The worst thing I could ever tell my mother. Once she told me that being gay would be as bad a marrying a black girl, and either one would be the worst thing that could happen to her. Combining the two banes, the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen is for me to be in love with a black man (thus finding a nice amalgamation of homosexuality and transracial dating). If the imaginary gay lover was part of a prison penpal program, I do believe my mother would have another stroke.

My mother's attitude about African Americans undoubtedly stems from her rearing as a Reorganized Mormonite.

When I was young I lived for a period of 12 years with my maternal grandmother.

Sounds like a rock solid good time, you say? You bet it was. She woke me up at five every morning and flipped the switch to warm up the coffee urn. You see, she was smart, she made a giant stainless steel urn full of coffee every sunday morning and that was it for the week. Taught me how to scrimp and save, knowing that the coffee in the urn, which was turned off at 6pm and back on at 5am every day, had to last. I learned the value of a dollar and boy did I learn that lesson well!

The thing was
she was hard of hearing
and very forgetful.
Sometimes she remembered my name.
Other times she thought I was Gerald Ford.

"Grandma, I'm in love with a black man.
His name is Flower.
You cool with that?"

"What you say?
You need me to wash your back in the shower?"

It was hard to turn grandma down. It hurt her feelings when you corrected her or denied her the right to satisfy your requests. So, I had to let her wash my back in the shower, and she used wire bristle brushes she bought at a car wash that shut down in the 1950s.

"Look, Grandma, I need to tell you this
because you are important in my life.
I'm down with the cool sounds.
I'm making love down in the long tall grass."

"What you say?
You think I have a nice ass?"

I took an entire bar of soap and tried to force it into my nose. Sometimes Grandma was so difficult. It was not hard to please her from a strategic standpoint. Just make her believe you have said everything she wants to hear. Sometimes it gets very hard because she was in a lot of Army experiments and has an eight hundred page journal about what it was like to have hot melted gold poured into her ears. I can't say as I blame her for the anger she feels towards old Colonel Bucktooth, as she calls him.

"Grandma, I want to spend the weekend in Detroit with Flower.
He is so dreamy.
Will you be okay if I am away for a couple days?"

"What you say?
Gas station gave you a fucking raise?"

Those were fine days. Fine, fine days. The thing is, I was born with a terrible speech impediment. Nothing I said was what I meant, just as nothing Grandma heard was what people actually said. Somewhere in between the two was the real meaning.

And that made all the difference.

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