When I am socializing with my friends Sam and Cary, people often ask how we met each other. “Group therapy” is my response. I don’t say this because it is true, which it is, but more because I know how much it annoys Sam. After the awkward silence when the inquisitor has walked away, Sam scrunches up his face and looks at me with utter disgust “Dameron, you don’t need to be so freakin’ honest”. Now that he has given me the green light. The next time I will have a better answer: “It’s kind of a funny story; we were at this methadone clinic….” But I do believe that honesty really is the best policy.

I have only lied once about my relationship with Paul and that was because he asked me to. Not exactly a sound foundation, but it is the little way that we gay couples show our love for each other: by denying their existence so they can keep their job. It was about a year into our relationship. Paul’s company headquarters are located in the Midwest: “God’s country”. As luck would have it, we were both travelling through Germany for separate business trips. I joined Paul at the hotel bar for a drink and met several of his co-workers. His boss turned to me and asked “So, where did you two meet?” Looking down I searched my drink for an answer “AA, but it really didn’t do anything for us.” The lie was so obvious, that it didn’t seem like I was being dishonest. But after that, I vowed to never lie again. OK, that was a lie. I vowed never to lie about my relationship with Paul.

The whole point of the group that Sam, Cary and I attended was to become honest: A twelve week “coming out” support group. We would meet weekly and “check in”. This was our therapist’s way of putting us on the spot. Andy would take a deep breath in and then slowly let it out while saying “Bill, do you want to tell the group about your week?” It seems silly now, being so nervous about telling people we were gay, but during those first few weeks, it was excruciating. “You know, I practiced coming out to my neighbor’s dog, Rusty. He responded pretty well by licking me. Maybe next week I’ll have the courage to come out to my mother.”

Now in any other environment my friends would respond with “You came out to a dog? That is the stupidest fucking shit I have ever heard.” But because this was a supportive and non-judgmental environment, I heard “Good for you Bill. I’m sure that your mother will respond just as well as Rusty, well, minus the licking” followed by a polite round of laughter.

Eventually, it became easier and I soon exhausted all of my avenues for coming out, co-workers, family, friends, The Wal-Mart cashier with one hand on her hip, everyone was fair game: “Well now you go girl! But I’ma’ need you to enter your pin number, precious.” Nobody really seemed to care. Which was nice, but once you experience the drug of being honest, you need another hit.

Soon I learned that honesty could work like a shield, deflecting undesirable situations. Travelling through Bangkok with a sexaholic straight boss can be a challenge. “Bill, I’m going to take that girl, which one do you want?” My boss said. It was the perfect opportunity to be honest. “No shit, you’re gay? Hey, what about him, do you want him?” He didn’t miss a beat, but at least the swarm of prostitutes moved on to more promising prospects.

Acquaintances from my past would contact me through Facebook. “Bill, it’s so good to see you on FB. Last year I married the man of my dreams, he’s a missionary. Have you accepted God as your personal savior?” I would spread a little bit of honesty “You married the man of your dreams? That’s great, so did I!” Poof! She was gone.

But then I applied for a job and went through a session of intensive interviews. I was excited about the job and soon learned that I was at the top of the list of candidates. It was an “Old Boys” club. All of the executives where white middle class straight men. “So, what sports did you play in high school/college?” They would ask. And then came THE question. “Does your wife mind you travelling?” Damn, honesty is a double edged sword. I thought for a minute. “Well, actually my partner travels a lot himself.” And just like that, Poof! The job was gone.

I lamented to a friend about how I was discriminated against. It was an outrage! I wished that I had the opportunity to make the decision about the job instead of having it made for me. “But you did make a decision.” He said. This made me pause and think. He was right. Honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.


Gambling Man

If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that I might get checked out more than I realize. Because I think that number is somewhere close to zero, I would probably win the bet. Or, at least I hope that I would win the bet. This is why I don’t gamble. Gambling takes a certain amount of confidence. And confidence is what makes average looking people more attractive.

If someone were to stare at me in a bar for instance, I might think that my hair was sticking up in a funny way. After I checked my reflection and was assured that everything was in place, no spinach between my teeth or stains on my shirt, I would look behind me to see if I could figure out who that person was staring at. Then I would do something goofy like forget to close my mouth after taking a sip of my drink. I guess that’s just the way I was raised. Of course I was raised as a closeted gay man in the south. Years of telling yourself
that you are not attracted to other people coupled with an unhealthy dose of self-deprecation can do wonders for your self-confidence.

None of this matters anymore because I have Paul. If you were to ask him how many times I was the object of someone’s attention he would offer an unrealistically high number. “Did you see that guy check you out?” He might say. “Who, that grey haired man with the walker, how can you tell? His eyes are crossed.” I would reply. Then he would say “No, that guy” and point out the twenty two year old jogger with six percent body fat. I guess you could say that we balance each other out.

When I created my online dating profile years ago, it was excruciating. The point is to describe yourself in a way that exudes self-confidence without seeming too boastful. You also want to appear comfortable with your attractiveness. Let me just say that there are a lot of guys out there with some very healthy egos. “Well, what can I say? Both of my parents were models, it’s a burden really, believe me!”

A lot of profiles begin with what could only be described as notations for a custom made suit: Chest 46 inches, waist 32 inches, height 6’ 2”. Except that there are some measurements that really aren't required, unless the pants are going to be extremely well tailored. I mostly breezed past these profiles, pausing just long enough to compare the photos to the text.

You also don’t want to reveal too much about yourself right up front. If the profile was more than four paragraphs, five tops, you could be certain that the emotional baggage was equally heavy. Full disclosure is rarely required or desired.

Posting no photo is the kiss of death. You are either so hideous that no amount of good lighting can compensate or you are married.

The text of  gay men's profiles reads like those legal document templates that you can buy on the Internet: Standard language that can be selected from a list to create a custom profile. “Comfortable in my own skin, Able to laugh at myself, well adjusted”. Often verbs are discarded entirely: “SWGM, D/D Free, Top, LTR optional”

When I finally felt comfortable and published my profile, it was a boost to receive some notice. A lot of that could be attributed to being fresh meat. The dating pool for a gay man is quite a bit smaller than the general population. The dating pool for a recently out, previously married forty something year old gay man with kids is somewhere closer to twenty. Half of these were of the five paragraph profile variety and the first ones to contact me. But still, it was a start: Enough to give me confidence to contact Paul.

For a long time I worried that people would think I was a six who thought he was an eight dating a ten. But eventually my confidence increased. The beauty of being with someone you love and find to be one of the most attractive people you know is that it increases your confidence. If Paul finds me irresistible, maybe that guy at the end of the bar really is checking me out.

The other night we were sitting side by side on the sofa and Paul rolled up magazine. He turned towards me with the magazine held up to his eye like a telescope and said something to the effect of “Hey there sailor”, In a flirty way. I put my eye up to the other end and his response was “Oh this close up of your eye is not a good look, I can see all of your wrinkles, it looks like your eye is 102 years old.” As my eyes narrowed he continued “It looks like a whale eye.” In my mind, I can’t turn the phrase 102 year old whale eye into any type of compliment. But I guess that’s the beauty of being in love. If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that there were no other eyes that he would rather look into.


Giving Thanks

Sunday mornings in New Hampshire are sacred in our house. It is a time to pause and reflect. While the rest of the world may continue on its hurried pace I close my eyes and give thanks: Thanks for the extra sleep, and thanks for our “Sleep Number” bed. I am a 55 in case you are wondering. Thanks for the Keurig coffee maker and thanks for the Boston Globe being delivered to our corner store. Once Paul tried to pass off the local conservative paper when they had run out of the Globe. We don’t talk about that incident anymore.

This is how our Sunday mornings typically progress. Paul is up two hours before me. I stumble down stairs and am greeted with a “Hello sleepy head.” The kids are still sleeping and I manage to make a cup of coffee before sinking into the sofa and reading the newspaper. I Start reading the front page and follow in order each section until I reach the Ideas section, Parade next and the Globe magazine last. Traditions are important.

Today, I stumble downstairs and experience a shocking revelation. Paul is on speed. He doesn’t drink caffeine, so I can’t blame it on that. “Are you going to eat eggs or do you want a waffle?” He says. Before I can answer he adds “Because I’m cleaning the stove now, so if you’re going to have eggs you better make them now.” I am bewildered. I don’t answer questions on Sunday mornings for at least one hour after waking. I thought we all understood this. “Um, a waffle” I mumble. As soon as I set my coffee cup on the counter it is swiftly moved to a “containment” area for dirty things. I haven’t showered yet, so I am afraid that I will be quarantined next.

“So when you are done with your breakfast, I need you to do a few things.” Paul says as I witness a blur move from the kitchen into the family room. “Do a few things?” I think to myself. But this is Sunday. We don’t do things on Sunday morning. That is why God invented them. So that people could sleep late, read the paper and watch trash TV. Not only is he on drugs, but he has lost his religion!

While eating my waffle I narrow my eyes and watch Paul pull out every Yankee Candle that we own. Monique, our thirteen year old is fully absorbed with reading her book. I think it is a tactic to avoid getting swept up into all of this cleaning business. If she were in China, she would have sewn more than one hundred articles of clothing by this time in the morning.

“We need the bathrooms cleaned and there are flowers that need to be arranged throughout the house and I need you to stage the shelf in the dining room.” Paul spits out my tasks. All I can think of is where is my newspaper? That is what I live for on Sunday mornings. As if he is reading my mind: “Oh, the paper is on the front seat of the car. We need to be out of here by noon. The open house starts at one PM.”

“Haven’t we sold this house yet?” I am thinking to myself. “This house is too perfect. That’s why it hasn’t sold. People are intimidated.” I say out loud. Paul gives me a look that says. “You are not getting out of these chores.” I walk to the bathroom resigned to start cleaning. There is one of the Yankee Candles that Paul has placed throughout the house burning on top of the toilet: Mistletoe. It smells like someone shit a Christmas tree.

"Is it really necessary for our bathroom to smell like Christmas?” I yell out to Paul. Instead of answering he starts singing Christmas Carols. “Up on the toilet, plop, plop, plop, down through the plumbing goes Mr. Slop.” Pretty soon we are all singing Christmas carols in the middle of September. But it is Sunday, time to pause and reflect and make a little time for God. My mother would be so proud.


Boys Beware!

While I am busy finishing up a writing assigment, I want to give you something to enjoy.  A classic little film that will leave you laughing your asses off.  Enjoy!



My friend Tina has great hair. It falls in long luxurious cinnamon brown curls framing her face perfectly. Strangers offer her compliments on it. While I shuffle down the street never meeting anyone’s eyes, she waves and smiles as if she were the grand marshal in a parade. I would too if I had her hair. We are discussing this while sipping on long straws protruding from a fish bowl in a restaurant called the Red Lantern. This is the kind of deep conversation that spontaneously materializes when you have finished drinking the Yin scorpion bowl and are half way through the Yang.

“Well, now I do have a little help with it.” She says while taking a long sip and flipping her hair over her shoulders. I am not quite getting it. Then she continues to explain. “This hair” she says while grabbing a chunk on the top of her head “is real, and these on the sides are synthetic.”

I feel like I did when I asked my mother if Santa Claus was real. “What in the hell do you think?” My mother said absent-mindedly while exhaling a curl of cigarette smoke. Yes I was twelve and really should have known better, but at what age was I expected to discern the difference between real hair and a weave?

Paul and I lean forward as Tina begins to explain the process. “And it takes how long?” I ask. “Now I don’t just have anyone do it. You really need to have a ‘bff’ that can do it for you. We get to talking and laughing and then have a few drinks, so it can take the better part of a night.” she says, nodding like this is something we should already know.

“And how often do you have it done?” I ask.

At some point in a relationship you get to a stage where no spoken words are necessary. Paul and I have reached this point. His sidelong glance at me says “Don’t even think about it.” My raised eyebrows and slightly shrugged shoulders say “what, I can’t even think about how a weave would look on my head?”

Tina interrupts our telepathic conversation by pulling out her Blackberry and shows us a picture of herself at 18. “Is that you or Condoleeza Rice?” Paul asks. It’s true. The hair is a dead ringer, but the face is still Tina. She then flips to a more recent photo and suddenly the hair is blonde and full and I guess the best word is dangerous. This time she is Tina Turner.

“That was my Vegas hair.” She says. “I have a cruise coming up so I’ll have real hair woven in because the synthetic stuff curls up and honey, there is no straightening it after it hits the water.”

There are suddenly multiple Tina's. Who is the real one? My head becomes dizzy. I am not sure if it is from the parade of hair choices or the scorpion bowls.

“You should have seen Bill when we first met.” Paul chimes in. I am telepathically telling Paul to shut the hell up, but he is ignoring me. “His online photo looked so clean cut. Then he showed up at the restaurant with a shaved head and goatee. He looked like a biker. He was over two hundred pounds then, but when he got up from the table and walked away, I saw that cute little bu…” “OK, OK, she gets the picture!” I cut Paul off. I decide that it is better to get this conversation under my own control. So I pull out my iPhone and flip to my “biker” look.
“OK, all right now!” Surprisingly, Tina seems to like this look. I flip to a picture when I was twenty one. Yes, I actually have these photos on Facebook. “That’s my favorite. He looks like Clark Kent.” Paul says. It’s my favorite too. My hair was thick and jet black. I miss that hair. If you put all of my photos together you would see a repressed young Republican, a gay porno actor and finally a middle aged “let’s deal best with what’s left” look.

Our meal arrives and Tina is preparing to eat Sushi for the very first time. I point out the options and ask her to try the Caterpillar roll. She does not hesitate to place a whole piece in her mouth. After swallowing she says with pride “Can you believe it? I just ate a caterpillar!” I want to tell her that it’s not really made with caterpillars, but the fact that she thought it was and still ate it surprises me even more. 

This is the real Tina: daring, sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, but always beautiful, just like her hair.



Her hands moved with a young woman’s grace but they carried the memories of harsh prairie winters and sun drenched days. How many times I watched them smooth unseen wrinkles from her grey woolen skirt and coax silver wisps of hair back into place. When my grandmother Mary thought of me did her hands remember the shape of my face?

They rest over her heart now just as they did when she watched my hands glide over piano keys: The echo of her heartbeat in my heart. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a writer. Her hands were strong.

The section above is part of a 100 word challenge for adults, brought to you by The Head's Office.  You can find other entries at http://www.theheadsoffice.co.uk/.  The prompt for this week was ...Mary thought....and the genre chosen was non-fiction.

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