In The Parade - Out of the Box
July 2, 2009
by Richard Neptune
Out of the Box.
My tidy system for categorizing relationships is showing some strain.
Lifelong friendships that are nourishing and soul-changing are hard to come by. Friendships like these take work, commitment and time, and they require compromise. I can count on one hand and perhaps part of another the number of my friends who would fit in this category.
Gay or straight, it doesnít matter. Real friendships are†more difficult†to maintain than relationships.†The effort to keep in touch, stay involved, and sacrifice time and talent all take effort and purpose. You canít simply plant a seed and never water it and still expect fruit.
Friendships as deep as this seem to be even more elusive in the gay community. Gay friendships, most often, start with a sexual encounter and build from there. Sometimes the encounter leads to a quasi-friendship of nods and winks when you run into the other guy at a party or event, like say Gay Pride. Not me and not my friends.
I am a recovering Catholic (and recently found out probably Jewish as well), and I was raised to believe that everything fits in its own neat box. Each of the boxes in this assortment sits in its own cubby, alone, still and quiet, until the day that you have to remove it from its safe place, open it and deal with whatís inside that box.†
Boxes are good for other things as well.†I have several cowboy hats in their own boxes on the top shelf of my closet. I have a small wooden box that fits all my smaller tools for hanging a picture or fixing my reading glasses. I have a cigar box for loose change. I have a jewelry box for watches, rings and assorted rainbow beads, and finally, I have a box for coins that I collect (so far 20 Indian Head nickels and one 1900 silver dollar).
My friendships and relationships are in their own boxes as well. Here they are:
Box 1: My ex. He and I have remained friends, so he gets his own box.
Box 2: Friends that were developed and cultivated without sexual intimacy but with emotional intimacy.
Box 3: Friends developed through associations such as darts, bowling and Gay Rodeo.
Box 4: Men I have dated and it just didnít work out, through no fault of either party, so we remain friendly.
Box 5: Men I have dated, and for reasons known only to them and to me, the relationships ended (he was either a coward, a whore, a drug user, or into extreme methods of getting off).
Box 6: For friendships gone wrong, not repairable, not negotiable and therefore consigned to Box 6, never to be opened again or even thought of.
At Pride Festís Friday Night Street Blast last month, I ran into an acquaintance whom I had not seen in more than a year. Back in the day, he was introduced to me by a mutual friend named, oh, letís say Timothy. A few years back I had put Timothy in Box 6 (for reasons that I donít need to disclose here). After a few minutes of idle chat he mentioned that Timothyís fag hag ó letís call her Erin ó was meeting him there and was bringing Timothy with her. In her purse. Wow! I stood there in shock.
Timothy was dead at 42, found in the bathtub in his apartment after he had a heart attack. One part of my brain was spinning with regret about things unsaid, apologies never made or accepted. Another part of my brain was spinning as I wondered what Timothy would feel like if he knew he was at Gay Pride in a fake Prada bag.
Iím reconsidering my method of placing people in tidy little boxes. Perhaps I need to be a bit more forgiving. Perhaps I should be more understanding of the human condition and the frailties inherent to a body that is mostly made of water and held together by clay.
And to Timothy, I wish you the peace in death that seemed so elusive to you in life.