Resolutions



Another Bill + Paul cartoon.

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And now for something completely different

Something very strange has happened.


I have run out of stories.


: \


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.






Did I mention that we live in Boston?  But I don’t mind terribly, because this is the type of compromise that couples make.  They do it because they love each other and I show my love by shivering through the night, under fifteen blankets, so that Paul’s restless legs will finally rest. After his nervous legs have slept, they are ready to leap out of bed even before the sun has risen.
The sun could be halfway through its daily journey before my body wants to rise and shine.




 
 
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.





But Paul is good for me.  He makes me get out of bed and go to the gym; even when I don’t want to go.  After the gym I put my pants on one leg at a time and then pretend that I am going to take the bus to work.  But every day, Paul will say “But you’re too little to take the bus!  Show me how sad you’d be if you had to take the bus.” And then I make a little sad face.
So we get into the car and begin the drive to my office.  Paul loves to drive, so I don’t feel very guilty. He will joke with me and say “Even though I work from home, I’m so glad that we moved into the city so that I could have a commute.”  But I really don’t pay attention to what he is saying because the truth be told, he says a lot in the morning while my brain is still trying to figure out if I am still sleeping.   



But at some point during the drive my brain decides to wake up.  It usually coincides with a song on the radio that makes me happy.


And then at some point during the drive my heart wakes up.  This usually coincides with Paul’s desire to shave thirty seconds off of yesterday’s commute time.


When we get to my office, I give Paul a kiss and tell him I love him. Sometimes he will honk the horn and whistle at me. The rest of the day is probably very much the same as your day. Except that somehow my day with Paul might lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it.
 
Oh, you don’t think that makes sense?

I don’t either.

: )

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The Message

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.

I jump up and run to sit in his lap. His studio is a room on the side of the house sitting over the garage. It is paneled with dark wood. There is a light hanging low over the drafting table illuminating a blank sheet of paper. The smell of paint is magical. He pulls out a dip pen and places a nib on the end of it and dips it into an ink well. I watch, entranced, as lines form on the paper as if the pen itself has a power all its own. It seems to me that he is merely uncovering a picture that already exists on the paper.

“It’s a cabin!” I say excitedly.

“Yes, it is. You are such a smart little boy.” My grandfather says. “Now, I want to teach you something called ‘perspective’”.

This is a new word and I cannot imagine what it means, let alone pronounce it. But I desperately want to know. In my memories, I cannot separate my grandfather, this house and the beauty surrounding it. They all exist as one. The house sits on the edge of a forest overlooking the French Broad River and the Smokey Mountains. The front path made up of mossy stones passes by a gold fish pond. We have given all of the goldfish names. Many times my grandfather has taken us for walks in the forest. His knowledge of plants and animals is as boundless as his gentleness and love, and he wants to share it all.

The pen continues to move knowingly across the paper. Undulating outlines of mountains that are as gentle as the Smokey’s form behind the cabin. Two lines drift above the chimney circling among themselves to form smoke. Pine trees recede into the distance. Then two more lines are gracefully drawn. They form a path wide and open near the edge of the paper and gradually diminishing to a point by the cabin door.

“Now the cabin is small!” I am amazed.

“It’s the same size that it was before, but the way you see it has changed. That is perspective.” He says.

A word became a picture. But, the intersection of our lives was only six years. Not time enough to define the rest of the world through art. I would practice drawing this one picture over and over again as I grew up. All of the elements were there, but the whole was never quite right.

****************************************************************************

Night becomes morning and the moon shadows are wiped from the walls; a new day and a blank canvas. I pick up the envelope and gingerly cut the tape that seals it shut. The seller has packaged the contents carefully.

Finally freed, I examine the book. It is a children’s book illustrated by my grandfather in the 1930’s, “The Three Bears”. Some child loved this book. It was stored away, forgotten and then found and placed it for sale on the Internet. As I was searching for Christmas gifts for my own children, this book appeared on the page, seemingly unrelated to my search on the same Website. The seller listed my grandfather’s name in his description of the book.

As I open the book, like a child, I search the familiar lines of my grandfather’s drawings for a hidden message. Maybe my name is hidden among the branches of the trees, or a shadow of my own likeness in the clouds. But this was illustrated and published years before my existence.

I notice that the middle pages expand out to form a panorama and a house pops open in three dimensions. The house sits at the edge of a forest and a path of mossy stones circles the house and recedes into the distant mountains. It is my grandfather’s house. The beauty that surrounded him every day suddenly surrounds me.

My grandfather has shared his love with generations of children.  Four decades after that lesson I begin to understand what perspective is.  It is not only the relational distance of objects, but more importantly the ability to see the beauty in the world that surrounds us.

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Our 2011 Holiday Newsletter!!!!!!!

 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
Happy Holidays!!!!!
Marcus could hardly keep from laughing and gave me just the biggest hug and kiss. If I hadn’t turned my cheek it would have been right on the mouth too!!!

“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!

I told them all to come in and sit down, take a load off. Well no sooner did I sit down than I noticed a lump on the sofa right beneath my little rear end. I jumped up thinking I had sat on a pair of glasses or something. Marcus was sitting next to me and was practically in tears laughing when I looked down and saw his hand, palm up!!

“Frankly Marcus, that was cute the first three or four times you did that, but now it’s just plain annoying.” I said.

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” I heard Rick scream! He was holding his breath and turning blue, he was just so angry!!

“Oh now Rick, you know I’m going to spend time with you too, don’t get your panties all in a wad!” I said. Well, that only made him angrier.

“Rick now, I’m sorry honey, but honestly you need to be less sensitive about that.” Every time someone says "wad" he is thinking of something else.  Well poor Marcia Marcus had just the most confused look on her his face.

“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.

Drinks in hand, I thought it might be a good time to break the ice about Michelle’s recent statements regarding same sex marriage. I told her it was kind of ironic for her to say that gays and lesbians can marry, as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. Don’t you know that everyone in the room looked at Marcus at that very instant!

“It’s personal enslavement is what it is…” Michelle started blah-blahing her campaign speak.

“I’m going to have to stop you right there Michelle. Do Paul and I look like we are enslaved?” I said. Marcus started searching the room with his eyes and I just know the poor thing was looking for whips and chains.

“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!!!!!!!



TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT


Paul’s world famous (and slightly sinful) Holiday Rum Punch recipe!!!

Rick Santorum’s favorite

Removed-Paul says it's a secret family recipe......

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One night in Bangkok

“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.

It amuses me that I am in a country where every flight is an international flight. It amuses me that I am as far away from home that I could possibly be while still remaining on this planet. When I look in the mirror it amuses me that I hardly recognize myself; shaved head, goatee and thirty pounds heavier due to new found time indulged in a weight lifting and eating routine. When you are trying to find yourself it seems easier to begin by changing what is on the outside first.

“Yes, Serene, it amuses me very much.”

I can see that this pleases her. Serene is a trim Asian woman in her forties and a manager in our Singapore office. She shows me pictures of her recent birthday party on a smartphone. Two smiling girls, her daughters, present her with a cake, one picture after another, a variation of the same scene. Then a picture of Serene and a man, who I assume to be her husband, embrace and kiss passionately. “Ai-yah!” she says embarrassed, and quickly flips to the next photo. I look away at the IV and decide to take a sip of the liquid. A cool alcoholic concoction slides down my throat. I know this is why Serene has asked if I was amused. She has picked this bar called “The Clinic”, as our after work destination. Perhaps she thinks this is just the type of medicine that I need.

“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.

If Singapore was the calm, Bangkok is the storm. After arriving at our hotel we venture into the chaos that is Bangkok. Every sense is assaulted. Each square inch of pavement utilized by street vendors selling fried locusts, scorpions, maggots and noodles. Unidentifiable scents flavor the air. A man walks a painted elephant in the street. Beggars sit on the side of the road with missing limbs. A mother with a child drugged to appear lifeless holds out her hand for a spare baht. Motorcycles, taxi’s and Tuk-tuks, the Thai motorized rickshaws, honk their horns and swerve perilously below the elevated highway . The air is so heavy with heat that breathing is a conscious task.

We enter an outdoor bar and immediately notice eyes burning into us. It is filled with prostitutes. I tell myself not to make eye contact, but it is too late.

“You handsome man, big!”

“I’m gay.”

“That OK, I like gay.”

Well, you can’t really argue with that. She spends the next hour standing next to me as we drink Tiger beer. I work up enough courage to go alone to the gay district, Silom2, with my new found friend guiding me. The taxi stops at the edge of the district.

“I’m OK; I can go alone from here.” I say.

“You can’t change who you are.” She says enigmatically and smiles. I hug her and give her a few hundred baht. I watch as the taxi sputters off into the night, wondering if she believes the same about herself.

There is a loneliness that you feel when no one is around and a loneliness that you feel when surrounded by a sea of humanity, which is infinitely more profound. I walk through the district distracted by thoughts of all the changes in my life.

“What are your plans tonight, sir?” A young Thai man asks me, attempting to hold my hand. “This bar here is very nice. Believe me sir, I tell the truth.”

“I’m really not interested” I say and begin to head into another bar, hoping to lose him in the crowd. I quickly enter, walk towards the back and ask the bartender for a drink.

“I am a flight attendant for Thai Airways, sir and just on a layover.” I have not lost him and if he is a flight attendant, I am the pope. I don’t answer or look at him, but he continues to talk and move in closer. I have already used the gay card, should I tell him I’m straight?

“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.

The surroundings amuse me.

I pick up my phone and play back a message that was left while I was sleeping.

Hi, it’s Paul; we spoke before you left on your Asian odyssey there. I thought you might be back. Let’s meet and pick up the conversation where we left off.”

One week later on a cold November night I am standing in a restaurant parking lot in Burlington, Massachusetts shivering while I stand next to my car amid piles of snow. I look up at Paul’s face, seeing it for the first time. It is a kind and handsome face. This is what I was waiting for.

“This is new.” He says smiling while pointing to my goatee. “You didn’t have one in your profile picture.”

“No, I didn’t. But you can’t really change who you are.”

"The smile is still the same though.”

For years I have tried to find a word that described the look I saw in Paul’s face on that first night. Until now, I couldn’t find the right word. But now I know. When I looked into his face what I saw was home.

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