This article was also published using actual ink on actual paper in 1997 in a North Carolina zine called Preparation X. It reflects a time and place in my life that its long past. Although it’s not something I regret, it’s also not a scene I pursue these days.
I was sixteen years old the first time I had sex in a public restroom. Predictably, it was at the mall. The basement of Montgomery Ward’s at Carolina Circle Mall in Greensboro NC to be precise. I later learned that this particular men’s room was a pretty lame cruising ground. Four Seasons Mall was much better, and it also provided a much enhanced shopping experience in between sessions.
There were many rules to this game, the first one being that not calling attention to oneself while entering and leaving the restroom was tremendously important. I never once had a serious brush with the law or with mall security mostly because I was cool enough not to lurk outside the door and keep going in and out, etc. It was also important to flush all those notes written on toilet paper (“Do you suck?”) and clean up the floor after you finished.
Technique and sign language and visual cues became very important as I grew more accomplished. Rule number two was that appropriate footwear was absolutely essential. Nothing pointed out a troll like cheap sneakers from Pic-n-Pay or K-Mart, topped out with dark blue dress socks. This being the pre-Doc Martens era of the early 80’s, any boots other than the cowboy or hiking variety signaled trouble as well.
Timing was important. On Friday and Saturday nights, the high school “hangout” nights, there was never anything much going on. Everyone was afraid of being caught, I guess. I always had my best luck on Sunday afternoons.
Location was an issue too. Penney’s and Sears seemed to be big draws just about everywhere, maybe because they spent less money on security and usually had bigger restrooms with better designs. I’ve heard stories about really active K-mart stores in small towns. Of course I was later to learn that college campuses could be even more fun.
The goal, of course, was to find someone your own age or reasonably close. Strangely enough, this was often not all that difficult; I learned some of my best moves from a 14-year-old I met at Penney’s when I was 17.
Since HIV was not an issue yet, there were tons of guys roaming around, representing every possible point on the old Kinsey scale. Rule number three was that the queers all said they were “bi” and the straight boys never said anything at all. Neither did one of my married teachers when I ran into him. My ethics prevented me from mating with Mr. D, though I sensed he was less concerned than I.
All in all, it was a pretty strange culture. It was usually very anonymous, although my personal rule was never to “do it” unless I’d at least gotten a glimpse of a face. Despite this fact, I did manage to meet some of my partners and I remain friends with a few of them to this day. The sex was adventurous (particularly given that the two individuals involved were separated by a wall) and dangerous. And it was usually pretty damned fun.
Of course, if all else failed, you could still go shopping…
Since I’ve gotten older and moved to San Francisco (where you can pick up guys at the bus stop), I’ve moved away from the tearoom scene. But these were a few of my favorites from my youth in North Carolina:
Four Seasons Mall, Greensboro:
This was where I really learned “the art”. I could be found here a lot as a high school senior, especially since I worked in the mall. My favorite was Ivey’s (now Dillard’s) before it was remodeled. I met lots of my favorites here including a couple of still current friends. Fond memories:
- Mark: We met and retired to my car for a drive to some nearby woods when I was 17 and he was a year or two younger. I was amazed that he was so accomplished (and such a slut). This was the first time I ever “swallowed”.
- Darrell: Short kid with a monster dick. We actually carried on an affair of sorts for a while. He was one of the only people who I ever enjoyed being fucked by.
- Unnamed redneck boy: He worked at McCrory’s. We met after he got off and went to my car. We met again a year or so later and did it in his pickup truck, him feigning heterosexuality at the time. Then a couple of years later when we were both “of age”, we met again in a bar. He’d gotten over his bout with heterosexuality and was now begging to be treated roughly. I accommodated as best I could.
Carolina Circle Mall, Greensboro:
This was the first place I “did it” in a mall at age 16. I’ve never had good luck there since.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro:
Aah the stories I could tell. The basement of Elliott Center. The library. I got together with every kind of people here in combinations of two, three, four, and more, including (I later discovered) with several friends who were in severe denial about their sexuality. A few interesting moments:
- The shoe guy: He was a severe foot/shoe fetishist, about 22, who liked to lick my hightops and feel the soles of my feet. Then he wanted me to come on him while he did it. He was fun and always came around on Sunday nights. I always went sockless these nights for his benefit
- The “tell me a story” guy: Little frat-boy guy who liked to be told dirty stories (which he always directed to the subject of dildoes). This was a little scary, as you never knew who was listening.
- The exhibitionist: This was a really cute guy about 18, who would do damn near anything as long as someone else was watching. He wouldn’t do a damned thing otherwise.
- The professor: This man defined the term “troll”. He was uglier than sin and about 107 years old. He’d learned the “footwear rule” and tricked a few unsuspecting souls this way, but usually he just grabbed a middle stall and kept anyone else from doing anything by perpetually and consciously getting in the way. I disliked him intensely and told him so on one or two occasions.
Duke University, Durham:
Duke had the most incredible collection of tearooms I’ve ever seen. I engaged in uninterrupted orgies in the basement of the library and Page Auditorium. Dozens of cute little rich boys were there for the taking on Sunday afternoons. These were the only tearooms I even saw where fucking was a major menu item. Some highlights:
- The trekkie: A very cute little hippie-deadhead boy. I bent him over a toilet and fucked him for all he was worth on a couple of occasions. He gave me his phone number once, warning me never to call between 7 and 8 because he never missed “Star Trek”. Unfortunately, the one time I did call him, there was a marathon going on. He wanted me to call back in two days. I declined.
- The drunk: Saw him twice. He was pretty unremarkable except for the fact that he always passed notes under the stall which asked “want a beer?”. I always opted against ‘cuz they were always warm.
Had some interesting moments as well at Eastland and South Park Malls in Charlotte, as well as Crabtree Valley in Raleigh and South Square in Durham. It was fun being a teenager with a car…
I sometimes wonder now if this scene has evaporated now, a victim of HIV and savvy restroom designers, or if I’ve just grown out of it.