An excerpt from my book, The Gay Road Less Traveled, available on Amazon’s Kindle.
Johnny wakes up and runs to the living room to see his gifts. The entire couch is covered with toys, there are some more on the floor and he has a huge stocking full of candy. He sees Stretch Armstrong and his nemesis, Stretch Monster, a big Godzilla-like monster, the Millennium Falcon, the Death Star, every Star Wars figure out, a Rubik’s cube, a Magna Doodle, a Sony Walkman, a Legoland space ship, all of the Superfriends, the Hall of Justice and the Legion of Doom, G.I. Joe, and of course Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Aquaman and Shazam underoos. Johnny looks at all of his presents, not realizing his mother makes $6000 a year as a teacher’s aide, that his grandparents are on a fixed income or that there is approximately $400 worth of toys in front of him. Johnny doesn’t realize how much he will cherish these toys in the next year (Stretch was his constant companion, until he starting leaking gross gel from his stomach, and his life-long loves of R2D2 and Chewbacca were born on this early morning). Like the honey badger, Johnny don’t care. He looks at all of his toys and candy, with his mother and Granny standing there all happy and proud, and says “This is it? This is all I get?” Johnny stamps his feet and shakes his head, No, crosses his arms and starts to whine about the unfairness of it all.
Johnny’s mother starts to cry. Johnny’s Granny curses, then goes and smokes one of his grandfather’s cigarettes on the back porch, muttering something about a “bag of switches.” Johnny settles in to play with all of his fantastic toys, clueless, oblivious, spoiled rotten and ruint, while his mother cries and his Granny talks herself down from committing some child abuse.
My favorite Christmas gift, from a gentleman admirer, my love Jean Michel Basquiat’s coffee table book.
This is my winter song
December never felt so wrong
Cause you’re not where you belong
Inside my arms
This is my winter song to you
The storm is coming soon
It rolls in from the sea
My love a beacon in the night
My words will be your light
To carry you to me
Is very far.
The snows falling down.
It’s colder day by day.
I miss you.
The children were singing,
He’ll be back at Christmas time.
And these frozen and silent nights,
Sometimes in a dream,
Outside under the purple sky,
Diamonds in the snow,
Our hearts were singing,
It felt like Christmas time.
Is very far through the snow
I’ll think of you
Wherever you go.
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Ben South, Birmingham, child protection, Christmas, culture, dating, foster kids, gay, gay blog, inspirational, john jernigan, LGBT, loneliness, MSW, perspective, point of view, relationships, social work, Tampa Bay
Today I took one of my teens to have her wisdom teeth removed. Normally this 15 year-old is a terror, she has a horrible temper and intentionally says fuck every other word because I once tried to admonish her on her language. On this day, she was quiet and sweet and scared. She wanted me to be in the room with her and she cried a little, and I held her hand and talked to her and calmed her down. In this last year I have horribly failed at dating or finding someone special or being the one that somebody is thinking about. As I drive my teenager back to her foster home (while she is taking selfies and pics of her teeth and posting them), I take some small comfort in knowing that there is something I am good at, my children like me, and I will always be an advocate for them. I just wish I could somehow use my social work skills to find someone to love me.
So I’ll all mad, pissed off because the guy in this pic won’t take me to dinner or out on an actual date…I am invited to his place for some adult fun, if I so desire. My problem is I don’t think I have the right to be mad at him or expect him to be something he’s not…I mean he sent me a butt-naked picture with Santa! and while I can’t exactly recall where we met on the interweb, it most assuredly wasn’t on a legitimate dating site (because those cost money $$$). Well it doesn’t appear that I’ll be enjoying some scallops and creme brulee this evening. Dude did let me know he was going to be at a bar later, if I wanted to meet him there…no thank you, good day!
Most of my holidays have been spent alone, my ex would usually be with his family and since none of them knew about me…I always liked going to Toys-R-Us or the mall on Christmas Eve, the energy and excitement of the crowds, children running and playing and happy, babies crying when they’re put in Santa’s lap, peace on earth and goodwill and all that crap… This evening I went to the Toy-R-Us on N. Federal hoping to find some comfort, or happiness, or optimism or something for myself. In years past I always knew what the trendiest and hottest toys were, in fact last year I bought myself two singamajigs. This year I really wanted an uglydoll or three, but due to budgetary constraints little Johnny isn’t getting anything. I had hoped my toy store trip would lift my spirits, instead my ears turn red, I want to cry, I wipe away a couple of tears and come home. I play Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne” over and over again on the way home. I so desperately want and need someone to love me and take care of me and be mine. I know that’s not fair or right to say…I should be trying to make myself happy, not looking for a man to save me and rescue me and validate me. That’s the problem, I’ve lost my way, not sure I can make me happy, I have lost my swagger and confidence…Is there someone out there for me? A sweet little fella to share Christmas with? Looks like ain’t no Christmas miracle happenin’ this year…
“Twenty-two thousand people came to see Santa today, and not all of them are well-behaved.
Today, I witnessed fist fights and vomiting and magnificent tantrums. The back hallway was jammed with people. There was a line for Santa and a line for the women’s bathroom, and one woman, after asking me a thousand questions already asked, which is the line for the women’s bathroom? And I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it. And she said, I’m going to have you fired. I had two people say that to me today, I’m going to have you fired. Go ahead, be my guest.
I’m wearing a green velvet costume. It doesn’t get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are? I’m going to have you fired, and I want to lean over, and say I’m going to have you killed.” David Sedaris, on working as an Elf
“Today a child told Santa Ken that he wanted his dead father back AND a complete set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Everyone wants those Turtles.”
“These people were profoundly retarded. They were rolling their eyes and wagging their tongues and staggering toward Santa. It was a large group of retarded people and after watching them for a few minutes I could not begin to guess where the retarded people ended and the regular New Yorkers began. Everyone looks retarded once you set your mind to it.”
The story ends with yet another Santa being ushered into the workshop, but this one is different from the lecherous or drunken ones with whom he has had to work. This Santa actually seems to care about and love the children who come to see him, startling our hero into an uncharacteristic moment of goodwill just before his employment runs out.