In The Closet

As noted yesterday, Lovers of Hate is partly about a 40ish guy sneaking around and peeking at a couple (i.e., his estranged wife and younger brother) enjoying an erotic weekend in a Park City mansion.

This triggered a recollection of a true story that happened to an old high-school friend — let’s call him Gerry — during his first or second year of college.

I forget what university town this happened in, but Gerry was enjoying a back-door romance with a young wife of a blue-collar guy. He was in bed with her in the middle of a weekday, presumably because daylight hours were safe and private for the wife, when all of a sudden they heard the husband’s truck pull up or maybe the front door opening. Something sudden, no time to think. The buck-naked Gerry quickly leapt up, threw his clothes under the bed and ducked into the closet.

The wife didn’t have time to do anything. The husband walked into the bedroom and found her pretending to be sleeping or just waking up. The guy became aroused by her bedsheet nudity and started making some playful moves. The wife, obviously anxious if not freaked, reciprocated her husband’s interest as a way of distracting him or making herself feel less guilty or whatever. Before you knew it they were rolling around and the husband was shedding his greasy overalls and work boots.

Naked Gerry was four or five feet away, peeking and listening and getting more and more freaked. He started imagining what might happen if the husband did the whole nine yards with the wife and then happened to open the closet door. The guy would have obviously exploded if he discovered Gerry when he first arrived, but if he found a naked peeper who’d watched and listened to him make love to his wife from inside his closet he might resort to a knife or a gun or a baseball bat.

After a few minutes of growing panic, Gerry figured it was slightly better to be found out before the husband fucked the wife than after, so he opened the closet door and stepped out and said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be here, I have to leave,” etc. Shouts and punches resulted, but Gerry escaped and lived to love another day. I assume the trauma of this episode ended the affair with the wife.

If I had been In Gerry’s position I would have stayed in the closet and hoped for the best. If there’d been no discovery he could have kept the thing going with the wife. And if he’d been found out he might have been slugged or bloodied, okay, but he could have pushed the husband off at some point and run out into the street and caught a nearby bus. (Maybe.) Or at least scurried around in back alleys and eventually made his way back to the dorm and picked up his clothes and wallet and keys from the wife later on.

  • Eloi Manning

    They should make an epic R&B musical soap opera about this.

  • MikeSchaeferSF

    My thoughts exactly, EM. Guessing Jeff’s not a big R. Kelly fan.

  • Jason

    A friend lent me a porn tape when I was a teenager. He said it was called Outdoor Romance. He was wrong. It was Back-Door Romance. Yes, the back door needs a lot of romance. Flowers, chocolates, dinner. The whole nine yards.

  • Steven Kar

    Back-door is a euphemism to when you do it in the naughty place, right?

  • Jeffrey Wells

    The general definition of backdoor romance connotes extra-marital, infidelity, on the sly. Akin to the theatre-world term “backstage girl,” referring to a younger woman having an affair with some guy in that realm. Jim Morrison wasn’t talking about anal sex when he sang “Backdoor Man.” (I don’t think.)

  • vansmith

    Yes he was, so was robert plant in Led Zeplin

  • Jeffrey Wells


  • Vaudezilla

    Zeppelin referenced “Back Door Man” in “Whole Lotta Love.” There’s a lyric in “Whole Lotta Love” that goes, “Shake for me girl. I wanna be your backdoor man.”

  • Eloi Manning

    “You can always come in my back door…”

  • Eloi Manning

    Wait, I guess that is the edited version. Oh well.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Please don’t turn this into a thread about blues singers and anal sex…please. This is a funny story, it’s all true and I went to some effort to tell it right.

  • Mo’Nique Waltz

    Yeah, backdoor ALWAYS means anal sex.

  • The Winchester

    Dewey Cox is not a blues singer. (Nice shout out to him, Eloi)

  • The InSneider

    Wow, I just saw the commenter name Mo’Nique Waltz and burst out laughing. Whoever you are, you get a gold star for the day. Hilarious!

  • John Cocktosten

    With regards to standard blues terminology, Zeppelin and the phrase “backdoor man,” it typically refers to an affair in which you have to sneak in the back of a house or exit quickly that way as well.

    For example, in the lyrics of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, Plant sings “I open my front door, hear my back door slam, you know you must have one of them new fangled new fangled back door man yeah yeah yeah”

    I agree with you Jeff–you should just wait it out. This brings to mind the spectacular scene in “Sideways” where Paul Giamatti has to retrieve the wallet.

  • Irving Thalberg

    You tell them, John. Because blues lyrics never involve delicious double entendres. Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” is just about doing some work under the hood of a car, right?

  • Lehigh

    I’m with you, Wells. Waited for mid-coitus or post (is the husband a napper) and made the dash, finding a towel or curtain for coverage. If the main goal was not getting caught.

    My guess is that when faced with the reality of what he was doing (fucking someone who made a vow to fuck only someone else), Gerry could no longer accommodate the illusion that his mistress wasn’t doing it with the hubby. Not willing to watch or listen, he scrambled.

  • Joshua Mooney

    For another Lead Zepalyne take on Robert Johnson, here’s Travelling Riverside Blues: “She ain’t but sixteen/ But she’s my rider.” I’m not sure what the doobla onntawnd is there, but it sure sound dirty! Heh. The only difference between Jimmy Page and Polanski as far as L.A. jailbait in the ’70s goes is: he had the decency to wait until they were 14, and rather more well oiled. RE: blues terminology and “back-door man” — it traditionally refers to a shotgun shack residence where you could fire a shotgun through the front door and it’d go straight out the back door. Assuming no-one was in the way. All I can say about your friend, Jeff, is that he was a fool for coming out of the closet. And I hope he learned his lesson.

  • Anthony Thorne

    I think Jeff is on target for the reasons he mentioned – the guy could have stayed ‘in the closet’ and enjoyed the show, particularly as if he’d pulled it off, he would have had a great anecdote and could have continued fucking the hot wife some other day, back-door or otherwise. (The wife would have probably been even more passionate and horny with her secret lover the next time as they’d both been through a tense moment together in the hope of keeping the romance going). A successful evasion of the husband would have also spared the wife a lot of stress. Any cute married gal generous enough to give it all up to another guy on the sly should at least be granted some courtesies in return, and opening the cupboard door to say “I’m sorry, I was fucking your wife and now I’m nervous you might punch my lights out” is wimping out a tad. Norman Mailer would have fucked the wife, hid in the closet, and if discovered, had a knock-down fight with the guy and then written a story years later about how great it was to seduce someone else’s woman, then fight to the near death over a hot piece of ass, tasting blood and risking his manhood over the boiling urge to fuck a hot married woman behind her husband’s back. This all reminds me somehow of those scenes in the Roger Donaldson GETAWAY remake where Michael Madsen is screwing a noisy, enthusiastic Jennifer Tilly, and the husband – a nerdy, whiny guy – can only sit and impotently fume in the next room.

  • Baron Munchausen-by-Proxy

    Jeff, “Back Door Man” is a Howlin’ Wolf song.

    Though I understand that HW really let himself go in later years, and Jim had excellent abs, so this may be coloring your memory a bit.

    And, yes, HW intended the double-entendre. As did most of the originals.

  • Baron Munchausen-by-Proxy

    Anthony – get thee to a video source, and watch the original. Tilly, Madsen & Stephens don’t hold a candle to Struthers, Lettieri & Dodson.

  • John Cocktosten

    Irving —

    My point exactly; it’s not just one meaning. I’m aware that it could be interpreted another way, but It was being stated that the ONLY meaning was sexual.

    Terraplane blues (like “Trampled Under Foot”) has an obvious metaphor going due to the wide gulf between the literal and intended meaning, whereas “backdoor man”, being closely intertwined with the subject matter, doesn’t easily lend itself out, as we are proving in this forum. It can have more than one meaning, including the non-hipster literal one. But I’d guess you go for the hipster angle at all times based on the level of snarkiness in your post.

  • barryegan
  • Irving Thalberg


    Sorry if I misread your post and launched an inappropriate snark attack. I thought you were saying that the raunchier lyrical interpretation wasn’t valid at all, a la Mr. Wells.

    I 100% agree that the literal meaning of “Back Door Man’s” lyrics involve sneaking in our out a woman’s back door in an effort to hide an adulterous relationship. I just disagree with Jeff’s statement that “Back Door Man” isn’t also about anal sex. Because if there’s one thing Willie Dixon (who coined the phrase) and those old bluesmen knew about, it was crafting killer puns for some really filthy shit. Just as a for instance, I don’t think Howlin’ Wolf was actually have trouble on his farm when he sang about that little red rooster.

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