Friday, June 26, 2015

A Little Story

My first college roommate was a disaster.  I'm sure he was a fine fellow, but he and I didn't get along.  He was an ex-Marine who didn't believe in studying. He preferred to go places in the evening and come in during the wee hours (or sometimes late the next morning) after having had a wonderful time in some place I was still too young to enter (legally, at least).  

I got along a lot better with the guy across the hall. He was an English major like me, and he wasn't too fond of his roomie, either.  So as soon as the first semester ended, we ditched our roomies and moved in together.  We remained roomies for the rest of our college careers and stayed in touch after we graduated.

When I returned to Austin to graduate school, he was still around, dating a girl in one of the sororities whose house was just down the street from Parlin Hall, the building where I had most of my classes.  We'd get together a couple of times a week for lunch or just to have a Dr Pepper and talk.  Later on I was the best man at his wedding.

The years went by, as years do, but we stayed in touch.  I congratulated him on the adoption of his two fine children. I commiserated with him during his divorce.  When Judy and I went to New York for the Edgars in the late '80s, he was living in Princeton.  He drove to our hotel, took us to Princeton, and gave us the grand tour.

More years went by.  We talked on the phone fairly often, and one day when he called me a few years ago, he was crying.  He said he had to tell me something and that I was going to hate him.  I told him there was no danger of that, and he said, "Bill, I'm gay."  I said, "So? What difference does that make?"  

He'd known he was gay even when we met.  He said, "Back then it was something you had to hide. You couldn't even talk about it, much less admit it."  He said a good many other things, too, and I thought about what a strange, hard life he must have had, feeling that he could never admit who he really was.  I thought about all he'd done to try to conceal the truth and how brave he was to admit it at last.

As for me, I'd suspected the truth for years.  Judy and I had even talked about it, but I was like him, in a way.  I didn't know how to ask him.  It's not the kind of thing a small-town Texas guy like me asks a friend.

So I'm thinking about my friend today and wishing he were still here to celebrate the SCOTUS decision.  Telling this story is my little way of celebrating for him.  What a different life he'd have had if only we hadn't been so backward all those years ago. 


Jerry House said...

Sometimes, Bill, I don't miss the old days after all.

Ed Gorman said...

You are a fine human being, Bill, as was your lovely wonderful wife Judy.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Thanks for sharing that, Bill. I'm sorry he's not here too.


Deb said...

Several friends gone who would have been ecstatic I'm celebrating for them with joy and tears. But do yourself a favor and DO NOT read the comments on the right- leaning blogs. Oh dear!

Dan said...

You mean your friend is NOT burning in Hell for waging War on Religion?

Do the folks at Fox News know about this?

Denise Z. said...

Well said.

Charlaine said...

I have heard a lot of stories about men and women who could not ever admit their identity, and he was lucky to have you and Judy for friends, Bill.

Todd Mason said...

A school-friend of mine is now a wheel in the ex-gay movement...I wonder how he feels about yesterday's decision and its reception.

I hope the marriage wasn't too hard on all concerned. He did have good friend in you.

Mel Odom said...


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Thanks so much for reminding us all that this momentous decision is a joy to be celebrated by all human beings.