Monday, December 22, 2014

Brad

Me and Brad in happier times - 1980

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Cincinnati. I did not know the person who sent this e-mail but we both knew Brad Corrill.  He informed me that Brad died September 17th.  Brad was 60 years old.

I met Brad in April of 1980.  We locked eyes at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia.  Ironically that was the first and last time I was ever in that particular gay bar. I don't remember why I went in that night but I do know that my life changed forever when I met Brad.

Drury Lane Bar, Philadelphia, PA

I don't remember who started the conversation first but I do know that we both knew immediately we were attracted to one another, a lot.  We spent the night together at a place where he was staying temporarily.
Brad was homeless.

A few months earlier he had moved to Philadelphia from Cincinnati after meeting "Gene", a Philadelphia gay bartender who was visiting Cincinnati.  When I met Brad Gene had thrown him out and Brad was living with a straight couple (friends of Gene) until he found his own place.  

Brad had a problem because he didn't have a job or money.  I had an apartment that I had a lease on until January of 1981.  I had gotten the lease because Bill and I had sold our town house in center city Philly and our new home was under construction in Chester County.  Bill was staying at our house under construction.  I was still working in center city (I had asked Bill to take early retirement) and needed a place to stay until the construction of our house was completed.  I told Brad he could stay at my apartment on Spruce Street until he found his own place. Thus began the summer that I experienced the most extreme highs and lows of my life.  The summer that I was almost destroyed.  


Brad at "The Ranch"

My journal entry recording the drama that was our life back then so many years ago

I'll attempt to make this a concise story as possible while covering all the pertinent facts but I could easily write a novel of that summer. The most dramatic summer of my life.

I fell in love with Brad.  I thought he fell in love with me.  To me he was like a lost puppy.  A sweet, sensitive, funny and (of course) very attractive guy.  And he needed me.  I grew to need him needing me.  I was going to take care of him.  Big mistake. For you see the problem was that Brad was an alcoholic and a drug addict. We was weak. I thought I could save him.  Big mistake.


Brad at "The Ranch" - 1980

The first month or so we were both ecstatically happy. We were in our own world of bliss.  I seriously considered leaving Bill and starting a new life with Brad.  Big mistake.  

The first sign of a problem was when I arranged an interview for Brad with my real estate agent who was looking for a handyman.  I left work that morning to be at the real estate agent's office for Brad's appointment at 10:30 am.  10:30 came and went.  11:00 came and went.  I frantically called Brad.  When I got him on the phone he was slurring his words.  He was drunk.  He told me he couldn't make the meeting because he "wasn't feeling well."  He was drunk.  I was mortified.  So embarrassed.  

I forgave him.  I tried several more times to get him a job, all to no avail.  But still I said he could stay at my apartment until he found a job and his own place. Then one weekend I returned from our (me and Bill's) home in the country early.  I returned on a Saturday night instead of my usual Sunday night.  When I climbed the stairs to my fourth floor apartment on Spruce Street and opened the door I see a leather clad, bearded man who I did not know.  I asked him "Who are you?"  With a sneer on his face he looked at me and said "Who the fuck are you!"  I told him "I'm the person who is paying rent on this apartment and you can get out of here right now."  Mr. Butch Leatherman snarled "Who's going to make me?" Barely controlling my seething anger I said to him "If you don't walk down those stairs right now I'm going to throw you down those stairs." He took a measured look at me after hearing my "suggestion" and turned around and left.


2122 Spruce Street - my apartment top floor (fourth) with dormers


Interior of my "penthouse apartment" at 2122 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA

After he left Brad and I got into a furious argument.  Brad rarely argued but this time we were screaming at each other.  I highly resented him bringing strangers into my apartment and I also felt betrayed because I thought Brad cared for me.  I found out that night he didn't, but more about that later.  

Our argument continued until Brad jumped me and threw me to the floor with his forearm against my neck choking me, while he screamed "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

I couldn't breath.  He was choking me to death.  While I was flailing around on the floor trying to breath, my right ankle hit the turn on/off knob of the radiator heater by the wall. The force of the impact broke the skin and my blood began flowing from my ankle where I hit it on the radiator.  The sight of my blood brought Brad to his senses and he released his choke hold on my neck.  

While I was gasping for breath, he was now saying over and over "I'm so sorry Ron!  I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"  That was the night that I knew that I had to end our relationship.

That past summer I had taken Brad to Provincetown with me only to witness him taking off with a straight couple for a threesome.  He was bored with me.  I asked him what happened.  He said "I don't know Ron, I just fell out of love with you.  It just went away."  


Brad and I in Provincetown (whale watching excursion) - July 1980 - we did have good times

I thought I could make Brad love me again the way he did when we first met.  I took him with me when I visited my friend Bob McC. at his weekend place ("The Ranch") outside Georgetown Delaware.  All to no avail. All Brad was interested in was what Gene was doing.  Where Gene was.  It took me a long time to realize that I was just someone to use.


Brad and I at Bob McC's "The Ranch" near Georgetown, Delaware - when I still made him happy - 1980

That night I told Brad he had to move . . . back to his home in Cincinnati or else we would both be destroyed.  Brad had left my apartment once before.  He moved in with someone else only to be told to leave because of his drug habits and I suppose his propensity to bring strangers back home.  That's alright if you have your own place but quite another different story when you're a guest at someone's home (or apartment where I have the liability).  

The first time Brad left my apartment, I saw him sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square where I used to criss cross through when I went home after work.  I walked by him only to hear him say "Ron? Can I talk to you?"  He told me he needed a place to stay.  I loved him and didn't want to see him homeless, sleeping on a park bench in Rittenhouse Square so I told him he could stay at my apartment until he found someplace else to live.  


Brad meeting me for lunch at 8th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelhia, PA 1980

I was in love with Brad and wanted to "save" him.  But what I didn't realize, what I was so foolish to believe; was that I could win out over the drugs and alcohol.  I believed in a Hollywood ending to our story.  I kept thinking back to the first time I met Brad and how special that time was.  I wanted to believe those times would come again. I was fool.

My apologies for making this a very long blog posting but I'm doing a bit of catharsis here folks.  For you see folks, I never completely fell out of love with Brad.

The day after that evening when he almost choked me to death, I purchased a one way ticket for him to his home in Cincinnati and give him a hundred dollars.
  
Cincinnati, Ohio


I watched him walk up 23rd Street to the Greyhound bus station from the fourth floor window of my Spruce Street apartment with a heavy heart.  I was devastated because I knew I was sending away someone I loved deeply.  I truly believed I could turn his life around and we could live happily ever after.  What a fool I was but at that time that is what I truly believed.


Greyhound Bus Terminal - Philadelphia, PA

The days and weeks after he left I wrote him letter after letter, pleading for him to come back.  Who was the weak one now?  I have to give Brad credit because he knew our relationship would never work and he didn't come back.  He didn't answer my letters, he didn't call.  He ignored me. That was in the fall of 1980.

Thirty one years later I found his address and sent him a Christmas card.  I had since moved on with my life but was curious if Brad was still alive.  He was.  He sent me a Christmas card back.  That spring he sent me a litter hinting that he would like to visit but that I would have to pay for his transportation and also get him a hotel room.  That I wasn't going to do but it was nice to hear from him.  He was still living at the same place and the same person who he returned to in 1980.  I was happy for him.  The following November he sent me a birthday card.  Again, very nice of him. Brad was always the sweet and gentle soul.  Only thing was he wasn't in love with me like I was in love with him.  And that's alright, you can't make people love you.  It's either there or it isn't. I don't mean to make this all about me and whine but the fact was that I fell in love with Brad and he fell out of love with me.  These things happen.


Brad's birthday card

After Brad I vowed that I would never let something like this happen to me again.  It almost cost me my life and my life long relationship with Bill, someone who has always stood by me through the bad times and good times.  Bill, a man I grew to love.  I make no apologies for falling in love with someone else, the mind goes (at least mine does) where the heart goes.  Maybe there was some greater Power saving me.  I think Brad knew that we could never have a relationship.  He went home to someone he did love and his friends.  His sojourn in the City of Brotherly Love in that summer of 1980

Philadelphia, PA


didn't turn out the way he wanted it to.  He was always in love with "Gene."  I may have been a momentary diversion for him but his true love was always Gene and I should have known that but I choose to ignore that obvious fact.  

I had not seen a photo of Brad since that fateful summer.  Last night when I received that e-mail from his Cincinnati friend informing me of his passing, he also sent a link to Flicker. There were three photos of Brad.  I was warned by his friend that Brad hadn't aged well. I could see by the photos that he hadn't.  Looking at those photos made me sad but at the same time made me happy because I saw Brad smiling.  He was happy, he was among his friend, he was in his element.  



Brad and friend in Cincinnati - recent
I hope his passing was easy and he is in a wonderful place now.  Who knows Brad?  Maybe we'll see each other again under better circumstances.  But this I know, for a few brief shining moments in the summer of 1980 I knew pure joy.  Thank you Brad.


Brad at home
Below, a video of our July 1980 week long vacation in Provincetown.  We met our friends Bob Mc, Gino and Joe and his partner Bob.  All gone now.  Only memories.  I'm the last one standing . . . . again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Cookies

Viennese Crescent cookies ready to go last night

Once a year at Christmas time I make this special cookie recipe that I got from my former co-worker Mildred Stephen. Always a hit, those cookies rarely last more than a few days. The lady on the right is Mildred. The photo was taken forty years ago at Girard Bank December 23rd at our annual office Christmas party. Those were the days.

Viennese Crescents


Ingredients:

1/2 lb. unsalted butter (yep, LOTS of butter)

1/4 cup granulated white sugar 
2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup ground nuts (preferably pecans but any nut will do)

1 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) Cream the room temperature butter in a large bowl

3) Then add the granulated sugar, flour, nuts and vanilla and mix thoroughly

4) Pull of small portions of the dough and with your fingers into delicate crescents

5) Shape about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide and thick

6) Roll in confectioners' sugar

7) Bake on cookie sheets for about 23 minutes or until just faintly browned

8) Coll and roll in confectioner's sugar again

9) Place in cookie tin lined with tissue paper, close lid

10) Surprise your favorite neighbor or friend with your special gift of love

Christmas Party December 23, 1974 - lady on far right is Mildred Stephen, who gave me her recipe for Viennese Crescent cookies - thank you Mildred!!




Friday, December 19, 2014

Hollywood Trip - Change of Plans

The Hollywood Bed & Breakfast - Los Angeles, California

Change of plans folks for our (me and Pat) trip to Hollywood next month.  I had reservations at the Historic Hollywood Hotel.  During a lull in the activity at the hotel (where I work) last night I thought I would check in Trip Advisor to see what others were saying about the Historic Hollywood Hotel.  Alas, what I saw caused me much concern.  All the recent reviews I read for the above mentioned hotel (December) were not good.  Oh no, NOT GOOD.  Everything from a "dicey" neighborhood to plumbing not working properly (one reviewer advised taking a bath in the bathroom sink was preferable to taking one in the shower, that's how small the bathroom was and how poor the water pressure).  The only consistent good thing I read about this hotel was the friendliness of the front desk staff.  Hey, I need more than a friendly front desk person for a ten day stay in Hollywood.  I need a clean room with proper working toilet facilities.  What really changed my mind was reading the reviews about the "smoky" smell.  NO.THANK.YOU.  I work in a non-smoking facility and that's where I prefer to stay, especially if I'm paying for it.  In fact, even when I'm not paying for it like I did last year when I stayed at Pat's nifty lodgings (for free) in Toronto.


Pat's minimalist house in Toronto

So with great regret I called and cancelled my reservation and went on the search for a new place to stay.  Keep in mind that neither I nor Pat are well off retirees.  My retirement pay is from the 37 years I worked for banks.  If I was a U.S. government retiree (high five figure to six figure retirements, plenty of these guys in the Rehoboth Beach-Lewes-Milton Gayborhood) then I could probably throw caution to the wind and stay at any upscale hotel in Century City, Los Angeles.  But I'm not nor is Pat.  We're both modest in every aspect, especially income.  Which suits us just fine but we do have to be more careful about where we stay.


Two modest men (Pat more so than me) of modest means at the Agave Restaurant in Lewes, DE 2014


So after several hours of searching I came across the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast.  I found it by the excellent reviews it had received on Trip Advisor.  

I did more research and found that this bed and breakfast is located near (Sunset Boulevard - we're going to be discovered!) and all the other tourist attractions two Old Gay Guys would look for during their visit to Hollywoodland.  




Oh I know the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast may disturb Pat's spartan, minimalist's preferences but the price is right and the location is perfect. 

I've never stayed at a Bed and Breakfast before (although I work at one i.e., "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV, etc."

I've already talked to the couple who own the B & B on the phone and they sound quite pleasant.  

The days are counting down until our takeoff on January 7th.  This should prove quite an adventure for the Two Old Gay Guys.  



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony Pictures Caves



Kim Jong-un and the actor (Randall Park) who portrays him in "The Interview"

Hard to believe but Sony Pictures cancelled the Christmas day theatrical release of "The Interview", a movie that mocks North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.  (See here.) 

First of all isn't it hard to believe that Sony Pictures has succumbed so easily to this bullying pressure and threats from the North Korean hackers?  You know what this action by Sony sets a precedent don't you?  More fodder to international terrorists to terrorize us in the West.  Oh yes, that what they're doing and they're succeeding at, terrorizing us.  When these mysterious, unknown Korean hackers can threaten to bomb movie theaters that show "The Interview" and we cave, we're terrorized.  

You know something?  We should look at the example of the Israelis. When the cowardly terrorists attempt to terrorize them by bombing an outdoor cafe, the Israelis immediately clean up the body parts and blood and put the cafe right back in business.



 May sound heartless (cleaning and moping up still warm body parts and blood) but if you give in to the terrorists (and haven't we given in enough?  Have you traveled by air lately?), they will just further terrorize you until they're completely controlling your life.  

Hitler had it all wrong with his millions of soldiers and Panzer tanks.  All he had to do was hack into our computer systems and threaten us with terroristic bombings. Have you noticed that the terrorists are more successful than the land based armies of World War II Japan and Germany?  

The irony of this movie is that it is just another unfunny ego trip for James Franco




and Seth Rogan.


 I don't "get" Franco and Rogan, the current Flavor of the Moment in Hollywood. I just don't think they're funny.  They seem to be having their own private party with inside jokes.  Maybe one good thing that comes out of this action by Sony Pictures, no more Franco/Rogan "comedies".  

  

Throwback Thursday - September 1974

Me - Provincetown - 1974


Ah yes, I remember September 1974 just like it was yesterday.  Actually it was FORTY YEARS ago. I'm finished folks.  I don't know how much longer I can put off the inevitable.  This "Ron Show" doesn't go on forever your know.  But I do have good memories.  

In the Seventies I always vacationed in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  The Gay Disneyland as P-town was called back in those hallowed, disco-crazed days.  

At first I used to spend at least a week in Provincetown, staying at Angel's Landing on Commercial right in the center of Provincetown.  With one exception (Labor Day Weekend 1974 - the time this photo was taken by Bill) when Bill went with me, I always traveled alone.  Oh wait, I didn't always travel alone.  On three other occasions I took a "guest" with me (Bob M. one trip and Brad C. on two other trips).  Both didn't turn out the way I had planned.  Both of the guys, once they got into Provincetown, met someone else and took off with them until it came time to return to Philly (I was paying for the plane tickets) at which time they showed up on my rented doorstep. Ah yes, those were the days when I was played for a fool.  See, not all good memories but I had plenty of other good times to offset their betrayal.  


I loved Provincetown because of the geography, and the freedom.  Even though I was out at home and work, I still felt the yoke of homophobic oppression on me when I lived and worked in Philadelphia.  First time I walked down Commercial Street in Provincetown, I felt that total sense of freedom that straight people take for granted all the time.  

For many gay people, Provincetown was a source of unfettered gay sex.  Not for me, not that I'm a prude (far from it).  But the Bacchanal Sex Buffet just wasn't my thing, romance was (fool that I was). 


Back to reality.  Here I am today; sitting at my computer desk; fatter, older and grayer with sagging skin and a daily need for a nap.

Happy Throwback Thursday everyone.  I hope your memories are as happy as mine.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sub-Titles

Is it me or are movies hard to understand these days?  I don't mean the plot but when they talk.  

I . CAN'T. UNDERSTAND. THEM


I first noticed this phenomen a few years ago with a Nicole Kidman movie.  She was mumbling.  Then I noticed that with the enhanced sound in most movies these days, the actors (and actresses and that what I call women who act - "ACTRESSES" - give me a break on calling them "ACTORS") mumble.  I guess the powers-that-be who produce and direct these movies think that is realistic but:

I . CAN'T . UNDERSTAND . THEM


The past few weeks I binged watch "The White Queen".  Not only did I have to get passed the English accent (thank goodness their accent wasn't a Cockney accent) but I swear, they spent half the movie whispering.  

Now I'm binge watching "The Wire."  Not much whispering but man oh man, the lingo.  The street talk.  I need subtitles.  I tried watching a whole episode without the sub titles and I didn't understand A THING.  

Now that I have sub-titles I can binge watch in the Tipton Cinema to my heart's content. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Diet Time

"You HAVE to be kidding me!"


This morning, after my shower I tossed caution to the wind and stepped on my weight scale.  170 lbs!

YIKES!  

I'm most comfortable at 160 lbs or lower.  Ideally I would like my weight to be at 155 lbs.  

Most of my life I've maintained my weight at 160 lbs.  That was my weight when I graduated from high school fifty-five years ago.  

Occasionally my weight has crept up to 170, at which time I cut back my consumption of goodies.

The most I ever weighed was 202 lbs.  I remember exactly when that was.  I was 18 years old, recuperating from a hernia operation and subsequent infections and two more surgeries.  I couldn't exercise in order to give my wound time to heal.  But I could eat and I did.  Whole bags of potato chips and Whitman's chocolates.  Yep, I stuffed my face and put on the weight.

Then one Saturday night I was bowling with my friend Lar and I split my pants. Time to go on a diet which I did.

Over the years since my weight has dropped to as low as 145 (too thin) and as high as 170.  

I am 6'3" so I can "carry" the weight nut I choose not to.  Both of my younger brothers tip the scales near 300 lbs.  I do not wish to go there.

I know why I slipped up this time.  I found frozen biscuits at the local supermarket which are as good as my Mother's.  Buttermilk biscuits.  Which I smother in butter.  Two biscuits a night, for the last three weeks.  The last time I put on weight so fast was when I had waffles for breakfast every day soaked in real maple syrup.  As much as I loved those waffles and REAL maple syrup, I had to give it up.  

In less than a month I am leaving for a ten day vacation to Los Angeles with my skinny Canadian friend Pat (I'll meet him in La La Land).  We do plan to be discovered so I have to get back to my fighting weight, starting today.  But first . .. . . . lunch.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday in Rehoboth

Ann of Old Time Photo - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware


Today I decided we needed to get out of the house and I took a ride down to Rehoboth Beach.  

As you know from my previous posts, I rarely travel down the infamous Route One to Rehoboth Beach anymore.  Putting my life and limb on the line to sit in a traffic pattern isn't my idea of a way to pass the time by.  I would rather be working on my computer, updating my family tree or blogging.  But today was different.  

With gray and overcast skies I told Bill we were going for a ride.  First stop was the Hallmark card shop.  I had to pick up a few Christmas cards for those special people in my life.  Thank goodness the traffic was light on Route One or else I would have turned back.  I did see that they're working on Route One (again), this time putting in sidewalks in front of one of the outlet malls. It's about time.  Route One is not only dangerous for drivers, it's downright deadly for pedestrians.  

I got my "special" cards and I stopped in Safeway.  That place sucks.  Hardly anyone in there, overprices, dim lights and slow moving union help.  I didn't buy anything and got out of there.

On to Rehoboth Beach.  Next stop at my friend Ed's place on Laurel Avenue.  I haven't heard from him in several weeks since he was found collapsed on the floor of his Pennsylvania home, unable to move his legs. Last I heard he was on a walker now.  He wasn't home.  His house looked so sad and lonely among the newer houses all around his cottage style house.  So bedraggled, like him.  Sad times folks, sad.

Next stop Rehoboth Avenue.  I stopped in the year round Christmas store where I took this nifty new banner photo you see at the top of my blog.  I felt guilty for just going in the store so I bought one of those Christmas decorated wine bottles with mini lights inside of them.  That set me back $20 smackers.

Next stop Browse-About-Books.  It's been a long time since I've been in a book store.  Reminds me of the lunch time days when I used to work in Philadelphia and I would browse the book stores near the bank where I worked.  I still have books I haven't read that I bought during those years.  Of course I bought another book today, about the Plantagenet kings and queens in medieval England (I'm still coming down from my "The White Queen" high).  

After paying for my book purchase I sauntered down Rehoboth Avenue and stopped in the old time photo store.  As luck would have it one of my very favorite persons, Ann, was in the store.  She was busy but took time to give me a big hug (I needed it) and let me take this picture of her which I  have posted at the beginning of this post.

While Bill waited in the car I continued on down to the boardwalk.  I didn't stay there too long, COLD!  I took a couple of panorama photos of the Santa Claus house on the boardwalk and the kiddies waiting outside and then headed back to my car and got out of Dodge Rehoboth.  Thus ended one of my rare visits to downtown Rehoboth Beach from yours truly.  Always an adventure folks. As Bill often says "life with Ron."