WANTING TO BE WHO WE'RE NOT
 

Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers
Edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Van Buskirk
Now available from Harrington Park Press

 
 
 

CHASING THE GRASSHOPPER (excerpt)

by Gerard Wozek

     When I turned fifteen years old, I had a fierce desire to shave my head. Not because I was enthralled by the U.S. Marine commercials playing on television at the time or because I wanted to dance with the orange-robed Hare Krishnas handing out books at the entrance to Chicago's Union Station. The truth was that I wanted to take a razor to my unkempt blonde shag because I ached to be a disciple of the Shaolin priesthood. It wasn't because I completely understood the strict discipline of those Buddhist precepts that made me want to give my life over to their religion. I was more enticed by the spirited male bonding I witnessed on the dramatized television series Kung Fu and the air of non-violence that seemed to pervade their lives. Though I saw no proof of it, I was convinced of their covert but tangible male-to-male erotic love. And I wanted to find out for myself.
     I wanted to take the hand of the grown-up version of the character Kwai Chang Caine and follow him into the next adventure-packed episode. I wanted to stand in front of that glowing incense burner in the temple I saw on television, drop to my knees, and kiss the rugged neck of that willowy Buddha-inspired hunk. I wanted to be the trail guide, the one who would help my fugitive protagonist escape from the American cowboys. At fifteen, I had become an enraptured devotee of David Carradine's soft spoken and sensual pacifism. I adopted his mannerisms. His plainspoken phrasing. His gentle demeanor. I wanted to be just like Caine.



David Carradine in Kung Fu

     A couple of years before, I had abandoned my fantasies of getting lost in the Rockies with John Denver or guest starring on the Saturday morning Monkees television show in order to comb out the bangs of Davy Jones. I no longer pretended that I could play footsie underneath Mr. Kotter's classroom desks with John Travolta or start up a high school courtship with hunky Greg on The Brady Bunch. Even my daydreams of shampooing David Cassidy in the shower began to wane when The Partridge Family series was cancelled. In fact, it seemed all my early Teen Beat infatuations lapsed as soon as I began to develop a more distinctive Adam's apple.