Sunday, April 18, 2010

In which I try to decide whether to friend my gay high school boyfriend on facebook

The other day, I got an email from a Fairview actor and comedian. Let's call him John McGivern, for that is indeed his name. John puts on these fabulous one-man shows about his childhood in Fairview - growing up as one of six children in an Irish Catholic family with a working class union father. Primo and I have been to several of his shows and have watched all of his DVDs. He is wonderful.

I'm on the McGivern mailing list. He's doing a new show, "American Fiesta."

The show was written by a friend of mine, Steven Tomlinson. OK, we're not close. I haven't seen Steven for several years, but we are tied by our mutual friend, "Holly." Holly and Steven used to be girlfriend/boyfriend. They lived together, I think.

Then Steven realized he was gay.

Which is always a devastating thing for a woman.

Because you wonder if you're the reason your boyfriend turned gay.

OK. Men don't turn gay. They are or they are not. They might not know or they might be trying not to be for whatever reason, but they are what they are.

But tell that to the woman who has just been left for another man.

It all worked out in the end. Holly met a wonderful man via mutual friends. They were engaged on their third date. Have been married for several years and have four kids. Steven has married as well and his career as a playwright is taking off, which is exciting. I love it when my friends succeed.

So what about me, you ask?

I dated this guy in high school. He was on the swim team with me.* Ken was hunky. Fab body, which is very important when you are in high school. Well, it was to me, anyhow. I am shallow that way. I mean, I was shallow that way.

He had a car and a driver's license, which was even more important, because I went to high school in the Panama Canal Zone, where the licensing age was 17 and where most military families had only one car because that's all the government would ship for them. Ken was an only child and his dad was a pretty high rank, though, so his parents paid to ship a second car when they were transferred to Panama. He had his own car and could drive it. He might have been the only person at school with his own car.

But. Was it really dating? We went out several times. Kissed maybe once or twice. One time, he told me I tasted like macaroni and he didn't like macaroni. The reason I tasted like macaroni? We had gone to a football game, then to the cafeteria after. I didn't have any money with me because I thought it was a date. He bought food for himself but didn't offer me anything. I watched him eat. When he took me home, he wanted to hang out some more, so I told him very pointedly that he would have to sit with me in the kitchen while I ate some supper. The leftovers I ate had macaroni. Hence, when he kissed me, I did taste like macaroni.

I don't remember if he kissed me again. That might have been the only time.

He would come over to my house and hang out with my mom. I thought he was cute until the day he shaved his head as part of his ROTC Ranger initiation. Then, bald bothered me. Now, not so much. To quote Fr Elias, who taught my 12th grade Sunday school class, "All men have the same amount of testosterone. Some of them choose to waste it growing hair."**

Ken dropped me right before the big Christmas dance, even though he and I and my best friend Julie and her boyfriend were all going to go together.

I went years thinking I was so unattractive that my own boyfriend didn't even want to kiss me. It didn't help that I was not asked to any other dances. Not that I am scarred by the fact that I did not go to my prom or anything. I AM FINE.

A few years ago, when I discovered the google, I realized that it was possible to google old boyfriends.

So of course I googled Ken.

I found him.

On a gay athletes' website.

There was enough identifying information that I knew it was he.

He was gay? The whole time, he was gay? Was I his beard? Or did he not even know?

History changed.

It wasn't me. It was never about me. I had wasted all this time thinking that there was something wrong with me - that I was unattractive and that was the reason he didn't want me. Yes. I am a little bit self centered, but really, aren't we all?

It was liberating. A little late, but liberating.

Now I see that he is on facebook. I am friends with an old boyfriend or two. Enough time has passed that there is no awkwardness. Do I friend Ken? There are so few people with whom I have a common biography. When you move around a lot as a kid, you lose your friends. Every single time you move, you lose your history.

Is it worth it?

* All you had to do to be on the team was show up to practice, which explains why somebody with my lack of athletic ability was able to participate. And letter. Yes. I lettered in swimming. Believe it.

** Fr Elias later left the priesthood to marry. He was a chaplain in Vietnam. He said that on Fridays, the soldiers would get their coupons for cigarettes and beer. The Baptist boys*** would give their coupons to the Catholics, but later, as the Catholics and the mainstream Protestants would be playing cards and smoking and drinking, the Baptists would come join the fun.

*** How do you keep a Baptist from drinking all your beer when you go fishing together? Invite a second Baptist.


  1. I see no harm in friending him. It's been a long time and all that.

    My high school love started acting weird all of a sudden and then unceremoniously dumped me. Turns out, he was just discovering he was gay (this was a guy who pestered me from 7th-10th grades to go out with him). Luckily, after enough time passed, we were able to be friends again.

  2. Jennifer, is there any woman who has not had a similar experience? So many of my friends have had the same thing happen. Honestly. Although I have to say in the guys' defense that I doubt they are doing it deliberately.

  3. My best friend in college was gay, and I was in love with him. I knew he was gay, and it would have been okay that I had no chance with him, except that sometimes I DID appeal to him.

    This would not have mattered so much except for one incident in high school with one of those blond toothy leadership types who later came out, and the fact that *ANY* guy who showed interest in me when I was in college was gay. My thinking was that gay guys liked guys, right? And gay guys liked me, so that made me ... what? What did it make me? I wasn't butch, at all. I'm lipstick/skirts/jewelry, always have been.

    Still haven't figured it out. Yeah, and STILL remember that I didn't go to my prom.

    And that my sister went to four.


    1. So how does that work now? Are you still attracting gay men? Because I think there could be potential there once you don't care about sex any more.