Best Friend

As is probably obvious, I write this stuff as incidents happen and send it as email to a friend or two. If I get interested in them, I make little edits as I send them to more people. After a sufficient amount of banging on them has taken place, some of them get to the point that I think they’re entertaining enough to post, a decision often reached rashly, as is also obvious.

What I’m trying to do right now is describe what it feels like when your dearest friend, at whose wedding you were Best Man 35 years ago and with whom you had had a rich and vibrant correspondence and meetings as often as possible, stopped answering your letters after you came out to him and his wife the last time you saw them. And now he has discovered your web site and breaks 33 years of stony silence with a short but chatty email saying how happy he is to have found you, says he loves reading your stuff, gives you two email addresses and a telephone number at which he might be reached, and salutes you as “your old friend.”

Yeah. The laughter, the tears, the running around the house screaming. Still, the bottom line is that I’m old, sick, half-crippled, and depressed, but yet, yet I have not lost my curiosity.

I really must know whether, if I yield to my desire to respond, he will ever hint that it might have been even slightly better had he broken his silence a year, a decade, a generation earlier.

Note: I celebrated the new year by writing back. I discovered that my coming out to them occurred by purest happenstance just at that point in time that he simply got too busy to write or call me.

Oh.

I thought about this a lot.

And finally it struck me that I, too, had walked away from relationships…and, unlike my friend, for no good reason. Remember, in those days folks who were discovered to be gay were routinely shunned by their churches, expelled by their schools, fired from their jobs, disinherited by their families, and/or just killed. I got off easy.  All I lost was my best friend.

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