Where people are free to be with those they love. It amazes me that, while I barely have the energy to get my laundry done, never mind earn a living, treat my aging parents with the love and care they so desperately need and deserve, and spare a little time to laugh with my friends, there are people who actually have the energy to devote large amounts of time to preventing people from living in a married situation with those they love.
Yes, I’m talking about the gay thing. The thing of it is, like a lot of straight guys, I used to be somewhat homophobic. I grew up in a locker room world where homosexuals were jeered at, where nobody ever actually confessed to be ‘queer’, because if you did, you were in for a lifetime of being shunned, if not flat out assaulted. By and bye I slowly grew up ( well, pretty much ). But a good bit of this social horror remained. Then one day I called up Berklee College of Music and requested that they send me their best student to interview for an internship. A young heavy-set woman knocked on my door the next day. When I invited her in, I quickly realized three things: she was gay; she was really nice; and most importantly, she was the best person for the job. So I hired her. And we became the best of friends. A few years later she got married ( horrors!). Then she and her wife ( there – I said it – deal with it ) asked me to write adoption recommendations, as they each wanted to adopt the other’s biological sons. I did. They did. And as the years rolled by and their kids started to grow, I realized when I visited them that they were not only terrific parents, they were a lot better at it than I was.
Lest you think I veering into Pollyanna Land, there is a sad and realistic post-script. I recently found out they are getting divorced. And this divorce is fraught with all the sadness and loss that every other divorce I’ve ever heard of has. Fortunately, because they are married, and each is the legal parent of their children, there is no squabble over the parenting rights of the children, each of which has known them both as parents for their entire life. You don’t hear much about this end of the gay marriage controversy. But it is nevertheless a somewhat satisfactory resolution when compared to what could have happened had they simply been living with each other these many years.
I understand that with some folks, deeply held religious beliefs make this entire concept almost impossible to imagine, let alone accept. But most of the people I have met who hold homosexuality in contempt are those who simply have never actually known any gay people. I’m not suggesting that everyone run out into the streets seeking a gay person to take home for dinner. But it’s not a bad idea to remember that it’s really not a good idea to render a strong opinion on something you’ve only faintly heard about, and never really had any personal contact with. And with the damned recession taking jobs left and right, the crumbling infrastructure of our very bridges and tunnels, the rising cost of fuel, and new underwear bombs to worry about, isn’t it about time to devote our energies and time to something that truly threatens us? I’ve met the enemy, and I’m tired of it being us.
I remarked recently that, while I cold never vote for Rick Santorum, I admired his honesty. You have to give Barack Obama some credit on this one – he might have lost a few votes, but he clearly decided it was time to tell everybody how he felt. My guess is, Joe Biden shot his mouth off, the subject came up, and Obama had a “Oh, what the Hell” moment. As far as I’m concerned, he can have a few more – it’s refreshing.
In other news.....a couple of days ago I was reminded of an old joke. This guy, call him Stupid, gets a postcard from his friend, Stupider. Stupider invites Stupid to join him on a sea cruise. So Stupid buys a ticket, and off he goes to the coast. He finds his buddy climbing into this big wooden boat, so he sits down beside him. Next thing he knows, some guy comes along and slaps ankle chains on him and hands him a big long oar. Some other guy starts pounding a drum and the next thing Stupid knows, he and Stupider and about a hundred other guys are rowing to England. A few weeks later they land. Off come the chains, and they both step onto the dock. “ You know, says Stupid, “I didn’t think it was really all that great.” “Oh, I don’t know,” says Stupider, “It was WAY better than last time.”
This past Sunday I did the JCC Triathalon again, and it was WAY better than last time. Imagine the start of this thing, with a couple of hundred people lined up around the pool – people are chatting about their experiences. The guy in front of me said, “ I hope I can cut a good 10 minutes off my bike time.” The woman behind me listened sympathetically and responded, “ With any luck I can cut a good 20 minutes off my overall.” They looked at me. “I sure hope Downton Abbey gets a third season,” I said. I’m not absolutely sure I’m cut out for this.
But the people who participate have a lot in common with the volunteers who work the event – namely they smile a lot , and, truth be told, don’t look down on the wannabes ( me ) even a little. It’s amazing, given the breadth of talent and fitness, how welcoming the entire event is of all newcomers. I followed a man and his 10 year old daughter in the last part, the 3 ½ mile run, and his support of her knocked me out. At least until they pulled so far ahead I started looking in vain for a cab. Three years ago the event sold out in five days, last year in two days, and this year in two hours. Word is clearly getting around about this event. If I can do it, trust me on this, you can too. Training for next year’s event starts tomorrow. Or possibly next week. Actually, best to wait till the late fall – don’t want to get ahead of myself.