Recently my wife purchased a plant living in water – the roots exposed – and a goldfish to go with it. Last night sitting around the dining room table looking at the roots, I remembered that 31 years earlier someone had given me a cutting in water and the plants it begat lived with me for decades. I struggled for a moment and remembered his name – Malcolm. From across the table my friend M looks up and says – Malcolm – I remember him. (M is one of my oldest and closest friends – thirty five years and counting. You met him recently – he was my friend who realized the bar in SF was gay.)
I was 21 and Malcolm was ancient – maybe 50, a stat typist, a strange breed on a good day. Malcolm was also clearly gay. We were friendly at work and as we are chatting M & I remember that Malcolm had spent a weekend in a beach house we were renting that summer. M comments on Malcolm being gay and any potential interest Malcolm may have had in me. I ask if he thought Malcolm was hitting on me. KA jumps in to suggest that my 18 year old son and his new girlfriend can take the car for a ride, watch TV – anything. And M laughs and points out with great authority that I am the most heterosexual guy he knows.
Even I know when to let a conversation move on to the next topic. But again I find myself wondering. My first draft for this post read:
“It is clear that once again there was a comfort level in a gay environment not unlike not realizing the bar in SF was gay and probably other items that I will remember.”
But as I lay in bed last night editing in my head, the question changed. A comfort level is being friends in the office, joking around at the water cooler. Somewhere along the way we had a level of friendship where he got on the railroad and came to my home, spent a day, went to dinner with me and my friends. That strikes me as more than a comfort level. Try as I might I cannot remember my sexual fantasies, if any, but the basic facts of the matter carry their own implications. He was fifty and gay and I was twenty-one and straight. It does not feel with hindsight like a universe in perfect balance.
Addendum - 4/3: As I have thought about it the thing is that at the time, and even with hindsight, it did and does feel pretty balanced. He was a good man, witty, fun and engaging. Does his gayness really have much to do with our connecting in that fashion. Cheers Malcolm, wherever you are!