Thursday, April 04, 2013

Is There Too Much "Me?"

Me - 1959 with my big "schnooz"

For several months now I've had this photo of me that was taken in 1962 in front of the White House.  At that time I was in the Army stationed at Fort George G. Meade, in Maryland.  One weekend some of my Army buddies asked me if I wanted to take a trip to D.C., which was only a few miles away from Ft. Meade.  I said "Sure, why not?"  I had never seen the White House before so this was a first for me.  So here is my photo, in all my 21 years old dorkyness (I think I just made up a word).  


                                      
                 
Me- White House South Lawn - 1962

I've always been intrigued by this picture because it was a time of my life that I gradually became aware of myself as a "regular" guy and not the loser/misfit that my father had always drummed into my head.  Remember that I was raised in a very small Pennsylvania town before the age of TV and social media. My only input about my self-worth was my family; my usually distant father, Mother (who always went along with my father) and my two younger brothers. 
Me during the "bad" years - 1952

 Of course younger brothers being what they are fulfilled their usual role in bringing down big brother, that was expected.  But my father, his constant belittling of me has had a lasting effect on me.  


Me - in my Father's eyes

Now this isn't a "poor me" posting.  I realize many others have had a much worse upbringing than me,  at least I had a father to provide a roof over my head and food on the table, meager though both shelter and food (and clothing) was.  I wasn't sexually abused or physically abused.  Oh, a few belt beatings here and there but none left lasting damage.  They were just "attention getters."  Kids getting beat by a belt was "normal" in the Fifties.  He did punch me once in the jaw, knocking me into the bathtub I was cleaning at the time but I probably deserved that because I embarrassed him in front of a couple of his brothers.  No, this isn't a "poor me" posting but rather an explanation of why I post so many pictures of myself on my blog and have so many in my house.  Not that I need to explain but I will anyway because I felt the need after a dear friend told me I was "full of myself" for referring to a photo of myself as a "good-looking guy."  Actually, my referral was more tongue in cheek but typed words on a screen don't always come across with that nuance.  I was also referring to the fact that the photo was a good photo of the three of us more than I was patting myself on the back.  Hey, at my age any photo that looks halfway decent I'm going to post.


Dorky me - alone and low self-esteem 1953 - legs too long and nose too big

Quite often, when someone comes into our house they take notice of the photos (and a few paintings) of me and jokingly say "Do you have enough pictures of yourself?"  Well, first of all, it IS MY HOUSE and I'll put up whatever damn well I please even if it is Mickey Mouse pictures.  But the reason there are so many pictures of me is a very simple reason, Bill likes me and likes to have pictures of me around.  What can I say?  Ever since I left home and joined the Army and discovered a whole new world outside of Downingtown, Pennsylvania and people who didn't think I was some loser freak of nature, I have gradually developed a sense of self-worth and self-esteem.  


Me - basic training, Ft. Dix, NJ - 1960 - now not the dorkiest guy in Basic Training

One of my biggest fears when I left home and joined the Army, was that everyone would make fun of my big nose.  My father used to call me "Beak."  In fact, I don't ever remember him calling me by my real name, "Ron."  It was always 
"Beak this" and "Beak that."  So it was with a lot of trepidation when I boarded that Trailways bus out of Philadelphia to Fort Dix New Jersey that cold January 27th day 1960.  I kept my head down and tried to hide my nose.  Can you believe it?  It's hard for me to believe that I actually was so petrified about anyone noticing how big my "schnooz" was.  Guess what?  No one noticed.  Yep, not a person said a thing about it.  In fact, I took basic training with a large contingent of Jewish reservists from New York City.  "Weiner" is one guy I remember in particular.  His "schnooz" was TWICE as big as mine.  Viola!  I was saved.  


Still have the big nose but not so self-conscious of it now - 1960

The next three years that I spent in the Army, away from the constant put downs of my father, I came to realize that I was "all right."  In fact, there were times I was actually considered attractive by some, if you caught me at the right angle. 


Me on the right caught at the "right" angle - nose still humongous but fits my face now - 1962
Then after I got out of the Army and entered the gay world for the first time I discovered that I was attracting quite a bit of attention.  This was new for me and, I might say, I enjoyed the attention.  Of course, in the back of my mind was always the thought that I was a phony and was only attractive because I was young, or tall or slim but never, God forbid, because I was actually good-looking.  When negativity is implanted into your mind from a young age such as mine, those negative thoughts never go completely away.


Bill and me 1965
Bill and me 2010



Then I met Bill, who said he was attracted to my long legs.  Yep, I had a 36" inch inseam.  Who knew that was my major asset?  Hey, I'll take whatever I can get.  Thus, I began the "second half" of my life with self-esteem.  I was "okay."  

However, over the years I occasionally encounter the person who will make a snarky remark like "You have enough photos of yourself?" or "You're a bit full of yourself aren't you?" when I mention to make a positive comment about myself.  God, I hope I'm not one of those self-involved narcissists who are so boring.  I've met them and however attractive they were on first impression quickly dispels after I get to know them and realize how narcissistic they are.  Maybe I am one of those people.  But I'll tell you something, I'm never going to downgrade or apologize for being who I am.  


Me - 1983 - still have that nose

I used to have a friend a long time ago.  He was actually a quite attractive man in a "Clark Kent" type of way.  But he was always putting himself down and saying he was "no good" and "unattractive" and "no one likes me" that he actually became unattractive.  He fulfilled his own wish.  Thus, this man who made a good first impression, but once  you talked to him you wanted to get away from him because all he did was bring you down with him.  No, to me that is a person I don't want to be.  


Me, happy with the way I look - 1983 - still got the schnoz

So call me "full of myself."  Hey, this is me.  I like myself and I make no apologies.  


October 27th, 1968 - during my "hottie" period (not that I'm not a "hottie" now - JOKING!@)

I'm getting older now and have long ago lost that youthful, boyish look but you know what?  I'm still young and youthful in my outlook on life.  I see the absurdity of life and can laugh at it.  And believe you me, I do plenty of self-mocking which is actually what I was doing when I said "Look at those two good-looking guys" when referring to a recent photo I posted on my blog of me and two of my dear friends.





By the way, that 1962 photo of me on the south lawn of the White House, it's my background on this blog now, big nose and all. No apologies, it's my blog.


Me with fellow classmate Pat West at my 35th class reunion 1994 - self-esteem intact
Pat and me class 45th class reunion 2004 - self-esteem and schnoz still intact


29 comments:

  1. "I probably deserved that because I embarrassed him in front of a couple of his brothers." - NO YOU DID NOT DESERVE THAT! your father was a bully, pure and simple, just like mine.

    OMB, you are correct in that words do not come across a computer screen like they do in person. I WAS NOT in any way shape or form trying to put you down. as someone who has had (and to a much much lesser extent still has) self-esteem issues, I was trying to keep the mood light-hearted and joking. but I now realize that black-n-white words do not convey a light mood. when I joke about my fat ass, that's my own self-mocking at work.

    PLEASE forgive me, ron, if my comment came atcha in the wrong tone.

    my fat head has now been humbled.

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    1. Anne Marie,

      Of course I realize that you were joking but your comment did hit me as being a conceited, narcissistic snob. I know you didn't mean it that way and I tried to put it behind me but it was bothering me because I am anything but one of those conceited snobs, especially with my background and the way I was raised. I just get very defensive and I can't help it. The only way I can get rid of "that feeling" is to write about it or talk about it with the person who I have the concern with. If I keep it bottled up within me, it poisons my outlook on life. Many times I feel like I'm just one step ahead of the Black Dog and I just don't want to be overtaken.

      I thought that picture of the three of us, which I don't even remember posing for - that's just how good Mark is, was a wonderful picture of ALL OF US. Spo always looks good but I don't, especially most of pictures I saw from the Bloggerpalooza but I didn't say anything about it because I didn't want to be negative. But Mark did take a good picture and I was happy that I didn't look like a tired old man for once. Unfortunately the way I thoughtlessly worded my caption was like you were lucky to have two such good-looking boyfriends. My mistake for which I apologize.

      There, now I have that out of my system. Now for my doctor's appointment tomorrow. Not looking forward to that.

      Ron

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    2. I am glad you wrote about it. I don't know much about your background, I guess.

      I don't remember mark taking that pix either; guess we were distracted by the wonderful spo. :)

      to tell the truth, I don't take a good photo either (I think). I have already dropped an e-mail to mark to ask him about purchasing some photos from the event. you did not come across as a tired old man to my mind.

      "you were lucky to have two such good-looking boyfriends" - hell I had more than 2 that weekend; I had a whole damn room full of them! :) I am a lucky girl indeed to have such nice friends! :)

      love you!

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    3. Anne Marie,

      I like Sassy Bear. I didn't know him before the Bloggerpalooza. I'm glad I met him. He is a delight. That's what I liked about the Bloggerpalooza, we get to met folks and know them better than we ever could just by reading their blogs. I'm hoping new bloggers come to the blogger event next year, including Walt from France and Raybeard from England (?) or Spain. I'm not sure where "Ray" lives. Meeting bloggers face to face is like meeting a movie or TV star isn't it. So thrilling and interesting.

      Ron

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    4. raybeard is from the UK. movie/tv stars are fake; we bloggers are THE REAL THING (no, not coca-cola).

      perhaps tony (CA) and peter (netherlands) and bob (SC) and kelly (VA) and nadege (CA) can join us too!

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    5. Anne Marie,

      I think it would be so cool to have Tony (CA), Peter (Netherlands), Walt (France) and Bob (SC) and especially Nadege (CA) to visit us next year. I don't know Kelly. Someone send me a link to his blog. Cubby and Sassy said they'll be there next year. And of course Spo and Someone will return. Looking good!

      Ron

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    6. Anne Marie,

      We have to get Jon (see below) to come too! How about it Jon?

      Ron

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    7. kelly's blog location is www.ramblingalong.com. kelly and jeff are a kewl couple! and yeah, jon HAS to come up from TX!

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    8. you, todd and I, sassybear and jeffrey, cubby, spo and someone, the cajun, jay, mark and joe - WHAT A PARTY SO FAR!

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    9. Thanks Anne Marie!

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  2. I can always strongly identify with the things that you write about. First of all, you have lots of fantastic old photos and you have every right to post them. It's a shame that your father destroyed your self-image, but mine did the same thing and I never fully recovered.

    My dad was not only physically abusive but also a master at mental abuse. I was very used to being called a "stupid jackass" or a "crazy son of a bitch". He seldom criticized my looks, but he instilled an enormous amount of self-hate.

    You're right when you said that some people misinterpret things that we write on our blogs. The printed word is powerful and sometimes misconstrued. I often write tongue-in-cheek things that are taken too seriously.

    I also sometimes get gentle suggestions that I shouldn't dwell so much in the past. I feel that the past is an EXTREMELY important part of who we are today. It's impossible to ignore or disguard it. As I ponder my past, I learn many things.

    As usual, my comment is too damn long.
    And just for the record - your nose looks fine to me.

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    1. Jon,

      We do have a lot in common, especially the way our fathers treated us when we were growing up. I guess I can consider myself fortunate that my father was never physically abusive to my Mother or me and my brothers. In fact I never heard him raise his voice to my Mother once, of which I am thankful. He knew he was damn lucky to have her as his wife and the mother of his children.

      You're right that we never completely are able to discard the psychological baggage that we grow up with. Try as I might there is always that nagging doubt in my head "You're not good enough and sooner or later people will find out that you're a phony." Of course I know that I'm just as good (as you are too) as anyone else. No better or no worse but just as good. However, I've always wondered what I would have been like had I been raised with a loving and caring father. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't be gay. Not that I'm not happy being gay, I am but I have always wondered.

      You're right, sometimes people do misinterpret what we say in our blog postings because the tone of voice, facial expression or nuance doesn't translate into typed text. Whenever I compliment myself in my blog postings it is always with a wink. I would never presume to be so self-congratulatory by patting myself on the back. Unfortunately though I do tend to become very defensive when I feel I'm being put down in my "own space" like my blog or my home. One thing thing that really galls me is when someone comes into my house as a guest and and makes snide remarks about the pictures of myself hanging on the walls of my house. What they don't realize is that those pictures represent different times in my life and bring back fond memories. LIke you I believe that the past is EXTREMELY important part of who we are today. It is impossible for me to ignore or disregard it. And when I do ponder it, I learn many things. I too know people who tell me "You shouldn't live in the past." Well, I don't LIVE in the past but the past is part of me and understanding it helps me to come to terms with who I am today. And that is one of the main reasons why I blog Jon. Self-therapy, trying to figure out what makes me tick and how I can function in this sometimes difficult world.

      And just a note, your comments are never too long Jon. I always appreciate your comments. They are informative, thoughtful and respectful. We may have differing political views (which I respect because I used to have those same views) but we are much alike, you and I.

      Ron

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  3. I don't know how anyone could ever say you are unattractive or ever have been. Possibly it was your father that had the problem, were you an outlet for his anger or self-esteem issues?

    Regardless, it was a nice post...thank you again for baring your soul for us to know even better.

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    1. Nate,

      Yes, now I realize that it was my father who had the self-esteem issues. Plus he was very jealous over my closeness to my Mother. This was something I didn't recognize when I was much younger.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Ron

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  4. I don't mean to be a pest but I wanted to add a few things to my previous comment. First, I noticed a typo (what, only one??). I meant to say "discard", not "disguard". You mentioned that your father was probably jealous about your closeness with your mother. The same was true with my father. I was always extremely close to my mother and my dad resented it.

    I'm sure that going into the Army helped you immensely with your self-esteem and self-worth. I had nowhere to go, so I immersed myself in the Hollywood scene - which was both good and bad. For some strange reason gay men were always attracted to me and (like you) I enjoyed the attention. Way back then, I was the stereotypical "blonde surfer type" and learned to use it to my advantage. Also, I'm positive that I was searching for a father figure because I was very often attracted to older men. When I was 24 I had an affair with a 55 year old man(he owned a famous restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard).

    I've finally reached the point where I can't find men older than myself (there's humor in there somewhere....).

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    1. Jon,

      You can never be a pest. Never. You are a sweet, genuine, true soul and I always like hearing from you.

      Yes, going into the Army did wonders for my self-esteem. I was even promoted early to assistant platoon sergeant, which was a support role for the platoon sergeant. "Support" type jobs has been my profession my whole adult life. The Army recognized my value and changed me tremendously. Joining the Army was one of the best decision I ever made in my whole life.

      Like you, I've always been attracted to older men. Rarely have I been attracted to a younger man, although it does happen more often now that I am an "older" man. You said it, "I've finally reached the point where I can't find men older than myself......" Yes, I see the humor there. I'm there now myself.

      I can see why gay men were attracted to you; "blonde surfer type" that you were/are. Most gay guys I know the blond surfer type was their ideal. I've always been attracted to brown haired, bearded guys. When I was younger if I saw a bearded guy I was almost always have an arousal.

      I know my father resented my closeness to my Mother. He even resented pets who were closer to her because when he found that out he always got rid of that cat or dog. He would only have pets who took to him first. My father was a very selfish man. But he did provide for us, for awhile anyway. He "retired" early at 51 and my Mother went to work to support the family. He died in 2000 at 80 years of age.

      Always good to hear from you Jon. You could never be a pest, believe me.

      Ron

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  5. Over the years of reading your blog, I've always been struck by how photogenic you are in all of your photos, at any age. Also, you have such a beautiful smile! You are now a handsome older gentleman but the photos of the younger Ron prove to me that you were smokin' hot..... EXTREMELY handsome.

    I'm not surprised that you got a lot of attention from all the gay guys. And while your looks attracted them in the first place, I have no doubt that it was your intelligence and sweet personality which kept them there.

    And I really don't understand all this talk about your "too big" nose. It looks great! A perfectly nice, masculine nose which suits your face. In some circles (such as in the world of business), it would be called a "power nose" and would be considered an asset. A dainty button nose is just not manly.

    I wish you the best of luck with your doctor's appointment tomorrow!!

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    1. Buddy Bear,

      Thank you very much for your generous compliments. One of the nicest surprises of my life was after I got out of the Army and went to my first gay bar and I received favorable attention from more than a few guys. That was a new experience for me. Actually, a very delightful experience. I don't think it ever went to my head, especially when there were so many other good-looking guys around with bigger muscles, deeper voices and swagger that I never possessed. But, as an older gay friend of mine (now gone but spent his whole life in the closet) said when I teased him about being so popular with the ladies and why he never married he said "Ron, I had my moments." I've always remembered quote because now I can say the same thing, "I have had my moments" and I feel very fortunate to have had them.

      Thank you for remembering my doctor's appointment tomorrow. I am a bit nervous about it. Bill's now also having issues. We're falling apart here. Some of the "benefits" of being older.

      Ron

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  6. What's wrong with your nose? I like it.

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    1. Jeff,

      I like my nose now too. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that it was such a big issue when I was growing up. When you're a kid and that's all you heard from your father, one tends to be brainwashed into believing it. I guess I wanted him to like me so much that I felt I disappointed him by not being perfect. Joining the Army and getting away from that environment was the best thing that ever happened for my self-esteem. One of my biggest suprises that my nose wasn't an issue. In fact, no one noticed it.

      Ron

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  7. "I'm getting older now and have long ago lost that youthful, boyish look..." Sez you. The candor of that smile is still boyish, Ron.

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    1. Geo,

      Aren't you sweet? You made me smile with your comment. Thank you.

      Ron

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  8. Randy in NEB.2:54 AM

    Ron, First off hope everything goes OK with you tomorrow. And hoping Bill is alright too! Hey I like your nose too, I didn't even see wrong with it. But you should seen my big ears, once one kid in ninth grade was giving me crap about my ears, flicking them from behind. I hit him with an open fist. I think thats the only time I ever hit somebody.LOL. I also have some random thoughts. Reading your post reminds of that OneDirection song,(yeah I listen to some of their songs!) "You don't know you're beautiful." Also if you're not going to be for you, who will be? And another quote I like is from Dr. Seuss,"Be who you are and say what you feel,because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Now get your self heathly, and if everything falls into place properly I'll see you and everyone at Bloggerpalooza 2014. One last thing, lovin' the shirtless picture with you sportin' a stache, very HAWT! Randy.

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    1. Thank you Randy! You made me smile this dreary, rainy morning, an hour before my medical appointment. I never heard that Dr. Seuss quote "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who don't mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." So true!

      And by the way, your reaction to that kid who was flicking your ears....that would have been my reaction too. In fact I have done that.....three times in my life!

      Really looking forward to meeting you at next year's Bloggerpalooza Randy.

      Ron

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    2. ooooooooooooooh, another boyfriend to meet! WOO HOO!

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    3. Anne Marie,

      Randy seems very nice.

      Ron

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    4. yeah; now all he needs is a blog!

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  9. This is a very creative blog. What brought me here was typing 1959 teen. I love vintage photography. Somehow led me here. The picture of you in 1953 captioned dorky me, low self esteem kinda broke my heart. You look so handsome and reading about your father belittling you, seems to me he had the low self esteem.

    I can relate because I felt this way when I was in my earlier teen years in middle school. heart break, suffering and depression. Im 22 now and a lot better.

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    1. Nick,

      Hi and thank you for your comments. I have a LOT of vintage photography. My only regret at this time of my life is that I didn't take more photos when I was younger. But back in the Fifties, photography was very expensive, especially for a poor teen like me whose only income was about $5.00 a week and I spent most of that on comic books and candy.

      You're right about my father. I now realize he was the one with low self-esteem. He also belittled my brothers but he was especially tough on me I guess because I was so close to my Mother and he was jealous.

      I am glad to hear that your are a lot better now after having going through some bad times. I know the term is becoming a cliche but "it gets better" is true. Proof of that is the fact that I got married last week to my partner of 49 years. That was a long engagement but our life is definitely better now.

      Do you have a blog? You should consider doing one. It is great self therapy plus your experiences may help someone else.

      My best to you.

      Ron

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