Wednesday, July 27, 2011
From the crude cover art to the "tell it like it is" title, George Davies' Tailpipe Trucker (published under the nom de plume) looks like a run-of-the-mill one-hander that trades on the appeal of ultra-macho men getting down and dirty together. So it's a quite a surprise to realize,a couple of chapters in, that it's actually a feature-length treatise on freewheeling sexual etiquette whose good horndog/bad horndog conceit will ring a familiar bell to those of us who grew up with the moral lessons imparted Goofus and Gallant's adventures in the sanctimonious pages of Highlights Magazine.
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But swarthy Trag and golden-blond Bobby-Leroy "Curly" Calhoun, long-haul truckers making their first run together, do have that "opposites instruct" vibe going. Trag has set himself up as Curly's instructor in the finer points of doing all things "trucker style," especially sex on the road, and Curly, an easy-going southerner with a sleepy drawl, at first seems content to defer his deeply contradictory lessons. Trag's macho self-image is closely bound up with his conviction that having sex with other men doesn't make him queer, as long as they're hitchhikers, truck-stop trawlers, hustlers or "fruitflies" who cruise highways in search of horny truckers and he abuses them verbally, physically or both. Neither does having an apparently encyclopedic knowledge of the roadside restrooms, hotels and truck stops were such "goddamn fairies" congregate, nor does driving bare-assed and jerking off in front of Curly when an overwhelming wave of lust rolls in somewhere between the last no-tell motel and the next finger-lickin' good latrine.
In fact, it appears that in Trag's estimation the only thing that does make you queer is treating your sexual partners with even a modicum of civility or entering into any kind of friendship with another man that goes beyond getting stinking drunk, roughing up fairies and chastely sleeping off long nights of debauchery in the same anonymous hotel bed... chastely except, of course, if one of the "just friends" is asleep and the other takes a little midnight advantage...
Trag thinks he knows Curly better than Curly knows himself and never misses an opportunity to say so, which is pretty much par for his deluded course, since he's under the impression that Curly is just like him only less so by virtue of being an unsophisticated hick. But Curly -- let's call him Bobby-Leroy from now on, because that's what he prefers -- is nothing of the sort: He figured out he was queer around the same time he realized his "little pecker" (which by all accounts is no such thing) was good for something other than pissing, and he's just fine with that. He's also a southern boy whose mama taught him that just because you grew up slopping pigs doesn't mean you have to wallow with them.
So Bobby-Leroy has some manners and puts them to use in situations that would probably make his mama faint dead away. He introduces himself proper-like to lot lizards and lunch ladies alike, washes up before getting down and dirty and doesn't hold with that "wham, bam, thank you Sam" stuff -- if someone shows you a good time, well, it's just plain rude not to reciprocate. Bobby-Leroy has Trag's self-hating number from the get-go, but keeps his counsel while slyly testing Trag in ways that reveal the parameters of his homosexual panic.
Near the end of the run, Trag takes a couple of days off to loll around a middle-of-nowhere hotel, while Bobby-Leroy does a little solo run to nearby Harper's Junction and picks up 18-year-old Mike Nelson, a fresh, unspoiled and lusty kid who's about to graduate from high school and has a real thing for truckers. It's love at first sight -- or first night, anyway -- and when Bobby-Leroy gets back to the hotel in Middleton (which is what the middle of nowhere is called) he finds that Trag has left him a surprise: A little hustler named Fred, gagged and bound to the bed for Bobby-Leroy's pleasure.
After untying Fred, who's no older than Mike and almost as sweet, Bobby-Leroy joins him in a friendly shower, gets the lowdown on how badly Trag worked Fred over and decides it's time for Trag's wake-up call. He advises young Fred to recruit some like-minded friends and throw an impromptu party on Trag's ass, which Fred does with no small measure of enthusiasm. And by the time it's over, that the mean mother-trucker has to face the fact that he is and and always has been queer as folk.
And there you have it: All's well that ends well. Bobby-Leroy -- who finally puts his foot down and makes it clear that he does not want to be called Curly -- gets Trag to admit young Fred has gotten under his skin, then hauls off and picks up newly-minted graduate Mike, with whom he hopes to enjoy many long, bare-assed hauls.
Without coming off like some sanctimonious defense of same-sex monogamy, Tailpipe Trucker manages to squeeze quite the array of messages between the sweaty sheets: Self-hating homos are a drag; that big butch daddy cruising roadside rest facilities might be as neurotic as the fancy fey boys keeping big-city shrinks in swimming pools and second cars; fidelity to someone special can be as hot and heavy as casual carnality; and a sleepy southern accent doesn't always indicate inbred idiocy or Deliverance-style perkiness.