Archive for February, 2005

Not Hot

A lesson in subversive parenting.

Lillie: “Hey dad, hey dad!”

Dad: “Yes dear, I’m in here.”

Collie: “Don’t tell dad!”

Lillie: “Daa-aa-ad!”

Dad: “In here!”

Lillie: “Dad, Collie said ‘hot,’ and that’s not appropriate to my age!”

Dad: “Excuse me?”

Lillie: “Collie said ‘hot,’ and Mom says that’s not appropriate.”

Collie: “This doesn’t make sense. Do I need to get a dictionary? There are two meanings to the word ‘hot.’ One means sexy. The other means it is hot. It is not a bad word!”

Lillie: “It’s not appropriate to my age!”

Jason: “Oh brother.”

Dad: “I’m afraid I don’t follow. Did your mother say that you should not use the word ‘hot’ in front of your sister?”

Lillie: “Yes!”

Collie: “No!”

Jason: “She said that we should not use the word to mean ‘sexy’ in front of Lillie.”

Lillie: “Because it’s not appropriate to my age!”

Collie: “I will get a dictionary if I have to!”

Dad: “I don’t think we need a dictionary. Collie, will you please not use the word ‘hot’ to mean sexy in front of your sister?”

Collie: “But . . .”

Dad: “I understand that the word is not a bad word, but you can see that it upsets her. Please don’t do things that upset her.”

Collie: “This is unfair!”

Dad: “Lillie, can Collie use a different word?”

Lillie: “Like what?”

Dad swings out a hip, kisses an index finger, and lightly touches it to his backside.

Dad: “Phssssssssst . . . . sizzlin’!”

Lillie laughs. Collie tries it. Lillie gives it a go. Jason and I join them.

We are no longer hot. We are sizzlin’.

Like bacon.


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Light Bulb

Autumn 1983. I was nineteen.

Peabo and I were boon companions, and had been since the first day of ninth grade. He introduced me to Harry James and the Sex Pistols, cigars and imported beer, live music and long hair.

After we each scrapped our ways out of our respective high schools, we moved into an apartment together and became painters.

It was a great place, affectionately known as the Bohemian Love Pad. We kept the fridge stocked with beer and the floors littered with spare change.

Peabo knew pretty much everything about me, but he did not know of my sexual exploits with Allan or Donnie. I was too ashamed to tell him. I wondered if they were anomalies, or if I was on my way to gay.

Mind you, I had the world’s coolest girlfriend.

Not long after we started dating, she ditched her given name in favor of the appellation “Pablo.” She was smart and funny as hell. She had flaming red hair, pale skin and full lips.

And could she fuck! Pablo loved sex like no one I had ever met. And I bet she could’ve sucked the chrome off a trailer hitch.

Pablo knew about Allan. I told her about it, and not only didn’t she consider it weird—she found it arousing. Pretty soon, we were getting naked with Allan every now and then.

I couldn’t talk about any of this with Peabo. I would not even know how to begin to tell him. How could I explain that despite the fact that he regularly heard me and Pablo going at it like gangbusters, his best chum might be gay?

One day we were sitting around the Bohemian Love Pad, listening to David Bowie’s “Man Who Sold the World.” I said something about Bowie being gay.

“He’s not gay,” Peabo corrected. “He’s bisexual.”

“What’s that mean?”

“It means he likes men and women, both.”

A light bulb went off in my mind. God damn it, that’s what I was! I was bisexual!

People sometimes complain that they don’t want their sexualities labeled, but for me, it helped tremendously to know that there was a word for what I was.

I was not a freak. There was me, and there was David Bowie. I was not alone.

Allan, though—that boy was straight.

Around this time, Allan told me that Peabo had asked him if he thought I might be bisexual.

I froze. “What did you tell him?”

“I told him about you and Donnie. I didn’t think it was a big deal that he knew.”

“If you didn’t think it was a big deal, why didn’t you tell him about you and me?”

“Hmmmm, that’s a good point.”

Good point, my ass.

So Peabo and I had The Talk. I explained that I preferred women, and while I had sex with men, I really didn’t like it that much.

“Too bad you don’t like it,” Peabo observed. “Though of course, no one is making you do it.”

Now, that was a good point. I was still not ready to accept my sexuality. But, I was on the right path.

At least I had a name for it.

Peabo’s only disappointment was that I had kept this from him. This was my first intimation that keeping secrets might hurt someone I cared about.

As for Pablo:

On some alternative universe, Pablo and I bought a farmhouse, where we are in love forever, fuck each other and Allan, and raise a passel of red-headed babies, not entirely confident of their paternity, not worrying too much one way or the other.

However, in our universe, I left my hometown to go to art school.

She was hurt, but applied herself to our long-distance relationship. We did very well, actually. She even organized her life to live closer to me as she pursued her own studies.

But when things got going with Lucy, I had to break up with Pablo. She said she understood. But she didn’t want to remain friends. She couldn’t forgive me.

She married a nice fellow. They live in New Jersey. I think she works in Chelsea.

She wants nothing to do with me.

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Tainted Love

In the autumn of my senior year of high school, my heart was broken for the first time.

Debra was a junior, a vivacious and silly girl, with freckles, porcelain skin and wavy hair. She was hanging out with Allan when she got to know me. We decided this was it, and fell fast in love. We held hands, wrote each other notes, the works.

She lost her virginity on the floor of my family’s den. My family was asleep. I built a fire. We had wine. It was so perfectly romantic.

My then nine-year-old brother discovered us the next morning, asleep, naked on a blanket. Poor Debra was mortified—she was a good girl, forever to be considered a slut by my mother.

Debra became the first woman with whom I had sexual intercourse on a regular basis.

I say “regular basis,” but that’s not quite right. See, she had a reason she wanted to lose her virginity that night—her parents were moving her to Seattle at the end of the semester. And she wanted to lose her virginity to someone she loved as intently as we loved one another.

We had a month remaining in which to be lovers.

Our friends became co-conspirators, sneaking me into the girl’s dorm, pretending she was at a sleepover when she was with me, anything we could dream up.

Just as intensely as Debra loved me, so too did she worship Donnie.

Donnie was much admired, without question the most talented actor in our school. I scarcely knew him—we had a few classes together—but everyone extolled his sense of humor. He was also very handsome, with blond hair, blue eyes, chiseled features. He was rail thin.

A skinny blond funny boy—those were my best attributes too. I was a little threatened by Debra adoration of Donnie, but he was gay, so I had no insecurities about our romance.

Debra desperately wanted Donnie and me to be friends. I was game, though the circumstances felt forced.

One evening, I saw him in the window of his dorm.

“Evidently we are supposed to be friends,” I called up.

“So I hear,” he replied. “We’ll see, huh?”

Debra’s last night came too soon. Donnie arranged for me to sleep in his dorm room, though I would actually be sneaking over to the girl’s hall.

Debra’s roommate slept elsewhere. Debra and I stayed up all night, talking, making love, crying.

At dawn, I crept back to Donnie’s room. I feel asleep on the floor.

Donnie woke at eight, and took Debra to the airport. She didn’t want me to do that.

When Donnie left, his friend Chuck felt me up as I slept. I stopped him. Geez, how insensitive. Chuck was a creep.

Donnie didn’t care for Chuck, but he felt responsible to watch out for the other gay kids.

The deflowering of Debra, and our subsequent torrid romance, was the soap opera of the season. Everyone followed it, and expressed their regrets to me when she was gone.

It also identified me the boy who could put an end to a girl’s virginity. Debra’s friends queued up. I was suddenly having a lot of sex.

One night, Donnie and I sat on a porch, watching a party across the street. We talked about Jesus, we talked about Tom Robbins. And just like that, we were friends.

I told him about my experiences with Allan. I had told no one else. He was touched that I confided in him, and asked all the right questions. It felt great to have him to talk with about how mixed up that felt.

He took me to my first gay bar, a small dive called Belle’s. We were underage, but that was no problem. I had free drinks and we danced. Donnie never drank.

It was only a matter of time before we were having sex.

The first time, in his dorm room, he blew me. He complained that it took so long to get me off. Think of it as staying power, I said.

The truth is, though, I was nervous. Donnie was gay. That struck me as somehow different than being with Allan, because we were both straight. Allan and I loved each other, but it was always pretty clear that our primary sexual partners were women.

It would be a while before I understood bisexuality.

Donnie and I traded notes throughout the days at school. He put his notes in interesting containers—a cup, a found envelope, a chocolate box. They grew increasingly elaborate in format, requiring me to open secret panels, or to fill in blank areas to read the full text.

I opened up to him in our correspondence.

Donnie fell in love. That scared the hell out of me.

A group of us went skinny-dipping at my house one night. It was late, and by some miracle, my family did not wake up.

We wound up in my room, splayed about naked on the floor, in pitch darkness. I was massaging Jamye, slipping my finger inside her.

Her sister wanted a massage too, so I rubbed her. It was nonsexual, as we didn’t go there.

Anyone else? I offered.

Donnie signed on. I straddled his buttocks and ran my fingers up his spine, branching outward along his muscles. He squirmed under me. He raised his ass. My hand traveled between his legs; he was hard.

Elsewhere in the room were the sounds of couples kissing. I could hear Peabo coo soothing words to Jamye’s sister.

Donnie was sucking me. Loud, wet and fierce.

His mouth felt so good on me. But I worried about the noise. If anyone heard the sounds of sex coming from this corner of the room, they would know it was us. I would be outed.

I lay back and stretched myself to reach Jamye. Her head was near mine, her body stretched in the other direction.

She was asleep, or feigning sleep. I found her face and kissed her lips. She pretended to sleep through it. I scooted back to suck her nipples, loudly. Donnie stayed on me as I moved, sucking me, loudly.

I wiggled to her hips. I raised a leg so that I could get my mouth down on her. She moaned softly and ran a hand down my chest, to my belly.

I stopped her hand before she reached between my legs. There would have been a surprise there.

Donnie worked me until I was about to come. I stopped him.

Light was coming in my window. The sun was rising.

I saw my friends off.

Once Donnie confessed his love for me to his best friend Michelle, she set her sights on me. It was a stupid thing, but she wanted anything he had.

She was a gorgeous black girl, and I was easy. We started having sex.

Donnie was hurt. His letters to me were filled with betrayal and anger. And, perversely, with the tenderest expressions of love.

He loved me too intensely. I didn’t know what to do with him.

He would be pissed at me because of Michelle, but forgive me immediately when I agreed that his new favorite song, Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” was insanely great.

After graduation, Donnie moved to New York. I came up to see him often. It was a twenty-four hour trip by train, each way, but I couldn’t afford to fly. I was working for minimum wage in a movie theater.

I came to know the city through his eyes, by his side when I was here, through his words in the letters he wrote.

In the summer of nineteen-eighty-five, I was in New York with my parents and grandmother. After being a good tour guide all day, I was given the night off to hang out with Donnie.

He gave me a sex tour of the city. We were twenty-one.

He worked at the box office of a gay cinema in Times Square.

At his theater, men watched porn projected on a vast screen. I saw men walking onto the stage and going behind the screen. “Where are they going?” I asked.

“Behind the looking glass, Mary. Come on.”

I followed him. We walked along a narrow corridor behind the screen; looking up, I saw porn actors, seventeen feet high, as projected light.

We went upstairs. There, we found a park, created from stage props and Astroturf. Men were having sex on park benches. I had never seen men have sex, and now I saw dozens of them.

Donnie held my hand as we toured around.

He took me to a few of his haunts. We ended up at the Anvil, in the meatpacking district. We walked into a bar with a dance floor. Go-go boys in jock straps danced on the bar, and many of the dancers were shirtless. We swam into their midst to dance.

After we were good and sweaty, he took me downstairs.

Porn was being projected on a screen, as men blew each other on plush sofas.

We sat as far as we could from the action. As we talked, a man came over and jerked off in front of us.

Donnie took me further.

There was a narrow corridor, lined with men. They turned and smiled at us as we approached. It was pitch black at the opposite end.

I decided I had seen enough.

Back at Donnie’s tiny studio, we kissed as his roommate slept.

He asked me to keep my socks on as he blew me. Why, I wondered?

He wanted me to fuck him. He had just started to bottom. No, I can’t, I can’t.

I was just too freaked out.

I cabbed back to the hotel. My family was more than freaked to see me drag in at sunrise. I escaped into sleep.

Five years later, I was out of college, and Lucy and I moved to New York. Donnie, of course, was still here. Debra had moved to the city as well.

Donnie helped us unload the truck when we moved. We hung out as I settled into the city.

I was well into Lucy then, and certainly not up for sex outside of that relationship. Donnie never brought it up. We were good as friends.

One afternoon, I met Debra for coffee. We had a high time talking and catching up. We were both thrilled to be back in a place where we could be friends again.

After a while, she said, “I should get going. I told Donnie I’d visit him in the hospital.”

I knew what she was going to say next. I had to pretend otherwise. I had to.

“Hospital? What happened?”

Nothing had happened. I knew.

“Hank . . .”

Stop. Don’t.

“Donnie has AIDS.”

He had not told me.

I went with her to the hospital.

I saw Donnie almost every day for the next two years.

On the morning he died, I was in a cab, racing to the hospital.

It didn’t matter if I was there when he breathed his last. His family was there. Our friends were there. He was already doped to incomprehension. I had already been with him through the worst of it.

I needed to be there.

The cab’s radio was much too loud. The sun was too bright. The sky was shrill.

Three blocks from the hospital, the song on the radio ended. I heard the opening tones of “Tainted Love.”

He was gone.

I don’t believe in omens, but he did. Donnie delighted in good endings.

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Head Shot

It’s snowing.

It’s been too cold to do much outdoors, so the kids have been playing, or gaming, or watching television.

I’ve got laundry in the dryer. Chicken is marinating in lime juice for dinner.

As I type, Lillie stands at my elbow.

“Hey dad, hey dad!”

“What’s up, sugar britches?”

“Collie and I formed a club. You want to come to a meeting?”

“Sure do!”

The sheets have been stripped from my bed and draped over a chair. We sit on the floor under the sheets with a flashlight and dozens of stuffed animals. Lillie takes attendance.

In my room there are photographs of all my children. There’s a photograph of Allan and my youngest brother, laughing.

And there is a head shot of Donnie, when he was fresh out of acting school. It looks nothing like him.

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Straight Boys In Love

Love at first sight is real.

September nineteen-eighty, early morning, still life drawing class. I was sixteen.

Allan was standing with some other jock sophomores, leaning against the flat files used to store our drawings. He had his fingers shoved into the pants of his tight jeans. He wore a clinging baseball jersey with red sleeves.

He was smiling.

His smile was broad, stretching between his full cheeks.

His dirty blond hair was wavy and long on top.

I could draw you a picture of how he looked in that moment, so imprinted is it in my memory.

We didn’t have many opportunities to talk initially, as we were in different classes. He already had a circle of friends, and I was just beginning to meet people at this new school.

One day he mentioned that he needed a ride home. I volunteered to drive him. Soon we were commuting together. I would pick him up in the mornings, and take him home in the afternoons.

During that drive, for about an hour every day, we were alone together. And during those drives, talking and singing along to the early Beatles, we fell in love.

I was sixteen, he was fifteen.

We didn’t talk much at first. I was a little nervous about his beauty and my attraction to him. He was shy, he would later tell me, because he thought I was one of the smart kids—what if I thought he was dumb?

This was before Allan came to realize how smart he was. He developed into a philosopher of sorts; there was nothing he couldn’t talk about until sunrise, thinking through every angle, every permutation, of the most abstract ideas.

But at fifteen, he was still unaware of his uniqueness.

He lived alone with his mom and her mother. To pick him up for school, I would pull up outside his building, honk my horn, and wait for him. If he took too long, I would get out to hurry him along.

One morning, I went to fetch him. He opened the door nude.

His mother and grandmother were gone.

He apologized for being late, saying he just woke up. He needed to iron a shirt and he’d be ready to go. Come sit in my room while I get ready.

I sat on his bed as he ironed. I tried to avert my eyes. The room was a mess, scattered with clothes and junk. He had a smooth body, naturally muscular, still growing out of his baby fat. His small patch of pubic hair was blondish, kind of salt and pepper. His cock was . . .

I couldn’t get over the fact that he was nude, right there, in front of me. My heart was racing.

He sat on the bed next to me.

He kissed me. He kissed me!

He asked me to take off my clothes.

I had never touched a boy. Neither had he.

I undressed and we kissed. I held him close. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I didn’t know what to do with my desire. I only knew I wanted all of him, now, before this moment was taken away.

This might never happen again. How was it happening now? No one had done what we were doing.

I’m not sure if either of us came. Afterward, we lay in his bed. He said that would have been very hot if a girl had been there. I agreed. We dressed and went to school.

I was in a daze as the school day unfolded around me. The world was normal. I wasn’t. I was full of feelings about Allan and what we had done. We weren’t gay now, were we?

Things settled over time. Allan and I were very close. We loved each other, and said so, along the lines of saying “Ah love yew, man.”

We had sex now and then, always at his initiation, never as often as I wanted.

We were at a party a year later and had to do a beer run. He and I collected bills and change and headed out in my car.

He drove. He wanted to drive. I swallowed my father’s admonishment that under no circumstances was anyone other than me to drive my car.

A few beers often turned him sentimental. He grabbed my leg and proclaimed his love for me, his best friend.

I kiss his cheek and told him I loved him.

He changed course and drove to Jamye’s house. We knew the door was unlocked, and no one was home—Jamye and her sister were at the party we just left.

We went upstairs to her room. We undressed and kissed, making love in Jamye’s bed.

Allan never really had a girlfriend. As our circle of friends developed in common, and as he gained in confidence about his brains and his beauty, he tended to sleep with whichever girl was into him at the moment.

I always had a girlfriend. Allan slept with pretty much all of them.

Years later, at my wedding reception, Allan congratulated me on finding such a pretty bride. I thanked him, noting that she was the only girlfriend I had that he had not bedded.

He pushed me, laughing. We then realized this was only a slight exaggeration.

Allan finally found pretty bride of his own.

We grew up to be married men, but kissing and loving one another remained a part of our friendship. Everyone knew we loved each other. His mother used to wonder if he would have been happier with me.

In the summer of two-thousand-and-one, I was back home. He drove over from Atlanta to see me. We met for beer in a garden, and talked for hours.

He dropped me off at my parents afterward. We kissed. I pressed into it, taking his tongue in my mouth.

He laughed. “Ah love yew, man,” he said.

“I love you, baby. Always will.”

That was the last time I saw him. Allan died of a sudden heart attack a year later.

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Donnie Says

It is very hard to summarize a relationship into a single posting in a blog. But I did want you to know Donnie.

The thing hardest to get into a summary is his voice. I didn’t even try. Instead, I will let him speak for himself, by sharing one of the letters he sent me soon after he moved to New York.

At the time, we had a rule: We had to write back the day we received a letter.

Sweetest Dear,

It’s July third, nineteen-eighty-three at five fifteen am, and I’m on a sixth floor fire escape in the big Greenwich Village.

The apartment actually belongs to my cherished friend Cheryl, but my cherished friend Stevie is living here in Cheryl’s absence. Cheryl, you see, is at the present living in Dublin (Ireland, y’know) attending the (sniff) Joan White Theatre School. She’s studying the classics and all that shit (oh that word!).

Stevie and I just finished the latest installment of one of our favorite pastimes, which we call “closing the Duplex.”


The Duplex: one of my (and my friends’—i.e., the aforementioned broads) favorite nightspots. Try almost the only nightspot I’ve ever been to here. No joke. No matter, it’s all (almost all) I need.

It’s a mostly gay club in the Village with two floors: the upstairs where I’ve never been which houses various specialty acts (transvestites, torch singers, etc.); and the downstairs where I’ve always been—a piano bar (sing-along style) with light bulbs (one row) along the walls (a la dressing room chic) and framed theatre posters. It’s kind of in a basement, and we are talking MAJOR small. There’s a jukebox, a cigarette machine, and some video/pinball machines in the back. Nothing lavish here.

Everyone screams Broadway tunes for hours. There’s also a little spotlight and microphone if anyone has the urge to wing it one their own. Usually it’s barmaids and bartenders (who are mostly preciously cute) who sing alone. I think you would like it except for the fact that one can’t help but feel a little left out if one doesn’t know any of the words. (Chide, tease.) (Not really.)

It’s very low pressure (none of that Belle’s shit (!) where you get groped by about twenty people while trying to buy a drink) and usually very warm. In a way. I mean, for all the warmth being passed around the place, there’s still the knowledge that in about an hour or so, you’ll be asked to leave, and everyone with go home. Alone. Unless, of course . . .


Dawn has broken during the course of this narration.

This is beautiful. This time and space, I mean. I wish you could see and feel it. It’s very warm, but not disgusting yet.

The West Village is this tumbledown motley of multi-colored, flaking brownstones and little ancient churches. I can see a clock tower and an old tall building topped with what looks like a Greek temple, and I can see a tiny square of the Hudson River.

I went on the roof first (Cheryl’s on the top floor), and got views of the Empire State and World Trade that not only ought to be postcards, but were postcards in the first light of dawn. (However, there was nowhere to sit.)

This neighborhood is wonderful. Everywhere is Off-Broadway theatres, boutiques (clever to offensive), clubs, restaurants, and everywhere, EVERYWHERE is every handsome man that God ever made.

And they’re ALL GAY!!!

This pen will burn in hell.

Henry. Uh, I am so sleepy. I am so sleepy I just dozed off and almost fell off the fire escape.

So . . . could I bend the . . . uh, rules just a tiny bit? I mean, I promise I’ll finish the letter tomorrow, and the mail doesn’t run until Tuesday. And . . . and . . . ohshutup. I’m going to sleep.

(Ouy fo maerd dna.)

Figure it out, You don’t get anything for free.

P.S. Thank you for the letter. Honestly. How I love you.

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Come Again

“I’ve joined you in being non-monogamous,” Anna announced as I took her coat.

Come again?

We sat on the couch as Anna related the story of a hunky man she had slept with since we last met. She found him on Nerve. They met for drinks, which led to sex at his place. She slept over.

“Sounds like you thought he was hot,” I said. “Think you will see him again soon?”

She didn’t think so. When she raised that possibility the next morning, his response was along the lines of, “Hey, I didn’t say this was forever”—which is about the clumsiest thing possible to say after a sleepover, even a one-night stand.

She took care to be nonchalant in explaining to me that this is sometimes how things are when dating. Sometimes the connection happens, but it still doesn’t work out. Que sera, sera.

Unless I am forgetting something, this is the first time she has had sex with anyone other than me in the year since we met.

She was glad I was taking this news so well.

Sure, I said. It sounds like you had a good time, and you have a level head about it. Still, I just don’t understand how anyone could have sex with you and not want more. You are so attractive, and such a wonderful lover.

Thanks, she said, tossing her head. Well, his loss. The sex was fine, but not as good as with us.

We kissed, and kissing led to undressing and moving to my bed.

“You really aren’t the jealous type, are you?” she asked.

“No, I’m really not.” My hands were on her.

“Do you think that since I told you about someone I fucked, you can tell me about someone you are seeing?”

That sounded like a fair request. But I knew it was a bad idea. I have been clear with Anna that I am bisexual and seeing other people. But I resist telling her more about specific people, as she will only fixate on that person.

If I told her I was seeing anyone in particular, she would keep asking for more information, trying to ascertain if I liked that person better than I liked her. Which is not relevant.

Still, it’s already a subject of constant inquiry.

I scanned my memory for recent activities. I decided I could test the waters by bringing up my new infatuation with a woman who had discovered my blog, leaving out the part about my blog, as Anna didn’t know about it. Things are hot and heavy with my online crush, but—c’mon—we haven’t met in person. It’s pretty innocent.

(At least, so far.)

Anna stiffened as she listened. She pushed me away.

“I can’t believe you are talking with another woman online,” she said. “What are you looking for with her? Isn’t it enough you have a flesh-and-blood woman in your bed?”

Just as I suspected: she was jealous of a ghost in the machine.

I suggested that maybe she really wasn’t interested in knowing more abut others I’m dating.

We talked about this, a lot, as we often do. We just have different attitudes about jealousy.

She thinks it a natural thing to feel about someone you care for.

I think jealousy is natural, but has more to do with possession and control than love. I want no part of it.

Having reestablished our agreement to disagree on this, we went back to sex.

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