Saturday, June 25, 2011

God, you should’ve made me gay--it would’ve made things easier for everyone

A short while back, I was doing the usual chit-chat with my friends (& coworkers) Julie, Erin & Kathy and I can’t recall what (or who) we were talking about, but I knew I was getting a little carried away when I suddenly felt the need to say “I think I need to remind everyone that I like girls—not boys.  GIRLS.  NOT BOYS.”  Julie replied  “Well, I wish you were gay.  Gay guys are cool and I could use a good gay friend.”

(Left to right, Julie Erin & Kathy)

She’s a hoot, right?  Well, the reason I even mentioned this is because very recently, someone from my past re-emerged, and when I informed my sister Shawn, she said “Doug I never told you this because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, but years ago that person told me you were gay, and when I said they were wrong, I was told to grow up.”  

THAT STINKS.   Not because some yahoo from the ‘80s thought I was gay, who cares.  And not because they outed me to my sister, Shawn knows me better than anyone else on this planet & would’ve been the first to know anyway.  (For crying out loud, Shawn knew I had about 200 girlie magazines squirreled away in my bedroom back then and they weren’t for show, they cost good money!) 

No it stinks to high heaven because if this person had no problem letting my sister in on the big secret then God knows who else that was said to.  This was twenty-odd years ago, for all I know it could’ve been the reason Charlie (my girlfriend at the time) broke up with me—she “got the scoop” and high-tailed it outta there.  And I was none the wiser. 

Me & Charlotte (aka Charlie), 1984—man I sure had her fooled!  Or did I…

Okay, in all honesty I don’t think that’s the real reason why Charlotte & I split up, and if you really want the truth I’m not surprised some people thought I was gay either. 

I’ve never tried to impress anyone with my big brawny masculinity, and the more I think about it, I’m surprised only one person has tried to pull me out of that closet.

Here’s a Top Ten list of things that might make people question my heterosexuality, dammit:

10.  I’m the only one of six kids that never married

 Why is that?  As a kid, my parents thought I was girl-crazy.  Once when I was in 4th grade, I came home jabbering about the girl I was going to marry, and later I overheard Dad say "That boy will be the first one to be married, mark my words."  Mom said "Yeah, well I hope he waits another year or two."  

So what happened?  Several years ago when we all came home for the holidays, Mom said "If one of my kids came to us and said 'I'm  gay', we'd love them just the same--wouldn't we Don.  WOULDN'T WE DON."  My dad just stared at her.  Finally my sister Shawn said "But Mom, everyone's married" and my sister Donda said "Doug isn't!  Um… nevermind."  

 9.  “Judy Judy Judy…”

Look I know Judy Garland’s a gay icon, but what’s not to love?  Besides, I thought that her gay following began with her Vegas & Carnegie Hall concerts in 1959-1962, I’m more a fan of Judy’s earlier work up to & including 1954’s “A Star is Born”, okay?? 

8.  The show must go on—especially if it’s an MGM musical 

Speaking of Judy, I don’t know a lot of straight guys who admit to loving those old MGM musicals.  And I know even less who blog about them like I once did here.  Ugh!

7.  Troy Polamaluwho?  

God help me, everyone I know is a big Steelers fan and I’m not.  Watching your son or daughter (or niece) play in a softball game or compete in a swim-meet is one thing, but football and baseball and hockey on tv?  Wait, isn’t that an old Bette Davis movie on TCM?  Thank God!

6.  Most of my friends are women  and most of them also happen to be Steeler fans—that’s how I know who Troy is!

5.  I write with my right hand, but I pitch, bat, bowl and whisk with my left   

I agree with you, what’s gay about that?   Well, my junior high gym teacher sometimes called me ‘Douglassa’ because of it--jesus that guy was a jerk!  He was probably gay, too. 

4.  I watch my share of HGTV  I don’t see anything wrong with this either, but I admit it looks bad if you’re watching ‘Divine Design’ while everyone else is tuned to the Superbowl.  Well, I needed new ideas for livingroom drapes.  

3.  Boxer briefs are the greatest invention since sliced bread 

I sure thought so, and they’re the only type of shorts I’ve worn for the last 10 years-- even when Will (on Will & Grace) made that joke about boxer briefs being the gay man’s best friend.  Aren’t straight guys allowed to be this comfortable too?

2.  I’m not very good with my Stooge act 

Why can’t I just play along with the other stooges?   I need to learn how to haw like the rest of ‘em:

MOE:  I told her she had nice legs, then asked her when they opened for business! 

CURLY:  Haw! 

LARRY:  Haw!  Good one, Moe!

DOUG:   Oh that’s awful.

1.  Me thinks he doth protest too much  Seriously, how many guys my age still feel the need to remind the world they’re straight?   Gosh darn it, I’m done!  

(Well, until the next time someone tries to pull me outta the closet again, I suppose.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

It’s not over until the Bus Lady Sings (or, Bus Lady Sings the Blues)


I will never forget my first bus ride in Pittsburgh.  I moved to the city in July 1987 to go back to school, and was living in an apartment complex about 15 minutes north of downtown.  (Well, that’s by car; triple that time for a bus.)  Outside of riding a school bus as a kid (and a couple Greyhound buses), I was from a small town and had never used public transportation; so I was told in advance how much to pay, and where to get off in the city.  

When the PAT bus pulled up, I hopped aboard and held out my fare to the driver.  Why wouldn’t he take it?  He gestured towards the fare box.  I dropped in my coins and as I looked down the cramped aisle between fifty or so people, wondering why all the women in dress clothes were wearing white sneakers, the bus lurched forward and I literally fell flat on my face. 

That was my first lesson about riding public transportation—unlike a school bus or Greyhound, the driver doesn’t wait until you’ve found a seat.  As the weeks went by, I learned other stuff too:

  • The schedule you’re holding says 7:05am but it’s 7:15 and there’s still no bus—this happened yesterday too!  (Your regular driver’s on vacation, take the earlier bus the rest of the week.)
  • You’re about 20 feet from the bus stop when you see your bus approaching;  you’ve ridden with this driver a hundred times, he sees you sprinting towards that PAT sign, surely he’ll wait the 10 seconds you need to get there, right?  Haha, you just made his day! 
  • Wow, empty seats in the front!  They’re empty for a reason.  There’s either an elderly couple or a young mom with her preschooler getting on a couple stops ahead.  You should’ve grabbed that empty seat in the back when you had the chance.
  • The bus is nearly full but there’s a window seat available—no, it’s a wet seat available.  
  • Can the bus driver tell you where the Courthouse is?  Yes.  Will he?  “Think, McFly!”  
  •  You’re waiting for the 19L Emsworth but this one says Ross Garage, so you step back & wave him by; you dummy, that’s your bus!  The driver forgot to change his sign!  


Of course, there’s a whole other set of rules for how you interact with your fellow passengers, and the reason I am sharing all of this is because there’s a woman on the 19L Emsworth who broke all of them in just one day—with me!   

This morning I got on the bus & was happily surprised to get a (dry) window seat near the back of the bus.  Lord, why hast Thou blessed me?  No sooner do I settle in though, a very large woman promptly squeezes in beside me.  Hey! 

Rule No.1:  Very wide persons needing two seats should not squeeze into a front-facing seat with another person, especially when there are empty seats in the back of the bus!

She must’ve read my thoughts because she said “I can’t sit in those seats in the back, or I get bus-sick”.  Fair enough, I resign myself to being a sardine on the trip downtown.  After the bus drones forward a couple blocks, she reaches down and pokes my leg.  RULE NO.2:  NO LEG POKING, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE JOINED AT THE HIP.  She asks “Could you squeeze your legs together?”    RULE NO.3:  DO NOT ASK A MAN TO SQUEEZE HIS LEGS TOGETHER.  I say yes, sure and pray I fall into a coma.

So we’re about halfway downtown when she says “Candy?”  I look down and see two jeweled fingers plucking a… bon bon from a gold box.  I smile and shake my head, no thanks.  She pops it in her mouth and mumbles “you probably think I’m a big fat cow…”   RULE NO.4:  DO NOT ASK A FELLOW PASSENGER IF THEY THINK YOU’RE A BIG FAT COW.  I try to look confused and shake my head no.  She says “My husband does!”   I don’t know how to answer that, so I say nothing and hope she doesn’t either.  We finally get downtown, and for the rest of the day my right side is wearing her perfume.

I managed to put it all behind me though, and got on with my workday.  And when 4:00 rolled around, I grabbed my bag & headed for my evening bus stop (outside of Mellon Bank) for the trip home.  I like this stop, it’s the first of several throughout the city so I pretty much have my choice of where I want to sit.  And about midway downtown, guess who gets on the bus?  I see her looking at the available seats, and I almost smile because of Rule No.5:  DO NOT SIT WITH THE SAME STRANGER TWICE IN A ROW, ESPECIALLY IF THERE ARE OTHER SEATS AVAILABLE.  Heh!  Suddenly she’s standing over me.  No! 

Yes I know, legs together.  (Lady, you are breaking all the rules!)  

I winced a little as she squeezed in and got situated.  As I was sitting there wondering “Why me Lord” it hit me—my MP3 player!  RULE NO.6:  NEVER BOTHER SOMEONE WHO IS LISTENING TO MUSIC.  I quickly fumbled it out of my workbag and slipped on the earphones—ah, Partridge Family and sweet relief!  But no sooner does David Cassidy sing “I think I love you”, she taps my leg.  I turn down the player.  “What.”  She says “I can hear your music, you must have it up pretty loud.”   Grrr!   I apologize & say I’ll turn it down.  She says “It’s not bothering me.”   Then why—nevermind!

So we ride in relative silence (well, she did) until I notice the couple in front of us are smiling and making fish eyes in our direction.  I turn to my ‘partner’ and she’s staring straight ahead, mouthing something.  What the—!?  I remove my earphones and she’s softly singing “la la la”.  Huh?  She turns to me and says “The Bee Gees, right?”   I made a frown-face and said no.  She said “Then who is it!”   And just when I am about to shout the rules at her, we’re in Bellevue & thank God there’s her bus stop coming up.  She squirmed her butt out of the seat and said “My husband’s making me ride the bus now if the weather’s nice.”  When I rolled my eyes and nodded my head, she said “see you in the morning!”   Omigosh lady, not if I can help it!

God if you’re listening… I am praying for rain.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I am more than the sum of my parts—and I’ll keep saying it until I believe it


It’s difficult when you’re itching to get something off your chest, but you know you can’t.  I’m not talking about family matters, or something juicy confided to you by a friend who’s sworn you to secrecy, I’m referring to workplace drama.  But in a time when people are losing their jobs because of an off-color joke emailed to the wrong person, or grumbling about things a little too loudly on social sites like Facebook, I certainly don’t want to write anything here that will cost me my job in the process.

All I can say for now is that things have been a little less rosy in my corner of the office these last few weeks. 

Whether it’s the assortment of fact & fiction about big changes on the horizon, or the recent realization that a certain person of importance isn’t as impressed with me as I thought they should be, my professional life hasn’t been as stellar as I led myself to believe.

So after a couple weeks of worry and frustration, I’ve come to a couple conclusions:  nothing’s going to be changing anytime soon (I mean that in both a good & bad way) and I’ve been focusing too much energy on that one part of my life, and not enough anywhere else.  And for what? 

Awhile back, I remember reading how most men tie their identities to their jobs, much more than women seem to.  Why is that?  One psychologist theorizes it’s because men have the ‘provider gene’ hard-coded into them (even if most women today are out there ‘providing’ right alongside us). 

All I know is, I’ve been relying on my job to define who I am for the last 20 years.  I’m sure that even Picasso considered himself more than an artist… is any of this making sense?   I’m just saying that for too long now I’ve only seen myself in one light—that long fluorescent one hanging above my desk.   For as long as I can remember, my evenings and weekends have been nothing but intermissions until I can get back on the job. 

(In fact, the last time I took off more than 2-3 consecutive days was in 2003, but I had to break a leg to do it!)  I often tell my sister that if it wasn’t for the office, I’d have no social life.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my job—and I’m thankful I have enough wits about me to get paid to flex my brain, but I need to start giving more priority to things besides my company.

So I guess you could say I’m having a midlife crisis of sorts, but when you don’t have things like kids, a spouse, a church or even a sports team to invest that extra part of yourself in… what do I really want to do besides read books and watch movies?  Oprah just aired her final show and there’s only so much history on the History Channel, y’know!   

I keep telling myself that I’m going to do all sorts of fun & different things after I retire (well, that’s the plan) but who am I kidding?  What’s going to be so different compared to now?   I just need to come up with some ideas.   Or buy a bigger tv.

Well, I know this was a pretty lousy blog, and I apologize for that; I just wanted to get out what’s been circling in my head recently.  (I tell myself that maybe there’s someone out there than can relate.)  I’ll write more again very soon, I actually have a couple things in the works.  (I’m about to dive into vegan cooking, and who doesn’t want to read about that--right?)   But for now, I’m done.