Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
Bruce and I had been drifting apart for months. The last time we had serious physical contact had been around Halloween. It was now Christmas and things were getting progressively worse: the distance, the Cold War, the obvious detachment. I just wasn't sure what the war was over. And he wasn't offering any clues, though I would persistently ask. I suggested that we go to couple's counseling together, to try to figure out what was going on. He promised that we would go after the first of the year. As a matter of fact, he made an appointment for January the 8th. I was hopeful that we were on a track to work together to solve our issues.We had many issues, to be sure. Too many to list here and now. Just, trust me, we had problems. I was deep into therapy on my own at this point, and delighted that he seemed willing to get a third-party perspective on Us.
If we could just make it to January 8th!

Christmas Day was quite lackluster. As opposed to past Christmases, there was no excitement, no thrill of gift-giving from him. In fact, he kept stalling about opening our gifts to each other. I could tell his heart just wasn't in it. It saddened and frustrated me, because I had really tried to find gifts that he would appreciate this year.
I've always been a "one big gift" kind of a giver. Bruce was just the opposite. He could take a hundred dollars and turn it into a dozen or so cool, thoughtful, and wonderful little surprises. I had always just tried to find the "pony", ya know?. Christmas was always me handing him one big box, getting the "O0h, how nice! Thank you." once and then me opening little package after little package the rest of the day, with much giggling, cooing, and delight from each gift received. My strategy never paid off, his always did.
So this year, I had tried to change my modus operandi, and I bought him lots of smaller things.
He changed his as well, as it turned out, and I got one gift: a blood sugar monitor ("Oh. How...nice. Thank you."- came from me this time). I already owned one. He knew that. What the hell? He opened little package after little package. But, there was no giggling, cooing, or delight. My change of strategy was obviously too little, too late.
The one gift I gave which seemed to please him was a Showershot. "A MUST for any homosexual's bathroom!", he was wont to say. We had his old one installed in the bath and it was in terrible, dilapidated shape. He had complained frequently about it. When he opened it, he smiled and said "I'm going to put this in right now!" Silly me, I thought that was code for impending Thank You Sex. He ran upstairs with a wrench and I bolted for the downstairs bathroom to brush my teeth, comb my hair, and groom for some long-awaited physical contact.
Like I said, silly me.
I sat in the livingroom after cleaning up, listening to him tinker with the appliance in the bath. A few grunts, some talking to himself, peppered with some choice curse words. I always loved it when he tried to be butch. It was cute. No, it was hilarious.

Bruce was a guy's guy until he opened his mouth, then he was a queen's queen. At first I loved him despite of that, but then I learned to love him because of it. For, you see, Bruce never apologized for who he was. He was Just Bruce. And I wanted to be as comfortable with myself as Just Jim.

After much ado, I heard him turn the shower on. I called out, asking how it was working. "Well, it's working...it's the best I can do" was his reply. He turned the shower off, came down the hall to the top of the stairs and called down to me.
"Thank you for Christmas, " he said, very formally. "I'm going to take a nap."
And, with that, the bedroom door closed and I was alone in the livingroom, wondering what it would take to get through his cold aloofness. He wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
I sat on the sofa and stared at my blood sugar monitor for quite a while.

The next morning when I woke up, he was already awake and, as usual, puttering around downstairs. I slogged my crusty frame to the bathroom and crawled into the shower. I stood in the tub for a minute, shower curtain pulled, brushing my teeth with the tub faucet running. I like to brush my teeth naked in the shower, because I can get pretty vigorous and not worry about slinging toothpaste everywhere. Then, mouth fully frothed, I bent over, scooped a handful or two of water to rinse my mouth out, and turned the water on for the shower.
Water gushed everywhere. His little plumbing job from the day before was, quite certainly, half-assed. I screamed downstairs to him while I frantically tried to tighten the connections to the Showershot with my fingers. Water was squirting me in the eye, up onto the ceiling, and the nozzle was dancing around below me blowing more water all about.
"Shit! This thing isn't connected right at all!" I bellowed.
I hadn't needed to scream. While brushing my teeth, it turns out that Bruce had entered the bathroom, sat down on the toilet right next to the tub, and was reading one of his gazillion interior decorating magazines. The leaks from the hose were apparently getting him wet as well, on the other side of the curtain.
"I told you that I did the best that I could do, you fucking idiot!" he shreiked back, pulling the shower curtain tighter across the span of the tub to protect himself.
Me, "The Idiot"?!? I wasn't the guy who couldn't figure out how to use a fucking wrench to tighten a nut on the thread of a pipe. I wasn't the guy who left this boobytrap to explode all over the room. I'm "The Idiot?" I wasn't the guy who bought his partner UNNEEDED MEDICAL TEST EQUIPMENT as a Christmas gift. I beg your fucking pardon?
I pulled the shower curtain back and aimed the Showershot at his snotty little face, sitting there reading his fagzine.
I soaked him.
I pulled the shower curtain closed and turned off the water.
Here we go.
I heard him jump up, sputtering, and race to the bathroom sink. I heard the bathroom sink faucet. I opened the shower curtain fully and stood there. He was red-faced, filling a large plastic cup full of cold water. I knew what was coming. He was shaking, he was so furious.
"Don't you EVER speak to me like that again" I said, calmly.
He turned to me and chucked the whole cup of cold water at my head. It hit me on the shoulder and bounced against the tile to my side. I shrugged. He had always thrown like a girl. A little more water on an already drenched floor.
"You won't ever have to worry about that anymore," he sneered. "I'm done!"
I knew it.
And, with that, he stormed out of the bathroom, out of my house, and out of my life.
I stood in the shower and sobbed for a while. I stood in the puddles of water and added my tears.
Turns out, he was right. I was "The Idiot". I was the guy who thought we could work this out. I was the guy who thought we were equals and respected each other. I was the guy that was tip-toeing on eggshells with this cold-blooded bitch. I was the only guy in the relationship that seemed to care that it was dying a slow, painful death. Well, the slow part was over, anyway. Our relationship was now DOA.
It took him the better part of 6 weeks to find a place to live and move out. I cried several more times during the process. He never showed a trace of emotion. His heart had been walled up and protected months and months previously, I just didn't know it.
Yep, I was "The Idiot". I was a naive fool. But is that wrong?
No way.


Larry said...


I almost can't believe my eyes. I feel extremely connected by what you have just shared and I have experienced myself. I was almost ready to mail my letter to you and then BAM! You post this gut wrenching, heart tugging, beautiful piece of insight to your soul and now I find myself needing to write more.

Jim, you have touched me more than you realize and I hope my letter not only finds you well, but also helps you heal and start the next chapter of your life with me. All I ask is that you remain true to yourself and not change for me. Grow with me yes, but change who you "are" no. I am getting to know, and really becoming attracted to the "you" that you are right now.

Naturally, people grow and change every day with all the things that interact with them throughout their lives, so I would never hold you to the "same" person you are now. I do, however, want you to know that "the" person you are is worth a lot to me already.



Melissa said...

Oh y'all are just gonna make me cry! Oh!!!!