Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Friends Over Lovers

Recently while reading Bea I came across a comment that at least her gay husband did not watch football and I was forced to confess: I am not a big watcher of the game but I have spent many a Sunday afternoon in a juxtaposition that helps explain who I am. With the game on, I stand in my bedroom and fold clothes. It is the perfect sport for it – watch a play and while they huddle, I fold. Then on to the next play. It is not just my clothes – it is the family’s clothes. So am I a real man or just a queer doing the household chores.

And while I was considering this bit of whimsy – I do realize that helping at home is not really a gay characteristic – another bit of whimsy came my way. I imagined my life as a football game. I could here the announcer in my head:

Team Nate has the ball. This drive started way back in the shadow of the straight goal post but they have been moving down the field.

Yes, John, if it wasn’t for those penalties Team Nate would have had quite the drive, but they have persevered – a few big third down plays in there.

Well they are driving now – the gay end zone only twenty yards away. Wait they call a time out. Back in sixty.

As the game plays out in my head, I head back to the huddle. The crowd – on both sides – is loud. It is an exciting game – tie score, outcome in doubt as time winds down. I look around and there are familiar faces. Wait – there is Flip and Paul – what’s that – I’m running the wrong way? And there on the other sideline is Spider. He once crossed that goal line, though I am not sure if he did a victory dance. In the distance a heckler – “your wife wants to remain married to a gay man? She has serious issues regarding self-esteem dude.”

Yes, whimsy, but I share it with Carrie, another pre-dawn talk, enveloped in the soothing darkness. I share and the result of that sharing is anything but whimsy. We have made some serious decisions. The football game is fun but delays my having to write about, and face, real issues.

Carrie’s Line In The Sand – I tell the kids and its basement time for me: I never understood that because its basis was not in us but in others – what they would think. And on some level Carrie did not understand it either. The real issue is how she feels about herself – her ability to live with a gay man who is actively having sex with other men. The other night Carrie finally gets this piece – heck with what the kids will think: she no longer wants to play make believe with me.

She has spent her life in the closet of childhood abuse and now that she has opened that door, she does not want to walk into her husband's gay closet. She will do what is necessary to protect her children but there is no joy in maintaining false fa├žades.

As we lay there and she reveals this, her choice, I realize my choice. I can insist on being her lover, I can fight her. We hear of couples making a mixed orientation marriage (MOM) work, we need to be flexible. My will is strong and I am good with words. I can persuade, I can cajole, I can insist - we will have a marriage. And I will win, for a day or a week: maybe a month. But then I will lose, I will lose everything.

I look down the other road: we are best friends, the best we both will ever have. And I ask myself what would her friend advise, what is the right thing. And then it is easy, or as easy as a stroll through hell can ever be.

The basement is not available and we are not in a hurry. But as of two nights ago we emotionally moved: we may still share the bedroom, but that is her home now. Eventually there will be a physical move, but there is time, for that entails much more. The children’s questions will be unavoidable and I will need to leave the closet, at least the closet at home. And once that door is opened, it can never be closed.

I readily confess that yesterday it struck me – while continuing to live in the same house, this is closer to a separation than a variant on a MOM. I came home wanting to shout “Stop The Presses – No Basement For Me.” And then I saw Carrie and realized yet again that I must be her friend first and I also must be honest with myself as to what I want, the fear and doubts aside.

So as dawn broke and another day was upon us, Carrie asked me how the game ended. I thought, hesitated, almost cried, and then I softly answered. Team Nate scored.


Saia said...

Hi! just passing through, and thought Id stop in, still looking to meetnew people, Im saia ! feel frre to stop by

Flip said...


I'm less concerned about which end zone you are headed for and more concerned that you are going to spike the ball before you cross the goal line.


Spider said...

I am reliving my life in your blog... and it is not very comfortable for me - and I think that is a good thing...

Paul said...

Nate –

The whimsy of this post only slightly hides reality.

- Destination: now KNOWN.
- This isn’t a game.

From the stories of others in Blogland, I know what happens next. (Did I not forecast this?) The lives of everyone involved make this an incredibly difficult journey.

We, on the sidelines, do care about you. And we’re here to support you.

Keep in touch.

Your friend,

Anonymous said...


It IS tough. Believe me, I know because I'm going through it as well. I have so much more respect for the man who tells his wife the truth rather than continually live on the DL.

You characterized me as the "heckler" in this post but believe me I'm much more than that- I'm a man who is not only (somewhat) in the same boat, but also a man who looks to you for GREAT insight...

Nate said...

Hi Anon-
Don't take the "heckler" title badly and excuse the literary license "dude"

In its own way yours was the most important of all comments - it got to the heart of it. It was quoted back to me in an e-mail from Sis. It is everything to one who still loves his wife fully.

Feel free to e-mail if you like sometime.

Anonymous said...

You make me laugh - you make me cry - and you always make me think.