Friday, April 09, 2010

My First Time

The year was 1963, springtime. The place was an after hours gay club in center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called the Pennrose Club.

I was in town for a Saturday night out of bar hopping with my friends Ron and Ed. We decided to go to the Pennrose Club for some dancing. This was back in the day when you actually danced with your partner, not gyrate.

I had recently moved from Pittsburgh where I experienced the thrill of dancing with another man for the first time in my life. That experience will be the subject of another posting. I had always liked to dance but it wasn’t until I slow danced with another man that I discovered why dancing was so popular and erotic. Oh is it ever.

My friends and I had just arrived at the club (whose name escapes me) and were watching the guys dancing on the small dance floor. I immediately noticed one slightly built, clean cut guy dancing. I’ve always been attracted to small framed, clean cut men. He was very handsome in his light gray suit. This was also back in the day when one dressed up to go out.

It wasn’t too long until he saw me watching him dance. Since I am by nature shy (at least I was back then) I turned around and started to talk to my friends. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was greeted with a beautiful smile on this handsome man’s face. He said to me “Would you like to dance?” Would I like to dance? My knees went weak. I stumbled out something like “Yeah.”

He took my hand and we entered the crowded dance floor. He immediately took the lead. He pulled me in close to his body. Wow. Again I was reminded why dancing is so popular and how much I missed during my Senior Prom with my date Jeanette. She was a nice girl but this was a whole different other experience.
Senior Prom 1959

My leg kept bumping into something as he held me close to him. I’m thinking “Does he have a ruler in his pocket?” Actually, we both had “rulers” in our pocket. As the lights swirled over the dance floor, we continued to dance one dance after another. We were oblivious to all the other people on the dance floor. We were in our own world.

When it came time to leave, he asked if he could see me sometime. I told him that I lived in Coatesville and was in town with friends. I wanted to see him again but I was very nervous. Although I was gay (and still am), I had never engaged in intimate contact with another man. I thought being gay was just hugging and kissing. How little did I know.

I knew I was “different” since I was four years old. It wasn’t until I was in the Army that I discovered that I wasn’t the only gay guy (back then they called it homosexual) in the world. I grew up in the Fifties where homosexual was said in the same sentence as pervert. I knew I wasn’t a pervert, one of those guys who hung out in bathrooms. I didn’t know what I was but I did know that men sexually excited me. It was a very confusing time for me.

He told me he was 29 years old. It’s funny now, but at that time I thought he was an “older man” because of his age. I was 21 at that time and I thought he was really OLD at 29 years of age. Ah, the arrogance of youth indeed.
Me back "in the day"

Well, he did visit me that following weekend. Of course it wasn’t too long before he was trying to get me into bed. I resisted. He would visit me almost every Saturday morning. We would kiss and spend time together but that would be as far as our physical contact went. After all, I wasn’t one of those “perverts.”

My resistance finally fell after about a month. Without going into detail (this is a family blog after all), he “talked me into going to bed with him.” I thought sure as the sun rises in the morning a lightening bolt would come down from the ceiling and turn us both into stone like those poor souls who turned to look back at Sodom after they were warned not too and were turned into pillars of salt. But guess what happened? No lightening bolt came down from my bedroom ceiling. We didn’t turn into pillars of salt. In fact I had just experienced the most glorious feeling of my life up to that point. Even more amazing to me was that it all felt so natural. As I’ve often told the story since, the whole experience was just like riding a bike. It comes back to you naturally. That’s when I knew I was alright. I no longer had shame that I was a “pervert.” In fact, I felt an immense sense of freedom.

I continued to see him for another few months but I was a young guy and wanted to go out and experience everything. I also didn’t feel right being a “mistress.” You see the man who was my first lover was a married man with two children (daughters.) As much as I liked him I would never be more than a sexual partner. We could never have a relationship.

So one day I decided to end the relationship. I called him on the phone and told him not to visit me anymore. I told him I wanted to go out and meet other people. He said he understood. I never heard from him again. This was in May of 1963.

Last year while I was researching my family tree on and checking the Social Security Death Index, I checked his name to see if he was still alive. He wasn’t. The record read:

Robert Surina
7 Jul 1933 – 20 Jun 1990

Bob was 56 years old when he died. He died in Oregon, near his home state of Washington. When I met him he worked at Boeing Vertol in Chester, PA. The above newspaper clipping is the only picture I have of him. He was very proud of the award he presented to then Mayor James H. J. Tate of Philadelphia.

A pang of sadness hit me. I liked Bob. He was so very kind to me and oh he was sexy.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he was single. Would we have made a life together? What kind of life would it have been?

One thing is for sure, I will never forget that first night that I met him and that first dance. Dancing with him was like I was transported to heaven. I had never experienced such happiness before. All the buttons on my console were flashing.

Everybody has a First Time. Bob was my First Time. And it could not have been better.

I hope you had a happy life Bob.

Rest in peace my friend Bob. Perhaps we will meet again someday in a perfect place.


Mike, Studio city said...

I bet your memories of being with him, and knowing him, feel like it was just a few years ago. I have an old "farmer" friend I was "very close" to when I was 19,20,21, we drifted apart after that, he iis married, but I still to this day send his Mom and Dad an xmas card each year. Our "first love" is always so strong. I love your story. BTW, He now lives in Tillamook Oregon.

Ron Tipton said...


You understand. The first love can never be replaced. And you are right, I remember what it was like just like if was only a short time ago even though it was almost fifty years ago. Bob was one sexy guy though. God did he turn me on.

I hope someday to hear your story about you and your old "farmer" friend. :)

Of course you know I left out a LOT of my blog posting. I was very hesitant about posting it but my blog is about my life.

Nitewrit said...


I'm curious. What was Robert's official capacity at the time that he award the plaque to Mayor Tate?

I hadn't thought about Tate for years and I was struck by how much he looked like my old boss, Walt.

"Even more amazing to me was that it all felt so natural. As I’ve often told the story since, the whole experience was just like riding a bike. It comes back to you naturally."

I am a bit confused by your sentence. Do you mean the memory came back to you of the experience with such clarity it was sort of like riding a bike? because if this was your first time, the experience couldn't have come back to you that way.

And as much as I enjoyed riding my bike as a kid, my first, or for that matter my most recent time, was a lot more fun than just riding a bike. :)


Ron Tipton said...


To answer your questions. First one "What was Bob's official capacity to award a plaque to Mayor Tate?"

I don't remember what he told me his official capacity was. What I do remember is that Bob worked for Boeing Vertol which is headquartered in Washington state. I assume he was in the Philadelphia area (Chester, PA) on a work assignment. According to the Social Security Death Index, Bob died 20 June 1990 in Oregon. If we had both made difference decisions, I probably would have been a widow who lived on the west coast now.

As to your second question:
"Even more amazing to me was that it all felt so natural. As I’ve often told the story since, the whole experience was just like riding a bike. It comes back to you naturally."

My answer here is very easy. "It" was having sex. Although I had never been told what to do or had I seen "it" done (no porn films in the Fifties, remember?); once Bob talked me into going to bed with him everything came so "naturally." And that doesn't mean the "backdoor" either because neither one of us engaged in that kind of sex.

Having sex with Bob was so much easier than it was the times I tried to have sex with a woman. With a woman, everything felt so unnatural and wrong. With Bob, everything felt "right." We fit like “hand and glove.” That's the term that always comes immediately to my mind when I think of Bob and I together. That's the only way I can explain it. I guess you had to be there. :) Well, maybe not you but I think you understand. Think of the first time you and Lois "did it." It was the same with me and Bob Lar, the same. :)


Nitewrit said...


The first time I rode a bicycle my dad came and held on to the back fender behind me to keep me upright. (Not a picture I want in my head for my first time having sex, however). I was gliding around the yard just find, until I wanted to stop. I looked around and my dad wasn't there, he had let go some time before and went into the house.

I immediately lost control and drove over the embankment into the swamp.

Now eventually I learned to ride a bike very well, but even so I can't compare my first time having sex with Lo to riding a bike. More like flying without a plane or blasting to the moon without needed a rocket ship.

It definitely came naturally and still does.

I'm not so certain I can still ride a bike, though.

Ron Tipton said...


I don't remember the exact details of the circumstances of the first time I learned to ride a bike but I think I had a few wobblies then I was able to ride it pretty good. No one was helping me.

However, I do remember the first time I tried to have sex with a woman. Oh do I ever. I have been forever traumitized by that experience. What a disaster. Unlike the First Time with Bob S. That came au naturale. A BIG DIFFERENCE. If you want to imagine what my experience was like, imagine trying to have sex with a man. Think a bit. Okay? Now you now. DISASTER.


Nitewrit said...


I don't know really how long my dad helped me. I got my first "two-wheeler" for my 8th Birthday when we lived out in the Marsh. He took me out on the front yard, which was kind of rough. It was grass and dirt, typical little ruts and hills. He Grabbed hold of the back fender to steady it and told me to get on. Then he told me to pedal and he would run behind and hold on. We began and I wasn't having any trouble at all, of course I thought he was holding me up. When I discovered I had been riding on my own all along, then I started running off the yard. Once we fished the bike back to the yard, I didn't have any problems 'cause then I realized I was doing it and got confidence back.

It was his sink or swim approach to everything. In this case it worked with no harm done. It worked when I actually did learn to swim, too, but that could have been a disaster.

I rode my Bike out to Kirkwood one day (remember Kirkwood) and there was absolutely no one there. I hadn't learned to swim yet and I didn't want my father badgering me, so I walked down to the deep end of that man-made lake and jumped in.

I learned to swim darn quick because there was no one to pull me out if I hadn't.

Yeah, it was stupid, but that's what happens when a child's father builds the wrong type of relationship.

I also remember the only advice my dad every gave me. It was sometime when I started going to Junior High School. He pulled me aside one day and said he was going to give me advice. It was, "Don't get a 'F' and don't get a girl in trouble."

In those days, I don't think I really knew what he meant by "don't get a girl in trouble". I didn't try to get anyone in trouble.

As it happens, I never got a girl in trouble, but i did get an 'F'. I got it in Ms Horner's Latin class in ninth grade. I hated her classes. I was shy and she made every one get up and say conjugations every week and you were always given some record time she kept that you were supposed to try and beat.

If she had just let us take our time, i probably would have gotten it, but I'd get flustered and flub it. So I'm glad you didn't say sex was just like Latin.


Ron Tipton said...


At least your father made an attempt to show you how to ride a bike. He even gave you advice about school. My father never did anything like that for me. We were on our own. Ride a bike? Learn it yourself. School? He couldn't care less. I never received any advice bad or good from him. Not that I was expecting any. Nor did I expect any guidance for anything else, like riding a bike. My father left the raising of his sons to my Mom. The only time we got attention from him was when we were in trouble then we got the belt.
Now that I've said all of this, I never considered my childhood any different from most kids my age. I knew some kids were priviliged (like Bill Brookover.) But most kids from my socio-economic group had disinterested fathers who beat them.