Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In a World of Men

I've never had a girlfriend. In fact, in my entire life, there has never been one true female friend. I live each day, lost...in a world of men.

Thinking on this as I woke up this morning, my mind went back over the years since childhood. Different pictures and memories of childhood kind of get cram packed in the back of my head, those files rarely thought of and looked through. I think over the earliest things I can recall, and see other boys. Preschool, playing with Legos, eating lunches of fish sticks, bread and butter, apple juice and frozen peas and there is Jeff Burnett. He was kind of a brainy wild guy, crazy curls and glasses already on his little face. So studious at times and yet another little heathen just like me. He went to another school during the day, so that had to make him a few years older, but we were fast friends. Playing outside, jumping off the highest things we could find, burying each other in rocks and always digging in the dirt, building something , destroying something, always coming back inside filthy and worn out for nap time. We were an unstoppable army of two united in our cause of squeezing every bit of fun out of each day.

I went to preschool and summer camp growing up before school. Each day was filled with activities, play time, moments for stories, setting out the big cots for nap time, swimming, playing in the different parks and playgrounds learning our colors, alphabet, simple things. All those days seem to blur into the start of school, but one thing remained constant. In all of those lines we stood in, boys were on the right, girls were on the left. The girls were "other". Not like us. Always apart, to be seen but not actually known.

Kindergarten and grammar school came, always the divide. Summer divided up each year with camp that lasted through all those times of sun, swimming, field trips, playing outside, in the woods, in the creek, for hours on end. Names and faces flash in front of me. I guess I had an idyllic childhood compared to some. I lived with my whole family in the same big house that was always being redecorated and renovated at my parents whims and many of those guys I grew up with followed me all the way to high school graduation. Private school is a strange microcosm of society. The guys I played with in the dirt, the woods and grew up with were a constant. Sure, a few came and went, but the core group of us were together for more than 16 years. Always us guys. We saw each other through from preschool to graduation. I was always surrounded by them and their brothers and families. School was family and family was school. It was there I became known and knew. My friends defined my life.

There were girls at my school. I remember that. Little pretty people, all dressed up, doing those things girls do. I was never sure what they did, or what they were for, but they were always over there to the left. They were always floating over there to the left, kind of on the edge of my vision. The ones I do remember often crossed that line and would play with us rowdy boys, until some well meaning teacher rescued them and put them back on the "correct" gender path. Girls were to be ladies and boys, well us boys were going to be gentlemen someday, but not quite yet. We still had a lot of boy stuff to do. That whole man stuff was for the grown ups. For guys like our dads and older brothers. Those big people.

My first boyfriends name was Ken. Yup...I stole him from Barbie! I am not sure where he came from, maybe my little sister, but he was always naked and I kept him in a wooden box in my closet. I can't quite remember all the stuff we did, but I sure did like him. His lack of a dick always puzzled me, just kind of this weird bulge, but I wasn't too worried about it at the time. He was kind of quiet, but he was a good guy. Then along came G. I. Joe and Ken was forgotten. I hope he understood. Joe had airplanes, tanks, guns and fought battles! How could naked, pretty Ken in a box compete with Joe?

Flash forward through all those years. I was always with guys. I lived in a world of men, or at least of boys wanting and trying to be men. We fought battles, built cities, swam oceans, engaged in huge running sword fights and always conquered all we saw. We claimed this world as our own. That is what men do. Playing turned to sports, to sports we added cars, to cars we added jobs. Some eventually peeled away from the pack and started spending more time with girls, but always returned back to the pack. How was I supposed to know how strange this place was I lived? This was my life.

Time passes like a funny unseen murmur at times. I grew up, met my first real boyfriend who didn't live in a box in my closet. Each year, more guys, more friends, more buddies. Always one right by my side for as long as we would have each other. High School, then College, the Navy, always with guys. It was like summer camp never ended. I lived with them, cried with them, slept, showered, ate, worked, played, dressed, walked, breathed, lived and loved with them. Those were the arms that held me, they were the ones I held deep in the night when sleep took me away. Theirs were the faces, eyes,smiles strong hands and tangled legs that played the music of my life. The girls always stayed to the left. I entered the world of men and never looked back. I not only wanted their friendship and love, I demanded their respect. I was to be their leader. Something in me always called me to stand at the front. I don't think I ever learned to follow.

And now here I am, still me, still Daemon and the girls are still over there somewhere. The other, the unknown, the unseen. This doesn't strike me as normal as it did growing up. I mean, aren't I supposed to have friends who are girls? I mean, I'm gay. Even if I don't want one of my own, to have and to hold, aren't we supposed to be best friends and all that crap?

I think I got into that first line...way back in preschool and obeyed my teachers. I kept my eyes to the front. I did not look to the the left or right, stopped and started when told to, eyes on the back of his head...

And I never got out of that line.

Did you?

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