Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.
— Revelation 17:3
Roses are red. Violets are blue. I’m schizophrenic. And so am I.
A Short Story
“Stop makin’ such big eyes at the gee-gaws and bric-a-brac, child! You know that if Paw-Paw sees you wantin’ somethin’ bad, you won’t git it! You got to stop wantin’ stuff, Davy.” The woman touched the young girl’s hair.
“Is that how God is, Auntie-Ma? Like Paw-Paw?”
“It seems like it at times, girl. It sure do seem like it.”
The clerk smiled. He reached into the glass display case and picked up a small porcelain dog to hand to the girl.
“What do you tell the man, Davy?”
“No thank you, sir.”
“That’s right. Now let’s go home and make Paw-Paw some supper.”
The Woman In the Red Dress
At one time I actually thought that the reason I was gay was that I had not worked hard enough at heterosexuality. I had gone to a noted Christian counselor who had actually written books on the subject of overcoming your homosexuality. He said, “David, I give you permission to read Playboy magazines.” I assume that he did not mean, “read.” He was giving me permission to look at pictures of nude women in order to assist my brain in retraining itself. I had been underexposed to the allure of the female form.
Bolstered by his permission, I entered a local B. Dalton’s and furtively glanced at a Playboy magazine. Nothing. I flipped pages faster thinking that I had not yet found the pictures of the really attractive breasts. Then toward the end of the magazine there was a picture of a nude male butt. There was no effort in responding to that picture only longing and response.
The counselor also said I should be more aggressive in pursuing social relationships with women. Being a pastor of a small Nazarene church in a rural town of no more than 300 residents left little opportunity to pursue women. But convinced that I could work harder at my heterosexuality I did something that shocked even me! I responded to a Personals Ad in Willamette Week, a local newspaper that specialized in such things.
I don’t recall the exact wording of the ad, but the woman was in her late 30s and seemed intelligent and articulate. There were no red flags, except that I assumed she had breasts.
My gifts as a writer came in handy as I responded to Miss X. I was warm, witty, and winning or was it candid, charming and down to earth? Whatever the alliterative combination, it worked. She called. Her voice was very appealing and did not suggest large breasts.
It was summertime and we agreed to meet in the lobby of hotel near the restaurant I suggested. She would be wearing a red dress and I would be short, bearded and wearing a green sweater. It was July, but together we would look like Christmas!
One of my odd quirks is that I am 20 minutes early everywhere I go. Even to doctors who will keep me waiting 45 minutes past my appointment time, I am 20 minutes early. I sat in the lobby of the hotel for one hour prior to the agreed upon time. I nervously looked at every woman who came through the lobby door. Heterosexuality sure was making me sweaty!
Eventually, Miss Willamette Week entered wearing her red dress. She was stunning. I rose to greet her; “You must be …” Her face froze and then fell. I seen that response a few times since in men that I would meet for coffee off the internet. But she recovered nicely, “And you must be David.” I must be. At this point I have to be!
I had told Miss Red Dress that I was a short man with a beard. I had not gone into great detail as to how short that was in feet and inches. And she had not thought to tell me that she was five feet eleven inches.
The hotel lobby was at one end of the river boardwalk and the restaurant was at the entire other end. As we walked together it dawned on me that in my warmth, wit and charm I had also forgotten or neglected to tell her that I walk with a slight limp. But how the hell does one work that into the response to a personal ad without sounding like Quasimodo? “Enjoys board games, quite nights by the fire, is well read, and walks with a slight limp.”
I will have to give her credit for not canceling the date on the spot. Instead she tried to engage me in conversation as we walked. “What do you do for a living, David?”
“I’m a pastor of a small country church.”
I thought I audibly heard her groan. Now my slight limp was seeming like a plus compared to the prospect of her becoming a pastor’s wife. “How nice.”
“I’m a nursing student.” I resisted in replying, “How nice.”
We reached the restaurant and were seated promptly. Menus are a wonderful buffer on dates … easy to hide behind and they can provide topics of conversation. The waiter took our food orders and our menus. I wish he hadn’t done that. I wanted mine back because now there was nothing but awkward silence at the table. I had to resist saying things like, “I noticed you have small breasts. Your voice sounded like you had small breasts.” And she had to resist saying things like, “I noticed you walked with a slight limp. I hadn’t pick up on that in our phone conversation.” Instead we drug out all the stand-bys: number of siblings, geographical history, and even the weather. What was taking the food so long, dammit!
Our food mercifully arrived and provided another seven minutes of conversation. At the end of those seven minutes I decided that heterosexuality was entirely too much work and decided upon a way to bring this date to an end and entertain myself in the process.
“Do you like to read?” I innocently asked her. “With my studies I don’t have a lot of extra time for reading. What about you? Do you like to read?”
My plan had worked beautifully. “Yes. I love to read. True crime is one of my favorite topics. I’m fascinated with serial killers. I think I’ve read every book there is about serial killers. Have you read, “The Stranger Beside Me? It’s the story of Ted Bundy?” She literally dropped her fork mid-bite. Her eyes looked like those of a deer frozen in headlights. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“It’s getting late and I had forgotten that I have a mid-term coming up.”
“Can I walk you to your car?”
“NO! … uh, I mean, no, that won’t be necessary. Thank you for a lovely dinner.” And she was gone.
On that summer day I went out onto the lawn and listened to live jazz and ogled men in running shorts with no shirts.
Who was I kidding? A smile crept across my face as a handsome jogger with firm buttocks strode into the sunset to the strains of Duke Ellington. Just who did I think I was kidding?
Here’s what I want:
… a man to say, “I love you.”
… five dates in a row.
… a man to make me soup when I’m sick.
… did I mention flowers?
Happy Valentine’s Day!