Friday, December 20, 2013

Jesus' Yeller

Jesus’ yeller was at the bus stop this morning.  Pity.  I hadn't hoped he’d died, but it was kind of nice when I realized I hadn't heard him brow beating us sinners for a long time.  I’d hoped maybe he’d seen the light and converted to Zoroastrianism or Rastafarianism or Satanism or maybe found Truth through the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And then this morning our usual blasé surroundings echoed with the threats of hell, our relentless giving in to the pleasures of the flesh, and on and on and on.  He sometimes zeros in on someone, particularly someone who’s smoking, and harasses him or her.  He doesn’t much care for young women of fashion, what with the lack of modesty and all.  He doesn't seem to mind young men with their pants held up only by their baskets.

I was told he was hit by lightening when he was young.  When he miraculously survived, he decided to give his life to Jesus and thus found his calling to preach the gospel to the masses.  And where are the masses?  Unfortunately, we’re at the transfer center on Market Square.

Oddly, Christmas and the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ weren't part of his rap.  But I suspect that he doesn't have Christmas in his repertoire.  What he yells are repetitive phrases with minor variations.  He may or may not be aware of the season, but it’s definitely part of his spiel.  Too much love, not enough anger.

He wears earmuffs or a headset or something over his ears.  I've toyed with idea of asking him, should he approach me, if he wears them so he doesn't have to listen to himself.  I don’t think he’d get the joke or appreciate the comment.  I would be mocking him and, by extension, the Lord our God.  I’d get yelled at, and I’m not sure how much of that I could take. 

Yes, I know I’m supposed to give him his space, despite the fact that he intrudes on mine.  Naturally, everyone has to believe what he believes, and we have to hearken unto his every word.  And there are some people who “amen” him and nod in agreement.  It makes me understand where some of the prophets came from. 

Jesus’ yeller returned to the bus stop this morning after a long, welcomed absence.  One wonders where he was.  Was I simply fortunate enough not to be there when he was?  Perhaps he was a guest of the commonwealth in one facility or another.  Every city, every town, every community has its characters.  They are best appreciated from a distance.  There are others who are best appreciated by their absence, Jesus’ yeller among them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

67 or 45 or something

One thing I was not prepared for, aside from retirement, when I reached my alleged Golden Years was not feeling like I'm 67.  I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, but I don't feel like it.  Oh, most assuredly I have aches and pains.  The arthritis isn't going away anytime soon.  Forgetfulness has become infuriating.  I don't like having to walk more slowly or scoring lower points on video games I once scored many thousands more points.  I'm tired of age jokes and age discrimination (no matter what anyone says, it's real and it happens).  After nearly 40 years in broadcasting, it seems the best I can do now is prepare Big Macs and such.  The lack of hair where I used to be furry and the thinning at the top are not among my favorite things.  I'm 67.

The bitch is, I find it difficult to act my age...mostly because I don't know how 67-year-olds are supposed to act.  Finding a role model is difficult enough; finding a role model for a gay 67-year-old man is damn-near impossible.  But the really weird thing is that, despite the aches and pains and balding and forgetfulness, I don't feel like I'm 67.  My brain, when it's not busy forgetting things and registering aches and pains, thinks I'm still in my 40s.

That may not be a bad thing, but it is strange.  I see fellow old people and wonder if they feel the same, if they've accepted that they're now old and this is the way it's done.  I'm kind of afraid to ask.  "Well, yes.  Get over yourself.  You're old."  I see younger people who don't even look at me, let alone know what I think about something.  God forbid they should ask me a question.

In a way, I deserve it.  The way I treated old people when I was young was pretty shameful and not at all unlike the way I feel I'm being regarded now.  Although I'm no longer in their way as far as career advancement goes, I feel like I'm taking up space, breathing too much air, eating food that should go to others.  Of course, I was convinced I'd never see my 30th birthday, so imagine my surprise.  Still, I feel as if I have something to share, that if I were asked a question I could answer and be helpful, and none of us knows how to talk to the other.

I especially think I could be helpful with young gay people, but here any support groups are at night, we don't have shelters for any young people (that don't require confessing your sins), and I don't have any social work degrees.  Professional staff only, thank you very much.  So, I feel kind of a bad way.

No doubt feeling my age will catch up with me.  If I can remember, I'll let you know what it's like.  Until then, I guess I'll just wander around being 67, feeling 45, and looking like shit.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

She Never Rides That Bus

Normally I see her on the afternoon bus, when I see her at all.  She goes to the church where I used to be choral director.  I was essentially fired from the place a few years ago, but she keeps me informed.  I was especially happy to hear the news that the minister who got rid of me had so divided the congregation through the years that he left before he was drummed out.  She always takes an earlier bus in the morning.

Monday morning, she was on the 8:05.  She always takes an earlier bus.  The seat beside her was vacant and she asked me to sit with her.  She'd had an upset stomach and missed the bus she usually rode.  We made the usual small talk, with me being sympathetic about her tummy problem.  She got a strange look on her face, reached into her bag and pulled out a program from a church service a couple of weeks earlier.  She said she'd been keeping it for me.  She opened it and at first I didn't understand what it had to do with me.

I noticed a familiar title for the offertory.  It was a rag I wrote a long time ago, back when I was living the ragtime life.  I noticed at the bottom of the program that the offertory was dedicated to the pianist's grandparents and it was explained that the rag was written by "the much loved former director" of the church choir.

At first, I was startled.  I had assumed I was formally excised from church history, an unmentionable.  Then it hit me later in the morning that a piece I'd written many years before was played (and I knew the pianist, so I knew it had been played well) for people who had no idea who I was.  And it hit me that I actually was a composer and strangers heard my work...certainly not an established composer, but a good pianist took the black dots off the page and turned them into music I'd created and people heard it.  I'm far more prolific as an arranger.  I was used to conducting my arrangements.  Arrangements take imagination; it's difficult for me to come up with an original melody (let alone the 3 or 4 required in a rag).  But there I was, absent but entertaining people for just under 4 minutes.

I sent an email to the person who was my supervisor at the church and is the mother of the pianist.  I told her I was surprised and delighted that her daughter played the rag and happy that I was a footnote in the church's history.  I'd figured my 22 years as choir director had been deleted.  I asked that she forward my thanks to her daughter.  She replied that I was much more than a footnote and that I was dearly loved.

What bothers me is that I can't relate this to my partner.  He was as surprised as I that I'd been told to resign (my resignation was written in pencil on yellow legal paper and said only "I quit" and my signature, which I figured was all they deserved) and almost immediately turned it into him no longer having a place to sing.  He's an only child so everything tends to be about him.  Unfortunately, he was raised in an atmosphere of never forgiving someone who's wronged you and to nurse that grudge 'til the end of time.  Mentioning the church would aggravate him.  To mention the names of either or both of the women who set him into a rage.  I'm tired of that.  I'm also tired that everything centering on him.  I'd much prefer him to be happy for me, but I know that's not possible.

He would not understand the joy of the serendipity of the bus ride.  He wouldn't understand that I was delighted that the pianist picked one of my compositions to play.  He would excuse the audience as members of "that" congregation and all of them are, if not evil incarnate, at least despicable.  He would instead think that he hadn't been asked to sing, that they had taken that from him, and fuck them anyway, they deserved to be deprived of his talent.

Odd that I can put this out there for the world to see but can't tell my partner about how happy I feel.  I hope you understand.  I had to share it.  You chose to read this.  Thank you.