Friday, April 30, 2010

He's Pissed! Oh Well...Here Comes the Hurricane, Y'all...

I believe the experts are acting a bit unorthodoxly. But apparently these experts believe the gay rights movement has a big influence on the occurrence of natural disasters. The Association of Russian Orthodox Experts recently stated that Iceland’s tolerance for pagans and queers has caused God to unleash his wrath once more. Gosh, we gay folk were already blamed for Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, the 2004 Asian Tsunami and Sodom & Gomorrah. Damn, we must be powerful … and it seems that God enjoys paying a lot of attention to us libertines.

I guess I would like to question why people believe that God is so keen on punishing his creations. I mean … gay or straight … how could humans be the cause of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull? Most people can’t even pronounce the word. And isn’t Iceland the home of glaciers and volcanoes? I’m still not following how we homos can cause a natural disaster in a place where volcanoes are so common and eruptions are expected. On the average in Iceland, a volcano erupts every five years. If we're only affecting Icelandic eruptions, Big Damn Deal!  If we degenerates can start causing volcanic eruptions in Kansas, then I’ll really be impressed with us.

Iceland is the country that gave us Björk. Iceland, where one of the traditional dishes is cured ram scrota. Iceland, the place where Grýla the Christmas Witch does not bring gifts to the “nice” children; instead she cooks the “naughty” children in her pot. No wonder the Russian zealots are pointing a finger at Iceland and saying “You brought this on yourselves, heathens!”

When I was a child, I remember my grandmother saying “I fear God.” And she would also say “My God is an angry god.” It always puzzled me. All the images I saw of God showed him as a grandfatherly figure in a flowing robe with long white hair and beard . He looked pretty levelheaded to me.

I find it hard to picture God sitting on his golden throne on a puffy cloud up there in Heaven, saying to himself, “The queers are angering me again. It’s time for another hurricane … or maybe a typhoon… or an earthquake…”

Hold on … did we get proper credit for the Chilean earthquake?

Dammit … I Googled and couldn’t find where anyone blamed us homos for that disaster!
Listen up!  If you Nuts are going to blame us queers for natural disasters, you are going to have to do it with some consistency!

Can I get a witness?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Narrow-Minded As They Want to Be

You see...I got this story filtered through the BBC and then through the Advocate, so the details may be a bit watered-down. A relationship counselor in Great Britain lost a court case against his former employer, who had fired the counselor for refusing to provide sex therapy to gay couples. The gentleman's stance was the agency that employed him had “refused to accommodate his Christian beliefs.” Well, the British High Court disagreed with the gent.

And my opinion on the case may perplex you. I think I'm siding with the Christian.

Now … I know that I am only getting a portion of the story. I’m just too lazy to investigate further. I hate the news. To me, most of what passes as “news-worthy” is just depressing. If I want to catch up on current events, I’ll listen to “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me” on NPR or watch “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. And I do none of this with any regularity.

Back to the story:  I suspect there were more issues than this refusal to provide service that led to the counselor's dismissal (I mean ... the man was expected to provide sex therapy to gay couples?! - I would imagine this assignment would confuse and/or disgust most any straight guy). But, whatever … I believe everyone involved missed the boat on this true issue. Let me lay the blame on the agency (I try not to point fingers, but sometimes it’s fun). Did the agency not have enough straight couples that the fella could counsel? I mean, I know straight couples, and they typically have way more issues than homo couples. Just sayin’. I always write that off to the fact that men and women sometimes have difficultly understanding (or caring) where the other is coming from. Gay couples have gender-uniformity on their sides. The agency must have had enough non-gay couples to keep this man busy; I'm guessing that heterosexuals provide the bulk of the client base.

Look, High Court … you didn’t change this man’s mind. Nor did you change the minds of any of the people who supported his stand. And while the grander scheme here is not about changing anyone’s mind, the decision probably just rooted him further into his narrow-minded reasoning.

So, everyone settle down. I’m all for gay rights. I am gay. But let’s allow people to be as dumb as they want to be. The smart people already see the truth. And both the smart people and the dumb people are producing a new generation who can think for themselves and see the truth, in spite of familial influence. The dumb people are a dying breed. Let them dinosaur themselves right off the planet…

I deal with people who support my rights and beliefs (and the majority of my straight friends do support me). I ignore the others. Like my mom always said, “If someone is pestering you, they are either envious of you or they have a crush on you.” 

Uhm...the thought of Fred Phelps and/or Shirley Phelps-Roper crushing on me just totally made me vomit in my own mouth … eww.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wisteria and Poo

Friends. I have my share of great ones. But sometimes, I wish they would be a little more genteel and withholding. Oftentimes the truth comes flowing out of their mouths regardless of whether it smells like flowers or sewage.

I mentioned to one of my friends that I started writing a blog. He seemed pleasantly surprised and genuinely interested.
“Send me the address.”
So I did.
The next time I saw him, I asked him what he thought about the site.
He just raised his eyebrows. “It’s long.”
Really? That’s the best feedback that I can expect …?
Instead I just laughed.
What I wanted to say was “It’s not a homework assignment, buddy. You don’t have to read it. But you could have at least come up with something positive to say.”
I guess I should simply be glad that he feels comfortable enough with me to share so freely.

Unsolicited, I sent the page link to my two best friends.
I received a reply, but only from one.
Here is the answer that came back:
“I hardly have time to check Facebook, much less read a blog … but you have fun, Dude.”
Honestly…that is all you have to say?
What I wanted to say was “At least you could take a cursory look and at least comment that you like the colors that I chose for the layout.”
What I did say was:
She just laughed it off … she wasn’t taking any of my sewage.

I told one of my ex’s about the blog. He asked me for the address of the site. He’s a writer himself and a rather good one to boot. He’s been published a few times. When we dated, he and I would exchange short stories and critique one others work. After I sent the link, I received a quick e-mail stating that he enjoyed reading the posts, but he thought my prose was better. This was about three weeks ago.
Out of the blue, last night I received another e-mail from him. This one stating that he was still following my blog, but he was certain the writing would get tedious after a while (wait …for me or the reader, or both?). Then he stated that he was glad that everything was working out so well for me and “The Man.” After that, completely apropos of nothing, he said something I don’t even care to repeat here.
He added that male/male friendships are fallow (yes...he used the word “fallow”).

So today, I am
  • Trying to keep it brief (I don't believe that I succeeded...sorry)
  • Not really caring whether or not this is read by anyone (except “The Man"...he is contractually obligated).
  • And giving a high five to all my buds out there who know that male/male bonds are amazingly rich (it isn't all about punching and grunting).
And the next time a friend asks for an opinion or some feedback, maybe I’ll just pony up the wisteria and keep the crap to myself.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Texas-Shaped Tortilla Chip Says It All

Each Monday evening, a group of us friends gather for Mexican food.  "Mexican Monday"  It started years ago with my best friend.  She, her partner and all the other homos in town ate at a specific restaurant that was deigned as the "place to be" every Monday.  As time passed, it became less important for my best friend and her partner io be seen at the "it" place.  So they began to shake it up and move the Monday tradition around the city.  When I joined the group, we had about five regular restaurants in the rotation (but we did not include the original "it" place in the mix).  I've been going to Mexican Monday for about 13 years now.  I think they've been doing it for about 15 or 16 years.
Mexican Mondays are very special to me.  A way, each week, to ease into work and touch base with the most important people in your life (the ones that you chose to be there).  I've risked getting fired over the gathering.  A director once demanded that I stay late on a Monday.  I just told her that I always get together with my friends on Mondays, and that I'd just come in early the next morning.  She said that she strongly suggested that I stay late and that she hardly ever had the chance to see her friends.  To which, red-faced I threw out the old standard, "But I've got my priorities straight!" (quite loudly too).  And turned off my computer.  I heard later through the department grapevine that she had marched directly to her boss's office and said "The Queer does not want to give you what you need to get your job done!"  And Ladies and Gentlemen ... there is a name for a person who does something like that...but I digress.
And damn, I'm long-winded.  All that to set up that I was eating tortilla chips at Mexican Monday this evening.  And I received a vision ... a sign ... a portent.  Whatever.  In an earlier post, we've established that I cannot be a true fatalist.  But I pulled this chip out of the basket, and honestly, with completely no breakage, it looked just like this:

It was strange.  And it was just the timing of the conversation that made it so.  I know ... no fate, no destiny (if I keep saying it, one day I'll completely believe it - he's working on me).  But everyone had been talking about a subject that all of our friends hate:  The Man and The Queer moving to Toronto.  He and I had fallen in love with the city on an earlier trip (that I wrote about here).  And we're always talking about relocating there.  So ... c'mon, any logical man would see the chip as a sign.

So I considered the chip.  And this was what immediately came to mind. 

Here's what I would miss about living in Texas:
  • the strong awesome Texas people
where else would you have women who gives you a chicken recipe where cook-timing is based on how long it takes to smoke a cigarette?   where else would you get those awesome redneck businessmen who actually can carry a boardroom and break a stallion?  where else do you get people who welcome you warmly, without really caring (like in the Old South) about your "family name?"
  • the incredible weather
complain if you need to, but we really do have awesome weather here in Texas.  about three months - July, August, and September are unbearable.  But we have super-mild winters and perfect autumns and springs. (And air conditioning -- have you been up North in the summer to those place where they don't believe in air conditioning, and then lets talk about unbearable)  Also, you can swim comfortably in the Gulf from April until November.
  • countless other things (but I don't want to lose y'all...)
  •  Mexican Monday
I can't imagine starting my weeks without sharing Monday evening with my close friends.  It's crazy and comfortable.  It's safe and it's scary.  I almost got my butt kicked tonight ... (we'll talk about that later).

So trips to Toronto are certain.  And hopefully frequent.  I guess the jury's still out on our moving there.
But the chips don't lie...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Julie is Singing to You, Buddy

I communicate best through music. No ... not by writing, performing or singing.
Like a freshman offering a mixtape. And that's what I did.

When we first started dating, we just fell together very easily. He was quite talkative. It's just in his blood. And if you get me on the subject of music, I can gnaw your ear off. He let me talk a lot about music, I guess.  He told me just the other day how my knowledge of music had been a big turn-on for him when we first started dating.

Near the beginning he mentioned that he had recently heard "Cry Me a River" by Julie London in a scene from a movie he had recently seen.  I knew that I had to find it.  On a business trip to Los Angeles, I found an old compilation disc with the song.  This was the start of the mix tape, and then it just got sweet and wacky:

  1. "Cry Me a River" Julie London
  2. "I Will Take Care of You" Dixie Chicks
  3. "Not Saying Goodbye" Edie Brickell
  4. "The Times You've Come" Jackson Browne
  5. "A Break in the Clouds" The Jayhawks
  6. "Baby's Coming Back" Jellyfish
  7. "It's the Nighttime" Josh Rouse
  8. "Rose Garden" k.d. lang
  9. "You Turn Me On" LaBelle
  10. "Willin'" Little Feat
  11. "It Don't Matter to the Sun" Rosie Thomas
  12. "Answering Bell" Ryan Adams
  13. "It's in Your Eyes" Sloan
  14. "Try Me Again" Trisha Yearwood
  15. "How Long" Ace
  16. "La Grange" Z.Z Top
  17. "Sister Golden Hair" America
  18. "La 2eme Chance" Autour de Lucie
  19. "Up on Cripple Creek" The Band
Yes, I realize that many of these songs are not love songs (hell, "Try Me Again" and "How Long" are break-up songs).  Some of them, like "Willin'" aren't about love at all (and we all know what "La Grange" is about).  But, the love songs there are sweet: "Not Saying Goodbye," "It's in Your Eyes," "You Turn Me On."  One of the songs was in french (as if he'd understand that).  And who knows why I put "Up on Cripple Creek" in the mix?

He loved it.
It worked like a charm (So you might wanna give the mix a try...)

Today something bad was happening to him.  He was hurt.  He left the office midday to head home and be alone.  I talked with him briefly on the phone, and he sounded terrible.  When I got home this evening, he shared with me the news of trouble back home for a friend.  I listened ... just listened.
Afterwards, we headed to the office.  He was positioned at his desk on one wall; me at my desk facing the other wall.  I began to write this post, listening to the mix that I had given him.  I had already formed the essay all out in my mind. 
Shortly into the slow easy waltz of "I'll Take Care of You" by the Dixie Chicks, I turned around in my chair.  "Stand Up." I told him.
He did.
I walked over to him and held him while the song played.
When we pulled from the embrace, he said: "You are the best thing that has ever happened to me."
I snared him with music.  By charming him with love songs and showing him a little about myself in the not-so-love songs.
I held his face in my hands and whispered: "i know..."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Never Hear The End Of It

It began all pretty innocently.  I stumbled across them on the All Music website from a link for "Similar Artists," probably from Devin Davis.  So I checked them out at my local record store.  The store had a couple of their CDs, but they also had a copy of "4 Nights at the Palais Royale," a two-disc live set that cost about the same as a single disc.  I went with that (mainly because I'm a bit cheap).
Now Sloan is similar to the Beatles in that each of the four members write songs and take lead vocals.  Similar to the Talking Heads in that they got their start at art school (theirs in Halifax, Nova Scotia).   And similar to many British and Canadian acts in that they almost get no exposure in the States.
Anyway, I listened to qute a bit of the live album and thought "I like this."  I listened to it a bit more and thought, "I like this alot."  Then I came across the video for their then-current song "If It Feels Good, Do It," and damn ... when Chris Murphy licked the microphone about 25 seconds into the clip, I just fell in love with the whole lot of 'em.

Patrick Pentland took the lead vocal, and he looked like the cool loner that everyone wanted to befriend in high school.  Jay Ferguson was jumping around the stage like Pete Townsend's little brother (without the family psychosis).  Andrew Scott, in his white jeans and black shirt, looked like an Armani model banging the skins.  And the aforementioned Chris Ferguson, who had led off the song with a shouted dedication to the fans, looked like the slightly nerdy but hilarious kid that used to station himself in the back of chem lab in sixth period.  When the song broke a little mid-way through, with just the bass drum and the bass guitar carrying it, a sample of a crowd singing "Sloan ... Sloan" broke in.  They had sampled the crowd from the live album.  Cool. 
It was just a fun straight-ahead rock and roll song.  But so cool....
I immediately ran out and bought "Pretty Together."

O.K. ... so enough fantarding.
Needless to say, I went and purchased all their back catalog.  And then I started purchasing forward.  I stumbled across "Underwhelmed" from their first album (which was apparently a respectable alternative hit back in the day ... and I was ... well, underwhelmed).  But I came across my favorite Sloan song "G Turns to D" (a pretty bitter break-up song, that shreds).  I came across song after awesome song.  I guess I said I'd stop fantarding...

My poor partner.  On a trip to see his family in Florida, I probably put him through hell.  "Never Hear the End of It" had just come out.  As mentioned before, each of the members write songs and sing the ones they've written.  The Queer's game was "Guess which one is singing this one!"  Poor guy.  And this was a "double" CD with 30 song.
He must have thought that he'd never hear the end of it...
BUT... he played along with the game! (I keep telling y'all he's perfect...)

A couple of years ago, we went to Toronto with our best friends for one of their birthdays.  "Parallel Play" (a reference to the democracy in the band) had just come out.  Plus I put a Sloan-mix on my iPod including the poppy goodness of "The Lines You Amend"

As a tribute to my temporary fellow native sons, I played nothing through my earphones but them.  The entire time we were in Canada.

It was so cool...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Case Of Him

I still check... "Really..? I don't get it..." I always get the same answer.
"No, I don't like Joni Mitchell."
My ears hear; my brain cannot process this garbage. "I don't see how you can't like Joni Mitchell ... she is awesome."
"It's her voice, honey." He shrugs. "I don't like little girl voices."
I usually let him alone at this point. There's obviously no reasoning with him.

The first time we discussed it, I must have pestered him for at least 30 minutes. He just kept laughing, good naturedly and red-faced - like he always does.

I must have found out by accident. In fact, looking back now I believe I can recall. We were traveling to see my family in Louisiana. I had packed all the music after hearing him say, "Oh ... whatever, honey." About half-way to the state line, I believe that I plugged in "Blue." It was probably all the way to "This Flight Tonight" and I am sure I was singing along, when I gushed "Isn't she great!"
"Not a big fan..." was all he said.
(holy crap)

So began the cycle...

I still check in every now and then. "You really don't like Joni Mitchell?"
He just laughs and says slowly to me (like I'm a child), "No..."

So when I want to listen to women artists, there is some safe ground:
  • Bonnie Raitt - "Sure!"
  • Amy Winehouse - "With or without the meth?"
  • Shelby Lynne - "By all means!"
And then there's:
  • Rickie Lee Jones - "Oh, c'mon..."
  • Juliana Hatfield - "Did she just sniff some helium?"
  • Abra Moore - "Well, the music and arrangement are both nice..." Nice ... hhmmph.
It's much easier meeting in the middle on the guys: Wilco, Muse, Weezer...
When I got home from work today, I shuffled him around the office to "Solace of You" by Living Colour.

(it's all right, Joni ... I love you enough for both him and me...)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hopscotch Days / Dodgeball Days

Dang, I love being gay. It’s so cool. I love it when I hear people say “That’s so gay.” They have no freaking clue. But please … keep saying it people. You are entertaining me to no end.
I’m lucky beyond belief. Recite. OK. It’s like living with your brother and getting to constantly raid his closet for new fashions. The house can get batchelor-dirty, and we both shrug. The front yard looks incredible with hydrangeas, petunias, and begonias; the backyard looks like a blasted cow pasture. Meh ... I'll take care of it later...
It's like that, living with another gay guy. And I do mean guy. I've lived with a couple of fussy queens before. Not so much fun. But I do admit that I love living with this guy.
When we first moved in together, I was a little taken aback. He's former military (Navy) and super-clean and super-industrious. He cleaned like my sister, cooked like my mom and ironed like my Maw-Maw (but all with a bit of a swagger).
One Saturday, I was feeling particularly sluggish, so I announced, "I don't feel like doin' nothin'. "
He immediately replied, "Well. Don't"
I let it sink in. And I didn't do anything but play all day along.
I don't always do that, but occasionally a Saturday of nothing but nothing is incredible!

There are no less than three cards from him on my desk at work: one sappy one, one cute one and one perfect one. I really don't know how he found it. In describing his youth to me, I gathered that he was a similar type of kid as I was: skinny, a bit nerdy, not very sporty, and inherently good. The perfect card shows a couple of young boys: one redhead, one brunette; both dressed in plaid shorts outfits with suspenders and bow-ties standing against a wall. The caption reads: "Some days are hopscotch days; some days are waiting to hit with the dodgeball days."
I know I can handle either with him at my side.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sick With The Male Blindness

Saturdays used to be extra-special for me. I would have a wonderful woman all to myself. I would arrive at her house early. Whisk her away from her sleeping spouse and head out to the farmlands west of Houston. I would spend all day with her, just laughing, singing and chatting. I fell hard for her. Her dazzling smile, thick long raven hair, pure fair skin, and beautiful deep green eyes were captivating. She still stays in my heart. She'll always be there.
We used to bike together. Not just she and I, but three of us. I, the raven-haired beauty and her gorgeous spouse, a sassy redhead. I had fallen for the redhead long before. I couldn't help but. With her flaming dark amber eyes, larger-than-life persona, and mouth that would have fit better on a retired sailor, she had slammed me against the wall years earlier. I wish I could say that I'm over my crush on her, but that will never happen.
As the brunette grew in strength and speed in biking, the redhead lost interest. She biked socially. So the idea of trying to keep up with the brunette and The Queer, or falling behind and biking alone, was not appealing for a Saturday. Besides, it infringed on her jammy and Lifetime Network hours.
So, biking was down to the brunette and me. And I fell in love. With the slow pace, wide-open spaces and the serenity of the countryside. And the brunette. But obviously not in the way that some people would think.
I got to know her. We shared a lot of thoughts, ideas and history of ourselves. We laughed at completely ridiculous things: baseball caps, reversed biking helmets, Superman (those "you had to be there" moments). We could turn anything on his head and snicker like seven year-olds.
As the brunette grew in strength and speed in biking, she began to pull away from me. Regrettably, I let her go.

There's a biking term. "Male Blindness" Defined as when a guy watches a beautiful female riding away and stares intently, making him too confused to see straight when it's his turn to follow.

This past weekend, she completed the MS-150 bike ride from Houston to Austin that is held each year to raise funds in the fight against multiple sclerosis. I believe that this is her sixth (maybe seventh) ride. I did the ride with her for two years: once with her redheaded partner, once just the brunette and me. We still laugh about our misadventures (the seedy motel with free porn, the manic on the bus ride back to Houston, the PMS monster yelling at the volunteers - more "you had to be there" moments).
I've been friends with these two for about 14 years now. They jokingly refer to me as their "husband." I call them my "wives." Because while I said before that she pulled away from me and I let go, I was only talking about biking. C'mon ... Y'all. Neither one of these incredible women are ever gonna get away from me.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn

Let's perpetuate the stereotype, buddy ... well, maybe you can do that for both of us.
You'd have to understand. I met him on a gay internet site. The first image that I saw of him was that of a tall man with a shaved head and a soul patch in a leather jacket standing in front of his motorcycle. Whoa! I checked his online profile a few times and finally got my courage up to send him a message. And here we are ... almost four years later.
When I first saw his photo, I must admit that I began filling in my own blanks. I imagined him to be super-masculine (a plus), gruff (again, a plus) and good-natured (the biggest plus). Turns out that he was just a guy, much like me. Which brings us to candles...
There's a old joke about how the number of candles in your home relates directly to how gay you are. Me, I've always had candles in my house. But I usually just received them as gifts from women friends or other gay guys. Sometimes I would get crazy and buy a lot of them in an Ikea shopping spree, but mostly I just had one or two in the house.

He shops yesterday, and this is what he brings home:

But that's not all. Let's stop and examine...
There are 19 other candles scattered around the house right now. Jeez.
I have already told him not to put food-scented candles in the office. It just makes me relentlessly hungry. So what's burning right now? A food-scented candle. Do I not talk English to him? Next up is Garden Rain. So, I'll just keep my mouth shut.
I'll just listen to "Burn Baby Burn" by Ash and inhale Fresh Melon Slice.

That's better. Cheerleaders, Crunchy Rock, and Scent of Melon. Most times, my life is just this wonderfully weird.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


That's it. They are no two ways about it. I tried to figure it out. I tried to understand if there was some reason. Now, I know that there is no rhyme to it. But that's fine. I live with the most ardent non-fatalist in the world. He believes in chaos. I see patterns. We don't try to convert one another.
I only know that when my hormones started raging at puberty, they did not push me toward the girls. It was difficult to try to act like one of the guys, when all the guys started to talk about getting busy with the girls. So I tried to keep my mouth shut and analyze how this happened.
Although I played shy for the first few years, my true personality rose to the top. I'm fairly outgoing and friendly. I made friends pretty easily. Most often with girls. In my analysis, I just attributed this to the fact that I had spent the first few years of my life with only my sister as a playmate. We lived in rural southeast Texas on the plant grounds, where my dad worked. We were isolated from other children, and she was older. She got to set the mood for a lot of the play, and I got used to playing house and putting on lip-sync shows for my mom. As I grew older and my family moved to a city in northwest Louisiana where there were lots of other kids, my sister grew a bit impatient with my wanting to hang out with her and her new girlfriends. So reluctantly, I started befriending the boys in the neighborhood.
Now that was a bit tough. Each of the boys were rough-and-tumble, and hell, I'd been playing with my sister and her dolls, twirling batons, singing Beach Boys songs and talking with her about Donny-freaking-Osmond.
I tried to analyze my friendships with my childhood male friends. At the onset of my interactions with them, I took a lot of ribbing. They called me names like "sissy" and worse. We would hang with the teenagers sometimes at the park up the road. The teenagers used to get special joy out of telling me that I had a spider on my back.

Being a wimpy little pip-squeak, I would flail all over the place, screaming and clawing at my back, eventually working myself up to a crying jag (I know, folks ... pitiful, but true). My friends would try to help me, telling me that there was no spider. I would eventually settle down and my friends would lead the crying little queer away. They did stand by me, but I could tell that they were more than a little ashamed at the affiliation.
I tried to look at my relationship with my father. It was less than ideal ... oh, to be honest, there was almost NO communication, so there could be NO relationship. (And Dad ... if you ever read this: I understand that you loved me then, you love me now, and you'll always love me. Ditto back to you, big guy). I thought that the absence of a chummy dad might have fueled my need for a loving relationship with another male.

When everything first came out about my sexual orientation, I got a little surprise one day. I was replacing the toilet seal in my bathroom one Saturday afternoon, covering in sweat, dirt, and nasty black wax. I sensed someone looking at me. I looked up to see my sister, who had come into my house quietly. She was just standing there and looking at me as tears ran down her face. "I just heard." she said. "Is it true?"
I just sighed and nodded.
"Was it something I did?" she asked.
"Yeah," I smiled at her. "You hit me too much when I was little."

In the time since that day, I have gotten a better perspective. I tried to date women after the break-up of my marriage ... once. Still, it didn't work. I finally ventured to the larger cities of Louisiana, where there was an actual gay nightlife, making friends and actually running into some old ones (I'll have to write a post on this one day...) I'm on my fourth and (I know) last live-in relationship. I've come out to everyone in my personal, professional and past lives.

Getting to this point in my life. I guess I really don't have to figure it out. I realize now that I'm an incurable: sometimes incurably romantic, sensitive and kind, sometimes incurably rude, thoughtless and narcissistic. But I'm always incurably queer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Edie Brickell Syndrome

Most people only remember Edie Brickell from her beginnings with the New Bohemians and the hit "What I Am" with its profound - or nonsense - lyrics (depending on your affinity toward Zen thought):
I'm not aware of too many things,
I know what I know,
If you know what I mean

I loved the song and the group instantly. I purchased the cassette tape back in 1989 and discovered that the entire recording was approaching brilliant. It also brought special satisfaction that my recent ex-wife detested the song. "That is the stupidest song I've ever heard." I made sure to have the cassette in my player anytime that she was forced to ride in my truck.
Icing on the cake: my son loved the song. He would sing along in his own three year-old language and jam away.

But I really fell in love with Edie Brickell when she and the New Bohemians appeared on Saturday Night Live following the release of their second album, "Ghost of a Dog." She sang "Woyaho," rocking back and forth on the stage like a rhythmic goddess, and "He Said," a slower burning song that seemed to go on wonderfully forever. Dang, that had to be about 20 years ago, and I still remember it like it was last night. I immediately went and purchased that cassette as well.

About this same time, I decided to move to Houston. I traveled to the city and stayed at the home of a friend of a relative. I went out to the cowboy gay bar and ran into the cutest guy in the place, who told me that he was a bit shy and then took me to breakfast and talked my ear off.

As we began to date, we would swap out weekends: I would travel to Houston on most, he would visit me in rural Louisiana on some (he did comment that my local Wal-Mart had an excessive number of handicapped parking spaces - a-hole). While he was in my territory, I drove. Now, all my friends and family can confirm that I have the tendency to date a little out of my age bracket. And I discovered something: Edie did not span the generation gap. I have the irritating habit of singing along with the stereo, and one day when he was riding with me " 'Stwisted" (I believe it's supposed to mean "It's twisted") from "Ghost of a Dog" started playing:

And when it got to the line:
Crack flash of lightning
Struck from above
Knocked down a cow
And I kissed ya

he just looked at me and said "What?!"

It became a joke with all of his friends back in Houston. That relationship didn't last. Dang, he was still listening to Margaret Whiting and June Christy (and if you don't know how radically different that is from Ms. Brickell, then don't even bother investigating it ... just trust me).

But my relationship with Edie continued. I followed her to her first solo album, her vocals gracing a smooth Chris Botti jazz track, and a reunion with the New Bohemians. I was happy when she married Paul Simon (I'm a fan of his as well).

After the release of her second solo album, I got the chance to see Edie at The Roxy on Sunset Boulevard. I was living in Los Angeles at the time. It was one of the best live shows I've ever seen. Her voice was still pure and sweet, and she still reminded me of an older girl that I used to have a crush on when I was a teen (yes ... I'm gay... but I can still crush on girls). I called my son after the show. He was so excited. His first question: "Did she sing 'What I Am?'" Of course she did.

Anytime my son hears the song, I get a text. Usually it's a simple "Edie's singing."
I can still remember him as a three-year old, sitting in the passenger's seat of my old green 1978 Ford Pick-up, buckled up and singing at the top of his lungs:
What I am is what I am.
Are you what you are or what?

And Edie has no clue how much we dig her.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Rubber Ducky, You're the One."

Sesame Street. I'm sorry I'll have to admit that I couldn't stand the show when I was younger. It hit major popularity when my younger brother was about four, so he had to watch it every morning. It just pissed me off. I could have been watching recorded episodes of Super Friends or Shazam!, but we were a one-TV family back then. So I just sat through it.

"Today's episode of Sesame Street is brought to you by the number 2..." (for crap) "and the letter F" (can you add a U to that?). Big Bird annoyed me. Mr. Snuffleupagus looked like a moving ratty couch. I couldn't even identify with Oscar the Grouch. And I was pretty dang grumpy. I did sometimes like the animated segments ... you know, the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 ... 10 piece with the action-packed cartoon and hyper song. But mostly, I just gave my little brother hell for watching the program.

When everyone gets nostalgic for Sesame Street (and even worse, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood), my eyes just glaze over, or I try to direct the conversation to "Zoom!" or "The Electric Company," which I thought were much cooler.

Then ... Ernie moved in with me.

This is what I get when I'm trying to get out the door for work: "You are my sunshine." Sorry ... that doesn't work for me in the mornings.

Middle of the day, a text message "You are the most wonderful man in the world" Excuse me ... I'm working on a project plan, a spreadsheet and a meeting agenda here.

A call while he is at the grocery store, and I'm still at the office "Are you out of beer, honey?" Hell, didn't you check the refrigerator last?

If he took baths, he'd have a rubber duck, for sure. And he'd sing to it.

Uh, wait ... he does have a rubber duck.

It only brings out my Bert-ness. But anyone who has ever watched Sesame Street knows that Bert's grouchiness was never a match for the duckman's bliss.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome to the Hotel Raging Hormones

It was the summer of 1977. Every adolescent had discovered three albums, “Frampton Comes Alive,” “Rumours,” and “Hotel California.” Now anyone with a knowledge of 70’s pop music might scratch their heads at this. “Frampton Comes Alive” and “Hotel California” were released in 1976; “Rumours” in early 1977. But we lived in the rural South. Plus we had just hit our teens. Naturally we were a bit behind the curve on music. But these three albums were the staples for the summer of 1977 for us youngsters (throwing in the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Carolina Dreams,” Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Champagne Jam,” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Street Survivors” – we were in the rural South).
But back to the most important album of my youth, “Hotel California.” The Eagles had long been the chosen group for all the kids in town. “Desperado,” “On the Border,” “One of These Nights,” and the ubiquitous “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975” had established the group as rock heroes. The greatest hits collection was played so universally (at home, at the swimming pools, on the school buses) that I honestly do not believe that I could listen to it all the way through today.
But “Hotel California”… I do still listen to that today. It’s currently on my iPod.
Picture this. Four hormone-charged teens. One girl’s bedroom. “Jackie.” “Jimmy.” “Lynne." "The Queer." Jackie and Jimmy were officially "going-together." Lynne and I had been girlfriend/boyfriend on-and-off since the first grade, but weren't formally together at that particular time.

When Jackie dropped the needle into the first groove of the album and the acoustic guitars began to play, we two couples fell on the bed and began to make out. It was quite hot and heavy for a while. Since the title track builds to a respectable crescendo, it pushed the passion envelope a bit. Jackie and Jimmy became a tangled mess of arms and legs. Lynne and I were getting along pretty well too. She showed me how to French kiss (and I swear, her tongue was the softest thing on the planet).
As "Hotel California" gave way to "New Kid in Town," the mood mellowed. Well, at least for Lynne and me. Lots of staring into one another eyes and giggling (hey... you already know I'm gay). But Jackie and Jimmy were still at an inferno heat.
When the country shuffle of "New Kid" faded and the rock guitars of "Life in the Fast Lane" kicked in, Lynne and I were through. We held hands a little, and I kissed her on the cheek. But the passion was done. She was one who knew me better than most and with that knowledge, probably knew that I was not really absorbed in the moment. She began to brush her hair, and I began to look at the liner notes of the album. I even pulled out the insert poster and noticed how cute Randy Meisner was and what a great smile Don Henley had. I also noted that Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Don Felder look seedy and stoned (more my sister's taste ... just kidding, sis).
And Jackie and Jimmy? They had rolled off the bed in their ecstasy and were actually under the bed.
Without warning, the door opened. And there stood Jackie's mom. She looked from Lynne to me, and asked puzzled? "Where's Jackie and Jimmy?"
Without thinking, I immediately responded, "They're under the bed."
Lynne's eyes widened and her mouth dropped.
Jackie's mom pointed at the door and yelled, red-faced, at Lynne and me, "OUT!!!"
Lynne and I rushed out of the house. We hurried across the street to the vacant lot opposite Jackie's house. Jimmy soon exited, running toward us. He said the Jackie's mom had went berserk, slapping Jackie and calling her a whore and a slut. The three of us retreated to the park that was a couple of blocks away.

But things change quickly for you at that time of life. Jimmy and Jackie broke up shortly after that afternoon. Jimmy, who had been my constant friend that year, quickly abandoned me for a guy like him who liked outdoorsy stuff (leaving the door wide open for a new best friend, who became my first boyfriend and taught me all about that outdoorsy stuff). Lynne went her own way and discovered new, older friends. She traveled through high school always one step ahead of her former peers.

I don't know if any of the others still feel those raging hormones. I know I do, but I live a bizarrely wonderful life. But I've completely lost track of Jimmy. Jackie is a close friend of my sister's now, but I honestly do not know a lot about her life. And Lynne ... well, we lost Lynne about seven years ago in a car accident. She wasn't wearing her seat belt. She always had a deliberate disregard for danger.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the music had continued to play, and Jackie's mom would have never entered the room. I can imagine it exactly. "Life in the Fast Lane" would have surrendered to "Wasted Time." Which would have been the perfect make-out song: slow, tender, lots of strings. Jackie and Jimmy could have continued making out under the bed. And I probably would have taken the brush from Lynne's hand and danced her slowly around the room. She had green eyes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Wait Wait...Don't Tell Them"

One of my biggest challenges is keeping my mouth shut. Most people can say "one of my biggest challenges is knowing when to keep my mouth shut." For me, I said it right the first line. "Filterless"... that's what they call me at work. I've earned it.
The job is high pressure. Sure. Most jobs can be. It's not like I'm working in the ER or directing airplanes in, but it's not bowl-glazing (sorry for the "Sex and the City" reference).
And when I get stressed, I get vocal. Sometimes loud. Almost always, red in the face. Things come out of my mouth. Ask any of my co-workers who have been in strategy meetings with me. Unfortunately, most times directors are in the meetings with us, as well. And when I get rattled, I have the annoying habit of referring to myself in third person (and everybody hates that). "Well, I'll tell you what The Queer would do..." followed by a steamed, uncontrolled rant.
I have been able to pull it in a little, through advice and help from mentors. My co-workers still laugh about my first year on this job. I was a red-faced, angry wreck. And then, my poor partner would have to listened to most of the same crap at the end of my work-day. He would sit placidly and nod as I spewed the daily venom. Poor guy.
Then I decided (quite firmly) to leave the office at the office. It has made all the difference in the world.

My mouth has gotten me in quite a few tight spots over the years. When I was younger, it was mostly due to naiveté , instead of anger.
  • Like the time my sister, my cousin and I were playing near the front porch of my cousin's grandfather's house:
My sister was twirling a baton, and the Queer said to the grandfather, "I can do that better than she can."He just raised his eyebrows, smiled, and said "I'll bet you can." (He had me pegged as gay from the get-go).
  • Like the time my best friend moved into his first apartment.
A bunch of us guys were hanging at the new place, when his brother and sister-in-law stopped by to visit. We were watching soft porn on cable. The sister-in-law was former military and couldn't be offended. So when they walked into the apartment, my best friend announced "Hey, we're watching naked women on TV!" The Queer quickly added, "There's naked guys too!" The brother just laughed and said "I bet you like that..." (Again ... busted).
  • Like the time a close friend of my then soon-to-be ex-wife invited me out to meet her downtown.
And we ended up making out. I had recently come out to my soon-to-be ex-wife (hence, the "soon-to-be ex-wife"), and her friend knew that I had identified myself as gay (apparently quite a few other people had come to that conclusion too). But her friend was all over me. I stopped it, telling her that it was wrong, wrong, wrong. She told me that she had a crush on me from way back. And I told her that those feelings she had for me were wrong, wrong, wrong. And then in his bewilderment what did The Queer do? Call my soon-to-be ex-wife after the weird rendezvous and say: "You'll never guess what happened!!!" You bet she couldn't. So I told her. I trashed that friendship .... oops, DANG!

From the above examples, you can see that I went to the hard-knock school of learning to keep the mouth closed when one is uncertain or clueless how one's audience will react. Now I guess I'll just foot the tuition for the degree in mouth-control during bouts of anger.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cosmic Wormholes

Ok, I get it ... he's a science freak. So I get to hear about crust-shift theory, tech improvements, and tests on diabetic mice. This weekend he came at me with cosmic wormholes. These are supposed to be shortcuts through space-time. And I try to act interested, I honestly do. But...
After a few months of dating, I began to take him home with me for my visits with the family. It was easy. Everybody loves the man (I keep telling y'all he's perfect). On one trip, my young niece (she must have been 8 years-old at the time) caught him alone and commented, "You and my uncle have a lot in common." Well, yes sweetheart ... and no.
I had to chase him for almost a month before he would agree to go out with me. When he finally said "Yes" and we decided on a place for dinner, I told him that I would come by his place to pick him up for the restaurant.
That first look at his face is still welded in my mind. Green eyes (I still say blue), shaved head, a genuine smile. I was hooked at sight.
We dated, and it was easy. Sunday easy. And the entire time, we dated I knew that he was only on a temporary assignment here in Houston. I told my friends "This is the perfect man, and after September I'm never going to see him again."
I was wrong.

And my niece, again I say ... well, yes sweetheart... and no.
He listens to AFI.
He loves "The Simpsons."
He loves to travel
And no.
He listens to Rammstein.
He watches "What Not to Wear" and "RuPaul's Drag Race."
He likes to travel to Brenham to see the bluebonnets.

I'd just like to think that we got sucked through a cosmic wormhole, where all the little stuff doesn't matter, where you can be partnered to your best friend, where you are loved every day of your life, unconditionally and completely. But then, I don't know anything about wormholes...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Together We're Invincible

Anthems. Great things, those. You can think of our National Anthem (a pretty angry song if you care to analyze it) or songs like "Song 2" by Blur (which has a completely nonsense lyric but a driving beat, power chords and a sing-along chorus) or "We Will Rock You" by Queen (where everyone, at least the coordinated ones, can do the stomp-stomp-clap action).
I recently discovered the British group, Muse. I believe that they are the new owners of the rock anthem mantle. When I am at the gym, you can bet that my iPod is set to them: good driving rockers, dramatic choruses, wailing guitars. Thursday while I was on the treadmill, "Invincible" from "Black Holes and Revelations" came on. I almost skipped it, because it is a mid-tempo song and I thought it might slow my workout pace. But I let it play.
Sometimes the most inconsequential actions in my life can make the biggest impact. I ended up putting the song on repeat and listening to it over and over. I don't mean to put too much of the song quote here, but it's an excellent lyric:

During the struggle
They will pull us down
But please, please
Let's use this chance
To turn things around

My partner and I had already kinda adopted "Invincible" as "our" song, but listening to it while I was working out that evening my mind went elsewhere. I began to think of all my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters. Sometimes our strife with each other holds us down. The song says:

Do it on your own,
It makes no difference to me.

But, people ... we have to do it. Even something as simple as tax day approaching and realizing that my partner and I do not get the option of filing a joint tax return. Even realizing that unless we get our legal matters airtight, if something happens to either one of us ... either of our families could come in and divide the life we have together. Even knowing that we cannot get married here in Texas, where it would be easy for our friends and family to attend the ceremony. These things do slowly eat at my heart ... maybe in just small ways (because I certainly know the validity of our bond).

Change should come, hopefully sooner than later. I'd like to think that I'm a patient man, but I'm afraid that even I have a limit. Canada is looking good.
And I love Houston.

Leaving the gym, I had a small sense of satisfaction at working out at the local all-gay gym. Here, things could be a little racy, sordid and steamy. Where else can you watch "Absolutely Fabulous" and porn at the same time while pumping iron. I was at least supporting a gay business.

You should make a stand,
Stand up for what you believe
And tonight we can truly say
Together we're invincible

And I truly appreciate all the straight people who have our back

Friday, April 9, 2010

"You're different" "I'm dumb" "I don't like you"

I'll have to admit that I'm piggy-backing off of the Bloggess, but imitation is (well you know what it is...)

Here's a typical story ... probably has happened before; probably will happen again.

Click here

So...the lesbian wanted to go to the prom with her female date and dress in a tuxedo. Now, that'll freak out the straights (but only the dumb ones)!

And then when the students cannot have the prom without her due to a court order, they:
1. Cancel the prom
2. Schedule a new secret prom
3. Reschedule a new fake prom at a country club
4. Invite the lesbian to the fake prom
5. All attend the secret prom

The lesbian student's first warning should have been that the new prom for which she received the invitation was at a country club.

Aren't country clubs the quintessence of inclusion and diversity?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Honey, are you gonna get the calorie counter?"

Mornings. Not my best time. Well, if I didn't stay up so late... Anyway. My partner has to be at work at 8 AM; I, at 8:30. He gets up around 5 AM, I think ... I'm never up that early.
In the four years that we have been together, I'll admit that I've gotten a bit spoiled. I mean, the man does a lot for me: all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the laundry. Me, I do the yard work.
One of the ways, that I have been spoiled is by having him morph into my personal alarm clock. Plus he snoozes! A couple of "Honey, it's time to get up,"'s can be met with "Just five more minutes..." and I get a little extra shut-eye.

He does get his entertainment out of it though. After a long night and some spicy Mexican food, I'm usually guaranteed vivid dreams. One of the more recent ones involved him making out passionately with another man in front of his brother and me. When I woke up and shot him a go-to-Hell look, he just laughed and snickered, "What did I do? Needless to say, my explanation was comical.
He gets other entertainment as well. When my sleep cycle is spinning to an end, I apparently get quite chatty. Groggily, I'm sure.
This morning, the first thing I said to him as he was trying to wake me was, "Honey, are you going to get the calorie counter?"
He said, "What??"
I said, "Huh?"
He repeated what I said.
I just said "Oh."
I got my extra five minutes of sleep.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Middle School Pals Are Best

I grew up in a small college town in the Deep South. The city was small but progressive due to the local think tank. I had the good fortune to attend the local "laboratory" school that trained education majors on the university campus. I started fifth grade at the school after a short time in the parish public school system. The following year, I was graduated to the middle school for a three-year term prior to high school.
Life at the middle school was ideal. We had the opportunity to attend many of the events on the university campus, had use of the recreational facilities and were student-taught by cool education student (hell, they were cool to us ... we were pre-teens!).
The friends that I made at Middle School seem to be the friends that I have kept since leaving primary school before my own college experience. Many of the friends that I had at middle school had parents who taught at the local university. So when I attended there, it was easy to keep up with my friends.
Even after many years when we gather for my high schools reunions every ten years or so, I gravitate toward my middle-school chums. This last reunion was especially bittersweet since we had lost many of our school mates from high school through accidents, health battles and just general bad luck. We had a special presentation for them at the club where we gathered after the dinner for the final night.
Following the presentation, I stepped outside to smoke a cigarette. One of my middle school friends joined me. This fella and I weren't real close in middle school, but still closer than a lot of friends that I made in high school. He and I both played tuba in middle school. In our chat, we discovered that we both live in Houston. He offered his phone number and suggested that we get together. I gave him mine. Then he asked, "So...what have you been up to? Are you married?"
I just laughed and said, "Dude ... I tried that and it didn't work for me. I'm gay. I thought everyone knew." He raised his eyebrow, put his head down slightly, and laughed, "No, man ... I didn't know." He dropped his cigarette and ground it out with his heel. Then he walked back in the club without another word.
Think he deleted my phone number from his cell phone?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Telling Time at the Gay Bars

This one probably only applies to Friday. Saturday can be crazed, and Sunday is difficult to analyze. Plus it's Sunday, for chrissakes. I'll try to figure it out later.
Monday through Thursday has a definite rhythm ... just too boring to outline here. And a little more difficult to comprehend.

4:00 PM or earlier - Look around .. it'll be the retirees and the students and maybe a couple of real estate agents.
5:00 PM - Happy hour crowd, the bar is going to be really loud at this point.
6:00 PM - The somber crowd is rolling in, those married to work and sleeping with their crackberries. A slight lull may have set in at this point.
7:00 PM - The drink are kicking in for the Happy Hour crowd. Lots of loud overwrought laughter.
8:00 PM - The bar may have thinned a bit by now. The smarter ones have gone across the street for a bite to eat. Those less smart have started ordering shots with their buds.
9:00 PM - Probably the deadest hour. Nobody wants to be seen hitting the bar at this time. Nobody is going to see you enter the bar for that "Some Enchanted Evening" moment.
10:00 PM - This is the hour for most of your regular Joe's on a Friday night. For all you guys looking to marry a plumber, this is your hour to work it.
11:00 PM - The queens are arriving now. You can probably tell by the toxic mix of cologne. Good luck breathing for the next two hours.
12:00 AM - This is the hour that it will take you to walk the full circle around the bar... you may get in two laps.
1:00 AM - Bar thinning. The realistic ones who haven't scored are cutting their losses and heading to have breakfast.
2:00 AM - Getting bare. Those with desperation and without faith are still lurking around but are being asked to leave. Those with desperation and with faith are moving to the after-hours club.
3:00 AM- We're at the after-hours club now. Enjoy your bottled water and try to avoid those homos who are chemically enhanced. Packed with men, literally body-to-body. Can be fun. Can be exasperating. That may depend on whether you are there for yourself or have been convinced to come along by a friend for assistance in his pursuit.
4:00 AM - Getting bare here as well. Those with desperation and without faith are still lurking around, but are now being told to leave. Those with desperation and with faith are moving to other venues.