Saturday, September 23, 2006

Life's Strange and Winding Paths

Having read Philosophical Detective's tale of the unusual twist in an old friend's life-path, I'm reminded of a somewhat similar if maybe slightly more common situation in my own experience.

I have a friend (since we were ten) who, after several years married and two kids, came out several years ago. I learned this from another childhood friend, after I went to my 35th anniversary high school reunion in North Dakota. He told me that Chuck (NHRN) had been in town that weekend, but hadn't taken part in the reunion festivities.

Since Chuck was living in Winnipeg, and I had flown in from the Stalag, I was a mite miffed that he hadn't made his presence known. I'd, of course, spent time with several of my other high school friends, rehashing old times and bringing each other up to date, telling lies and promising to keep in touch, but Chuck was one of those I really would like to have seen.

I had visited Chuck once during my biker years, back in the '70's. I rode up to Grand Forks on a vacation and visited a couple of friends. I got Chuck's phone number and gave him a call. After getting his address, I rode on up to Winnipeg.

The dopey Canadian border people made me leave my pistol with them at the checkpoint, but I was able to retrieve it on my way back. I don't know what Canadians have against self defense, but I swear they have a sheepish quiver in their voices and that they grow their own personal wool against the winter cold.

Chuck had a moral objection to the draft, and moved up to Canada right out of high school--and stayed there. I had the same objection, but solved it by joining the Navy. Being anti-authoritarian in the extreme, I had a rugged time with military discipline, but had a good experience with my time in service all the same. One hitch, though, and both I and the Navy had had quite enough of each other.

Back to my tale, I had a nice visit with Chuck and his family in Winnipeg. I got the impression of a very staid, conservative family man, whereas I was anything but that. I might've seemed like a bit of a wild man, riding up on a clattering motorcycle packed to the gunwales with camping gear, souvenirs and not-too-clean clothing.

Since then, according to my other classmate, he got divorced, and came out--all while being a very successful executive in a medical profession. I don't know what happened to his family.

He doesn't seem to want to communicate with me now. I'm guessing he might think I won't accept his orientation. Well, it does seem strange, but this is Stalag California, home of the fruits and nuts, and one can't live here too long without making acquaintance with the odd gay man. I've come to terms with that circumstance many years ago.

It'd be nice to be in touch with Chuck, but I guess it's not to be.

We had a lot of good times, back in the days of twenty-five cent-a-gallon gas and nickel candy bars.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

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