Monday, May 10, 2004

Here's to Jeff

May 10 is the birthday of my friend Jeff. He was a good friend to me for many of my childhood years. When the other girls were off having tea parties, and the other boys were off kicking dirt in the tea parties, Jeff and I went exploring, inventing, and creating. We would ride our bikes to the store and buy Everlasting Gobstoppers and invent things. We made a computer out of a box and backlit the paper screen with my lamp, until the duct tape holding the box together melted and burned to the top of my lightbulb. (I could smell that melting duct tape every time I turned it on until the lightbulb was eventually changed.) We crocheted together and made blue fake fur pouches just like the one Mr. Spock had (except his wasn't made out of fabulous blue fake fur). We made buddy burners and cooked hamburgers. Jeff was also a double agent, secretly spying on the boys and reporting back to the Girl Force, until the Girl Force sort of dissolved against my wishes into an ongoing Avon party.

I thought for sure I would marry Jeff when we got older. We got along so well.

When I was eleven, though, I moved away. Jeff remained in the town where we had lived. Unfortunately, he had suffered some abuse, and later decided he was gay. We went down two very different paths. The last time I saw him was at my wedding, where we took a "Mutt and Jeff" picture. He was over 6 feet tall, and I'm only 5'2".

After that he moved to San Francisco. We kept in touch, but one time we had a conversation about the issue of gay marriage. I didn't want to talk about it because I knew we didn't agree and weren't likely to, but he pushed it and I told him my opinion: that I supported a separate class of marriage (this was before the phrase "civil union" had been coined) but not a full equivalent marriage. After that he refused to speak to me. I e-mailed him with a standard "how are you and your partner" keeping-in-touch e-mail, and he responded with suspicion of my motives in asking about his partner. I tried to explain to him that this is how normal people greet each other, by inquiring about them and their significant ones, but he just wouldn't let go of his paranoia, and the exchange got a bit ugly. I refused to apologize to him for having my beliefs, and he thought I was bigoted and wanted him to be a second-class citizen. That was the last time I heard from him.

So on May 10 let's open a bottle of IBC root beer and make a toast to Jeff, the friend who got away.