Saturday, 8 June 2013

Even when things don't look so good, I can still laugh

Close-up of medical records sitting on a shelf

A friend of mine once told me he was going to "The Great Big Sea". Not being able to hear the spelling, I thought he said, "Great Big C", which in some countries and back alley bars is a colloquialism for a certain part of the female anatomy. I thought this was quite rude, but replied, "oh... you're going to see your wife..."

Fast forward to last summer. My partner and I are enjoying our time together away from work and in the sun. I've never been a sun bunny, but it was fair season and I was really enjoying all the county fairs within a 4 hour drive of the big city. One day I started to notice the vision in my right eye was getting blurry. Damned! Time for new glasses! Not that it's a big deal, but I normally get my glasses from the optometrist which is near where I work which is not the city in which I live. So... like all good things, it could wait until I got back from vacation.
Tuesday - back from vacation, I need to get my eyes checked so.... it's off to the optometrist I go... She can't seem to find the 'right' strength for my vision so she takes a much closer look. She doesn't like what she sees and suggests that I may have a detached retina. She refers me to the on call surgeon at the hospital...
Tuesday - about an hour later.... at the hospital, DOCTOR Jones (I guess he didn't want to be referred to as "Surgeon" Jones) didn't think or wasn't sure or was afraid to make a diagnostic committment so he referred me to a Retinal Specialist!!!

Wednesday - the Retinal Specialist does a bunch of tests, sits me down and says, "you need to have this dealt with by the BEST!!! The BEST??? Woo hoo... I'm going to see the BEST... Still not sure why, but at least I'm going. The BEST is a doctor who resides on the Main Land! I reside on an island, so it's a boat ride plus to get there. But all is not lost, my appointment is going to be as-soon-as-they-could-get-me-in!
Apparently this was going happen much quicker than standing in line at Starbucks. Before she saw me, the BEST wanted me to have blood work, a CT scan, Chest X-ray, Ultra Sound, EKG and then some....  I'm not sure about your local practises, but here in Canada, you can't just go get these things done without a permission slip.  That note from the Doctor that says, "Please give my patient the following tests". Now this little love note has to say WHY the doctor wants the tests done.  Can't just do it because it's the 2nd Wednesday of the 9th month.  So on that, he writes, "Probable Choroidal Melanoma". 

I was pretty sure I knew what melanoma was, but Choroidal? I then consulted the best authority on anything: the Internet. I learned there that what I had was most likely Eye Cancer. WTF? EYE cancer? Cancer in the EYE? I knew about all kinds of cancer, but never in the eye. So... armed with this new knowledge, I read on... I mean, if I had eye cancer, what was the treatment? The Internet said, "Enucleation" Seriously? Is there a doctor in the house? What is "Enucleation"? So, now it's off to Wikipedia to find out that "Enucleation" means removal of the eye. Okay, that one hit me hard. I was going to the Big City tomorrow and coming home the day after without my right eye...

Now, I want to take a quick Time Out to acknowledge the love and support of my partner. In between the Specialist and my returning to the office, he had been contacted to say that the Retinal Specialists office needed to speak to me ASAP. Did I mention that this was the one day I had left my cell phone at home? Anyway, I called the Specialist to find out that my appointment was the next day. I then called my partner to let him know what was going on. Without a beat, he said, "I'm going too. When do you have to go" Tomorrow, sweetie.... and he did join me on my soujourn off the island.
Okay, commercial break for the love of my life is over.... back to my story...

Thursday.  Yes, it's only between two days since this started. We went over to the main land on the first ferry and I had more tests and that afternoon, I'm in the doctor's office waiting to see the BEST. I turned to the love of my life and said, "well, when they take my eye out, I want a new one that has a button. When someone pisses me off, all I have to do is press it and a red laser beam will shoot out of my eye!" He laughed and told me to think positive. I was pretty positive that's what I wanted. Then I began to look at my surroundings.... "Oh look, " I said to my ever loving and supportive partner, "The Specialist Who Deals With This is an Ocular Oncologist... I think Ocular means 'eye' and well, 'oncologist' means......" Trying to remain positive he said, "yes, she's an Oncologist, but maybe they're seeing you to rule out the possibility."  Ah, what a sweetheart, trying to look at the bright side!

The Ocular Oncologist aka "The Best" turned out to be a small woman with fierce determination and a "don't mess with me" look that went with it. Trust me, you didn't want to mess with her and neither did I.  Actually, I was too focussed on leaving the next day with one less eyeball.

When I went in, the first thing she said was "well, I guess you'd rather be anywhere than here." "You got that right". "When we're dealing with melanoma" she says, "we -". I cut her off "Melanoma? So then, it IS cancer?"

Her look said, "WTF? No one has told you?", but her voice said, "yes.... Now, I'm a straight shooter and I don't sugar coat things. But there is a treatment"

WHAT????? A TREATMENT???? Oh come on! That's NOT what the Internet said!!! What's going on here? Did the skies just open up and did I get personally blessed???

Wow! My life turned on that point. A treatment....  Oh great - but small - healer, what exactly IS this treatment you speak of?
She took the time to explain and she also cared enough about us to ask if we were a couple (yes, the partner was with me - some things you just DON'T do alone) and shared that she had no problem with that because she had a gay brother.... which was nice to know, but I really wanted to know more about the treatment.....
Next blog - Adventures in Radioactive Land

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Tastes Like Chicken.... smells a little fishy...

Some may find the title a little off colour,perhaps even a little crude.  I want to be straight up and admit that I don’t like crudity, while on the other hand I love crudités. Speaking of food…

I am a proud Canadian who recently became aware of an American fast food outlet called Chick Fil A. What makes this discovery important is not that I’ve been enlightened on another company mass producing artery clogging unidentifiable stuff disguised as good food, but rather because this particular company has added Anti-Same-Sex-Marriage to their Healthy Lifestyle Menu choices.

Naturally, gays are up in arms about the division of church and chicken.  Truly good Christians (and I separate the true from the homophobes who act allegedly in Jesus’ name) are decrying this as a public relations nightmare.  Public displays of gay affection are on the rise outside of Chick Fil A establishments.

So, this middle aged gay man seems to have been unexpectantly faced with an issue that requires much discussion, education, possible protest,  and other actions.  And for what? Some fried chicken outlet!  What would the Colonel say? I think he’d say - wait a minute – I checked out the Chick Fil A  menu and couldn’t find fried chicken!!!  This is an even bigger faux pas.  While appearing to look like a KFC rip off, I’ve discovered a bigger crime. This company is a poultrified version of the Golden Arches! Well, without the beef…. 

Ronald!  Why aren’t YOU protesting?  After all, I see two huge issues at stake:

One – The Chick Fil A classic chicken burger and a McChicken sandwich are almost identical.  Isn’t there some kind of chicken burger, I mean sandwich, patent at issue here? I did some research and it appears you were here first.  In the name of all that is right and sane, stake your claim!!!

Two – And more in my domain than yours, is the company’s anti gay stand.  Now, I would never out anyone who didn’t want to be outed, but having stated that, I must say I’ve never seen a Mrs. Ronald…. But then maybe you just want to keep your private life, private… you know what I mean? Ronald, I don’t mean to digress, but can I start with your hair? Little Orphan Annie called and she wants her orange fright wig back.  Then there’s the makeup.  All that white, makes you look too pale to be a cover model for Fab Magazine. Finally, it’s about your clothes.  Maybe we could give a quick call to Clinton and Stacey from What Not To Wear. Nuff said, back to the issue at hand:

At the end of the day, I’m sure there are more corporate heads who don’t support gay rights.  We have the right to withhold our financial support by boycotting their businesses.  If they really want profits up, they will realize that gays have money too.  Actually, a lot of them don’t have children which makes their spending power even greater… just food for thought.  And speaking of which.  I’m not going to Chick Fil A.  They aren’t even here.  But if they were.  I’d still be going to the Golden Arches because Ronald, I just love your Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions - all on a sesame seed bun  

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Magic Mike... isn't so magical

Personally, I wanted to see “Rock of Ages”.  But it was playing in a theatre that was old and run down and I didn’t look forward to my feet sticking to the floor as we tried to find a seat that didn’t have unknown sticky substances on it.  So, it was stay at home or choose another movie.

Now, in addition to the cover story in Entertainment Weekly, I had seen the trailers and TV ads for this one. It sounded interesting enough. The story of male strippers. Add to this the enticement of titillation that the trailers and TV ads created. Me gay, them hot.  Could be a good fit.

Normally I don’t notice the other audience members when I go into a movie theatre.  However, walking into this one it was an immediate recognition of 150 people which comprise of women and 3 men, of which my partner and I were two of them.  The Third Man was with a woman… possibly a beard, possibly a wife.  Either way, I wasn’t going to spend any more time on them because the overwhelming feeling of estrogen run amok was in the air. I worried that I had stumbled into a secret meeting of womanhood and if they discovered me, I would have been sexually ravaged beyond human comprehension.  But then the trailers for upcoming movies started and I forgot about my fears.  The trailers were on the “no”, “no” and “not even on DVD” list.  I should have heeded the warning and asked for my money back, but I didn’t.

The movie started with a nice bare backside shot of Channing Tatum.  This would have been awesome except for the woman in the audience started whooping and throwing dollar bills at the screen. I wondered if they realized the concept of film versus live performance? It wasn’t for me to tell them and I’m sure the cleaning staff appreciated the extra money.

Let me say right off the bat: the guys in the movie are so hot that this kind of Eye Candy requires Eye Insulin to go with it.  However, this is also a movie. So, when the hot scenes become less and less and the story is capital “B” BORING, I quickly realized that we could have stayed home, reread the Entertainment Weekly article and viewed the trailer online. It would have had the same effect and saved me the $25 to see the movie, the cost of the trip into town and the cost of the treats.

Before you demand my gay card, I will admit that Channing Tatum is extremely good looking and talented. His dance moves were awesome.  But I see those same moves on a weekly basis when I watch So You Think You Can Dance and I get to hear Mary Murphy scream about the arrival of her hot tamale train to boot!

I think what disappointed me most about Magic Mike was the fact that here you have a group of hot male dancers and not one of them is gay.  In the movie, that is, because Matt Bomer has come out in real life. The story is a morality tale of how bad the lure of the wild life and drugs are if you become a male stripper. It would be a more interesting tale if instead of male strippers who have unknown backgrounds, one of the strippers was a Safeway bag boy and one of the others a nebbish book keeper.

For me, Magic Mike was not a great movie.  It wasn’t even a good movie.  Normally I would complain that it was two hours I’ll never get back, but I won’t because of one redeeming feature: I was there with the love of my life.  He’s my very own, personal, “Magic Mike”.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Gay, Normal and Addiction....

My intention on writing these blogs was to demonstrate to other closeted middle aged men that not only is there life after coming out, but that we all have some funny albeit maybe-not-at-the-time stories to tell. Now I haven’t blogged in months, not because I don’t have a story or two, but because I’ve been busy with life, my family and my partner. In other words, normalcy has set in and I’m glad it has!

One thing about blogging, be it gay or otherwise, I can share my most innermost feelings and get comforting feedback from the virtual world.  It is definately not as good as a physical hug and kiss from my sweetie, but comforting all the same.

Well here goes….

It is often said the speediest road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So here is mine: I’m an Air Miles Whore… there I said it!!!  

Seriously, while others are blogging about their lives, loves and losses, I am on the search for that bonus point.

For example: Rona offers Air Miles. My house NEEDED that renovation. AND I got bonus points for those items that I would never have considered otherwise.

Toys R Us offers Air Miles as well . Seems like every month there is a gift giving celebration of some sort. If my grandkids get tired of presents, then I'll adopt a small Grade School. Then, the giving will never end!

Right now in my house I have 60 rolls of toilet paper – that’s double rolls which equates to 120 regular rolls. Why? Well, at Safeway - the biggest points dealer to my addiction - I got 40 bonus points for every 2 packages of 15 that I purchased.  It's when I began to run of out room to store all of those rolls I began to realize 
" This is serious… I may have a problem… "

How did this addiction get started? I remember exactly where I was and the date and the time. I was teaching a night class and on a break, one of my students told me she put every purchase she had on Air Miles and that once a year she earned enough points to take her family of 4 to Disneyland.

Disneyland! My Mecca! My Wonderland! My place of Eternal Youth and Fun Times! Immediately, I realized that a trip taken once every 7 years could be reduced to 2 or 3.  My epiphany was that I could save up enough points to take my partner and his kids to Disneyland.  A most worthy cause if ever I could think of one!

I knew I had to be aggressive in my quest. So it wasn't about the every day, ordinary, 1 point here and 1 point there. It was all about those extra Bonus Points.  Available whenever one met the purchase requirements. That wasn't a problem for me. So, whenever there was a sale that offered Bonus Points – I was there! Card in hand. Point calculations on my mind!

I’m proud to say that in 2 years I’ve earned over 5,000 points. Even though there are things in my freezer I may never eat...

However, I feel so good having admitted my problem to you all that I’m ready to run out and buy something – provided they offer Air Miles.  Now, if only I could get bonus points for being gay…

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

One Day We'll Look Back and Laugh...

gay cartoon cartoons southpark garison garrison

I teach an evening  Adult Education Course at a local college.

When my partner and I were first going out, I used to send him emails and Facebook messages during my coffee breaks.  Being the instructor, my desktop was projected on a huge screen behind. So, I would always turn the projector off before sending my little love notes.

At that time, I wasn’t closeted, but I wasn’t standing at the head of the class with a megaphone announcing my sexuality. The only thing my students knew about me personally was that I had become a grandfather ten months previous. The inference was that I had sex with a woman, who bore my daughter, who then (I don't even want to think about it) had sex with a man and bore my granddaughter.
Okay... back to the story...

So, one particular fall evening it was coffee time.  The male students had left the room for coffee, while the females remained. They were chatting and one says to me, “How’s your granddaughter?”  I said, “She’s beautiful”.  At the risk of sounding sexist, the women, being women (and mothers) then started asking if I had any photo’s.
I didn’t have any in my wallet, but I did know how to access them: Facebook.  AND I could project her beautiful little face on the big screen behind my desk.  So, I logged into Facebook and opened the photo album with her pictures.  Just as I did that, my partner’s face popped up in a Facebook chat window in the middle of the screen with the message, “I love you”.  Being relatively new to Facebook, I didn’t know how to immediately close the window, so I kept minimizing it. Well, every time my granddaughter’s photo changed, the little chat window would pop up and display the face and the “I love you” message.  I did my best dumbfounded “what the heck is this?” while madly clicking away…  finally I got the chat window to close.

Not that I cared about my students knowing I was gay, I just wasn't going to give them the "I'm gay, deal with it bitches" speech.  While they never said a word, I sensed they figured it out from their knowing smiles…
When I got home, I phoned him and when he said, “I love you.” I responded, “I know… and so does everyone in my class”  They learned more than they paid for that night!

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Gay Agenda

I'm beginning to worry that I may have come out too late in life.  Why do I say this?  Well, lately, I've heard more and more about "The Gay Agenda".  It reads harmless enough, but when it's spoken as a CNN pronouncement with a James Earl Jones type of commanding voice... I get worried.

Make no mistake.  I am 100 % gay.  I only desire to have sex with men.  I have a partner who is male. I go to Gay Pride.  I call myself a gay man.  I majored in Gaydar at life's school of hard knocks. I know the difference between tastefully chic and tacky. I can even be overly emotional if the occaision demands it such as crying at a supermarket opening.  In other words: I earned my gay card.  And I'm not giving it up for anything or anyone.

I know gay.  I know gay people.  None of them seem to know about his "Gay Agenda".  Now I'm wondering if there is a "Secret Gay Club" having "Secret Gay Club Meetings". This would necessitate an agenda:

1. Meeting Called To Order
2. Roll Call (please respond to your real name, not your online-chatroom-hookup site aliases)
3. Minutes of the last meeting. (No need for this.  We're Gay.  We remember EVERYTHING)
4. New Business:
     - Discussion of the political right wing religious zealots who seem to think we gays want to turn every straight man gay.  We can avoid wasting time discussing this by getting to the bottom line: there are way too many ugly straight men who might as well stay with women because we don't want them.
     - Lesbians.  We love them because they lessen the competition for the hot men.
5. Next Meeting.   Whenever. 
6. Adjournment.   Whatever

If I were King of the World (yes, King!  Not every gay man wants to be a woman), I would set my own Gay Agenda.  It wouldn't be for any Club or Society.  No my agenda would be simple: Gay or Straight. You're all my subjects.  Just get along because I love you equally, except for the few I'm going to have the good taste not to mention...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Can I Come Out Now?

When I was a little boy and my parents found me guilty of some family transgression, I was made to stand in the corner until I had learned my lesson. The lesson to be learned faded into obscurity as I stared at the intersection of those two walls. I pleaded the standard parole plea with "Can I come out now?" As I got older and the wall effect had no effect, I was banished to my room. The exit requests didn't come for a while because my room was the cache of my worldly belongings... so I could play, I mean 'contemplate', with them until boredom set in. At this point I began my strategy to return from exile. When I discovered my sexuality “Can I come out now?” took on whole new meaning.

As an adult, who came out at the age of 53, I often reflect on the question of why I stayed in the closet for so long. After all, what is a closet? It can be a scary, dark place with dust and spiders - made all the more terrifying if you're arachnophobic. It seems we’re locked in that mental closet and what keeps us in there is fear. Ah, yes. Fear! The motivator of the ages.

On the other hand, that closet can also be a safe haven where no one can harm you.... except for maybe the odd black widow spider. It can be warm and comforting, just like the womb. Unfortunately, when you hit 30, the womb is no longer 'The Place To Be’.

My ex wife died when I was 43. On one hand, it was liberating, but it came with a price – and not something you could bid for on The Price Is Right. Four months prior to her terminal diagnosis, I had made the age old mistake of coming out to her, which she threw back at me. I detailed this experience in my previous blog“A Fault Bigger Than The San Andreas”. Reluctantly, I was back in the closet after only taking one step out.

As a single father, I was somewhat surprised at the amount of women who found me attractive. So there goes the theory that we give off a ‘gay vibe’. Naturally, I panicked in any situation which might lead to intimacy with the opposite sex. Having to come up with an excuse, I always said that I had to “go home to the children. . . now!!! “ I had a party once where one of the female guests declared that I was (and I quote) “the sexiest man she had ever met”. Apparently she didn’t get out much. She also came on to me quite bluntly by telling me she wanted to stay the night. When I responded with, “gee, I’m sorry, I don’t think my children would feel comfortable with that”, my daughter picked up the cue and added, “I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable.” Another woman threw herself at me and when I refused her advances, simply looked at me and said, “My God, what did she do to you?”. Ah, the one time I could shift the focus to the ex wife without saying a word!

I even had my own personal stalker. Stalker was her nickname, but was she really stalking me? Well, you be the judge. One day my daughter and I were parking the car, when I noticed my divorcee neighbor looking out her window. Being a friendly guy, I waved. My daughter then informed me that this woman was always in the window, watching me. If I came home after dark, she’d turn the light out so that I wouldn’t see her standing there. I thought it was just my daughter being overprotective of Dad, but her observations were confirmed by the neighbor across the street. Hmm… I’m flattered, but hey I’m a closeted gay man! I thought nothing of it, until she started showing up “coincidentally” at the café where I usually ate lunch. Hmm… a little more creepy than flattering… This went on until the day I decided to come out. She had “coincidentally” met me in the parking lot of the café. She bounded up to me and asked, “So what’s new?” I looked at her and said, “I’m gay. And I’ve got a boyfriend. That’s about it.” I don’t know if she thought I was joking or not, but I can assure you – that was the Day the Stalking Stopped. It was so joyous it would have made a great country and western song!

It was not a comforting to have these woman throwing themselves at me. My ego’s not big enough to think it was all me. I had a good job. Good money. I knew how to cook, clean and take care of a household. My sister explained it by saying that I was a good catch. Kind of like the big salmon that you’re going to throw on the BBQ.

As you know, I didn’t want any of these women sexually. As a matter of fact, none of them interested me in a companionship way, either. I didn’t mind seeing them at parties and through the kitchen window, but as companions they weren’t what I was looking for. When I started dating men, I almost lost hope in that department.

There was one guy I never really dated, but I was determined to get at least one date out of him. All he wanted to do was chat on MSN. What kind of a relationship was that? On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a zero! We actually met once for coffee and from that point on, it was online only. Being new to the scene, I thought maybe this is the way it should be. Fate intervened about 3 weeks into this routine when we had arranged a chat for 10:00 one night.  Yes, chats were always prearranged.  So, I go online and there he is.  Only problem is, not only does he NOT chat with me, he doesn't even acknowledge that I'm online.  Then I see him go offline.  So I sent him an email and told him that this wasn't working for me.  He replied with some gobbledygook explanation, that I just ignored.  I may have been closeted and new to the scene, but I wasn't going to have any jerk ignore the rules of Common Courtesy.

Then there were the gay guys wanted to cheat on their boyfriends – sorry, guys, not my style. It pissed me off that their relationship status was never mentioned up front. Seems they forgot they had committed to someone else. It was only when you tried to get them to go on a date in a public place on a Saturday night that the truth came out.

I had also gone out with a couple of guys (AKA Losers) who only wanted to see me every three weeks or so. And then it was for nothing more than a quick tumble and a shy goodbye. The idea of just doing something was not a part of the scenario. Yup, the future wasn’t looking optimistic at all. I had heard that there are a lot of great guys out there. I just couldn’t find them….. By the time I met the man who would become my partner; I had pretty much given up finding Mr. Right.

A good friend of mine, who was counseling me through the coming out phase of my life was quite blunt. “You’ll never find the man you’re looking for online.”, he said.” You’re just coming out. You have a son who won’t talk to you because he just found out you’re gay. Maybe you just need to back off for a while and get yourself together.” What he said made a great deal of sense and I agree do nothing. EXCEPT there was this one guy, who was a father like me and was just coming out himself and well, I had already agreed to meet him for coffee……

Of course, that man turned out to be the man who is my partner, my love, my best friend and my companion. My partner’s journey was fairly close to my own. He inspired me when he said he was telling at least one person a day that he was gay. When it came to telling people about our relationship, we refer to it as telling someone about “The Puppy” , suitably named after the Ellen DeGeneres episode. Interestingly enough, since coming out and partnering up, I have met lots and lots of gay couples who are just regular guys – just like me.

Can I come out now? Oh man, I should have come out years ago. So to you guys who are at the beginning phase of coming out and perhaps feel trapped in marriage, I say, “Hang in there”. I truly believe things happen for a reason and I’m thinking the reason is that I had to go and meet other guys, including the losers, so that when I met Mr. Right I’d know without hesitation that it was him. He is the man I love, the man I’m building my future with!