Boots Are My Footwear

Not that long ago, someone sent me an email and said, “I have been reading your blog and website, and you say all the time that you only wear boots. Is it true that you don’t own even one pair of shoes, like trainers?” He was from the U.K., where “trainers” means “sneakers” here in the U.S.

I replied with a simple but honest answer, “yes, that is true. Boots are my footwear. I do not own any shoes of any sort, and have no intention of having any.”

He replied the next day saying, “I find that unbelievable. You say that you work in a management position in an office. You lead some sort of organisation in your community. You gave a eulogy recently at a funeral. You must wear shoes on those occasions!”

My reply was factual: “I have been wearing boots as my exclusive choice of footwear since I was at least ten years old, and probably before that. Because everyone who knows me — at the office, in the community, and everywhere else — has only seen me in boots, they expect nothing else. Granted, I ride a motorcycle and have a reason to wear solid, protective boots for safety’s sake. But boots are on my feet at all times (when I am awake, healthy, and physically able to walk), not just when I’m on my motorbike. For more formal occasions, I wear dark (black or black cherry) cowboy boots with a normal heel and semi-rounded toe. I do not ‘overdo it’ by wearing boots made of exotic skins or colours or that have high heels or sharp ‘X’ toes with a suit or in a formal setting. Wearing boots is just who I am and how I have always dressed.”

My correspondent replied with a different line of questioning, “so what do you wear to the gym?”

… well, that presumes that I go to a gym. I replied by saying, “I use the swimming facilities at a University near me, and can walk barefooted between the locker room and the pool. I do not engage in physical activity there that requires use of sneakers. While I enjoy walking a lot, I have boots that are quite comfortable for walking as exercise.”

The guy with whom I was communicating replied by saying, “thank you for your explanation about wearing boots all the time. It may be a difference of culture or experience. While I like how boots look on some men, I would never think of wearing a pair of boots except only on the most informal occasions. I would not wear them to work, or with a suit. I would expect a mature man such as you would share the same perspective. I have learned that this is not true. It is very interesting to me. Thank you.”

I thought that was a civil reply to a discussion of different perspectives. I have found this line of inquiry to be similar with some men in my own country (the U.S.) as well. There are some guys who would never think of wearing boots at all, and some who might own one pair of boots that they may wear once or twice a year on informal outings. Some men wear boots more often. I realize I am on the extreme, by wearing boots exclusively and refusing to consider, much less actually wear, shoes.

Thanks, G, for your insights and for your permission to post this message on this blog.

Life is short: wear your boots!

When "They" Are Wrong

The proverbial “they” got the weather forecast all wrong for the area where we live in Maryland, USA. On Friday, “they” were predicting that we might get 1″ (2.5cm) of snow. The big storm was supposed to stay south of us.

“They” were wrong. It began to snow at 9am, and snowed all day. “They” kept changing the forecast, upping the amount of snow expected for our area each hour. “They” finally issued a winter storm warning after noon. Heck, we already knew that.

Here I am with a broken leg, and a disabled partner. My beloved partner is doing the best he can to take care of me, do our grocery shopping, AND shovel the snow from our drive and walks. He cannot operate our snow blower. It is too big, heavy, and hard for him to handle.

There I was… inside, with a tear running down my cheek, holding myself up on crutches watching him work. Man, I feel so guilty. I wish I could help him. He is working so hard. My partner said that we had 7″ (17.5cm) of snow when he got out there in the late afternoon… and snow was still falling when he came in.

Bless him… nary a complaint nor whimper. His first question when he came in the door was, “how are YOU?” The least I could do was heat hot water for some cinnamon herbal tea to warm him up.

This too shall pass, but I’m feeling rotten.

Thank goodness that neither he nor I have to cook dinner. We still have about a dozen casseroles that my senior pals brought over during the week. That was so sweet of them. And they’ve been calling all day, as well. They knew that I would have a lot of trouble sitting still, so they have been calling me to make sure that I didn’t do anything stupid, like try to put weight on the broken leg or worse — go outside. I swear they have bugged our house, because they “overheard” my thinking. (No worries, I obeyed doctor’s orders to remain indoors, leg up, and on ice.)

Life is short: show those you love that you love them, because when they love you, they’ll do anything for you, even if it hurts.

Update: Someone sent me an email to ask, “why don’t you just hire a teenager to do the shoveling?” Man, I wish that were possible. Unfortunately, one of the few downfalls of living where we live is that the teenage kids who live in our area have no work ethic. They don’t lift a finger to do any work around their own houses, much less work-for-hire to do manual labor like shovel snow or mow lawns for other people. That’s quite different from how it was when I grew up, but is a sad fact about the poor work ethic that parents have accepted in their children today (in this area).

Two Guys on a Harley

I belong to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle-related discussion forum on the internet. Recently, someone posted this question:

Would any male motorcycle rider make a trip (say a few miles) while allowing a man to ride (seated) behind them on the their bike? Or vice versa?

You can tell from the way the question is worded that it is already prejudged against two guys riding together.

As of the time I was writing this blog post, there were 30 replies. There were three types of responses:

1. “Only in an emergency” such as this: I would ride a guy ONLY if his bike was broken down. I would need an excuse to spout verbally.

2. “Give a ride to share the fun” such as this: I have given those less fortunate to own a Harley or any bike for that matter the thrill of being on one. Takes a few days for them to get the grin off their face…lol. None of them had any issues with their ego and I am comfy with myself.

3. “Incredulity” such as this: back in time it was normal to see two guys on a bike… how times have changed. Other related statements included riding with male family members (family doesn’t count) or two males riding in Europe — apparently it’s not an issue Across the Pond as some people make of it here in the U.S.

This thread of dialogue is, to me, a demonstration of the ongoing tension felt by straight guys who are insecure with their own sexuality and gender that they feel that they have to demonstrate the hypermasculine male image on a Harley, which means never carrying a male passenger unless the passenger is your son or nephew, or a friend who had an emergency. There were, unfortunately, a number of homophobic responses to that discussion — and some who even said that they were proud of their homophobia. Pity their small little minds….

In my opinion — it shouldn’t matter if a guy rides as a passenger on a Harley being driven by another guy. My partner and I rode all over the country that way, and never once — even in the Bible Belt where homophobia is omnipresent — did anyone say anything. We weren’t waving the rainbow flag or strutting around in our chaps (without any other clothes on), but we also weren’t hiding the fact that we were very close; staying in the same hotel room; speaking with words like, “our”, “us”, “we” and so forth. It was pretty clear that we were not related (such as brothers).

I think the on-line Forums tend to bring out the most outspoken, and do not necessarily demonstrate the majority of the thinking in the country, or the world for that matter.

My perception: secure men don’t care. If you worry about whether anyone is going to question your sexuality or gender by giving a male passenger a ride on your Harley, then get some professional help to work through your gender identity issues. Secure straight men as well as gay men have it figured out already.

Life is short: stop worrying about what other people think, and be yourself.

This is a photo of me with a friend. I couldn’t find one of me and my partner in digital format that would illustrate the point of this post.

The Brother Who Happens to be Gay

I haven’t blogged about this in a while, but since my family has taken over my blog (thanks, sisters, thanks brothers), I thought I would return to writing my own pieces, and describe a bit of what it is like for me to be the “brother who happens to be gay” in a large family.

I have a very large family. Sometimes, too many to count. But seriously, if you count my siblings, their spouses, their children, and their children’s children, there are 159 people ranging in age from zero to 68. And that’s just my immediate family. My father came from a family larger than that — so if you include my aunts, uncles, first cousins, first cousins once removed, and first cousins twice removed, we’re closing on 400 people.

Do I know all these people? Well… some better than others. I know who they are and their names because I took on the responsibility of keeping my father’s family tree and genealogy. So at least I know who my family members are by name, date and place of birth, current location, and relationship back to my paternal grandparents.

When it comes to my immediate family — my brothers and sisters — we have an ongoing, healthy adult relationship. It took a while for that relationship to develop. Being the youngest, my twin brother and I were always treated as “the kids” and it took a long time for our older siblings to accept the fact that we were adults. I “came out” as gay when I was in my early 30s. Some of my family accepted me as being gay right away when they found out, and others did not. In fact, some said that they knew it all along and were just waiting for me to say something. Those who were more reluctant to accept that I was gay had interference from their respective spouses. Yeah, there are some of my brothers or sisters in-law who don’t speak to me unless they have to. Yet there are other in-laws who are as close to me as one of my own blood siblings. It varies.

I think what helped to develop a positive, adult relationship as a gay man, and a gay brother, with my siblings, their spouses, and offspring was an example taught by my mother when she died. It took her a few years to accept that I was in a relationship with a man. But once she accepted that, she grew to love my partner. When she died, we found a note where she designated my partner to be a pall bearer at her funeral — the only “son-in-law” so designated. That made a powerful statement.

I live a positive, up-beat, normal life with my partner, who I treat as an equal and as a spouse. As readers of this blog know, I am well-connected in my community and do a lot of civic work. My family recognizes that and values my contributions. They have supported me all the way in various “campaigns” and in some big events such as our annual Thanksgiving pot-luck or “Spring fix-it-up-for-senior-safety” gigs.

They’re there for me, as I try to be there for them. I show up at their kid’s school plays, football games, birthday parties, or other important events in their lives. We are intertwined. We are family.

It’s not easy being the “odd-ball out” as some people have described being a gay brother among a large family of heterosexuals. But I am not treated as being odd, or unusual, or “different.” As our family continues to grow and move along life’s highway, I am considered as one of those who contributes to our growth. I provide various ways for us to keep in touch through the internet, email, websites, and so on. But my family also works at keeping in touch and together.

I know that I am very fortunate to have a family like I have. I have heard from gay men who have been ostracized and excommunicated from their respective families. I feel very sorry for them. Most of the time, the negativity directed toward them was not their fault. Often, organized religion plays a very negative role in disassociating family connections. (That’s why I personally have a lot of trouble with the term “Christian” when people who claim that title act with bigotry, hatred, and hypocrisy.)

I am not saying that I have all lovey-dovey relationships with each member of my family. Some of us are closer than others. That’s going to be the case in a large family. I am, admittedly, closest to my twin brother J, but then again, you would expect that. But what I can say is that I have earned the respect of each member of my family, and even if they have personal reservations about homosexuality, they realize that “it” is among their lives and they have gotten accustomed to having a brother who happens to be gay. Not “the gay brother.” To me, that’s the difference.

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

Sister Act

Guest blog by R, G and C, BHD’s triplet sisters

We figured if our brothers could get into the act yesterday, that we could, too. We are four years older than BHD and J, and are fraternal triplets. That means that while we share the same date of birth, but have enough physical differences that you wouldn’t call us identical. We think similarly, and oddly enough, we each have married and have had five children a piece — two of whom share the same birthday, and three of whom share the same date of birth (figure that one out!) These coincidental birth dates of our children were not planned, but happened by serendipity.

If you ask BHD, he would insist that we were put onto this earth to torment him and J, his twin brother.

Never! They were put on earth to torment us! We couldn’t have boys over without B and J giggling behind the curtains, or putting fake spiders in the drink glasses. It was no wonder that we would pretend to chase them around and jump out to startle them in the upstairs hallway.

As we have grown up — speaking for ourselves, because our little brothers will always be our “little” brothers — we realize that our brothers are pretty good people. Some of us have moved apart, while R and BHD live in the same area. Regardless of our physical location, BHD has worked hard to keep us together by implementing internet technology as long as 14 years ago when he created an email distribution list for the family. Now he runs a website for our family to post messages, pictures, and updates about what we are up to. It even integrates with Facebook.

As much as we had some sibling arguments when we were kids, we have become close friends in our adult lives. In particular, we’ll never forget that BHD saved G’s life. Literally.

We know this is not a family blog, but we have seen how much fun J has playing with BHD’s blog, so we thought we would chime in together and say, “we love you, little brothers!” Catch you in the ether! And BHD — don’t go chasing little old ladies any more. You’re not as young as you used to be! (Alas, good deeds never go unpunished, do they?) We look forward to seeing you on your Harley and in those boots at our family reunion in July!

Life is short: love your brothers; they need all the help they can get.

When the Helper Needs Help

Guest blog by J, BHD’s twin brother and M, BHD’s big brother, the doctor

Our poor ol’ brother broke the lower end of his fibula in his right leg, near the ankle. Fortunately, the ankle is fine. Being a complex joint, breaking the ankle itself would probably mean surgical procedures and a very lengthy recovery. A broken fibula is bad, but it will heal by itself and no surgery will be required. (M saw the x-rays through incredible marvels of technology, and confirms BHD’s doctor’s observations).

He was fortunate to be wearing boots that provided strong ankle protection when he fell. Had he been wearing sneakers or regular shoes, then it is likely that he would have broken his ankle and his life would be changed forever. For us, as his brothers, we are now convinced that his boot-wearing probably saved him months if not years of pain and inconvenience.

For now, while he is uncomfortable when he is waiting for the pain and swelling to subside, he is being well-tended by his partner and the older folks I met when I visited with him over the years. From what we hear, his partner is providing the TLC that our brother requires, including help with bathing and changing clothes.

Our brother’s older friends are taking shifts to spend time with him during the week while his partner is at work. Our brother told us both in a rather emotional moment on a recent phone chat that “paying it forward is being paid back.” That is, he has put a lot of time and attention into caring for his senior friends, and now they are enjoying being needed, and helping him.

All of us who love him have told him only to say, “thank you” and not say that he is undeserving. If anyone deserves kind, caring attention, it is our brother (“big” to J, “gentle” to M).

He worries that all of the people he cares for will need help that he can’t provide during his recovery period. So from afar, we are helping to organize an in-fill capacity to provide his services while he recovers. Our sister will begin to look after our aunt, and a couple nephews will do what is required to care for some of his senior friends who need physical help that our brother, until now, has provided without fanfare or attention. That’s just how he is.

Believe me, accepting the role of being helped is not easy for the helper our brother is. Our role, living so far away but being close to him as brothers, is to help him accept that, and to know what he says all the time is true–

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

The Horrors of a Hobbler

My friend who felt guilty because she thought that she caused my fall which resulted in a broken bone in my leg near my ankle came over this morning to fuss over me, but she had to leave at 11:00am. My next caretaker was due at 11:30. No problem; I can be by myself for a half-hour.

No sooner did she leave, then the man in Brown (UPS Delivery) pulled up. I hobble over to the door and he put a box inside, which I can’t bend down and pick up, because I can’t bend down with crutches! I looked like someone who would have appeared in an I Love Lucy show, with all the gyrations I was going through to try to lift up that box.

I began kicking the box down the hall, when the doorbell rang again. This time, it was FedEx. He didn’t wait; he left a big envelope that contained pain pads for my partner on the front stoop. Pain pads? My partner requires these for his disability. I thought it was oddly juxtaposed that here I am in such pain, and I have to retrieve a box from the front porch with pain pads in it!

I began trying to pick up that package up when I dropped not one, but both of my crutches and then lost my balance and settled down to my left knee (fortunately, I didn’t fall). There I am in PJs out on my front porch, cold, and in pain! I betcha the nebby neighbor across the street was watching on his private video system and laughing his head off.

TG my next helper arrived early. Imagine, an 80-year-old woman trying to help a 52-year-old bearish guy up off the ground. Somehow through the use of leverage and ingenuity, with a dab of patience, we made it. I got resettled into my comfy chair and got ice back on the ankle. But for a while there, I was afraid my partner would come home to find me frozen out on the lawn!

Sheesh… no more doorbells for me!

Check back for updates on The Horrors of the Hobbler, a new mini-series suggested by my best friend, AZ, to be written, published, and sold shorty. LOL!

Painfully Annoyed

So the doc says the ankle fibula bone in my leg break is clean, but severe. The swelling remains pretty bad, and the pain is awful. I don’t have much of a tolerance for pain, but I am more annoyed with my sudden lack of mobility than anything else.

My partner, bless his caring soul, has been doing so much to help me. Thank goodness we have an open floor plan, and I can rest comfortably in our family room with the computer and just rest. So yes, I am resting! It had to be something like this to get me up and off my feet and stop running around all the time.

My best friend, AZ, suggested that I put a note on the door — “I’m home, but pardon me for not answering. Come on in!” More food has arrived than we will ever be able to eat, but no complaints there. The outpouring of concern — both here at home from my senior pals and my family — and on the Internet with my Boot buds and blogger pals — has been incredible, and very much appreciated.

Meanwhile, the pain drugs are working, at least to allow me to have a good night’s sleep last night. Foot up on four pillows, turned sideways in the bed. Quite a sight!

My partner went to work today, but M will be here at 7, E at 10, F at 12, P at 2, and L from 4 ’til bedtime. They won’t let me be alone, and I have no worries about a need for a thing.

The pain drug makes me groggy and emotionally weak. I get tears in my eyes at the slightest things. Calls, email messages, visits… all so sweet and warmly appreciated. But they make me cry sometimes. A good cry; nonetheless, it confuses my partner when he sees me with tears rolling down my cheeks, because he doesn’t know if I am in pain or just being emotional.

If I don’t reply to a message you have sent right away, know that it was received and I thank you for it, from the bottom of my heart. Soon enough, I’ll be back in form, up-to-speed, and booted once again. But for now, rest… rest… rest.

Life is short: pay it forward and it comes back with love.


My friend, “M”, who I was escorting yesterday when I took my tumble, fell, and broke my ankle leg is taking things personally. I wish she didn’t feel responsible for my being a klutz. Heck, these things happen!

She spent most of the day with me today, insisting on helping out, even though my partner was home. But he just let her take over, which made her feel better.

My friend got the word out and my elder buddies have been streaming to my house dropping off lots of food. I am ankle deep in wall-to-wall casseroles. I have run out of room for all this food, but I can’t turn it away — not after someone went to all the trouble to make something for me! My partner has put some of it on ice in coolers. I wish I could eat some of these dishes, like jambalaya, soups, and zucchini dishes. Alas, my chronic colitis won’t allow it. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

“M” stayed the whole day, even while my partner took me back to the doctor for a follow-up evaluation. When we arrived home this afternoon, ten more plates and boxes of goodies had been delivered. Honestly, I don’t know what we are going to DO with all this food!

These people are so sweet to go out of their way to help this one-booted klutz. I give a great deal of credit to my partner for putting up with the constant doorbell ringing and disruptions. He has been right there, at my side, for whatever I need. Bless him, and bless my senior buds. They’re the best!

Life is short: what goes around comes around!

Broken Ankle

Sunday afternoon, I was escorting an elderly friend into her home. Sidewalks were slick with rain. She began to fall. I caught her but fell myself. I broke my right ankle lower fibula, according to x-rays at the urgent care facility.

I visited orthopedic specialist on Monday and was told that I have to wait about a week for the swelling to go down before I can get a cast. No cast, no walking! I’m stuck at home for a while.

Fortunately, my elderly friend was not hurt. My partner is taking good care of this old broken-down one-booted klutz. TG that I can telecommute.

More later.

Life is short: even for us klutzes!