Sunday, March 30, 2008

KhushDC Fundraiser

Ron and I went to the KhushDC fundraiser last night. KhushDC is a South Asian group that fosters support for LGBTQ people in DC Metro's South Asian community. For its fundraiser, the group presented a night of entertainment, food, panel discussion, and dancing around the theme, "Dancing at the Intersections: Understanding Gender Variances in S. Asian LGBTQ Communities."

First off, the food was very good. It's difficult to pull off a really great buffet in a DC bar, but this group did it. We shared our dinner with a Sinhalese Sri Lankan. The South Asian community is very diverse covering many important cultures, languages, and religions.

The performers were Indian, Pakistani, and Tamil. Of course, I know what drag is, but this was something different. Two of the performers, Sudarshan Belsare and Bijli, did some knockout dances based on Pakistani, and Indian traditional dances. The other performer, D'Lo did a stand-up monologue of a Sri-Lankan mother talking about her gay son. It was disturbingly funny.

The panel touched on trans identity and its challenges in the South Asian cultures, but more than that were the deeply moving personal stories of moving from a traditional society's oppression to a personal liberation of self.

Three of the panelists had the vocabulary and philosophical underpinnings to place themselves in the context of a larger social movement. Two of the panelists did not use that lens, but instead, described their personal acts that moved them outside their traditions to a new place where they discovered their own personal freedom.

I liked the title of the evening. The panelists and performers are at the intersections of lots of communities, and maybe fit in none of them. I am not sure why gender is the panic button that it is for so many people. I don't feel threatened by a transgender person's conception of self, and respect for others demands that I honor others as who they truly are.

We all want respect. It's a tough cord to cut. That longing for respect can prevent us from living as we want to be. It can cripple out own notions of self. Somehow, we have to learn to marry our desire to be ourselves with a healthy notion of respect. If respect is never going to come from our families or our societies, we have to find that respect in other places: from families that we make and choose, and we have to build a society that values all of us regardless of our sex, our gender, our orientation.

So thanks KhushDC for the great food, the wonderful entertainment, and the thought-provoking discussion. We need to keep reminding ourselves who we are.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Plumber's Helper (a Dramatization)
Plumber's Helper
(a Dramatization)

I got my plumbing examined. The word, plumbing, derives from the Latin, plumbum or "lead" as in heavy metal, or "get the lead out." No dignity exists in a urologist's examination room.

The doctor was kind and gentle, but somehow with my pants down, my drawers dropped (yes, I did remember to wear my tighty-whities this time) and me holding my shirttails, I felt undignified as he sat before me and examined my penis and scrotum. I'm usually quite capable of sustaining conversations on almost nearly any subject, but I had an exceedingly difficult time at that moment telling the doctor about my penis's oral history. My plumbing had let me down.

Then he asked me to turn around, set my elbows on the table - well those men among you of a certain age know what happened next. He performed that exam in an efficient, experienced (and I might say, pleasurable) manner that bespoke of thousands of others who had rested their elbows in exactly the same place on that exam table. Maybe that's a (small) reward for wayward plumbing, and a visit to the urologist.

Ronald Haines

Bishop Ronald H. Haines died on Good Friday. I just read his obituary in the Washington Post. He was a good man who lived his convictions. He believed that the church was open to all. He confronted sexism and racism in the church. He supported the ministry of gay people. He paid a very personal price for his beliefs and his actions. His presence will be missed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Caught in the Act!

Ron in Flagrante Delicto
Ron in Flagrante Delicto
Photo credit: ButterKup

Here's a picture of Ron eating ice cream at Baskin and Robbins! He's eating high dairy fat ice cream. You saw it here first! I mean, I offered the guy Daiquiri Ice, but he said he was tired of it, and he wanted to walk on the wild side! Well, he certainly outdid himself, didn't he? Look at that sly smile, as he sneaks a taste in front of the stealth camera. America's going to be shocked, that's all I can say. Move over Barack; get out of the way Hillary. This is the real breaking news story, and it happened, right here in Wheaton. Way to go!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food So Good

Last night for dinner I was at Moby Dick, a small sushi restaurant in Wheaton. I was eating alone, contemplating life, and suddenly found myself thinking, "It's sinful how good this food tastes!" I was marveling at my Maryland crab roll. Maybe it was the moment, but it was, it was a awestruck moment for which I am grateful. I was caught up in the act of eating truly wonderful food. It was the crunchiness of the cucumbers against the backdrop of wasabi, perfectly cooked rice, and a slightly salty, sensuous crab filling finished off with sesame seeds. It was a perfect moment.

I love food, but it's rare that I get caught up in it so completely, and I'm very happy that I did. I was delighted.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Jerry came over for dinner on Sunday. He's the guy who organized the sailing trip in the Caribbean. I was on for cooking. Jerry pointed out that my kitchen is somewhat more accommodating than the galley on the sailboat. Dinner consisted of greens (with tomato and avocado), eggplant and portabello mushrooms with mozzarella cheese, braised brussel sprouts, roasted yams and white potatoes, and butterscotch pudding. The pudding was Jello cooked, but talk about evoking childhood memories! And it tastes so good.

We had a nice evening, talking about retirement plans, sailing friends, and the peculiar social and sexual habits of some gay men. Jerry's planning a cycling trip across the U.S. next year. It's far more ambitious than anything I would undertake, but he's in better shape than I am, too. I think he will see America as it is meant to be seen. I'm excited for him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More on Safer Sex

The only safe sex is complete abstinence. If you can't live with that, then you have to work with "safer sex." As a sexually active gay guy, I have my own notion of safer sex. I like the definition on one of Planned Parenthood's web sites:

Safer Sex is about getting maximum pleasure out of your sex life with minimum risk!
The article goes on to discuss some safer sex stories, and some safer sex guidelines. It's a good place to start.

So let's examine this definition a little more: The first part of the definition is, "getting maximum pleasure out of your sex life." You really have to know what kinds of sexual behaviors you want, or want to try out. What are your fantasies? What turns you on?

I believe that you don't have to give up what you want, although you may have to temper it with some prudence, which brings us to the second part of the definition: "with minimum risk." You need to know the risks associated with different sexual acts. You need to know your partners' sexual histories (as well as you own). You have to develop the communication skills to communicate with your partners.

Much information is available about risks associated with different sexual behaviors. Some behaviors, such as mutual masturbation, are much safer, say, than anal sex. That is, a range of risks can be associated with a range of behaviors. Using condoms and other barriers significantly and dramatically reduces risk of infections, if the barriers are used correctly. The important point, here, is to get educated about the risks associated with the different behaviors, and the risks that you are okay with.

You also need to know your own sexual history. What do you do in bed? How risky is your behavior? When was the last time you were tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and other STDs? What is your HIV and hepatitis B status? Have you been vaccinated for hepatitis A and B? How many sexual partners do you have? Do you know your partners?

Ask your partner about his history. When was he last tested? Does he know you? What kind of sex does he want with you (other than "hot"). What's his HIV and hepatitis B status? Do you trust him? Is he telling the truth?

So how do you have this conversation with your partner? The conversation can start in many ways. For example, if you have a profile on a sex site, you can include some of your sexual history in your profile, and you can look for profiles of potential partners that include similar sexual histories. Talk with your partner before you have sex! A phone call or an email is a good place to begin. It may be easier than face-to-face. Then again, before you take off your clothes, talk to him and ask him his expectations, review your sexual histories, and tell him what's acceptable to you, and what's not.

This safer sex conversation is a big deal, and it's probably the hardest part of safer sex. So how do you prepare for the conversation? Role play the conversation with yourself out loud with a friend, or in front of a mirror. Rehearse the talk, until you feel comfortable with it. Then use that talk with your sexual partners. Other than always using a condom or other barrier, this conversation is the single most important element in reducing your risk.

Finally, learn how to act on this conversation. If your partner wants to do things that you think are too risky, either say "No" or negotiate for a less risky behavior that matches your mutual desires.

If you and your partner want to play in ways that would ordinarily be considered risky (for example, bareback anal sex) you really have to evaluate your situation. Do you trust him to be telling you the truth about his sexual history? How long have you known him? How long has it been since you both were tested? Are you both disease free? Is this behavior worth the risk of contracting a life-threatening disease? Even in this situation, you have choices, just think through the choices before you take off your clothes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy's Safer Sex Thoughts

As chronicled on Doodle Today, I recently contracted a sexually transmitted infection, which was easily treated. The experience has made me think about my sexual habits, and I wanted to invite a more public discussion among gay men about what constitutes safer sex.

I advocate the following approach:

  • Decide what sexual behaviors you desire.
  • Acquaint yourself with the risks associated with those sexual behaviors. Educate yourself about risk.
  • Devise a behavioral strategy that lets you engage in the behavior you enjoy while mitigating the associated risk.
  • Communicate openly with your sexual partners about what you will and won't do.
  • Evaluate how well your behavioral strategy works.
  • Be vigilant.

Safer sex is not about elminating risk; it's about weighing risk, deciding what's an acceptable level of risk, and adapting behavior to mitigate unacceptable risk. To do this, you need information. A lot of information is out there about specific behaviors, but very little of it actually quantifies risk, which means that you have to use your own judgment, and you may make wrong choices.

I have a couple of goals in my safer sex practices: (1) I want to, as far as possible, prevent getting infected with HIV, and (2) I want to prevent getting infected with hepatitis. Many other diseases can also transmitted sexually, but these two are the big ones for me. Others to be aware of include herpes, HPV, gonorrhea, syphilus, chlamydia, and amoebiasis. These other infections can be severe but appear to me to be associated with less health risk than either HIV or hepatitis. (I may be wrong about this.)

I've created the table, below, that lists common gay male sexual behaviors, some associated risks, and some risk mitigation. This table is by no means complete, and contains information that may not be medically proven or sound. Some of this may be highly controversial, but the objective of this is to get a discussion started, and to get gay men thinking again about how to have enjoyable sex while reducing their risk of sexually transmitted disease.

Sexual Behavior Associated Risks Mitigation Behaviors
Kissing Herpes Avoid kissing others if you are having an oral herpes outbreak or cold sores. Don't kiss other guys who have cold sores. Ask your partner if he has had herpes or cold sores.
Deep Kissing Herpes, gonorrhea(?), chlamydia(?) Flossing or brushing your teeth immediately before deep kissing can cause small cuts or abrasions in the mouth that could be a route for infection. [SFAF, 2007] Avoid deep kissing if you are having a herpes outbreak or cold sores. Ask your partner if he has had herpes or cold sores. Gonorrhea and chlamydia can occur in the throat. However, I have not read that they can spread through deep kissing.You should ask your partner whether he has been tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
Mutual Masturbation Syphilus, herpes, gonorrhea(?) You increase risk of an infection if you stroke another guy who has sores, ulcers or discharges caused by STDs then stroke yourself [S-CDC, 2008]. If you have syphilis or herpes and sores are present on your penis, do not mutually masturbate with another guy. Look at your partner's penis. If he has sores on it, or any discharge that looks abnormal, do not touch his penis! You can pretty much eliminate the risk by using latex gloves [SFAF, 2007].
Oral Sex Syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis A and B, chlamydia Without ejaculation, the risk of HIV infection is very low [USCF, 2003]. In unprotected oral sex, with ejaculation, the risk for the receptive partner is about 1/7 or less than the risk of HIV infection for a receptive partner in unprotected anal sex [ucsf, 2003].You greatly minimize chance of infection by using a condom during oral sex. Having said that, I know few gay men who do. The guy who is sucking is at greater risk than the guy who is getting sucked. Deep throating ("face fucking") is riskier for both guys than vanilla oral sex [SAP, n.d.]. Other precautions include waiting at least 15 minutes after flossing or brushing teeth before engaging in oral sex. Look at the other guy's penis before you stick it in your mouth. If he has discharges, sores, or ulcers (e.g., gonorrhea or syphilis) other than pre-cum, beware. If it looks skanky, it probably is.
Anal Sex Syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, hepatitis A and B, chlamydia Having anal sex without a condom is a risky activity for all of the listed STDs. Being a bottom is much riskier for HIV infection than being a top in unprotected sex. The risk for a bottom is approximately a 3 percent chance of HIV infection. For a top, the risk is approximately .1 percent for HIV infection [AFOA/NAPWA, 2001]. This study also concluded about HIV transmission during anal sex that the higher a person's viral load the higher the chance of transmission; the higher the number of parters, the greater the risk; the longer and more vigorous activity, the greater the risk; pulling out before cumming is safer; having other untreated STDs increases the chance of transmission [AFOA/NAPWA, 2001]. Douching before anal sex may increase your risk of infection [SAP, n.d.]. You can greatly minimize your risk of infection by always using a condom.
Rimming Herpes, Gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, amoebiasis HIV is not transmitted through rimming. The big risk with rimming is hepatitis B. If you haven't been vaccinated, get it done now. Successful vaccination eliminates your risk of hepatitis B infection. If you are not vaccinated or cannot form hepatitis B antibodies, you can reduce your risk by giving up rimming, by using a barrier (plastic kitchen wrap works well), and/or having a conversation with your partner to determine whether he has been exposed to or had hepatis B or has been vaccinated. If the latter, and you trust that he is telling the truth, well stick your tongue where you will. The other really unpleasant and debilitating infection you can get from rimming is amoebiasis. It's extremely unpleasant, and the treatment is extremely unpleasant.
Fisting HIV, hepatitis A and B, gonorrhea, syphilis In fisting, the risk is spreading infection from the guy being fisted to the partner who is inserting his hand [SFAF, 2007]. The mode of infection is through any cuts or sores on the hand. You greatly reduce the risk of spreading infection if you use latex gloves.
S&M -- The risk of infection during an S&M encounter depends on the sexual behavior you have during the encounter (see above behaviors). If you are going to be shaving, piercing, or doing anything that can cause bleeding, you can minimize risk of infection by using gloves, and keeping blood off of any cuts or sores. If you play watersports, it may create a mess in your dungeon, but the good news is that it's overall a low-risk activity.
Toys Just about everything listed above The easiest way to reduce risk of shared infection with toys is not to share them. If you do share, always wash the toy with an antibacterial soap. You can also use condoms on the toys. It helps with the cleanup, too.

If you always use condoms (and gloves for fisting), you greatly reduce your risk of infection. If you limit the number of partners that you have, you reduce your risk of infection. You don't eliminate it, though. Be careful how you play. Be open and honest about your sexual history with other guys. Finally, when you talk to your doctor, or to an STD clinic counselor, ask them to clarify, and where possible to quantify risk associated with sexual behaviors so that you can make informed judgments about the risks, and decide how you will avoid or lower them. And, of course, you can just decide not to have sex at all, but that's not an option for most of us.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Big Love, Barack Obama, and Indigestion

We went out with Perry tonight for dinner at Bombay Restaurant in White Oak. The food here is really good, and tonight was no exception, although I'm teetering on the edge of indigestion. I did take a Priolosec OTC© before going there, and I hope it works. The last few times I've had Indian food, I've really paid for it with some searing gut pain. But it's worth it! We had the okra, aloo gobi, and spinach chicken tikka. During the act of eating, I really don't care whether I'm going to regret it later. I suppose if the food were awful, I'd avoid it, but I love this restaurant too much to give it up.

We discussed Senator Obama's speech. I'm thinking that this guy is Presidential. I had a long talk with my sister this afternoon about the speech, and about the rhetoric of the Liberation Theology of Black churches. It is no surprise to me why the words are what they are. I am ashamed of the white response, feeling victimized and pointing fingers - in fact blaming the victims of white oppression and hatred for being ungrateful, disloyal, hateful, and violent. The media has blown Dr. Wright's sermons way out of proportion, has not considered their context, and has shown inflammatory snippets. Whites don't understand Liberation Theology.

Then we lapsed into Big Love talk. I am amazed at how finely drawn the series is. It captures the eye and heart of the Mormon experience against which the back drop of the polygamist family is played. The series is becoming a guilty pleasure at our house. (Nikki is so evil....)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Much

Not much is happening around here today. I guess it goes with the weather, which is a little gray and cool outside. I couldn't get out of bed this morning until after 8 a.m., which is very late for me. I've been answering emails. Gee, this sounds an awful lot like work!

I went to Plus Class last night. Butch Adams called for us. He taught Relay the Deucy in a new and insightful way, and reviewed Coordinate in a better way than "No, no, yes" for those readers who know what I'm talking about. I enjoy angeling square dance classes, because I'm always learning something new that makes me a better dancer. Check out the DC Lambda Squares blog for Tim's and my take on square dance calls.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gone, and Perhaps Forgotten

Today, Eliot takes a permanent walk out of politics, at least, that's his story. The Washington Post had an interesting story in the Saturday Style section. Woman have a very different view than men about Mr. Spitzer's situation. Women seem to think, "How could he put his wife through this? What was he thinking? Where can I find a pair of scissors?" Men appear to be thinking, "Chump, why did you let yourself get caught? Most men don't go looking, but sometimes it just happens. He probably had a sex addiction."

This story took the nation by storm (well, at least the urban centers of New York City and Washington, DC), I think in part because many men feel ambivalent about Spitzer's behavior, and clearly, the women do not. Spitzer's public plight has become personal, and couples everywhere are having disquieting and uncomfortable conversations.

I think most men intend to be faithful and really want to be faithful, but a signficant percentage of men have very large brains in their penises that help them understand the temptations walking past them outside of their relationships. Women are spared that domestic and evolutionary disadvantage, and it shows in their somewhat uncharitable attitude toward Mr. Spitzer.

Outside the private conversation was the spectacular flameout of Mr. Spitzer's career. Two things fueled the fireworks: apparently Mr. Spitzer is regarded in some circles as a hypocrite. I question whether America is a Christian nation when viewing how quickly so many people picked up stones and heaved them mightily in his direction, and this the week before Holy Week! Regardless of our nation's religious inclinations, it is downright pharasaical when it comes to hypocrisy - no forgiveness here.

The other element of his public downfall was vindictive payback. He had made too many enemies in New York's political establishment and in both parties. He had no political capital, and not a chance of surviving the scandal. Politicians and powerful men don't like to be crossed, and they all have very long memories, which Mr. Spitzer discovered last week. No one came to his defense.

Mr. Spitzer did some very stupid things, like creating structured transactions to finance his dalliance. He appeared to believe he was above the regulations that he had a hand in creating. In short, if he was going to sin, he should have thought of a different means to achieve his objective. Maybe his biggest flaw was an appalling lack of judgment, not about sex, but about means.

One commentator mentioned that Spitzer had to go simply because he had opened himself up to blackmail in engaging a prostitute and had become a security risk. As I've said before, the sex is nobody else's business. Criminalizing prostitution only sets up men like Mr. Spitzer to take a fall, but it doesn't eliminate any of the social problems associated with prostitution. It only drives them underground. And it does make Mr. Spitzer a security risk. I really think it's time to make the sex lives of our public officials a private matter between them and their families. Leave the rest of us in the dark.

Cat Years


Mookie passed away last night. She was Perry's cat, rather Perry was her owner. She ruled his home with a firm but benevolent paw, and lived a very long and good life. My heart goes out to Perry, because I know that he was Mookie's devoted companion. Perry loved that cat, and Mookie in her reserved, queenly way, certainly loved Perry. They were a perfect couple for 15 years. Mookie, I won't hear your scamper on the stairs when I visit. And I won't experience you jumping on the table, and smelling my cup of coffee. I'll miss seeing you drink from the bathroom sink. Perry, I love you and Mookie. I know you miss her dearly. You're very much in our thoughts and heart.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Intimate Infections

Three times in my life I've had the delicate task of informing intimates that I had an infection, and they should be tested and treated, if necessary. I played through that drama again this week. As far as infections go, this one is easy to treat. But the whole thing makes me anxious.

Three separate but related issues confront me.

Firstly, I feel guilty. This is not a very specific guilt, just the sense that if I had not had sex with these guys everything would be okay. Mixed in with this feeling is some embarrassment, which is a little weird, because one of these guys may have, in fact, infected me. But in my role of bearer of bad news, I think some guys blame me for all of this, forgetting their own culpability.

Secondly, this is disruptive. It takes about two weeks for my friends to be tested and (if necessary) treated. Schedules have to be rearranged. It's an annoyance. I'll miss the boys and the sex.

Finally, this infection is mysterious. I practice "safer" sex with my partners, but obviously something failed. I have unprotected oral sex, and I'm fairly certain that was my undoing, but I'm not sure. Will I spend the rest of my life sucking a rubber ducky? I shuddered as I wrote that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Massage Table

Several years ago, Ron and I got a massage table, and I can count on one hand the number of times that I have used it. Today, for the first (or maybe second) time, I gave Ron a massage. I have no idea what I'm doing. I told Ron to tell me what to do as we were doing it. Maybe as I do more, I'll get better at it. He gave me some tips about how to do it.

He gave me a massage, too, and he really knows what to do. It was a deeply satisfying experience. He likes to give massage, and would like to learn more. I hope he does. Then I'd enjoy the massage table even more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot on CNN

Eliot Spitzer was all over CNN last night, rather his story was. The reporters were relishing it. Yes, Anderson Cooper, you were smirking a lot on camera last night.

Oh how the fall of the mighty is grist for the media. CNN at one point trotted out vignettes of Senator Larry Craig, President Bill Clinton, Governor Jim McGreevy, and Senator Gary Hart at their most embarrassing and memorable moments. Without calling Governor Spitzer a hypocrite, all of the bobble heads were calling Governer Spitzer a hypocrite. I understand that the Republican Senate leader in Albany is already crafting a scarlet letter for the governor.

The Guv was apparently caught up in a sting that included a wiretap on a high-priced business woman's phone. When Spitzer was a Federal Prosecutor he went after this kind of "corruption." What was this guy thinking? Duh! He didn't appear to be the target of the operation, but he's certainly getting the flack.

My take is that if the Governor can afford the (alleged) $4000/hour services, and the money came out of his pocket rather than the pocket of New York state taxpayers, hey, have at it! The private sexual shenanigans of politicians shouldn't be the public's business (unless, of course the politician is a hypocrite). And since when was sex worth $4000? Is this guy out of his mind? What's the qualitative difference between a $400 "date" (I wouldn't pay that much, either), and a $4000 date? There's only so much you can do in an hour. Inquiring minds want to know.

Hmmm... Birthday Cards?

Okay, I've waited long enough. It's a week after my birthday. My mother sent me a birthday card, and that was it! Yeah, if I have to tell you about this, you're probably on a shit list. Not that I'm keeping score or anything. I mean, my mom's card didn't even have a hot guy on it! What's going on here? Did I miss the interoffice memo? Are the boyz trying to tell me something? I guess I'll have to wait until next year to find out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

An Evening Out

For my birthday, Ron took me out to dinner at Merkado, then to the Studio Theatre production of All That I Will Ever Be. First the restaurant, then the play.

The chips and salsa are fabulous. And they will bring you seconds. One of the great items at Merkado is the Black Bean Soup. It is full of garlic and a wonderful bean soup taste. It's a real rib sticker. My fave on the menu is the Pork Quesadilla. This isn't your usual quesadilla. It's full of shredded pork and Mexican cheese rolled in a flaky flour tortilla, and served with green tomatillo salsa, and a red salsa. The presentation is a knockout. Ron's entree was Grilled Tilapia served with a Vera Cruz sauce and a tasty seasoned rice. (I ate some of his food, so I know it was tasty.) The Banana Taquito with Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream is a killer way to end the meal.

And the play. You may want to see the play (it runs through March 23) before you read this review. Or, you may want to read the review in the Washington Post, then go see the play. A sign in the theatre lobby reads:

"All That I Will Ever Be contains mature themes, explicit language, sexual situations, simulated violence, nudity and smoking of non-tobacco cigarettes."

Let me parse that for you. Mature themes include bisexuality, homosexuality, racism, prostitution, drug use, cell phone marketing, and psychotherapeutic navel gazing. Explicit languages means, "Fuck." Sexual situations include a rousing, bronc-busting, dirty-talking, ass-pounding sexual simulation between two men over a very modern living room chair. Kind of like something I would do if I weren't so concerned about what kind of condition it would leave the furniture. Simulated violence occurs twice: once when the two lead characters get into a fight with each other, and another time when an "outcall" goes sadly awry for the customer. Nudity occurs throughout the production, and certainly makes the ticket price less dear. The above-mentioned sexual situation, and the hot tub are the most memorable instances, but skin is displayed in other situations, too. Smoking of non-tobacco cigarettes may have occured onstage, but the "simulated"(?) pot smoking in two of the scenes took me back to my days at the University of Idaho. Lots of smoke gets generated onstage.

The production is entertaining and funny, but it lacks heart. I could never connect emotionally with the two main characters, one of whom is a pathological liar (Omar, played by Carlos Candelario), and the other who is a whiny, spoiled, druggy who can't get on with his life (Dwight, played by Parker Dixon). Both characters are finely played, but ultimately, I didn't care about either of them. I did like looking at them, though. And if Omar has to be a prostitute, I'd let him work my neighborhood.

Other strong performances include Cynthia (played by Leayne Freeman) who is one badass girl on her way to the top, regardless of the consequences. Phil (played by Steve Nixon) is a wonderfully disgusting sleazy producer. Finally, Chris Dinolfo gives strong emotional depth to his character, Eddie, when Eddie tries to pay off his Puerto Rican stallion in an evening gone wrong.

High cheesecake factor for gay men, great simulated sex and drug use, a final dramatic scene that has you talking about the play when you leave the theatre. Don't expect high drama, but do enjoy the show.

A Gay Breakfast

Gay Power Breakfast
Gay Power Breakfast

Okay, Ron and I went out to see a gay play last night (All That I Will Ever Be), so I was feeling gay this morning. Ron took care of part of that, but in the early morning glow, I needed much more.

So what is a gay breakfast? How about a cup of coffee, a slice of Chicken and Pork Terrine with Pistachios, some smoked havarti, a couple of cornichons, a few olives, half an artichoke heart, a couple of thin slices of pepperoni, melba toast rounds, and a three-minute poached egg with Tabasco? Arrange on a pretty plate. Savor over this week's Genre, and you have a gay power breakfast.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Review Time

Lots of stuff to review here: an (old) HBO series, a couple of movies, and a restaurant! I'll take them one at a time.

Okay, I've only seen the first two episodes of Big Love, but I'm already hooked. The characters are, perhaps, a wee bit overdrawn, but that makes for a good soap opera. I'm amazed at the research that went into this series. It uses the authentic language and customs of the LDS Church, and of the LDS Fundamentalists. I'll let you know what I think when I have a few more episodes under my belt.

Next up is the movie, The Namesake. This movie took me back to my boyhood when my parents befriended many an Indian college student at the University of Idaho. The film is beautifully done. The three big performances are Tabu as Ashima, the mother; Irrfan Khan as Ashoke, the father; and Kal Penn as Gogol, the son. Their story is about the immigrant experience, the American Dream, and a search for authenticity in New Jersey. Mira Nair directed this film. This is a wonderful drama. You just have to love those Bengalis!

The other recent movie we've seen (Netflix has revolutionized our life in the bedroom) is The Illusionist. I groaned when Ron said this film was on our list. I had seen a preview, and thought, "No way." I was wrong. I was completely taken in by the performances of Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel. If you like mystery, madness, and majesty, this may be your cup of tea.

Finally, on to restaurants. The boys and I went out to Old Europe in Georgetown last night to celebrate my birthday. The food was excellent, but the service was very slow. Let me tell you, a bratwurst in your belly takes care of a lot of things. The beer is chilled, so don't expect the continental tradition of simply cold beer. I'll go back, but not for my next birthday.

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Martini Man
Martini Man
Credit: Tim Walton, ©2008, All Rights Reserved

Well, another birthday dinner under my belt. We had a good time at Old Europe, but I'm thinking we'll go somewhere else next year. The waiters were cute, but the service was very slow. It may have been the crowd, the main restaurant had a big crowd, and there were a bunch of Marines in dress uniform with their women in the party room. The slow service did not dim my party mood in the least; I was just getting very hungry.

Perry, Ron, and I drove downtown. We were discussing the Prius navigation system on the way. The system uses a call center in Bangalore. The car sends an invisible signal through the air to a geosynchronous satellite that communicates with the call center. We believe (though have not confirmed) that the car has a camera and a microphone inside the passenger compartment so that the young woman (with an irritating voice) who is directing us can see and hear us as we puzzle over the details of the route. We have some paranormal evidence that all of the employees in the call center compare notes on their respective passengers, generally ridiculing us for our faux fashion statements, and occasionally they misdirect us down one-way streets just for grins. The navigation system rocks! Really.

We found a nifty parking place and made it to the restaurant. Tim and Brian showed up forty minutes later. Brian claims responsibility for the tardiness, but I never heard the back story. Ron, Perry, and I put the time to good use by eating potato pancakes and herring salad.

Ron found something on the menu that he could eat. He was pleased about that. I forgot to ask him how it was. I had the bratwurst and sauerkraut. Ummmm, savory and sour. This restaurant really does know how to fix the old favorites. A little mustard, a little bratwurst, a little sauerkraut, and I probably do need to make an appointment with a cardiologist.

Of course, the nicest part of the evening (and why I forgive the slow service) was the fine company I was keeping. We had a great time talking and enjoying a birthday dinner. I don't think you could find four finer friends than the ones I had around the table. I love them all dearly. So you add the friends, a mixed drink, a beer, and a dessert to the appetizers and the bratwurst, well, you have a surefire recipe for indigestion this morning. That's okay. It goes with the territory, and I should probably see a gastroenterologist as well.

The other boys observed an elderly couple seated directly behind me who appeared to be experiencing some obvious indigestion with our celebration. Perhaps Ron said the word, "lesbian," too loud. Maybe they had never seen five gay men eating dinner together, and enjoying it so much. I am fairly certain that we were not being too loud or making spectacles of ourselves, but I could be mistaken. I hope the problem was the couple's food, and not our company.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


This is going to be a very busy day. I've been up since 6:30 this morning, just getting going. I had to make some updates on the square dance web site pages, I took care of some email with assorted friends, and I'm gettng ready to go to a square dance workshop with Tim. Well, it keeps me busy, and reasonably out of trouble. This evening, the boys are taking me out to dinner at Old Europe for my birthday, and I know I'm going to enjoy that. Heavy German food - ummm!

My brother, Steve, sent me a touching, humor-filled email. I'm truly grateful that I was able to visit Steve and Lesley, and I'll be returning soon. I'm also happy to be back home in Wheaton, with my friends and my routine. I haven't made it back to the gym, yet, but maybe I can work it into today's schedule. Well, here's hoping.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Heading Back Home

Pensive Happy
Happy in his hotel room,
being a little pensive

Here I am in my hotel room, writing this blog entry. I'm all packed, ready to check out and hit the road. I'm heading over to Steve and Lesley's. We're going out to breakfast, then we'll visit some more. I'm flying out of Denver in the late afternoon, and will be back in Wheaton by 11:15 p.m. or so.

In a way, this has been kind of a strange visit. I had no idea what to expect. It's been said that disease doesn't make bad people good. I'm very happy to report that disease doesn't make good people bad, either. Steve's condition is simply a fact of their lives. It certainly gets in their way, but they're managing. They are both faithful in the reality of Steve's recovery, and faithful, too in getting him the best possible medical care.

I worry about them because I love them. Standing on the sidelines, I feel, at times, anxious and helpless. But none of us can let those feelings get in our way of focusing our thoughts and prayers on Steve and Lesley. A thought, a prayer, an email, a phone call are all simple, effective remedies that keep us all connected in this situation.

Lesley, thank you for welcoming me as a guest in your home. I appreciate your kindness. Steve, I love you, man, I really love you! For the both of you, I'm hanging in there for the long term. I offer you my love, always.

Medical Center

Steve and Sundance
Steve and Sundance

Today, Steve and I went to the hospital for him to get some tests and some medicines. We took the Hummer, because we could. This is a hospital at the University of Colorado. It must be a great hospital because it has valet parking. I think this is really cool. I've never been to a hospital with valet parking.

Hospitals are long waits punctuated with pain, very old magazines, and lots of signs vying for patients' attention. The air is sporadically filled with announcements paging doctors. People sit in the waiting room looking (and feeling) uneasy, waiting for their moment with the doctor. No loud chatter or laughter invades this space.

After Steve had been gone a while, he came back with a nurse or doctor who gave both of us some paperwork so that we could enroll in a family genetic study. Every page of the forms must be initialed, and one of the warnings stated that if the study caused any injury or disease, that the participant was responsible for any expenses. I signed up for the study, anyway.

Steve is on a different journey than I, and he's facing a lot of difficult issues. I was content and happy to spend a few hours with him at the hospital. He and his wife believe in the miraculous healing experience of a life with God through Jesus Christ. I'm praying for Steve's complete recovery.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Economy Car: Hummer!

I checked my name on the "Blue Chip" list at the Thrifty Car Rentals (Denver Airport), and it directed me to stall T21. There sat my "economy" car, a Hummer, for tooling around Boulder, Colorado....

Happy and His Hummer
Happy and his Hummer

One observation, this H3 baby drinks gasoline. It is kind of fun to drive, though. And I figure with all the miles we're putting on the Prius, maybe a Hummer rental isn't so bad, after all. Well, the rental is economy, even if the gas consumption isn't. I personally apologize to Boulder for my outsize carbon footprint for March 4, 5, and 6.

Monday, March 3, 2008

For the last several months, I've had a profile on It's a great site to see who's still circulating from high school and college, but it is a really irritating site to use, because it prohibits putting URLs and email addresses in your profile. I understand why the site prohibits it. I suppose I would, if I were running the site. It prevents x-site scripting attacks and other hazards, but it also prevents people from communicating effectively with one another, because the site doesn't notify users of profile and email activity. I have to go back to the site several times a week to see if anyone has left a message for me.

The upside is that I am starting to reconnect with a few of my classmates. This is important to me, because I've lost touch with nearly everyone with whom I went to high school and college. I'm far removed in time and place from Moscow, Idaho, and I'd like to be more in touch. I like because it fosters that connection.

My profile gets a fair number of hits, and a number of people have signed my guestbook or sent me a note. Although most people on the site do not provide much information about themselves, I've found that people respond to my photos and my story. I think it all comes back to, "If you don't advertise, you don't get the business."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Working Out

I drag my sorry ass to the gym three or four times a week. Today was one of those days. No, I don't lift 358 lbs or anything like that. I use the cross-trainer for 35 minutes, then stretch for another 15 minutes or so. Then I come home.

Going to the gym is not my favorite activity, not even close, but I go there to burn calories. The more I burn, the more I can eat, at least that's the bargain I've made with myself. In that half hour on the cross trainer, I can burn more than 500 calories, which is slightly less than one Big Mac®. I'm not necessarily doing this so that I can eat Big Macs, but that particular sandwich is very easy to visualize as I pedal away.

During the stretching afterwards, I go to a room that's used for classes. It doesn't have any equipment, and usually other people are stretching or doing other kinds of workouts, there. Today, a woman who is carrying perhaps an extra 30 (or 40) lbs was doing some rather vigorous belly dancing. I had a very difficult time not watching her simply out of fascinated horror. On the other hand, she's dancing her way to a smaller self. I could not bring myself to dance in front of a mirror that extends from floor to ceiling for the length of the whole wall. I do lack chutzpah from time to time, regardless of what my friends think.

Also present in the room were two very cute Hispanic or Asian guys. What caught my eye (other than the cuteness factor) is that they were sharing the same mat. The mats are not large, and these guys had placed the mat sideways, and were doing crunches or stretching, whatever, and you could not have slipped a butter knife between them. Nobody wanted to share my mat with me.

The stretching area is also interesting because it's full of ritual. That is, people are exercising to their own inner personal trainer. Some people look exotic, some look exhausted, and some look like exorcists. They're often zoned out, and not at all self-conscious about what they look like or what they are doing. This is the zen room at the gym.

Of course, it all ends up in the locker room. I'm wearing a jockstrap again, not for any support, I just like the feel of it; consider it Happy's little secret fetish. Some guys are very careful not to show anyone else anything while undressing or dressing. Others strut boldly (and perhaps shouldn't) birthday-suited throughout the environs. I try to strike a middle position. I quickly undress, then wrap myself in my towel to go for a shower. The ones I haven't figured out yet are the guys who take showers with their clothes on. Many guys will wear their shorts to the showers to undress, but I've actually seen more than one guy soaping himself underneath his waistband, or even soaping the short, itself. I'm amazed.

Potluck Redux

The morning after, the house is clean. Not one speck of potluck is found anywhere throughout the premises, except the utility room with four garbage bags, no leftover food either, yesirree bob!

Of the twenty-six guys who RSVPed, thirty-two showed up, and not all of the RSVPers were able to attend. This is either a math problem or a physics problem.

I'm one of these people who can't stand the after-party mess, so I was busy in the kitchen at the end, wrapping up guests' leftovers, and escorting men and leftovers to the front door. The affair ended officially at 10 p.m., and I believe most of the men were gone by 10:10.

Several new people showed up. I hope we see them again. I had a couple of interesting conversations, both with men with shaven heads. I'm thinking trend, here. I talked to one of the guests who shares some of my concerns about who shows up at these events. He said, "Oh, the old-timers just go into the front room and sit down for the rest of the evening." That is true. They don't move, except to hit the chow line, and if you should sit in one of their places while they are at the chow line, you'll be told about it, nicely, of course.

Perry was sorely missed by at least two of the attendees, who inquired specifically about him. A neighbor and boyfriend showed up, and said we should get together more often. One of the gentlemen was talking about his girlfriend (beard?) at some length. I warned Charlie about men from Baltimore.

I'm thinking on a ten-point scale, this potluck was probably an eight, which is pretty damn good.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gay Male Potlucks

Today, we are getting ready for a potluck at our house. This is not just any potluck, this is MCGMC (pronounced "mug·muck"), or Montgomery County Gay Men's Community. It started out about twenty years ago, and the average age has increased nineteen and half years over that time. Every potluck dinner is better than the next. I'm not being pathetic, only brutally honest.

We don't go very often, maybe twice a year; we come back to see if it's any better. Some potlucks are delightful surprises, and others are bitter disappointments, but that's what the Wheel of Fortune is all about.

I have these observations about gay social groups: they are rarely heterogenous, and the old drive out the young. There's an awful lot of sophomoric sexual humor that causes my eyes to go into a permanent roll. On the other hand, I plead guilty of the same kind of banter. Some of these guys need to go to Happy's Lame Recipes and really work on improving their culinary skills.

On the other hand, Tim, Brian, Ken, and some others show up whom we genuinely enjoy. At least twice a year, I need to get off my elitist, horrified, high horse, line up around the trough, and dig in.