We met Gary from Lynn, MA when he helped L carry firewood from the car to
our site. The dialogue was something like:
G: you look like you could use some help with that.
L: no thanks, i think i'm ok.
G: no, it's no trouble, let me help you.
then soon after while carrying our firewood,
G: I believe that when you help someone, then that kindness gets returned on you sevenfold.
G: We're in sites 16 and 17 if you want to come party with us. All of my friends are with their girlfriends, but I'm single.
Sadly, I only overheard part of this conversation and L claims that she doesn't want to share the details of their "private moments"; I think she just forgot. In any case, Gary was clearly dismayed that L was there with her boyfriend and two other male friends, but kept up a brave face regardless.
We spend the next hour struggling to get a fire started with the apparently quite wet firewood we bought from the gas station, when an even drunker Gary shows up and offers us dry firewood! He brings some over and leaves, and we're finally able to cook our dinner, which rules. A little later, he wanders by again to ask how the fire is going and out of gratitude we invite him over for a beer.
It's pretty obvious that we're going to have different outlooks on the world; e.g. I ask if he and his friends are going hiking anywhere, since he said they were spending several days here, and he says something like "No time for that crap - we're partying by the river!" We do the "where are you from" thing and B says California, at which point Gary starts talking about when he was in Palm Springs and he was getting cruised by this gay guy and was thinking about throwing rocks at the faggot. We all look up at each other to make sure everyone's paying attention.
Gary realizes he's been the only one talking for awhile and says to B "but it's cool that you're from California as long as you're not a faggot or anything." J, L and I are completely silent. Eventually, there's a long slow "ummmm......" from B, and then "actually I am gay, but it's no big deal."
Then a series of amazing quotes follow, organized into different phases:
Gary: "Why? Why would you want to do that?"
B: I don't know. I wish I did.
Gary: "So you don't get turned on by women??"
Then trying to figure out what he's gotten himself into.
"L, so you're here with three gay dudes?!"
"No, it's just B, J is my boyfriend."
Around this point, he says things like "Did it just get really quiet around here all of a sudden?" (because we're now all at the edge of our seats, not wanting to miss a word he's saying) and "I feel like I'm in the wrong place here..."
Also at some point he's grilling B about being gay, and says "since you're gay---I mean, you even admit it---then..." The tone here is key - it suggested both (a) that he would never insult B by calling him gay unless B had already admitted it, and (b) that he couldn't imagine why someone unlucky enough to be gay would ever want to admit it openly.
Then backpedalling - there's a lot of "I don't mean no disrespect" and "If you want to do that that's your business." Usually immediately followed by "but I find that stuff disgusting," or "I can't imagine why you'd ever want to do anything with a filthy, stinking, dirty cock." (B's reply: "I don't." [i.e. I like them clean.])
At some point, there's the "I'm just a nice guy" phase. He says (unprompted) "I'm the kind of guy who - when someone is broken down by the side of the road - stops to help them out."
Then there's my unsuccessful "reason with him" phase.
me: It's not like no one finds men attractive. Women do, for example.
Gary: But that's natural - women and men "fit together like puzzle pieces."
me: But even women and men fit together in other ways...
Gary: I don't care - two dudes together is disgusting. Two women on the other hand is another story. Or threesomes. But if one of my buddies were in a threesome with me and some chick, and tried kissing me, that'd be gross - I'd slap him. I'd kick his ass. Two women, though, is a beautiful thing.
me: You know how kids find any mention of sex gross? Even adults kissing they find disgusting? Maybe this is the same thing - it just seems gross because it's unfamiliar.
Gary: puzzle pieces!
Then instead of talking to B or me, he remembers why he's there (L) and turns to talk to her and J. Of course, he can't get the gay thing off his mind.
The next phase is female bisexuality. Of course he's ok with this and says something I forget about it being a beautiful thing. He asks L if she's into it, and talks about the possibility of her and J bringing in another woman - specifically, he tells L that she should "fulfill J's fantasy" and invite in another chick. They demur, perhaps saying that they're not into L's friends that way or something, and Gary tells J that the problem is that "L has been hanging around too many pit bulls. You need to find her a golden retriever."
Then he gets back to B. "But women are warm... and soft... and ....!" (B: "Maybe I don't want warm and soft.") followed by the repeated command to "just look at L" along with "how can you not want that?" It's a little awkward, but B defuses a lot of it by conceding that L is hot.
The end is kind of sad. We find out (in a single unprompted and uninterrupted narrative) that he's on parole for receiving stolen goods, and has been single for 2.5 years (or maybe it was "I haven't been laid in 2.5 years"), in part b/c of spending a year in jail for: driving drunk back from Foxwoods at 7AM going 90 with a beer bottle in his hand, then not pulling over for the cop until his engine dies, at which point the cop isn't fooled by him putting on his blinker as though he meant to pull over. It was "even after he had won [at Foxwoods]" and in his "late twenties/early thirties." Prison can't be good for homophobia. There were two other lines he repeated a couple of times: first that the sneaky cop had been hiding in the bushes and second that "those exits [on the Mass Pike] are so damn far apart!"
He kisses L's hand when he leaves.
postscript: Another story from that weekend. That night, B and I shared a tent, and as I was falling asleep, I "let out a shriek" (in B's words) and yelled "Get out! Get out!" while kicking and pushing B. Then I rolled over and went to sleep. He says he then made a comment about how my wedding night was going to be hilarious, but I remember none of this.
Also, watch out for leeches in Lonesome Lake.