I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It's my world I want to take a little pride in
My world and it's not a place I have to hide in
Life's not worth a damn
Till you can say, "Hey world, I am what I am"
I am what I am
I don't want praise, I don't want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it's noise, I think it's pretty
And so what, if I love each feather and each spangle
Why not try and see life from a different angle?
Your life is a sham till you can shout out loud
I am what I am
I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the Ace
Sometimes the dueces
There's one life
And there's no return and no deposit
One life, so it's time to open up your closet
Life's not worth a damn till you can say
I am what I am - Jerry Herman
Recent events in the life of the old geezer have given pause to, and a desire to share so much more with the lovely folks from round the world who take the bother to drop in and follow me steps through life. A SORT of "Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas" (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen) to illuminate the notion of 'au fait' some have of the old geezer.
Truth be told, folks who are met on me blog and YOUTUBE page fall into the following fast held belief of the sort;
They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"
Are beginning to get the picture the old geezer is trying to paint for you?
As posst go, this may well run on the long side. MOI has been known to be wordy, pedantic some would say. Like a good sandwich, this post can be eaten in parts, being ever so fresh, placing it aside and coming back to will be just as good. Kick off your trainers, have a cuppa and enjoy the read.
"Rob, you are flamboyant". MOI was gutted, when first told that, clutched his then ample bueigned a heart attak, willed to have to take to his bed, he would, to recover the arrow shot through me heart................... Cue the violins, make ready the camera for my 'Camille'.
Flamboyant..........it is the same in French. The dictionary defines as; 'strikingly bold or brilliant, 'to flame' or 'attract attention'. It also says a lot of other bits, but we will get to them.......patient, you must be patient.......
To be true, MOI has a rather colourful style of writing, more to catch the attention of the reader. What purpose would be serve to bang out post in a dull manner? One has to hook the limited attention span from GO or all is lost.
It is the opinion of this old geezer, and one shared by many who read, that MOI writes much as he speaks. Were you to meet in person, you would see that the written word is as one with the spoken. MOI is colourful 24/7. Who else is known to you that dresses in 'fancy dress' to prove point? Will costume self as 'Constable Busy Body', Father Christmas, Easter Bunny, Nero and even a 'piece of shit'?
You may well ask self where this springs from. I rather think it comes from the horrid childhood suffered. With no love received or offered, one learned at early age how to get noticed. With so many boys round, it was a matter of survival. Lucky MOI, knew early on that he had the ability to tell a good story and that a bit of the dramatic could be useful.
Let us get back to the matter at hand. Flamboyant...
'Conspicuously dashing and colourful'................as in 'the flamboyant idol of international society', mmmmmmmmmm do so love that take. Mind, it can also bring to fore; 'bombastic', 'camp', 'chichi' and 'gassy'. MOI like to think of self as 'calm', ,modest', 'restrained' and 'tasteful'.
Think on this. Had the old geezer lived 'plain', would he have achieved positive changes in the places lived? the old geezer not dressed up as the "Grim Reaper", would he have got folks to listen to the message of how horrid AIDS is, or got a homosexual bathhouse closed down?
Had the old geezer not been as colourful, would Fresno City Hall taken notice of? Would the broken pavements been repaired, crime drop and possibly some lived change for the better? Would over 1000 folks come out for block party held? The list could go on and on.
I am in on the trick, always have been, I have know the whole of life that how I am bothers some met. There is no denying, to some I am like a bit of 'undigested beef' caught in throat and to others a deliciously wicked tin of fruit with yummy bits and pieces.
When MOI was a child, he was up early every morning, did chores and spent from half 8 in the morning to half 3 in the afternoon going to classes. Mind there was a break for lunch. Each day after dinner there was study period, it lasted for 90 minutes, then it was getting ready for the next day, a wash up and time for bed. Lights went out fairly early. Weekends were a bit free, so one could play games or read a good book. MY childhood was not a happy one. There was physical, emotional and sexual abuse. MOI had no clue where he came from or who he belonged to.........that came later..........but he had his books and they filled MOI with wonder and dreams of going to all of the places read about. Believed that my present station in life could be changed with education and a willingness to learn from older folks who had much to teach. MOI forgave his church the harm done to, but the deep scares from childhood will never go away, one just learns a different manner in dealing with them. The capacity to make one over is with each and every one of us. MOI has developed a mask he wears in public, and allows but a favoured few to see all there is to see. Life has been kind, and seems to be better with each passing year.
MOI is no saint. He has had his bad moments. For years, the hate felt for birth mum burned hot. The woman may not have made me a homosexual but she sure threw me to the wolves. What can one say about such a person? I am not the only life she threw away. Rumour has it that there were as many as eight. In truth, how could I love or hate a mum I never had? When I let that hate go it was very rewarding. She is dead and I am very much alive.
That brings me to 'family' or lack of.
Thanks to the INTERNET, I now know of a brother and sister-in-law. They sound like lovely folks, the brother is much older than MOI and is a retired high ranking copper. I do not 'know' them and like the brother reminded, it is too late in the game for me to feel that he or I would be 'family'. I understand perfectly where he is coming from. Last thing this old geezer wants to be is some horrid cat who pesters him because he placed a saucer of cream out once. They do a bit of travel and will be in my part of the world in July. I have written to and made it quite clear that they owe me nothing and do not feel the need to do a meet and greet. I am flattered that they follow my adventures on this blog.
There is also a sister out there. The sort of person who clings to the belief that mummy loved her. Has a cheaply done pastel portrait of the dead woman hanging on her parlour wall as a homage to. Ignores the fact the the object of her devotion told the whole world before she passed over that she, mummy, had never had any children. Say what you will about me feelings about the departed, I have let that go.
I had family, once. His name was John and he loved me unconditionally. Since then, there as been a chap who lived with me for some years, but he died in 2010 from a massive stroke, suffered in his sleep. Paul was very close to me, not in the way John was but he gave me the sense of family that made each and every day worth facing. We were a part of each other's lives. Not because we had to be but because we wanted to be.
In the years that have followed since we met, I have had many adventures. Met loads of interesting folks I have. Tried to make a difference and face each day with grace. I have grown up. Late in life I have come to like me and that was not always the case. Being on the INTERNET has brought quite a few surprises. I discovered all about the DEFREES family, met cousins I never knew I had. In a way, you might say that blogging has given me a sense of family never imagined before.
I did warn that this post was going to be LONG...
It is convenient for many who have come upon MOI at this point in life to assume that his present visage is one that has always been one presented to the world. Old, fat and sinking into decrepitude. Hair much gone and eyes in need of glasses. No one knows better than MOI that what was once 'golden youth' has long since departed. Trust me my dears, there was a day that MOI was thought of as 'the cat's meow', quite a figure he cut, slim and handsome, even 'dashing'............. That was then and this is now, and the bath mirror tells daily what MOI looks like.
Many, many moons ago, long before the INTERNET, MOI met a chap that was to change his life forever. Did not know at the time, but it is surely how it turned out.
Now, MOI knows full well that for as many who are 'au fait' with, there will be many giving a read that have missed a few chapters here and will be clueless to some things about MOI. MOI is 'bent' as in not straight. 'Gay' if you prefer, although MOI has always been curious as to the popular use of the word to label followers of 'the love that dare not speak it's name'. To be sure, MOI has met many a 'unhappy' homosexual. Yes Virginia, MOI is a 'nancy boy', 'light in the loafers' and would never be thought of as a 'bit of rough'.........you get the picture..........
MOI was sitting at a luncheon counter in a city not unlike one now lived in, when the love of his life entered. Unknown to MOI, this young chap had seen MOI on many different occasions and was hellbent on making himself known to MOI. MOI was reading a book and trying to block out what was going on round and was not happy about being put upon by this chap. Had never paid any attention to in the past and was clueless as to why he would want to introduce self to(not really, but was trying to be coy).
'My name is John, and I have seen you around' he said. Not the most original of lines but it will have to do. He WAS easy on the eye and did have a pleasant manner, so MOI bought into the meet and agreed to go to see a film with. 'The trap was set' and MOI walked right into it. John agreed to see a foreign film(learned later he loathed sub-title films) and a good time was had by both. We agreed to meet again.
A chance meeting turned into a marathon of meeting over the following 7 days and at the end, John took to dinner and came right out with his purpose. Sitting cross from, he set a pair of keys on the table and said: 'I have decided that we are meant for each other and here are the keys to my home, you are to move in!' MOI had never had a real live-in relationship up to that point and was gobsmacked at how firm his belief was that MOI was THE one. To be true, MOI had taken a shine to John and it was not hard to buy into the offer. Kindred souls we were, or so MOI thought at the time, and that was to be more so as time went by.
Will not bore the dear reader with the mundane details of daily life between us. To be true, one does not remember these as clearly as the snapshots of a life shared that spring forward that become the high lights of. And there are so many of these to cling to.
What is remembered on this day are these:
First trip to Lake Tahoe. Driving through the snow in the mountains and chatting all the way. Checking in at the hotel(a rather grand one), taking silver dollars and placing into a massive fruit machine next to check-in, losing $5.00 with first pull and placing the next bet and pulling handle(they still had at that time) turning round and telling that we had just lost $10.00 and had not even made to room or got to eat yet. The massive machine started ringing loudly, with lights flashing. MOI had won the 'JACKPOT', all of the sultans had lined up and $5,000 was won. No fool was John and he quickly told MOI to take the cash and run. We canceled our rooms(they now were offered for FREE), collected winnings in CASH and got back into motor and were headed home. My dears, it had been a long drive there and tired as we had been, we not were quite giddy at having so much cash that we laughed and laughed all the way home. Tired was not even thought of.
Buying our first house. Wondering how we were going to pay the $286.46 mortgage. Tight we were with a quid, we were. There would be many homes to follow but one always remembers the first.Doing a make-over on John's wardrobe. John was a 'trust fund' baby. Came from 'old money' and had never had to worry about the whole of life. Right odd how the truly rich never think of selves as 'wealthy'. John thought a perfect wardrobe could be had at JCPenney, right off the rack his clothes came and it showed. Out went the old and in came the 'designer look'. From shirts to trousers to under pants and shoes even, John was made over. To be true, John did not put up a fight and loved the 'new' look.
Walking through Macy's one afternoon and John spoting a 'Calvin Klein' leather jacket and wishing he could afford it. My dears, he could, just too bloody tight with cash to part with. MOI went back and bought it and John was gobsmacked at the extravagance. Mind, it soon became his most favourite jacket.
The many holidays taken together in Hawaii. Walking the beaches, dining well, staying at a posh hotel, planning on retiring there one day.
Taking John to his first play and having John take MOI to his first Bette Midler concert.
John standing up for MOI when the newspapers carried stories of the horrid businessman he was. Making money was not something folks thought kindly about, more so when it meant buying run down hotels in rough section of city and moving the old and the poor out. MOI never broke any laws, it was all perfectly legal, but MOI and his partners in business, were not 'social workers' and never gave a thought to the human cost of displacement. It was all about making money. Not nice to see self in the newspaper and called "Tarzan of the Tenderloin". Have a clever columnist write about and liken one to 'what the evil dentist in a film was to dentistry, is DeFrees to hotel industry'. Dark days but John never left side and brushed off the countless newspapers dropped on his desk to draw attention to the horrid creature he lived with. Not once.
Throwing a birthday bash and having all stay away due to the notoriety of MOI. ALL, my dears, personal friends and folks known in local government. John lighting the candles on cake and giving presents to MOI as he cried and cried.
Sitting here, so many memories come flooding back, it is hard to know which to tell. They come back out of order, some stronger than others, but they are quite vivid. It was a life lived, charmed to be sure but it came with a price.
Many sad partings as MOI went off to far away places to do business. Long periods apart in cities across the pond. Missed birthdays and holidays and daily events not shared. There were the telephone calls and the letters and cards. Many, many cards, with messages of longing sent and received. A collection of T-Shirts sent to John from every place visited.
Then came AIDS.
No one who was not there will ever know how horrid that period of time was in the beginning. Stories were told of a strange new illness that was striking down countless homosexual men. 'The Gay Plague' it was wrongly thought of. It got that due to so many homosexuals being among the first brought down by it. MOI read all on the subject he could find. MOI heard it was spread by sexual contact.
MOI had always been told by mates that he was a prude, that he was missing out on the greater ride to be ad by the 'sexual revolution' taking place. The 'candy store' was open for business and all one had to do was enter and feed on all of the delights to be had. Sample away, what is the harm and you might even like it. The problem with 'FREE LOVE' is that it is not entirely free. There has to be some guilt attached to all of that pleasure, and what about STD's. MOI missed the boat and all let him know.
When they came out with a test for risk to AIDS, MOI was one of the first to take. Dragged John with. At the time, the 'Lavender Elite' was not big on it, even suggested that it had no value and could be used to round up folks in the future. Nothing like spreading a few lies to scare folks. In the beginning, one was given the test and a number was handed to, all very private and without identity attached to. No one wanted anyone to know HIV status.
Together, John and MOI got the test, TOGETHER, and his number was exchange with mine so that we would know the true status of the other. A week passed, and the day of the results came. To be true, MOI had bought into the myth and felt that since he had been a life long homosexual, he would have a positive result. My number told John that MOI was negative, and John's number told MOI that he was positive.
The clock was ticking. MOI had done his homework and believe that it was 'infected' with and not 'exposed to' that was the true meaning of the test results. Many did not feel that way. No one wanted to believe that death was coming.
With the support of John, MOI set about trying to help in any way possible. If you think that writing letters to folks is something new, you should have seen in earlies times. MOI was pedantic. Sitting at dining room table, MOI wrote in long hand, one letter after another to any and all one could thing of to help with this growing plague. There were letters to the White House, Senators, Congressmen, health officials, hospitals, newspapers, television and folks known all over the country. Trips were made to Washington and other places to beg for help. Fundraisers were held in home. jumbos put together to raise even more cash. No stone was left unturned. Along the way, MOI lost mates, people one knew stopped come by the house. A congressman likened MOI to a zealot. Doors were slammed shut and telephone calls not returned.
Through it all was John.
When a costume was used to march in front of businesses that were not being morally responsible, John sat in vehicle and watched over. Helped wipe off the spit hurled at MOI. Drove to hospitals to deliver reading material. Picked up from homes of dying men, after a long night of Hospice care.
Throughout 1986, John had many health problems, it was clear that something was coming. Christmas 1986 was a blowout. Vans from every store like delivered present after present for John to have under the tree that year. It was a Christmas to remember.
Through all of the years together, we had never invited workmates of John to our home. We did that year, along with a collection of others special to us. MOI hired caterers, had so much food that tables groaned under the weight of it all. Bartenders mixed drinks. The front of the home had fake snow on the garden, and there were so many lights on the house one almost was blinded by them. Every single room had Christmas in it, and the tree that year never looked better.
Santa even came(with a little help from MOI) and had small presents for each and every one there. MOI gathered all round tree and had Christmas Carols sung, with the voice of MOI being the loudest. It truly was a night to remember.
Just after the holidays, the shoe long waited for, dropped. John was rushed to hospital with 'PCP' a definitive marker for full blown AIDS. John had gone from 'infected' to 'victim'.
My dears, MOI is not going to bore you with horrid details, that is not the point of this story. Quite sure that you know that it was not an easy time. What will be told is the story of how this dark hour turned MOI into what he is today.
John faced his illness with courage and humour. The man has CLASS, buckets of it.
He told the whole world of his illness. No easy thing to do at that time, there was much fear. John told all of his workmates and the company he had worked for all of his life. We told all we knew of his illness. He made a special effort to tell his closest mates.
We went about living, knowing full well that these days remaining were numbered.
Every time John was well enough to travel we boarded a plane and went to Hawaii. These trips gave John so much and there were times we stayed but a day or two, having to return due to his condition.
We planned his funeral, every detail of it. And there were some giggle had in doing that. Sitting at dining room table stuffing Mass cards into envelopes, John remarked how cruel MOI was having him glue his snap on and pass to MOI. He helped pick out the quote used on and even helped decide which music to play for mates at memorial service to be held. We did all of this together, side by side.
John was thrilled when President Ronald Reagan sent MOI a personal letter tell that he, the President and Nancy, were sorry to hear of his illness and that he was in their prayers.
He allowed the local newspaper take his picture along side MOI with a massive bottled water container filled with years of collected pennies, to be donated to an AIDS cause, the bottle had close to $400.00 in pennies.
On the last trip to Hawaii, MOI shared a walk on the beach with John. It was important to know if John felt happy, felt pleased with how life had gone between us. John told MOI that he had no regrets and was proud that MOI was not going to die in the same way. He also told that he felt that he had lived a life most excellent and much of that was due to being a part of MOI's journey. Felt that stories told of far off places visited by MOI made him feel as if he was on every trip taken. He loved all of the people he met through MOI. "Rob, who else do we know that has the Mayor of San Francisco ring up?" Bit of a snob my John was..........John told that he would always be with me and hoped that MOI would never forget how much he loved him.
They say that folks who are soon to die, hang on for special moments. John did that. He wanted to be alive for my 40th birthday. That was the one day he did not want to miss. John had arranged for flowers to be delivered and a massive balloon bouquet. There was also a small box given to MOI. It contained the antique silver ring with stone that MOI wears to this day.
On the day John died, MOI was there. Sitting by his side, holding his hand, MOI watched him depart this life. There was no struggle to hold on, John was a peace and his face showed it.
Many years have passed since John died. MOI has grown old, wiser even. John has never been far from his mind, he is with each and every day, would have it no other way. The many gifts received from John have never been forgot, or the lesson learned from him.My dears, my life has a few defining moments, but the time blessed to have shared with John is the strongest example of how MOI grew as a person. John taught MOI that money is not the end all in life. There is no coffin built that allows you to shovel it into along with the things one collects. We enter this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. John taught MOI to give to others, to try and treat each and every person met with honour. John taught MOI to believe in self, to fight for that was right, even if others did not agree with. To be true to one's self. John taught MOI to love GOD, and to follow his faith. John made MOI promise to LIVE, to get over grief and go about building a life without him. There was so very much John gave and one wonders if he truly knew how MOI felt of him.
To my mind, John was the best of people. He never harmed anyone, tried to not think ill of anyone, and forgave everyone. Some might be tempted to feel that John wore rose-coloured- glasses. Trust me John knew, he just wanted not going to let the dirt in life land on him. On a visit to the home of one of his closest mates, MOI had to use the loo, and MOI being MOI, opened the medicine cabinet to peek inside. There on the shelf were bottles of medicine folks took to fight AIDS. MOI told John of this. John got very quiet, and his face showed the pain he felt at hearing this news. This person was the closest friend to and John had thought that they were so close that they would share everything with each other. John was gutted. We never went to visit this person again, and John refused all calls from, so hurt was he that his very best friend did not feel comfy enough to tell that they both were in the same boat. John could have used that support. Hurt as John was, he made MOI promise that if this person came to his memorial service, he would have a place of honour and MOI was to tell him that John loved him and was waiting to meet again.
John gave MOI the courage to keep going. There were a few mis-steps but in the end, firm footing was found and MOI lives on. There is not a day that MOI looks to memory of John and hopes that he continues to be proud of MOI. John made MOI a better person for having known him and in no small measure is John responsible for leading to the light and never, ever, losing sight of what is truly important.
In a diary kept from those days, MOI found this item he wrote:
...............have no idea what to do, everything has turned to shit. What about ME!!!!! Who is going to be there for me............it hurts so bad that I just want to die....get it over with.........there is no point............fuck you, John............you left me like everybody else........
Loss made MOI mad, grief was so much to bear. Poor MOI! Funny, however hateful that entry was, none of it was true. Time has healed MOI and he has come to see that John had it right all along. MOI will never be alone.
âGreat things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.â
Since coming to live in Reno, have met one who has pretty blinkered view of the world. Like MOI, he is homosexual, quite vocal about what he feels is so very wrong with the old geezer. Loathes me republican views he does. So much so that he feels that to be republican is like being a jew for Hitler. Views me as a broken down old man who has nothing, done nothing. Loathes me use of Brit speak and thinks me 'putting on airs' due to ability to speak several languages. This chap feels that he is without equality, primarily due to his lack of ability to get married to same sex partner. The chap is living proof that some see MOI, as he is today, and believes that is what always was...
I have revealed much this day. There are bits and pieces left out. Like, how I came to live in Europe, strongly held beliefs that cost the old geezer dearly. That, my dears, you will have to discover on own. Being that I have been on the INTERNET for years, if one is clever, and have no doubts that some of you are clever by half, you could find.
Maybe that's what life is... a wink of the eye and winking stars
Posted: Friday April 20, 2012, 12:53 pm
\n\nTalk about \'brain
dead\'. Who puts a
cook up on their
\n\nIf you are planning
to travel to Russia for
the Winter Olympics in
Sochi, you might want to
add to your reading list
in the loo. Come to
think on, you best double
your order of toilet
paper.Seems the folks who
plan these things think a
\n And this is FUN?
10,000 people take
part in this each year.
Some weird place in
Minnesota.This snap give
a whole new meaning to
sitting on the beach.
|SHARES FROM ROB'S NETWORK
New Petition! Speak out
Merger with Comcast! Let
your opinion be know
before your bill goes up
and your programming
DOJ and FCC to Not Allow
Merger of Time-Warner and
\\nWith a few tricks
borrowed from the oil
industry, scientists are
hoping to one day better
earthquakes start and
stop. An easier
alternative is to study
faults exposed on
Earth\\\'s surface, and
\\nThe volcanic plume
that gave birth to the
Galapagos Islands is not
where scientists thought
it was, a new study
seismic images suggest
the plume lies southeast
of the chain\\\'s
Fernandina Island, the
spot where computer
\\nNASA\\\'s robot butler
for astronauts, Robonaut
2, may still be waiting
for its legs to be
delivered to the
Station, but you can see
how the humanoid
automaton may dance in
weightlessness with an
eerie elegance in this