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Saturday, June 10, 2023
Excerpt from "Through Button Eyes"
Excerpt from Through Button Eyes
Posted by DavinKent on 12/20/2016 1:37:00 PM

Synopsis: For Martin, fresh off a Nebraska farm, coming out in the 70s should have been easy. He lives with a gay uncle in New York City, attends film school at Columbia, and has two eccentric great-aunts who take his love life all too seriously. But after three years, the shy young man still hasn’t been on a single date – until the Aunties give him a very special gift…

Do we have to talk about this, Aunt Judy?” I blush, as I always do when she brings up the topic of my love life – or the lack thereof. “Nothing’s changed… no Prince Charming, no Knight in Shining Armor. I’m still ‘such a good friend,’ ‘love-ya to pieces,’ wallflower Martin.”

“Now Marty, you’re tall, dark and handsome, and nothing like a wallflower. I just had such high hopes for that photo shoot you went on the other day. All those models are queer as a thr…”

“Judith! Let’s use ‘gay’, shall we? It’s 1971, after all.” Aunt Meredith is pretty hip for an eighty-three-year-old.

Meet my great-aunts; affectionately known by the extended family as “The Aunties”. They live in a brownstone on the Upper West Side – an easy six-block walk from my Columbia University campus.

We are ensconced in their living room for our weekly visit. 

Meredith pours the tea while Judith gets comfortable on the well-worn velvet couch. I bury into an overstuffed leather armchair, the same place I’ve parked for our chats since I started film school three years ago.


"Now, Martin.” Aunt Judith folds her hands on her lap. “You just turned twenty-one, which is a wonderful milestone. You've had some time to sow those wild oats…"

I thought we’d covered this topic for today. "Are you giving me a 'birds and bees' talk? Because, I kind of think I'm up to speed on that stuff…"

"Oh, yes," Aunt Meredith says, "we made sure Billy took care of that when you first moved to New York. You know we love your mom to death, but she is kind of a prude and so is her mother. Bless her; we weren't sure she was up to the task."

"Yeah, OK. Uncle Billy was quite clear on all that…education." Talking sex with the Aunties is always a treat. "And you're right. Mom wasn't. And what Dad said on that topic was usually slurred, crude and frankly, didn't apply to me… anatomically… so much."

Uncle Billy, on the other hand, had taken my 'education' quite seriously when I arrived fresh off the farm. He rather bluntly asked to find out that I was not only a virgin but also clueless about all aspects of gay life and culture. He provided hours of embarrassingly detailed instruction. And to be sure I understood, he included narrated fieldtrips to a bath house, the Stonewall Inn, the Oscar Wilde bookstore, and several gay bars. Uncle Billy also supervised my first and only drunk experience.

"You're a long way from Kansas, my dear – or Iowa or whatever wasteland you're from." Aunt Judith sets her teacup on the coffee table. "No, dear. We want to give you your birthday present! But first, there’s a story to tell about our family."


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