Gayne C. Young was born in Ft. Worth to sadistic parents who thought it’d be funny to send their kid through grade school with a name no one could pronounce. Those who tried, mainly teachers, pronounced it “Gay-knee.” A handle that unfortunately gave homophobic bullies more than enough reason to single him out.
“Hey Gay-knee! That’s a stupid name. You must be gay, huh? You like boys…”
For most of Gayne’s youth he went by his initials.
G.C.’s family moved several times throughout his childhood but finally settled in Bryan / College Station when he was 10. It was there that his parents further destroyed his childhood by filing for divorce. From that point forward G.C.’s life was a bleak sepia colored nightmare of underachieving, taunts, extreme wanderlust, and the want to live in another century. High school was even better.
It was in tenth grade that a tall statuesque blonde of incredible post-pubescent proportions whispered that she loved the way G.C’s true name rolled off her tongue. It was then that he began going by his given name rather than his initials. It was also the point at which the shadow of his future self began to emerge. The extremely thin, pretty junior high boy was replaced by a taller, extremely thin pretty high school boy who longed to escape to the few wild places left in the world.
He dreamed of the ivory trade, selling tusks only for boxes of ammo and cases of liquor. Of living in hammocks among natives who catered to his every whim, washing his hair, bestowing upon
him an endless supply of cold Mexican beer and calling him Lord.
“We hunt elephant, Lord?”
“Tomorrow, Mogambo. Today we further destroy my liver. Ukla, bring beer!”
As escape from the humidity-choked Brazos Valley was impossible, Gayne turned to his friends and to the Lone Star longnecks in returnable bottles that were only seven bucks a case after deposit—a bargain in the Reagan era. Nights were spent drinking, sweating, bitching about reality, and occasionally getting arrested or running over toads on the streets that bordered homes with pop up sprinklers.
“A little to your left. More. There you go.” Splaaaattttt. “Squished that one good. Gimme another beer.”
Life began to mirror the hopelessness of a Steinbeck novel, and not the one where he goes traveling with his dog.
Lifeguarding took away some of the melancholy and helped to pay for the beer and spicy hot pork rinds that had become oh-so-important. But the excitement that Gayne craved still eluded him. Heavier and more frequent alcohol consumption only further fueled his desire for excitement. In a last ditch effort he began trying to date his friend’s sisters. That didn’t work either.
Upon graduation with the minimum requirements as allotted by Texas law, Gayne spiraled into a funk from which he could not escape.
“How long did you sleep today?”
“Maybe 14 hours. I don’t know.”
The diagnoses of clinical depression came as no shock to Gayne. His mother frequently did such odd things as glue picture frames to the wall and store canned goods in the freezer.
His grandmother was fond of having the maid wipe down all the wooden furniture in the house with DDT in attempts to have a bug free home.
Genetics were not on his side.
But what nature so wickedly employed
upon Gayne could easily be maintained by the best of the United States
pharmaceutical industry.
His psyche temporarily in check,
Gayne went off to college.
He spent the next two years at Lon Morris, a small private school affiliated with the Methodist Church, in the very small and backwards East Texas town of Jacksonville. There he spent days spearfishing nutria rats in Lake Jacksonville, hopping rides on moving freight trucks (trains were impossible to catch) drinking and smoking cigars. He read novels, visited museums and clubs in nearby Dallas, and began writing about his misadventures at great length in his journal or in short story format. These were the beginnings of his writing about failed and troubled characters. Unfortunately, none of this was part of the college’s curriculum.
After two years and close to ten credits Gayne decided perhaps college wasn’t for him. He decided to sit a few years out, honing the skills that had earned him such a poor academic record. Drinking, carousing, and escapism took priority.
After several years and a few more changes in antidepressants, Gayne seriously began pursuing his education at St. Edward’s University in Austin. It was there that he earned a degree in History
and racked up over 40 grand in student loans. It was also where he began thinking of writing as a career. Perhaps writing could help him in his quest to see the uninhabited and wild places dotted around the globe. Perhaps he would be called Lord yet.
As his first year earnings from magazine articles only totaled around two grand, Gayne took a job teaching U.S. History in a fairly affluent area of Austin. Summers were spent finally realizing his dreams of travel and excitement. He went on a hunting safari in South Africa (“Ball-Ball, bring beer!”) and to Papua New Guinea to assist an entomologist in collecting insects (“You, with the unpronounceable name, bring beer!”).
And when no one in Austin would bring him beer on a regular basis, Gayne moved to the small German community of Fredericksburg. This land of milk and honey and cold, never ending German beer and artery clogging sausages turned out to be the perfect place for an up and coming raconteur.
But all that story telling still didn’t pay the bills.
So Gayne kept teaching.
Until fate intervened in the form of a KGB operative named Vladimir Putin.
Once Gayne snagged this coveted interview (only the fourth person in three years to do so) the world came calling.
Gayne was able to quit his classroom-indentured servitude and free to write and travel full time.
And the world is better for it!
Today Gayne is the editor of North American Hunter and North American Fisherman (both part of CBS Sports) and a frequent contributor to numerous sporting magazines and author of some pretty damn fine books.
Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
Or just email him.
He’ll answer you back quickly and politely…
If you bring him a beer!