Sunday, January 31, 2010

Embarrassing Things That Make Me Cry #1

It goes without saying that this is a total cop out of a post, but I was snowed in at a friend’s house. We had over a foot of snow to dig through this morning.

I really don’t know how many of you like video posts, but I had a recent discussion with a friend about crying over movies and under what conditions we like to watch movies that make us cry.

Babe is one movie I can pop in and will cry every time at the ending. It’s nice to watch a movie that suggests we can overcome the expectations of our naysayers. (Don’t watch it if you’re afraid of spoilers.

Most of us really aren’t what those who condemn homosexuality want us or expect us to be. We just have to show them who we are and what we’re capable of. Like:

Someday, I hope I’ll be cheered on for doing something seemingly against all odds and comforted by a fatherly voice:

“That’ll do, GMB. That’ll do.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History, Bachelorette #5

I’ll attempt to be as even-handed as possible, but this stands as the worst date I’ve ever been on, so forgive me if I sound a bit negative.

Also, sorry this one’s a bit long.



Height: 5’5”
Hair: Brunette
Eyes: Brown
Talent: Watercolors Random Fact: She married before any of her returned missionary brothers.

The Date (w/background):

Since 8th grade, Glenda had been an on-again, off-again friend.  We knew each other, had fun conversations, but when we made no special efforts to hang out or maintain comments when we didn’t have a class together or find ourselves in circumstances in which we’d see each other regularly. 

This was the case until high school.  Once we had the freedom to drive and construct our own schedules, we really defined ourselves as people and a group of friends. 

Towards the end of our junior year, Nate and I made a pact.  We were going to deconstruct the exclusive, clique structure of our high school by seeking out the lost and the lonely and inviting them to be a part of our group of friends (essentially consisting of Cole, Jacqueline, Emily, Payton, Chenese, me, and Nate).  circle of friends

As a result, our core group of friends nearly doubled as Serenity, Bronson, Glenda, Arthur, and others became regulars.  Although we never discussed why they became part of the group, they each expressed gratitude in their own way. 

I suppose Glenda did so by flirting.  Although she joked about becoming a celibate Mormon nun for the rest of her life, there was clearly a very sexual undertone to the way she interacted with us, which manifested itself in the form of talking about hypothetical dates and marriages as well as teasing the boys with the fuller parts of her figure.

Arthur was one particular target of this appreciation.  He was highly interested in her and she, like most teenage girls, appreciated the attention that he gave her.  Their relationship became something of a game. 

Although they’ve since grown up, at the time, they were like a couple of second graders.  When accused of having a crush on each other, their immediate reaction was denial (despite a steady stream of dates and make-out sessions).  She didn’t want to get tied up in the cultural stigma of a serious relationship with someone who hadn’t served an LDS mission yet while he went along with not calling it anything so as to continue said dates and make-out sessions.make out session

Fast forward four years:

“It’s been so long, GMB!  How have you been?  I hardly recognize you!” she exclaimed pulling me down for a strong embrace.

“I’m doing great,” I said with my head over her shoulder.  “Emily and I decided it’s been 3 years and a couple of months.”

Releasing me from a rather large hug, she said, “Wow.  It definitely feels that long.”

She had just returned from a mission in South America and it was time for the ritual welcome home activities: an address in church, family get togethers, and parties to catch up with all of your closest friends. 

At this little gathering, most of us were able to make it.  Arthur , however, was visibly absent as things had not ended well between them.  The night was still highly enjoyable.  We listened to her stories of culture and conversion and caught up on what she’d missed. 

Nate and Chenese’s wedding was amazing!” Cole noted.  It was just what we’d always imagined it would be. 

“Oh,” I said, “and there are so many good movies and TV shows you’ve been missing out on.  You’d love Ugly Betty and I think you’d like Bridge to Terabithia.”

Something clicked.  Glenda seized upon that point.  Naturally, she loved movies.   I thought nothing of it. 

“Really?” she mused. “What other movies do I need to see?”

I, Cole, and Emily named off a few: 

“Let’s see… Mean Girls…”
…Dreamgirls and Hairspray”

“Are any of those still in theaters?”

Stardust is still in the dollar theater,” I said.

“Great!  We’ll have to find a day to go and see it.”


What I didn’t understand at the time was that by “we” she didn’t mean GMB, Emily, Cole, Glenda, and others.  She really meant GMB and Glenda.

“Hey, we’re going to go see Stardust tonight.  Do you think you’ll make it?” she asked a couple of days later over the phone.

“I’ll be there.  I’d love to see it again.”

There I sat waiting outside the theater.  Ten minutes early and wondering where everyone else was as usual. 

With a few minutes to spare, Glenda sped into the parking lot in the same large red pickup she’d driven since she was sixteen.  I couldn’t help but chuckle when she jumped two feet out of the car. 

“Are you sure you don’t need a parachute for that jump?” I teased.

“So you’re gonna start that again?  We’re going to miss the previews.”

We got in line for tickets and before I knew it she was off to the bathroom. 

“I’m off to the restroom then I’ll meet you in the lobby,” she said.

I then knew I was in dating hell.  Not only that, but Cole and Emily were not on their way to save me. 

I was left to purchase our tickets. 

I’d been duped into a date.

I was not happy.

awkward-first-date Deceived, I passive-aggressively kept conversation to a polite minimum.   I had an excuse.  We were there to see a movie, right?  Not to chit-chat or flirt.

I looked over her occasionally to gauge her reaction.  Her shoulders were very tight.  She was anxious.  Curious about my thoughts on the date.  In my peripheral vision, I picked up on her making similar glances at my reaction. 

It was then that I realized, she’d come back in a very common state of mind for returned missionaries.  Marriage was the first thing on her mind.  I tried to keep my anger muted. 

I laughed at all of the funny parts and took in a deep breath in all of the suspenseful parts.  However, every time I just couldn’t maintain my composure, I’d look at my watch wondering How long until this is over?

Our goodbye was a stiff hug seconds after leaving the theater.

“I’ve got to get to my homework,” I said as I looked towards my car. 

We made no eye contact and only spoke to each other on a handful of occasions following our date.  She blamed me for the date going badly. 

“GMB’s just become so arrogant since he lost that weight.  None of us are good enough for his time,” she said days later on a visit with Emily to bring some soup to an ailing Cole.  (I suppose she was referring to me looking at the watch). 

“Glenda,” Emily said, “GMB’s not a selfish person.  He’s just not interested in dating at this point.  He might not have been a total gentleman, but I can see why he acted the way he did.  He had reason to feel like he was tricked.”

Slowly, Glenda began disassociating herself from the group and was married a few months later to a nicer, quieter young man.


The Lesson: Sometimes our desire to be obedient and do as we’re instructed keeps us from treating each other with the respect we deserve.


End, Part 5.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Laugh of the Day #9

In all honesty, I was just feeling lazy. The next post in the series is about my worst date ever and I wanted to get it right (in writing, that is-- that date could never have gone right). That said, I was just in the mood for something random and Glee-related.

This is a commercial for the premiere of the show in Japan:

I’ve heard from some friends in Latin America who love the show. Asia doesn’t surprise me either. Maybe it’s the key to world unity and peace?

Put the guns away and watch ‘teenagers’ sing and try to win each other’s hearts. That sounds like a plan to me.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History, Bachelorette #4


Height: 5’9”
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue
Talent: Ward Choir
Random Fact: She and my brother were in a musical together although they only spoke to each other once.

The Date:

That first day of class, I remember staring at her, but I’m not quite sure why. Was it her laugh as she courteously laughed at the teacher’s opening day jokes? Maybe the uncanny resemblance to my friend Chenese? Or perhaps it was her sense of style which seemed to complement mine somehow?

The classroom was cozy. The padded folding chairs were lined up side by side, their arm rests removed. I suppose it was so we’d all sit a little closer, feel a little more connected, …and perhaps start dating each other.

You see it was an LDS institute class. For those of you unfamiliar with institute, it’s essentially a set of religion classes for young single adults 18-29. There are also activities such as speed dating and dances directly geared towards getting guys and girls to date, marry, and have babies (in that order).

LDS Institute

Slowly, we gravitated towards each other. I told her it was because her shoes fascinated me and she told me that she was curious about why I was always writing in my notebook. Generally, I was outlining a paper or drafting a poem rather than paying a lot of attention in class.

What struck me about Dani was her perfection. Following Nate and Chenese’s one-year anniversary, I had a real desire to have what they did—a deep intellectual, spiritual, personal (and likely physical) bond. Dani’s resemblance to Chenese provoked an abiding hope in me that I might have something just as deep and beautiful.

I was committed to making this the best date possible. I planned a week in advance. I took her to a local restaurant, and I introduced her to the specialty. We went to a basketball game and then went to dessert afterwards.

The conclusion of this story is a lot like that of (500) Days of Summer. Just like in the movie, things didn’t really turn out the way I’d hoped. My expectations and reality told two different stories:

expectations reality


I saw myself sweeping her off her feet. I would be witty and romantic as we sat down to a nice dinner conversation. I would look into her eyes for the first time out of class at that basketball game and we’d feel that spark. I’d feel my issues with touch dissolve as our lips pursed for my first, single good night kiss. Months later, I’d recreate the night as I got to one knee and proposed.


Dinner conversation kept returning to the same topic of class. The noise of the basketball game made me anxious. It only made me want to touch and be touched less. Every time I’d look in her eyes, it was like a barrier was there, but on my sidea plate of glass dulling every sound, sight and interaction between us ever so slightly.

I didn’t know what to do, so we just left. We skipped to dessert and she kept asking, “Are you okay?” and stating the obvious fact “You’re not looking great.” Instead of a good night kiss, I had a good night Advil and knelt down that night hoping to pray away the sense of failure after finally being brave enough to ask her out:

Lord, I’ve done everything I was supposed to do yet I can’t help but feel like what I am doing—what I am wanting—is unnatural. Please fix this. Please help me understand.

And months later I did, but only after two more very bad dates.

The Lesson: Formulas and molds don’t apply to people.

End, Part 4.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Are Homosexuals for?

rainbow questionGetting in from a rehearsal at 1 am, I leave you with the following brief post and hope to return to the current series soon:

I have seen this question addressed a few times quite recently. Jeromy wrote about it recently on his blog The Germ Worm and I wanted to share his post as well as something that came up in a different exchange. “I was chosen to be gay,” he says embracing this calling and the meaning it brings to his life and, in his eyes, God’s plan.

Andrew Sullivan devotes the final chapter of his book Virtually Normal to this topic. What is the part of homosexuality in God’s plan? Is it simply another trial or does it bring a sense of purpose and meaning as Jeromy suggests?

A friend recently brought up the following passage from Sullivan, a practicing Catholic:

“Or perhaps their role is to have no role at all. Perhaps it is the experience of rebellion that prompts homosexual culture to be peculiarly resistant to attempts to guide it to be useful or instructive or productive. Go to any march for gay rights and you will see the impossibility of organizing it into any coherent lobby: such attempts are always undermined by irony, or exhibitionism, or irresponsibility. It is as if homosexuals have learned something about life that makes them immune to the puritanical and flattening demands of modern politics. It is as if they have learned that life is fickle; that there are parts of it that cannot be understood, let alone solved; that some things lead nowhere and mean nothing; that the ultimate exercise of freedom is not a programmatic journey but a spontaneous one. Perhaps it requires seeing one’s life as the end of a biological chain, or seeing one’s deepest emotions as the object of detestation, that provides this insight. But the seeds of homosexual wisdom are the seeds of human wisdom. They contain the truth that order is in fact a euphemism for disorder; that problems are often more sanely enjoyed than solved; that there is reason in mystery; that there is beauty in the wild flowers that grow randomly among our wheat.”

wildflowers among wheat

While this quote poses more questions than it answers, one thing is certain: the lives of gays and lesbians, although dissimilar, are (in essence) no different from a straight person's.

We have different conflicts and experiences that make up the puzzle of our lives, but our experiences are no less valuable or important in the eyes of God as everything has its purpose-- even if we don’t understand it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History, Bachelorette #3


Height: 5’8”
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Green
Talent: Oil Painting
Random Fact: She introduced me to the joy of Scrubs.

The Date:

Arthur’s good guy complex was really showing that day.

“Hey man,” he said to me one day on campus—before I used Facebook or even text messaging. He stopped me there at the corner of the quad under the pine trees. “I want you to meet this girl. She lives next to me in the dorms.”

Now what Arthur really meant to say was: “I want to ask this girl out, but don’t feel like I can because I’m not an RM and she’s an attractive Mormon girl.” He had this tendency of pawning off pretty girls on his RM friends to make everybody happy but himself. (Although after this episode, Arthur and Connie did date for a time).

I had been home from my mission a little over a year and it seemed like it was time for me to give dating another shot. I was completely open to a blind date because it was easier, faster, and nothing to stress about. If she didn’t like me, I could blame Arthur. (And perhaps deep down, I really did want it to fail).

“Her name is Connie,” he told me. “She’s studying art and geology and loves musicals.” (I’ll leave you to make your own why-didn’t-you-figure-it-out-sooner commentary).

“It will be a double date….” so he continued his list of reasons to convince me although I’d already been convinced in my head.

I’d be doing my celestial duty AND I’d have a wingman there if anything went wrong…

… and nothing did.

I showed up at Arthur’s in my nicest jeans and ready for practically anything. We then joined our dates at their place for a quick bite to eat before running off to play racquetball. We arrived only to find all of the courts occupied, so we moved on to plan B: golf

The now-defunct entertainment park was just plain ghetto. It had black lights and was mapped out with fluorescent tape. The conversation was pretty normal. We all talked about school and families and it always seemed that we could go a little deeper if we wanted to, but never did.

I thought to myself, Maybe this will work out, after all.

Right before Thanksgiving break, I confidently called her up and asked if she wanted to ‘hang out’ again.

“Sure,” she said, “my roommates have left for break already. Why don’t you come over and we’ll watch a movie?”

After helping her pack her car for a trip home, we had some dinner. The conversation revolved around her art and how photography was helping give her a better feel for composition.

Light_in_the_piazza As it came time to watch the movie, we sat there next to each other wondering about hand-holding and such. I put in the movie Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza, which I teased her would blow away her favorite musical—Phantom.

There we sat at opposite ends of the couch. We crept closer and closer, but by the end of the night, we realized that our attraction wasn’t quite magnetic enough to pull us as far as actual physical contact.

Not impressed with the movie, her delusions regarding Andrew Lloyd-Webber didn’t dissipate, so in my report to Cole, I cited this as the reason for things now working out. I really think that that conversation was the first sign to him that my interests lay elsewhere.

As I later figured out, she was herself and I myself. Things not working out between us was simply an uncontrollable circumstance with which we were 100% content.

Lesson: Being passionate about the things you love is the same as being yourself.

End, Part 3.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History, Bachelorette #2


Height: 5’5”Chastity
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Talent: Concert piano
Random Fact: My grandparents lived just a mile from her family (in the same ward) and openly voiced their approval of us going on a date.

The Date:

With my dating cherry popped, it didn’t take long before my friends attempted finagled another date.

Glenda was the first one to broach the topic:

“I don’t want things to get too serious with Arthur, so if he asks me out, I’m going to tell him that you beat him to it.”

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Glenda and Arthur were both friends and I had no intention of getting caught up in the drama of a budding relationship, so I politely declined. As I later found out (like you will later this week), I should have taken that as a sign or sorts. (Oh, the drama of high school!).

As it turns out, Arthur was doing some scheming of his own. Not only was he planning on asking Glenda to prom. He and Nate were planning the perfect group date to woo their respective love interests.

Late one night, I had an intervention of sorts. Nate called me up and said I had to come over immediately. Constantly working on projects, this was a typical call; however, upon my arrival, I noticed that Bronson and Arthur were already there.

“GMB,” Nate said, “we’ve decided you’re going to prom.”

prom “Um… and when did you decide this?” I asked coyly.

“About five minutes before we called,” Bronson chimed in.

“I’m going with Chenese, Arthur’s asking out Glenda, and Bronson’s waiting to hear back from Cami. That leaves you,” Nate said.

After a few suggestions were thrown out (eliminating everyone who was already asked out, had a boyfriend, or was difficult to handle in dose’s of 6-8 hours), we decided that I was going with Chastity.

Also in my music theory class, she was the girl everyone liked, although she wasn’t necessarily popular. It might have been because she wasn’t involved in a lot of extracurricular activities or because she was just humble or perhaps because she was the shortest girl in our grade.

Although it took an hour to decide on Chastity, that was the easy part of the night. As is Utah custom, we had to conjure an elaborate way to ask her.

“I have this gag gift my grandma got me for my birthday,” Nate said, pulling out a cardboard box full of paper clips.

paperclip chain

Suddenly a plan was hatched in three phases:

  1. Bronson and Arthur spent the rest of the night constructing a mile-long paperclip chain.
  2. Nate and I rewrote songs to include Chastity’s name and relate to the prom somehow. (It was bad. “Hey Jude” became “Hey Chastity”). We then recorded the songs onto a CD.
  3. We tied one end of the chain to her front door with a note and made a long, windy trail to the CD hidden in a tree in her back yard.

Despite a few hitches, the plan all worked out and she answered days later hanging paperclip chains from the tree in my front yard holding up papers with “YES!” written on them.

Per Utah ritual, the date lasted most of the day, beginning with a game of extreme croquet in the park and a fine dinner at a local restaurant.

croquet The dance itself was one of the my most memorable high school experiences. I wasn’t in control of the situation at all, but I had people I could depend on. Chastity made it very clear from the second I saw her in that pink prom dress that her only goal was to have fun, so I had no expectations to hold to because that’s one thing I knew how to do with Arthur, Bronson, and Nate at my side.

We danced the night away. I made all the wrong steps, laughed at myself, and spent the night not caring. Apparently, the advice from my first date—not to worry—had sunk in. To this day, I remember vividly, doing the chicken dance with Chastity and Sister Imus, my seminary teacher, and taking down decorations afterwards.

After dropping off our dates, Nate and I had a nice conversation:

“Thanks for coming. I know we didn’t give you a choice, but I know we had a better time because you joined us.”

“I’m glad I did.”

“I know it’s really not your thing, so don’t feel obligated to do it again. It’s just the way I wanted to remember prom. Is that selfish?”

“No. It can’t be because I had fun and so did Chastity. We’re all better off because of it.”

“Good. Do you think you’ll do it again soon?”

“Not really. It’s a lot of work.”

And with that, I left the dating world for nearly four years.

The Lesson: With friends, any experience whether good, bad, or indifferent will become a better, more meaningful one.

End, Part 2

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Laugh of the Day #8

The next week or so, I won’t be posting at my regular pace, so I’ll be doing more media posts like the one below.  My goal is still to post a substantive post every other day despite a demanding week (40 hours of week, plus another 30 hours of other commitments which might or might not include a special date). 

Who doesn’t like to make fun of bad writing or bad movies?  I came across this video on Joe My God, a LGBT news blog (warning: a few of the lines contain strong language):


Actually, this was kind of painful to watch.  Like these gems:

  • You know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?  The same thing that happens to everything else.
  • It’s not a tumor.
  • Are you a Mexican or a Mexican’t?


Saturday, January 23, 2010

A (Very) Brief Heterosexual Dating History


I don’t suppose many of you remember The Dating Game or Love Connection? Those cheesy game show with the live studio audience and the over-the-top one-liners? Those contestants asking flirtatious questions and describe steamy dates?

the dating game

This series is dedicated to the six women I went on dates with. It is only now that I understand why things were not meant to work out with any of them. I suppose a lot of us view dating as a hit-and-miss game where we instantly click and move, in proper fashion, onto our happily ever afters.

In reality, though, we learn different lessons from these go-nowhere dates. Camera:   DCS560C Serial #: K560C-01363 Width:    2008 Height:   3040 Date:  5/21/01 Time:   16:06:56 DCS5XX Image FW Ver:   3.2.3 TIFF Image Look:   Product Sharpening Requested: No Tagged Counter:    [15394] ISO Speed:  80 Aperture:  f3.2 Shutter:  1/80 Max Aperture:  f2.8 Min Aperture:  f32 Exposure Mode:  Manual (M) Compensation:  +0.0 Flash Compensation:  +0.0 Meter Mode:  Partial Flash Mode:  No flash Drive Mode:  Single Focus Mode:  Manual Focus Point:  --o-- Focal Length (mm):  115 White balance: Custom Time: 16:06:56.268

Bachelorette #1: Rachel

Height: 5’6”
Hair: Sandy blonde
Eyes: Blue
Talent: Concert piano
Random Fact: Cole pulled on her earlobe in first grade and he scared her so much she didn’t speak to her for eight years.

The Date:

“Would you like to go to the dance next Saturday?”

That’s as abruptly and unexpectedly as my plunge into datedom began. It wasn’t me asking the question, but rather Rachel. Perhaps the most timid person I’ve met in my life was asking me out.

It was in the hall after the last class of the day, which we had together. We put up our chairs and turned off our keyboards as the bell rang, dismissing us from Music Theory. It was my senior year of high school and dating was the last thing on my mind.

I suppose I thought it might be fun, but it seemed like more effort than it was worth. (The irony now haunts me). Rachel, Cole’s piano rival, really caught me off guard. I’d managed to go halfway through my senior year without going on a single date and here I was about to bring an end to that streak—one which I was almost proud of.

Rachel’s timid nature (much like my own at the time) was a force I could not overcome. Cliché as it might sound, she really did have puppy dog eyes and I couldn’t really so no to her.

“Sure,” I said with a little uncertainty clanging around in my throat.

She explained the details. The group we’d be going with, the pre-date and post-date plans, and we were set.

Spotting the unintended ambush, my best friend at the time, Nate, straggled a bit to talk to me afterwards. “So you’re going to Sadie Hawkins with Rachel, eh?”

“Yeah. I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m sure it will be fun.”

“Don’t be worried,” he reassured me. “Really. Getting asked out makes things so much easier. You don’t have to plan. You don’t have to stress. You’ve just got to enjoy the ride and say thank you a lot.”

My father offered similar advice:

“Have a great time. Don’t stress. I know you won’t get into any trouble.”

At 5 pm sharp, she arrived at my doorstep. I stepped out in my first tux ever with a turquoise bow tie and greeted her. Timid as field mice, whenever our skin touched or our eyes would make contact, we immediately jerked away. There on my doorstep, she nervously pinned on my cream-colored carnation boutonniere.

carnation boutonniere Following a potluck dinner with fifteen other couples, we went to the dance. I was so nervous. The ritual of taking pictures, dancing, and possibly kissing seemed so foreign.

Pictures were a breeze. We lined up, coupled up, looked at the camera and smiled. It was as simple as that.

Breathe! I told myself. What if she likes me? What am I supposed to do then? This is not anything to worry about.

But it was. I hadn’t danced since the stake production of The Music Man in 6th grade. I didn’t know any of the music being played. I didn’t really understand how anybody could enjoy this kind of experience.

She was patient. She’d been through this ritual a few times and understood why I might be nervous.

“This is my first time,” I explained.

She reassured me (like so many others), “It’s nothing to worry about. It just takes a little practice.”

She put my hands on her waist and on her shoulder and instructed me in the basic step and the box step. We stuck with that most of the night. Still, I managed to step on her feet multiple times per dance.

It was interesting to see her so confident in my presence, making her the most reassuring teacher I could have had that first attempt at a date. My neuroses kept me from conceiving the night as anything more than a disastrous experiment.

As our night came to an end and we found ourselves on my porch, I was pleased to find that (contrary to the expectations instilled in me by movies and television) a goodnight kiss was not expected, and a simple hug between friends sealed the night as an overall positive experience.

The next morning, before church, my parents asked how the night went and I told them it was fun.

“Why don’t you ask out Rachel, then? Sort of return the favor,” my father said.

“I don’t think so. I don’t want anything serious.”

The Lesson: The only way to learn is facing uncertainty head on.

End, Part 1

Friday, January 22, 2010

Laugh of the Day #7

I ran into another extraordinary snow sculpture today that reminded me a lot of Calvin and Hobbes. Here's one of my favorites:

Calvin and Hobbes Snow Beast

This really takes me back because in 5th grade when I wrote a paper about wanting to be a political cartoonist when I grew up. I loved Watterson's work as well as Larson's and Breathed's.

Anyways, onto the snowman horror gallery:

Does this not just scream terrified to you?


You would too if you were running from this:



DSCN0321Meanwhile, where that T-Rex used to be something similar crept up:



As all of these were constructed on a college campus, I’m left to conclude only one thing:

Calvin and Hobbes Snow Beast

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 9


The shock of getting busted for parking didn’t wear off very easily. Sure, I’d laugh at it in conversation with Cole, but it was really my first brush with danger. What if I’d gotten fined? What if the officer had been one of those psychos?

Things with Anderson did take a toll whether as a result of the incident or because of our schedules. Conversations grew infrequent, but we remained in contact.

text_message Meanwhile, conversations with Cowboy Mark continued at a steady pace. Often, he would text me about the beautiful autumn weather or a line of poetry and I would think, Geez, he’s the perfect guy: sensitive, manly, sincere… but not for me.

On our last date, my mind kept going back to the original Mark—the one that had remained so perfect in my mind and heart for so long. To say that I would ever feel exactly the same about any other Mark (or any other man, for that matter), would be a lie. Just as I believe every individual is unique, so is every relationship.

We found ourselves at his place. I’d come over to watch TV with him and little did I know we were in the midst of the World Series. He sat in the recliner as I laid on the couch. Between innings, I ran upstairs to grab some drinks, noting again his ability to be a manly gay man in the details of his house:

Light beer was his drink of choice. Cowboy Mark’s kitchen embraced a “rooster” motif (for reasons that might take you a moment to process). And the living room where we found ourselves watching the game was also thematically decorated with photos of wildlife and pieces of taxidermy.

world series Although, I tried as hard as I could to appreciate baseball, I found myself falling asleep after drinking a Diet Coke. A few hours later, I awoke to find myself in his bed. As much as I love cuddling, I was not prepared for this. I immediately tensed up and searched for excuses. It was an awakening of other sorts as well.

Getting up, I woke him and explained uneasily, “I need to get home. I have a paper to write early tomorrow.” And like that it was over—the text-messaged lines of poetry subsided and we started avoiding each other at the gym.

It turned out my dreams for an atypical, manly guy were short-sighted and that my first love was still casting a heavy shadow over my love life and perhaps always would. My first love had become the standard every other man, whether that be this other Mark or Jack or Anderson, in my life would be measured against whether I liked it or not.

End of Series

after mash The title AfterMARK references a TV show from 1983-85 called AfterMASH, a spinoff of M*A*S*H which was a pun on the word ‘aftermath.’ The problem with many spinoffs is that they are more about the old show rather than the new characters or situations presented. This was the aftermath of Mark.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 8

Playing with Fireworks

Weeks after our first date, Anderson and I finally found time to go on another.

Just as with Cowboy Mark, dinner and a movie seemed like a safe bet. Relatively little planning, opportunities to converse and cuddle, etc. made the date an ideal situation for two busy GMBs.

bluebird I took a courageous step and took him to a local restaurant. There was a mystique of being out in the open and on a date in public yet almost completely closeted. Was I being stupid? Impulsive? Bold? Rebellious?

No one I knew was there, but surely someone who knew me or my parents was. In a way, a novel sense of normalcy encompassed the act of going to a local restaurant in the company of couples who had frequented it for well over five decades.

In a way, we are the same, I thought. Their married, seventy-something, heterosexual dinner dates seemed just as valid as our own, and as we ordered I imagined the couple across the room doing the same thing half a century ago. His peppered mustache and hair turned jet black and her purple-tinged grey reverted to its former state—a mousy, reddish brown.

In fifty years, no one will look back on this date and turn his nose at it, I wondered as they left. Where are they were off to? Maybe home to watch the same movie or perhaps to spend the night in each other’s arms like that night I shared on the stage with Anderson?

That night, we meandered through a number of topics at dinner(although limited mostly to theatre and television), and I realized that there was an undeniable physical attraction. The sensation of his stubbled face against mine and the ever-present tone of kindness in his voice made me smile at an instant. The differences in age and intellect didn’t seem to matter as much as I thought it would.

Penelope Kiss An hour later, we found ourselves in a park watching the moon rise over the waters and the movie Penelope on my laptop. As it got cold, we retreated to my car to finish the movie.

As we watched arguably one of the most timeless kisses in cinema history (with James McEvoy—arguably one of the most handsome men of cinema history), our hearts began to pound and any conversation we had at that moment is now well-forgotten.

All I remember is his hand pressing against my cheek gently drawing me closer to his stubbled face. We both smiled briefly as we closed our eyes and I joined him in the now-reclined passenger seat.

We threw our jackets in the backseat. My arms found their way around him. He put his arms around me on the small of my back.

Starting on our sides, we turned and I found myself on top of him. I felt the warmth of his strong, slightly-calloused hands. We paused holding each other and holding ourselves back.

“We need a breather,” I said. And with that, we stopped, catching our breath and recording the moment. It was like we’d both run the hundred yard dash and collapsed on each other.

We resumed and traded places.

My hand grazed his face as we closed our eyes again and I drew his face towards mine with a slight giggle. In a few moments, we were right back to where we’d started when suddenly there was an explosion.

fireworks “GMB, you need to move.”


“Get out from under me.”

In an instant, I moved to the right side of the seat without a second thought. Balloon Pop

He stood there for a moment holding himself up above the seat momentarily. He sighed in the most subdued way he could.

“Could you hand me my jacket?”

I did and asked (in the most understanding way possible), “Did what I thought just happened really happen?”

Blushing a bright red as he tied his jacket around his waste, he nodded.

“But we weren’t even…”

“I kno—”

At that very moment we saw a bright light—not in the sky or above the lake, but in my rear view mirror. I quickly returned to my place in the driver’s seat and he took a few deep breaths.

kmvt_mgn_police_lightsRed and blue lights flashed for a moment as our hearts began to race again, then we heard a tap on my now fogged-up window.

“Sir, could I ask both of you two to step out of the vehicle. You realize you are trespassing here after dark.”

My heart was pounding just as fast as moments earlier, but for different reasons. The officer walked around the car and could read the guilt all over Anderson and the jacket tied around his waist.

I wondered what he would do. Would this become my first noted instance of discrimination for being gay?

“I’ll need to see your IDs.”

I immediately pulled out mine and saw my temple recommend peering out from behind a business card.

“Please wait in the car.”

We did (for what seemed like an eternity) in complete silence.

“Have a good night and drive safely,” he said returning our licenses, then driving off. For whatever reason, he'd let us off with a warning.

Minutes later, the night ended with a quick uneasy goodbye hug.

End, Part 8

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 7


A set of hopes and dreams tied to a single name—Mark—and here I had met another who was clearly interested in me.

Despite meeting at the gym, my prospects with Cowboy Mark were by no means superficial. We’d connected on an intellectual level. The magic of the tale was only enhanced by the fact that we’d met in a gym locker room, stereotypically a trashy environment for meeting guys.

locker room The next day, I started reading from the Oscar Wilde volume and found my mind constantly returning to how the book had arrived in my hands. Finally, I gave him a call.

“Hey, it’s GMB from the gym,” I said, struggling for words. “I wanted you to know I’m enjoying the book.” Who says that? I thought to myself.

“Let me give you a call in a bit. I’m having dinner with my grandma.”

He grew more interesting with each interaction. It was as if my desire for an atypical guy to come along had finally materialized. He was rugged yet appreciated the arts. He was romantic, but not corny. It was hard to get past him just being that guy I'd wondered about at the gym, though.

After a series of text messages, we worked out a date. Something simple and sweet. Dinner and a movie. For a solid five minutes, we went through that familiar dialogue:

“What do you want for dinner?”
“I don’t know. What are you in the mood for?”
“I don’t know. You decide.”

My hands tied, I was finally forced to make a decision.

“Sushi it is.”

Sushi_platterAs I drove into the parking lot, I saw him there sitting on the tailgate of his pickup. He looked quite content swinging his legs back and forth as he waved and then effortlessly pushed off with his arms, making his way over to greet me.

We hugged and then made our way inside. Perhaps more than any other guy I dated, he made efforts to be the knight in shining armor. He opened the door for me, pulled my chair out and waited for me to sit down. We ordered and despite my limited sushi experience, it was clear he was only there because I suggested it.

“I’ll have the orange salad. There’s no fish in that, right?”

Our conversation quickly turned to work and school. While I was finishing up my last year of university, he was in a stable job for more five years managing a local business. Then the conversation trailed into the personal.

I told him the story you’re all familiar with—coming home from a mission, having a sudden epiphany, meeting the first Mark and the breakup.

“I’m in a different boat completely,” he said. “I didn’t grow up Mormon, but when high school was over. I ran away. I ran as fast and as far as I could to Florida and then to Pittsburgh.

200243296-001 “I’d known since I was six years old and had to get away. I had to find a place where I could be me. After a few years, I was confident. I was secure.

“Then everything fell apart. Mom called and she could tell something was wrong. I couldn’t tell her over the phone, so I stopped everything. I got in my truck and drove. I drove and I drove until I arrived at her door.

“She was happy to see me, but in tears. I sat her down and told her. She cried and cried, but at least I was there.”

In a way, the story was tragic. He was so matter of fact about it and composed. He was who he was and I really respected him. He’d been through his share of life lessons. I was glad he shared, but somehow I felt more distant.

Dinner quickly passed then we went to his place to watch Stardust. We laid there on the couch holding each other. I began to wonder if we were just too different to be compatible, and if I was even attracted to him physically. Had I fallen for the story of us meeting or a name rather than the actual man?

End, Part 7.

Monday, January 18, 2010

AfterMARK. Part 6

Some Enchanted Evening

After a few weeks, Anderson and I managed to plan a first date. Naturally, I was busy with my schoolwork, research projects, and social life in general while his life was occupied by the theatre. From the beginning, he showed an incredible amount of dedication. Afterall (as Sondheim teaches us), “Art isn’t easy.”

The weeks preceding this date were filled with a number of conversations via Facebook and text messaging. We learned each other’s tastes, interests, histories, and goals. His relationship with another actor had ended recently and expectedly as he joined a touring cast.

We’d found common interests. Of course, we both loved the theatre. We enjoyed nice shoes and food. We shared the Gay Mormon Boy background. And finally, our taste in music, movies, and television was uncanny.

After sharing with him my theory of how Pushing Daisies is a metaphor for the celibate Gay Mormon Relationship (as discussed in Walking the Fence), we decided that we’d take a night and watch it together. After much discussion about our schedules, working around his rehearsals and my homework, we figured out a time and place to meet.


I grabbed my backpack, threw in my Pushing Daisies DVDs and set off to meet Anderson after his rehearsal. He came out and met me at my car. The night began with a big hug. The strength in his chest and arms became evident he held me for that brief second.

It was late—just after 10—as he asked me putting his arm around my back, “Do you know where we’re going now?”

“Not a clue.”

“I’m going to give you a little tour.”

He showed me everything a theatre geek had to get excited about—the costume shop, the blackbox theater, the dressing rooms, the control booth, etc. It was clear, as he told me story upon story, that this was his life and that in order for something else to fit in his life, it had to be compatible with his passion. The thought was slightly intimidating.

Finally, as he came to the end of the tour, he showed me a large, black metal door. “What’s behind here?”

“It’s the stage, obviously.”

“There’s more to it than that.”

He opened it and entered first. Taking my hand he pulled me into the darkness.

dark stage “Stay here for a second.”

I listened as his careful steps made a tapping noise across the wood floor. His steps grew fainter as he disappeared into the hollow air and an echo began to follow his footsteps. Suddenly, there was a loud click and light peering out behind the curtain. Blue! Another click. Red! Another. Green!

As I made my way towards the light the relics of old productions drew my attention. Trees of various shapes and sizes. Giant playing cards. A pirate ship. Slowly, I stepped towards the slit between the curtains. There on the ground lay a quilt and a bowl of popcorn. It was our picnic on the stage.

image It was that romantic touch that made all the difference-- like a night under the stars. There was no doubt that Anderson was thoughtful and romantic, especially as we lay there in each other’s arms wrapped up in a blanket watching the show on my laptop.

My mind could not help but go back to Mark as I thought to myself, this feels good and right. If every moment of my life could be like those muscled arms around me, if I could feel special and cared for as I did when he pressed his lips to mine, then I would feel complete.

End, Part 6.

You have until the end of the nine-part series to guess the significance of AfterMARK. The final clue is that AfterMARK references something that followed a book, movie, and television show. Said book was published in 1968.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Laugh of the Day #6

Bear with me for a moment, but I didn’t have enough time for a regular post. Also, the scheduled post didn’t seem like it suited the day very well.

This is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes. Back in the day, Rupert Everett was a real hottie. He would have made into my sweet sixteen list, but he hasn’t been as attractive lately. This song’s always been a pick me up, though:

Can you feel the endorphins rushing through your neural receptors?! )I'm sure someone will correct my terminology). At a restaurant tonight, we broke into song as a group of friends. It felt like all was right with the world.

Remember those “This is your brain… this is your brain on drugs” commercials? Well, this is “I Say a Little Prayer for You” on Glee (which goes to mean “even better”):

Oh, Santana, Quinn, and Brittany, how I love you after but half a season. (Those are very accurate Portuguese subtitles by the way).

The PSA warning for the following might go something like “This is your brain. This is your brain on Glee:

That’s not a bad thing at all. I’m so crushing on the boy, though. He's going to have a career as a drag queen somewhere fabulous.

Have a great Sunday. I know I sure am.

Back to AfterMARK tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 5

“A Certain Masculine Intrigue”

“Think of it as your own personal Brokeback Mountain…” Cole teased. Blush couch

I really wasn’t sure what to think and for that reason my face was bright red. Cole laughed for a while at my expense. It wasn’t so much the fact that I’d met another boy that week. It was the fact that he was a sort of anti-stereotype stereotype.

“So this cowboy… where did you meet? You know I’ve got best friend privileges to all of the details.”

“Okay. You know I’ve been somewhat of a gym bunny lately. For three months, I’ve managed to faithfully go and keep off that weight. I go, I jump on the elliptical for an hour or so.”

“Right. And that’s where you get a lot of your reading done.”

“Precisely. I might check out a guy or two, but I have my textbooks there to study. Well, this afternoon, as I was getting into the locker room, I set my books down and changed.”

e.“Ooh!” he poked, slightly melodically.

“Hey. I’m not even to the good part…. Anyways, I turn around and this guy is checking out my books—naturally Mark Doty and Lucille Clifton are on the top. I’d noticed this guy before and he’s got a certain masculine intrigue about him.”

“How so?”

“I’m not sure how to describe it. Has anyone ever caught your eye but you never figured out quite why? That’s how it is. Sure he’s good looking and has personality, but there’s something more to it and I figured it out today.”

“I see. So you were in the locker room…”

“Yeah. We were in the locker room and he leans over to me and says, ‘I guess you like poetry.’ and of course the answer in fewer words was a definite yes.

“I couldn’t believe where this was going. Despite being a total amateur my nostrils picked up on the faint scent of flirting in the air. He’s hitting on me? He’s hitting on me!… kept rolling through my head as the conversation shifted to something way more obvious.”

“Like what? Project Runway?”

“No. He started telling me what a big fan he was of Oscar Wilde and commenting on the rumors of his torrid affair with Walt Whitman on a visit to the states. In the moment, the thought of two great literary minds in passionate embrace was enough to make my pulse race.


“ ‘It was nice chatting with you,’ he said, on the way to the parking lot. ‘We’ll have to talk more later.’

“He left it at that and I went off to do my work out.”

“That was a lame story. I thought it actually went somewhere or had a date or something.”

“It doesn’t end there. Just as I was reaching the climax in my workout, I looked up to see his face strewn with dimples. His hair was military short and he was in a pair of track pants and a tank top.”

“ ‘I have something for you,’ he said, placing a book on top of the others I’d brought: The Complete Short Stories of Oscar Wilde.

“ ‘Thank you,’ I said. It was the only thing I could think of at the time. ‘How do I get this back to you? And what’s your name again?’ ”

I was shocked, delighted, and slightly weirded out over his response:

“ ‘My number’s on the inside front cover…. And my name? Call me Mark.’ ”

End, Part 5

Friday, January 15, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 4

Open Curtain.

In the aftermath of that make-out session Jack and I stopped talking quite abruptly. It was a nice lesson in moving on. We were both ready and there were few holdups. We didn’t dwell on it. And we both realized that things ending didn’t have to be so painful.

The following Thursday, I found myself going to dinner and a show with Cole and Bobbie Jean, our music history mom. It was a special occasion for Bobbie Jean’s Cuban mother was in town.

“My mother has to meet my gay boys I keep telling her about,” she told us weeks before the visit. Sure enough, dinner plans were made and kept.


Returning to that Thursday: we found ourselves at a Vietnamese restaurant. Cole and I on one side Bobbie Jean and her mother Carmen on the other. Interestingly, Carmen and I connected on an unexpected level. While Bobbie Jean and Cole joked about Purell being the Holy Ghost of the hand sanitizer trinity, Carmen and I discussed Latin America and life as an academic as she is a retired college professor.

“You watch out for this one. He’s going to go far,” Carmen told her daughter. She was quirky, witty, and always smiling even when the jokes went a little too far for her taste.

movie-theater-seats At the show, the four of us sat in the back row. (It’s probably the only place, they’d allow us to sit in the theater so as to not distract from the actual production). The show began and my eye began to drift towards one of the actors. He was taller with dark hair and features. Although his character was not particularly macho, it was clear that he worked out. His arms were enormous and his costume hugged his thighs and chest quite nicely.

As I imagined what lay concealed beneath that dressing, everyone enjoyed the show. There truly is nothing like good company to fortify laughter. As the show was reaching its climax, we were all giggling over the cheesy jokes in the show and the dirty ones we read into it.

Suddenly, a line of actors dressed in police uniforms emerged from either end of the stage (among them the muscled hunk), and in perhaps the most shrill, excited tone I’ve ever heard, Carmen rose to her feet and shouted, “Oh my God! It’s tap dancers!”


Still in our seats, I, Cole, and Bobbie Jean all heard something else.

“Did she just say, ‘God damn those tap dancers?’!” Cole asked. If anyone thought our laughter was annoying at that point, they were in for an earsore. I have no doubt that there has never been nor never will be a laughter quite that loud erupting in that theater again. The four of us were all in tears. Everyone was staring at us including the actors—many of whom muted their laughter so as to avoid breaking character or worse.

As their number ended Carmen rose to her feet for a standing ovation, shouting “Encore, encore!”

Following the show, we got a few compliments on how fun it was to watch the show with us. Who knew that the audience could steal the show from the actors?

We made our way around making small talk with the actors, musicians, and directors.


“Anderson,” he said, introducing himself and shaking the hand I’d just offered. The grip was firm. I was a little flustered at his strength.

“That was a fun little tap number you guys did,” I said, patting his arm for a feel.

“It took a lot of work. I’ve been at it for weeks and my feet are killing me.”

“We loved it,” I gushed. “ We were the ones disrupting the show.”

“That’s what we’re here for. I love musical theatre because it makes people feel.”

What he said at that moment rang true of the entire time we dated. He was sweet, genuine, sincere, simple and sensitive (and perhaps a bit of a stereotype). He didn’t really catch on at the moment that I was flirting, but the next day we’d worked things out and planned a date over Facebook. Hours later and quite unexpectedly, being the newbie that I was, I met someone else—a cowboy—under remarkable circumstances.

End, Part 4.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AfterMARK, Part 3

Now… it’s Complicated

coupleThe next morning, I faced my first bout of Post-Date Stress Disorder (or PDSD). What was I to make of a cuddle session with someone who was supposed to be my friend? I wondered what I would do when he called or texted. Was it still supposed to be normal? Would it get weirder?

Jack didn’t do or say anything out of the ordinary. Regular “How was your day?” small talk continued along with witty banter about web comics. Things weren’t off too much, but they were definitely off.

As problems with his roommate worsened, Jack decided it was time to move out. As a friendly gesture, I offered to help. That’s what friends do, right? I told myself.

“You know, I could really use a pickup,” he texted me. I offered my father’s truck and we worked out a time the next day.

moving-day Seeing as neither of us is particularly muscular, the move took a little more effort than you would think. Loading up everything from the tiny duplex, we made our way over to his new place. Upon my entry, I was taken aback at how beautiful the whole thing was. Vaulted ceilings. A real fireplace. A breakfast nook! It was beautiful.

The evening ended with a hug and a warm-hearted goodbye.

Things continued more normally than I could have ever anticipated. There were even some friendly on campus run-ins between classes. Later that week, after a bad day at work, he offered to take me to dinner and I only slightly hesitated as I agreed to it.

Going into it as a real date definitely helped. Even as the waitress at the Chinese restaurant seated us in the same room as a guy from my stake on a date of his own, I felt oddly at ease. We talked mostly about school and the beginning of a new semester.

“It’s about the same. I keep busy with 18 credits and work. It makes me feel accomplished and like I’m actually going somewhere.”

“That’s good. How’s the new roommate situation working out?” I asked.

“It’s the regular struggle. I’m still getting to know them.”

“How is it living with a bunch of gay boys?”

“It got crazy last weekend, but my room’s far enough from the chaos to get away.”

I laughed off his slight discontent with the situation as the check came. He snatched it despite my protest.

“You helped me move. I owe you at least this.”

couch Moments later, we found ourselves at his place. We sat there on the couch continuing our conversation. Our bodies, however, were speaking their own language. We found ourselves moving closer to the center. Usually wary of any tactile contact, I found myself touching Jack on the arm, looking into his eyes (blue as the night sky), smiling, and laughing at his jokes.

Then, in an instant, he pulled away, looked at me, and smiled before going in for a kiss. It was sweet and reminded me of my first taste of romance with Mark.

I flashed back in an instant to the kiss that had felt like:
a singer’s first standing ovation,
a swimmer’s first broken record,
an author’s first book sent to print.

Would you ask any of them to take that piece of their lives back?

It was a feeling engraved upon the tablets of memory standing up to the elements and other tests of time. Every kiss would be compared against that one. It wasn’t quite that same warm sensation. An awkwardness came between us akin to the irritating, clunky friction of our teeth repeatedly bumping into each other as we made out.

The chemistry slowly dissipated from the room as we found ourselves staring each other. He faced me on my lap. An awkward silence preceded a forgotten excuse to get home and the night ended.

its-complicated What followed was not glamorous. Our run-ins on campus consisted of greetings and now-awkward small talk and we never looked each other in the eyes again.

In the coming week, however, I stopped worrying about the awkwardness as two more men entered the picture: an actor and a cowboy.

End, Part 3.

Clue: AfterMARK references something from 1983-85.

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