Well, not all of them, but all of the witty, insightful, irreverent ones. I’m going to blame it on Christmas. I was going to blame it on global warming, but we've had such lovely weather lately, I don’t want to jinx it. It’s easy to blame the Holidays for all types of bad things, like depression, anger, despair and loneliness. That’s why people love the holidays. Because they can act like a total ass and then sweep it under the carpet by saying “Meh, it’s Christmas”.
But, I really do love Christmas.
I just wish it didn’t steal my stories.
The good news is that even if I don’t have the words, I have been doodling in Microsoft Paint so I can illustrate a typical day in my life with Paul. You might call it the "Gay agenda". It’s not so very different than any other couple. At night, we go to bed just like you. Except that Paul likes the room to be exceptionally cold. In the middle of winter, he opens all of the bedroom windows.
There are some people who can immediately open their eyes, greet the day and start singing. I am not one of those people. But Paul is. Because I find it so very difficult to get out of bed in the morning Paul will snuggle me for five minutes and then all bets are off, as are all of my fifteen blankets. The world is a dark and cruel place when you are suddenly laid bare on top of your mattress in a sub-freezing bedroom.
I don’t either.
The large white envelope is propped against the lobby wall, waiting. We search for the keys and stumble through the open door; after work drinks turned into late night drinks. I know that the envelope is addressed to me before reading the label. As I bend to pick up the package Paul pushes me playfully causing me to tumble.
“No, don’t. I can’t bend this envelope.” I shout; half serious, half laughing.
Indeed, I can see from my vantage point on the carpeted lobby floor that the envelope is marked with “Do not Bend” over and over again. I stand up, pick up the envelope and steady myself. Paul looks at me devilishly.
“No, now I’m serious.” I say. He can read it in my eyes: Don’t mess with me. This package has travelled through time to reach me. I won’t let it suffer more damage in my hands tonight.
We make our way up the stairs and step into our darkened condo. The moonlight falls through the open blinds painting horizontal shadows against the walls. I want to open it now, but I’ll wait until morning; when I can appreciate it fully. I place the envelope on the kitchen counter and peer through the blinds at the moon and the stars.
“Hello little boy!” He has glasses and a small white pointy beard and moustache; like Salvador Dali’s. He is wearing khaki’s, a white shirt and a black bow tie.
“What on earth are you doing?” He says.
I open my eyes, smile and say “I’m looking at stars, Pappy!”
When I was young, about five years old, I would press the heels of my hands against my closed eyes so that the pressure would cause bursts of light to form at the corner and travel to the center of my eyelids; fascinated by the lights appearing from nowhere.
“Great heavens above, there are stars in your head? Come over here and let me show you something.” My grandfather says.
2011 was a busy year, but not too busy to set aside some time to celebrate the “reason for the season” with our good friends, the Bachmann’s and the Santorum’s. Now, I know what you’re saying, “But wait, aren’t they Republicans??” The answer, of course is yes, dear readers, but new evidence suggests that they may be born this way. And honestly, shouldn’t we all practice a little more acceptance and charity during this holiday season? As long as they don’t push it on me is what I always say!! Ha ha!
Anyway, dear family and friends, as you know Paul and I have finished the renovations on our love nest in the city. A little bird whispered in my ear wouldn’t it be fun to invite Michelle and Marcus and Rick and Karen to see our new place? Oh, we’ll have the Romney’s, the Cain’s, the Perry’s and the Gingrich’s some other time, but our place is only 500 square feet as you’ll recall. And really, Herman made such a fool of himself last year that most of the wives wouldn’t dream of being around him once he’s had a glass or two of Paul’s world famous holiday rum punch!!! (Recipe to follow!!!) Last year it almost came to fist a cuffs when Mitt said his hair was prettier than Rick Perry's as you’ll remember from the Burrows-Dameron 2010 holiday newsletter. Honestly I can’t keep up with Newt’s wives, so we decided that an intimate affair might just do the trick.
Anyhoo, Paul and I scurried around all day getting the place just so. You know Paul, a place for everything and everything in its place!! We set out place cards and had just lit the candles when the doorbell rang! I gave Paul a quick peck and said “It’s show time!” I opened the door, and of course, there were Rick and Karen Santorum right on time.
“Karen, seriously, I don’t know how you do it! You gave birth to seven, oh, or is it eight? children and here you are on time wearing this lovely smock!” I said.
“And Rick look at you here all dapper and festive! It takes a real man to come back here after that unfortunate comment about the people of Boston causing the Catholic Church abuse scandal. But you are a real man, is what I always said.” Of course you know Rick, he got all “Aw shucks” and turned fifteen shades of red while shuffling from foot to foot.
We had no sooner closed the door when “ding dong!” the doorbell rang again! I opened the door and no one was there!! Just as I closed the door, the doorbell rang yet again!!! How odd I thought to myself. This time I opened the door real quick and caught sight of the Bachmann’s just in stitches laughing, I might add, trying to hide behind the bushes!!!!
“Well now aren’t you two just a bird in this world” is what I said.
|Michelle saying "Where da' bitches at?"|
Me, Rick, Paul and those crazy Bachmann's
“Michelle, honey, is there something wrong? Your eyes are just about to bug out of that head!” I said.
“Oh, ‘miss thing’ wouldn’t stop at a gas station rest stop” Marcus said while rolling his eyes. “She’s like all afraid some lesbian might be hiding in one of the stalls.”
Well, I told her to come in this instant and take care of business! She lingered outside the bathroom and started twisting her legs together.
“Paul, sweetie, would you just go and turn on the light in the bathroom and convince Michelle that there are no lesbians in there!” I yelled to Paul, who was preparing glasses of his world famous holiday rum punch!! (Recipe to follow!!!!!!) Honestly, she’s just like an eight year old, but don’t talk to her about eight year olds!
“Marcus, don’t tell me you haven’t Googled yourself.” I said. Marcus started making some lewd gestures referencing a certain body part and moving his arm up and down like he was cocking a gun. “And no Marcus, I’m not talking about that kind of ‘Googling yourself’! Now we all know what we’ll find when we Google Santorum.” I said under my breath. At that point Karen made a little coughing noise.
“Karen, you’re always so good to remind us about manners.” I said and rolled my eyes. Since she wrote that book, she thinks she is the end all be all on manners.
Paul brought in his world famous holiday rum punch (Recipe to follow!!!!) and I saw this little sad puppy dog look on Marcus’ face. Well he always has to have a little umbrella in his drink, so I motioned to Paul to fix his drink and then Rick starts whining, so long story short, we all had Paul’s world famous holiday rum punch (Recipe to follow!!!!!) with little umbrellas.
“It’s personal enslavement is what it is…” Michelle started blah-blahing her campaign speak.
“Well. no. it. doesn’t.” Michelle finally admitted and then burst out into a heartwarming, slightly maniacal laugh.
“That’s right Michelle.” I said and then we all stood up as Michelle delivered a lovely holiday toast:
“No matter gay, straight, or bi
lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive!”
You sing it Michelle!
From our family to yours, Happy Holi-gays!!!!!!!
“Tell me Bill, do the surroundings amuse you?” Serene smiles as her outstretched hand glides across the scenery.
We are overlooking the Singapore River. The equatorial night air is warm and heavy. A slight scent of smoke, not unpleasant, from an Indonesian forest fire drifts across the South China Sea. I lean back into my wheelchair as an Asian woman dressed in hospital scrubs delivers an IV filled with a bright colored fluid.
“Things are well at home?” She asks.
It is November of 2007. What is home? I live alone for the first time in my life. Images flicker; a basement apartment, boxes still unpacked. Sunlight pouring through a stained glass window colors my grandmother’s coffin; the new house that my daughters live in without me. Here on the other side of the world, I am a time traveller; living in tomorrow.
“Yes, all is well” I lie.
“And tomorrow Bangkok; you go shopping-la!”
Singaporeans love to shop and when they love something, they add a “la” to the end of it for emphasis. They also love eating-la and drinking-la, which is why I feel so fat-la and tired-la.
The next day four of us, a gay man, a New Englander, an Irishman and a German board a flight for Thailand. There is no punch line.
“You handsome man, big!”
“That OK, I like gay.”
“There you are!” I hear someone say in a British accent. He is talking to me. He has a broad smile and kind eyes. “We should go for a walk. We’re going to DJ Station.” He puts his arm around me and the Thai prostitute vanishes.
I thank him profusely. We spend the rest of the night together dancing, talking and laughing. At four AM the club is beginning to close.
“I’m going to the bathroom; you should join me or wait here.” He says.
“I’ll wait here.” I say and as he walks away, I walk out of the club and into a taxi. During the ride to the hotel I argue with myself. What were you thinking, why did you leave? Even if there is no possible future, did you get a good look at him? What are you waiting for?
In the morning I fly home to Boston. I climb into bed and sleep for thirteen hours, the time difference between Boston and Bangkok. When I wake up and look out the window a layer of pure white snow blankets the world.
It started with a single post.
One poorly written blog post.
Ones and zeroes circle the globe like the bits of stardust that collected to form life in the beginning. Electronic words on a virtual wall say “I am here.” However you find me, whatever strange search words that you type or links that you click bring us together.
During this season of Thanksgiving, from my family to yours I wish you the best and thank you for reading about my small life on this tiny planet hurtling through space. Our stories matter because we are all connected.
I’m not going to waste my precious time and energy on something that does not want to be changed. Last I noticed the bathtub was not aspiring to become the sink or the toilet. Although, I can’t imagine anything wanting to become a toilet, but people choose to become proctologists, so I suppose anything is possible. The bathtub is perfectly happy the way it is. Some might call it grime, but I call it patina.
Paul does not like patina.
I was perfectly content to leave the metal soap dish in our tub on top of the rust spot. Even though we don’t use bar soap, I thought the dish was a nice nostalgic touch. More importantly, it served its purpose as a cover up. It was left by the previous owner, who was probably a lot like me; someone who was comfortable with patina.
But when Paul installed the body soap and shampoo dispensers and purchased an inventory of those products that would last us one thousand Silkwood showers I knew the soap dish would soon be history. And with the soap dish gone the tub would reveal a pock mark too great for Paul to ignore.
I tried to divert his attention by painting the bathroom vanity, and did a pretty good job too. I just wish I remembered to paint all of the sides. While he was in the shower taking inventory of everything that was wrong with the bathtub, he glanced at the vanity.
“Uh, sweetie, did you forget something?” He shouted from the shower.
I didn’t really forget. I just couldn’t figure out a way to paint the side of the vanity that faced the tub. Who was going to see it from that angle anyway? I’ll tell you who, Paul.
Shortly after that, Paul made an appointment to have the bathtub refinished, and since we had to move the vanity in order for the refinisher to take care of the bathtub, he reasoned that there was no use in putting the old vanity back in its place, or the faucet, or the shower doors. I made certain not to stand around the bathroom to avoid being replaced too, because truth be told, I have a little patina on me.
While the bathtub was being refinished we had to shower at the gym around the corner. On this particular occasion, Paul made a comment about a young guy’s arms and how he would like to develop his own to look the same.
If you are at all the insecure type, you should probably not workout at a gym where the average age of the member is roughly half of your own age. Furthermore, you should not take showers at said gym, lest you begin to compare your body to a newer model.
“So, you liked his arms, huh? I’m sure he’s on the juice.” I said while throwing in an accusing look for good measure.
“They look natural enough to me.” He wasn’t even willing to give me that.
“But, I love my mono-pack” He said smiling while rubbing my belly. I could tell he meant it too. Maybe a little patina on the things you love does enhance the look. But, I’m not taking any chances. I’m pretty handy so I think I can make some improvements; another mile on the treadmill, another repetition. Now I need to work on wanting to change.
P.S. How do you like my comic strip? Never took a single drawing class!
“Well, how about we make this grass green?”
“Say now, that’s something! Go on, keep going.”
“OK, I’m thinking a nice blue for the sky, that’s going to contrast nicely.”
“Well, I’ll be a son of a monkey!”
Michelle Bachmann-“If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.”
Jamie Hubley, 15 “You can’t break when you’re already broken”
Rick Perry –“Would you rather live in a state like this, or in a state where a man can marry a man?”
Tyler Clementi, 18, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”
Rick Santorum-“I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?”
Seth Walsh, 13, “Hopefully, I become the universe”
Lest we forget.
I think I know why people talk about the weather. It’s because there is nothing we can do to control it. If we can’t control something, then we can damn well talk about it. This is why people stop by my office, which consists of an entire wall of windows overlooking a courtyard and tell me “You wouldn’t believe how nice it is outside today!” Squinting from the glare, I think No shit, Sherlock, but what I say is “You don’t say?” because people need to hear themselves talk about things they can’t control.
It would be OK if they stopped there, but they usually follow up the immediate weather report with an extended forecast. Invariably, they paint a picture of the weekend weather as perfect: Even if it will be cold and rainy with wind gusts up to fifty miles per hour. “Nice weather to curl up with a good book!” They say. I’d love to reply “Or great weather to plan that suicide you’ve been putting off!” but most people wouldn’t see the humor in that.
It is an American thing to be delusional about the uncontrollable. Several years ago I was working at a company that experienced one lay off after another. It was difficult to see our friends and co-workers leave. Those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs yammered on about what a great opportunity it would be for the departed. “You’ll find something better than this!” was heard over and over again. My Irish friend had a different take “This is shit. If I got laid off all I’d be saying is what the feck am I going to do now?” But that type of comment makes people uncomfortable. If you can’t control something, you want to think that it is beyond your control for some greater purpose; “When one door closes, another one opens” type of thinking.
“We had this cook book that was displayed in the kitchen with our Pottery Barn china that Scott picked out. Every week he would say to me, it’s time to turn the page!” Julie says laughing. I wonder to myself how she couldn’t figure it out. By the end of the night we have had our fill of laughter and drinks.
|What, me leave? Fuggedaboutit!|
This is a 21 word challenge that must include in winter we shiver, based on the following rhyme about Guy Fawkes:
You can find other entries here: http://jfb57.wordpress.com/tag/100wcgu/
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, I find myself doing things that can only make a bad situation worse. I acknowledge that what I am doing is wrong and then proceed to do it with gusto. Flushing the toilet for a third time in a fancy hotel while thinking this time it will go down might be one of those situations.
Scrambling for towels I start searching for a plunger hidden somewhere in the room. At this point all logical reasoning goes out the window. Maybe there is a plunger in the closet, or the dresser, or the night stand? Then it becomes clear, fancy hotels do not stock their rooms with plungers. It’s not as if they simply forgot to put one in the room, but more of a conscious decision.
Most people would give up and call the front desk; not me. I begin to wonder what objects in the room might make suitable substitutions for a plunger. My eyes quickly dart around the room; the lamp, the bar tray, a power cord? Nothing seems to fit and then I open the closet door and experience an epiphany, the little wooden rod on the hanger that holds pants, perfect!
|I just can't quit you!|
Within ten minutes Mike returns with some type of industrial looking plunger and a sidekick. After thirty minutes of listening to the sounds of heavy machinery and dialogue between Mike and his assistant, which consists of mostly “what the fuck?” and “shit!”, the pair re-appears and announces that they are going to need to “Lift the toilet”. I have no idea what “lift the toilet” means, but it seems that the prognosis is not good.
Dear Shakahari Pre-School parents:
I think we can all agree that last night’s dialogue session on our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding meat products was beneficial. Remember, if it had a parent, we won’t eat it! Even though I’d love to eat up your adorable children! (Ha, Ha).
Hello again Parents:
I sincerely apologize for yesterday's e-mail. As so many of you have pointed out, that last sentence was reprehensible.
Point taken: Would the parents responsible for constructing the “Mrs. Green-Burger” effigy promptly remove it from school property?
You can find other entries at:
Last night I had dinner with David Sedaris: Yes, THE David Sedaris! I suppose it was inevitable. I mean you can’t write diligently for eight whole months and not expect to hobnob with modern literary greats. As dinners go, it was fairly unremarkable; some type of baked chicken with green beans, but still, you can’t beat the company. Oh, Paul was there too. But he seemed less than impressed.
But I have gotten ahead of my story. Let me take a step back. The evening began with a reading at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH. It turns out that people in New Hampshire really seem to like David Sedaris. The place was packed. Never having heard him speak publicly, I really didn’t know what to expect. So when he quickly marched on stage, eyes down, without much fanfare, to say that it was less than climatic would be an understatement.
“Hello, and thank you for coming” He sounds like a Smurf that just huffed helium.
I let out a loud laugh. When Paul squeezed my leg and told me to shut-up, I realized that this was not part of the act and that I was, in fact, the only one laughing. It was a rough start.
He redeemed himself after reading a few new essays and some quotes from his diary and then told us a joke:
A man is in bed sleeping when he hears a knock at his door. Angrily, the man says to himself “Who would be knocking at my door at this time of night?” He opens the door and there is a small snail standing at his door step. “Hello” the little snail says cheerfully, “I’d like to talk to you about purchasing some magazines!” The man kicks the snail as hard as he can. The tiny snail goes flying across the yard.
Two years later, the man is lying in bed and hears a knock at his door again. He opens the door and there is that same small snail.
“What the fuck was that about?” The snail says.
This time I laughed my ass off with everyone else.
But the real point to my story is that I sat across the table from David Sedaris while we had dinner. Well, I suppose I couldn’t really say “we” as he was doing all of the eating and truth be told, he had devoured most of it before we even got there. But you see the line to talk to him at the book signing was about an hour long.
As we waited in line and moved much like the snail from his joke, Paul said with a disgusted look on his face “He talks with a mouth full of food. Now I know why he moved to Europe. Look at those teeth.”
We watched as a woman with her entire library of David Sedaris books told him her life story. He seemed like a cat that was getting tired of playing with a ball of string, only looking up occasionally as if to say “Ok, I’ll bat this thing one more time”, while stuffing another bite of green beans into his mouth. The poor woman did not take a breath while speaking.
“If you act like that when we finally get to speak to him, I’m going to slap you.” Paul said.
Finally we reached the table. I was calm and collected, determined not to make a fool of myself as I handed him my book.
“Hi.” Mr. Sedaris said.
“Hi, I’m Bill and this is Paul!” Now my voice sounded strangely Smurf-like.
“You guys are together? How long have you been together?”
“Four years, well we’ve been married for one and a half years!” I said
“Where did you get married?” He asked.
“Boston, well Ashby, it’s a little town west of Boston. But originally I’m from North Carolina, but I moved up here. Actually, I’m from Greensboro. Your brother Paul refinished my Brother John’s hardwood floors. Your brother has the same name as my husband!” Oh God, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, Bill. I could see Paul looking at me out of the corner of his eyes willing me to shut-up too. I flinched while waiting for that slap that he had promised me.
I tried speaking again. “Does Hugh get upset when you write about him?”
“No” he simply replied.
“Are you and Hugh going to get married?” I tried another angle
“NO!” He said this as if someone had just pissed into his green beans.
“Do you guys like Glee?” He asked as his eyes lit up.
“Um, sure” I said.
“I thought a new episode was going to be on this week, but apparently not for two more weeks. Rachel and Finn and oh, what’s that kid’s name?” Mr. Sedaris said.
“Kurt, yes that’s it! They’re all going to have sex in the next episode!” He says with, well, glee, as he absent-mindedly writes something in my book.
Talk to me Dad.
Here I am.
Everyone is here.
And we’re not leaving.
Until you go.
Uncap the bottle.
Mix a drink.
Now it’s time.
Let it go.
Each breath is a whisper.
All is said.
Voices fill the void.
Echoes in the darkness,
Sing you home.
This is a fifty word challenge for grown ups (we get fewer words this week). This week’s prompt is The Autumn Leaves.
You can find other entries at:
But to ride the bus, is to love the bus.
“Hi Taylor, what did you hit now? Oh OK, as long as no one was hurt.” I would say.
“Paul, look at the extension of Taylor’s leg in this one. I think she nailed this pose, don’t you?”
“Ok Tyra. When was the last oil change?”
Leave it to Paul to kill the moment.
I suppose that sums of the difference between us. I really could care less about the care and feeding of cars while Paul assigns them human characteristics. In his eyes cars are sexy or sporty or scary. Basically, they are Spice Girls on wheels. While to me, they are a way to get from point A to point B; which is why I find myself sitting on the bus with my fellow commuters.
“Before I came to this country I was dependent on others. This country has made me independent. I have my own job. I have my own apartment.”
I smile to myself and stand up to get off at my stop. I choose to believe that these bus comrades see the real me: the content man, the man who sees more to life than just the surface. These are my fellow voyagers in life. I squeeze through the aisle to get to the door, and my messenger bag brushes the knee of a passenger. He makes a great display while saying “Ouch, watch your bag man!” Then I understand what my fellow passengers see in me. It is not so much of a visionary in love, but more of an annoyance.