Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eugene's Worth

They say variety is the spice of life. If someone were to dissect Eugene and me, that someone would quickly discover several key differences among us. There are some days I question my friendship with him. From time to time others have questioned it too. The only three things we have in common I sometimes feel are being born and raised in Detroit, being black, and being gay.

A while back I discussed a personality test called Myers-Briggs. As a sociology professor, Eugene took special interest in the test and when finding out a very close college bud of his had the exact same combo of letters, he was elated since it explained why the two got along so well. Eugene hyped it up so much that I was curious to take the test myself. It turned out I'm almost the complete opposite of Eugene, the only thing in common being that we're both spontaneous type folks (P). Everything else we were opposites. I'm an Introvert and he's an Extravert. I'm a Senser and he's an iNtuit. I'm a Feeler and he's a Thinker.

One fundamental difference is that Eugene doesn't have much of a filter and says what's on his mind whereas I keep some things to myself if I think it is hurtful. That's neither here nor there since sometimes you have to let it out, other times it is better not to.

Some of Eugene's stubborn beliefs regarding his sexuality and how it is perceived partially boils down to his own "daddy issues". As a child Eugene witnessed his father mentally and verbally abusing his mother. His dad was an alcoholic who often took out his frustrations on his mother and the rest of the family.

Eugene grew up with this strong sense of justice and fairness. He has a very idealistic notion that everyone deserves equal access to education, jobs, resources, and dignity. He has no idea how he became so idealistic considering his home life.

Seeing the abuse going on in the family caused quite a lot of conflict between Eugene and his father. They clashed a lot and that often led to physical altercations. Eugene was torn when it came to his mother. On the one hand he felt the need to protect her since the abuse she experienced was unfair. He needed to help his mother find justice. The flipside though was that he was angry with his mother for allowing his father to do what he did. He couldn't understand why she didn't leave him.

After graduating from Cass Tech, he relocated to Los Angeles for his undergraduate degree. Part of his reasoning for relocating was due to home issues. Growing up Eugene knew he had an attraction to guys. He told me countless stories of how "studs" used to always want to horse around with him. At the same time he told of resisting and fighting off the advances of an older man who tried to make the moves on him at a summer job he briefly had as a teenager.

He was conflicted with his feelings for guys wondering if part of his issue was due to him seeking acceptance from other males that he never got from his father. This conflict continued and the "stud" encounters increased as he went through his undergrad studies. These encounters shaped his expectations of what his ideal guy should be. They should be manly men, a guy's guy. So any guys that he perceived weren't strong enough to take him were considered weak and if such a guy showed any interest, he would back away. (And as much as he says what's on his mind, he's also about appearances at times. If you wear anything that can be tied to your sexual preference, he doesn't want to be around that since he would be linked by association. So no gay pride parades for him.)

Eugene experienced a lot of frustrations along with the obvious joys clowning with his "studs". 90% or so of the "studs" he had his matches with, he knew they were straight and nothing would come of it. The remaining 10% he sensed may have wanted more, mostly a curiosity of having a guy suck their dick. Eugene however lacked the experience to differentiate between the two groups.

One of Eugene's preferences in his Myers-Briggs assessment is his strong iNtuition. In thinking about it, it was surprising that Eugene didn't trust it more when it came to possibly going deeper with guys in his younger years. Of course his biggest regret was not allowing his relationship with Larry to go beyond friends.

Even today Eugene is not as sexually experienced as a guy in his mid 40s should be. Eugene doesn't get as much wrestling action as he did in his college days. But whenever he goes workout, he says that he turns the heads of "studs" (not the unstudly of course). A lot of these "studs" are in their 20s or early 30s and his fear now is twofold. The first is his worry that he may not be able to keep up with the sexual prowess of these guys (assuming it even went there). The second fear is his anticipation of said stud's disappointment in realizing Eugene's in his mid 40s.

These worries conflict with the huge "Kayne West" like EGO Eugene gets whenever folks think he is much younger than his age. He was insufferable years back when he came to visit me and he tagged along on a date I had with Matt. The three of us were at TGIFs and our waitress was taking our drink orders. She asked for our ids and was flirting with Eugene a bit. Before taking his id she told him she thought he was in his mid 20s. She was shocked to learn that he was 42. So of course we wanted her to guess my age. She got it right unfortunately telling me my correct age.

Of course Eugene had to rub it in that she thought he was younger than I. I fruitlessly pointed out that I was aged by association since she couldn't imagine a 20-something hanging with an over 40 guy. It was a weak argument but it was all I had. He still brings that up every now and then whenever he receives random "you don't look your age" compliments.

So Hemingway part of why I wrote this entry was due to recent comments regarding Eugene's attitude from CrocoEmbossed & HaroldGibson. I do agree that he displays the very things via his actions that he's afraid that I may trip up somehow. He didn't believe me but when I first met him at the Amtrak station in Detroit in 2005, I definitely picked up on his "gay" tendencies. It wasn't anything bad but all men, even the so-called macho ones have some feminine tendencies in them and his were a bit pronounced. I should take offense to his opinions but I know he's struggling with his sexuality and he especially wants to perceive himself being careful since he's hoping to get tenured soon.

I also wrote this entry to try to remind myself of all the good qualities he has. I mean, why am I friends with him? Why do we talk to each other so much?

One of those qualities I mentioned earlier in this post. It's his sense of justice and fairness for all. He actually touched me a bit with his recent actions of helping a homeless young man get his life straight. This started about a month and a half ago. Eugene met him at Bally's and soon found out that he was living in a homeless shelter. The shelter he stays at has a cut-off time where they stop accepting folks. He's missed it a few times and Eugene allowed him to stay the night at his place. He also bought him a P.O. Box so that any perspective employees or anyone that can help has an address to send him info. In a lot of ways, Eugene is taking on a fatherly role with him. I've even teased him by asking how his son is doing. Eugene's latest project is trying to get his son to shave off his dreads (basically to make him more presentable in interviews). It's a really nice thing he's doing and not something everyone would do. This is just one example of someone he's helped and not expect anything in return.

Another quality is his ability to read situations. That's a double-edge sword of course. A lot of times I don't like to hear what his "imaginary antennas" are telling him. He's not always 100% right (even though he claims to be...*LOL*) but a lot of times he is on the mark about certain things. And as much as I bite my tongue, I've learned from him that sometimes it is good to speak your mind. I mean how is anyone supposed to know how I feel if I keep quiet.

Eugene's also a big kid at heart. That gets old at times but it reminds me not to always take life so seriously. That lesson I have to keep learning again and again.

Eugene really hates corporations. So whenever I have a beef with any company, I tell him the details and have him call on my behalf. He's helped me out of several different jams that I found myself in financially.

It's going on four and a half years that we've known each other. I guess time flies when you're having fun. Eugene can work my last nerve but I know there are times I've worked his as well. We have a crazy friendship. The few days a year that we actually hang together we always seem to clash over one thing or another. But luckily we make up pretty regularly too.

So for the moment I choose to accept some of his crazy notions. The pros of having Eugene in my life outweighs the cons. The longer we know each other, hopefully the more our friendship will evolve. Time will tell.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boston Milestone

As I was driving near my neighborhood, I ran into the most interesting display that I had to photograph. Basically someone living at this house turned 50 and it was decided that this milestone needed to be advertised to everyone. My rear view mirror is kind of blocking part of it but basically the display says Carol IS 50 and further in the background are a bunch of bras that were hung on a clothesline along with a sign that says "We Support You".

I thought it was funny but I'm hoping nothing like that happens to me when I turn 40, which is actually just a little over three years away. Wow...I'm getting old.

I mentioned a potential boyfriend in a post last month named Colin. He's a guy that I met back in May when I was visiting Eugene in Boston. So Hemingway last weekend I flew into Boston to spend more time with Colin. I took Friday off and took a 8:35AM flight to Boston. Colin was going to pick me up at the airport. I was hoping to be able to nap during this flight but I was stuck sitting next to two chatty Bettys who were carrying on with each other about their respective activities. To try and drone out their chatter, I put my Ipod on.

I arrived and made my way towards baggage claim. My first mission was to try and find a restroom. There was a couple on route to baggage claim but I figured I'd find one near baggage claim to go to. I made my way through the airport maze and then headed downstairs to bc. As I walked down there I saw a sign for the restroom but I had to go up some stairs to get to it. Needless to say I was annoyed. I stood there contemplating climbing the flight of stairs when Colin sneaked up behind me and we hugged. He handed me a Dunkin Donuts ice tea and mentioned that I walked right by him just near the down escalator. I guess I was so focused that I looked right past him.

So Hemingway we went up the stairs, I took care of business, and then we made our way towards the parking garage. He needed to pay for the ticket via a machine and we entered an elevator. We wound up having the elevator to ourselves and Colin promptly reached over and we started kissing. Part of me was thinking there were probably cameras watching us but I went along with it. I detected what tasted like a cigarette in his breath but I didn't comment on it, instead I was relishing on the overall excitement of the illicit moment.

We made our way to his olive colored Jeep (a color that I love) and that was where I saw his pack of cigarettes. One thing I'm not crazy about is smoking and it can be a big turnoff. Unfortunately his profile didn't mention anything about smoking which honestly I would've likely eliminated him from my dating pool. But Colin slipped by my radar and I got to know a lot of things about him since we spoke daily that appealed to me. So I was conflicted.

I mentioned the cigarettes to him and he stated that he was trying to quit, which I guess is a start. I let it go for the moment as we made our way out of the airport. He reached for my hand and was holding it at various points while he was driving (Awww!). His Jeep was a stick shift so he occasionally needed that hand to change gears. As soon as he was done, he promptly held my hand again (Awww!). The pattern repeated....change gears, hold hands, change gears, hold hands.

He asked if we should go to lunch first or drop my luggage and then go. I decided on the former and we wound up going to the same sushi place where we had our first date. The sushi was delicious but I wasn't particularly fond of the waiting staff. It honestly felt like they were more attentive to Colin than myself. I guess I should get this out now....he's another white guy. (And no Rock didn't sour me to black guys...I still got love for the just so happened that I've been meeting a lot more white guys lately.) I didn't make a fuss about it though especially since Colin paid for the meal but if I was paying for it, I'd definitely make a point of giving the minimum of tips.

Afterwards Colin needed to run a couple errands, including getting some liquor for a couple friends (including his ex) that would be stopping by Sunday. So we took care of the errands and aside from one funny incident (we found a walkie-talkie that a Sam's Club employee left in the lot...Colin played with it and contacted a store clerk, who wondered how he stumbled across it), the shopping was uneventful. Well...I was perturbed when Colin attempted to purchase an entire carton of Marlboro Lights (yeah that's gonna be an issue) but other than that it was uneventful.

We went back to his place where he was greeted by his two cats (they were friendly though only on their terms...*LOL*). They ran away when I walked in and I could imagine them thinking about what Colin drug in...*LOL*. Hemingway we decided to spend a lowkey evening where he would make a home-cooked meal (a major plus). He asked me to invite Eugene over so the two of us could catch up and then we could watch a movie. Eugene, being the peculiar individual that he is, declined the invite. But it was fine.

We entertained ourselves watching TV, making out, having sex, and him getting the vegetables and meat ready for a homemade chicken veggie soup w/ rice. I fell asleep afterwards as we were watching Knowing with Nicholas Cage. So ended Friday.

Originally Colin and I were thinking about driving to Connecticut and visiting Foxwoods Resort Casino and staying overnight. But Colin mentioned that he had some discount he wanted to use and couldn't do it online or over the phone. He mentioned having to drive down there in person (an hour and a half drive) to do so. But as the weeks drug on (since our first meeting in May), I had a feeling Colin changed his mind about the resort, even though I was still kind of excited by it. He was making up excuses for not getting it taken care of. I finally stopped asking about it. I got that confirmation that we weren't going there days before when he suggested spending a day at the beach instead (the weather was going to be nice for a change....Boston like a lot of other areas haven't had much of a summer).

I was okay with the idea. I honestly needed to brush up on the little swimming skill I had that I was sure faded away. Plus he claimed there was a gay section of the beach and I knew I wouldn't mind seeing a few hard bodies.

So Saturday morning we made our way to Ogunquit, Maine, which was just a little over an hour drive from Boston. Colin boasted that Ogunquit actually attracts quite a number of gay and lesbian folks and a number of gay/lesbian owned businesses, including a bed and breakfast, existed.

We got there early enough to get decent parking and there was a bit of a crowd, though it was predominately hetero. Colin the night before had made some sandwiches and bought some chips, pretzels, cherries, and water, which he packed into a cooler. The cooler had wheels which he used to drag it along the parking lot. Once we got to the beach, we grabbed one end of the cooler and carried it along the beach(that was so a couples thing...*LOL*). There were already a small crowd gathered at the "straight" section of the beach. We walked past that and got to what Colin called the "gay" section, which was actually empty.

We settled near an open area and laid out our blankets and gear. I was wearing some speedos, which surprisingly looked good on me. Luckily I didn't have much of a bulge. We chatted, laid out in the sun for a bit, and I ate a sandwich with some chips. The eye candy was few even though I did catch a hot guy who seemed to be purposely posing.

The wind started picking up and unfortunately sand started coming all over me, even though I hadn't moved from my blanket. A bit over two hours after we settled in, Colin and I decided to pack it in. And no I didn't get to go swimming.

Of couse as we're leaving, all the hot gay guys decided to show up. Colin made a joke that they would leave within ten minutes after getting sand in their hair.

Ogunquit as you can imagine didn't have many blacks floating around. I may have ran into two other black folks the entire time I was there. Colin and I walked around town but didn't stop anywhere in particular. We wound up walking along this long pathway along the shoreline. It was really nice and I admit having thoughts of making out with Colin at various private alcoves that were hidden along the path. But I kept those feelings inside as we continued the walk. We saw a trolley and hopped on it as we made our way back to where we started.

On route back to Boston, we stopped at an outlet in Kittery, ME. We went to Old Navy to get a couple t-shirts and I stopped at a Casual Male XL to get some shorts for my dad. I was trying to stop at one in the Detroit area when I last visited my parents but all the ones in Michigan for some reason were out of business. So when I saw it I immediately knew I had to go there.

Colin expressed feeling extra tired when getting back. Eugene had actually suggested us meeting him and a guy he's been dating at an Italian restaurant that night. I admit I was stunned that Eugene suggested it since when I had mentioned possibly getting together with him and his guy days before, he nixed the idea saying he didn't want it to seem like we were on a "double date". Colin however wasn't up to going and while a part of me was disappointed that we wouldn't be able to (I would've gone but I don't drive stick -- aside from being fucking lost -- and his date was actually picking him up so he didn't want to have him get me), a part of me was actually glad. I get annoyed with Eugene at times because he always wants to control outings and who meets who. We've gotten into arguments in the past because he wouldn't introduce me to his friends since he concluded we wouldn't get along (and a possible fear that I might "out" him since my masculinity index is so low according to him). But this entry isn't about Eugene and his pigeonholing so let me move on.

Later Saturday Colin offered me the chance to do some laundry (basically his clothes with a bit of mine). His laundry room also happens to be his kitty litter room and his smoking room. I sighed as I saw a pack of cigarettes and his full litter box. I actually decided to clean the litterbox after starting the laundry. (Yeah I'm that type of guy...*LOL*)

The plan Sunday was for me to spend the day with his friends hanging out in Boston and going to their favorite gay bar. Before meeting his friends, Colin had wanted us to go to the gym to work out. But I forgot my sneakers believe it or not so we didn't go. So instead Colin was being the good host making sandwiches with leftovers from our beach outing and also warming up the rest of the soup from Friday.

So two of his friends arrived, the first of which wound up being his ex. The story there was that he and his ex were dating for three years and living together but the last two years they lost interest and basically had a nonsexual relationship. Their friendship in contrast grew to where they consider each other to be close friends. His ex actually moved to his own place last month.

So I met Colins-ex who actually seemed like a nice guy. He's a smaller framed guy of South American descent. I found out that they both worked at the same place (which is an independent living facility for older folks). Colin's managing one of thier kitchens and has under him some managers and chefs. (It explains his love for cooking) Colins-ex works as a manager in a different kitchen from Colin. Needless to say a lot of their conversations centered around their job.

Colin's other friend showed up ten minutes later. Frankford was a quiet yet mischievous heavyset guy who Colin stated was his best friend. I found out that Frankford was responsible for bringing Colin and Colins-ex into their current jobs. He wound up being laid-off by the same company a few years back. So a lot of the conversations continued to center around their job.

I was quietly observing the threesome and noticed there were a couple moments when Frankford and Colin would disappear to the laundry room. I sighed as I smelled a bit of cigarette smoke.

We all left Colin's condo and headed out to Boston in Colin's jeep. Since Frankford was big, I let him ride up front with Colin. We made our way to Boston and walked along part of historical downtown. We passed an H&M store and Colin insisted on going in to find some clothes. I was combing through some of the clothes but didn't find anything that appealed to me. I felt a bit bad for Frankford since there really weren't any clothes in his size. Eventually Frankford and Colins-ex went outside while Colin continued shopping. I joined the others outside as Colin went to pay for his items.

We made our way to Boston Commons and walked along the park. Not wanting to drag his bag around to the bar, Colin went to his car to drop off his bag. I tagged along with him while the others waited for us to return.

Eventually we made our way to Fritz, a popular gay sports bar in Boston. The highlight of the afternoon was seeing how Colin wound up socializing with other folks in the bar. He seemed to clash in particular with a queen-type guy who also looked to be having a crush on Colin. I also counted about six trips Colin and Frankford made outside to smoke cigarettes. (Yeah that's gonna be a running issue I see...*LOL*).

We ended the evening with a trip to Fire&Ice (I'm feeling a slight TeenaMarie/Rick James moment here), a grill and bar place where you pick the food items and they cook it right in front of you. Colin had what I considered a klepto moment when he chose to pocket a small sea salt grinder because "he didn't have one at home".

My flight was scheduled for early that Monday at 6:50AM. We prepared by turning in as soon as we got back from Boston. It was around that time that my body chose to have a pain in the shoulder. I told Colin about it and he said that he would give it a massage. I thought that was nice but instead he wound up giving me an Icy Hot patch. (*LOL*)

As we were getting to know each other, I learned that his birthday was on the 16th. Since I knew I wouldn't be in town for it, I decided to get a gift for him ahead of time. He mentioned being a huge fan of the Golden Girls (something that he has in common with Eugene and a lot of America...*LOL*). He had all the seasons of Golden Girls except for Season 4. He was looking to get it at his local Best Buy but they never seemed to have a copy. So I decided to get it for him for his birthday. I presented it to him just before we went to bed. He was pleasantly surprised and thanked me for the gift.

We went to bed and we woke up around 3:30 AM to get ready for the airport. Traffic wasn't too bad for 4AM...*LOL*. We had one last quick kiss upon arriving at the airport and parted ways.

Overall it was a good visit. Colin and I got to know a bit more about each other. Weighing in the pros and cons, I would say that the pros outweigh the cons (despite the huge one). I'm interested in getting to know him some more but am also keeping my options open.

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