Once upon a time, not long after I was merely a young slip of a thing entering the wild waters of gay pubescence, I enforced strict parameters in the bedroom. Come hell or high colonics, I remained a resolute top -- to use the crude vernacular. On the few occasions anyone attempted to place his “thing” up my “you-know-what,” I would invariably scream, clench tightly, eject the violator and swear it was simply impossible for me to even entertain the notion that I might find receptive anal intercourse remotely pleasurable.

For years, in between these harrowing episodes, I enjoyed the contradiction of being a flamboyant though strictly insertive queen and had no problems fulfilling the needs of those buffed and manly butch boys with helium heels. Until one day, not long ago, I discovered to my abject horror that my sex life was in danger of becoming monotonous. I wanted something more. Grasping the nettle danger, I decided that the only course was to teach myself to enjoy receiving. And thus, boldly, I bought a dildo.

The actual purchase is made with the minimum of fuss. Having resolved that the purpose of my adventure is to learn to like getting it up the caboose, and having no wish to be too delightfully surprised by an unexpectedly well-endowed stallion, I acquire a handsome latex piece some nine-and-a-half inches in length and six inches in girth. I know that this might take some getting used to, but I’ve always been precocious, and, anyway, I like a goal I can visualize -- and hold -- with both hands.

To ease the project I also pick up a vat of lube with the user-friendly pump handle, and some poppers. (I know, I know, many say these are wicked and bad for us HIV kids, but I can’t envision taking two Pamprin and waiting for everything to relax.) While ringing up my choices, the boy behind the counter smirks and says: “Looks like someone’s gonna be having fun tonight.” Remembering those painful moments in my past and envisioning the work ahead, I can only hope that this pimpled clerk is somehow privy to divine prescience. I force a strained smile and refrain from asking if he has any tips as to the best manner in which to proceed. I don’t want him to be my pedagogue, and resolve to discover the pleasures my prostate might provide strictly under my own aegis.

Having drawn the curtains and taken a long, hot, scented bath (accompanied by a glass or two of Montrachet), I evict the cat from her solitary splendor on the bed, put on some Marianne Faithfull and prepare for the inevitable with all the care of a virgin sacrifice being led before some pagan altar. Naked, I become completely intimate with myself -- forever a delightful surprise, always deliciously naughty -- and... ouch! (What the hell is going on, when even a finger causes rebellion?)

All right, fine! I slather tons of lube on the latex joint...rubbing it actually feels good...strange...relax...that’s right...stroke...close my eyes...whiffs of poppers...stroke...vision of a hunky, gingerbread hued jogger...stroke...flash of the bag-boy at the grocery store with the bright skin and dimpled smile...stroke...just sit on the damn thing and...and...oh my God -- as Marianne screams “Why D’ya Do It?” a substantial portion of my new toy enters me and I enjoy the biggest orgasm I’ve ever had on my own. I fall asleep quickly and awake refreshed, a new man.

Well, almost.

This becomes a task I look forward to. For several months I decline invitations to dinner parties, cocktail gatherings and masqued balls. I have yet to achieve my goal -- every inch -- and the only limits in this glorious game of solitaire are placed by yours truly.

Hank, as I affectionately dub my latex buddy, is a low maintenance angel -- just warm water and some soap after all is accomplished. No condoms to unwrap, no conversation to unravel and no breakfast to worry about. Hank’s the ultimate safer sex playmate -- I can throw him on the bed in all due haste and let him ravish me with no unbidden and chilling thoughts of those lab rooms words such as transmission, seroconversion and bodily fluids.

Finally, one rapturous night, I take it all and discover an insatiable beast within. “Lucky, lucky me! Free at last!” I emerge from my seclusion but do not desert my new friend. Many are the nights when I return to the Petit Trianon alone but quite thrilled at the prospect of the pleasures ahead with just Hank and me. Admirably equipped for the versatile ’90s, I feel I’ve accomplished a truly gay goal -- and now I’m able to fully explore the power in receiving. Who says giving is better? It is possible that this new pleasure may cause a surfeit of sensation in my sex life, but I’m quite prepared for it all. I’ve taken to whistling “I’m Every Woman.” Friends comment on the bloom in my cheeks. Some wonder whether I might be in love.

Well, darlings, not quite. But until that happens, I am deeply entertained. And when it does, I am superbly prepared for any eventuality. He just better not be a bottom.