Getting “In The Game”

I was a painfully lonely child.  Even while most kids with siblings have built in best friends, my sibs hardly wanted anything to do with me as a child.  I desperately needed for someone to love me and want me around.  Ex Con Older Brother and CPA Sis are only two years apart and always had more in common with each other than either had with me.  For reasons I may never be able to understand, I wasn’t really ever able to make friends with people my own age, and so I spent a lot of time after school and on the week-ends being alone.

“Mommy,” I used to say to Vengeful Mother, “I’m bored.”

“So find yourself something to do,” she would respond.  “It’s not my responsibility to entertain you.”  Even Vengeful Mother didn’t want to spend time with me.

I rarely ever considered the idea of having a little brother or sister.  I couldn’t remember when my parents were married and so for me to have a little brother or sister would require someone to have sex outside of marriage and, well, that of course was out of the question!  So while, from time to time, I wished for a built in best friend like my siblings had in each other, I never really seriously considered the desire.  So I was painfully lonely.

I used to overhear ECOB And CPA Sis talk about “The Game”, and I had no idea what they were talking about.  Finally one day I learned that they had an imaginary world, known simply as “The Game”, wherein they pretended to be other people, with other lives.  Generally older than they really were, with spouses and families and friends that didn’t really exist.  And I wanted in.  They, of course wouldn’t allow it, so as usual I was out in the cold to play my own game.  So, play my game I did.

richardsimmonsI used to have great fun playing my game.  As a very young child I was completely enamored with Wonder Woman, but of course I was a boy and I knew I was not permitted to want to be a girl.  (In truth, I didn’t really want to be a girl, I just didn’t have a lot of imagination.)  So I pretended I was Wonder Man.  (I never knew there really was a Wonder Man character.) I imagined I had the little red boots with the white stripe and the slight heel.  As to the rest of my costume, well, as I just said, I didn’t have much of an imagination but I had to “masculinize” Wonder Woman’s costume for myself…  So imagine, Richard Simmons… feeling very patriotic…  That’s pretty much what my imaginary Wonder Man costume looked like, complete with the golden lasso, bullet proof cuffs and boomerang crown naturally!  Of course if I’d known then, what I know now…  I might’ve imagined myself looking a little more like this:

wondermanI used to run around the yard outside our after school care ladies house kicking my heels into my butt cheeks (because that was how Wonder Woman ran so fast, dontchaknow) and making the ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch sound whenever I’d “jump great distances.”  This, by the way was the same sound I made while “performing great feats of strength”, when I pretended I was The Six Million Dollar Man.  ECOB and CPA Sis pretended not to know me.

I used to love MacGyver.  I hadn’t taken any significant science classes at that point (and come to find out I’d suck big harry nuts at science) but I thought he was the shiz.  Plus, he was blond.  Something I always wanted to be but never was… Not naturally anyway.  He was attractive.  I could tell because CPA Sis and Vengeful Mother both really liked him.  I always got a happy feeling when I’d see him on the screen.  So at one point I wanted to be MacGyver.  (As a side bar:  With the resurgence of “old time” TV shows lately (Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, 90210) they should totally make a new MacGyver.  I’m thinking Ryan Reynolds or maybe that guy from Brittney Spears’ “Womanizer” video (shirtless at all times of course.) I’d do ‘im– er, watch him.)

I always liked The Facts of Life, and, go figure, Jo Polniaczek was my favorite girl.  I knew I was supposed to like girls and of the options, she was the least girlie, black or fat.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I always liked Jo, for real, but if I was supposed to like a girl, she was the one.  And at the time I thought I was sincere.

So for a while there, “in the game” I was MacGyver and I was married to Jo Polniaczek, living in Mrs. G’s house and sharing the household responsibilities with the other girls and their husbands (Yes.  The four of them all still lived in the house.)

For a brief period of time in 1988 I even pretended I was Mario Van Peebles, a la “Sonny Spoon” and I was married to Olympic Figure Skater Debi Thomas.  I know they say that “Once you go black, you never go back”, but this phase didn’t last very long and when it was over, it was all white guys from then on, for me.

Eventually, Ex Con Older Brother outgrew “The Game”, and CPA Sis wasn’t ready to call it quits, so suddenly, I was old enough to play.  I still remember, from time to time, whenever one of us would learn something new about someone, or find a new celebrity or character we liked, we’d change “The Game”.  At one point CPA Sis and I were both infatuated with MacGyver at the same time.

“In the game, I’m MacGyver,” I said.

“You can’t be.  I want to be married to him,” was her reply.

“Hmmm.  Ok.  Then….  I’m his twin brother GyMacver.”  I replied.  (I don’t think I really fucked with the name like that, but who knows.

On other occasions:

“In the game, MacGyver is sitting right here next to me with his arm around me helping me with my homework.”  Guess which of us said that.

The worst was when I was spending the night at my friends house (we’ll call him the Pickle) once and I thought it would be cool to let him in on the fun.  I told him about the game and that in the game I was MacGyver and I was married to The Bionic Woman, and then pretended to kiss her.  The Pickle and I were lying on the floor in his parents room playing a board game, (Life, I think) and when I finished kissing Jamie Sommers and looked back at him, he looked at me like I had three heads.  Fortunately, about three seconds later, he forgot all about my game.

He’d been playing with an electrical cord with his toes while we were playing the board game and suddenly his mother’s iron came crashing down on his head, point first.  As the blood gushed forth and down over his forehead, no longer was the stupidity of my imaginary game at hand, and never was it mentioned again!

There was a point in the late 80s where I also fantasized that I was Officer Tom Hansen as played by Johnny Depp.  This one worked particularly well, because I could go to my school and learn my lessons while pretending to be this cool, older, sexier guy that girls swooned over.  There’s one episode of 21 Jump Street that has always stood out for me.  Tom decided to become a Big Brother as in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, but he was ultimately rejected.  It turned out that Doug Penhall had discouraged the BBBS from accepting Tom, for one reason or another…  Hey!  I was 12.  I can’t be expected to remember ALL of the details.

In late 1988 or early 1989, I had become enamored of the “Patch and Kayla” story on Days of our Lives (which I’d been introduced to by CPA Sis.)  I didn’t especially think much of Steve, but I thought Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) was awesome.  Since I had no imagination, I decided I wanted to be Steve so I could be with Kayla.  I knew CPA Sis wouldn’t be impressed with that so I didn’t tell her.  I continued to pretend I was pretending to be MacGyver because that was acceptable to her, but really I was pretending I was Patch.  (I guess this was the beginning of my career pretending to be something acceptable to my family.)  I remember the day in the late ’80s when I realized that something was not right.  CPA Sis was 16 or 17 years old and her heart hadn’t really seemed into it when I’d talk about “The Game.”  One day I said, “You don’t really want to play ‘The Game’ anymore, do you?”

“Not really,” she said.  “I’m kinda too old for it.”

And that was the end of “The Game”…  Or was it?

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I continued to play “The Game” alone, well into my 20s.  When Party of Five came out, I was head over heals for Scott Wolf/Bailey Salinger.  I wanted to be him.  God only knows why he was the preferred character for me.  I was certainly closer in age to Charlie Salinger, but it was all about Bailey.  I had a whole fantasy worked out.  I was Bailey Salinger, and (as was often the case in those days) I had an infant child which was the product of a one night stand with a girl I met at a party.  She had died during child birth (as they always did, ’cause who needs the girl around) and I was raising my child on my own (the only way I’d want to.)

When I moved to California, and had my first job with The Soul Crushing Telecom Company for whom Green M&M still works, I met a guy.  His name was Scott and he was beautiful.  I wanted him, but mostly I just wanted to be friends with him.  My fantasy  was that Scott and I (Bailey Salinger) were such good friends that we hung out together all of the time.

One day Scott didn’t come to work.  I found out that he had always wanted to ride his motor cycle to LA and back and so he took a Friday off to do this.  In my imagination, I came home from work to find him in my apartment.  He’d gotten halfway to LA and realized he wasn’t having any fun ’cause I wasn’t there, and he turned around and came back.  He couldn’t wait to tell me all this and how much he wanted to be with me.  That was the first night I allowed myself to unabashedly fantasize about having sex with a man.

To this day, when I’m feeling particularly lonely, or when I’ve got something on my mind that I need to hash out with someone, or when I’m horny and I need a boyfriend…  I find myself leaning toward “The Game.”  I’ve found it to be like an addiction.  I have a physical need for it.  Honestly!  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m the only person in the house and that I can talk to myself all I want, I’m just talking to myself.  No one is going to answer me.  It’s not that I have to pretend I’ve got this whole alternate life going on anymore.  But sometimes I imagine both sides of the conversation/encounter and play it out.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this, it’s just that it’d be real easy for me to slip back into “The Game” if I let myself and I don’t want to do that.  I want real relationships.

So, yeah.  I was lonely a lot growing up, and despite my knowledge that getting a little brother would mean “unacceptable” behavior on my mother’s part I always wanted someone I could be close with.  I finally got my “little brother in 2000, when CPA Sis married Mr. Fixit who is three years my junior.  Unfortunately, my “little brother” was going to be living 1800 miles away (3000 miles now) and is nearly six inches taller than I.  Very funny God!  You’ve finally answered my prayers and my “little brother” is bigger than I.

—————————————————————————————-

About a year ago, I grew very tired of being lonely and set about looking for ways to find and make new friends.  The ancestral version of this blog was part of that plan, but that didn’t come until later and when it did, it didn’t work out the way I had intended.  I decided that I could make an effort toward meeting people, and perhaps make myself feel a little bit better by finding some sort of volunteer work I could do.  I looked into Habitat for Humanity.  I really enjoy things that have tangible results to show and what better way to have tangible results than to build something, but their needs and my availability didn’t really seem to match up.

I found myself low on further ideas for additional opportunities so I did an internet search and came across a website called Volunteer Match and I found a number of listings for mentoring.  Nothing sounded familiar to me and I felt like that was too big of a deal to enter into lightly, but it reminded me of the episode of 21 Jump Street.  I remember watching that episode in silence while secretly being tremendously affected by it.  Of course part of it was, how could I not want Johnny Depp to pay attention to me?  But mostly it was just my secret longing for anyone to really care about and pay attention to me.  To make me the center of their universe, even if it was only for a few hours a week.  I was hurting while I watched it because I was thinking, I could really use someone like that in my life.  But I couldn’t ask for it.

And while I was remembering that it hit me.  I could be a Big Brother.  I could do for some kid or kids what no one ever did for me.  I could be a positive influence in their lives.  So I went to their website and I applied.  It wasn’t meant to be at that time.  There was an obstacle that I had to over come before I could be a Big Brother, but it was a blessing in disguise.  It gave me a year to think it over and make sure, was this really something I wanted to do?  Yes!  Am I really ready to handle this?  Fuck if I know, but I imagine it’s a little like parenthood.  You’re never ready, you just do it.

Today, I had my first interview with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Bay Area.  It was nerve racking, though not as much so as I thought it would be.  The match specialist was fabulous and made me feel very much at ease.  She seemed very non-judgmental and more than once expressed her appreciation of my candor.  It was actually easier than I thought it would be to tell her I’m gay, but I thought it was important to establish that up front.

Now begins the arduous wait while they go through their process.  Tomorrow, she’ll send her reference checks to CPA Sis, Green M&M, Eve and Douche Bag.  I would have just as soon not included him, but as I recall the application asks for your immediate supervisor as one of the references.  The good thing is that DB doesn’t do confrontation, so I can rest relatively assured that he’ll say good things about me and not hurt my chances.  I don’t know what he would possibly have based this statement on but when I told him I would be leaving early today for the interview he said, “That’s great!  You’d make a great Big Brother.”  While it’s nice to hear, I don’t feel particularly like that’s praise worth it’s salt coming from him.  Anyway, while they wait for the references to be sent back, they’ll run my background check.  The only thing they’ll find is the DUI I received on January 18, 2003 and they’re already aware of that.  (This is the obstacle from a year ago.)  They can’t officially match me with a “Little” until after it’s been five years, so I have a couple months to wait.  I was informed that being gay, it will take longer to match me, anyway.  Apparently, there are a lot of parent/guardians out there who are ignorant and fearful of homosexuality and have specified that they do not want their children paired up with a homosexual.  It’s unfortunate, as it’s the “Little” that they’re hurting, but it is their prerogative.  I can’t say I’m surprised by the likely delay, but it’s still sad to hear.  Meanwhile, if I’m accepted (God, I hope I’m accepted.  What would it say about me if I’m not ‘good enough’ to work with underprivileged children) they do offer some training for me to take which will help prepare me to be a “Big”.

I’ll be honest.  I’m terrified.  My stomach is in knots and my heart is in my throat, just writing about it.  But it is important to me.  I can’t wait to be able to have a positive impact on some boy’s life.  To teach him that there are people out there who want nothing more than his health, safety and happiness.  To teach him that no matter what shit he’s going through there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.  And, God forbid, if he’s been through some serious problems (i.e. molestation, physical abuse) to teach him that not everyone wants to treat him like that.  That there is good in the world and that he deserves to experience it.

I can hardly wait!

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