Bill’s Briefs – LGBT Weekly http://lgbtweekly.com Fri, 06 May 2016 01:28:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A call from the IRS http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/a-call-from-the-irs/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/a-call-from-the-irs/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:10:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70092

istock

Nothing is more upsetting than receiving a letter with an IRS return address. Nothing except perhaps receiving a phone call from them claiming that a subpoena was about to be delivered if one did not call the following number to discuss an immediate tax payment. This is the call I got at 7:45 yesterday. Again at 10:30 with the added, “This is your final warning.” Obviously an untruth because at 6:30 this morning I got message number one again. Might there be something wrong here? Of course! It is a scam.

Seniors are a favorite target for this fraud and it is going around San Diego like a forest fire. The IRS says in the last few years victims have shelled out over $25 million to these crooks. What to do? First of all, hang up at once. Do not call their number (not even to give them a piece of your mind). It is easy to know it is a fake because the IRS does not phone about taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail. If you do get a bill, beware; it might still be a hoax with a cleverly made fake letterhead.

In either case, the IRS never demands immediate payment. If you really do owe taxes or think you might, simply call the IRS and check. Their number is 800-829-1040. You may also want to report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page.

Many people who have been suckered are too embarrassed to report their gullibility to the authorities. However, we should at least tell our friends about receiving the phone call or fake letter and warn them to be on guard. Naturally, there is no need to mention falling for the scheme.

Sex ed 101: Lesbian porn

If the topic doesn’t grab you, you picked up the wrong magazine, are not my usual readers, support Cruz or have one foot in Shady Pines. Now and then my topics have been a bit spicy, some might say naughty, but none have resulted in a deluge of complaints, so I’ll take this opportunity to report on a recent evening of enlightenment at a lesbian couple’s home where I’d gone for dinner.

The subject of film erotica came up and as I have now and then viewed favorites from my tiny collection of male art films, I casually mentioned I’d never seen a lesbian film. Amazed at this deficit in my education, they instantly and gleefully proceeded to remedy the situation.

They chose a gem from their collection which they deemed suitable as instructional material and sat me down for a viewing – with commentary.

Well! I must say I had no idea! I had wondered, but had no idea! The various positions, techniques and toys were a revelation. Some of the playthings, suitable for the enjoyment of either persuasion, I had seen in films from my own stockpile. Others I remembered from visits to local adult emporiums, but their purpose had been a mystery until now. Greatly enlightened to be sure, yet I confess some scenes, delightful to my commentators, had no effect on me. If the other team’s activities interest you from an educational standpoint, I suggest starting with what’s termed the vanilla variety.

Diversity in sexual tastes is met with specific scenarios for both gay and lesbian audiences so I advise skipping the fetish genres. The sights and sounds therein might produce fits, heart attacks, seizures or swoons. Not judging; just saying.

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Bus riders note: A state law http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/bus-riders-note-a-state-law/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/bus-riders-note-a-state-law/#respond Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:03:12 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69726

istock

Don’t you hate it when the young and healthy sit in the senior seats staring intently anywhere but in our direction or are too enraptured by their pod/pad to notice us? Worse, of course, is when they offer you their seat before you’ve even paid the fare. It’s like being given a senior movie ticket without anyone asking.

Good news, riders. The bus company is stepping up efforts to enforce the state law: “Refusal to vacate a seat for a senior/disabled rider upon request may result in a citation and the following fines: $25 first offense, $50 second and $100 third” … plus court fees. Wow! But let’s not get too excited. Unfortunately, the procedure was unclear in the pamphlet thus arousing my suspicions as to its effectiveness.

For example, I fear it would not be politic to demand the seat from an unkempt, unshaven, quaintly dressed gentleman engaged in a ferocious argument with himself. Also, loudly clearing one’s throat and foot-tapping are seldom effective. Perhaps, “May I sit down” would work or a request to the driver to stop the bus, give them a stern lecture and, if no results, hand them the citation. With luck, the threat alone will get the offenders to cede the territory.

If you 60-year-olds don’t yet appreciate the chance to sit down, wait; you will. This new benefit plus the $18 senior monthly pass is a great deal. For you living near a bus stop, save yourself the driving and parking hassle, ride the bus/trolley.

A positive, imaginative mind-set will soon reveal a world of entertainment as you observe the performance of fellow passengers; each is unique with an occasional star to make your eyes roll.

Don’t forget, you are a cast member too.

When plans change

While solving many of the world’s problems at my Saturday FOG coffee, a friend mentioned hearing of a great inexpensive lunch buffet in Elcentero which he was told was “not far, somewhere on 8.” Agreeing it was an appealing idea for a short drive and lunch, four of us gaily set off.

As we drove, I tried to locate Elcentero on my iPad/pod machine, but my map was not cooperating. To my companions’ annoyance, I was still trying 30 minutes later when a road sign announced “El Centro” (Two words! Who knew?) awaited us 105 miles ahead.

It seems our informant’s “not far” needed a bit more clarification. Ignoring hints that my meager app skills were somehow to blame, I agreed we should reconsider our plan and instead head for the much advertised buffet at the casino in Viejas, a town I was ordered not to try to find. I couldn’t even pronounce it.

With no signs directing us to the place, it suddenly popped up on the other side of the highway. Several U-turns later we found ourselves entering the gorgeous, clearly tobacco-friendly interior filled with silent habitués staring blankly at panels of flashing lights.

By now, we would have eaten dog biscuits, so the promise of the buffet awaiting us was like a magic magnet propelling us forward. The spell was soon broken, however, by the $36 price. We agreed the cost was of no importance, but mindful of our diets, the waste involved and concern for the starving Chinese children (ask a senior), we decided on the very nice sandwich cafe.

A day of unexpected hassles, yet joking and bantering together made it fun. Remember, friends make issues and obstacles, big or small, bearable.

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Vermin Street observations http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/31/vermin-street-observations/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/31/vermin-street-observations/#respond Thu, 31 Mar 2016 17:16:28 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69377

Just back from my trip, I took my first bus ride down University Avenue and was surprised at the changes six weeks had brought. Buildings, shops and restaurants were gone, yet often in the same locations buildings, shops and restaurants were opening. Thus is the power of positive thinking, a principle to live by.

Walking back later I looked at the menus of a couple of the new eating venues and it is clear they are definitely not of the fast food genre. The variety and creativity of the offerings were most impressive. We are not dealing with cooks here, but chefs. Aside from that, I was unsure of my hearing when the bus driver announced, “Vermin Street.” After a perplexed moment, I gathered he meant Vermont. True, the innumerable Spanish names here in San Diego are frequently mangled by outsiders to the great amusement of the locals and I don’t mean to quibble, but Vermont is a state! Furthermore, the spelling leaves little to the imagination, although, on second thought, it obviously does.

I hear cursive writing is currently deemed “too difficult” for the curriculum and that seems to pertain also to kids learning the 48 states, in alphabetical order, and their capitals. The level of education today is shocking. The younger crowd spends all their time on their pads and pods while computers do the research. I am sure I’d be a whizz if I had the time to learn to twit and face etc., but I am busy with meetings, doctor visits and keeping up with world events.

My point today is I filled this article just from riding the bus. Get out, ride, walk or cycle and open your eyes. There’s so much going on to see, criticize and bitch about. Enjoy.

Where ruminating leads

Doctors advise us seniors to be focused on the present and not dwell in the past, but to me, reminiscing mixed with a little mind-wandering can stir up great topics for conversation. Let’s see what I come up with.

I’ll start clean and simple: I remember five cent candy bars and 10 cent phone calls. For that matter, phone booths – which make me think of the filthy one which the butch guys used as a spittoon in the roller rink. I loved the organ music there with the twirling mirror-ball. The local lesbian bar had a huge one and it gave an extra ambiance and thrill to those daring to same-sex dance. No big deal today, but then it was judged decadent, depraved and illegal. If caught, we faced arrest. Yet we did it. Participating in the forbidden was dangerous, but exciting. It was also a great turn-on to hold someone close (and closer) in a slow dance as you got to know each other, in many ways. Then disco with its psychedelic music came along and touching was out. People gyrated and hooked up amid bell bottoms, flashing lights and clouds of funny cigarette smoke as you younger seniors recall.

Today, finding someone on Grindr and Craigslist may be convenient, but it lacks the pizzazz of spontaneity. We didn’t need such detached assistance or to live in a sin-filled big city to have wild, wonderful escapades. We got our hanky-panky from chance encounters in supposedly innocent locales and with supposedly straight neighbors.

Memories of such home-town shenanigans would spice up a ho-hum coffee-klatch and depending on the teller, the tale can go from routine to racy to raunchy. Goodness, look where we’ve ended up. Give it a try.

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Angkor Wat? http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/17/angkor-wat/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/17/angkor-wat/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 20:53:32 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68990

Oh yes, the Cambodian temples – a bucket list favorite and truly outstanding, if you love ruins. From a distance their enormity and grandeur awed and humbled us as we realized what the toil of thousands of workers had produced. But seriously folks, once inside the huge blocks of stone and surrounded by countless depictions of gods, warriors and dancing girls the excess of it all melds together.

To the uninitiated, one interior is like another as they trudge across vast anterooms and then face stairs up to the towers, stairs down to the gardens, stairs up to the gates, stairs down to the pool and stairs up to the main stairs. At every point, the eyes are inundated with imposing statues, elaborate columns and enormous carved panels depicting battles, rituals and kings all with names having six to10 syllables which were reverently intoned by our guide. He had learned it all by rote and happily rattled on (and on) listing everyone’s pedigree and claim to fame.

Also included were minute details regarding the hero’s inevitable companion – usually a lion, three-headed elephant, monkey or bullfrog. Our heads aching and reeling from the mostly incomprehensible verbal deluge, but so grateful for the finale, we gushed our thanks and tipped him hugely before trekking half a mile to our tuk-tuk and hurdling on to the next massive dilapidation whose rooms, towers and corridors duplicated what we just left, including the stairs.

All in all, we were thrilled to see these fabled wonders, but exhaustion set in and blaming sudden stomach flu we cancelled the next day’s exciting tour of more ruins, a “party” with destitute orphans (!) and a snake farm. Did I mention the stairs?

Munchkin advice

That first contact from AARP was met by all of us with shock, disbelief and denial, but their magic computer made no mistake. We were fifty. Seniors. But who made that definition; furthermore, why be so negative about it? Twenty years on, we’ll look on those in their 50s as young. It is the mind set which is important as our daily pill intake and our belt size increase (Can there be a connection?).

To our community’s delight and the bigot’s dismay, the LGBT world has become almost unrecognizable in this new century. These changes, coupled with the now common longer life span, have led many of our generation to come out of the closet to enjoy their senior years as the people they really are.

Sadly, circumstances make this difficult if not impossible for some. For you who can, however, I urge you to stop reading this and similar material on the sly and fully (and finally) enter the San Diego LGBT world you have denied yourself. Start with The LGBT Center with many programs and events waiting for you. The coming out group, by the way, is for all ages.

Our local magazines and Web sites offer more opportunities for seniors to mix and mingle. I recommend first investigating those with older participants since you’ll feel more in tune with people who know what AARP means. Realize no one is going to call or beg you to take the first step. Get off your butt and check things out. If something looks interesting, call or walk in and introduce yourself. Newcomers are always welcome. LGBT seniors, out or still in, do not retreat from life with the cat and TV. Listen to the Munchkins, “Come out. Come out. Wherever you are.”

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Not voting should not be an option http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/not-voting-should-not-be-an-option/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/not-voting-should-not-be-an-option/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 20:37:32 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68613

Voter Registration Application for presidential election 2016

Whilst away, I have been bereft of English news unless you count CNN-Sports and the FOX network. Grudgingly listening to snippets of each, I became aware of the current excitement and/or furor affecting the nation. Thankfully, it was soon over and the Academy Awards chalked up another ratings bonanza.

Aside from the Oscars, political events have also garnered my attention. My deadline prevents my commenting of the very latest events since by the time of publication all will be old news. With the states thrashing out their choices for the really big event, one can’t help but get caught up in the state by state progression to the final choice of candidates.

Who these people will be and who then will eventually be our president is of the utmost importance to the LGBT community. The winner will seriously affect our lives; positively or negatively is the big question. I therefore urge all of you to do more than talk about the issues, do something: join a group or a committee, attend a meeting/rally, discuss, ask questions and judge the answers.

My major worry at the moment concerns the possible consequences of far too many people not voting. Whether one likes the results or not, the American way, in theory, is to be governed by the will of the majority. If, however, the majority consists of the non-voters, we will then be governed by a minority whose rules, judges and police will be their own as can be seen in many countries today.

I have missed my trusted news sources recently and reports from contrary outlets have me fearful of dire results for our community due in part to the indifference of the non-voters. Don’t be one of them. Get busy. Get involved.

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The tuk-tuk terror http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/18/the-tuk-tuk-terror/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/18/the-tuk-tuk-terror/#respond Thu, 18 Feb 2016 20:49:20 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68286

PHOTO: REMI JOUAN

Here in Siem Reap one gets around by the three-wheeled tuk-tuks which stir up a huge amount of dirt and dust. As my partner and I roared out to Angkor Wat, our eyes became little slits and our throats were soon dry and sore. Luckily, he was carrying, as usual, a package of the surgical face-masks beloved by the Japanese. I previously have ridiculed them, but seeing people in other tuk-tuks and their drivers wearing them, I changed my mind. Going whole hog, to protect my eyes, I threw on those huge sunglasses that cover regular glasses and topped it all off with my broad-brimmed chapeau. A vision of high fashion with the advantage that the mobs of souvenir and T-shirt sellers seemed to avoid us.

The reason dawned on me later when we were stopped by the police at the temple entrance for a ticket and identity check. In this day of terrorists, it seems my appearance aroused suspicion. Alarmed uniformed guards approached on three sides and nervously, but roughly demanded I show my face. A simple request. Unfortunately, the chin-strap for my hat and the strings over both ears from the mask became entwined with the two glasses frames’ handles plus the shoulder strap from my man-bag which had to be removed to get my hat free. Well! What a kerfuffle. My partner pretended not to know me while I, answering the call of the spotlight, elected to put on a show. Hilarity ensued. Even the stern-faced guards could not contain themselves as I got more and more entangled. Naturally, phone cameras of the encircling tour groups were filming it all. On Twitter or Facebook in Bulgaria, Sweden or China, surely, I am a star.

A picture and its 1,000 words

Gazing around my hotel room, I thought I’d comment on how often today we are lured into our decisions and actions by relying too much on the truth of the Internet photos. While a representation of a scene, person or item for sale may be true from that particular angle, who knows what might be lurking below the attractive face, on the other side of the car, next door to the lovely apartment for rent or, more to the point, the beautiful rooms and amenities of my current abode, The Golden Butterfly Villa (Now seriously, how could I resist?).

The picture accurately showed the gorgeous, bright burnt-orange room with its gold bed-covers, gold drapes, gold framed mirror and shimmering plastic granite counter with a TV. I foolishly presumed to imagine what was on the other side of the

room: a chair (perhaps two), a bureau, a shelf or something/anything with a drawer to put things in. Alas, none, nothing, nada. A polite discussion with the friendly staff produced one wooden, straight-back chair worthy of the Inquisition and two cardboard boxes. We make do and suffer in silence as I am wont to do (more or less).

Another surprise has been the lack of an elevator to take us to our fourth floor room (59 steps, but who’s counting). As my friends can imagine, I cheerily adopt this as my daily exercise program. We make sure to have everything we need for the day before heading down for breakfast where we good-naturedly shout to each other above the roar of the elementary school and playground (surprise) next door. All in all, as we return gasping and staggering into our aerie, we are well aware that a picture often needs more than a thousand words.

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Stuff happens. Live with it! http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/04/stuff-happens-live-with-it/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/04/stuff-happens-live-with-it/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:27:47 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67904

Looking back there were many times when we came to a fork in the road and, willingly or not, we chose a path which changed our plans, our dreams and for what it’s worth brought us here. Some choices, part of becoming adults, were expected like college, job, where to live, whom to marry, etc. Such decisions were difficult enough, but they paled when the unexpected was thrust upon us such as death, job loss, pregnancy, military service, divorce, etc.

Whose fault may be debatable, but our plans, savings and hopes often came to naught. These bolts from the blue altered our lives sometimes in literally minutes. Shock, fear and panic engulfed us: what to do, whom to call, how to cope. Now in our “golden years,” the new forks we face are approaching far too swiftly: stay, move, my car, assisted living, my furniture, make a will, whom to trust and on and on. These dilemmas were all faced by our parents and friends; now it is our turn. There is no alternative but to accept reality, make a decision and live with it. Be sure you do it. Do not let others decide later what they want for your living arrangements, your furniture, your estate.

Open this new chapter without rancor and denial. Realize life changes are inevitable and are not automatically good or bad, just different. There is never a convenient time to deal with these unwelcome disruptions. Negative feelings are, therefore, natural, but it will be well worth the struggle to keep them at a minimum. The adjectives you, your spouse, partner and friends use can make a difference.

The new path may be a bitch, but it can also be challenging, exciting and interesting.

Nothing can possibly go wrong. Right?

I arrived yesterday in cold Tokyo on my way to the warm beaches and warmer gentlemen’s spas in Thailand. Preparing for the trip, I paid attention to essentials like spare glasses, address book, re-chargers as well as to various exotic oils and an amusing toy or two which I have found useful in massaging away the tensions in my young gurus during our yoga meditation (Well, you’ve heard of it now!). I also checked last year’s shirts and jeans to see if they had shrunk in the San Diego climate. Many seniors can attest to this occurring.

For the first time I made a list of what was to be taken, adding to it daily. It proved invaluable as I packed my suitcase and checked things off. I heartily recommend it. I even included advice like: check stove, lock windows, hold mail and cancel newspaper. I gave myself a pat on the back for making note of the obvious: take money, passport, ticket, wallet and call a taxi. What could possibly go wrong?

I arrived at the airport two hours early and handed over my ticket and passport. To be polite, certainly not to show off, I greeted the staff in Japanese. My good intentions aside, they replied in English.

All seemed normal until a scowl replaced a smile followed by a mumbled conference. A senior staff member approached demanding to know what I was up to. She then held up my passport letting rays of light beam through several holes. Horrified, I realized it was my old passport. My new one was still in my desk.

A sickly laugh and an attempted joke were met with silence. Luckily, a hysterical round-trip taxi dash to my home for fifty bucks (plus tip) allowed me to catch my flight. Such a beginning bodes ill. What’s coming?

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Music and songsters http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/21/music-and-songsters/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/21/music-and-songsters/#respond Thu, 21 Jan 2016 21:05:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67547

Rihanna

Political correctness suddenly raised its head as I began these comments on today’s popular music. I started to refer to a particular “songstress,” but with the banishment of actress, waitress etc. I feared irate comments and letters from those enraged by my use of an “ess” word; a pre-Middle English Latin/French suffix denoting a female (cisgendered, presumably. Dare I even say that?).

I rejected “songster” in favor of the dull, yet functional, “singer.” I confess my failure to appreciate the current hit parade with its often repetitious riffs and lyrics which, to my untrained ear, are garbled to the point of gibberish; enunciation being a lost art. Even when I understand the words, the meaning is obscured by the deluge of unfamiliar slang. True, in our day, words got scrambled, but on purpose for a comedic effect. For example, “maizydotsandozydots…” Ask a senior. They’ll probably reply, “Akiddleetivytoo. Wouldn’t you?” If they don’t, ask someone older.

Back to the songstr…, I mean singer. I am partial to an attractive person, non-tattooed (Not condemning; just saying. Don’t write.) with a beautiful voice expressing understandable sentiments wrapped in a singable refrain. These thoughts arose as I enjoyed the beautiful and lovely Rihanna serenading her fans with a ballad from her popular repertoire. The four-letter words, plus the N word, clearly qualify it as non-PC, yet the language is mild compared to some other million sellers. But a hit is a hit.

Join me as I let my mind wander to a time long ago and envision the charming, tuneful “Bitch, I want my money” being performed, as a friend suggested, by the Lennon Sisters.

Banish the unanswerable

Some of the mysteries which have filled our lives have nagged us for years while others lasted only until further education or street smarts gave us some answers. For example, I recall after receiving human reproductive information from a required boys-only mass lecture, I was confused as to what a minstrel cycle had to do with babies or, from the same source, why gentile warts were thus restricted.

I also wondered, and still do, what happened to Dumbo as he got older and larger or the impenetrable quandary whether or not the refrigerator light stays on when the door is shut. More serious perplexities have continued to keep us awake.

When we came out and people said, “Oh. I know,” how did they know? Which of your trusted girlfriends stole your “Sweet Honey in the Rock” albums? Who told your boyfriend you were making it with his ex? We search for answers to such puzzles to no avail.

This never ending battle for peace of mind and relaxation often occurs at bedtime detouring our trip to slumberland. My solution is to notice and take action at once when the camel’s nose has peeped through the tent as they say. (Oh, I don’t know who. They! Please. I’m trying to help).

When a disruptive idea forms, swiftly force your mind onto a pleasant alternative thus breaking the thought line and allowing Morpheus to descend. Beware; the new topic can be so engrossing as to keep you awake even more. Recently, resisting flashbacks of an ill-advised tryst, I switched to a scene from my trove of art films: a brutal Jeff Stryker was my cell-mate. A long, shameful scenario ensued, but I took things in hand and finally slept.

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Welcome to 2016 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/07/welcome-to-2016/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/01/07/welcome-to-2016/#respond Thu, 07 Jan 2016 20:16:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=67165

istock

We did it. In various stages of health, appearance and mental ability we have reached 2016. Congratulations! As I have said before dwelling on the negative is a waste of time and an emotional downer and I advised you to be a cup is half-full person especially as it applies to age-related issues and those concerning future events. For example, I fear some seniors skim over articles mentioning anything scheduled to be finished beyond next year. They figure, “Why bother.” Wrong mind set.

Any topic worthy of discussion, while it may make your blood boil, is at least keeping it circulating. Interest and desire to see a project finished has been shown to enhance one’s chances of doing so. “Project” includes graduations, weddings, elections and erections. Interest in what is going on takes you away from the TV and keeps you in the world, otherwise relevancy wanders off and dullness and boredom settle in. Don’t waste this precious time.

For senior LGBT members the world has expanded enormously from when many of us couldn’t or wouldn’t come out. It is never too late. Want to liven up your life? Send out a brief hello to your high school and college friends through Facebook and your alumni association. Then, to those who respond, casually come out and see what happens. Relating “Birds of a feather” to your past circles of friends, there might be a few, or more, confessions in reply. Imagine your reactions, “I THOUGHT so!” “What? A secret club on campus?” “She never fooled me.” “You and my roommate!” for some examples. Involve yourself in the now. Visit the happy past; live in the interesting present and anticipate the positive future.

When things got bigger

My VHS art film collection admittedly has a nude figure here and there occasioning me to speculate on the growth of certain body parts and how we got what we got. In my day, as now, girls noted with wonder and excitement as their upper body parts expanded (or not). The boys, likewise, paid considerable attention as their lower body parts grew (or not).

Today pictorial displays of the pertinent areas are easily available to the computer savvy teens and such sights invite the inevitable comparisons by the curious. We had nothing of that sort; the underwear pages of a Sears Roebuck catalogue (ask a senior) was about as informative and thrilling as it got. Of course, girls becoming women were given “the talk” which enlightened them as to function, but size (of both parties) was too indelicate to be discussed.

The boys becoming men usually settled for general and often inaccurate information from older kids whose boasts of their own size was generally highly exaggerated. This led to efforts at personal enlargement requiring daily and excessive secret techniques of a mind-boggling variety and bizarreness. I have never dared ask what the girls did. Remembering our glory days, we seniors cannot but notice the difference in the waxing of some body parts and the waning of others. Many of us no longer find it a priority to check our nude selves in the mirror. We realize admirers are still around who appreciate the total appearance of a well-dressed, charming person. There comes a time to acknowledge that the importance of sex and size has faded, and furthermore, without the frustration of pining for the unattainable, life is more enjoyable and worthwhile.

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The address book http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/24/the-address-book/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/24/the-address-book/#respond Thu, 24 Dec 2015 21:08:30 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66852

istock

The holidays are coming to a close, I hope with happy memories. For many seniors, however, the year’s final days are sometimes tinged with sadness. We are forced to acknowledge another year has gone and with it several of the friends in our circle. This is especially stressful to senior LGBT community members who often lacked the family and outside support the younger crowd has today.

In many cases this resulted in making our fewer friendships extremely important to us especially for those in a small or unaccepting community. All this is visually made clear to me when I write my year-end cards. As I go through my address book, I am grieved by how many of the entries I look at and then skip. The pages seem as full as always, but the number of cards continues to dwindle. It seems this year more than ever.

It was not unusual to find a whole page filled with names, but I had only one card to write. I constantly tell myself to get a new book, but I never do. The reason is simple. Turning the pages provides a yearly chance to visit old friends (in alphabetical order yet) and re-live our times together. I give them a hello and tell them they are not forgotten. The first encounter is always a shock, but the trip down memory lane is unavoidable. Actually, with a tear or two, it cheers me up because I try hard to concentrate on what was and not what has gone.

I grant you this can be a difficult time of year, but don’t get a new address book. Use the one you have. With the right mindset, pause at the names and addresses; use them to acknowledge, reflect and rekindle past friendships and loves. At least do this once a year, don’t skip by them.

When New Year’s was a drag

Today’s usual end of the year parties, dinners and soirees, no matter how grand, would be hard to match the gay New Year’s Eve extravaganza known as Phil Black’s Ball way back in the dark ages of the ‘60s and ‘70s in Harlem. Phil was one of many popular female impersonators there and started a series of drag balls in his own club in 1945. They lasted for decades, but when new anti-gay laws were started in the ‘50s, they were restricted to Halloween and New Year’s Eve when cross-dressing as “costumes” was deemed legal (any other time both men and women were subject to arrest).

With only two nights a year to splurge, no expense was spared on the outfits, wigs, head-dresses, limousines in which one arrived to make a grand entrance or body-builders as naked as possible; one or two to escort or carry you in or maybe six or ten(!) to parade you around on an extravagantly decorated raised platform like the Pope.

A huge crowd lined the street to watch the arrival of the flamboyant attendees. In 1965 I was one of the crowd. The Academy Award’s red carpet treatment paled in comparison to the show I saw as each apparition tried to outdo the others in grandness and gaudiness. All was watched by dozens of police sternly guarding public morals against any hint of naughtiness.

Male drag was also popular with equally fantastic outfits and entrances. Often the gals teamed up with the guys as couples. The Harlem press covered the occasion, heavily referencing fairies and pansies. I wish I could remember more, but suddenly my friend noticed we were practically next door to the notorious 125 Street Baths. The rest of the night is a blur.

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Do you have a pen? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/10/do-you-have-a-pen/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/12/10/do-you-have-a-pen/#respond Thu, 10 Dec 2015 21:36:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66447

istock

My friends and I enjoy tossing around and reacting to briefly worded memory stimuli; squeezing the orange dot in the margarine bag, the Rosenbergs, that swine McCarthy, Julius LaRosa, the stabbing of Johnny Stompanato, Billie Jean King and the Battle of the Sexes, the watusi, etc. (Oh, ask a senior. I can’t explain everything!).

Recently we recalled the daily mail delivery and the pleasure of finding an envelope with (not an ad, not a donation request, not a bill) a real letter. What fun it was to read a friend’s scrawl and smugly note their spelling and grammar mistakes. In those days we didn’t pay much attention to the time it took to drop a line to each other; so ordinary then, so extraordinary now. Can you even remember the last time you received or wrote a letter?

This month we’ll get a bunch of emails with the same inclusive message accompanied by the same darling cartoon, kitty or grandchild or perhaps an inspiring religious tableau. The Xeroxed listing of fantastic family accomplishments, although a thoughtful remembrance is in a marginal category. Don’t get me wrong; all are appreciated. How much more welcomed, however, would be a real card with a written message.

I boldly suggest this year sending written seasonal greetings or Hanukkah, Kwanza and even Christmas cards to our friends. There is still time to fill in the left side of 8-10 cards each day until done. It is allowed to repeat your appropriate opening remarks and then follow up with a personalized line or two. You’ll feel great when you finish and your friends will too when they receive it. Who knows, maybe you’ll be reading one from them next year.

Winter cometh

The Patriots’ recently playing in a blizzard reminded me of my high school’s Thanksgiving Day football game against our traditional rival. Attendance was mandatory and a snow storm, no matter how horrific, was acknowledged only by proclaiming it added to the fun.

Layered and bundled until only the slits of our eyes were revealed, we endured with loud jocularity lest one be sissified. Making it all bearable was best pal Gloria Goldberg (now Cecily de Windemere, author of bodice-ripping, historical romances). How I envied her baseball prowess and her mastery of spitting. With no concept of our sexual affinity, we had found each other. She would do the yelling and cursing as I plied her with my cookies, sandwiches and hot cider. What a team!

This all brings up the fact winter is upon us. We of the northern states find the moaning and groaning of the San Diego natives about the “freezing” 55 degree days and the “frigid” 37 degree nights highly amusing. They have little comprehension of the realities of winter. Take skating. Here the few skating rinks sparkle under warm, sunny skies. This is a far cry from the pond we skated on with its howling, freezing wind. I was there with my garage sale fourth-hand, zero ankle support skates. Worse, hockey skates! These meant flashy loops, jumps and spins were impossible. True. I could not do them anyway, but that’s irrelevant. Luckily, my complete ineptitude could be attributed to the skates. I suffered in silence as I did ice-fishing, a horror story for another day.

To end on a high note; I miss the ice-covered trees and new fallen snow glistening in the sun: a shimmering fairy land.

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Gobbling the goodies http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/25/gobbling-the-goodies/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/25/gobbling-the-goodies/#respond Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:45:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=66042

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The decorations of ghosts, goblins and plastic turkeys will soon be replaced by Santa and his elves as is befitting the celebration of the all-important December shopping season. Meanwhile, I hope Thanksgiving Day and its significance will be celebrated among family and friends.

Despite a setback or two, the LGBT community should acknowledge and give thanks for several recent victories. Particularly note that among the people gathered around were our actual, legal, in-your-face spouses and children. Furthermore, before digging in, I trust a pause was taken to remember those in our hearts forever, our absent friends. Their love and friendship will never be forgotten.

I always remember my fellow students in New York and my first holiday there as we shared a new, gay/lesbian life so many years ago. About 20 of us fashioned a T-Day dinner in my cramped apartment, sitting on the floor with our paper plates, lots of cheap wine and homemade cigarettes. As the time passed, we slowly separated into two groups. The guys jammed into the kitchen to watch the parade on the tiny TV and critique the costumes and make unprintable comments about the male marchers while the gals commandeered the living room TV to watch and dissect the football game. Thanks to a few heavy duty cigarettes I declared this sexual partition as “un-unificationary.” I straddled the adjoining doorway to show my impartiality and harangued all with charges of “un-unificationaryism.” Both sides were highly amused.

Now, as then, the day is about being grateful amidst fun and togetherness topped off by the special array of goodies. Enjoy and give thanks.

Nap time

I was please to read a newspaper article the other day about the importance of a mid-afternoon nap. 20 minute duration seems to be very beneficial to health and productivity. Longer than that, however, leads to sloth which we certainly wouldn’t want.

The older we get the more unscheduled our naps become. They seem to happen at the strangest times. In fact, I usually don’t even plan on having a little lie-down. The most frequent time for an unannounced siesta seems to be when I close my eyes for second to picture the spacing and letters of a crossword puzzle clue. When I open them again, my paper and pen are on the floor and it is 10 to 30 minutes later. I can’t understand how that happens. I can now empathize with my grandmother. I remember how often she would complain about a TV show she was enjoying and would rest her eyes just for a moment (“I wasn’t sleeping”). After a few (or more) minutes, she’d angrily comment something like, “What happened to the blond girl? Mercy sakes! A body can’t turn around before the plot changes. Who can understand these modern plays?”

On one occasion when I worked in an office, I fell asleep with my head on the desk unknowingly resting my forehead on a document with a newly stamped “STOP PAYMENT” on it. The first part transferred to my forehead. At a quick glance the reversed image seemed to spell POTS. No one told me about it for the entire afternoon. You can imagine how we laughed.

On another tangent, I seem to remember once upon a time “afternoon delight” was used to imply a nap of some sort, but it was so long ago, I can’t remember why.

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Fry, bake, broil, zap http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/12/fry-bake-broil-zap/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/11/12/fry-bake-broil-zap/#respond Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:26:24 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=65719

We had activities and clubs, yet were home for dinner together. With occasional spats and tears, the conversation and sharing of the day’s events strengthened the family bond. For LGBT seniors without their own family, the chance for such an experience has passed along with Father Knows Best (ask a senior).

One aspect of that era, however, has benefited those of us who can’t or don’t want to cook and who admit defeat in attempting to recreate the sumptuous fare of the cooking programs. We have delved into memories of mom, our beloved homemaker (for a time a much maligned career) who through the ’50s and ‘60s began to rely on canned goods, powdered sauces, frozen everything and finally the miraculous microwave.

Armed with a fry-pan and toaster oven, we follow her lead and avoid the nuisance and cost of going to a restaurant and, for me, the unpleasantness of publicly dining alone. Keeping the TV dinners to a minimum, we supplement our efforts by resorting to the ready-cooked offerings of the deli counter or shameful recourse to the plethora of fast food joints.

Meals at home can be easy and with conscientious planning healthy. Due to the fact many senior men and women are alone too much, I suggest an enhancement. Don’t be shy; occasionally share your lunch or dinner. The socializing can be more important than the meal itself. Better yet, cook it together. The comic and relaxing camaraderie and bantering between two non-cooks will be well worth it.

Try something like, “The game’s tonight. Come on over. I’ve got stuff in the fridge and we’ll throw something together. Bring ice cream.”

Flip-phone farewell

My neighbor just bought an iPod (pad? phone? – something) six and casually mentioned his “four” was about worthless and he couldn’t give it away. I ventured to disagree and, as a favor, took the antique. And lo, my trusty flip-phone is closed forever. He told me the phone was easy to use and he would teach me the basics in a few minutes. When I asked something about a floppy disc, he blanched and re-estimated the timetable.

I first had to get an Apple account, but my computer somehow hooked me up with iTunes, a music site, which asked about an iCloud something. My friend remained calm, but I was beyond befuddled.

Then came a slew of password requests for Wi-Fi, Apple, Yahoo, my computer and the new machine. Some demanded case sensitive, some not. My head was reeling. We then tackled some of the apps he was going to leave. All appeared to accomplish wonders which I will be able to do once I conquer the hurdle of typing with those itsy-bitsy letter keys.

Kids’ fingers fly through messages with the speed of lightning, but I could be beaten by molasses (ask a senior).

Some of the programs hold particular promise. For example, my first instructions dealt with “Grindr,” an app rumored to be obligatory in Hillcrest. It reveals on screen which members of a friendship club are nearby. Helpful I’m sure, although somehow we seniors managed without it.

I eagerly anticipated the novelty of questioning the lady in the phone, but so far I’ve been disenchanted. My friend demonstrated with no trouble yesterday, but today I have asked Sheri countless questions, but she hasn’t answered once. My edification continues.

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Visit, now! http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/29/visit-now/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/29/visit-now/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:28:40 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=65372

istock

Frank and I went to university together and ended up in San Diego. The years have flown by and even though he is still looking good with his fabulous hair and his comebacks as quick as ever, he could not ignore the physical failings overtaking him and so has moved to a care facility. We all have friends who for safety and security have done the same and as many of us will do in the future.

I visit him in his room or the lovely reception area. We also meet for lunch when his dear friend Sam takes him to a restaurant. We have a great time reliving the fun, the friends and the feuds. We both get so much out of our bantering and reminiscing. You will too when you visit.

The promised “later” or “soon” isn’t going to do it. Time does not wait at your convenience. Distance and age, plus being single and LGBT have reduced the number of our relatives and close friends who are able to drop by. We are also reluctant to see our friends in a diminished state or outside their familiar surroundings. Do not pre-judge; you may be pleasantly surprised by their condition and living arrangements.

Yes, a phone call is welcome; if that is the best you can do for a friend, but it is the visit, even for 15 minutes, that really frosts the cake. Let them know you are coming so they have a chance to gussy up. No one wants to be surprised without their teeth, makeup, hair or clean shirt. Seeing a familiar face and finding out the latest news (surely not gossip) will give them a huge lift.

You may be the visitor now, but next year the visitee. Honor your friendship. You have promised. They are waiting. Go!

A hot costume

Beauty, cleverness and naughtiness will be displayed, as usual, by the participants in the Normal Street activities. Despite stereotypical expectations, I never had much luck with my costumes especially on one memorable occasion.

I had just arrived in wicked New York City and was enjoying a new life when I was invited to a big Halloween soirée by a wealthy senior (at least 50) I’d met in the YMCA steam room, I mean spa. Rumors abounded of a very private after-the-party party for those deemed worthy by the host.

Unable to make anything, I decided to bedeck myself with jewels and wear only a borrowed pair of tights which proved too small; my nether region was clearly outlined to an alarming degree. I then remembered it was a gay party and decided to give them a sight to remember. I jammed my junk into a ring (L size), slathered on some Mentholatum deep-heating ointment and, swathed in a trench-coat, off I went.

My reception by several guys in the apartment foyer was a chorus of oohs, aahs and shrieks just as I had hoped. All went to hell, however, when I entered the main salon and found a large mixed crowd of men and women. Again, shrieks and screams; mainly from me.

Realizing the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, I pretended it was all planned and sauntered about posing for all and sundry. Alas, the ointment began heating up far too well and my embarrassment grew proportionally. The last straw was the several attempts by women (!) to ravish me in the butler’s pantry. I fled home, alone. I was consoled by reports I was constantly asked for at what was dubbed the breakfast bacchanal. It’s nice to be popular.

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Just around the corner http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/15/just-around-the-corner-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/15/just-around-the-corner-2/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:00:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64991

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Writing these articles well in advance of the publication dates, I invariably learn of some worthy senior LGBT news too late to make it a topic. I do have two topics this time, however. First, it is flu shot time. Don’t bother telling me, like the anti-polio vaccine people, you’ve never had the flu and so don’t need it. For seniors this is very important. A young person might easily withstand a bout with the flu, but for a senior it could be the end. For most of us it is free; if not, the cost is minimal compared to the cost of treatment.

The second advance notice concerns Halloween. It is just around the corner. Come on. Decorate the house, porch or window. Better, put on a costume or at least a crazy hat and attend a party or seasonal event. It is not childish; it is fun. Once you see some of the imaginative, wild (and naughty) costumes parading around that night, you’ll realize it is definitely not for kiddies. Not on Normal Street! Get out and walk the streets; you remember how. You’ll have a fine time. The spirits here in Hillcrest allow for a great laxity in what is appropriate, so don’t lose this once-a-year opportunity to get dressed-up and be what you’ve always wanted to be. Time’s a wasting. You won’t regret it especially if you participate as a couple or group.

Luckily, being LGBT opens the magic door to costume/fantasy dreamland. While you still can, join in the revelry. Last year I went as Friar Tuck, but was asked if I was Dopey or a lawn dwarf. Oh well, it was fun.

Sorry. No dishwasher

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The disconnect between us seniors and the youngsters (definition up to you) is often mind-boggling. Many cannot write in script or add without a machine. Here is another example, my visiting grand-niece offered to “help with the dishes” by which she meant putting them in the dishwasher. Not having one, I explained the stone-age process including scrubbing the pots and pans “This is hard,” rinsing “Ow, that’s hot” and the purpose of a dish towel “But they’ll dry by themselves.” Viewing her tackling the large bunch of silverware I handed her was priceless. It was like a kindergartener’s first encounter with scissors. I pictured her faced with a dial phone or carbon paper.

On the other hand, she finds my Internet and iPod antics hysterical. Adjusting to the new and recognizing the fading usage of the old is often difficult, yet there is no alternative. Fighting the reality of change is a big mistake and impacts time and blood pressure.

The recent, positive changes in our LGBT lives unfortunately came too late for many, but we certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the status quo of even a few years ago. Laments and criticism about modern ways and the actions of the young have in the case of some seniors reached the point of effecting their own happiness and well-being. Furthermore, such continuous negativity brings the possibility of becoming the detested old grouch everyone shuns.

We must try our best to adopt a positive acceptance of change. And let’s admit pushing the button is easier and faster than dialing. And as for carbon paper, do I have to remind you?

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Modern Victorians http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/01/modern-victorians/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/10/01/modern-victorians/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:01:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64582

istock

A recent trip down memory lane in my hometown was definitely a double-edged sword. True, nostalgia and memories met me at every turn, but shock also when the turn didn’t reveal the expected. For example, my stately high school had morphed into a bizarre condominium. Worse was my childhood neighborhood of large Queen Anne style Victorian residences with turrets, widow’s walks, columns, etc. These fine examples of traditional New England were still there, but now sullied by the structural additions of several current owners. Of particular horror were the contemporary styled decks projecting onto once gracious lawns. Hot tubs, grills, umbrellas and deck chairs added to the ambience. The visual effect, when contrasted with the attached stately Victorians, was less than attractive. With a little adapting and blending, the owners could have accommodated their modern whims and still achieved a pleasing continuity with the original verandas, gardens and patios.

Twisting this topic into my column, I relate us aging seniors to the stately houses and their ill-considered improvements. There are those of us also rushing to gussy up with the latest trends and fashions without paying attention to the total effect. The result is the same; an unpleasing disconnect of many parts. Blending the old and new into an appealing physical and fashionable appearance is the goal. We are not Victorians, but you get the idea.

Excuse me, are you a he or a she?

In the woods and coastal areas of Down East, I couldn’t help being impressed by the large number of “rugged” individuals. I cannot confirm their gender or sexual preference; I am merely commenting on the impression given by their muscular fitness, T-shirts, boots and baseball caps. This called to mind the current suggestion that we ask people about their sexual/gender status and how they wished to be referred to. Having no idea, however, if these people were of the LGBT clan and thus unsure of their reaction, I demurred. Later, pondering the problem and the etiquette involved, I came up with, “Excuse me, Sir or Madam, as the case may be, may I enquire as to your preferred personal pronoun?” Polite and to the point. Who could object? Feel free to use it anytime.

A similar issue occurred at an uncomfortable lunch with my brother when he suddenly yelled across the restaurant, “Hey, Sweetie. Where’s my drink?” My heart practically stopped, but nothing happened. The wait-person brought his drink and received “Thanks. Let’s meet later, doll.” To my horror, she left giggling, “Oh, stop!” I then lectured him on vocabulary correctness and came to the edge of referring to him as cisgender and all that, but feared total destruction of our relationship. We stayed with safe banalities and family tensions.

This is an example of the work still to be done in many parts of the country. It is reassuring to know, however, active LGBT groups abound working hard to bring their cities into the 21st century. It starts with both sides communicating (better than my brother and I). We just might learn something from each other. What a novel idea!

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Our new vocabulary http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/17/our-new-vocabulary/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/17/our-new-vocabulary/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:28:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=64248

istock

In case you haven’t noticed, we seniors have been puzzled, even aggravated, by the deluge of new LGBT related words. We try to be politically correct and opine with authority as if we fully understand what we are talking about, yet in reality many are not quite sure. We accept these new concepts in silence rather than admit to the unpardonable sin of ignorance just as we did as kids.

Let’s look back … way back; we had not the vaguest idea what a red riding-hood was or a tinder box; nor for that matter, the mystifying one-horse open sleigh which, by the way, I gleefully sang as “one horse soap an say-ay” thinking it was a meaningless phrase akin to “tra la la” and “hi ho the dairy oh.” More seriously was the reciting of “The Pledge of Allegiance” whatever that was. More baffling were “one nation indivisible” and “inalienable rights” which I couldn’t pronounce, much less know what they meant. I’m not sure the teacher did either.

So hang on. The meaning of these new words will clarify with time. If not, they will vanish into the dictionary’s obsolete category. Does “hubba, hubba” ring a bell? My most ardent prayer is that “amazing” and “awesome” will soon be so designated. Occasionally, words/usages have been accepted quickly: mouse, app, vape, etc. This likely will be the case with the new LGBT vocabulary once the meanings firm up.

So relax. “Cisgender” and “gender queer” will be rolling off your tongue as easily as, “”Sidney is no longer gender questioning, but sexually secure as a pre-transitional trans male and comfortable in hes gender-choice identity.” Face it, seniors. These changes are coming. I can’t wait. Can you?

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The first bar visit

Passing the several raucous and predominately LGBT bars on University Avenue Saturday night, I was amazed at the hetero mix inside. In my day “straights” would never knowingly enter such alleged dens of depravity. I seldom visit such places now (Why not? Ask a senior). I do, however, enjoy looking in and remembering. Who can forget one’s first daring foray; greeted by loud music and noise in the cheap places or the twinkling piano and show tunes in the better joints (ties and jackets were worn). The lesbians often had a pool table with its accompanying ball-smashing. All places, of course, were viewed through a barely penetrable miasma of smoke (often of a particular pungency).

The bars took turns being raided, so there was the titillating fear the police would barge in and the more rational hope they wouldn’t. This baptismal encounter with overt sexual freedom was enhanced by the discovery and affirmation we were not alone.

But what an ordeal of questions: how to meet someone, what to say, where to go and, most importantly, what to wear? Oh, well, the important point was we had broken the ice and entered a new world with no turning back. All this is still true, but with the new variety of sexual preferences in attendance, the still closeted or questioning can enter with a group stress-free and take their time acquainting themselves with the LGBT world. Later, with a clearer understanding of themselves, they can drop in alone and find acceptance.

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The catch-all drawer http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-catch-all-drawer/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/09/03/the-catch-all-drawer/#respond Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:26 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63904

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I finally faced the devil and cleaned up my catch-all drawer. It had reached 120 percent capacity and constantly jammed. The climax came when, as I gave it a manly yank, it suddenly leaped out, scattering its innards hither and yon. Seizing the opportunity to seriously get the upper hand, I spread the slew of forgotten trash and treasures over the floor for a better view. The battle was on.

Not stopping to unduly ponder the choices, or to read the contents too carefully, I quickly acquired a “keep” and a “toss” pile. At first, things were easy to discard like the dried rubber bands, crumpled grocery receipts, several inkless ball-pens, a tie pin (ask a senior) and, of course, the many memos from long ago with forgotten names and phone numbers often with mysterious scribbles: “Jake 30 doctor C,” “dragon tat smoker D,” “Jim/Joe/Jeff?,” “bubble Montana,” etc. Who knows what they mean?

The tough choices were the one cent stamps, the almost new flip-phone, the expensive eye-glasses from four years ago, a pile of discount coupons from various stores, casinos and porn shops possibly still usable, a tube of rubber cement surely good for a second time, several maybe new batteries, likewise, a couple of seemingly OK condoms. You get the idea.

I ended up keeping most of this stuff; you never know. When I finished, the throw away ratio to the keep was sadly not as great as I had envisioned. However, the drawer is neater and there is room for new must-keeps. All in all, an afternoon well spent. Follow my lead and you’ll feel great. Next, I envision an assault on the hall closet which is becoming a twin to Fibber McGee’s (ask a senior).

How times have changed

With all the gender/sexual bending, re-defining, choosing, denying, etc. flooding the media today, I confess to being confused as I am sure many seniors are. When young, we were surrounded by unquestioned sexual norms. Deviations were unheard of and unmentionable. Books, movies, TV and life in general told us what was expected of us as we fulfilled our roles. For example, men, shown in many a comedy skit, could not boil an egg. More importantly, they should not. Likewise, girls daring to study engineering were soon harassed out to more “suitable” majors. Toys and games were sexualized and seldom bisexual (asexual? unisexual? Whatever!).

What a change today. Women can be Army Rangers. A kid’s cartoon program had a boy having a tea party and later he held and bottle-fed his baby sister. My initial shock turned to wonderment and pleasure. The mix of ethnic groups has been obvious for some time and scenes with male nurses and women doctors no longer raise an eye brow. But I have been neglecting to pay attention to broader inclusions.

Last night, I noticed a child in a wheel-chair in a commercial, not blatantly starring in it, just one of the regular background characters. Thinking back, this happened with LGBT characters which first appeared in small and then starring roles in all media forms. The exposure snowballed over the last 20 years to the current “not an issue” situation.

The assimilating and incorporating those with special differences, including the impaired and challenged, into a visual and acknowledged part of our lives is a trend which is gathering momentum to the enrichment of all.

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Free, free, free! http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/20/free-free-free/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/20/free-free-free/#respond Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=63415

Faithful readers, let’s face it, in some areas we do not seem to grow smarter with age. Figures constantly show we are the ones who most often fall for the scams and rip-offs which besiege us by mail, phone and email. Today my topic deals with some which seem simple yet are fraught with unpleasant consequences.

They all revolve around the word “free.” So simple. So effective. You think, “What can I lose? It is free.” And so, before your luck changes, you call or write for the miraculously free gift. You blithely provide your name, address, phone number and email address and soon after (often before) your giveaway arrives, there starts an unrelenting barrage of phone calls, emails and letters all enticing you to commit to a “special offer” involving, guess what, your money. The constant requests will come also from other businesses which have bought your name from the original company.

Do not try to get off their call-list by pushing the button “to stop further calls.” That tells them you listened to the whole spiel and so are still a possible sale. Just hang up. Sorry to say, but some of the religious ones are the worst offering holy water, pray shawls, praying hands of pure Jerusalem gold, weekly magazines, prayer requests, and the list goes on. I’m not saying they are not deserving of a chance to beautify your home. Just be aware of what the initial free offer developed into.

Before sending any money for the blind African orphans or an AIDS clinic in Appalachia, Google something like “check credibility of charities” for a list of the good and the bad organizations.

Finally, don’t forget “plus handling and shipping.”

A house call

To the senior set it is no secret that slowly but surely, like it or not, we end up handling things ourselves, so to speak. In my case, time progressed until the whole thing became too much and thoughts of seeking outside assistance crept into the picture.

My frustrations reached the breaking point last week and I now confess: I hired a professional. I went online which seems to be the proscribed route nowadays. It was not easy with so many personal ads touting a wide selection of services. I was like the indecisive donkey starving to death between two bales of hay.

I questioned several with the required physical attributes as to their understanding of what an older person wants – and doesn’t want. You wouldn’t believe some of their suggestions. There are limits you know; unfortunately more and more as I age.

The price was set and he arrived garbed and equipped as we had agreed. I was nervous, but being a pro, he soon put me at ease. I explained how he was to proceed and he didn’t object to anything. Why would he? I am not one of those with bizarre, freakish expectations. I admit to a moment of unease when I showed him the bathroom and he produced a pair of rubber gloves reaching to his elbows.

I hurriedly excused myself and left to survey the rest of the apartment which I had spent hours cleaning to make a good impression. Finding all was suitable, I instructed him on what to do in the bathroom and when finished there he could start on the kitchen and the blinds.

He was excellent and I’ll hire him again. I’m through handling those chores myself. It was money well spent. If possible, hire a cleaner. You deserve it.

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Super soakin’ Pride http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/06/super-soakin-pride/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/08/06/super-soakin-pride/#respond Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62958

photo: san diego lgbt pride

So we had a little rain, even a lot of rain; so what. Pride was great! Soaking and dripping the paraders paraded and the cheerers cheered; all laughing and smiling. I was sitting in the “shaded from the sun” covered seating area. As the deluge started, dry and comfy, I smugly enjoyed the spectacle of the inundated avenue, drooping feathers and drowned hair-dos. I was soon punished, however. The pressure of the trapped water above me finally split the tenting releasing a veritable Niagara. Drenched, but smiling madly for the chuckling onlookers, I might as well have been sitting on the sidewalk. The tightness and wetness of their uniforms aside, I was especially moved to see the police and members of the armed forces. Such a sight was once beyond our wildest imagination.

For me, my main event occurred going to the festival. As I was trying to cross the raging torrent called Park Boulevard and standing in water over my ankles, a car roared close behind me (deliberately!) unleashing a gigantic 10 foot tidal wave which left me completely sopping and bedraggled. It was such a perfect comedy scene however, I had to laugh. Luckily two young women pulled up and said, “We saw what he did. Can we give you a lift?” and they did. That was the spirit I encountered all day. Covered with a garbage bag, I watched the similarly attired good-natured, enthusiastic crowd.

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard. The results were clear and deservedly appreciated. The spirit of the 2015 Pride and its many supporters can make the LGBT community proud.

Note that date

Time flits by at such a rapid pace we often don’t realize when a week, a month or even a year has passed. More and more we write messages to ourselves on calendars, memos and scraps of paper scattered here and there. This helps, but only if we remember to look at them. Make a note of that. Unfortunately, I didn’t and this week it cost me. A notice from our local TV service arrived announcing my credit card payment had been refused and to cough up the money plus a $25 penalty charge. Well! Since it had been working perfectly for a year automatically every month, I called in high dudgeon to complain. Guess what; it was my fault. A year had sneakily passed since I’d signed up and when I got my newly re-issued credit card with my usual number, I neglected to pay attention to the new expiration date; thus – pay attention – making all arrangements with the old date invalid.

It seems on receiving a new card, we are to inform all those places with which we have an arrangement of the new expiration date. Without that reprogramed information, it won’t work. If you receive a surprise notice from your supermarket, cable service, newspaper, etc. informing you of your failure to pay (plus a penalty), most likely this is the problem. Before this happens, look at your monthly bill and see which card you are using with that company. Grab a piece of paper and jot it down for future reference. Don’t forget to make a note where you put the note.

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Call to make sure http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/23/call-to-make-sure/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/23/call-to-make-sure/#respond Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:35 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62522

To solve world problems I regularly attend my weekly discussion group where, on occasion, I shyly and reluctantly offer my humble opinions, suggest hints of advice and make tactful corrections. Last week, beguiled by an amusing video on a male art site, I missed my bus and so stayed home. It seems my non-appearance, greeted with dismay by some (and delight by others), was a cause for concern resulting in my phone ringing at 9:15 p.m. We seniors seldom receive calls after nine, so I answered with the dreaded anticipation of death, debt or disaster. What a relief to find it was a friend from the group wondering if I was OK.

“How kind, yet how unnecessary,” I thought, but then I reconsidered and realized the LGBT umbrella is our family, our security. Living alone, family far away and our circle of friends shrinking, like it or not, for many of us seniors us is all we’ve got! If you do not enjoy this unwritten bond, come out and join something; anything and get involved. San Diego has many choices that will revitalize you and get you away from the TV. You will soon develop a circle of like-minded, caring friends. It is crucial that we LGBT seniors become family and look after each other.

Relating back to the original situation: when an unexpected absence provokes an array of negative possibilities leading to the inevitable question as to what to do, the answer is: call. Forget the time and the momentary inconvenience. Your friend will soon calm down and appreciate your thoughtfulness. And just possibly, you may save a life.

Enjoy the past

I just returned from visiting my sister midst the wilds of Iowa corn fields where I was delighted to take part in a dinner by kerosene lamps hosted by a charming Amish family. With the six kids ages from six to 12 (two sets of twins) all doing their part, mother prepared a fantastic meal on an old wood stove while father made furniture in the barn during daylight.

At dinner, he with his long beard, but no mustache, was always joking and informative. He and the boys wore dark trousers (buttons forbidden, so suspenders) and white shirts (hooks and eyes) and the girls, like mother, were in long dresses and white caps, but with fancy glasses frames, Mickey Mouse socks and pink shoes proving rules can be adapted. And yes, they had a horse and buggy.

I also had a nostalgic visit to a classic, rural general store. With a heavily laden strip of fly-paper dangling over the cash register, it had the usual “goods and sundries,” but much of the merchandise had certainly passed its shelf life. A faded Shirley Temple coloring book, dust covered Larry, Curley and Moe mugs and for only 39 cents a pair of those huge, red wax lips. The display of mood rings brought back memories, but sadly I did not see any pet rocks on offer. Young people might not appreciate all these treasures, but my sister and I had a ball. So my advice this week is to visit the past with some same-aged friends.

True, looking back can bring sadness, but that is up to you; skip over dangerous territory. Why waste the time? You can have a merry, even boisterous afternoon relating and reliving the fun you had, the sillier the better.

Laugh together with seniors who can understand the LGBT world of our youth.

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O happy Pride http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/09/o-happy-pride/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/07/09/o-happy-pride/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:32:13 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=62090

PHOTO: SAN DIEGO LGBT PRIDE

What a great theme we have this year for our Pride events: “Liberty and Justice for All.” The Supreme Court decision giving us all the right to marry certainly gives us extra reason to celebrate. So get out and join the crowd beginning with the Hillcrest Block Party Friday July 17. If you want a two-day free ticket for just two hours of your time, check sdpride.org and see if there are any last minute openings for volunteers. As usual, there will be food and entertainment galore, plus the ever-popular people-watching as the guys and gals get all gussied up and flash their flesh. Why not join them with your own fantasy outfit? Yes, naughty is fun, but please, those who love to go over the line (You know who you are) save it for the private parties. Call me an old grouch, but many gay and supportive straight families bring their kids to enjoy the parade and special children’s activities; let’s not alienate them. First timers will be surprised at the number and variety of booths sponsored by our local LGBT groups all ready to explain their organization and recruit new members, including the police department and armed forces! Seniors will be on view riding in a trolley. Give them a wave. They are members of FOG, the Fellowship of Older Gays. “Older” is very vague; if you remember disco and can shave, join us. The group will be sponsoring a “take a break” table with shade, seats and refreshments open to all. You may see me there as well as at the LGBT Weekly/Pride Card booth early Saturday afternoon. Come chat with me and some of the staff members. We’d be glad to hear your comments and suggestions.

For seniors, a mystery solved

Sorry, kids, many of you will probably have to ask an old-timer for an explanation. This brief is specifically for the senior seniors for whom I have great news. At last I have the answer to the mystery that has puzzled all of us for years. I assure you what you are about to learn is true. It was revealed to me by Lamont Cranston! You know; the one who knows. I trust I need say no more. We who loved “Let’s Pretend” in the morning and were terrified at night by that squeaky door must think back to other best-loved memories and how we secretly assigned gay and lesbian labels to the players. Of course you joined me in my suspicions of Bruce Wayne and his “ward” (Yeah, right!). We knew why Miss Brooks never nailed handsome bachelor Mr. Boynton. Many a tomboy dreamed of being caught in the magic lasso and sharing the power over those weaker men. And chauffeur Kato surely controlled more than one joy stick. All so clear to us. Yet one great mystery has remained. Papers and panel discussions have focused on it and linguistic theories have been proposed, but nothing has been accepted. UNTIL NOW! Through an extensive séance and Ouija board session, I was privileged to be given the secret by my spirit friend, the aforementioned, “Monty.” Let’s decipher the pieces and then put them together. “Be” means “below, under.” “Osa” is “#1, best, favorite” and “Kim” is the possessive “my.” And there you have it. The frequently quoted and yet always mis-spelt KIM OSA BE may be translated as … drum roll …“My favorite bottom.” Now you know. You’re welcome.

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Caitlyn and Christine http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/25/caitlyn-and-christine/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/25/caitlyn-and-christine/#respond Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:22 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61688

Christine Jorgensen

The mostly positive comments and support concerning Caitlyn Jenner are encouraging. Seniors remember the different reception which greeted non-rich, non-celebrity Christine Jorgensen. The announcement in 1952 that she was now a woman and had been (gasp!) surgically altered stunned us all.

Not the first, but certainly the first one anyone had heard about. There she was in our movie news reels; a charming and attractive woman bravely exposing her personal history, transition and intimate feelings to the world. Oh, the jokes and insults that followed, but she endured them with grace.

All her life she shared her journey through countless interviews and speaking engagements. With poise and determination she presented a great example for the many who would follow in her footsteps. Few did so publicly until recently when Chaz Bono told his story and now Caitlyn who decided six decades of hiding was enough.

Not so long ago people thought they didn’t know any gays or lesbians and thus were unsupportive of their concerns, but once their family members, friends and co-workers came out of the closet, their attitude changed drastically. With all this publicity, I hope the same will occur this time as more people reveal and share their gender issues.

Some feel Caitlyn should have transitioned more privately. I disagree, with the ever-present paparazzi hounding her, it would have been impossible; furthermore, the good results coming from it will be enormous.

A new chapter awaits you, Caitlyn. As they say, “You go, girl. Let it all hang out.” Oops, I mean … oh, hell, you know what I mean.

May I have this dance?

I can’t stand those TV dance competitions in which kids and teams are tormented by heavy verbal abuse from aggressive, demonic teachers followed by the same from their badgering, relentless mothers all mouthing the sentiment, “Because we love them.” I’m aghast. I pray the winners get more than a party at Denny’s. As for the losers, practically catatonic with disgrace and fear of retribution, I hear it is a choice between self-immolation and a nunnery.

In junior high we went to Miss Mason’s School of Dance to learn the waltz, the foxtrot, etc. We lined up on opposite walls and the boys crossed over, bowed to a girl and requested the dance; the girls curtsied (!) and accepted. We watched and imitated Miss Mason and her, one might contend today, light-footed partner, the handsome, immaculately coifed Mr. Dumont with his year-round tan. He obviously didn’t realize how tight his pants fit in the front and back (I did). Couples danced six inches apart or, as the Catholic schools advised, left room for the Holy Ghost. The exception was the daring jitterbug.

When it was a ladies choice, Rhoda Levine would always grab me and proceed to “accidentally” crash into me and grope me. The bruises left on my chest hinted at falsies of granite.

For years now the young have given up holding or touching their partner, but now the rage is for the girl to grind her rear into the boy’s crotch. How does he hide his “excitement” or does he bother?

How I pine for the days when sweeping around the floor for a grand waltz was romantic, fun and oh, so gay. Imagine doing it today holding your same-sex partner. Maybe they will return. Here’s hoping.

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The talk http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/11/the-talk/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/06/11/the-talk/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2015 19:18:49 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=61202

istock

TV programs now feature teen pregnancies and schools offer kindergartens. We seniors remember girls suddenly going to live with grandma, their names never to be mentioned. Obviously, they had ignored “the talk” which I encountered in the 6th grade. First, the girls were sent to the nurses’ room for a mysterious enlightenment and then we boys received a lecture titled, “Manhood.” The “Parentally Approved” expert (a local pastor) proceeded with a mouth-foaming rant about the devil controlling our hand. Then followed a movie with stick figures, dogs humping each other (!) and a mother in a hospital bed, every hair in place, smiling and cradling a baby. It all ended with a final harangue about our filthy hand, a prayer to save us from the temptations of the Evil One and a plea to respect our mothers “for what they’d been through.” Since my mother had not been through anything more than a nasty lobster bite, I left the room in a daze.

The girls had received a similar commentary and threats of eternal damnation. One girl said it was about their aunt visiting every month which brought screams of laughter from her friends. Naturally, we boys pretended to get the joke. Later, we decided it had all been about babies, but a friend had already informed me how your car thing goes in the girl’s garage thing and then angels bring a baby.

This other stuff was most confusing, but no complaints, it got us out of a history test. At home mother averted her eyes and said if I had any questions about “the talk,” I was to ask my father.

His advice was succinct and irrefutable: Boys, hands in pockets. Girls, legs crossed. Can’t go wrong with that.

All ages welcome

As people of all ages live and learn, the joy of reading never ends. We are especially grateful when what we read is in some way related to the LGBT experience. Gratefully, we note the recent increase in the acceptance of our lifestyles which has considerably enlarged our choices. On the other hand, many seniors in our community cannot get over the closet days and are hesitant to let their reading material be known, embarrassed to examine a particular book in a library or reluctant to stand in front of a store’s LGBT section.

Joining them, the young and questioning are equally uneasy about publicly searching for information and novels which they can relate to and which confirm they are not alone. Also there are parents and friends exploring ways to address a family issue. Luckily there is a private, discrete place where help is available: the Bruce Abrams Lending Library right here in our wonderful LGBT Center.

There you will find thousands of books connected to our various lifestyles, people, movements, etc. Everything is covered: serious studies, fiction, non-fiction, parental advice, self-acceptance, biographies, children’s books, even some DVDs. All conveniently arranged and labeled in sections. The price is reasonable: free.

Get a card from the front desk, make your selections and check out up to four books for one month. It is a fantastic bargain and an invaluable asset to our community. Check it out and check them out.

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The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/28/the-daughters-of-bilitis-dob/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/28/the-daughters-of-bilitis-dob/#respond Thu, 28 May 2015 16:15:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=60724

At a recent meeting the mention of today’s topic brought hardly a flicker of recognition. A sad response to the work of lesbian partners and pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. All they wanted to do in 1955 was to dance together in their favorite bar.

The problem: it was against the law! Fed up, they started a group at their home where they all could dance and be themselves. Word spread and soon it grew to be organized as the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB): the first lesbian civil and political rights organization in the United States. It was a safe place for women to admit their sexual desires, develop self-confidence and advocate for their rights.

The name was chosen to pass as a poetry club to fool the police. (Really necessary? You bet! AAS). By 1958 there were chapters in all the major cities and in 1959 The Ladder magazine was started. For ten years DOB flourished, but as the ’70s neared, the woman’s liberation movement, reaching out beyond lesbian issues and encompassing women’s rights in general became more popular.

After 14 years the Daughters of Bilitis passed into history. However, it remains a shining example for the LGBT community of what a few people can do to make a difference. Del and Phyllis should be remembered and honored for binding women together across the country and having an enormous impact on self-acceptance and public recognition of lesbian life.

Today, various LGBT organizations continue to work for the same goals. For lesbians, however, the Daughters of Bilitis was there at the start and don’t you forget it.

A baby-sitting plan

We with extended families face sporadic pleas to babysit. For seniors, thoughts of an evening of noise, tears and drama gives us pause. With no excuse at hand, we warily agree, beseeching all powers to tire the kids out and pack them into bed early so we can enjoy Judge Judy.

To achieve this goal, I suggest the following fantasy: set up an outdoor target near a water faucet, arm each with a water pistol, gun or bazooka and with firm orders to aim solely at the target and under no circumstances at each other, go inside. Ignore the screams and shrieks for 40 minutes then go out, scold them sternly and have them change clothes, dumping their wet garments into the hamper.

For dinner, cover the kitchen table with plastic and dump the spaghetti and meatballs in the middle and announce “hands only.” The kids will love it and with finger painting a plus, the meal will never be forgotten.

Next, of course, is to clean up the mess with towels, etc. Into the hamper with them along with their clothes which now may have a spot or two on them. Before dessert, hold a race up and down the stairs three times. The winner gets to cut the cake and decide who gets what.

With careful nurturing, a pillow fight should ensue. Finally, after hiding any visible damage, we have the statue contest. Once in bed, they see who can stay still the longest while counting backwards from 100. I predict you should soon be free for Judy’s verdicts. When the folks return, exit quickly, before the kitchen or hamper is visited. You will forever be the kid’s favorite sitter.

With luck, you won’t be invited back.

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Ask a senior (AAS) http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/14/ask-a-senior-aas/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/05/14/ask-a-senior-aas/#respond Thu, 14 May 2015 15:00:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=60265

istock

My briefs are aimed mainly at seniors, the retirees, but I try to interest everyone. To get different generations to interact, I often make a joke or a point requiring younger readers to “ask a senior” (from now on AAS). But we are all seniors to somebody, so whom do I mean? I think of four age groups: A 20-35, B 35-50, C 50-65 and D 65+. Moving either up or down, people understand most references of the next group, but beyond that they usually need help. “Patty, Maxine and Lavern” are OK for D and maybe C, but B and A are lost. The crossword clue _ _ _ _ Turner could mean “Tina” to B and C, “Lana” to C and D and “Who?” to A.

To be more specific and relevant, LGBT topics are no different: Well of Loneliness, Christine Jorgensen, the Mattachine Society were at one time discussed by many in our community in whispers. Why? AAS. We seniors had lots of tough times when we were young, but we had some great ones also and not only those of us living in a big city. Men in small towns took business trips, remember, and women teachers (most other jobs were unavailable) sharing a home was common and accepted: “Old maids living together to save money.” Ha! Little did people know. We can tell wonderful tales revisiting our youth and about how LGBT life became what it is today. We were there! So ask us. Use an AAS as a starting point. Be friendly and enjoy the conversation. Who knows where it might lead. Afraid they might make a pass at you? So what! The day will come when they won’t. Then you’ll really get upset. Don’t believe me? AAS.

A year well spent

Forty years ago I dared leave teaching for a year to produce educational theater. I treated my first audience to the historical giant Everyman a 15th century play of Christian salvation with allegorical characters speaking old English. Sadly, I misjudged the youth of Iowa. The ensuing near-riot caused the school board to replace my show with Reefer Madness (AAS).

Never a quitter, I next tried to educate by reviving America’s only original contribution to theater, The Minstrel Show. Alas, somehow my young cast was under the impression it was an early version of Soul Train. The first script reading occasioned such appalling language and hysteria I felt it wise to cancel – encouraged by hints of painful retribution should I continue.

My final attempt to uplift and cultivate beyond the norm was a creation of Hal “Hunk” Harvey, avant guard playwright and former Chi Chi LaRue star (AAS). His Billy the Kid and Johnny Appleseed was a gay romp we staged in the basement of the Holy Blood Tabernacle, a cheap, but regrettable choice of venue. The graphic love scene ending Act I resulted in our fleeing out the back. I had voiced misgivings, but was assured art would triumph. Bull feathers! Lord knows what would have happened with the nude finale. My funds gone, I returned to teaching.

Was the year a failure? Absolutely not! It was just what I’d hoped for: a year of fun, excitement and great memories. So, for whatever time you can, get out of your rut and go for it. Enjoy.

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Never ending mysteries http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/never-ending-mysteries/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/never-ending-mysteries/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:07:13 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/30/never-ending-mysteries/

istock

Alone at night and trying to sleep, we travel the road of memories often focusing on the mysteries and puzzles of long ago. Many of mine torment me even unto the present as my mind wanders to the deeper and more esoteric bugaboos of my early years. Will I never discover what a diddely squat is and why doesn’t it mean anything?

At home when it came to eating broccoli, why was mother so concerned with the children in China? Were there not problems of greater moment here in America? My trust in reportage was sorely tested by the information from a kindergarten classmate that if you step on a caterpillar, it turns into a butterfly. Multiple squished, green blobs on the sidewalks near my house testified to my diligence in investigation and truth-seeking. Sadly, the hypothesis has never (yet) been proven.

As an adult, similar conundrums have arisen to plague me. Why do I never know anyone in the society page photos? What is a White Party and why is it not considered racist? How can television ads be taken seriously with such claims as: “Free diet plan, plus cost of the food” or when a new medicine warns, “May cause death.”

The LGBT world does not escape my questioning mind. I toss and turn over serious quandaries. How can members of our community support policies that suppress and discriminate against us? How can loving parents suddenly turn and disown their children? Other issues create tensions of a more personal and physical nature. Why do my minimally invasive questions to Orlando Bloom go unanswered? With so much to ponder, it is a wonder I ever fall asleep.

Tapas vs. topless

We of the LBGT community know we did not choose our lifestyle. There were incidences so early in our lives we didn’t even understand what it meant to be attracted to toys, sports and people we were told were not suitable, but which we now realize pointed to the reality of our self-identity. Seemingly unconnected events have continued to unexpectedly reinforce this insightful assessment.

For example, my first visit to San Diego was to attend a conference. One had to stay closeted in those days, so I met in the bar with guys from the group and joined in the drinking, swearing, chick assessing, etc. with my best straight impersonation. Through the din someone suggested a great tapas and dancing place. I had just learned the word and as I wanted to sample some local food, quickly agreed. When we approached our destination, I realized to my horror the word had not been “tapas” but “topless.” What a fright! What an education! Suspiciously gigantic breasts worthy of suckling King Kong swung and bounced. Areas terra incognita to me were exposed to raucous appreciation.

Giving credit where due, the ability to twirl pendulous mamalia in opposite directions simultaneously is an admirable talent, although not one often seen on a job resume. I commented as expected and stuffed a dollar here and there. I’m not really sure where, as I shut my eyes. I was spared the humiliation of a lap dance by a phone call from our driver’s wife and (“dammit!”) we had to leave.

It was a sensuous display to be sure, but my complete lack of interest further confirmed my gayness. I’m sure you have similar stories and agree: Being LGBT is not a choice.

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Mercy me (OMG)! Two hundred! http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/16/mercy-me-omg-two-hundred/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/16/mercy-me-omg-two-hundred/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:43:06 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/16/mercy-me-omg-two-hundred/

As this is my 200th brief, I want to use it to thank my readers for their support. I enjoy the challenge of juggling senior oriented advice and humor. Naturally, I write from my viewpoint as a senior gay man, but I try to make the comments and examples enjoyable and pertinent to the entire LGBT readership.

I often include comments to the younger crowd hoping to start generational exchanges since both sides have a lot to learn from each other. Growing old can be difficult, but so can being young. I try to wake up younger LGBTers to some aspects of aging: whether they like it or not, it is coming.

After 200 topics, the challenge of finding new ones is not easy. If you’ve got a subject for me or any comments, pass them on via the published LGBT Weekly or the online edition. Keep in mind my briefs are crammed into a 15-line template, thus restricting the scope of my topic and the depth of my coverage; to say nothing of depriving you of some fabulous puns and jokes due to the length of the set-up. When that can’t be condensed to a workable size, it all gets cut. Also note, I rarely mention specific local businesses and never get political; even the anti-LGBT bigots and idiot governor in Indiana will get no comment from me.

My humor, such as it is, often is just for fun, but at other times it includes a message for those who look deeper. Despite being encouraged, I do not twit, face or blog. All that interests me, but I admit to needing a patient tutor.

I hope you’ll continue enjoying what’s in my briefs as so many have in the past. I welcome feedback and am happy to chat with fans who greet me when I’m out walking the streets.

A blow below the belt

How unkind people can be and how undeserved when innocent words and phrases are misinterpreted. I myself have been accused of filth and degradation in my columns when really it is they-of-evil-mind who have twisted my innocent ramblings.

Imagine my shame and indignation when it was remarked that my recent environmentally inspired and educational paper-making article “smelled and the ending actually stank!” Such blows below the belt do not go unnoticed. It is like when I, and I’m sure you, have been standing on the corner waiting for a ride when invariably “friends” drive by shouting wisecracks about what we are waiting for, price comments and further cruel jibes full of suggestive innuendoes.

True, at a certain age one doesn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted, but that is not the point. I am not safe at home either. A visitor noticed the lovely grey patina on the mantle and smiling sweetly, smugly mentioned dust. Did I retaliate and mention the skunk line in the part of her hair. No. (At least not to her.)

A final example: I am constantly in defense of my man-bag; a chic, modern, masculine accessory. Some might deem it an example of androgynous ambiguity, but when carried by myself there should be no question. It is not a purse! Besides, as I tell everyone, the sequins are on the inside. Joke! Even my lesbian cohorts give me grief about it, but I give them tit for tat and mention their huge tank or macho butch-buggy they call their little RV.

Of course, all these childish exchanges produce negative vibes and at our age we don’t need the aggravation. To recover from these verbal assaults, I suggest finding distraction in shops, restaurants, movies or the inevitable fallback, sex. With various aids, films and ointments, we seniors can still enjoy a wild session; although, speaking for myself, it would probably be more enjoyable with someone.

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Alarm systems for alarming situations http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/02/alarm-systems-for-alarming-situations/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/02/alarm-systems-for-alarming-situations/#respond Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:42:59 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/04/02/alarm-systems-for-alarming-situations/

istock

A serious topic today. You younger readers, think about an older person you love. A friend fell recently and, although not hurt, simply could not get up. Luckily the people downstairs heard her fall and called 911. When I thought of what the result might have been, I realized the importance of those alarm systems we read about.

Many LGBT seniors live alone and whether or not we have arranged for someone to check on us, we should seriously look into these devices which can help anytime, anywhere. They constantly know where you are and some can even understand when you fall and are unconscious.

The Internet has an overwhelming amount of information about many programs usually with a monthly charge of $15 to $30, with/without a contract, with/without an installation fee. You wear a “button” out of sight around your neck or wrist; when in trouble, you push it and it becomes an intercom and a real person answers to help, call your friends or, if necessary, 911.

However, it obviously must be worn all the time. If you are on the floor or passed out in the garden, it is worthless on the table. Being waterproof, they can be taken into the dangerous bathroom: a major site for slipping, strokes or heart attacks when “pushing” to do your business.

Look through some sites and get more information from the ones that sound suitable. If a friend has one, ask for a demonstration. Do not delay. You may need it the next trip down the stairs, walking across that wrinkled carpet or just going to the bathroom. It is hard to admit needing one, but many of us should. You know who you are. Face it.

A boast exposed, almost

Reading of the recent exaggerations in government qualifications, office expenses, mileage charges, etc., I was reminded of the long ago trouble I got into with a teensy over-statement. I was almost forced to admit to the slight embellishment, but my luck held. It wasn’t my fault; it stemmed from what we call a “senior moment” when the mind suddenly goes blank.

For example, going to the kitchen and then wondering why. Don’t understand? Ask a senior. But I digress. The exact details are now vague, but it went something like this: at a party seated next to me was a little, obnoxious, know-it-all who constantly disagreed with my opinions. So infuriating. When something about France came up, he switched to French (the show-off) and practically dared me to reply. True, I may have implied, OK, exaggerated I spoke it on par with de Gaulle, but I saw no way to avoid the challenge.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, my mind went blank; my two years of French (solid Bs) gone. The only phrase coming to mind was “Ooo la la” which I strongly doubted would save me nor would “Cherchez la femme.” I was left with the pointless “Crepe Suzettes a la mode” when suddenly the ’70s Lady Marmalade rescued me. I blurted out as rapidly and confidently as I could, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (dramatic pause) ce soir?” Stunned by my fluency and, no doubt fearing his own incompetence, he quickly replied in English, “Absolutely. I was thinking along those lines myself.” Later that night, I made sure French never played a part in our activities. So he wasn’t such a pompous dolt after all. He wasn’t so little either.

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Not the greatest of days! http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/19/not-the-greatest-of-days/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/19/not-the-greatest-of-days/#respond Thu, 19 Mar 2015 21:08:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/19/not-the-greatest-of-days/

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As my partner Yohei and I entered the lobby of the Bangkok Airport, I reached for my passport and realized it was still on top of the hotel bureau. Yohei had forgotten it.

Not one to cast blame, I began by telling him not to panic: words guaranteed to panic anyone and it did. He instantly assumed I was having a seizure. Denying this and keeping my voice well on this side of frantic, I explained the amusing situation. He made me sit down, lower my voice; note people were staring and count to 10.

Fully in control scarcely a moment later, I found him calling the hotel where they asked if we knew we’d left the passport there. What did they think he was calling about! Anyway, they sent it to us by the hotel van which we waited for in the blazing sun for 40 minutes. Drawing considerable attention, I might add, from security.

Finally it arrived and we ran to the counter of Thai Airlines our usual carrier. Ignoring the enormous line by announcing our flight was about to leave, we barged to the front under a blaze of hostile stares and unkind comments. I shouted to (certainly not “at”) the uncooperative staffer to get a move on, but she kept yakking about something. Yohei finally got her point: our tickets were for Japan Airlines. Again no time to berate him, we rushed to the JAL counter and found the same unsympathetic reception. And, dammit, the same semi-English babble, seemingly about gate 7.

Looking at the time, my hysteria had me about to reach up and rip that smarmy smile off the bitch’s face when Yohei grabbed me and roughly hustled me away, growling in my ear, “The tickets are for the seventh. This is the sixth.”

Oh. How we laughed. Pay no attention to his version of this story.

Poo poo paper – the perfect present

We senior travelers, especially those who have been to Thailand, know the feeling of “Been there. Done that.” Hang-gliding, snake farms and alligator wrestling no longer call to us as they once did. We now aspire to higher stimulation and prefer something more intellectual. Thus it was in Chiang Mai I again eschewed the fun and allure of bungee jumping and instead ventured forth into the Poo Poo Paper Park. The “poo” being, yes, that “poo.” Especially that of our friend the elephant and its conversion into paper. True!

Remembering the popular circuses of our youth, we certainly had at least a glimpse of and therefore some visual knowledge of their droppings (thuddings?) and will remember a great deal of undigested fiber was visible – fiber superbly suited for the making of paper. Naturally, it has to be separated and processed and that is where the park comes in. It is cleverly arranged to take the visitor through the production line so to speak, skipping the initial depositing which is done au natural in the local surroundings and brought in to the factory by the villagers.

All is sanitary and modern and the result is a wonderful array of paper products which make unmatchable gifts for the person who has everything. My previous unfortunate encounter with elephants (issue 140) had me leery of the afternoon, but all was so delightful I wanted to share this experience.

Check out the “fecal facts” on the thoroughly enjoyable and informative Web site poopoopaper.com. I know there are those of you expecting cheap jokes about shit and sheets of paper, making crappy crepe, etc., but I realize my readership is far more sophisticated and would find such juvenilia simply offal.

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Cooking class at Mama Chan’s http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/05/cooking-class-at-mama-chans/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/05/cooking-class-at-mama-chans/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:47:02 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/03/05/cooking-class-at-mama-chans/

Phat Thai | PHOTO: TAKEAWAY

Reluctantly, I replaced bungee jumping with Mama Chan’s cooking class consisting of two very masculine German women, a snooty French couple, two giggling Korean girls, a wizened Swede of undetermined sex, my partner and me. Once we had arrived at Mama’s house, I upset all with an ill-timed witticism involving the dogs out front on the street and oriental food. Coldly informed they were her dogs, I hastily stammered I hadn’t meant Mama’s darling dogs, just the stew potential of canines in general. The Koreans agreed, but the Swede and French couple went ballistic. Stony silence ensued.

Our plat du jour was Phat Thai a staple dish of noodles mixed with an array of spices, herbs and a choice of meat or tofu. Following Mama’s instructions, we chopped, diced and ground. Her metric measurements confused me, so I threw in what I guessed the others were using and creatively added this and that. Unfortunately, the Swede ate a spoonful of my green peas, for color, and was brought to the very edge of Valhalla as they proved to be serious peppers. So we live and learn. The atmosphere eventually lightened especially with the Germans after my partner in all innocence asked if they were brothers. They found this hysterical and we became buddies.

Finally it was time to taste. We arranged our dishes to show off the color, texture etc. All were quite acceptable and the teacher’s was like a cookbook photo. Mine, however, looked like someone already ate it and it lay “intacta” like a gucky blob befouling a sidewalk. The class ended and we broke up amid curt nods, giggles, bows and a hearty pat on the back. “Hurry back,” was not heard.

Building temple friendships

On a culture tour of an important temple we learned a highly venerated abbot was to conduct a ritual, so we were advised that after a peek in at the proceeding we would leave, of course being quiet and discrete (my middle names).

At the grand hall we peered in a side window and saw a large gathering of monks chanting chants and gonging gongs. I was so intrigued, I stepped up on a railing to see better, grabbing a little lever of some kind to steady myself. Bad move. An alarm began to shriek. I yanked, pushed and twisted, but the lever held firm. Mercy! What a commotion.

Upset about this slight snag in their little ceremony, a horde of saffron robed crazies, abandoning their famed serenity and detachment, appeared screaming and yelling at me to shut the thing off; like I wasn’t trying! The frenzy was increasing when suddenly the crowd quieted and parted like the Red Sea. The abbot, a gaunt lama right out of the classic Lost Horizons (ask a senior), had arrived to find out what the problem was.

Obviously it was me; madly yanking at the stubborn lever. He waved me away then intently focused his eyes on the offending metal until I thought he’d melt it. A moment of meditation preceded a set of incantations of frightening ferocity and volume accompanied by complicated, sacred hand and finger gestures; all culminating in a tremendous shout. His eye shifted to mine and at his nod, my arm instantly shot up and touched the lever which snapped smoothly back in place. Stillness reigned. The abbot turned and made his regal, dignified return to the hall.

Our leader, for some reason, felt it not politic to remain so we quickly filed back onto the bus. Awed, no one spoke; at least not to me.

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From Thailand with love http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/19/from-thailand-with-love/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/19/from-thailand-with-love/#respond Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:37:18 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/19/from-thailand-with-love/

istock

I just left Tokyo and am now in Thailand. Visiting my former hometown was a little strange. I was glad to see the old haunts, but many of my favorites were gone and others unrecognizable. Furthermore, the circle of friends I usually visit had dwindled.

As an LGBT cardholder I always check to see what has happened to the special bars, spas, saunas and assignation sites of my former secret life. Sadly, discretion continues to play a vital role for those in the Japanese business world. Hiding one’s orientation is serious business. Today, as then, the consequences of being outed can be devastating. Luckily, in the States things are much better and I certainly don’t want to return to the past, yet there was a thrill to being part of a secret society with special words, places and signals to announce, “Yes, me too. I’m a member.”

Here in Bangkok, my bar-hopping has been tainted by non-LGBTers in the bars being cool. The acceptance is nice, but for me it ruins the exclusiveness of “our” place. As a senior, I am, of course, invisible to all but the professionals – so charming, so perceptive. They insist I am a young Yul Brynner. On a sour note, a truly horrible sight was a busload of Chinese tourists being escorted into the place to “look at the queers.” The patrons seemed used to it and at the owner’s prompting they camped it up to give the gawkers a thrill. I was disgusted.

On a positive note is the acceptance of the trans community here which works without comment as staff in shops, restaurants, including MacDonald’s, and at the reception desk in my hotel. With luck, I’ll have an adventure or two to report in the coming issues. Watch for them.

Cuddling, snuggling and kadoodling

As people age the physical aspects of a partnership change and those dealing with sex are no exception. For seniors of the LGBT community the desire (and ability) for those wild nights of yore are seldom in the picture now and those sweaty sessions of youthful ecstasy are but faded memories.

Many of you young readers might be surprised to learn that long-term households without constant, passionate nocturnal bliss are often as solid as ever. In fact, the love and joy between a committed couple may be made even stronger as years pass and trials and tribulations are overcome. We cannot escape the inevitable fact the years bring physical change along with maturity. Together they adjust many areas of our social and personal lives.

Of special note in the context of fully living together is the decrease in the once major presence of sexual activity. Such a change, however, does not negate the need for physical contact and signs of affection; these remain essential for domestic tranquility and harmony. They serve as overt symbols of our continuing, loving co-existence.

Nothing is better for the enhancement of a relationship than good old cuddling, snuggling and kadoodling. The definitions and enactment of these words I leave to your imagination, inclination and creativity. Watching TV scrunched together on the sofa or just a touch or quick caress in passing can gladden a heart with the silent message, “You are still the one I love.”

If you are lucky enough to have a special someone, neither of you should be shy about sending and receiving these messages which will strengthen your bond and make for a happier day.

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1984 – 2084! Huh? What? http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/05/1984-2084-huh-what/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/05/1984-2084-huh-what/#respond Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:02:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/02/05/1984-2084-huh-what/

Last week “Big Brother” was featured in a headline in our local newspaper and I wondered if I mentioned it to a younger person, would I receive anything but a blank stare. Probably not. After all, it was over 30 years ago when cartoons, comedians, politicians and we ourselves were jokingly forewarning each other that the year 1984 was just around the corner. Confused? Ask a senior, Google it or even better, read George Orwell’s compelling 1949 classic about the then future “1984.”

Looking at today’s headlines, I fear his society wasn’t such a fantasy. In the opinion of many it was just 100 years off and things look grim for the world of 2084. Think about it. Cameras are watching us everywhere especially in the big cities, soon police (and others?) will have them in their lapels; spy-drones are even now swooping and snooping overhead; everyone has a phone/camera with microphone and video capabilities; the Internet has made privacy a joke. And this is just 2015.

In 70 years, the future might be frighteningly similar to the fantasy. Big Brother hasn’t appeared, but Hitler and Stalin did and Glorious Leader pulls all the strings in North Korea; so we are not talking absurdity here. Could such a controlled society ever occur in the U S of A? I want to say, “How preposterous,” but the conviction in my voice is getting weaker year by year.

The young people of today should read and older people re-read Orwell’s masterpiece and compare its world to the growing realities of today. Doing so might lead to an increased participation in voting, community service and, in general, speaking up to keep Big Brother within the pages of a book.

Nicknames

As I was reading a novel set in an English boarding school, I noted everyone had a nickname. That reminded me of some favorites from my school days. We were not so prone to labeling our classmates as they did in the book, but a few lucky, or unlucky, kids ended up with them. For example, I was in a play with the nickname Wormy. The director and everyone in the production called me that. Unfortunately, after the show ended they continued to taunt me with that alias for years.

Gordon Jones, 5 feet 5 inches and his best friend Phil, 6 feet 3 inches soon became Mutt and Jeff (ask a senior). Ian Kerr was from Scotland and so automatically became Scottie. Nicknames for the short, slim or fat were obvious, unless, to be oh so clever, the opposite. Bullying, as we hear about it today, was unknown. We were never really unkind as etiquette ruled, so hurtful, hateful and obscene names were used strictly behind someone’s back.

Red and Blondie were standard to match hair color. However, until I left Maine for college in New York, such labeling led me to think the song about Old Black Joe was about a man with black hair. This resulted in a tense, but now amusing incident in a gay bar in Harlem. My advice: Never refer to a 280 pound drag queen as Old Black Josephine. I’m sure it was the Old that started the kerfuffle, but no one was in a listening mood. Somehow I survived.

Looking back, I confess to feeling sorry for Richard Goodman; the English department, for our edification, put on a morality play and he was assigned the role of the Grim Reaper. Naturally, there was no hope for him. He was known then and forever and at every reunion as the Dick of Death.

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Filth, fists and femmes http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/22/filth-fists-and-femmes/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/22/filth-fists-and-femmes/#respond Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:20:23 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/22/filth-fists-and-femmes/
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Now that I have your attention – I’m talking about the sad state of LGBT greeting cards. In several local outlets, I found the scanty selections were filled with the above three Fs. I’m not saying that such pictorials and poetry don’t have their place and their admirers. My concern is with the lack of “nice” cards for the partner or friend who deserves a truly thoughtful birthday or anniversary sentiment, a wedding with sincere congratulations or just a heartfelt “Thinking of You” card.

True, our community has a reputation for enjoying the witty and naughty, but we also appreciate the sincere and considerate. When I tried to buy a meaningful anniversary card for my partner, I ended up with one from Ralphs. It said what I wanted to say, but I really wanted one with a man to man motif. The gay ones I had looked at were often very funny and I peeked at one, maybe two, of the risqué (to put it mildly), but, damn it; I wanted one that spoke from my heart. A few had a nice photo on the front, but inside was merely “Congratulations” or “Happy Anniversary.” That just didn’t do the job. The lesbian cards were of a similar nature, although not so outrageous (for the most part).

With all their creativity can’t the writers and artists come up with something mature and genuine? I spoke to several staff members and received the same comment, “That is what we received from our supplier.” If enough people complain and ask for a better selection of cards, maybe someone will listen. So, when you are in such a shop, let that sentiment be known and perhaps the next time you look for that perfect card for that special person or occasion, it will be there.

Cold snap memories

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The recent cold snap brought to the TV screen the exotic town of Alpine and that wonder of nature, snow. Frolicking families made angels on the fluffy stuff, threw snow balls, skied, etc. Not filmed was the popular act of writing one’s name in the cold, white canvas; a feat enjoyed solely by the boys. (You don’t really have to ask, do you?)

I must admit the positive nostalgia was overshadowed by the negative memories of walking to and from school in sub-zero temperatures, icicles forming on the hairs in my nose and wearing so many layers of clothing I walked like a penguin. When I was older, there was perilous driving on ice with those impossible-to-put-on tire chains. All this, and then add the hell of shoveling out the driveway just in time for the snowplow to shove it all back; a situation well-known to my fellow Northerners. There was also skating on a lake midst the howling wind and declaring to everyone through cracked, blue lips, “Hey, this is great.”

As for the agony of a frigid January day spent crammed into an ice-fishing hut with my brother and his drunken, homophobic buddies, don’t ask. I shudder remembering the traffic signal at the top of a steep, icy hill invariably turning red to assess my stick shifting ability.

But I admit it was beautiful, in fact, gorgeous. After an ice storm, the trees shimmered and glistened as if snow pixies had turned the scene into a fairyland of jewels and drifts of silvery chiffon (Is he gay?). And when dressed correctly on a sunny day, way up in the forties, playing outside was fun. But on deciding my retirement locale, I’ve never regretted saying, “I choose sun. I choose San Diego.”

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A power quartet: Suze, Rosie, Ellen and Rachel http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/08/a-power-quartet-suze-rosie-ellen-and-rachel/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/08/a-power-quartet-suze-rosie-ellen-and-rachel/#respond Thu, 08 Jan 2015 22:37:47 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2015/01/08/a-power-quartet-suze-rosie-ellen-and-rachel/

Suze Orman

After teaching abroad for 40 years, I retired here a couple of years ago and have filled my social life with the activities of several male groups; consequently I’ve had little contact with the lesbian community. I have definitely been influenced, however, by several of its prominent members who offer a welcome relief from the mindless TV fare which enthralls much of the public.

There are other out lesbians on TV, but the quartet I refer to consists of the popular and powerful role models Suze, Rosie, Ellen and Rachel. Suze Orman is a gold mine of vital financial information and advice beautifully articulated for the average person. Brave Ellen DeGeneres made it out of the closet and left the door open for others. She certainly made it easier for Rosie O’Donnell whose fan base includes many conservatives who like her comedy while struggling to overlook her political views.

On the other hand, the wonderful Rachel Maddow socks it to them to the point they pretend she doesn’t exist – as I do the bombastic Rush and his ilk. She terrifies the right wing to the point only the bravest dare to appear on her show, for which I give them credit.

Finances, comedy, interviews, discussions and politics are well-covered by these powerful pioneers. Lesbian acceptance and recognition in the male dominated workplace have been greatly strengthened by these four. And let’s not forget our local trio of Bonnie Dumanis, Toni Atkins and Christine Kehoe.

Ellen DeGeneres

The struggles and triumphs of all these leaders offer encouragement and hope for a better world for the whole LGBT community. I wanted to begin the New Year with a shout-out to such inspirational women.

Tough choices for some in 2015

Rosie O’Donnell

Another birthday and another year have crossed the finish line. Remember wishing birthdays would hurry up so we’d be older? Darn it. They did and we did. I know people are supposed to be in a happy mood as they welcome in the New Year, but for seniors, the situation may be looked at differently. Among other things we find sofas and car seats are so low we can barely get out of them, putting on socks is an effort, stairs are steeper and longer and the smallness of the print in books and newspapers nowadays is a scandal.

For the aging LGBT population there is the possibility of a more serious challenge. That is the task of choosing a retirement community or an assisted living accommodation. We can’t help wondering how we will be welcomed by the residents who may be the very people who persecuted and reviled us in the past and who still may be strongly antagonistic to our lifestyle and to us. Not a happy prospect.

Rachel Maddow

Thinking positively, we should be aware of the recent anti-discrimination laws and policies of many establishments and that some are going so far as to welcome us. Best of all, specifically pro-LGBT residences have passed the talking stage and a few have actually been built. If such places are not available and you find yourself entering an unknown environment, I would avoid crusading with the old, aggressive “I’m here. I’m queer. Get used to it” tactic. If it didn’t win them over in the past, it won’t now. While acclimating yourself to your new surroundings be pleasant, smile and accept the friendship of those who offer it and ignore those who withhold it. Don’t waste the time; turn the page; enjoy the rest of the story.

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A December dinner http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/24/a-december-dinner/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/24/a-december-dinner/#respond Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:55:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/24/a-december-dinner/

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I always appreciate the big to-do the world makes of Dec. 25, my birthday. True, others are involved in the day, but I prefer to believe I am the one being feted. I never had a birthday party and yearly I waited for the inevitable pair of socks or gloves with the witty comment, “One for birthday. One for Christmas,” followed by shrieks of laughter (from others). Needless to say, the day has not always been remembered with a smile. An exception was being invited to a friend’s house in Tokyo for a birthday dinner.

On arrival I found the food cooked and him passed out on the floor, snoring and stark naked. His 350 pounds making it a memorable sight. Having such girth made his choosing to live in Japan a puzzle until one realized that to the Japanese chubby-chasers he was a mountain of sexual perfection and desire. For me, however, he was just a friend with a drinking problem, but a lot of fun. Unable to move him, I threw a blanket or two over him and proceeded to dine alone. Suddenly, the door opened and Hiroshi walked in. He was 5 feet 6 inches, 145 pounds and one of my friend’s favorite playmates. As if on cue, the sound of his voice began to rouse (arouse) the sleeping giant. Quickly sizing up the situation, I finished my meal, said goodbye to my host and with barely time to fill a doggie bag was practically shoved out. Breathing heavily and with eyes agleam, Hiroshi hastily shut the door assuring me, “Don’t worry. I’ll handle him.” Whatever he meant by that I preferred not to envision.

Wending my weary way home, I smiled at the thought that even though my evening had not gone as planned, someone was having a merry Christmas.

The elephants cometh

Look out! A herd of elephants is charging your way. White ones. It’s that season again when at least one of your groups is having a seasonal gathering with the added joy and excitement of a white elephant exchange. Be still my heart, you say. They are extremely helpful in getting rid of the hideous hand-knit scarf from Aunt Sophia, the ashtray, a blue turd made by your niece at summer camp, to say nothing of the crap you unluckily ended up with last year. And let’s not forget the nice things which you just don’t have a need or space for. All are welcome and all have the potential to add great fun, even hilarity, to a party.

Creative wrapping can give a false and confusing impression of what’s inside. It goes without saying a naughty ambience added by the wrapping style or the gift itself greatly increases the merriment. I recall the long box encased in what I later realized was suspiciously thin paper through which could be seen the smiling face of Jeff Stryker (for those of you who are not senior men, he was a huge star in the gay art films, huge). Through grueling fighting and haggling, I won the chance to grab it. All eyes were on me as I ripped the treasure open and there, stuffed into a paper bag, was a “Kiss the Cook” apron. Nice, but sorely less than anticipated.

The event is often greeted with protestations claiming childishness, but once the gifts appear accompanied by the appropriate wisecracks, it develops into a riot of revelry especially if a drink or three is involved. If you think your crowd is above all that, think again and give it a try.

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My yearly rant: The un-Christ-ing of Christmas http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/11/my-yearly-rant-the-un-christ-ing-of-christmas/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/11/my-yearly-rant-the-un-christ-ing-of-christmas/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 21:25:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/12/11/my-yearly-rant-the-un-christ-ing-of-christmas/

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I am not against the use of “Holiday” or “December Nights,” but I object to the pussy-footing around the ancient tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Dec. 25; going so far as to avoid even saying his name so as not to offend others. What’s to offend? December has several important days of celebration for many peoples.

Let’s combine, mix and match. Let’s learn from our friends and neighbors and share the joy and significance of these special times. If you are uncomfortable with that, at least do not pretend the lights burning for eight days did not happen, the African American community has not established a wonderful celebration and Christ is not to be mentioned on Christ mass day.

A recent newspaper article listed and explained 27 TV specials and 23 TV movies for December. Bending over backwards not to print the forbidden word, “holiday” was the winning substitution with adjectives: festive, party, events, spirit, season, themed, evening, etc. “Holy” did not make the cut. There was one mention of an angel, but not one hovering o’er a manger. Santa and a plethora of other darling creations abounded.

I am counting on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to buck the trend and belt out something religious. To give credit, Hanukkah was allotted one mention, but Kwanza seems to be a non-event. All the shows will invariably climax in lessons of Goodness and Love with cloyingly adorable children and teary-eyed adults finding the True Spirit of Chris…, sorry, I mean, the Holidays.

Finally, a reminder: Hanukkah is Dec. 16-24, the Winter Solstice is Dec. 21, Christmas is Dec. 25 and Kwanza is Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Happy everything, everybody.

To beard or not to beard

Fads and fashions are often of utmost importance to members of the LGBT community, some more than others to be sure, but to be “in” is always desirable. Unfortunately, due to the constant changing of styles, we seniors have closets full of clothes which were once fashionable and fabulous – my scarlet Nehru jacket brought tortured gasps of envy – thus we wait for the trends to return. The fact few still fit is irrelevant.

My current displeasure deals with the fad for the new products which de-hair by electrolysis, plucking, shaving, waxing (whatever that is) and what looks like adhesive tape which they then rip off (AAUGH! You crazy people!).

Such devices used to be for armpits and legs for women, but now the target is men’s hair on arms, backs, chests and faces and implies such hair is now unattractive. What a crock! Hair is sexy and for a guy’s polish and class, a beard (the facial kind) is a great accouterment. I’m not a fan of the scruffy three-day baby beard recently in vogue; I mean the many types of well-groomed, real beards which can add to a man’s allure, dignity, even sexy mystery.

I suggest when shaving, you play with several designs to see the effect of a new look; not to mention how it covers those jowls and frown lines. Sure, some people like the all-over shaved appearance, but let’s face it, the only thing truly handsome when bald is a well-shaped head, such as mine. It contrasts and emphasizes the lower zones for appreciation by the countless admirers of the masculine hairy arms, chests, legs, etc.

As you no doubt noticed, I have avoided discussing the “bikini area” (puleeze!) and its depilation. I’m saving that hairy topic for another article.

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A turkey tale http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/26/a-turkey-tale/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/26/a-turkey-tale/#respond Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:12:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/26/a-turkey-tale/

Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want

Thanksgiving is almost over, but as it is too soon for the religious elves and snowman, I’ll tell you of the Thanksgiving dinner I gave in my first year of teaching. Deciding to duplicate the happy ambiance of the famous Norman Rockwell tribute to Thanksgiving, I invited three equally new, young teachers and, in a moment of madness, declared I was preparing the turkey. My friends were assigned the other traditional dishes (always assign; otherwise, you’ll end up with tons of chips and slightly damaged goodies from the day-old shelf).

Fully aware of the need for doggie-bags and a week of left-overs, I ordered a 12 pounder. When I picked it up that morning, I discovered I had purchased a chunk of granite purported to be a frozen turkey. Thinking fast, I resolved the dilemma by hurling it off the roof, thus breaking it into easier to thaw pieces. A great success, aside from the crater it left in the pavement.

For an hour the pieces took five minute turns in the micro oven until a little softness was more or less evident. Time was running out, so I revved up the oven to 450 and piled in all the pieces, ingeniously concealing a mound of stuffing mix underneath.

After several hours guests received the blackened carcass with its somewhat edible outer inch of crispy, crunchy crust. Surprise! It was, as is traditional, the hit of the dinner. Puzzled? I remind you this was in the ‘70s and Puff the Magic Dragon had been brought as an extra, unexpected guest. With his contribution (youngsters, ask a senior), the party was a great success, as far as we could remember. It was an unforgettable day of laughter and companionship. I hope your Thanksgiving is equally memorable.

A senior’s ramblings

Times change and I suppose we must also, although I am proceeding grudgingly. Music still enthralls me, but the musicality often puzzles me especially combined with words I can’t understand or which make no sense. It often seems beautiful lyrics and melodies are no longer required.

In a local music store, I asked about an album of Stephen Foster’s songs and music and the reply was, “What does he play?” Films remain a constant joy and are still being made by geniuses and talented actors. I fail to appreciate the ultra-violent and overly sexual (except for a select number of personal VHS art films).

Idols of the cinema still have the allure of old, but many of the younger ones with millions of fanatical followers are a jumble. On seeing their individual performances, however, I have been impressed. Action stars are now aided by the incredible magic of the computer. Everything looks so real one wonders if the acting is truly unassisted. My loyalties are still to the unsurpassed giants of the past. We seniors know there is only one Tarzan, Wonder Woman or James Bond. Fashion, as always, can produce gasps or gags.

Walking in front of me yesterday was a young person studded and tattooed hither and yon (the yon boggles my mind). Enormous breasts jutted out unnaturally from just under her collar bone. Her pants were so tight I thought, “If she farts, she’ll blow her shoes off.” The height of fashion. What happened to poodle skirts? Some days I feel I am on another planet. Young people probably think the same looking at me – an old guy wearing jeans (dungarees!) carrying a man-bag (It is not a purse). I wonder if they recognize the signs of their future.

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Sin, sex and scandal sink beloved saga http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/13/sin-sex-and-scandal-sink-beloved-saga/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/13/sin-sex-and-scandal-sink-beloved-saga/#respond Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:45:05 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/11/13/sin-sex-and-scandal-sink-beloved-saga/

Fans of the internationally popular and inspirational adventures of Honey Boo Boo and her all-American family are heartbroken by reports of the unseemly relationship recently undertaken by Mama June, the disillusion of her relationship with cuddly Sugar Bear and the oldest daughter’s public baring of indecent acts allegedly committed on her when a child by Mama’s new boyfriend. The supermarket tabloid publishers are in a frenzy of delight over the early Christmas present.

For the rest of us, however, the shock is almost too much to bear. June’s four children by four different men are indisputable evidence of her allure and seductiveness, but we find it hard to accept this ex-con from the past who is fawning over her. Worse, she has reciprocated by dismissing Sugar Bear whose many fans find him adorable. It is hoped by all that with some teeth he’ll soon find a new amour. He may also end up with custody of Honey Boo Boo due to Mama June’s display of bad judgment.

The sad consequence of it all is that the fate and happiness of the whole family has been compromised; undoubtedly the girls’ college plans have been put on hold (I was envisioning graduate school). Shame and ridicule have befallen one of the reigning royal families of American television.

Now comes more devastating news; although fully completed, the entire fourth season has been cancelled (Oh God, make the horror stop!). We can only pray it will be included in the full boxed set. To the admirers of the heavy and the big-boned, the sexual magnetism of charming, fun-loving June is clear, but they must wonder what this guy’s got, compared to Sugar Bear, to keep her in this state of happy, irrational bliss.

It’s nice to be nice

For years I’ve followed a rabbi’s advice, “It’s nice to be nice, so be nice” and have been quick to compliment and be congenial (at times through gritting teeth). The results have been generally positive with a memorable exception being when I remarked on the attractiveness of a female co-worker’s ensemble and she accused me of unprofessional sexism (a compliment to her was so rare an occurrence; one could understand the aroused suspicion). It was pointed out to her (by others) I said similar things to the males in the office and the matter was grudgingly dropped (bitch!).

Of late I’ve noticed when I or other seniors offer appreciative pleasantries, the reciprocal results are more hesitant. The young think we are trying to pick them up and the seniors wonder what we want. Nevertheless, I have continued remarking positively on a person’s appearance (when possible) and giving a cheery greeting.

As I persevere, my neighbors old and young, before so wary or suspicious, now return my salutations and even smile. Give it a try. Find something nice to say about that old grouch in your building or at work; if no such quality is evident, a simple “Good morning” will do. They may be surprised at first, but you’ll both feel great when they (finally) return your smile or say, “Thank you.”

Of course such feedback is not guaranteed; some disappointments are inevitable. For example, yesterday, downtown, I saw one guy say, “Nice hat” to another and he received a blinding smile. So I did the same thing to a hunky lawyer type, but my reward was a withering scowl. True, I rephrased slightly, but “Your hat’s fabulous,” means the same thing, doesn’t it?

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Catch you later, dude. (Not likely) http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/30/catch-you-later-dude-not-likely/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/30/catch-you-later-dude-not-likely/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:20:57 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/30/catch-you-later-dude-not-likely/

As seniors have done since the time of the cave-persons, we complain about the younger generation. Looking at the past, we grudgingly admit our parents felt the same way, but that was different; we were right. As the decades have passed, we noticed changes. Whether we approved or not, we often followed the trends in order to appear still amongst the young, in some cases with eye-brow raising results.

A successful case in point; however, is the clean shaven head. I and several of you were far ahead of that trend. As for other things, I must admit I cannot bend with the wind nor flow with the tide. To me an absurdity would be to take part in a fist bump, whether it be with a young person or a fellow senior (as if they would even attempt such a thing). The word “dude” issuing from my mouth would cause not only snickers, but my vocal cords to petrify. It would be akin to a young person uttering “sir” or “ma’am.” Two words fast losing all usage. As it is, I still find difficulty with “Ms.” Yes, yes, I know the importance politically, etc. and I try to remember, but breaking life-long habits is not easy. Another bone of contention is my refusal to blog, face or twit. I suppose I shall eventually succumb, but I am putting up a fight as I watch the art of conversation and group interaction dying in front of me.

I suppose it doesn’t really matter because in all the “in” places for the young into which I have been dragged, the music and noise are so loud there is no possibility of meaningful conversation anyway. One wonders what they will talk about once they finally get to be alone and without their machines. Is it my age, or is there a point here? One shudders at the thought of what these young people will eventually be complaining about concerning their younger generation. Glad I won’t be here.

Does “Nov. 4” ring a bell?

I am famous for my reticence to offer opinions and advice; my briefs are legendary for their sober impartiality as well as for being open to all and sundry. However, when prompted by necessity (or the stupidity of others), I find courage and conviction in disregarding etiquette and in the politest possible way correcting the wayward with my humble thoughts and opinions.

My only exception as to topics has been about politics, but I am bending my rule today as I realize an important date has sneaked up on us. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Nov. 4 is almost here: ELECTION DAY. For this, I will venture into political territory deep enough to remind you of the importance of your vote. The governor, senators, representatives, judges and all kinds of worthies are to be elected at all levels and several important local issues are to be decided. It is being pointed out by the pundits that the races will be very close this time and the outcomes in several states including ours will determine the future of Congress, the country, the courts and, especially for us, several vital LGBT issues. It is also being said the off-year elections bring out the fewest voters and results are often not what the majority of the population wants, but, sad to say, the majority of voters wins. Therefore, on your way to work, during your lunch hour or on your way home and before hitting the bars, gyms, vegan eateries, your motorcycle, sofa or other important destinations, get yourself to your voting center on the fourth.

If you are one of the really busy ones, I hope you have mailed in your ballot already. If you don’t care enough to do your duty, you have no right to complain about the results. I am not telling you how to vote. I am just telling you to VOTE.

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I can’t do it. It’s too long http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/16/i-cant-do-it-its-too-long/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/16/i-cant-do-it-its-too-long/#respond Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:00:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/16/i-cant-do-it-its-too-long/

There comes a time when we have to admit we just can’t handle it. I increasingly face this problem lately as I try to live up to expectations and my reputation. But sadly, my briefs can only be crammed so full. This is the reason it is necessary to abridge my articles which actually start out twice this length. With the magic computer, I rearrange, rewrite and eliminate brilliant metaphors and stunning word play to end with what you see. I might venture to say it is not unlike the sacrilege of Hamlet’s three hours being cut to a 90 minute special (on second thought … Let’s not go there).

One of my space saving creations is the gay-oriented “LGBTers.” This is half the length of “the LGBT community” and saves almost two lines by not having to write Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Trans …Trans; oh, oh, here we go again facing a typical dilemma. Do I write transsexual, transvestite, transgender, transgendered or all of them? Recently, the new designation trans* caused a moment of consideration, but the moment soon passed when I found this explanation on a respected Web site, “It is an effort to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.” Got that? Sorry, that isn’t going to work. To tell the truth, I, and I’m sure most of you, don’t understand several of the terms. This might be all well and good for the younger crowd, but we seniors didn’t grow up with so many categories. So you can see my problem. As for “non-cisgender gender,” it means … oops, sorry, out of space.

My hero has arrived

By the time you read this my partner of 41 years will have arrived from Japan and I will be set aside as manager and maintenance man of my own home. Without complaint, I have worked my fingers and knees to the bone getting everything ready, but I know he will soon take over the major duties of apartment upkeep. I try, but somehow my vacuuming, cleaning and dusting are not up to international health standards. He fusses and complains about it until I reluctantly hand the jobs over to him; likewise the oven, windows, bathroom floors and trash. He actually dusts and cleans behind (and under!) things. So cute.

Lest I give the impression of counting on his assistance for all and sundry, I do the dishes, most of the time, and I try to do more, but now that I’ve developed a terrible back pain, he won’t hear of my lifting anything. He goes so far as to carrying my shopping bags home as well as my washing basket down to the laundry room. But, he is not alone! I put the coins in and help fold the sheets. He is truly my hero. I may soon give in to his plea to help my back pain with a massage. We’ll see.

Truth to tell, on occasion I sense a subtle hint of censure. For example, I suspect his vacuuming right in the middle of Honey Boo Boo was not by chance and the other day when he was down scrubbing the kitchen floor, I leaned over him to get myself some ice cream from the freezer and pointed out a few spots he’d missed. He mumbled something in Japanese I was unfamiliar with which I tell myself was an expression of thanks.

He is really wonderful and I am fully aware of the immense value of his efforts. After all, when alone, I too am a martyr to my mop and vacuum as I am to my diet. It’s just that I’m not a fanatic.

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My recent tribulations http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/02/my-recent-tribulations/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/10/02/my-recent-tribulations/#respond Thu, 02 Oct 2014 23:32:17 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=51950

Recently, a simple coffee break with friends produced several puzzling points for me to ponder. The first occurred when I innocently offered my spoon to a friend to stir his coffee. True, I had just used it in my own coffee, but I had not licked it, rubbed my filthy fingers on it, nor placed it on the undoubtedly germ-laden table top; yet the horror registering on my friend’s face was as if he had just learned it was I who had killed Bambi’s mother.

My offer sternly rejected, I commented on the customary cheek pecks (or more) we give and receive from our fellow LGBTers and wondered how many of us stop and consider where those lips have been. I also remarked about washing up in the restroom and then opening the toilet door by grabbing the fetid fingered door knob. Of course germophobes have their point and I am sure they are safer than I when it comes to picking up typhoid fever or cholera, but considering the handrails, bus straps and of course various poles I’ve held on to, I don’t feel it necessary to go that far.

I recall a TV safari program on which a cook was ordered to wear plastic gloves while preparing meals. The tourists were blithely unaware the dishes were later “washed” by rubbing them with desert sand. My second trial happened when I casually mentioned I had purchased a new watch at Walmart. Intense condemnation followed as to why I had not “bought American.” In my defense I reminded them we seniors were encouraged for years and years by mother to think of the poor Chinese children. So I did. What’s the problem? By the way, did I mention it cost $7.99? Was I supposed to go to fancy Costco? I wonder just how much “Made in USA” they sell. Some nitpickers, predominately among the young, will find my trials and discussion topics inconsequential and suggest we seniors should be discussing world crises, the minimum wage and the gayness of Carl DeMaio. Actually, we do, but our insightful suggestions and brilliant solutions are constantly ignored. Especially mine!

 

Stop putting it off

I just received news of an old friend’s final days. He could barely speak as he admitted he had no will, but wanted everything to go to his partner of 20 years and not a penny to his sister. A will was quickly typed up, but he wouldn’t sign it insisting, “No not yet.” Too late. His sister got everything. She gave the partner $5,000 and ordered him to be out of “her” condo in 30 days. Can this happen to you? Do you think you can’t go tomorrow? Do you think you’re taking it with you? Wake up, grow up and face reality. Make a will now, and don’t forget the equally necessary and important Health Directive or “Living Will” detailing your vital hospital choices. Maybe you think, ”No problem, I’ve told people what I want.” Sorry, they may be your nearest and dearest, but their “He/she told me” is meaningless. The nearest relative rules. Even your spouse might not follow your wishes if it isn’t written down. Recently, my relatives were saved from making painful decisions concerning a family member. Due to her clearly written instructions, there was no arguing, no family discussion and no guilt. We were all deeply grateful for her guidance. Other families are not so lucky. Horror stories abound of hospital fights between relatives and friends, each claiming to know the patient’s wishes. The same mess ensues when there is no will or a poorly made one. If you have a will, think about an update as you consider if those wishes still apply and the recipients, if alive, still worthy of your generosity. Actually, it can be rather fun enriching (or not) the people in your life and rather calming choosing your hospital treatment.

For assistance with these important legal documents, check with The Center for a referral or simply ask your friends. Protect the ones you love not only financially, but emotionally by saving them the terrible ordeal of having to make literally life/death decisions. In the long run, it is all about you, so get things the way you want them.

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Scam alert — seniors beware http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/18/scam-alert-seniors-beware/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/18/scam-alert-seniors-beware/#respond Fri, 19 Sep 2014 00:14:19 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/18/scam-alert-seniors-beware/

The Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes is well-known and legit, but when a friend called to say he’d won $100,000, I had to break the bad news that the letter he received was a scam. I had seen it explained on TV the night before. Now he is furious because I “ruined everything.” Luckily he had not sent the crooks “$800 in taxes.” That is a sure scam sign; winners are never asked for money. Google “PCH scam” for full details.

Seniors are the preferred scam victims; so when a letter arrives with suspiciously good news, check it out by calling the phone number on the company’s official Web site; not the number they give you in the letter. Why not? They, the crooks, will answer, dummy! Be especially wary of the word free. It is used to open the door to your contact information for high pressure sales later. Furthermore, note the carefully worded enticements and the long cautionary statements at the end of the TV or magazine ads often with unknown medical terms, impossible to read small print and half-second “something” flashed on the TV screen. All these things should ring an alarm bell. Unfortunately, they usually don’t and that is what the scumbags are counting on.

They hope you won’t pay attention to: paid actor, may help, usually, decreases appearance of, results not typical, results may vary. My favorite is, “re-enactment of a typical demonstration.” Except for “of” and “a” every word contains an escape from a lawsuit just like all the previously mentioned words and phrases. As for the phone caller’s instruction, “Push 1 to stop further calls.” Don’t. If you do, it tells them you’re a sucker who listened to the whole recording. Just hang up – at once. Face it. Unknown callers do not want to talk to you about something; they want to talk you into something.

The curse of gym class

My dad watched all the big games. My brother played on several teams. When the University of Rhode Island combined the men’s and women’s Phys. Ed. departments into one, my cousin Jeanette beat out the male faculty members to become its first chairperson. Clearly, my family was sports friendly, except for me. I tried, but the fun of getting drunk in a freezing stadium and the excitement of seeing a ball being thrown, hit or bounced back and forth somehow escaped me. Actually doing it was out of the question.

The hunky guys, however, were a joy to watch and the athletic gals were fodder for many a lesbian fantasy. I paid special attention to the cute swimmers and male cheerleaders. Unfortunately, their sexual athleticism was always slightly suspect; like the band’s flamboyant drum-majors.

My non-interest in sports was fueled by the school gym classes in which I was always picked last. Not that I seriously blame them. I guess there’s something about me that said, “He’ll drop the ball – if he ever catches it.” True, but catching hurt my hand, hitting the damn ball was impossible with that heavy bat, the basket was miles about my head and worse, as long as there was no snow on the ground, we had to “play” outside. Not my fault! Finally the coach assigned me to spend the time exercising with the blind student. A great idea. We had fun running around the field and chatting (He became Maine’s only blind attorney and later a district court judge).

All in all, the gym was a boring place (except for the locker room). The butch gays in the closet and the lesbians often enjoyed the games, but they seldom got a rise out of me. The best I could do was to be or dream of being an athletic supporter.

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Sea Dogs 7, Flying Squirrels 1 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/04/sea-dogs-7-flying-squirrels-1/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/04/sea-dogs-7-flying-squirrels-1/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 19:41:30 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/09/04/sea-dogs-7-flying-squirrels-1/

On my recent trip to visit my family I was thrilled to read the above headline in my hometown newspaper. It means the Portland team now leads the East Division (of something) by 1 1/2 games. “One more win puts them in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.” My heart be still.

My sports knowledge and its accompanying enthusiasm are well-known to be stereotypically gay male; that is zilch, nil, nada; on the other hand, my loyalty to the local teams is stout-hearted and unquestioned. Another memorable item in the local paper was a letter from Irate Reader to the editor condemning the comic strip “Beetle Bailey” for “condoning violence which has no place in a comic strip!” I suggest Irate Reader needs a hobby. The police report was of daily interest as it gave insight into the extent and viciousness of the city’s criminal element. The arrests were mainly traffic related or “drunk and disorderly” with a few cases having to do with people being a bit vague as to the subtleties of ownership.

On another note, I heard not a word of Spanish spoken; furthermore, the shocking news greeted me that Portland’s historic second language, French, was about to be overtaken by the new champion – hang on – Somali. A large number of Somalis arrived a few years ago for a new life after facing persecution for their political and religious beliefs, just as our forefathers did.

The weather was beautiful with the exception of one night’s deluge of 6.7 inches; a very respectable number for many things, but a remarkable one for rainfall in Maine, or anywhere.

As I began, I’ll end my reminiscences with a sports comment. Basketball season fast approaches and the city and myself are eager to cheer on the (we hope) new champions of the NBA Group D: Portland’s powerful, fast, sexy – Red Claws. Yeah, team.

Guest treatment

When one is traveling on a budget, one is always grateful for accommodations offered by family and friends. However, common sense is often in short supply from the well-meaning hosts. I refer to a guest with a well-known cat allergy being subjected to a serious reaction and an emergency room visit only to be given the weak apology, “Yes, I know your bed was the cat’s favorite sleeping place, but she’s been dead a month.” Then we have the delightful wind chimes just outside the window; soothing to the spirit and the savage beasts, but not the sleeper.

LGBTers are familiar with the ploy of the hosting family member trying to end the shame of an unmarried relative by inviting a conveniently single girl/guy over “To make a foursome. What fun. We knew you wouldn’t mind.” There is also the free room in exchange for baby-sitting duty, “She’ll sleep all the time. You won’t know she’s there.” The shrieking starts the moment they are out of the driveway. Better yet, “Silly me. That’s the old emergency number I gave you. Oh well, the police finally came and it all worked out, didn’t it?” Another teeth-grinding episode occurs in a fancy restaurant at the end of a family dinner with three bottles of horrendously expensive wine, I, as a non-drinker, invariably hear the hated, “Oh, let’s just split it down the middle.” An incident a few years ago brought my favorite reaction, “Sorry about the cat peeing on your Gucci vicuna coat. Be sure to send us the bill for a new one.” Yeah, right.

We all have horror stories of good intentions gone bad. In fact, sometimes we are the boorish hosts; unintentionally, of course, otherwise to have committed various faux pas on purpose would lead to suspicions Motel 6 would be the preferred residence of choice next time. But we would never do that.

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It’s lobster time again http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/21/its-lobster-time-again/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/21/its-lobster-time-again/#respond Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:40:44 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/21/its-lobster-time-again/

Here I am back visiting my hometown Portland, Maine. Real trees, not those scrawny palms, surround me making everything so green I feel I’m in the Emerald City. Speaking of which (if you have to ask a senior, turn in your gay card), my old cruising, I mean stomping, ground is almost unrecognizable. True, L.L. Bean boots and Red Sox sweats are a far cry from Hillcrest’s fashion ambiance, but the LGBT presence is clearly evident. GayWeddingsInMaine.com has over 400 businesses in its network bringing in over $20 million a year to the state. The Pride committee hosts a full ten days of events. All the local beaches have blond (“from the sun”) beach bunnies cavorting as usual, although, to tell the truth, the ocean water is like ice, but various land activities seem unimpeded.

Just down the coast Ogunquit, the gay mecca of northern New England, is jumping; not as high as Provincetown, but outside of Fire Island, what is? I chatted with several of Portland’s large lesbian population and found many had come to live in Maine after visiting friends here. I didn’t meet any of the trans community. They seem to keep a low profile, but according to Web site comments, aside from what they refer to as “the usual hassles,” things are pretty good here. There are local support systems for all the LGBT family, plus of course openly gay bars, parades, marriages, adoptions, university LGBT organizations, etc.

For me and other seniors, all of these things were unheard of – undreamed of – in our day. We can’t help but think of our friends of the past who never got a chance to be themselves. At least now we can finally enjoy these out-of-the-closet benefits for this part of our lives. I will think of that tonight as I enjoy my lobster dinner in a popular restaurant maybe sitting across from a gay/lesbian couple with their children. Unbelievable. Am I in Oz?

A cure for retirement boredom

After retirement’s first month of sleeping in and tending the garden, the problem surfaces of what to do; especially when friends are still working. My suggestion today offers LGBTers of all backgrounds and capabilities a chance at excitement, responsibility and new friendships. Volunteer.

Something as basic as answering phones or making sandwiches is a start. With a car you can pick up donations or drive people to doctor visits. Teach remedial classes or English as a Second Language. Help in general with children, animals, refugees, those blind, deaf, or challenged in some way. In all areas, foreign languages, particularly other than Spanish, are desperately needed. Carpenters, plumbers, repair persons and skilled people of all kinds are welcomed by many groups. For example, my barber friend often cuts hair at a special care facility. If you can help, do as I did and Google, “volunteer San Diego.” You’ll find a long list of opportunities. Simpler, call up or just walk into a thrift store, homeless shelter, food bank, etc. and ask how you can help. They will gladly give you the contact information. The same goes for any religious or ethnic group you identify with.

Needless to say, The Center needs volunteers for its many projects dealing with a variety of issues. For the adventure of living in a foreign country, don’t forget the Peace Corps (Seniors remember “Miss Lillian,” President Carter’s mother, who, after years of volunteer work in the rural South, went off to India at the age of 68).

Want an environment far outside your life experience, but you don’t want to leave the USA? Try teaching at a Native American school or rural America school; go to AmeriCorps.com. If you are sitting around wondering what to do with all your new free time, check out some of these suggestions. Believe me, you are wanted, desired, needed.

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To tattoo or not to tattoo http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/07/to-tattoo-or-not-to-tattoo/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/07/to-tattoo-or-not-to-tattoo/#respond Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:06:24 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/08/07/to-tattoo-or-not-to-tattoo/

I am fascinated by today’s explosion of tattoo art and decoration amongst the younger generations. Sure we had tattoos in our day: an anchor, the name of a boy/girlfriend or two, a hula girl, “MOM” and a rose thrown in for good measure, but after getting married or a job, all were covered up. Now, no body part is safe from being proudly displayed: a spider web spreads over a young girl’s face, knuckles declare one’s love and hate to all and sundry and I hear rumors of men and women enduring the needle to receive inkings on (and in!) their most private parts.

Despite all that, I toyed with the idea of butching up my image by joining the ink community. Checking the catalogues, I was intrigued by the beauty and variety of designs. On the other hand, I was shocked by some of the more erotic choices. (Boys and girls, really! What would your nana say!)

One of the artists invited me to a demonstration of “discomfort zones.” Having no idea what this was, I joined several leather and ink covered men and women to observe as the artist drew small, new designs over his “living canvas” while commenting on the level of pain in each area. Audience members gave suggestions as I kept my eyes glued to the ceiling. The “canvas” occasionally moaned, but made no plea to stop. Later, we went to a bar to fete the tattooee. I felt out of place, but they assured me I was welcomed and that they were looking forward to seeing my new arm. (In a moment of bravado, I had succumbed to their suggestion of a Japanese sleeve; whatever that is.)

Once home and sober, I decided I was butch enough. I called the artist, wished him and the gang all the best and canceled the session offering him an unassailable excuse: my mother wouldn’t let me.

Everybody does it and it’s good for you

As the years have sped by, many of our abilities and habits have become modified in some way. There is one popular activity, however, that becomes more important to many senior men and women particularly if they live alone. No need to be ashamed; the medical value to those of all ages is well-known and has been long touted by many experts. For some, it can last for a few minutes; others, with certain pills, for several hours. When we were young, we were often ashamed and covert in our pleasure. Now that we are seniors, however, we can enjoy ourselves anywhere from our living-room recliner to a serious session in the bedroom. I’ve even succumbed to the urge watching certain movies. I am jealous of the younger crowd’s making a habit of it before hitting the bars just when I’m thinking about going to bed. The afternoon is the preferred time for me as it is in many countries where, in fact, tradition encourages the practice.

Call it resting the eyelids or taking a siesta, the nap is a vital part of our lives. The main point is not to take it as a sign of old age or as something negative. Studies consistently reveal naps increase one’s efficiency and cite people like Thomas Edison and Michelangelo whose 20-minute naps re-vitalized them.

I try to avoid napping, but if I close my eyes just for a second to picture a crossword puzzle word, the next thing I know it is 20 minutes later. Some people doze off watching TV and wake up just in time to get ready for bed. That may be overdoing it, but I understand; the programs are so confusing.

Yesterday, momentarily resting my eyes from the TV glare, I opened them and the blond I had detected to be the murderess had vanished and the cast and plot line were unrecognizable. These avant-garde dramas would put anyone to sleep.

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A Pride reflection: Do a street and a stamp erase the Twinkie defense? http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/24/a-pride-reflection-do-a-street-and-a-stamp-erase-the-twinkie-defense/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/24/a-pride-reflection-do-a-street-and-a-stamp-erase-the-twinkie-defense/#respond Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:42:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/24/a-pride-reflection-do-a-street-and-a-stamp-erase-the-twinkie-defense/

Looking at the carefree young faces celebrating Pride, I couldn’t help remembering the world we faced at that age. My thoughts drifted to Harvey and the killings. The above phrase came to mind and I was sadly aware many young LGBTers have no idea it refers to Harvey Milk whom I hope they know was one of the first openly gay men elected to public office. He was killed in 1978 along with San Francisco mayor George Moscone.

Harvey was a courageous front-runner in our struggle and the street in front of The Center is named after him. This year a U.S. postage stamp bearing his portrait was issued.

As for the Twinkie defense, it was part of the hoopla surrounding the trial of the man charged with the murders, Dan White. With several witnesses to the killings, the verdict was obvious, right? Wrong. In those days there was little sympathy for anyone gay and “murder” was a harsh, ugly word. Seniors remember our disbelief when the defense argued his client was not fully responsible for his actions because he had been eating too much sugar-laden food such as Twinkies and this had caused a temporary personality change. Crazy? Like a fox.

Sure, he was found guilty, but of the lesser “voluntary manslaughter.” For the deaths of two innocent people, he got a seven year sentence and was out in five. Jokes and comments abounded about what soon became known as the Twinkie Defense. How everyone laughed, except the LGBT community. Justice was somehow not the same for us as for other people. Now, after 35 years, the United States government has attempted, over strenuous objections from the right and the usual Christian zealots, to make amends with the issuance of the Harvey Milk postage stamp.

I am not sure if this has healed any wounds, but for me, it was a momentous event to celebrate this year and one I am trying to accept as a gesture of repentance.

Lesbian slang vs. gay slang

When LGBT people tell stories and jokes within their sexual families, the slang-filled conversations often leave members of other groups in the dark. At a party recently, I overheard a group of lesbians, but failed to comprehend a slang-filled tale of (I think) rejection and seduction followed by raucous laughter and knowing nods. I then realized I had just done something similar with a joke to a group of gay guys. It involved the star of many a limerick the popular young man from Pawtucket, drunken bear cubs and ending with a clever word-play referring to the well-known fable of the gay whale and the pineapple (or English muffin in the notorious lesbian version).

Lamenting the fact our LBGT vocabularies can’t be enjoyed by all, I vowed to improve the situation. I Googled “lesbian slang” and was amazed at the long list of terms.

For me, several of the definitions needed definitions. The same may be said about the “gay slang” list which had many puzzling entries including some too specific within various sub-communities to be understood (or believed!) by outsiders.

The wonderful creativity of the language found in both lists energized my desire to incorporate these new-found terms and phrases into my articles and jokes. Unfortunately, it proved more difficult than I thought. One side or the other was usually confused and explaining took the punch out of the punch line.

By combining terms from both sides, I had hoped everyone would at least get the gist of the story. Alas, my crusade to create inter-group humor failed. For example, I retold my whale story, but people received the final zinger with a long, silent pause followed by a few feeble laughs before everyone fled.

I still found it hilarious, but like the tree falling in the woods, if no one laughs, is it funny? On reflection, I may have erred in changing the lad from Pawtucket to tea-bagger and pineapple to bean-flicker.

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Here comes Pride! http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/17/here-comes-pride/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/17/here-comes-pride/#respond Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:05:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/17/here-comes-pride/

San Diego Pride | Photo: San Diego LGBT Pride

Can it be that time again? Yes, it can. Pride is here. I mean our outward expression and celebration of LGBTism. We seniors have clear and unhappy memories of our years of secrets, embarrassment, shame and fear for our jobs, safety and even lives for being ourselves. The situation has changed for many of us, but sadly, many of our brothers and sisters still live in areas of hate and discrimination. They need our prayers and support whenever and however we can give it.

This coming weekend, we in San Diego have the chance to express ourselves and our sexuality without hindrance or legal complications. There is one exception, perhaps, in the differing opinions as to what is acceptable nudity and body art. Surely it is not hard to realize University Avenue is not Folsom Street. The general public here has been very supportive of us recently with families and people of all stripes lining the streets, attending the festival and, to a large extent, cheering us on. They expect to see wild and wonderful costumes, lots of skin and moments of outlandishness; it is part of the fun. However, to go over the limits and flash obviously X-rated outfits, appendages and signs in people’s faces is not helpful to the LGBT community. Sorry if you disagree (Not really). You can still strut your stuff in a fab sexy costume, just save the abbreviated version for the private parties and events.

With this single quibble, I hope everyone gets out and supports as many of the events as possible – especially those which are donating to various causes important to our community. Finally, be sure to wave as the trolley goes by filled with members of the senior men’s group, FOG (Fellowship of Older Gays). Sooner than you think, you may be riding in it.

I had to show it

A thrilling and rare event occurred recently. I was in a local thrift store to purchase a few things (for a friend) and the hunk at the counter asked if I had any discount. I acknowledged, believe it or not, I was a senior. Whereupon, he asked to see my driver’s license! Hurt (not) by his inference of my dishonesty, I showed him my ID; managing to cover the mad-slasher photo with my thumb.

Later, my mood plummeted during a phone call to my partner in Japan. I told him how wonderful it was, after such a long time, to have been carded by a handsome young man. Not knowing what “carded” meant, he somehow put a sinister and unseemly meaning to the word and suddenly his voice emitted vibrations of seething sulk.

Some of you might wonder how I could tell, but those of us in long-term relationships know the situation. It goes with the territory. We have experienced the silence period interrupted only by an occasional “mmm,” “uh-huh” or “I see.” The question, “Is anything wrong?” gets, “No.” “Are you sure?” “Yes.” Further inquiry leads to, “Why should anything be wrong? I haven’t done anything.” Emphasis on the “I.” While trying to sound care-free and cheery, we madly try to think what we have said or done. We talk faster and faster until we are babbling and our mind is reeling with possibilities.

In this case, I soon realized the villain, but my explanation was greeted with only mild acceptance, if not skepticism. The problem was he found my being carded hard to believe. Well! That was certainly worthy of a snit – mine. But I let it go to keep peace in the valley. In my own mind the scenario was quite understandable. I recall the lust in the young man’s eyes and the way he peered at my card. Obviously, it was all a ploy to find out my address. Cheeky devil! But when you’ve still got it, you have to put up with such things.

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Godfrey, Sullivan, Burnett, Gleason: Variety memories http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/03/godfrey-sullivan-burnett-gleason-variety-memories/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/03/godfrey-sullivan-burnett-gleason-variety-memories/#respond Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:24:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/07/03/godfrey-sullivan-burnett-gleason-variety-memories/

Phyllis Diller

The talent and variety shows currently monopolizing the TV screens are justifiably enjoyable and engaging to be sure, but have you noticed how many of the acts of our youth are missing? When was the last time you heard a marimba solo? Don’t you miss the accordionist’s anthem “Lady of Spain” or the “The Bell Song” from Lakmé screeched by an aspiring diva? Today’s generation finds mandolins and harmonicas as foreign as the once fashionable theremin (look it up, kids).

Good ventriloquists and comedians are still vying for stardom, but, for me, very few have the cleverness and impeccable delivery of Jonathan Winters, Flip Wilson, Phyllis Diller, etc. No one today is funnier or gayer than Paul Lynde and “Madame” with puppeteer Wayland Flowers. Where are the yodelers? The amazing whistlers? Not the bird imitators, although admired by many, but those who could stun us with classical favorites as could those clever artists with their musical saw. That’s right; an actual wood-cutting saw played with a violin bow. Ask any senior.

I am still not a fan of the acrobats and jugglers. Knowing how hard they practiced, I didn’t want to see them fail, but watch we all did. With only three channels (the education channel didn’t count) family entertainment ruled; nothing was too experimental or “adult,” so the talent/variety show fit the bill. Its popularity has had its ups and downs. It is currently on a high up due to the never-ending lure of a chance to become a star on national TV. How I would love to appear on such a show, but I can’t compete with the type of talent popular today. When the tide changes; however, I’ll be ready with my spoons and kazoo.

Make a list

While skimming through my cell phone’s “contacts,” it dawned on me I can no longer remember anyone’s phone number – including my own (I never call myself). No one keeps such numerical details in their head anymore. We just open a Web site and push buttons. I then thought of several other everyday activities which used to be part of our lives but which are now unknown in the world of the younger generation. I mentioned this to a bunch of fellow ancient kibitzers and we had fun making a list of things which used to be common knowledge or job-required skills but no longer have a place in the modern world.

Some examples: we could remember dozens of phone numbers, take shorthand, use a mimeograph machine, compute with a slide rule, write in script with complete sentences, put carbon paper in the right way (usually), cook without a microwave oven, iron a shirt, spell, darn a sock, waltz, sing folk songs at a hullabaloo, tie-dye a shirt, ride a bike without gears or a handbrake, use a library’s reference materials, realize a “two-holer” has nothing to do with golf, etc. We then increased our amusement with our LGBT memories and brought up some wild, outrageous and even down-right filthy (in the best sense of the word) suggestions dealing with police, secret bars, wild LSD experiments, tearooms and cottages, learning of “safe” friends/hotels/cruising areas when traveling, “Sent in a plain brown wrapper,” finding and trying on large-sized dresses/wigs/shoes, Boston marriages and so on and on.

Give it a try among your friends and see what you can add to the list, but don’t get too smug about it; remember, the LGBT youth can make a list which would puzzle, shock and befuddle you just as much.

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Stop pestering me with sex ads http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/06/19/stop-pestering-me-with-sex-ads/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/06/19/stop-pestering-me-with-sex-ads/#respond Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:27:12 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/2014/06/19/stop-pestering-me-with-sex-ads/

thinkstock

I cannot speak for the entire senior LGBT community, but many of the males therein on occasion enjoy a peek at a naughty Web site or two. Once viewed, however, it becomes impossible to escape endless enticements depicting an appalling array of sexual toys, equipment, scandalous outfits, DVDs and “personal services.”

This unending invasion of privacy is, as Aunt Agatha would say, “Perfectly horrid!” The most consistent ads I receive are those for Canadian, Mexican or Slovakian Viagra and “enlargement” products (which don’t work!). It seems by simply peeking, in a moment of idle curiosity, I unwittingly gave them my email address which was then passed around the world resulting in what some might call a deluge of depravity.

Since the emails might be real, I naturally have to check. This takes far too much of my time and leads to many a sleepless night. I spend hours trying to backtrack to the source to have my name taken off their list, but I end up on more pages of photos and order forms. When I do connect with a real person, they know nothing of the mailing list; instead, we end up chatting – somehow about very personal matters – which they charge me for.

My only consolation is now and then I’ve spoken to a few charming young men. Sadly, they all have problems, for example Bronc: raised by his grandmother (practically a saint) who now, almost blind, needs an eye operation. I had to force him to take a small monetary gift for her.

I continue in my struggle to get rid of these pesky Internet intrusions. How do they do it? I fear Edward Snowden is right; the government and others have access to my computer! Why didn’t someone tell me about this?

Too many remotes

Like most seniors I am frustrated by the hand-held machines which now dominate society and endlessly multiply and “improve” as soon as I grasp the basics of my most recent purchase; and I’m not even talking about the pad, pods and tablets. I mean the TV remotes. They were once wonderful for changing stations or volume thus allowing me to sit and get fatter. Unfortunately, they expanded to include all the extra machines for things like my VHS (for old Jeff Stryker art films), DVD, DVD recorder and the COX box-thing. All connected somehow to each other. The back of my console looks like the Gordian Knot. They are together in the new machines, but as a Yankee, I can’t toss out my barely 10-year-old Panasonic (which replaced my faithful Motorola).

Adding to the confusion are remotes for the fan, heater, air conditioner and garage door. The pile of instruments on my coffee table would confuse a jet pilot. Trying to escape the commercials and volatile volume changes, I rely on the “mute” to save my sanity.

I thought salvation had arrived in a machine daring to claim, “One remote does all.” I have yet to learn how to record a program, but I gamely tackled the instructions obviously authored by a Chinese ESL drop-out. The result was worthy of a skit featuring The Three Stooges.

Not surprisingly, the jumble of remotes was soon back, but not before I returned to the store demanding satisfaction. There, a snooty clerk blamed all on my equipment being too old (he meant the TV). He even hedged about giving me my money back, but I played the slightly deranged old geezer bit and he gave in. Plus, I casually mentioned the Better Business Bureau.

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