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.



Blogger Harold Gibson said...

E i am an avid reader of your blog and I don't think I meant to cast Eugene in a bad light but I think I am reflecting what you say about him, because like you, I am often encounter the door mat treatment. This arises when I feel used and abused by friends and so called lovers. I am happy you can find a peace in your friendship with Eugene but as you review your post you might want to ask yourself if your friend respects you in all the aspects of your life.

1:39 AM, July 25, 2009  
Blogger CrocoEmbossed said...

I certainly did not mean to dis Eugene. And while you list some great attributes about him, you still have to seriously reflect on his relationship with you.

None of this is my business obviously but here goes anyway.

Just because a person has some noble ways that does not necessarily mean he respects, honors and values you in a significant way. It's great he helped the homeless kid, but what is that adding to your bottom line with Eugene?

Is he quick to fight the "evil" corporation on your behalf because he cares for you? Or is he eager to engage in an argument because of his ego and desire to engage in a verbal showdown with "the oppressor"? Is it about you or is it really about him? Is he assisting because he deems you weak and views himself superior? Or does he genuinely want to help a friend? Where is he spirit and energy directed?

Essentially, I fear you value him more than he values you. When you step back from a situation, observe and consider all things then you really can begin to grasp the sociology of the situation.

While I am young, I have been to hell and back with regard to relationships with my friends, family and lovers. I've learned a few things. I take nothing for granted. I constantly re-evaluate the forces in my life to see if they still make sense.

2:54 PM, July 25, 2009  
Blogger E said...

Thanks for responding guys. It's become quite an interesting discussion and I would love to hear other opinions as well.

CrocoEmbrossed...I totally agree with what you're saying about the need to constantly re-evaluate in my case friendships and seeing if they still make sense.

Eugene can be a bit of a tough read because he's not one to show his emotions much. He has admitted that he gets joy in fighting the "evil corporations", so I know a part of his helping is for his benefit. At the same time I acknowledge that I'm a nonconfrontational person and I don't particularly care for dealing with them all that much, so a part of me is using Eugene for that purpose. He probably does deem himself superior in that area, which he is and I acknowledge that.

As for what Eugene helping the young kid adds to my bottom line, it doesn't add anything for me. You're right about that. But I'm not expecting any benefits from that. What it tells me is (aside from Eugene's own benefits to the situation - I know it makes him feel good & he's getting to express a fatherly side w/o the hassles of fatherhood..*LOL*) that he does have a caring side and it's good to be friends with someone who is trying to be positive in that regards.

I think where he may value me is having a nonsexual friend who he can share his "gay" feelings with. To my knowledge, he doesn't have any gay friends who he would feel comfortable sharing his stories with. Even the straight friends who he told his gay secret to, he knows they won't be as comfortable hearing it. So I fill that void for him.

The one thing about Eugene is that he's so adamant about being one step ahead of folks and figuring out their motives for why they do what they do that he doesn't allow himself to experience life. He avoids a lot of the heartache that I've experienced in dealing with men, but he hasn't gained any real perspective or life experiences. Everything to him is logical.

That can be a challenge to deal with, especially where we clash in opinions. But you know I guess it'd be boring if we always agreed. I guess he's the friend to have if you want to hear it straight. Thankfully I also have other friends for whenever I just need an ear and have more experiences with dealing with pain having dealt with their own pain.

Eugene's pretty much told me folks that choose to be his friend know to expect brutal honesty (at least from his point of view). He's of the opinion that he's always right but I can take his advice or leave it. It's only his opinion after all. Where I get in trouble is that I tend to be more emotional about things and since I avoid confrontation, when he gets confrontational about an issue, I take it personally. That's something I'm working on.

Eugene has his own demons to work out too. Hopefully in time he will.

1:52 PM, July 26, 2009  

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