Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Day

...with thanks to Nick at Satan's Laundromat

Am I still supposed to look forward to my birthday?

I have yet another one coming up in three days, and I'm just not up for too much fuss. That is, if there is any fuss at all. If there isn't, I'll probably be an interesting combination of peeved and relieved at the same time.

Actually, I know there will be an assortment of the standard events, because I've made the reservations for a couple of them myself.

I know that Tim has something up his sleeve this evening, and tomorrow evening Tim and M. and I will visit one of my very favorite establishments, throw down some serious bucks and drink and eat ourselves into a semi-catatonic state. A visit to an Upper East Side Older Gentlemen's Drinking Establishment may or may not follow. Sunday will be spent recovering and/or at the gym and a bit later at the (sigh) Dugout. Monday, the day itself, I will be working on a bid for miscellaneous furniture to be installed at New York's largest and currently most dangerous construction site. There may be a lunch involved, and possibly birthday cake. I think I'll hide in the evening, to recover from this surfeit of birthday gaiety.

Once again, I've prepared myself by telling anyone who asked during the past several months that I was 53, when in fact, I was enjoying my 52nd year. It's a simple way to prepare myself for the inevitable. And of course, one hopes to garner compliments along the lines of: "Gee, you don't look so bad for 53!". It rarely works.

If you see me out and about, know that I'll be accepting all manner of birthday wishes, various hugs, multitudes of kisses from them that wants to offer 'em, and commiseration from those who join me in my advanced age.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Non, je ne regrette rien

This past week, Tim worked seven days. I worked six.

It's not completely unusual for us to do this. In fact, it's rather standard for both of us to work like dogs. Tim always works six days a week, and my ten to twelve hour days add up to at least the same.

But this weekend, we barely got to see much of each other.

I rushed to his house after work on Friday, where we had a couple of late cocktails, hit the diner and crawled into bed. The next morning, we didn't even have a chance to have breakfast together. We both boarded the PATH train and headed off to our various responsibilities. I finished up in the late afternoon. Tim would be done at 8:30.

The plan was for me to pick him up, and then we'd have a quiet dinner. I met him just as he was coming out the door and we headed off directly into the madness that is Times Square these days. Our goal was a small French restaurant in the West Fifties that we tend to get to at least once a month. It dates from the early 1960's; a time when this neighborhood had several such establishments, due perhaps to the proximity of the passenger ship piers directly west. It is one of the very few survivors of that era, and it mostly attracts a clientele of a certain age, along with the occasional Hell's Kitchen claque of neighborhood gay boys and a smattering of theatre-goers. It is always packed pre-curtain, but the scene mellows out nicely as the evening progresses.

We took a table in the quiet back corner. The very lovely French women who work there know us now, and they bring us our Manhattans and a slice of pate, while we unwind a bit. Tim has learned this from my uncle, who wouldn't even open the menu until he was well into his second cocktail. We're not quite that severe. We order our meal along with our second cocktail, as the world becomes slightly bourbon-tinged and we're able, momentarily, to be together. I enjoy a perfectly sauteed trout, and Tim works his way through a hefty portion of Choucroute Garnie. The table is cleared, and now we're among the last few diners. Coffee and spirits are due to arrive. We lean back and regard each other. Tim reaches his hand across the table, and places it gently over mine.

We sit quietly, listening to the wonderfully endless Edith Piaf recordings, drinking our Delamain and Poire William, basking for this short moment in each other's company. Tomorrow, Tim will be back at work, and I'll have to make do with the occasional glance we share over the bar, from time to time.

But for now, we'll head off into the balmy autumn night, our shoulders brushing occasionally as we commence our journey home.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

...Wherever You Are...

So, apparently, yesterday was National Coming Out Day.

I had no idea. I Googled it. I learned that it had been so decreed way back in 1988, on the first anniversary of that huge march on Washington. Why hadn't I heard of it before?

I continued reading the entry to discover this:

"It is highly encouraged for participants in this movement to wear gay pride symbols, such as the pink triangle, the Greek letter lambda, and rainbows, in jewelry and on their clothing, to demonstrate their presence in all walks of life, all ages and all ethnic groups, this contributing to being open, or "coming out", about being queer in every day life."

I wore khakis yesterday. And a short sleeve plaid shirt. So not gay.

It's sort of funny. With my sense of recall , you'd think I could pinpoint the exact day I came out. In fact, I can't. I know the year, and the season, but coming out was something that happened progressively.

Though I'd been sexually active for years prior, I did not come out until I was 18. Not out of any sense of propriety. I'd pretty much run the gamut of all the assorted late '60s/early '70s meet-and-greet places in the past couple of years, and I certainly was not shy. I just never had the opportunity nor the inclination to let anyone I was relating to on a social level know that I was gay.

Like so many others of that time, I had basically spent much of High School denying I was gay, even as I was acting on those desires. It was only in my senior year that I could uncomfortably admit to a crush on George Harrison, and then a bit later, on a man who sort of looked like George Harrison.

It wasn't until I was in college and actually interacting socially, as opposed to sexually, with living, breathing homosexuals that I felt comfortable enough or lonely enough or desperate enough to answer affirmatively when the question of my gayness arose among them. And it was with a huge sense of relief that I answered. The changes were immediate. No longer was I on the outside, judged with suspicion by one side or the other. Admitting I was gay was like jumping into a huge, warm, welcoming pool, much akin to this:

After all, it was the early seventies!

I was to find myself instantly part of a nascent community, seemingly full of people just like me. I was able to discern life patterns among my new found family and realize that there were viable options for me to live the life I wanted the way I wanted to.

Some months later, I was perhaps blinded by some safety-in-numbers notion when I decided it was time to tell my mother the truth as I now knew it. My mother always had her suspicions and was not shy about vocalizing them. I'm she enjoyed the sheer terror her inquisitions caused, but I don't think she was ready for the buoyantly affirmative answer she received that evening. In fact, she suggested I needed help. Perhaps of the electro-shock sort. Or, horror of horrors, aversion therapy. I was too far indoctrinated by that point, and refused her kind offers, much to her chagrin.

Having conquered strangers and my mother, I wisely held off having the same conversation with my father, letting him draw whatever conclusions he might from my arriving at his house in a Gay Activists Alliance t-shirt.

There was a point in my young life when I measured time by how many years I'd been out. I can clearly recall boasting that I'd been out of the closet and proud of it for three, then five, then ten years.

It's been 35 years since those heady days, and it seems I'm now heading out of another door, perhaps the other side of that self-same closet. The world that welcomed me so many years ago is now a distant Arcadian memory, rendered in sepia and sadly faded hues. I'm heading into much colder uncharted waters, with neither map nor guide. Those same desperately anxious emotions I endured prior to coming out are plaguing me again. I'm at least aware of what some of my viable options are, but I'm not sure I like many of them.

Once again, it might be cool if some of the other participants in my new journey could wear some sort of identifiable symbol, to demonstrate their presence in all walks of life, to show me how to navigate this voyage, to surround and support me in the way I've long become accustomed to.