Bill’s Briefs – LGBT Weekly Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:45:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A time for thanks Wed, 23 Nov 2016 18:33:06 +0000


Thanksgiving Day 2016. Well, so much for the prediction the Trumpites would protest in the streets if Hillary won and how awful and un-American that would be. The entrails seem to have been mis-read. Obviously, my advice to vote, at least, for the senate was ignored. I suggest you ask all who complain if they voted. If they didn’t, command them to hold their tongue and declare they got what they deserved. Such stern chastisement coupled with a glowering visage should rouse them to participate next time. Back to the task of writing an article combining being thankful and recent events. I’ll try.

Thanks for the backtracking on several statements. Thanks for an egotist who wants to be the most popular, the greatest. To achieve these goals, he may act contrary to our expectations. Thanks for his good health which shields us from the Bible literalist VP-elect who, given a chance, will wreak havoc on our LGBT community. Thanks that as seniors we will be little affected; although, our children and grand-children will be. Thanks for the friends who sustain us through this initial shock with sympathetic understanding. Thanks also for friends who drifted away this year, but hopefully will return when the dust settles. Thanks for my positive mindset which reminds me our country is the well-named “melting pot;” a compliment reflecting its resulting strength and worth. Thanks for its variety of citizens who all want our nation to be great; admittedly following different paths, but great is still great. Thanks for the chance to do it all again in a couple of years. Thanks for the Chinese trite, but true, “We live in interesting times.”

Where, oh where, is my flip-phone?

The young cashier had trouble when the register froze; he could not figure the change for a $20 bill on an $18.83 purchase. The manager appeared and gave him the answer, but only after taking out her smart-phone and doing the difficult math problem thereon. I and the lady next to me exchanged raised eye-brows. Remember giving change by counting up or even doing the math in our head?

Then there was spelling (usually correct), chatting while eating lunch together, knowing a zillion phone numbers, keeping appointments in our head, etc. Something happens daily to revive such memories and make us crave the old days. But truth to tell, when we first came in contact with new inventions like television, 45’s, push-button phones, electric typewriters (with that ball!), etc. we greeted them eagerly. Today’s generation is doing the same. The difference is the extent the machines take over their personal relations, friendships and social life. Phantom voices make decisions, instruct how to drive home and admonish to lock the door. We had mothers to do that.

The main culprit is the omnipotent smart-phone/computer duo whose power and control gets stronger daily. Apps are continually added allowing them to do more while enabling us to do less. In certain jobs (i.e. cashier) we actually can’t do them anymore. Once we hear “Sorry. The computer is down” no one complains. They know nothing can be done but wait.

I confess I gave in and bought a smart-phone, but I can’t understand 90 percent of it. I pine for my reliable flip-phone. It lies lonely and ignored in my desk. I daren’t use it lest the ridicule and shame force me into reclusion.

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It has ended. Finally! Thu, 10 Nov 2016 20:28:45 +0000


The “It” may be interpreted: the election, the country, the American Way, etc. As I write this, I have no idea who won what. As a non-partisan columnist, the secret of my preferences is sacrosanct, so I will refrain from detailing the horrors ahead for the LGBT community if she didn’t win. In either case, I trust Americans will accept the outcome and move on, believing and hoping all will be united toward the same goal: the betterment of our country.

The recent animosity pervading our shores culminated in distressing comments such as from a woman on TV seriously declaring if her side didn’t win, it was “time for the military to step in.” More than upsetting, it was frightening. Her anger has grown from years of shameful governmental deadlock due to competing sides being inflexible to the point of creating a virtual impasse to critical legislation. What an insult to our forefather’s dream.

Both sides, however, grandly invoke the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. These glorious documents written for the nation and the world of 250 years ago are offered as if carved in stone and self-interpreted to support policies aimed at our much changed present. Unaltered, however, is the carefully constructed structure of our government and its three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial deliberately designed to be worked together through compromise. Often done grudgingly, but done.

This ideal works only if we all participate, not just the great powers at the top, but individual citizens as well. The winners and losers must get a grip and realize how great America is and how we got it this way: together.

Dining a la Ritzy

My dining venues are more in the Denny’s genre. I am stressed venturing into Applebee’s and on the edge of trauma entering the exalted Olive Garden. It was a thrill, therefore, when a group of friends and I were invited to dine at a fancy restaurant (real cloth napkins!). Champagne to start, then a veritable parade of servers brought in the soup and, later, the salad separately. Nice, but not very efficient. Anyway, next came dinner. For those who had ordered the fish “a la Frenchy something,” a server wheeled in a special table and in front of everyone sliced out the spines and rib bones. What a spectacle. I’d ordered chicken and anticipated a bravura performance of flamboyant gutting and plucking. Alas, time restraints, they claimed, dictated otherwise.

Another disappointment was noticing several guests were having the boneless fish slabs, but not a single bottle of ketchup was on the table. I mentioned this and everyone quickly insisted they never used it. So all was well.

Sundry wines were offered producing the obligatory sipping, smelling and tasting pantomime culminating in a genteel nod of acceptance and for our edification it came from a certain year, month, French village, vineyard and third vine to the left of the privy. Do they really know champagne from spiked ginger ale? I sure don’t. But for those prices, there must be something to it. I asked for water and got a kind with bubbles, no ice.

The evening was delightful and my chicken, another “a la Frenchy something,” was clearly not from Kentucky, yet delicious. Rounding it off were sinful desserts which I ate to be polite. I’ll go again if I can find someone to foot the bill.

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Don’t let them win Thu, 27 Oct 2016 18:56:09 +0000


Wake up. Election Day, Nov. 8, is almost here. The steady supply of publicity about state and local issues and the colossal amount of time and money spent on the presidential race indicate the importance of the outcome. Unfortunately, many people from both sides are unhappy with their party’s choice to the point they may just stay home.

If you are one of them, I urge you, I beg you, to fulfill your duty as an American. Let your voice be heard about the many issues that concern you. Remember, no rule says you must choose between every candidate and every policy on the ballot. If you don’t like either choice, it is perfectly legal to leave the boxes unchecked. If, after studying the local and national candidates and issues, you still are perplexed or can’t decide on a choice, don’t do anything. Checking a box willy-nilly can result in a policy or person directly opposed to you and the LGBT community.

The new president’s term will be for four to eight years, but the new Supreme Court will influence and control us for 25-30 years. Soon, three (!) new court members (one is on stage and two are in the wings) will determine the future of LGBT life in America. All we have recently gained could be erased or weakened if the wrong people are elected. The president’s choices to the court must be approved or rejected by the Senate. Therefore, it is vital that your vote supports the senator who will act in your/our interests.

It is possible the stay-at-homers will benefit the other side. Don’t allow this to happen. If you wish, leave some boxes unchecked, but, please, vote for the others. If you don’t, you can’t complain about the results.

An unexpected miracle

My partner, Yohei, and I just returned from Maine and, as is his wont, he proceeded to clean the apartment. It had sat untouched for two weeks, but he felt it needed freshening up. Naturally, I leaped to help; swishing the dust around and in general, impeding his progress. After I casually mentioned we were out of ice cream, it was decided the supply should be replenished at once. I reluctantly ceased my labors and went out to the store.

On my return I was greeted excitedly, told to shut my eyes and then pulled into the bedroom. My heart be still. I remembered the first time I had such an experience: Berlin, 1985, a cold, rainy night, a lesbian biker bar, a dirty sign pointing to the basement, “Daddy’s Youth Hostel.” Needing a place to sleep, I … but I digress.

I was then instructed to listen carefully … silence … “Listen.” Slowly it came to me; the ticking of my beloved antique clock. It had suddenly stopped four months ago and no amount of jiggling, pounding or pleading had any effect. My local clockmaker said he’d try to fix it for $250, minimum. I decided silence improved meditation. Now, to my amazement it was working. While vacuuming he felt a presence and a voice told him to give it a try. So he did. He pushed the pendulum and three times it started swinging, but then slowly came to a stop even though the chimes tested perfectly.

Exasperated, he sternly warned the trash-can was waiting and (finger-wag) he wasn’t kidding. Another push and lo, the wag worked. It started and continues to tick. The hourly gong and quarterly chimes drive the neighbors crazy, but they lull me to sleep. All thanks to my miracle worker.

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How they have aged Thu, 13 Oct 2016 21:03:10 +0000


Here in Portland, my home town, things don’t change very much so it is easy to feel we don’t either. It is therefore strange when I see seniors the age of my classmates, but I don’t recognize any of them. More puzzling, why does no one recognize me? Even with an added pound or two and my forehead receding a tad or three, I am clearly me.

Sadly, one familiar name was in the newspaper, you know which section, but the photo seemed to be of someone else. Like the majority of LGBTers, I feel appearance is important; superficial as that may be. I expected my high school heroes to look slightly older as opposed to my unchanging youthfulness. I had thoughts of meeting and reminiscing with them. But now, maybe I don’t want to see them. More importantly, I don’t want them to see me.

I think of how my cell phone camera distorts my face. I look fine if I hold it away, but then I can’t hear. Is there no end to it? People once departed to other realms across mountains, prairies and oceans and kept in touch through letters. Decades passed yet memories kept friends and family forever unchanged. Denying reality perhaps, but to what harm?

We pretend that since the old movie stars magically look the same, so must we. Of course limits are reached when you have to tell people you are the one in the mantle photo. A carefully chosen photographic update is in order.

Recently, with the assistance of a pink sunrise and a fortuitous, heavy morning haze, a photo had me looking not a day over 39. It also had me with a flag pole sticking out of my head and a tree branch shooting out of an ear. Otherwise, in a flash, I’d have had it at the top of this column.

The starving Chinese children

At a recent lunch some kid, about 50, failed to understand my comment about the sad unfortunates in the title. We seniors can only tut tut at his mother’s educational omission. We may admit to ignorance concerning modern phones, apps and what-ever “the cloud” is, but we can certainly reveal who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. The point of all this is October is LGBT History Month (A title to send the younger crowd fleeing).

There is a huge diversion of knowledge between generations which should be minimized. Few of us paid much attention to the trials and tribulations of the dust bowl and depression era although our parents’ lives were deeply affected. We listened politely, but soon returned to getting our DA just right.

Unfortunately this attitude prevails with the younger LGBT generation most of whom know no more of the Mattachine Society or the Daughters of Bilitis than they do of a hullabaloo or the Kingston Trio. When confronted with our stories, too often their reaction, usually unspoken, is, “Yeah yeah. We heard all about the raids and the plague. So what else is new?”

Perhaps too much time has been spent on “how we suffered” and we should stress the wonderful groundbreaking steps with which we achieved our current situation.

During LGBT History Month, try to communicate with the LGBT youth. Rejoice with them in our progress while reminding them that the long way to go can’t be reached by letting someone else do it.

With all the world’s problems worthy of their concern and support, they shouldn’t forget their own. Back to the children: There are many ways one may starve; there are many ways one may feed.

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LGBT affirmative tenants Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:56:51 +0000

The LGBT Affirmative Senior Housing’s first public meeting was Sept. 8 at which some points were a surprise to the attendees. It was explained “affirmative” is a necessary inclusion to the project’s description since restricting the building only to LGBT tenants would be discriminatory and therefore illegal. It is possible however to request that the tenants be affirmative of the LGBT life styles. Of course they may say anything to get in, but later, saying or doing anything anti-LGBT would be grounds for serious action and possible eviction.

Another unexpected controversial issue was that the initial sign-up in May will actually be for a lottery from which a formal list will then be chosen. The cost of the apartments will start at $740 for a studio, $790 for a 1 bedroom and $950 for a 2 bedroom. The payments may be adjusted. A tenant must be 55+ and a partner must be 45+. The income limit is $35,700 for one and $40,800 for two. Those chosen must move into the unit almost at once with little or no option as to the location or requests other than for special needs.

Articles galore will be forthcoming in the press and LGBT media. There are bound to be inadvertent (or not) misquotes and misinformation; therefore, take nothing as gospel (including this article). Check with more than one source and be sure to attend the next meeting Oct. 5, from 5-7 p.m. at The LGBT Center to ask questions and make comments.

All is not carved in stone. For policy up-dates and information call The Center’s Senior Service 619-692-2077 ext. 205, go to or refer to

Vocabulary memories


Young readers will undoubtedly be surprised to learn we did not discuss vaginal itch with mother at the dinner table. Television shows and magazine ads today throw the v word out everywhere plus condom, lubricating sex oils, jock itch powders, vibrators (for back pains). The ad showing three young women trimming their bush is a hoot. I guess this is modern and acceptable and I’m an old fogey. Of course what is shown on the movie screen is as extreme as what is said.

We remember the movie The Bad Seed which was all about a lesbian relationship, but the word was never uttered. It was whispered behind cupped hands (followed by horror stricken faces and raised eyebrows). In the hit movie The Group, we heard, “I didn’t know you were a Sapphic” which 90 percent of the audience probably thought was a new religion.

Even in Brokeback Mountain I don’t remember hearing the G, H or Q word. One assumes, however, the crowd around here had no problem figuring out the lay of the land, so to speak. Today, our mixing and mingling with the non-LGBT crowd, means our in-group vocabulary has undoubtedly changed. Without young friends to keep me up to date, I can’t help pondering if lipstick lesbian, piss elegant queen, Nancy boys, Miss Nell, rough trade, tearoom, etc. have lost their meaning.

Is the mention of Dorothy as puzzling as the sight of a slide rule? Are “she” and “he” still used to disguise reality in front of non-LGBTers? All these points bring back memories and were part of our closeted youth. Glad it is over. Is Kookie still combing his hair? I wonder if he even has hair. Confused, kids? Ask a senior.

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Time to form a security circle Thu, 15 Sep 2016 16:58:42 +0000


At any age to be on the floor and immobile, the message, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” is not a joke. The situation is a constant concern to seniors. The time to prepare for such an emergency is now. Maybe you think you have taken care of the problem by giving a key to a neighbor. Sorry, that is not enough. They may be out or have no idea you are in trouble. You need to exchange your key with more than one member of your circle who will help each other.

Should trouble arise, one of them will eventually notice you are not answering the phone or have missed a meeting and become alarmed enough to take action. But what action? Call the police? Possible, but try less drastic measures first. Notify the others and by pre-arrangement the nearest one goes to check. If an apartment building is involved, another tenant, once the situation is explained, will probably push the entry button, but maybe not. Don’t take the chance; provide a second key and entrance code to the friends. There must also be a hidden key. Please, not under the welcome mat nor inside the plastic, phony looking “security rock.” It is highly suspicious, especially when placed in the building’s corridor. It is better to tape it under or behind something nearby.

The trusted neighbor with your key or knowledge of the hiding place is often the first responder, so it is vital that your trusted confidants know their name and phone number. Do not count on the on-site manager to have a key. They (like mine) often refuse to accept the responsibility. Form a security circle now, before something happens tomorrow. We, who live alone, must look out for ourselves and each other.

Getting lucky

Saturday night, in a moment of whimsy, a friend and I ventured out to some popular gay bars. Not being in such decadent places for a long time, I was disappointed to find the decadence at a minimum. The noise naturally was horrific, but the young crowd paid no attention as they shouted, danced and played with their phones.

Most unsettling to us was the number of women and their dates in the gay bars and men with their dates in the dyke bars (Can we say that now? The new “may say” and “may not say words” are so confusing). Everyone seemed accepted and accepting and of course that is good, but I missed the ambiance of the bars of our youth. There was always the danger of police entrapment and arrest, but there was specialness about our secret places, our private worlds where we were free to be ourselves among others enjoying the same.

But that night I felt (maybe unfairly) the outsiders were in our territory for the thrill of looking at and being near real, live queers. I couldn’t relax enough to comment about some of the gorgeous guys for fear I would be heard and somehow judged by the nearby straights (is that word allowed?).

As a senior from a completely different world, I did not enjoy myself. To you who have been to a bar recently, I don’t have to convince you as to our overall sensation of being invisible. We were not ignored, that is a deliberate action, we were just not there. This explained the small size of the older crowd. It was wonderful to see the acceptance and mixing, but I missed “our bars” and the joy of finding sanctuary. As for “getting lucky,” that now means finding a hustler offering a senior discount.

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An Iowa champion Thu, 01 Sep 2016 21:10:51 +0000


I just returned from a visit to my sister and her family in Iowa. As usual we attended the Corn Festival and, my favorite, the Tractor Fair. Triple blessed, we also got to enjoy the Iowa State Fair in the 92 degree sunshine. Not to be missed was the day’s climax, the “2016 Big Boar Competition” held in the Swine Barn.

The combination of heat, crowd and competitors defeat the powers of my vocabulary. What fun to see eight rugged men and women struggle to push, shove and cajole the beauties onto the scale where they obviously didn’t want to go (I sympathized completely). Finally, to thunderous cheers, handsome, three and a half year old Fred was announced victorious with a grand total of 1,155 pounds; a full seven pounds over his arch rival Lugnut.

Charmingly embarrassed, Fred wore the slightly feminine crown of entwined bacon strips and sausage lei with dignity. Naturally, bedlam ensued as everyone closed in for selfies and group photos. I maintained my dignity and graciously let others go before me. At times the crowd became so great I couldn’t see him, but believe me, I knew he was nearby.

For your edification, I copied down the important details as they were announced. He survives by eating up to 20 pounds of cornmeal and guzzling down 10 gallons of water daily. No excessive calories, however, like loser Lugnut who reportedly often eats up to 60 day-old Wal-Mart doughnuts at a sitting (squatting?).

The happy winner was acknowledged as somewhat lazy, but with a gentle temperament. Amidst the revelry, I felt it indelicate to ask about Fred’s future: a decadent, sensual life siring more winners or … another path.

No face, twit or blog

Sorry not to instantly reply to my friends’ emails, but I check my email once a day, often in the evening. I am not tied to the computer like the kids (those under 50) and their phones.

Speaking of which, remember the free iPhone 4 I got from my friend when he got a 6? An up-date: after two months, one might assume I am apping all and sundry, driving everyone crazy by constantly tapping away, questioning Mr. Know-All who lives inside and, in general, ignoring those around me. No. I have made and received a few calls, but that does not negate the inundation of calls from Kenya, unknown sales people plus messages from Moaning Martha, Sexy Sue and Patsy Pee all offering therapeutic services. Where is the spam button?

My avoidance of machines extends unfortunately to the many social media outlets which I just do not understand, additionally confounded now by this “cloud” people keep referring to. Several fans, a couple anyway, wonder why they can’t find me on Facebook. Easy answer: I’m not there. I do not face, twit or blog. Constant reports of deception, stalking, bullying, etc. make me leery. I am afraid of receiving the same from the nuts and cowards who can’t handle real face to face contact.

The young may say I exaggerate and they have no such problems having hundreds of “friends” all over the world (whom they have never met). Maybe so, but I would like my feedback via a real letter or the “like” button at the top of the online edition page or the “comment” section at the bottom.

To contact me with a message, question or suggested topic, write to me by letter or the machine at

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Being a Rockette Thu, 18 Aug 2016 19:04:32 +0000

The Rockettes in their July 4 Spectacular | PHOTO: FACEBOOK

I shudder at the dreams of the young today as they aspire to be great “stars” like the Kardashians or a singer whose main emphasis is on amassing scandals, friends with benefits and divorce millions. In our day countless high school girls (sorry, that is what they were then) dreamed of packing a suitcase, getting on a bus and heading for New York City to become the ultimate in glamour and fame: a Radio City Rockette.

After class, they practiced ballet, tap and, of course, line-dancing for all local musical events and talent contests. For many, being a star would be nice, but being a Rockette was enough; the chosen dancers had reached Shangri-La. Their flame has dimmed somewhat, but crowds still flock to them, especially to the Christmas show with real sheep, donkeys and camels!

Seniors will never forget the historic moment in 2001 when they proudly danced and pranced down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for George Bush’s inauguration. To be a part of this celebrity meant local headlines equal to a boy joining a sports team. Such glory was reserved for girls, so I decided to headline Holiday on Ice. No, the guys wearing more make-up than the Rockettes had nothing to do with it!

Skating proved cold and painful, so I turned to music intending to claim my star as a roller-rink organist. Saluting Liberace, I planned to wear a silver, floor-length cape I’d found. Sadly, the moth holes couldn’t be hidden by a rabbit boa.

The point is it was the dreams that got us through. And so they will today; of shorter range than before, but still drawing us forward to the next cruise, the next casino jackpot, the next Mr. /Ms. Right.

Never stop dreaming.

Avoiding housemaid’s knees

The term “housemaid’s knees” isn’t heard much anymore, yet it was on my mind as I viewed the state of my floors and realized my Japanese partner would arrive next month and was bound to comment (sweetly) about the dusty blinds and general murkiness of my linoleum.

I thought of the various TV ads for scrubbing products that replace spending a lot of time on one’s knees – which is where the term came from; also known as “nun’s knees” or … well, other names. I decided it was time to find someone to do the cleaning for me. Not so easily done. How much to pay? What ID should I demand? What is the green card I hear about? Who pays the social security? Are they bonded? W2 forms? Etc.

My inquiries produced oblique, even evasive, answers. It seems one does not ask these questions. One relies on a friend to recommend their helper, call them for you and arrange things (Wednesday, three hours, $15 per). Sure enough, Rosa arrived. I said, “Hello.” She said, “Hallo.” I gave her the tour and said, “OK?” She said, “Hokay.” I pointed to my watch and held up three fingers: “OK?” “Hokay.” I left for a movie and Starbucks, returning three hours later to find her waiting and everything spic and span. I gave her fifty dollars. “OK?” “Hokay.”

I pointed to the calendar for next month, “OK?” “Hokay.” Thank goodness. All was well and my knees were safe. Very slowly I said, “Thaaank yooou veerrry muuch.” She replied, “You’re welcome, sir. It has been a pleasure working here without constant interruptions and chit chat. I hope everything is to your satisfaction. I’ll see you next month as agreed. Have a nice day.”

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Help with the donut hole Thu, 04 Aug 2016 18:50:30 +0000


You younger readers will need a senior who can explain the topic. Good luck finding one. Briefly, the “donut hole” is not a cute, new, gay “pin the tail on the donkey” game. It is a serious and unwelcome place to be and means you have to pay full price for your medicines for the rest of the year.

This happened to me last year. I suddenly learned one of my tiny 25mg dailies was a tier 3 (ask a senior) and would cost me $399.99 just for December. Dithering and complaining, I just coughed it up (the money I mean).

Recently I realized I will soon be in the same position for several months and that little pill would seriously affect my budget. By chance, a friend casually mentioned he was taking the same drug in a 50mg form. I had a brain-storm. I already cut my aspirin tablet for my daily dose and if the prices were very different, maybe I could save a little by cutting the bigger one in half.

Of course I questioned my doctor who said for that particular medication it would be no problem. So I called Rite Aid and learned: the 25mg cost $399.99, the 50mg cost $399.99 and the 100 mg cost $399.99! What a pleasant shock. My doctor gladly changed my prescription to 1/4 of the 100mg and I now receive 22 pills for 88 days. What a relief.

So for me when I say I’m cutting my pills, I don’t mean cutting down on my pills, I really mean cutting my pills. This simple solution to a significant financial crisis may work for you. Check with your doctor and then call your pharmacy for the price comparison. I hope this message has been informative and helpful not just for the donut-holers, but for all pill-takers, young and old.

Hot flashes

Mother and some female friends were discussing hot flashes and when I appeared, they quickly changed to August being hot. The strange tone of their voices told me something was amiss. The same abrupt change occurred when I interrupted a “spotting” discussion. What could it mean?

My school friends, invariably the artistic type, could offer no solution any more than they could tell me what a double D bra was. Although, I suspect later, after leaving town, as “confirmed bachelors,” one or two might have found out.

It was years before I learned when a girl missed school because her aunt was visiting didn’t mean her aunt was visiting. I have often wondered if back then, did these mysteries of the opposite sex carry over in the other direction? On a minus 15 degree day, did the connection to a brass monkey mean anything to our female classmates?

Did they giggle and blush at the mention of sheets stiff as cardboard – or was that a sock? Did they have any idea what damage and pain can be caused by a zipper? Marriage cleared up a lot of things, but for us, the never-married, large gaps in our sex education still exist. And no wonder; feminine products and prostate exams are far down the mixed group topics list.

Men and women have unique attributes, but not all encourage detailed disclosure even when the problem is shared. i.e. leakage among seniors, especially when laughing, is a mutually common occurrence, but studiously avoided. Why? Because both sides deserve their privacy. However if a topic seriously puzzles you, ask, but request that the answer be short. Just the essentials please no diaphragms necessary. I mean diagrams.

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Vaguely vegan Thu, 21 Jul 2016 19:44:43 +0000


Recently at a vegan restaurant, with surprisingly (to me) delicious dishes, a friend, Don, invited me to a dinner prepared by his girlfriend of three months for whom he had become a strict vegan and yoga devotee. He, and his sunken cheeks, proclaimed a loss of 30 pounds.

On arrival I found four guests discussing celibacy politics (note, no comma) and the efficacy of vegan life on menstrual cycles. Incapable of commenting on either topic, I offered a toothy smile and girded my loins for what omened to be a long evening.

The buffet table’s colorful array looked dry and reeking of health-filled nutriments. The loved one asked us to forebear as she was still learning to cook for “my Donky” (No, I will not comment). Her recipes were from her guru’s wife and featured highly spiced rice, quinoa (?) and tofu featuring veggies from the guru’s farm; all reportedly coddled with “nature’s fertilizer.” I dared not inquire further.

The dressing drizzled on my lettuce wedge was of honey, flax oil and cayenne pepper; a tear-inducing mix of matchless horror. When called to comment, my choked “There are no words” seemed to satisfy. Second helpings went unrequested, thus confirming my suspicion the guru’s wife would not soon be opening a restaurant.

The “fruit fantasy” cake somehow held its form, possibly with chalk. A cacophony of coughing ensued, but went stoically unacknowledged. I left with a clearer understanding of Don’s weight loss.

The next day there were no ill effects save for a colossal eruption of foul and fetid farts which may have been due to the three-day old pizza and tube of raw cookie dough I scarfed down once I got home.

All-Star Game

The recent All-Star Game refreshed memories of schooldays when my athletic ineptitude regularly got me assigned to the outfield. There I prayed with all the fervor of Theresa of Avila that nothing would come my way. When it did, I made a show of valiantly attempting to catch it, but was careful not to. Hey, they never wasted a glove on me and that speeding bullet hurt. After picking the damn thing up, my pitiful throw to someone, anyone, invariably produced groans and laughter. Fun years.

As there was no way to escape the recent flood of All-Star promotions, I had no choice but to pay attention to some of the photos of the stars. After careful examination of the players and pondering the size of their bats, I decided to give the game a look-see.

As a Mainiac, there was the added thrill of seeing several guys from the Red Sox, the only team worthy of mention. Truth to tell, however, it was the Kansas City Royals who dominated, especially when teammates Hosmer and Perez hit home runs in the same inning. For the non-sports minded, that’s very good.

Petco Park looked beautiful and the whole event was sensational. I am glad I decided to butch it up and watch (most of it – Jeopardy was on). For the 40,000 fans, the main fun came later when they hit the Gaslamp. The American supporters drank and partied to celebrate and the National fans drank and partied to forget.

It was wonderfully non-violent and acknowledged as a success by all concerned. The bars, restaurants and hotels are hoping the game will be played here again. I do too; hunky sports men and women are always welcomed in my Hillcrest neighborhood.

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The pulse of Pride Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:34:53 +0000


This year’s Pride will obviously be of great significance providing a chance to show our strength and resilience. A reportedly large number of non-LGBT supporters will be attending this year. How can we do less? I can’t believe I’m saying this: Come out and join the “straights.” It is not over-reacting to be nervous and I am not ignoring the possibility of a disturbance by some homomiasmic nut-case (a clinical term), but such bullies and bigots can only be defeated by bravely confronting them in unity with our allies.

This new support and enthusiasm will give the weekend a tremendous surge of power and make the festival and parade more meaningful than ever. The spunk, gumption, vitality, etc. which showed through last year’s torrential downpour must be at full throttle again to combat a more potent menace and enemy than some rain drops.

Let’s not forget the fun: rev your cycles, wave your flags and put on your fab outfits. BUT (the wet blanket arrives) with the expected influx of first-time attendees and their kids, please keep the naughtiness good-natured. The evening activities are the place to strut your sinful sauciness. Even then, remember, the guardians of our public morals will be on guard against any Folsom Street imitators.

After the parade, I will take the first shift at the FOG (Fellowship of Older Gays) table. My “Ye Olde Kissing Booth” suggestion was met with exceedingly unkind comments, so look for me at the “Cool Zone,” an area with free bottles of water, snacks and a spot to rest. Stop by and say hello. Wherever you fit in the LGBTQXYZ mix, get a friend or join a group and be there.

Remember your answers

Surrounded by mysterious, modern wonders, we depend on help from the young with their pads/pods glued to their hands like Linus’ blanket. But we, who cannot maneuver through the cabalistic intricacies of the Internet, cannot completely escape participation in that mystic world since we must deal with credit cards, bank accounts, doctor’s records and, for some, web sites of various and secret proclivities. All of these demand we provide the inevitable security number or password.

The panic sets in as the seconds tick by and the mind reels with a thousand possibilities. We have been warned not to choose 12345, the fiendishly clever 54321, one’s birthday nor single digits like 4444. What else is there? I settled on a never-to-be-solved number: my birth day, my sister’s birth month and mom’s birth year! It didn’t work. I couldn’t remember which was which.

Then came the choice of “secret questions.” I chose spouse’s home, childhood friend and best movie. As you may have guessed, confusion reigned between the various choices: Tokyo, Tokyo Japan or just Japan. One tiny mistake is fatal and who in elementary school knew how to spell names? Was she Sindy, Cindy, Sindee, maybe Sidney? Who knows what I had written. Likewise, which movie? Of course I (and you too!) should have made a note.

My new semi-reliable system is to answer all questions with the same one-word name or number/date. The machine just wants the space filled. For example, place, color, food and pet topics all get “charles.” If necessary, I add 69 at the end. Robots can be sneaky, so I record it all on my password page. I plan to anyway.

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#Homomisia Thu, 23 Jun 2016 20:52:46 +0000


The horror of the Orlando killings is being attributed by most to homophobia, “fear of homosexuality.” The word is not correct as we are clearly not dealing with fear here, but with hate. Using “miso” the more appropriate Greek root, makes the correct formation of the word “homosexualmisia” or more simply “homomisia.” But I guess it is too late to change and the results would be the same.

We seniors grew up amid LGBT prejudices and we made our way in the world adjusting our lives as best we could. The recent world-wide support clearly demonstrates the passing years have produced dramatic improvements in public attitudes. In some ways, however, the current generation has become complacent as the number of anti-LGBT acts have declined and when they do occur the outrage is sincere, but short-lived.

The scale and atrociousness of this recent tragedy will strongly focus attention on our struggle and the haters surrounding us. My love and sympathy go out to all including the Muslim community which is so suffering from the unfair backlash. It is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the proudly Protestant KKK.

Our community has long been the object of slurs and lies feeding the myths and fears because people think no family member or friend is LGBT. Fight them and open their eyes. Let them know the truth. Speak up and actually say “Hey, I’m LGBT and that is not funny,” or “You’re talking about my friend, sister, uncle, dad, aunt.” I hope they (like Mayor Jerry Sanders) will see the light and become supportive. Maybe we should revive: “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.”

Inconceivable birthdays

My fellow seniors, it is a shock to learn and hard to acknowledge, but Marilyn’s 90th birthday just passed. (If you have to ask, “Marilyn who?” you are reading the wrong column.) The majority of those on the UT’s birthday list are unknown, but the first few are always great favorites. Seeing their ages, however, makes me realize my own. These unexpected reminders pop up when we glance at the vaguely familiar face in the mirror, gasp for breath half-way up the stairs or struggle to get out of a low chair.

These things haven’t happened yet? Wait. Solutions or adjustments are possible. Walking up the stairs is great exercise, just go slow. You can look younger and more energetic by simply standing straight, shoulders back. Rise from sitting with the help of a cushion or buy a higher chair. Look your best: go easy on the make-up, try a new hair style, clip the ear and nose hair, shave or trim and don’t forget to smile.

Clothes that no longer fit are a big negative, so enjoy shopping for new, fashionable outfits suited to your body modifications. You do not want to look foolish, so be mindful of your age and reality; even in Hillcrest there are limits. With a spiffy outfit you will look and feel better when you mingle with friends in a chat or hobby group or attend a movie, concert or restaurant. To rejuvenate, splurge once in a while. If not for dinner, then just a fancy dessert place. We may be retired, but we are not the aged men and women stereotypes we grew up with when 65 meant rocking away a couple of years with pipe or knitting patiently awaiting the reaper.

This wouldn’t be for Marilyn and it isn’t for us either.

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Congrats to the Chorus Thu, 09 Jun 2016 20:10:09 +0000

San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus

You’ve been under a rock if you haven’t heard of the great screw-up concerning the Gay Men’s Chorus’ singing of the national anthem at the stadium. A female voice boomed out over the speakers and drowned out the guys. This made the news from coast to coast. Charges and denials of deliberate sabotage flew fast and furious. Twits, Faces and letters to the editor both condemned and called for prudent deliberation. And, of course, the homophobic jokesters had a field day. What a kerfuffle.

But the days passed, tempers cooled and, lo and behold, there is peace in the valley once more. The apologies and explanations were judged sufficient and the Chorus amazed all by asking that the button-pusher be forgiven and re-hired.

Such an amicable resolution should not go unnoticed and it wasn’t here in San Diego, but in the rest of the country I feel the outcome of what was recently a big story was given little positive publicity. If any, I fear it was probably treated as a retraction and buried at the bottom of page 10. What about the comments you made and messages you sent? Did you reverse the process and let your non-local friends know of the end result and how it occurred through calm cooperation, goodwill and maturity?

The Chorus candidly expressed grievances, listened to sincerely offered regrets and graciously accepted apologies. This brought about an amicable closure to what could have been an on-going embarrassment and resentment. A lesson to be learned.

My congratulations to all and I await the re-scheduled appearance. Dare I suggest they be allowed onto the field without having to buy their own tickets this time?

Robot calls advice

Those of us of a certain age remember the party lines, the one long, two short and how phones actually rang. Now they give out anything from “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” to a fart.

In our prime and living in a big sin-filled city, the calls came at all hours of the day or night bringing anticipation and excitement. Some of you can recall with me that sexy voice demanding, pleading or coyly suggesting they drop by; then followed a strong indication I was to be forced to engage in acts of unspeakable perversion. How awful. Then the bastard wouldn’t show up. The years passed and the deluge of rings fell to a trickle (tinkle?).

Of late there has been a renewal of phone calls which one might assume to be welcome, but no. They come in the early morning, mid-afternoon or even close to bed time. The greeting is now an annoyingly cheery voice, “Hi, you’ve won a free carpet cleaning” or “I’m your fellow American calling for …” With that we slam down the receiver.

An unknown caller ID number makes us suspicious, but we take a chance it might be a friend. Not critically important, but the increasing frequency is annoying. Lately, to minimize this intrusion I do not answer with “Hello” or similar greeting, because the robot has been programed to respond to that and the pitch will begin. My advice is to answer with a quick, sharp “Yes” and not a syllable more. The response is silence and then a disconnect. If it is a friend, surely they will say something to find out if it is a wrong number.

I offer no guarantee, but it works three out of four times for me, so I am passing it along. The robot might finally wise up, but hopefully not before Nov. 8.

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Pride needs you. Volunteer! Thu, 26 May 2016 18:41:19 +0000

The regular busy bees in the many and varied organizations within the LGBT community are finalizing their preparations for the Pride weekend. We will certainly never forget last year. It was fantastic. As the deluge continued throughout the parade and afternoon, we kept on with full participation and enthusiasm. The spirit and emotion were a thrill and joy to witness.

This year with your cooperation and the more usual wonderful San Diego weather, we can do even better. All the groups need the support of their members and fans to march and carry out the big festival plans that have been put in place. I mean, of course, the ticket takers, table and booth staff, the great gals and guys who put up and take down, who set up and clean up, those who can handle the public and make sales, give information, hand out flyers, explain the group’s activities and sign up new members.

The big weekend is fast approaching and all the sponsors and groups need as much in place as possible in advance and that includes the time schedules for the volunteers. Now is the season when the emails go out to all and sundry asking for help? If you can’t support your group financially, you can with your time. This will not only help your club, team or group, but you will be personally rewarded with free admission to the festival for both days even though you only work one for a few hours.

Of course, you are welcome to volunteer for more. To get the day and times you want, respond at once, so you can be accommodated. And there’s more, some groups may thank you with a T-shirt, bumper sticker, fridge magnet, coupons, dinner for four at Mr. A’s, etc. So sign up!

Mother’s Day reflections

On Mother’s Day I couldn’t help comparing my mother to some of today’s TV mothers especially the rich, bitchy “housewives” with their tight, flawless faces, colossal cleavages and ever-changing hair. Their attempts at sophistication and refinement vanish when they open their mouths. I can’t imagine they talk that way when they are with their husbands or, as we say now, partners and children.

Things were different in my Father Knows Best family (ask a senior). Four letter words did not exist. Serious disagreements were never held where the children might overhear. Tabloid scandals, Reefer Madness, white slavery and the generally gross were not ignored just the unseemly details.

For example, on receiving a huge load from a seagull flying overhead, mother took off her hat, looked at it briefly and then casually tossed it away declaring, “Thank goodness cows can’t fly.”

Dinner topics (We ate and talked together!) were open-ended, but never steamy nor too graphic. The basics were acknowledged, but the nitty-gritty was not to be discussed en famille. All of that could be (and was) saved and enjoyed later when the children were in bed.

Mother was not innocent about the gay world and when a “friend” revealed her grandson was gay and expected denial, shock and tears, the reply was a calm, “I’m not so dumb, you know.”

Visual shocks to our young systems were also avoided. On a trip to the zoo I recall mother abruptly dragging us off onto another path as we neared the elephant area. This mysterious, sudden, directional shift definitely kindled my curiosity. I could have sworn in the distance I had seen an elephant with five legs.

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Make a note: May 21 Thu, 12 May 2016 18:37:01 +0000

We are lucky to be living in a city with so many senior LGBT opportunities. An important one, the yearly Senior Resources Fair, will be May 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The LGBT Center. All are welcome.

There is no official age to becoming a senior; like it or not, sooner or later the title comes to us all. And how sneaky it is, creeping up and then suddenly jumping out and staking its claim. Dying and denial won’t help. It is better to be prepared and this is the place to do it. The auditorium will be filled with tables, booths and people with pamphlets, booklets and information covering a wide variety of topics. The serious, of course, will be well represented offering assistance with wills, trusts, legal issues, housing, health, veterans questions, Alzheimer and similar care facilities, hearing, heart, sight and mobility problems and yes, funerals – stop putting your head in the sand. You and your loved ones must make plans now before you get hit by a bus tomorrow. Hospital, accident and travel insurance companies will be there.

Changing the subject slightly, let’s not forget the fun side of senior life. Staff will eagerly tell you about the many hobby and music groups, yoga, exercise, sports teams, clubs and educational opportunities. Learn how, when and where to play canasta, see movies, run, hike, cycle and just plain gab with a coffee/conversation group.

All this with people who know who Roy and Gene are. Don’t sit and mope about the lack of social life for our community. Maybe in Keokuk, but not here. Come to the Fair. There is nothing to lose, but a heck of a lot to gain. Best of all, you can pick up a year’s supply of free ball pens.

True love

The intimate facts those seeking companionship or more give out in the world of Internet hook-ups is astounding. Unfortunately this includes seniors. Topics start with preferences of music, sports, hobbies and other innocuous subjects before slowly switching to the more personal.

In the heat of the moment common sense is ignored and exchanges include unspoken desires and physical attributes (often exaggerated, but that’s another topic). Then comes the exchange of photos, purportedly of their recent selves.

Recently I was forced to look at a few exchanges on a site or two. Not only were some of the pictures gross (to each his/her own) but an alarming number of people showed their face in them. All were viewable to employers, family, friends, co-workers and weirdos (a clinical term). It was not uncommon to see a phone number, address or meeting place announced. One proudly showed off his apartment and antiques. How stupid!

All this was brought to mind last week by an old friend’s tale of woe. He (73) and a Thai Adonis (24) had “fallen in love” via the web. True, it is flattering to receive such declarations, not to mention some heart-stopping photos, but when asked to provide a plane ticket to enable an actual rendezvous, one might be hesitant. But not my friend as he awaited a rapturous coupling.

After a joy filled handshake in the airport lobby, he returned from the men’s room in time to see his beloved, not alone, roaring off in a taxi. Silence met my suggestion of a kidnapping. Acknowledging many happy long distance romances, I maintain the higher one’s age the higher should be one’s level of suspicion or, more politely, caution.

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A call from the IRS Thu, 28 Apr 2016 17:10:36 +0000


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 Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:03:12 +0000


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 Thu, 31 Mar 2016 17:16:28 +0000

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? Thu, 17 Mar 2016 20:53:32 +0000

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 Thu, 03 Mar 2016 20:37:32 +0000

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 Thu, 18 Feb 2016 20:49:20 +0000


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! Thu, 04 Feb 2016 22:27:47 +0000

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 Thu, 21 Jan 2016 21:05:29 +0000


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 Thu, 07 Jan 2016 20:16:03 +0000


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 Thu, 24 Dec 2015 21:08:30 +0000


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? Thu, 10 Dec 2015 21:36:25 +0000


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 Wed, 25 Nov 2015 19:45:14 +0000


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 Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:26:24 +0000

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! Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:28:40 +0000


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 Thu, 15 Oct 2015 19:00:36 +0000


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


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 Thu, 01 Oct 2015 18:01:21 +0000


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 Thu, 17 Sep 2015 20:28:43 +0000


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?


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 Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:48:26 +0000


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! Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:37 +0000

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 Thu, 06 Aug 2015 19:00:20 +0000

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 Thu, 23 Jul 2015 17:52:35 +0000

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 Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:32:13 +0000


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 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 Thu, 25 Jun 2015 22:14:22 +0000

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 Thu, 11 Jun 2015 19:18:49 +0000


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) Thu, 28 May 2015 16:15:23 +0000

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) Thu, 14 May 2015 15:00:46 +0000


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 Thu, 30 Apr 2015 17:07:13 +0000


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! Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:43:06 +0000

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 Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:42:59 +0000


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! Thu, 19 Mar 2015 21:08:43 +0000


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 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 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:47:02 +0000


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 Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:37:18 +0000


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? Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:02:43 +0000

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.


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 Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:20:23 +0000
| istock

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


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 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 22:37:47 +0000

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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