Title and picture? Well, if Jesus came to earth to die then that's suicide so why is it a big fat sin for the rest of us? Same way if God knocked up Mary while she was married to Joseph why is adultery such a fucking no-no? This Abraham dude, after leading people across the desert for forty years, got kicked out of the promised land for hitting a rock with a stick. I've had bosses like that. I can't help but think of them as assholes. And don't get me started on shellfish as an abomination, unless of course you're talking Red Lobster in which case I totally agree. (Imagine a space and a new paragraph starting here, even though there's not.)
Just wanted to leave on a suitably blasphemous note. Cause the hosting site for this blog has randomly decided to ignore how written speech is supposed to look and for me, that's blasphemy. You see what I'm talking about here? After "...I totally agree" there was supposed to be a new paragraph, a bit of timing, to let the joke (granted, not the world's best but not the world's worst) linger a bit. But jumpin' Jehovah, I can't work under these conditions. (Imagine a new paragraph starting here.)
We're done here. Not for good, but it's time to move. Blogspot ain't what it used to be and doesn't seem to give a crap that no, I'd just as soon NOT have all of my words fused into one steaming shitbrick of text instead of using silly things like paragraph breaks and formatting to express my opinions. So I'm packing up the paper mache' skeletons, black lights and Kool-Aid-mixed-with-flour fake blood and moving. (Imgine a new paragraph starting again.)
Please come join me for Der Spookhaus v. 2.0 at derspookhaus.wordpress.com . New look. Sleek style. Same old dick and fart jokes. (Imagine a little bit of space between the wall of text and the video.)
Now, I had some wackadoo folks whose ideas of parenting were a bit, er, 'unconventional' to put it kindly. Forced enemas as punishment. Being made to strip down to my underwear and breathe heavily while lifting weights as my father looked on disapprovingly. This weird diagram where all of my friends had to be my exact age or I couldn't be friends with them, unless they went to my church. There was some same strange stuff. But god damn, at least I got to go outside, ride bikes in nothing but short pants, play wherever I wanted until the streetlights came on, listen to whatever music I liked (okay, this one was a little strange in that I couldn't READ anything I liked without parental approval, but with music I had carte blanche)plus I had enough alone time to play with matches, make my own explosives, have furtive sex, fall out of trees, say no to proffered drugs, play Mystery Date with the neighbor girls, prove I was shitty at football, convince my friends that we should turn their garage into a spook house, get beaten up by bullies, win at kick the can, watch Night Gallery at a neighbor's house, have a sleepover in tents in some kid's backyard, and on and on.
So if you've read some of the stories I've told here you know that there were a lot of damned peculiar things going on inside the house. But, and here's the thing, I was allowed to have a life outside the house. And outside the house is where I learned that it's not a good idea to try and make a roller coaster out of an expandable wooden ladder stretching from the roof to the ground that you're going to ride down on a toy wagon. Outside the house is where I learned that a well-placed, funny, insult can keep the school bully from picking on you. Outside the house is where I learned, oh boy, not everything anyone tells you is absolutely true all the time.
And it's that last one, I bet, that gives parents the heebie-jeebies. The current term for this is 'helicopter parents': people so involved in their little precious children's lives that the child can't have a moment alone and the child is constantly monitored to make sure not a single, independent influence is thrusted upon them and not a single thought enters their brain not pre-approved by those who know best: Mommy and Daddy. Now yeah, it would be easy to pinpoint the Evangelical Fundies who homeschool and you'd probably be right, because like any cult, independent thought is the devil's Team Fortress 2. (So no video games allowed, either.)
But this culture of I'm-gonna-keep-my-kid-stuffed-up-my-cunt-like-a-goddamn-marsupial is so much more sickeningly widespread than the people bent out of shape over chicken sandwiches. A friend showed me a birthday party invitation his hippy-dippy girlfrend's kid had been sent. Attached to the bottom was this ominous warning: "Note: The party is Star Wars themed and foam weapons will be distributed. For those not wishing their children to be involved in this kind of violence, a 'No Play' area will be provided."
Oh yeah. I wanna be the kid in the 'No Play' area. Cause that's a goddamn party.
It's part of what it means to be a parent anymore, and it scares me shitless. Lady tried to sue the school board because her kid struck out at a baseball game--she felt he really ought to run around the bases and was pissed when he didn't. (Ain't making this one up; it actually happened.) Kids can't ride a bike without enough plastic and padding to look like Optimus Prime. Elmer Fudd's shotgun is being digitally erased.
I think I'm going to go with koo-koo parents who say the end the world is coming next week and here's the proof instead of this. I got off lucky.
And with this, I think I am going to close down Der Spookhaus at this address. Blogger is intent on ignoring formatting and fusing every paragraph into one giant blob of text. You can come back here to see the old stuff, if you want, but I think the time has come to move the site to somewhere else. Check back here for the link to the new place.
Soon as I get it figured out I'll let you know.
I was moving away from home, a relief to all concerned, and found my first apartment and job in Gallipolis, Ohio, a town as I’ve noted about as big as the period at the end of this sentence. (The jokes don’t write themselves, folks; sometimes you have to bring out the summer re-runs.) I found an ad in the paper for an apartment to rent and went there. The first thing I noticed was that the sidewalk, stairs and guardrail were all spray-painted fluorescent orange, like the entire building had been gang-tagged. Since it was Gallipolis, probably not the case as the only resident gang members were two guys in baggy pants who shoplifted from the hardware store.
The reason for the ostentatious display of fire-orange paint was because the landlady was legally blind. In fact, she was all the way blind, so I doubt she knew her aid to seeing the place made her house look like crap. The first thing she told me, even before I looked at the apartment, was “You will not bring strange women to your room. I’ll not have my home turned into a whorehouse.” Can do, I thought. I also thought if that is how I come across, she’s gotta be REALLY blind. Also, it crossed my mind that anyone described as a strange woman would probably turn out to be a pretty good friend. I’ve met some strange women in the years since and it’s usually been the case.
The apartment was pretty damn ugly, but at the time I did not have the discriminating, rarefied taste in living quarters I do now.
My job was working as an X-ray tech in a local Medical Center, a job at which I was terribly not good. I got fired for, among other reasons, pinching a woman on the butt, my thinking being, hey, I’m gay so how the hell can that be sexual harassment or offensive, a concept I have difficulty understanding to this very day. I mean, not that I run around goosing women anymore but a lot of shit I think is funny other people…do not.
So I had to get a job, anything, no doubt a few steps down on the economic ladder from what I’d been used to—again, a situation that seems to keep happening. I saw a sign on a shoe store reading ‘Help Wanted’ so I went in and talked to the manager. He was actually one of the funniest, smartest people in that teency town I’d ever talked to. I liked him on sight, but not in the way he instantly liked me. He was closeted but somehow sensed I was gay, too. It might have been the fuzzy pink sweater I was wearing. (My clothing options have changed considerably; now my decisions are based on, well, this doesn’t smell TOO rank so I guess I’ll put it on.)
So I got hired and we became friends, and he wanted a lot more than I could give, because I just wasn’t attracted. Besides, I was madly in love with someone else. To him, this did not serve as a plausible excuse for why we shouldn’t be together. Things got creepy; there were many offers for unsolicited back-rubs. He told me, “You know, I parked my car in your parking lot last night, happy just to watch your building and know you were in there.” Yow-ok. Things were starting to get messy.
Then there was the night he refused to leave. “Okay, good night, Shoe Store Manager, I’m going to bed.”
”I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here with you tonight.”
”No, you’re not. The night’s over, I’m going to sleep.”
”And I am going to stay here tonight and watch you sleep.”
Jesus Motherfucking Godzilla. “NO, you’re not staying here. It’s time to go home.” He did this thoroughly insane thing where he shut his eyes tightly and shook his head back and forth, like no, no, no I’m not hearing this and god damn, everything is going down the way my crazed fantasies want them to and that’s just the way it’s going to happen. You get face to face with that kind of nuts and you get scared. Things were starting to blur; I really did like him as a friend but this kind of crap was starting to be a deal-breaker. “Okay, since you’re refusing to leave, I’m calling the police.”
“Go ahead,” he said.
I picked up the phone and dialed 911. “You’re an asshole,” he said, as he bolted. It might have been true, but I doubt so much in this specific case.
Shortly after I moved from teeny-tiny Gallipolis to my beloved Columbus, where I lived with my friend Michael. One day, Michael told me, “You know, I’ve really got to tell you something. Your shoe store manager has followed you here and has been living here. And he’s been keeping tabs on you.”
Goddamn Michael. It would have been nice to have known this sooner.
But, you might ask, what would a complete idiot do in this situation? What would someone who was totally incapable of learning through experience; someone who’s hope for the best might as well be an illness do? I’ll tell you what they would do—they would move in with the shoe store stalker, which is just what I did. I just assumed I’d made it crystal clear that no romance or sexy-time was ever, ever going to happen and figured that would be the end of it.
First night in our shared space: “Do you want me to rub your back a little bit?” No, no I do not.
And I got every bit as weird as him. The fact that I loved someone who didn’t love me back made me feel like I was dying. So, I told him I was dying. Yeah, there’s a good move when someone’s not only crazy about you but just plain crazy. Plus, I was wearing parachute pants so I can’t say my judgment was all that sound. “Oh yes, I’ll be dead soon,”I said, cause I really thought it. I made up this lie that I had pernicious anemia, cause saying I was dying of angst-ridden heartbreak would have sounded as stupid as it was. Unfortunately, I gave Shoe Store Manager the book to read I’d stolen the idea from and the jig was up. I’m not that bright.
He went on a passive-aggressive tirade and just didn’t speak to me for months. Uh-oh, this ain’t good, cause the opposite of love isn’t hate; the opposite of love is indifference. I’d beg him; “Fuck it! Tell me what’s wrong and maybe we’ll fix it and maybe we won’t!” but nope. He just wouldn’t speak and it was a very awkward series of months. But finally, he spoke. It was my birthday. “I made you something,” he said. It was a cake pan full of chocolate pudding stuffed with little, plastic dinosaurs. “I call it La Brea Tar Pit.”
I got the hell out of Columbus. I moved for love. Again, I’m not that bright.
Ten years later, back in town. Fifteen years later after that, life had gone to hell in a handbasket. In the meantime, though, I’d talked to Shoe Store Manager on the Internet and on the phone, and it seemed as though, you know, we were back on the same page where we were friends and there wasn’t going to be any insinuations. And for a change, I was the one who had gone stark, raving crazy. I was out of my damn mind, couldn’t think straight and thought the best plan of action was to leave the best job I ever had and run, run away. So I asked him, can I come and live with you for a little while, cause I’m going out of my damn mind? Also, I want to bring my cat.
Amazingly, he said yes. He lived in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, a place that make Gallipolis seem like goddamn Manhattan, but my mindset at the time was flee at all costs. So my friend Joe drove me halfway, Shoe Store Manager’s sister met us at the midway point and was going to drive me back the rest of the way. You understand, life as I knew it was unsettled to crap and back, I was shaking like a leaf at just the sheer uncertainty of the whole situation—which I did knowingly but still was kind of freaking over—and it didn’t help when Shoe Store Manager called his sister, asked to speak to me and said in a slow, measured and altogether creepy voice, “So are you a frightened bunny?”
Well, ya know, I wouldn’t have personally put in those terms but after hearing this, yes, yes I think I am.
It was his creepy voice. The same one offering back rubs I hadn’t heard for 25 years. He’d seemed so normal and fun lately and the guy I liked hanging with, but no, back now that I was on the way to live with him again his tone of voice had changed from someone desperately trying to sound alluring. It did not work and instead the flesh crawled off my bones.
Now his sister, she was driving a van up the winding mountains of Virginia and a snowstorm had hit and snow and ice was all over the road. The vehicle was sliding all over the place, with her saying “We gonna get there in time! We gonna get there in time!” and then just let drop with this chestnut: “You know what? Sometimes I just pass out behind the wheel! I don’t know why, I just do and sometimes I end up in the ditch.” I was a scared little bunny.
Somehow we made it there in one piece. And it was good to see Shoe Store Manager again, at least for the first night. Now he has some health issues (and apparently has a crackpot doctor that prescribes him an entire wall of prescriptions, which he unfortunately thinks he needs) and the next morning Shoe Store Manager was doing some projecting and wanted to make sure I didn’t have them as well. Now, I was in a bad place and thought, hell, if a guy is going to let me come live with him it’s perfectly normal for him to do a finger stick and test me for diabetes. It’s not, of course, but like I say I was sort of batshit at the time, so hey, why not, draw blood and let’s get this over with. You see, though, this was only the first step in his wanting to be some kind of nurturing, authority figure. Which is really the last goddamn approach you’d ever want to take with me if you were going to be met with any sort of success.
So fuck, he took my blood pressure, he took my temperature, he would have done a bowel chart if I would have let him. I put up with it because, hey, this nice man is helping save me from myself…but things just got too far. All the time. If I was washing dishes or cooking dinner he would sidle up behind me and start telling me how I was doing it wrong and needed to do it the right way. If the dish is damn clean or the meal is tasty, fuck you, it’s not the method but the end result. But no, everything had to be done in a specific way and if it wasn’t the Shoe Store Manager way it was wrong. Oh, did this get on my nerves.
And that, hellish enough to endure, I probably could have lived with were it not for the creepy factor. I was crashing on the couch. His bedroom was on the other side of the trailer but he would NOT shut his damn door, claiming it was for the benefit of his cat to roam free. Now nobody other than me knows how a lonely man can love his cat, but in this case it meant he was perched across his bed, staring out the open door and watching me sleep just like he wanted to do years ago. Shut the damn door and let the cat shit in the box in your room. With him doing that, though, I didn’t get much sleep. I mentioned this, and here was his suggestion: “Maybe you’d like to masturbate. I have some tissues and lotion.” Like I was ever going to fucking close my eyes after that. I’d been faked out, the phone calls and Facebook chats were lies and the real deal was that the Shoe Store Manager was once again thinking about me in a sexual scenario I just didn’t want.
How did I cope with this? I drank. I was trying to get away from doing that, but when essentially some guy tells you he wants to pet his cat and watch you jerk off your options for dealing are limited. Shoe Store Manager was not wild about this and of course turned it into a thing all about him: “What would you do,” he asked, “If you were entrusted to take care of someone, to protect someone, and they kept drinking beer?”
“You’re NOT entrusted to take care of me or protect me; I just needed a place to live for a while! I don’t even know how to answer your damn question because it’s some weird world you live in that I don’t.”
My solution to the problem: Jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. And that might be a story for another time.
I met this guy and he was just as hot as could be; like everything I want that makes blood rush to a different part of my body, but there was one thing wrong: NO sense of humor, which you pretty much have to have if you’re going to hang with me or else I’ll just come across as an asshole.
He was into me, though, a thing that keeps happening I don’t even understand: It’s infrequent I hook up, but when I do, it’s usually with someone physically way, way out of my league. I’m not all that special and as the years pass it’s getting worse, but somehow, I keep landing model-gorgeous guys until I eventually drive them away. This man, though, was lust made flesh, at least on my terms. Long hair: check. Borderline anorexic: yep, you could count the ribs and play them like a xylophone. Cheekbones in danger of splitting flesh. Eyes you could dive in and swim around in.
And then there was his monster dick, which I suppose gay guys are supposed to find hot, but logistically created certain problems. There was no way that thing was going into me, especially with spit for lube. And I’ve always prided myself on my ability to dislocate my jaw like a python, but in this case it was like trying to go down on a fire hydrant. Awkward. There’s this completely hot, naked man in bed next to me but his penis is like one of the sand-worms from Dune and I really didn’t know what to do with it.
That, that, could have been worked around. We could have figured something out. But lying there naked, with his bigass pecker flopping up against his nips, he said “You keep making jokes. I don’t like jokes. All humor is based on cruelty.”
Well yeah. That’s what makes it funny.
But oh damn. A gorgeous naked man was telling me I should be serious all the time. Now I’m not saying it works on every attempt and I know there are some pretty lousy fails, but trying to be funny is what I fucking do. Now I should have said get the hell out, slapped him in the face with a cream pie and doused him down with seltzer, but my dick was doing the talking (which compared to his could have been measured with a micrometer.) And so I tried. I tried not to be funny. We went on a date and a fat woman was shoving fried eggs down her throat using her fingers. I don’t think my resolve has ever been so tested. I didn’t point it out, I didn’t make a comment, but I did excuse myself to the restroom to laugh like an idiot.
Days passed and I did my best to not make any damn jokes. Although a slew of giant pecker one-liners crossed my mind. He told me my brain was a wonderland. I just thought he looked good without any clothes.
And so he had to go to Mexico for school and was gone six weeks. I missed him; I did. I also thought Mexico is one of the cheapest places to get penis-reduction surgery but I didn’t mention it. He finally came back and who knows what happened: either he turned into a complete ass or I did, or we both did, who knows? Its just things weren’t the same. I’d gone back to trying to be funny about everything, he called me on it and said I was a mean person because of it (he might have been right on this one) and we fought like rabid cats. I can, at times, be a spot-on gifted mimic, especially if I’m pissed off. I did a righteous imitation of his bitchy queen voice and I think that was the nail in the coffin. There wasn’t going to be any more big-dick sex after that.
Here’s the thing: I’ve pretty much stayed on good terms with all my old boyfriends; hey, we shared something nice so when things change, okay, it’s not what it was but we had that and now it’s something different and life moves on and I still like you. Not this guy. He hated me. He fucking hated me. I’d go out and I’d see him and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” and you would have thought I’d thrown a bowel movement in his face and pissed on his chest.
“Fine,” he’d say but with this frigid, fuck-you demeanor. I’d try to talk but he’d look away with no response and making it clear I was dead to him.
“So, uh, you seeing anybody?” cause he was super-attractive and I figured that would be going on and maybe a conversation starter.
A blank stare, a head turned away from me.
You know what, I’m done with this.
“So Terry Schaivo and a child molester walk into a bar…”
S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A and I have been dating for some time and I’d like to clear up some misconceptions. He’s not homophobic, he just thinks gay sex is filthy or, as he puts it, “at least when it’s done right.”
S., as I call him, is a good man and fine boyfriend as long as he has a supply of those little blue pills. He’s very business oriented. “My franchise is expanding”, he said. “Mine too,” I said, looking down.
The wife thing. That’s a problem. But he needs someone to go to church with and it ain’t gonna be me. I’ve met her a few times and it hasn’t gone well. She once slapped me in the side of the head with a hand full of cole slaw and in return I boxed her ears with a couple of biscuits. “Keep it civil, ladies,” S. cried (he thinks of me as a woman in order to deal with some issues he has) and forcibly restrained her from going after me with a serrated knife. She bit him on the arm, drawing blood. It was not the best picnic I’ve been to.
S. is fine with the cocksucking and all, he just doesn’t believe two guys should get married. (Although a guy in a gown and veil gets him pretty hot. He has a wedding dress in a box under his bed he makes me put on; a sexy little number with a mini-skirt and thigh-length hose and garters. Just the sight of me in that, prancing and blowing kisses, causes him to, ironically enough, choke the chicken, if you know what I mean. He usually puts on a confederate soldier outfit and spanks me with a riding crop. I have welts across the back of my legs as a testament to his love.) But he mis-spoke in the press about his feelings toward homosexuals and now there’s a shitstorm of bad things being said that doesn’t at all relate to the man I love and who loves me, thanks to the Pos-T-Vac. It’s true, he smacks me across my whore mouth while he’s giving me a rim job and beats off while listening to Focus on the Family, but S. is just a regular guy like you or me or Mel Gibson. (I can’t count the times we’ve seen the first twenty minutes of The Passion of the Christ.) Also, during sex he tends to call me Robby Benson.
But he’s not this hater everyone is trying to make him out to be. Sure, I’ve lost a tooth or two and been called faggot a couple of times while he was trying to stuff his crank in my manhole, but that shit happens. If someone loves you, there’s bound to be a point where they blacken your eye while spurting on your chest. Afterwards, there’s cuddle time so it all works out ok. An elderly man snakes his hand into yours and says “I love you, dick-smoker”, details his plan for putting jalapenos on a chicken breast and all is right with the universe. I pat him affectionately on his colostomy bag and drift off to sleep.
I showed S. how the whole damn Internet was talking about his comments and that he was the poster child for being a tool. He didn’t get it. “I’m doing right by the Lord,” he said, then went into a conversation about who was hotter, Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar or Robert Powell in Jesus of Nazareth. “You’ve got to get this fixed,” I said, “The whole world hates you.”
“I don’t give a crap,” he said, his speech mumbled as he was tonguing my nipple. He rolled over and my hand grazed across his elephant-grey buttocks, caressing the tattoo he had across his ass cheeks: CLOSED ON SUNDAYS.
So I’d gone to AA because I couldn’t drink anymore without stopping. Their plan to fix it was to fill me up with catch-phrases and secret terminology like “these rooms” and “let go and let God” instead of booze, which I found to be a piss-poor substitute. I did what they said, though, and had stopped drinking. I was just a lazy sot and my living room was still a sea of empty beer cans I never bothered to clean up. Every day I would clank, clank, clank through them while getting ready for work. I was told I should get them out of the house. That would have involved actual, manual labor, so I didn’t.
Now at AA you’re supposed to find a sponsor; someone with whom you find an immediate rapport and is pretty much an instant boyfriend who will keep you from drinking without all the good stuff that usually goes along. You talk to that person every damn day and spill out your deepest secrets.
Thing is, you’re supposed to pick THEM. This did not happen for me. A man just showed up and announced he was going to be my sponsor and asked for my phone number. You would think I would say, “Get lost, nutjob” but you would be wrong. Instead I gave the man my phone number and he called me every day to talk about not drinking. That was fun.
My mother was dying. She had Alzhimer’s and here’s the thing: It starts with the person acting confused and it’s kind of funny but it ends with them in a hospital bed looking like a living skeleton and it’s not funny at all. It had gotten to that point and I was going back home to watch my mother die. AA Sponsor Man told me, “Look, you have to call me every day.”
”No. I don’t,” I said. “It’s not about you and me and the goddamn bottle right now. My mom’s about to croak and I’m going to have to watch it.”
”You need to call me every day,” he said again. Fuck this dolt, and goodbye.
I showed up at the nursing home and my mom looked like a skeleton covered with flesh-tone paint. My two brothers were there; we hadn’t all been in the same room together in decades. My middle brother works in a hospital and he fools the rest of the family by acting like he’s a doctor or some shit; they buy it and the rest of us just roll our eyes. His thing with Mom was this: the nurse would come in and move her and because of her condition it would cause agony, she would gasp and middle brother would grab her wrist, take her pulse and stare at the clock like he was keeping her alive through his own eerie powers. Every goddamn time. It was clear, fuck, that whenever my mother was moved it caused her physical pain, but middle brother jumped on the bed, grabbed her wrist and announced she was dying. Much like his religious predictions about the end of the world, it did not come true.
But hell, he was living through it like the rest of us and coping however he could. He was playing doctor. I knew I would write about it on the Internet someday. Neither one of us are all that good at life, I guess, and do weird shit just to get by.
My Uncle Bill showed up with his wife and some girl far less than half his age who he claimed was a relative and kept calling him, creepily, “Daddy.” He was my mother’s brother and for most of his life she hated his guts, and for good reason: he was a dick. In later years they mended their fences, somehow, but yeah he was still a dick.
This woman he’d brought along: Whore City. Tits out to there in a low-cut shirt designed to show them off. His wife acted like she didn’t even notice, but I think everyone else did. And she kept calling him ‘Daddy’ in front of my dying Mom and yeah it was pretty horrible.
Middle brother has a flair for the theatric surpassing even my own. He’d brought along his church pastor, a doctor of divinity (Kind of like a doctor of poetry) and said, all casual-like, “Say, Pastor, weren’t you humming a tune earlier today? I wonder if you might do that again?” It was some kind of damn song about flying up to heaven or whatever, some maudlin piece of tripe, again I say he deals by doing that and I deal by doing this. So the pastor started to sing and we all held hands and looked at my mother like as if at any moment a bright, white light would burst out of her chest and she would be ushered into the Kingdom of God.
Uncle Bill’s companion started passing out business cards. Oh gawd, I knew exactly what it was. She was a franchised representative for dildos and sex toys. It was called Love, Inc. or something very near that. “Why thank you,” said the pastor as he took her information in case he wanted to buy a butt plug.
My brother kept grabbing my mom’s wrist and announcing her demise, but she refused to die on his watch. I went back home and the first thing I did was buy a 12-pack of Milwaukee’s Best. AA Sponsor Guy was right, things got weird and I turned to the brew to cope. The next day my brother called me, once again going all drama instead of just telling me outright:
”That’s not even a sentence.”
”Eleven P.M. Your mother died at eleven P.M.”
”And you didn’t call me last night?”
He’d fucked it up. “Er, uh, Eleven A.M. I mean. She died an hour ago.”
And then he went on to tell me how he’d watched her die and wouldn’t let anyone else in the room and was calling all the shots. People deal and grieve in their own way.
I went back home for the funeral; I was a pall-bearer. I couldn’t help but notice how lightweight the coffin was; damned Alzheimer’s. It was closed-coffin, per her wishes. A month or so later I got a commemorative card from the funeral home honoring my mother, Maria Lopez.
Who the fuck did we bury?
I was sixth-grade, going into seventh-grade and my parents called me into the living room. This was always bad news; it was always something kind of fucked up. Being called into the living room meant that they were going to re-live every god damned thing I’d ever done wrong or were going to accuse me of shit I hadn’t done but they were sure I was about to, or was going to explain to me how my very existence pained our savior.
“Danny,” they said.
””Yeah,” I said.
“You can’t be called that anymore. That’s a baby name.”
My folks, you understand, were insane for child psychology. My oldest brother didn’t quite end up the way they’d like, instead ending up like every other kid his age at the time, so my parents went batshit crazy reading books to fix me and make sure it wouldn’t happen again. I wasn’t allowed to have friends outside a certain age ratio and there was a bowel chart with gold stars stuck up on my bedroom wall. Why I am not, today, an axe murderer with cannibalistic tendencies remains a mystery.
But they’d called me into the living room to tell me I was no longer allowed to be called Danny, the name I’d used all my life, and instead had to pick another: Dan, Daniel or Shane (my middle name.) I should have gone with Shane, so much cooler than the other choices. But I didn’t, I went with Dan because that was one of the ones I was suddenly allowed to be.
I told my friends: “You can’t call me Danny anymore. I’m not allowed. You have to call me Dan.”
They thought I was crazy. I think they were right.
“No, never mind how you’ve known me for years, my parents have decided that I have to change my name. So call me something else from now on.”
My friends: “Uhhhhh…”
My parents: “This name change is going to make you so much more mature.”
Me: (holding up hand puppet) Meow meow cat witch!
So I got shuttled off to a new school where nobody knew me as Danny and it was a given that my name was Dan; a macho moniker befitting my studly persona. And I’ve been that ever since. But you know what? Secretly, Danny suits me a lot better.
I’d had girlfriends before and had fooled around in the sack with guys, but when I was twenty I fell heels over head in love. This is, perhaps, the perfect age for this to happen; you’re old enough to impersonate an adult if need be but still young enough to get away with idiot behavior. Here’s what makes my first homo crush hilarious: He worked at Chick-Fil-A.
My best friend worked there as well, and I used to go in to see him. On a good day, they’d make him put on a chicken costume and stroll around the mall as Doodles, the Chick-Fil-A mascot. My friend hated this and you could feel the waves of embarrassment rolling off him as he strutted back and forth in a plastic beak and feathers. I relished in his agony, a thing I still tend to do even though I know it’s wrong. I was supposed to have empathy, I know, but my best friend was getting minimum wage for putting on a chicken suit. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t show up to twist the knife?
I saw this guy behind the counter. The angels sang, the heavens opened up and Cupid fired an arrow into the crack of my ass. “Who is THAT?” I asked, drooling. “Just some guy I work with,” my friend said, muffled through his giant chicken head.
Looking back, objectively, he was all right. But twenty-year-old me swooned like a silent film star and thought he was the most beautiful creature to walk atop the planet. This was a new one for me, as previously I’d do pretty much anyone as long as they were a life-support system for a penis. But this guy somehow flipped a switch and was just beauty personified. For the first time, I was wowed and turned on by looking at a dude. There were the niggling details that he was breathtakingly gorgeous and I wasn’t, plus the fact we didn’t know one another, but I did not see these problems as insurmountable.
“Give me his phone number,” I commanded my friend.
”I don’t KNOW his phone number.”
”Get it. I mean it. Nice chicken suit, by the way.”
You see, when you’re twenty, a little thing like common sense won’t stand in the way of true love. My friend got the phone number. So I just called the guy up. I was interested in film-making at the time, so my big ruse was to tell him I thought he’d be great for a part I had in mind. Yeah. A kid in West Virginia tries the casting couch approach. What happened, though, was nothing short of amazing. We hit it off and ended up being great friends fairly quick.
If you’re twenty and want to land someone in the sack, the first step is ingratiating yourself to their parents. When I met his Dad, Ding! Ding! Ding! Gaydar went off. Twenty years later, I’d be proven right. His mom was fun but capable of going nuts in a heartbeat. With that as the parental units, I figured he had to be enough of a mess that sexy time was bound to happen. It did not.
Our friendship was storybook awesome. We connected in a way I hadn’t experienced; we loved the same things and could crack each other up just by thinking of funny things. This only fueled my ardor; I no longer wanted to get in his pants—I wanted to make love. This was a new experience for me. It was overwhelming, overpowering and my every waking moment was filled with thinking about him. Which I guess is love. I just didn’t have too good of a handle on it.
We were watching fireworks when I told him how I felt.
”I know,” he said.
And here I thought I was being subtle.
“I’m not gay,” he said.
“Yes you are.” (Denial springs eternal.)
”No, I’m not.”
”Are too.” And so on, for a long time.
Born that way and all that shit; I don’t really believe it. Gay guys reading this are gonna be pissed. For some people, yeah, it’s a straight six on the Kinsey scale (ha ha) and for others, no, things flex and change a bit. Sometimes you’re in the mood for strawberries, other times you want pineapple. And so it goes, I think, with sexual desire. The guy liked women, but I caught him looking at gay porn.
“AHA!” I cried.
”Um, well, ya know… crap.”
So I thought, hot diggity, dude is finally in touch with his homoerotic tendencies, let the lovemaking commence. But again, no.
“Yes, I figured out I like guys. I just don’t like you. In that way.”
And then all my feelings turned to sheer agony. Nothing I wanted more than to end up at a gay bar with him, but when we did and cuter guys than me were asking him to dance it felt like an ice pick to the pancreas. I was twenty, it was my first real love and so I sat on the stairs and openly blubbered like a little girl with a skinned knee.
”What’s wrong?” said an old man, probably far less older than I am now, sliding his hand down my back.
”Fuck off,” I said through my tears, still I imagine the best possible response to the situation.
It got worse and a whole lot gayer. There was a traveling dinner theatre company doing a production of “They’re Playing Our Song” (you see, I told you) and one of the actors met the boy I loved. They hooked up and did the nasty; his first time that should have been, I felt, me instead of some theatre queen. I knew it was happening when it was happening and I punched the shit out of my pillow.
I was twenty. I’m sure I’d have a much better response today.
You understand how this stabbed at me? In love for the first time with the boy who hung the moon and farted out the planets and who loved me, just not in a let’s-get-it-on kind of way? Oh, the agony. I gave him the big fuck you and said I never wanted to see him again because it hurt too badly. I guess I was the drama queen he wasn’t fucking. But that hurt, too, cause he was my best friend and I missed that, big time. We got each other, and goddamn desire went and screwed it all up.
He knocked on my door in the middle of the night. “If I can sleep with people I don’t know, I can sleep with you.” Hawt damn! But once again, nope.
I planted one on him. It was not the bombs-bursting-in-air experience I always imagined. He rolled over and said, “Ew. That’s kind of like kissing my brother.”
God damn cock tease. But he was right, you know.
That was then, back when I was twenty. A couple of Christmases ago we got back together, and for old time’s sake I hit on him. He declined the offer. But in a few decades I’ll be old enough to take my teeth out. We’ll see what happens then.