Hmmm, Father's Day is creeping up on us tomorrow and the wheels (INSERT HERE: picture of rusty red Radio Flyer tricycle with cobwebs lacing through the spokes) are turning.
There has always been much to be said about the Mother/Daughter relationship and of course even the Father/Son relationship, but what of the twist/the deviation/the aberration (just kidding - big words are fun! eh, Jonno):
The Father/Gay Son relationship or Gay Father/Straight Son relationship.
I actually know a few of the later, but not having a kid of my own yet (and oh, my poor wonderful partner because I want them sooner or later, but right now am young enough for later), I think my topic really concentrates on the former.
I've always been the 'gay son' - spoken or not, I don't want to think I was effeminate or odd, but my Mother always seemed to say after I came out (at 16) that she had "always known" (please confirm for me - does every mother claim to have ALWAYS known ???? I mean was I flag-dancing at Four, wearing a harness by Seven, and referencing Designer Drugs & Great Spaces by Eight ???!! OK - yes I did have an unusual curiosity about being a back-up Solid Gold dancer, and ok GI Joe, Evil Kenevil and Stretch Armstrong were “swingers” - did Dionne Warwick and her psychic friends predict that - even back then...oh crap, I've been carrying on in the parentheses for a while - better go back to the content, skip-jump-ooommpff....) ...Mom said there had just "been something different about me". I was a normal boy – I thought – climbing trees, building forts, little league, Indian Guides (think Boy Scouts with feathers, war paint and leather vests – scratch that I just sent you all off on a Mardi Gras tangent!).
OK, I'm rambling – sorry well written verse and amazing insights are available at Tinman and EB’s sites.
Ok, the point is coming and it only took two paragraphs (consider yourself lucky ingrates!) to get there:
Was I less a son to my father, because I was gay?
I don't mean now – I am more than confident that my success professionally and personally has been enough to make him proud of me and leave him numerous anecdotes to brag about to his friends (well OK my Mom, not sure many other people listen to the old man since he retired and can no longer corner his co-workers to unwittingly tell them about my meeting Calvin Klein on Fire Island after a Tea Dance and not quite know how gay a story he just really told.)…. But then, did my Father notice what was different about me – was it why my brother (INSERT HERE: picture perfect brother; all-American, blond hair, blue-eyed, jock who played Basketball, Football, Baseball, Tennis and Hockey – well) seemed to make him smile, but I, well let’s face it – I didn’t get that ‘same’ smile. Was there something there – a certain something that he couldn’t place – that maybe even instilled in him the same uneasiness that seizes you when you first notice a person’s deformity – your smile is forced, you won’t pretend the sight of it ‘disturbs’ you. (Sub note: this is for license to evoke a feeling, any deformed readers need not protest – I’ve spent two days watching Tinman trying to recuperate from the innocent Asian attraction statement). So did my being gay rob my Father of as much of my youth as it did me? Did I plague him with hours of guilt for feeling that he just didn’t know why I couldn’t be more like my brother?
My father – who I suspect was the model for Robert Duvall in “the Great Santini” (if you have never seen it – dig it up – Blythe Danner …you-know-whose Mom, is excellent) - is a Man, a Man’s Man, a strong silent Norwegian (all food should be white and bland) Man, 1 Gin-n-Tonic at Holidays only Man, Back-of-the-Hand smack across the room trajectory Man, give him ten minutes he’ll tell you ten jokes Man, a I believe in loving only one woman (INSERT HERE: Stay-at-Home Wife’s need only apply) even if I’m not the perfect husband and I squashed many of her personal dreams Man, “my grandfather and great-grandfather fucked me up far worse than I did to you in a sad sweet way that you have always been able to forgive me for” Man.
Crap, now I’m so wrapped up in this I’m not even sure what I was saying. Ok, dare I say it, dare I believe it to be true –
Would he, if he had it to do over again, had a GAY son?
I love my old man though, with everything in me...for every challenge, every put-down, for every smile, for every back hand, for the few tears he spared, for staying up late, for grounding me again, and again, and again, for understanding, for not having a clue, for the chores, and the chores, and the chores, for coaching every team - thus making me afraid to play every sport, for knowing everything about everything - thus leaving me afraid not to at least know a lot about something, for condescending, for playing, for yelling, for lauging, for sighing, for staring, for hitting, for patting on the back (hugs were rare)...
you made a great man out me Pop - if you meant to or not,
you made a great Boss out of me Head-of-the-Household - if you meant to or not,
you made a great son out of me Father - if you meant to or not,
you made a great friend out of me Dad - if you meant to or not,
you made an amazingly compassionate, caring, loving, romantic, sincere, sexual, funny and dedicated partner (to the man I intend to spend the rest of my life with) out of me - if you meant to or not. thank you.
Happy Fathers Day.