I am high on the list for receiving the 2018 “Whitiest-White-Bread Man of the Year Award.” My bona fides include growing up in the Midwest, meeting my wife while we were teens, marrying her, having two children with her and having celebrated our thirtieth-second wedding anniversary together in May. I’ve never beaten her, tied her up (I offered on that last one, but she said “No” preceded and followed by some other words.) I’ve never done an illegal drug, had an extramarital affair or sexted. B-O-R-I-N-G; that’s me.
I’m not you and you’re not me and that’s great! I do not want mirror images of myself. I don’t need to live in a world where everyone thinks, feels and acts as I do. My life motto is, “If you aren’t hurting someone then what you do is your business, not mine.” Simple, huh?
But I have also failed. I have failed to stand up for my friends whose lifestyles, life-choices and life-circumstances aren’t so white-bread. And for that I’m sorry.
Once upon a time two of my friends met. Let’s call them O and Y, as in old and young. O said to me, “There’s something odd about that Y fellow, isn’t there?”
To which I answered, “Yeah. He’s trans.”
O replied with, “Yuck!”
Yuck. Yuck? Now, I hold both O and Y dear but my response, my “defense” of Y? Nothing. Not a word. Y, if you’re reading this know that I am sorry. That I have grown. That I do not remain silent anymore. I love you, Y. I know you know that but I know that I wasn’t there for you when I should have been.
And that wasn’t the only time. Take two more friends, H and C, who are mutual friends of one another. Now I’ve only known H and C since the mid-seventies but those two go back even further. Anyway, I hadn’t seen either in a long time and C and I are talking about H. C says to me, “You know, H fools around on her husband. With another woman! Yuck!”
Now, to be fair to C I don’t know if the yuck was about extramarital affairs or same sex encounters. I now know that H is very open about this, thus, in my book, she’s not “cheating;” she and her husband have an agreement.
Is this an arrangement that I would make? I seriously doubt it, but H and hubby are adults so what they choose to do isn’t my business. I didn’t say these words to C and I should have. (Though to be fair to me I didn’t know the score at the time so I really wasn’t in a position to talk about, Oops! GOSSIP about it at all.)
Speaking of gossip, my last one is about me. Again, talking to one friend about another. I’m chatting with L and somehow the topic of J comes up. J is a sexual adventurer. Is this my business? No, because I will never have sex with him. J’s sexual adventures have led to failed relationships including a failed marriage. I say to L, “I just don’t get it with J. I mean, he’s ruining his life with his dick! The man needs help.”
L’s response? “You don’t? You should probably talk to him about it.”
Or maybe I should just keep my mouth shut. J’s not my son, he’s not my brother, and he hasn’t asked me my opinion concerning his life so my most appropriate response is to keep my opinions to myself. Which I’ll try to do, but I pretty much suck at!
But I will not remain silent when we, the white-bread, castigate “other.” When we, the great white, straight, middle-class majority condemn what is different because we don’t get it and we don’t feel comfortable around it.
I’m going to stick to my white-bread ways, but when somebody denounces the rye, the wheat, the glutton free? I will no longer stand silently by while they are derided. Friend or stranger, rainbow hued or whatever “other” is beyond the pale, I will present their case. Because last time I checked we all have the right to self-determination no matter what we determine ourselves to be.