovely.
She is sweetly here
and I am very near,
and that is very lovely.
She is my tender sweet
and her little feet are stretched out well
which is a treat
and very lovely.
Let us describe.
Let us describe how they went.
It was a very windy night
and the road
although in excellent condition and
extremely well graded
had many turnings.
And although the curves are not sharp
the rise is considerable.
It was a very windy night
and some of the larger vehicles
found it prudent not to venture.


1984. In a taxi on Lake Shore Drive.

I remember the rain, a Hollywood touch, which is perhaps why we felt the jazz dampened our foreheads after leaving the club. I remember trying to decide what to do next, no clear idea of destination after the jazz club. Rain on the taxi windows, rain on the streets. Everything lovely in that commercial movie way. And we turn onto Lake Shore Drive.

And of course the moment happens, also like a Hollywood melodrama: a deep kiss, a surprise. She reminds me of my first boyfriend, also a good kisser, but this is hardly the time to mention that.

For the sake of distraction, I think about the Prudential red, neon stars in droplets on the windows. Blurry tail lights, head lights. OK… all those lame movie effects go here, too. We think we've told the cabbie to make for Evanston, her place. But she can't let me in. Instead she lets me know she's married.


I don't think the cabbie hears this because as we pull away he says, "I'd a' taken her, man. She wanted you. An' I'd' a' kep' drivin' for ya."


2001. Somewhere in cyberspace, which is no place in particular and still somehow everywhere at the same time, like bits of Hyde Park.

"Beware of poets bearing long narratives," he says.

"You mean that Lyotard thing about the death of Les Grandes Narratives?" I ask.

"Yes," he says.

"But doesn't that kind of forbidding and wariness only compound the desire for it?" I ask.

He pauses momentarily. "Good point," he says.


1984. At a popular restaurant in Lakeview.

I look for the carrot-topped hostess, my ersatz counsel for everything. She knows everything, at least everything about Lakeview, and knows how to amply apply the balm of a good red wine in times of duress. I come to her restaurant a day after the taxi ride.

I break down.

I don't know what to make of the episode. The jazz. The cab. The kiss.

"It's like the power once found, the power denied," I say.

"What power?" she asks.

"To love a woman," I say.

"You mean to love?" she asks.

"Her," I say.

"I wouldn't confuse a kiss with love," she says. "And I wouldn't confuse her with anyone else."

"But all my life I couldn't find this," I say.

"I'm not sure this is something you want," she says. "Just look at you now."

"What can I do?" I ask.

"Let go," she says, and she pauses momentarily. "Because without her, you're you. And anyway it's still nice to know you're vulnerable."

We toast.


1934 stanzas are from Gertrude Stein's "a valentine to sherwood anderson" portraits and prayers, 1934, New York



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