I wasn’t insulted. I wasn’t hurt. It was obvious that the two women thought that I was gay. From their perspective, I had exhibited all of the signs of being gay. My clothes matched. I paid attention to them. And, I hadn’t hit on either of them.
I am not gay. I do dress with care and listen to people, men and women, even if only to hear what they have to say. And in the case of those two women, they really weren’t my type. (Feel free to insert your own joke here.) Still, I did find the entire episode amusing.
I have always hidden in plain sight. No secrets. I haven’t any skeletons hiding in my walk-in closets. No scandals waiting to break. It’s not that I have had a boring, uneventful life. I just believe that the best way to deal with life’s problems is with openness and laughter.
It’s not for everybody.
Even though marriage and relationships are a large part of my daily conversation, this blog has spent more space on other issues. This was not intentional. It just happened. Besides, this blog also includes five years’ of columns from my time with Ohio’s Finest Singles. If You Won’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will details marriages, divorces, and all of the life in-between. Do the math and you can figure out how many times I’ve tripped down the aisle (5) and which problems were avoidable (I say none, but what do I know?).
So, why are we talking about this today? I had a couple of conversations this past week that led me to this post.
My last marriage culminated in an incredibly messy divorce. The whole exercise was wasteful and illogical. I lost patience with her and her brain trust. The terminology reflected that reality. On April 25, 2005 I “pulled the plug on her”. When the papers were finally signed fifteen months later on July 13, 2006 and she received considerably less than what I had originally offered, I had cigars made. Last November I posted on Facebook that “I just wrote the last check to the woman who cured me of marriage”.
And there’s the rub. You can not be cured of marriage. Marriage is not an illness. I know that. I believe in the institution of marriage. I am very supportive and proud of the partnership my daughter Jennifer and my son-in-law Matt have created. I am excited that my son Phillip will be marrying Allison this October. My glibness may have overrun my reality.
And so, I apologize if I have ever disparaged marriage. I did not do it on purpose. The unpleasantness of 2005 and 2006 are a long time ago and that verbiage denotes anger and hurt. I have neither. I don’t have any immediate plans to remarry. But, I think it is probably time to retire certain phrases that give the impression that only the threat of physical violence would force me to make such a commitment.
My friend and client, Ron (name changed) and I met for coffee a few days ago. The late morning crowd at the Chagrin Road Starbucks paid no attention to two middle aged businessmen. Good. The conversation was serious and private.
Ron, a small business owner, has an open secret. He is gay. He has been with his partner, Stanley, for almost fifteen years. They have a lovely home in Lake County. They have created a nice life with good friends. More accurately, half a life. Ron has never brought Stanley to the office, even for the annual company party. Since he has never acknowledged his sexuality or Stanley, Ron thinks he is fooling his employees. He is not.
This is Ron’s decision, not mine. But when asked I told him to hide in plain sight. His non-secret is a problem because he has made it a problem. His employees know or suspect whatever there is to know. The only power in his secret is that it is a secret. The only shame, if any, his. Would his employees quit? Work less? Respect him less? Of course not.
So we’ve come full circle. I promise to choose my words about marriage with the same care as I show when pairing a shirt and tie. I will still listen intently. And, I will continue to hide in plain sight.