RSS

Tag Archives: gay

First kiss, first train ride, first bicycle . . .

A preview: Her name was Joyce, the train ride was from Memphis to Washington, D.C. and the bike was blue.

Events leading up to the three firsts . . .

Sometimes when I look back over my shoulder the past is shrouded in the mists of time, and dates and places and people and events appear crowded together and all trying to be in the front row, hoping for recognition and a trip from the past to the present. Some things are irrevocably fixed in my memory but others are hazy and must be tailored to adapt to whatever story I’m telling at the time. An astute reader may find that some dates overlap—in some instances I may have the cart before the horse, but the error is inadvertent, and I will place a standing apology for such errors—hey, I’m almost 78 years old—I have earned the right to err occasionally.

For several years my wife and I collected gnomes, small statues created by Tom Clark, a retired priest that lives and creates in North Carolina. Folklore has it that the gnomes move around during the night, visiting other gnomes, and sometimes do not return to the place they left. Several times over the years I have found a gnome at a place different than I remembered it had been. Memories are very similar—we search for a thought in the place we believe it should be, but eventually find it in another by relating it to something different—if we find it at all!

I believe that we—my mother, my sister Dot and I—left Columbus, Mississippi in the winter of 1944 when I  was twelve and traveled by bus to Durant, Mississippi, a small town northeast of Jackson. My mother was an LVN, a licensed vocational nurse, and for a year or two she tended a bedridden elderly widow in Durant. My mother’s compensation for that task was the income generated by a large house owned by the invalid, a house that had been converted into several apartments. Her patient also lived there and my mother furnished around-the-clock nursing care for her.

Our family had a furnished apartment at no cost with all utilities paid, and my mother managed the facility. She rented the apartments, collected the rents and maintained the house—anything left over was hers, part of the salary agreement between her and the widow’s son—when the rents fell short of their agreement, he supplemented her salary as necessary.

Our move to Durant was during a period of a forced separation from our stepfather, one created by him as were all the other times we were thrown out to continue our lives as best as we could. A few weeks earlier we were living on a forty-acre farm some 12 miles from Columbus, Mississippi. My sister and I bolted out of the house one morning following an altercation with our stepfather. We ran out to the middle of the road, and he called us back to the house from the front porch. When we refused, he said he was going for his shotgun and we left at top speed, running toward the woods bordering the graveled road we were running on. We stayed hidden in the woods while our mother and stepfather rode back and forth in the car calling us to come back home. We remained hidden until they finally gave up on us. Click here for a detailed explanation of the incident. We left the farm that morning and never went back.

My first kiss . . .

Now on to the salacious stuff—no, nothing x-rated. I refer specifically and respectfully, to my first real kiss-in-the-face, a memorable kiss bestowed on me by a girl that was a bit taller and a few months older than I, and here I will hasten to add that while it was my first osculation, it was far from her first—in retrospect and in view of subsequent similar situations, I would have to give her a perfect 10 in the art of kissing.

Her name was Joyce, and her father owned and operated a small radio repair shop just off Main Street in Durant. Her house was only a few blocks from the shop, and I was invited to a party there. When I arrived the guests—all teenagers and no adults present—were playing a game called Spin the Bottle—the name of the game was familiar, but in all my twelve years I had never played the game, simply because I had never had the opportunity.

All the players stood around in a circle and one player placed a bottle on the floor in the center of the circle and gave it a hard spin. When the bottle stopped spinning, the spinner and the pointee were required to kiss—not a cheek kiss or an air kiss, but a real kiss-in-the-mouth kiss. No, there was none of that same-sex stuff. If the spinner was a girl and the bottle pointed at another girl, the spinner kept spinning until it pointed at a boy, and if the spinner was a boy—well, you get the picture. Yes, we were having a gay old time, but in those days gay meant something very different than it does today. And yes, we were all high, but from the salt on potato chips and the sugar in Pepsi—those were the good old days! Pot was something my mother used for cooking, and crack was—well, crack, whether the verb or the noun, certainly meant things other than cocaine crystals!

I joined the game as one of those in the circle, and Joyce was in the center when I joined. It was her floor and her bottle, and I’m reasonably sure that she had played the game before and knew how to control the bottle’s revolutions, just like the people running the roulette wheels in Las Vegas. She gave the bottle a spin and when it stopped it was pointed at me, and the rest is history.

I would like to say that with that first kiss I heard angels singing, a mighty host on high, but the only thing I heard was Joyce groaning during the kiss, low-voiced but clearly audible, a long string of low voiced uumm, uumm, uumms, etc. I was there, of course, but Joyce had a firm grip on my head and both my ears, and she used my mouth and my lips and my tongue in bestowing the kiss, but I had absolutely no control over any part of the process. I would like to say that I tingled all over, in places that I had never before tingled, but I can’t say that—well, I had tingled all over before, but never from a kiss.

The part of the kiss I remember most is the tongue—mine, not hers. I thought my tongue was a goner, but I finally managed to extract it with only a small hickey at the tip, and I talked with a slight lisp for several days afterward—I also walked with a slight limp.  At this point, in the interests of self-preservation and showing the proper respect to the fairer sex, I’ll have nothing more to say on the subject of Joyce and my first kiss.

My first train ride . . .

Around Christmas time in 1946 I stuffed my pitifully sparse wardrobe into a small metal trunk, loaded it into Papa John’s 1939 Plymouth sedan in mid-afternoon and left Durant in the rear view mirror, en route to Memphis, Tennessee, a distance of 152 miles. With us hurtling along at 45 miles per hour, the trip took four hours. Papa’s plan was to spend the night in Memphis and  put me on a train to Washington, D.C. early the next morning. I could have traveled to Memphis by train, but that would have required a change in Memphis—I have no doubt that my mother insisted on the trip by auto—Papa would have cheerfully waved goodbye to me had the train been headed west to California.

We arrived in Memphis in late afternoon and checked in at a hotel for the night. When we walked in, Papa strode to the front desk, an imposing figure dressed in a long-sleeved western-cut khaki shirt with a black tie held in place with a gold-and-silver tie clasp of a western boot spur and rowel, khaki western-cut trousers, tan sombrero and cowboy boots, twirling a stout cudgel he laughingly called a walking stick, and said, Good afternoon, my good man, I would like to speak to the manager. The clerk obligingly stepped to the back and returned with a person he introduced as the manager.

Papa told the manager that we would be in his fair city overnight and required accommodations for two. Yep, a third-rate hotel located near the train terminal in a seedy rundown section of the city, and he acted as though it was the Waldorf-Astoria. The manager personally made the room assignment, probably with the full belief that he was dealing with a Texas tycoon. As you may have already guessed, Papa put on a good show.

Now fast forward to my arrival in Washington at Union Station where I was met by my brother. I say fast forward because I have no recollection of the rest of my stay in Memphis, nothing of the room or a restaurant that evening or the next morning, or of boarding the train early the next morning—if it’s still in my memory banks they refuse to give it up. I hasten to add that I have not suppressed any memories because of any calamitous event—it’s simply that the interval between the conversation at the front desk and my arrival at Union Station is unmemorable—even though it was my very first train ride, I have retained no memories of it—I remember well and can clearly visualize my arrival at Union Station, me brother meeting me and the drive to my brother’s house.

In the seven years between my mother’s marriage to my stepfather and my enlistment in the military, I was little more than a tumbleweed, moved hither and thither at the whim of the prevailing winds. A shift in the breezes and I was off a tangent or reversed direction, bound for one state or another, one city or another, put off—or put on, perhaps—one relative or another for one reason or another. To put it another way, I was a rolling stone, but believe me, I gathered lots of moss in the form of memories that lurk in the recesses of a brain approaching the end of its eighth decade of compiling and filing people, places and particles of thought.

My first bicycle . . .

The bicycle was new, blue with cream accents, packed in a huge cardboard box, fully assembled except for the handlebars and pedals. My brother brought it home early in the evening, and I removed it from the box and started putting on the pedals and the handlebars, but my brother stopped me. He told me to take the bike apart, in as many pieces as I could, to clean the wheel bearings of their prepacked factory grease and replace the grease with a special brand he used on his fleet of trucks. Then I could reassemble the bike and ride it. I grumbled mightily, but I did as I was told—I learned early on that my brother didn’t back down on any orders he gave.

By the time I broke the bicycle down into its smallest pieces, cleaned and repacked the bearings and reassembled everything it was after 10 pm, but I put the bike through its paces, and rode around the neighborhood for more than an hour. I don’t believe that any gift I have ever been given, or any gift that I have given myself, has ever given me as much pleasure as I experienced that night—well, I suppose there are things that have given me, and still give me, as much pleasure, but they don’t last nearly as long as that bike’s did! And I brought it home to Mississippi, lashed to the rear bumper when Larry and I left Maryland.

Our leaving Maryland is a story in itself—our departure was the result of events that included an illicit tryst of a couple at a drive-in theater, each married to another person, the discovery of that tryst by the husband of the woman, a bottle of sleeping pills and a pint of whiskey, events and elements that resulted in a separation and ultimately a divorce and a division of properties and the custody of two children given to their mother. I’ll get back to you later with more details.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 18, 2010 in Family, trains, Travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Re: On the question of gay marriage rights . . .

In May of 2007, early  in my blogging efforts, I posted a dissertation on the rights (or lack thereof) of homosexual couples—gays, if you will—to be married under the same rights granted to heterosexual couples—straights, if you will. The complete posting can be found here: https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/on-the-question-of-gay-marriage-rights/. I will say, in all humility, that a trip to that posting is well worth your time and effort.

In spite of the fact that the question of marriage rights for gays is one of the most divisive discussions in our society, my original posting has garnered only one response, a comment made by a heterosexual person. I am tempted to conclude that homosexuals do not frequent WordPress, or if they do, they never search for another person’s take on the problem. Or they find a discussion, one that I unblushingly believe to be an original approach to the problem, whether humorous or helpful, and they find it neither—otherwise I should think that they would comment on the posting.

Hey, people! This is an example of thinking outside the box, a technique that was developed and published many years ago, intended to stimulate discussion and perhaps arrive at solutions to problems, regardless of their nature.

I am therefore bringing the lone comment out of the closet of comments and into the bright sunlight of its own posting. The original comment, along with my initial response, the commenter’s reply and my final response to that reply follows. My purpose is to make our give-and-take discussion available to others. I spent a considerable amount of time formulating my out of the box solution to the problem, and I expected considerably more than one comment—if I’m being unreasonable, so be it!

This is the original comment:

Yours is a long-winded and overly simplified analysis based on a faulty starting premise. Other than that, it was entertaining to read but will change no one’s opinion.

My reply:

Viewer comments to a blog posting can be approved as submitted, approved and edited, deleted or ignored. My first reaction was to delete yours, but I reconsidered and decided to approve it, unedited, because I felt that your reaction to the posting would be of interest to other viewers.

Thanks for viewing this posting, and thanks for the comment. I regret that you found my analysis long-winded and overly simplified, and I was doubly disappointed that you felt my analysis was based on a faulty starting premise. However, it pleases me that you found it entertaining—such was my intent. I placed the posting in the humor category because it was intended to be humorous, satirical and entertaining. The fact that it entertained you means that, in the opinion of at least one viewer, I achieved my objective.

Commenter’s response:

Fair enough. I seldom mock anyone’s view in a blog and I hope I did not give that impression. The issue has caused hurt in my own family as my closest cousin has tried to get me to accept that she is married to her longtime companion (who I dearly love, as well). However, as you are the King of our great state, I think it is imperative that I continue to read you.

My final reply:

Please accept my sincerest thanks for your follow-up comment, and I also tender my heartfelt thanks for your sharing an issue that has caused hurt in your family.

My wife (the Queen) and my three daughters (the three Princesses) claim that I have an opinion on virtually everything, and they think that I believe I can effectively advise others on virtually everything. They are right, of course, but I try to avoid doing either because I am skeptical of other people’s opinions and have difficulty accepting any advice they may give. I expose these faults only to let you know that the thoughts below are not my opinions and are not given as advice—they are nothing more than random thoughts prompted by your posting.

My first thought on reading your response was a phrase that can be found somewhere in the Holy Bible, the King James version (a fellow king), a passage that says, “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder,” or something to that effect. The phrase varies in construction and purpose, but is widely used in marriage ceremonies. Many people, perhaps most, believe that it refers to the sanctity of the marriage.

An immediate afterthought was that the phrase places no restrictions on the participants in any way regarding age, race, religion, political affiliation, physical attributes such as height, weight, or fairness of face (or lack thereof), or gender.

My second thought was one of a prayer known worldwide, probably published and spoken in every language imaginable—some who read this prayer feel that it embodies the wisdom of the ages. Others consider it trite and dismiss it. I believe that each of us should at least make a stab at living by this maxim, this fundamental rule of conduct. It should be easy, because it requires only three attributes: serenity, courage and wisdom, attributes inherent in everyone.

This is the prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. —Reinhold Niebuhr

At the risk of repeating myself I will repeat myself. These are not my opinions and are not given as advice—they are nothing more than random thoughts prompted by your posting, and should be regarded as such—unless, of course, you find them applicable in any way, and in that case you are on your own.

Good luck, and best regards.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the question of gay marriage rights . . .

Let’s see if I correctly understand the problem:

Same-sex male couples and same-sex women couples want—no, they demand—the legal right to marry so they will have the same rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples who are married, and opposite-sex couples do not want them to have those rights. Many are willing to allow them civil unions (which confer the same privileges), but few are willing to allow them rights conferred by legal marriage—that is, marriage between a man and a woman. And there are many unmarried non-gay (straight) persons who, although they may support civil unions, are opposed to rights being gained through legal marriages.

That’s a truncated analysis of one of the most divisive situations in our country, but really, isn’t that all there is to it?

Millions of opposite-sex couples live together (cohabit) without benefit of clergy—they choose to do so, and they have the legal right to do so. They also, if they choose, have the legal right to marry in every state, and their marriage is recognized in every state. Millions of same-sex couples also cohabit without benefit of clergy, some willingly but many, perhaps most, do so because they have no other choice. Simply stated the problem is that, in all states, opposite-sex couples who cohabit can marry if they choose. Same-sex couples who cohabit do not, in most states, have the same choice.

This I say to those who oppose legal marriages for same-sex couples:

Why not give them the right to marry? Let them have it. Make it legal throughout the nation. Make it legal in every state, in every county and city to include couples (of any sex or lack thereof) living in apartments and tenement housing (high rise or other wise), condos and communes, hotels and homeless shelters, in flophouses and under bridges, and in every house on every block in every subdivision, from Jim Walter homes to million-dollar mansions—give them the same rights which opposite-sex couples enjoy and have always enjoyed.

The most prevalent argument against same-sex marriages appears to be anticipation that such unions will promote homosexuality. I say, “Stuff and nonsense!” Just as mothers and fathers endeavor to raise their children according to each child’s demonstrated ability and proclivity (or at least this should be the guide for raising them), so will two-mother families and two-father families raise theirs (or at least this should be their guide for raising them). Much of my childhood (what there was of it) was spent exclusively in the company of women, one mother and three sisters. There was no father figure or older brother present, just one mother and three sisters. I managed to survive in that element, and more mothers and/or sisters would not have made any substantial difference.

Would anyone like to take a guess at my sexual preferences? Here’s a hint: For more than 56 years I’ve been married to a beautiful woman who has, however reluctantly, borne us three beautiful daughters, and I’m willing to submit to DNA testing on all three. I know—that doesn’t rule out homosexuality, but it is a good start in another direction.

So here it is—this is my proposal for future marriage ceremonies which are conducted to legally unite couples in a legally-sanctioned marriage, whether the couples are same-sex or opposite-sex:

I propose that, in every marriage ceremony, the customary question of “Do you take this . . .?” be modified as described below. This modification must be mandatory both for same-sex and opposite-sex marriage ceremonies—there must not be the slightest hint of discrimination in the ceremony. Require each party to respond to the modified question with a one-word answer (yes or no). Answers such as maybe, I guess so, I reckon, why not, whatever, etc., will not be accepted. If either party (or both parties) responds in the negative, regardless in the manner the negative is voiced, the ceremony must be terminated.

This is the modified ceremony:

Do you, John/Joan, take Tommy/Tammy, to be your lawful wedded husband/wife with the full realization and understanding that after you are married, should either of you or both of you decide to dissolve the marriage through divorce, you will each be subjected to all the provisions, frustrations, condemnations and woes which are inevitable in the divorce process. As a married couple you will inevitably be involved in financial, psychological and sometimes physical dogfights, and a lot of verbal and possibly physical abuse may occur—and also some bad things could happen—I mean, like, you know, some really bad things could happen!

Should either of you decide to dissolve this union and the other agrees to its dissolution, you will have to agree on the division of property, including land, buildings, automobiles, homes and home furnishings. You will have to agree on child custody and visitation rights for any minor child acquired while married, whether acquired through adoption or through childbirth. Property brought to the marriage by either of you, tangible or intangible, may be retained by the spouse who brought the property to the marriage. This provision will also apply to any minor child or minor children brought to the marriage by either spouse (unless adopted after the marriage).

You will have to decide who gets the children, the dog, the goldfish and the bird—in one way or another you both will get the bird. The divorce settlement will be final—it will be permanent—it cannot be changed unless you both agree to the change and that, statistically speaking, ain’t gonna happen.

Do you at this time acknowledge and proclaim full understanding of these provisions?

Please answer truthfully either yes, or no, with the knowledge that a truthful answer is required. An untruthful answer (to be determined by a polygraph test conducted under oath) will cause this ceremony to be declared invalid and it will be terminated. Appropriate monetary penalties will be applied and the ceremony will be rescheduled for a later date (if desired by both parties). Any subsequent marriage ceremony requested by either of you, with the same person or with a different person, will be conducted in the same manner.

In order to verify the truthfulness of their answers, the couple should be comfortably seated and connected to a polygraph machine, and the truthfulness test will be administered by a qualified operator. Their answers should be given under oath, with an appropriate monetary penalty applied in case lies are detected. This will, of course, add additional costs to the wedding, but should prove a boon to retired federal, state and local polygraph experts (the monetary penalty should be sufficient to cover the expert’s expenses plus adequate additional remuneration).

If both the bride and groom, or the bride and bride, or the groom and groom answer truthfully in the affirmative, let the marriage proceed to a successful union, with all the rights appurtenant thereto granted. If the answer is negative, put the ceremony on hold, to be resumed when each participant can, following diligent study of all applicable materials, truthfully affirm full understanding and acceptance of the ramifications involved in a marriage and the possibility—nay, in these times the probability—nay, the statistical actuality—of its subsequent dissolution.

And that’s it. That’s where I stand on the subject of gay marriage, and when the measure arrives in the state legislature in Austin, I will cast my kingly vote for it, and I will urge my subjects to do the same (my vote won’t count, of course, because my wife’s vote will effectively cancel mine).

In the interest of full disclosure I must reveal, for the edification of all my subjects and for viewers from other kingdoms, that my wife and I together constitute an opposite-sex couple and we have never been divorced—not even once. We took our marriage vows on December 13, 1952. On December 12, 2008 we completed our 56th continuous year of marriage. We are now underway to our 57th year, and we look forward to many more.

Also in the interests of full disclosure I must admit that, had we been administered the proposed question under oath, we would have answered with a resounding “Yes!” Our answers would have been judged truthful although neither of us had the slightest knowledge of the ramifications involved in divorce. Simply stated, we would have rejected the possibility that we would ever dissolve the marriage—on that day, in that age and in our thoughts, we would have believed that divorce could never be an option.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2009 in Humor

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,