Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Hate Being Right

On Monday morning, while driving the Husband to work (well, to the bus stop) there was a snippet of a news story on NPR. A man had opened fire in a Unitarian Universalist church in Tennessee, killing two. We had been talking over the radio, so the Husband hadn't really heard the whole story.

"Do you think they'll blame the gays for hating Christians?" he asked.

"Wait, didn't they say it was a UU church? The shooter probably went in because he saw that little rainbow flag icon on the sign outside," I said, only half joking.

Of course, a few hours later, I found out I was right. And not surprisingly, the shooter's reading list included Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage. Did these hate-mongers drive him to kill? Probably not, but they sure as hell didn't tell him that gays and liberals are fellow human beings.

This story has really reminded me that I'm always on the lookout. Does Neighbor X look at us askance when we leave the house in the morning?

I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, being aware of my surroundings is a good idea. I've always been aware of what's going on around me. I'm constantly annoying the Husband by saying, "Did you hear what the couple at the next table just said?" or "Did you see the bright pink hair on that old lady?" They are really unintentionally rhetorical questions, since the answer is always: "No."

But the observations never go away, and they are frequently coupled with questions of safety. Are they relevant? Probably not. I live in liberal, suburban Massachusetts. We're not even the only gay people on the block.

I've previously told the Husband that I want a house with a big yard with a big fence around it, set back from the road. Ostensibly, this is so that our neurotic dog can safely enjoy herself in the yard, and so that we'll have a little privacy. I haven't told him that I'm also hoping that it'll give me a little break from constantly observing.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

For the Birds!

Last weekend, my dog caught a bird in the backyard. It was flying low, flew past her head, and caught her full attention. She gave chase, caught up to the bird, and leapt into the air, successfully snapping at the bird. The bird fell out of the sky while I watched in horror from the kitchen window.

The bird lay prone on the lawn, and the dog began to lunge excitedly. Two more birds appeared, and they began circling the dog, chirping wildly. I hurried outside and shooed the dog back into the house, quite certain that the bird was dead.

I ran upstairs and woke the Husband. "Buffy killed a bird!" I shouted. "She plucked it out of the sky and killed it. Now it's in the yard and I don't know what to do with it. Do something!" (The Husband and I have an arrangement. He doesn't have to deal with spiders or insects, and I don't have to deal with any higher-order creatures.)

By the time the Husband got down to the yard, the bird was sitting up, chirping. He was miraculously not dead after all! As the Husband approached the bird, the other two birds returned, circling him and making a lot of noise.

"Leave it alone and come back inside!" I yelled out the window. "This is starting to be like The Birds! I don't want these robins going all Hitchcock on you!"

Later in the day, the bird was gone. I figured that it must have been a young bird, and that its parents were smart enough to take it away from the yard. We were going out of town, so there was plenty of time for this bird to finish learning to fly and get away from our dangerous yard.

We got back from our trip to Provincetown yesterday. (Spending a week with a bunch of other gay men has made me feel very fat, but that probably deserves its own post.) By the time we had gotten home, I had completely forgotten about the birds.

Buffy, it turns out, has not forgotten about the birds. This afternoon, she launched another offensive. The Husband was quick to pull her away, but once again he was convinced that the little bird was dead. Apparently this little bird is very good at playing dead, because a few minutes later, it was once again sitting up and chirping.

But now I have absolutely no idea how to proceed. I don't want Buffy attacking birds. I can go out in the yard with her on a leash, but that will get old quickly. How do I get this little bird to go away?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Hunted

In our constant quest to undermine the American family, the Husband and I have decided that perhaps we've been going about it all wrong. Maybe the best way to undermine families is to undermine the American economy. So we thought long and hard about it. We're just two people -- how could we really have an impact on the economy?

Then I realized that we were being foolish. If our marriage can destroy the institution of the family, certainly our financial decisions can cripple the global economy. So we decided to buy a house, and went house hunting this weekend.

I know what you're thinking! "But Mark, doesn't buying a house help the economy?" Not when the gay marrieds do it! Then it's destructive!

Actually, that's not quite how the decision came about. On Saturday morning, there was a knock at the front door. A man was looking for our landlord. I explained that he longer lives here, and that we're renting from him. He asked for contact information, I declined to provide it, but I offered to give a message to our landlord. So he gave me his business card.

The Husband looked up the information on the business card, and the man works for a real estate firm that bills itself as a "pre-foreclosure services" firm. Apparently, they are contacted by banks, and they try to contact homeowners to get them to sell their homes before they are foreclosed upon.

Buying a home was on our list of near-term projects, but I think it just moved up the list a little. The Husband, the puppy, and I would prefer not to come home to an eviction notice from the bank on the door.

Apparently the home mortgage crisis isn't impacting some local real estate agents, though. This morning while I took a walk around a nearby pond, I noticed a "For Sale" sign at a very cute house. Since I'm officially looking at houses now, I decided to call the number on the sign and find out the list price. Not as easy as you'd think:

"Good morning, I was walking by a house and noticed your sign in the yard. I was hoping to find out the list price."

A very cheery young woman assured me this was no problem. "Do you mind holding for a moment?"

I listened to their music for a minute or so before she returned.

"Actually," she said, "the agent who's listed that house is on the other line right now. Can I have him call you back in a few minutes."

"Oh, I don't really need to speak to him yet," I said. "I'm just trying to find out the list price."

"Right," the receptionist replies, "But I don't have that information."

My jaw dropped. "Seriously?"

"Well, I'm not an agent, sir, so I don't have access to that kind of information. Can I have the agent call you back?"

"Don't worry about it. I'm out right now, so I'll call later."

When I got home, I typed the address into Google. After the link to Google Maps, the next hit was the listing, on the website of the firm I had just called. So what information was she unable to access? The internet? Yesterday's newspaper, which contains a small ad for the property?

A suggestion to real estate brokers -- before you complain that you're having difficulty selling homes in this market, please try to train your staff to provide basic customer service over the phone.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Caring Is Sharing

One secret advantage to being in a relationship with another man is sharing clothing. It can range from blatant theft (taking a shirt from his side of the closet and hanging it on mine) to a more organic kind of sharing(we only have one sock drawer).

While driving the Husband to work yesterday morning, he swore.

"Shit! I left my wedding ring on the bathroom counter."

I laughed, "You spent five days in Florida, and you completely forgot we're married. I predicted this."

Then, a little light bulb flashed on above my head. I pulled off my wedding band, and handed it to him. "Here. Take mine. They're the same. I'll just grab yours when I get home in ten minutes."

We haven't switched back yet. Am I supposed to be sentimental about having the correct one, or pragmatic? I mean, they're exactly the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Devious Plot to Destroy the American Family

John McCain is multi-faceted. In addition to being the cornerstone of all American marriages -- he's the cornerstone of many of those marriages presumably because he is a member of them -- he's also a groundbreaking sociologist. You thought he was busy campaigning? In his spare time, he conducts new research on adoption:

Mr. McCain, who with his wife, Cindy, has an adopted daughter, said flatly that he opposed allowing gay couples to adopt. “I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption,” he said.

Since none of the reputable sources on parenting information support this outrageous claim, I can only assume that John McCain has been conducting his own peer-reviewed studies on same-sex parenting. Obviously, though, John McCain is right and science is wrong.

In honor of this new information, I've compiled a short list of the ways that I behaved destructively toward the institution of family this week:
  • Baked a birthday cake for my nephew's first birthday.
  • Drove to my hometown to visit extended family.
  • Helped my parents move furniture to my grandparents' new assisted living facility.
If I keep this up, there won't be any families left for me to damage by next week!

UPDATE: John McCain isn't as opposed to gay adoption as he was yesterday. We're a marginally better option than abandoning children on the streets.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Too Conventional, I'm Destroying Marriage!

My marriage to the Husband is my first marriage. It's his first marriage, too. In fact, we're both the first men with whom the other has cohabited. Nor has either of us cohabited with a woman.

Who cares, right? I mean, this is boring stuff.

Well, John McCain cares. Right on his own website, he's got articles proclaiming his anti-gay marriage street cred:

Senator McCain supports traditional marriage and is opposed to same-sex "marriage." He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and publicly endorsed and campaigned for the Arizona marriage initiative in 2006.

Defending marriage. Presumably, he is defending marriage from the likes of my husband and I. I mean, we are out to destroy marriage and society, with our monogamy (not that there's anything wrong with deciding not to be monogamous -- that's just not for us!) and consideration of real estate purchases. When we go to Williams-Sonoma and buy a 4,000 pound cast iron pan for $12,000, we'll probably use it to bash in the heads of an elderly married couple, or a baby, or something.

But who is going to defend marriage from John McCain? It's certainly not news that John McCain has been married nearly as many times as Elizabeth Taylor. But the LA Times would like you to know that McJohn McDefend McMarriage McCain obtained a marriage license to marry Cindy nearly a full month before his divorce from his previous wife was finalized. That's not just classy, it supports marriage. John McCain loves marriage so much that he had more than one marriage at the same time.

So just to make sure that I understand the situation, I'm going to recap what I understand:
  1. My marriage, by virtue of the man-loving, flies in the face of tradition.
  2. Flying in the face of tradition devalues society, and makes the baby Jesus cry.
  3. John McCain can marry as many women as he wants, and ditch them whenever he meets a pretty young thing. Especially if she's rich.
  4. ???
  5. John McCain values the American family.
Whatever goes on in step four must be really complicated, because I don't get it at all.

[McCain was still married to his wife when he got married to his mistress -- AMERICAblog]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Harkening Back ...

Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ...

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Harry Ney Stearns,
On the seventh of March, in nineteen thirteen;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Section 11. No marriage shall be contracted in this commonwealth by a party residing and intending to continue to reside in another jurisdiction if such marriage would be void if contracted in such other jurisdiction, and every marriage contracted in this commonwealth in violation hereof shall be null and void. Mass. Gen. L. ch. 207, § 11 (2005)

Back in 1913, the Massachusetts legislature gave a big ol' blowjob to the rampant racism running roughshod through the nation. Although interracial marriage was legal in Massachusetts, the legislature decided to protect the racist values of other states and bar out-of-state interracial couples from marrying in Massachusetts if they could not be married in their home state.

But times change, and the 1913 law eventually became obsolete. Racism became less trendy, and no one wanted to be seen actively participating anymore. Since interracial couples could now be married in every state, the 1913 was no longer relevant, and had probably been long forgotten.

Ah, but then we all received a lesson in why bad laws must be removed from the books with all haste!

In 2004, while people of conscience everywhere were celebrating the newly affirmed right of gays and lesbians to marry in Massachusetts, Governor Mitt Romney decided that digging up old racist laws wasn't beneath him. (He is a Republican after all. Nothing is beneath him.) Since even the ancient bigots of 1913 had the good sense to pretend they weren't bigots, the law didn't mention interracial marriage. It just said that couples who couldn't be married in their home state couldn't be married in Massachusetts.

Grasping at straws, feebly unable to see that society was moving forward and leaving them behind, Governor Romney and his team of biggoty nitwits (like Brian Camenker, the Clown of the Daily Show, and Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, who should be known as Bigoted Betty, the Bitch of Bristol) dug up the old law and used it to prevent out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts. Using racist old laws doesn't bother people like Bigoted Betty, she's a Republican, and nothing is beneath her.

Maybe things will finally change! Don't let Bigoted Betty steer you wrong.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day

I have a secret. Well, not really. But the Husband does. He hasn't told my in-laws that they're ... well, my in-laws. Their relationship with the Husband is pretty strained. They live in New Jersey, and in the last five years I've seen them twice. Once, during the year we spent in New Jersey, and once a few months ago.

My mother-in-law won't call our house, because she's afraid that I will answer the phone. So she makes her husband do the calling. He's not much of a phone guy, so the conversations usually go like this:

The telephone rings. I answer.
Me: Hello?
Husband's Dad: Hi, is [the Husband] there?
Me: Yep, let me get him.
I call the Husband to the phone.
The Husband: Hello?
Husband's Dad: Hi.
The Husband: Hi, Dad. How are you?
Husband's Dad: I'm fine. Here's your mother.
The Husband: Ok. Bye, Dad. ... Hi, Mom.

That's not an exaggeration.

Actually, I do have a secret. I am the only reason The Husband has a relationship with his parents at all. That one visit in the last year? It was because I told him that he needed to invite his parents to see where we lived. Those monthly phone calls they receive? He'd probably only remember to call them about twice a year if I didn't tell him to call his mother.

But I've kind of given up on them. After their visit, I told the Husband that I was pretty much done with trying. I'm not going to tell him to invite them. I'm not going to tell him that it's time to call his mother. I've declared my independence.

In happier notes, we actually had a lovely Independence Day. We had a picnic with my almost one-year-old nephew and some friends. There's a great ballpark nearby with a view of the Boston fireworks. They have some live music, and then when it gets later, they have a screen where they run the tv coverage of the Pops concert. It's not quite the same as when my friends had an apartment on the Charles with a balcony facing the fireworks, but it was very nice.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Did We, or Didn't We?

The Husband and I have a couple of relationship memory disagreements. We've never been able to agree on the date that we met. I believe it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and he believes it was the following day. We've agreed to disagree, mostly because it isn't a very relevant piece of information.

Recently, we had a larger memory dispute while having dinner with friends. We were talking about our wedding, and I casually mentioned that we had tried to get married when we lived in San Francisco, back in 2004, when Gavin Newsom began allowing same-sex couples to wed. I explained that we had made an appointment, but since we had procrastinated, the courts stopped the weddings before we reached the day of our appointment. I had complained at the time we made our appointment that city hall seemed to have an express lane for people like Rosie O'Donnell, who flew in from New York to get married, while actual San Francisco residents had to wait in line.

The Husband cocked his head and looked at me half-smiling. Then he said, "No, we didn't."

"Didn't what?"

"We never made an appointment. We talked about doing it, but we never actually did it."

"Um, yes we did."

He laughed, "Well, it's like we did, except that we didn't."

Our friends were looking at us strangely, so we kind of let it drop.

I am, of course, convinced that my recollection is correct. It wasn't a hard sell. I'm always right. But the Husband wasn't buying it. Apparently, he thinks that sometimes, he is right instead of me.

I had to bite my tongue so that I wouldn't say, "Well, if you forgot the first time we tried to get married, why should I believe that you'll remember the time we actually did get married?!"