I’d intermittently spent the last two days looking through boxes in my garage, boxes in the back of my closet, old duffel bags, and every dark corner I normally try to avoid. Somehow, I knew that damn box was sitting on its pretty little ass in the attic.
Why the attic? Because that’s where things go to be forgotten. That is, until my ex-boss decided to be a bitch and dredge up the past that, like a nasty hairnado that’d been secretly hiding in the shower drain, was better off left untouched.
After putting on enough layers to feel adequately protected against anything that might jump me once I breach the security of the attic door, I began, what I assumed would be, a suicide mission to the attic. My heart was racing as I pushed the two foot by two foot door to the death trap up and out of the way.
I cinched the drawstring on my hoodie as tight as possible until my field of vision was no bigger than a nickel, which still left me feeling too vulnerable, then pulled my sleeve cuffs over my hands and gripped them tightly in my palms. I was as prepared as I was ever going to be to enter a space I wished hadn’t existed.
It had all of the qualities I hated—darkness, dirtiness, and fucking spiders. I willed my heart to slow as I slowly ascended into the darkness of doom. I’d decided against the head lamp for fear the shining light would do more harm than good; I didn’t want to attract more attention to myself than needed. I also knew, for a fact, I didn’t want to see what was up there.
Luckily for me, there was only one tote and it wasn’t far from the entrance, so I was able to quickly grab it and get the hell out of there. As soon as the tote was on the floor and the attic door was safely secured, I did the only thing my body would let me do—I shook it like a Polaroid picture.
In my mind, I just knew I was covered with spiders and that fear lead me into a five minute shake down that was neither eloquent, smooth, graceful, sexy, nor coordinated. My whole body was flailing around the spare room, down the hall, and toward the bathroom as I made hideous sounds that bore a strong resemblance to a dying animal or the most un-erotic mating call you’ve ever heard.
I jumped into the shower, fully clothed, as a last ditch effort of ridding the world, and my body, of any eight-legged creatures. I laid in the tub, with a solid seventy pounds of wet clothes stuck to my body, as the water rained down onto my heaving chest. I laughed at how manly I must’ve looked.
That, of course, made me laugh because I, Donovan Allerton, was a lot of things, but a typical stereotype wasn’t one of them, at least according to others. I spent too much of my life trying to appease others, and fill their definition of a man at the cost of my own happiness. So what if I’m afraid of spiders? Fuck dem bitches!
I peeled off the clothes, wrapped a towel around my waist, and went to retrieve my tote. Correction, the contaminated attic tote would forever be quarantined in the spare room until it was banished back to the attic after the whole nightmare was over. I retrieved only what I absolutely needed from it.
I ran my thumb down the smooth, thick leather and across the course seams. I closed my eyes and buried my face into the palm of the leather mitt as I inhaled a scent that could only be described as my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood all wrapped together.
My earliest memories, and almost every subsequent memory thereafter, involved baseball. T-ball (three to five-years-old), Farm League (six to eight-years-old), Minors (nine to ten-years-old), Majors (eleven to twelve-years-old), and then I was on a traveling team from age twelve until my freshman year of high school, at which time I was placed on the varsity.
That alone was a big feat, considering we were an 8A school and freshmen nevermade varsity. Not only did I make the team, but I actually played my freshman year, started in four games my sophomore year, and led the team to dominate the championships my junior and senior year. Overall, it was a good experience. Not perfect, but how could I complain when so many kids had it worse than I did when they joined the team?
I’ve always known I was gay—there was never any question—and my parents figured it out before I was able to tell them. I didn’t come out overnight with a big and exciting announcement, but I didn’t hide it, either. People put the pieces together themselves. For the most part, being gay didn’t affect baseball because I was such a solid player that, in their eyes, the reward outweighed the risk.
As I matured and grew into my sexuality, I trended away from the masculine image I’d grown up aspiring to be and toward a more effeminate style and way of life. That was a difficult concept for my peers, players, coaches, parents, and supporters to grasp. My gayness was never a problem, but my level of gayness was. It was something that infuriated me to no end; then and and now.
Level of gayness? Seriously? What the fuck did that mean? The simple thought that I could dress like a model, style my hair like a professional, add glitter to any ensemble, move like a go-go dancer, andplay baseball like a boss was a riddle that no one could solve. I managed it but only barely and at a great cost.
After my sophomore year in college, everything came to a head after I’d co-led Oregon State University to two consecutive championship victories. After I’d decided self-love was more important than everything else, they never made it back to the championships, nor have I played another game since.
*** *** *** ***
Nick and Nelly sang in unison to the tune “Help Me Rhonda”, by the Beach Boys, as they barged through the front door with the rest of the gang shuffling behind.
“Help me, DONNAS. Help! Help me, DONNAS!”
Wewere the DONNAS.
It was crazy how we all met. Not crazy as in, ‘oh my god, let me tell you this insane story that you’ll never believe’. It was crazy as in, ‘in a world of six and a half billion people, we somehow found our perfect niche group of acceptance’.
Personally, I struggled as I tried to find my step on the ladder of conformity. According to others, I was too gay to be a ‘dude’, too much of a dude to be effeminate, too feminine to be dominate, too tall to be a twink, and too whatever to be whatever. It was exhausting.
It was also surprising how the gay community screamed and cried for acceptance while casting the harshest judgment onto their own. But no matter, I found my people and within them—my happiness.
*** *** *** ***
Two members of our group, Nick and Nelly, are identical twins—literally cut from the same cloth—and, whereas most twins spend their whole lives trying to find their own identity, Nick and Nelly continue to grow closer. I speculate they’re not meant to be split up and, one day, they’ll spontaneously morph back into one person.
In preparation for that day, we call them Nilly, but only when they’re being particularly twinny. They’re cute-ish (I suppose), five feet and six inches tall, and have bright-red hair that lacks the fiery personality people come to expect.
Oliver, Olie, Olive, or Livi—depending on what personality he’s embracing at any given moment—is another member of our group. It isn’t that he has split personalities (not diagnosed anyway, I’m only kidding), but he is who he is and he is who he wants to be, when he wants to be.
He claims his different characters—he says saying ‘characters’ makes him sound less crazy than saying ‘personalities’. Okay, sure. You be you, dude!—are based on the fact he’s clearly of mixed ethnicity. He’s pretty sure he’s largely Asian, but the way he can roll his R’s has him convinced there’s a bit of sexy Spanish mixed in, too.
Then there’s his obscenely large-for-his-size cock so, according to him, he’s definitely a little African American, too. He’ll never know for sure because he was abandoned as an infant, and that fact alone means we never argue with him about it. I think there’s a part of him that loves the fact he can be anyone he wants to be. I have to admit, it’s kind of cool, too.
Oliver is short—approximately five feet and five inches tall when he’s wearing shoes—but he’s ten goddamn inches long! He’s a shower, not a grower, so it’s always ‘hanging around’. It’s the weirdest and most unproportioned thing I’ve ever seen. Seriously! You should see him in his tiny swimsuit…it’s unnatural.
Sammy, otherwise known as Salami (he loves meat more than anyone I know, and yes, that is a double-entendre, is another member of our group. He’s roughly as tall as the twins but that’s where the similarities end.
Salami’s love of food has stretched him out. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s a good fifty pounds over the highest recommended weight for his BMI and it isn’t because he’s big boned. I offered myself as a workout partner, but he didn't care. He said, ‘you only live once and I’m going to be happy and full’. Amen, brother.
Then there’s Allen, the only one of us who isn’tgay and, ironically, the first one people assume is. Firstly, he goes by Allé, which is pronounced Allie; not Ale or Al. He’s six feet tall and is totally flaming, so much so that I feel the need to strap a fire extinguisher to his thigh. He swears (and we’ve questioned him extensively on the matter) he isn’t gay. Maybe he’s straight, but seems to identify somewhere in the middle. I’m not one to judge but I think he’s asexual.
I’ve never seen him interested in anyone, male or female. As far as we know, he’s still a happy virgin. He doesn’t care enough to be labeled one way or the other, so it’s become a non-issue.
Then there’s me, Donovan. I’m five feet and ten inches tall with lithe, long legs and torso. I’m not as muscular as I once was but still freakishly strong and definitely stronger than I look. I’m an RN in the Pediatric Oncology Ward. I don’t consider myself effeminate, but I look the part more often than not. If I was straight, I’d definitely be considered a metrosexual, but I’m not straight so, once again, another title I can’t have.
Together, we’re the DONNAS: Donovan, Oliver, Nick, Nelly, Allen, and Sammy. Yes, it’s an acronym. No, we didn’t come up with it. Yes, we love it. Yes, it’s feminine as fuck. No, we’re not all twinks (what does that imply, anyway?) Yes, we tend to draw attention everywhere we go. No, we don’t fucking care what anyone thinks. We have two things in common—we’re gay (save for Allé) and we all love baseball. We met a few years ago when our favorite bar held a special baseball event during the finals. We picked the winning brackets, beating all the heteros and the rest is history.
*** *** *** ***
Sam was practically drooling as his mind drifted to, what I imagined was, a field of ripped, shirtless men with tight baseball pants who were likely fawning over his every move.
“I cannot tell you how excited I am to wear baseball pants again. The great American pastime? More like the great American ass-time. There’s going to be so much delicious booty to feast on.”
As he laughed, Nelly slapped him upside the head, which quickly brought him back down to earth.
“Boy, you know this isn’t a fantasy porno scene, right? In less than an hour, we’ll be walking into heterofest 2017. You can look, but you can’t touch. You know the straight boys will be insecure and uptight around anything that’s pink or might threaten their precious masculinity.”
Allé smiled while magically producing a box of gear for the big game and started excitedly shaking it back and forth. He pulled out our team’s standard, white with salmon pink sleeves, baseball shirts. I know what you’re thinking—pink baseball shirts? Is the whole team gay? The answer would be no. I made the mistake of telling Mr. Fresh, my ex-boss (his name is Dougie Fresh, I tease you not), about my baseball past and the mutual love the DONNAS shared for the game.
He managed to rope us into playing on the men's league team for the company. They never had a decent team before and he was desperate for some new talent to boost morale. We went around and around about it.
I told him it was a terrible idea because there was no way anyone would want to be on a team with us because, as a whole, we’re relatively low on the masculinity scale and wildly high on the freak scale. Then there was Allé, and no one knew what to think about him.
Mr. Fresh insisted there’d be no backlash because his employees were better people than that. That’s easy to say as an upper class white man who didn’t know what discrimination was actually like. After a week of constant badgering, I told him we’d give him one practice to feel things out.
No one knew what to do with us when we showed up. I believed Dougie Fresh had left out some minor details and only focused on the highlights which involved my winning two consecutive championship games, Nilly’s three time state championships back in high school, Oliver’s short-stop accolades, Allen’s first baseman skills, and Sammy’s catching history, although I doubted he could move with the same speed and agility he did ten years and forty pounds ago.
There were a lot of wide eyes when the glam squad rolled up. Granted, we purposely went above and beyond, you know, for shits and giggles. It didn’t take long for them to see you cannot truly judge a book by its cover.
Other than Sammy, who, as a general rule of thumb, needed to increase his overall level of physical activity, we wiped the floor. By the end of practice, we could’ve asked for anything we wanted and they would’ve given it to us just to have us on the team. So it didn’t take much to get six other guys to agree to pink baseball shirts. The general consensus was that between the pink shirts and half of the team appearing one hundred percent ‘un-baseball’, we’d have the element of surprise.
As it turned out, the men’s summer ball league was quite competitive, and Dougie’s team had been on the shit end of the trash talk for years. They were more than a little anxious for retribution, and the fact they could potentially kick some men’s league butt, with a team of queeny fairies, was going to make the victory that much sweeter.
Sammy referred to the pink, sparkling letters that spelled our last names on the back of the shirts.
“Hot damn! This will be quite the surprise. I have a feeling the guys are going to love it. More camouflage for our surprise attack.”
It was an unexpected, yet beautiful, addition. Mine didn’t say Allerton which was my last name. It said Gordy, which I was a nickname that I wasn’t thrilled about. We all took a moment to ooh and aww before moving on to the light grey baseball pants Allé had ordered for everyone. He was digging through the box and distributing them according to sizes when he started laughing.
“Olie! There’s no friggin’ way!” He held up a pair of tiny, extra small pants that, as it turned out, Oliver had ordered for himself.
Oliver quickly grabbed the pants and held them to his waist. I don’t know what hesaw, but they looked a little small to me.
“What? Don’t think they’ll fit me?”
“Sure, if it was only you, but you and that monstrosity between your legs? Not a chance in hell.”
Watching Oliver try to pull on what could easily be described as youth apparel, was the most amusing thing I’d seen all week. I didn’t waste the chance for a good Instagram story. After several minutes of fighting himself, he managed to get them on and buttoned, although he looked a little worse for wear. He looked himself over in the full length mirror in my room, turned side to side, and nodded his approval.
Sam walked up and slapped Oliver’s dick, which doubled the poor guy over.
“Now, try to get it zipped with your cup on, you dumbass.”
He dug through his bag until he pulled out his cup, but before he had a chance to do anything with it, a fascinated Nick snatched it from his hand and held it up to the light as if it was the Holy Grail.
“Holy, shit! I’ve never seen one this size. I think I could wear this as a batting helmet. Un-fucking-real.”
We all groaned when he set Oliver’s cup on his head. Who puts another man’s genital cup on their head? It’s to protect the gentleman's sausage, not to wear as a hat.
“That’s my dick cup, not a kippah, you moron.”
“It’s the Jewish hat, not Mormon.”
“I didn’t say Mormon. I said moron, you moron!”
After we lost all respect for Nick, we finished getting ready. Oliver was barely able to manage the cup installation, I took one look at him and lost my shit.
“Olie, darling, you’re going to scare the guys on ourteam, the ones we’re playing against, andthe poor wives and kids who’ll be watching. Hell, you’re scaring me! It looks like Toucan Sam is trying to break free from your pants.”
I wasn’t lying. It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen, aside from him in swimwear. There was no way anyone was going to believe he was for real. I’ve seen the damn thing with my own eyes and I still question its validity.
We didn’t have a lot of time to goof off so we finished getting ready. Nelly and Allé got dolled up with full face makeup and some serious application of temporary pink highlights, the chalky stuff you ‘wipe on, wipe off’. It was barely noticeable on the twins’ short red hair, but it showed nicely on Allé’s longer, blonde hair.
Oliver and I opted for a little highlighter on our faces and one pink streak each, which looked great against our darker hair. Oliver’s jet black hair was layered in a shaggy style, just long enough to tie back if he were desperate, but not long enough to actually stay put (say, during a game of baseball) so he opted for a pink, elastic headband to keep the hair out of his face.
I cut my hair every other Wednesday because I preferred the super fresh look—short on the side and longish on the top. I usually wore it styled back with a quiff. My part-line was buzzed to the scalp; sharp and clean.
As Sammy uncomfortably adjusted the waistband that did nothing to hide his overly plump belly, he asked.
“Can we all agree that the pants run a little small?”
The rest of us followed suit by adjusting our unreasonably tight pants and nodded in agreeance before simultaneously looking at Oliver and his Toucan Sam which inevitably had us all doubled over and laughing. Not a great combo when you’re pants are already too tight.
Everyone went out to Allé’s minivan and loaded up their stuff. Before locking up, I grabbed my mitt and, with a mixture of nostalgia and resentment, took a moment to look at it. By the time I arrived outside, everyone was waiting in the back seat, leaving me with the front seat. As I approached the van, they let out a stream of catcalls and wolf whistles, which made me smile and shake my head at the same time. Once seated, Nelly commented.
“Sometimes, it’s not fair to hang around you. You make the rest of us look like street trash.”
Allé quickly responded and pointed his thumb toward me in a playfully-annoyed fashion.
“That’s because we arestreet trash compared to Gordy over here.”
The group often teased that I was too handsome to be pretty, but too pretty to be handsome. At some point, they settled on gorgeous, which they shortened to ‘Gordy’, which is what they call me most of the time. I never understood it because gorgeous wasn’t the word I’d use as a mid-level description between pretty and handsome. I heard Nelly whining before he continued with his rant.
“I know but it’s not fair. He’s like…a freaking model. Look at him with his perfect hair, perfect face, perfect cheekbones, pouty lips, perfect body, and tan skin. Ugh, he’s such a bitch.”
Nelly did that a lot. Most of the time, he normally opted to let Nick be the spokesperson, but when he did speak, it was usually to complain about me, put himself down, or both. Usually both. I held onto the bitch bar, adjusted myself in the seat, and smiled at Nelly’s self-deprecating compliments.
“Oh, my god! I can’t see you, but I can feel your smile. That’s how fucking perfect it is. It lights up a fucking room. And fuck your hair with your perfectly placed pink stripe while my hair looks like the inside of a goddamn grapefruit.”
The van erupted with laughter because it was true; red hair with the pinkish tips—totally a grapefruit. The laughter eventually died down and conversation turned the way it normally does; bouncing between random topics before finally landing back on baseball, for all of the wrong reasons, thanks to Salami.
“I wouldn’t have put two and two together, but now that you mention it, it does remind me of a grapefruit!”
“Who are we playing today? Please tell me it’s Yarlie’s Yard Care. Yarlie’s catcher is the thing the ‘Eurythmics’ were talking about when they wrote ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’.”
Seething with frustration over my run-ins with the guy, I huffed.
“Sure, except the guy’s the biggest D-bag I’ve ever met in my life. I can’t stand him.”
Yeah, he’s cute. Sin incarnate some might say. He’s big, tall, has strong, thick catcher’s thighs, and—dat ass! Woo-eee! I may have inadvertently glanced at it a few times, well, every time I had a chance. Whenever he was squatted down, it was hard to miss dat-boo-tay. I definitely experienced lust-at-first-sight when I saw his previously mentioned booty, dark brown eyes, body, thighs, and dark, chestnut hair that always peeked out from under his backward ball cap.
I also heard him laugh once, while we waited for our first practice to commence, and it sent a crazy, intense sonic boom straight to my crotch. Then, moments later, the heavens parted for me because someone mentioned he was gay. So yeah, my lust level was high.
We made eye contact during the gap of time between his practice ending and mine beginning and, for a second, I thought I saw a mutual interest or atleast a mutual lust. Then the dream was shattered, the heaven’s closed up, and the lust level plummeted to zero when he spoke.
“So, queen boi thinks he can play ball, huh?”
The laugh that followed wasn’t the same sexy and contagious laugh I’d heard moments before. Nope, that laugh caused my balls to retract deep into their dark cave. It didn’t stop with that comment, either. Not that I was keeping count, but he seemed to have a rude or vulgar comment to hurl in my direction every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as our teams swapped the field for practices.
I’d never heard so much disrespect spew from someone’s mouth that wasn’t a homophobe, yet, he was supposed to begay? That left me scratching my head.
As the days passed and practices continued, my lust level continued to steadily decrease until it only left a semblance as lust morphed to disdain, despisal, and a tinge of hatred.
“Only to you, Gordy. He was perfectly sweet to me.”
Of course he was nice to Allé, no one knows what to do around Allé, and Oliver had similar thoughts on the matter with regard to Allé.
“Sure, of course he’s nice to you. No offense but you’re like Switzerland, completely irrelevant.”
Allé shrugged it off. In general he wasn’t easily offended, especially by any of the DONNAS. I was still in the front seat, silently seething and casting voodoo curses at Yarley’s catcher. I hated him and his beautiful candy coating. I didn’t have much time to seethe before Nick clarified the schedule for us.
“Regardless, we’re not playing Yarley’s Yard Care for another two weeks. I think today is Landry’s Laundry Service and next week is Conway’s Concrete. What the hell is up with these team names? It’s like nursery rhymes for adults but worse.”
“Yeah, and we’re Dougie’s Designs so our name isn’t much better. But seriously guys, the catcher’s hot. I’d travel the world and the seven seas to let him use and abuse me.”
“Sam, if you want to listen to the ‘Eurythmics’, just tell us and we’ll play it for you. You don’t have to try so hard.”
Nick handed me the iPod so I could find the song and said.
“I agree, he’s delicious.”
I rolled my eyes at the sheer ridiculousness. Clearly, no one cared that underneath that very thin candy shell was a pungent pool of acid. We spent the last few minutes of the car ride blasting to “Sweet Dreams” then laughing at everyone’s reaction as we pulled into the parking lot.
We’d already decided not to show the teams how good we were. We were going to downplay our skills until absolutely necessary, which would probably be the game against Yarlie’s since they’re stacked and have been ranked first for years.
Landry’s was easy enough to fool, we barely had to work for it, and we still won by seven. We let the heteros pull most of the weight while the DONNAS pranced around cluelessly, only doing the minimal effort needed.
Honestly, I had a great time. I’d never goofed off during a baseball game before. Pretending to throw like a girl was fun, too. All I had to do was embrace my inner Smalls, and I looked like a total noob.
I might’ve played it up more than necessary, but when I saw Yarley’s catcher sitting on the bleachers (scouting the game), I couldn’t help myself. I wanted his defenses weakened by the time our game rolled around. I was going to relish watching his smug face fall when “lil ol’ queen boi” (his words, not mine) brought him down.