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Archive for March, 2016

March 29th, 2016

A Coming Out Story – Still In Progress…

Despite, or perhaps even Because of recent events, I am more determined than ever to continue and finish A Coming Out Story.  So never fear if the installments keep coming at irregular intervals. I have a paying job that needs my attention too. Plus many other things in my life. But this story is important, not just for my own satisfaction of getting it out, but because as I said some time ago, it’s a story of my generation. Not the only one certainly, but mine nonetheless, and worth getting out there. Because while gay kids have it better in many ways now then we did then, they still catch shit about what ought to be one of the most wonderful times in life…that moment when you discover love and desire. It’s a crime against humanity that it is turned into a nightmare for some of us, so that others can build their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams. It is a crime against humanity to put a knife into a kid’s heart, just at that very moment they are discovering what love and desire is all about.

So I’m going to keep working on this. And for what it’s worth, I feel now as if I’ve been given permission to tell the whole story, without censoring myself.

Still working on finishing up the Intermission.  Here’s a sample panel. When the whole thing is complete I’ll put a link up to it here and on the main ACOS page. Then I get to start on a more funner mini story arc.

Tacos figure into this one too…

acos-intermission-1

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Still In Progress…

March 23rd, 2016

Baltimore Orioles! No…Not Those…The Other Ones…

The Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland. I’ve only seen one in my entire life. Until just a few moments ago.

I was walking across campus to go get lunch. I was crossing a pedestrian bridge over San Martin Drive when I heard something moving in the undergrowth below me. I looked down and saw something move. It was a bird. At first I thought it was a robin, but something didn’t look right. It was a close match for a robin, but noticeably smaller, and with bright white blazes on wings that were much Much darker than a robin. Then I saw two more. They were digging through patches of old dead leaf on the ground by the university president’s house, looking for their own lunch I suppose.

No..it can’t be, thinks I. So I watch carefully. There could be no mistake. Oh my God, thinks I, three Baltimore Orioles! Those are three Baltimore Orioles! I’m looking at three Baltimore Orioles! In Baltimore!

What a Baltimore Oriole might look like:

baltimore-oriole-c-kimberly-king
Photo by Kimberly King from the Massachusetts Audubon Society page

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Baltimore Orioles! No…Not Those…The Other Ones…

March 22nd, 2016

Left Brain, Right Brain, Silicon Brain…

Browsing through my local network folders I stumbled on some old BBS message files and an associated log file that made me realize I had written my own NNTP client way, Way back in the day. I had completely forgotten this. So I went looking through my old source code tree for the source. It was a program I’d named TRILOBYTE. Back then I was into naming my programs after obscure critters.

I finally found it and looked over the code to see if it jogged any memories. It’s kinda disturbing I didn’t remember this one At All. But there it was. It was a riff off something I’d written in another modem program’s scripting language that basically just logged onto a service, downloaded all the new messages on the boards I was interested in, uploaded any replies I’d previously placed in an upload folder, and then logged off.

I’d written it in VB1 it seems, but I think looking at the main source file I had a DOS version I’d worked on first. It contains my first ever state machine code to process the NNTP transactions. I know it worked because I have folders with USENET news articles in them this thing downloaded, and reply files it successfully uploaded according to the log files. Writing my own NNTP state machine, with nothing more than the protocol documentation to guide me, was actually a pretty big accomplishment for back then. I’m a little concerned now that it completely dropped out of my memory.

I can still recall coding my first PIM software (I called it “Beetle”)…and “Owl”, which was going to be my own weird client/server take on BBS-ing. I’d developed an entire system based around the concept of a message board warehouse where instead of logging on and reading and writing online you would run a program that quickly connected, downloaded all your new messages and email, upload your replies, and then disconnected. You would then read and write offline. It was a solution for the days when long distance phone charges were high and most amateur BBSs were single line and if someone was hogging the line nobody else got in. I figured if I could create a BBS system that reduced connection time to a bare minimum it would make connecting to out of state, maybe even out of country BBSs cost effective and feasible. The Internet pretty much wiped all that away by the time I finished developing my new system. So it never really got much past the early prototype stage. Such is life.

I’d completely forgotten I wrote Trilobyte. And it had some pretty nifty code in it too. Some of it probably came from the client part of Owl. There’s the Twit filters and Scud Topic filters which were things I’d implemented in LOGMOP, a PDS Basic program I’d written to clean my BBS message file downloads of flame wars and idiots.  It was lost to the grey matter, but there in the silicon. I wonder if this is some sort of new evolutionary path we’re all going down now…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Left Brain, Right Brain, Silicon Brain…

March 19th, 2016

Love Them…Even If They’re Not Loving You Back Right At This Moment…

I looked out my bedroom window this morning to see a beat up car parked in the alley behind the house with a pressure washer hanging out of the trunk. The car looked abandoned so I went to check. Two older men were in the alley further up and the younger of the two (he looked to be in his forties) was cursing up a storm. These two and several others were working on a neighbor’s house further up the alley. She’s doing a big home remodeling job and these were her contractors.

Okay…fine…the car isn’t an abandoned junker, it’s just some guys doing work on one of the houses here. As I walk back to my backyard the younger guy follows me a short distance away, still cursing up a storm. He’s angry at the older man, who is apparently his father. So this is a father-son home improvement team. There seems to be discord in the company.

So he’s following me back to what I assume is his car, all the while complaining that dad doesn’t know crap, dad isn’t treating him right, dad never takes his side in an argument. Dad is old and cranky and set in his ways, he says to nobody in particular, and he doesn’t know crap and he never takes my side. I’m his son, he’s supposed to take my side every time.

Yes…he really says that. No, he’s not some entitled youngster he’s a middle aged guy and from the look of him life has been a long stretch of bad road. You would think by now he knows it doesn’t always work that way. I get back to my backyard gate and he looks at me and says, “Right? That’s how it’s suppose to work…right?”

And I look him in the eye and say, “My dad died robbing a bank.”

And immediately his tone changes. Hey I’m sorry mister…yeah we’ve had bad times too. Well maybe dad isn’t so bad after all, even if he is old and cranky and set in his ways. We part amicably, I wish him well.

Love your dad, even if he is old and cranky and set in his ways. You never know how its going to end.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Love Them…Even If They’re Not Loving You Back Right At This Moment…

March 16th, 2016

Trust

Madam Calico on my front porch steps, in the afternoon, after work…

madam calico

I’ve had a few head butts lately, and some body rubs, if I just sit there and don’t attempt to reach a hand out to her. I’ve been letting her dictate the level of proximity, rather than trying to get closer myself. I don’t think she’ll ever let me actually touch her. But she’s reached a point now where she’s willing to sit very close and occasionally slide up against me as she passes by. Up to this point its been rubbing up against every object on the porch, the chairs, the railings and the door when I open it, but never me.

Still won’t stay inside the house for very long. She’ll come in on cat curiosity and look around…she’s even wandered upstairs once. She investigates the furniture and anything new I’ve brought into the living room, like a bag of groceries for instance. But pretty quickly she gets a look on her face like Oh Dear God What Am I Doing???  And then she bolts. I’m trying to get her to understand that I will always open the door for her. But that lesson might never take. She’s afraid. That’s probably a good thing for a street cat to be in the city.

I was hanging out on the front steps smoking a cigar and saw something laying in the street that looked like a neighbor’s cat had been run over and I panicked and ran to it. It was just a black plastic bag of some sort. My aging geezer eyes decoded it wrong. And a fear I have now that never goes away probably added to the illusion. I’m never getting over it I suppose…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trust

March 13th, 2016

At The Range

This is a part of me I know some folks may find disturbing, but so be it. I like to shoot guns. I have a few of my own. It’s not like I have an arsenal or anything, just a few handguns and rifles. It’s never been that big an interest with me that I spend tons of money on it, and it was more a thing when I was a younger man who couldn’t get enough of things that go bang. And that’s really the essence of it with me, and I suspect, with a bunch of us. It’s not about Dirty Harry fantasizing or anything like it. It’s about another elemental part of the human psyche. Fire.

Fire. I was the kid who turned off the lights in his bedroom, threw open the blinds and raptly watched every thunder and lightning storm that passed by. The louder and closer the bangs the better. It drove mom crazy. But I knew as so long as I watched from safely inside it was okay. I was that teenage boy at the quarter mile racetrack watching the fuelers blast down to the finish line in a glory of fire and smoke. Nighttime races were the best because you could see the fire coming out of their pipes as they idled at the starting line, and then leaping into the sky as they raced down track. I was the kid who smuggled in out of state firecrackers and set them gleefully off on the fourth while my friends kept an eye out for approaching adults. I was the one who built and carefully tended the camp fires at the end of a day’s backpacking, or in the fireplace of our winter break ski shack, then watched it raptly through the night.

But I’m a geek child, not a psycho. And the geek dives into their interest with an intensity of spirit that, yes I know, can be off putting to others. But sometimes that’s exactly what is called for, especially if what lights your fire, is fire. You learn the nature of the fires you wield, and how to keep yourself and the people around you safe. I don’t want anyone getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt. It’s no fun if anyone gets hurt. Those people who, they say, go to races hoping to see a crash mystify and appall me. What I want to see is mastery of excessively powerful engines and Newtonian forces. I want to see them surfing the fire. Likewise, I am disgusted by nearly everything I hear nowadays from the so-called gun lobby. By now I suppose a lot of people who enjoy this sport are. We’re not all Ted Nugent.

I recently got a membership at a local pistol range. At 62 I qualified for the geezer level discount which cut the cost of a year’s unlimited range time neatly in half. “Unlimited” in this context could be a tad misleading; time at the range is limited by the cost of ammo, and for one of the large caliber handguns I have, a Smith and Wesson model 25-5 (chambered for the old 45 Long Colt, cartridge. As I said, I like big bangs), it’s Very expensive. A box of 50 rounds cost me 40 bucks the other day. Another box of 50 45 ACP rounds cost 25. It’s a much more widely used cartridge. The Long Colt dates back to the black powder days. It’s the cartridge of the famous Single Action Army Colt of the old west…the one you always saw in the movies. There was actually a nicer 44 Smith and Wesson top break gun sold back then but it’s the Colt that’s the classic western movie gun.

So I had my Model 25-5 and my Colt Officer’s Model at the range this morning. And I’m writing this blog post now for the benefit of everyone who thinks all you gotta do with a gun is point and shoot. No. Just…no. You have to practice.  Bunches.  And to my shame I hadn’t.  Well…not with mine.

Visiting my brother in California, he’s taken me a bunch to ranges he’s a member at, and I’ve shot his guns there and was very pleased with myself at how good my aim was with them. But those weren’t my own guns, and it lulled me into thinking I was still good with my own, even though I hadn’t practiced much with them lately. This morning I took the Smith and the Officer’s Model to the range. I hadn’t shot either one of them in years. A friend of mine used to take me to his pistol range as a guest and back then I shot it and my other guns a bunch. But he got into skeet and I take more pleasure in shooting handguns. So I didn’t follow him into that. And for a long time my guns just sat, and got the occasional cleaning, inspecting and oiling.

So I load the Smith and take aim at a bulls eye target and half my shots initially miss completely. Eventually I figure I’m low and to the left and make some adjustments. The Smith has adjustable sights and I thought they were sighted in for me. Maybe five years ago they were. Not now. Eventually I’m putting most of my shots in the black and I move the target back some. But my groups are all over the place and I’m not happy with myself.

Then comes the Officer’s model. Every friggin shot from my first clip misses the target completely. Mind you, I’m shooting at a target only 15 feet away. Eventually I figure out I’m shooting low and to the left with this gun too and I make adjustments and finally get my shots mostly in the black again and I move the target back some. But I’m even worse with this gun than the revolver.

So I pay my bill and leave the range and in the back of my mind I’m thinking about all the morons I seem to be reading about every day now who shoot themselves or shoot someone else and it’s obvious they think a gun is just another adult toy like a fast car or sex and it’s all so Easy…you just point and shoot…just like John Wayne! No. Just…no. Jim Wright, a writer I follow on Facebook, has wisely said there are no gun accidents. He’s right. Drunk driving isn’t an accident either. You get yourself or others hurt by not following the rules. And treating guns like fetishes in a culture war (I’m using the word in its religious sense) practically guarantees people aren’t going to pay attention to what the gun actually is and that’s how people get hurt.

But I hadn’t been paying as much attention as I thought either. So I had my lesson for the day. If I’m going to keep these things in the house, I need to practice with them regularly. As I said, it’s about fire. The fun is in the mastery of fire. If I’m not going to maintain a level of mastery I might as well sell them and be done with it. Otherwise they’re just dangerous weapons sitting there in the gun safe slowly becoming even more dangerous if their owner can’t even hit what he’s aiming at. I have an alarm system. I have a shotgun. I don’t need more than that for home defense. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on At The Range

March 12th, 2016

Trust

Madam Calico and me hanging out on the front porch.

madam-calico-and-me-sm

It’s taken me five or six years to gain this level of trust out of her.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trust


Friendship

When a straight friend from back in the day calls to let you know an old episode of Black Sheep is on and a young Peter Frampton is in it, because he knows your taste in guys…

peter frampton

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Friendship

March 10th, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor…(continued)

Came home to find a letter from the Maryland State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, telling me that they’d convinced State Farm to cancel my car insurance premium hike and refund the money Plus Interest.

I’m stunned. After I mailed off my form protesting the hike, back in October, I heard absolutely zilch back from them and figured it had just been conveniently lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. I would have expected at least a notice that the form and been received. But it was dead silence. Five months later they tell me I won.

Well this is good, but I hope State Farm doesn’t think it means I’m sticking with them. I was in the middle of exploring other options for car and home owner’s insurance when this letter came. There are lots of companies out there offering cheaper rates for the same coverage or better. And I am not at all happy that my local State Farm Agent dropped a clause into my home owner’s policy exempting damage from collapse. I have a flat roof and that is the one thing you absolutely need protection on if you have one of those.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Like A Good Neighbor…(continued)


Not What It Used To Be

While staying at the Walt Disney World parks I would make extensive use of my annual pass. It basically gives you freedom to wander around the parks without worry about when your tickets expire or which park you’re allowed into that day. So if I was staying at Boardwalk I’d start my morning with a walk down the path to Hollywood Studios…

 

hollywood studios walk-sm

 

…and make my way to The Writer’s Stop to get my morning coffee and a danish. The Writer’s Stop is a nice little coffee shop/bookstore tucked in a corner of Hollywood Studios, themed as a studio writer’s lounge/hangout.  And now it looks like they’re going to close it, another one of my favorite places in WDW, to make way for more Star Wars stuff.  I can’t really blame them. Star Wars is hot right now. It’ll bring the tourists in…and the money.

I’m probably not going back to Walt Disney World, largely because it’s not as much fun if I have to remember the fight I had with a certain someone every time I go back. But there is also this, and I discussed it the other day with a co-worker who is also a big Disney fan: it’s feeling less and less every year like Walt Disney’s World, and more like Disney Corporation’s World.

I think when I started going back in 2008 I was just seeing the last fading light of Walt Disney’s influence on the parks. It was something special to me because I’m old enough to remember watching TV when Walt Disney was still alive and when I walked into Epcot that first time it all came back to me. But in the years since they’ve bought Star Wars and they’ve bought Marvel, and while those are all fun things they’re not necessarily Disney things. I don’t think that much matters to the boardroom anymore. Those of us who still remember Walt Disney are getting old.

It’s still the Rolls Royce of theme parks. The nearest competition can’t even come close. But I wasn’t a theme park kinda guy back in 2008…I only got talked into it by a certain someone, and then, to my surprise and delight, only dived in because I remembered Walt Disney. I don’t need to keep coming back anymore, if it can’t at least still be his theme park.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not What It Used To Be

March 9th, 2016

Summer’s Coming…

I’m feeling Wonderful. Aren’t breakup fights supposed to make you miserable? Well…we weren’t boyfriends, just, for a while, casual long distance friends, never to be anything more than that. But we had a past. I would have walked through fire for him. But not into the closet for him. That turned out to be the sticking point.

Yeah it hurts. But not badly at all, as it turns out. Mostly it feels like I have my life back, like it’s been reset back to before the time I found him again, and everything I had then and everything I felt then, I have back now. I’m not kidding…I’m feeling ten…twenty years younger. (grin) Now if I only looked it.

I came back home and the weather here in Charm City is feeling spring like and I’m really looking forward to summer. It’s stunning to realize I wasn’t before. It was just something that was out there. Now it feels like the open road beckoning. Like life always felt.

IMG_0017

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Summer’s Coming…

March 8th, 2016

Home Again…Peace And Quiet…

Back home just now after my excellent Disney World Adventure. I’m going around waking up the house now from its slumber. Water turned back on, hot water heater lit, Internet connectivity re-established, car unpacked…

Peace and quiet. You get it by making an authentic life for yourself, realizing that those moments of actual peace and quiet that come your way, like most things in life, the good and the bad, will come and go in their own good time.

So you deal with the drama as best you can, which you can because you have lived an authentic life, and you have learned how to cope, not how to act like you’re coping. And likewise you navigate the hardships, the pain, the disappointments. And you relish the good things, and all the joys life brings to you, large and small trivial and sublime. And you enjoy the peace and quiet when it comes, while it is there.

But if you go looking Specifically for peace and quiet you’re not making a life, you’re building a cocoon. And pretty soon the cocoon is a prison. And then…a coffin, from which only the dust that could have been a person emerges.

Word of advice das Submissive

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Home Again…Peace And Quiet…


Cost Is Relative

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So my last vacation day I went to the Brown Derby to hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

 

brown derby

I love this place. Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite theme parks for the way part of it tries to be like the Hollywood of the 1930s/40s. I love the art deco main street, at the end of which is a reproduction of the last of the three Brown Derby incarnations. You walk in and you feel like you’re there. Well…except for all the other guests making it painfully obvious this isn’t 1930s Hollywood.

It took almost 45 years for my first high school crush and I to have our breakup fight. The advantage to waiting so long is at this age I can handle the emotional swings of it better, plus having some real life experience under your belt gives you better aim when you’re throwing shit back in someone’s face. So for this special occasion I went and ordered the Good Steak…

kobe beef dinner

You’re looking there at the most expensive dinner I’ve ever had, or ever will have, because it’s not bloody likely I’m ever spending that kind of money again on dining out. (100+) But as it was a special occasion it was worth it. How does a steak dinner get so expensive? Simple. You add the 25 dollar Kobe beef option to the already expensive Brown Derby steak dinner.

It was Delicious! Everyone should have steak this good once in their lives. Well…if you eat meat anyway…

It was almost exactly when my server set this down in front of me my phone buzzed and I saw I got another lying harangue from das Submissive complaining about how unruly I am, (just for you hon!) and that we shouldn’t speak anymore because a closet needs peace and quiet. Time was I’d have canceled my vacation and gone back home in tears. This time I settled down to a nice steak dinner.

“Corpse food”…I think the vegetarians call it.  Yes.  Quite.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cost Is Relative

March 7th, 2016

Still Not A River In Egypt…


Reposting this one because it seems so appropriate somehow…

 

…not that I’m grieving, I’m beyond all that now. This is about das Submissive still working through all those stages of denial. He’ll be a while.

More fun to come when I get back to my drawing table!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Still Not A River In Egypt…

March 6th, 2016

Peace And Quiet

It was after you sent those last photos of your wunderbar vacation that I felt something had changed inside me. Skiing isn’t exactly a risk free sport and I’ve fretted often about your safety on the slopes. This time it was different. For one thing, you sent me those photos right after I’d suggested I might be coming down to your neck of the woods for a short vacation, which I needed desperately. You’d been so quiet and then all of a sudden it’s Look At My Lovely Ski Photos With My Honey.

Yes, yes… It wasn’t hard to figure you sent me those to keep me away. I’m on vacation now Bruce, so don’t bother coming down. But you weren’t. I made a bet with myself that you’d be there after all. And you were. For all I know those shots were from some other trip you took years ago.

But that was just the first flew flakes that started the avalanche. The start of it came before, when I asked myself looking at your photos how I would feel if something happened to you on the slopes. And to my shock the answer came back: I’d feel free. That was when I knew the crush was gone. All there is after that is a hopeless longing for something that’s dead and that’s how people fall into abusive relationships. And I had already started to be afraid that was what this had become. Right from the start your teasing had an element of belittlement to it. The gay kid who accepted himself and went on to live in the world for better or worse as the person he was just couldn’t be allowed to stand taller than the one who fled into the closet. I had to be taken down a few notches to stand in your presence.

It was getting old. Another kid from our school, ironically another youngest brother in another family of Germans who came to this country, used to like doing that to me too. He did it all through school and like you, vanished from my life without a trace, only to come back into it decades later with a big chip on his shoulder for working on the space program and driving a Mercedes-Benz, while he was living in a shack in the attic of a decayed theater in Pennsylvania, and working off some sort of community service at a Mennonite kitchen. As if the kid who was raised by a single working mother and went to school in second hand clothes would ever hold someone’s economic status against them. I had to tell him to go away. Thank you for not making me do that to you.

Freedom! Thank you for not being a possessive narcissistic dick and letting me go. I was worried right up to the end that you would try some manipulative thing and smack me down while keeping me on the hook. Yes, I pushed it. It was deliberate. Because I needed closure. I’m too old now for this shit.

I spent 33 years searching for you. And all that time I thought you’d be the braver one. The stronger one. And you weren’t. You made your allegiances as you told me a few months ago, and all they asked in return was that you let them put a knife in your heart. And you did. Last November the last thing I heard as I left was you complaining that you’d let yourself get trapped in a life you didn’t want. “I did it to myself…” you kept saying as I left. I would have liked to have talked it out with you but that was on the other side of the fence you’d put up so I kept my mouth shut. And anyway, where else was the guy going who told me a few years earlier that he couldn’t tell sometimes who it was he was looking at in a mirror? My last blog post creeped you out did it? Let me guess where…

But teasing is only fun when there is a bedrock of honesty between friends and you don’t want me that close.

Honesty. That’s what they try to kill in us gay kids first. We have to hate ourselves. That means we have to lie to ourselves. And once you start that, it’s hard to know when you’re telling the truth to anyone else, let alone yourself. You told me once that when I’m on my deathbed it won’t be all the times I had sex I’d be thinking about. Well that would depend on how much I’d loved them I suppose wouldn’t it. Yes, actually thinking back to those times I spent in the arms of someone I was deeply in love with would be a lovely way to go out.  I can tell you this though: when I’m on my deathbed what I won’t be thinking about is all the people I could never let see the real me.

What I realize now is I spent 33 years searching for you, and I found myself. When I found you again I was desperate to prove to you that I wasn’t the awkward little dweeb you saw back in school. So I babbled on and on about the work I did for the space program, about the stuff I did fighting for gay equality, until you told me not to talk about any of that in case your wife heard it. I gave you things from work, beautiful Hubble photos of the stars and galaxies, and mission patches. I showed you my artwork and my photography. I was trying to prove myself worthy. And all that time it never dawned on me that I’d Actually Done All That.

Falling in love with you back in high school made me believe in the honor and the dignity and the righteousness of gay love and romance. I could have ended up like so many of our generation, hating myself, living hand to mouth in a cocoon of self loathing, believing such as me did not deserve any better. I have seen so much of that…so terribly much of that. I escaped it thanks to loving you. Or rather, loving the brave, intelligent, noble heart I thought was you. So now you close the door tightly shut on me and I honestly have to say Thank You again, for showing me that I wasn’t the one who had anything to prove after all. And maybe I wasn’t such a little dweeb back then either. Back then it was hard to believe someone like you would even notice me.

I had to scramble all through young adulthood to find work because whenever the boss detected Teh Gay in me I was shown the door. But I kept walking forward. And now I’m a system software engineer working on the James Webb Space Telescope, and a published editorial cartoonist, and a recognized photographer who still gets the occasional newspaper or wedding photography job. I designed and wrote the code for this web site, all but the WordPress blog you are reading now, and even there I’ve tweaked the code a tad where I needed it to do something it wouldn’t out of the box. I might not have accomplished everything I set out to do, but I’ve accomplished a lot, and in some instances way more than I ever dreamed, and I’m not the one bellyaching about the life I’m leading now.

I’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all my life.  I came out to myself when I was 17 years old, accepted myself for what I am, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all.  Yes, I kept it low key for most of the 70s but I never once dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when I could be, and was, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. I can still remember the day when I was a teenage boy and I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to my reflection “I Am A Homosexual” after I’d read some crackpot that said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do.  On that day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books.  I used to dig up every failure of nerve I ever had when I came to visit you.  What I should have done was remember all those times I was blind-sided by The Question and I had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not.  Yeah I was afraid. But I never held back. Because by then I could see something with frightful clarity.

The closet is not a safe space.

It is not a comfort zone. It will not protect you. It only protects bigotry and hate. Our silence, gives them permission to suck all the joy and exuberance out of our lives. Our silence gives them permission to make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams.

I wasn’t about to go there. Yes, it was a struggle. Some days I thought I had no viable future ahead of me. But I persevered. And I’ll tell you what…even in the depths of poverty, living hand to mouth in a friend’s basement, I never once considered going back into the closet as a solution. I just couldn’t see myself lying to myself, let alone to others. Because I knew down to the bone there was nothing wrong with being gay. I always had falling in love with you to look back on, and remind myself that life is good after all. 

Then I found you again. And for a while it was wonderful. But in these last few years you put toning it down as the price for your company. Something happened to you. Something changed. And you let them put a leash on you. And that meant I had to wear it too if I wanted to stick around. And I acquiesced because every time I stood before you I turned back into that awkward little teenage dweeb, all shy and amazed that you would even talk to me. Slowly but surely you nudged me into a closet I once swore I’d never live in. It was becoming corrosive. I had to push it. Because I Am Not That Anymore.

Truth be told, I saw this coming years ago. I just didn’t want to believe the guy I fell so madly in love with once upon a time wasn’t the brave, strong, noble heart I thought he was. I wish I could go back in time and show the kid I was then the adult you turned into. Yes, you’re married. Lots of gay men of our generation are. And many of them love their wives dearly. And it is not in my heart to judge any of them, or you, for it. We live the hand we’re dealt. All you can do is try to make it a better world for the next generation. I was perfectly fine with ours being a long distance friendship and nothing more. It would have been a dream come true. I live in Baltimore. I have the best job in the world and a little house of my own. You live here and have the life you have. We’re nearly a thousand miles apart. It seemed to me that it was for the best. Distance would keep either one of us from causing any trouble to each others lives. We might never be as close again as we were back in school, but life goes on. It could have been wonderful, even so. But you were afraid of even that little contact between us if it had to be honest, and when it came to my having to closet myself just to be your acquaintance then I had to make a choice between self respect and honesty. And that’s a choice I have a Lot of experience making by now. It’s Easy. You choose honesty because there is no other way. Except you didn’t at some point long ago. And now you’re stuck.

Well I’m not getting stuck with you. Not even with you. You should have expected this. I should have expected this.We needed to both open our eyes to each other’s reality.

Different metals behave differently in the fire. You want peace and quiet. I want a life. We went our separate ways long ago. They say men don’t change, they reveal themselves. I wish I’d never seen it, but on the other hand it’s better that I have. When I was seventeen shy little awkward dweeb that I was I deserved better than you. I’m 62 and I’ve lived a lot of life and seen a lot of things and struggled to achieve a lot of things and crashed and burned a bunch of times and soared among the stars other times and I sure as shit deserve better than you now.

And the really achingly sad thing is that you deserve better too. But…we make our own beds.

Your peace and quiet begins now does it? No.

Mine does.

[Edited once…and again and again and again…because I really need to get this off my chest exactly right…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Peace And Quiet

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    This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

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