It was time to get my hair done again. I would get a buzz cut, but my head is too little. I don’t want people to think I have a small brain, or “something’s wrong.” I have to buy my ball caps at Gap Kids. My wife’s head is about 2 inches bigger than mine. I think it’s because she takes in too much politics. Things get crowded in there because no matter how hard you think, you can’t figure it out. And then normally when a person would have steam coming out their ears, my wife just turns purple and has an outburst. She has a lovely head, don’t get me wrong. I think I just have a need to justify my own shortcomings. Friends recently told me I should try a short-spiky cut because it will always grow back if it wasn’t meant to be. But with my luck, the minute I get that done, I will have a callback for that audition I went on last week and they will say, “We didn’t realize your head was so little. Sorry.”
I got a perm the last time I had my hair done, and I looked like Christopher Atkins’ old, scary aunt. I hadn’t had a perm since college, and I just thought I would give it a go. I wanted a little wave in there. But apparently, even with all the new-fangled technology, no matter how many times in my life I try to get the savage look, I will always end up with a Jerry-Curl that relaxes into a frizz, that relaxes into a corkscrew, that finally just turns into a gigantuous mass of split-ends. So I got the perm cut off the other day. Men are lucky, they just go in, get their hair cut, spend $45 and they’re done. My hair takes 2 hours to do. I need to have highlights. If my hair (or the sky) goes dark, so does my personality. My hair hasn’t been it’s natural dishwater brown color for over twenty years. And along with two hours comes conversation. It’s unavoidable, unless I want to go to the expensive Ventura Blvd. salon, where they serve you wine, hand you a Vogue and go attend to the next client while their assistant is massaging your scalp. But it’s not in my budget right now so I have to play twenty questions with the local independent stylist. The first one is usually , “Are you married?”
“Laaaaaaa, uh, bwah yes,” I blabber, glancing down a my wedding ring.
“What does your husband do?”
“Uh, I meant no. No, I’m not married.” (Either way, I’m telling the truth, thanks to the Mormans.)
It would be nice if I were one of those people who doesn’t give a shit, and who doesn’t even keep any skeletons in their closet, let alone put duct tape over their jaw, handcuff their ulna to their pelvic bone and put a sign on their rib cage that says, “I’m just a Halloween ornament. There wasn’t room for me in the garage.”
It’s funny though, every time the words, “Actually I’m married to a woman,” have come out of my mouth, the stylist has been quite enthralled with the whole story. But you just never know. This person is in charge of my hair for the next 2 hours. Is she going to give me he Billie Jean King cut because she assumes that’s what I want. Is she going to call her brother Vinnie and give him my address so he can come throw a brick through my window? Or is she going to nervously rant about her college experiments? It happens.
Ninety percent of the time when I come out of the beauty shop, I look like Doris Day. Is that because they think if they give me a girlie cut, maybe it will change my ways? I don’t know! I don’t know what the reasoning is.
I always say,“Don’t bother styling it, I will do it when I get home.” But they can’t help getting out the brush and blow dryer and they just have to do something to it. How can you leave the beauty shop with a wet head and no styling? What planet are you from? What kind of woman are you!
A male one, that’s what!! Stop asking me hard questions! In the 7th grade, my friend Trudy got a short hair cut and it looked really cool. I went to the same place at the mall to get mine done, but I told the woman I didn’t want it too short. My friend got hers done here, and it looks great, but I don’t want mine that short. Well, I looked like a marine when she was done. I started crying. This was the 7th grade. But when I got home, I realized that was my favorite hair cut I’ve ever had in my whole life. And come to think of it, nobody ever said anything about my head being too small either. I think I should just try it. I work at home. I don’t have to go out of the house if I don’t want to. My band doesn’t have a gig for a couple months.
I’m going to take a poll. How many of my friends think my head is average size and I should not worry about how much hair is on it?
You know I just thought of something. I don’t think that cut would look good with my glasses. I might end up looking like Harry Potter’s old, scary blonde uncle.
These things go through my head. However little it may be, a lot of things go through it.
My Grandma Opal taught me to pray.
My little sister and I would stay overnight with Grandma and Grandpa and our bed was a thick piece of foam rolled out onto the living room floor, and covered with a sheet and blankets. We would go into the bathroom and open the drawer and pick out a pair of Grandma’s pajamas to wear to bed. They were hanging off of us, but they were very cozy. Before bed, we would watch at least one of the following: Hee Haw, The Carol Burnett Show, Lawrence Welk, Johnny Carson, or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Then, at 11:00 on the dot, the shows would end, Grandpa would say goodnight and retire to the bedroom, and Grandma would get on her knees in front of us and we would place our hands together.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
My sister and I loved staying with Grandma. She taught us how to play Chinese Checkers, Pick-Up-Sticks, and Poker. We would play “Beauty Shop” and she would let us put curlers in her hair. She was extremely patient. We would play school and give her math problems to solve. We would interview her on our tape recorder. We would take the brown cork out of the ceramic jug in the corner and use it as a microphone as we made our entrance from behind the living room curtains to put on our show.
Every Christmas, we would go upstairs with Grandma and get the ornaments and decorate the tree. The highlight was when she would get out the plastic, revolving Miller Lite floating bear in a pond, holding a Christmas sign. Obviously a display she acquired somewhere. It would be the last thing we plugged in.
We would help her make noodles and she taught us how to set the table properly. She had an old, rusted metal bell with a wooden handle that we would ring and Grandpa would know it was time for dinner. He always made sure he didn’t come in until he heard the bell, then he would skip into the kitchen with a huge smile.
God is great, God is good,
Let us thank him for our food
We would put our napkins in our lap and commence eating.
“I love mashed potatoes!” I said.
Grandpa chimed in with, “You don’t love food, you love people.”
Being 7 years old, I think I was just annoyed that he dissed my potato moment. For dessert we would have some wonderful homemade pie, or ice cream with sprinkles, or jello with whipped cream. We would ask to be excused before we would leave the table, then, more playing before it was time to get out the foam bed, find some jammies, and watch Carol Burnett. Before you know it, it was 11:00.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep
That is Robert Frost, to this day, my favorite poem.
My Grandma Opal taught me to pray. So I did. I prayed for ten years from the time I was 13 until I turned 23. I prayed for God to change me into a boy. I figured he could do anything he wanted. And he was capable of producing miracles. But that didn’t seem to work, and even to me, it seemed a little far-fetched, so I started praying for God to make me straight. I just wanted to be “normal”. For ten years, I tried different variations of prayers in hopes that I wouldn’t be gay anymore. I remember one point when I was about 12, I wondered if it was possible to get amnesia and forget that I was gay. So I repeatedly busted myself over the head with a 2×4. It only left a big bruise where no one could even see it. I didn’t even pass out. So plan B. Prayers. (Prayers should have been Plan A, but I was 12, what did I know? I’d seen too many soap operas.)
At 23, I had a very close relationship with God. He took care of me. I realized that I was who I was, and I obviously was not going to cease being gay. My brain was wired a certain way, and no exorcism or psychologist was going to change what God had created. So I began praying for God to send me a friend. Just someone to love who would understand me. Immediately, my life changed. All those years I had been praying for God to change something that he himself had created. When all I needed was to be surrounded by people who respected me as a human being. This began with my friend Darla, to this day my BFF of 20 years.
From this, a chain reaction of endless circles of friends occurred. Exciting, intelligent, compassionate people who have a thirst for life. The total opposite of the people I had been subjected to before – bullies. Controllers. people who were so miserably concerned with the way others were living their lives, that they couldn’t enjoy their own being. Those people are out there still, but they are not in my circle. There seems to be some kind of force field that won’t let them enter. They don’t thrive in my circle because they can’t control anyone in it, so they’re not interested in hovering. So they disappear!! It’s that simple. You attract what you emit. My circle attracts good people. Wonderful, compassionate human beings with a love for celebrating life. Laughing, giving, sharing, singing, playing, helping, dancing, cooking, consoling. Which brings me right back to Grandma Opal. She was all of those things. I miss her so. But she never talked about herself. She died the week of my 18th birthday. The last time I saw her was when I went to borrow a robe of hers to wear in the play I was in. I had her photo in the pocket of that robe for the play.
After she died, I found her senior high school year book. She had been the president of her class. She was the lead in all of the plays. She played the violin. There were letters from her classmates telling her what a wonderful human being she was. Letters and letters from people, every one stating what an angel my Grandma was. “Opal Mae, what would I have done without you this year?” “Opal, I will miss you so, you have been the best of friends.” “Opal, my heart is sad already, thinking of you not being close. Let us be friends forever more!” “Opal Mae, you must promise to write every week.”
Why could I have not found that book before Grandma was gone? Or why didn’t I ever just ask her about her life? She was too busy concentrating on mine. Making sure that I was brought up right.
How lucky for me, that this human kindness was instilled in me right from the start. And it spilled over from her into my immediate family. My problem with being gay was not with myself. It was with the people in society who bullied me and tried to make me think I would not be accepted into life the way I was. As the saying goes, sometimes the greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. God knows what you need. I give thanks every morning before I get up for the wonderful life that I have. I am truly happy, and I feel that I must be the luckiest person on the face of the earth.
This Christmas I am going to celebrate what really matters – human kindness and the way you treat people.
My Grandma Opal taught me.
Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are, I think I know,
His house is in the village though,
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep
Since Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 5th-11th), there have been several teenage deaths by young men who were either gay, or had been accused of being gay. And other suicides before that have now become prominent in the national news. Among these tragedies:
Raymond Chase, 19, Rhode Island
Tyler Clementi, 18, New Jersey
Eric Mohat, 17 New York
Seth Walsh, 13 California
Asher Brown, 13 Texas
Justin Aaberg, 15 Minnesota
and Billy Lucas, 15 from my home state of Indiana
Why so many deaths, even after Suicide Prevention Week? Why didn’t the message get out? The horrible truth is that there are bullies out there who actually want LGBT people to commit suicide. And this is not just high school-aged bullies. (Being a fan of Rap & Hip-Hop, I am so disappointed by 50 Cent’s comments that are surfacing.) They know that bullying is one way to “rid” their own lives of “homos”. This is subliminal genocide in their minds. It’s against the law to exterminate, so this, they get away with, without having to serve in prison. For now anyway.
It is not enough to beg people not to bully. They are not going to change their thinking unless they are affected personally by education, whether it be getting to know people who are LGBT, or by reading literature, such as this blog.
But until they somehow understand, and become unafraid of people who are different than them, and unafraid of the consequences of being educated about people who are different from them, the bullying and bigotry will not stop.
A friend of mine has this quote at the end of her emails:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain
In other words, for God’s sake people, get out more. Meet people. Talk to them. Learn about all of God’s creations. Send your children to see the world. It’s filled with beautiful people.
Please help educate.
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, I would like to thank my Mom, who made it very clear to me at an early age, that I could always come to her with any problems, no matter what. And my Dad, who has always supported and respected me. And to my three younger sisters who I miss terribly and wish they didn’t live 2000 miles away. Every time I leave you I can still hear your voices and your laughs!
And Darla, my friend of 20 years, who was the first person to show me that gay people can be loved, respected, and looked up to.
And Jessica – my loving, caring, compassionate, fantastic wife. Someone I never thought would be possible for me. Happy anniversary my love!
Welcome to “Transblog” everyone!