Archive for April, 2010

Gay Men Shouldn’t Sing Jennifer Hudson
April 30, 2010

We were out at our favorite  video bar a few weekends back.  The songs were coming and going.  When they brought out the big guns and played Jennifer Hudson doing  “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going)”, from the movie Dream Girls, a lot of the boys joined in.

Somehow, it just doesn’t work. 

End of story.

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Randy
April 29, 2010

Randy was African-American. This was not a long relationship. Only eight months. I guess it had the makings of collapse from the beginning. It was 1985, shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles.

I met Randy through a mutual friend. Not being too acute with the ways of the world in Los Angeles and still fresh from my Canadian naivety, we met a few times when Dennis was still here.  It was more to get to know someone here and have a friend. Dennis is another story. After Dennis left and went back to Canada, Randy and I started to see each other more often.

He took me to different places that were very foreign to me. Areas and scenes in L.A. that had shock value. He introduced me to things I had never experienced before. A lot surprised me. In one sence it was curiosity that kept me pre-occupied and excitement that kept me wanting to learn and see more.

He had always wanted a white boyfriend. He told me that a lot of his friends wouldn’t approve if we got together. I believed him. I had already noticed a sense of not belonging, when we got together with his friends. Especially for barbecues or social gatherings, or when they played cards, or we went to play volleyball. I had been brought up to accept everyone as equals and I really wasn’t taught prejudice.

Randy gave up his apartment in South L.A. and moved in with me. I was living in mid Wilshire area at the time, and when someone asked me where I lived, I would always say,” I live in high crime.” It was true. There were always helicopters flying over every night with loud speakers telling you to stay indoors and occasionally, you’d hear gunshots in the night. There were always reports of robberies and you had to keep an eye open all the time and be ready to run. It was all I could afford at the time, and it was close to my work. I could walk.

The song by ‘Foreigner”, ‘I Want To Know What Love is?’, best describes our relationship. And, I couldn’t find much love. Randy was critical. My self-esteem wasn’t the best at this time and Randy made the best of what he noticed. When it came to food, he loved everything deep-fried. And when I cooked it for him, he’d always say it was no good. He always compared me to this person or that person and so and so’s was always better. I remember one night, I was so ticked, I made dinner for one. Then I sat down to eat by myself. Randy said, “Where’s mine?” I replied that I hadn’t made any food for him because of all his complaints and that he could go to so and so’s and get them to cook for him. It was always better anyways. There was lots of mouth. Lots and lots of mouth. Endless mouth. I didn’t back down. He made himself a peanut butter sandwich.

It was close to Christmas and New Years. My sister Nancy was coming to visit me with her girlfriend. I gave them my room when they arrived, and I slept on the couch. I could tell from the start that they didn’t like Randy. Everyone put up with each other as best they could, during their stay. I found out later, from Nancy, that they didn’t like the way Randy treated me. I had prepared a New Years dinner with all the trimmings and we were eating late afternoon. Things came to a head and everyone spoke their minds. Randy had been drinking and he left after harsh words. He came back close to midnight and the situation got worse. Randy was drunk and he was brandishing a gun. I didn’t even know he had one. It was all I could do to subdue everyone and keep the peace. He threatened the girls and they threatened to call the police. Rage was everywhere. Randy left, but came back later when everyone was asleep.

The girls were leaving the following day around noon. They would take a taxi to the airport.  I went to work and Randy went to work. I got home my usual time around 6:30pm. Randy was there waiting and boiling over with hate and foul language. He was blaming me for everything.

What was everything? First of all, Randy kept all of his clothes in a separate closet, that he kept locked. The lock had been broken and his clothes were there hanging from their hangers, but they had been shredded by scissors into pieces. Not just some, all of them. His shoes had been destroyed with paint and bleach. His fish tank had bleach poured into it and all the fish were dead. Any and everything that was his, had been destroyed.

There was no apology or words that would fix this situation. Randy found another apartment and moved out. I saw him one time after this encounter. We were amiable, but we’ve never seen each other since.

The Dan Syndrome
April 28, 2010

We wait. And we wait. For food, for an okay, for an estimate, for a movie, for banking, for traffic, for an answer, for the right relationship, for an unfullfilled dream or even to check out. Wouldn’t you agree that we spend 98% of our life waiting for that next thing? Is this why we can’t enjoy what’s happening to us right now?

Well, welcome to the Dan syndrome. I shouldn’t label Dan, our friend, with the total responsibility for creating this anomaly. Dan was the first friend we noticed that for some reason, would move from one bar to the next. We would be having a great time and all of a sudden in his inability to enjoy what was happening, he would want to move on. To seek a better this or a better that. And, the ‘better’ rarely showed up. It repeated from one home to the next, from one lover to the next. His inability to enjoy the moment, was reflected in the rest of his life. A small-scale reflection of his inner life.

All things wear out. Mechanical parts and our bodies. Maybe even our nerves and our patience, and we get tired of waiting. So, we move on. We are impatient for that next moment, so we miss this moment and move ever so close to the final moment. Death.

We know other people with the Dan syndrome. Sometimes staying where you are allows you just simple enjoyment. There’s an old zen saying that goes something like this: ‘if you can’t find what you’re looking for where you’re standing, you won’t find it anywhere’.

Shroud of Convenience
April 26, 2010

What are you wearing? What colors are your clothes? Are you draped in fabric that shouts unapproachable, tired, troubled? Or, do your colors say young, vibrant, full of life? Are they well fitted or do they hang from you in a worn out fashion? Clothes are a reflection of your thoughts. You can’t judge a person’s inner thinking by what they present to the world through what they wear, but the state of mind is revealed by the choice they present for that moment. Your clothes may be a reflection of old ideas.

Many ideas we hold dear are wrong. Few of us have adapted with life as life has changed around us. Many times we refuse to listen to a new idea or a suggestion. Sometimes we won’t even entertain accepting an idea let alone consider its source. Why is that? What makes us know so much more than what we’re hearing from some outside source? We use every imaginative form of resistance we know to prevent our ideas or perceived thoughts from being altered. When you feel this resistance, it should be a wake-up call to give what you are listening to, a chance. Not all new ideas are good. But every idea has the seed of change and we should grasp that seed and transform it into our own.

How do you drop your old ideas? Here’s an example. When you go to a new country and you have to deal with a new currency, you always convert the new currency into dollars to give a value to what you’re purchasing. The new currency has no value figure in your mind, only the dollar. After a year if you continue to deal with the new currency, you will have forgotten the dollar and only the new currency will have a value. To get rid of an old idea you have to discard it from your mind and take its value away. You will then allow a new idea or at least the seed of a new idea, to enter. It will gain a new value. You have to be heartless when you discard an old idea, pull it out by its roots, and burn it out of your mind. It must not have a chance to regrow like a weed. Accept the new idea gently and nourish it until you can call it your own.

Not only your presentation to the world will change, but the shroud you’ve carried for so long as a convenience will disappear.

Chicken
April 23, 2010

Ken and I were driving in my dad’s car. I worked with Ken in Echo Bay and we became good friends. We were both out on leave after our contracts. This car was the one dad bought after he sold the Lincoln. Luxurious, but not a Lincoln. We were on the south side of Edmonton. The road we were on traversed a valley. At the bottom of the valley was a stream with a single lane bridge. Because we were young and foolish we thought we’d play chicken with a car coming down the opposite side of the hill and see who would ‘give’ when we reached the single lane bridge. Laughing and joking all the way down the hill, gaining speed, we knew we’d win. However on the approach to the bridge we hit a long series of road moguls, like you have on a ski hill. I applied the brakes, to soften the shock of the road. It was a bumpy ride. We beat the other car and were continuing up the other side of the hill when I noticed the sound of continual screeching from the tires. When we reached the top and were on flat pavement, the sound continued. I got scared. What did I do? Not far away was a dealership. It was about 1:00pm in the afternoon and we decided, we should have it checked out. I had to pick my dad up from work at 6:00pm.

After an hour at the dealership, the mechanic came and told us that I had bent the ti-rod ends and that the wheels were being pushed along as opposed to rotating normally. The wheels were pigeon-toed. Therefore, the screeching noise. They promised me they could have it fixed by 4:00pm, closing time. Closing time came and no car. It wouldn’t be ready till Monday. They had to order the parts. I panicked. I knew my dad and this event was not going to go down well. Ken and I took a cab back home and Ken left. When it came time to pick up my dad, I used my brother’s car.

When dad got in the car he said, “that’s nice of Doug to lend you his car, what happened to mine? I told dad the story, omitting the ‘chicken’ part, and told him I would pay for all the repairs. The car would be ready Monday and I’d pick it up. The drive home was tense, with a lecture and words of wisdom.

When the car came back, dad felt it was never the same. It probably wasn’t. Maybe it was the vibration that had changed and he was sensitive to its feeling. I know afterwards, even years later, when the subject came up, dad would always say “the car was never the same”. He eventually sold that car, and I’ve never forgotten how well guilt works.

30 or 3
April 23, 2010

We were out for a well deserved cocktail on Friday after work. Along with the drink I ordered an appetizer. Calamari. When it arrived it was perfect. It was the first time I’ve ordered it at this place and it was done correctly. The rule for cooking calamari is thirty seconds or thirty minutes. If it’s battered and you drop it in the correct temperature oil, you only cook it thirty seconds. If it is cooked longer it goes rubbery or chewy. However, if you then cook it thirty minutes , it will go tender again. I wouldn’t recommend this if it’s battered. This calamari was soft, tender and the perfect consistency.

Making love can be a thirty or a three. The longest I ever made love for was three hours. Everyone has had the thirty second love, or at least they should try it. Flash! That was fun. The three-hour love-making is different. Mine started with a massage. Warm oil, soft music, sensual hands caressing the body, exploring, but not exciting to the stimulating point. Almost like a tease. Heightened, but not consuming. Dinner was planned beforehand and it was prepared, ready to go. A few last minutes of expedience and it was set to go. Nakedness at that point became natural. While dinner was cooking, warm caresses, body contact and kisses mixed with sensuality became the norm. The dinner was plated. Sitting next to each other naked was erotic. A glass of wine, sensual and lustful in its mind imagery. Priorities first, dinner could wait as bodies melded and consumed each other. Closed eyes and open hearts. Feeling, feeling, feeling. Dinner must be real cold by now. And it was. But conversation filled the gap from coldness to warmth. Naked bodies eating, drinking, laughing, touching, communicating. Completely lustful, erotic and the feeling so intoxicating. Knives and forks dropped, it was a continuation of complete immersion. Another hour went by, but no time was recorded. Then, after a crescendo of immense happiness, it was over.

Except for the clean-up. That was another thirty minutes.

The memory? Thirty years.

Comparing
April 22, 2010

It was Sunday. Eberhard and I were having a lazy morning before I had to go back to L.A. We stepped into the jacuzzi to relax. At first we sat next to where the water jets were the strongest, but because of the glaring sun, we moved to the other side for some shade. It came to mind that the pressure from the jets on the shaded side were less powerful, but still sufficient. We noted the comparison and started to discuss comparisons at length.

We compare just about everything in our lives in order to determine that we’re getting the best. Take for example TVs or cars. When you’re shopping for a TV and there are one hundred to choose from on the shelf, it is easy to pick out the best one for you according to price, quality and needs. But, when you get that TV home and there is nothing sitting beside it to compare it to, is it the best one? Would the TV that cost two hundred dollars less have been just as good? It’s the same with cars. They are material items that serve a purpose. All TVs have a picture and allow you to watch programs. All cars have four wheels and they get you from A to B. Without knowing it, we have been conditioned to accept  our choices, based on comparisons, and these choices end up costing us a certain amount of working hours. It doesn’t matter what we purchase. It keeps us working more and more, until we reach that point when we start to realize that we don’t need more. Unfortunately, this can be late in life. Only then, do we feel we can stop. When I look back at all the things our family consumed while growing up, and how much we have of it now, it’s surprising to see that ninety percent was not necessary.

Comparisons happen in everything we do, from eating food to making love. If we stop comparing, is there a level of satisfaction, that can leave us much happier? Instead of living outside our means on all levels, emotionally, physically and monetarily, we should set a new price limit on what we’ll pay for in our lives. Let’s only pay the price we need to, not what someone else determines for us through comparison.

Cooking for Jesus
April 20, 2010

As Beans and Barley became more and more popular, I spent more and more time in the kitchen. I saw less and less of the customers. I would go to the front door at 5:00pm to unlock and open for business, and the restaurant would fill within five minutes. The line-up would begin outside and last until closing.

With the ordering wheel full, I would begin. My first break was when we had run out of food or it was closing time. I’ve never liked doing work where I couldn’t feel I was a part of something I loved. I missed my time communicating directly with our customers.

 The staff would come into the kitchen and give me compliments from the dining area or they’d ask if I’d come out of the kitchen because one of the customers had requested to meet me. I found that if I stopped, I’d lose the ‘flow’. On a busy night, if you lose your ‘flow’, usually you don’t get it back and the evening can turn into a disaster. Occasionally if the customer was persistent, I’d get the waiter/ress to bring them back to the kitchen and we’d meet, talk and I’d cook all at the same time.

Unable to satisfy what I use to be able to do and love in the dining room, I would set up a mental thought pattern. I projected it into the dining area. Since I couldn’t see the clients anymore, I held in my mind a picture that the client was always JC and the boys. That way, I thought I’d always do my best on this side of the door and the other side of the door would take care of its self. My heart would come on, and everything flowed.

Hense, cooking for Jesus.

Breaking All The Rules
April 20, 2010

That’s it, drive right through the stop sign, cross the double line, just drive by with just yourself in the carpool lane, speed, cut in line, cheat on your taxes, cheat on your spouse, cheat at work. Cheat, cheat, cheat! Look, no one caught you. How great is that? No consequences! Let’s do it again, and again, and again. And so you do.

There’s always balance. Eventually, everything you put into life has to come back to you. And life is not judgemental. It doesn’t know if what you’ve done is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s not concerned with our ego perceptions. It only wants balance. The longer the balance takes to happen, the more energy that gathers behind the deed, or task or whatever and the greater the result. Now lets say you label the deed ‘bad’. What do you think are your chances of a good outcome?

Life is always fair. We may not see it that way, but in the end, universal laws trump all. So what we think we robbed of someone today, life will rob you of tomorrow. It may not be the same ‘entity’ but you will be robbed. Health? Long life? A son? Beauty? A home? A car?

It’s balance.

’57 Lincoln
April 20, 2010

 

I knew not cars till this beast of beauty came along. It was my first car love.

My dad had just turned forty. Up until this time my mom had done all the driving. Dad didn’t even have a driver’s license. We had a ’51 Pontiac standard column shift. It had a powder blue roof and a white body. Mom would run all the errands, shopping and would drive dad to work and pick him up.

One day dad came home and told us he was buying a car from one of his clients. The client was getting a new car and he asked dad if he wanted to buy his Lincoln. At the time it meant nothing to us kids, but it was obvious that dad was extremely excited. He took driving lessons and it wasn’t long before the car arrived.

It was a 1957 Lincoln Premiere Landau, to use all the titles that came with the car. Pitch black, two and a half tons, with a gentle rake and a continental kit attached that encased the spare wheel inside. The continental kit made the car extra long and when inside, you felt like you were in a limousine. Dad’s client has special ordered the car from United States. It wasn’t available in Canada. Chrome heavy spoke wheels dressed in white walls was just the beginning. It had Spanish Corinthian rust colored leather interior with wood inlay. Power windows. How cool was that back then, and a button you pressed with a little green light that came on when all the main chassis parts had been lubricated. It had automatic search and FM for the radio. We had no FM in Canada at the time, but it was there ready to go. It was powered by a 390 horsepower gold engine, which I kept spotless. And, it had a special glazing over the paint that made it shine like a diamond up a goat’s butt, as my dad use to say.

When you’re young, a car like this made quite the impression, and I was impressionable. School friends always commented on the car and when we drove around town everyone would stare. The ride was like you were floating. Outside sounds were almost none existant. I loved the idea of being associated with the car.

I was sixteen before I got my driver’s license and was allowed to drive the car. By this time we’d had the Lincoln a few years, but she was still beautiful. It held so many memories. Like going to the A &W and ordering Papa, Mama, and Baby Burgers with a gallon of root beer. Or driving around with all the window’s down, and the Rolling Stones playing on the radio  ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ as loud as the radio could go. Taking drives, or trips to the countryside, or dates.

Eventually, my dad felt the car was getting too old and he put it up for sale. Thankfully enough a car enthusiast bought the car and was going to restore it to its former glory. I’ve never felt the same about any other car I’ve ever known or bought. They always say there’s nothing like the first time for anything new in your life.

And, it’s true.

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