My Accidental First Date by Casey Morales

Hot Off the Presses scours the internet for newly published books from unknown authors, and saves everyone else the trouble of actually reading books to find out if they’re good or not. This is meant for entertainment purposes only, not serious consumer advice. And there will be spoilers.

Ever wonder what you would get if you crossed Boy Meets World with Tom of Finland? My Accidental First Date by debut author Casey Morales is a memoir about a young man’s awakening following a fateful encounter in the late summer of 1994. This is just the sort of good, clean, sticky fun I’ve been waiting for on this blog. But my luck being what it is, the book is equal parts guilty pleasure and guilty punishment.

Michael, bored at home on a Saturday afternoon, picks up the booty call meant for his roommate. Mystery caller Joseph doesn’t miss a beat and asks Michael to the movies instead. Starting at Joseph’s place, Michael lets us know just how gorgeous this strange man asking him to the movies is, in a purely heterosexual way. This is one of those things where fiction can’t cleave too closely to real life. Here in the world of real humans a straight man can notice that another man’s cheek bones are such a work of art that they are in real danger of being stolen by the British Museum. But in a book with a shirtless dude on the cover, this just makes Michael seem even dumber when he fails over and over to notice that he is gay as a picnic basket.

The fact that they had so many quality new releases to choose from that they didn’t bother to pick until after meeting at Joseph’s condo filled me with nostalgia. Let me just look at my local AMC’s showtimes. Ah, yes, Paw Patrol: The Movie, The Suicide Squad, Don’t Breathe 2, and the most anticipated film of 2015, Black Widow. But I guess the 90s weren’t all fun, games, and being able to support a family on one income, because the movie they end up seeing is Threesome with Stephen Baldwin. Michael, oblivious that this is a date for several more chapters, walks to the theater with his new pal, and notices that on this humid, sexy day Joseph’s curls are sitting just perfectly, and also his nipples are happy. I don’t know what that means, because it’s not cold outside, just the opposite. Does “happy nipples” mean sweaty nipples? A preview for Caligula plays before the movie, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but maybe it’s the Peruvian soap opera Caligula, I don’t know.

The two share an enticing bag of popcorn and a Sprite. The buttery sex corn and gargantuan drink with one straw for them to both suck on compete for page real estate with a shockingly hostile description of an overweight woman for reasons I still do not understand. Honestly, Michael hates fat women who exist more than words can say. Little by little he realizes that the movie they’re watching while trapped in a room with a large female person has gays in it! And that’s where I will leave you, in the capable hands of Stephen Baldwin and leather-upholstered stadium seating.

Most of the time when I read a first person perspective that’s presented in a very Tom Sawyer, “let me tell you about the time” voice, I don’t assume that I’m reading actual autobiography. But Morales writes with such an incriminating Gen X accent that, whether he shared a wet bag of popcorn with a guy named Joseph or not, I feel like I’ve stared directly into his unvarnished personal history. This is a 1994 where people name their cars Betty, call things they like “little puddin’s” or “that damned twinkle,” and use words like knickknack, minx, and poopedness. The nostalgia needed to write “his sensuous Orville Redenbacher breath” is so localized within a section of late twentieth century middle class American life that I almost feel like Casey Morales has given me his home address. No one could fake this.

The action is simple enough, but gets squished between digressions on various relevant or non-relevant topics. We get a description of the car that nearly totaled ol’ Betty. We get a story about how working for a local politician gave Michael a free movie pass, and how he felt guilty about it (Imagine—seeing a movie for free! Who could live with such crimes?). The lengthy paean to stadium seating, the hot new innovation in movie theater design, left me wondering if maybe our author went on this date in 1974. We hear endless details about his Christian upbringing and love for green Boy Scout socks. There’s a fable about a Native American medicine man and his message of Catholic guilt. There are several places where the word “anyway” gets its own paragraph. Flipping through this book is like listening to your dad’s friend at a barbecue pay out a long, meandering story, in the hopes that it will eventually turn into gay erotica.

And it does! I won’t spoil it too much, but suffice it to say, there are penises in this book. Of course, it wouldn’t be possibly-Boomer-posing-as-Gen-Xer erotica without some good old fashioned creepy sex tropes. This is one of those stories where people push through another person’s resistance because they’ve read the book and they know it ends well. But our reluctant gay-to-be Michael gives plenty of signs that he is not interested in Joseph’s advances at first, including at one point looking “scared to death,” only to be creeped into submission. Massages, man. If only Aziz Ansari had known about the power of massages. The version of gay life portrayed here is understandably dated (it took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that the fact Joseph owns antiques was supposed to be a giveaway), but this is a pretty cringy way to write any sexual encounter that is being portrayed as a positive moment in a young person’s life.

I understand that I am the last person to evaluate one of these books as good or bad. How do I even determine if this is worth your time when there are literally hundreds of gay romances published on Amazon every nanosecond? And what are my credentials, anyway? If a normal person faced the profundity of what I don’t know about sex, it would look like the theater scene in A Clockwork Orange. But I will say this. I expected a book with some dicks in it, and I got a book with some dicks in it. That’s gotta be worth something.

On a serious note, however, four dollars is a little steep for the length. Maybe wait to pick it up during a promotion.

I sat through another one of Madeline’s dumb reviews, so now you do too.

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