Justin's Life... July 1997

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July 15, 1997


Monday, I took Mom and Selma to see the Crystal Cathedral. Today I took them around town to Costco and K-Mart. Tomorrow, well, tomorrow's a different story.

It's been almost a year now since I arrived permanently in LA. Almost a year for me to get acquainted, learn the streets, find the restaurants, figure out the safe places to go, and to make friends. Well, I know La Brea from La Cienega; I can take you anywhere from Chuck E Cheese's to Il Fornio, and I know to be extra careful when I venture over to USC after dark, but I still have no friends. I mean, I have Larry's friends, and I have Erik who I see like once or twice a month, and Jim who I talk to online, but I have no real friends that I can just hang out with.

So, long story short, in comes Griffith. He's cute, he's red headed, and he's stocky. He even thinks I'm interesting and really likes talking to me. Oh yeah, and he's straight. How in the world did I meet a straight red headed guy who'd get a 10 out of 10 in the swimsuit portion of my Mr. America contest? Can't say... well, I can say, but for some reason or another, I can't. I mean, Larry knows and Erik knows and Jim knows, and people in my immediate surroundings know. It's not a deep dark secret: I just can't say here.

Anyway, I met Griffith and we really hit it off. We talked and talked and talked: It was like he couldn't get enough of me. He wanted to know all about me, about my relationship with Larry, about being gay, about everything. I answered his questions and asked mine. By the end of the day, we'd gotten pretty deep into each other's psyches and we'd both said more than a couple times that we should hang out again.

And so, this past Wednesday, he and I were to go to Six Flags. When I called on Tuesday, though, he said his girlfriend was in town and so it would have to be the next week. He apologized; we talked for a few minutes then said good-bye.

Well, tomorrow is Wednesday. He said he'd call tonight and that if he didn't I was supposed to call him. I admit, I so look forward to having a new friend that I'm slightly worried that he won't call... but the other part of me reminds "He called the Tuesday when you were in Hawaii thinking it was that Wednesday that you guys were going."

As I wrote to Jim a little earlier today: "OK, probably not all that exciting from your viewpoint, but, dude, it's seriously been so long since I've had any real friends to just hang out with... "

He wrote back:

If I told my friends about Grif, they would say he wants to get in your pants, but I would disagree. There are a lot of gay guys that think it's impossible to have a friendship with a straight guy without sex coming into the picture.

I'm so excited for you. Having a new friend is almost as much fun as having a new boyfriend. I think there are a lot of the same feelings.

Please let me know how it goes. I forget how hard it is not having friends. I've been here in Burlington for over 10 years. I have lots of really good friends here that I can call to do stuff, so I hardly every feel lonely or friendless.


Yep, I've heard the "closet case" deal before, but I think it's more like my friend Scott back in Kentucky. He's 20, married, with two kids. He's as straight as straight comes and I'm certain I know him well enough that he would tell me if he even thought about kissing another guy. That said, he finds me interesting, likes hanging out with me, and is very curious about being gay. He's told me things about air and how it's involved in straight sex and I've told him about the realization that it's not admiration but physical attraction. We've had those intimate discovery conversations, we've hung out, and we haven't gotten into each other's pants.

I've said it before, but I just can't get over how harsh a city LA is for making friends. I had them in Kentucky and in Boston. I'm not an unlikable guy. Larry kids me about wanting to be Grif's friend just because he's cute and red headed, but I think sometimes Larry doesn't truly realize that I don't have any friends which weren't his first... and that's all I want.


Well, it's a quarter 'til nine and I haven't yet heard from Grif. I'm starting to wonder if he'll call, but I know he got a new job and I'm not sure what time he gets off work. Hmmm...


Well, I called... and whoever answered the phone said that he was in San Diego after I told them my name. When I asked if he was coming back later today, the guy said that he thought he was coming back Wednesday. Dumbfounded, pissed, and heart racing, I hung up.

A few seconds passed then I called back. I said that it was me calling again and that Grif and I were supposed to go to Six Flags tomorrow. I asked if there was any way he could call him to see what was going on and he said that he remembered Grif talking about it and he'd give him a call ASAP. So, I haven't completely lost hope, but it is dwindling.


The guy called back... it turned out that it was his dad and he just wanted to let me know that he didn't get ahold of him but that he would keep trying. At least his dad seemed really koool about it.

I mean, it would be one thing to cancel again... but to not say anything, to just "forget" about it, that's another... and that's why I still have a little hope that we're still going tomorrow. I don't think, and don't want to think, that he would just forget about it.


The flame is flickering... the whir of the computer, the hum of technology is growing louder as the silence is unpierced by the ring of my telephone.


Well, he called... he forgot. I can't believe it, but he forgot. He kept saying stuff like "We'll go next week, ok? Is that cool?" And while I normally would have said "yeah" or something similar, I flat out said "No, I'm not letting you off that easily. This is really shitty." You know, had it been a weaker moment, I might have even cried. I know I had to hide the quiver in my voice a couple times. I was really psyched about going. I told him if the situations were reversed, I'd get up early and come here... but he didn't go for it.

Before, he'd said I should write him a letter while in Hawaii. Well, tonight I wrote:

You wanted a letter before... so here's a letter. Right now, it's 9:58PM, Tuesday night. I'm sitting here at my computer, having just talked to your dad to find out that you're in San Diego. You said you were going to call me tonight after you got off work. With a new job, I'm wondering how you got a day off so quickly, but even more confusing is why you didn't call. Dude, you canceled last week. I called early in the day: you said it was a no-go and that we'd do it next week. Today, I waited for your call tonight and it didn't come. Not knowing how late you worked, I waited until around 9PM or so then called your house. When your dad said you were in San Diego, I was more than a little pissed and dumbfounded. I had totally psyched myself up for going tomorrow, for another day like the one at the ranch, where I just got to talk to you, and get to know you. It was koool and I thought you had a fun time getting to know me, too... but it's now 10:02PM and I'm wondering how in the world you could have just "forgotten" about tomorrow. Could you really have forgotten? You called when I was in Hawaii, a week early, so I thought you were psyched about going, too. I don't see how, but maybe you honestly did forget. If you did forget and your dad gets ahold of you, I'm sincerely hoping that you won't simply call to say "Oh sorry." I mean, if the situations were reversed and I'd already canceled on you once, and then forgot the second time, I'd get up at the butt crack of dawn then drive back to LA so that I could go.
Geez, dude, I really don't know what to say. I'm hoping that I don't have to send this letter. I'm hoping that you were planning to come back early tomorrow morning all along. In reality, I know that's a stretch, but that's what I'm hoping.

It's 11:05PM, you haven't called.

Well, you called and dude, you're a dick. You did forget. I really can't believe that you're just leaving me hanging. I mean, what kind of friend does that? It usually takes quite a burn for me not to come back anymore, but, dude, you've already poured scalding coffee on me twice.

Not mad really... just disappointed,



July 16, 1997


Well, I changed a couple lines and added a few such as "It's one thing to be canceled on TWICE, but it's a completely different thing to just be overlooked." in the last paragraph, then put the letter in an envelope. Before the morning's over, I'll be headed to the post office to drop it off.


July 18, 1997


I sent the letter, just as I said I would, and now I'm wondering if he'll call this weekend. I think I'll probably call Saturday. He'll be at work, but if I leave a message, he'll at least know that I'm not not talking.

In other news, on Wednesday, I went to re-see Romy And Michele's High School Reunion as a light, pick-me-up. For the most part, I'd already gotten over the whole deal, but the laugh was nice, nonetheless.


July 19, 1997


It's Saturday. I'm at the ranch, bored, and trying to think of something to do. It's still too early to call Grif: I know he won't be home yet. Larry's watching Cleopatra on TV; Mom's sunning on the deck; and Katie's in her room where she's supposed to be sleeping.

Of course, this is always my problem at the ranch. There's nothing to do. Some people, like Larry, enjoy doing nothing, but when I'm up, I'm pretty much on.

Anyway, nothing exciting... just checkin' in.


Well, I called Grif's house at 10:30PM-ish and the line was busy. I called back a few times then got through at about 10:45PM: Grif immediately recognized my voice.

We talked for a few minutes about the letter (He said something about none of his best friends would have sent him one then when I responded he said, "Forget the letter." as though it didn't really matter.) and a few more about stuff (He said something about me viewing him like a straight person would view the oppsite sex. I responded that what he did was shitty in any capacity, even if I were his mother. He agreed.).

Anyway, by the end of the ten minute or so conversation, we'd agreed to meet at 9:20AM Monday morning so that we could drive one car on to Six Flags. I'm sure we'll talk a little more about the cancelling and forgetting, but I'm sure that subject is 99% done.

In other news, I got the following letter from Rob:


Hello. Yes, my trip was great, very, very realxing!! I am not really surprised by your letter, I actually was kinda expecting it to come some time. I can't say that I'm not disappointed, but I do understand and wish you both the best. I do hope we can stay in touch and who know's..maybe one day our paths will cross and BANG!!!

I could kill you though, do you know that I took over 30 pictures of myself in Hawaii, that is more than I have taken in the last 10 years, geesh. Not to mention the picture postcard. Did you get it yet?

Anyway guy, like I said, I do understand and wish you two the best!! please keep in touch once in a while and let me know how your doing ok??

Take care, *sigh*


I knew that my thoughts about Larry were sorta apparent in the phone conversation with Rob, but I didn't expect to receive such a koool letter from him. I was really impressed and told him to go ahead and send the pictures: I'd be happy to scan them for him. Wow! His response was really amazing.


July 22, 1997


Sunday night, I shaved and showered in anticipation of my day with Grif at Six Flags. (Rather I showered in order to shave), then yesterday morning, I woke at 4:45AM. Before I was to meet Griff at 9:20AM, I needed to take Mom to the airport for her 7AM flight and I knew I was not going to feel like shaving at 5 in the morning.

Anyway, I got up, re-showered, then took Mom to the airport. Once she boarded the plane, I left and came back home. A few minutes here, then off I went.

At 9:31AM, Grif still hadn't shown. I hadn't reconfirmed since Saturday night, but if he didn't show, that was going to be it: The End. But he did show... I got in his car and so began our trek.

When I'd talked to him earlier, he'd said he had a coupon for a buy one get one free Six Flags admission. When I asked him if he'd brought it after a few minutes in the car, he said it turned out to be for Hurricane Harbor. And so, while he went in the bank, I called Six Flags guest relations to find out their current admission specials. A five minute recording later, I was given the number for human contact and called it. $10 off for a Coke can.

When Grif returned and I told him of the news, he said we could get a couple of Cokes at the car wash and asked if I minded if we washed the car before we went: I said no. And so, he drove over to the full service car wash and we went inside.

Once the car wash was done, we got back inside and Grif said he needed to drop some stuff off at the cleaners (or perhaps it was the cleaners first then the car wash: I don't remember). And so, he dropped off some clothes at the cleaner while I waited in the car. By this time, it was 10:30AM, so much for meeting at 9:20AM so we'd arrive when it opened.

Finally, we began driving towards Six Flags. (And in all fairness, the errand running wasn't that bad. We talked the whole time, but it was sorta "perplexing" as to why I got there at 9:20AM to run errands for an hour.)

Anyway, we arrived at Six Flags, parked the car, then waited in line to buy the tickets. Once they were purchased, we walked towards the turnstyles when Grif asked "Did you hear those girls?" I said that I didn't then he proceeded to say that they said something like "Look at those two gay guys?" We'd been there five minutes and he was already hearing people talk about him. I told him that he was being paranoid, that I was absolutely sure that no one said that, that it hadn't happened to me before when I was walking with another guy, so it was impossible that it just happened to happen when he'd walked with me for five minutes.

I really didn't want him to be paranoid about being around me all day and I knew that no one had said anything, so I thought for a few seconds then once again told him that he was being paranoid. He responded, "You're still thinking about that. Forget it." and on we went.

Our first stop: Superman: The Ride. The sign said an hour wait, and so, we talked... and talked... and talked; most of it inquiring about the other's "lifestyle". When we finally got about ten feet from the place where the line went inside the cavern, the line stopped. Before long, we'd realized that the ride attendants were standing in the doorway: it had broken. We waited... and waited... and waited. And then, the attendants cleared the way and we briskly walked through the cavern. Of course, the cavern is very dimly lit with black light. When you're moving at five feet a minute, your eyes have time to adjust. When you're moving at five feet a second, you can't see a thing. I had a relative idea of what was around from my Six Flags visit with Matt and Shawn, but Grif hadn't a clue as to where he was walking. He could have grabbed the back of my shirttail to find his way, but instead he grabbed my arm intermittently.

After the 45 second ride, we began walking around the park without any real destination. And then, I was sort of taken aback when Griffith started talking about drugs. I mean, I knew he was far from the goodie-goodie that I am. In the car, he'd said something about how he'd done coke for the first time like two nights earlier. But as we were walking, he asked if he'd brought some with him, would I have done it with him. Out of courtesy, I said, "Probably not." instead of "No way. No how. Wouldn't even think of it." like I was thinking. Snorting cocaine in order to enjoy an amusement park? Nope, sorry.

Slightly dumbfounded, but managing to keep it well under control, I continued walking with Grif throught the park. We ate lunch. I called Mom to make sure she got home all right, and then we went one the water log ride.

When we got to the bottom of the stairs, where boarding occurs, the guy asked how many. I responded two and he directed us into a boat. The boat, as normal, had a seatback midway and then another at the very back. I got in the front half and Grif got in the back.

Before we'd even been let out of the gate, Grif was throwing water on me and himself. When we got out of the gate, he was rocking the boat and I joined in, half way thinking that I wish I could just "chill" as much as he was and just have fun without being so tense. After we got to the top of the first small drop off and started meandering around the track, Grif said something about how we needed to put the weight in the front of the boat in order to make it heavier, and in turn, splash more. Of course, I knew better, but when he stood up and walked over the midway seatback to sit in the front half behind me, I didn't say a thing.

When we got to the big drop off, where a ride attendant sits to make sure no one is standing up, Grif yelled to her that we were both sitting in order to make it heavier. Of course A> she didn't care and B> she knew better.

As luck would have it, that wasn't a ride where they took pictures.

From there, or perhaps just sometime afterwards in the day, we ended up on Tidal Wave, the giant log ride. You know, the one with like 20 people on it, four across. As the wooden slates moved under the boat to pull us to the top, Grif and I talked about the giant wave and such... then it stopped. Figuring it was just a planned delay in order to keep the boats evenly spaced, we waited without thinking too much about it. Five minutes later, it was obvious that it was not planned: the ride had broken.

Then up the ramp beside the incline came a ride attendant. When he made it to the top of the stairs, he said something about how we were probably wondering what was happening and that Tidal Wave was experiencing "minor technical difficulties." When some fellow passengers questioned him as to when we might be moving again, he responded that he didn't know but that we had to stay in the boat.

Grif, who was sitting on the inside, jokingly introduced himself to the park guests next to him and they began talking. I looked over and smiled at them a couple times, but didn't say anything. Oddly enough, the female half of the couple seemed to be giving me "the eye".

Anyway, just out of left field, Grif said that the guy had some chronic stuff in his backpack and did I want to go smoke some with them. Knock me over with a feather. More than a little dumbfounded this time, I paused for a bit then said "No." Grif asked me at least five more times, in various ways, like "You can just watch.", and repeatedly I said no, that I didn't want to, and without stating it in so many words, that I didn't want to have any part of it.

When the ride was finally fixed (about 20 minutes later), we went down the slide then back around once more as a "Sorry you guys were stuck" compensation. When we were standing on the bridge/exit, Grif asked one more time, "I gotta go tell them yes or no. Which is it?" I said, "What have I said like five times?" and he mumbled something about how even his girlfriend would just go watch. I honestly don't remember what prompted it, but he snapped back at something I said with, "You may have your cell phone, but just remember that I'm the one driving and it would be a good while before someone came to pick you up." Wow! I couldn't imagine myself saying that to anyone. I mean, he followed it up with an "I'm a nice guy. I came here with you, so I'm not going to leave you." but wow, to even say that.

OK, so by now, I'm wondering just what exactly I'm doing there and just who exactly I'm with. He'd gone from being totally friendly on the small water log ride to nearly biting my head off after the second drug incident. And yet, before we'd even gotten 200 feet away from the large water log ride, he'd already said "Let's just forget about it and have fun." in a nice, sincere voice.

Still too confused to think about anything in my surroundings, we entered the Batman and Robin show arena where a show was already in progress. When it was done, Grif kept saying how cool he thought it was, but I'd been so out of it that I'd only slightly noticed the stunts and explosions.

I once again began explaining my logic about the pot smoking in the parking lot. I told him that if he wanted to smoke it, well, that was one thing, but he should do it with some friends of his at his house or whatever, and not with some strangers in the parking lot. He seemed to understand what I was saying and that was that.

We rode the Psyclone, ate ice cream dots, and basically just hung out. By the time nightfall came, we were both tired. He drove back to where we'd left my car, said he'd had a fun time about three times, then got out as I got out to get in my car. He hugged me and I said I'd send him a postcard from Kentucky. He said for me to give him a call and we drove our separate ways.

I drove home and still am thinking about yesterday. Larry says that one of the reasons that I don't have friends in LA is that I'm too judgmental... and I know that I am. For Grif, it seemed like something happened and he moved on. I've never had the ability to do that. For me, when something happened, I kept thinking about it. Even today, to a lessor degree of course, I'm still thinking about it.

I guess I'll send him a postcard from Kentucky, just as I said I would, and I'll take it from there.


July 28, 1997


I've always thought that you can pretty much tell a plane's destination by looking at its passengers. The people on a plane to Boston look like Boston residents and the people on a plane to LA look like Los Angeles residents. Wednesday morning, when I boarded the plane headed to Lexington Kentucky, the destination/passenger connection had never been stronger.

Of course, even beyond the visual connection, in this particular flight, the sounds gave the destination away. I heard comments like "Loook at that smoke commin' out frum under thair. I never seen that before." referring to the condensation coming out from the air conditioner vents.

When the plane landed, my destination/passenger connection was further strengthened, this time in the smell department, by the reeking of hairspray as I walked past three women coming from the bathroom. Ain't never had that happen in LA. I was home.

So, anyway, after looking, hearing, and smelling the fellow passengers, I searched for my mom who was supposed to be at the gate to pick me up. I called the house to find that she was running late.

Before long, I decided I'd venture down to the luggage claim area and low and behold, she was there. That said, also there was a fellow classmate. I'd arrived in town for ten minutes, not even left the airport, and had already seen someone I went to high school with. Talk about everyone knowing everyone and everyone's business.

Yet, get this, on the plane, I sat next to a gay guy. A gay guy flying into central Kentucky... Now whether or not anyone else knew he was gay is another story, but I knew he was gay and I'm sure if he didn't actually know, he had a strong feeling that he might be. And when I was getting my suitcase, another gay guy was standing waiting for his. I'd seen him get on the plane with his larger than normal biceps in his tight white t-shirt and thought he was too primped to be straight. When he made eye contact more than a few times during the wait, I knew I was right.


When I arrived at the house, Dad gave me a hug and kiss and said that it was good to see me. We talked for a while at the kitchen table then he blurted something about one of his customers having twenty-some gay guys working for her. I'd already known that he'd told her that his son was gay when she was talking about her company, but my brother was just in the other room, well within earshot, and the "G" word had never been officially said to him. I double-taked at the situation, but no one else seemed to even notice.

As the day went on, I gave Amanda a call and she came to the house with her husband-to-be Mike to pick me up (as my car is now in California). The three of us talked for a while with my mother then I got some pictures from the Hawaii trip and got in the car.

When we arrived at Amanda's parents' house, I showed Amanda the pictures while Mike continued putting stuff in boxes. I hadn't really ever talked to him before, so I was unsure of whether I should bother showing him the kazillion pictures from Hawaii. I mean, the scenery pictures could have been interesting, but I doubted he really wanted to see me, Larry, or anyone else standing in front of various sights.

By the time the virtual slide show was over, I'd talked a little to Mike and tried as much as I could to include him... and then the phone rang. It was Mike's grandmother saying that she wasn't coming to the wedding. -- Oops, left out one slight detail. I flew to Kentucky to be in Mike and Amanda's wedding.

After a couple minutes talking to Amanda, Mike went to the phone while Amanda explained the situation to me. Ten minutes or so later, Mike came back having given up on the situation, and Amanda went to the phone. During the time she was gone, Mike and I really started talking. He told me about his family and about the military. I told him about living with Larry, about California, school, Grif, and so forth. By the time Amanda got off the phone, Mike and I'd really had a chance to bond. I got to explain why I didn't particularly care for him when he first came on the scene and he admitted to having had an irrational jealousy problem and said that he understood. We even swapped war stories, of sorts, and he suggested that I try a White Russian the next time I have a drink out somewhere, too. It was koool.

From there, the three of us went to Wal-Mart. From what I can remember (I wrote brief notes to jog my memory for most of this stuff), Amanda wanted to go Wal-Mart and her mother needed to return something there anyway. And so, the three of us went.

When we got inside to the return counter, we found two very feminine gay guys. I'd talked with Mike earlier in the night about how gay guys were much more similar to straight guys than women, but these two pretty much contradicted everything I said. And so, I commented on the fact that those guys were what everyone thought all gay guys were like. Still trying to reassure Mike that I was just the same as he was, I said something like "Those guys give gay guys a bad name." Yeah, I know, not the most politically correct thing in the entire world, but feminine gay guys are just as much to blame as closeted masculine guys in the misperception of gay people. Combined with the already perpetuated feminine stereotype of gay guys, a Wal-Mart patron would be way more likely to assume all gay guys are like that if they didn't know a masculine gay guy. So, yeah, in my opinion those guys do give gay guys a bad name in their own way because the closeted masculine gay guys allow them to keep the feminine representation dominant.

Anyway, to my comment, Mike responded, "You can punch them if you want." I knew how he meant it: It wasn't literal. It was for the fact that he knew that they were biasing everyone who didn't know a masculine gay guy. I mean, it's faulty logic on the people who think it, but it's similar to "Aristotle is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Aristotle is mortal." Nothing says as much, but in that equation, human logic seems that all mortals are men. In the real world, "Joe is feminine. Most feminine guys are gay. Therefore, Joe is gay." Joe may be, but human logic similarly moves that equation around to all gay guys are feminine... unless there's something to contradict that.

Sorry, slightly tangental, but that two minute interaction in Wal-Mart while Amanda was returning the item showed that I understood Mike's perceptions and that he understood me.

When the Wal-Mart trip was done, Amanda and Mike took me back to my house and I watched a remake of Freaky Friday on the Disney channel before going to bed.


July 29, 1997


Thursday morning I woke up and told Mom that I was going to take the family to dinner to celebrate Dad's birthday. She said ok, that she'd relay the message (since Dad was already at work) and I got in the truck and went on my way.

After picking up the renewal application for a personalized license plate at the courthouse, I headed towards Lexington. The night before, I found sheets of paper with the headline "Club Wedd". When I asked what it was, Amanda responded that it was the Target wedding gift registry. I looked over the sheets, and Mike and Amanda started talking about what they really wanted on the list. I'd already told Amanda that I'd bought her present at the Crystal Cathedral gift shop and I didn't think I was going to get anything else... so they weren't hinting and I wasn't consciously listening. By the end of the night, though, I'd had such a great time, I really wanted to show it. And so, instead of Larry and I simply giving them $100 as he'd suggested before, Thursday morning, I headed to Lexington to buy the "Highback Chairs" which Michael had said were one of the two things he really wanted.

Once I'd picked out the chairs, an apron, and the bows to decorate them, I stopped at Chuck E. Cheese to pick up a couple of birthday cakes for Dad then headed back home. On the way, I noticed 17 different instances of butterflies along the road. Normally, I wouldn't have paid them much attention, but Larry'd commented a few weeks back about how he thought butterflies were disappearing. I told him that they were still in Kentucky, and so, when I saw them, I started counting. Seventeen different groups of butterflies flew near the intensely green roadsides while I played country music on the radio: Quite the change from LA.


Of course, the grass wasn't so "interesting" when Mom asked me if I'd mow the yard after I got home. When I was young, she'd always mow it herself because when I did it, I insisted on being a little more "creative": back and forth in straight lines was just too boring.

Figuring I'd once again get out of mowing it with my "creativity", I told Mom that if I did it, I wasn't going to mow it in a square. She said fine, that she didn't care. And so, I got on the riding lawnmower and began the wave.

In sixth gear and wobbling back and forth down the yard, I managed to get the grass mowed and have a slightly fun time. Then boom; the mower stopped. When I looked down under the blade cover, I found a garden hose completely wrapped around the blade.

Once that was untangled, I began wobbling again. With the main yard completed, I began mowing the side, near the taller grass, and boom. The mower didn't stop but it sounded like I really chopped into a rock. When I looked back, I realized that it must have been a can of paint as the green grass had now taken on a baby blue hue. Not only the patch of grass had changed, but baby blue tire marks were following my path. Still mowing, I looked at Mom laughing and she laughed back.

Before too long, the side yard had been mowed as well. After a break inside the house, I began mowing the front yard... until, you guessed it, boom, the mower stopped. I started it, engaged the blade; it stopped. I started it again; engaged the blade; it stopped again. When I looked at the blade itself, I couldn't see any obstruction. I even moved it with the strength of one finger. I'd had enough mowing anyway, so I gave up.

A little later when Dad arrived home, we went back out to the lawnmower (which I'd left parked where it stopped). He, too, looked at the blade and found nothing... then we realized that it was a two blade mower. The other blade had a baseball mitt pinned between the blade and the blade cover... and no amount of pulling or pushing would get it loose. One day of mowing and I'd managed to kill a garden hose, a can of paint, and a baseball mitt. The zig-zag excuse was no longer gonna work, so it looked like I'd invented another.


Once the mower had bitten the dust, or rather the baseball mitt, Mom, Dad, and I headed to Lexington to have dinner with my brother's girlfriend's family... the mother of whom was the aforementioned "gay friendly" employer.

During the dinner, I couldn't help but have the feeling that this wonderful employer of the gay was a patronizer without a clue. She seemed to get off on the fact that she was so gay friendly, but she referred to Larry as my roommate and acted as though every gay guy she knew was an alcoholic, drug addict, or emotional mess. She championed herself for helping so many gay guys because they'd been abused as children. She could be the compassionate mother that they'd never had.

Anyway, after feigning interest in her conversation for a while, I couldn't take any more of the martyr and decided to see if I could cause a little trouble. I turned to my brother's girlfriend and asked her if she'd seen him drunk. She didn't immediately answer, but seeing as how her dad was looking directly at her from across the table, I knew that that answer was a yes.

Before long, dinner was done and my brother's girlfriend said that she and he were leaving and that they were taking me with them. As she and he got up from the table, I hurriedly ate the last bite and walked behind them.

In the car ride which followed, I got quite the peek into my brother's life... more specifically his sex life. She and he told me about the various in's and out's (where/ways/etc. ) of their relationship, and well, suffice it to say that they're way more versed than I am in the ways of the flesh.

When the socializing was through at the parents' house, I got in the truck with Clark and Mom & Dad took the other car. For the first time, I got to talk candidly with him about sex. I didn't use gender-neutral pronouns or inuendo. I could actually talk about myself and my experiences and not infer that they were with girls. I mean, I guess he's really known for a long while now, but it was just koool being able to not even hide it in the least.


When my brother and I got back in town, I called Amanda to see if she was at home. I'd told her earlier in the day that I wanted to give her the wedding presents and she said she had to go run some errands, but whenever I was done with dinner that I should come by. And so, my brother drove the truck down the driveway and I sat the two high back chairs out on the driveway.

When Amanda came out to the truck, I was already standing by the front of it and my brother had rolled down his window. Unaware that anything was sitting on the other side of the truck, Amanda talked to my brother and I for a few minutes then he drove away. When he did, she turned around to go inside and I told her to look towards the neighbor's house. She saw the chairs and squealed then headed inside to get Michael. Her mom came outside, too, and they all ooh'ed and aaah'ed over them. With that ooh'ing and aaah'ing came a price, though: when Mike stuck out his hand to shake mine in thanks, I made him hug me.

After I'd hung out at Amanda's for a while, she gave me a lift back to my house. I talked to Larry on the phone then went to sleep .


Friday morning, I got up and watched Sally Jessy Raphael: Babysitters Caught On Tape!. Once that was done, I called Amanda to see what the plan was for getting the tuxedos. She gave me the details then Mike said that he wanted to talk... but he really didn't say anything. In fact, he said, "I just wanted to tell ya what Amanda told you." I knew what he was really saying. It was really just a friendly gesture to say "You're an ok guy." and I honestly appreciated it


July 31, 1997


When I got to Amanda's house a little later, I met several of her relatives, then the guys headed to Lexington to pick up our tuxes.

Once the tuxedos had been tried on and we got back to the house, I found out that the rehearsal dinner, later that night, was "casual." To me, "casual" means come as you are. To everyone else, that meant Sunday clothes. Of course, the dressiest thing I'd even brought was a long sleeve shirt and jeans, and I had no way to get to the house to change into those anyway. For the next few hours, I worried that I'd be the only person there wearing shorts.

OK, OK, this is getting really long so I'm going to pick up the pace a bit.

I got to the wedding rehearsal, in clothes that weren't that different from what everyone else was wearing. There, I learned which grandmother was to be escorted where and when and how to stand at the front of the church. From the church, we headed to the dinner, and the koool thing about that was that I got to ride in the car with Amanda and Mike. Even at the dinner, when I offered to let someone else sit at the table with them, they had me sit there. And when I offered to ride in Amanda's parents' van on the ride back to the house, they asked why and had me ride with them still. For the whole time surrounding the wedding, it was like I was the guest of honor, and for someone who's been starving for friends (like I've written about here lately), that was quite the koool feeling.

OK, still trying to keep it short, but a couple things I took note of:

When we got back to Amanda's house, I thought I'd be heading on homeward, but I was in charge of the wedding gift list. I added my own little comments to make it slightly more interesting, then, at a little before midnight, Mike and Amanda realized that they needed to part ways. (Some tradition about not seeing each other the day of the wedding.)

Anyway, Amanda took me home then I called Mike to see if he wanted to hang out, figuring that he was too nervous to sleep. (We'd thought that we'd all hang out, go bowling or something before, but then they realized the Don't-See-Before-The-Wedding deal.) He, however, said thanks but that he was just going to lay low.

I said ok, that I'd see him the next day, and hung up. I then called Larry's cell phone and found that he was about ten minutes from the house. He arrived, I told him the details of the previous days then went to sleep.

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© 1997 Justin Clouse


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