50 Days of 50: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others – DAY 15

4/23/2012  DAY 16

When I was a kid I was not like my friends or my school mates, nor was I like anyone else in my family.  I was not the jokester or the class clown or ham. I did not stick out in an apparent cross-dressing way and, just because I’m a gay guy doesn’t mean that was any part of the reason that I was not like the others.

I was lucky: My parents ingrained in me that I could be and do anything that I wanted in my lifetime. I could accomplish whatever I set out to do. I could make as much money as I wanted to make. And they instilled in me a complete sense of worth which, all combined, set me apart from most children of “normal” homes. Please do not think that I was born into a family where I was treated as “The Chosen One” for I was disciplined, I had my chores, and I had the blessing of working at my dad’s service station and working with my hands since I was 9 years old.  So I earned the backbone I have and, throughout my life, I have played on my advantages and was brave enough to take risks. I’ve failed plenty–also a blessing.

But what I lack is a healthy sense of fear. I am not afraid to make a fool of myself. My poor friends constantly put their heads down when I “go off” in public and my co-workers may think what I say is, technically, correct–but that I could have “said it in a different way.” Sometimes I need to sugar coat. Sometimes I need to consider that other people did not have the upbringing that I had. And then there’s the fact that, at 49 years, 349 days, 14 hours 16 seconds, I don’t care nearly enough to what people think of me. I trust my instincts and what I have learned. Sometimes I get impatient that others take their time.

When I moved to Chicago from Long Beach California I only hung out with fellow L.A.  or New York transplants. We were louder, pushier, more vocal, we talked faster, we were more confrontational, and public scenes or quarreling was just part of our schtick. But we never took our outwardly antagonistic behavior as personal or let it get in the way of our friendships. We just liked to air out our wilder thoughts and we played with our emotions a lot more than our Midwestern friends. Midwesterners aren’t well known for taking a joke. And they’re so adverse to conflict. You know who I’m talking about.

But over time I came to respect the Midwestern way. Let sleeping dogs lie. Sweep it under the rug. Don’t talk about it if it make you or anyone feel uncomfortable. Maybe I am the way I am because I believed my parents when they said “do what you believe in and do it big.” Maybe I’ve still got a little L.A. in me? I feel like I’m becoming more me and maybe I’m a narcissist and I am just becoming an old man.

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