Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fat Mary, A Proud Moment & Craigslist M4M

Twice a week Gabbie packed up her pillow and spent the night with Charlie.

She also spent a lot of time with him on weekdays and at night in the bar. Nights at the bar were especially important to Gabbie because she felt trapped in the house all day. And, she loved to play shuffleboard. Every night she'd give me a detailed description of her shuffleboard maneuvers, victories and losses. Drinking went along with shuffleboard. She always drank hard liquor, never beer, so in a two hour period she could easily down three or four whiskey sours on an empty stomach. The booze amplified her moods when she came home. If she had a few good games of shuffleboard, she'd be giddy. If she lost, she'd be morose and depressed. Either way, she'd be pretty buzzed.

As the weeks ticked past, I learned more about Charlie. I learned that he was in the US illegally. I learned that he had been physically abused by his alcoholic father as a child. I learned that he had fathered multiple children out of wedlock all over the globe; the only one he kept in contact with was his son with his crazy ex-wife.

I learned that he had at least two DUIs and he owed the county court about $1800 in unpaid DUI fines. One night, he got into a fight at the bar and when the police checked his record, they put him in jail for three days---not because of the fight, but because of the unpaid court fees.

Gabbie thought she could teach Charlie to be more responsible, especially with his money. All he cared about was whether he had enough money to drink and eat that day. Saving to pay rent or utilities was something that never crossed his mind. Or if it did, he never bothered to worry about them. Once he moved off his ex-wife's couch and got a small apartment, he paid one month's rent. Thereafter, his landlady spent months getting him evicted because he never paid again.

Charlie didn't worry about paying his bills, but Gabbie did. And she worried about everything else in his life too. I got to hear all about it---two out of every three of our conversations had something to do with Charlie.

The very best thing I learned about Charlie was that he accidentally killed a man and served time for manslaughter.

Manslaughter? Multiple DUIs? Illegitimate children all over the world? Pay one month's rent then wait to be evicted? The more I learned about him the more I wondered how long it would take for Gabbie to realize that she should run away from him and never look back. It was painfully obvious that beneath Charlie's chatty, charming demeanor, he was a nightmare.

I couldn't understand why Gabbie was so stupid about him; she had always been very smart and very savvy about people. I figured it was only a matter of time before she realized that Charlie was a disaster. So, as much as I hated him, I decided to be patient and wait for their relationship to inevitably implode. I knew it was the best way to end Gabbie's ridiculous infatuation with him.

It didn't take long for the first flecks of shit to hit the fan.

The two of them had been fucking for about six weeks, at least as far as I knew. (I did my best to be in denial about the details.) One Friday night, a VERY large and unattractive woman came into the bar and started a vicious, screaming fight with Charlie. Gabbie stepped in to defend him and suddenly found herself targeted. The woman, Fat Mary, told her to mind her own business---Charlie was her boyfriend.

The revelation that Charlie was fucking another woman hit Gabbie hard. Angry, mad, pissed...put them together and multiply by ten and you'll have some idea of the intensity of Gabbie's fury.

The drama lasted for several weeks and came to cathartic climax when Gabbie and Fat Mary had a screaming, drunken verbal brawl in the middle of our small town. "WHY ARE YOU MARRIED AND FUCKING AROUND WITH MY BOYFRIEND?!!!" That's a good question Mary.

Charlie defended his behavior by saying that he was not accountable to Gabbie because she already had a husband. He also tried to redeem himself by dumping Fat Mary.

I really thought the Fat Mary affair was going to be the end of dear old Charlie, but it wasn't. Within days he and Gabbie were back to hanging out, day and night.

Two weeks later, a gigantic load of shit hit the fan: Gabbie discovered she had genital warts.

To call Gabbie a germaphobe was an understatement. She was borderline obsessive-compulsive about washing her hands and was extremely paranoid about getting any disease or illness. Contracting genital warts was the worst thing that ever happened to her. She expected me to be sympathetic, and outwardly I was, but inside...I loved it. What's the expression? "Play with fire long enough and you'll get burned."

Gabbie suffered (and I do mean suffered) through four months of laser and other treatments at Planned Parenthood to get rid of the warts. For nearly two years afterward she had me regularly play gynecologist and check her twat for any sign of warts.

To me, there's a whole lot of worse things she could have contracted instead of genital warts. To Gabbie, it was a life-and-death situation and her wrath was formidable.

She said, and I was inclined to believe her, that once she knew Charlie had 'cheated' on her, she stopped having sex with him. It was just her bad luck that she had already contracted the warts by that time and didn't know it. The warts, she said, permanently sealed his fate. Under no circumstances was she ever going to trust him again.

I was elated. Hearing this news made for one of the happiest days I'd had in a very long time.

My joy was somewhat premature. In the following weeks I realized that Gabbie was not done with Charlie completely. She was just done fucking him.

Confession time. As much as I hated Charlie, I owe him a measure of gratitude. He did what no OB/GYN or therapist or I could do, which was to get Gabbie to relax enough to be correctly penetrated. So, as if I have not humiliated myself enough in this blog, I now get to reveal that Charlie made normal sex possible for Gabbie and I. After she was done having sex with Charlie and was cured of the warts, I got to officially lose my straight-virginity. At the age of 41.

Another proud Cameron moment.

I didn't have any objections to our usual slip-n-slide sex, the kind Gabbie and I had for 20 years; it wasn't gross and I got off; but it certainly wasn't anything great. Never any fireworks. Maybe a sparkler every once in a while.

Missing the "wow" factor was no great surprise. I'm gay. I wouldn't have had sex with a woman if I wasn't married to one.

Real straight sex, however, turned out to make for BIG fireworks. I had no idea what I had been missing all those years. Fucking a woman really did feel amazing.

I had to ask myself: did it feel better than sex with a man?

It was hard to admit after so many years...but yes, yes it did. I liked fucking Gabbie's cunt better than fucking a man's ass. Maybe I had never fucked the right man's ass, but, well, her cunt was more pleasurable.

I never expected to have a straight sex revelation at 41. The unexpectedness was shocking. But it didn't change my world. I'm still gay. I just happen to think about fucking a cunt much more often than I ever used to.

***

Gabbie's continuing friendship with Charlie caused a lot of problems for her, on multiple fronts.

She was only close to two family members, her mother and her sister. Neither of them liked Charlie. More than that, they lived in fear that their friends might think Gabbie was cheating on me. They therefore endlessly criticized Gabbie and everything she did. When she did nothing to appease them, the relationships suffered. Gabbie and her mother fought constantly. Gabbie and her sister stopped speaking to each other and have not spoken since.

Linda also stopped speaking to Gabbie because of Charlie.

Our kids were speaking to their mother, but that was because they were oblivious to her relationship with Charlie. I was an enabler, I guess, because I did everything I could to make excuses for the fact that Gabbie was always out of the house. Over time, Gabbie's absence became routine and her relationship with all three kids weakened. She lost all patience for them, their problems and most especially, their endless prattle. When she was at home all she could think about was going to the bar.

One day in early August of 2008, Gabbie and Conrad got into an argument about something. It was nothing important, but any noise or tension in the house was too much for her. Once the argument began I knew it would end when she fled to the bar for the rest of the day and night.

What surprised me was what she said moments before she escaped out the door.

"As soon as Rose graduates from high school, I'm going to England for a whole year. BY MYSELF. And maybe, just maybe, I'll come back."

After being with Gabbie for 22 years, I knew when to take her seriously and when to ignore her. In this case, she was quite serious.

Gabbie had talked about 'getting away' multiple times over a multi-year period, but that was the very first time she set a date and voiced a plan. It was a pivotal moment for me because I had to ask myself: why am I fighting so hard to preserve our marriage? Why do I spend night after night alone, while she's out carousing, when she intends to leave as soon as the kids are grown?

All at once, our relationship seemed incredibly pointless.

I had a lot to think about. Over the next few weeks I narrowed my confused thoughts into a simple question: If Gabbie was going to leave in 9 years, should I wait until then to start a new life, or, should I ask her to leave now, thereby freeing us both to find new lives?

Why stay? Conrad, John and Rose.

Why leave? In the gay world, age and youthful-looks matter. A lot. If I waited nine years I'd be 51. And I'd probably look nine years older. Who would want me? Would I spend the last of my prime years waiting for the kids to grow up only to discover afterward that no gay man would have me?

I had to do some research. Was being 50, gay and single such a bad thing? Would happiness be possible?

For a few weeks I read through all the Misc Romance M4M ads on Craigslist. Not just in the Bay Area where I live, but throughout the country. Mostly, the guys who sounded interesting to me were looking for guys 40 and under. Every once in a while, a guy would not specify an age or would list an age over 50. It was an unscientific sampling method but the results were not good.

I went a step further and placed a short ad in the Seattle Craigslist Misc Romance M4M. I wanted to see if I tried to date now what kind of men I would attract. In the ad I included my age and stats and a current face picture. All I said was that I was looking to date. I got maybe 10 replies. Two were kind of interesting. Overall, the results were somewhat encouraging at 42 but I had no idea who would want to date me if I was 51.

To answer my question, I decided that I had to disclose more about myself and my situation. I posted a long ad in the Los Angeles Craigslist Misc Romance M4M where I explained my dilemma and asked whether I should leave Gabbie now or wait until the kids were grown. I also asked whether I would be datable at 51 and posted a face picture.

I received over 30 replies in two days. They ran the gamut. Some were simple cut and paste replies from guys who seemed willing to date anyone. Some were lengthy personal histories that offered support. Several replies said I'd be ok if I waited---those gave me hope!

One reply really hit me in the gut. The guy said, "I think your priority should be your kids not you. ... You got yourself into this predicament, now it is your responsibility to see it through."

Ouch.

But he was right.

I canceled the ad immediately. I had my answer. Although Gabbie seemed to have no problem abandoning me at 51, I had a real problem choosing a gay life at 42 and turning my kids' lives upside down.

Until Gabbie actually left me, I was not going to do anything to disrupt my kids' lives.

In January of 2010, I had a new reason to question my decision.

10 comments:

  1. Would it really turn your kids life upside down? My argument may be a mute point - given the last line of your post, but I think that the response to the LA ad might not be an answer from above.

    It sounds as if your kids have spent the last few years getting used to the fact that their mother isn't around that much. Maybe you've done a great job making believable excuses for Gabbie - but kids are pretty smart. One of them is likely to have put two and two together and figured something out.

    So are they better in an environment where mom takes off to the bar, or takes her pillow with her until she returns the following morning? Or would things be more stable if their father lived with his boyfriend? Is that such a horrible thing?

    From your previous posts, you've indicated that you crave a relationship over just sex. So I think you would naturally gravitate towards a healthy long term relationship with someone stable. Something that you're lacking with Gabbie at the moment.

    Yes - I worry about the same thing with my daughter. My situation is a little different, because my daughter is considerably younger than your kids. But - I came to realize that our living arrangement is toxic, and no place to raise a child. My wife and I are doing our daughter a disservice by giving her a horrible example of what a marriage looks like.

    Not that I'm a saint for wanting to live my life as a gay man - I realize that ultimately my motivation is selfish. But I don't see the end result being something horrible. Honestly - if I was a straight man, I would probably be looking at getting a divorce anyway. I think that's the hardest part for kids - the parents splitting up.

    Maybe seeing daddy kiss a boy will be traumatic for your kids. But maybe they couldn't care less. Maybe they would even be happy for you - on some level.

    So ultimately - the question is do you keep a sham of a marriage intact, for the kids sake; or do you live your life as you really are? Maybe both you and Gabbie will find happiness. What message do the kids take away when you and Gabbie split up the week after Rose's graduation?

    Just my two cents.

    Is that a photo of you? If so - wow. Ballsy. And you don't look so old (or bald). Don't look for a picture of me on my blog anytime soon. :)

    -nl

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  2. @NL I worried that others would take my decision personally. Please don't.

    I agree with all of your points, several of which are quite compelling.

    Sometimes people say things that strike through you like a sharp knife. When I read the email from that guy, especially the last sentence, I broke out in a cold sweat. For whatever reason, I just knew that was the right answer for me.

    I believe current thinking is that parents in bad marriages should definitely not stay together for the sake of the children.

    As deranged as it might seem from all that I have said, I did not believe my marriage was bad.

    Re: Pic. I have no idea who that idiot is. I could understand why you wouldn't post a picture---people are actually interested in what you have to say.

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  3. I don't take your decision personally - nor do I hate you for it. :)

    We all have our reasons.

    People are interested in what I have to say? Says who?

    I'm sure there are plenty of people interested in what you have to say. But if you're going to post pics to increase readership of your blog - post pics of half naked 20 year old guys. Pecs - abs - the occasional gluteus maximus.

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  4. Cameron- you raise several points in this post that we all have to contend with and for which there are no universal answers.
    1. Staying in the closet for the sake of the children? I think many men do and it is a sacrifice as there are many other big compromises in a marriage and in parenting. Straight men suppress sexual desires and open affairs too. If you were able to have some joy in your marriage or parenting and provide stability and love to the children, it may be worth it.
    2. Liking vaginal sex but defining yourself still as gay? That I can't answer for you, but I think we often love most what we do not at the moment have- you need men but maybe ultimately not at the expense of women. Maybe you are, like I see myself now, truly bisexual. Maybe another women is also an option and the real issue is you do not have enough all consuming love for Gabbie (it seems you never did) to have that push other yearnings away. I have myself on darker days thought I just married the wrong woman and that was the real core issue.
    3. Age and sexual appeal- how I wish I had tried out sex with men earlier while being married so I could have capitalized on my younger body and looks, and our bodies do change- plus the stage of going out and looking is very based on looks. But I was in my late 50's when Santiago and I had a very hot affair and he was 42. Your sexual needs do not age, and you may become more experienced at what you need with age, if you keep yourself fit. There are plenty of gay/bi bars and places that gay/bi men hang in the Bay Area where you will find nice, attractive men in their late 40's, 50's and 60's when you are ready. That is what I am counting on. So maybe experimenting now secretly so you maybe find a more longer term Friend with Benefits if and when Gabbie leaves does make sense. Because she has revealed her equivocation and she has broken the vows already.

    There are many older men enjoying sex with other men so hold on to that hope while you grabble with the real issue - can you find enough good in your current marriage to invest in it for the period of time until the youngest child is at least in high school?

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  5. Golly, Cam... you have lived with so much complexity, and recount it so directly, matter-of-factly. I respect that deeply.

    The thing that surprised me coming through years of complexity was the impact of emotional abuse. It was important to me to be a good soldier, staying steady, expecting that I'd eventually emerge with decent mental health and good relationship with my kids.

    I married in '84, came out to my wife in '93 (I think I'm gay, but not sure, no experience with a guy), separated in '94 and divorced in '95. The emotional abuse had started before I came out, exploded after, carried into court during the divorce trial, and continued unabated after as she alienated the kids from me.

    After all of the years of being a good soldier, I'm finding it a lot of work, and pressing through too many mental health issues, to form and sustain relationships. Trusting people, being open with them, takes a lot more out of me than it used to. Work- and family-oriented relationships have been impacted, as well.

    The ex- and kids-related issues haven't been the only stressors since '93... I buried a partner in 2000 (suicide) and an ex-partner/best friend (alcoholism) in 2002. So, my challenges haven't been exclusively due to the ex.

    Reading your account, I'm amazed at your ability to soldier on amidst incredible circumstances. The imbalances -- between you being boxed in by her distrust and her being set free by you -- her life as a free-for-all and yours taking responsibilities seriously -- her actions which have repeatedly said she won't respect you if it costs her any pleasure she feels entitled to vs. your self-sacrifice.

    Good for you... seriously. I like the saying, "The past is perfect, because it is what it is, and will never change."

    Looking 9 years forward, I'd just suggest it's important to take care of yourself. As you experience the abuse of being told that you're not really worthy of your loved one's commitment when it's inconvenient, dropping vague threats of abandonment, all in the context of a long history of abandoning the family.

    Your prospects for finding a meaningful relationship with a guy, whether sooner or later, don't figure into the equation for me. Whenever the relationship with Abbie ends, my guess is that you'll be needing some time to decompress and recover as a healthy single guy. Dating is always a challenge, but with your heart and thoughtfulness, the time and the guy will come.

    It seems to me there are risks built in to holding fast for years. You're seeing the risks to the kids built in with divorce. The risks of postponing divorce include that the kids may learn that this is what a normal, healthy adult relationship looks like -- one person relatively stable and available, the other more mercurial and unpredictable -- and seek out something similar, if unconsciously, as adults. Another risk is that, despite your best efforts, after another 9 years you may emerge as a more wounded soldier than you expected.

    With as much thought and energy as you've invested in getting to this point, this is probably stuff you've already thought about.

    Sorry to ramble on so long... I've appreciated your entire story and wish you peace in all of the stuff you're working on.

    --Bose

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  6. @NL You want a picture of a 20 yo gluteous maximus? If you cover the left side of the picture I posted you will just about have it.

    I know that's a half-ass answer, but I couldn't resist offering it. :-)

    @Jayson As always, thank you for your support. If I try to summarize your most important point, I think what you're saying is - "don't worry about age. Yes, younger is better but older doesn't eliminate your options. In the meantime, it is possible to find fulfillment in a non-traditional marriage." I know you are right on both counts. What I don't know yet is when the timing is right. Shouldn't I be clear and free of doubt when I make a major life decision like splitting up? I don't have that clarity.

    As far as being bisexual...if I tried to wear that label I'd feel like I was wearing a suit jacket about two sizes too big. I could pull it off, but I'd feel awkward and uncomfortable doing it.

    @Bose Thank you for reading and thank you for your very thoughtful comments. You have said so much that I don't feel like I can, in any adequate way, address your thoughts within the confines of this tiny comment box.

    More than anything I would like to offer my empathy for all that you have been through. I think you are the stronger man for having endured the many years of emotional abuse from your wife. To have your children turned against you, to lose a partner to suicide, and a best friend to alcohol...I don't think I can even imagine the pain that you have suffered. What I have endured is a half-step above nothing compared to what you have.

    Regarding the risks of holding fast for nine years - NewLeaf raised a similar point. In difficult situations I know I can be extremely patient. Perhaps too patient. But I also know that my patience is limited. When I lose it, I lose it in a big way. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that I will pull the plug if the situation escalates to an extreme.

    Another excellent point you make - being more wounded that I realize (either now or in a few years) - is something I have wondered about. Whenever we're in a deep emotional pit we often lack perspective. Once we crawl out, we are amazed at what we endured. I have no idea if I am in such a pit or whether I am just experiencing transitions that happen when two people are together for nearly 25 years.

    Bose, you've given me a lot to think about. I will internalize your comments and carefully consider them. Your experiences certainly have been serious and significant. I would be a fool not to listen.

    All the best to you. I hope you are soldiering through a happy present and an even better future.

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  7. Hey Cameron,
    Just a quick note for now. I also had a note from a friend basically slapping some sense into me about taking care of the kids first. It was my choice to get married.

    I have also thought about dating after the kids are older. It is scary to think no one will look twice at you. To die alone etc. I need to write more about the note sent to me, but as I claimed to be honorable (in some sense), his note was welcome but harsh to me. I needed to hear it again.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but your posting has reminded me that the grass is always greener somewhere else. Not. And Bose' life. Dear God. As much as might like her to cheat, the wife is faithful (I think).

    I enjoy reading your story and feel connected to you. I hope I can return something to you on my blog.

    Roger

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  8. Cameron, I'm not sure I can add anything to the wise and thoughtful comments of your other readers. You and they have written about complex, difficult situations with amazing honesty and grace.
    One thing that does strike me, though, is that Gabbie seems very much in the driver's seat, calling all the shots and deciding all the timing of things. Suppose she said she was leaving in two years? Four years? Maybe tomorrow she'll say six years instead of nine years and you'll have to rearrange your thinking all over again... anyway, it feels to me like you are more reacting to her decisions, than necessarily deciding for yourself, about what and when...
    Also, I wouldn't use craigslist as much of a benchmark for the current state of sane, datable men (god, I hope it isn't anyway).

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  9. @Mark You're right about who calls the shots. It isn't me. But I have no delusions about the situation and I take full responsibility for my role in it. I'll be writing about that soon.

    I will also be writing about a lot more about datable men. I cannot wait to hear your opinions on that subject. My assessment of the situation is somewhat grim and I would love to be proven wrong.

    Thanks for your comments, as always, Mark.

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  10. @Roger When you have a minute, I'd love to read your friend's note, or an edited version of it. I honestly love to have my assumptions challenged and it sounds like your note may just do that.

    I definitely enjoy your blog - you should post more often!

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