Tag Archives: writing

tell me twice.

by Ed Williams

My car is in the shop which means I get to use Daryl’s car for the day. My first task is making sure he gets to school by 8:00 am. I literally throw together some clothes to wear. I grab an army green pair of sweats with last years living room paint all over them and a ripped waist-band. Hardly awake, I manage to grab a “Jakes Bar” tee shirt in the dark. I don’t have time to shower and barely shove a wet toothbrush down my throat. I manage to wrestle with a pair of white athletic socks I stepped on lying on the floor and locate my brown dress shoes near the front door.

As I stumble down the outside stairs I catch my reflection in the glass-doored entrance to our building of condos. My hair has been pushed into some unnatural sculpture resembling a cross between a 50’s beehive and a Billy Idol video. My glasses are somewhat askew, and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I look like a refugee that’s washed up on the shore of some country that’s going to turn me away. This is not good.

As we’re driving to his school, Daryl proceeds to tell me about a dream he had last night that included some obnoxious tipping for a relative who was dressed as a waiter (server) providing us with a half a glass of Coke (no alcohol.) Can this day get much worse?

As we pull up to the school Daryl sees another teacher and blurts,”Oh look! Miss Carol got her hair cut! It looks great.” At which point I slink deeper down into my seat and quip, “Please don’t introduce me to anyone this morning. I look like shit.” To which my Husband retorts, “Oh don’t worry. You don’t have to tell me twice.”

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can I get a witness?

I’ve always had this personal fear that someday, somehow, some WAY, I’m going to be found out as a fake. A fraud. I believe it comes from some inner insecurity that maybe I’m just not good enough.

I think we must all go through that at one time or another. At least, that’s what I’m hoping. I’d hate to think it was only me. It isn’t just me. Right? Emoticon wink.

I’ve been in the process of a true personal evolution (as opposed to a false one). I’m not completely sure if it came from a latent New Years resolution, or perhaps some misguided third times the charm mid life crisis, but it’s here. And I’m a little frightened.

I am fast approaching 58 (does my age make the mid life crisis a mute point?), and I’ve come to the realization that I want to do something I actually like… make that LOVE, for this autumn season of my world. The interesting part (I say interesting because ridiculous sounds too negative) is that I’m not quite sure what it is I actually WANT to do?

Again, I’m guessing (make that desperately hoping) that some of YOU struggle with this as well. If not, well, then consider this yet another coming out story.

One of the problems I have is that I still believe that I’m a spry 18 year old on the inside. It’s when I pass those God awful mirror reflections where my Dad seems to make his appearance (God rest his soul) and I refuse to admit that man is me. Did I just use the word God twice in a sentence? Would that be considered a double negative to an atheist? Do I capitalize atheist? I digress. Squirrel!

Anyway…

I’m looking to change what I do “for a living?” That being challenging enough, I have what I THINK is loads of talent that I just don’t know how to channel into a way that makes sense. A way that I would feel is authentic. To me. To you. And also, a way that would make money.

So I continue to deal with the notion that any day now, I’m going to wake up to finger pointing whisperers who are laughing at how inadequate I am. At how silly I look out here struggling to find “my sense of self.” I hear snickers of “he can’t do that, he’s past his prime,” and “how immature to think he can just drop his current financial freedom (herein known as living paycheck to paycheck) to actually “pursue a dream.” “What a phony. What a fraud.”

I’m not looking for reassurance, I assure you. At least, not from you. I’m searching for reassurance from me. I want to bust out of the closet AGAIN, to become who I’m meant to be. Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want to be authentic? To be true to ourselves? Don’t we all hide pieces of us that we sort of hold back on for fear of ridicule, or laughter. Like tripping in the cafeteria at 9th grade lunch.

I’m overwhelmed with paths I want to take at this point in my life. But I’m going to find one. One that works. It may not be that great American novel, but it will be MY journey. Maybe that’s what I’m so afraid of. I’ve always had a direction. A goal. A destination ahead. The path of always being in control. Always certain.

It’s so scary for a control freak like me. To enjoy the process now. To continue to listen to my heart (maybe I’m not a fraud after all), to go with the flow (I hate cliches), to make a plan (let’s be somewhat realistic here), and to live in the moment.

I’m fortunate that I have a husband who continuously supports me (some say support, some say blind love. Potato. Potahto.) And I DO get such lovely feedback from the social media community (is there a name for that in the urban dictionary?) So here goes.

Wish me luck.

Not sure why I chose this photo.
Maybe I’m shocked because I need a manicure.

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Do I Smell Like Vomit?

It’s sometimes difficult having conversations with a husband whose job it is to deal with special needs kids at a privately funded residential institution on a daily basis. He likes his job and it’s challenges with bodily fluids, but he doesn’t call me Special Ed for nothing. Wait… Is that considered a double-negative? Speaking of double negatives…

It’s all a dream.

The other day I came home from my own (frustratingly people oriented) job in sales, to Daryl in the kitchen re-stacking the dishwasher that I painstakingly arranged (some would say threw in there haphazardly) earlier in the day before my shift. As is common with homosexual men, he tore off his floral apron, we immediately licked our lips, lit patchouli smelling candles, stripped each other of our clothing, turned on our Bluetooth house trance music, our tower fan, and proceeded to sip our pink cosmopolitans while falling sexually to our knees. Oh wait… that was a dream I had last night.

In real life, we smiled, pecked, and hugged each other, grateful to be at home in our little world. As I pulled away and turned to get changed from my suit and tie, Daryl asks me a little too nonchalantly, “Do I smell like vomit?” Now, I know these words are usually restricted for those couples with infants, toddlers and outdoor pets that eat rodents, so I turned around while still grasping my necktie a bit to tightly. My look must have startled Daryl into a quick addendum, “I think I washed most of it out with water and paper towels at work, but I don’t think I need to change my shirt. What do YOU think?”

“What’s wrong with the way I stack things in the dishwasher?” I shot back with love filled darts behind my eyelids ready to strike.

He looks at me… then back at the open dishwasher, and quickly grabs a soup spoon before it escapes the conversation like a teen with a persistent parent. “Look at this! It still has peanut butter on it! You have to rinse things first.” He half sighs, half snorts in frustration.

“I just don’t get why they call them dishwashers then. It’s false advertising,” I shot back. “and I enjoy eating peanut butter out of the jar on occasion. Rinsing it would be such a chore. Whats the big deal?”

“… and HOW do you think water is supposed to get to this bowl when it’s blocked by another bowl?” Daryl asks, looking again into the mis-stacked puzzle of dishware, flatware, assorted cocktail glasses and a large cheese grater.

“Water jets,” I smirked as I bobbled my head from side to side, “HOT propulsion water jets.”

“No and no” he admonished like he’s some sort of physics expert.

I pivoted around and I stomped (as much as a carpeted floor will let one stomp) into the bedroom to change while Daryl continued to clink and clank his way through my jumbled mess in the Maytag, trying to make sense of it all.

Not so long ago…

What’s interesting about this situation is that when Daryl and I moved in together 9 or so years ago, living in (yet another) sin, the man didn’t understand the power of chores. I believe he thought that dust covered tables were great for leaving handwritten notes, or hearts, or those pesky XOX’s. Making a bed was something one only did in hospitals, and even then, only when a patient left or died. And trash was only taken out if it smelled. Really smelled.

Don’t get me wrong, the man wasn’t a slob so to speak, but the man was… Well, a man.

Thank God, I turned him into a woman. Wait… that sounds sexist. Thank God I turned him into a good housewife. Whew! He even once bellowed during a particularly verbal disagreement over laundry once that HE was turning into ME. Surely a fate worse than… worse than… mixing colors with whites! Wait… does that have racial undertones?

Hope.

As I was taking my socks off, Daryl came in to the bedroom holding two full glasses of our best Pinot Noir, hands me one and says, “All forgiven?” I smiled, threw my arms around his chunky chocolate neck and said “Absolutely! Now go change your shirt. You smell like vomit.”

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Daryl and Ed’s Excellent Adventure.

I’m just tired of “the gay thing,” I blurted bluntly to Daryl on the drive home from Philadelphia’s Gay Pride Event earlier in June… “I just want to hang out with regular people for awhile… straight people. I just wanna watch a Phillies game, Wheel of Fortune, and The Bachelorette. I just want a Miller-Lite in a bottle. I’m worn out with Dykes on Bikes, drag queens, twinks, and tattoos. I feel like Rainbow Brite shit all over the city. I’m too old for this stuff.” He looked at me like one of those Sarah Mclachlan dogs on the commercial and whined, “but I’ve never been to New York City’s Pride Parade and I’d really enjoy going.” I’d seen the parade myself several years ago, and must admit it truly IS quite the event.

Daryl and I grew up in a time and environment where it just wasn’t cool to be gay. We weren’t bullied per say, but sometimes joked about, made fun of, or full out ostracized it certain social situations when we were younger, we could have never imagined a world, or at least a major city, that shuts down as thousands upon thousands of people from all age groups, walks of life, and ethnicities come together to celebrate personal Pride. Being PROUD of who, what, and where we are in life and seeing as how Daryl and I had come out much later in our own lives, we DID have a little catching up and celebrating to do.

NYC or bust. (Does anyone even say “or bust” anymore?)

I had booked a small Hilton Garden Inn on the border of SoHo and Tribeca just below Canal Street in Manhattan for a couple of nights so we could make a city-style romantic weekend getaway in addition to getting Daryl his gay Pride fix. I love hanging out in the city, any city, always have… there are energies that exist like no other. The vast diversity of the people, the visual, aural, and emotional “turmoil” is a huge turn on for me.

I am Julie, your cruise director.

I’m not exactly sure how I got the job, but I tend to do the planning for (some call it over planning) vacations, weekend getaways, day trips, and evening local jaunts. Maybe it’s because it’s instinctive to me, or perhaps I have this need to… what’s it called… control things. I honestly don’t know where this accusation originated, but apparently I make lists, research hotels, neighborhoods, diners, restaurants, entertainment venues, what will be worn when, and clean bathroom facilities whenever we decide to go somewhere. Go figure.

I HAVE mellowed with age, although I still insist that we arrive ANYwhere six to seven hours in advance. Airports scare me. I’m continuously afraid I’ll be late so I arrive for my flight the day before. Job interviews? Hours ahead of time. I end up drinking extra cups of coffee then have to pee so bad during the interview, that I blow it. The only reason Daryl and I even got together over nine years ago was because I was a half a day early for our first date and we had more time to see if we clicked.

Anyway, we arrived in New York way before our room was ready (you can tell when the desk check and the baggage handler roll their eyes at each other when they THINK you’re not looking) and decided to venture into the Tribeca neighborhood on a gloriously sunny New York day.

It didn’t take long.

It was still before noon. We were hungry. We skipped any sort of breakfast (woofing a large banana down on the New Jersey Turnpike does not qualify. Oh… you thought I meant the fruit?) because I couldn’t wait to get on the road (or as I spin it, “We have to avoid traffic.”) I thought for sure we could locate some cute little bistro with red and white checked tablecloths overlooking one of the rivers. You know… one of those places you see in the movies. I researched it earlier via Yelp. Maybe a place to grab an organic salad, soup, some warm pita bread, and a sparking mimosa would be perfect. We rounded the corner of Warren street off of West Broadway and heard “Get Up (I feel like a sex machine)” by James Brown pulsing out of an open door under a large weather worn sign with neon-formed letters that read “Raccoon Lodge.” We looked at each other and immediately knew we wanted a piece of this place. I poked my head inside to see a petite young lady in a tight ponytail cleaning up the bar while bobbing her head. “Are you open?” I inquired, to which she immediately welcomed us in.

The place was dark. It took a minute or two for my eyes to adjust, but the dank, stale beer smell indicated to me that we had stumbled onto a local watering hole that I’m sure had been stumbled OUT of on many occasions. “Hey guys! I’m Cindi with an ‘i,’ what can I get you?” Daryl and I grabbed a pair of metal-based torn-plastic-seated bar stools and dragged them across the hardwood floor echoing the emptiness of the place. We awkwardly swiveled into position to a well worn bar that hadn’t seen a lick of paint or varnish in decades. The out-of-place digital jukebox machine continuing on with a song by Kansas, Daryl and I ordered a pair of Heinekens. Cindi with an I plopped the sweating bottles in front of us with one hand, while slicing limes with the other. She was young and perky… sort of. Of course EVERYone is young and perky to me now. I usually gauge my age using police officers. I remember when I was younger they were figures of authority. I mean, they still are, but they’re so young now. They all look like they’re twelve and wouldn’t be able to save my life unless they checked with their Mom first.

I digress, again.

As Cindi with an i continued slicing citrus for future cocktails, I gulped some iced cold beer and surveyed the interior of the Raccoon Lodge (not a raccoon in sight.). Memorabilia everywhere, with photos, banners, NYFD and NYPD patches haphazardly taped, stabbed, and stapled into the wall behind the bar. Not a blank space to be found as I studied photos of smiling men, arms around each other, cigars in mouths, cars and boats and frosty mugs of beer as backgrounds. There was an unusually large Moose Head hanging on a wall toward the restrooms in the back directly over an old elevator door that had long been painted over and was obviously no longer in service. A lonely pool table sat in the middle of the hall with cues resting atop it’s well-worn fading green felt, cigarette burns dotting it’s side from a time when cigarette smoke was a decadent part of the tavern culture. As a Christopher Cross song snuck its place into the jukebox lineup I asked Cindi if she chose the music herself. She shrugged while hand drying glasses and stated that it was a satellite station that is chosen at random. “I don’t really hear it!” she yelled from other side of the bar.

As soon as she worked her way closer to us I asked her about the memory-made conglomeration on the wall. “It’s many of the locals. We’re a few blocks from Ground Zero. This bar was one of the first in the area that remained open after that day in September. The responders and construction workers always came here after working at the site. Some would bring photos of friends lost, we’d put them up, and then they’d drink shots to those in remembrance.” I studied the faces in the photos a little more intently as Cindi asked if we needed another beer.

I could tell Daryl was enjoying the music as he continued to suck on his cold brew, and I asked him if he was getting hungry. I nodded to the perky ponytailed blond with tattoos and piercings everywhere to bring us a couple more beers and asked her if she had any suggestions for lunch. She pulled out her iPhone and suggested a pizza joint a few blocks away. “I’m from Brooklyn, so I don’t really know what is good around here,” she giggled as if making fun of us while we pretended not to look like the gay tourists we were. “Are you guys a couple?” she inquired. Daryl rolled his eyes as I blurted, “Yeah, a couple of nuts… or actually four nuts if you’re counting.” Cindi politely grinned while most likely just hoping that we’d tip well. I asked her if she was part of a couple. She replied with attitude that she was on again off again on again now off again.

Cinnamon for breakfast.

I asked Daryl once more if he was ready to go explore the area and find a place to eat as I noticed him eyeing a dusty Ms. Pacman machine in a forgotten corner of the Lodge. “Lets do a shot!,” as his eyes lit up, “Fireballs please!” he motioned to our bartender. We asked Cindi if she wanted to be a part of this self-inspired brunch of shots before noon, but she gracefully declined stating that she has spent too many late nights sleeping on a worn couch in the grungy basement of the Lodge because she liked to have too much fun. Daryl and I toasted Cindi with an i, New York City, Gay Pride, Marriage, 9/11, the jukebox, and each other as we swallowed what I consider cinnamon breath freshener.

We slammed our shot glasses down on the bar a little too hard, apologizing for slamming them as we left, tipping well, and singing along with a Cher song from the juke as we burst out onto Warren Street hearing our own laughter being swallowed up in the noise, the confusion and the amazing sunshine of New York City.

We headed toward Ground Zero…
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march twentieth

And then a warm day in March

(this twentieth day of March),

decides to tap her gentle fingers playfully to my shoulder.

She teases me that she will once again spin into

a piece of my fragile fateful future.

I wonder

If she will ever know that all is not always new,

That all is not fresh,

that all is not green.

She betrays the day before her,

now non- existent;

Cold yesterdays cannot casually be swept away as a kite

with her first whisper…

She taunts me with memories of windswept hearts,

classical music, pastels, cold rains, and swaying forsythia.

Her mystery becomes trumped by empty plates and missing chairs,

as laughter echoes on glances that are absent this year.

Her swirling stance stiffens

and her comfort all too brief,

As she blows her promise of tomorrow

across my aging face once again.

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three words equal one date.

Last Saturday evening, I decided to “enhance the dating experience” of Daryl and me. These “ideas” seem to POP into my head on my days off while I’m tooling around obsessing running errands, viewing porn reading the news on the internet, or just sitting on the crapper playing Bejeweled Blitz in an easy chair reading a good biography.

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Our “dating life” has not gotten stale, mediocre, or even lack-luster after eight years together, however, with our conflicting work schedules we often go days without dates, weeks without sex, and months without a good vodka tonic. Sometimes it feels as though we’re two disabled Carnival cruise ships passing in the night.

So occasionally, I just like to… what’s the term I’m looking for… “raise the bar?” Yeah, I’ll go with that for now. I’m fortunate that Daryl is so adept good at tolerating embracing my ideas to be creative in our relationship. I always enjoy the look on his face when I present these brainstorms over a glass of pinot noir and some English cheddar cheese when he gets home from work. It’s usually a look of a deer in headlights bewilderment, followed by feigned understanding and capped with a sigh smile, a nod and him obligatorily enthusiastically asking “how do we get started?”

“I’m not suggesting initiating new toys, or boys, or boy toys into our dating repertoire,” I explained to him,” I just think we can use tools to make the date more meaningful and thought out.” He shuffled for another piece of cheddar as I sipped my wine and began to explain that on Sunday (his day off) and Monday (my day off) that we could give each other three words that begin with the same letter and must be “incorporated into the date” somehow.”

He washed the cheese down with what I thought was a larger than normal gulp of the wine and continued to wait for more explanation. “For example,” I responded, “Water, Wish, and Wine! You have to come up with a date tomorrow evening that somehow involves those three words! Easy-smeasy right? (thinking to myself that I am NEVER again to use the phrase “easy-smeasy” while presenting an idea of ANY kind).” I must admit that I sort of had a preconceived idea as to how this date could happen quite easily and inexpensively. I’m thinking in my head that a quick trip into West Chester to the Court House fountain, throw in a couple of pennies, grab a glass of wine and a salad at Iron Hill, and BINGO! We’ve enhanced the dating experience with water, a wish, and wine!

Not so fast. Daryl didn’t seem to make the “W” connection quite as quickly and looked a little panicked. Okay, I’ll concede that I DID push this on him without a whole lot of warning, and I thought that perhaps we needed a little time to digest this plan as we finished up dinner for the evening.

The next morning, as I was sipping coffee on the sofa while listening to pretty birds chirping outside while unfriending a few tired folks on FaceBook, I received a phone text from Daryl who happened to be in the bathroom down the hall (how DID we ever survive without smartphones?) that said “Transportation, Transparent and Tradition. Use one or all three in our date tonight.”

I was ecstatic! My idea was accepted!

I immediately started thinking about how I could incorporate these three words into a fun-filled, exciting, worthwhile date. The first word that instantly stuck in my head was of course, “transparent.” I thought Saran Wrap, right? It’s obvious, overt, and just plain obscene!

Sigh.

I dug the Saran Wrap out of the bottom of my foil and baggies drawer (oh yes, I have snack baggies, quart baggies, gallon baggies, zip lock, and even color strip baggies… it’s pathetic) and took it to the bedroom where I was going to “test” how this would work. I didn’t get too much “wrapped” when I realized that this would most definitely NOT be pretty. So I thought about using invisible Scotch Tape on my nipples! I could hardly contain my self-brilliance. How hot would it be to see me with “transparent” tape on my erect fleshy nipple? Then I tried to pull one off of as a clump of hair followed.

Sigh, again.

I finally decided to just make peach Jell-O with homemade whipped cream and a fresh slice of peach on top for dessert. “Transparent” down, two words to go.

The “tradition” part was easy. I just incorporated that into our traditional clinking of the wine glasses at the beginning of our meal. I most likely could have come up with something better on this one, but considering the timing, I went with it.

“Transportation” was more difficult to figure out. I thought that perhaps a ride to “Kiwi Yogurt” in town would be a fun way to relay transportation, but since I had used a dessert for another word, I was at a road block. I finally decided to dig out a game that we used to play called Mille Bornes. It’s a card game that originated in France and required us to interact while moving along in an imaginary car race to the finish line. It was a perfect solution considering the winner had choice of the after dinner um… prize.

So it’s not the finale of the Bachelor, or Game of Thrones, but it DID give us the opportunity to have a little fun with a little effort. I can’t wait to try this again next week!

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Bite Me Hallmark. (or when Father’s Day has outlived its purpose.)

This year is theoretically my twenty-eighth Father’s Day.

I think.

I’m honestly not sure what age my oldest daughter is because, well, I’ve just never paid much attention to timed things like that. I used to. But as I get older… ages, moments, years, anniversaries, and the number of grains of sand on a beach just don’t stick with me like they used to. There must be a name for that.

There must also be a name for that moment when Father’s Day finally outlives its purpose. I mean, I’m still considered via DNA to be a Father per say, but at this point in my life I don’t truly FEEL the part. It’s becoming a little… what’s the word I’m looking for… obligatory. I’d love to tell my three kids adult children offspring that I’m over the cute cards with hammers, golf clubs and cool cars that say what a great Dad I am or was or will be. I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but I’m truly past the ties, the books, the drawings, the rare poem, and the gift cards. Perhaps, they are too.

Looking back, I actually WAS a good Father at one time, and I’m not fishing for support, looking for pats on the back, or soliciting comments about being a parent, however, I am basically expressing the fact that I feel that my role as a Father doesn’t exist for me presently. It’s as if I look back at this other person who played the role quite well at one time but is now not needed for the part. Am I already ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille?

I’m okay with that. At least, I think I am.

In more recent years, I’ve tried doing the phone call thing and attempting to schedule time together, but there were distances, and time restraints, and jobs, and schools, and issues, and there was even a cat in the cradle, but I felt that my trying to push into the moments of growing adults with lives of their own was making me seem almost desperate to remain in their world. I felt like maybe I was pushing too hard, to be what I felt I should be. Just a Dad.

So I stopped. And they stopped too.

I’m still okay with that. At least, I THINK I am. I really love who I have become, where I am, and what I stand for as a pretty genuine person who is finally comfortable with his voice. I guess I’m also okay with those kids that I used to take to every playground in the tri-state area, to swimming lessons, gymnastics, piano lessons, school concerts and plays, field trips, the beach, horseback riding, vacations, graduations, and even a spectacular wedding who have become wonderful people who are all charging ahead in worlds of their own.

So, I’m bowing out of Father’s Day this year, and the next, and the next…

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