Thursday, July 01, 2004

(I wasn't going to do one of those '100 Things' lists, but I caved. What can I say? I am a follower. Although in my case, you're going to get it in four installments, because I'm a follower who always has to be just a little bit different. Enjoy!)

1. I have a map fetish. I can stare at a map for hours.

2. When I was younger, I drew maps of imaginary places, but stopped when I realized that people would think that was strange.

3. I love playing SimCity, but usually turn off the ‘disaster’ option, because I don’t want to see my creation destroyed.

4. The only place I won’t stare at a map is on the subway. I don’t want people to think I’m a tourist.

5. I am not often a tourist. It takes a lot to get me to go away.

6. I have only been to a handful of other countries: a long weekend in London; a few trips to the Caribbean; and – because I grew up close to the border – numerous trips to Canada.

7. My dream vacation involves a B&B. That’s Beach and Blender. I’m not good with organized activities and tight schedules.

8. I probably have no business baring flesh on a beach, but I long ago accepted the fact that I am never going to have Brad Pitt’s body, and I’ve put most of my body-image issues behind me.

9. Still, I’m surprised when people actually like my body, or don’t think I’m fat. I mean, I do own mirrors, y’know?

10. I was a fat kid. Once, my father angrily called me ‘obese.’ I had to look the word up in the dictionary. I still hate that word.

11. I was their first child, so I’ve forgiven a lot of things and chalked them up to the fact that first-time parents have to learn somehow.

12. I wish I were closer to my family, but I’m not. We are friendly, and like each other, and otherwise accept what we don’t like about each other, but since I moved to Manhattan I haven’t been especially close to them.

13. One of the reasons why I haven’t been close is because I hate the telephone. Yes, I answer it when it rings… well, at the office, at least. But ever since I was a teenager, I’ve hated to use it. If I have to make a call, I will procrastinate forever.

14. Actually, it’s not just the telephone. I procrastinate a lot. On almost everything.

15. But I’m good working with deadlines. I’m not good at easing into them in a planned and orderly way, but I’m good at meeting them, and I try not to break a sweat in the process. Even when I feel stressed. Never let them see you sweat.

16. I sweat when I get nervous. Profusely. My voice is strong and clear, my hands are steady, but my forehead positively gushes.

17. Fortunately, I don’t get nervous very often. Although after my long-term relationship abruptly ended a few years ago, I had frequent panic attacks for more than a year, especially whenever I’d walk into a gay bar. Even if the bar was one of my regular stops. I hated this, because by looking nervous and sweaty in a gay bar, other patrons assumed I was just coming out of the closet. I didn’t want that attention.

18. I was 29 years old when I finally came out. The process was surprisingly swift and painless, given how long it took me to work up the nerve.

19. If my best friend hadn’t (unsurprisingly) come out to me, I might have remained in the closet. Rumor has it that I can play heterosexual convincingly.

20. It was only when I came out that I realized that I was considered attractive. Well… by some people, that is. I had not really considered that possibility, although I see it when I look at photographs from way back then. Up until that point, I thought of myself as plain. And fat, although not obese, no matter what other people said.

21. I lost almost 25 pounds in the six months or so after I came out. I have no idea how that happened, although I can do some quick self-analysis and speculate that, as a gay man hiding in the closet, I was hiding behind that extra weight.

22. The worst part of coming out was hurting a very nice girl I was dating at the time. I have hurt a lot of other people in the years since then, almost always unintentionally, but I still feel guilty about that.

23. Before I came out, I was a lousy boyfriend, ‘cause I just didn’t care all that much about the relationships. I’m better these days.

24. I am drawn to relationships. True, I have taken full advantage of the Gay Male Prerogative when I’ve been single, but I’m happier when I’m nesting.

25. My parents were married 20 years to each other, and now have been married 20 and 25 years, respectively, to their second spouses. In 2004, I think that demonstrates remarkable stability. On the map of life, we’re following different routes, but heading toward the same destination. Which is not Canada.