Thursday, October 11, 2012


Up until 1982, my only experience with Gays had been through Drama Club in High School, where it had been whispered that certain members of the Department were "queer", and a few waiters I had worked around being a Chef. There was a big part of me that still didn’t believe someone could be truly gay, and that the only reason they behaved in that manner was that they were lonely, or just wanted to be touched.
I still didn’t quite believe they did whatever they did.
There must be a mistake. They were gay by some kind of default.

In 1982 I was Saute’ Chef for the Crystal Cactus, the gourmet restaurant at the Fort Worth Hyatt. The broiler man was Jeff, and he and I had a lot in common.
We managed to do something together at least 4 nights a week after work. If it wasn’t a party, then it was a game of “Risk” or all night Frisbee. Jeff was great with a Frisbee, and we would throw together for hours. He became one of the best friends I have ever had.

We used to do a bit from  "Guildenstern and Rosencrantz are Dead". Its a spinoff play from Billy Shakes famous "Hamlet" in which the two guards of Hamlets fathers tomb toss a coin that comes up heads 99 times in a row.

They contemplate the odds...
"If we postulate" says Guildenstern.
"And we just have!" replies Rosencrantz…
"Ninety-Nine Times!", both in unison.

So whenever things got weird at work or at a party, Jeff and I would go into our Guildenstern and Rosencrantz bit, and things would get a little weirder…it was pure fun.

My mother had had a stroke which was part of the reason I lived with her. My father was in a V.A. Hospital with Alzheimers. He had been for years. Over the course of a year Mom met Jeff several times.
Ever since her stroke my mother’s speech had changed in the typical stroke victim fashion. She now talked like a little girl with a bit of a lisp and sing-song cadence.

Getting ready for work one afternoon, I mentioned that Jeff was on vacation to New York and I had a new guy to train.
My mother gets an odd look on her face and asks what he is doing in New York.
“He says he is going to see as many plays as he can in 4 days” I tell her.
“ Did he go by himself?’ she asks.
‘No, he went with a couple of the waiters from the Restaurant”
Mom looks at me over the top of her glasses.
“Steve, is Jeff gay?
“No, Mom, why do you ask?”
And in that sing-song voice she says “Well, he...just seems... like he might... be gay.”

Now in 1982 my Mom was 65 years old and had been a housewife all her adult life. I doubt she had ever met a gay person. I was surprised that she knew the word.
I thought about it all night and finally determined that she was probably right. My best friend in the whole world, with looks and energy and charisma to burn; the guy that I hung out with 4-5 nights a week and could leap at least 4’ in the air covering 10-12 feet and catch a Frisbee behind his back; that I found myself on the same page with, completely in sync, time after time after time; my best friend that I was so proud to know....he was Gay!

It was a real awakening. These were real people in real relationships and there wasn’t anything wrong with them. Whatever I had been thinking about Gay people was all wrong.

Jeff left the Hyatt in 1986.
Then one day I found myself behind him in a checkout line in 1988. He had not seen me.

"If we Postulate..." I said very loudly.
He flinched but didn't need to turn around.
"...And we just have..." came the reply.
In unison as he turns around;
"...NINETY NINE TIMES!" and we embrace.

I never saw Jeff again. He’s one of those people that you like, one of those people in your life that you will always love, and I’d sure like to talk to him again one day.

And that’s my story here for National Coming Out  Day.

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