|Russ Henman in K-Mart parking lot October 11, 2009|
This morning I've been thinking long and hard about what to post today for the Fourth. Of course the obvious is something patriotic. I post a picture of the flag. Post something about how great it is to live in this country, which for all its faults (and we have plenty) is the best country on this planet. But a recent event keeps intruding in my mind that I feel I have to post. And that is the untimely death of a kind and gentle man named Russell Henman.
I didn't know Russ well but I did know him.
Sunday morning, October 11, 2009 I parked my car in the K-Mart parking lot to wait for the Camp Rehoboth sponsored bus to take me and others to the National Equality March in Washington D.C.
I was early. There was on other car in the parking lot. A big guy got out of his car and walked over to me and introduced himself to me. He said "Hi, I'm Russ." I was somewhat taken by surprise because most of the gay community down here in the Rehoboth Beach area is pretty cliquish and not prone to introduce themselves to a stranger unless that stranger has been prescreened by their friends first.
The first thing I thought was "This guy is trying to pick me up." That's what we gay guys think when a stranger approaches us. Well, he wasn't my type because he was a big "Teddy Bear" kind of guy and a bit on the "gay" side. By the way, I make no apologies for saying someone is "a bit on the gay side." You all understand what I mean. I don't always abide by the current political correctness rules.
After exchanging some small talk I realized that this guy was just being friendly and not on the make. There is a difference. And again, I was surprised because of his open friendly attitude. I liked him.
I asked if I could take his picture. He said "Sure! Here, let me stand beside my car." He posed and I took his picture. I asked him for his e-mail address so I could send the picture to him. He suggested his Facebook account. We became Facebook friends.
That was two years ago. I never saw him in person again but I often saw his postings on Facebook. I could tell from his postings that Russ was a very popular guy. And I knew why, because he was a truly nice guy. No false airs about him. He reminded me a lot of my longtime friend Big Bob.
|Me and my friend "Big Bob"|
Big Bob, who I just returned from a visit this morning, I met when I was in the Army in 1960. We have been good friends ever since. Big Bob was also a big guy (hence the nickname "Big Bob", duh). Although Bob was gay (something I never knew while we were friends in the Army), I wasn't sexually attracted to him nor he to me. However, I did like his personality. Bob was and is a truly nice guy. No false airs about him. Big Bob is the kind of guy who welcomes strangers, just like Russ welcomed me that day in the K-Mart parking lot.
Yesterday, I saw a story on the front page of our local newspaper, The Cape Gazette.