Getting â€œtaggedâ€ to respond to Rodger Dodgerâ€™s question: Tell 10 Things About Yourself others do not know, or would find interesting. I had to look up Meme to make sure I could apply this loosely since my original plan in keeping a record of our lives here was simply an improvement on e-mailing a periodical news note to family and friends. This Web page has evolved so maybe I’ll venture out and mention what a few life changing markers were for me if nothing more than the fun of remembering.
BUT. Iâ€™ll use this definition of Meme (there were several) to write: Meme, today, is sometimes applied ironically to ideas deemed to be of passing value. Reference:
Things About Mark Others may not know, or would find interesting. Or, more loosely, some things that were markers in my life.
In the first grade, I quickly realized our familyâ€™s income level was less than some others. I wasn’t even given the $.15 for a hot lunch and those werenâ€™t corporate mass-cooked trucked-in big plastic bag meals. It was actually pretty good stuffâ€¦â€¦quite often those 15 cent meals. I was never given anything extra beyond that occasional $.15. My first spending money was earned on the paper route a few years later. And THAT Newspaper route is another story. So, within a few weeks, if I dared walk downtown with a friend or two, I always felt a little less than they watching them actually BUY candy bars, etc. So. ONE time, I decided I, too, wanted to feel rich like the kids with the $.05 cent big Baby Ruth candy bars, so I needed to have something of my own. I had eyed a $.15 plastic two piece train for a while, so this time I grabbed it, put it under my shirt and we all left. I was wracked with fear on the way back to school that somehow “they” would be following me and know I was carrying stolen goods. Of course I couldnâ€™t tell anyone I had this train, so the need I had to feel equal by getting something from the store was completely defeated and the fear/guilt was heavy. I got back to the grade school, hid the train in the bathroom, and returned to class. I was SO wracked with guilt, I made myself quite sick and asked to be excused to go home. I got home, went to bed and sat straight up realizing Iâ€™d left the stolen goods at the school! I somehow talked Mom into driving me over there and as dumb as I can be, slinked out of the car toward the school (the outside big windows in OUR class faced the side of the car I got out from), walked all hunched over, snuck into the bathroom, got the train, slinked back out, and went home with Mom somehow not knowing what was wrong. I learned then, at age 6, a weakling like me could NEVER be a THIEF. Iâ€™ve never forgotten it so the $.15 lesson was worth it.
**above are Art, Dale, Mark, the three youngest boys.
Hotshot Darrel Grigg lived around the corner from us one way while Roger Davenport lived around the corner the opposite direction. They were BEST friends and we were almost neighbors, we began second grade walking home from school quite often together where Roger and I began to get along real well. I thought I was making a friend, a sort of new experience for meâ€¦. Then, without warning one day, in the vacant field, on our trail home, Roger and I were belly-laughing about something funny (I had NO idea what it was even the second after this happened) when Darrel began beating me down onto the ground yelling, â€œHeâ€™s MY friend, go get your own!â€. Oddly enough, my older brother was walking behind us with his friends about 20 feet. He stood up to Darrel, warning him heâ€™d better never again lay his hands on me. He didnâ€™t but I often wondered if thatâ€™s what made it a long time for me to think I was unworthy of a best friendâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦
My folks had 5 kids, 1 daughter and 4 younger boys. Mom talked Dad into getting a piano hoping her daughter would become â€œsomethingâ€ other than Miss Vale Rodeo (or the equivalent). Fran gave up on the piano about puberty time, or about the same time she was sneaking out her bedroom window to see Mr. Cool, Johnny Schaffield, a catholic boy she, as a Mormon child was forbidden to date. The NEXT son, Norm, took about 2 lessons and thought this too pansy-ass a venture to risk his macho image at Vale Union High. Son #3, Art, began and kept at it a year or two, but quit because his talent was blooming in the band as the lead trumpet player. Son #4, Dale, took a few piano lessons, but followed his idol, big bro Art into the trumpet section of the band. I DO believe, my Dad, by then was frustrated heâ€™d bought a piano and things seemed that this would end up a waste of his money. He started me on the piano, and I was NOT allowed to think of quitting until I was on my own when in college. More completely though, it ended up that I WAS the son with the music talent, and by a miracle was lucky enough to become a student of Marilee Scheer, a young Mom in her own right. Mrs. Scheer inspired me to now end and by the age of 12, I was not just the local Mormon â€œwardâ€ organist, but also the district Mormon â€œStake Organistâ€ and playing for several of the towns weddings in every church in town except the fundamentalist Nazarenes and Assembly of God. To THIS day, Marilee Scheer remains a good friend and has taught me more about self respect, esteem, than probably anyone. THAT PIANO ability in that FOOTBALL Town of 1,200 farmers was all that saved a weakling like me from harrassment by the jocks. That was my ticket outta town, no doubt!
The most memorable evening in my baby piano years, however, was when I was only 11. For some reason, 16-year old brother Art and friends were trying to start up a little dance band but had no piano player. My folks somehow let me, the classical-music-only little brother go out to Phil Layâ€™s house ONE night and play with these grown up High School Guys. That was the first time in my life I got to â€œjamâ€ with some guys and we all had a BLAST. I have NEVER forgotten that one evening, and to this day, when I rarely but sometimes play, want to improvise, jam, accompany or play with others. There was ONE other big lesson learned that night. Poor Philâ€™s Mom had died, his Dad a serious alcoholic so wasnâ€™t even home. Iâ€™d never been in a home that wasnâ€™t an established sacrosanct Mormon family home. This was an empty, worn tiny place with bare furnishings, a wooden box with a lamp on it. I somehow â€œunderstoodâ€ how Phil had ended up being so tough. Iâ€™ve wondered what ever happened to him? It made me understand that a stable family life might just be an advantage.
By the end of eighth grade, I was gaining a little confidenceâ€¦.just a littleâ€¦..because of the piano, but of course completely intimidated that I wasnâ€™t â€œcoolâ€ like the jocks. I had NO comprehension of the layers of psyche working on that idea then. But with the uncool kids, I did okay. When our age group entered High School that next fall, I was completely embarrassed and angry that homely and plump Carol Markle (yep, a crush on me) nominated me for class president. I had to stand out in the hall with two jocks Billy Ingram (town copâ€™s macho kid, and Pat Shunn (a different kind of arrogant jerk) while the class voted. We exchanged a word or two, er, more like my semi-apologizing that I was even out there with them, and sorry, for my intrusion. We stepped back in and WHAT? I HAD won! I was aghast and completely unprepared for any recognition or applause. I had no time or social skills to function in that job and spent a year in my â€œunworthyâ€ position, however, it DID teach me that I had more ability than I thought. That year gave me enough social skills to progress in respect and admiration from others so that by the end of my junior year, the coolest Athlete in the town asked me to be his campaign manager for Studentbody President and we won the job for him! My belief in self really had grown
In my Junior Year, we uncool, mostly Mormon, Unathletic kids rebelled against the jocks, the power kids. So, a motley group of about 6-8 mostly Mormon kids formed, the â€œPig Clubâ€ (yes, this seems so insane now) for any unpopular kid in school. Of course when it began we were initiates were the only ones who knew about it. Our intention was to have a “fabulous” party a month that popular kids were not invited to—NO POPULAR KIDS ALLOWED. Within three months, lots of kids were wanting to join because we were having a GREAT time at these things. We were learning something about life: TO do what WE were doing was no different than any other “clique” and how its formed. We were discriminating in our “select” “committee” group WHO could and WHO could NOT be allowed in. How long did you think THAT could last in a town were No ONE was unknown either in rank, position, religion, appetites, weaknesses, etc etc etc. By the fourth month, a few of the jocks were pissed off that they werenâ€™t allowed or invited and complained to parents. We were forced to disband the Pigs Club by our parents who’d been advised of the problem by the jocks parents who’d not been allowed to go to the Pig Party. Whew!
Of COURSE I went on a Mormon Mission. I was the youngest of 5 Mormon kids in a tiny town where even passing wind when you might be alone in the dark could easily pop up in next weeks town newspaper. So one did not rock the boat. If you’re expected to go on a mission, you go. One problem about going though was that I did NOT have and NEVER had that â€œtestimonyâ€ that almost all Mormons proudly proclaim in their monthly “Testimony” Meetings” â€œI KNOW the Mormon Church is True and Joseph Smith was a Prophet of Godâ€. I reasoned that not shaming my parents wasnâ€™t the only reason I should go. I just may gain that testimony if I went. So off I went, assigned to Kentucky/Tennessee for two years. That testimony never came but about haflway through the two years, I began to realize that my sexuality was confused, and that the attraction that Iâ€™d been taught would certainly ruin my perfect Mormon standing was not going away. So I needed to get home and get the â€œcureâ€ that I was sure a psychiatrist would have. But I didnâ€™t get to go home yet. One week before I was to be released, we were in a fatal car crash. The friend in the back killed, the driver unhurt, and I with a smashed femur & ribs, and not expected to live. I woke up in a Louisville, KY hospital where I spent the next six months and another six months at my folks recuperating and learning to walk. Yes, by the time I went back to BYU, I needed somebody to bring me out. But that year off also changed me completely.
In MY experience, itâ€™s not the out normal gay folk who are predatory at all. But MOST often, Closeted Married Men ARE predatory. They have affairs with other married men, or anonymous partners in bookstores, and other unsavory places. They take risks and are most likely NOWADAYS to be the ones passing on a disease not just to the partner, but their WIVES. THESE closeted married men ARE often religious (i.e. Ted Haggard) and become the very stereotype they complain about from their pulpits. Hence, they remain in their shackled closeted lives out of shame, denial, etc. Then, when their lives fall apart, they bring extreme pain to entire families. As an Ex-Mormon, I met some of these men, and NEVER gained compassion for them. It has only BEEN these closeted types whoâ€™ve tried to seduce me without my consent. The best example on my mission. Even on a mission this Mormon Intellectual Professor at Vanderbilt OFTEN tried to get me away from my missionary partner, always touching, always winkingâ€¦â€¦â€¦.. I hated it. Maybe I hated it because I myself wasnâ€™t out yet? Doesnâ€™t matter, I was on a mission so I could NOT have participated in that so WHY was he, as a Priesthood leader trying to do something that obviously was going to satisfy HIS underbelly seedy nature.
The guy who DID bring me out however, WAS in my mission field and we met when we went up to Salt Lake City from BYU together to go through the Mormon temple with some converts from KY. So after a day in the secret temple rites wearing the secret Temple Clothes, these fine converts put us up in a hotel room where the coming out happened. More surprising than finally realizing how everything played together and how I fit into the lifeâ€™s puzzle, was HIS story about being the TOP baptizer (he and his missionary partner at the time) for six months (and I KNEW that part of the story already). What he told me that was new was: they were having sex EVERY night for that six months and had discussed becoming lovers after their missions. That was cut short though because his buddy was killed in Vietnam. This drove Bill back into the closet where I believe he remaines to this day……married!! So what does THAT say working in some love to your daily ritual? It drew believers into the Church. Seems to help even in religion, eh?
My devoted Mormon Mother showed how powerful a Motherâ€™s Love can be as she approached her final two years of life. After struggling in her prayers, church, and research for some twenty years after finding out my “secret”, she confided in me that she thought the all-powerful Mormon Church was dead Wrong in their approach to Homosexuality. She believed now that homosexuality was simply one of Godâ€™s mysteries that we, as humans, are to learn to accept and love those who are that way. I realized then she loved me unconditionally. She learned to love my partner Rodger that same way from the day she met him in 1989 when, after knowing me for two months, went with me to Vale, Oregon to help them move off their 16 acre place where theyâ€™d spent their retirement to go to a home in Ontario because Dad had just been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Rodger learned a lot about an old Mormon family that weekend, and STILL stayed with me.
I will never forget having my first cocktail at 23. I had been raised strict Mormon, and remember this quote from one of the apostles in my day: â€œOnce the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done.â€ Well. Thatâ€™s what fundamentalism is all about. The devotees become like sheep and truly will NOT hear or listen to counterpoint considerations since they believe they have ALL truth. Anything that conflicts with that is a lie at the least and actually something â€œevilâ€ at the worst. So it was one of the most powerful feelings Iâ€™ve EVER known to this day (including trying marijuana or LSD back in those salad days) that in the middle of the 2nd black Russian, was the first time in my life I REALIZED that my mind would work independently of what it was SUPPOSED to think. WHEW! That would be the most powerful night of liberation Iâ€™ve ever known. No, Iâ€™m not now living under a bridge and drinking Ripple.
There you have it. That’s part of how I ended up in Portland in the woods with Rodger. Married once, annulled by the state once , but laying low just waiting………..Here we were in 2004 in line waiting to get a wedding license…..there was NO time for planning or dress-up…….they opened the doors, we were there:
Now I must take the risk and tag someone else……………at the risk of alienating someone, I only do this because these folks are fine writers and I’d love to hear their “10 things”……….
1) Scott, or Purple Twinkie Fame, 2) Doug T of Gossamer Tapestry Fame, and although I don’t even think the famous archeologist reads this page, his views and writing style are fabulous, Mr. Homer of Homer’s World fame.
Whew! This task is complete. I must go run a dog or else he’ll be restless by midnight.