There was a tornado warning last Thursday in Denver after Travis and I asked the waiter for the check. Travis and I despised each other from day one, but we both adored our 67-year-old friend Bob. Bob made us promise to play nice for the entire country western dance convention. We couldn’t fucking stand each other, but for Bob’s sake, we agreed to a truce via text prior to arriving in Colorado.
Travis looked like Wolverine – scruffy, tall, a despicably juicy ass, infuriatingly muscular pecs and arms, and he smoked cigars like a gut-free Hot Tin Roof Big Daddy. He was from Bean Station, Tennessee, so he had a Pavlovian scowl he always directed towards me that read: “Don’t give me any shit, Rafe, because I won’t take it the way others will.” Half of me had a hard-on from the empowerment of being able to irk him so much. The other part of me continually wanted to retaliate by smacking the southern pompousness out of him.
At the restaurant, Bob had to return to the convention hotel to retrieve his medications. I’d been hitting the gym hard to prep for this event (because there was no damn way I was going to let Wolverine haaaawg all the attention at this convention), so I was starving after not eating for an entire flight.
In my haste I ordered the first thing that popped out on the specials: lasagna.
After devouring nearly all of it, our phones went off with an alert of severe weather. Immediately following tornado sirens on the street started blaring. The heavy rain went horizontal, lightning flashed, and large heavy chunks of hail splintering outside on the cement. Travis and I were asked to descend the stairs two flights to the basement. I’d no idea where the staff disappeared to, but they didn’t end up in the same room with us.
But there Wolverine and I stood, alone in the basement.
His shadowy dark eyes met mine.
His teeth bit down on his bottom lip.
It must have been the electricity in the air and the adrenalin rush of impending destruction, for all at once he knocked over a chair as he rushed toward me. Our mouths locked. We tore through each other’s clothes. Our tongues found each other’s necks, armpits, nipples, and furry abs. Our mouths clamped down on our wildly whipping weather vanes. It was anger sex, to be sure, but as he drooled saliva down my inner thighs the anger flipped to an explosive slathering of admiration – if not a deeper fathom of affection. Just two men, a tornado of pure corporeal pleasure, and an aggressive need to get deeper inside each other on all levels. And in that climactic moment of raw emotion, he flipped me around, parted the waters, and began to lead the chosen through the Pink Sea tongue first…
That’s when I stopped him.
The fucking lasagna.
The most hot scenario any romantic novel or stroke book could ever conceive was actually happening in real life to me, Rafe Haze, but I had to put a halt to it because I needed to pass gas.
Pasta bloats you.
Tomatoes and cheese make you fart.
And goddamn it, that’s reality.
In Romance Literature, there’s an inordinate predilection for authors to feed their romantic leads P.A.S.T.A. Mr. Chipper Chiseled Swimmer-Build and Mr. Shredded Lovelorn Lumberjack so very frequently chow down spaghetti & meatballs, baked ziti, fettuccine alfredo, spinach and goat cheese ravioli, and creamy vegetarian lasagna. Nachos. Pizza. Chinese Food. And after this meal, these fictional fuckers ascend to homo heaven on rung after rung of a perfectly executed Fuckit-Suckit-Cum-a-Bucket. And when I read this sequence of events, I’m always astounded at the phenomenon of these romantic heroes’ gastronomic perfection, because Lord knows that’s far from my experience.
Men don’t eat pasta and then have sex.
Even more importantly, hot guys don’t eat pasta AT ALL.
If you take a rudimentary Google-gawk at any of the gazillion covers of Men’s Health Magazine, the first thing you’ll notice is that every single cover features three subjects: 1) How to lose your gut, 2) How to have better sex, and 3) Meals that build muscle and lean you out. Men’s Health knows that no matter how noble and loving a single guy is, he yearns on a primal level for a six-pack, virility, and a diet that will make his muscles so bulbous that all his exes will beg to be taken back. Romance authors substantiate these yearnings by endowing their heroes in their books with two of these items: Starsky and Hutch are almost always sexually volcanic and abdominally striated. Yet, weirdly, item number three rarely migrates onto the page: lean muscle meals.
The two-hours-a-day-in-the-gym shredded porn-star bodies that are so often described in Gay Lit require at least 150 grams of protein per day and absolutely no more than 2400 GOOD calories a day. Pasta contains the bad kind of calories because the body breaks these carbs down into a substance similar to sugar. In other words, unless you’re describing a romantic lead with lusciously large love handles, a sumptuously squishy ass, and a delicious jiggly double chin, metabolic reality dictates he’d better stick to the exciting reality of small portions of chicken, spinach, and protein shakes. It’s not gorgeous food. It’s not prepared with loads of love. It’s not complimented with dripping dark chocolate and creamy cheesecake smothered in glazed strawberries. A hot guy’s diet is actually pretty damn bland, and there’s not a lot of variety. Not if he’s old enough to drink a mojito, anyway. Hot guys – especially the one in their thirties or forties – know that the price of hotness is a regiment that largely limits or excludes bad carbohydrates like breads, sugars, dairy, and, of course, pasta.
However, authors more frequently than not ignore biology without even a passing wave and fill their lit with the kind of meals that, if consumed more than once a week, would turn Fabiolicious into Stanley the Lumpy, Dumpy, & Frumpy. We get fact-free fat-sprees.
I get it: authors write from their personal urges. For many, in their real lives, food is love. Food is fulfillment. Food is comfort. Food is sex. But in the hot gay guy’s world, food is frequently nothing more than a costly nuisance. He cannot eat most things on most menus. Additionally, the hot guy would never go out on a date and eat a full meal because his belly would bulge ever-so-attractively. Instead, he eats five, tiny, hand-sized portions throughout the day and slugs a protein smoothie in the afternoon.
If he’s invited over to a man’s apartment for dinner, and the man presents pasta, tomatoes, and cheese….fuck! What he’s being told is that he’s not getting any humpity-humpity that night for two reasons. One: because those are the ingredients that make him feel as bloated as the Hindenburg. Two: those are all the ingredients that make him want to explode in a burst of gas like the Hindenburg.
When Fuckleberry Finn seduces Jim with that wouldn’t-kick-him-off-my-raft-for-eating-crackers look in his eyes and a take-away carton of greasy MSG-slimed Chinese takeout, he’d better have a can of Meadows and Rain Fabreeze in his rag sack. After Bo Duke finally catches Cousin Luke with his own little speed trap accompanied by a bottle of red wine and an olive and mushroom pizza…well, thank the stars the General Lee’s windows never roll up.
And now to briefly address the Big Bad Dong in the Throng that women so frequently wince at…
When a man is in the Lust of Love, kissing no longer suffices. Blowjobs start to blow. Hand jobs just test patience. Sooner or later, he’s going to hunger for Oral Big Boy Sex. In real lovemaking, men lick men right up their seams. Ewww factor or not, this is a fact. The joke that guys have about gay romance writers is that the kind of author that fails to include a good rimming in their gay sex scenes is the kind of author that has never had gay sex. And when a guy is going down south on another and tongue-schlepping in the Back Bay, the last thing that guy wants is a Southern Breeze in his nozzle. Therefore, the last thing a guy wants another guy to eat before going downtown is a plate of tri-color ravioli with mushroom marinara sauce. I recommend that M/M authors educate themselves on what every gay man quickly learns to abstain from in order to beat the bloat and butt-blast: pasta, eggplant, olives, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cheese, mushrooms, oysters, collard greens, foie gras, baked beans, eggs, brussel sprouts, broccoli, granola, beef, chocolate, peas, and yogurt. Trust: ignorance here is not bliss.
Just ask Travis. A week after being stuck in that basement room with me for half-an-hour as the lasagna parted my body in release after release, he still won’t return any of my texts. Who knew Wolverine was so fucking sensitive!
It wasn’t as if he didn’t get a storm warning. ;-)
“I looked back at the less evocative apartment of the Couch Potatoes, and all at once I found a surprising comfort in their inactivity. The longer my gaze lingered on the Couch Potatoes, the more I envied them. How comfortable they were with each other. The hypnotizing television was something they both agreed to be the tranquilizer of their life, and they had no contention about it. Plates of pasta, chicken, a loaf of bread, the remote control, gentle shadows in the quiet flickering TV light. They needed nothing else to define the fabric of their relationship.
To be content with another. To require no more than what you have and to know you require no more. I had no idea what this state was like. Was it earned? Genetic? Just luck? Was it, perhaps, a template molded by your parents’ practices during your youth?”
~ from “The Next” by Rafe Haze
THE NEXT BLURB: Dubbed “the gay Rear Window,” The Next is a raw, snarky, no-holds-barred romantic suspense novel of a man stuck in his Manhattan apartment who thinks he’s identified a gruesome crime across the courtyard. It’s less a whodunit and more of a suspenseful how’s-he-gonna-get-‘em plot, slathered with a large, creamy dollop of romance. Unlike Rear Window, the protagonist in The Next isn’t bound to his apartment by a broken leg in a cast, but rather by a self-induced, torturous psychological handcuffing, and the novel, of course, chronicles his journey to this freedom as much as the capturing of the bogey. The second biggest difference is that The Next doesn’t shy away from the eroticism. At all. Hawt men abound. ;-)
Title: The Next
Release date: April 23, 2014
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-925031-96-6
Kindle – Amazon ASIN: B00JZ7GVO8
Nook – Barnes and Noble BN ID: 2940149377060
Wilde City Press: http://www.wildecity.com
Category: Gay Mainstream
Sub-Genre: Romance, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Erotic, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller/Crime
Length: 83,600 words (novel)
Formats available: E-book, Kindle, Nook, & Print (available soon)
Main characters: Narrator (first person), Sergeant Marzoli
RAFE HAZE BIO: Rafe Haze was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives on the west side of New York City. Having worked for the legal compliance industry, fashion industry, music industry, art industry, and flesh industry (the most interesting people on earth have), his most life-changing employment was teaching Meisner Technique of Acting. He wrote himself out of one whopping funk with his debut novel The Next, and is ecstatically thankful for the entire, messy, beautiful cadence.
Rafe refuses to be handcuffed to one discipline only: he writes classical music for orchestra and small ensemble, country music songs, musical theater, plays, screenplays, and digs two-stepping, line dancing, and West Coast Swinging. Be it words, notes, or movement, the emotional origin, schlep, and endpoints are equally compelling and satisfying.
Rafe is grateful to his twin brother (the straight one) who continues to make the slicing through this rambling, thorny life worthwhile.