Monday, August 30, 1999

Weekend

This story originally appeared on the Secret Garden website and is archived here at the request of author Doug Rogers.


I hadn't thought about that crazy weekend in years. I probably wouldn't have thought of it now had not my gay nephew been egging me on.
Carroll's parents had played a cruel enough joke on him sticking that name on his birth certificate. I even remember objecting to it when they had announced the intention to name the still unborn first child after his grandfather. However, as an in-law, my opinion counted for very little in my wife's family, so the deed was done.
And that's not to suggest that the name made him gay. We all know that orientation is a matter of genetics coupled with our experiences and internalization.
Some twenty years later, when they found out that their brilliant college boy liked to get it on with other college boys, they did what any other sane, rational and god-fearing Arkansas family would do: they kicked his ass out. I can remember that night like it was yesterday; Carroll's voice on the phone, choked with tears, asking me what to do and where to go. I asked Janice what she thought and in about 15 seconds we had agreed to take the boy in. Atlanta is a much larger place and the gay culture thrives here. My position as a college professor could easily stand an openly gay family member, so what the hell. I wired him the money to come and was there waiting on him at the airport.
It was a long six months that followed. Carroll found comfort in the fact that I am a closet bisexual. Not that I ever did anything improper with him! It was just knowing that someone else close to him could understand a man having sexual feelings for another man helped him to accept himself.
We had settled into a family routine by the fall semester. I had done the paperwork to claim Carroll as a dependent and he was using my faculty scholarship to attend classes and finish up his degree. He helped with the chores around the house and contributed what he could toward the family upkeep from his part-time job. It was early one Saturday afternoon when the wife was gone on one of her wild goose chases looking for new clothing that he asked the question that would trigger so many memories.

Friday, August 20, 1999

Wrong Turn

This story originally appeared on the Secret Garden website and is archived here at the request of author Doug Rogers.


Twice in my life I've found that a wrong turn can change everything.
The first time was about four years ago when I made a wrong turn on the St. Louis Expressway and woke up with only one leg. Well, no, I'm not totally one-legged I guess, but what's left of my right one is something around eight inches. Close enough.
I spent the next four months healing and getting fitted for what my prosthetist laughingly refers to as an 'artificial leg.' Yeah, it works well enough, I guess. It's got computers and all sorts of whiz-bang electronics inside and it seems to pretty well read my mind and know how I want to walk. Still, it looks like hell. There's no mistaking it for the real McCoy with all it's shiny metal and the blue composite shell over the wizardry. The life-cast foot that it sports is almost funny by comparison. They obviously spent so much time and care making it look totally real, and then it gets stuck on the end of a glorified pipe. Really fools people. Go figure.
Now, to say that this little event changed my life is an understatement.
First, you have to understand that I'm gay. I've known I was since, oh, about the fifth grade, I guess, when the other little boys were starting to talk about little girl's boobies. Big deal. I liked talking about dicks much better, especially when mine started getting big.
Second, I owned the St. Louis club scene. I was gorgeous! I've got classic male features, like you see on Greek statues, except I'm blond. I'd spent several hours a week in a gym since I was sixteen, and I had my body buffed to the 'n'th degree. I suppose what's left of it still is. I still work out three or four times a week. No sense letting the rest of the stuff go south just because a piece is missing.
Third, I had a good job. I was a model, you see. One of the guys that you see in the mens underwear and fashion ads and the like.