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 façades.
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.