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November 3rd, 2021

1971

From a memories group I follow…

Ah yes…1971…a year to remember. Even more so than the following year when I graduated.

In 1971 Canon of Japan began making the Canon F-1. Up to then it was the Nikon F that was the iconic pro 35mm SLR camera. But it was a late 1950s design that was only by virtue of the camera body’s bombproof build quality and the ability to stay current with new attachments, like a Kirby vacuum, that enable it to stay on top. I was dissatisfied, too much of it seemed to be retrofitted and not organic to its design. Nowadays I’d call it a kludge camera, but I have more respect for it because it really was (apart from the photomic metering prisms) a workhorse, and I even own one myself now. When I saw the first ads for the Canon F-1 in the photography magazines they hit me like a lightning bolt. Everything about it was state of the art and completely organic to its design. And it was a beautiful camera. I knew instantly, that was My Camera. But it was expensive, and hard to find in the states for a long long time. That summer break I worked my first W2 job in the kitchen of a fast food joint making a tad over that minimum wage. That, plus selling my Miranda Sensorex allowed me to buy an F-1 in time for my senior year of high school.

 

 

When I got it home and unboxed it and held it in my hands for the first time I knew I had My Camera. I still have it.  

In 1971 my cartoons would see print for the first time in the student newspaper. Later I would also become its photographer. For the first time in my life my artistic talents were being appreciated and nurtured (my first grade teacher wrote in my school record that I took “excessive interest in personal art projects”). The bullying and low expectations of my early childhood began to slough away. I began to really believe in myself. It was different from believing that I believed in myself. I could see a future for a kid like me. Maybe.

The summer of 1971 was when I got my driver’s license. Mom would let me drive her car, a basic 1968 Plymouth Valiant, and I began my love affair with the open road. But another love affair was percolating in my teenage hormones.

The year would end with me finally coming out to myself December 15. First love. It was wonderful, I was completely twitterpated. It changed everything.

And couldn’t tell anyone. 1971 was not the time for a gay teenager to be out about it.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 18th, 2021

Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…

Maybe instead of blaming the cultural homophobia he grew up in, I should consider the language he was born to…

Also…

 

Communication between us was probably doomed from the start.

Now if he was reading this, which I know he isn’t because he told me straight up once that he never reads my blog or looks at my cartoons, he’d probably be getting all ticked off now. For as big a tease as he is he has a really thin skin and hated being teased back. And speaking of language barriers…I think it was sometime during one of my 2014 visits I began to see with clarity that we are just not very compatible personalities.

I was struggling with basic beginner level German and bought a t-shirt at the Epcot Germany gift shop that said “Ich Bin”, which in English is “I am”.  Now, I’m the kid who grew up under the icy cold glare of a bitter Baptist grandmother who despised my dad (and his entire family I later learned) with a venomous passion, and there I was bearing his face and handy for taking it out on because he was clear on the other side of the country and I was right there in arm’s reach. So by the time I started my walk into puberty and had that moment of realization that I’m gay, I already knew there would be people in my life who would hate my guts over something I had no choice about and no control over. So that Ich Bin t-shirt tickled a part of me that’s fiercely defensive of my own unique human identity. I Am. But it did it in a kinda fun way. Or so I thought. I am. No, not German. Not my dad. Not your favorite homosexual stereotype. I am Bruce Garrett. Deal with it. Ich Bin.

And…he could not. I wore the shirt into his restaurant and when we met up I pointed to it and said “Ich Bin…I am”, because I was proud to show him that I knew at least two German words and could put them together. German grammar would later kick me in the teeth and I gave it up, but that was to come later.

He looked at me scornfully, like I was somehow making fun of him, and said, “And what’s funny is you trying to teach me German.”

I must have looked at him like he was a total stranger I’d just run into who happened to look like the guy I’d crushed on madly in high school and it was confusing me. What the fuck man…are you Serious? Did you really think that’s what I was doing? 

Wow…where the hell did That come from? You’re not really the person I thought you were…

Most people experience that moment with their first teenage crush back when they’re teenagers, not when they’re in their 60s. You have a good cry over it, take his picture out of your class notebook, and move on. But while my generation was allowed to see the promise land, most of us could not walk into it. We will always live in a time before Stonewall. So geht es… Looking back on it, and the torrent of abuse we all got thrown at us from every direction, I’m surprised any of us found their other half. No…it wasn’t a language barrier. We were just a couple of gay teens who, in a better world, would have figured it out, gone our separate ways and kept looking. But that was not the world we came of age in.

I still have that t-shirt. And I still wear it proudly.

What I am is what I am
You’re what you are or what?

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sie…du…dich…dir…I Have No Idea Which You It Is…

October 15th, 2021

I’m Not High Maintenance, You’re High Maintenance…

I am almost tempted today to do a chart, something like that Good/Evil Lawful/Chaotic chart you see sometimes filled out with various characters from movies and comics. It’s regarding a cynical trope I’ve heard, probably we’ve all heard, a bazillion times about how beauty usually comes with high maintenance. So my chart would have the rows from Chill to High Maintenance, and the columns from Beautiful to Plain. It could be hours of cheap fun filling it out. But on reflection, cynics notwithstanding, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and high maintenance is probably just a matter of mismatched expectations.

I know this about beauty because my ideal of male beauty isn’t that of most of my fellow American gay males, who get all hot and bothered over something I wouldn’t even notice. What gets my heart beating is usually disrespected as pretty, and along with that, stereotyped as weak and vain and probably conniving. But that stereotype I’m convinced, is as much about straight male homophobia as it is about gay male sour grapes.

I’ve witnessed all three of my major life crushes get old, and they’re all still beautiful in my opinion, but only one of them is someone I’d classify as high maintenance, and that in retrospect I think is a good example of that also being in the eye of the beholder.

A German chat BBS I tuned into once had a “You Know You’re German When” thread and one of the entries was “Spontaneity is at two weeks notice.” Tell me about it. It’s a German stereotype that they’re all about order and process and being on time but it’s really they’re terrified of chaos and I’m somewhere in the chaotic good section of those charts. So when I crushed massively on a German guy it was probably doomed from the start, even if we had been living in a better world. Expectations. Decades later we reconnected and almost right away, with all that life experience under my belt, I saw it was not going to be easy just managing a long distance friendship. He was probably never late for work a day in his life, and the invention of flextime was a godsend for me. His idea of a good vacation was a trip to a ski resort and mine is jump in the car and find some new roads to drive and see what’s there. Detailed plans quickly make me feel confined and suffocated, and they probably make him feel safe and secure. But I don’t think either one of us were high maintenance. Just tragically out of phase. Lawful Good does not match well with Chaotic Good, even though both are Good.

He called me “a piece of work” once, and a drama queen another time. Well I’ve met real drama queens, people who could summon a spectacle of Wagnerian scale with a mere raised eyebrow. You could hear the thunder in Valhalla whenever they walked into a room and frowned. I am not worthy. But I guess what he was trying to tell me with all that was I was stressing him out just being me, and never mind the elephant in the room with us. But I can’t not be me. I’ve seen what happens to people like this, creatives with, as David Gerrold once said, minds like a web browser with a thousand tabs opened all at once, who try to stifle themselves in exchange for acceptance. Often they end up dead. Best I can do is try to manage it, and not take it to heart when I start getting those blank stares. A little sympathy every now and then would be helpful. 

I am not beautiful…so I’ve been told…and not very chill either. Unless I’ve got a drink in my hands. But that’s okay. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so as it turns out is chill. What matters I think, is how well matched you are. I’ve crossed paths with couples, gay and straight, both of whom were so high maintenance you’d think they’d be at each other’s throats all the time. But they were on the same page and in phase with each other and they got along. It was everyone else they drove nuts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I’m Not High Maintenance, You’re High Maintenance…

September 5th, 2021

Sacred Ground. Well…Kinda Sorta…

 

I was hoping someone on one of the memories pages would post a shot of this particular Radio Shack before it became a Radio Shack, because it has many fond memories for me.  Apparently it was a small grocery store, with an even smaller gas station next to it. They said this shot was probably taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s. If so, then if you looked across the street (which was named “East Montgomery Avenue until the late 1960s when it was renamed Rockville Pike) from there you would have seen a largish grassy field airport, instead of a shopping center.

Here’s what it looked like back in my kidhood time…

 

 

It was one of my go-to places for parts, back when Radio Shack was a parts store (as in capacitors, resistors, diodes…that stuff things used to be made out of before everything became integrated circuits) as well as a place to get stereo equipment and…well…radios.

It was also where I sat down in a daze next to the curb on a day in December 1971 (the 15th to be exact), staring at the sunset over Congressional Plaza across the street, and realized I was in love…and…well…yeah….gay.

Now I have a reference photo for that episode of A Coming Out Story.

You can almost see what looks alley on the left of the building. Here’s another old photo where you can see it better…

 

 

 

That was the beginnings of what would become Fishers Lane. Once upon a time you could walk it from the apartments I lived in, across the railroad tracks, and to the Shack or Congressional. Before mom moved us to the apartments back there, a railroad crossing existed that allowed cars to cross the tracks and proceed up Fishers Lane. That crossing was removed before we lived there, but you could still walk across the tracks. It was my direct route, either to the Shack or to the Plaza, depending on what I was looking for. On the night of December 15, 1971 I walked across them in a happy drunk on a teenage crush daze, all the way to the Pike where I sat next to a curb and watched the sunset. It’s all gone now. I eventually reconnected with the guy I was crushing on back then, only to discover we really aren’t very compatible. So that’s gone too. But I still have the memories. Unlike a lot of gay kids of my generation, I had it pretty good by comparison. I fell in love. It was wonderful. I was twitterpated. It saved my life. Because after that I just could not believe there was anything wrong with me.

When they built the Metro red line it blocked off pedestrian traffic across the railroad tracks. Eventually that entire corner including the Radio Shack and the Penn-Jersey next to it (where I used to get my auto parts) was bulldozed and turned into more strip shopping (haha including a Hooters), and now it’s been bulldozed again. Rockville does that to itself. Some days I wish I could too. But that’s just old man regrets. No matter how painful it ends up being, you can’t help but know that love saved you, made you a better stronger person in some deep down way. I wouldn’t erase any of it. Not even what he did to me in March 2016.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sacred Ground. Well…Kinda Sorta…

August 7th, 2021

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

Well…and friendships. Serious good if not untroubled friendships that I still hold dear.

One of the Facebook groups I follow is titled You Know You Grew Up In Rockville Maryland If You… It’s a nostalgia group for Boomers such as myself who remember what Rockville used to look like prior to the 80s/90s. A piece of that history, for me, is looking like a smile with its front teeth knocked out. A church actually, that mom and I used to attend back when I was a little Baptist boy. But by the time The Lost And Found opened it’s church basement doors, I was already pretty far down the path toward agnosticism. 

These photos were probably taken sometime in the summer of 1972…

The Lost and Found was a Jesus Kids coffee shop and hangout in the basement of the old First Baptist Church in Rockville on Jefferson Street, a short distance from the old post office. In 1971 the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar was released, and along with Godspell spawned a movement of mostly nice, sincere, longhaired counter culture Christianity. Mom and I were members of that Baptist Church, and I often hung out there back in the day with my camera. In retrospect I should have documented more of it when I had the chance. It was a scene that didn’t last very long in it’s most innocent and pure form. 

The Lost And Found is important in my personal history because of two friends that I first met there, one of whom I still keep in regular contact with, the other, who lived on South Washington Street, I desperately wish I had. (If you ever read this…please say ‘Hi’…)

The Lost and Found was in a strange bit of architecture that connected the old chapel to the newer Sunday School rooms and church offices. There were dressing rooms for the choir and a passageway from there to doors on either side of the choir loft. The basement The Lost and Found settled into seemed a mostly abandoned space. There was an old Coke machine, a small Formica and chrome dining table and what must have been a first of its kind back in the day, electric “monitor top” refrigerators there. Also good people. Very good people. Better often, than the ones sitting in the pews upstairs.

That part of the church is now a driveway…

I don’t know if you can appreciate the shock I felt when I first laid eyes on what had happened to it. But as I said before, Rockville does this to itself. A driveway was probably the least obnoxious thing they could have done to it.

The chapel was torn down sometime ago. The red brick building you see on the right there was built in its place, and is currently up for sale. Maybe they’ll tear it down and build something else there. The only thing left of what once was is the Sunday School building, there on the left, that was converted to offices and given something of a face lift. If you look at the stonework by the entrance stairs and compare you can see where they cleaved it from the part The Lost And Found was in. How they managed that was probably a pretty good trick because there were hallways and stairwells connecting the parts together. Some shoring up had to have happened before they built that wall.

For several years after I met him there, the parking lot across the street served us as a rendezvous. The day they build something there I may never set foot in Rockville again. But that at least looks pretty safe. For now.

A Facebook friend remarked upon finding himself in a town that seemed to be populated with nothing but earnest young Jesus kids, that he’d feel uncomfortable settling there because he could reckon how they would treat him as a gay man. I commented that I could see myself living in a town full of 1971 Jesus kids, except I remembered how it all went down after it became co-opted by the worst humans imaginable…people like Moses David…and I’d be afraid that I’d have to watch it all happen again. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

August 4th, 2021

Vanyel’s Promise

Great scary wonderful news! This has been ricocheting around my newsfeeds today…

Fantasy’s First Openly Queer Hero Is Getting the TV Adaptation He Deserves

I have been waiting all my life—or at least since sixth grade—for an adaptation of bestselling author Mercedes Lackey’s wildly popular Valdemar fantasy novels. Now comes the news that Radar Pictures has secured the rights to the Valdemar literary universe, and they are developing an ongoing TV series.

The initial season is set to adapt Lackey’s Lambda Award-winning “Last Herald-Mage” trilogy, which features a young man named Vanyel Ashkevron who eventually becomes one of the most powerful magic-users in history. Radar’s press release describes Van as “the first openly gay heroic protagonist in the fantasy genre.”

I’m probably a bit older than the typical fan of this series…in 1989 I was in my late 30s, but just as hungry as the others for gay positive representation in fiction. Previously there was only Mary Renault’s historical fiction, and a few random one off novels I found at Deacon Maccubbin’s Lambda Rising bookstore. Here was a gay protagonist, center stage, in an already fully developed fantasy universe and I devoured each book as it came out, and then bought signed prints of the Jody Lee cover art.

I think it was around this time I began to insist on finding fiction to read with fully realized gay characters as central to the story, passing over a lot of popular favorites that I felt, just didn’t speak to me, getting irritated, and then vocal, about authors that played gay vague at us, but couldn’t actually make us visible in their works.

I got into an online argument with Richard Pini, co-author of the Elfquest series of comics, about his insistence to the readership that their elves were sexually liberated on the one hand, and on the other that same sex couplings (soulmates/lifemates were the terms used in the stories for the pair bonds) were just not possible. It had to be an opposite sex coupling because only those could produce children. (Where have I heard that before?) A shape-shifting alien “old one” turning into and mating with a wolf in order to insure the viability of her people on the planet they’d crash landed on…yeah that’s do-able. But not same sex pair bonds. Years later when we crossed paths online again he remembered and curtly said he would not discuss it anymore with Me. About then I was noticing that their spin-off series would suddenly find themselves cancelled if they strayed too closely toward affirming same sex relationships. I still check in every now and then and they’re Still doing it.

But let it be said they weren’t/aren’t the only ones. That’s how it went back in those days, and to a large degree that is how it Still Goes in pop culture media, though it is getting better. Slowly. I was tired of being invisible before I picked up books about Vanyel in the late 1980s. Now I knew I didn’t have to accept it.

God almighty I hope they do this right. It’s a good sign they went for a TV series and not a one-off movie where they’d have to compress/delete a lot of the story to make it fit.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Vanyel’s Promise

April 4th, 2021

Getting Back To Work On It

 

Finally getting to work on the next ACOS episode. This one is also just a two strip installment, so it shouldn’t take long.

This is where the story shifts gears pretty significantly. Remember the subtitle of this story is, The first person you come out to is yourself.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Getting Back To Work On It

April 3rd, 2021

Disturbed

Surfing my blog archives from a particular time in my life, I came across this one that describes it abstractly, and yet perfectly. 

October 5, 2006… I can see there how it really hit me in a very deep place that hadn’t really been disturbed in a long, long time. There are negative connotations to the word “disturbed” that some of us, usually of the artistic persuasion, recognize aren’t necessarily the case. To be disturbed is usually not a good thing, but sometimes it is an illuminating thing. Revelations happen. Not always nice ones. But it grows you inside. Once you see that, then you find yourself pursuing it from time to time. And people think you’re nuts. And you don’t really care anymore. That day, I was disturbed. And it was amazing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Disturbed


The Heart Of A Coming Out Story…Not A Person, But A Time And Place

In October 2006 I put episode 6 of A Coming Out Story on my website. That would have been a month after I finally reconnected with the object of my affections in the story. I was probably working on it when that happened. It was over a year before I finished the next one. Before then I had no idea what had happened to him. I started doing the cartoon story in large part to try and process what had happened to me back in high school, and maybe make a statement about how it was to be a gay teenager in 1971. Fact is, I was beginning to believe I would never find him again, never know what happened to him.

He was a class behind mine. His family moved out of the country shortly after I graduated. It was very sudden, or so it seemed to me. I had no idea he was going. I was devastated. For decades I searched for him. I never stopped trying to find a boyfriend elsewhere, but that first love is something that strikes deep into you. I had to know what had become of him. Especially after the AIDS plague hit us. After that first viewing of the Names Project quilt on the Washington Mall, I had nightmares of walking among the panels and suddenly finding one with his name on it. Sometimes, oddly, I still have this nightmare.

So I kept looking. But after the years passed I figured that when I found him again he’d be happily settled down with a much more good looking guy…possibly some beautiful Brazilian guy and they’d be living in something like married bliss and I’d just have to accept it. He was a catch. Jaw droppingly beautiful, decent, good hearted, hard working, always a busy bee. I knew he would not have wanted for suiters. It’s what scared me about him. In the age of AIDS, he could easily  have been taken away by the virus. So many were. 

So I kept looking. When computers and modems and BBSs came about, I would occasionally toss little messages in a bottle out into the cyber void to see if he might reply…

Hello…are you out there…do you remember…

I heard nothing back. Later I learned he was on GeoCities but apparently not out in the larger net. So we never crossed paths that way.

I eventually found him again in a phone directory. He was here in this country, working at Disney World. Anxious, sweating profusely, I gave him a call. Thankfully what I got his answering machine instead of him or I might have just choked and hung up. And I heard his voice again for the first time in decades. It’s amazing how after all that time I knew instantly it was him, even before my brain processed the words on his answering machine, by the sound of his voice. It took me back decades. Suddenly I was that awkward geeky terrified teenage boy again.

I hung up on the answering machine. Then I wrote a script, practiced it several times, and called back. Thankfully I got the answering machine again and I spoke my lines and hung up. And waited. And waited. It was agonizing. On the walk home from work I noticed a call I’d missed on the iPhone and there was voice mail and OhMyGodIt’sHim!!!!  I waited until I got home to call back. He was glad to hear from me. We chatted for over an hour, catching up on this and that. It was the first of many calls in that first couple of years. I talked about my love for him back in high school and he remembered our times in the library and on the walk to his motorcycle. And he coaxed me into coming down to Disney World, a thing I’d had no interest in at all until then. I wanted to much to see him, but I wasn’t into theme parks of any sort. Come on man, it’s your heritage…baseball apple pie and Mickey Mouse…what’s wrong with you.  So I went the following spring. And we laid eyes on each other for the first time in decades, and it was like those high school days all over again. But that…that…turned out to be a two-edged sword.

For some of us, of a certain generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall. I know that a little better now.

It was October of 2006 that we reconnected. I published the episode of ACOS I’d been working on in November. It took nearly a year for me to wrest another one out of me. And it is still hard. The story doesn’t have a happy ending. But I’m still working on it. Because it needs to be told how that magical time of first love and awakening desire was stolen from so many of us, turned into a nightmare, so righteous people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hearts. Out of our lives.

I will never forget that first love. I tried afterward to find another. But what I was looking for, what I am always looking for, I would have probably found pretty quickly in a better world, at a church social, or a teen coffee house, or some social event organized by caring adults, where gay teens could meet and you didn’t have to worry about whether the one you were crushing on was straight and just not for you. Somewhere in some better world where I could have met a nice guy. But it was 1971, and all those nice guys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them. They didn’t want God to hate them. They didn’t want to hate themselves more. And so it went.

I will never forget the awe and wonder and joy of that first love. And I will never forgive the ones who stole it from me…and from so many of us. You butchers. We were just kids. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. And you put knives into our hearts so you could be righteous. You monsters. I am an atheist now. It’s nothing to do with religious hatred against me and my kind. It was simply that belief just stopped making sense to me. But if there is a God Almighty, I would rather stand there at Judgement Day a proud homosexual, with every time I ever took another man into my arms laid out before me, than have to account for what you people did to so many innocent and pure hearts. You Monsters!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Heart Of A Coming Out Story…Not A Person, But A Time And Place

March 26th, 2021

Is Anything After All…Real…?

I’m insomnia scrolling on Facebook early this morning, and a set of photographs pops into view. It’s my old high school being torn down completely…the one A Coming Out Story takes place in…


Photos by Christopher Cherry

I thought they were going to do an extensive remodeling, not a complete teardown and rebuild. That’s what the plans looked like to me anyway.

It really feels like looking at the end of life, but it’s worse than I imagined it would be, because it’s not enough that I die someday…it’s that everything I ever loved has to die too.  Not just Woodward…nearly nothing of the old neighborhood exists anymore. Just try to follow some of the old roads and paths now.

Maybe I will sell the house after all and go live in a trailer somewhere in the desert. Did I have that life? Was any of it real? Am I real?

This stabs worse than I could have imagined. I’d rather have seen an empty lot than those pictures. That senior year I had there was one of the best years of my life, difficult though it was in some ways. I had a really difficult time in just about every other grade school I attended, but I felt embraced by the people and the culture at Woodward in a way I’ve never felt anywhere else since. It set me on a path forward in life I wouldn’t have bothered walking otherwise, because there wouldn’t have been anything inside of me to make me believe I could do anything with my life.

So it goes…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Is Anything After All…Real…?

March 18th, 2021

Wearing The Ball And Chain Of The 50s’ Into The Post Stonewall Time

This came across my news stream from NBC…

They lived a ‘double life’ for decades. Now, these gay elders are telling their stories.

In a new exhibit, LGBTQ elders share what it was like to spend most of their lives in the closet.

My life seems to me at times to straddle the bridge between the awful pre-Stonewall years and post Stonewall gay lib. I came of age in a time when living a whole and honest life seemed possible. But it was hard. So many chances for love snatched away, because someone needed my hopes and dreams to make their stepping stones to heaven.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wearing The Ball And Chain Of The 50s’ Into The Post Stonewall Time

March 6th, 2021

The Stab That Bleeds

I post on my Facebook page about plans for a nice celebratory dinner today…someplace good…cost no object. Except of course it’s still a time of plague so it needs to be carry-out, not fabulous seated dining. A friend (who should know my history better than this by now) asks what is to special about March 6th. Oh goodness…here, let me tell you the whole sordid tale…and why I will never put anyone up on a pedestal, ever again…like teenage me did to a certain someone, once upon a time…

March 6, 2016. Walt Disney World.

I was becoming aware that if I told a certain someone I was coming down, when I got there he’d be all standoffish and wouldn’t come over and talk like he used to. But if I just showed up he was all happy to see me and became a chatterbox and we’d talk for long enough after closing time I might have to be walked out of the park by cast members lest the Langoliers get me. But by then our conversations via email were no longer just between us.

This trip I’d made noises about coming down, but I wasn’t sure I could get away from work. It would depend on the schedule at work, which seemed to be in a perpetual state of flux. So he starts sending me all these shots of him and others in the family Nachbarschaft having a Perfectly Wonderful Time at a ski resort somewhere and I shouldn’t bother coming down if I wanted to see him. By this time I was becoming skilled in detecting his bullshit. Losing the rose colored glasses helped. It disturbed me to see so much of it. But that is what a life spent burying your innermost self does, and why I swore I would never do that to myself.

The Mitt Romney smile he was wearing in those photos was very disturbing.

On a previous trip I’d asked him if we could just hang out together somewhere after his shift. Maybe some favorite restaurant or other place, just somewhere we could talk about…things…and maybe get a few things between us out in the open. I was still very disturbed by the long conversation we’d had years previously. He looked at me seriously and said that he’d made his allegiances, and he had to stay in his comfort zone.

Okay…fine…but I needed a Disney vacation and I like Biergarten because it’s one of the few places a single traveler like me can sit at a table and chat with the other guests. It’s expected. Oktoberfest eight to a table seating and all that. And you have a lot of ready icebreakers to start a conversation with. Hi…where are you folks from? This your first time in Disney World? He told me once that he would watch me and I was great at getting a table to open up and start talking with each other. So when the schedule at work opened up like I figured it would, I ducked down to Disney World.

He got really standoffish…actually more like angry when he saw me. And I reckon it was written all over my face that I knew he’d be there and not skiing somewhere. But this time he did something he hadn’t ever done before. There was a new German kid waiting tables…Disney brings them over to the various World Showcase spots for a year or two from the host countries and Disney gets work out of them and they get a visit to the USA. So he introduces me to the kid, Nico, (yes that was his name). Nico told me about his plans to do a big USA road trip and oh my goodness I was full of all sorts of suggestions, as well as photos of places I’d been on my various road trips. We talked for hours.

He was cute, and smart, and full of energy. He was really looking forward to his road trip and I felt him as a kindred road runner spirit. We talked. And Talked. And talked. Between his needing to take care of his customers. He’d go off to one of this tables, take impeccable care of his guests, and then come back and we’d talk some more. And as we did, I saw that certain someone getting more and more pissed off.

What the fuck are you getting jealous over…you’re the one who foisted me off on this kid…yeah I like him…he’s a nice guy…so what… Finally it was closing time and I wondered where a certain someone had gone, because he Never left without at least saying goodbye. Nico went to find him for me, came back saying he’d just walked out and it was so very much unlike him.

The next day I blogged about it. I’d asked him once straight up once if he ever read my blog or looked at my cartoons and he insisted he did not. So I figured he’d see what I wrote on the blog that day. He did. I checked my server logs.

Later I had a reservation at the Hollywood Brown Derby. I liked having one nice dinner on my last day in the parks. But before I checked into Hollywood Studios I went to his restaurant just to say goodbye like I always did on my last day in the parks. Usually it was a pleasant exchange of goodbyes, even if he’d been standoffish before. But that day you have never seen such an icy cold German stare. But he wasn’t rude, that isn’t the German way. It was all very formal. Kinda like how a Baptist might say I’ll pray for you, in that tone of voice that says burn in hell.

Okay. Fine. Then I went to The Brown Derby and for some reason I felt like ordering the best they had, which right then was the Kobe beef steak. You order something like that and when the waiter asks you how you want it, you just say “whatever the chef recommends” because that’s what you’re going to get anyway. Under no circumstances do you ask for well done.

On my facebook page that morning I wrote:

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So…I’m Going To The Brown Derby! To hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

It was magnificent. Halfway into it I got an email from a certain someone telling me I was creeping him out and never to contact him again “in any way shape or form.” And, “My peace and quiet begins Now!” Well whoever is disturbing your peace and quiet Deutscher it isn’t me because I live a thousand miles away and all I ever do is email you from time to time. But our emails stopped being private sometime in 2011, just after that disturbing conversation. And the three months you took off work for…some health related thing. No it was not torn rotator cuff surgery. Nobody fully recovers from torn rotator cuff surgery and is slugging plates full of liter mugs of beer around in three months. But it’s about the amount of time someone will typically spend in…well…

So I blasted back, again on the blog which he never reads anyway, and every March 6th since I’ve treated myself to the best dinner I can find anywhere, price no object. Some kind of meat. Beef some years, pork one. This year I’ll do the baby back ribs at Corner Stable…carry out because plague. But it has to be meat. The best steak, or the best ribs, or something like that absolutely stunning pork steak entrée I had a few years ago at Rocket To Venus here in Hampden.

Corpse food as the vegetarians call it. Yes. Quite.

Never love yourself less than you love somebody else.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Stab That Bleeds

February 25th, 2021

In Seven Words Describe How Your Life Is A Complete Not Worth Living Failure…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt occasionally posts these little challenges on Facebook for his readers. Every now and then one of them hits me pretty hard…

He was beautiful, but it was 1971.

Kinda hard to realize that even back when you were a teenager falling in love for the first time it was already over and done.
But I had to keep learning it over and over…and over…and over…

Strike one…strike two…strike three…strike one redux… You’re just not getting the message are you kid…your kind isn’t allowed to love…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Seven Words Describe How Your Life Is A Complete Not Worth Living Failure…

January 21st, 2021

Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

I’m sure most of the population has other, more pleasant hobbies and blissfully tuned out for 4 years, but some of us couldn’t do that. I’m not overstating things and saying I WAS PERSONALLY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP, but I think anyone who has had *that person* in their lives knows of the constant low level stress of wondering when they are going to wander into the room and just blow everything up with their latest nonsense. -Atrios, writing in his blog today

It’s odd because his tweet is about Trump, but this business about the constant low level stress of wondering when they’re going to wander into the room and blow everything up instantly reminded me of actually living that, and perhaps it’s knocked some sense into me that’s been long overdue. Something like fifty years overdue as a matter of fact. My entire childhood and a good part of my adolescence, and most of mom’s life I suspect, were spent in an abusive relationship with her mother (who I have often referred to here as my Bitter Baptist Grandmother) and I never really looked at it that way until just now.

It’s always been just…yeah that was her…she was like that. Now I’m thinking that lots of people see their abuser that way…not as an abuser specifically, but as just being like that. Someone who is always cranky and bad tempered. Someone who just seems to always be miserable, and wants everyone else to be miserable to. Someone you are always tip-toeing around, trying not to set them off, trying not to attract their attention. Because…that’s just how they are. Not abusers, just difficult people. And you avoid their gaze because you know what you’ll see in those eyes. People who are always making you tense up. People who make you feel small whenever they’re around. 

Yeah. Abusers. I’m sixty-seven years old and she still haunts my bad dreams.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

December 12th, 2020

Once Upon A Time…

I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams…

I played this Moody Blues song lots after it was released in 1986. I’d moved on from that first tragically magical gay teen high school crush by then, and was busy impaling myself on the second big crush of my life. But I was also beginning to learn by then that you never really forget that first one either. When Morgan Jon Fox asked me if I was willing to chip in some funding for a short he was making The One You Never Forget it was as much because of my own feelings for that time in my life as that Morgan is an amazing filmmaker that I did it. But unlike the boy in Morgan’s film, I never got to ask that first one to the prom, let alone take him. It was 1971. Even in a better world where gay teens could do that I’m not sure I’d have been the one he said yes to. He was a catch. I’d have had competition. And I was just this scrawny little geek from the other side of the tracks.

I had no idea where he was…I imagined that he’d gone back to the South American land of his birth and was having a wonderful love life of his own down there. I knew I’d just have to live with it, but at the same time, whenever the chance arose, I would make inquires, throw little messages in a bottle out to the emerging computer networked world. Are you out there? Do you remember?

This one, and Ringo Starr’s Photograph really hit me with how it felt that he just suddenly vanished from my world, and I had no idea where he went, or what he thought about the times we managed to spend together, once upon a time. So of course they made it to the While Working On A Coming Out Story playlist I’m building. When I have something I’m satisfied with I’ll share it here. Like one of those embarrassing cassette mix tapes us kids used to give to our crushes back in the day.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Once Upon A Time…

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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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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