Sunday, June 26, 2011

Failure to Understand

File this under:  “One of the Laziest Posts Ever Written” or “Inciting a Family Feud.”

This past Friday morning before the decision on the New York gay marriage issue, I posted on my regular “non-queer” Facebook page:  
Listening to George Michael on way to work for all my gay/lesbian brothers & sisters working for marriage equality in NY “Gotta have faith”
To that post, I received a few supporting comments from friends, far and near.  And then I got (I won’t correct his spelling, punctuation or grammar):
This is not natural and against the one and true God that we are made in His image and one day everyone will stand in front of Him and give account to a Holy God
This from a heterosexual cousin, who is now a preacher in a very rural part of northwest Louisiana.  He and I were quite close back when we were kids.  Even though he was about four years older than I, he used to let me hang out with him and would take me with him when he “cruised the Strip.”

I have not seen him in over ten years.

This post from him provoked many of my friends, and the three comments multiplied to 12. 

I removed him from my Facebook friends.

Then I sent him a message:
You and I have not spoken in years, so I do not understand why you posted on my wall with your opinion on gay marriage. My beliefs and yours are vastly different on this matter.I left the Baptist church long ago, because I was repeatedly told that I was going to Hell. However, I was also told by my immediate family that there was no way that I was going to Hell. I am not sure either way, nor is it important to me.You and I used to be close. I miss those days. But I have removed you from my friends list on Facebook. You and I are kin, but I believe that we are no longer friends.
He replied with:
I'm sorry that you feel that way but if i didnt love you i would kept silent and you chose not to keep me as a friend thats fine but do something read Romans 1 I just give the truth of Gods Holy word what you do with it is your choice.
I returned:
I've read Romans before. But find me anywhere in the Bible where Jesus talked about homosexuality. What you are quoting is the words of Paul, not Jesus. Jesus did not speak through Paul, as much as Paul wanted that. One of my favorite songs is "Fly from Heaven" by Toad the Wet Sprocket. The song wonderfully sums up Paul. (excuse me while I insert a video for you that I did not include for his viewing pleasure).

Regardless, as I said, I have left the church. I still believe in Jesus, but not the way that conservative Christians do. Using the word of God to judge others is not in the spirit of Christ.The only reason that I did not keep you as a friend on Facebook was that I did not appreciate your writing your beliefs on my wall, when they go completely against my own beliefs. I would never do the same thing to you. 
I may have said that I believe that we are no longer friends, but I will always remember you in a good light. When we were young, you were always kind to me. I really do appreciate that, [insert name here].
He came back with:

I have my dougts if you want except Pauls word as he was chose by God then you have turn your back on all because its all Inspired word of God we cant pick and choose what we want to and ingnore the rest. you know i can not stand by and see you split hell wide open and not say anything but you choose the path that your on and all i can do is Pray for your salvation And that The True Jesus will come back into your life and When Jesus talk about Marrage it was between a man and a woman because thats His standards not mine or even yours.

I summed up with:

ok [insert name here]... I don't tell you how to live.
You are not remotely interested in my happiness. So you can say that you "love" me, but I have my doubts about that.
I think we are through on this subject. We'll never agree.
My best to you in the future. Hopefully one day we can see one another and laugh about this whole exchange. Probably not, according to you I'm Hell-bound. I'll not see you at all.

Amazingly it ended there.  To be honest, it hurt.  I thought that I could make him understand.  Maybe were we face-to-face, I could have.  But to not fool myself, it would have been a lost cause.  (Besides, the Toad the Wet Sprocket was completely lost on him).  So he didn't understand me; I don't think that I did a good job of understanding him either.

After my final transmission, I expected him to get the last word.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Begin Again

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “’Tom’ asked if we were still getting together as a group to go to that play you wanted to see.”

Him, casually:  “Oh yeah, that sounds good…”

Me, impatiently: “Ok … I’ll get it together.  I told him, although it was your idea that I would be the one organizing it.”

Him, with a twinkle in his eye, ignoring the bait: “Well, ok…”

Me, hammering it: “It’s like most things.  For example:  if we go see a movie it’s usually my idea.  I’ll say ‘You want to go see a movie?’ and you’ll say ‘If you want to.’"
Me, droning now:  “You should be able to ask ‘What movie do you want to see?’  If it’s not one that you would like to see, you could say ‘I do not want to see that movie.’ At which point, I could return with: ‘I’ll go see it by myself’ or ‘Is there a movie that you would prefer to see?’"

Me, slinding into obnoxiousness:  “You don’t have to go with me to the movie.  I’m a big boy.  I can go by myself.  I have been to the movie many times by myself before you came along…”

Him, nailing it:  “But I’m here now.”

Me, stopped in my tracks and retreating a bit:  “Well, I guess that you should have the right to say you’ll go with me if I want to go.  I’d do the same for you."

The truth dawning on me:  “I guess we ended up at square one…”

He simply shot me a smile.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watch Your Mouth...

Suddenly I’m swearing like there’s no tomorrow.

The Beastie Boys just released a new CD, The Hot Sauce Committee, Part Two.  

Mainly, I've been listening to nothing but that.  If you know the Beastie Boys’ style, you’ll know that they might inspire me to sling the F-word all over the place.  And I’ve been cutting it loose.  In public, during work, at home … you name it, I’ll MF it.

Believe that this is not standard-operating-procedure for me.  I was raised a good Southern Baptist boy.  I remember as a child one night my dad came home from work and pronounced that my mom’s cooking that evening tasted “like sh*t.”  I was mortified.
Swearing is one of the first rites of passage for many of us.  I could remember how odd the cuss words felt in my mouth as I first learned to say them.  But I got most of them out and into the air.  Even then, I didn't much enjoy the process.

My best friend loves the F-bomb.  But I think she is trying to wean herself from using it too much. I do have a tendency to agree with her that sometimes the word is necessary for accentuating a sentence properly.

Then I look at some of the great songs that have great swear lines:  “Long Shot” by Aimee Mann, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” by Prince, “Play Guitar” by John Mellencamp, just to name a few.  (You’ll notice that each of these songs is quite a few years old.  Songs with swears were staggering back in the day.  Now they’re so commonplace, the swears are hardly noticed).
One of the funniest things that ever happened to me?  I worked in a record store back when I was in my late 20s / early 30s.  One day, I loaded the CD changer with five discs, selecting as one of them Whatever and Ever Amen by Ben Folds Five.  I play piano and enjoyed the arpeggios in the song, "Brick".  Randomly, "Song for the Dumped"  came up and into the second line of the lyric, Ben Folds yells “F*** YOU TOO!”  and then suddenly follows that up with “Give me my money back, you b*tch!”  Imagine store clerks and managers running in dead heats toward the sound system, stunned parents covering the ears of young children, teens snickering with hand-covered mouths.

I know that I’ll need to rein in my rogue mouth a bit.  I expect that I’ll be blessed with grandkids one day (only if my son is totally on board for that).  I don’t want to set a bad example.  As expressed many times before, my son is awesome.  I almost never swore in his presence when he was a child, and consequently I rarely hear him swear.

I’m especially frustrated at work right now.  I am not getting enough sleep.  So many things in life seem up in the air.  So I'm swearing casually and frequently right now.

I’ll not blame it on music.  I’ll not blame it on the media.  I’ll not blame it on my friends.

I’ll just try harder to control my mouth.

Life will get MFing better.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

From "Tales of the Wise Fairy Queen"

Once upon a time, there was a fresh-faced blonde prince who had freckles all over his soft face and shiny forehead.  This young fellow had a fairy queen as a mom.  One day, the fairy needed some feminine napkins and Orange Fanta®, so she sent the lad to the store with a $20 bill in his pocket.  Along the way, an imp snuck into the pocket and swiped the currency.
When the prince arrived at the market, he checked his pocket and was astonished to find that it was empty.  Distressing at his bad fortune and possessing the knowledge that money was difficult to attain in the kingdom, he returned home expecting to face the wrath of his mother.  As he walked, he gnawed his fingernails and picked his nose.

When he arrived at the castle, he approached the throne of the fairy queen with his head bowed.  As she looked down on him, he began to cry.

“What is the matter, child?”  She asked, compassionately.

The lad stammered:  “I lost the $20 bill that you gave me.”

The fairy queen descended from her throne and walked toward the young prince.  She placed a single finger under his chin and lifted his head.  She smiled delicately at him.  “My son ... that was not the only $20 bill in the world.”

For June-Bug

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Washing the Fairlane

I washed The Man’s car this afternoon.  This was not a last-ditch effort to make it rain this bone-dry late spring , but a directive from one of my co-workers:  a quiet but bold woman, who is both no-nonsense and humorous.  She said, that for all he does for me, I should wash The Man’s car on a regular basis.  I just sighed at her Friday afternoon and announced to The Man said-same Friday night that I would wash his car during the weekend.

Sunday, I pulled both his car and my truck from the garage to the drive.  I started on his car, of course.  I set Abbey Road by The Beatles on my iPod and began to spray his car with water.  When “Come Together” ended and “Something” began, the past sweetly bubbled up.  Suddenly I was a kid (mid-teens), washing my maternal grandmother’s early 1970s Ford Fairlane. 

I didn’t have a job back in the late 70s, not because I was focusing on school instead of work.  The reason was more that I was shy and a bit unsure of myself, a little too insecure to look for a job.  I had friends and cousins who worked, so I wanted money too.  And I had a girlfriend.  She never demanded anything.  But I wanted to be able to take her out and buy her gifts.

“Ma’am-Maw” was a quick and observant woman.  “My car always needs washing.” she’d tell me. “You know how much of a roadrunner I am.”  She and my “Pap-Paw” lived next to us.  So almost every week, I would show up at her house and spend an hour or so washing her car.
I would bring my boom box so I could listen to music while I worked.  The radio would be tuned to an AM station out of Shreveport.  AM radio in the 70s played it all.  And I guess that’s where "Something" by The Beatles got lodged in my head as car-washing music.

My grandma and I had a good routine.  She knew that I was not one for detail.  After I was done washing, I would let her know.  She would come out for an inspection.  Good naturedly, she would chuckle and show me all the places that I had missed.  I would smile and go at it again.   She’d give me a hug  and hand over 10 bucks.  10 bucks went really far back in the day.  Far enough to get me to the next Saturday.

When I married my girlfriend in my late teens, we moved into a mobile home on my parents' land.  My wife and I would visit their house for game nights with my extended family.  My mom and grandmother shared the same infectious laughter, and both of them would keep the rest of us entertained.

A rapid-fire succession of life changes occurred:  my mom passed away, my marriage ended, I moved to another state.  When I returned from my self-imposed exile, I may have seen my Ma'am-Maw once.  Then she was gone. Forever.

Being a good Southern Baptist man, I carried the guilt for a long time.  As I got older, I realized how lucky I was to have such a wonderful grandma.  I knew that she wouldn’t beat me up for what I had been holding myself accountable.  So I let it go.  Today...I would have given anything to have been washing her old Fairlane.
I was enjoying the nostalgia, then “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” ended abruptly (as it always does) and the opening strains of “Here Comes the Sun” entered.  I looked up.  The sky was dark with clouds.  And I was back to the present. 

The Man walked up. “Do I hear thunder?”  I smiled.  I thought he was coming out to inspect my work and slide me 10 bucks.