Martin Brant

I was born on the banks of the Amazon River and raised by a Kaiapo wet-nurse while
my mother conducted medical research and taught the Kaiapo children how to play
the violin.  After growing up with these rain forest natives and a long bout of malaria, I
went on to get my degree in rocket science at the University of Uganda (U of U).  To
this day, I have not gotten a rocket off the ground.  Presently, I’m trying to raise money
to return to the Amazon to show gratitude to my surrogate mother, whom I’ve not seen
in all these years.  She always wanted a car hood to use as an awning over the door to
her hut.  I finally found one, on a 1973 Cadillac, in a wrecking yard on a two-lane
highway just south of Knoxville, Tennessee.  Today, I take great satisfaction in
spending time with my wife, in writing, and in telling lies.

My earliest memories, at least those that are still fairly clear, are of those initial stages
of puberty, when a boy begins to notice things about himself that are changing, when
all of a sudden he realizes there’s more to his body than a place to put Band-Aids.  I
noticed these same things about the other boys in the village, as we ran and played
and wrestled together and threw sticks at the monkeys.  Hmm, I thought . . . what had
been a nondescript and easy-to-ignore anomaly had become the center of attention.
The other boys my age had these odd shaped, rather impractical danglings between
their legs, too, whereas the girls did not!  In the back of my mind, I knew this all-of-a-
sudden, rather handsome centerpiece must be used for more than taking aim in a
peeing contest.  Seems young boys have a way of figuring these things out, especially
when one of the girls sits him down and gives him a lecture on the birds and bees.
(Why they also seem so far ahead of us, I haven’t determined)  Still there were

Why, for instance, when another boy approaches, now that the color has changed and
there’s hair, is one’s attention so magnetically drawn to that part of his body?  (Except
for the occasional loincloth, most of us were usually naked.)  Why, concerning the
workings of my own mind, all this curiosity?  Why this urge to look, to touch, to
compare?  And most importantly, why, beyond my curiosity about the other boys, this
sudden preoccupation with my own genitals, especially at night when no one was

As I entered the later teen years, I began to notice the subtle things about the other
boys, things I liked, things I wanted to be part of, the camaraderie and such.  It felt
good to be one of the boys.  I wanted to throw a spear as far as they could, laugh at the
same things, tell lies about deflowering virgins.  But along with this endeavor to be like
the others, I wrestled with secrets I wasn’t about to confess, let alone try to act on or
initiate.  So like the others, I satisfied my adolescent fantasies by participating in circle
jerks, determined to not be last to shoot, for that, though no one ever said it in so many
words, seemed to denigrate one’s masculinity.  And there was the occasional game of
556 Is Calling that the boys played while sleeping out together under the stars.  It’s a
lot like Grab Ass, but in this game the object was to get a handful of someone’s dick
while keeping the others from getting a handful of yours.  Sad commentary when you’
d rather lay one of them out and do some serious exploring, though certainly better
than no physical contact at all.

Then there was Kalo: bronze hairless body, fleshy round butt, strong legs and a smile
that emptied my head of all other thoughts.  What about him, and why did I spend so
much time looking at him?  I watched him fish, sharpen poison darts, flirt with girls,
and I especially enjoyed watching him climb a tree.  Something was telling me there
were more possibilities and I sensed it had everything to do with our bodies; along
with the fact that it seemed there could be something really special about having a
close friendship with a guy, which included unstated understandings and sharing
secrets no one else would ever know.  So during all those years of puberty and
adolescence I developed a private perception of what seemed like a logical and quite
wonderful kind of male bonding.

However, before I boarded that boat to Uganda, I had noticed something else that was
common in the village: that remarkable union between a man and a woman, that
closeness, that mutual trust.  At night, I would sit not far from the cook fire and watch
the couples interact with each other as the evening wound down.  The innuendos and
knowing glances were obvious.  I would watch fathers proudly pick up their children
and bounce them on their knee.  During the night, long after the couples had
disappeared into their huts, I would listen to the interesting noises that wafted in the
dark.  All of that, I decided, was for me.

Back in the States, it was a series of young women and romance, all of the wonderful
and miserable experiences a young man finds himself involved in while trying to figure
out what direction his life will go.  I started my career and immersed myself in the
senseless routines of one who thinks he will live forever.  Somewhere in there, I
started an auto parts manufacturing company.  Here was a quagmire that lasted
fourteen years, another lesson in life.  It was during the Carter years—you may
remember Jimmy Carter, and his Misery Index.  In case you don’t, the Misery Index was
the sum total of inflation, unemployment and interest rates.  Now this was a real witch’
s brew for someone trying to grow a business, or should I say trying to survive in
business.  Along with the countless government agencies manufacturers have to
contend with, which is akin to being up to your ass in alligators, I learned I wasn’t cut
out for it.  Looking back, maybe I should have instead moved into a trailer down by the
river and begun my full time writing career.  Trust me, there are circumstances that
make poverty awfully appealing.

One day a mutual friend arranged for me a blind dinner date.  Skeptical as I was, I’m
here today to testify on behalf of love at first sight.  She was a tall blonde.  I wouldn’t
include what transpired over the next six months in a novel because no one would
believe it.  Here, all the familiar terms are appropriate: soul mate, best friend, confidant,
lover.  I knew almost from the first minute that I wanted to grow old with this woman.
You’ve heard of thick and thin—this lady has stayed with me through it all.  Probably
our most notable adventure was the time we sold everything and went to New Mexico
to open a small restaurant.  Neither one of us knew the first thing about it.  Not to be
discouraged, we rented a location in a small resort town and set about building the
tables and scrounging up the equipment we thought we’d need; then opened what
became a vastly popular eatery.  After a few years, this delightful woman went along
with my expansion idea, which led to relocating in a larger town.  Big mistake.  For a
number of reasons.  But that’s neither here nor there.  We had a beautiful stucco home
that overlooked the Rio Grande Valley and Rocky Mountains, and we enjoyed the
finest climate in the world in one of our most beautiful states, and it all came to an end.
She lovingly trekked back to Texas with me, and we started over again.  Today, being
the first to read my novels (usually those miserable first drafts), my wife is my biggest

Where does al of this leave those early discoveries concerning relationships between
two men?  Am I tempted by things that during the general course of my day-to-day life
remain unsaid?  Do I take notice of a pair of tight-fitting masculine jeans, or the pattern
of hair on a forearm, or a sweat drenched t-shirt on a runner?  Am I swayed by a pair of
broad shoulders and narrow hips, or the day old stubble across a strong jaw, or all of
the other nuances that make a male a male?  I think on some level most men are.  So
you decide.  As for myself . . . well, at some point we all have to choose the road we