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03 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Walking out of the health food store this evening I saw a note about an old friend who died two weeks ago.  By old I mean I knew him for a long period of time; he was still young. If being gay has a significant downside, it is that so many of us don't live long enough to collect our retirement checks.

I tore both my rotator cuffs shortly after I moved to San Francisco.  The pain was unbearable; surgery was likely.  Chris Goad was a trainer at my gym and promised, given time, he could rehabilitate my shoulders.  For nearly two years, Chris and I met every morning at 5:30 AM.  There isn't much you can hide about yourself at that hour.  Chris and I laughed, argued and together healed the tears and strengthened my muscles.  I was - and am - so grateful for his help that I would stop him on the street and thank him every time I saw him.  Now, of course, I no longer have to run across the street to say anything.

My mother used to say that when she arrived in heaven she had a list of questions for Mary and a handful of other biblical characters.  I venture my mother is not the only person with such a list and (if such a doubtful place exists) the lines at Mary's apartment will be quite long.  Perhaps starting with a lesser-known character might be a good idea.  You can show up at Mary's door with a casserole and a note pad in a millennium when the line has thinned. 

I doubt Chris had such a list.  Point him to the sex toys, give him a centrally located apartment with a picture window and he should be happy.  Mary!

Farewell, Chris.

04 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I have only attended a handful of heterosexual funerals.  All of these were of the bad hymn, heavy weeping, stick 'em in the ground variety.  Gay men, we grew up either playing with or desiring EZ-Bake ovens and we like our demise to be in a similar, albeit larger, manner.  Not so long ago it wasn't uncommon to see brown Kraft paper wrapped boxes on the mantel or bookshelf of any apartment you might visit.

Gay men believe in honesty at funerals.  My favorite line heard from the podium:  "She was a goddamn bitch and the only reason people came today is to see what everyone else would wear."

My first San Francisco gay funeral featured a decorated broom handle passed from person to person.  It was your turn to talk when you received the broom handle.  The mother of the dearly departed handed the broom handle to the well dressed man to her left.  He wiped a tear and said:  "If I remember one thing about Doug it was that he had always had the best drugs and fucked the hottest men."

Mercifully, I get to miss the public comments at my wake.

Last night as I was walking down the street, I looked across the intersection and swore I saw an old friend standing on the opposite corner.  I raised my hand to wave and realized Sal has been dead for several years.  He died in an accident at the intersection where I was standing. 

If for no other reason, I have to leave this city because the ghosts are starting to outnumber the living.  It is hard enough to find an apartment when you only have live people to compete with.

"It's easy to love someone who is dead.  You argue so seldom." - Arnold, Torch Song Trilogy

05 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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On Sunday Leigh, Leigh's mother Carol, MUNI Guy and I drove to the Marin Headlands for a picnic.  We happened to choose the first Sunday of the month without planning to do so - which allowed us to visit theNike Hercules Missile launch platform near the lighthouse. 

Nike Hercules missiles were designed to defend against incoming Russian bombers during the Cold War.  Armed with 40 megaton warheads, the missiles fired straight up 150,000 feet and then dropped back down on their targets. 

I noticed the launch site on earlier visits to the Headlands, but I never knew the facility included underground bunkers and storage facilities.  We managed a ride aboard the missile elevator and you can see a bit of video by clicking here.

A wiry Army veteran provided us a tour of the control trailer, sat Leigh in the Firing Officer's chair and had her push the launch button.  He claimed the site shot down numerous incoming bombers during the 1950's and 1960's.  By his account, the West Coast of the United States was under regular and sustained attack.  Fortunately, none of the citizens of San Francisco noticed the 40 megaton detonations 100 miles off the coast.

Most surprising to me was a map showing the location of missile bunkers and launch sites around the bay.  There were missiles located at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Daly City, Pacifica, Angel Island, Berkeley, Castro Valley and near Marin.

MUNI Guy lingered to watch the tall missile moving from horizontal to vertical on the launch platform.  Leigh turned and remarked:  "I think he's getting aroused."

I once dated a Marine who I affectionately referred to as my "Heat Seeking Missile of Love."  I may tell you that story another day...
Sister Betty adds this on 02 May 2005:
Jay from Seattle sent this note in response to the entry above: 
"Read with interest your entry of the Nike site. I was a missile crewman on one of the Seattle sites, and can tell you for a fact that not one Nike was ever fired in defense of this country. That gentleman was either pulling your leg, or deluded. He is also mistaken about how the bird reaches it's target...radar controlled all the way on a direct intercept course at whatever the projected altitude happens to be, with 150,000 ft. to be exaggerated, although I don't what the ceiling really is. Range is approx. 85 miles. the warheads are in kilotons, not megatons, and yes, the largest was 40kt."

Sister Betty replies to Jay:  That old guy at the missile site was crazy.  He also told us that Marines regularly shot missile crew members who violated safety and security protocols. His stories were vivid although not terribly accurate.

06 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Tonight is the next-to-last installment of Ba-da-Bingo.  Tickets for tonight sold out last month.  Tickets for the Grand Finale will be available tomorrow at All American Boy in the Castro.

When I served in the Navy, we received extensive training about the Geneva Convention.  I never handled prisoners, but I was damn certain of the rules which applied if I needed to.  Further, whenever scandal broke, the commander at the top always took the fall.  Behavior like that in Iraq only occurs when the leaders implicitly or explicitly consent. 

I recommend we take Lynndie England (Gee, ma, aren't you proud of your daughter now?), her Army pals and leaders, strip them naked, attach leashes and send their photographs around the world.

OY!  I am disgusted.

From the Baltimore Sun:

England grew up in a trailer down a dirt road behind a saloon and a sheep farm in Fort Ashby, W.Va., a one-stoplight town about 13 miles south of Cumberland.

Yesterday afternoon, her mother, Terrie England, pressed her fingers to her lips when a reporter showed her a newspaper photo of her daughter smiling in front of what a caption said were nude Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

"Oh, my God," she said, her body stiffening as she sat on a cooler on the trailer's small stoop.

"I can't get over this," she said, taking a drag on her cigarette.

07 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Of all my photographs, this is MUNI Guy's favorite.

For the three people left on the planet who don't yet know, MUNI Guy decided to stay in San Francisco.  The reasons for this decision have nothing to do with my twenty seven cats; the collection of Air America silverware I purchased from a CIA veteran at an online auction; or my six hundred and twelve pairs of shoes. 

I am baffled by couples who announce they have been together for more than three dates; I always inquire where they met.  I believe that if I can stand on the exact spot where the happy couple found each other, sooner or later my happy ending will arrive like a subway train.  I would stand on a beach in Kamchatka wearing white briefs and Elk horns on my head if I thought it would ensure a lasting relationship with a suitable partner. 

If everyone has a special someone in this world, then I have had the good fortune of borrowing a number of other men's men: my personal version of the lend-lease program.  I have learned something from each man I dated:  always to count the silver before leaving the house, never to provide a door key before the second date, and never to lend my car to a civilian when my ship is headed to sea.

I am an advocate for happy endings.  I believe too few books end with "happily ever after" and too many films end with one person leaving the other.  I have a friend who refuses to read the last chapter of any book.  In doing so, he chooses his own resolution for the characters.  I support this idea, although my curiosity is too strong to personally adopt this practice.

Stories rarely end with "and they lived happily ever after together."  Authors rarely tack together to the end of the sentence and we simply assume it is present.  Happily ever after is not contingent on together; neither is love.

09 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Tickets for the Grand Finale of Ba-da-Bingo sold out in 45 minutes.  I am aghast.

MUNI Guy and I viewed Super Size Me last night: outstandingly funny and fabulously produced.

When I listen to the news, I often count the number of years left before I leave the planet to determine whether or not the really bad events are likely to occur before my expiration date. 

10 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I leave for Maine in just over a month.  All the major decisions were finalized months ago and only minor choices remain. 

People are often dumbstruck when I tell them I am leaving San Francisco.  New England winters seem to frighten a large percentage of the population.  Others hold San Francisco as Mecca without the unfashionable headgear, messy stonings and five daily prayers. 

I have just three concerns about moving:  Will I find a suitable gym?  Will a suitable burrito vendor be located within walking distance of said gym?  Should I adopt a dog?

I want a big dog.  I want the kind of dog that can eat your dog.  I want a German Shepherd or a Bernese or a Saint Bernard.  I want a dog that can fetch help while I drink hot spiced rum from a thermos in my snow bound car.  I want a dog who can rip the throat from an intruder with a single bite and yet still reflects my friendly nature.  I want a dog who does not bark, never wakes me up and who is content to lay on the rug while I read a book. 

I do not want to pick up dog shit.  I do not want to carry around plastic bags to dig steaming poop from icy sidewalks.  I do not want to find mashed fecal matter in the yard.

In summary:  Big dog, somewhat intimidating, somewhat friendly, never needs to poop.

As I said, I have some minor choices to make.

I have similar requirements for a boyfriend.  This offers explanation for my single life.

16 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Hey!  A new section for  Railroad Graffiti.  I trust you understand the connection between nuns and graffiti.

MUNI Guy is moving to a new apartment next weekend; exactly one year to the day from when we met.  His absence leaves me a giant apartment in which to rattle about.  If living alone bears a significant downside, it may be the lack of anyone to blame for a dirty bathroom and trash needing to be taken out.

When I first arrived in San Francisco, apartments were scarce.  My first roommate revealed himself to be a Crystal Meth addict who brought home strangers with guns and believed invisible people were planning his murder.  The invisible people and I were fast friends.  We agreed Roommate played his stereo at obnoxious volumes at 3:00 AM and that Roommate's decaying sinuses were the direct cause of his terrible breath.  I moved out after Roommate left drugs in the bathroom and attempted to convince me to allow his dealer to move in "for a few days".

I wonder if living with a new person becomes increasingly difficult as I grow older.  Will I someday replicate a former boyfriend who refused to consider anyone living with him because sacrificing any closet space unthinkable? 

A couple I know maintain separate apartments one floor apart in the same building.  Just past forty, living in the same building was the closest either could come to moving in.  I doubt I have reached this extreme.  I do, however, consider the perfect boyfriend one who arrives with minimal furniture and less than one closet of clothes.

18 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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In thirty five years roaming this planet, I learned three profound lessons:  never eat monkey meat purchased from street vendors in the Philippines; avoid asking hookers for directions; and never use toilet paper.

Effective posterior cleansing has challenged humankind for centuries.  The hand was the preferred method for a good long time, followed by leaves, corn husks, newspapers and pages from the Sears catalog.  Toilet paper on a roll was introduced in 1890 and has not changed much since. 

Who decided at age three modern humans should switch from warm washcloths to recycled newsprint?  Do our behinds, like our souls, become sufficiently calloused that we no longer experience the abrasions of life?  We scrub oil from our hands with softer material than is found in the restrooms of major hotel chains. 

The solution:  quality baby wipes.  No, not the adult-friendly versions found in the toilet paper section of the supermarket.  Those wipes are simply magazine pages soaked in tepid solution.  For quality baby wipes you have to visit the baby section.  There, amongst the disposable diapers you find the bright, plastic tubs filled with the softest, happiest, most effective posterior cleaning devices. 

In my extensive baby wipe research, I believe Tidy Tykes are the best.  Not only are they perfume-free (good), flushable (very good), and soft (very very soft), each box comes with a sheet of Sesame Street Stickers (very, very, very good).  My house is stocked with colorful boxes of Tidy Tykes.  Many hosts are (painfully) unaware that toilet paper is so yesterday...thus I keep a box of baby wipes in my glovebox and another in the suitcase. 

In summary, if you eat monkey meat purchased from a Filipino street vendor, you will need to use the washroom...frequently.  Baby wipes make for happy adults.
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Try a box of baby wipes.  You will never go back to that sinister roll of paper again.

Love the pooper, hate the paper.

24 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Two memorial services and MUNI Guy moving out: a whole lot of sadness packed into a single weekend.

26 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Every major celebration in my childhood years happened at a truck stop.

My grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary:  truck stop.  My parent's 25th anniversary:  truck stop.  My high school prom:  truck stop.  Weddings:  truck stop.  Fine dining:  truck stop.
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The sole luxury hotel in my hometown featured sixteen diesel pumps, free showers for truckers, 247 rooms fitted in red velvet wallpaper and shag carpet, and three ballrooms.  Celebrants heading to upscale social functions walked past cross country rigs idling in the oversized parking lot.  Two decades of my life ended before I learned champagne did not smell nor taste the same as diesel fuel.

There were lesser venues in that little town, but if you wanted to have a real shindig, you rented a room at the truck stop.  For a fee, the truck stop would put the name of your event on the plastic, florescent backlit sign just above the pancake special and to the right of the price for unleaded.  No assurance was issued the event would be spelled correctly and the hotel might substitute a plastic "8" when they ran short of "B" or "E". 

On prom night, wealthy boys rented rooms for after-dance trysts.  I never did.  Even if the thought of seeing a woman naked didn't make me gag, I had to be home by eleven.

My mother believed the truck stop was evil; it corrupted her oldest son.  My eldest brother began working at the truck stop when he was 15 and started sleeping with a waitress twice his age shortly thereafter.  He managed to buy a Chevrolet Monte Carlo with his truck stop wages and I marveled at the plush velour seats.  Being good Christian folk, my parents threw him out of the house when he refused to stop the affair.  He went to live with the waitress in a mobile home and we were ordered to avoid the truck stop. 

Taco Bell corrupted another brother, but we continued to dine on cheap tacos.

Just before I left home, my third brother held his wedding reception at the truck stop.  A horse drawn carriage carried the newlyweds through the shabby streets to the truck stop.  The wedding party followed behind in beat up trucks and worn sedans.  The bride's mother slipped me fifty dollars to let her smoke in my car, handed me a bottle of champagne and told me to go off and drink with my friends.  I never returned.

31 May 2004 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I grew up in a Good Christian Home.  We were Bible thumping, gay bashing, women don't work outside of the home Baptists.  Sin found no safe harbor in our homes, so the pastor's son and I made a practice of having sex in the motor home parked behind his house.

How it came to pass that a Catholic nun became a close friend of the family, I cannot recall.  Sister Margarita lived in California and traveled the country in a big motor home.  She and my mother were fast friends and Sister M came to our little town at least twice a year.  If nuns took a vow of poverty, then poverty wasn't so bad.  Sister M routinely arrived with new gifts:  a color television to replace our black and white set that took ten minutes to warm up, a Super 8 movie camera for me, Mexican pastries, and a loan for a travel trailer.  Sister M arranged for us to stay in her convent when we traveled to California, a place that included cable television, cool old nuns tottering about and snails that appeared magically outside each morning on the fog-wet pavement.

For my eighth or ninth birthday, Sister M signed up to sponsor a birthday party unlike no other.  Star Wars was a blockbuster and I wanted a Star Wars birthday.  It arrived with a birthday cake complete with green icing and space ships, several action figures, a Tie Fighter, and Darth Vader Pajamas with matching pants and shirt.  A gaggle of church going boys arrived and were suitably impressed.  Sister M knew how to throw a party.

Sister M was banished from our house under strange circumstances years later.  My lesbian aunt told me a colorful story as to why, although the details are a bit fuzzy.  I suspect Sister M inspired me to become a nun.  Who could avoid an occupation weighted heavily toward roadtrips and fabulous parties

I started thinking about Sister M this morning.  Today is my birthday and I wonder if Sister M is out there somewhere.  If you are, darling, here's to you.


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