Mom took me out for lunch at Maggiano’s.
We talked about our restaurant, trying as hard as we can to stay open, even as slow nights don’t make payroll any easier. We talked about the holidays, trying as hard as we can to keep perspective, even as coupons don’t make buying gifts any easier. Finally, we talked about what Mom really wanted to talk about, The Blog.
Yesterday, in keeping with his name, North Shore D-Bag posted a comment on “Food Fight.” The details of the comment revealed enough about my past to let me know it was one of my oldest childhood friends, Peter. Or, as I called him, Pete.
Pete thought calling me out for buying him gas with my Dad’s credit card, back when we were in high school, would be a truthful way of reminding me who I really am. Looking back, Pete never had much use for the truth, unless it was something he could bend to make hurtful.
Maybe, just maybe, before hitting send, Pete should have reflected on how sad it was, using me for gas, when beneath it, all I wanted was his friendship. Maybe, just maybe, before hitting send, Pete should have reflected on how abusive it was, thinking that putting me in my place, all these years later, was funny. It’s not funny. It never was funny. It’s tired, like our friendship.
Truth is, I never bought Pete gas with my Dad’s credit card. At least, I don’t remember buying Pete gas with my Dad’s credit card. Truth is, if I did, in fact, buy Pete gas with my Dad’s credit card, I know this, I know this for sure: I wouldn’t be surprised. Why? I’ll tell you why.
I was insecure. I was deeply insecure. Back then, I would have done anything for Pete’s friendship, like drive all the way East to pick up Pete first, so he could ride shotgun, then drive all the way West to pick up everyone else, then drive all the way back East. God forbid Pete should have to call “Shotgun.” This was too upsetting for Pete. Grounds for ending our friendship, or riding with someone else. I remember going through this. More than once, I remember going through this. Looking back, wish I’d left him at home. Looking back, wish I’d kept shotgun empty. It would have made for better company.
Wish I’d known myself better. Wish I’d liked myself more.
I’ve been too busy being a good son. I’ve been too busy being a good brother. I’ve been too busy being a good friend to everyone else besides me. Wish I could kick myself in the ass. I know, I know, it’s a little late. I know, I know, before December is over, I’ll be 42. But maybe, just maybe, before I hit send, instead…this time I’ll hit delete, call a truce with myself, tug one out and call it a night. Not a chance!
Back to the story. Back to the facts. Back to my Dad’s credit card.
One of Pete’s brothers stole my Dad’s credit card, right out of the top drawer of my Dad’s grey lucite desk. Pete’s brother went on a shopping spree, which is so North Shore. Pete’s brother got caught, which is so North Shore. When it came time to prosecute, my parents asked the police to drop all charges, which is a shame. They should have prosecuted. I don’t mean that. But I wish I did. Unfortunately, my parents raised me to give a shit.
Which brings me to lunch at Maggiano’s. My mom, who gives a shit more than anyone I have ever known, took me to lunch so she could tell me that as soon as she read the comment on “Food Fight,” she knew it was Pete. But, as much as she disliked Pete, on every level, as far back as childhood, she thought my reply was crude, at best.
So now, if you’ve read this far, you’re asking yourself, “How crude was he? What crude thing did Gregor say?” Here’s what…
I followed Pete’s logic. He outted me. So I outted him. I took his old trick and bent the truth. I outted both of us. I admitted to buying him gas and sucking his cock.
I was raised on the North Shore. But I grew up in New York. In the gay bars of New York, I learned a very important lesson. Here’s what I learned: more frightening than a fist, more frightening than a brawl, is a kiss from another man. When you kiss a straight man, you’re calling him out for flirting. When you kiss a straight man, you’re calling him gay. You’re socking him in the pride, where insecurity hides.
Pete knows North Shore Greg. We grew up together. Pete never met New York Greg. Until today. Once Pete hit send, everything was set in motion. Instinct kicked in. My subconscious New Yorker dipped into his gay bar bag-of-tricks. I came out, and with me, into the light, into the glaring light of the judgmental North Shore, I dragged a North Shore Douche Bag.
Is it true? Did I buy Pete gas? Did I use my Dad’s credit card to buy friendship? Is it true? Did I suck Pete’s cock? Is he a fag? Am I a fag? Does it matter? Does any of it matter? This week, with Uganda making it legal to kill men & women for being gay, it’s time for all of us to come out. It’s time for all of us to snatch frequent flier miles from Dad’s credit card and fly gay men & women out of Uganda. Let’s send them where it’s safe. Let’s send them where marriage is equal. You know, rational countries like Canada or South Africa.
Truth is, like most families in America, my family has a hard time with me. Truth is, when it comes to how I‘ve lived my life, they don’t approve of my “alternative lifestyle.” They try. But sometimes, like right now, as they’re reading this stupid blog, I’m too out.
It makes them uncomfortable. It makes them cringe. They want me to tone it down. They want me to make it “friendly to advertisers.” This is code for make it “straight.” The thing is, straight doesn’t only apply to sexual orientation. Neither does gay.
My brother calls me “gay” all the time. He’s right. I have been saved by the gay agenda, hallelujah! The gay agenda is an agenda of being true to yourself.
Truth is, like most families from the North Shore, my family wishes I’d stayed North Shore Greg. It would have been easier. I can see it when they’re talking to me, telling me how I should write, and as they tell me, I get upset. When this happens, and it always does, they look down.
Don’t get me wrong, when I get upset and they look down, they’re not looking down on me. They love me too much. What they’re doing is looking down so they can bend the truth to make it less hurtful. In this small way, which is huge, which is everything, they’re the opposite of Pete.
Even so, once, just once, at Maggiano’s, for lunch, over linguini and white clam sauce, I wish Mom would take my side, all the way, see wisdom in my side, all the way, encourage me, and my writing, to come out, all the way.