Saturday, November 29, 2008

Explosion


Carlos blew his top.

We had been out with "the ladies" looking all over for a particular CD they wanted. We had driven out to Columbia, and looked all over until we finally found it; at a place called 'Sounds Familiar' a funky old new and used music store. I myself stocked up on a new BoDeans and a Billie Holiday I didn't have.

But I digress.

After going around looking for, and finding the music, we drove into Columbia and headed for West Columbia. Carlos asked if the ladies were hungry. "No." said La Bruja. So we drove on. Carlos then suggested a place for a coffee and pastry.

"We'd like to have salad," ordered La Bruja.

So off we went for an short, uncomfortable lunch at Cafe Strudel in West Columbia, after which we headed home. It was cold and rainy, so La Bruja decides to sit in the sunroom--surrounded on three sides by glass with two skylights overhead. The heat comes on and La Bruja waddles back to Carlos and says, "We'd like more heat."

That was all it took for the Carlos Bomb to go off. He went out to the kitchen and did his version of the dressing down. He ranted about spending six hours shopping. He railed about La Bruja wanting to waited on hand-and-foot. He roared about the absence of Please or Thank You. He was loud, but not as loud as I would have been. I was in the back of the house and I heard the raised voices. I crept into the hallway just in time to hear: "We're going out to a nice dinner and tomorrow we'll drive you back up to Charlotte so you can go home!"

My man. He's a sweetheart, but you can only push him so far before the TICK TICK BOOM!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Aftermath


So the dinner is over, leftovers stored, wine bottles emptied and dessert and coffee served.

What do we have to look forward to now?

Oh yes. The guests getting the hell out of our house!

Carlos' aunt and a friend of hers, whose names I will keep to myself--oh hell no, it's Gloria and Luz Maria--arrived on Monday and were staying until Monday, but are now leaving Sunday morning. And that won't come soon enough for me.

It's not that they're awful women--at least one of them isn't, for Luz Maria speaks very little English. But as for the other one, La Bruja (The Witch) as Carlos calls her, can be a demon spawn. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, because she's almost eighty and quite set in her ways, but she can be brutal.

On Tuesday, Carlos took the day off from work and took them to Columbia to go shopping. Carlos. Hates. Shopping. But it was his aunt and her friend, so off they went, for SIX HOURS. He watched them buy key chains, and nail clippers, pens and comb sets, three-dollar T-shirts and anything shiny and made of plastic. I think they were buying souvenirs for all of Mexico City. And upon their return, how thankful and gracious was Gloria? Um.............................Not.

The next day I was off and Carlos worked. I was staying home to do some pre-Thanksgiving dinner prep, but the ladies wanted to go shopping again! I suggested the nearest spot, and offered to drive them down there; I gave them my cell phone so they could call me to come get them. In the short drive to the shopping center, La Bruja must have thanked me, and told me I was the sweetest person ever, about twenty times. But Carlos? Bupkus! Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Thanksgiving Day Carlos and I cooked and baked and set the table and poured the wine and served the dinner and prepared his dessert and served his dessert and cleared and washed and scrubbed and rinsed, and wiped down counters and stoves and the table.

La Bruja? Left the room....but not before she asked in that voice of hers, "Can we have some more heat please? We'll pay the difference."

Where's my gun?

The next day, Black Friday, they ask to go shopping again. On Black Friday! With all the lunatics and soccer moms. Well, Carlos and I are shopping for a new flat screen TV, so we went. We drove into Columbia, to the Target store, and dropped them off while we parked. We walked the half mile or so back to the Target and La Bruja and su amiga are waiting on the curb. "What are we doing here?" she asked. "We have no more shopping to do!"

Again. Gun?

So we let them loose in Target while we looked at Circuit City for TVs. Then it was back to pick them, oh yes, and their purchases up, and head home. Gloria passes out in the sunroom for a couple of hours and, upon waking, asks where we are taking her now. Mind you, the woman doesn't want to do anything but shop.

So, Carlos offered to take them into town and wander through the antique malls. La Bruja agrees, and Carlos gets ready to go. Then she changes her mind and says she's hungry. The she asks us to make whipped cream for her dessert. Make. Whipped. Cream. If I could have made it into a gun and used it, I would have.

Drop everything and feed her. Gun? Anyone?

Again, not a lacquered fingernail is lifted in reheating their food or setting the table, serving, clearing washing..........it's like Groundhogs Day because I'm reliving the day before exactly as it happened the FIRST TIME!!!

They had coffee with dessert. I got the big wine goblet out.

T-minus 41 hours and counting.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!


Among those whom I like or admire I can find no common denominator;
but those whom I love? All of them make me laugh.
--W.H. Auden

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Words


Narrow Your Focus: The Whole World As A Hundred People
--57 Asian, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Americas, 8 Africans
--52 Female, 48 Male
--70 of various Races, 30 Caucasian
--70 Non-Christian, 30 Christian
--89 Heterosexual, 11 Homosexual
--59% of the world’s wealth would be in the hands of six people
—all citizens of the United States
--80 citizens would live in substandard housing
--70 would be unable to read
--50 would suffer malnutrition
--1 would be near death; 1 near birth
--Only one would have a college education
--Only one would own a computer

From Candace to Newt


I ran across this online.
Fabulous!

Dear Newt,
I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O'Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, "There you go, again."


However, I realize that you may have been a little preoccupied lately with planning your resurrection as the savior of your party, so I thought I would fill you in on a few important developments you might have overlooked.

The truth is that you're living in a world that no longer exists. I, along with millions of Americans, clearly see the world the way it as -- and we embrace what it can be. You, on the other hand, seem incapable of looking for new ideas or moving beyond what worked in the past.

Welcome to the 21st century, big bro. I can understand why you're so afraid of the energy that has been unleashed after gay and lesbian couples had their rights stripped away from them by a hateful campaign. I can see why you're sounding the alarm against the activists who use all the latest tech tools to build these rallies from the ground up in cities across the country.

This unstoppable progress has at its core a group we at HRC call Generation Equality. They are the most supportive of full LGBT equality than any American generation ever -- and when it comes to the politics of division, well, they don't roll that way. 18-24 year olds voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8 and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. And the numbers of young progressive voters will only continue to grow. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning, about 23 million 18-29 year olds voted on Nov. 4, 2008 -- the most young voters ever to cast a ballot in a presidential election. That's an increase of 3 million more voters compared to 2004.

These are the same people who helped elect Barack Obama and sent a decisive message to your party. These young people are the future and their energy will continue to drive our country forward. Even older Americans are turning their backs on the politics of fear and demagoguery that you and your cronies have perfected over the years.

This is a movement of the people that you most fear. It's a movement of progress -- and your words on FOX News only show how truly desperate you are to maintain control of a world that is changing before your very eyes.

Then again, we've seen these tactics before. We know how much the right likes to play political and cultural hardball, and then turn around and accuse us of lashing out first. You give a pass to a religious group -- one that looks down upon minorities and women -- when they use their money and membership roles to roll back the rights of others, and then you label us "fascists" when we fight back. You belittle the relationships of gay and lesbian couples, and yet somehow neglect to explain who anointed you the protector of "traditional" marriage. And, of course, you've also mastered taking the foolish actions of a few people and then indicting an entire population based on those mistakes. I fail to see how any of these patterns coincide with the values of "historic Christianity" you claim to champion.

Again, nothing new here. This is just more of the blatant hypocrisy we're used to hearing.

What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That's really so '90s, Newt. In this day and age, it's embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.

In other words, stop being a hater, big bro.

Thanks


Not to brag, but I've been told that I am an extremely polite person. I was raised on Please and Thank You, Yes Ma'am, No Sir, and I still act that way today.

I was selected for jury duty in Miami once and when they were questioning us in the courtroom, it was my turn to stand. Well, it was a narrow aisle, so I put my hands behind my back, and as the judge and the lawyers began to ask their questions, I always answered Yes sir, No Sir. The judge stopped for a second and smiled. "Are you in the military?" he asked.

"No," I said, "I was raised by a military man."

Another time, a few years earlier, I was in a grocery store buying a birthday cake for a co-worker. I asked if I may please order a cake. May I please have a name iced onto it. I pleased and thank you'd my way through the ordering process and finally the girl left to go in the back and finish my order. But she turned around and just before disappearing, and she said to me, "I think you are the most polite person I've ever waited on."

I smiled and said, "Could you just shut up and ice my damn cake!"
When all else fails slip into sarcasm. That's my motto.

But I digress.

Tomorrow is a day of thanks for Americans' a truly American holiday, like 4th of July, but one we celebrate not with picnics and beer, firecrackers and sparklers, but with a meal we share with friends and family.
I have so much to be thankful for this year.

Yes, the usual family and friends and health and happiness, blah blah blah, everyone says that.

But I am also thankful that we are soon to have a President that inspires hope, not fear; who speaks to truth and not to lies; who wants to show the world that America is not defined by the last eight years.

I am oddly thankful that Prop 8 passed, because it has motivated not only the gay community but everyone who believes in equality to stand up and say No More. It has galvanized many people, gay and straight, to work together to see that All Men (and women) Are Created (and treated) Equal. Complacency doesn't get you anywhere; and simply asking for what's right doesn't always work. Demanding what's right is what's sometimes necessary.

I am thankful that Stylista is almost over because it's like a car wreck I can't avoid. I try to avert my eyes, but then, some diva queen breaks down and it sucks me back in.

I am thankful that Jennifer Hudson has given me a new catch phrase, which I have already almost worn out, "Don't make me hit you with my pocketbook."

I am thankful for cold mornings and blue skies.

I am thankful that Elisabeth Hasselbeck cannot spout her anti-Obama hate speech on The View anymore. She is the poster child for The Ill-Advised Who Have a Platform and abuse it.

I am thankful for small dogs and cats because, well, I'm bigger than them and I will always beat them. Just channeling Joan Crawford and Christina at the pool.

I am thankful for......
Carlos Dad and Mom Jeri and family David and family uncles and aunts and cousins sunshine falling leaves music pets living breathing speaking thinking being feeling living.

For Life. It encompasses it all.

To Life.
Thanks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Life In A Baptist Town


We moved from Miami to Smallville, smack in the middle of a Red Sate in the Bible Belt. Talk about culture shock.
One of the first questions people ask upon meeting you is, "Where do you worship?"
Not "Where are you from?" or "Where do you work?" or "Where do you live?"
Where do you worship.
I don't go anywhere to worship, I say. I am a Free Thinker, I say.
Free Thinker? Their eyes glaze over and I can almost hear them say, "Free Thinker? Bless his heart."
Translated to English from the Southern, Bless your heart roughly means You are an idiot.
But, they say, where do you talk to God.
And I tell them that I don't need to go to a church to talk to god--lower case 'g'. If I want to talk to god or see proof of god, I'll go outside and look at the trees, the birds flying overhead, the bright blue sky or a cold gray one dripping with rain. If I want to talk to god, I just do it....in my yard, in my car, in my kitchen. If god listens from everywhere, he'll hear me no matter where I speak. And I don't need to prove that in a room full of mostly strangers every Sunday morning.
I am not a fan of organized religion, for a lot of reasons. I think religion is restrictive. It's a lot of can'ts and shouldn'ts judgments and condemnations. That isn't god.
God, I say, is love. God made me. I am gay. God loves me. And he doesn't need to see me in the third pew from the front, sitting next to a woman in a giant hat, fanning her double chins, and dripping sweat onto her Gideons, to know how I feel.

I just finished reading at Towleroad about the Westboro Baptist Church protesting the election of a transgender mayor, Stu Rasmussen, in Silverton, Oregon. Their "God-loving" members stood on the American flag they had tossed into the streets with signs calling President-elect Obama the Anti-Christ, signs that said Death to Fags, God Hates Fags. Luckily, the townspeople protested the Westboro Baptist Church and stood up for their mayor, stood up for themselves, and stood up for God Is Love.

Now, I know that all religions aren't Fred Phelp's religions, but his 'church' and what the Mormon church did in California by funding the Yes on H8 campaign, reinforce in my mind what is wrong with religion.
It isn't what we can't do.
What we shouldn't do.
It isn't what you say I should do, or what I say is best for you.
It's what we should do, that god wants for us.
God is Love. Upper case 'G'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No More


I loved this sign when I first saw it in the days following the passage of Prop H8 in California. I used to live in California and, for the life of me, I never thought they'd pass such a thing. California? So progressive? Of course, when you read all the misleading comments, the rumors, the innuendo, and the outright lies spread across the Golden State about what a No vote would do, it was easy to be confused.

Yes means No Gay Marriage.
No means Yes Gay Marriage.
I was confused. And, as I've told anyone since who will listen:
No More Mister Nice Gay!

See, especially at this time of year, I'm looking at it this way: it's like we're all sitting around this giant table, gay and straight, at Thanksgiving, and I'm saying, "Could you please pass the yams and the Hate Crimes Legislation?" and I get them.

I'd like some peas and the right to live where I choose.
Here you go, gay boy.

Mmmm, cranberry sauce and the ability NOT to get fired from my job without cause.
Okay, but don't eat too much. There's still pie.

Now, let's see, I'd like turkey and, hmmm, Marriage Rights?
Here's the turkey, but the rest of us have decided that you can't have marriage rights, There's only enough to go around for one man, one woman.
Excuse me?
We said, "No marriage."

This is where I stop being nice. I stop being polite and asking to be treated like everyone else. I was raised to know that everyone is equal, no matter what color, what size, how tall, how you speak, where you live, how much money you have, what you do on Sunday......We're equal.
So I've decided to stop asking and start demanding.

And if that means I have to march against the Mormon church who funded Yes on H8 to the tune of four out of five dollars, then I'll march.

If it means I won't go to a Cinemark theater because the owner donated thousands to H8, then I won't go.

And if that means that I won't support a theater company whose artistic director donated to H8, then I won't.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if your religion is anti-gay marriage, it's okay. I don't want to join your churches, I want to live like you do, with the same rights and privileges that you have. I want to keep a separation of church and state. And if you don't want me to have the same rights as you, don't ask for my money or my support.

Don't ask me to sit politely in a corner and wait until YOU feel ready to allow me what's rightfully mine.

I through playing nice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mom


This is one of my favorite pictures of Mom.

I often make fun of trailer park people, but I'm allowed. See, I was practically born in a trailer park. Okay, so I was born in a hospital in Biloxi, but we lived in a trailer. Whatever. As you can see, it was a big red trailer that my Dad hauled from Mississippi to California. With Mom, my big sister, and me.

They say Mom's know their sons are gay, often before the sons themselves know it...or at least are willing to admit to anyone including themselves. I think that was true of my Mom. One Thanksgiving she asked me THAT question. I think I'd always known it was coming, but I was never prepared for it. We were sitting in the living room of their house in Blue Canyon and the pellet stove was dropping pellets, sparking a fire and warming the house. It was just Mom and me in the living room that day, and she asked me. "Are you gay?"

I stammered. Turned every shade of red imaginable. And began to sweat.

"Because it must be hard for you," she said. "You must feel quite alone, not knowing how anyone will react. But it's okay."

And I reacted. "No."I said, quite firmly, rubbing my palms on my Levis to wipe the perspiration away. "I'm not."

And she said that was okay. But it wasn't. Because I was. Because I wasn't really ready to admit it to my family. So I reacted. I went upstairs to the room I stayed in, packed my bags and said I had to go. And I did. And I stayed away and I didn't call....except to say that I couldn't come up on Christmas. I was doing something else that year and couldn't make it. Sorry.

My Dad called just before the holidays and asked if I'd drive up to their house. They wanted to exchange gifts since I wouldn't be there. Stubborn, hard-headed fool that I was....am...I said I could come up for the day only.

So I drove up and we exchanged gifts. My Mom was sleeping when I got there, but she came out and sat down at the kitchen table while I opened my gift. Then my Dad left the room and Mom started to cry. Started to apologize. To me! She was sorry if she'd upset me, hurt my feelings, made me mad. She was sorry. I was still angry. I was still in a closet somewhere, unwilling, unable to say those words to anyone, much less my own mother. My mother who knew, because mothers always seem to know, even before their sons.

It wasn't too much longer after that when I did come out. And my mother didn't say, "I knew." She didn't smirk like she was saying, "Tell me something I don't know."She said she loved me. And when I met Carlos and moved three-thousand miles away to be with him, she said she was thrilled to have another son-in-law. She made him feel welcome from the moment she laid eyes on him. That's my mom. And Dad? His first words to me after I came out: Ï love you son." His words to me on the day I left California for Florida: "Be happy."

She loved me.

My mother died on February 17, 2007. She was a fantastic woman. Wife mother nurse artist chef baker deli-owner general store-owner snow blower. Mother. She and my dad were married just shy of fifty-two years. Talk about love.


There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my mother and wish she was here. Not a day goes by that something doesn't happen and I want to call her and tell her. But I do talk to her. I do tell her the silly things. The important things. The sad things. The single most important thing of all.


I love you, Mom.

Meet The Family, Pet Four


Ozzo. Another rescued animal in the house. I sometimes wonder if we rescue animals or they rescue us. I think it's a bit of both.

We had a friend who found Ozzo, brought him into her house, named him....something...I don't know. Her kids loved him; her big dog didn't. So she asked us to dogsit for a week, and then all of the sudden, we had Ozzo. He looked like a Black Lab puppy, and we were thrilled to have a big dog. We'd had a poodle, and I was ready for a, well, a real dog. So we took Ozzo.

And we waited for him to grow. And he did. A shade longer. A touch fatter. Not a bit bigger. Apparently our cute little Black Lab wannabe was actually part Daschund! WHAT? He wasn't going to be a big dog, a real dog; he was, to paraphrase Jack MacFarland, a "pocket dog. Slip him in a briefcase, a manpurse, a shirt pocket, and you're good to go."

Pocket dog. Who runs like the wind and leaps into the air for a rope toy or a frisbee. Tiny little lab-wannabe who chases the cats and loves you like nobody's business. Mini little f***er who goes bananas when the doorbell rings......on Frasier. TV doorbells make him nuts. TV. Doorbells. Who doesn't much care for other dogs unless they are ten-times his size. In Miami his best friend was a Saint Bernard; Ozzo looked like something a Saint Bernard would leave on a lawn. In Smallville, he befriended a Great Dane; he was no bigger than that dog's paw.

Pocket Dog.

Meet The Family, Pet Three


Tallulah Belle. A Southern kitty, bless her heart.

She was living in an animal hospital in Smallville when we found her. She looked like a mini version of another cat we'd had, Voncie, and I knew we had to have her. So we pulled her from the cage and brought her into our house.

Max loved her. They ran and jumped and terrorized one another. Tuxedo hated her at first--he doesn't like any new addition to the family--and now he just, well, he tolerates her mostly, and stays out of her way.

We had two other cats at the time, both nearly eighteen--Lady and Sweety. A few months after we brought Tallulah home, Lady began to die of old age. Eighteen in cat years is like.....well, it's a long time. Tallulah, as Lady was in her final days, would crawl into the bed next to Lady and cuddle with her. She seemed like she was hugging her. And as Lady closed her eyes that last time, Tallulah was there, at her bedside. She was so sweet.

Or so we thought.

Just last month, Sweety began to die. She was nearly nineteen at the time, so we snuggled her in a bed. I watched and waited for Tallulah to cuddle in next to Sweety, but she wanted no part of that cat. She used to chase Sweety and push Sweety around. Sweet? She was such a bitch.

Tallulah is the cat you all hear about. Aloof. Mooody. Won't give you the time of day. She doesn't look at you when you call her name. She is, of course, Southern after all, so that might explain her oddities. Roaring into the kitchen when she hears ice fall from the ice maker; she loves a cube or two in her water dish....she must think it's a Mint Julep and she's sitting on the veranda, or something. But she likes to crawl in your lap every so often and flop down. She looks at you with the cutest eyes that seem to say, "Who are you?"She purrs up a storm, rests for a second, and then she's gone....chasing Tuxedo or Max, running to the fridge, or trying to find a way onto a counter, a cabinet, a cupboard.

She's a terrorist. Southern belle style.

Meet The Family, Pet Two



This one is Max Goldberg.
While living in Miami, Carlos and I were visited by our neighbor, the Witch. Okay, so she wasn't a real witch but she always wore black and was not what you would call friendly. She used to call the HOA on us because we left yard refuse by the curb too long. More of a bitch than a witch, I guess.
Anyway, as we ate dinner, she knocked at our door, and stood there holding a little gray kitten. Someone had tossed it over her fence and then run off. She said she couldn't keep him because her cat Morris didn't like strangers. Didn't like strangers? That darn cat was living with the strangest one of all.

But I digress.
So Carlos took him to work and got the little guy all his shots, and was going to put him up for adoption--we had a brood of cats of our own and didn't think we could add another. But I stood up for the little kitten....and begged for the little kitten....and won the little kitten.

So Max Goldberg, of the Miami Goldberg's, became our newest cat in the Spring of '05. Tuxedo hissed and spit at first; clawed and ran away from Max, at first. But now they are best friends who play together eat together sleep together and fight together.

Max and Tux.









Meet The Family, Pet One


This is Tuxedo. He likes to make himself at home, wherever that may be. Windowsills, the tops of chairs, the bathroom sink. We rescued him when we lived in Miami, just before Katrina hit, from the animal hospital where my partner, Carlos, used to work. Tuxedo had been adopted out many times, and always brought back within a day or two because "he's mean and hides all the time."
The last time, before we saved him, he was returned to the animal hospital and one of the doctors decided to declaw him so he might be more adoptable. WHAT? Let's see......mean cat.....hides all the time. What to do? What to do? I know! Cut off his fingers!
See, declawing a cat isn't just taking off the nails, it's actually removing their "fingers" down to the first knuckle. So they can't scratch themselves, protect themselves, play.......and it doesn't make them nicer, it turns them into biters.
Oy! People are stupid.
But we took a chance and brought Tuxedo home. That first night he hissed at us, spit at us, growled like a demon cat, tried to bite and hid from us. But everyday I went in the room where we were keeping him, and I sat there. And everyday he came closer, sometimes close enough for him to bite me, sometimes close enough for me to pet him. It took a good month or so, but Tuxedo, or Tucky, Tuck, Tuckleberry, became the sweetest cat, the smartest cat, the most playful cat.
Believe it or not, you can learn lessons from cats that you can use if your "real" life. If someone seems a little mean, a little shy, maybe even, oh I don't know, a biter, sit with them, hold out a hand, and maybe, after a while, they'll come to you and become one of the sweetest friends you'll ever have.
That's Tuxedo.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Newbie

I'm new to this blog thing, but I do love to talk and I do have an opinion--hell I have thousands of opinions--so I guess that's as good a place to start. Let's talk about.........Me!

I am a happily-partnered gay male, and I have been with the love of my life for the last eight years. We met online in an AOL chatroom--no, not THAT kind of chatroom--and became IM friends, and then email friends, and then phone friends and then friends across the country and then I went from California to Miami to meet him, and that was that.

A few months later I'd left California and settled in Miami--talk about culture shock! We stayed in Miami for about six years until Carlos--the aforementioned partner--accepted a job in Smallville, South Carolina, and we loaded up the truck and moved to....well, not Beverly Hills, but Smallville. A small town. A cute town. A town full of nice people who didn't seem at all peeved that the newest arrivals were a couple of mo's from Miami.

That's a start, I think. More to come.....I hope.