This is just the telling of some of my story as if I was casually telling an alien from outer space about some of my time here on the planet.
Talking on Paper
By Clinton Gandy
My name is Clinton Rolen Gandy. I am 43 years old. I’m an addict, alcoholic, smoker, liberal, loving, compassionate, funny , introspective, thoughtful, hopeful, bipolar, deeply spiritual, clever gay man in the heart of East Texas. I have issues with family. I have issues with food. I have issues with idiots on TV with microphones that should be filled with shame they even think the way they do, much less broadcast it.
You may read that short paragraph and think, I don’t have anything in common with this guy so why should I read what he has to say? My answer is, maybe you shouldn’t. I am not everyone’s cup of tea and for many, my mere existence consternates them to the point of shaking their fist in the air. I am not everyone’s cup of tea and I get that. I only have extra time though now, for people who “get” me and I “get” them. Turns out life isn’t high school and I won’t be running for class President again so , it’s ok that I don’t “bond” with everyone I come in contact with. It’s a huge relief. HUGE. There are extras and there are day players. There are contract players and there are guest stars in my life today.
I had a sort of a break through moment several Sundays ago. I had some mania trying to kick in and I was trying desperately to NOT do anything that what egg it on and make it worse. Through a random set of thoughts it occurred to me. My neighbor an older lady I called “Iris” because she grew them everywhere, had been given just months to live and she was so worried about who would take care of her husband. I saw this fire in her eyes where she was basically daring death to come and get her because she couldn’t leave her husband of a thousand years.
The thought that struck me was, I’ve never had anything going on in my life that I would be willing to fight, to take death to the mat for one more day of my life.
My new goal, and I used the “g” word very sparingly because I see people going nuts “achieving”, I am shooting for creating a life that I would fight for if it was threatened by my early exit. I grew up wishing I had never been born and then as I got older it turned into “I wish I were dead”. So the concept of not being completely apathetic about my own demise is new to me. My experience is the less you fill you life with special things and people, the less likely you are to be hurt when they are removed. So I have gotten very good and wanting nothing, hoping for nothing and expecting nothing. I am even afraid to admit, at times that I want to live for fear that just by admitting it, I will end it.
I have 43 years of really screwed up muddled thinking that I am running autopsies on. Is this real? Is this true? Does this serve any purpose in my life other than to weight my ass down. I feel like the people on that TV show “Hoarders” when the day comes they have to begin sorting out the decaying things in their homes, paring everything down to necessary useful items so they can have a quality life.
I’ve had many many pitiful moments in my loaf, most of which I constructed myself. I can’t imagine anything more worthy of pity that to spend the rest of my life as if I were already a corpse. Dead on the inside or too frightened to lose making me ineligible to win. This is the story of life, running from it and going through it. I won’t flinch in my honesty. I have nothing to gain and nothing to share if I try to come off as anything but my flawed self who is learning to love, live and fight for my shot at having one.
I was born in Linden, Texas about 6 miles away from my home town of Hughes Springs. Where I went on to live for 18 years. What my welder father and Real Estate Agent mother had no way of knowing the day they brought me home was that I was not the run of the mill baby that people take home every day from thousands of hospitals. I was special and it would take nearly 40 years for me to realize that.
My earliest memories are from a white brick house we had up until I was in the third grade. It was a cookie cutter 1960’s development on the east side of town. I think my memories start around 2 or 3 years old. Most of them involve me wanting to play with my sisters dolls and dishes. Oh yes, I have a sister that is 6 years older than me.
It seemed like everything I was interested in I was told was NOT a boys toy. One day I went to my sisters room when she had gone to church and put on her colorful smock dress my mother had , had a seamstress make. I puts some panty hose on my head so they legs fell like like pony tails and started to put on a little show for myself. I looked up and my dad was there and no happy. He made me wear the pantyhose pig tails and smock to breakfest. Honestly I think I was my first introduction to shame. Feeling shame for something that just came naturally.
My dad put a halt to my Barbie fun and baton twirling. I hated him. I hated that everything I was interesting in was considered “girl stuff”. I was clever though. I kept right on playing with whatever I wanted I just had to do it in secret. So, at four years old, I accidently discovered the only place I was acceptable, in secret. I literally played in the closets of the house, in the barn or in the bathroom. I would make wigs out of curled paper and fingernails later on out of milk cartons. In hind sight I hate that I gave up who I was with no fight. I didn’t know any better and just assumed that they were right.
Things went from bad to worse when I started school. I found out I talked like girl, ran like a girl and threw a ball like a retarded girl.
The first negative term I was given in first grade was sissy. I knew it didn’t feel good but it was very quite benign compared to the names to come. One of the confusing things that started for me in school and happened all 12 years is I was elected class favorite in school yet teased on the school yard. In the meantime I am desperately trying to figure out how to fit in and exactly what and how I was supposed to be and act. I just felt lost in grade school I didn’t know if I was getting invited to the party to be made fun of to have a good time.
I know 5th grade brought trouble for me in the name of Keith Gilbreat. He didn’t just call me names, there was an anger to his words that scared me. He was really mean. I never found out why he disliked me so intensely.
It isn’t like I am claiming I was perfect. I was a precocious little shit. I was spoiled my parents terrible. I mean terrible. Our grade school had no air-conditioning so my parents bought a big window unit for my classroom only. Which I sat in front of with my best friend Stephanie. I would eat Sweet Tarts in class that I kept in old pill bottles and claimed they were vitamins. When I graduated first grade, the window unit came with me. We were the only class in the whole Elementary to have air. It’s shameful now, but at the time I really was annoying with my cool air, high voice, retarded girl ball throwing self. I would never try to paint myself as anything but honest as I can be.
I was very excited about Jr. High because I would be able to join the band and wear the costumes. As soon as my mother found out I was wanting to be in the band I was informed in words more stern than I ever had heard, that I would be playing football and I could not be in the band.
I don’t know why I didn’t put up some fight. Anything, but nothing. I did join the football team and in 6 grade you have to have a year of “training” before you can play real games in the 7th grade. I was stuck with all those boys who were so mean to me and we had to exercise til I nearly threw up. It was my own little concentration camp experience one grueling thing at a time.
In the seven grade, I was six foot tall and probably 200lbs. I looked like a football player. I rehearsed and dressed like everyone else and on the bus ride over to Winnsboro Texas, I felt a sickening feeling, an omen mid-birth. We went through our little exercises and took place on the field. The grass was so green, the field lights so bright, it was beautiful. As I was looking around , it hit me. No one bothered to teach me how to play football! I knew nothing about the game after a year of gear up and weeks of rehearsal on the team. They put me out to start and they never told me how to play the god damn game. I guess it was such a completely crazy idea, a boy in 7th grade who had never seen a football game would just genetically know about yards, and gains and penalty’s. I had no choice but to continue because my mom and dad said I couldn’t quit. So I decided, if I had no choice but to play, I was going to be the bloodiest useless member of any team in Texas. And I was.
I had to play in the 8th grade too. I sucked just as bad but I was in good company. My team “The Colts (baby Mustangs)” never won a game in the two years I was forced to play, well we tied zero to zero and celebrated like it was the Superbowl.
I don’t have whatever “gene” that makes me the least bit interested in team sports, or sports in general unless you count figure skating. Figure skating is the bastard cousin to accepted sports.
In 8th grade I over heard some girls that I was crazy about talking about smuggling bottles of wine into their slumber party. I had never had one bit of interest in alcohol and I thought drug users were thugs. Listening to the shenanigans they told of seriously made me want to drink with them.
The summer between my 8th and 9th grade years I took a family trip out west. We were having a very fine dinner our host and taken us out to where there were wine glasses at each setting. By the ninth grade I was already 6’5. The waiter assumed I was legal and kept pouring wine. I felt warm and goofy. It felt like my eyeballs were moving slightly back and forth and I excused myself to go and look at my eyes. You couldn’t see the movement by I loved the way it felt. I was free and at as and I told a story that held the attention of all the adults at the table.
We left the restaurant and strolled down the strees of New Port. Even walking with the warm breeze felt incredible.
Even though the experience was fantastic I did not immediately go looking for more when I got home. I was so desperate to make friends, specifically some male friends. Since kindergarden I had no friends who were boys. The ones that liked me were a little to afraid by guilt by assocation I think now. Like the sissy would rub off on them. I saw an in, with a guy that was nice and he had an older brother. They were kind of wild and listened to Quiet Riot and they seem to be doing some drinking.
Our small town of twelve hundred rose in importance to area teens because we had a brand new skating rink built and open. I know that to anyone younger than possible 30, the idea of going to a building, renting skates and going in circles for two hours while the music of the day was played must seem ridiculous. Taking it even further , the skates were not in line roller blades.
The guy I had my eye on to be my friend and has brother told me that on Friday and Saturday nights there was an old black man that sold 40 ounce bottles of “Bull” for 5 bucks. So for my first night with beer and the boys, I brought 10 dollars. The fact that one would be enough never even crossed my mind. Isn’t that crazy, I’d never drank a beer in my life, but if I could have only had one , I wouldn’t have bothered with it. In my whole drinking career, a six pack would have to stay alone in the fridge until I could put at least a 12 pack with it for it to be enough to bother with.
When my family had moved into the grocery store that my dad bought just before 3rd grade, I started swiping for or five of these candy bars. “Marathon Candy Bars”. They were long and looked like Laura Ingalls braids. I would go hide in a very dank dark dirt floored storage building , walk around in some old white/mother of pearl clogs my sister had stored in there and eat those candy bars.
Now, I know I was medicating a ton of hurt and loneliness. But the reason I brought this up is, one Marathon Bar would have been over to quick and not allowed me the enjoyment of focusing on something that was nothing but tasty.
As far back as I remember, any chance I had to get “MORE”. I went for. When I would ask my mother’s card playing friend if I could get her coffee, I would heap the powdered creamer in there even while not knowing what it tasted like and if there was such a thing as “TO MUCH CREAMER”. If I wanted to stay up late, I had a drive to stay up all night, if I wanted to sleep in, I wanted to sleep all day. I may not have been born to extreme, or maybe I was, but I latched on to it as soon as I could. More of anything is always better. Even with love. There is this great line in Beaches where Lani Kanzan tells Bette Midler’s character that she moved to Florida because she couldn’t love her daughter anymore. She goes on to say that Bette’s character needs so much love she wears people out.
I knew instantly what the writer was getting at. Some of us or born where enough is never enough when it comes FEELING like you have had enough.
I need some signs I have had enough, stretch marks, blisters, sores, blood shot eyes, something to gauge my over doing it in the pursuit of pleasure.