Commie

Commie:(n) a communist

Growing up, there were three great insults we used repeatedly to decimate the character of those around us, while greatly inflating our own sense of self-importance: retard, gay and Commie

Although they were often used interchangeably for all seasons and all reasons, there were specific times when “retard” was applied. Whenever anyone did anything that inconvenienced us he or she was a retard.

When anyone did anything the least bit unusual, and we were afraid they would ask us to do it, too, they were gay.

And when our parents told us that certain children had mothers and fathers who were questionable in their politics–well, those kids were Commies.

You could probably survive being a retard, as long as you didn’t get too upset.

You could flee from being gay.

But once you were identified as a Commie–an enemy of the state–a Ruskie–a member of the Soviet Union–a sympathizer with killers–well, it was just a little hard to shake that off.

I remember once when two friends and I refused to listen to a girl who came to school wearing jeans and a t-shirt (which was unheard of at the time) and spouted opinions on such things as ecology, civil rights, and even, God forbid, anti-war. She was especially upset with the war in Viet Nam.

In our freshman year, we had one view of this girl–but by the time we were seniors, the national opinion on civil rights had changed, ecology had been honored by the creation of Earth Day, and because of the Pentagon Papers, the Viet Nam War had been exposed as an unnecessary exercise in futility.

We were uncomfortable about it. The Commie had been proven correct.

So to compensate, we just started calling her gay.

 

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Commentator

Commentator: (n) a person who delivers a live commentary on an event

His name was Walter.

People under the age of forty probably don’t even remember who he was.

His last name was Cronkite. He was a commentator. At one time, he was voted “the most respected man in America.”

In this age of controversy about the news media, Walter stands out as historically unique. Case in point:

I have no idea if he wore ladies underwear.

I have no private information on whether he ever sexually harassed his office staff.

I do not know if he was secretly gay.

These are things that seem to be important to us nowadays. We not only want people to do their job, but we want them to do it to our standard of morality.

But what set Walter Cronkite apart from the rest of the commentators of his day–and certainly of our season–is that he really believed what he was doing was valuable.

It was so important to him that he always delivered the news with sincerity, neutrality, gravitas and yet in a reassuring way, letting the American people know that the sky was not falling–there would be another day, and a good chance it would be better.

Maybe it was the bit of “gruff” in his voice, which hinted at crankiness, or the bristle of mustache, perhaps outdated–but aging uncles and grandfathers never seem to care.

Or maybe it was the fact that when the President of the United States was shot in Dallas, Walter, like us, was mortified–and found himself breaking into tears.

There are three things Walter knew about humanity:

  1. When you run across goodness, proclaim it. It’s not always easy to be human and good.
  2. Don’t expect humans to be good in every arena, but make sure they respect the holy ground of their calling.
  3. And Walter knew that as a human being, he needed to make sure he kept his ears tuned to the mission of his heart, and far away from the gossiping rabble.

Walter Cronkite was a commentator.

But history has shown his mercy, his faithfulness and exactly how uncommon he was.

 

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Closet

Closet: (n) a  wardrobe, especially one tall enough to walk into.

Coming out of the closet has become synonymous with revealing one’s sexual preference. Yet an earlier mention of the closet was offered by Jesus: a location for prayer.

He was concerned that people would pray in public to be heard, using flowery words and long sentences to make themselves appear
spiritual.

Jesus recommended a closet.

So when coming out of that closet after prayer, the power of the experience should be the energy offered and the optimism initiated. It was to be a place of reflection, empowerment, personal humility and discovery.

Much has been achieved by encouraging humans to come out of the closet, offering revelations on their personal status. No doubt about that.

But we are human. Ultimately our main concern is not whether someone is gay or straight, or whether they pray or not, but instead, if they’re going to be cooperative. It’s not the status of male or female, but instead, an evaluation on how well they are able to evolve. Also, it’s not if they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew, but rather, a determination about the comprehension on how Planet Earth really works.

So to some degree, we all need to come out of the closet–after a sweet time of contemplation, consideration and prayer.

And hopefully, when we do come from the closet, we will arrive to promote acceptance and unity with those around us.

If we do, then our time in the closet was well-spent.

If we don’t, we feed the suspicion in others that our choices are selfish and rude.

 

 

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Cigar

Cigar: (n) a cylinder of tobacco rolled in tobacco leaves for smoking.

I work very hard at being a man.

I thought having a penis and a beard would be sufficient, but turns out, both of those things are too common to set you apart from the herd.

“Manly things done by manly men in a manly way.”

What in the hell is that?

But you shouldn’t question it too much, because that brings up the possibility of you being gay, which is not a bad thing anymore, but might connote that you are “soft.”

You know what soft is, right? Neither team wants you.

Women think you’re nice for conversation and men keep wondering when you’re going to finally turn gay.

That’s the way I feel about cigars.

I get offered cigars a lot–and by a lot, I mean more than once. People who smoke cigars are historians. They not only know all the details of the little brown tube, but where it began, who smokes this particular brand, how illegal they are, and an absolute plethora of adjectives to describe the smoothness of the taste.

In my lifetime I have smoked two cigarettes and three cigars. (Yay! Cigars win!) Anyway, I can’t truthfully tell you that I adequately partook of either experience. I did not inhale. Just like President Clinton, my morality suddenly clicked in right before taking a deep breath. So the smoke remained in my mouth, barely escaping into my nose–where it stung really, really, really bad. I struggled not to choke. (God, please don’t let me choke! I’m sitting in front of someone I want to impress and I don’t want to be choking on the $54 cigar he just presented to me.)

Yet it was unpleasant.

For two days, no matter how much teeth brushing or mouth-washing I did, cigar residue clung to the inside cave of my mouth.

I have nothing against cigarettes or cigars from an ethical or moral position, but if it’s going to be a symbol of manliness, please mark me down: “N for neuter.”

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Chum

Chum: (n) a close friend.

I was twenty-three years old before I realized there were gay people. I had been told they were perverts. Matter of fact, the American Psychiatric Association confirmed this to us publicly, making us feel our squeamishness was justified by their diagnosis.

I mention this because life marches on, and if you want to lay down and object, be prepared to have boot prints on your face.

When I was ten years old I had a friend. Let’s call him Timmy. No, let’s not. That brings up the idea that he had a dog named Lassie. Let’s
call him Frankie. That’s got a nice Brooklyn feel to it.

Frankie was my chum. Frankie was my devoted companion. Frankie hung out. Frankie defended me when other people said I was a fat pig. Frankie liked me.

Now, as I look back at it, I realize Frankie loved me.

Frankie always wanted to come over, spend the night and sleep in the same bed. That wasn’t weird when you were a kid–you could punch each other and joke around, but he always, by morning, cuddled up to my back.

When I was twenty-three, along with discovering gay people, I also realized that Frankie was one of them. I was probably Frankie’s first love.  An unrequieted one.

Because when I turned twelve, my gyroscope pointed toward pretty girls. Shortly after that I never saw Frankie again. Matter of fact, I don’t even know where Frankie is.

I hope he’s happy.

I hope he found someone who was worthy of his devotion.

And I hope that person is grateful to have Frankie cuddling up to him.

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Cage

Cage: (n) a structure of bars or wires in which animals are confined

Even though Maya Angelou seems to know “Why the Caged Bird Sings,” I, myself, do not.

I believe in the power to overcome negative circumstances, but such an endeavor always takes a toll.

A loss of simplicity.

A leaking of faith.

Some intangible that departs the soul because we struggled too much to maintain normalcy.

There are three cages.

Undoubtedly, one is the cage we build inside ourselves to limit our passion while justifying such a move by having lengthy explanations to quantify our fears. We’re never able to adequately interact with others or fathom why they would be interested in any person like us–locked up.

There’s also the cage right beyond our space–a barrier we’ve created that says since we’re a father, mother, religious, addicted, black, white, brown, gay, straight, male or female, we are not going to be able to cross the bars of that enclosure and enter into a larger hemisphere of fellowship. We try but we pull back in horror, fearing that the barricade is electrified to discourage our noble effort.

Then there’s the cage that is somewhere out there. We don’t know where it is. We can’t see it. It’s the boundary of our limitation. We don’t speculate on what it may be, but instead, explore all terrain until confronted by the wall. Perhaps we can avoid it. Yes, maybe we never have to reach the edge of our understanding and ability.

So in the meantime, we can pretend that we’re powerful.

 

 

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Butch

j-r-practix-with-border-2

Butch (adj.): with masculine characteristics

One of the unseen drawbacks to prejudice is often the contortions that the oppressed have to go through in an attempt to prove their equality.

Because they feel defensive, their actions often take on a bratty and selfish edge as a means of shielding themselves from the onslaught of damnable bigotry.

I understand that we cannot talk about an ideal world while we are living in the toilet bowl of misunderstanding. I get that.

But I do not know what progress we make by becoming angry, touchy and fussy with the world around us, attempting to communicate our individuality.

I personally have no problem with people who are gay, lesbian, transgender or whatever the latest discovery might be. I have plenty of problems with people who think they can fight their way out of the prism society has built for those who choose not to line up in single file.

Dr. King was right–the only way the black community will ever be able to overcome the insane assertions of the ignorant is to climb over the top of them with grace, intelligence, class and certainly, perseverance.

Basically, let us never forget, ignorant people are stuck with each other–their own work product–and therefore, salary limitations.

If you happen to be what they refer to as a “butch” female, you will not gain credibility by flaunting the extremes of your mannerisms, but rather, by establishing the commonality you have with all humans.

What can we do?

Stop fighting the hell and start living like heaven.

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