((Brrr)) We have a frost-advisory this morning. Umm…did I miss something? It is May 3rd, right?
I just got the nicest surprise yesterday and thought I’d share it with all of you. It’s one of those unexpected, take-you-quite-by-surprise, and not-be-able-to-stop-smiling ones that we all look forward to. I know I for one don’t have nearly enough of them, and appreciate them when they come around. This one was especially nice because of whom it concerned: A man who stole my heart years ago.
Okay, before any of you think that I’m having designs on someone else or intending on stepping out on the old man, I should probably clarify this relationship a little further… Yeah, cause that’s what I want is another fucking guy!
I think all of us women have that one male, buddy in our life, don’t we? You’d know him if you do. He’s the one that puts you into an automatic, feel-good mode. That one guy that you feel completely at ease with, that you can tell anything—and I do mean ANYTHING to—and is capable of throwing you into a full-belly laugh. This guy is usually someone you have history with, has probably known you for a good chunk of your life, and you still find it rather amazing that he loves you and accepts your flaws anyway. He’s that friend that you don’t have to talk to all the time, but in fact months, maybe even years go by before you get in touch, and then it’s as if no time has passed at all. Do you have that? I do. For about 32 years now.
Mine, is my brother-in-law. Well, actually he’s the brother of my first husband—which I don’t claim, and hope no one remembers I was married to—but I divorced him and not his family so I still claim them. The tag brother-in-law isn’t even really accurate, because he was so much more my brother before he ever was my in-law. Yeah, we have history. A lot of it! Before I ever married his brother, he was just my friend.
I got this call that should’ve been a somber one, but turned out to be not so much. I should’ve known. There is rarely a time that the two of us have gotten together, be it in person or by phone, that we can keep a straight face. Bless his heart he called to let me know that he’d just heard a close friend of ours—which was actually an ex-boyfriend of mine at one point from the neighborhood—had passed away, and he wanted to make sure I knew. In my defense, and hoping I don’t sound completely insensitive to this loss, the call started out goofy and had nowhere to go but goofier from there, so I think we both had an excuse to make light of the situation.
Me: “Who’s this?”
Him: Slight static followed by a warbling sound. “Ant.” I swear that’s what I heard him say.
Him: More static and warbling. “E-n-c-t!” No, I’m not shitting you, that’s what it sounded like.
Me: I’m getting so frustrated now thinking it’s my husband’s drunken friend, Jerk-in-a-box. “Who? I can’t understand you!”
Him: “Can you hear me?” This came out a bit muffled, and slightly resembled someone trying to talk with marbles in their mouth, but I was able to make out.
Me: “Who is this?!!!” I am sooo ready to hang up now.
Him: “IT’S B-R-E-T-T. YOUR BROTHER-IN-LAW!”
Me: “Oh!” I suddenly switch bi-polar gears and go into my giddy, I’m-so-happy-to-hear-from-you voice. “Well, Hi Hon!”
After exchanging a few pleasantries and he thinking he was putting me at ease to soften the blow, he told me he had some bad news for me. I instantly felt myself stiffen up, worrying that perhaps someone in the family passed. No, he wanted to let me know that our friend died. I just sat there for a second a little confused, and then told him I already knew. His response was one of Oh, you do? And then I said, “Umm…yeah…like last December.” This led into a discussion of how the death actually occurred in December, but they were only now getting around to bringing the remains back from Texas for interment. I know we shouldn’t have started laughing, but it was just so typical of one of us to have an ass-backwards moment and be the last to know something, that we couldn’t help ourselves. Within minutes, it felt like old times all over again.
You know why I love talking to him? Because he’s just so damn real! He grew up in the rough section of town, in that house in the neighborhood that everyone wanted to hang at, and was one of four brothers that everyone wanted to be friends with and all the girls wanted to date. Okay, I guess I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said that. There was one brother that was slightly peculiar and sort of brings to mind Michael Keaton’s clone ‘3’ in the movie “Multiplicity” (That’s only a slight exaggeration, mind you). Any-hoo, you get the just of it. I suppose you could say they were considered ‘The Shit’ back then; which I assume brought a lot of responsibility with it. Namely, when you’re carrying that kind of reputation shit is expected from you, and daring to stray from that formula doesn’t make you very popular. You would’ve never known. He never gave a clue.
My brother-in-law married and had two children before he finally came out of the closet and admitted he was gay. To say that family and friends were shocked would be a huge understatement. If you knew this family and the friends that were a part of our lives you’d realize what a courageous act this was. I suppose that’s why it was so easy for me to accept. I loved him like a brother. I always had. I wanted him to be happy. I knew if he was going to these lengths, and would risk being totally ostracized by family and friends, that this was not confusion, but rather who he really was. I decided he had the same right to be himself as I did, and it really made no difference to me…he was the same guy I partied with when I was young, leaned on when his brother (my ex-husband) was an ass to me, consoled me when the marriage ended, and had been there for me more than most of my family. He was the same ol’ guy, and I didn’t care what he did behind his bedroom door anymore than I had before when he was married. That part of his life was truly none of my business. And you know a great thing happened when he did…it liberated him and made him a better person. As if it were possible for him to be better than he already was, he just sort of came to life!
Now I’m going to get some who read this who are going to disagree with my feelings about his having the right to be himself. And it’s probably closer to the truth to say it’s going to be my immediate family. Two words will explain this statement: God/Bible. Before anyone rears their ugly, judgmental head, let me share a couple more with you: Tolerance/Love. I’m not going to begin to go out on a limb and say I understand his way of life, or begin to dissect my feelings on whether it’s theologically right or wrong in my mind. It makes little difference how I or anyone else feels about it, does it? Am I my brother’s keeper? Isn’t he going to live his life the way he wants to anyway? How or why should this be about anyone else if his personal choice is not hurting anyone? Frankly, I think my marrying his brother and putting up with years of beatings, adultery, and living in near poverty because he was unemployed more often than not was a monstrous sin, but no one said ‘boo’ about that. Yeah, let’s not say shit to the guy that’s kicking around his wife and doesn’t want to support his children. We’ll do our part by giving her a little counseling and sending her home to pray. Rather, let’s judge and condemn the gay guy over there and cast stones at him because he’s ‘different’. Who cares if he’s been nothing but a friend to everyone, is a law-abiding citizen, works his ass off, and is literally raising his children by himself. I mean he’s fucking different, right? And that’s not allowed!
Sorry! I guess sometimes I use this personal forum to air more gripes then I should, but when I sat talking to him last night after some memories were shared and the laughter had died down, I was reminded once again of the intolerance of people as the subject of our late friend rolled back around, and it’s bothered me ever since. You see, what I shared about our deceased friend was that we’d once dated when we were young, but what I failed to mention was that he too eventually came out of the closet. Yeah, I thought it was too good to be true that he seemed so perfect, loved to slow dance to the radio, hold hands, and just talk (cause when the hell does a typical man want to just talk, right?) What they say is true: All the good men are either gay or taken! The reason I’m so bothered is because his obituary reads like a heterosexual male with a grieving girlfriend. A girlfriend that I have no doubt was just that, a girl friend. Shit, for all I know she could’ve been his best friend down in Texas where he’s lived for the last thirteen years, but I can guarantee still just a friend. When he finally came out…he came out! When that happens and you finally accept that about yourself and have the courage to tell others, you just don’t one day say, “Oops, I made a mistake. I was wrong and am really a straight guy.” WTF? And I’ll be really honest, it pissed me the hell off when I read his obituary guest book to find this woman’s entry that said they’d been together for years, he was the love of her life, and she’d been there holding his hand when he passed, ya-da, ya-da, ya-da… She also included a photo of them together. Oh how sweet! Excuse me if I kinda got the impression that she was one of those that liked to insert herself into situations to gain attention. ((Choke…puke!)) I couldn’t help wondering how it would make him feel to know that the people who were supposed to care about him were basically throwing his feelings and the way he’d identified himself for years under the bus, to make things more comfortable on themselves and appease the public. I take this kind of shit seriously! Is there no respect even after death? And I also pose another question, as did Brett, where exactly was his ‘real’ partner? He was a damn, good-looking guy and we both felt it safe to assume he had one, so where was he? Was he dis-cluded? Okay, I’m done with the rant. I just R-E-A-L-L-Y had to get that off my chest. Phew!
You know I’m really glad he called last night. He couldn’t have had better timing. There isn’t anything that quite compares to an old friend swapping stories with you when you’re feeling down. I think many of us get so caught up in our daily lives and the roles that we have to play that we forget who we were. Sometimes we need to be reminded of just how damn good life once was, and that it could be again. I know every time we get together I once again become that audacious teenager ready to take a dare. And you definitely can’t bitch when someone gives you back your youth can you? Yep, aside from being a Pissy-Kitty and madder than hell that I don’t feel one friend’s wishes are being respected, I sure am glad for the nice surprise brought on by the other. Hey, do something nice today. Call an old friend. You never can tell it might be a call they need. Love you, Brett! :)