|Peirce College, Philadelphia, PA|
This morning I reconnected with an old friend from my college days in Philadelphia. We both worked at Girard Bank at Broad and Chestnut Streets in center city Philadelphia. After work we trudged up Broad Street to Broad and Spruce and attended night school at Peirce Junior College.
We were both attending college on the G. I. Bill. From 1968 to 1972 we went three nights a week after work. That was a heavy load folks. After I got my associate degree in business management I quit and concentrated on attending to my neglected personal life which meant more time to go to the many gay bars in center city Philadelphia on the weekends rather than working on term papers. Rich, my friend, had loftier goals. He continued on the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania to work for his four year college degree. He succeeded.
He was (and still is) straight with a family (wife and four children) to support. His wife was a traditional stay at home wife. Rich knew I was gay but that didn't bother him. He liked me in spite of my homosexuality. Of course I thought he was cute but any thoughts I had about "enhancing" our friendship I dismissed immediately. I'm not one of those gay guys who harass guys who aren't interested in me. To me it has to be a two way street. Still, I enjoyed the company of this attractive and intelligent man three nights a week.
After we both received our associate degrees our close friendship waned. We didn't work in the same department at the bank which was one of the huge Philadelphia banks. Occasionally I would see Rich in the cafeteria or on the street but our former close friendship was one of those that drifted off into the past.
For years I have exchanged Christmas cards with Rich and his wife Molly. Once, about twenty years ago I ran into Rich at a local hardware store near our homes in Pennsylvania. We both said he would have to get in touch again. Of course we never did. We were both caught up in our day to day lives.
Three years ago I saw a notice in the newspaper where one of Rich's daughters died. The viewing was being held at the funeral home that my family uses. I decided to stop by after work and pay my respects. Rich and his wife were surprised to see me in the line of mourners paying respects to his family. Rich was a little grayer but still the same Rich that I remembered from my friendship with him in the Sixties. We both mentioned again that we would have to stay in touch. And again, of course we never did.
Last month Rich's wife called me on the phone to ask me a question about genealogy. We got to talking and she told me that Rich had retired and why didn't I give him a call. Of course I didn't. Not that I didn't want to talk to him, I'm just still too caught up in my insular life here.
When I got home from work last night I had this message on my phone: "Hello, is the famous Ron Tipton Peirce Junior College graduate? Why, this is amazing and I hope to talk to, unfortunately you're not there. Please call back at 610- ..... and ask for Richard......Bye!"
Listening to the mischievous, mocking, teasing tone of his voice message brought back so many fond memories of our friends lo those many years ago. I put a note in my iPhone to call him the first thing this morning.
At 7:30 am I called Rich. He answered the phone. I didn't identify myself but asked him "Were you still in bed?" He said "No. Who is this?" When I told him "It's Ron!" Rich said "Ah, Ron! How are you?" And you know what folks? I could hear the smile in his voice when he asked me how I was. We had a very enjoyable two hour conversation, catching up with our lives of the past thirty-five years. Folks, it was just like old times. Gentle teasing, bragging, complaining...whatever came to my mind, lots of laughter. Here was someone who wasn't judging me, telling me how to act. Here was a real friend. Here was someone who liked me for who I am, not for who they want me to be.
Six years ago I moved to Delaware. I moved to the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes/Milton area which is heavily populated with the LGBT community. I've tried to make friends with members of this community. I don't know what happened, maybe it's me maybe it's them but I haven't made any friends in that community. I moved to Delaware partly because of the low taxes, milder climate, near the water and slower paced lifestyle. I also thought I would make new friends. I have made new friends but they're all straight. I have made a few gay friends....through my blog. I have made NO friends in this community. And it's not for lack of trying. But you know folks, I am who I am. The friends I have made accept me as I am. I am not perfect. I have my faults (oh yes) but I also am a pretty nice guy. Yes, I actually am. But I'm not a fool or a sucker (no pun intended) no will I be taken for granted, controlled or abused.
After I lost my last so-called gay "friend" (who dismissed me after he took offense to something I wrote in my blog which he thought was directed at him, which even if it was so what?) , I gave up making friends in the LGBT community in this so called Gay East Coast Capital. I find this bunch of gay folks (and most gay folks to be honest) very self-involved, selfish, and super sensitive to imagined slights. Folks, I just don't have the time for this foolishness. I am tired of the silliness.
I don't believe in a God or a super Being but I do believe in a Guardian Angel and mine came through again. Now I have another friend to join my boyhood friend (from third grade) who I reconnected with ten years ago. His name is Larry and he is also straight (which seems to be the only kind of friend who appreciates me as I am). My former boss from my banking days is also my friend (he's straight) as well as another friend from my band days in high school (who is also straight). See a pattern here folks? Yep, I do too.
I would post some photos of my friend but back in those days I didn't take photos (which I regret very much today). However, I will post photos that I will take after Rich and his wife Molly visit me later this month. It sure is nice to reconnect with old friends. This feels good folks.