Story, very mild
A seventh grade teacher
thought I should have my horizons expanded when
she got me a book about Marco Polo, the famous thirteenth century
explorer. I reluctantly took that book
home wondering if I could sit through reading 100, or so, pages of
|Maybe it would
be interesting since the book was about my favorite
continent; Eurasia. It's the continent with just about everything
I pretended to own Eurasia when kids in the Lincoln Junior High
lunchroom started dividing up the world into empires.
This book turned out to be interesting. It captured the bravery
and skill of Marco Polo
as he set out on his adventure from Venice to China.
There was also something funny
about the book jacket, a picture of this handsome man in tights and a
There wasn't an actual portrait of Marco Polo. This was the
painting of a fictitious character named Tony that the author added to
Marco Polo's caravan.
Looked kind of like some of today's bicyclists in spandex.
Leather coat was laced showing a subtle hint of chest
The book was "historic" fiction.
I spent some time wondering what Marco Polo, himself, looked
Leafing through the Encyclopedia Britannica one day, my eye caught an
full frontal nudity. It was a stone carving of this nude man on a
door knocker. It was an ornate Venison door knocker.
Wondered if that was what
Marco Polo looked like. He lived in Venice when he started his
Another day, I stood at the base of the radio tower in my home town of
what Marco Polo would have thought if he had "traveled in time," rather
Traveled from the
thirteenth century to the late 1960s world of my seventh grade.
towers. These on Queen Ann Hill in Seattle.
Marco Polo would have been amazed by
things like transistor radios, automobiles and steel towers.
Traveling to China, from Venice, offered amazing discoveries in his
Europeans, coming out of mediaeval times, were dazzled by
Chinese innovations. Things like paper money and fireworks
bedazzled the masses.
Marco Polo's stories about China were said to have inspired the age of
discovery, the renaissance and by that means all
of modern civilization !!
He woke Europe up after its long mediaeval slumber.
That's a bit of a stretch, but not unfathomable to my seventh grade
He was quite the
hero; and some would even add, Marco Polo was the "father of Geography."
How could such a man do all this? I was even afraid to go up for
bat in seventh grade PE class.
What was first seen as an extracurricular reading assignment began
growing into an obsession.
My mom even wondered what that "fascination
with Marco Polo" was about.
I didn't have the words to describe
Spring of 1968 was before Stonewall, Anita Bryant or hardly any
articulation of gay feelings.
The word "gay" just met happy.
"Homosexual" was hardly in vocabularies.
I had a vague memory of some grade school kid describing dirty old men
who hung around the rest room of a Greyhound terminal, in
Chicago. They tried to nab corporate executives on the way to
quick rest room stops. My vision was of horny men hopelessly
pawing after hurried executives with suite coats and briefcases flying
as they quickly used the rest room.
I didn't even know what the word "horny" met.
The PE teacher nervously touched on homosexuality in a health
class. It was brought up with such disgust that I only
pictured two men trying to tie their penis's together in a knot.
Like Marco Polo suddenly entering a world of transistor radios, I
wonder what the seventh grade kid, that was me in 1968, would
have done stumbling onto something like The Seattle Gay Men's
"Some 200 voices strong" performing at the symphony hall.
Lots of time has elapsed since I was in seventh grade.
Gay groups at the college I went to.
The mayor of Seattle proclaiming Gay Pride Day.
Plenty of dances, fundraisers, discussion groups, newspaper articles,
and, of course, Romp Naked.
Romp Naked takes place several times per year and I try to get down to
Seattle for that event. Usually it is a weekend trip on
I plan a one night stay at a motel for needed rest and
After this February's romp, I stayed in a place called (you guessed it)
"The Marco Polo Motel."
What would my seventh grade self, or Marco Polo for that matter, think
of these adventures in 2005?