Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Friends

Jim and Bob - my friends.

I met Bob when I was in the Army in 1960.  We were best friends.  We went to Army Security Agency training school together in Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.  We were inseparable.

After we completed school we were given the option to choose our allocations.  Our order of choice was based on our standing in class.  I was 6th in the class, Bob was 7th.  When it was our turn there was only one allocation for Ft. Meade, Maryland.  The rest of the allocations were multiple.  I wanted to stay with Bob.  However, he told me that if I didn't take Ft. Meade, he would.  He wanted to be close to his home in Norwood, PA.  So I took the Ft. Meade allocation.

Bob took the next allocation closest to his home which was Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.  Yep.  He had to qualify for the parachute jump.  Boy, I'm glad that wasn't my choice.  Lucky Ron.

Bob and I kept in touch the following two years by letters.  Remember a long time ago when people actually wrote letters?  That was how we kept in touch.

After I got out of the Army I came out as a gay man.  Much to my surprise I found out my friend Bob was also gay.  He didn't know anybody else who was gay.  Ironically, neither one of us had a sexual attraction for the other all the years we were best friends.  This gives lie to the fact that many straight people believe all gay people are interested sexually in EVERYONE of the same sex.  Not so.

I introduced Bob to his first gay bar in Pittsburgh, PA.  It was a disaster.  The first gay guy who talked to him, Bob bolted out the door and returned to Norwood, PA.  By the time I moved back to Coatesville, PA, Bob had calmed down.  I introduced him to another gay bar, the Westbury Bar in Philadelphia.  This time Bob hung around and got "acquainted" with the denizens of the bar.

We continued our friendship.  Eventually Bob bought a weekend retreat in Sussex County Delaware.  This is where he and Jim live now.

Bob met Jim at a bar in Wilmington about 28 years ago.  They have been a couple ever since.

All during the late 70's, 80's and 90's I visited Bob and Jim at their single wide (now a double wide) on their 22 acres of woods near Georgetown, deep in the heart of Sussex redneck country.  They are within walking distance of Wilson's General Store which still sells sandwiches as well as ammunition for guns.  Folks, Sussex County doesn't get any more redneck than that.

When I decided to retire, Delaware was my first choice.  My second choice was Johnson City, Tennessee.  I decided on Delaware because of the close proximity to my Mom's home in Downingtown, PA.  I was also attracted by the tax friendly climate of Delaware towards seniors like me.

Another factor was the large gay population.  I thought once I moved to Delaware I would make a lot of gay friends.  That hasn't happened.  I've been here four years now and I can count the friends I've made on one hand.  They are Wayne, Bob C., Doug, Paul and Jack.  Of course maybe this is saying something about me.

It could also be saying something about the unique gay culture in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes/Milton area.  Most of the gay men I met are very cliquish.  Probably because most of them come from the Washington, D.C. area.  You know; six figure salaries, high pensions.  I'm not in that crowd.  I don't fit.

I'm not complaining.  I just think it is interesting how cliquish the guys are.  Of course the lesbians are another matter altogether.  To them, men are invisible.  They want nothing to do with us.  That's fine.  They do their golfing thing and go on their Olivia cruises.  Hey, I'm happy for them.  But I think most of them have the attitude towards us guys as all window treatment "guys."  That is how one local lesbian writer refers to her "guy friends."  I loved it when she wrote "I'll have to get one of my gay guys to come over and do a proper window treatment for me and my lady.  We're too busy buying tools at Loew's to be bothered with such triviality."


But I digress.  Back to Bob and Jim.  Bob is 73 years told now.  He's been retired for several years.  He used to do handyman work.  Jim was a nurse and retired last year due to health reasons.  Both are very forgetful these days.  Bob more so than Jim but Jim is rapidly catching up.

Bill and I stopped over today to see Jim's new car.  I also took over the Memorial DVD that I made of pictures of my Mother.  Bill always likes to pay a visit to Bob and Jim because they live in the woods.  Bill misses the woods so much.  We used to live in the middle of the woods in Pennsylvania.  Now we live on an open acre of land in a development with one tree.  Bill hates it.  I love it.

Whenever we visit Bob and Jim these days they're both in a tizzy looking for something they have misplaced.  As I said, they are both very forgetful.  Jim has already seen my new car, but I had to explain to him again today that I had a new car.  He came out to see it again.  Maybe he will remember the next time.

Bill got angry at me when I was leaving because I opened the sun roof.  He thought I did that just to aggravate him.  Maybe I did.  But he wasn't in the mood for it today so now he's not speaking to me.  This is nothing new.  He goes though these cycles.  He was due to get mad at me.  He'll get over it but this will probably last a few days, maybe a week.

Bill will be 82 years old on September 26th.  He is in fine health.  I am 68 years old.  Chances are that I will survive him.  If I do, I will never......NEVER have another partner.  We've been together 46 years but they haven't always been easy.  I don't know of any long term relationships that run smooth.  Ours certainly doesn't.  But I love him and I'll stay with him in spite of his moods.  At least as long as we wants me to stay with him.

So, back to Bob and Jim.  I'm glad they're together.  I'm glad we're friends.  I hope we all last a long time.  However, when that time comes that I lose these friends and lose my partner I know what I have to do.  Get a cat.

1 comment:

  1. I watch the morning sun rise over the Atlantic ocean. Something my friends Mike and Glenn will never see as long as they live on the west coast. I can see the sun set on the Delaware Bay.

    The skinny legs? I've always had them. All the walking I've done in my many years on this earth, and I still have matchstick legs. It is what it is.

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