Chapter 28: Sexual Assault

Callum Wale/

The salty air at the Lake Pontchartrain seawall is a hot blanket of humidity even for September, but that won’t deter our fraternity keg party. I’m wearing my usual wheat-colored jeans, madras shirt, and Weejuns without socks, stylishly correct but clinging with sweat. As the beer flows, the twenty-five or so of us gathered for our Friday Night Beer Bust will care less that we’re over dressed.

Evening dimness gives way to blue-white street light glare from Lakeshore Drive. An arriving car and pickup truck disgorge a group I don’t recognize except for my friend Bruce, a TKE and former…

Chapter 27: A vicious attack

Quaid Lagan/

A soldier in camouflage and polished combat boots marched in while we were playing Spades at the Teke frat table in the University Center. I figured him for an unwelcome military recruiter until Walter Senten introduced him around as a chapter member just discharged after two years in the National Guard.

Henry Smythe looked like he’d just stepped off his duty post, like he wanted to make an impression, or more accurately an entrance. That was ironic since people joined the Guard to avoid Vietnam.

His demeanor was flat and remote, and since the two left quickly, we newer members…

Chapter 26: My gay Odysseus

Lemor Zellermayer/

My high school frat brother Freddie Yoder asked me to join him for rush parties as soon as we registered for college. I probably would have skipped them if he hadn’t. He wanted free beer, but he had a specific fraternity in mind. His sister was the Teke Sweetheart and had dated the president since high school. I figured if I wanted a college social life, Freddie was the way in.

The fraternities were stereotyped. The Lambda Chi Alphas were the nerdy good students, Phi Kappa Theta were the cool guys, Theta Xi the gross-out gang, and Sigma Alpha Mu…

Chapter 25: Gay Brotherhood?

Compare Fibre/

The Monday after the Lafitte’s gay-bar blow-job debacle, I told my story to my closest fraternity brothers, disclosing I believed Will was gay. At the beginning of the semester, our chapter president Alan Lichtenwalter had confidentially informed a few of us about rumors from Ruston that Will left school because they had discovered he was gay. Since that was not the Ruston Chapter’s official position, Alan thought we owed him the benefit of the doubt. Our other officers agreed.

Now we saw there was likely more to it, but we agreed to take no action since there was no proof…

Chapter 24: Lafitte’s In Exile

Ana cruz/

Heads turned whenever Will Higgins strode into the room; tall, well dressed and utterly lacking in humility. He’d transferred from LSU, and as our Teke fraternity brother, he was automatically welcomed into our chapter. He immediately made his presence felt. Shortly after his arrival, he joined a few of us for lunch. I had no trouble introducing myself since I’d gone to high school with his beautiful sister Elizabeth, who conjured Sophia Loren.

The first time I met Will was at their fashionable home in 1964, four years earlier, at a school year party Elizabeth hosted. I was in the…

Chapter 23: A summer of (lost) love

As the end of the semester approaches, Sue tells me her parents have gotten her a summer camp counselor job in the Rocky Mountains. She has no interest, but they are adamant. She’s broken up about leaving me for three months but sees no way out.

Richard has secured seaman’s cards for his nephew Terry and I, however, which let us ship out for the summer with the Merchant Marine, so I will be at sea anyway.

I worry because Sue’s parents have never sent her to camp before. Why now? As I mull this over, I recall Sue mentioning…

Chapter 22: Class struggle

“Woman Whispering Secret” by Scott Griessel. Licensed from Adobe Stock.

Christmas approaches before I know it, and Sue invites me to her family’s Christmas Eve party. I’m nervous. I won’t know anyone, so Sue generously suggests I bring another couple. I settle on my fraternity brother Anthony and his girlfriend Joanie whom I’ve known since junior high. She is also from a well-to-do Lakefront family.

When the three of us arrive, Mrs. Wentworth again answers the door. This time, however, her hair is beauty parlor fresh and she is holiday dressed. Her glossy black cane is topped with a silver handle. Her eyes flinch when she sees Joanie wearing a…

Chapter 21: The Breck Girl

Christian Termaat/

I start my sophomore year at the University of New Orleans in 1968 with fraternity and sorority exchange parties. This week my fraternity TKE is mixing with the the ZTA girls. I’m going without a date since the parties are for meeting new people, not that I did much of that last year.

I have dated several girls, but none of those relationships were serious or lasted long. It started with a perky provocative little blue-eyed blond who initiated me into the joys of regular back seat sex.

The abundance of sexually eager girls distracts me almost entirely from boys…

Chapter 20: High School Trade and Summer Showers

Image by tatlin from Pixabay

My high school fraternity brother Rossi lived in what we now call a mid-century modern home. Then it was just new and luxurious. We had senior-year gym class together and hung out sometimes in the spring of 1967.

His glamorous mother was usually home. I remember her gliding through high-ceilinged rooms in pastel Capri pants and perfectly fashionable dark hair with Elizabeth Taylor make-up. I couldn’t decide if she looked more like Jackie Kennedy or Taylor herself. The effect was particularly dramatic against the white grand piano in her glass-walled living room that looked out on tropical gardens.

She was…

Chapter 19: Mike’s Polaroid

Paul Gaudriault/

My high school fraternity brothers Mike Kerlec and Don Caspary are leaning on Mike’s mom’s new car, a 1966 candy-apple-red Ford Fairlane 390 that’s scary fast even with the A/C on. I know because sometimes he takes us joyriding while we swill quarts of beer.

We gave up sniffing glue when we heard it’s bad for your lungs. I really want some pot, but for all the news stories about it, no one has any or knows how to get it. …

Laurence Best

Larry Best is a retired trial lawyer who writes about the alienation that led him into the closet until he was 42 years old and his life since coming out

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