Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Out of Gas!

Emergency gas delivery this morning - thank goodness!

This morning I awoke to discover I was out of gas. No, not THAT kind of gas but propane gas to heat the house.

Bill (who gets up earlier than I do) informed me "the heater's not working."  I noticed that there was a chill in the house.  So here we go, more drama.  Already today I have scheduled to have the Safelite Autoglass repairman come and replace my damaged window shield.  What else can happen?

First things first, heat.  I call my propane gas company with is appropriately named "Poore's Propane" (what you are after you pay the gas bill).  I get a women on the phone who I can hardly understand.  She talking low and has that "girl" accent (squeaky) and a southern Delaware accent.  The Perfect Storm.

She advises me to check the meter on the buried tank outside. The cold outside.  Meter?  Where is that?  Another learning curve for Ron.  

I go outside (haven't eaten breakfast yet, I love these emergencies while I'm still half asleep in the cold), with my portable phone and look to open the lid to the propane gas tank.  Still trying to decipher Miss Valley Girl, I see a meter.  I twist my head and see that that the arrow is pointing to 5%.  Ummmmmm, she says it should be at least 50%.  Well, la de da, what do you know?  I'm out of gas.

She tells me she will put in an emergency call and the service man will be out this morning.  I HOPE SO.  The service man from Safelite Autoglass repair is coming out this afternoon to replace my cracked window shield. Thank goodness I screwed that appointment up yesterday because I had originally schedule for that guy to come out this morning.  I have a nice sized driveway but it's not big enough for both a propane gas truck and the Safelite van.  Mr. Needs a Lot of Service guys here.

I go back into the house and have breakfast and try to stay warm.  Thank goodness it wasn't really cold outside or there was snow.  The temperature this morning was 36 degrees.  Inside the house it was about 60 degrees but dropping.  Definitely chilly.

Another "thank goodness": I'm glad this didn't happen when I was out in Los Angeles which is where I will be next week.  Bill doesn't know what to do or who to call in situations like this.  I keep things running around here. My default position in life, Mr. Operations Guy. Some people are rock musicians, some others con artists insurance salesmen. Me, I keep the clocks running.

So the heat is on now folks and feeling mighty good.  I await my Safelite auto repairman while I try to get caught up on my e-mails and bill paying and blog entries.  

Just another day in the Life of Ron folks.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gossip Magazines

Oh yes, I'm one of those people who read the supermarket gossip trash rags. Guilty as charged.  I've been doing reading them for years.  

In fact, I'm so bad I subscribe to these totally useless magazines.  Only two though:

The National Enquirer 

Both are published by the same publisher. Both out of Florida.  Both total trash.  

Now we all love good gossip.  Admit it, you do too even though some of you won't admit it.  There was a time perhaps that these magazines actually provided good gossip.  However, that's not the case now.  Ever try to read NE's Mike Walker?  He's almost unreadable with his cutsie poo spelling of English language words like "spy witness" and getting in a tizzy about who is gay and who is not (aren't we over the "gay" thing yet for being legitimate gossip)?

These magazines stopped producing good gossip years ago. Now they specialize in appealing to the worst of the Obama haters by saying he is:

A womanizer
A Muslim
A racist
A Kenyan

Almost every other issue has him and Michelle on the verge of separating.  Has him flirting with other women or having affairs with them.  Then in some issue they refer to his gay past.  Hey National Enquirer!  Make up your mind.  Either Obama is a womanizer or he's gay . . . can't be both.  We get it, you're appealing to your lowest denominator audience.

Then there are the issues where Camilla (Prince Charles' wife) hates:

The Queen
Prince Charles
Mickey Mouse 

I made the last one up.  But wait, the NE will probably make that charge too.

Every issue I plow through hoping for a bit of true, juicy gossip but the most you'll get out these rags is who is having lunch with who (that's gossip?)  Or outright lies.  Apparently the English Royalty and President Obama are fair game and unlikely to sue these sorry ass magazines unlike celebrities who will sue.

Truth be told I get some of my best (and juiciest) gossip from a favorite blogger of mine, Bob of "I Should Be Laughing".  And he's free!

What really did me in with these magazines and why I'm letting my subscription run out is now the ads are creeping in.  At one time the NE's last two pages were ads.  Now it's the last nine pages.  Before you know it, the ads will take over like they've taken over my Vanity Fair magazine.  And I'm letting that subscription run out too.  

For all the money they charge for their subscription there was an unwritten understanding that the mag wouldn't be ad choked but greed sometimes knows no bounds.  

Next up is my consideration for canceling my cable subscription.  Ads are taking over there too.  Whatever happened to the proposition when pay TV first came into being?  Remember what they promised?

You pay for TV and you won't have to see the ads. 

Ha!  I can go turn on my TV now and what usually comes up first?  You're right, ads.  

What is it that our former illustrious president said?  

Random Thoughts

Never a dull moment around here folks.  This morning the Safelite guy came around and took a look at my cracked window shield and told me it would "never pass inspection."  Thank you very much.  The window shield has to be replace.  That's going to cost me $325.00.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that he can come by tomorrow morning to replace the window shield.  I will say one thing, I am pretty impressed with the efficiency that Safelite is handling my little problem.  

On the health front:  two of my friends are down now because of their health problems. My one friend (whose name I will not mention but regular followers of this blog know who I'm talking about) was AWOL from his blog for over a week.  I was beginning to get concerned that the worst happened.  Then I read his blog post this morning.  He's back in the hospital (Beebe).  Poor guy, he's practically been living there for the past year.  I am amazed at the way he is handling his health crises.  I know this sentiment is trite and a cliche but he truly is an inspiration to all of us.  Would that I would be the same if I was in his situation.  

My other friend, who was discovered on the floor of his home immobilized (could't use his legs) several months ago, is now at his home undergoing physical therapy to get the use of his legs back.  He cannot drive.  He has somebody come in three days a week to help him with his physical therapy so he can get the use of his legs back.  I talked to him on the phone Saturday and asked him "What do you do all day at home?"  He answered "What do you think I do?"  This is a guy who has no interest in anything other than his job and cruising around.  The job is out and his cruising days are long over. I think he is handling his health crisis pretty well except for the fact that he is very bitter.  Can't say I blame him but the difference between the way he is handling his situation and my other friend is very noticeable.  I don't fault either of them but I wonder how I would handle mine.  That's why I wish, when my time comes, I just pass away in my sleep. But we really don't get to choose do we?  Unless we take matters into our own hands, and I think I'm too chicken to do that.

My friend Pat's birthday is today.  My very youthful friend Pat is 66 years old.  Hard to believe.  What a year he's had since his retirement last year.  He met me.  Talk among yourselves now.  

Almost a week to go until I get on the big bird flying out of Tel Aviv Israel to catch in Philly for my flight to Los Angeles.  Am I ready?  I'm as ready as I'll ever be.  I still have this "little problem" of the side effects of my prostate cancer radiation.  Not to be too gross but I will have to take an um . . . "Fleet" to make sure I don't have an accidenton the plane.  And I remember those days when I could come and go as I please and not have to worry about an . . . accident.  Just more of the "fun" things about getting older.

I'm taking Bill to the greasy spoon (not really, just not fou fou) restaurant in Milton this afternoon for lunch.  We have been going to the new fou fou restaurant in Milton but decided not to go there today because I'm always cold there and the food, while good (not to Bill's taste though) is about double in the price at the dumpy restaurant's price.  But Bill likes the non fou fou restaurant.

New Year's?  I have nothing planned other than to work at the hotel . . . again.  No complaints here.  I get paid double time and the folks are (almost) always nice.  Not like when I worked at the Hampton Inn in Lionville, PA.  Lot of drunk kids partying there.  I think every New Year's, of the four years I worked there, I had to call the police to calm the punks down.  Last time they made a couple of arrests.  Ah, the good times.  Thankfully the guests at the staid hotel where I work now are more sedate.

I'm still watching "The Wire" from my Netflix DVD rentals.  Oh how I love that show.  I like the realism.  For once in a TV or Hollywood movie the drug dealers aren't blonde blue-eyed Nordic types that Hollywood casts for fear of offending and reinforcing certain racial stereotypes.  Not that there aren't blond blue-eye Nordic drug dealers but come one, inner city Baltimore (or Philly, or Washington D.C. or even our hallowed Rehoboth Beach - check out the activity in West Rehoboth Beach) - you just ain't going to see a Liam Hemsworth selling drugs.  You're going to see an Omar.  

Have a great day folks!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Deadest Week of the Year

The week after Christmas and before New Year's is the deadest week of the year.  I hate it.  

This is the week of the "lists" of the . . . uh "Ten Best Biggest News Stories of the Year" and such.  BORING.  What this week is actually is the week when most of the TV peeps take off and the TV stations bring out the backup crews to run BORING stories like the aforementioned list. Even the politicians take off.  Again, I don't fault them.  They're human too (well, most of them anyway - Michelle Bachmann I suspect is a robot). They too have families, such as it is.  

One thing that is really annoying me this year (tell us Ron) is the CONTINUING  "HO! HO! HO!" Santa Claus commercials.  Give us a break advertisers!  We've been hearing "HO! HO! HO!" since before Labor Day.  God, I am SO SICK of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and seeing that car with the big red bow on the top.  I don't even know what the make of that car is, which just goes to show you how bad a commercial that is.

So, instead of using TV as my background wallpaper, I'm reduced to playing the Beautiful Music station on my DIREC-TV whilst I feed my face (breakfast, lunch and dinner).  The one saving grace I have this time of year is that I'm watching a new DVD series from my Netflix rentals.  "The Wire".  Oh I DO love this series.  I was going into withdrawal after binge watching "Breaking Bad."  Thank goodness I have a new diversion.  Everyday day, when darkness descends on the Delaware landscape, I eat dinner then retreat to the Tipton Cinema (my bedroom with my 60 inch flat screen TV and surround sound system) and immerse myself in the corrupt and very interesting world of Baltimore drug trade, dock activity and police mechanizations.  I LOVE IT!  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

Now that I have your attention let me ask you this question:  what makes you happy?

I'm reading a book now called "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion"  It's written by that well known atheist Sam Harris.  While I don't consider myself an atheist (I cannot say with certainty that there isn't a Greater Power), I do consider myself a Spiritualist (or whatever that is).

I just started reading this book a few days ago and I am not promoting this book but Mr. Harris did make some statements that hit home with me to wit:

"Some people are content in the midst of deprivation and danger while others are miserable despite having all the luck in the world." 

Coincidentally I just finished reading a book about Johnny Carson by his former lawyer.  Like so many celebrity biographies I read, I am always amazed at how people gifted with good looks, talent and luck struggle to find true happiness.  The new book I am starting to read is a biography of Marilyn Monroe.  Of course we all know how that story ended.  There was Marilyn, one of the most beautiful women in the world.  Talented, gifted and adored by millions but unsatisfied and despondent.  

Now okay, I'm going to make a quick turn and make this about me (it is my blog after all).  I grew up in poverty.  I know many of my readers also grew up in poverty so I'm not saying I was a special case or am I eliciting sympathy.  "Just stating the fact ma'am" as Sergeant Joe Friday would say.

I didn't grow up in extreme poverty but I do remember being hungry (not starving) for most of my childhood.  One summer I got into a lot of trouble with my father after I had returned from a two week sojourn in the country with relatives. He was angry at me because I had told my hosts "Oh eggs!  I never have eggs at home for breakfast."  I didn't say that to embarrass him but only because I was excited to have eggs for breakfast.  At our $22 a month, roach infested second floor apartment at 122 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, "Pop" was the only one who got eggs for breakfast.  And meat?  Like bacon, sausage or ham?  You got to be kidding.  However, we did get scrapple (look it up).  

When I returned home from my stay "in the country" one of the first things I heard was "What's the matter with you?! You make it sound like we starve you!"  Umm . . . well YOU do get the eggs and bacon and we get (the kids, me and my two brothers) the margarine (Pop only got the butter at our table) and saltine crackers.  

Oh folks, again I am veering way off the subject as I often do when I talk about "Pop" and growing up. The point I want to make is that even though my childhood wasn't a "Father Knows Best" or "Leave it to Beaver" childhood, I did have a happy childhood.  I had my little friends and I had my little adventures.  In fact, I have often mentioned to friends of mine if I had a choice of any childhood, I would do mine all over again.

One thing about my father, he didn't beat us.  Well, not too much anyway.  Just the usual belt strapping for misbehavior but nothing over the top and definitely no scars like he carried with him on his back for his whole life when his father beat him bloody with a belt. 

But to me the biggest disappointment of my childhood (and maybe something that I would like to have a do over) was being told by my Mother that "We're not going to send you to college. If you want to go you'll have to do it yourself."  Of course at that time I had next to zero self-confidence, having being raised that I was "stupid, weird looking, and lazy."  When you grow up in a small town and are constantly put down by your emotionally distant father, you tend to believe what he says.  There was NO POSITIVE reinforcement as to my self-worth. NONE.  NADA. ZERO.  

I may have mentioned this before but it bears mentioned again, I was so self-conscious when I left home at age eighteen to join the Army (I had no other options at that time), I kept looking down while riding the Trailways bus from Philadelphia to Fort Dix, New Jersey to begin my basic training in the Army.  Why was I looking down?  Well, when you're called "Beak" by your father you're quite conscious of your nose.  I thought I had a deformity and didn't want the other guys on the bus making fun of me. Much to my surprise non one did.  And by the time I arrived at the Reception Company (another whole story) at Ft. Dix I saw I had plenty of company of similarly scared to death young men who were very self conscious.  Eventually, my self awareness of my "deformity" receded in the background as I attempted to adjust to my new life away from home.  

A pause here, boy did I ever stray from my original intent in this blog posting.  Let me try to get back on track.  

Growing up as I did, with all the disadvantages (as many of you had also), there were two things always paramount on my mind,  my survival and finding happiness.  Again, my goals weren't all that unique, I'm sure many of you also aspired to those same two goals.  Of course I had an extra challenge because I was "different" (gay).  I had that burden too if I was going to survive.

Well, I did survive.  Basic training was close at times (I boloed - didn't pass the rifle qualification).  But I did survive.  One of my biggest surprises years later (and disappointments) was my Mother casually mentioning "You know Ronnie, Pop was always surprised that you made it through Basic Training."  WHAT? I was shocked at her statement.  I asked her "Did Pop think I would fail?"  She said "Yes."  I told her "(which I almost was once when I mishandled a hand grenade).  And then there was the time I went berserk and tried to kill a bully who was tormenting me through my first four weeks of Basic Training (a story for another blog posting, if I haven't already posted it).

In my mind there was no way I would fail.  It never entered my mind.  Just as it never entered my mind that I wouldn't someday find true happiness.  

Oh sure, there are conventional ways of finding true happiness.  I tried those ways (monogamy) but it didn't work for me.  Just as I tried to follow my spiritual path and "go to church" (as dictated by our culture).  That didn't work either as I sat in the pulpit and listened to a Pentecostal pastor go purple in the face and literally foam at the mouth as he screamed at his congregation "You're all sinners! You were born in sin and you'll die in sin!"   He was enjoying himself way too much spewing out his hatred of everyone and that's when, right then and there (I was twelve years old) that I decided organized religion ("man made" I call it) wasn't for me. For you?  Fine.  I don't discriminate but for me?  No way. I don't need that hatred and hypocrisy.  

The three years I was in the Army I "came out" so to speak as a gay man.  Nothing sexual (again, going against the prevailing cultural assumption that all gay men who "come out" are swinging from the chandeliers in bacchanal sexual orgies).  No, I made gay friends (non-sexual).  I came into my own being and gradually gain self-respect when I realized I wasn't as bad as my father and the church told me I was.  I was "normal", or as normal as a tall, skinny, non-college trained, big nosed, still lacking a lot of self confidence, kid could be.  

When I got out of the Army I moved to Pittsburgh. Two reasons, one of my friends in the service (he was in the Air Force and had gotten out a few months before I did) lived near Pittsburgh (Elizabeth).  Also, I wanted to come out (find someone to fall in love with) but not embarrass my family.  I stood more chance of that happening in a big city like Pittsburgh than I did in a small rural town thirty-seven miles west of Philadelphia.  

My friends Sal and Howard took me to my first gay bar in a small town right outside Pittsburgh.  I cannot remember the name of the bar nor the name of the town (it will come to me) but I definitely remember my feeling when I first walked into that establishment and saw men dancing . . . together.  I felt like I had finally come home.  I was . . . happy.  

Pittsburgh, PA at night

I got a job in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel) and a small, one room furnished efficiency apartment (for $8.00 a week!)  I did meet somebody in Pittsburgh but I was so untutored in the Ways of the World that I eventually left.  It seemed that everyone I met wanted to go to bed, not just hug and kiss and be together (little did I know . . then).  

Street in Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA where I lived in 1963

I returned home to Downingtown.  Got another job at a steel scrap yard (Lipsett Steel Products in Coatesville, PA) as an accounts payable clerk.  I would work the week and once a month (all I could afford), my friends Ed and Ron (Ed from high school and Ron from my Army days) would pick me up for a trip to look for Mr. Perfect in the Philadelphia gay bar scene.  I had a goal, I was looking for love and happiness.  

It took me a little over a year (from April 1963 to July of 1964) to meet my Prince Charming.  Of course that would be my spouse, life partner, buddy and very good friend Bill (who is only a few feet away from me as I type this putting a puzzle together).  

It wasn't an immediate connection between Bill and me.  As a mater of fact I wasn't attracted at all to him from the first time he sent me a drink across the bar via his good friend Jerry the Bartender.  I had seen Bill in the bar (The Westbury at 15th and Spruce Streets in Philly) many times, playing Skeet Ball with his pals and hangers on.  For you see Bill was Mr. Popularity in those days and I wasn't about to become yet another notch on his holster.  

Over the course of the next three months he would send me drinks (gin and tonic - .85 cents - those were the days) across the bar.  Little did Bill know that my friends Ron and Ed and I would mock him at his foolishness in thinking I was that "easy."  Then came the night I was in the bar by myself.  It was a rainy Saturday night.  Bill sent The Usual across the bar via Jerry the Bartender.  When Jerry placed the drink down before me (I never expected it nor actually wanted it but I was on limited funds so I didn't reject the drink) I looked up and nodded and smiled in acknowledgment.  Bill smiled back.

Then a novel thought entered my head.  Why not thank him?  My friends weren't with me to make fun of me. I could get away with polite (which was my nature) and at least thank him.  But believe me, I had NO intention of anything else.  For you see, Bill wasn't MY TYPE.  Good-looking?  Asolutely.  Popular?  Absolutely.  But I was attracted to smaller guys (5'8" to 5'9" and in the 140-150 lb. range - oh I know, I am SO subjective). I also didn't like the Mr. Popularity Guys who got anything they wanted.  I was looking for a guy more like myself; humble, self-effacing yet cute, witty, sense of humor and not aggressive.  That wasn't my initial impression of Bill.

So I got up from my usual seat at the bar and would my way through the mid sized crowd on that rainy Saturday night in July of 1964 and walked up to Bill.  He saw me headed his way and was waiting for me, with a smile on his face. I thought "Oh sure, you think you reeled one in" but I did want to thank him for his generosity over the past three months. 

I said "Thank you for the drink."  He smiled at me and said "You're welcome."  And much to my surprise he wasn't all over me as had so often been my experience in a gay bar before when I attempted to be civil with someone.  

Long story short, I found Bill to be a most pleasant gentleman.  Not at all the onerous person that I thought he would be. 

We became friends that night.  I had taken the train to Philadelphia that weekend and was staying at the YMCA ($14 a night - those were the days! That location is a fancy hotel now charging a LOT MORE than $14 a night). He wanted me to go back with him to his apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey.  He said he would drive me home to Coatesville the next day, sixty miles away.  And for the next six months he would pick me up in Coatesville (one hour away from Pennsauken, New Jersey) and drive me to his apartment for the weekend and drive me back the following Sunday.  SIX MONTHS.

He wanted me to move in with him.  I demurred because he wasn't the Prince Charming I was looking for.  He wasn't MY TYPE.  Then came the one Saturday we were sitting in a restaurant and I told him that I couldn't move in with him because I wanted to "be free."  He said "You move in with me and you can go out as often as you want, just be discreet."  And that my friends and faithful followers is how our relationship has lasted these past fifty years.  

Oh sure, there have been a few speed bumps on my Road to Happiness but overall, the journey has been wonderful, exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes painful but well worth it.  I have survived and,I think, achieved a measure of happiness that has eluded so many people.  I have found that fame and fortune doesn't guarantee happiness.  I have found that even God given,incredible talent doesn't guarantee happiness.  What I have found that no matter what your humble circumstances, if you have respect for yourself, and are true to yourself and treat others as you wish to be treated, happiness will come your way.  And that happiness doesn't always include having that certain someone in your life.  What that happiness, I believe, is that you live in the now and appreciate everything you have.  Don't live for tomorrow or in the past.  While you can appreciate the past and relive fond memories, and look forward to the future, your life is now and that's what you should live to achieve happiness.  

As I have said many times before in this blog, if I should become deathly ill tomorrow and begin my final suffering before I depart this earth or even if I should die suddenly I will die happy (as long as those pain killers are taking effect.)  

My life's journey has taken a very interesting path.  Some detours and some wrong roads taken but overall, after a lifelong pursuit of happiness, I have found that Road to Happiness.  And the funny thing is that it was here all along.  I just didn't know it.  I hope you, my dear reader, find that same road.  And for those of you who have found that road, isn't it great? 

So one doesn't have to be a fabulously talented, rich and beautiful movie star or a rock star to achieve happiness.  The person of the most humble means,  both in talent and money, can achieve happiness.  Look around you, isn't that what everyone is looking for?  To be happy?  So if you're happy with your cats (or dogs), children, spouse, friends or your job; live that happiness in the moment which is now.  This is it folks.  There is nothing else after we depart (my opinion of course) so make the most of it.  

After I'm long gone, and surely that day will come, someone will read this blog posting that I am posting on this day, december 27th, 2014 and say "That Ron Tipton, he sure did know what he was talking about."  And indeed, I do.  One happy guy here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Day After

Pooped Santa

Ah yes, "The Day After."  And we begin the countdown to the number of shopping days until Christmas . . . next year.  

Well folks, for me personally?  I'm relieved that all this Christmas extravaganza is done.  While I like some parts of Christmas, the gross and obscene over commercialization of Christmas is such a turn off for me.  Each year the Christmas ads seem to begin even earlier.  And now I notice that the Christmas ads continue even AFTER Christmas day.  When I turned on the TV this morning the first thing is saw was one of those "HO! HO! HO!" Santa ads.  For Godsakes advertisers, will you give us a break?  I turned the TV off. Only to get a phone call on my cell phone with a recorded message saying "Congratulations! You won!"  Yeah, right.  I'll add that to my BIGGEST LIES EVER list?  By the way, want to read that list?  I used to go by the THREE BIGGEST LIES which were:

  1. The check is in the mail
  2. I gave at the office
  3. You've won!
By the way, I'm veering of the subject of my "The Day After."  Oh well, this is going to be fund.  More BIGGEST LIES

  1. All you have to do is relax, this won't hurt
  2. Of course I'll respect you in the morning
  3. I promise, I won't tell anyone
Like those?  Man oh man, I have MORE:

  1. It's not you, it's me
  2. But officer, I only had two beers
  3. I'm late because the alarm didn't go off
I'm on a roll folks. I'm actually smiling as I pull these Biggest Lies out of my . . . well, you know what:

  1. This is my first time
  2. One size fits all
  3. Size doesn't matter
And here are some of my personal favorites (from experience)

  1. There will be no changes after the merger
  2. I'm from the government, I'm here to help you
  3. You can trust me
I'm still rolling folks, still on a roll:

  1. It's delicious but I can't eat another bite
  2. It's only a cold sore
  3. I'm in my late thirties
Finally, I have to end this madness.  Talk about veering off course during a blog posting.  This was supposed to be all about my Day After.  By the way, I called my insurance company about my cracked window shield.  Seems I have a $500 deductible and they estimate the cost will be $343 so this is on me.  I called Safelite and they will be out here Monday.  Stay tuned for the excitement.  In the meantime I leave you with three more BIGGEST LIES IN THE WORLD (and the list keeps expanding):

  1. I used to be a model
  2. I never paid for it and never will (uh huh)
  3. You don't look a day over 40
Have a great Day After folks!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Bill and Ron's 2014 Christmas cards - Our Gift to each other (no money - it's the thought that counts)

Good morning folks!  I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas Day.  Bill and I had our usual Christmas Day which is much like all of our other days, except that we exchange Christmas cards.  This is our special tradition.

Years ago I used to do up Christmas big time when I had a nephew and four nieces who were young and greedy for gifts.  Also I did the Christmas gift thing at work and with friends but I gave up that "tradition" years ago.  I felt like I was being pushed by the commercialization of Christmas to to the Christmas Shopping Thing so I got out of that rat race and never have regretted it since. I'm not knocking those traditions for others but it didn't work for us.

I got in late last night from work at the hotel.  Only five rooms rented; four couples and one single man.  I passed out Christmas gifts made by the owner of the hotel (two candy cane sleds filled with four candy bars and wrapped with a festive Christmas ribbon).   

Twas a quiet night at the hotel, which was just fine with me. When I left in the drizzly rain and mild temperatures I heard folks singing "Silent Night" at the nearby St. Peter's Episcopal Church.I took an impromptu video to share forever the true spirt of Christmas.  Even though I'm not formally religious I do (sometimes) get caught up in the drama of Christmas.  Hey, maybe there is something to Christmas after all. Don't quote me though.

This morning I took us for a drive.  One of the things I love about Christmas is how the roads are deserted.  Why can't they be like that all the time?  Never mind, I know the answer to that question.  

Usually on Christmas day I gather up old bread, cereal, crackers or whatever else (sliced fat off of my last beef stew recipe) for the sea gulls at Rehoboth Beach.  They're always there waiting for me and they DO appreciate my Christmas "gift" to them.  

On the way down to the beach I found a little unexpected gift of my own.  The top of my window shield is cracked.  I couldn't believe it.  A small crack but still cracked.  Great.  All the years I've been driving and never a cracked window shield.  Now for all that aggravation of arranging to getting it fixed.  I'll call my insurance company tomorrow to see if they'll cover it.  They'll be surprised to hear from me because I've never called them.  My luck they probably won't cover it.  Oh well, here we go again.

I hope everyone reading this meandering, Christmas Day blog of mine is having a wonderful Christmas Day themselves and don't received any unexpected "gifts" like I received this morning. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Me getting ready to visit my friends Bill and Janet and their family - Christmas 2003

Tis Christmas Eve already folks, and nary a mouse is scurrying around the house (I hope not!)  

Last night was a little busier that usual at the hotel.  Room heater not working, no WiFi signal, where to park . . . the usual.  Kept interrupting my nap time (not serious hotel owner if you're reading this blog). SMILE.

At this time of year I remember years past when I was invited to my old school friend's house for Christmas dinner.  Bill and his wife Janet put out the perfect "Father Knows Best" Christmas celebration.

Opening presents at the Brookover's Christmas Day family celebration - 2003

I've included some photos of the last Christmas Day I spent at their house in 2003.  Again, I am surprised at how fast time goes by.  Remembering that Christmas, it only seems like three or four years ago. Eleven years!  I can just imagine where I'll be eleven years form now; probably six feet under in my plot at the Northwood Cemetery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  It's ready folks, just a matter of time before I make that Final Appointment.  But for now let's remember fond memories of Christmases past.  

Me with my friend Ruth Brookover at the Brookovers' Christmas Day Dinner -check out my Christmas shirt (I still have it) 2003

Also, this time of year I think of my Mom.  Today would have been her 91st birthday.  Happy birthday Mom.

My Mom, Betty Tipton,  the last year of her life - 2010

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmases Past

Me in full work drag - Girard Bank Christmas Party 1979

At this time of year I often think of Christmases past.  This year I remember Christmas 1979.  

I worked at Girard Bank in center city Philadelphia, directly across from City Hall.  I was a trust operations manager (made sure the trust checks went out on time and were calculated properly - a job that is totally automated now).  

Gathering around the piano to sing Christmas carols at the bank Christmas party - 1979

Christmastime back then was a big deal.  At the first of the month we (bank employees) received a profit sharing distribution from the bank that could total over $1,000 or more.  Profit sharing?  What's that you ask?  Yet another relic of the past when employers valued their employees and showed it.  Then corporate greed took over by outsourcing jobs and eliminating profit sharing.  But digress again, climbing up on my soapbox. 

Four "bank angels" singing Christmas carols  1979

Christmas celebrations at the bank were always fun affairs.  On the designated day for our Christmas Party, everyone would bring in something to eat and spread it out.  Pollyanna gifts would be exchanged.  Carols would be sung.  Good cheer would be spread.  And we would get out early Christmas Eve.  Oh those were the days.

Lining up for the food at the Bank Christmas Party- 1974

This Christmas I go into work today (filling in for another co-worker).  I also work tomorrow Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I will share my Christmas celebrations this year with the grandparents who visit their relatives in Lewes but stay at the hotel because they can't take their grandchildren 24/7. All that energy kids have.  Were we EVER like that?  But I digress again.

Digging in at the bank Christmas Party - 1974
One nice thing about Christmas, not only to we celebrate it every year but we also get to relive memories of year's past.  

These days I celebrate Christmas alone at the hotel.  That's fine with me.  Silent night is supposed to be silent and it is when I'm at the hotel on Christmas Eve. Below is a photo taken of me (I think I had a timer, no one else was around) on Christmas Eve 2009.  I thought this photo was last year but it is five years ago.  Where of where does the time go?  Mark your records, I won't be here five years from now but if I am, then you will know a miracle has occurred.

Me at the hotel, Christmas Eve - 2009

I'll be talking to you again before Christmas but in case I don't, Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brad, R.I.P.

Me and Brad in happier times - 1980

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Cincinnati. I did not know the person who sent this e-mail but we both knew Brad Corrill.  He informed me that Brad died September 17th.  Brad was 60 years old.

I met Brad in April of 1980.  We locked eyes at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia.  Ironically that was the first and last time I was ever in that particular gay bar. I don't remember why I went in that night but I do know that my life changed forever when I met Brad.

Drury Lane Bar, Philadelphia, PA

I don't remember who started the conversation first but I do know that we both knew immediately we were attracted to one another, a lot.  We spent the night together at a place where he was staying temporarily.
Brad was homeless.

A few months earlier he had moved to Philadelphia from Cincinnati after meeting "Gene", a Philadelphia gay bartender who was visiting Cincinnati.  When I met Brad Gene had thrown him out and Brad was living with a straight couple (friends of Gene) until he found his own place.  

Brad had a problem because he didn't have a job or money.  I had an apartment that I had a lease on until January of 1981.  I had gotten the lease because Bill and I had sold our town house in center city Philly and our new home was under construction in Chester County.  Bill was staying at our house under construction.  I was still working in center city (I had asked Bill to take early retirement) and needed a place to stay until the construction of our house was completed.  I told Brad he could stay at my apartment on Spruce Street until he found his own place. Thus began the summer that I experienced the most extreme highs and lows of my life.  The summer that I was almost destroyed.  

Brad at "The Ranch"

My journal entry recording the drama that was our life back then so many years ago

I'll attempt to make this a concise story as possible while covering all the pertinent facts but I could easily write a novel of that summer. The most dramatic summer of my life.

I fell in love with Brad.  I thought he fell in love with me.  To me he was like a lost puppy.  A sweet, sensitive, funny and (of course) very attractive guy.  And he needed me.  I grew to need him needing me.  I was going to take care of him.  Big mistake. For you see the problem was that Brad was an alcoholic and a drug addict. We was weak. I thought I could save him.  Big mistake.

Brad at "The Ranch" - 1980

The first month or so we were both ecstatically happy. We were in our own world of bliss.  I seriously considered leaving Bill and starting a new life with Brad.  Big mistake.  

The first sign of a problem was when I arranged an interview for Brad with my real estate agent who was looking for a handyman.  I left work that morning to be at the real estate agent's office for Brad's appointment at 10:30 am.  10:30 came and went.  11:00 came and went.  I frantically called Brad.  When I got him on the phone he was slurring his words.  He was drunk.  He told me he couldn't make the meeting because he "wasn't feeling well."  He was drunk.  I was mortified.  So embarrassed.  

I forgave him.  I tried several more times to get him a job, all to no avail.  But still I said he could stay at my apartment until he found a job and his own place. Then one weekend I returned from our (me and Bill's) home in the country early.  I returned on a Saturday night instead of my usual Sunday night.  When I climbed the stairs to my fourth floor apartment on Spruce Street and opened the door I see a leather clad, bearded man who I did not know.  I asked him "Who are you?"  With a sneer on his face he looked at me and said "Who the fuck are you!"  I told him "I'm the person who is paying rent on this apartment and you can get out of here right now."  Mr. Butch Leatherman snarled "Who's going to make me?" Barely controlling my seething anger I said to him "If you don't walk down those stairs right now I'm going to throw you down those stairs." He took a measured look at me after hearing my "suggestion" and turned around and left.

2122 Spruce Street - my apartment top floor (fourth) with dormers

Interior of my "penthouse apartment" at 2122 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA

After he left Brad and I got into a furious argument.  Brad rarely argued but this time we were screaming at each other.  I highly resented him bringing strangers into my apartment and I also felt betrayed because I thought Brad cared for me.  I found out that night he didn't, but more about that later.  

Our argument continued until Brad jumped me and threw me to the floor with his forearm against my neck choking me, while he screamed "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

I couldn't breath.  He was choking me to death.  While I was flailing around on the floor trying to breath, my right ankle hit the turn on/off knob of the radiator heater by the wall. The force of the impact broke the skin and my blood began flowing from my ankle where I hit it on the radiator.  The sight of my blood brought Brad to his senses and he released his choke hold on my neck.  

While I was gasping for breath, he was now saying over and over "I'm so sorry Ron!  I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"  That was the night that I knew that I had to end our relationship.

That past summer I had taken Brad to Provincetown with me only to witness him taking off with a straight couple for a threesome.  He was bored with me.  I asked him what happened.  He said "I don't know Ron, I just fell out of love with you.  It just went away."  

Brad and I in Provincetown (whale watching excursion) - July 1980 - we did have good times

I thought I could make Brad love me again the way he did when we first met.  I took him with me when I visited my friend Bob McC. at his weekend place ("The Ranch") outside Georgetown Delaware.  All to no avail. All Brad was interested in was what Gene was doing.  Where Gene was.  It took me a long time to realize that I was just someone to use.

Brad and I at Bob McC's "The Ranch" near Georgetown, Delaware - when I still made him happy - 1980

That night I told Brad he had to move . . . back to his home in Cincinnati or else we would both be destroyed.  Brad had left my apartment once before.  He moved in with someone else only to be told to leave because of his drug habits and I suppose his propensity to bring strangers back home.  That's alright if you have your own place but quite another different story when you're a guest at someone's home (or apartment where I have the liability).  

The first time Brad left my apartment, I saw him sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square where I used to criss cross through when I went home after work.  I walked by him only to hear him say "Ron? Can I talk to you?"  He told me he needed a place to stay.  I loved him and didn't want to see him homeless, sleeping on a park bench in Rittenhouse Square so I told him he could stay at my apartment until he found someplace else to live.  

Brad meeting me for lunch at 8th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelhia, PA 1980

I was in love with Brad and wanted to "save" him.  But what I didn't realize, what I was so foolish to believe; was that I could win out over the drugs and alcohol.  I believed in a Hollywood ending to our story.  I kept thinking back to the first time I met Brad and how special that time was.  I wanted to believe those times would come again. I was fool.

My apologies for making this a very long blog posting but I'm doing a bit of catharsis here folks.  For you see folks, I never completely fell out of love with Brad.

The day after that evening when he almost choked me to death, I purchased a one way ticket for him to his home in Cincinnati and give him a hundred dollars.
Cincinnati, Ohio

I watched him walk up 23rd Street to the Greyhound bus station from the fourth floor window of my Spruce Street apartment with a heavy heart.  I was devastated because I knew I was sending away someone I loved deeply.  I truly believed I could turn his life around and we could live happily ever after.  What a fool I was but at that time that is what I truly believed.

Greyhound Bus Terminal - Philadelphia, PA

The days and weeks after he left I wrote him letter after letter, pleading for him to come back.  Who was the weak one now?  I have to give Brad credit because he knew our relationship would never work and he didn't come back.  He didn't answer my letters, he didn't call.  He ignored me. That was in the fall of 1980.

Thirty one years later I found his address and sent him a Christmas card.  I had since moved on with my life but was curious if Brad was still alive.  He was.  He sent me a Christmas card back.  That spring he sent me a litter hinting that he would like to visit but that I would have to pay for his transportation and also get him a hotel room.  That I wasn't going to do but it was nice to hear from him.  He was still living at the same place and the same person who he returned to in 1980.  I was happy for him.  The following November he sent me a birthday card.  Again, very nice of him. Brad was always the sweet and gentle soul.  Only thing was he wasn't in love with me like I was in love with him.  And that's alright, you can't make people love you.  It's either there or it isn't. I don't mean to make this all about me and whine but the fact was that I fell in love with Brad and he fell out of love with me.  These things happen.

Brad's birthday card

After Brad I vowed that I would never let something like this happen to me again.  It almost cost me my life and my life long relationship with Bill, someone who has always stood by me through the bad times and good times.  Bill, a man I grew to love.  I make no apologies for falling in love with someone else, the mind goes (at least mine does) where the heart goes.  Maybe there was some greater Power saving me.  I think Brad knew that we could never have a relationship.  He went home to someone he did love and his friends.  His sojourn in the City of Brotherly Love in that summer of 1980

Philadelphia, PA

didn't turn out the way he wanted it to.  He was always in love with "Gene."  I may have been a momentary diversion for him but his true love was always Gene and I should have known that but I choose to ignore that obvious fact.  

I had not seen a photo of Brad since that fateful summer.  Last night when I received that e-mail from his Cincinnati friend informing me of his passing, he also sent a link to Flicker. There were three photos of Brad.  I was warned by his friend that Brad hadn't aged well. I could see by the photos that he hadn't.  Looking at those photos made me sad but at the same time made me happy because I saw Brad smiling.  He was happy, he was among his friend, he was in his element.  

Brad and friend in Cincinnati - recent
I hope his passing was easy and he is in a wonderful place now.  Who knows Brad?  Maybe we'll see each other again under better circumstances.  But this I know, for a few brief shining moments in the summer of 1980 I knew pure joy.  Thank you Brad.

Brad at home
Below, a video of our July 1980 week long vacation in Provincetown.  We met our friends Bob Mc, Gino and Joe and his partner Bob.  All gone now.  Only memories.  I'm the last one standing . . . . again.

Caregiver Update

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