23 April 1989: Forty Years Wandering in the Desert

I forget what happened when I got home the night of the 22nd. We did go to the movies. I forget what we saw (probably some nonsense), but I remember it was at the Cineplex Odeon in Fresh Meadows, on the south side of the LIE. My car was a Caprice Classic, his was a Pontiac Sunbird. As a partial contributor to the latter, I drove home that evening. A lot was in my head, having just come out to my parents, after all, that very morning. I think my assessment at the time was that my mother would have a lot less trouble than my father. My brother had been informed the year before, and was basically okay with it all. He was a senior in college at the time.

So I chattered away, as is my habit, and Knucklehead sat in the passenger bucket seat of the blue Sunbird, ignoring everything I had to say, and was, believe it or not, reading a magazine. In the car, at 11 pm, in almost complete darkness. The only more absurd thing to do would have been to have donned sunglasses. This was not exactly the supportive shoulder I expected from the copper-haired Irishman.

I forget, also, what I did the following day. In all likelihood I went to my grandmother's house. A typical meal was as follows: homemade chicken noodle soup, fruit cocktail, salad with a Seven Seas dressing bought especially for me, meatballs and broiled chicken with peas and potatoes, an exhortation to have more of all of them, followed by cookies and/or cake, and a query of tea. My grandmother never remembered that I hated tea. That was before I discovered an alternative lifestyle that included Lemon Zinger and Sunburst C.

My mother and grandmother made me what I am today: Overweight.

So I forget what I did that day, but I remember what greeted me upon my return. I really had to go to the bathroom, and Knucklehead insisted I read a letter he wrote me while I was in there.

Let's backtrack again, shall we?

I am blessed with the curse of intuition. I am hypercritical, and I am perspicacious. I know a lot more before anyone thinks I do. No one listens to Bookey at first, but in time most agree with my initial assessments in the end.

Earlier in the week, Knucklehead (K-head for short) came home late. This was not unusual; I had grown accustomed to it by that time. K-head had been to a going-away party for a co-worker. Another co-worker, whom I will name because I am a vindictive bitch, struck up a conversation with K-head. Tim Schuppenheimer "came out as a bisexual" to my lover of eighteen months. K-head spoke of Tim in glowing terms. Tim was so nice. Tim was so funny. Tim liked baseball. Tim - Tim - Tim - Tim - Tim!

I was worried about this Tim Factor.

So Tim and K-head went to a Mets game two nights earlier. K-head called from the local gay bar on Queens Boulevard at 1 am that night and said they'd be home soon. They? Well Tim lived in New Jersey and there'd be no way for him to get home at that late hour. So it was 1 am and I had to start cleaning up!

I'd shared my fears with my friend Stu earlier that week. It was pretty clear, from the tone of his voice, that K-head was smitten with Tim. Stu told me to relax and not hover or smother? Who was doing that? I was never one to do that. K-head had few worthwhile friends and I let him do as he pleased. While I worked overtime for pay (imagine that) or watched soap operas, he was on the local gay bar's softball team. K-head wandered in and out of life with abandon. K-head was always "out there" somewhere. Like my mother dancing with that gay man who's head was clearly elsewhere, I was engaged with a man who was a year older physically, several years behind emotionally, and who, despite hundreds of protestations of love and hopes for the future, was off in his own universe. And at the centre of that universe was Tim Schuppenheimer.

So in they strolled at 3:30 am. I was none-too-pleased. I had never met Tim before. I can safely recall that Tim was a younger, prettier, thinner version of me. He too wore glasses. We chatted for a while and at 4 am I invoked bedtime. K-head accused me of giving Tim the bum's rush. "It's four in the morning," I replied.

K-head told me how nice Tim was. What a wonderful evening they had had. And of course it was a lovely evening, because in fact it was their very first date. K-head blithely balked at my reaction, but in the end, Bookey was sadly correct.

And so, once again a captive audience, I read my very first "dear John" letter, right there on the toilet. K-head didn't want to hinder my independence, and of course he wanted to "explore his friendship with Tim."

The negotiations continued for the next two months. It was pretty awful. I will spare you the details. Let's just say that I learned the value of sick time, and the value of coming out to co-workers. Coming out is often considered an "act of love" and I came out to Mom and Dad because I was in love. I came out to my co-workers because my love life resembled a village after a visit from the Vikings.

And by Gay Pride Day that year, in fact, on Gay Pride Day itself, he moved out. It had been his apartment, but I told him, in the end, that if he wanted to be independent, he should leave. And leave he did. And I have been in the desert ever since.

So, given the enormous body of evidence at hand, what made me think that I would be with K-head for the next 70 years? What made me think that coming out to my parents and proclaiming an abiding love, with great confidence, while at that very moment Tim and K-head were having breakfast and god-only-knew-what-else while I was out of the house, was a good thing? Why didn't I, the one with such a good intuition and a critical eye, not know? Why did I forget that a momentous liberation could be followed by exile in the desert? Read on to the third and final bit of this personal coming-out fiesta.

Next entry... Mt. Nebo and the Promised Land

Previous entry... Crossing the Red Sea

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