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July 19th, 2020

Facebook Keeps Giving Me Memories. . .

There’s people who gaslight you, and then there is gaslighting yourself. But Facebook keeps helpfully reminding me that it wasn’t just my imagination…

 

Swear if it wasn’t for that daily Facebook Memories feature I would be remembering it as my own damn fault for being such a pest. But no…I was invited in. And then the door was slammed in my face.

We talked. Frequently. Mostly by email, but we talked. I sent him things. He sent me things. We chatted easily like classmates and friends do. One of the last things was a conversation started by his bragging about buying an electric car (A Nissan Leaf). Sometime before that it was his new iPhone he had to tell me about while on the road to Vegas. Less than a year after telling me all about the Leaf he was telling me never to speak to him again. Probably because of something he read on my blog that he swore to my face he never reads. (Hi!) But I’m not entirely sure the order came from him.

Whatever. I got angry. It’s only natural when someone you trusted sticks a knife in you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Facebook Keeps Giving Me Memories. . .

June 8th, 2020

Memories Of Standing On The Outside Of The Comfort Zone Looking In

Facebook tossed this memory from today, 2015 in my face just now. I was visiting Walt Disney World and I had to vent…

Some days I visit he’s being a jerk and doesn’t want to talk to me. Others, like last night, he’s all warm smiles and cheerful eyes and just can’t stop talking and we stay long past park closing time and I’m walking on air all the way back to my room. But then it’s always why can’t we spend some time together outside the park and his comfort zone won’t allow it.

So either way I have to struggle to get my vacation started back up again. If he’s grouchy then I’m miserable and just want to go home. I’ve called vacations off early when it’s been that. If he’s full of sunshine and smiles then I feel like I’ve hit the high point of my trip and why bother staying. There’s that back to the reality of things after the visit let-down to climb back out of somehow. I have to remind myself I need the break regardless.

This morning I’ll hit the grocery store for some perishables I couldn’t bring down with me, and more ice tea, and maybe something from the liquor store so I’m not always paying Disney prices for alcohol. Then spend the rest of the week chilling out, maybe working some more on A Coming Out Story (I brought my drawing things). But I’m in a state now I really have no words for, or at any rate words I’m willing to speak. He said something to me that lifted me out of myself in a way only someone who really gets you can. And it took a load off my psyche certain other gay someone’s I know weighed me down with for years.

It was all about how I don’t interact well with people. Too shy, too self absorbed, blah, blah, blah, your photography has no people in it, blah, blah, blah… Biergarten is “Octoberfest” seating, which means you get seated at a table with other random guests and you’re expected to talk and share a good time together. This time I was seated with a group that seemed really stand-offish. They just gave off chilly vibes. But after a while I got them talking about where they’re from and what they do, and of course when they found out I work at Space Telescope and on Hubble and James Webb they got all interested in that. And by the end of the night we were all chatting happily.

And after they left he and I were chatting and he noticed too how chilly that group was initially. He’s worked this line of business for so long now he can probably read a table the second he walks up to it. Then he said he’d always seen me open people up and that I was good at it and that I was always getting everyone talking and having a good time no matter how chilly the table seemed at first.

Well…yeah… One thing is you always know you’re with other Disney people here…so that’s something. It’s not like you’re in some random bar with bad mood people. We’re all Disney people here. And that Disney kid just comes out of me here. It’s a kind of freedom to be that kid I once was I never really appreciated I was missing before I started coming here. But I’m not the hopelessly detached single certain other people somehow managed to convince me I am either. I’m not that…so how did I get to thinking of myself like that? He just pulled that out of me with a few words and the look on his face when he said it.

He does that. It’s when someone shows you things about yourself you didn’t know, but should have known, that makes it serious. And…it’s been like that since we were teenagers. When he’s not in a touchy mood, it’s still like that.

But we never got the chance other kids did. And now he has his comfort zone, and I need to get on with my vacation. Somehow.

It was around this time that I’d figured out that if I told him in advance I was coming down he wouldn’t have anything to do with me, but if I just showed up it was all smiles and happy face and good times. Something just less than a year later we had nuclear war…I’d told him I was coming down and he lied about being on a ski trip and I shouldn’t bother and I came down anyway and he was so stand-offish even the new servers there noticed something was wrong with him. Afterward he sent me a nastygram telling me never to speak to him again and I blew up because I hadn’t done anything wrong or said anything to him I hadn’t said dozens of times before…and it was all over, and with it every memory I ever had about it being good…wonderful even. It’s amazing what tricks memory can play on you. If it wasn’t for these occasional Facebook memories I wouldn’t remember it ever being good with him now, not even back in high school. But it was. I wasn’t twitterpated for no reason. He felt it too. But whereas it lifted me out of myself, erased every shred of guilt or shame I might have had, it must have done the opposite to him.

…which set a pattern for the rest of my life. Because I would always fall for the nice boys…the ones I might have met in a better world at a church social, or coffee house. But in the world I grew up in all those nice boys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them, they didn’t want God to hate them.

I’ve made my allegiances, I have to stay in my comfort zone…

So it goes. I reckon. I should get back to work on A Coming Out Story now that Facebook gave me that. But everything from back in the day is bad now. I finally found the guy I wrote about in this blog post (link) and he didn’t win his race. His life took a really bad turn through no fault of his and discovering that is really heartbreaking. And now this Facebook memory is something else to tap me on the shoulder, and whisper in my ear that everything is pointless.

In my senior years I’m basically just walking forward on auto pilot, going through the motions because what else is there to do…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Memories Of Standing On The Outside Of The Comfort Zone Looking In

May 28th, 2020

The Cartoon That Was Not, About The Loves That Were Not…

…and the life that was not.

I’m going through some Google Docs looking for something and stumble across this script for a cartoon was going to do for my 60th birthday. I managed to get a few pencil sketches done but never finished it. For some reason.

This riffs off a running gag in Tim Barela’s wonderful gay comic strip Leonard and Larry…which he described once as a kind of gay Our Miss Brooks. Every tenth year Larry had a birthday all his anxieties about getting old surfaced in a dream that he was having his birthday party while laying in a coffin with a birthday cake on it and his friends making catty jokes about his getting old. Picasso said a mediocre artist copies and a great artist steals. So I stole the idea (with proper acknowledgement). But the only thing I managed to finish was the script. Probably for the best…

Here it is. As Joe Friday and my own Sargeant Stoneface would say, The names have been changed to protect the innocent. And especially the not so innocent!


The Big Six-O!
(Slightly Anonymised) 

SCENE: My birthday party.  a’La Leonard & Larry, I’m in a casket with the lid open and a birthday cake on the bottom half lid that reads Happy 60th.  Surrounding me are my three loves. We shall call them CRUSH1, CRUSH2 and CRUSH3.

PANEL 1: (Most of the following panels are as above.)

ME: I really appreciate the party you guys, and this coffin’s a swell gag, but I have to admit the margarita embalming fluid bottles was a brilliant touch.

CRUSH2: I liked the asperen bottles labeled “For Headaches Due To Lovestruck Bruce”.

CRUSH3: That was 1’s idea.


PANEL 2:

ME: (off panel) Ha, ha… Yes, very funny…

CRUSH1: (to the others) Drove me crazy back in high school watching him try to work up the nerve to tell me he had a crush on me.

CRUSH2: (rolling his eyes) I had to deal with Overly Attached Gayfriend.

CRUSH3: Tell me about it. He actually thought we were boyfriends just because I let him sleep with me a few times.

 

PANEL 3: Closeup on Crush2 and Crush3

CRUSH2: Sparks didn’t fly eh?

CRUSH3: (Looking morosely down at his drink) Let’s just say I went Ex-Gay for six years.

 

PANEL 4: Closeup on me and Crush1

CRUSH1: (Smiling, gesturing to me while looking at the others off panel) Quick, tell NARTH! We’ve found the cure for homosexuality!

ME: (Frowning) Ha, Ha.  Very Funny.

 

PANEL 5:

ME: Can I get out now?

CRUSH1: Not on your life.  We’re selling you off as a collector’s item. 

CRUSH2: (gesturing to the ages) The gay man that never had a boyfriend. Too young to be liberated in 1971, too old to marry anyone in 2013.

CRUSH3: You’re a museum piece.

 

PANEL 6:

ME: You sold me to a museum?

CRUSH2: Museum?  Are you kidding?  We sold you to Disney World.

CRUSH3: You’re going to be a prop in the Haunted Mansion queue.

CRUSH1: I’ll stop by every now and then before my shift to dust you off.

 

PANEL 7:

ME: I’m dreaming all this aren’t I?  This is all about my anxieties over getting old isn’t it…and you guys are here representing the three chances for love Vonnegut spoke of…

CRUSH1: We prefer to think of ourselves as your three strikes.

 

PANEL 8:

ME: This is going to turn into a nightmare now isn’t it?

CRUSH1: You’re not asleep dear, you’re hallucinating.

CRUSH2: You drank half that bottle of tequila all by yourself and when you sober up again you’re going to feel like you’re 160.

 

With Apologies to Tim Barela and Larry Evans…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Cartoon That Was Not, About The Loves That Were Not…

March 6th, 2019

Life As A Sequence Of Fine Dining And Lots Of Tequila

I’m going to start a gallery of foodie shots of every nice dinner I’ve had on March 6 since 2016…

…but first…

Afternoon of March 6, 2016.  One of the shots I took inside one of my favorite watering places in Walt Disney World (the other two are Tune-In Lounge and Jock Lindey’s Hanger Bar). The margarita before the storm. Plus chips and jalapeno and cheese dip. Hot? Ohhh Dios mío…the day is about to get hotter…

The Kobe beef steak I was having at the Brown Derby when I got scolded. In retrospect it would have sounded better in the original German…

Rocket to Venus 2017…their absolutely decadent pork steaks and garlic mashed potatoes. I’ve been mourning the loss of this item on their entrée menu for a long time…

Rocket to Venus 2018 (noticing a pattern here?). I forget what this one was but it was amazingly good, as always. I can’t recommend this Hampden, near The Avenue eatery enough.

And here I am drinking my margaritas every march 6 since 2016.

Probably heading out to Rocket to Venus again for dinner tonight. Because the food is great, the staff are nice, and one of the bartenders is very nice on the eyes, doesn’t mind my gawking at him in disbelief, and I can get drunk enough I can appreciate the sight of a beautiful guy and not feel any pain. Plus I can walk home stinking drunk and not be a hazard to everyone else on the highway. 

Prost!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life As A Sequence Of Fine Dining And Lots Of Tequila


No Pain, No Gain


Life goes on…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No Pain, No Gain

February 12th, 2019

A Lesson In Love From One Of Charm City’s Most Famous Writers

 

Baltimore…where the lovelorn weirdos come to drink and die. Alone.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Lesson In Love From One Of Charm City’s Most Famous Writers

February 7th, 2019

Guten Appetit Little Guys!

Back again Valentine’s Day? I thought I told you to never speak to me again. What’s that? Gifts for my spouse? You know perfectly well I’ve never had one of those. Gifts for my boyfriend? You jerk…you know I’ve never had one of those either. Gifts for my secret crush? Hahahaha…I don’t keep secrets like that from someone…I’m an artist, I wear my heart on my sleeve. You just want to sell me a paper one to give to someone I love that they can throw in the trash a few days later. I’m not biting. I’ve had my real heart tossed in the trashcan many times. Go Away!

What’s that? a gift for my ex? I don’t have an ex…exactly. But now you’ve piqued my interest. You sly devil…

The El Paso Zoo isn’t the only zoo offering a non-traditional Valentine’s Day promotion. The Hemsley Conservation Center in Kent, England, will name a cockroach after your ex in exchange for a donation. You can also name a roach at the Bronx Zoo, which calls them “eternal” and “timeless” gifts.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I named a cockroach after you.

I told you never to speak to me again. And could you be any more adolescent? You’re a piece of work.

I had it fed to a meerkat.

Gott im Himmel…

Valentine’s Day…I think I’m in love with you again. Guten Appetit!

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Guten Appetit Little Guys!

March 15th, 2018

Please…No More Doomed Gay Couples…Okay?

Call Me By Your Name DVDs are for sale now, and I’m not at all sure anymore that I want to see this movie. So, like Brokeback Mountain I may end up giving it a pass.

Like Brokeback, and frustratingly, once again we have the tragically doomed homosexual relationship. A tale as old as time you might say. Or as old as Hollywood at any rate. As far as we’ve come and we still get told our love affairs are doomed. But that’s not the worst of it, at least for me. Spoiler Ahead for those who haven’t already seen the movie or read any of the reviews that go into Timothée Chalamet’s stunning performance, particularly in the final scene.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Time has passed, and Oliver has told Elio over the phone that he’s getting married. To a woman (the story is set in 1983). So the last scene is the poor kid sitting in front of the household fireplace crying but still trying to keep his shit together while the rest of the family goes on about their business behind him. His first love dumped him, not so much for a woman as for respectability. So really…what was he to Oliver?

Just…a little too close to the bone. I just can’t watch this.

I don’t know that I can ever get to the point where I can watch this movie. I haven’t watched Brokeback either, though I did read the Annie Proulx short story. That was difficult enough. I’m not wanting some superficial junk food romance. I don’t want to be told sweet lies about the inevitability of love, or True Romance Comics stories of how perfect it is. It’s just as false. Heterosexuals get their tragedies, but also their triumphs, because their relationships are seen as legitimate, complex, multifaceted. Ours, as Vito Russo once said, are just about sex. What I’m seeing here is that even when Hollywood grasps that it’s more than that, it still can’t fathom it being more than a summer affair. Well at least it’s not the tire iron.

I have gay friends whose couplehood made it possible for most of my adult life to believe that it is even possible to have that kind of deeply felt, body and soul relationship, not just something I read once in a Mary Renault novel. But I’m in my middle 60s now and all I have to look back on is one strikeout after another after another after another, usually via the agency of some hostile third party that needed a righteousness boost. But I can at least live it vicariously in art, if not in life. It gives me a reason to keep getting out of bed and contributing, in a small way, to the work I do at Space Telescope. It allows me to keep pursuing my little efforts at art while sitting at the drafting table, or walking about with my cameras. But the suspicion keeps nagging at me: what does it really matter? Was I really the kid that was never meant to be born? Is this why I always feel like I’m on the outside of life looking in? I don’t need to be told love fails, my entire life keeps telling me that every waking moment of my day. I need art that reminds me the struggle is worth it, even so.

I don’t think anybody who knows me knows how badly I need those reminders. 

Maybe when I’m ready to watch Brokeback I’ll watch this one. In the meantime what I’ve read of the father’s speech was good. I’ll keep that much of it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Please…No More Doomed Gay Couples…Okay?

March 9th, 2018

The Walking Wounded In The Garden Of Paradise

Political cartoonist I follow (including following him to the same web host his site is on, on the theory that if they were willing to host him they should be cool with me too), tweeted out something the other day about it being four months since his life came apart. So I went looking on his profile for all his previous tweets for the last four months and it’s looking like he suffered a breakup. To the point that he’s had to go find another place to live.

I don’t know much about his personal life. But for one recent post selling t-shirts his website has no posts since last October. And he’s been vague booking what happened, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. I don’t know if he was married or not. He was on tour in Europe promoting one of his books and apparently came back home only to be blindsided by whatever it was. But if it was a relationship breakup I wonder how blindsided it could have been. When Keith dumped me for some guy he met on AOL Instant Messenger it was a shock, but deep down inside not an entirely unexpected one.

I’m learning all this just a couple days after I had my nuclear war with my first crush remembrance and dinner. I was eating the premium Kobe Beef dinner at the WDW Hollywood Brown Derby when I got the Hey, Let’s Both Burn Our Bridges And Dance In The Ashes email from him, so I’ve tried to buy myself the best dinner I can afford at a nice local restaurant on that day every year since. But it’s somehow more depressing to see it happen to other people than to me. Maybe that’s because as a barely post-stonewall generation gay guy my expectations were low to begin with. Maybe it’s because after a lifetime of singlehood I’m inured to my own experience. Keith never actually said the magic three words to me, which is probably why I saw it coming deep down inside. He was strike three and by that time walking alone back to the dougout was almost a relief. But seeing the hurt in others can still get to me.

Some folks in my life have suggested that I’ve been better off single because then I never had to deal with this kind of loss. From the inside though it seems to me like I’ve been fighting a two front war all my adult life, not to hate myself, and not to hate the world. Somehow, I’ve really no idea how, I’m still winning that war. But the internal cost…you’ve no idea, and I wouldn’t want you to.

I wish that cartoonist healing and peace. I wish it to all the lonely. We deserved better. Life is good, even so. But goddamn it can cut you just as deep as how high it can lift. So we walk. So it goes.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Walking Wounded In The Garden Of Paradise

December 25th, 2015

I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve

She didn’t recognize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totaled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged

Went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn’t find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

She said she’d married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn’t like to lie

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn’t sure if I
Saw doubt or gratitude

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the traveling was hell

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another ‘auld lang syne’

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away

Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain

-Dan Fogelberg, “Same Old Lang Syne”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Missing A Christmas Card This Year…

April 2nd, 2015

Plan ‘B’

Plan ‘B‘: Quit my job, sell the house and pay off all the bills, sell the car, sell as much of what’s in the house as I can and trash the rest, go find a low wage job somewhere that will just barely pay for a room in someone’s basement, and go back to the hopeless low income low expectations life I had before October 1991 and that programming job at Baltimore Gas & Electric, because at least that life wasn’t promising me happiness it could not deliver…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Plan ‘B’

February 21st, 2014

I Hate You Cupid…

…but then I’m hardly the only one.  This came across my Facebook stream a little while ago…

straight_boy_freakout

Count your blessings straight boy, and be nice to the one you can’t love back. Painful unrequited love is probably waiting patiently for you too, somewhere down your road…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Hate You Cupid…

February 11th, 2014

Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!

(Reposted from last year…because when it comes to love, all that is old is new again…and again…and again…and again…)

Valentine’s Day Broken Heart Countdown!

This year, I propose having a pre-game celebration.   Jim Burroway posted this today on Box Turtle Bulletin and it added some weight to my Valentine’s Day thoughts lately…

New York Times Magazine Publishes “What It Means To Be A Homosexual”: 1971. The Harper’s October 1970 cover screed by Joseph Epstein — the one where he called gay people “an affront to our rationality” and were “condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom among men” — generated an outpouring of anger in the gay community, which resulted in a protest inside the offices of Harper’s (see Oct 27). Gay activists demanded another article to give the gay community equal exposure, but the Harper’s refused the request. Its editors also refused to apologize. The outrageous insults in the piece become something of a second, lesser Stonewall in the way it brought out even more gays and lesbians who decided it was time to become more involved publicly.

Among them was Merle Miller, a former editor at Harper’s who was also a novelist and biographer…

You should go read the whole thing…Jim’s “Today In History” posts are worth reading every day.   But this one helped remind me of the times I grew up and passed through adolescence in.   That time when we are discovering first the first time, what desire and love are all about.   It should be the most magical, wonderful passage in our lives, but for some of us, condemned to a state of permanent niggerdom it was made into a nightmare.   More so for others than for me, thankfully, or I might not even be here now to type all this.   But the atmosphere of hatred and contempt I grew up within did its job on me too.   In 1971, the year before I graduated from high school, the year I experienced my first crush, Joseph Epstein wrote, “If I had the power to do so, I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.” He couldn’t of course, but there was always the next best thing. You could make sure whenever it was in your power to do so, that a gay person never had that chance to know what it was to love, and be loved wholeheartedly in return.

Without a doubt Epstein did just that whenever he got the chance.   His howl against the homosexual in that Harper’s article almost certainly became a dagger in the the hopes and dreams of young gay men and women back then, reassuring parents, teachers, clergy that it was no sin to put a knife in the hearts of teenagers in love, that if they were condemned to live their one life in loneliness and heartache that was merely the Curse Of Homosexuality, not their own bar stool arrogance and cheapshit prejudices that did it to them.   Bobby and Johnny are getting just a little too friendly aren’t they…let’s pack them off to the psychiatrist quickly now…or to some nice church camp somewhere far away, where they can pray their unspeakable sin away…

Ah…Valentine’s Day…when all the lonely hearts ponder writing new songs about the one that did them wrong.   I have a different thing in mind.   How about stories of that which might have been, but for the cheapshit prejudices of the world we were thrown into.   I have a few stories of my own to tell.   Pull up a chair.   Sit a spell.   Love is in the air.   Let me pour you a drink.   There is a box of Valentine’s Day candy over there on the table, pieces of the moon rattling hollowly inside…angry, angry candy…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ah…Valentine’s Day… Let The Reminiscences Begin!

January 19th, 2014

If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…

This wonderful Allstate ad came across my Facebook stream just now…

allstate_ad

Be nice if in the midst of all the celebrations of how wonderful it is to be in love, there was also some recognition of how wonderful it would be if everyone else had a chance at it too.   And maybe…who knows…a little re-dedication to making that world where all the butterflies come from love and not fear a reality.

Just saying…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If Only Valentine’s Day Was About This Too…

November 26th, 2013

If I Could Just Find The Part That Keeps Hurting…

Self portrait in 1982. Thirty-One years later and I still can’t find the piece that keeps making my life hurt so much. There’s something in there that isn’t supposed to be.  Or maybe someone.  Or maybe someone that isn’t in there, that’s supposed to be. I’ve stopped wondering why my art photography is the way it is. I’ll probably take the question of why it had to be like that to my grave.  Hopefully not too much longer from now. I just want this joke to stop laughing at me.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on If I Could Just Find The Part That Keeps Hurting…

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