Tag Archives: giggle

Stonewall.

my photo of "Stonewall"

Daryl and I were here in April of this year. It was a much more subdued visit than what transpired at this same location yesterday.

It was a chilly, rainy early afternoon as we searched the winding, uneven streets of New York’s west village for a little bar called the Stonewall Inn. Daryl and some wonderful lesbian friends of ours jumping the clogged drain puddles and dodging the vicious splashes of speeding taxicabs with umbrellas in hand as we came upon this tiny brick place in a city of tall, thick concrete. A glowing orange neon sign greeted us into the day.

It was much smaller than I expected. I remember the first time I saw the “Cheers” bar in Boston I was underwhelmed at its small size. I expected it to be larger than life itself… filled with those folks from the TV show singing songs while Sam and Diane argued flirtatiously in a corner. I was disappointed then, but not today.

The Stonewall Inn was barely open this early afternoon. “The gays” typically don’t begin bar hopping until much later in the early evening, so the bar was deserted, except for a short little fire plug bartender named typically, Joe. He welcomed us in immediately as if desperate for company on this miserable Saturday afternoon. Folding our dripping umbrellas and leaving them by the front door, I looked around. You could smell the age and the mustiness of this dark and dingy place. A thick painted tin ceiling and dark poster filled walls hugged us as small tables were tossed about a small elevated “stage” hardly protected by a single red velvet rope. Black and white photos of the now famous “Stonewall Riots” were haphazardly placed around on the deep paneled walls of this establishment. Framed newspaper and magazine clippings of history were draped behind the bar. Somehow the light of day made this bar look like me when I wake up in the morning. Raw and exposed. Pale and puffy. Vulnerable yet somehow as cozy as the thick fleece robe I throw on to ward off the early morning chill.

“What’ll it be?” Joe smiled, as we pulled our heavily shellacked bar stools across the old wooden floor making a wood on wood scraping echo that empty bars tend to make. We looked like a bunch of drowned rats as Joe hooked us up with clean-glassed beverages. He continued shuffling around the place acting as though he had to get ready for some large crowd, punctuated with a chuckle or two about a drag show here a few nights before.

My group of friends sat and listened to Joe’s ipod music playing loud enough over the bar’s worn speaker system to get a foot tapping from Janet Jackson’s “Control.” I continued walking around the bar’s interior, studying the photos on the walls of the Riots of 1969 trying to imagine a world where gays and lesbians had to hide so much of themselves, even in the progressiveness and toleration of New York City. To have to fear for your livelihood, your reputation and in some cases, your life must have been unimaginable to deal with on a daily basis.

Daryl and I attempted to play a game of pool on the Stonewalls well worn and uneven table, its dulled orange felt dusty with cigarette ashes and a cocktail straw. I smiled as I thought that gay men typically aren’t playing the game as a sport anyway, but as more of a way to connect to someone else if only for a moment… or possibly to start a conversation with a future life partner. The pool table eventually ate our cue ball, refused to spit it back out and our game was done. Joe didn’t have the key or the means to fix it.

We chatted and joked with each other and with Joe for another hour or so while finishing up a couple of rounds of cocktails. Daryl purchased two souvenir tee shirts for his sister and Mom, and we moved on. The rain had let up a bit as we headed out into the streets of the Village as the ghosts of men and women past smiled as we all left giggling hand in hand not realizing that in a few months there would be throngs here celebrating another milestone, another victory.

Thank you for your tiring fight, people of this tiny little place called Stonewall. Thank you for your beginning to bring the right of marriage to ALL people to the sidewalks and streets of this city… this state and eventually this country.

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look at that cloud!

As I lay on the hilltop this breezy spring day in the grass with my 7 year old niece, I felt myself child-like.

It was a rough week for me. I had lost my Dad a month before due to his health. I was worn out from the constant running back and forth to the hospital after work. The funeral and bill arrangements had gotten the best of me. I had recently experienced a nasty early spring head cold and work was busier and more demanding than usual. I wasn’t sleeping or eating particularly well.

I was an exhausted adult.

Then one day during a visit with my niece, Charlie (short for Charlene), she had asked me to climb to the top of the hill behind my condo to watch the clouds go by. In my haste, I had initially dismissed her by pointing to a plate of freshly baked cookies as I watched TV, but she persisted, “Uncle Ed, there are many puffy clouds today that we need to visit!” Tiredly, I surrendered and grabbed our light jackets as I shut the door behind us and headed toward the hill.

She instinctively reached for my hand and off we went.

Charlie began skipping and looked at me with her wide green eyes as she pouted, “Skip with me Uncle Ed, it’s FUN, I promise!” I rolled my eyes and as I began to explain that grown men don’t skip, my feet began to betray my head as if adult opinions had no place in childhood. It amazed me how quickly the simple act of skipping came flooding back. It immediately threw me into a tailspin of childhood and I grinned stupidly as we worked to synchronize our rhythms. Charlie giggled loudly as I hoped no one heard her and would see me in the insane dance of youth.

As we approached the hill my thoughts drifted to the scene in the movie The Wizard of Oz, when the characters are running through a field of poppies with the beautiful Emerald City in view. Our pace picked up, our hands broke apart, and we ran! Charlie squealed with delight as she took off leaving me behind in her push to the top of her world.

I smiled uneasily as my breathing became somewhat labored in the fresh cool air.

As I crested the top of this rolling mound of deep green blowing in the wind, I had to stop to catch my breath. Charlie was spinning wildly around in a circle while her long light hair danced freely in the air. Twisting as she yelled, “I’m dizzy Uncle Ed! I’m gonna spin forever until I fall! Come spin with me!” Her tiny sneakers tip toeing forward at a wobbly pace. I felt captivated by this power of childhood as I began to spin. I threw my arms out like a propeller, I thrust my head and fingers to the sky and I spun wildly. I opened my eyes, and then closed them to feel the effect of being at the top of the world spinning madly out of control as my stomach grew butterflies.

I felt free!

Charlie and I collided and laughed hard as we crashed together to the coolness of the hilltop’s blanket of grass. Her laugh teetered back and forth from a full belly guffaw to hysterical giggle as I barely recognized my own sounds of joy. Our breathing grew silent as our gazes turned to the sky.

How this day of blue ceiling was created is truly a miracle of nature to me. The color was surely that of something no simple man could ever construct. I lay awestruck in continued silence as I could almost hear the white cotton-like clouds dancing and drifting by as if to heaven’s music while they were putting on a show for only us. The clouds became animated and changed their shapes swiftly as they twirled in groups of soft splendor.

“Look at THAT cloud over there Uncle Ed! It looks like an elephant eating an ice cream cone, doesn’t it?” broke Charlie into the quiet sunshine. “See him holding it with his trunk?” she asked. “YES! I do!” I shouted back, to which Charlie immediately explained that I could use my indoor voice if I wanted to. I chuckled out loud as I studied the white formations in search of something spectacular. “Look at that one Charlie. Over there in that clump of clouds… do you see that telephone shape?” I asked. “See the dial with the headset on top?” Charlie rolled over and looked directly into my face with a smirk and answered, “What’s a dial?” I snickered as I realized that she had no knowledge of what a dial to a phone was in our smart phone world, so I quickly pointed to the moving formation of a face in the sky. “Look at that face Charlie! That woman’s face and the mouth is moving too!” I motioned, as she just as quickly spotted a snake about to eat a chicken leg.

We giggled again then grew silent as we just watched.

We continued to peer at the puffy presentation passing slowly by. I could sense my breathing as it calmed to a gentle roll and my heart became light. How did I deserve this gift of a child to bring MY child out in me? He hides most times, shy but lingering in so many quiet spaces of my soul as he waits for that fleeting chance to climb a tree, kick a can or run blindly with a kite in the sand even if only figuratively for a time. True laughter reigns in the hearts of children. Real laughter reigns hidden in me, I sighed softly to myself.

“Look at that really dark cloud over there Uncle Ed!” Charlie pointed out innocently; “THAT is definitely our Obama isn’t it?” I laughed, and then bellowed harder still. Tears began to roll as Charlie looked quizzically at me and asked “Why are you crying?” I had no answer as I wiped my sleeve across my face and stood to reach out to her. “Let’s go eat lunch,” I exclaimed. “I’d like to have strawberry ice cream for lunch,” she spoke with authority. My initial adult reaction was to say no as my mouth blurted, “Strawberry ice cream it is!”

We rolled down the hill laughing more that afternoon. Grass stains and sore muscles be damned! It felt GOOD; REAL good as I stood up dizzily as I reached my hand out to help Charlie stand. “Thanks Uncle Ed, for a very fun time!” she tweeted. My eyes began to water as I mumbled something about allergies and thanked HER as we hugged.

We skipped home as we sang “Weeee’re off to see the Wizard…”

(this is a work of fiction that is based on several wonderful memories of my own children and dedicated to them back in the day…)

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Week three…

…of blogging, I am beginning to over-analyze and wonder what my “purpose” truly IS for this writing and interactive exercise. I started this blog because, well because it just started coming, and flowing, and with my Dad passing recently, he told me to never shut up, to always push a little harder and stay a little longer. I don’t really offer advice or theory in my blog. Philosophical epiphanies elude me most times. I’m too simple for that. I’ve begun reading other blogs almost obsessively; trying to find out which ones I GET something from, which ones I like or conversely which ones are too “esoteric” for me.

I wonder what I’d like you to get from my keyboard ramblings. Wondering will you read, will you enjoy, dissect, judge or just imagine a quick ride into the lives of Daryl and me. I start by having a thought of something simple, something “everyday” and then I try to describe it in a way that gives simplistic life a twist… a perspective with a sense of sarcastic humor. It forces ME to take another look at how funny life is every single day.

I can’t stop now. It’s too therapeutic for me… even if you don’t listen, or don’t really care what I have to say… I have to continue. Hopefully one or two of my thoughts will lie upon your mind and perhaps seep into your heart, or slip through your belly and make you giggle alone or smile and think, “yeah… me too.”

I promise that I’ll continue to be creative, simple, controversial, inane, silly, over dramatic, emotional and downright crude at times. I promise you will always get MY truth for I don’t know anything else. Bear with me when I hop on soapboxes and understand when my emotions get the best of me or I lay my frustrations at your feet.

At the end of the day, EVERY day, I like to look back in retrospect to see what thoughts I can leave behind and which ideas I can bring with me to tomorrow’s dawn, God willing. Peace to you and thanks again for coming along with me on this ride.

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