Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cruise-ing on Empty

It’s a sad thing when a person loses his mind. And it’s made worse when you actually have to watch it happen. Take, for example, everyone’s favorite boy-toy of the 80’s. I just hate it that Tom Cruise is going crazy. Now, Tom has never been a favorite actor of mine but he did generate a few nice fantasies for me throughout his career (a feeling I share with a lot of people in the world). What happened to Tom? Some say it’s Scientology. Others say it started when he fired his publicist and hired his sister. Some say it dates back to Nicole. (Speaking of whom I cannot help but wonder now if the “Conversion of Katie” to Scientology may actually have something to do with why Tom separated from Nicole and Penelope – perhaps they refused to convert? Merely speculating here.)

It’s one thing if you are a celebrity, say Diane Keaton, and have always been a little wacky – oops, excuse me, eccentric (I love the fact that celebrities can be acceptably eccentric, but if a schlub like me acts that way I am a candidate for the methadone program). I want “Top Gun” Tom back. I want the man that every woman wanted to marry and every man wanted to be and every gay man wanted to show off to his friends.

And while we’re at it, I want pre-crack Whitney back too. I feel kind of robbed by her. At one point I used to joke to my friends that I wanted to sue Whitney for not delivering to me the promise she had shown from her first album. The cute girl who wanted to “dance with somebody” who became the “Queen of the Night” to now be a washed up ex-diva. I thought I had a case and I thought I would win. Just think if we could take celebrities to court for not living up to their potential. That would make the stars keep their ducks in a row, wouldn’t it?

What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

- Former U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle at a fund-raising event for the United Negro College Fund (attempting to quote the UNCF tagline, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste.").

Celebrities throwing telephones at concierges. Celebrities naming their children after inanimate objects (Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter Apple, Rachel Griffiths' son Banjo, Jason Lee's son Pilot Inspector, etc). Celebrities getting caught in phone sex scandals. Celebrities shoplifting. Celebrities dipping their children over hotel balconies. Why are these people not only locked up, but allowed to make a LOT of money while they do these things??

Where did these people come from? Well, Tom Cruise is from Syracuse, NY. Whitney Houston is from Newark, NJ. Winona Ryder lived in a Mendocino commune. Russell Crowe is from New Zealand (which my Ozzie mate Luke scoffs at). Maybe these people are simply just trash that made it good. Kinda makes Diane Keaton's upbringing in Los Angeles seem almost normal.

We are responsible for the Toms, the Whitneys, the Winonas, the Russells, even "Wacko" Jacko and Diane (ok, maybe not Diane). We paint them as being iconic, and then when they start behaving like Uncle Fester we just don’t know what to do. It’s our own fault really. Mindless (read: insane) celebrities are destroying our fantasies, our dreams, our ambitions, and our hopes. I think if the terrorists were truly paying attention, they would see that the movie stars of America are destroying us much better than they could ever do.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Random Thoughts

I adore my friends, love my family, and think neatness is underrated.

Yes, Dop really is my name.

A really good night for me ranges from kicking it up with friends, to kicking back with a mate and chugging a beer, to kicking a few old people at the bus stop (ok, obviously I am kidding here - I NEVER take the bus).

I have found Club Monaco; ergo I have discovered Nirvana.

When I joked with my friend Dave about my being "chunky", he corrected me by saying that I am "muscular with a layer of love". This, I love.

I'm a huge fan of cuddling and kissing. And I am damn good at both.

I also like U.S. history, architecture, popcorn, traveling, design, food, crossword puzzles, baseball, writing, biographies, Da Vinci, Escher, Erte, "The Family Guy", movies, and laughing.

I must have missed the memo on "bois". Can someone tell me what happened to the "y"?

Likewise, I must have slept-in the day they taught that 3/4 length pants are cool (or is that “kewl”?). Pants or shorts - those are your options.

Men who wear glasses are a huge turn-on.

Baby strollers should be registered with the FBI as dangerous instruments. And so should their occupants.

I'm sort of opinionated.

I might forget your name, but I never forget a face. This has been both a blessing and a curse.

My friend Andrew told me that "dop" in South Africa means "drink". This may very well explain why I seem to attract alcoholics.

I believe in, and practice, monogamy.

I have a huge tattoo on my left arm of a dragon. I also have one piercing (no, not there).

I seem to have trouble remembering men who are named Greg (again, just the name, not the face).

I believe we love everyone the same amount - we just prefer to be with some people more than others (see A Little Bit In Love, my blog entry pertaining to such).

I shower everyday ... sometimes twice.

I can't cook, can't arrange flowers, can't buy antiques, can't do hair or make-up, and can't tell if your shoes are Prada or Payless. But I seemed to have gotten the decorator gene, I like working outside, I make my bed everyday, and I can lift heavy stuff.

I dress casually and I rarely buy anything that I have to dry-clean, iron, or tuck in.

Loud children annoy me ... and so do their parents.

Pleated pants are the comb-over of the new millennium.

I was asked out by someone who said I looked "edgy". That made me giggle.

My only relationship with "Crystal" is that she was my fiancĂ©e back in 1985. Other than that, the word is not in my vernacular. And come to think of it, neither is “vernacular”.

I would rather your face be cute and your body need work than the other way around.

"Reality TV" bores me to death.

All people who generalize are stupid.

I tend to be attracted to all types, however lean, tall guys turn my head most. That’s “lean” as is thin, not as is “I spend my summers at a Sudanese refugee camp”.

I am not a fan of Abercrombie & Fitch - it's unoriginal clothing for a conformist nation.

If you weren't smacked as a child, I doubt we will get along. If your parents didn't break at least one wooden spoon over your ass, I am not going to be the one who teaches you manners.

BOOK du JOUR: "A Separate Peace" by John Knowles
MUSIC du JOUR: Rob Thomas, Casey Stratton, Slim Yelow, Queen, Weezer
TV du JOUR: "The West Wing" on BRAVO and whatever Netflix sends me
WEB du JOUR: davelandweb; gorillabeach; danoramaproductions

Monday, June 27, 2005


I made my boss cry today.

Today I submitted my resignation to
The Empower Program, a national non-profit that envisions a world where young people are safe from being bullied, harassed, and victimized. At Empower, I have been Director of Operations for the last three years. I came to this organization when it was struggling, barely able to make payroll, and somewhere around $60,000.00 in debt. Today, three years later, the operating budget has almost tripled, salaries increased 15%, and the agency is now almost 100% program funded – no more relying on grants and donations to stay in business. All of this means that I can walk out of the office on my last day of work, Friday, August 26th, with a huge sense of accomplishment that my abilities not only kept this business open, but allowed it to thrive and prosper to the national non-profit organization that it is.

In most instances I am a humble person - not really one to toot my own horn. However, in matters of business, well… I rock. As Director of Operations, I am essentially the CFO: I oversee all budgeting, accounting, banking, billing, invoicing and all other financial matters. Along with that, I handle all insurance coverage, annual fiscal audits, tax preparation and payment, non-profit tax filing, and vending accounts. I also serve to manage the Human Resource Department by processing payroll, administering annual reviews, performing annual salary audits and administering benefits. Along with this, I teach classes to middle school-aged boys about how boys' definitions of masculinity affect how they present themselves to others and how they interact with and treat other people.

I guess it’s no wonder my boss cried when I told her I was leaving.

After I explained to her that it is just my time to go, and that I wanted to move to Chicago, she began to understand. With my roommate selling his house and my needing to find another place to live, as well as the ending of a relationship in March that left me feeling a little empty and needing to create new friendships, and going as far in my current job as I could go (the next step would be my boss’s position, Executive Director, for which I hired her a year ago), the time seems right for me to start over in a new place. Having lived in DC for the last 10 years, I have found my life to be stagnate and lacking much interest. I was asked recently what my hobbies are, and I didn’t have an answer. So it's time to invigorate myself. And my gut tells me that Chicago is the place to do it.

I am sure I will have another entry to my blog after my last day of work here, but for right now, I feel sad – sad that this place and these people will no longer be in my daily life, and sad that I am leaving it in the hands of someone I don’t know and haven’t met … someone who couldn’t possibly care about it as much as I did – as much as I do.

And sad that I made my boss cry today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Say Again

The English language continues to amuse me. It is no wonder that my native tongue is the most difficult language in the world to learn. The MOST difficult language to learn – which is really saying something when you think of those tribes in Africa who somehow communicate with clicks, spits, clucks, and a few hard swallows thrown in for emphasis.

My latest amusement centers around the fact that if you say something twice, you completely change the meaning of the word or phrase. And miraculously, everyone understands what you mean. Some examples:

Ernie’s shirt was blue, but it wasn’t blue blue.

I like Joel, but I don’t like him like him.

Tom is a slut, and I mean a slut slut.

Gauge anyone’s reaction to this turn of phrase and you get the same effect: “Oh, ok” accompanied with an acknowledging nod and sometimes a sly grin.

When was this taught to us? I don’t remember reading anything about it in the Little Brown Handbook in Mrs. Kelly’s 8th grade English class. We learned the parts of speech, the parts of a sentence, how to write a 5-paragraph essay, how to diagram sentences (I think Dorothy Zbornak and I are the only two people in the word who think that is fun. And sadly, Dorothy isn’t real). But I don’t ever remember being taught this or even told to do it. It just suddenly made sense whenever someone said it.

In bed, Josh is good, but not good good.

Charlie is my boyfriend, but not my boyfriend boyfriend.

Dop’s dick is big and I mean ….. well you get the idea.

(It's my blog and I can write what I want!)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Greg vs. Peter vs. Bobby

I think I have solved a gay equation. It is my firm belief, based on the large, yet somewhat geographically-limited number of people with whom I have talked, that there is something to the fact that in most gay relationships (the successful and the semi-successful ones), one in a couple is the older brother in his family, and the other is a younger brother.

Exhibit A: I am the oldest brother in my family. I have one older sister, but two younger brothers, so I am the oldest son. I have been in five serious relationships in the last 20 years: Geoff (heretofore known as Ex#1), Dane (Ex#2), Chad (Ex#3), Frankie (Ex#4) and Jon (Ex#5). All five of them were the youngest brother in their families. Exes# 1, 4 and 5 all have one older sister, while Ex#2 and Ex#3 have one older brother.

You're thinking about this now, aren't you?

I have tested my theory out on my friends. It has worked 98% of the time. My roommate Ashley tried to trip me up because he once dated our friend Kevin F. - both Ashley and Kevin F. are twins. HOWEVER, Ashley is the first born twin, and Kevin F. is the second.

Now this is not a theory based on the older man/younger man syndrome. The older brother could be younger than the younger brother, or even the same age (admittedly this really sounds weird). It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with birth order. Using me again, this time as Exhibit B: Ex#1 is older than I by two years, but the other four are all younger (some significantly so). I seriously think there is something to the birth order/gay attraction idea. Even if the “older brother” is younger than the “younger brother”, there must be something in our demeanors and personalities that attract us to the other. The traits of the older brother are usually perfectionism, logical, organized, a leader, while younger brothers are carefree, creative, even-tempered, frequently spoiled, followers.

But what if one in the couple is an only child? The “only child” has been summarized as one who likes being the center of adult attention, often has difficulty sharing with peers, prefers adult company, and uses adult language. In my theory, an “only child” is equivalent to the “youngest son”.

So, according to the "Dop Theory on Gay Birth Order Attraction", there are just two groups: the oldest, and all the others. Because it technically doesn’t matter if you are the second, third, eighth or youngest – the paradigm is still present. There is an older brother and a younger brother. And they seem to migrate to each other naturally.

It’s just a thought, but it’s a fun thought; unless of course some team of scientists in Amsterdam has studied this already and no one told me anything about it. But try it out on your gay friends, even the single ones, and see what the ratio is. And if anyone knows of any funding out there where I can travel the world to continue testing my theory - you know where to reach me.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Little Bit in Love

I fell a little bit in love this week. Can you do that? Can you fall a “little bit” in love or does it have to be the whole enchilada? Can you fall in love in varying degrees depending on the person/situation/location? Or do we love everyone the same amount? What’s the difference between loving your friends and loving your partner or spouse?

So let's tackle my first question: can you fall a “little bit” in love”? My short answer is yes, one can fall a little bit in love, on his way to loving someone. I think you have to fall in love with people in order to love them. And I am not talking about sexual love, I am talking the lesbian kind of love where you love the other person and can spend a lifetime with them and never have sex. We love our friends but do we consider when or how that started? I am sure it wasn’t just because they seemed to show up all the time. If that were true, I would love my postal carrier, my paperboy and all of my co-workers (which I assuredly do not). Each person in our lives that we love did or said something that piqued our interest, which made us say to ourselves, “well now who IS this person?”

I don’t buy the whole “I love you but I am not IN love with you” vernacular. It's such a cop-out. Either you love someone or you don’t. It might be more accurate that you still love the person, but no longer prefer to spend the bulk of your time with him. When someone is breaking up with you, wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear:
“I love you as much as I always have, but I prefer to spend less time with you and more time with someone else.”  Would that be more or less painful than hearing, “I love you but I am not IN love with you”? 

Could it be that we love everyone in our lives the exact same amount, however we prefer to be with some people more than others. If I have to choose between shopping with my buddy Aaron or margaritas with gal-pal Kelly, I don’t make my selection based on whom I love more, but rather with whom I would prefer to spend my time. My boyfriend (when I have one) will almost always come first because I prefer to spend my time with him. Would I love my boyfriend of 3 months more than my best friend of 17 years, Jeff? Probably not. Assuredly not. So do I prefer to be with someone because I love him, or do I love him because I prefer to be with him?

So anyway, back to the first line of this entry – I fell a little bit in love this week. His name is Kevin and he is a new friend. Remember in an earlier blog entry I said that people happen to me – well, Kevin was a happening. He came along when I doubted my relocation from DC to Chicago. Even though it was something I have wanted to do for a few years, moving to a new city where I knew almost no one seemed like a pretty daunting task. Kevin and I spent the better part of one month talking on the phone and passing emails back and forth. And after recently spending two days in his physical company, I wonder how anyone can know Kevin and not be at least a “little bit” in love with him and the fact that he belongs to a circus, is graying prematurely, and knows his name in 18 languages.

He is my friend, and on the way to becoming a better friend. I fell a little bit in love with him this week.  And I prefer to spend much more time with him.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc

I sometimes have to wonder about fate. I have always believed that everything is not predestined, that things happen as a result of a previous action. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, perhaps?: after this, therefore because of this. Everything happens because the previous action happened which caused the latest action to happen (a fallacy of logic):

Example: I slipped on the floor because I was wearing the new shoes I bought yesterday.

Sometimes out of the blue, things happen. However in my life, it has not been “things”, it’s been people. Things don’t happen to me; people happen to me. It almost seems as if they are “sent” to me. When I was 19, I became engaged to my high school sweetheart and announced our engagement at Christmas, after which my parents offered to me the truth that I was adopted as a baby. I left home to clear my head and made a new friend named Paul, in whom I confided my confusions about being adopted. And with Paul, I had my first gay experience. Now, I wasn’t gay, or so I thought, before that. He and I did not talk about homosexuality or anything like it. We discussed learning about yourself, and how you can go your entire life and, at the age of 80, still learn something about yourself you didn’t know at 30 or 50 or 70. Without Paul, eventually, I would have learned the truth about me being gay. But he seemed “sent” to me in order to find it out at a time when I was learning who I really was for the first time.

I met my best friend Jeff quite by accident. I had just ended my first real relationship with Ex#1, was lonely and had to move out of the house he and I shared. And as they do, the friends who came with the relationship … went with the relationship. So after a few weeks of sitting home alone, I went out one night and saw a friend of mine from back home. With him was Jeff. As our friend went off to flirt and flit, Jeff and I talked and got to know each other. Nothing sexual has ever happened between us in the last 16 years that we have known each other. But he came to me on a night when I was vulnerable and insecure. And he’s been there ever since.

On a day when bad news was following me around and I felt my mortality, I met Luke. I had been in NYC having tests run on this bad heart of mine (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy). After two and a half grueling days of tests and scans and blood work, I learned that I am more fragile than I had originally thought. Perhaps a transplant within two years and certainly a lot more doctor visits to look forward to, I walked out of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital into a city full of strangers and there was no one there for me. I had gone alone, not wanting to put anyone through the pains of just sitting in waiting rooms for hours on end. I thought I could handle it by myself. I just wanted a hug, dammit! Luke was visiting NYC from Australia for the US Open. On my last night in the city, we met and it was as if we had always known each other. He lifted my spirits, refused to allow me a second of self-pity, and made me smile and laugh. Within a week, he visited me in DC for a few days and then returned home to Australia. Even today, he will email or call me and instantly I feel better – especially when I think that a person half way on the other side of the world is thinking about me.

Recently, there was Mike, whom I met on what was a very sad day for me. My relationship with Ex#5 had ended one month before. After talking to my ex and trying to make sense of what I could not understand, and feeling lonely and confused – I met Mike, this beautiful young naval linguist. We spent a few weeks together before he was shipped out on a submarine into foreign waters, due back June 18th. Friends of Ex#5's and mine were throwing their annual “Pride Brunch” on June 12th. Knowing Ex#5 would be there, I decided not to go, and knew I would spend the day wishing I could be there with our friends. The night before the brunch, Mike calls me from Chicago. His tour ended a week early and he would be back in DC on the 12th and he wanted to see me as soon as possible. So there he was – AGAIN – saving me from my own self-inflicted despair; taking my mind off of what I would have no doubt been thinking of all day.

And there are countless others that I have thought of even as I write this. They are all people who were unexpected, meeting me in situations that seemed more chance than predestined. And I am not too close-minded to think that perhaps it was not they who were “sent” to me, but rather me who was “sent” to them. Perhaps each of them needed a friend to care about or love in their lives at that time too. They are people who came into my life as strangers and each one took a small piece of my heart, and I a small piece of theirs. Perhaps with all of these small pieces from people who have cared about me, mine will be mended in no time.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gay Pride - The Start of Something Big

With June being the official Gay Pride month, and parades and festivals popping up in big cities and small towns across America, I pause to reflect on my very first Gay Pride Parade. It was summer 1990 and my two best friends, Matt and Jeff, and I traveled the 3-hour car drive from our town in rural western Maryland. We had all found each other while teaching tennis at the local country club back home during the end of summer 1989. We became constant companions from that point on for about 5 years. But back to Pride:

We had been so excited to attend this event - our first official "fag function". The weather was perfect that day - sunny, clear and warm - a typical June day in DC. We had driven as far as the Gaithersburg Metro stop and took the subway in to the city to avoid eventual parking catastrophes. If you've never gotten off the Metro at the Dupont Circle exit, it is underground with a huge escalator taking you to the surface (which from the bottom of the escalator, looks like a small bright hole). When looking up from the bottom, the only thought that ever comes to my mind is "Carol Ann, run into the light!"

The boys and I stood on Dupont Circle at Massachusetts Avenue to watch the parade go by. The floats were colorful and loaded with disco bunnies. The biggest cheers came for PFLAG, the TRACKS float, and Gays In The Military. In every other car was perched a drag queen. I remember one particular float with two older "ladies" riding on the back of a convertible. They must have been Miss Gay Pride Bathrobe 1946 and '53 respectively. There they sat, beaming from earring to earring in their low cut evening gowns with chest hair spewing all over the place. Obviously these girls were late for the parade because they both forgot to shave their moustaches off. After one look at them, I turned to the boys and said, "Now that's Italian."

We stood near a very active group of people and whooped and hollered with them. Our first friends of the day had been made. We followed the parade to the carnival grounds (which back then were held at the School near the "Connie Francis Pool") all the while renewing old acquaintances and making new ones. Our theme song for that summer was, "Use It Up and Wear It Out!" So when it came blasting across the P.A.system, they boys and I hit the tennis court, which had been turned into a dance floor al fresco. We walked around the exhibits, signed petitions, bought funnel cakes, and cruised men. But by 3:00 in the afternoon, I was beginning to get weary of the whole scene. The boys and I were standing on the bridge on P Street that over looks P Street Beach deciding what to do next. Jeff said that he wanted to see one drag show that started at 4:00. All three of us agreed because one thing we loved as much as a good man was a bad drag queen.

We went back down to the grounds and placed ourselves in a prime location for the show. We were joined by Randy and Tony, two friends from our foray into the DC Sports Softball League, and Tony's roommate, Glenn. This is where it all got started. We watched two "girls" perform "Escapade" and "Vogue" respectively. The sea of gay men and lesbians was cheering for the performers. Now that we were pumped, it was decided that the six of us would go to a bar called Rascals (it used to be located in the now Riggs Bank complex on Dupont Circle) and have a cocktail or two or fifteen.

Rascals proved to be one of the best times we can remember. The place was kinda small, so it wasn't difficult for a loud group to take over the place. The six of us (now joined by two more friends: Joe, the captain of our softball team, and David, his very wiry, very hysterical companion) strategically placed ourselves in prime real estate in the bar in a corner where our voices were magnified 150 decibels. Since our softball team was knows as the "B" team (I swear, that was the actual name), David and I created a cheer: "Gimme a B, B!.....okay?" which resounded throughout the bar at various intervals (one man came to me and gave me five dollars to shut up).

Then the bar started playing videos and we saw Jennifer Holliday belt out her famous rendition of "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going". This big ol' girl who sorta resembled Jennifer, joined her lookalike and started singing along with the video. We bowed to this woman.

After a trip upstairs to witness the infamous strippers in action, we realized that it was time to get home since we had a three hour drive ahead of us and tomorrow was Monday morning. We were shocked to discover that the sun was still shining after we had spent what seemed like all night in that bar. The original six of us bid our adieus to Joe and David at that infamous Metro escalator and we descended to the Metro. I think this is where all the alcohol we had consumed finally started to kick in. Aside from three young Asian men, we were the only ones heading north, leaving the city. However, the side going into the city was filled with people. And did we put a show on for them: leapfrog, cartwheels, singing, laughing, snapping, and every other word out of our mouths was "Mary!" People on the other side were actually photographing us as we posed in a variety of positions for pictures. When our train finally came, our admirers on the opposite platform gave us a standing ovation. We curtsied, entered the train and waved good-bye to our adoring, new-found groupies.

Happy Pride, Everyone!