On Vacation!


Greetings From Maine
See you Next week!

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Sunflower

We would always pull up a chair when Ron began to tell a story.  It wasn’t so much because he knew how to weave words together in a way that held us in breathless anticipation; nor was it because he was a master of the surprise ending.  It was more because we wanted to be comfortable while he rambled, often losing sight of the story’s point.  After a good amount of time, he would reach the end of the story and invariably end it with his signature dismissive phrase “And all that kind of stuff.”  Story over.

Ron was a tall, thin man with a large nose, big heart and a warm smile.  You couldn’t really mention Ron without adding “and Dean”.  The two were inseparable.  When Paul first introduced them to me, he referred to them as his gay fathers.  They were not, in fact, related to him by blood, but they were by heart.  After I met them the first time Ron issued an uncharacteristic short reply when Paul asked him what he thought of me.  “He’s a keeper.”

If I can’t separate the words Ron and Dean, it is even harder to split apart the words Ron and summer. Paul and I would drive up to southern Maine on summer weekends and watch our cares wash away with the tide.  The days seemed to stretch out wider than the blue sky.  At night we would always meet Ron and Dean, who called Ogunquit, Maine their weekend home.
I should correct myself.  It wasn’t Ron and Dean, but Ron and Crystal Chandelier that we would meet.  Dean is a slight, quiet man, but his alter ego, Crystal Chandelier is like Oprah, all hair, make-up and personality; but whiter, blonder, much thinner and a vision of glitter, feathers and sequins. Ron always coordinated his suits to match and would stand tall and proud, nodding and basking in the glow.
One summer the four of us rented a cottage together.  It would be the first time that I met Dean as himself.  I am ashamed to admit it now, but during the early part of our relationship, I often wondered why a man would find another man who sometimes dressed as a woman attractive.  While we sat on the deck on a sunny afternoon that summer, Ron began a story with twists and turns and diversions that taxed my ability to find a point.  Every time I thought the story had reached its conclusion, Dean would join us on the deck with a drink; each time looking more like Crystal.  When I asked Ron how long it took Dean to complete the transformation he quipped “Four hours and a bottle of booze.”
Finally, Ron reached the conclusion which was a story about the first time he saw Dean. “He was wearing only a pair of jeans, a feather boa and walked right past me.  I thought, that’s the guy for me.”  Just then Crystal appeared, a blinding vision, and said “If you are going to do something, it’s only worth doing if you do it all the way.”  I could then see what Ron saw in Dean.  It wasn’t the hair, make up or glitter.  He loved him because he bloomed in the light radiated by Dean's fierce heart.
When we went into the club, people clamored to have photographs taken with Crystal. They were celebrities. Ron stood lovingly by Dean’s side reveling in the glow.  At one point during the evening I began to notice more men join us offering to buy me and Paul drinks.  After we left, I mentioned to Ron that their celebrity had benefits.  He looked at me and flatly said “They didn't buy us drinks because of Dean.  They bought us drinks because when you were in the restroom, I told them you used to be a gay porn star.”
Eventually summer ended and Ron’s own story reached its conclusion. His knee started acting up six months ago. Cancer had spread from his lungs to his entire body.  He didn’t burden us with this knowledge.  He simply stood in the background nodding like a sunflower until the end. But, I know something now that I didn’t know then.  I underestimated Ron's ability to weave a wonderful story, capable of great humor and a surprise ending.
And all that kind of stuff.


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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A Maine Romance

If you are looking for love, do not build a house in Maine.

Do not sit on a wide sandy beach under a blue sky painted with wispy white clouds and listen to the romantic sounds of distant bell buoys and laughing gulls. Do not drive along Route one with the car windows down, salty sea air in your hair and marvel at rolling green lawns, craggy ocean side cliffs and white clapboard homes. Do not sip from a glass of wine in a harbor side restaurant at sunset while watching a sailboat’s brilliant white sail bend against the wind.

Above all, do not wander into an open house and talk to a builder about upgrades.  You will fall in love and when he ultimately becomes unavailable? Your heart will be broken.

Our affair began as all affairs do.  We coveted.  We desired.  We had to have it at any cost.

His words were too hard to resist.  “This view?  It’s the best in the development” our builder, Mark said as he winked at us.  He was a burly man with a gruff voice, but he knew exactly what to say. “You want a shower with two heads?  I can give it to you.”  He whispered.

Paul looked at me and he knew in that instant, I was smitten.

The affair continued in a whirl wind of expensive gifts: upgrades and options.  Nothing was too dear for our Maine cottage.  Yes, we must have custom audio visual, anything less than hardwoods, granite, stainless steel and custom tile would cheapen our love, our precious.

We would visit on weekends, intoxicated by the heady elixir of a new romance.  We watched our love grow.  The bare bones of the frame became smooth walls, the glint of the hardwood floors in the afternoon sun flirted with us.

Then one day Mark casually asked “Have you seen the shower?”

It was a thing of beauty.  Smooth glass and marble tile stretched from wall to wall.  Two shower heads on either side beckoned to us.  “Go ahead, step in!”  Mark jokingly ordered us.

There we stood, two men fully clothed standing in a shower looking slightly embarrassed.  Mark laughed at us and said “You are too cute.”  It was the pinnacle of our relationship.

But on the day of consummation, the closing, the love began to sour.  Others were introduced into the relationship.  “This is Hank; he’s going to finish your tile.”  Mark said casually as he hopped into his Corvette and disappeared, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.

“But today is the closing, will it be completed? And what about the stove, shouldn’t it be in the kitchen instead of on the front deck?”  I asked Hank, trying not to sound jilted.

“Oh, yeah, yeah, I’ll be here all next week to finish up that stuff, but I have a court appearance that I’m late for.  I’ll see you in five to ten.”  He laughed manically as he stepped into his truck and drove away.

“He was joking, right?” I asked, searching Paul’s face for answers.

“About going to prison or finishing up our cottage?”  Paul answered my question with a question.  I didn’t know which was more alarming.

We began to find telltale signs of infidelity.  The tile in the shower was unfinished.  There was no refrigerator and the dishwasher was merely for show.  Our home was only a shell.  A pretty shell, but a shell nonetheless.

Over the following days, our time with Mark and Hank began to dwindle.  It was clear they were spending time at other cottages.

“What did we do wrong?” I asked Paul.

“They’ll be back.  They always come back.” He tried to sound re-assuring.

Week after week we would receive empty promises.  “I’ll be by in the morning.”  Hank would say.  I would stand by the window trying not to appear too eager.  Hank would show up sometime late in the afternoon, reeking with the smell of construction materials from another cottage.

“You’ve been working at someone else’s cottage haven’t you?”  I demanded answers.  Little things would get done, but his heart wasn’t in it anymore.

Eventually, we found a support group.  Other cottage owners came forward for a “Get to know you” cook out.  We met Renee and Roger first.  We poured our hearts out as we sipped vodka tonics from our green and blue tumblers.

“Oh honey, we’ve been here for three years. You’re nothing special.”  Renee said as she took a long sip and peered over her sunglasses.

“Are you a top or a bottom?”  She quizzed me.

“Excuse me?”  I thought I misunderstood.

“A top or bottom unit?”  She asked, slightly annoyed.

“Oh, we’re tops.”  I answered.

 “Then the dust from the unpaved street shouldn’t bother you too much.  Do you know how long we have been waiting for this road to be paved?  Don’t worry, it will get done.  But, you’re on Maine time now.  Everything is a little s-l-o-w-e-r here.”  She took another long sip and then barked “Roger, I’m empty!”

Sometimes, I will see Hank’s truck and Mark’s Corvette parked in the development and experience a little thrill.  But, I won’t let myself think about those early days when they couldn’t keep their tools off of our cottage.  I’m in it for the long haul.

They’ll be back.  They always come back.  


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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Second Best Every Fourth of July

But I idolized my big brother and continued to do everything he did, always one year behind. He got married, I got married, he had children, and I had children. When he ended his marriage he told me that he just wanted to be happy. After all those years of following in his footsteps I never looked up to see where I was going.


Please click here to read the full post on The Huffington Post

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