Saturday, February 28, 2009

Peeper Teasers

Over the last few days as we have awakened, we are hearing a lovely song biding Springtime's coming: the frequent and gentle peeping of the Spring Peeper.

We must have gazillions of these little guys in the stream that runs across the back of our property in our forest.

Saturday mornings are times when my partner and I like to open the window in our bedroom a little bit, and listen to the chorus. We snuggle close in each other's arms, smile, and think joyful thoughts. They're saying to us, "Spring is coming! Spring is coming! Peep Peep! Look at me! I am here to welcome Spring!"

Their song brings us joy and hope for winter to pass, Spring rains to come, our trees and plants to leaf and flower.

This biker can't wait. Thanks, little guys, for the Spring tease.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Count Your Blessings

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" ... a line from the Bible, but one that applies for several people I know right now.

For my eighth brother, AZ, as he mourns the death of his aunt.

For my buddy Bob, as he mourns the loss of his close friend and mentor.

For my neighbor, who mourns the sudden death of her son.

For my cousins, as they mourn the loss of their father.

Blessings, be they from a deity or any other source, are rich when received, and have value far beyond mere mortal measure.

I often end many of my blog posts by saying that I know that I am richly blessed, and I further state: "life is short...".

You never really know when someone you love may no longer be a physical part of your life. I know that. I have experienced that. Both in long, lingering departures from life, as well as in suddenness.

I think all of these feelings were made much more apparent to me as I took a year of my life to care for my beloved Uncle Charlie in the winter of his life. He was old. He knew he was dying. He didn't want to have his life prolonged artificially, because he knew that doing so would bring pain and anguish to those who loved him. He knew that he would die, sooner than later. He taught me to appreciate that death is a part of life, and that while alive, one should live it as fully as one can.

My partner and I spent a year enjoying Charlie's "lasts." His last live lobster boil, his last Maryland crab feast, his last dinner at a restaurant, his last pasta con sarde, his last bet on a horse race, his last rant about how horrible President "W" and his evil Deputy VP were, his last celebration of my having an article published on the front OpEd page of the Washington Post, his last visit with his doctor, our last long stroll around his community as I wheeled him along in his wheelchair, his last note to his beloved wife. I was there for his last breath on this Earth, and was the last person he saw.

Uncle Charlie taught me that there is dignity and honor in death. He taught me that I could be sad, but also be happy at the same time. And while I do miss him, I am happy beyond words that I could be with him to learn that lesson first-hand.

I count my blessings each and every day. I know how richly blessed I am. I have a job I love at an employer that is fair and well-respected. I have a caring and supportive partner who is my rock and my foundation. A loving, warm, huge and raucous family, who accept me as I am -- just "little bother" me. Close, close friends, like my "eighth brother", AZ, evil twin Clay, and those who I grew up with -- Robert, Richard, Skip, Roberta, Laura, Mike... others. A community of neighbors, colleagues, collaborators, "elder buds," activists, and on and on -- all of whom compose the fabric of my life.

My fabric is woven of thick and durable fibers. These fibers are good people. There are times I wrap myself in that fabric, to smell the scents, to feel the warmth, to know I am loved. I am doing that now, as you read this.

I am, after all, a humble man. A man of "middle means." I am no saint. I am not perfect. I still have a lot to learn.

But one thing I have learned, granted by the greatest gift that my Uncle could have given to me, is to know this one important thing: life is short. Love those you love -- hard! Scream from the mountaintops your appreciation! Show your support. Cheer on your team. Do the little things that show you care.

Count your blessings. After all, life is short.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feeling Like Ziggy

Ziggy is an age-old comic strip. The main character always seems to have his challenges with life. Usually for poor ol' Zig, anything that can go wrong does go wrong. This strip is my partner's very favorite, and we often laugh at the daily comic shown on a calendar we keep in our kitchen.

Today, I'm feeling much like Ziggy. With all great intentions of getting my day started extra early, I left the house a half-hour earlier than usual so I could drop off two tax returns that I had completed for some "elder buds" at their respective homes. They live in a nearby gated retirement community, and I have a pass. As I drove up to the gate, I held up my pass for the guard as usual, but he stopped me, and became overly officious. He asked to see my card, then my driver's license, and gave me the third degree. "Where are you going?" among other questions. This poor rent-a-cop kid was bored, I guess. I answered his questions but was frustrated by the unnecessary delay.

After dropping off the tax returns, I drove to the Metro station where I usually board my train to get to work in the city. Some nitwit was stopped in the driving lane at the entrance to the parking garage. I kid you not: it looked like she was applying makeup while just sitting there. I gently tapped my horn, and she gave me a dirty look before giving her car some gas and moving forward. She entered the garage and parked, and I happened to park next to her. As I was walking toward the station entrance, she huffed and puffed and said, "you didn't need to honk." So I couldn't resist, and asked, "just what kind of makeup emergency were you having that you couldn't park first?" She glowered....and didn't say anything else. She knew she was guilty as charged.

Then just as I got to the platform, the train pulled away. If Ms. Make-Up didn't delay me, I would have made it. I hate it when I just barely miss a train, but that happens sometimes. Another should be along momentarily.

9 momentarilies later, another train finally pulled up.

We board the train, and I scan the newspaper. The daily free rag is so ultra-Republican. Its shrill negativity about our President and his actions gets to be so ... boring ... blathering ... I dunno, awful. Too bad I don't have a parakeet any more. That paper would be great to line the cage.

Then at one of the stations, the train operator announces that we all have to get off due to a train malfunction. Oh great, there we go again.... this happens all too often.

Everyone disembarks, and waits... and waits... and waits some more. Meanwhile, there are announcements "regretting the delay."

Another train finally pulls up, we all board, and in a spot of luck, I even got a seat.

When I arrived at Union Station, I queued up to get off the train, only to be almost bowled over by commuter train passengers who had rushed off their trains from far-flung areas to board the Metro. Why they never let others off before trying to rush on.... Alas, life in the big city, where everything generally is "me, me, me."

Fortunately, the rest of my morning "commute" as it were, was fine, though I did arrive to work about 15 minutes later than usual. And in my typical optimistic approach to life -- making lemonade out of lemons -- I beheld an unusual cloud formation as it was growing lighter. It really was pretty to see dawn breaking behind the U.S. Capitol building. I paused for a couple minutes to watch. Heck, my schedule was already "blown" and the display of God's handiwork brightened my spirits a lot.

Some days are Ziggy days. Despite all best efforts, things go wrong. Oh well, such is life. My attitude though remains bright, and I'm singing, just for the heck of it (and also because no one else is here yet LOL!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wearing Leather Around Town

It's interesting, I was preparing a blog post in my mind about two encounters last night when I read on Straight-Acting's Blog that he was commenting on the same type of thing: wearing leather in public and what people may say or do. I have blogged about this before, but this bears repeating in a new context.

While he specifically mentioned me as being "a brave soul," (thanks, man!), I really do not consider that wearing leather while going about my daily business is as much "brave" as it is in recognition of the fact that I really don't care if other people say anything or have an opinion about the leather garments I choose to wear on my personal time. People are as much entitled to their opinions as I am entitled to wear leather in public. As long as my leather does not directly imply sex -- such as wearing codpiece leather jeans, or a jock with chaps, for example -- then wearing leather is considered something more like fashion that never goes out of style. And, as I have often said, leather garments are practical. They provide warmth, comfort, as well as style.

The encounters to which I referred last night was with two members of a club to which I belong. We met to plan out the season's schedule for motorcycle rides that the club will offer to its members. One of the guys at my table asked me, "do you wear anything other than leather?" The tone of his voice implied some form of ... I don't know ... perhaps one might say, "indignation." Not wanting to respond defensively or get into an argument with this guy, I gave him a very bright and warm smile and said, "not if I don't have to!" I was so positive about it, he stammered as if he did not know how to respond. I guess he wasn't expecting that type of "peppy" reply. He then changed the subject.

During a break, another guy came up to me and said that he was "mad at me" because he is is a big and tall man, and has had trouble finding leather gear to wear for motorcycling that fits, provides flexibility, allows for ease-of-movement, is made of quality leather, and looks good. He made his comment lightheartedly, and not with anger. He said that he had found my website and reviewed the various leather gear and boots that I own. He was "mad at me" because my gear fits well and looks good. (Implying that if it looks good on a big guy like me, then he can find leather that will fit him well, too.)

He said all of this without sounding judgmental whatsoever, which is something that I listen for when talking about leather with straight bikers. I know I am fortunate that the straight bikers with whom I ride are easy-going and accepting of having an openly gay leather-clad and tall-booted guy in their midst. I know from slams on some public forums that few straight bikers are as open-minded.

My fellow club member said that he had tried to order a leather jacket from a company whose products are made in Thailand, but was disappointed with the product when he got it. He described to me what process he went through in deciding where to order leather gear over the internet and the challenges he has encountered.

I explained that well-fitting leather gear for motorcycling is related to two main issues:

1) Fit. One size does not fit all! Sizes on the internet of jackets and pants are widely variable. The sizes of leather garments does not correlate with the size of a pair of blue jeans or a shirt. These are estimates, but not something to be used to choose leather gear purchased over the 'net. For us big and tall guys, the only way to go is to be measured properly and have gear crafted custom to fit. Having done that, as well as purchased gear estimated to be my size, I know first-hand that "going custom" is not that much more expensive. After all, you're buying something that will last a lifetime, so the investment is worth it.

2) Quality. As in quality of the hide used to make the garment. If the leather is made in a country where the skins are subjected to harsh chemicals in the tanning process and have scratches, abrasions, or holes from insect bites (after all, leather comes from a once-living animal), then the gear made from it will look bad. And, regretfully, there is a correlation between leather garment manufacturers who choose to use low-quality hides and the quality of the resulting product during production. Cheap threads, single-stitching, thin hides that stretch: all of these factors go together.

Ultimately, I explained, "you get what you pay for." If you buy cheap, expect poor quality. I don't like to slam any earnest business person in another country, but it is rather obvious from seeing leather garments made in Thailand, India, and Pakistan that the stuff is inexpensive because inferior quality leather is used in the first place, along with less attention to quality production methods when the gear is cut and assembled.

I explain all of this in my Complete Guide to Leather Gear on my website.

While I do not consider myself courageous to wear my leather investment in public, I recognize that few choose to do that for various reasons. They have concerns about what others may say or do, or how they will respond if asked or challenged, such as Straight-Acting was queried by the London Tube Police.

I appreciate the freedoms that I enjoy in the United States, where self-expression is considered a birthright. There are many pressures to conform to society's norms, whatever those norms may be. When you realize that these norms are conceived by a certain group of people -- straight people who often have very narrow viewpoints -- and then choose to ignore the norms because they are baseless conformations, it is very liberating. That truly is how I feel.

Why let others' stereotypes and self-conceived perceptions cause you to act, dress, or behave in certain ways? If you are not hurting anyone, then as they say in New York, "fuggetaboutit"... be confident, stand tall, choose your leather wisely, and wear it where you like within the limits of respect for others and the environment where you are. For example, the only leather I wear to work are boots and occasionally a leather blazer, jacket, or vest. But I do not wear leather shirts or jeans to work. It's not appropriate there. However, on my own time, out and about in my community at meetings and events, or even at the grocery store, there I am in leather... and (of course), boots!

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back Home, Back To Life

The world still goes 'round, so while I had a great, but short, trip to Arizona, I am now safely back home and it's time to return to my regular routine, which is extremely busy!

I was happy to return to the arms of my man. I spent a couple hours last night showing him the photos that I took and to recount the stories of my adventures. He listened with rapt attention, then just wrapped his arms around me and snuggled for a while. That was sweet. A great culmination to a long day of travel. What was best is that others still thought I was away, and thus it was quiet.

Lots of meetings, phone calls and emails to return today, so no time to blog!

Have a great day!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thanks to My Best Friend

I am the most blessed man in the world. I was so happy to have taken an extended weekend to visit my best friend, "AZ", in his home state of Arizona. I have very fond memories of a great trip. (Check out the photo gallery on my website.)

AZ is so thoughtful, kind and considerate. He has a legend on his car's license plate that reads, "Live the Golden Rule." That is so especially fitting for this man, who does that by all of his actions.

I was able to have a glimpse into his life and meet some of his friends over the last several days. He has a wide circle of people who adore him -- and also, more importantly, who respect him. He is funny, and people enjoy his witty humor. He is smart, and people look to him for guidance and advice. He is gentle, so those who need a shoulder or helping hand certainly have one. He is knowledgeable about physical training, so he can help you with your sacroiliac. He has a heart of gold, and a passion for carrying out God's good deeds each and every day, and those in his Church support him in doing that.

I have a wide circle of my own. I care for them and they care for me. My Number One remains my loving partner, who is my rock and my foundation. I wish he would have been able to come with me on this trip, but he is unable to travel by air. We talked alot about this trip for months before I left home. I keep no secrets from my man. He trusts in knowing that I am a man of my word and commitment, so going off to Arizona to rent a Harley and spend several days with AZ wasn't a problem with him, though I know he misses me as I miss him.

I think because both AZ and I lead lives in caring for others, and being cared for by our respective wide circles, is why we have bonded so tightly. Our hearts have much in common -- we share mutual respect and concern for the well-being of others. We see something that needs to be done, and we do it. We see someone who needs help, and we help. We see a wayward grocery cart abandoned in the handicapped parking space, and we roll it back to the store. Whatever we do, we seem to act and behave the same way. (Except for our approach to cell phones, but that's a different story.)

If I have one regret about this trip, it's that the third member of our booted brotherhood, Clay, couldn't join us. He was planning on being with us, but unfortunately he couldn't make it. We hope some time in the future we will all be together. Clay, if you're reading this, please know that AZ and I understand, and while we missed you, we talked about you a lot! (LOL!) We always hold you close in our hearts. It was great talking to you last night.

Mere words are insufficient to express my gratitude for AZ's love and friendship; for being such a wonderful host during my visit; for his passion, zeal, and zest for life; for his smile; and most of all, for being my eighth brother. (If Mom had another son, he would be AZ!)

Life is short: count your blessings and show those you love that you love them!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Best Friends Ride to Sedona

Today my best friend and brother-in-heart, AZ, and I rode 330 miles round trip from Phoenix to Sedona, Arizona. Man, what a wonderful day! The scenery along the road was spectacular (once we got out of the city and the traffic.) The highway itself was smooth as silk. The skies were clear and riding through the mountainous areas brought new wonders of the landscape along each mile of the highway. I was in a continuous state of awe and amazement.

It was great having AZ right there with me as my passenger on this ride. As we were going further and further and higher and higher in elevation, the temperature dropped somewhat. We rounded a curve and saw snow-capped mountains in front of us. We were riding for such a long time that I shouted back to AZ at least
twice, "are you sure we're not riding up to see Clay in Calgary?" AZ would laugh and say, "not yet, we haven't even crossed out of Maricopa County, much less Arizona!"

We met a friend of AZ's who lives in Sedona and had lunch. The conversation was interesting, and we all regretted that we had to leave so soon. But it was another three hour drive to get back and return the Harley to the dealership from which I rented it before it closed.

I will cherish the memories of this day, and riding with my brother-in-heart, AZ. How blessed am I to share his friendship and have the opportunity to spend quality time with him and in sharing my passion of motorcycling with him.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Brother's Wingman

I rode today with my brother "O" through some fascinating desert highways and byways outside of Phoenix. Man, it was great riding with my brother. He knew just where to go and the less traveled roads to take. I loved riding wing, that is behind and to the right, following my brother for our 100 mile trek through the desert. I haven't ridden with him ever before. So today's ride was extra special to the both of us.

The skies were clear and sunny. The day started out quite cool
(about 45°F, 7°C), so I wore my leather riding pants tucked into tall Dehner patrol boots, and my warm motocross jacket. As the day grew warmer, I shed the jacket for a vest. It got up to 78°F (25.5°C).

After riding for a while, we returned to meet my brother's wife for lunch, and catch up on family stuff.

After lunch, I visited with a boot buddy, Wearinboots. We hung out in Scottsdale and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon strolling, booted, among the kitchy stores and galleries. What a great day... more later! Check back as my brother-in-heart, "AZ", and I are going for a long ride tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Out Riding

I am finally going to visit my brothers in Arizona. I leave today and will be back on Monday. I may (or may not) be blogging while gone. Meanwhile, look for this Booted Harleydude in the Phoenix area this weekend with his booted brothers!

"O" will be on his Buell, and I will be on a rented Harley Ultra on Friday. "AZ" will be my passenger on Saturday. Then I have to return the bike. Rental Harleys aren't cheap, even for members of the group whose name I can't say on this blog, but whose members qualify for a discount because they own a Harley.

We will be the ones wearing helmets, despite the fact that there is not a mandatory helmet law in that state. We do not intend to become organ donors by riding without a helmet.

Have fun -- see 'ya while I rumble rumble among the cacti!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


When you a part of a very large family, you expect, regretfully, that death will visit. Of my father's huge family, he has two sisters and a sister-in-law who remain alive out of 41 (including spouses of siblings). I've been to a lot of wakes and funerals of aunts and uncles over the years.... The aunt I refer to on this blog, who I care for, is the last sister-in-law in that line of my father's family. I cared for her husband, my favorite Uncle Charlie, through the winter of his life until his death. He and I were very close.

My cousin called to tell me that another uncle, the husband of one of my father's sisters, died after a long illness on Sunday.

My uncle's death is sad, but was not unexpected. I'm just wondering where my grief is? I wasn't all that close to him, but wasn't estranged. We just did not see much of each other. My uncle had his hands full when I was growing up. Read on.

I'm sorry my uncle died, and feel badly for his family. He and his wife had four kids. One of their children, a daughter, died about 15 years ago at an early age. His two youngest children still live at home. Both have severe developmental disabilities, and act and operate at a significantly reduced mental capacity. The situation is so sad. Their parents knew that they had opposite Rh factors and that children, especially after the first or second, were very much at risk for being born with developmental disabilities.

But "La Famiglia" and the Catholic Church, ... I won't say more.

My aunt, the wife of my uncle who died, remains hospitalized for her own major, chronic health issues, and may die soon. She is not able to take care of herself, nor her children. The whole situation is very sad.

I don't know what will happen to my aunt and uncle's developmentally disabled children (adults in their 50s now). The one remaining "normal" daughter doesn't want to care for them. Who will?

The family is working on it. Plans are being made, but I'm not sure quite what they are. I don't communicate as often with the ultra-Catholic branch of the family tree. They sorta shunned me since I live in sin -- being gay, having a partner, and all that.

Anyway, life moves on. The family prevails. We'll hang together, albeit uncomfortably. Such is life in a huge family -- and you thought my direct family was large. My Dad's was larger. Well, regretfully, it is time to update the family tree, of which I am the keeper.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them, each and every day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Leather Up!

Isn't my partner a hunk? I always feel that way, but I'm biased.

I was rooting through my leather gear closet on Monday morning, looking for a pair of naked leather (unlined) jeans. I put on the pair that I pulled out first. I discovered that these jeans weren't fitting, and I was wondering why. I just wore them last week! When I looked more closely, I found the jeans that I pulled out were about 20 years old and smaller in the waist than I ordinarily wear. I have a newer pair of naked leather jeans that fit me better. Those were the jeans I had on last week.

I brought the older jeans to my partner and asked if he would try them on. The jeans fit him well! No surprise; he always wears leather well.

Here's a picture of the two of us that was taken with the camera's self-timer on Monday morning. We stayed in our leather all day.

During the day, my partner went to a store that specializes in produce to get some fresh fruit. He said that one guy asked him about the jeans. His reply was, "I don't know where they came from. My partner gave them to me." (They were bought at Mr. S in San Francisco back when Mr. S had affordable leather gear.)

When my partner left to go to the store, I went to the homes of three "elder buds" to compute tax returns for them. After that, I took one of them to a grocery store. No one said anything about the leather. They rarely do.

Anyway, we had a "leather Monday" for our President's Day Holiday. Nice way to spend the day!

Life is short: wear your boots and your leather!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blackberry Sabotage!

For years and years and years I have said that I don't want a Blackberry. I don't "need" one. I avoided them. I made fun of yuppies addicted to them.

Then I got promoted and one of those pesky things came with the job.

So I brought it home this weekend and after some struggle, got it set up. I though that perhaps it would be neat to be able to read my personal email on it, too. So I followed the directions to bring email from this blog and my website (my "" email) to the device.

Well, it doesn't work. But what's worse, it deleted ALL of the email on my server. It is sending any new email somewhere... I can't find where... and thus, I've been sabotaged by the very device that I have ridiculed for ages. Hmmm, turn-about is fair play.

Anyway, if you have sent me an email since Friday, Feb. 14, I have not received it, can't find it, and wonder if I can get it back. I have to wait until the office opens on Tuesday (today is a holiday) so I can go crawling to my I.T. staff to beg for help.

Gotta love it -- I deserve that thing's revenge on me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Song

Photo above is our little chef, Guido, who helped us bake a huge batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies on Valentines Day.

Every couple in love has an "our song." A song that was popular when you were dating or during your courtship that brings special memories and has a sweet sentiment.

Below are the words to "our" song -- the song I put on the stereo, rest my head on my partner's strong shoulder, (and clomp on my partner's feet 'cause I just can't dance) while we slowly turn. This is a residual from last night, Valentine's night, spent with my one and only. We wouldn't have it any other way. (You will have to hum the tune in your head; I couldn't find it free or legal on the 'net).

I Love The Way You Love Me by John Michael Montgomery

I like the feel of your name on my lips
And I like the sound of your sweet gentle kiss
The way that your fingers run through my hair
And how your scent lingers even when you're not there
And I like the way your eyes dance when you laugh
And how you enjoy your two hour bath
And how you convinced me to dance in the rain
With everyone watching like we were insane


But I love the way you love me
Strong and wild
Slow and easy
Heart and soul
So completely
I Love the way you love me

I like to imitate ol' Jerry Lee
And the cue of your eyes
When I'm slightly off key
And I like the innocent way that you cry
At sappy old movies you've seen hundreds of times


And I could list a million things
I love to like about you
But they all come to one reason
I could never live without you

I love the way you love me
Strong and wild
Slow and easy
Heart and soul
So completely
I love the way you love me

Oh Baby, I love the way you love me

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

My partner is such a romantic. He loves Valentine's Day; it's his favorite day of the year.

Wednesday, he brought home some special baking goodies so I can make treats for the both of us this weekend. Thursday, he brought me a bouquet of flowers -- a lot of 'em, including a dozen red roses. Awww... he's so romantic.

Friday night after I got home from the family dinner, he was waiting for me in chaps & boots no less... ahem, let's say the lights were out and we had no reason to turn them on -- we just turned each other on! (whew!)

Today, Valentine's Day, began with a warm, cozy, sensual snuggle as we awoke and looked out the windows to watch the sun rise, the birds come awake, and the squirrels begin to do their morning calisthenics.

Then he rolled over, and handed me such a sweet card that brought tears to my eyes. He has done that before, so I was prepared and handed him a special card that I got for him, too. He sniffed; I think I hit his sweet spot with the sentiment written in the card. We snuggled some more, comfy in each other's arms.

We finally got up, and I had some things to do on the computer for community-related things really early. Now that those tasks are done and this blog post was written, I will go to our kitchen to prepare my studly hunk a wonderful, hearty waffle breakfast. I'll put a chocolate-covered strawberry on top to surprise him.

It is going to be a great day. I'm sure my partner will make it so. He so enjoys being romantic, and I enjoy returning the love to my sweetie. How wonderful is that... after all these years? Love remains alive, fun, and deep between my guy and me.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Challenges of Eating

One of the ongoing challenges of having had major surgery (kidney, gall bladder, appendix) is the residual, long-term effects on how my body responds to food.

I feel sad and anxious when family or friends invite me to join them for dinner, and ask casually, "is there anything you don't like?" I know they're trying to be nice, and also reflect the fact that most people can eat most anything, but perhaps have a few things they don't like. For example, my partner eats just about anything, but would prefer that I don't serve creamed spinach or liver.

For me, I wish it were that easy. My list of what I can't eat far exceeds the list of what I can. And while there are some foods that I don't like -- such as creamed spinach or liver -- my list of "can'ts" really is that. If I eat certain foods like corn (any style), then I get really sick. Add to that reactions to certain naturally-found chemicals in foods, such as alkyloids, carotenoids, or salylicilates, and I am in trouble. Unfortunately, a lot of foods have these chemicals in them, including most vegetables and spices. Speaking of spices: don't! Arrrgh! Mexican, Indian, or Thai foods and chili are not my friends! I once loved beans, but... instead of making me gassy as they do most people, they cause severe intestinal distress. Then add to that my one major food allergy: mustard. Put even a few drops of mustard into a salad dressing, and don't tell me about it, and if I eat it, within a half-hour, anaphylaxis sets in. (I stop breathing. Then a trip to the hospital is in order.)

The problem is that I once had a well-balanced, varied diet. Then I had all these surgeries. When I recovered, I began to eat foods again that I had always liked and had eaten. At first the foods that didn't agree with me just made me uncomfortable. I liked how they tasted, so when I noticed at first that I was in discomfort after eating some foods, I would just take less next time. But then the problem got worse, and as I continued to react to these foods, I developed a mild case of colitis -- an inflamation of the colon. The colitis has become a permanent condition.

Doctors are baffled. Each and every one I have seen about my condition, including internists and dieticians with PhDs and all sorts of specialty degrees, have told me that they have never encountered anyone who reacts to food the way I do. At least I have some medical evidence to affirm that I am not just being "picky" when I decline to eat certain foods.

I live with this all the time. Now whenever I accidentally eat something I shouldn't, the next day, I'm in really bad shape. What's worse, I don't know immediately that I ate something that I should not have eaten. I will feel fine for about 18 hours after consuming something I should not... then I have to be within running distance to ... (well, you get it).

Once again I sigh deeply because tonight my niece is hosting our regular family dinner. She is a superb cook. She will be cooking a great meal, I guarantee it. She has quite a knack in the kitchen to create "masterpiece meals." My family always raves about her cooking. And when I go, I enjoy the camaraderie with my family, the jokes, the stories, the debate, ... and just sit there and sip water. My niece, bless her, has tried in the past to make "plain" foods for me, but she eventually gave up. It was too much trouble to make something separate for me and something elaborate for everyone else. I don't blame her.

Next week, my brother wants me to attend a soup-tasting dinner with his church group. I would love to go, to be with my brother, and to meet his friends. He sent me the menu on the dinner invitation. Ugggh... it looks great, but there is nary a thing on the menu that I can manage to tolerate. I mean, I can eat it and I probably would like it... then the next day, well... I will be in "prime reaction mode." And that won't work because I'll be on an airplane that day. Nothing is worse than having gastric distress and diarrhea on an airplane.

Oh fiddle-faddle. I hate having to live this way, but it's just a chronic condition that I have to live with. That is why I do all the cooking in our household, so I can control what is prepared, how it is prepared, the ingredients, and how it is served.

Ugggh... just an insight into how I have to live. It's not easy.

Life is short: wear your boots, and if you can eat what you like, then count your blessings. Buon appetito!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blog Beaten

Will someone visit this blog (link) and tell me what it says about me or my website? Warning, it is all in Chinese.

This blog has caused a storm of visitors to my website, generating over 900 visitors last night, and hundreds of visitors each night in the last several nights. I don't really mind if someone links to my website, though I would prefer the courtesy to ask first. Most people do not have that type of courtesy.

I have seen links to my website from other blogs and forums from time to time, and some of those links have had really nasty, rude, and brainless comments around them. I just want to see what's going on with this new one.

Thanks for any assistance! If you DO figure this out, here is a way to reach me.

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Rode for My Buddy

The weather was decent yesterday, with air temps in the mid-50s (13°C). This would be just like a day that Rick, my riding buddy, good friend, and fellow civic activist and a real "wonk" on a number of issues, would meet me and we would ride to our state capitol to hammer-away at the issue of the day. We did that for a number of years, and fought a number of battles. We have safer streets and better roads and cleaner government and, well, lots of good things.

Six years ago in April, Rick and I were out for a pleasant Sunday afternoon ride. We weren't planning on going anywhere. Just riding together was that day's objective. We stopped at a local watering hole, and got some water. We sat on the restaurant's deck on a that bright sunny afternoon, sipped our drinks, enjoyed the beautiful day, and planned our next strategy in wonking some local elected leaders on something or-other. He was telling me about his daughter's upcoming "Sweet 16" birthday, and was making sure that I had marked the event on my calendar.

We re-mounted our iron steeds, donned our helmets, and took off. Five minutes later, it was all over. Rick was hit by a cell-phone yapping yupette driving an SUV, who said (and I kid you not), "when I looked up, you were just there!" I barely avoided getting hit myself, but nothing could have been worse to see my friend killed right before my eyes.

So yesterday, I rode for Rick. I rode for him one more time. I rode in his memory, and for his wife and four children. I rode to our state capitol, to have my say at yet another hearing on banning the use of hand-held wireless communications devices while driving.

I will persist and continue hammering on this issue. For all fellow drivers, for bikers, for myself, but most of all, for Rick. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Today I will be testifying before a committee of my state's Senate. Here's how I am dressed -- in boots and leather -- to make a statement that motorcyclists are constituents, too.

I am doing this because I care about the safety and well-being of all, but especially us bikers out there.

Wish me luck!

This previous blog post explains what I am testifying about.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday's Ride and Party

I spent the day on Saturday doing my usual things, such as taking some neighbors to the grocery store, and spending time with my Aunt. My partner and I also did some batch cooking together for what will be an incredibly busy week ahead.

Sunday dawned bright. It got to be as warm as predicted, with the air temperature about 63°F (17°C) which is highly unusual for my area in February. I had received an email from someone who visits my website and this blog and who lives in the area. I have seen several visitors from my hometown read this blog daily (or almost daily.) I've often wondered who they are, but until this one guy contacted me, none have revealed themselves to me. That's okay; it is just a fact of life that as long as there are websites and blogs, there will be "lurkers."

I put on my blue-striped leather jeans, Cop jacket, and dress instep Dehner patrol boots. The gear felt good!

I met my "lurker neighbor," and we went for a nice ride on my Harley. We traveled for about 30 miles on the backroads and byways of my home county. It was enjoyable. Perhaps we'll go riding again sometime.

My partner was anxious to get me out of the house. I knew that he was up to something (that cat got let out of the bag on Friday afternoon), but he wanted to surprise me, and certainly when I have a chance to ride my bike in the winter, I'll jump at it. So off I went, and he got busy.

First thing he did was wash my truck. Bless him. My truck needed a bath badly to remove accumulated road salts and dirt.

When I arrived home, there were some familiar cars in the driveway and on the street. My partner put together a small party for me to congratulate me on being selected for my new position. Several members of my family, my aunt, and a couple close friends were there. They blew those silly party whistles, sang off key but with spirit, and shared cake with me. It was really sweet of my partner to do this. Ordinarily he avoids social situations at all costs.

Soon after my family and friends left, I began preparing dinner for the two of us. I got busy making some home-made yeast-raised dinner rolls and a hearty beef stew. While the bread was rising and the stew was simmering, I cleaned the bike, stored it away, and then my partner and I relaxed for a little while in our park-like back yard.

What a nice day. Filled with surprises and fun. And me in all leather, too -- couldn't be better!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Social Discomfort

Last Saturday night, my motorcycle club had its annual social event. About 100 people were there. I went to it alone because my partner has absolutely no interest to go to any social events whatsoever. I don't even think about asking him to go with me to events like this, because he hates it and I don't want to fight about it. It's really not that important.

This event is typical: you gather
, get drinks from the bar (in my case, bottled water) and talk for a while. Then dinner is served (in this case, a buffet). After dinner, awards are presented to the most active members of the club, then a band strikes up for dancing.

Generally, I am not too keen on attending social events like this, just because they are all so predictable, bland, and boring. They usually follow the same format, and while attendees are different, they all are of "a certain age" and behave almost exactly the same way from venue to venue. I went because I am an officer in the club, and had promised to attend to bring a slide show featuring the past year's activities.

While I like speaking with people, there are times when the conversation lags because we don't have that much in common to talk about. I don't have children of my own, and there is not much similarity in talking about how your nieces and nephews are doing compared with someone else's direct offspring. While I enjoy motorcycling, I am not a mechanic nor a gizmo-guy, so I really don't know or care much about adjustments for better horsepower or what gadget is next on the horizon to add to the bike. And most of these guys aren't interested in local civic matters or politics, so yet again, we do not have much in common to talk about.

A couple of the people at the table where I decided to sit were much more conservative than I am in their political leanings. One of them even had worked for the former Evil Deputy President, and talked about him glowingly. I tried not to say anything -- my momma taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all -- but it made it difficult for me just to sit there. I finally got up and went to the restroom. I did not return to the table until the conversation had changed.

When the awards presentation was complete, I saw people moving tables to clear space on the dance floor. The band began to tune up. Like the others, I moved toward the back of the room. The conversation continued about mundane stuff until the band began to play.

The band was pretty good, but sounded awfully loud because the acoustics in the room were quite bad. I have mixed feelings about watching a bunch of 40-50-60'ish people try to dance. Most of them weren't that good, but at least they were trying, and seemed to be having fun. Soon enough, I began to think that this was something like a cross between an old high school dance and a horror flick.

Because I couldn't hear any more, and also that I was seriously afraid that a female club member might ask me to dance and I would have to turn her down (and leave her wondering why or worse, thinking that I don't like her), I just found my coat and went home.

I thought about my discomfort, and realized that I just don't like to be around people who are drinking. Their tongues "get loose" and they say things that they ordinarily wouldn't say in public. I heard more than one slur toward gay people. Those who were saying those things did not know that I'm gay, and did not realize what they said. If possible and without causing a scene, I intervened and corrected each loose-tongued, well-lubricated person. But sheesh, I hate to do that. I do not hear these things when they are not drinking, and most of them are very open and accepting of me. Just not when they're drinking.

I also remain uncomfortable to be in a place where people may anticipate that I might dance. I have always disliked dancing. I an a quarantasinestrapede. (Leave a comment if you figure that one out!) I guess this is where I am different (gay, straight, or sideways) -- everyone else in my family loves or loved to dance. But not me. Never. Despite all the times they tried to teach me, my quarantasinestra-ineptitude prevailed.

Oh well, I tried, once again, to endure this thing. But I won't again. I'm just not cut out for it. Sigh.

Life is short: keep learning!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

USAirways: Shove that pillow where the sun don't shine

Back in the good old days, that is prior to Sept. 11, 2001, flying on domestic US airlines was tolerable, and even sometimes enjoyable. The complaints back then were about weather delays and on-time arrivals. The number of flights from which to choose, and with my preferred airport at BWI having a number of choices, I was a happy bird when I had to fly. I flew so much that I got some perks and upgrades that were pleasant.

Oh how I long for those days. In my previous job, I flew over 100,000 actual air miles every year, mostly within the domestic U.S., but occasionally to international destinations. I would try to concentrate my air miles onto USAir if I could, so that I could fly them again for holiday travel with my partner to such places as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, or South America. I even had an affinity credit card that would boost my mileage on USAir.

Oh the good old days. Now they nickel-and-dime you to death with trying to make you pay fees for a seat in front of the wings, fees for checking luggage, outrageous charges for something they call a "snack," and what really burns me is their ransom of $2 for a soft drink and now they just announced a $7 extortion attempt for a pillow and blanket.

They can shove that pillow where the sun don't shine.

That's it. I just called to cancel my affinity credit card relationship. I will use the last of my miles to visit my brother, and then take another trip later this year to see a very dear old friend out West, and then that's it. My relationship with that airline and its nickel-and-diming policies is over.

And it's so sad. It once was a great carrier. Now its full of crap. I hope this time and in this economy when they are in financial trouble, they just go out of business. Screw USAirways and its bottom-of-the-barrel scumsucking nickel-and-diming extortion attempts. I have listened enough to my brother AZ to convert me to using Southwest from now on.

Friday, February 6, 2009

An Emotional Week Ends On A High Note

Real quick, added blog post: I had a rough week in saying goodbye after the death of a friend who I helped to get elected to assume the office that his wife, who was my mentor and very close friend, held for 17 years until her death this past February.

Upon return to work today, I was informed that I was selected for a position for which I had applied at my current employer. This is a big promotion for me! I won out over several other outstanding candidates.

Like Sally Field said long ago: "They like me. They really like me!"

Whoo-hoo! A celebration will occur in our household this weekend!

This is how I feel! (click here!)

Keeping a Relationship Going

I have blogged before about my relationship with my partner, and thought I would say something again about that wonderful man of mine and how we have held each other close all these years.

I was dialoguing with someone via e-mail who has shared comments about some things he has read on this blog. He has expressed his opinions and views about what he would or would not tell his partner.

Gosh, I'm so old-fashioned. I truly treat my partner as my spouse, as if we were married. I was raised by observing that married couples always tell their mate what's going on, things they are doing, what they are thinking, and such. And that's what my partner and I do. We talk all the time.

I could probably tell you more about the history of one of our country's major grocery chains than you ever would want to know. But this is interesting to my partner, and I listen. My partner could probably tell you about every style and manufacturer of boots because he has heard that from me. I could tell you what's the latest news in his mother's household, and he could tell you the latest news in our local civic activities and politics. I could tell you about what he likes to watch on television, read in literature, about his musical interests, or even what websites he views regularly. My partner could do the same about me (though I don't really care for television).

To be honest, I am not all that keen on the latest goings-on of that grocery chain. Some of the television stuff bores me silly. I'm sure that web-geek talk and boots this-n-that, or who may run for what local office is not quite on the top of the list of my partner's interests.

BUT: if he is interested, then I am interested. If I am interested, then he is interested. Seriously -- we talk A LOT. We share everything with each other. Who I talked to about what, where I am going next, what position I may take on some issue, what TV show or actor is up for an award, and the gist of email that we receive. We are honest, open, and sharing.

We don't hide things from each other, or do anything that could be perceived as operating behind the other's back. That doesn't mean that we do not have our own "space," or our own relationships with others. Goodness, the volume of phone and e-mail communication in which I am engaged with my family and friends is astronomical. My partner doesn't care and doesn't really want to know about all of that. But if AZ calls or Clay writes or John, Wes, or Kevin drop me a note, more often than not, I'll tell my partner about it. And that's okay, because he trusts that my relationship with my best friends, family, "bootbuds" and community associates are all top-notch, above-board, and honest.

My partner and I communicate. We keep the dialogue going. That is why, I believe, our relationship has lasted as long as it has (almost 16 years), and why it will endure.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Do U IM?

R U Kidding? It took me the longest time to figure out the short-hand code that frequent users of text messaging and instant messaging systems. I do not use either of these systems.

Texting drives me nuts. I really can not explain why, but I guess I am "of a certain age" where texting is not a preferred method of communication. I know that "texters" use abbreviations of certain words to keep the message short so it does not take as long to write as well as not take up as much room on a cell phone display. However, those abbreviations so abuse the English language that I can't stand it. Just call me old-fashioned.

Instant Messaging systems are also something I choose not to use. I tried it for a while two years ago, but became annoyed with it rather quickly. What I disliked was that I would be working on my computer, and some message would pop up. At first, I would reply and continue a conversation, then lost track of what I was working on.

Then I decided only to respond when I was not busy, but even then, I found those who sent me I.M. messages would expect me to reply if I were on-line, and would get annoyed with me if I did not reply when I did not want to or have time to do so.

Then I decided to change my settings on I.M. to be "invisible" only for the certain times of day when I might have time to communicate. Turns out that there were fewer and fewer times when I had the time to have I.M. conversations. And my partner gets annoyed with me when I spend too much time on the computer when I am at home. He is right. He is my number one man, so I should be paying attention to him and not fooling around with the computer all night (on the nights I am at home and not at a meeting.)

At work, I discovered that my subordinate staff were spending hours and hours using I.M. to communicate with their friends, and not getting any work done. So eventually management persuaded the I.T. staff to block all I.M. systems at our place of employement. That is just as well. When I am working, I should be working, not I.M.'ing with people.

Anyway, when someone asks me to "text" them or if they can "message" me, using a text or instant message system, I say, "sorry, I don't have it. Send me an email or do something really weird: pick up the phone and call me."

Do I IM? Nope. It hasn't proven useful to me, and has been more of an annoyance than a help. Am I old, and am I the only one who feels this way? (My partner doesn't count. He doesn't even use the telephone, much less other communications systems.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Family and Friends

Family and friends: this is what it's all about. This is an additional blog post for today, to say that I feel so blessed to have friends who care, and family who wrap their arms around their little brother and go out of their way to extend their love.

My twin called me the other day as I was in a melancholy mood, reflecting on the life of a friend who just died. His call lifted my spirits a whole lot. He always knows just the right things to say, and really be my soulmate in spirit.

My partner has been calm, soothing, caring, and a great sounding board. Lots of things are happening right now, and he just sits, listens, and only offers advice if I ask. If I don't ask, he just lets me rant, ramble, and recompose. He knows when to speak and when not to speak -- which is quite an art in dealing with me when I'm an emotional wreck.

A buddy from Alabama reached out to me and shared some thoughts and feelings which helped me understand that he truly knows how I am feeling. His outreach to me when he realized I was down was so much appreciated. He is a wonderful, thoughtful guy.

Early this morning, my best friend AZ called me. What a treasure he is to my soul. He restored my flagging confidence and got me back on track. This man is such a warm spirit, thoughtful and caring.

Today a friend who I worked with on several local political campaigns came to get me, drive us to the church, and sit by my side at the funeral. Frequently she just would hold my hand, and say things to help me deal with my emotions. She's such a wonderful human being. I'm so glad I have gotten to know her.

As I was speaking in the church with several elected officials as we were leaving, I saw my sister in the back. She came to be there just for "me." I wish she would have come to sit with me, but I guess by the time she got there, the pews had filled. I was right behind the pew with all of our local elected leaders, and sitting among those who are treasured friends of the deceased's family, right up front. My big sister told me that she didn't want "intrude" and could see that I was in "good hands." Frankly, that's when I "lost it." But only then.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them, and love 'em back. Hard! I love life, even at sad occasions such as this, because as the priest said during his homily, you can't mourn unless you love. You know, it doesn't matter if I'm gay. It doesn't matter if I am a bit out of the mainstream in how I choose to dress or what I wear on my feet. What matters to the important people in my life is me -- just silly ol' me. I am indeed truly blessed.

Preparing to Testify in Leather

I am planning to go to my state's Capitol next week and the week after to appear before a state Senate committee to testify on two bills. The first one, which is a perennial issue for me, is on a bill to ban using hand-held communications devices while operating a motor vehicle. In short: a "cell-phone ban."

While I was speaking on the phone yesterday with my district's Senator who is sponsoring this legislation, I asked, "should I show up in my biker leathers?"

He laughed, and then realized I was serious, and said, "sure... that would be different."

I know that most people who show up to testify on various legislation pending before our state's General Assembly are attorneys, and many of them are registered lobbyists. They are paid by various interests, such as the wireless industry, to show up in their bland, boring pin-striped suits and wingtips to take positions on bills. They aren't really interested in the legislation, but on what they are being paid to say.

I am a different kind of person. When I show up, it is because I truly care about the issue about which the legislation is addressing. My position on a cell-phone ban remains solid: make using a wireless communication device while driving a primary offense, and give some teeth to the resulting penalty for the offense.

Why do I care so much about this particular issue? I witnessed a riding buddy get creamed on the road by a cell-phone yapping SUV-driver. The crash happened right before my eyes. I could have been me.... worse, it was someone I truly enjoyed riding with, and worked with as a local community activist. Now his voice isn't by my side when we engage our elected officials. I am doing this for him, as well as for myself, and for all bikers out there who are in peril from thoughtless people who believe whatever they have to say on their damn phone is more important than paying 100% attention to operating what easily can become a lethal weapon.

So yeah, I am a different kind of "lobbyist." I am not being paid by anyone to be there. I am taking leave from work to go to our state Capitol and express my concerns to our elected officials. And I'll be there in leather -- for a reason. It demonstrates that bikers are a constituency, too. I won't be representing my club or any organization. Just myself. Because I care.

This is what is truly wonderful about our country -- our right to petition the government for redress. Our right to speak freely about our concerns. Our right to freely elect representatives in our local, state, and federal legislative assemblies and then persuade them to support legislation that addresses concerns of us commoners. That's one reason why I truly love this country. Right or wrong, good or bad. Engage, cajole, persuade, extoll, speak up. That's what it is all about.

And today, I go to the funeral for a dear friend to say goodbye. I worked hard on his campaign to get him elected to local office. (This is another way I engage as a civic activist: supporting good people for public office.) What a sad day for his family, and for those of us who loved him. Godspeed, my friend. I'll sure miss you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not Me!

Man, the whirlwind of speculation about who will run to fill the vacancy that was created on our county council by the death of my friend is driving me nuts. Heck, we haven't paid our respects yet to my friend who died! The volume of my email is incredible, and distressing!

Well, to make it clear, I invoke the Sherman Pledge: "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected." LOL! Actually, all who know me know that I am not a politician and I will not consider running for office. To do that would require A) losing what's left of my mind, and B) getting divorced. My partner has vowed to disown me and run for the hills if I ever run for public office.

So rest assured, I'm not running. But I'll be involved. From the sourpuss look on my partner's face, he knows that I am already caught up in the whirlwind of political speculation and activity, with many turning to me to listen to my thoughts and ideas. Oh gosh, my partner detests it when I get so involved in local politics. But to avoid actually running for office, then I have to get involved otherwise. I have been involved on the inside of several local campaigns in county and state races. It's been fun and interesting, but also very time-consuming. Just what my partner doesn't want....

However, for now, we will properly and appropriately pay our respects to my friend at his viewing and the funeral, and give a little time for things to settle down. I will meet with my Board, associates, fellow politicos, and process a few thousand more email messages... then decide. We'll see.

But this is why I'm not blogging on this board right now about boots and leather. My life is "temporarily diverted." I'm still wearing my boots and leather, just talking about other things for the time being. I was invited to, and submitted, a guest post on the most well-read, well-respected political blogs in our state. That post went "live" yesterday. It was a tribute to my friend who died. I heard from a lot of people, including some in rather high places, that they thought it was about the most touching, sincere, and heart-felt tributes they have ever read. I'm glad to know that. The least I could do for my friend and his family.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oh Brother, It's My Brother (Again)

Guest Blog Post by BHD's Twin Brother

My "big" brother, all of four minutes older than me, is going through a rough spot right now. As you read on his blog, he is grieving for the loss of an elected leader with whom he worked in his volunteer civic activities where he lives. This sudden death struck quite a blow to his emotions. He cares so much that he hurts really bad inside when life takes a turn for the worse.

I called him on Sunday and we had a really long, long talk. What rang through so clearly to me as we talked was how much of a big heart my brother has. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he gets hurt sometimes. But that's what makes this guy so special, to all of us who love him.

He told me that each and every single one of us brothers and sisters called him once they heard the news and the email began to flow on our family grapevine. That's such a neat thing. You'd think all of us as adults who have our own lives and things going on might be busy or not think that our brother may need some attention. It really makes both of us smile warmly to know that after all these years, the lessons Mom and Dad taught us continue to be demonstrated today.

During our conversation, he put me on hold a couple times when the doorbell rang. When he returned to the phone, he mentioned all too casually that kind old ladies dropped over to bring him some of his favorite cookies and a cake.
He told me that his closest friends have been checking in as well -- some we grew up with, and some he has befriended and made close through things he does in the community where we grew up, on the 'net, and elsewhere. I don't know how many or who all of these people are; my brother makes me dizzy with all he does and all the people he knows. I tell you, my brother cares about the whole world, but it is so gratifying to us who love him to know that the world "cares back."

We believe in having a wide net to support us. When my brother does his high-wire act to work full-time at a job he loves, to care for his partner, to serve his community, to support the older folks who need help from time to time, and to care for our Aunt and our extensive family, everyone tends to think that he never needs any help or attention. Well, there are times he does. We in the family extend our love, our support, our thanks and our praise, as do his friends.

Stringing the net of compassion and caring builds a network upon which my brother draws strength. Thanks, everyone -- many of whom I do not know -- for caring for this big lug of a heart. He really appreciates it, as do I.

He is still my number one cheerleader, but at the moment let me cheer him back, with love and all of my heart. What a special man, who I treasure each day I have the esteemed honor to call him "Brother." Let's hear it for this guy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Football "Widower"

If a male widow is a widower, and if a wife is abandoned because her mate is caught up in the hype and hysteria over a football game is called a "football widow," then you can call a guy abandoned by his guy, a "football widower." Honestly, I could care less about sports.

I'm not quite sure why I feel that way, but it probably dates back to grade school, where I was the smallest, most uncoordinated kid in class. Last picked for teams, always fumbling around, slow to run, and not understanding the rules of most sports. I would inevitably do the wrong thing.

I was in school during the time when gym teachers treated kids who were uncoordinated klutzes like me very badly. The gym teachers would make fun of me publicly, and make me feel rotten. I especially remember having the same gym teacher in fifth grade through eighth (he followed me to Junior High). His poking fun at me was the highlight of fun for the other boys in the class. He caused me to resist and shun having anything to do with athletics and physical fitness. I'll never forget Mr. Tucker and his nastiness. It took me a long, long time to get over that, and return to a gym as an adult, where now at least I enjoy swimming regularly.

My twin brother was the "jock's jock." My gym teachers seemed to enjoy making comparisons, often saying, "why can't you be like your brother, or at least try?" They were implying that my abilities could be improved if I only tried. They never knew how much time my brother practiced with me, trying to help me get better. I just never "got it."

Fortunately, my twin brother never betrayed me, ridiculed me, or made me feel badly. In fact, if I were just an ordinary short klutz, I probably would have been teased unmercifully by the jocks in high school.
However, his strong bond of brotherhood and obvious love for his "little brother" forced his fellow jocks at least to accept me. If any one of them made a nasty or rude comment, they had hell to pay. My brother loved me unconditionally.

In return, I would always show up to cheer him on when he was Captain of this-or-that team. He was very talented. He called me his "#1 cheerleader," which was quite a courageous position to take, since he was surrounded by a lot of girls who had eyes for him (and him for them). But he never, ever, treated me poorly, or made a joke or off-color reference to me and my lack of sports capabilities or knowledge. He just would give me a signal to say "we go that way now" so I would know which direction was "good".

Well, anyway, I never developed an interest in sports. I had other things to do. I always cheered for my brother in whatever sport he played, showed up for his awards banquets, and was the first on my feet to give him standing ovations.

Which brings me to today, when I'm living with my partner who hails from Pittsburgh, and whose team is playing in the Super Bowl. I'll be preparing snacks and game-night foods for my partner to enjoy -- then go curl up with a good book and go to bed early.

I'm still in somewhat of a state of shock at the loss of my friend who died on Friday, and remain in a quiet mood. But I'm okay. The outpouring of love and compassion from my partner, my family, and my friends has been very heartwarming. So don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I have a strong net holding me up. I'm just sad, but I'll move on to better feelings and a brighter smile soon enough.

Meanwhile, whatever team you may support, good luck... enjoy and have fun!