Batman’s Beginning

Until now, I’ve always made my closest friends in my workplace.  This goes back as far as I can remember.  Even to my senior year in high school when I worked at the grocery store that was in Scornful Mother‘s back yard.

I met Batman while working as a cashier at Price Mart (since bought out.)  He was a bagger.  He was handsome.  A few inches shorter than I, with sandy blond hair and a tan complexion.  He worked out and it showed.  He always wore the long sleeves of his white button down, oxford shirts rolled up to above his large, hard biceps.  He wore a perpetual, goofy grin on his face and he was completely endearing to everyone who ever met him.   I was instantly enthralled with his good looks and great attitude.

In addition to Batman, my friend who I have referred to on this blog as RNJ also worked at the Price Mart.  At the time, I believed I had feelings for RNJ but she had no interest in me.  The two of us were in choir together in school and had grown a friendship there.  She was, by far your traditional cowgirl with a rebellion just waiting to come out.  For a brief time, we were like the Three Musketeers.

RNJ and Batman flirted back and forth relentlessly while I looked on with despair and desperation.  I wanted to be loved.  I wanted to have a relationship with someone like these two had.  Batman was RNJ‘s prom date.  I went to dinner with the two of them and a platonic date, but because I was under 18 and Scornful Mother wouldn’t give her permission for me to go to Prom I didn’t attend.  (A story for another time)   I spent the entire evening lying on my platonic date’s parents’ bed watching Homefront and waiting for Batman and RNJ to come back and pick us up again.

Not long after graduation, RNJ entered a rebellious phase and she dumped Batman.  He and I had become friends though, or at least I thought so.  Looking back I realized that, at that time at least, Batman was the kind of guy who thought of nothing but you…  while you were in front of him.  But as soon as you left his sight, he promptly forgot about you.  Anyway, we were friends for a time over the summer.  I was out of school and probably held some appeal in that regard.  He was popular, funny, good looking and had no shortage of self confidence.  I really enjoyed being his friend.

One Summer, afternoon while at work, Batman invited me to come over to his house after we both go off work and spend the night.  His parents had this big, beautiful house with a kidney shaped pool in the back yard.  We stayed up half the night talking about all kinds of things, chief among them, RNJ, of course.  Batman deduced that I had feelings for her, and even though I flatly denied it, it seemed clear that there was something to what he was saying.  Certainly I had some affection for her, but there seemed more to the story.

We spent the next morning lying out next to the pool while he told me of all of his sexual escapades, of which there were many.  The part of my brain that was under Scornful Mother‘s programming was, well, scornful, of his behavior.  The larger part of my brain though, was enthralled.  I was impressed with his apparent prowess.  I was jealous of his nerve and adventurousness.  I was envious of his experience.  And I was glad that we were sprawled out on our stomach’s and he couldn’t see what was happening in my swimming trunks thinking about him in the various sexual endeavors he described.  Even then I couldn’t really accept what that might mean.

I decided a the last minute to go off to college in the fall and we didn’t have any interaction for several months and when I returned at the end of the semester, I had a wrecked car to pay for, a job to work full-time and before long a fiance to connect with (another story for another time.)  Batman had his senior year in high school, an untold number of girlfriends and a very emotionally – if not physically – abusive home life to contend with.  (Something I didn’t know about until years later.)  We grew apart during that time.

That October, I took Dead Beat Dad up on an offer to come live with him for a time while I earned money to buy a car and have more freedom and independence for when I got married the following year.  Batman joined the military, almost as soon as he graduated from high school and that seemed to be the end of our relationship.

I stayed at Dead Beat Dad‘s house for nine months, during which time, my fiance took up with my so-called best friend, started going partying at clubs on a regular basis, cheated on me with an unspecified number of men, broke up with me and got engaged to another man.  All this, while I was out of town on a mission we agreed was important to undertake for the betterment of our future together.  Not two weeks after I returned to Oklahoma, she married another man who she left six months later, just to take up with her boss and get pregnant with his child.

I lived in Oklahoma for six months that time before I got promoted to Store Manager and moved away again.  I was gone from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry for about nine months before I decided I couldn’t continue in my career path and I gave up my position to move back in with Scornful Mother and give school another try.  School never did work out but I’d been thinking about Batman a lot at that point, wondering what ever happened to him and missing our friendship.  So when I returned to TTNFDNAW I looked him up.  I was anxious about calling him.  What if he didn’t want to reconnect with me?  What if he was still cooler than I and didn’t want to have anything to do with me?  What if this person in the phone book, with his name, wasn’t even the same guy?

I sent him a letter saying if he was the same guy and he wanted to reconnect that he should give me a call at Scornful Mother‘s house.  A week later, he called and my heart danced in my chest!  He wanted to get together for lunch the following week.  He was working for an earlier incarnation of The Soul Crushing Telecom Company and invited me to come out for a tour of the site and lunch at a local eatery.  Naturally, I agreed.

I was sitting in the main lobby of the company campus waiting for him to come and greet me when I saw something I couldn’t believe.  Off in the distance I saw something that vaguely represented my friend known as Batman but was more reminiscent of The Penguin.  It turned out that, when Mrs. Batman got pregnant with Bat Baby they decided they were ready to exit Military Service.  Apparently, that was relatively easy for Mrs. Batman to accomplish, but Batman would have to be a bit creative.  Batman immediately stopped exercising and started over eating.  When it came time for his PT (Physical Tests) he was no longer able to pass them, and he was given an honorable discharge.

After filling me in on the years I had missed in his life; his marriage and recent birth of his six week old Bat-daughter, he told me about The Company and how they were always hiring.  He told me about their benefits.  I’ll never forget the moment he pushed his glasses up his nose and told me, “They offer really good Obstetrics coverage.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  “I’m sure that came in handy for you, but I’d settle for some decent optometry coverage.”

Batman explained to me how they hire through a temp agency and how I should go there and register.  He’d put in a word for me with the hiring manager and get me in for an interview.  The rest of the story is fairly obvious.  I interviewed for a trainee position through the temp agency and was offered the slot.  I wouldn’t be hired permanently by the company till I finished the training program and proved I could handled the job.  I wasn’t concerned.

When I got the call that they were going to bring me in I called Batman to share the good news.  He was excited for me, and very encouraging.  And then he dropped the bomb.  “Unfortunately, I won’t still be there,” he said.  “Mrs. Batman and I are moving to California.”

Batman‘s entire family had moved away, and in fact he’d been renting and living in his parents house that he lived in during high School, the last of his multi-syllabic named clan in town.  Mrs. Batman’s mother lived in Turlock, California and she operated a day care center out of her home.  She’d made an offer to have them move in with her.  Bat-baby would stay in the day care while Batman would go work and Mrs. Batman would go to Dental Hygienist school while they concentrated on paying off their debt so they could buy a house.  I was, of course really disappointed that he was leaving after we’d reconnected, but what could I do.  I offered my support and encouragement and offered any help I could provide.  The week before I started the training program I helped him load a 26′ Penske truck with everything they owned in preparation for their cross half the country trip to Turlock, California. The night before they left town, after I’d helped load the last of their belongings in the truck and left them for the last time, I sobbed in my bed as I thought about what I’d gained and immediately lost again.

By the time I finished training, Batman had gotten hired and was fully established in a position with the same company, but in the San Jose, California office and he e-mailed me to keep in touch.  To keep a long story short, he helped me get my foot in the door with The Soul Crushing Telecom Company in the Bay Area.  That October, I flew to California for a week where I interviewed with Batman‘s boss and looked at a few apartments in the area.  It was at this time that the offer was extended for me to come to California and stay with Batman et. al., even if it wasn’t for the the position with TSCTC.

I chose not to accept the full time position that I was offered in Oklahoma because company policy would have prohibited me from being hired in California, even if I had quit the job in Oklahoma to move and accept the new position.  Little did I know it would take four more months for anything to happen.  Finally, in March of the following year, I was giving a verbal offer of employment and I quit my temp job and moved to California to stay with my “new family” and get started with the rest of my life.

While I was on my own half-cross-country drive from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry, The Soul Crushing Telecom Company announced that they had just bought out another local telecommunications company and that they were instituting a hiring freeze until all that companies employees had been assimilated into the population.  I was concerned, but mostly just happy to be moving to California (a dream I didn’t know I had, coming true) and to be living with my good friend.

It is a little known fact that there are three factors in life that tend to trigger depression in just about anyone.  1) Marriage, Divorce or A Death in the Family, 2) Career Change or 3) Major Relocation.  I had two of the three working against me, plus being already predisposed to depression, plus, as it turned out the Bat-Mother-in-Law was determined to come between Batman and his wife and was happy to use me to make that happen.

I lived with the Bat Brood for four long, hard months.  It was horrible for me, feeling like an outsider and seeing that my relationship with Batman was quickly slipping away.  When all was said and done I can only congratulate Batman for standing up to the Bat-Mother-in-Law and not letting her come between him and the Bat-wife, but it was at my expense.

By the time it was over, there was nothing left of my friendship with Batman.  He did make a few attempts here and there to remain friends but I couldn’t get beyond the fact that he had put his wife and her mother ahead of me, when they were doing such evil things to run me out.  (The Bat-wife got snookered, at least for a time, by the Bat-Mother-in-Law.)  Soon, his attempts to continue our friendship gave out and we stopped communicating.

In the summer of 2001, I was contemplating the idea of joining the California National Guard.  I was sick of my life (not unlike I am now) and I desperately needed to do something to make a change and to take control.  I was sick of my body, sick of my mind and sick of having my life.  I thought joining the CNG would 1) whip me into shape, 2) Help me find myself and 3) change my entire existence for the better.  I had no interest in going oversees or going into battle, but I was interested in getting the training and willing to take the risk of being involved in some disaster relief efforts, or God forbid, some police actions.  At one point I had a meeting with a recruiter and was seriously giving it some consideration but thought I should get some information from someone who knew stuff.  I sent an e-mail to Batman asking him to meet me for lunch so I could get some information from him.  He agreed to meet me and I drove to Stockton, California where he was working to meet up for lunch.  I sat in the parking lot waiting for him.  About ten minutes after I arrived, he came down the sidewalk in my direction.  He was just a sliver of who he had been the last time I saw him….  and he looked awesome!

He told me everything I wanted to know about being in Boot Camp/Basic Training and what he thought I’d be getting myself into.  I told him that I apologized for my part in all the hurt that happened when I lived with him and his family.  That I was struggling emotionally and the turmoil was just too much for me, but that it’s no excuse.  We said we’d keep in touch, and continue to work on our friendship and neither of us has made an effort to contact the other since.  And a few weeks later, some psychopaths flew two commercial airplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  I knew we would be going to war, and while I was as enraged as the next American at the events of that day, I knew I could not go to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any of the other countries and fight a war that I felt had no purpose.  And I knew if I signed any enlistment papers, I would be doing just that.

My life has gone on since then, without Batman and without the military but not without it’s price.  I still think about him and about the friendship I lost.  I still think about how great he looked that day lying by the pool, and about how confident he was, everyday, even as a fat man, and how sexy that made him.  And I still miss that friendship.

About a year ago, I had a dream about Batman and the Mrs…

Part two of this story will follow in the next day or two.

It’s All About Eve

My retarded clever gene has struck again.

I’ve tried three times to start this post in a clever way and nothing seems quite right, so I’m just going to be straight… eh’hem.  So to speak.

The love of my life is coming to town.  I’m totally stoked!  She’s bringing her boyfriend.  I could do without that.  Not that there’s anything wrong with him, he’s actually a really nice guy, but her having a boyfriend means she’s not pining away for me and I’m not loving that.  Her name is “Eve” (as in “All About… “).  OK, it’s not really, but I call her that here because she will be the first person to tell you that “it’s all about me”, and she won’t be kidding.  It would be annoying and a real turn-off except that part of what is all about her, is her genuine interest and care for the people in her life.  She has an amazing ability to turn that “it’s all about me” selfishness right on upside down into a selflessness that is completely unparalleled.  I also call her “Eve” here because, well, even though it is an actual real name (the only one you’ll find in my cast of characters, thus far) it is absolutely nothing like her real name which makes it sufficiently anonymous while still being slightly clever.  (Seriously folks, I need someone besides me to validate my cleverness.)

Now, if you’re a regular reader (and if you’re not, you should be!), I’m sure I can imagine what you’re probably saying to yourself right now.  “This dude is gay.  Why is he talking about a woman as the love of his life?”  And you’re probably right.  It’s a little bit odd.  But I guess you’d have to know us.

Eve has a far clearer picture of the real me, than anyone else in the world, I think.  I shudder at the thought that maybe she doesn’t know it all, and if she did, I’d finally succeed in driving her away.  Lord knows I’ve worked pretty damn hard at it over the years.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I met Eve around the middle of 1995, I think (may have been 96, I’m bad with this stuff.  But she’s not.)  I was working as an Assistant Manager at the Men’s Clothing Store that happened to carry a moniker deceptively similar to but has no affiliation with that of a former NFL Running Back but which has since gone out of business, when Eve transferred in from the Salt Lake City store.  She was a year younger than I which is to say, she moved to Tulsa, because she still lived with her mother and her mother moved to Tulsa for work so therefore Eve moved to Tulsa as well.  Eve was essentially placed in our store by the District Manager who didn’t ask the Store Manager for her opinion or an interview and therefor Eve was starting out on the losing end.

The fact is Eve had everything you want in a “sales girl” in a men’s clothing store you want to be viewed as “young and hip.”  (Just to remind you that I am gay, and just how much, it popped into my head and I started to type, “now Eve Peron, had every disadvantage, you’ll need if you’re gonna succeed.”) (and that’s an Evita reference for those who don’t know.) She was young (19), beautiful and very flirtatious.  Before her mother’s job brought them to Tulsa, Eve was the strongest seller in her store.  This is the reason there was no question whether she’d be brought onto our staff when the call came in.

Eve was instantly disliked by the Store Manager, Jodi (I’ll use her real name because we aren’t friends, I don’t know where she lives and I doubt she’ll ever see this) because Eve was “forced” upon us, and by the First Assistant Manager, Paul (I’ll use his real name for all the same reasons) because of no reason that I can identify.  It’s possible that Paul was just loyal to Jodi and that was all it took.  I don’t know.

Eve has an amazing memory.  Stunning even.  She remembers specific events, and specific things that were said that I have no recollection of whatsoever.  She consistently blows me away with the things she pulls out.  I on the other hand, can’t seem to remember jack shit!  I don’t really remember how I came to be friends with her.  In fact, I thought things were somewhat tense between us.  I remember more than one occasion when Eve drove me to my car at the end of our shifts.  It was the holidays and the lowly mall employees were relegated to parking in the middle of BFE so that the precious patrons wouldn’t have to walk very far.  On more than one occasion we had conversations about why she was having trouble with Jodi, and what Eve could do differently to win her over.  Eve tells me, however, that there was rumor and speculation about me having had feelings for her.  Looking back, I realize that’s probably true.

Jodi quit soon after Eve joined us and we got a new Manager named Becky (Oh. My. God.)  I remember that Becky and Eve usually worked the day shift together which did not make Eve very happy because there was far less business in the day time than there was any other time, but that’s how the schedule usually came together.  I remember walking into the store one late November afternoon and finding Eve standing in the front window, waste deep in a gold leme faux gift box.  Becky felt that Eve would be fairly artistic and that she should do the holiday window display.  I have two specific memories from this day and no idea what order they come in.

Memory #1:  I’m somewhere in the store, doing something store-like, and I hear a yelp.  I look toward the front of the store as Eve slowly turns around to face me, biting her bottom lip and a glisten of fought back tears in her eyes.  When she could speak again, after the bleeding had stopped she revealed to me that she had been holding a piece of our semi-industrial strength packing tape in between her lovely lips while arranging the tissue paper she was about to tape in place and when she literally yanked the tape out of her mouth, some of the flesh from her lip came with it.  It was one of those things that we knew we’d laugh at some day, but you should have seen her face in the moment.

Memory #2:  (I’m guessing this one comes first.)  Eve is in the window up to her eyeballs in paper and gift wrap and clothes and mannequins and I hear her say, “Oh sure!  Make the Jewish girl do the Christmas display!”

That year we decided to have a “Secret Santa” gift exchange in our store.  The rule was that we would not spend more than $10.00 and there was a sheet behind the register where we were supposed to put down ideas about what our Secret Santa could get us.  I remember very little about how the whole exchange went down but I remember that I had picked Eve‘s name.  Most of the staff went into the thing with limited (read: negative amounts of) gusto and most of the gifts amounted to $10.00 gift certificates (yes!  Certificates, not cards!) to Blockbuster, or a music store, or McDonald’s (actually some of those college kids really appreciated the McD’s certs) or a $10.00 bill stuck into an envelope.

By this time Eve and I had become friends and there was no tension that I can recall, so I really wanted to give her a good gift.  I didn’t care about the Secret Santa.  I didn’t care about the $10.00 limit.  I wanted to give my friend a good Christmas gift.  You see, gift giving is a major weak point of mine and I’m always disappointed by my own poor gift giving acumen.  But Eve had let something slip.  “James and the Giant Peach” was coming out in the movie theaters and she wanted to see it.  She mentioned one day that “James and the Giant Peach” had been her favorite book growing up.

It was one of my good days and I was paying attention.  I made a mental note and when I got the chance I went and found a pristine, hard cover copy of “James and the Giant Peach.”  Now, as I’m writing this I’m realizing, I may even have special ordered it.  You know, it’s funny!  To me, giving a book as a Christmas gift isn’t a big deal.  That has a lot to do with the fact that Dead Beat Dad‘s parents used to send us books from foreign countries, travel guides I think they were, all the time.  Every Birthday and every Christmas we could count on getting a book from the grand peeps.  And to tell the truth, it sucked!  So big deal, I thought, so I got you a book.  It’s only special ’cause it’s your favorite and I thought it’d be nice for you to have a pristine copy. But to hear Eve tell it, it was a big deal.  It seems like she’s told me it had to have been expensive.  Whatever was so special about it, it was certainly grist for the rumor mill.  I didn’t care.  I’d done something nice for my friend and she was grateful.

And then tragedy struck.  Eve decided to take up her Dead Beat Dad on an offer to come to Idaho where he lived and work in his office.  Two years earlier I had taken up my own Dead Beat Dad on a similar offer for many reasons. I couldn’t blame her for going.  I had already done the same thing.  But as I recall it (which is admittedly probably faulty) this is the moment that it hit me.  This woman matters to me. And I was about to lose her.  I was terribly sad she was going and didn’t really know how to tell her.  I wanted to ask her not to go, but I had nothing to offer her to make her stay.  So I said nothing.  And she went.  And we lost touch.  I was never very good at long distance relationships.  Even my relationships with my various family members have suffered from distance.  With one notable exception, I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing.  But I digress.

Eve left me and I was devastated.  But two years in Idaho was enough for her and she moved back to be with her mother, and Eve and I were back on…  So to speak.  There was no aspect of our relationship that pointed at romance.  Eve never expressed that kind of interest in me and I certainly didn’t have the cajones to try and make something happen, so there we were, smack dab in the middle of friend central.  A few years ago I asked her in an instant message conversation if there was any chance we would have ended up  together if I had not moved to California.  She told me “I don’t know.  It’s possible.  But I’ll tell you this much.  You wouldn’t have stayed a virgin for so long.”  (You should have seen the looks on my co-workers faces when the realized that boom they heard was me falling out of my chair.)

Something unusual happens when Eve drinks alcohol.  She gets very drunk, very fast, on very little.  And then a half hour or so later she’s perfectly sober.  No doubt a breathalyzer would disagree, but for all intents and purposes she’s good.  After she moved back to Oklahoma Eve met a guy and despite his name, he did not live in a giant peach, and despite his not living in a giant peach, I’m still going to call him “the Pitts”.  (Hey my clever gene is waking up.)  The Pitts was an ex-husband and a father of two children, and a carrier of a nasty little venereal disease, none of which did he bother to mention to Eve.  So on one particular evening when they were together and Eve‘s odd metabolism had done its worst, she convinced him they should have sex.  The Pitts, apparently resisted (only a little I’m sure) but she told him, “C’mon.  You know we’re gonna do it eventually, why wait?”  So they did.  Under protected.  If ya know what I mean.

The Pitts left her with two “gifts” that night.  Not long after that, he just left her.  When Eve knew she was pregnant, she told me about it.  I was a terrible friend, for I was still under the influence of Vengeful Mother and had not yet learned to form my own ideals and principles (yes, even in my early 20s).  Eve told me, “I don’t know if I can do this.  I’m not sure I can keep it.  I’m thinking of having an abortion.”  I don’t know what I said, or how I reacted, but I know something in me changed that night, at least for a time.  Abortion, I thought, how can she consider an abortion?  Abortion is wrong.  If she does that, she’ll be wrong.  I can’t be friends with someone who has an abortion! Far be it from me to just support my friend through whatever she may be going through without judging her actions.

We drifted again.  At the time that she told me this I was contemplating a change of my own.  I soon made my move to California, and while we talked some after that, we lost touch again.  The few times that we did talk after that I never asked, and she never said, what she’d decided about the baby.  It wasn’t until the following October that she made contact with me again and told me that she and her parents… and her son were coming to California the week of Thanksgiving to visit her grandparents and that if I wanted to we could get together while she was here.  It was at that moment that I realized just how much I missed her, how much she had meant to me and how I had just walked away from it. I’d like to think that I’d have felt this way regardless, but I admit that when I heard her say “my son” and I knew she had not had the abortion, my heart skipped with joy and relief.  I guess somehow that made her acceptable again.  I’m a terrible friend.

There is more to this story I haven’t the time to tell now, but suffice it to say, Eve is my dearest friend!  She means the world to me, and we have a relationship that defies explanation.  We hardly ever talk to each other, probably more my fault than hers, but when we do see each other, every year, the day after Thanksgiving, like clockwork, set your watch by it, for ten years running?  It’s like we never missed a day.  It’s awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for the world!  Vengeful Mother asked me to come “home” for Thanksgiving, the other day.  I told her, “No.  I have a prior engagement.”

The love of my life is coming to town, in 16 days.  I’m totally stoked.