“On Todd Salazar’s first day of college, while his belongings were still in neatly labeled boxes on the dorm room floor, he had sex with his new roommate Darin.”

From the first line of the first page of Semesters, a loopy, original novel about gay life at a large New England state university during the early ‘90s, it's clear that the people populating this novel certainly are more interesting that those saintly, asexual members of the class of 10 percent portrayed in heterosexual college novels. Set against an era when gay marriage is a pipe dream and being “out” is still a precarious choice, the students of Semesters feel safe enough in their campus microcosm to be Here and Queer—so get used to it! They have sex, do drugs, have sex again, make all the wrong decisions, wage war against their conservative enemies, bum cigarettes, have more sex, all the while struggling with questions universal to young Americans. The writing is breezy and the drama generous. You'll encounter scandalous revelations, parties out of bounds, back stabbing, and an unforgettable, topsy-turvy final confrontation. Has it been mentioned that there is sex? Lots of it!

The protagonists are three gay men: BEN BRISTOL, the transfer student looking for sex or love, whichever comes first, TODD SALAZAR, the freshman who already has quite the track record but is looking for new conquests, and DARIN BURKETT, Todd’s whiny and underhanded first semester roommate, the self-appointed perpetual victim.

Ben Bristol is the heart of the novel. After two years of living closeted at home and attending a local community college to save money, Ben has high expectations for his junior year. But despite having a hot, straight British roommate who has a habit of walking around in his underwear, Ben’s only affections are from a fedora-wearing Trekker named EDGAR whom he met during orientation. Undeterred, Ben joins the University Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Alliance (UGLBA), writes a column for a newsletter, and falls hard for a guy who barely knows he exists—and that’s only in the first month of school. We follow the uninitiated Ben as he discovers the thrill of off-campus parties, drinks bad sangria and goes to the UGLBA-sponsored dances. Finally an active member of a gay community is Ben happy? And what if his quest for love ends with Ben in the arms of somebody he’d never expected?

Among Ben’s new college friends are: JULIA, a fellow member of the UGLBA whose claims of bisexuality are suspect; JEREMY and ARTURO, who are at a crisis point in their relationship, which Arturo relieves by hitting on other men in front of Jeremy, oblivious to Jeremy’s growing attraction to a sexy TA; TOBE, the self-appointed DJ who plays music nobody requests and refuses to wear weight-appropriate clothing; and TERRI, the beleaguered leader of the UGLBA who discovers her ex-girlfriend is in an abusive relationship and finds herself thrust into a brutal life or death situation.

Countering Ben’s cautious and naive romantic tendencies, Todd Salazar is all magnetic sexual appeal. Todd can’t help but oblige the men who line up the moment he steps on campus in September. In addition to sleeping with his roommate, Darin, Todd seduces super-senior RICHARD, who already has a boyfriend. No matter. After Richard, there’s KIRK, a golden boy from California, who has his own apartment. But Todd is carrying a dark secret about a taboo relationship he had over the summer. There’s a problem with secrets, though ... they have a funny way of being exposed at just the wrong times.

And then there’s Darin Burkett, a weaselly freshman from the suburbs of Boston not thrilled to be stuck in a provincial western Massachusetts state school. The relationship between roommates Darin and Todd, at first full of passion, quickly dissolves as Darin’s inconsiderate habits drive anal retentive Todd crazy; Darin doesn’t make his bed, breaks Todd’s lamp [gasp!], smokes in the dorm room, and has people in at all hours, notably MARIA, the cynical fellow UGLBA member who lives down the hall. Together, Darin and Maria bring their own half-baked brand of stoner politics to a campus that Darin feels is too complacent. Eventually Darin takes up with the mysterious revolutionary and begins a prank campaign against the Young Conservatives Club. Darin also manages to acquire a boyfriend, the sexy LARS, a former swim team member with a great tan line who doesn’t seem to know why he's dating Darin. Tensions between Darin and Todd explode into a nasty fist fight which ends the first semester with a bang and sets the tone for an even larger confrontation just before Spring Break, the ramifications of which send shock waves through the campus.

So take a study break, wring out your wet Speedo and grab a cup of coffee and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie at the Blue Book Café. Semesters demonstrates how much fun college can be when you’re not attending class.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chapter 18: Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Hit Me with Your Best Shot
“Do you think if I wrinkle Todd’s sheets, he’ll yell at you?” Lars asked. 
Todd made his bed every morning before going to class, and inspected it when he came home, a habit Darin found bizarre.  Todd even stacked his loose change into neat piles on his desk.  Meanwhile, Darin threw his clothes into the corner rather than buy a hamper.  There was a new lamp on Todd’s desk, but it wasn’t ugly as the first one.
“If Todd’s sheets get wrinkled, he’ll live.  Just don’t drop any ash onto his bed or I will get shit for it,” Darin said. “What was that line from that movie, Ferris Bueller … he’s so tight …” Darin shoved wet towel under the doorway in case Min came by on a walk-through.  That was unlikely since Min hadn’t been visible since the second week of classes. 
“Man, I can’t fucking remember.  I’ve been smoking all day.  I didn’t even go to classes today and I’m still tired.”
Darin looked at Lars out on the bed. He had no idea how he got so lucky, but Lars was the one who’d approached him that night outside the dining hall.  They’d talked for ten minutes before Darin had realized Lars was hitting on him, and then went back to Lars’s dorm in the Webster area.  Darin hadn’t learned much more about him in the days following, just the most general details:  Lars was from Athol, had once been on the swim team, was a French major and gorgeous.
Lars had spent most of the summer swimming and tanning and he had a perfect Speedo tan line, so it was odd that he told Darin he wouldn’t be swimming this year.  One night, Darin had made Lars strip down to his Speedo and despite Lars’ initial protestations; they had a great time role playing.   Lars was a lot more fun in bed than Todd.
Lars lifted his arm to take another toke; he was shirtless and every muscle on his torso moved when he did that.  Darin got hard watching him.  He walked over and started feeling Lars’ crotch which, despite the pot, was stiff. 
“Man, not when I’m smoking,” Lars said. “Wait until I’m done.”
“Come on,” Darin pleaded.   He bent over and licked the front of Lars’ jeans.  Lars didn’t say anything, but Darin could feel him inhale deeply and that wasn’t from the joint. 
Darin undid Lars’ top button, revealing his white briefs.  Thankfully, they were clean.  You could never tell how long Lars had been wearing his underwear, but that was part of what Darin liked about him.  He pulled Lars pants down to his knees.  Lars had trimmed his pubic hair.  Darin preferred unshaven like Todd, but he wasn’t going to quibble when the pants were off.  Darin slowly licked Lars’s balls feeling them contract.  He put them in his mouth and started sucking on them.
“Oh fuck…” he heard Lars whisper. Darin let the balls go and started on Lars’ cock.  Darin teased the head of Lars cock for a second, and then slipped the entire penis in his mouth. 
Oh shit, is the door locked? Todd never came home before midnight anymore, but this would be the one day he did.
Lars was breathing heavily now, and Darin glided his mouth up and down Lars’ cock.  Darin had undone his own zipper and was stroking his dick with his free hand.  Lars raised his hips off the bed, moaning and grunting and, Darin noted, still smoking  
“Fuck… oh fuck … fuck … oh shit!” Lars sat up and Darin fell forward, bumping his head against the bed frame. 
“Goddamit, what the hell?” Darin asked.   Lars was batting at the bed.  At first Darin thought Lars was having a seizure. What did you do if that happens to somebody you’re with? “What’s wrong?”
 “I dropped the joint.  Look.” Lars picked Todd’s pillow up and handed it to Darin.  There was a small brown hole on the pillowcase.
Darin sat back on his haunches. “Oh, just great.”

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