Confusing Confusion Which Confuses Me

Where does one even start with a post like this?

Honestly, my anxiety level is pretty high right now and that tells me one thing…

I really don’t want to think or “talk” about this.  The problem of course is, I can’t not think about it.  So I might as well write it and get it out of my head.  I’m very confused right now.

Somewhat against my better judgement, I went out with some people on Saturday night.  Two of the people were students from the EMT class that I’m helping with.  The third person was another “Teacher’s Assistant.”  I guess that’s what I am, unofficially.  I’m volunteering my time because I wanted to reenforce the knowledge for myself, but right now I’m kind of dealing with some feelings of being taken advantage of.  I don’t doubt that Mr. Williams appreciates my help, but I think after so many weeks of my reliable presence he is taking it for granted that I am going to be there and that he can put me to work.  That’s not what bothers me though; that’s what I signed up for.  It’s the students.  Some of the students are less than gracious.  They seem to take us (the other “TA”, Micah, and me) for granted and they don’t seem to appreciate the sacrifices we are making for them.  I suppose that feeling may have accounted, to some extent, for Mr. Williams attitude last semester, but the thing is, he is getting paid.  The rest of us are volunteers.

That’s really not what this is about.

After my experience last semester, I am very reluctant to consider being friendly with any of the people in this class now.  I have given up every other Sunday afternoon (the time when I’m not hanging out with Lil’B) to go and meet with some of the students and help them practice their skills.  Over the course of the weeks a rapport has developed among some of us, and I was more or less OK with it except that I feel like at times I’ve let my guard down more than I should and I’ve allowed my need to be liked to interfere with my position as a leader or an authority in the setting.

Micah has been very involved with this class, more than he was for mine.  He has helped with all the study groups and skills practices. He’s a good guy and I like him a lot.  He and I are the only ones who show up reliably to assist with the class.  There are other people, but their attendance is sporadic and unreliable.  And when they do show up, all the students clamor to join up with Micah and me, because Allen is a jack ass who yells at the students (when he’s not telling them of his personal life difficulties) and teaching them to his teacher’s specifications, which is all well and good except that his teacher wasn’t Mr. Williams, and Mr. Williams is who is teaching now, and then there’s Noah, who really has no idea what he’s doing and routinely comes to me to understand what he’s supposed to be doing, even though I’m not the teacher and graduated from the class more recently than anyone else who is helping, which seems wrong to me, because at least in theory, they should have more experience than I do, and oh my God, I can’t believe I just wrote another run-on sentence.

Anyway, I’m well liked, apparently, by most of the students so it came as no surprise when Judy texted me.  “Check your calendar for the 16th.  It’s Laura’s last home game & I want to go & support her.  & then we want to go out afterwards.”  Laura comes to class most days, dressed in some sort of athletic attire embroidered with the name of the water polo team from one school or another.  These days she is affiliated with the women’s water polo team at Cal State Berkeley.  She’s athletically built, is quite outgoing and has a very confident personality, or at least that how it seems at first.  More on that later.

Judy is two years older than I, and Mr. Williams says she is my twin.  I don’t honestly know why and I’m not sure I like it.  We do seem to have a lot of similarities, however where we differ, we differ greatly.  Judy was a cheerleader; I was a dork.  Judy is very outgoing; I’m shy.  (No really, I am!)  Judy makes herself the center of attention, all the time; I try to fade into the wood work.  Judy is perpetually laden with sexual innuendo, to the point of seeming like she’s trying too hard; I’m unreasonably uncomfortable talking about such things.  In another text Judy said, “I hope you know that when this class is over, I am going to actively pursue you till you become one of my best friends!!!”, to which I replied, “Read: Stalk.”

I told Judy, “You might have guessed I don’t know the first thing about sports, but I am free that day and I might go.”

She replied, “there is no ‘might go’ available.”  Earlier that night, I had to actually separate Judy and Laura because they wouldn’t stop talking and giggling while I was trying to teach them the skill of emergency childbirth, something I really don’t know how to do in the first place (would very much like, never to experience) and found out halfway through the night, I was not teaching correctly.  Judy texted me, “That is what Laura & I were talking about is how much fun we would have hanging out with you.”

The next day she texted me to say, “I need another job so bad.  Don’t you need a personal assistant or something?”

I told her, “Have I mentioned how much I hate MY job?”

She replied, “Yes…but you would like your job more if you got to hang with me all day.”

Somehow I doubt that.

Over that week-end, I found out that Aisha Tyler was playing a local comedy club this past week-end, but only on Saturday and Sunday.  I love Aisha Tyler!  (If you’ve been coming around here long, you know this already)  I don’t generally go out on Sunday nights though, because I’m old and I have to work the next day, so I really wanted to go see her show on Saturday night at 10:30.  I texted Judy, “About what time do you think Laura’s match will be over?”

Judy:  “Don’t know but we wanted you to hang with us afterwards.

Me:  “Did you have something specific in mind?”  I wondered if they’d be interested in going to the show and if we had time to get there.  Maybe everyone could get a little bit of what they wanted.

Judy:  “Yep… but I can’t share it with you.  Teehee.  Laura wanted us all to go out after the game.  Especially if Cal wins!!!  It will be fun (trust me).  Just pencil us in from 7 till we get you safe back home.”

Me:  “You obviously don’t know me very well.”

Judy:  “I don’t… that is why we have to hang out.”

Me:  “I never trust anybody who tells me “Trust me”.

Judy:  “Haha.  Smart move.”

Me:  “So??? What is the plan?”

Turns out there was no plan made.  Micah apparently wanted to challenge Judy to Karaoke.  Laura just wanted to make sure there were drinks involved.  Judy said, “I think we will just go with the flow & see what there is to do in Berkeley.”  This week, the school where the EMT class is taught is on Spring Break.  Cal is not on Spring Break so it’s not really a break for Laura, but it’s a break from the EMT class at least.

When it was all said and done everyone was interested in going to see Aisha Tyler.  Laura, I found out, is not a player, but an assistant coach.  She’s a Fifth-Year Senior, “My victory lap” she calls it, and apparently she’s no longer eligible to play.  Judy’s answer was, “Sounds like fun, but I don’t drive in the city.”  I get so tired of people saying that.  San Francisco is not that bad to drive in and certainly that’s no reason to deprive yourself of having fun.  Originally, I told her I would drive her car.  She drives a small-ish SUV, as compared to my compact hybrid.  I didn’t really think we would fit in my car very well, but I really didn’t want to drive someone else’s car  and eventually I told her, “Micah is so big he actually crowds me in the driver’s seat of my car.  But I can wear my big girl panties and suck it up, if you two don’t mind being cramped in the back seat.”  (None of these people know I’m gay, and occasionally I drop hints.)

Judy:  “Yah… except that way we don’t get to see you drunk, which would be really entertaining.”

Me:  “I don’t do drunk.”

Judy:  “I figured…that is why it would be so entertaining.”

Me:  “It’s really not that entertaining.  That’s why I don’t do it… Anymore.”

Judy:  “Well, I’ll just keep it on my bucket list (since we will be friends till we are old & gray.)

Saturday morning I sent a group text to the three, “FYI.  There will be a 5 or so (not level) block walk from the parking garage to the comedy club and back again, so take that into consideration when selecting the height of your heels… Micah.”  See, more hints.  Laura, apparently, was very impressed that I thought to warn them.  She said she told her father about it.

I was a little reluctant to go out with these people.  I feel a little bit like it’s inappropriate to associate myself with the students.  On the other hand I’m not the teacher and I don’t exactly have people banging down my door to be my friend.  I decided I would go and just try to maintain an appropriate level of detachment which, by and large, was easy enough to do.

Micah is currently unemployed and he doesn’t have a working vehicle.  I agreed to pick him up and take him to Laura’s match.  I asked him on Friday what time he wanted me to pick him up and he said 5:00.  That seemed unreasonably early to me but I let it go for the time being.  However, as the, as it turned out, very lazy Saturday progressed, it became apparent I was not going to be on time.  At 5:00 when, Micah called me, I was just about to step into the shower.  Micah told me he was in Pacifica and just about to get on BART.  He then told me he’d be back in Oakland around 5:30.

~

Mr. Williams, he himself a black man, often talks about some of the students living on “BPT” (actually, he says “CPT” but I personally find the C to be offensive.)  BPT is “Black People Time”.  I would never use that terminology myself, but based on my experiences with Michelle and her family, I can see where the phrase comes from.  Michelle has no concept of time.  She tells me she’ll be over at 5:30, it’ll be well after 6:00 before I see her.  She tells me the movie starts in 20 minutes and we have plenty of time, even though we’re a 15 minute drive from the theater and still have to park, buy our tickets, go to the bathroom, buy our concessions and find seats in the crowded dark theater, but she’s still wandering aimlessly around the house.

~

It takes nearly an hour to get from Pacifica to Oakland on BART and I knew there was no way that Micah was going to be home by 5:30.  I told him I, too, was running late, and we’d play it by ear.  I took my shower, brushed my teeth, beautified myself, before I texted him to say, “I’ll be ready to go in 10 minutes.  Will you be ready to be picked up?”  I got dressed and went into the kitchen to feed the cat.  That’s when my phone rang.  It’s was Micah who wanted to know how long ago I had sent the text.  I told him about 4 minutes.  It was 6:03 and he had just arrived in Oakland.  He was waiting for the bus that would take him home so he could change for the evening.  I told him I would head toward the street corner he was on and we would see if I got there before the bus did.

I picked Micah up and took him to his house so he could change clothes.  I hadn’t eaten in hours and I was starving.  I knew we would all go eat after the water polo match but I was too hungry to wait that long so I told Micah we’d stop at McDonald’s or something along the way.  I didn’t mind buying him a burger.  Due to a few circumstances beyond my control we were late arriving at the match.  Cal lost to Stanford 8-4 if anybody cares.  The match was over a little after 8:00 and we went back to Laura’s apartment so she could change.

Laura’s room mates were having an impromptu party, and there were many distractions as Laura was trying to change and Micah was trying to Flirt.  Judy and I were starving and we wanted to get something to eat before heading into The City and Micah and Laura were slowing down the works.  Despite my warning, Laura wore a pair of close-fitting jeans, a lovely, but casual black maternity shirt (she says she actually bought it in the maternity department, but God only knows why, she certainly doesn’t need to shop there) and three-inch heels.  To be honest, that surprised me for reasons unrelated to the walking that would be taking place.  The top was low-cut and she was displaying a pleasant, not absurd amount of cleavage.  This was the first time I had ever seen Laura with her hair down and I had no idea how long her hair actually was.  She always comes to class with a pony tail.  Laura is beautiful, with long blond hair, clear, glowing skin and bright blue eyes.  She has perfect, white teeth, with a beautiful smile.  She has a low-pitched voice she describes as a smokers voice, even though she doesn’t smoke (think Angie Harmon).  It’s not gruff, just not high-pitched.  She has a fantastic laugh that is very infectious.  She’s just a lot of fun to spend time with.

When she was ready and we were about leave her apartment, Judy told Laura that she looked “hot”.  I was surprised to see Laura blush and trivialize the very accurate complement.  Later as we walked from my car to the restaurant, I asked, “Laura.  You’re not self conscious are you?”  She said she was not, but then she said she didn’t believe it when people say things like that.  (Um…  What does “self-conscious” mean to you?)  Judy’s reply was that she had enough confidence for both of them.  Oy!

~

We had dinner at Chipotle and then headed into San Francisco.  While we waited in the longest line I’ve ever experienced at this club, I looked up and realized I had a beautiful view of Coit Tower.  I tried to take a picture of it, but of course in the dark, at a distance, with my crappy little point and shoot digital, it came out as a blurry swab of dim light on an otherwise dark background.  As I pointed my crappy camera at the beautiful specter, I heard Judy behind me.  “Two beautiful blondes right here and he’s taking pictures of landscapes.”  After I took my bad picture, I turned the camera on her.  I couldn’t even see her, and I didn’t really care how the picture turned out, but when it was taken and I looked at the finished product, I saw that in the blink of an eye, she had posed for the picture.

~

The host/first act of the night was a local morning radio show host; one half of Fernando & Greg, the only gay radio show I’ve ever heard of.  I don’t honestly know if it was Fernando or Greg.  I don’t really care.  He wasn’t funny.  The opening act, also a gay man whose name I can not remember, was downright filthy and offensive.  Both of them made a lot of gay jokes, which, naturally, I found humor in, to a point, but they both pushed the envelope quite a bit.  There were a number of anti-female and anti-heterosexuality jokes made with a lot of derogatory references to female genitalia and I found the whole thing very uncomfortable.  I know some people believe that’s what comedy should be.  I am not one of those people.  Aisha Tyler, of course was hilarious, only once saying something that I found offensive, a single word, but still.  That was a new experience for me.

Judy, Laura and Micah enjoyed the show.  They complied with the two drink minimum.  Micah with a whiskey & lime and a Kamikaze, Laura with two beers and Judy with a bottle of White Zinfandel.  I had two Diet Cokes.  Judy paid for Micah’s drinks and unbeknownst to me, Laura paid for mine.  I drove, used my gas, my electronic toll pass to cross the bridge and paid for the parking, so I didn’t mind letting Laura pay for my absurdly expensive soft drinks ($4.00 a piece).

When the show was over, we got in line to meet my BFF.  Laura took this picture.  It’s better than the one Michelle took the last time I saw Aisha.  That picture was unsharable.  (Also?  LOOK BRACES!)  We also took a group picture.

Micah, Me, Aisha Tyler, Judy and Laura

After, we headed back to the parking garage where my car was parked.  No sooner did we get outside, than Judy grabbed Micah and said, “I need an arm.”  She then proceeded to hang on him all the way to the garage.  Laura and I walked together a few paces ahead of Micah and Judy.  Laura was curious about my “relationship” with Aisha and we talked all the way back. She was amused and seemed genuinely…  Impressed doesn’t seem like the right word, but for lack of a better option…

It was nearly 1:00 AM when we got to the parking garage and I realized I forgot to have my parking ticket validated.  I was just going to pay the full price for my parking ($2.00 every 20 minutes for the three or more hours we were there) but both Judy and Laura told me I shouldn’t do that.  I said, “Do you guys really want to walk all the way back there?”

Laura said, “Sure!”

Judy said, “No.”

I said we would have to walk back to get it validated.  Judy wanted to wait while I went back.  I told her, “We all go or nobody goes.”  So we all turned around and went back to the club, about seven blocks, to get the ticket validated.  The whole way, Laura and I were ahead of Judy and Micah, and we talked.  (You’ll recall that Laura was wearing three-inch heels.  What I didn’t say was that she was wearing them with no stockings.  At no point did she complain about her feet.)

I was very thirsty and after getting my ticket validated we crossed the street to a liquor store so I could get a bottle of Diet Pepsi.  While I was standing at the cooler, I heard Judy say, “Pepsi please” and I grabbed one.  Micah and Laura both said they didn’t want anything.  I held the Pepsi out to Judy and she just looked at it.

I asked, “Didn’t you say you wanted this?”

“Yeah,” she replied, “but I can’t hold it yet.”  After a beat as I just looked at her, she said, “I’ll pay for it, I just can’t hold it.”

I put the bottles down on the counter.  The cashier rang them up, and I gave him $4.00.  He handed me my change and put the bottles in a black plastic bag.  I turned around and followed the crew outside where I pulled the Pepsi out of the bag and held it out to Judy.  “I can’t hold that yet,” she said again.  Enough was enough.  I rolled my eyes, put her Pepsi back in the bag, pulled my Diet Pepsi out and held the bag out to her.  She whined for a second and I continued to hold it out to her.  Finally she took it and I turned to walk back to the car.  Suddenly I felt a drag on my arm as Judy reached out and grabbed it to “steady herself”.  Again she said, “I need an arm” and she proceeded to hold on to me all the way back to the car.  I hated it, but I didn’t man up and tell her to let go of me.

At first Micah and Laura were ahead of us, but soon, Laura fell behind and walked with Judy and me, and she and I continued our conversation.  Soon, Micah joined us.

We were back at Laura’s apartment in Berkeley by 2:00.  After a few minutes of conversation, Laura went inside, and Micah and Judy got into her car while I got into mine.

~

You may be wondering what is so confusing about all this, as the title of this post would imply.  On the other hand, I’m not terribly subtle, maybe you’re not wondering at all…

Really, there are a number of things that are confusing to me.

I had fun, and yet, I didn’t.

I liked being out and doing stuff, but I didn’t enjoy feeling taken advantage of.  I didn’t like playing taxi service.

I was simultaneously willing and annoyed to have to buy Micah’s food.  I understand what it’s like to be broke when everyone else isn’t, and I’m OK with helping him out, and yet, I kind of feel like he should have declined to come out with us if he didn’t have any money.  I can imagine how he might feel and I don’t want to make him feel worse.  I also think it’s kind of presumptuous of him.

I found Judy’s behavior off-putting, but I realized I don’t really have a good reason to not like her.  Plus, she seems to really like me, which means if I reject her, I’ll feel like even more of a dick, than I would if we were just casual acquaintances.  She really isn’t a not nice person and I should accept her friendship at least to a point, but I really hate that girly, helpless, I need a man for everything attitude.  Too dainty to walk very far.  Too dependent to hold her self upright after a couple of glasses of wine.  Too cold to hold the cold soda that she asked for.  Give me a break!  Puh-lease!

Judy and Laura had a lot of whispered conversations.  I really hate that!  I know it happens.  Frequently even.  Especially among women.  But it’s just so annoying, and I think rather rude when in the midst of company.  They sat in the back seat of my car as I drove into the city and they were whispering to each other.  They wanted me to turn on music, but in order to be able to hear each other talk, it had to be turned down so low that you couldn’t hear it anyway.  After one song I turned it back off and no one noticed for almost 10 minutes.

I felt a little bit like I was bullied into the whole situation, because Judy wanted it and she always seems to get her way.  I’m realizing as I write this that Judy tells people what they’re going to do, but she does it in such a way as to feel as though you’re being asked when in fact you’re not.  And it’s not until later that you realize you’ve actually been manipulated into doing what she wants.  Generally what she wants is harmless enough, but that’s so not the point.

And then there’s the biggest confusion of all.

Without really giving it any thought or even really being aware of what was happening, I found myself admiring… Laura.

I’ve liked Laura since I met her.  She’s funny.  She’s smart.  She’s personable.  She’s self-assured.  She’s athletic.  She seems to be very happy.  She’s always seemed a bit of a tomboy, which is fine if that’s your thing. Not butch, not masculine, just… Tomboy.

Something that has always bothered me about women, if you haven’t already picked up on this, and which should have probably given me a clue about myself sooner in life, is the helpless, needy, dainty, girliness of them.  I know that I’m treading on dangerous waters here, since the majority of my readership is female, but still…

I never wanted to be with someone I had to do everything for.  I always wanted to be with a partner; an equal.  I want someone who when they ask for help carrying in the groceries they mean help not do it for me.  Better yet, someone who won’t ask for help.  That would be awesome!  I want to be with someone who, when they get a wild hair to rearrange the furniture, asks for my input, because that’s the only thing they need from me, not my “help” because they want to point and direct while I push all the furniture around.  Someone who wants to remodel the bathroom together, not have me do all the work (which is a joke, because I’m as unhandy as you can get.)

I wanted to be with someone who is strong (physically and emotionally), capable, independent, but who can clean themselves up, throw on a nice outfit and be attractive and sexy for an evening outing.

The point is, I wanted to be with someone who was independent.  Someone who didn’t need me for every little thing.  Someone who is perfectly content to do things on their own but who enjoys doing things with me.  I want to be with someone who wants to be with me, not needs to be.  I want to feel wanted not needed.

Growing up, I was sure I was never going to find that, but if I some how did, it would be a woman.  It had to be, there was no other viable option.  For the last few years I’ve been sure I was never going to find that, but if I somehow did, it was going to be a man.  Men are my thing, and since I’m not sure I’ll ever truly come to terms with that, I fully expect to be alone for the rest of my life.

But…

But…

But I haven’t stopped thinking about Laura since Saturday night.   It’s all very confusing.  And there are a lot of reasons for this to be confusing.

I have no idea if Laura is interested in me.  Sometimes I think she might be.  She enjoys talking to me, and naturally, that can’t possibly be just because she likes me as a person…  I’m realizing now, that whatever her motivation, or the extent of her interest, she does show genuine interest in knowing me.  She bought me lunch once when we were meeting with a bunch of people to review skills.  She hasn’t done that for Micah.  She bought my drinks on Saturday, even though I had already handed her money for them.  She didn’t buy anything for Micah all night. She walked with and talked to me all the way to the parking garage and back to the club.  After just a couple of minutes with Micah, she came back to talk to me on the next walk.  She presumably wanted me to come on this outing with them, at least that’s what Judy said.

Laura, seems to me to be all the things I described above: strong, capable, confident, a partner not a clinger on.  She’s tough and athletic which is something I’ve always found appealing.  But when she took her hair down, and she wore the high heels, never once complaining about how hard they are to walk in, and walked a lot. She looked beautiful; sexy even.

Laura is also too young.  She’s only 22.  I’m 35.  There’s a whole span of history and culture she knows nothing about and I do.  I’ve strongly adhered to the “half your age plus seven rule of not being creepy”, which clearly dictates that I can’t be with anyone under 24.

Also, in case I haven’t mentioned it previously… Laura is a girl.  A full-fledged girl with floppy chesticles and a real vagina… I assume.

I never truly ruled out the possibility of accidentally falling in love with a woman.  Lord knows, a part of my heart always has and always will belong to Heather, but Heather is safe and those feelings are far more about the unconditional love and acceptance I get from her, and not so much about physical or sexual attraction.  Heather represents something I’ve never had in my life and I never expect to have again.  Laura… Laura is something new.

But I have been with a woman.  I know what it’s all about.  I’ve performed oral sex, exactly one time, on a woman and I was quite sure, from that one time, it was not something I ever wanted to do again.  I can’t imagine feeling differently about that, just because it’s a different woman.

It would be horrible of me to try to get over it and fail.  How could I do something so hurtful to someone I cared about?  The risk is too great, and not worth taking.

Besides, this may all be one-sided.

~

I’m blowing this out of proportion.

I’m sure.

Laura is something I don’t often seen in women, something that I like and I’m sure that’s what this is about.

It’s novelty.

It’s not real.

It’ll pass.

It’s all in my head.

It’s very confusing.

Dirty Old Man

Alex was the curiosity of the EMT class.  Of latin descent, he has tan skin with thick black hair and gorgeous brown eyes.  It’s clear Alex works out and for good reason.

What made Alex the curiosity of the class was that we never knew what he would be wearing.  The first night of class, it was about a quadrillion degrees outside and he wore soccer shorts and a t-shirt; typical college kid attire.  “Nice,” I thought, “that look is working for him… and for me.”  The next few classes he wore sweats, fairly ordinary.  A couple of weeks in, however he came to class wearing flannel lounge pants and a hoody.  By this time, giving Alex a once over was a routine practice for Jafet and me.  We looked at the pajama-ed spectacle and then we looked at each other in disbelief.  (Why do people leave the house in their jammies?)  (Why do grown bloggers use words like “jammies”?) (Anywho)

Most classes Alex came to school in work pants and a T-shirt emblazoned (you should pardon the pun) with his fire academy logo.  “Now I know why he always looks so fit,” I thought.

One day Alex blew us all away arriving to class wearing black wool slacks, a purple dress shirt and coordinating tie.  The clothes fit him nicely and flatter his physique.  You have to know the whole class, including Mr. William’s, took note of how he was dressed!

Alex is very gung-ho!  One night the guy who runs the concessions stand got mugged and hit over the head.  We called 911, but Mr. Williams treated him while we waited for the responders.  Alex was right there in the thick of it helping with the assessment… With no gloves on; the number one rule of EMT-ing.

In my opinion, Alex was one of the best in the class.  Better than me in skill if not in knowledge.

He showed up at school Wednesday night, I guess to pick up his course completion certificate, but he stayed to help the students with skills.  While Mr. William’s was giving lecture to the class, Alex and I were out in the hall inspecting the equipment we would be using and talking about our future plans.  The subject of Ambulance Driver Licenses, and the cost of insurance to the operating companies came up.  That’s when he said it.

“I’m 18, so I probably won’t be getting hired for a while.”

I almost dropped whatever I was holding as I stared at him, mouth agape.  “I’m sorry,” I began, “did you just say you are 18 years old?”  He confirmed it.  “When is your birthday?” I couldn’t believe he could have been a “child” in class.

“March,” he answered.  “I’ll be 19 next month.  My plan is to be a medic (paramedic) by 21.”

“I can’t believe it,” I said a little too emphatically.  “I knew you were young, but I had no idea you were this young!”

I kinda had a secret crush on him.  I mean it’s not like I had many any lacivious lustful thoughts or anything but damn!!

I’m a dirty old man…

All In Just A Few Short Hours

After work yesterday I went to the school to sit in on the EMT class.  Last night was a very long, drawn-out, not terribly succinct lecture on anatomy, given by sir stutters-a-lot.  It was good review, but I remembered pretty much everything he talked about.

Mr. Williams gave “the kids” the test in groups.  I can’t remember if we took it in groups or individually, but I think they should have to take it as individuals.  I hung around in the front of the room with the other non-students and watched and waited.  I helped grade the tests, which most of the kids stood around and watched because they wanted to know how they did.

They seemed to be under the misimpression that I’m someone special, because they kept asking me questions.

Can we look at the test papers again and see what we missed? I don’t know you’ll have to ask Johaun. (Johaun, pronounced Joe-Hahn, is the Teachers Assistant)

Will we review the tests in class? I doubt it, but you could ask Johaun about it.

Will there be another test on Wednesday night? I don’t think so, but maybe.

What will it be about?  I don’t know.  You’ll have to ask Johaun.  Now stop talking to me, I’m trying to grade this test.

Are you sensing a trend yet?  Johaun is the TA.  Johaun is the man who knows the plan (assuming there really is a plan.)  Johaun is the one with the authority.  I’m only putting on an act while I wield the red pen.

~~~~~

I didn’t get home until nearly 10:00.  I hadn’t had dinner.  I didn’t have any clothes ironed and ready to wear today.  My kitchen was a mess and all the cat food bowls were dirty as were both of my blenders; which I would need this morning for feeding my household.

I changed clothes and went into the bathroom to… take care of business.  While I was sitting there, Mischa came wandering in and stood on his back legs putting his front legs on my knee and asking for some attention.  I noticed a significant amount of mucous in the corner of his right eye, so I used a tissue to wipe that away and scratched his head a little bit.  He walked away and came back a few minutes later.  I noticed that his eye lid was glistening and he was blinking his eye a lot, keeping it closed more than opened.  I scooped him up and held him in my arms and said, “you’re not going to like this very much, but hopefully it will help you” before I dripped a few drops of Visene is his eye.  I was right, he didn’t like it much.  I was wrong, it didn’t help any.  I looked into his eye but I didn’t see any obvious injuries or problems.  It looks like the corner of his eye, might be cut or torn slightly, leaving a larger space than his left eye, but I may just be imagining it.  If the favoring and/or discharge persists, we’ll have to make a dreaded trip to the vets office.  He’ll like that even less.

I quickly emptied, refilled and started the dishwasher.  I chopped the green onions and cilantro that would go into my Chicken A l’Orange that I had for dinner.  Fortunately, I had some left over rice in the refrigerator so I didn’t have to cook that too.  While the Chicken was browning I mixed a cocktail that I discovered a week ago at The Olive Garden.  Citron Vodka with Lemoncello and Strawberry puree.  Really tasty.  Really fun to make.  Really shouldn’t have bought the stuff to make it at home, but I digress.

I ate dinner while watching Live with Regis and Kelly.  It’s their 10th anniversary and naturally Gelman, the producer, is making a big hoopla about it.  I used to watch Live with Regis and Kathy Lee every day, but I really watched it for Kathy Lee and I only stuck around after her departure out of idle curiosity and just long enough to find out who would replace her.  I started recording the show again yesterday, because after 117 years on the air, Regis Philbin is finally retiring… Apparently.  I’m curious about how things will go and who will replace him.  (In my opinion they should just end the show, but what do I know.)

Chris Colfer from Glee was one of their guests and they played a clip from tonight’s show.

SPOILER ALERT:  Kurt and Blaine are standing at a counter in a coffee shop.  Blaine orders, “I’ll have a tall regular drip and a [I forget the name of the actual drink] for this guy.  And let’s get one of those [insert some cookie or pastry item here] to share, please.” He takes out his wallet and begins fishing for the money to pay for his order.

Kurt has an astonished look on his face as Blaine turns and looks at him.  “You know my coffee,” Kurt says disbelieving.

“Of course I do silly,” Blaine says while Kurt reaches into his pocket for the cash.  Blaine smiles sweetly while looking Kurt in the eyes and tells him to put his money away before walking out of frame with his coffee and cookie.

Kurt looks at the cashier as he reaches for his coffee drink and says, “This is my new favorite holiday.”

AND, SCENE.

Kurt has an astonished look on his face as Blaine turns and looks at him.  “You know my coffee,” Kurt says disbelieving, as I say to no one in particular, “OF COURSE HE DOES, stupid.  He’s in love with you and has been since the day you met.”

I ironed my clothes for today and I went to bed.

I dreamed.

~~~~~

I was at the school, sitting at one of the tables, grading a test.  Students were around and talking, but not crowded around me, as was the reality last night.  Other seats at the table which I sat were filled with students, primarily chatting amongst themselves.  I’m aware of a student sitting next to me and as I dream and my unconscious mind must fill the void, the student takes on the form of this guy. –>

My focus is on the paper in front of me.  My right hand holds a pen as I scan the page prepared to mark wrong answers.  My left hand is lightly placed on top of the table, my fingers slightly curled leaving a space below my palm.

As I continue to grade the test I’m aware that the student has placed his hand on the table as well, near my hand, but not touching.  I smile lightly as a tingle runs down my spine.  As my mind narrates the dream and fills in the voids of knowledge and emotion, I’m aware that there has been an unspoken attraction toward this boy and an uncertain perception of reciprocation.  I continue to grade the test.

After a brief, trepidatious moment – perhaps he was testing the waters – he lifts his hand off of the table and slides it under my arm, placing his hand back on the table on the nearer side of mine.  He scoots his chair closer and there is electricity in the air between our bodies.  My smile grows and spreads to my eyes as I briefly redirect my gaze at his strong, sinewy hand, which grazes ever so slightly against my thumb.  I return my attention to the test.  I don’t know exactly what is happening, but I like it.

After another moment, perhaps because I have not resisted, perhaps because he sees my smile, he turns his hand over and slides it under mine, interlacing his fingers with mine.  I stop grading the test and I turn my head to look at this boys handsome, sweet face.   As I look at him, he turns and looks back at me with the kindest eyes I think I’ve ever seen and he smiles a smile that conveys so much innocence and sincerity.  I am taken aback for a moment as I realize the air of casualness with which he performed this act of simple affection, completely devoid of any self-consciousness.  I realize that while I was aware of his presence and his movements, I was not aware that he had been engaged in conversation with another student, the entire time and this feels like the most natural thing in the world.

The class ends and he asks to meet me at my house.  I have to make a stop on the way so I tell him I’ll see him there.  As we part ways I begin to worry.  I’m not your stereo typical gay man.  I’m not out, running around looking for the next hook up, the next easy lay.  I want a relationship with substance and commitment.  What if I misread his intention.  What if he just wants to fool around and then move on?

I stand in front of my apartment door, knowing, inexplicably, that he is inside waiting for me.  I’m nervous and anxious about what I’ll find on the other side of the door, but I know what I want to say and I’m optimistic about his reaction.

I open the door and look inside and there he is, sitting on my couch looking happily toward me as I walk in, encouraged about the direction this conversation will take, hopeful that he wants more than just a casual fling.

I walk in, close the door behind me…

And then I woke up.

~~~~~

Today, I am sad.

I Survived to Tell the Tale, Will They?

On the first night of my EMT class my teacher, Mr. Williams, spent an inordinate amount of time talking about how hard the class is (he was right) and how most of the students weren’t going to make it to the end (he was right) and about all the possible ways that we might get kicked out of the class (lot’s of people did.)  He was quick to tell us that we weren’t going to be able to get through the class on our own (I did) and if we were smart we would form study groups early and rely on each other (wasn’t for me.)

Mr. Williams talked for a good forty-five minutes about how most of us were doomed to failure in this arena and when he was finally finished, I thought, Oh thank God.  That was ridiculously unnecessary.  Finally we can get on to the business of class. And then the “co-instructor”, Mr. Harvey, got up and said a lot of the same things… with a st-st-st-studder.  This guy went on for a good twenty minutes saying all the same things that Mr. Williams had just said, just sl-sl-sl-slower.  Obviously, Mr. Williams repeated a lot of the things since it took him twice as long as Mr. Harvey to say it.

When Mr. Harvey was finished, I breathed another sigh of relief and looked at my watch.  More than an hour of the first class had passed and we hadn’t really even started yet.  Finally we could get to it.

Um, the TA got up next and, you know,  um, said a lot of the same things, you know, that um, you know had already been said.  Um, he included a lot of, you know, “um”s and “you know”s, you know.  But, you know, um, things were looking up, ’cause, um, you know, he only spent five or ten minutes, you know, talking about it.

This is getting ridiculous! I thought to myself as I consciously instructed myself not to take any of it to heart and not to let them succeed in discouraging me.  I was determined to finish the class and not allow the naysayers to shake my resolve.  One by one, each of the instructors, and helpers and former students and possibly a janitor, anyone who wasn’t part of MY class, got up in the front of the room and told us about how we weren’t going to be able to finish this class and how it was going to be an impossible struggle for each of us.  Finally, everyone had spoken but one.  It had been nearly two hours and I was desperately ready for us to move on and do something productive.  Mr. Williams turned to the one young lady who hadn’t spoken yet and asked her, “Do you want to say anything?”

“No,” she said, “that’s OK.  You guys have all pretty much covered it.”

“Ah, c’mon,” he chided.  “Everyone else has talked.  You might as well too.”

So she did. She got up in front of the class and told us all how this class was going to be the hardest thing we’ve ever done (not so sure about that) and how many of the students wouldn’t make it to the end (she was right) and that we would just have to work really hard to get through (have you read my blog lately?)

That first night, the class, which was supposed to be over at 9:20 lasted until after 10:30.  I left determined to do my best.  Determined not to let him rattle me.  And determined to do everything in my power to prove them wrong.  I also left that night determined that I wouldn’t spend a minute longer dealing with that man than I had to.

~~~~~

On my last night of class, after finishing my final exam and earning a 90% on the 167 question test, I told Mr. Williams that I wanted to come back and “just sit in” on the next class, my motivation being to keep refreshing the information.

Mr. Williams said, “JUST sit in?”

I said, “Well, I guess I could help out, if you want.”

“Good,” he replied enthusiastically.

I walked out of the room that night surprised how much the situation had changed.  I still think his tactics are less than productive and I would rather see him be encouraging and supportive but he’s going to do what he’s going to do.

~~~~~

Mr. Williams seemed to be pleased that I planned to come back and I assume he wants to put me to work with the new bunch of students.  I had assumed that he would contact me prior to the start of the class to talk to me about his needs or expectations and any arrangements that might need to be made, but it’s pretty cut and dried, I guess; show up, work with the new students.  I never heard from him the whole six weeks.

~~~~~

Two weeks ago, I looked at the on-line course catalog to find out when he was teaching so I could be sure and show up to the first class.  It said that this semester Mr. Williams was teaching a Tuesday/Thursday class.  I thought about the first night of my class and wondered if it would be similar.  Mr. Williams mellowed a lot over the course of my class, and I wondered if we’d be dealing with a kinder, gentler Mr. Williams, of it would be the return of Captain Blood.

I didn’t really want to have to make a speech in front of the class about how horrible this is going to be for them, but I remembered the last girl to have to speak in my class and imagined he wouldn’t let me off the hook.  I began to formulate my speech in advance:

“Boy, they made it sound really bad didn’t they?  It’s not really; or anyway it doesn’t have to be.

“If you came here tonight thinking this class was going to be easy, you were wrong.  If you came here tonight thinking you were going to get by just listening to the lectures, but not reading the book, you were wrong.  If you came here tonight thinking, this class was going to be a lot of work, you were wrong.  If you came here tonight think this class was going to be a lot of work, take however much work you thought this class was going to be and double it, or triple it.  It’s going to be at least that much work.

“If you’re not committed to this class, to learning the material you might as well not waste your time.  BUT, if you’re committed to learning this stuff, to doing well in this class and if you’re willing to make the sacrifices for the next four or five months of this class to make sure you do, then you can forget everything they just said.  Just work hard, do your best, and this can actually be fun.”

I imagined giving my speech and wondered how Mr. Williams would feel about it, but I wasn’t going to participate in the fright fest that they tried to create my first night.

I decided to leave work early on the first night, so I cold get to the class ahead of the new students and check in with Mr. Williams and be there for the whole class.  So I left work, yesterday at 4:00.  I went home to change clothes and feed Mischa.  If my class was any indication, I could expect the class to run very late and I didn’t want to make him wait ’til I got home to eat.

I showed up to campus about 4:50 and after running by the restroom and stopping at the concession stand to get a drink, headed into the building that housed our classroom…

And found a sign on the door stating the Tuesday/Thursday class to be cancelled.

I called Mr. Williams.  Turns out they cancelled the class due to funding and he’s teaching the Monday/Wednesday class again…  Which means, I missed the first night of class altogether.

Amber Alert

I was running absurdly late for work yesterday, made all the more unreasonable by the fact that I decided not to take a shower in the morning.  I intended to restart my gym routine this week and I would, of course, take a shower after my workout.  I needed to get to work earlier so I could go to the gym.  I piddled around the house a little bit due to the “extra time” I thought I had allowed myself by not showering first.  And then a few minutes after I ate my breakfast, I started getting that feeling.  You know the one.  The one we don’t discuss in polite society…  woops.  The one that says, You are never going to make it out of the house without a stop by the porcelain throne, first. Dammit!

All the “extra time” I had allotted myself was suddenly gone, and I was very late!  Now I’m not even going to be able to justify time away from work to go to the gym! Major Planning Fail!

I was standing in front of the mirror, working on my now arduous oral hygiene regime when I got a text on my iPhone from a 918 phone number:

918 Phone Number, 9:45 AM: Hey Kevin!!!! Guess who?!

Waiting waiting waiting…..(Jeopardy Theme)

Clue: been friends since 1992

I had a feeling I already knew, only I thought I had a cell phone number for this person.  I thought I had a cell phone number for everyone in Tulsa that I cared to interact with.  There are other people in the 918 that I wish not to interact with ever again and so I didn’t want to reply blindly.

I texted the number to my mother to find out if it was a number she recognized.  Mom confirmed the identity and I realized the number I had for this person was one digit off.

I waited a while to reply.  I needed to finish getting ready and get to work and I didn’t need a conversation with anyone to slow me down.

Me, 11:28 AM: Hey Amber!  How’s it going?  Been a while!

Her: Hey!  Good!  Congragts on EMT!!

Me: How’d you know that?

Her: Haha…..I’m watching you…..don’t look over your shoulder…..

Me: That would be impressive.  There’s a 23rd floor window over my shoulder.  With closed blinds.

Her: Ha!  I had to e-mail your mother to see if you were still alive!!! Lol.

How the story tracks from “to see if you were still alive” to “Congrats on EMT” I do not know.

~~~~~

Amber and I became friends in 1992 when we both worked in the grocery store in my mother’s back yard.  I’ve mentioned this before.  There used to be a big empty field behind our house and then they built a grocery store there.

I swore at the time that I had met Amber somewhere before, but neither of us could figure out where.  To this day, it seems like I had to have already known her (though, to be honest, my impression is that we weren’t friendly.  I thought she was a snob, and in fact didn’t talk to her for a while at work because of it) but who knows.

One summer evening, I had gone to the store to pick up my pay check and Amber was just getting off work.  I ran into her in the magazine aisle as she was heading back to the staff lockers to get her purse.  We chatted for a little while and it came up that we were both hungry.  Amber had a car and I had money burning a whole in my pocket (nothing new about that) so I convinced her that she should drive us to my favorite (no longer in existence) restaurant and I would buy her dinner.

We found that we had a lot in common at the time; at least enough to build a friendship on.  We started hanging out regularly on weekends.  She would drive and I would pay.  We became good friends.

Amber is two years older than I, and at the end of the summer she started classes at Oral Roberts University and I started my Junior Year at Broken Arrow Senior High School.  Our friendship continued and we hung out many week-ends and talked on the phone all the time.  It occurs to me now, Amber was probably the only person with whom my mother never rushed me off the phone.

Amber is beautiful and very flirtatious and never wanted for guys attention.  Eventually she told me about a guy who was asking her out.  She told me she really wasn’t all that into him but she was going to go anyway.  That seemed strange to me, but then what do I know about relationships.  I said nothing.  A while later, I was on the phone with Amber one day and she told me that she was “going steady” with this guy and that we couldn’t be friends anymore because he didn’t think it was right for her to spend time with another guy when she was “with” him.  I told her that was stupid, we had been friends for a while,  I was here first and she didn’t even like him all that much.  I told her it was her loss.

A couple of weeks later she called me and told me I had been right and that she wasn’t going to see him any more.  I told her this was the only time I was going to take her back after being dumped for a boyfriend.  She promised never to do it again, and she didn’t.

A while later Amber met Brian, a handsome, brilliant, multi-talented, disgustingly self-confident man who fell head over heals in love with her the minute he laid eyes on her.  Amber’s biggest complaint about Brian was that he wasn’t jealous of our relationship.  A few months before I moved to California, they were married, have been together ever since and have three children together.

In college Amber studied Physical Therapy and she was all about physical fitness and nutrition even though she never struggled with her weight a day in her life.  She even joined Weight Watchers even though she was thin.  I used to resent that attitude, but now I understand it better.  Despite getting her degree, she hasn’t worked a day in her adult life.  She’s a stay at home wife and mother and her brilliant husband makes more than enough money that she’ll never have to think twice about that lifestyle choice.

When I moved to California I used to communicate regularly with Amber by way of instant messenger programs.  I enjoyed implementing these tools to stay in touch with people I cared about while I was working.  Though there is only a two-hour time difference, by the time I get home from work and get settled in and have dinner, it is too late to call people back “home” even if I were so inclined, which I’m really not.  I’m not a phone person.  So using Instant Messenger to talk during the waking hours was a nice treat.

The problem was, Amber usually initiated our conversations and they were usually about nothing.  She would sit for hours typing messages to me while I was trying to work and they were about things like recipes and her workout that day and how she’d just found out there were x number of calories in y food item.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to her, I just didn’t have time for meaningless rambling while I was trying to work.  I started ignoring her messages and then pretending I had been away from my desk while she was typing and “Oh so sorry I didn’t see all that!” lying.

We drifted.  A few times I tried to have deep, personal conversations with her and she just blew them off and diffused them with her idea of humor.  We drifted more.

Several years ago I began having conflict with my mother.  Amber has known my mother for years, but she know’s the mother that outsiders are allowed to know, not the mother that her children know.  One day, Amber asked me if I had any plans to come back for a visit any time soon.  Up until then I had always made time for Amber and Brian when I came to town.  I told her I really didn’t have any plans and didn’t really know when I would because I was no longer on good terms with my mother and I couldn’t see myself coming to visit her, maybe never again.

The appropriate response to that would have been sympathy for a friend.  Curiosity about what could have gone so terribly wrong and why I might never want to visit my mother again.  Understanding for how hard parent-adult child relationships can be.

Her response?  “Don’t say that!  As a mother it hurts me to hear a child talk about not talking to their mother.  You don’t have kids so you can’t understand…”

Few things in this world piss me off more, or faster than, “You don’t have ____, so you can’t understand” or “You aren’t ____, so you can’t understand.”  It just belittle’s the person’s intelligence and it’s not a valid argument for anything.  We drifted some more.

A few years ago, an e-mail was making the rounds.  By today’s blogging terms I suppose it would be a “meme”.  It was one of those, replace-my-answers-to-these-questions-with-your-answers-and-forward-this-to-all-your-friends-and-back-to-me, blah, blah, blah e-mails.  One of the questions on the e-mail was about how many piercings you have.

When I left Oklahoma, I had one ear pierced.  Interestingly, right now, I can’t remember which one it was.  Several years ago now, my friend Heather begged, bullied, convinced me to get the other ear pierced stating that times had changed and it was no longer trendy to wear only one ear ring.  She promised that it was not a statement about one’s sexuality.  I hadn’t yet worked out my issues and I cared a great deal about that fact.  When I completed the e-mail and sent it out to my friends (and my sister) I simply answered the question honestly.

“How many piercings do you have?”

“Just my ears”.

I wondered if anyone would notice or comment.  Amber’s response?  “So what?!?  Are you gay now?”  Coming from the private school, good-little-Christian-girl background that I know she does, I automatically interpreted the tone as being derogatory and insulting (I still do).  We drifted completely.

In contrast to that, over the years Amber has asked me repeatedly, almost obsessively about my love life.  “Do you have a girlfriend yet?”  “Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”  “Don’t you want to have a girlfriend?”  “When are you going to get a girlfriend?”  “You need a woman.”  Somewhere inside me, every time she asked these questions I knew the answer, I just couldn’t face it and I sure as hell couldn’t tell her.  Her incessant prying combined with my own internalized shame only served to make me resent her for pushing.  I always answered her tersely and she just laughed it off as thought it were nothing.  She never could take the hint that this was something she ought not ask me about.

~~~~~

We exchanged text messages as conversation for about 15 minutes when she finally asked:

Her: OK- so- do you have a woman yet??

I waited several minutes to answer.  I wanted to tell her the truth, but– well, there is no but.  I was scared.  Plain and simple.

Me: What are you?  My grandmother?  Would you like to pinch my cheeks and talk about my punum too?  No.  No woman.

She waited nearly twenty minutes to respond.  I wondered if she’d finally gotten the message and was leaving the topic alone.  I wondered if she was considering the possibilities and going to ask me, again, if I was gay “now”.  I made up my mind to answer her honestly if she asked.  I wondered if she had gotten her feelings hurt and was pouting in silence as she was prone to do.  And then she replied.

Her: hee hee hee.  Oh well, just checking.