Flash Fiction Challenge #3

Well, I am saddened to say that I didn’t make it into the final round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition, however I am surprised that made it as far as I did. In the process I realized a strength I didn’t even know I had in my writing toolbox, satire.  Yeah, I know that I’m hilarious in person and can be charming in text messages, but I wasn’t sure it translated well into my written narratives. Honestly, Round 2 was when I really shined.  (Wow my humility sure is humbling.)

My assignment for this challenge was: genre – sci-fi (ya, again. lame), location – candy shop, and item – an egg. In 48 hours the competitors are tasked with constructing a short story with the requirements above, all within a max of 1,000 words. Below is my submission for the challenge and below that will be the judges critiques. I have to say, Judge 3 was my buddy and seemed to actually like the story. The other two couldn’t have cared less. And what they said in their critique was spot on, especially in regards to the end. My husband did say that Judge 3 “got who I am” when they said “heartfelt and demented.”


REGENERATION

Josh Aron hesitated for a moment at the glass door of the Rocket Fizz candy shop, with a hand clenched around the metal handle.

Shelby Aron stopped short at Josh’s shoulder. “What’re you doing?”

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

Shelby chuckled and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Of course you can. Just pull with your arm.”

Josh looked at her out of the corner of his eye and sighed through his nose as he opened the door.

A soft bell tinkled from somewhere deep inside the shop, to beckon the owner from the back and the patrons forward. However, at the moment, only the Arons followed the sound.

Both sets of eyes flicked nervously around. The shelves that lined the walls of the store were nearly empty except for a few displays of candy of unknown brands.

“Hello?” Josh’s voice cracked the word. “Is there anyone here?”

The sounds of shuffling paper and a heavy thud preceded the appearance of the owner dressed head to toe in a red and white striped uniform, accompanied with a white golf cap. “I do apologize,” the shopkeeper said, “I didn’t hear you come in. We’re almost about to close for the night.”

“We know,” Josh said, he walked stiff-legged to the glass case that held some displays of homemade chocolate confections.

“She told us this is the time to come.”

The stranger furrowed his brow and examined the two.

“We’re here to order a zyloral.”

“Are you now?”

Josh nodded.

“Who told you about it?”

“Nurse Lilith. She said you only serve the best.”

A smile spread across the man’s thin lips. “Indeed we do.”

The man hurried around the edge of the counter and to the shop door where after a quick glance up and down the street, spun the lock. Then with the same sharp motions, he pulled the shades down over the windows and switched off the neon ‘Open’ sign.

“Come with me,” he said.

The two customers followed the order and found themselves escorted through a kitchen into the walk-in freezer, and once in there taken beyond a false back to a laboratory teeming with men in white lab coats, fussing over specimens displayed in glass jars. A large metallic door, built into the rear wall, led out of the lab into a room that emanated with tinny cries.

The man led them to an office in the furthest corner of the lab, encased in walls of glass.

“Please, take a seat,” the man said, as he sat behind the desk.

They both again followed instructions.

“First things first, do you have the money?”

Josh tried to swallow the lump in his throat as he nodded.

“Good. Now, do you have a viable sample?”

Shelby shoved a hand into her leather purse, removed a hairbrush enclosed in a plastic bag, and handed it to the man.

The stranger held it inches from his face and examined every strand gripped in the bristles.

“We have one right here that will work.”

“That’s a relief,” Shelby said.

The man set the brush down onto the desk and rolled his chair in further.

“Do you have an egg?”

Shelby nodded and laid a hand on her stomach.

“Will the clone have any memories?” Josh said.

“Not at all.”

“Good.”

“However,” the man said, his eyes jumped from one to the other, “any replica of one of you will arise suspicion, and if that were to happen we never met.”

“Oh, it’s not one of us,” Shelby said. “The man you’re cloning has—has passed.”

“Was it a genetic disorder? One that we should remediate?”

Shelby glanced at Josh and waited for a response, and when none came, she said, “No. It was unexpected.”

The man sat back. “I’m—“

“There’s no need,” Josh said. “People get killed all the time.”

His words hung stiff and electric in the air.

Josh’s limbs shook as he stood.

“You know what, I can’t do this. I thought this was something I wanted but—”

“Why not?”

“Do you know how unbearable just the thought of having him and not having him is, Shelbs? Every night I go to sleep alone. I wake up the next morning alone. How am I going to feel to raise him and watch him date someone else, knowing he was once mine?”

Shelby rose to meet his eye.

“We’ve talked about this. This child won’t be him. It will never be because no matter how hard we try we can never bring back the man you knew.”

Tears streamed down Josh’s cheeks. “He will be a clone of Charles.”

“That Charlie is gone, Josh. You can’t recreate the experiences that made your husband. What you can do is raise this child to be a perfect combination of the two of you.”

“How do you figure?”

“Isn’t that what children are? A shadow of one parent guided by the hand of the other?”

Josh stared into his sister’s eyes and smiled.

“I don’t think you’ll get him to like the same movies as you but you can try.”

Josh laughed and wiped away his tears.

He turned to the man and nodded.

Time stretched into eons for Josh as he waited impatiently during the incubation period. Every night as he purchased another baby item or as he converted the home office into a nursery, he wondered if he had made the right decision.

On a Sunday afternoon, he got a phone call from a blocked number with a cheery voice on the other end that told him his zyloral was ready for pick up. He rushed through the house, grabbed the diaper bag and car seat and headed over to the sweet shop to pick up his son.

At the back of the candy shop, holding his and Charles’ child in his arms for the first time, Josh was made whole again, and he doubted nothing.


JUDGE’S FEEDBACK

”Regeneration” by Joshua Hensley-Cline –   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {1686}  The story is an interesting take on cloning, and the twist is a nice touch.  {1504}  The owner’s outfit is memorable and adds whimsy. The couple’s mention of the zyloral builds intrigue. The shopkeeper’s odd behavior at the request is ominous.  {1751}  Wow, this story is so incredibly heartbreaking and chilling at the same time. It works both as an effective science fiction story concerning queer parenthood ( you can’t get too many more brownie points from this reviewer). It’s mildly creepy by the idea that (to extrapolate upon the already state of the art science used to produce surrogate pregnancy), that he’d be raising a clone of his dead husband, genetically his husband, with all the good nurturing he can provide. Heartwarming and demented, great work.  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1686}  Consider focusing on sentence flow and pacing. The ending feels a little too tidy/simple.  {1504}  Calling the shopkeeper “the stranger” was a speed bump. Adding words to the title could make it more distinctive and a stronger draw. You might consider having additional science fiction elements.  {1751}  I do wonder one thing though; why is his sister offering to help him produce this child? Is it simply because her brother needs the love of the clone in his life, or does she get something more deeply satisfying from it? It’s just a suggestion but you might touch on her reasons for this, as I think they are just as pertinent a perspective. However, this is only a suggestion as you move forwards with this powerful story of love.

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Acceptance and Other Tales

Self-acceptance is something I was mildly blessed with early on. I say it that way because there is still much of myself I dislike or haven’t come around to realizing is just who I am. Yet even with that, I still have come a long way to have confidence. I think that is why I have to remind myself that not everyone has gone through the same or probably ever will.

When I was younger I fought the idea of being gay tooth and nail. I was raised in a deeply religious home, went to Christian school and being gay was never an option open to me. The idea of even telling anyone I had those thoughts was a flat out no. I grappled with my sexuality. I prayed, in tears, that God would take away those feelings. I didn’t want to be a sinner or disowned from my family. I wanted to have the “right” life with a wife and kids. Yet, there was no denying that I was not attracted to girls. The idea of being with them ended when it came to sex. I love women and could have a deeply emotional relationship but that was where it would end. I wouldn’t be in for the deepest part of commitment and whomever I would have been with would deserve better.

I very nearly lived a “straight” life. I had girlfriends, I did the song and dance that came with it and if it hadn’t been for one fateful night I probably would have driven down that hetero-road and dealt with the consequences that came with it.

The first person I ever told I was “bi” was my friend Becky on her birthday, which is only a week away. I had been so entranced with this boy named Sergio at her birthday that I felt compelled to tell her in the hopes maybe he too… As it turned out he was and he ended up being my first boyfriend and first heartbreak. I fell hard and fast for this kid. When he ended it with me, I was devastated. It took months before I was able to move on because I wasn’t ready. I am someone that is so desperate for love that I dive in without even thinking. I envision this life of bliss and when everything turns out to be the opposite I am hard-pressed to understand that the dream I had was only that. It’s probably a sickness.

The first few days after I told Becky I was so furious with myself. “Why did I do that,” I kept thinking. It wasn’t true. I wasn’t gay! But I was still in denial. It wasn’t until I met with that boy, for our first “date,” that something in me turned and I never wanted to go back to pretending. Being with him came easy. Sergio, or “the s” as I called him to hide his gender and identity, was my first kiss. Real kiss. He was my first boyfriend. And my first infatuation.

I thank him for making me who I am. I learned so much from the short experience. For one, don’t get involved with someone young because they (unlike my freak self) haven’t made peace with their sexual preference. After Sergio I only went for older guys because I couldn’t deal with the heartbreak I had felt when he went running. I know now that I came on too strong and he just wasn’t ready. As a result, I learned to shield myself from people. Well, at first. The moment I get a compliment or am shown just the slightest amount of attention all walls come tumbling down. I am just that desperate for love and attention.

I’m almost certain I’ve shared this story on here (or other blogs) countless times. I probably even wrote it in one of my columns for the Renegade Rip. I almost never told Becky my truth. I went to her bowling party and played my role as a straight dude well, and at the end of the night went to leave. However when I got to my car the battery was dead. I called my parents to help me out and while we waited for AAA I went back inside and whispered to her the words I never thought I would say. It’s strange to look at tiny moments as mundane as a dead car battery altering the entire course of one’s life, but it did for me.

My hope is that others can find the same peace I found when I finally just accepted me for me. My natural follow-up is that it is a hard journey, but in all honesty it wasn’t for me. I have lead the most charmed life. The only real moment that was rough was my mother’s acceptance. She was very much not on-board at the start, but since then she is someone else entirely. Sure there is bigotry, but I rather be at peace with myself than fighting a battle I would never win. Denying your truth is a tortured life, full of secrets and lies that only grow as time goes on.

P.S. May I suggest what spurred this blog post, it’s a song by Brandon Stansell “Hometown.”

Unforeseen Feelings

Today I encountered an emotion I didn’t quite expect. After I registered for the next semester it occurred to me (after reviewing my “requirement grid”) that I only have one class left and I will be eligible to graduate with my AA. This is something I have been working toward for four years, ever so slowly chipping away at my necessary classes. When I began it seemed so daunting like I could and would never get there. And it became exceptionally exhausting when I found out that I couldn’t just jump into the math class I needed, but instead start at the very, very basic math course and work my way up. And even with that detour, here I stand near completion.

The feeling I felt was not one of accomplishment for having reached my goal but one of panic and terror. It struck me as odd because that isn’t the array of emotions I SHOULD be feeling. When it began I just accepted it and let the feelings run cold through me and well in the pit of my gut, but then I began to question them. Why? Why do I feel this way? It took me some time but I realized that I feel them because it means I will cross another threshold in adulthood. No more will I be the boy that pissed away his first attempts at college. Instead I will be the man that finished his task and with high marks (the second part was not foreseen or planned.)

Growing up sucks. I don’t think we ever really do to some extent. It’s strange, however, when one sits back and sees it happening. I suppose that’s why I fear it.

Now, in typical josh fashion I could fuck this up for myself and do a shit job at the next few classes to prolong this journey. In the end though, who would that serve? The child in me that doesn’t want to let go.

Flash Fiction Challenge #2

I was going to wait to post my entry until a later date because I have ambition to submit it into another competition. However, I can’t contain myself after the feedback I received. Each person was awarded a score of 1-15, with 15 being the highest (aka first place) in this challenge. I am proud to say I was awarded a score of 14 (second place) which earned me enough points to continue on to the next leg of the competition.

The following is my short story. My group’s assignment was: genre, political satire; location, drive-thru; and item, a wine glass.


FAST FOOD NATION

Ginger Stickler’s red station wagon came to a stop at the end of the long drive-thru line. Her blue eyes followed the string of cars up to a man, wearing a white shirt, pants, and a paper hat, standing next to a large sandwich board. A tablet computer hung around his neck by an American flag lanyard.

“Do you know what you want?”

She turned and looked at her unkempt, twenty-four-year-old son, Josh, sitting in the passenger seat. His brow formed a single line above his eyes to match the one formed by his lips, as his thumb ran up and down the screen of his iPhone.

“Why do we have to go to In-N-Out?” he said.

“Because it’s a Christian restaurant.”

“That seems silly; a business can’t have a religion. Doesn’t that alienate a sizable portion of customers? Can’t we just go to McDonald’s?”

“You don’t have to come here,” she snapped, “You could just go somewhere else if you don’t like it.”

“I can’t, mother. You’re driving the car.”

Ginger sniffed and sat in silence as they followed the line into the drive-thru proper, right where the man in white stood. She rolled down her window.

“Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,” he said, “Today we have started a new promotion. Our eight-year menu is no longer available, and now you must vote to pick which burger will rule for the next four years.”

Ginger’s eyes widened as she clutched her invisible pearls.

Josh leaned forward to look around his mother.

“What are our options?”

The man straightened up and pointed eagerly to the sandwich board depicting three very sloppy dishes.

“Here we have the blue, rise above, freedom for all burger. It’s a tofu patty on a gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, flavor-free, from scratch bun, with a sprinkle of flour on top. Extra dry. There are no condiments on it, but we give you a bag full of them if you ask. It comes with a side of birth control and citizenship if you are not currently one.”

“I think we’ve made our choice,” Josh said.

“We certainly have not. What else is there?”

“There is the red, super awesome, kick-ass, glory to god burger. It is a three-pound all-beef patty, smothered in garlic butter, topped with ten onion rings, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles and all on a white bun. However, I would like to note that the beef patty may have fallen on the floor, and the buns may or may not have brushed against the cook’s genitals. But, it’s super delicious. It comes with all the fries you want, as long as you pay for each, individual sliver.”

“Is there anything else?” Ginger asked.

“Yes, ma’am. The third option is a single slice of Kraft cheese, still in the plastic.”

“Oh,” Ginger’s shoulders slumped.

“Obviously it’s the blue burger,” Josh said, as he sat back and returned to his phone.

“I don’t know. We can’t tell where all those ‘free’s’ went. How can you make a bun without it? It’s suspicious.”

“You want a ball basted bun?”

“Do you have any nutritional information?”

The waiter stuck a hand into the front pouch of his apron, pulled out a brochure and gave it to Ginger. She opened it up and read. The blue burger listed out every ingredient individually with each calorie accounted. On the other side, someone had taken a red pen, redacted every item, and had written at the top, “100% all good.” Beneath that in tiny print said, “Don’t be a pussy.”

“I’m going to go with the red burger,” Ginger said.

“Mother—”

“That is one red,” the clerk tapped in Ginger’s order to his tablet.

“Blue for me.”

“And one blue. You’ll get your total at the window.”

The two pulled further into the drive-thru in silence.

“I can’t believe you would choose that unhealthy, killer monstrosity.”

“I’m sorry, that other burger sounded so tasteless. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

The car pulled up to the front window.

The stern-faced employee already held a bag in his hand.

“Here are your two red burgers,” he said, with a Russian accent.

Ginger took their meal.

“No, that was one red and one blue,” Josh said.

The man stared back at Josh dead-eyed.

“Yes. We all get together and decide it’s only red burger for you.”

“But—”

“That will be one hundred and forty-eight dollars and thirteen cents,” the cashier said.

He held out his hand.

Ginger’s bottom jaw dropped, as she blinked in quick succession.

“Oh my goodness, that’s pricey. How much are the burgers?”

“They are twenty dollars. You pay more in tax because them,” the clerk jabbed a thumb over his shoulder.

Ginger peered through the drive-thru window into the dining room. Twelve people in suits sat at tables draped in silk cloths eating steaks off gold plates. A blonde haired man toasted to the room with a wine glass filled to the brim with a red.

“How do I get in there?”

“You don’t. This is for large donor only.” The man still had his arm stretched out. “You pay.”

Another man, wearing a white linen facemask and sporting a rifle, stepped out from behind a bush, just to the front of the station wagon.

Ginger hurriedly dug through her purse for her credit card and handed it over to the cashier. The man took it, slammed the windows shut and glowered at her from behind the glass.

“Can I have it back?”

The man glared as he pointed for her to move along.

As they drove through the end of the drive-thru, a missile shot up from the roof of a Korean barbeque restaurant across the street, arched over a sushi kiosk, and exploded into the In-N-Out, taking out a corner of the restaurant. The people inside screamed and then broke into cheers, peppered with applause.

“We should have just gone to McDonald’s.”


JUDGES FEEDBACK:

”Fast Food Nation” by Joshua Hensley-Cline –   WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY – {1689}  I love how you politicize everything–literally everything–in your story. The idea that establishments can have religions and values and political alliances is reduced to absurd rubbish–wonderfully–in your hands. The missile attack ending is spot on.  {1666}  You did a nice job with the genre here. Your parallels were clever and humorous, and I appreciated the way that you incorporated a consistently increasing sense of absurdity to keep building the pace and upping the critique of today’s political environment. I think the reaction of the people in the restaurant to the Korean bombing was my favorite moment and a bigly unexpected surprise..  {1746}  Haaaa! This is great. Oh, the heavy symbolism. I think the whole premise works really well, and the dialogue made the whole thing A+. I laughed out loud a couple times. Good work!  WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK – {1689}  Good news: You have enough imagery and imagination to turn this story into a film. Bad news: I think you have may a bit too much going on for this little story to handle. I love when you focus on the family. Stay on them. Give them one problem to solve. Have them shadowed by one crazed political figure. Let that drama play out. Then you can launch your rocket.  {1666}  First, I have a couple quick grammar notes: “wearing a white shirt, pants, and paper hat” should read “wearing a white shirt, pants, and a paper hat.” A series should be written with parallel construction, so the article “a” must apply to all items or be repeated for each one it does apply to. “‘Why do we have to go to In-N-Out,'” he said,” should have a question mark, as your character has asked a complete question. Similarly, “‘Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,’ he said, ‘today…'” should read “‘Hello, welcome to In-N-Out,’ he said. ‘Today…'” Overall, it would be helpful to review these grammar standards with regard to quotations. In terms of your narrative, I think you did a better job developing the meaning of your red burger than your blue one. The celebration of excess, white trappings, ambiguous ingredients, possible contamination/corruption — it all worked nicely for the former. Your critique of the left wing (as well as of third party contention) felt a little less developed. It was hard to nail down the meaning of the “bag of condiments” that came with the burger, and the nature of the “candidate” lost some clarity for me as the narrative moved on. At first it felt like you were settled into the burger being too plain, pure and boring to beat the monstrosity on the other side, but when Ginger became suspicious of these qualities rather than simply uncompelled, it made me question how your critique was directed.
Overall, I thought this piece was really nice. Even the overarching assertion that American politics can be treated like a cheap, greasy thrill by under-invested “customers” who pay too dearly for it was a solid, subtle theme.  {1746}  The Russian part is hilarious, and tied the whole thing together (that’s when it clicked for me, but I’m a bit slow with all of that). That said, the Russian’s lines could be cleaned up/more realistic/less offensive. I think “This for large donor only” and “You pay” stuck out to me most.

Lost and not found

My heart breaks even more with each day that passes without my Klause. Five nights ago he got out of our yard and we have seen neither hide nor hair of him since. At first I thought he had snuck out when the gardeners came to do their thing, but they said that usually he follows them around the yard and he wasn’t there. Later that night, I heard our dog Molly barking and I got optimistic that he had returned, but when I opened the front door instead I saw the other German Shepard book it across our front yard and down the dark street after a cat. That was the moment we discovered that the single board missing from our fence had turned into a larger hole, with the other slats hanging on near the top like a one way doggy door.

What terrifies me the most is that he’s just gone. He was old and had gotten in the habit of wanting to go out in the middle of the night. I took that as he wasn’t comfortable inside anymore and preferred to have access to the yard if he had to pee.

My husband has mentioned that Klause may have snuck away to die as to not be a burden on us. I can’t deal with that at all. If that is the case, he gave no hint that he was sick.  (Other than the restless thing.) He was still eating. He looked healthy. He may not have liked you to touch his hips, but he could get around just fine. However, it has been told to me that dogs never reveal their true pain unless it’s excruciating.

Since we realized he was missing, I have become obsessed with the local animal control website. They update throughout the day with new lost/found pets and I keep checking it for his sweet face, but there is nothing. I haven’t put up posters yet because I am hard pressed to think they work but who knows. It couldn’t hurt to at least try. The only thing it does is keep up the hope.

This boy was the first pup I had ever raised. I was the one who took him to training and he always slept on my side of the bed. I loved him. Until this event I never knew precisely how much.

Unexpected Thought Provoking Projections

Every person has that one musical artist that they identify with and call their own. Each song they sing sounds like the words from their own heart and they hold that person up as some mystical creature to be cherished. For me it’s Robbie Williams. I know, weird. I came upon him in my most formative days of my youth when I was obsessed with anything and everything British. I so badly wanted to live across the pond and when the music video of an ex-boyband, turned bad boy, showed up in a random cluster of music videos, singing about the “Millennium” I was entranced. I bought his album”The Ego has Landed” and found myself entranced by each track and even a little frightened at times to where his music was taking me. The song “Karma Killer” made me feel so uncomfortable, because it was such a departure from what I had been listening to.  It was dark and curious.

I have followed the man’s musical catalog since then. I even went online and purchased his UK only releases and a great many posters to decorate the wall of my American home with this British singer. He was a god to me. I’ve loved (almost) every one of his albums. (Rudebox was just not my cup of tea.) I have found that since he parted ways with Guy Chambers I haven’t been a slob for his music as I had once been. Now he has to really try to get me rocking out in my car.

His most recent album “The Heavy Entertainment Show” is pretty good. There a few songs that make me go, “meh” but overall I’m belting out each lyric in my car as I speed down the freeway. While I was working today, I chose that one to blare on my car speakers and there are two tracks that he wrote for his children that brought up a topic in my head I couldn’t shake.

The songs are great. The one to his daughter is “Love my Life” and is this beautiful melody that wins me every time. The one for his son is “Motherfucker.” Don’t let the title mislead you. The song is a rock-ish romp about how everyone in his family has a past where they have battled their demons. It’s really good, and it’s super fun to sing “motherfucker.”

The tracks made me realize how parents tend to project these ideas, personalities, personas, and lives onto their children. Before they have truly developed their own identity, Robbie wants his daughter to have a charmed life where she loves every facet of it. That idea in itself is strange because no one, no matter how pampered their life has been, will escape the harsh reality of “human experience.” But I understand the want for your child to find joy. We all want that. But it’s silly to think that’s even achievable.

The other song  is projecting this idea of masculinity or rebelliousness on his son. He very well may be just as rambunctious as his father but then again he may not. It’s interesting to me how he would even consider that as something his son would have to fight, but not his daughter. He even calls his wife crazy in the song as a reason his son will be a “bad motherfucker.” Shouldn’t she have the opportunity to battle the shadows of the past?

I know he meant nothing harmful in these songs. It’s beautiful that he would even write something for them. I just think it brings to light a problem we have as a society.

In addition, this notion was exacerbated for me when a friend of mine posted a set of photos that were “gender reveal” cakes. And on them were the most stereotypical ideals of what it is to be a boy or girl. One was “Lures or Lace” and another was “guns or glitter.” I like none of those things. Do I have no gender identity?

I think we as a collective look at our children to fix the mistakes that we made or expect them to not have any at all. I think it also perpetuates this idea that girls are delicate creatures that bruise at the slightest touch and boys are tough as nails and up for a fight. And it begs the question, do we grow into these stereotypes that our parents project onto us, or are we our authentic selves?

When I look at my own life, I don’t know if my parents had any kind of expectations of me. Other than me being a good person and marrying a woman and having hundreds of babies, there was nothing else they wanted of me. (Boy did I let them down.) They never forced me into sports, they always encouraged my artistic side. They let me develop as I went along.

I know that if my husband and I do adopt (which we better fucking do, goddamnit) I want to make sure they know they can be and do whatever they want. I will hold no other expectation out of them than to respect those that are around them, and to treat others with courtesy, no matter how terrible they find themselves being treated  in return.

I will say, if they don’t love Robbie like I do, I may have to disown them. However, I let my husband’s dislike of him slide. So, what’s one more under the wire?

I’d rather be hung than ‘hanged’

This week it came out that at some event Trump made an off-hand joke that Pence wanted to hang all the gays. Now some probably will and may argue that it’s just a joke (a shitty one) and that it was intended not to be taken seriously, but the essence of what makes comedy good is that one can always find a nugget of truth. That’s what makes it comical. But no matter how you look at it it’s not funny. At all. 

The main reason it’s also not funny is because Pence believes that conversion therapy works. He’s a proponent for it. His picture even graced the wall of the pretend conversion camp that Jack’s son Elliot sent his son on this weeks episode of Will & Grace. 

When I was younger and confused about my identity, I quite literally made statements that all the gays should be killed. (Or get their own island. And the problem would “solve” itself. I was such a douche.) From my stilted Christian perspective, I thought that they were vile beasts destroying the world and felt that the only way to cleanse this planet was with their elimination. Some may say that this is just hyperbole or that I’m making it up but I unfortunately am not. I was filled with so much rage and hate because I believed that if I hated it enough at others it would go away in myself. 

Today my mother asked me if I knew that I was gay in Christian school. To which I told her yes, but I never would admit it. Instead every night I would pray, in tears, that god would make me normal and take away these thoughts and feelings, but it never happened. The fucked up christian part of my brain pipes up some times and says, “that’s because you didn’t want it enough” or that “I just didn’t believe enough.” At the time I did. I pretended as much as I could to be straight but it’s not me. I want to be friends with women and never see their naughty bits. 

Soon after that, my mother also began to make a statement about how we choose our sexual identity and I stopped her right there and told her that it was that wording or idea that is completely wrong. Why would anyone deliberately choose to be ostracized from their friends and family just for some gay sex? It’s ridiculous. I should have followed up her comment with a question asking when she made her choice to go after men and not women. 

When I told my husband this he said, “ it’s funny because this kind of thinking comes from religion which is the only thing that can be changed.” 

I sometimes wonder what if I had told my parents that I had wanted to go to a conversion camp, would they have sent me. It pains me to say it but I’m sure they would have. They didn’t know any better. Religion makes and keeps people stupid. And being gay eveidently goes against everything in the faith, however they’ve changed their minds about premarital sex, tattoos, liquor and smoking. 

If someone believes that faith can somehow curb your sexual desires all I can think is that person is hiding themselves in a lie. Which makes me convinced that Pence is gay. It’s because of that idea that it’s a choice that in my life I have encountered a great many married men looking for man on man action. They have their fun (because it can’t be denied) and then they beat themselves up and say “never again.” And I know because I was there once too.