Chapter 19: Mike’s Polaroid

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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. …


Chapter 18: Molesting teachers and indelible desire

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Misadventures and molestation

Being part of a crowd made high school pleasanter and less anxious, but did not change my outsider sensibility. I had no interest in joining any of the school clubs that might have made my resume more appealing to college entrance boards. I saw them as the boring province of obedient conformists, although it’s more likely I didn’t think I was smart enough to make a respectable showing.

The crowd I associated with sometimes seemed like a bunch of dead-enders and ne’er do wells, many like me from broken homes or burdened with other social ills. …


Chapter 17: A straight gay boy makes friends

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Questioning masculinity

My 1965 school year started abruptly with Hurricane Betsy, which inundated New Orleans when a levee failed. Over eighty people died, many drowned in their attics. Civil Defense authorities knocked on our door in Lakeview near ten in the evening to tell us to evacuate to a shelter immediately because the lake was expected at any moment to overtop the levee about ten blocks north.

We decided not to go because the shelters did not accept pets and we didn’t want to leave our dog Soda. …


Chapter 16: Home movie night

The glow of sparkling lights amid glacial cascades of tinsel on our Christmas tree in 1965 gave us all that enchanted feeling that is part anticipation and part irrational delight. Our excitement was enhanced by a living room full of family: Mom, my brothers, Gram, Aunt Dot, Uncle Cesar, along with cousins Elaine, Jimmy, and Carmen. Now that they had moved from San Juan to Biloxi, we saw them more often and always on holidays.

After dinner, Mom announced, “Now y’all get comfortable because it’s movie night. I just got all my home movies strung together on big reels so…


Chapter 15: Looking For Answers

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That summer of 1965, when I turned sixteen and was exiled in disgrace to my Dad’s home in Crowley, Louisiana, I found a copy of the 1962 edition of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sex conveniently located on the bottom shelf of my bedside table. Dad lived there with his second wife Mytch Laffite Taylor Best, my stepmother who lovingly spoiled me and had even taught me to drive the year before.

Neither of them ever mentioned the book, but I did not recall seeing it there the last time I had visited. Dad would never have gotten such a book…


Chapter 14: How I Lost My Way

The spring of 1965 proved to be an ill-fated turning point. I asked Becky out, a laughing smiling sweet girl who sat next to me in Biology. I drove Mom’s 1956 “two-toned” pink and white Plymouth Belvedere, our first car since 1956.

I went uptown to Octavia Street where she lived in an old raised house, a popular style in a city prone to flooding. I knocked on the second-floor front door and out she came wearing a yellow Peter Pan collared blouse under a white sweater held together just below her neck by a gold-colored chain with alligator clips.


Chapter 13: Term Papers And Showers

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Carol’s dad drove Carol, Bonnie, and me past the clattering Carrolton streetcars swaying their way along the neutral ground. It was spring of 1964 while we were still students at Beauregard. We were going to take an admission exam for Ben Franklin Sr. High, a magnet school for advanced students. This same trio would later in 1967 pose for a cap and gown graduation photograph. Like many gay boys, my closest friends were usually girls when they were not other gay boys in waiting. …


Chapter 12: Birds of a Feather

In November of 1963, as I sat bored and after-lunch-sleepy in fourth period Latin class, our gray-haired, bow-tied, distinguished teacher Mr. Henry walked slowly into our classroom looking dazed and solemn. He softly announced that President Kennedy had been shot. He said newsmen were trying to gather more information on his health and how and why this had happened. He had a black and white television wheeled into our classroom so we could watch the news coverage until the final bell rang at three fifteen.

We all struggled to take in the fact that something so unimaginable could be a…


Chapter 11: Boys Will Be Boys

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Eighth grade at Beauregard was less arduous. That said, I will always consider my junior high years the most unpleasant and challenging of my life. It was not just puberty, academic challenges, and family turmoil; it was the endless social self-consciousness and jostling, the competitiveness, the depressing mean-spiritedness, the all too casual cruelties, the lack of acceptance, and the knowledge of my inadequacy in nearly all respects.

These things did not change for the better in eighth grade, so much as they became so woven into the daily fabric of my life that they became perhaps less jarring and noticeable…


Middle School Misery, Chapter 10

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Another indelible memory from early 1962, in my second semester of seventh grade, is set in Odd Fellows Cemetery at the corner of Canal St. and City Park Avenue. The streetcar traveled right by it to get to the bus stop for my Lakeview connection. One blindingly bright cold day in January, it took on a new meaning.

During the noon break, after going to my locker, I headed for the stairs to go down to lunch looking forward to friends and music.

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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