Carl had always been a happy drinker. Some people get mean or belligerent when they drink — some get moody or depressed. Carl gets happy. By the time we arrived at the party, Carl was very happy. I was happy that he was happy — and that I was driving.
There must have been about 18 or 20 guys at the party, and one woman. I never did find out why she was there, but she seemed right at home as she talked animatedly with two or three of the guys. Yes, there were also two or three guys dressed like women — but you could still tell. Bruce seemed to know everybody there except for the woman.
The lights were rather dim and some soft music was coming from a record player. Not surprisingly, when we first walked in all eyes were on Carl and me.
"All right, everybody," Bruce said in a loud voice, as he'd promised, "they're straight. Got it? Straight!" There were several shrugs and a couple of sighs, but nearly everyone went back to what he was doing. Only two or three continued watching us with questioning eyes. They, too, eventually gave up.
The thing that caught my attention the moment we walked in was what a handsome bunch of guys these were — not unlike the ones whose photos I'd seen in Bruce's magazine. There wasn't an ugly duckling in the bunch.
So why are they wasting these good looks on each other I wondered? I just wished I was half as good looking as any one of them. But wasn't this why I'd agreed to come — to see if I could make any sense out of it?
Bruce introduced us to five or six of the guys, then said, "Let's go to the kitchen and fix ourselves a drink."
"Good idea!" said Carl, who still appeared to be happy, but who also looked like he'd just as soon be someplace else. I think the only thing that had kept him there this long was being able to steal glances at the lone woman in the crowd. She was very attractive, and I found myself doing the same thing.
We fixed some drinks and then went back into the living room. Bruce excused himself to go visit with some friends. Carl and I just stood there, neither of us knowing what to do next. Finally, Carl nudged me and said, "Had enough? I'm ready whenever you are."
Before I could answer, the front door flew open, and in swept a stunning creature that looked like she'd just come from starring in a
Las Vegas extravaganza.
She paused just long enough to say, "I'm here everyone — let the party begin."
Then she strode to the kitchen with a provocative wiggle that had everyone's undivided attention. The gown, the jewels, the heels, the eyelashes — wait a minute — the eyelashes? Could it be? Yes, it was Teddy!
I glanced over at Bruce, who was now looking like he'd just as soon be somewhere else.
Teddy was back from the kitchen in a flash. Someone had already fixed him (or should that be "her?") a drink. Teddy wasted no time in zeroing in on Carl and me.
"Well, look who's here — Carl and Don. You remember me, don't you? Theodora, the love goddess?" Then Teddy raised his/her voice so everyone could hear.
"I guess you all know they're straight. Do you hear me, my darlings? Straight!" Then he/she winked at us with a with a rather disarming smile and said, "But maybe we can fix that."
Neither Carl nor I could come up with a witty reply. But Teddy wasn't waiting for one, anyway. He turned with a flourish, as he suddenly noticed the song that was playing.
"Oh just listen to that," he said with a dreamy look, "I'm In The Mood For Love."
Then Teddy looked back at us with another unsettling smile. "Well, I'm in the mood — how about you?" Then he looked around, and again raised his voice.
"Oh look, everyone, I've embarrassed them. Aren't they precious?"
Then Teddy turned and knelt by a young man in a chair not far from us. "Dance with me, Stanley," Teddy said, seductively batting those oversized eyelashes. By now, several other "couples" had already begun to dance.
Stanley smiled at Teddy. "You know I'm a terrible dancer, Theodora — but I will let you lay your head in my lap."
That's when I nudged Carl and said, "I'm ready."
We waved at Bruce as we headed for the door. Bruce smiled and waved back. He didn't need any explanations or formal farewells.
Anyway, Bruce and I remained friends and continued to room together for a few more months. Eventually, Carl and I found an apartment in another part of town, where we were surprised to learn that most of the other tenants just happened to be — well, that's another story.
And, no, I never did find out if Bruce and Teddy got back together again.
1952 - Cornet Stores
I couldn't believe she was actually flirting with me.