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Out of the Box: Stories for Older Men & Younger Lovers

Out of the Box - Don Schecter This is the second book in Don Schecter's "Stories for Older Men and Younger Lovers". A collection of tales. Yes, there is sex in some of them, but more they are explorations about what it is to be gay and as such should be of immense interest to women who write m/m romances who want to delve behind the stereotypes that are starting to populate the genre.In some ways the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer as it suggests the stories are only relevant to the young and old. Whereas these stories are really for anyone who is interested in relationships, and who are trying to understand what it's like being a gay male.The first story, "Doorways" is the tale of a mature age man who comes out of the closet after being married and raising a family. If you check his website, you'll see that the author has a similar background, so it would be fair to say he knows what he's talking about. Although another story carries the book's title "Out of the Box", this first story is all about what happens when a man opens "Pandora's Box" and allows his formerly suppressed feelings to escape. Confusion, excitement, almost childlike innocence as he passes through a doorway into another world. Wanting it all now.This world is seen in all its variety in other stories. The world of bondage and discipline in "Submission" where the nature of control, lack of it and paradoxically discovering it through submission is told through the eyes of Conny (short for Mr Conlan)“I want to submit to someone because it’s the ultimate personal abdication. Mindless obedience as a fantasy. I always have to be in control; I get deep satisfaction from controlling things.”“Yes? Go on.”“Well, I’m worn out; I want a vacation from my obsession, from all decision-making. My fantasy is to be controlled, totally; an abject slave. Not permitted to have a say about anything, including my bodily functions. In real life, I could never let that happen. It’s impractical as well as unsatisfying. But in my dreams…in my dreams… Tarzan keeps Bruce Wayne captive in the jungle; Superman is helpless, strapped to a nugget of Kryptonite…these childhood fantasies have never varied much since pre-puberty.”The man he submits to, Kurt, is 5’6”, a head shorter than Conny. It was his rounded belly, wire-rim glasses that focused bright beady eyes, and snowwhite mustache that gave him the elfin look. Also, he had exceedingly small hands and feet. Conny estimated he wore size six shoes, and their pointed tips made them appear positively dainty. No, that isn’t quite right. I’ve got it! Kurt was a living representation of the Monopoly man—he of the top hat and pin-striped trousers; the man who adorned “Get out of jail free” cards, and “Go directly to jail, Do not pass GO, Do not collect $200.” The man from whom all rewards and punishments flowed in the best selling game yet devised by man.So the story has all the elements of BDSM but feels different as it seems more real, especially when they go to BDSM parties. Not something often explored in m/m romances where frankly the whole BDSM scene is unbelievably romantic.In between these stories of timid steps through doorways to the full graphic BDSM there's "His Father's Advice" where a gay man, previously married but now living with his lover is questioned by his son who is worried that he must be gay because he found himself looking with appreciation at his best friend's ass while they were showering. Apart from the wisdom imparted as to how he would know whether he was gay or not, the father worried whether in some ways he should have treated him differently while he was growing up: Is it something I did or said? Perhaps at seventeen I should be shaking his hand or punching him on the shoulder, rather than hugging and kissing him.Then later he gives the advice that all parents need to remember:“Sometimes it takes a long time to figure it out. It took me forty years. But I was working from the premise that you had to be one thing or another. And that’s just not true, Sam.”Sam looked up; he was all ears. Jerry continued talking while he got Sam a glass of milk and made him a sandwich.“There are lots of kinds of love: the love you feel for your buddy in a foxhole, or your partner—like you and Pat are to each other during a game—is as valid as the love you feel for Carolyn. So many factors are involved. At your age, you should just let your feelings roll over you and enjoy them; they’re all good. When you sort out what you want in life, you can set priorities, and then you can decide whether or not to take action. When you’re in tune with what you feel inside, you can act on it or suppress it, according to what you want to do with your life.”“You suppressed your gay feelings when you were with Mom?”“I only knew one way to live, the way I’d been taught. Vinecovered cottage and kids, with a loving wife. I had no one to talk to about my feelings, and I was convinced that I was the only one in the world out of step. “But nowadays, you have alternatives. Nobody wants to pigeonhole you. You can be married and straight, or gay with kids, and successful in your career all at the same time.Without going into too much detail, other stories are entertaining while still dealing with serious issues. A Doctor's dilemna in the early days of the discovery of the seriousness of the HIV virus, "What Friends are For" deals with the desire to have children, in "Christmas Help" an onlooker on life is able for a brief moment to reach out to someone else and make a connection, "Eye of the Hunter" and the pictures that story generates of a man who can have sex without really being aware of who he was with.All styles of people are here, the large, the small, the vain, the dying all star in their own little tale, showing the diversity of men and their encounters. The title story "Out of the Box" deals with homophobia in a long but entertaining polemic about what the world would be like if all the gay people were instantaneously whisked away.The collection is full and varied and delivers each "lesson" in a manner where you're being enlightened without really being aware you are, but to me the story that resonated the most and made me really appreciate the skill of Don's writing was "Tate's Death". In this, the man who had been Tate's lover describes his life and their relationship. As you follow his tale, two distinct personalities come to life and gradually you become aware of a third personality who has been there all along, begging for release. Understanding would have been a better alternative, but these stories aren't romances, they're real.I thoroughly recommend searching this book out. Like the first in the series, it is available in print or Kindle from Amazon or direct from the author at http://www.donschecter.com