Down on Rt. 9 towards Georgetown there is a furniture store on the right side of the road called Beschels. I've been in the furniture store a few times, checking out their wares. The furniture store is unremarkable except for one feature. Outside of their building they have a big deck with a wooden statue of an Alaskan fisherman clad in an yellow slicker rain gear. The deck this fisherman stands on overlooks what is a vast, large pond. Every time I ride down Rt. 9 I look over at the this pleasant sight of the fisherman by the pond.
However, this summer we've been having a drought here in Lower Slower (aka Sussex County, Delaware). The pond is dried up. The yellow rain gear clad fisherman still stands on his deck but now he overlooks a dried up pond. Now when I ride by Beschels and look over to my right, I feel sad. What is supposed to be isn't. And that is because that "pond" was only a few inches deep. When there is water in it, it looks vast. Without water it looks like what it is, a dried up indentation of land.
Tonight I went to our usual Friday Night Dine Out group. Tonight's restaurant destination was the Ocean Point Grill in Lewes. On this early August summer evening I decided to join my gay friends for our weekly get together. I walk into the restaurant looking for my friends. No one was there. I tell the owner/manager who is at the cash register "I'm here with the group." He looks at me like I just stepped off of a spaceship. I say "There should be a group meeting here tonight." He says "I know of no group that is meeting here but we have tables if you would like to eat here." Uh oh, I better check my e-mail. I tell the owner/manager that I'm going to check "something." I go outside and bring up my e-mail on my iPhone. There it is, a message from the organizer of the Friday Night Dine Out group. The message says that only me and one other person have responded. He said he didn't reserve a table and if we're interested that we should contact one another. Well, I don't think so. It's another "blind date." I've already had one of those this summer. I'm not up for another. Embarrassed and humiliated that I put myself into this position, I don't respond to the e-mail. I get in my car and leave. I won't do this again.
As regular readers of this blog know, one of the reasons I moved to the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware was to make friends with other older gay men like myself. Since we moved to Delaware in November of 2006, I have met a number of people, both gay and straight. Most of them are nice and pleasant people. A couple of strange ones and one or two real creeps but for the most part, nice folk. However, I've only been able to make one true friend. I will not state his name here but he knows who he is. I have made several really good straight friends. In fact, I've made more straight friends that I have made gay friends.
I've met and know a number of gay friends (all male, lesbians don't want to be friends with gay men no matter how hard I try.) But, like the "pond" in front of Beschle's Furniture Store, the pond is a mile wile and an inch deep. Tonight the pond dried up. Tonight I had a true picture of what my gay friendships are really like here in Gayberry, DE. Nothing.
Now this could all be my fault. I may not be quality material for friendship. I know some gays can be very superficial. Gee, do you think? I remember all too well one of my early friendships. Oh he was the Toast of the Town with Potlucks and Big Involvement in the Gay Community with the local gay organization called Camp Rehoboth, which is really a private club for two longtime lovers whose only goal seems to be raising money for gay slave auctions and gay dances to raise more money all under the guise for "creating a more accepting community for gays." I could go on about that fallacy but that is a subject for another whole posting. Back to my friend (and he knows who he is because he reads this blog...sometimes and will probably post a bitchy comment). Once Mr. Involvement in the Community needed help because of the breakup of his longtime union with his partner and had no place to live, not one and I mean NOT ONE of his circle of friends came forward to help him. I helped him short of inviting him to live in my home which was not possible. I help him move, I helped him find a job, I went out to dinner with him when no one else would. I'm not bragging on myself and I don't expect anything in return but only mention this to illustrate the shallowness of gay friendships here in the East Coast Gay Capital. I don't recall anyone from Camp "Inclusive" Rehoboth busting down his door to help him in his transition from Gay Couple to Gay Single Man and all the trauma that he had to go through in this chapter of his Passage of Life.
I am very fortunate in that I have Bill, my longtime partner. Bill doesn't and won't involved himself in any of these gay friendships because he sees them for what they are, false and shallow. As I said earlier, we have made one friendship since we've been down here and we value that friendship very much. Bill expressed surprise that we have that one friendship. Bill has been around a lot longer (13 years) than I have and he knows how these things work. He was on the gay scene long before me. When we met, he withdrew from the gay social whirl and hasn't regretted it one bit. He has often told me how foolish I am to expect to make any gay friends and apparently he is right. There is no doubt that I felt like a Big Fool tonight standing at that cash register looking for my group of "friends." The laugh was on me. One thing is for sure, it won't happen again.
During my time on this earth I have made many friends. Most of my friends are straight. Some are from my school days, who I still keep in touch with. Some are former friends from work who I also keep in touch with. Of course I have relatives who are friends but most of them keep me at arm's length because I am gay. They still think that is some kind of sickness of illness but they "forgive me" for my "deficiency of character" and accept me in spite of my gayness. I've made some friends in my neighborhood but ironically of the three gay couples in my neighborhood we are not friends. Two of the couples are lesbians and as I said earlier lesbians generally have nothing to do with gay guys unless they want advice on a window treatment. We were friends with the other gay couple in the neighborhood for a short time until I found out one of them was an unapologetic racist who freely uses the "N" word and the other a constant critic who was always belittling us. We couldn't keep that friendship. Just because they were gay doesn't mean we were compatible.
A long time ago I heard the definition of a true friend. It went something like this "A true friend accepts you are, not the way they want you to be." I am fortunate in that I do have some true friends who know me well. They know the Good Me and the Bad Me and they accept me just as I am. They ask nothing of me. They like me for who I am.
Unfortunately, most of the gay people I've met down here either want something from me, want to control me, or don't have time for me because I have nothing to offer to them.
Ironically, one of the main reasons I moved to Delaware (other than the low taxes and I did just get my tax bill today which is the same as it was five years ago), was to be with my one true gay friend that I meet over 50 years ago when we were both serving in the U.S. Army. Unfortunately, a few years ago he started to show signs of dementia. In the past couple of years he has slowly gotten worse to the point that he called me a few weeks ago asking "What night does the Friday Night Dine Out Group meet?" He has no cognitive skills and doesn't remember anything. He still remembers my name but our conversations are always one sided (with me doing all the talking) and minutes after our conversation he doesn't remember what I've said. He may be here in body but his mind is gone. We can't do the things we used to like taking rides, dining out, and just having late night conversations on the phone catching up on the latest gossip.
I know this has been a long post and I offer no apologies. If you're this far in my post than I guess I'm of some interest to you. For some others, I probably have bored you to tears. Well, that is just the way it is.
This morning I went to a local graveyard and took about three hundred pictures with my "friends." When I work in my back yard I'm with my "friends" the birds, bees and plants. When I walk, I'm with my "friend" nature. I have a good friend from my school days that I call on FaceTime in the early morning. He's straight and doesn't discount me as a human being because I just happen to be gay. We always enjoy each other's conversations. I talk to Bill every day. He says I don't talk to him often enough. I tell him that's because if I talk to him too long then he starts with the criticisms and our conversations end in an argument.
Yes, even after forty-seven years together, we still have to work on our relationship. It's not all his fault though, I have a low tolerance point for constant criticism, probably because I had to endure so much growing up from my father but then again, that is a story for another blog posting. How ironic I ended up with a man who is so much like my father.
I have a longtime friend from my workdays at the bank in Philadelphia who asked me once when I wrote a similar post like this "What are you looking for in friends?" He sounded a little bemused when he asked this question because I think he thinks I have a lot of gay friends down here in