A Gay Ol’ Time (aka, Setting Some Things Straight)

The homophobia of Dick Hafer is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s pretty vile and disgusting. I’m not sure how or why I read all the way through one of his books, but I did. Mostly I was appalled by the tone, and frankly kind of amazed as well. It’s a lot of hate to cram into such a small paperback, but I’ll be damned if little Dick Hafer didn’t pull it off. 

In shock from having made it through, I skimmed through the comments section of the first part (comments sections, by the way, are a good way to give yourself an aneurysm), and one poster had the nerve to challenge other posters to refute the facts and statistics presented in the twenty-four-year-old book. I think he missed the point. And the point is this: you might think the gay agenda is bad, but I promise you that the straight agenda is much, much worse. 

How, you might ask? 

Well, for starters, heterosexuality has undermined the traditional family values that have made this country strong. For example, nearly 100 percent of divorces are between heterosexual couples; likewise, the vast majority of deadbeat dads are straight. 

Some of the foulest sex crimes have been perpetrated by straights. A significant majority of pedophiles are heterosexual, and most rapes—even prison rapes are committed by heterosexuals. 

The “Straight Agenda” has also rotted our political system. Not only are there are senators like David Vitter, who have broken laws in pursuit of their heterosexual desires, but a number of legislators, including but are by no means limited to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his chosen replacement Bob Livingston, and at least one governor, Eliot Spitzer, have lost their jobs as a result of their pursuit of straight sex. Most shockingly, of all the presidents who have been impeached in since Article I of the Constitution was written, a whopping 50 percent of them have been so because of heterosexual activities. 

Mind you, I haven’t researched the exact facts and figures to back up my conclusion of his man/woman plague infesting our nation, but there are two important numbers you need to know about: 95 percent of all statistics are made up; 100 percent of them are twisted to fit the agendas of the people using them. It’s true. 

This is just the beginning. I encourage you to help me find other examples of this disease. 

* Oh, yeah. Totally forgot to mention: Sixty percent of states in the U.S. have amended their constitutions to limit marriage to one man and one woman. If that’s not evidence of a nefarious Straight Agenda, I’d like to know what is. 

I Want To Be a Part of It

By 2002, I had lived several lives in New York City. I’d been a wide-eyed tourist, a jaded commuter, an unemployed pothead, a spurned lover, the most social of drunks, and very nearly a Casanova. I’d been broke and financially stable. I’d been profoundly unsure of myself and utterly confident. I’d been introverted and extroverted. The only constant in my life was the flux. That October, I was in between incarnations when I’d left work at The New York Post (another constant), caught the B, D, Q, or F train downtown to the Thirty-third Street PATH station, and saw Jenni. 

I wasn’t looking for Jenni at that point in my life, because at that point in my life, I’d completely lost track of her. It happens. But there she was, looking exactly as she did when I’d seen her last, about eight years prior. That’s not entirely accurate. There was one difference: in 1994, she was a girl—an elegant girl, but a girl nonetheless. In 2002, she was a woman. This wasn’t an issue of appearance; it just was. 

After I stood there, slack-jawed for a minute or so, I got her attention. It took her some time to figure out who I was (like I said, several lifetimes), it all fell into place. At first things were shaky. I’d been so busy trying to find myself that I didn’t have any time for nostalgia. We had dinner a few days later, exchanged numbers, and proceeded not to call each other. 

That fall, winter, and spring, I’d tried on a couple more identities—rock groupie and on-again-off-again boyfriend—until that summer when, at the insistence of an old friend I have since exorcised, I went out to dinner with Jenni and her new friend, Jennifer. Where nine months earlier, our reunion had been confused and distracted; this time, we clicked just as we had all that time ago. As such, we quickly caught up. 

Her passion then was dancing. This struck me as kind of weird. I’d never thought of her as particularly creative, but rather, focused, inquisitive, and matter-of-fact, kind of like Alice from Alice in Wonderland. In retrospect, this was shortsighted of me. She’d always had an artistic streak—whether it be from cooking experiments we’d undertaken in senior-year English or the maligned pom-pom dance squad; what she also had was determination, with which she’d tackled the challenges laid out before her. 

We spent the summer stealing evenings away from our crowded schedules, wandering around Spring Street looking for cheap food; or walking to or from her dance studio on the border of Soho and Tribeca, during the weekends when the streets were empty; eating at a bizarre vegetarian Asian food place, discussing the absence of love in our lives; or riding the Cyclone in Coney Island with her clamped so tightly on my bicep that it is now shaped differently forever; to later that evening on the beach where we found an amateur astronomer watching Mars through his telescope, inviting others to take a look. It was like dating, but without all that messy, time-consuming, headache-inducing romance, and as before, it brought with it peace. 

But the amount of fun she and I had together was nothing compared to the amount of fun we’d had with the other Jennifer. 

Teenage Superstars

For a period of time several years back, my two best friends were named Jennifer. Our lives intersected and orbited and careened off of each other as lives often do. A few weeks ago, I watched Jennifer say “I do” while Jennifer beamed proudly on as the maiden of honor. 

The bride shall henceforth be known as Jenni, as that was her name when I met her in my junior-year English class at Gallup High School. If I remember correctly (and I often don’t), she had just transferred there from Italy—in a military capacity, though, meaning she was 100 percent American with a distinctly East Coast accent. All of the boys in class were endlessly fascinated with her, and it wasn’t at all difficult to discern why. She was stunning—what with her olive skin, dark brown curls bouncing off her shoulders, and the biggest, brightest eyes anybody at Gallup High had ever seen. 

Being an antisocial, antiestablishment tool, I chose to ignore her. At least I pretended to. At one point, I distinctly recall her slipping into class wearing a leather jacket and a deep green turtleneck. The combination of that with her intense curiosity and focus, aggressive kindness, fluttering energy like that of a hummingbird, and the way her pen twirled around her thumb when she was bored made me think, “She is so cool!” Being an antisocial tool, however, led me to denigrate the pom-pom dance squad for which she was trying out, and that put the kibosh on that relationship. 

That is until a year later. For reasons I, for the life of me, cannot recall, I earned myself an invitation to have lunch with her and her mother in their large, split-level home. The invitation stretched out into a regular, twice-a-week date. I wonder what the rest of the school saw when the awkward, long-haired, grungy Jeremiah folded up into a sky blue hatchback with the graceful, classy Jenni and rode off to parts unknown. 

Something you should probably know about me: I fell in love easily, particularly at that age. See, for the vast majority of people, adolescence really messes with them. For me, adolescence dragged me outside, smacked me around a bit, gave me a wedgie, and sent me on my way. It also whispered things in my ear. These things tended to give me The Wrong Idea—this Idea being crippling crushes that irreparably damaged friendships. 

I didn’t have one of these crushes on Jenni, and I’m not sure why. She has always been one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, both physically and spiritually. Hell, I remember how—many years later—she invited me out to the beach at Coney Island, and I thanked the lord that she hadn’t been sunbathing, because if I’d seen her in a bikini, that would have meant that it was okay for me to die. 

But I digress. The point is, I was free from my hormones to be friends with Jenni, and as such, I was able to relax in ways I couldn’t anywhere else in my life. And it was good. 

And I haven’t even mentioned our low-budget dramatization of The Taming of the Shrew wherein she played Petrucio and I played Katherine. And I won’t mention it because I have my dignity. 

In My Dreams, It’s Still The Same …

I hate dating. I hate it with the fiery intensity of ten thousand exploding suns. Dating is a lot like a job interview; it doesn’t matter how good a boyfriend/girlfriend/employee you might potentially be—there is a script, a dress code, and certain dance steps you have to know if you’re going to do it right. The difference between the two is that dating doesn’t require a resume. 

It totally should. Actually, forget the resume. What it needs is a list of references. How cool would it be if you could make some phone calls and find out how you can be expect to be treated? The closest to references any of us gets is the way he or she talks about their exes. If there is consistent badmouthing going on, expect to be badmouthed when you become the ex. It’s a simple formula, but it never fails to astound me how few people put it together. Lord knows I never did. 

It should have been obvious. My habits and quirks were constantly compared to his—and if I ever did or said something similar, I was expected to explain how and why I wasn’t him. It was exhausting, and not once did it occur to me that she would probably be doing the same to some other poor dude or dudette in the future. I wish I’d had an opportunity to speak to those exes, and I wish I had the opportunity to talk to any upcoming boy or girlfriends. I wouldn’t badmouth her, per se; I’d just advise caution. And the potential suitor wouldn’t have to take my word for it, either. There are a number of witnesses who could help build a clear picture of a future with her. Hopefully he or she could learn from our mistakes. Likewise, I wish that my girlfriends could have had access to that kind of information. 

In case you’re wondering: yes, I am talking about a very specific ex. She is one on a short list (a very, very short list) who won’t talk to me anymore, and for the life of me, I can’t tell you why. 

I know that I’ve never really handled a breakup well. What I don’t know is anyone who has. When you’re breaking up, whether you be the breaker or the breakee, not only is it excusable to act like a real fuck-knuckle, it’s expected. In fact, there is no way not to be a fuck-knuckle. If you yell, it’s frightening and stressful. If you cry, it’s pathetic and stressful. If you are calm and rational, it’s coldhearted and stressful. 

Mourning can last for a short period of time, or it can last months, even years. But there comes a point, as in the case with any loss, that you have to take one step and another just to get on with life, because it’s getting on just fine without you. But even then, a little thing, like a song or a stray toothbrush, can send you back into the emptiness his or her absence has left you. 

Then one day, you’re okay again. And if you’re really lucky, you can remember the relationship with fondness, but without wanting to go back. But what do you do if your former partner doesn’t? It doesn’t matter how independent or free-thinking you are; you will always see yourself in the reflection of the people around you. But even if dozens of people think you’re swell, what does it say about you when one person to whom you’d once devoted your soul seems to hate you? 

The time I spent with her was a very, very important period of my life, and it kind of pisses me off that she doesn’t feel the same. Or maybe she does, and my departure is still an open wound. I don’t know, and I’ll never know, and it’s not fair. Sometimes it makes me angry; sometimes it makes me sad; but most of the time, I just don’t think about it. 

Yesterday, she and I weren’t on speaking terms. Tomorrow, we won’t be on speaking terms. Yesterday, I didn’t care that we weren’t on speaking terms, nor will I tomorrow. Before we met, I’d never known she existed. When we were together, I couldn’t imagine life without her. And now, she’s just another chapter. 

Last night, I dreamed that we had lunch. It was nothing special, just an open-air noodle place I’d been to once in Boston. She was so happy, and living a rich, fulfilling life. I never asked if she was in a relationship, and she never told me; there was no romance between us or any yearning for said romance. Our lives had intersected for one brief moment so long ago, and that was it, and that was okay

I woke up at peace, but that didn’t last. Instead, I got a little pissed off that this had never occurred in real life. After a little while the anger turned into melancholy. And now, the memory and emotions of the dream have faded into mere facts and images in the back of my mind. I’m grateful for the time I spent with her. I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent with all of my girlfriends, my friends, and now, my wife. Love builds people, and lord knows I’ve had enough of it. 

So I hope my ex is happy, I really do. And I hope that she listens to the bands I’d introduced her to, or reads a book I’d turned her onto, or snickers at a private joke she and I’d once shared; and I hope this makes her smile a little. 

Oh, Bleh …

I had one of those mornings when I wake up and feel like I don’t have anything to show for my life. None of the stuff in the apartment feels like mine, my job feels fake, and writing takes me nowhere. 

Usually when I feel this way, I remind myself how much flat-out fun I’ve had (ignoring, of course, the crippling depression) and how awesome it is to be married, but that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick today. What makes it really weird is that now, since I am properly medicated, I should be able to shake this easily—more easily, in fact, than before. But not today … 

What I need is to do something useful, and then I’ll feel better.  But first … my day awaits. 

Bleh.