Updated — the original posting was uncharacteristically critical, and I changed it.

Gay men sometimes intuitively guess if someone else is gay by engaging in a guessing game using “gaydar.”

What’s “gaydar?” Well, according to an article in Wikipedia:

Gaydar … refers to the intuitive ability to assess someone’s sexual orientation as gay, bisexual, or straight. The function of gaydar relies on usually non-verbal sensory information and intuitions. These include the sensitivity to social behaviors and mannerisms….

My gaydar went off as I observed this young man texting away on his cell phone while he was seated at National Airport across from me.

I did not talk to the guy, but heard him speaking when his cell phone rang. His voice had a distinctive “gay sound.” According to another website, the sound is called a lisp, though not actually a lisp. It is described thusly:

The markers of this speech pattern include higher than normal pitch that changes frequently and rapidly, a breathy tone, long fricatives, and a very careful pronunciation style.

He waved his other hand a lot while speaking, and generally gave off many signals that made my gaydar go off.

Is there anything wrong with that? No… and I never said the guy was or was not gay. It was behaviors I was observing that are similar to behaviors I have observed in some gay men I know. It doesn’t matter if he is or is not gay. What I’m describing is that there are some behaviors that some men do that give signals that other gay men can read.

Throw-Away Culture

I was commenting on a buddy’s blog the other day. He wrote about the sorry state of affairs of residents in “old folks homes.” He was referencing the difference between “residents” and “inmates,” and stated that it was his perception (shared by others) that a home for older people is more of a restraining facility, with many restrictions and fixed times for activities. He concluded by stating that living in such a facility is living the life of an “inmate.”

This is what I wrote in my blog comment to him:

I have befriended hundreds of older people and can relate to what you are describing. My observation is that while a few older people are childless, for the most part, older people who have had children no longer receive much attention from their offspring. The older parents are left to rot; to be cared for by others.

It hurts me so much when I see the bright smile and glow on the face of a senior whose home I visit — perhaps to repair a squeaky door, compute a tax return, or to take her out grocery shopping — to know that often my brief visit is the only younger person he has seen all day, all week, or in a month.

It just galls me that older people are abandoned, left to being cared for by facilities such as “old folks homes,” nursing homes, assisted living centers, or the like. Sure, some of the older people need more assistance with daily living (bathing, eating, taking meds on schedule) than others. But they should never be left to rot in abandonment. Children who haven’t said as much as “boo” to their parent, or who have not visited in years, should be ashamed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… you’re “busy” raising children, working, and dealing with the hassles of daily life. I’m busy too and still make time in my schedule to take some older people grocery shopping, drop in to pay a visit, do some light home repairs, or whatever. Don’t give me “I’m busy” … it doesn’t wash. As they say, if you want something done right, give it to a busy person. The right thing to do is to pay attention to parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older friends.

In the U.S., we have too much of a “throw-away” culture. I get incensed when we throw away our elders. That is perhaps why I volunteer so much, and care so much. After all — soon enough — I will be one of them.

I admire people, like BBA and some other guys I know, who have totally reordered their lives to care for elderly parents as they have aged and need help. It is a huge inconvenience, but to tell you the truth: when you were a baby, you were not all that “convenient,” either. Love conquers all, and it works on both sides of the aging continuum.

If your parents or grandparents are alive, how lucky you are. All of mine have died; however, I have no regrets. Each of them were part of my life until they passed away, and they knew how very deeply I loved them. Go visit your elders, or give them a call. Show them that you are thinking of them. After all…

Life is short: show those you love that you love them.

Winging Home

I took this photo last night from my window seat as I was on the plane on my way home. It’s nice to be home, in my own bed, in the arms of my man, snuggled warm and close.

I even was happy to see my mother-in-law who has been here while I was away. I prepared a nice breakfast for her and my partner, and enjoyed listening to them catch me up on what’s been going on while I was away. I even was amused, rather than annoyed, at my mother-in-law’s sloppy eating habits. Nothing has changed.

A day of rest, recovery, de-poopification, and doing laundry, before returning to the working world back in DC tomorrow. Ahhhh…

Christmas Shopping Is Done!

I hate shopping. I really do. I do not like crowds, salespeople, or browsing. When there are things that I have to get, I make a list, and either find it on-line at a good value, or buy it in a store. Go in, get it, pay, get out. Period.

I definitely do not fit the gay stereotype of enjoying shopping. Yuck. I have lots of other things I would rather do with my time.

Therefore, I was pleased when I completed my shopping for Christmas 2009 already. There’s one good thing about a large family — we do not buy Christmas presents for each other, else lead to personal bankruptcy. I have about ten people I buy presents for, including my partner, my aunt, my mother-in-law, and a few special senior friends. That’s it.

Recently I made some time to go to a card shop and bought the cards for my annual gift for the card organizers for seniors. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, and a few general all-purpose cards for special occasions that may arise. I carefully stored the cards away at home in a safe place. I will organize them come December, but don’t have to get out into the crowds during the busy holiday buying season.

I have also purchased a few items via the internet. Those items arrived last week, and also have been carefully tucked away.

My partner insists that he doesn’t want a present. He never really had a childhood Christmas where the kids tore open the presents and played with toys all day. Christmas, to him, is rather quiet and he calls it peaceful. Therefore, what I bought for him, which is a surprise, is something that is “peaceful” and that I know he will enjoy.

Well, anyway, all of my Christmas shopping is done. I will be happy come December when everyone is fretting over needing time to go shopping, dealing with crowds, long lines, and items being out of stock that I can sit back, bake breads, and try to relax a little bit. That makes my Christmas that much more joyful.

Life is short: plan ahead to relieve stress!

100 Kilometers and Boot Sightings

Last Thursday I arrived at a crazy-huge hotel where a conference I am attending is being held. Upon arrival, we were provided a pedometer as a fun little item to promote health (walking) and to inspire a competition among the staff about who walked the most. Since arrival until writing this message on Monday evening, I have walked 100km (>62 miles). Wow!

It’s not hard to walk a lot in this place. My hotel room is 1km (0.6 miles) to the location where most of the rest of the conference is going on. So if I walk to and from my hotel room just once, I have walked over a mile. Or like today, when I had to go back and forth four times, I logged 8km (4.9 miles.)

Then the meeting rooms and other locations where various functions are going on are also far apart. I am averaging about 18km (11 miles) of walking — in cowboy boots — each day. My colleagues look mighty uncomfortable in their dress shoes, poor fellas.

I walk at a brisk pace. With all of the indoor waterfalls and fountains, the air is rather damp and humid. It makes the walk less enjoyable because it causes me to sweat a lot — especially since I have to wear a shirt, noose, and a jacket all day. Yuck.

But the bright side is that I am indeed walking a lot, and I need to do that. I look forward to walking more when I get home — in comfortable jeans, t-shirt, and boots better designed for walking.

Boot sightings: They held a conference social event last night which was themed around country music. We were allowed to dress “casual” (thank goodness, I could ditch that damn tie!) I put on my cowboy boots, jeans, western shirt, and straw cowboy hat and strolled over to the place. I fit right in, as a lot of other men were dressed the same. They had a good band, and a group of dancers. Man, can those lithe young men dance in those tight jeans and boots!

I decided that I should get something to eat and got in the buffet line. Unfortunately, all that was offered was barbecue pork, beef, or chicken. I can’t eat meats soaked in barbecue sauce. Last year, such food sent me to the emergency room! Other choices of foods were tossed salad, cole slaw, and corn — none of which I can eat, either.

Oh well, I grabbed a ginger ale and sat on a wall for some boot watching. In about 30 minutes I probably spotted over 100 men in cowboy boots. Nice change from playing dress-up all week. They looked more comfortable and relaxed, too.

I got tired of that, and felt my intestines beginning to turn (probably from last night’s meal), so I started to head back. I am glad I did, as by the time I walked that two miles back to my room, I … er… “wasn’t feeling well.” Geesh, I hate not being able to eat various foods most others enjoy. Called it an early night by 8:00pm. I’m just not the party boy nor dancer. Never was, never will be. Plus, I’m getting a little homesick for my man, whose arms I will be snuggled in soon. Can’t wait.

Life is short: wear your boots!

Black Cowboy Boot Memo

Image above: my left boot at a rail above an indoor garden and water feature at this crazy-huge hotel/conference complex I’m in this week.

A memo must have been circulated, as I noticed a lot of men in black dress cowboy boots yesterday. I mean a lot of ’em — at least 30 if not more. Not bad, not bad at all!

These boots on me? Okay, I admit, after that fiasco with those “bootettes” that I can’t wear, I had only one other pair of cowboy boots that were also a “tad” uncomfortable. Since I am in Nashville (Tennessee USA), which is, after all, “boot country,” I found a nearby outlet and bought myself a pair of simple black dress cowboy boots by Dan Post. I got a great deal, though the sales tax is exorbitant. The boots look great and feel even better!

Problem resolved!

Life is short: wear your boots!

Blisters From Boots

Yes, unfortunately, it happens sometimes. Some boots are made in such a way that their fit causes blisters on feet or heels. I have suffered that consequence sometimes.

My dear brother convinced me to try a pair of Kenneth Cole boots to wear while I am attending a conference this week. He thought I should be wearing something more dressy and “shoe-like” in appearance with my required jacket and tie.

The boots look good, and even though they are lace-ups, they are fairly easy to put on and take off. They go well with dress clothes.

However, I have had to walk A LOT at this conference, and by mid-day yesterday, my feet were killing me. Big blisters had welled up on the back of both of my heels. I went back to my room and took those suckers off. I applied moleskin and bandaids, then put on a pair of “footies” (short athletic socks) along with a pair of boot socks over them, and then put on a pair of dress cowboy boots. My feet feel better. I did not break the blisters, hoping that the inflammation will die down. I also did not want to risk an infection.

Sorry, ‘bro, I am very disappointed with those “bootettes.” They cause blisters and are generally uncomfortable. I’m going back to what I know works best: Dan Post, Tony Lama, Justin… dependable, comfortable, dress cowboy boots. We will have to talk about what I’m going to do with those Kenneth Cole “bootettes.” I just can’t wear ’em if they continue to cause blisters when I do.

Life is short: wear your boots! (But don’t wear boots from companies that do not specialize in making boots.)

Dress Instep and Bal-Laced Dehner Boots

Tall black patrol boots worn by motor officers are eye-catching. Even to non-boot guys, I see lots of other people, male and female, young and old, watch motorcops and look longingly at their boots.

I have dozens of pairs of motorcycle police patrol boots, including six pairs made by the Dehner Boot Company. The company has received some criticism for making stock boots with plastic shafts (they call “Dehcord”) but I’m told by a lot of cops that they like the boots that way, since they are very easy to maintain a nice shine with a quick spray of furniture polish and a wipe-down.

Most cops have boots provided for them by their employer, so if they damage a boot with a plastic-shaft while wearing them for duty, the boots can be replaced at little or no expense to the officer. Other guys, like me, who are not cops but like the boots, aren’t as fortunate. Therefore, we have to be careful not to damage stock Dehner boots by exposing them to hot motorcycle pipes or excessive wear.

I’m a strange booted leather dude — I actually wear all the boots that I own. I don’t put on a pair of boots for the occasional leather fashion parade or fetish event and then wear dress shoes to work and sneakers around home. I ride my Harley, walk a lot, do construction, work in the yard, and go about daily life booted all the way. However, when I may be doing work that would expose boots to heavy wear, water, dirt, mud, or excessive bending, then I choose boots other than Dehners to wear.

Some guys have very strong preferences on the style of police patrol boots that they like. Some admire the traditional bal-laced instep. Some like an instep on a boot without laces — it’s called a dress instep. I like both. I really have trouble deciding if I prefer one over the other. It really depends, I guess, on what boots catch my eye when I visit my boot closet.

Anyway, here are a couple of recent videos that show these styles of boots. You decide.

Life is short: wear your boots!

Training Ankles of Patrol Boots

The most important thing to do when you get a new pair of motorcycle police patrol boots — especially the combo plastic/leather stock Dehner patrol boots — is to break them in at the ankle correctly. When you do that, you are “training” the boots. You want them to bend at the ankle in such a way that they don’t form folds, or dimples, that go diagonally inward. If that happens, it can cause the inside of the boot to rub against the soft, tender flesh of the ankle and generate blisters or bleeding sores.

Believe me, I know from experience how this can happen. In the early ’90s, I bought a pair of all-leather custom Dehner patrol boots. I was thrilled with them when I got them. I put them on and hopped on my Harley for a ride. I walked in them a lot, thinking I was breaking them in.

Problem was, I did not take time to train the ankles of the boots before I put them on. I didn’t know that you had to do that! Unfortunately, those boots developed a “bad break” at the ankle. The leather at the fold where the boot shaft meets the foot folded diagonally. The result: agony. I started to experience bleeding sores on the back of my ankle.

I tried to “re-train” or “re-bend” the offending area and folds of the leather. I learned, though, that once the folds get set in place which happens by walking in them, the leather will not be “retrained.” I even soaked the offending area in water and stuffed the boots with kraft paper while they dried. I waited a week, then tried to “train” the fold at the foot. But it was a “no-go.” The boots creased at the same bad places. Now when I wear those boots, I have to put in a protective piece of plastic between my sock and the back of the inside of the boot to prevent rubbing. It’s odd to have to do that, and wastes time. But it’s the only way I can wear those boots without causing pain.

If you already have boots with a “bad break,” I am sorry — you can not “retrain” boots. Learn from my experience! When you get new boots, train them right. This is why I created this video, titled Training the Ankles of New Dehner Patrol Boots. I hope you find it helpful and learn from it.

How To Tie Bal-Laced Dehner Patrol Boots

I observe what people enter into search engines that drive them to my website and this blog. A frequent question or keywords entered are along the lines of “how do you tie or lace up bal-laced patrol boots?”

You want the laces to go straight across from eyelet to eyelet, meeting in the middle where they are tied together in a simple bow tie.

Some guys have made the process seem to be very difficult or complicated. Heck — for this guy who almost failed knots in Boy Scouts, I can do it. If I can do it, anyone can.

However, seeing pictures of the results works for some people. Seeing the process actually done in moving pictures — a video — will be more helpful to others.

This is the reason why I produced the following video and posted it on YouTube. Hope it helps!

Life is short: wear your boots!

The following is courtesy of the Dehner Boot Company website.