We Are Equal Yet Different

I received an email from one of my loyal blog readers, BootedPaul, with whom I have enjoyed exchanging email for years. He wrote to me with observations about some recent posts on this blog.

He said: …[it] has been my interest in having both partners equal and able to share equally. It is not a relationship that is discussed or promoted very much, but you certainly need appreciation for letting others know that it can be done and is enjoyable.

Thanks, Paul. I have written many blog posts about my partner and our relationship. We are indeed equals in our relationship and how we share our lives which are closely intertwined. We have been together for almost 17 years. During that time, we have grown and developed a bond that is as endearing as it is enduring.

There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet about gay relationships. I see many postings from gay men who talk about enjoying a dominant/submissive relationship. The “sub” does the work, the “dom” directs. Or one man in the relationship is the “Daddy” while the other is the “Pup.” Or the bitchy queens (‘nuf said about them.) Our relationship as equals is not often viewed on the ‘net — though I think there are a number of us “equal relationship couples” out there (some of whom I have met) but few post stuff about their relationship. It’s not really “news” for a blog or Forum posting when things are going well, is it?

Both my partner and I are independent, forward-looking men. We are as comfortable in our own skin as we are in leather, jeans, or nothing at all. We know who we are. We’re not perfect; we continue to learn from our mistakes. But what makes our relationship work are four things: trust, respect, listening, and love.

I trust my partner with my life; with my finances; with my insecurities, wants, and desires. I can be — and am — as honest with him as he is with me. We never do or say anything that can cause us to doubt the other’s veracity. If I go visit my very handsome best friend in Phoenix, my partner knows all about it and wishes me a good time. If I meet a visiting Boot Buddy for lunch or dinner, my partner is informed ahead of time and then asks me how it went (he is always invited, but he is not the social sort.)

Our mutual trust particularly extends to finances. I handle “the books” and every few weeks review our joint finances with my partner so he knows where every penny of our combined funds has been spent, allocated, or budgeted.

We both recognize that many relationships (gay or straight) have failed over fights about money, or when one partner steals from the other. While my partner is paid a higher salary than I am, it doesn’t matter to either of us. We contribute equal portions of our income to keeping our household and lifestyle secure and debt-free.

I respect my partner as my intellectual equal. We may have had different upbringings and formal education; nonetheless, I respect that he has thoughts, ideas, and interests that are valuable and contribute to my life-long learning. He does the same with me. Again, a difference is that my formal education achieved a much higher level than his; yet, he is my equal and we respect that we each can and want to learn from one another.

Respect is also demonstrated in how we speak with each other. How we listen, and how we respond. Never in a million years would either of us belittle the other — publicly or privately. My partner is a man who commands respect by how he acts and who he is. He would say the same thing about me (in fact, he did, the other night when he watched a public meeting that I led).

Listening is not often mentioned, but is important to describe about what makes a relationship work. Gay guys tend to blab a lot. Goodness knows I’ve been guilty of that. My partner has always been a superb listener. He hears things not said. He responds to cues about which he becomes aware because he’s not trying to be the talker. My partner has taught me a lot over our years of being together — shut up and listen! You might learn something! How true… how true. I make a strong effort to listen to what my partner says, so I can hear what’s important to him, and respond thoughtfully. My partner can do that in his sleep. I need more practice (smile).

Love? That’s the age-old enigma. People say that they fall in love and then sometimes things change, and they don’t love each other any more. Both my partner and I can say that our love is enduring because when all is said and done, love is what we have beyond anything else. We could lose our home to disaster; we could lose our jobs; other bad things could happen. Though we have taken measures to protect our lives, lifestyles, and financial security, we know that our love for one another is the foundation of our relationship, and is really all that matters.

Speaking of love — I also like my partner. He’s a cool dude. Fun guy. Witty. Smart. Playful. Generous. Romantic. He also can be a pain in the ass sometimes, as I can be hell sometimes too. There are a few times when our level of “like” for the other is challenged. But never our level of “love.” It’s always there.

We like to do different things in different ways. I am the Booted Biker of our duo, and he was happy being my passenger on the Harley (when his disability didn’t prevent it). He likes to sit and watch the animals in our forest while I like to get out and ride my Harley. I’m running around fixing things for seniors, and he’s buying the parts I need to keep my “Mary Poppins/MacGyver Bag” stocked. He is the master gardener and I’m the muddy-booted hole-digger. He’s the coupon clipper and I’m the guy who writes the grocery list in the order in which you’ll find the items in the store. He’s the football fan and I’m the skydiver. He’s the movie-buff and I’m just in love with his buff bod. Whatever… you get the point. We are equal yet different. Just the way WE like it.

Throughout all of this, I haven’t mentioned sex yet. Yes, sex is important and we enjoy a pleasurable sex life. But there’s much more to our relationship than sex. I have to say, though, that we wouldn’t have much of a relationship without sex, so yeah: sex is important. Being equals, we know what pleases the other and we take care of each other in the way that is most enjoyable for the other.

Intimacy is important to. The intimacy we share through our trust, honesty, as well as sex, makes our bond strong. If the hours in the day were long enough, I’d be happy just to lay in bed next to my partner and snuggle the whole day through, listen to him, talk about life, and just, … ahhh… relax in the comfort and security of the arms of my man (and vice-versa).

We are here to affirm that it is quite possible that two gay men can be equals, and be different. We earn each other’s trust, we respect each other’s differences; we listen to one another; but most of all, we both remain deeply in love with the man of our lives… forever… endearingly and enduringly. He is not my “other half,” he is my “best half.”

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

Booted for Work

Today I will be getting down to business in renovating that house I bought a couple weeks ago. It seems that the more I get into it, the more I find that requires repairs. Windows were replaced by a crew on Thursday, and they did a nice job… except the moldings around the frame on the inside of all of the windows crumbled or broke.

My mitre saw and I will be busy today crafting custom-made frames and moldings for 14 windows. I am using oak, rather than pine. Oak is a hardwood, and will be more sturdy. I will custom-cut each piece to replace each frame and molding, and my nailgun will make short order of attaching the pieces to form the frame and moldings around the frame. My partner, the painter of our duo, will paint the newly-installed wood after I install them.

I figure this process will take all day. While I am there with the saw, I will do some more carpentry work, too. Darn it, though, I don’t have power in the house (yet), as I have to do some rewiring in advance of having the furnace replaced with one that will accommodate central air conditioning. That doesn’t happen until next week. Meanwhile, I will use my generator to supply the power required to run the saw.

How am I booted? I got myself a pair of 8″ Timberland Pro Work Boots that I snatched up from Boot Barn by finding a huge discount certificate on-line. The boots are very comfortable, so I understand why all the boot guys rave about them.

So today as you enjoy whatever you’re doing, think of me, in blue jeans and work boots, doing carpentry and home renovations. Wanna help?

Life is short: get booted right for the job!

Shopping for Leather Jeans or Chaps

I received a comment on a blog post the other day from the guy who owns Eastern Oregon Leather and who made those really cool wrist cuffs for me and my partner.

He said: “the pair of [leather] jeans I got is turning out to be really cheap. They are off the shelf from the net and the seat is already stretching out. They fit fine the first time I wore them but now it looks like I have a load of crap in my seat .. Lol! Live and learn. I am now looking for a custom shop to get a good pair.”

I also received an email from a guy in Germany who said: “Your leather gear looks great on you. You said that some of your gear is more than 20 years old, yet it looks new. It isn’t like the gear I ordered by the internet. Where did you get it?”

I learned the hard way about buying leather gear and perhaps I can share some information with guys who are interested in getting a pair of leather jeans, chaps, or even a leather shirt so the gear will fit them well and remain good-looking as it is worn for years to come.

Here is what I have learned:

  • Leather gear designed for the masses, such as sold on some straight biker-oriented websites (leatherup.com and Jamin’ Leather are prime examples), looks good on guys who model it for photos on their website, and appears good the first time you open the box. But as Shane said, when you wear it a few times, it begins to stretch, sag, and get baggy in the wrong places. If you want to continue to wear it, you will have to have it professionally altered, often at a cost that is more than what you paid for it originally (unless you have the skills and equipment to do alterations yourself.)
  • There is a reason why leather gear that has prices significantly lower than gear sold by leather-oriented retailers is cheap: the quality of the hides is usually poor. It is probably made of splits, not top grain leather, but is polished, buffed, and the leather is stamped to appear as if it is top grain. But it doesn’t behave as top-grain leather when you wear it. It usually squeaks, stretches, and can tear easily. It may discolor when exposed to water, rain, or heat from a motorcycle engine. The chemicals used to make it shiny wear off quickly, and then it looks dull, or develops discoloured patches ranging from gray to black. Sometimes it can look like it has “leather pox.” (Not a real disease, but you get the point.)
  • Construction of a leather garment is important! Cheap gear shows short-cuts in manufacture — anything from single-stitched seams to x-pattern stitches where rivets would work better (corners, pockets — like on Levis) or a shortage of pockets to (my pet peeve) cheap snaps in the fly so when you swing your leg over the saddle of a motorcycle, your fly pops open.
  • Sizes S-M-L-XL are attempts to fit everyone, and usually don’t (fit everyone).

  • “Cut-to-length” jeans or chaps are a sign of cheaply made-for-the-masses gear. Leather jeans or chaps should be hemmed, not cut, to the right length. Hemming requires the use of a sewing machine and needle strong enough to work on leather. If you simply cut off the bottom of a pair of jeans to fit the length of your legs, then the ends of the legs will fray and the seams will come loose.
  • Be very careful about using eBay, Craigslist, or other on-line auction sites. Remember: used gear fits someone else. No two people are exactly the same. The previous owner may have caused the leather to stretch in the seat or knees. If you wear size 34 denim jeans and see a size 34 pair of leather jeans, it is NOT likely the fit will be the same. You may end up with something that doesn’t fit you, and that you cannot return. Don’t use on-line auction sites to buy leather unless you really know what you’re doing and have experience with choosing gear that will fit you.

Good quality leather gear will outlive the person wearing it if you care for it by conditioning it from time to time and hanging it up when you are not wearing it. Leather is a long-term investment. As such, here are my tips for shopping for leather gear:

  • Make a decision on how often you will wear the garment. If you will wear it more than once-a-year to a leather fashion show or gathering of The Great Leather Clan, then get quality, custom-made gear. It will fit you better, look better, and be made better. If, however, you are unwilling to wear leather pants, chaps, or a shirt more than once or twice a year, then you probably can get by with the cheap stuff, as a long-term investment isn’t worth it.

  • Don’t be intimidated or afraid of shopping at a leather-oriented retailer like 665 Leather, Mr. S., Northbound, or equivalent. While these retailers may have images on their website that may be frightening or cause eyebrows to raise among the straight guys, these businesses are in business for a reason: they craft quality leather garments and they know what they’re doing. They have measured and made leather gear for all sorts of people — big, small, tall, short, black, white, Asian, male, female, transgendered, and people with physical disabilities. They don’t care what you look like; they’re not looking for the next sexy model for their website. They want you to be happy with quality gear that you will wear. (Which brings me back to point 1: get over your own hang-ups about wearing leather.)

  • Use the retailers website to gather information and to determine what turns your crank, but especially for the first few forays into purchase of leather gear: visit the store in person or call them on the phone. Don’t order based on an image and fill-in-boxes on a website alone! When you visit or call a leather retailer, they can discuss with you many options that may not appear on their website. Options may include:
    • different colour of leather other than black.
    • a zip fly instead of snaps.
    • a zipper all the way around from front to back.
    • measurements they need so they can create gear thats fits all parts of your body: ankles, calf, lower leg, upper leg, thigh, hips, butt, waist, abdomen, tummy, chest, arms, neck.
    • hidden zipper front closure of a leather shirt (very functional!)
    • number, size, and placement of pockets.
    • piping (colored strips that define pockets and seams).
    • striping down the outside of each leg.
    • color combinations, such as for pocket flaps, epaulettes, or yoke.
    • Closure for chaps, such as a belt or snaps.
    • Bottom leg closure, such as zippers to make a tapered end so the leather will fit into tall boots smoothly.
    • Lots of other stuff, too. The point is, unless you actually speak with someone who is making leather gear for you, then you may miss out on getting options for leather gear that makes it “uniquely YOU!”

Custom gear made to your specific measurements may cost two to four times as much as off-the-‘net stuff will cost, BUT buying one item that you will wear for years is a better investment than two or three items that may quickly stretch, bulge, discolor, or rip and that you will not be able or interested in wearing for more than a few times, or that you would need to have repaired or altered by a professional.

When I consider buying leather jeans, chaps or shirts, I consider these retailers:

665 Leather of North Hollywood, California.
Mr. S Leather of San Francisco, California.
Northbound Leather of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

I have purchased many leather items from these retailers, and have been very pleased with the quality of the garments and their construction. The choices of leather they use is superb. Craftsmanship is excellent. Customer service is also very good.

In summary, when it comes to buying new leather jeans, chaps, shirts, jackets, vests, or the like, you get what you pay for. Buy cheap, get cheap. Make an investment in the good stuff, and it will last a lifetime. You will enjoy wearing it, and perhaps become like me: wear it often, with pride.

For more information, read my Complete Guide to Leather Gear. I hope it helps you make wise decisions for long-term investments in quality and gear you will enjoy for a long time.

Life is short: wear your leather!

Suits Aren’t For Me

Last Friday, a guy half my age who started working in my office about a month ago wore a suit to work. I kidded around with him in a good-natured way by saying, “you must be having an important meeting!”

He smiled and said, “no, not really. I just like to dress up.”

…there I was on blue-jean Friday in Chippewa Firefighter boots and blue jeans mumbling to myself.

After I returned to my office, I began to think aloud: “oh yuck!” and “is he serious?” I shuddered several times. My visceral, negative reaction woke me up. I thought, “my goodness, why do you feel so strongly negative about dressing up and wearing a suit and tie?”

Honestly, I just absolutely can’t stand it. I looked back on my childhood and tried to remember just when it was that I developed such an aversion to dressing up. I cannot remember for the life of me. I have always disliked dressing up.

Intrigued, I called my twin brother and asked about this. My twin, unlike me, has been Mr.-suit-and-tie his whole life. He truly seems to enjoy dressing up and wearing suits. He told me, “heck, you never ever EVER have liked to dress up. I remember that Mom put you in a suit for (our sister’s) wedding when we were 6 years old, and you promptly went out and jumped into a mud puddle!”

Perhaps the revulsion of the outfit is not so much the outfit but what it is supposed to represent. We have been fairly well indoctrinated to believe what is viewed as the uniform of success. People who make the rules wear suits. People who are “wannabes” wear suits, too (like the new guy in my office.) Whereas people who carry out the rules wear uniforms, polo shirts, and khakis.

For many, wearing a suit to work conveys a perception of success and being seen as “professional” — not just to themselves but to others as well. My friend Kevin and I will create our own definition of dressing professionally. It doesn’t have to include wearing a suit every day, especially if the office dress code is “business casual.” I am regarded highly in my profession and have an international reputation which was earned by my contributions to my field, not by wearing a costume.

This is an ongoing “problem” for me, if you call it that. As much as I enjoy wearing leather and boots, I feel equally the opposite about wearing suits and shoes, but there are those times when I just can not avoid wearing dress clothes and a noose (oops, I mean “tie.”)

We all wear costumes to work and the most attractive are those who wear the clothes and don’t let the clothes wear them. I have blogged about something similar as it relates to those who wear leather as a costume versus those who do so because of function or that it simply suits them. The latter do not have the slightest interest in the “leatherman rules” or roles because the clothing doesn’t define them. Leather is just clothing — nothing more, nothing less. At least, that is how I perceive it (and my friend Kevin, too, who gave me these words.)

I dress up if I must, such as for a funeral or a wedding or a required meeting with big-wigs in agencies with whom I work. After all, I am in a management position and such attire is more the norm for people at my level. But I consider dressing up to be a chore. I get a chill up my spine every time I see that commercial on TV for whatever-suit-sales company it is where its CEO says at the end, “you’re going to like the way you look.” Yeah, right… not me.

Believe me, I have tried a number of ways to work this out. My partner had me fitted by a good tailor in a nice-looking suit as a gift for one of our first Christmases. He said I looked great. I felt miserable. I have had tailors fit me for a tux for the very rare times I have had to be part of a wedding party or attend a formal embassy dinner. I had these continuous chills running up and down my spine until I could get that damn monkey suit off my back.

Anyway, it was an interesting internal self-exam. It affirms what I already know: suits aren’t for me. And if I ever had to wear shoes, the defibrillator would have to be nearby, ’cause someone would have to use it on me.

Life is short: enjoy it in leather and boots!

I appreciate my friend Kevin’s thoughtful advice and experience which contributed to improving this blog post before it was published.

Posted in Job

How I Learned to Write

Lately I have had several people compliment my writing style, and I am thankful for the kind words. Someone asked me, “how did you learn to write like that?”

Let me begin with a little history, to which I’m sure many can relate. In 7th through 9th grade, I disliked English composition classes. I struggled and struggled with writing the required compositions. My mother would patiently help me think about what I was trying to say, but it was difficult. I had trouble with noun-verb agreement, using adjectives, and understanding constructions like “there, their, and they’re” and “who and whom” and “its and it’s.”

I have to admit, I also detested writing because, at the time, we had to write on paper with a pen. I did not have a typewriter at home. Typewritten compositions weren’t accepted in junior high — the teachers thought that if you turned in a typewritten paper, your Mom wrote it for you. Home PCs were not available (though Eniac and Edvac were invented at the time, they were more for marveling at science, not for the masses. Man, I’m old!) I detested writing in cursive. My resistance to the physical act of applying pen to paper contributed to my overall dislike of writing, as well.

In 9th grade, we were required to take a foreign language (back in the day when studying a language other than English was a graduation requirement). I did not want to take Spanish or French because I already spoke Italian fluently since childhood, and thought I would have trouble with those languages because I would get them confused. The only other option was Latin. Latin? Why that? Well, it’s different, and it was taught by a very well-regarded teacher. I enrolled. Sic volvere parcas et alea jacta est.

Thus (or should I say, ergo?), I learned to write well for four reasons:

1) Latin taught me how to structure my English. I finally learned about subject-verb agreement. Latin taught me all the parts of speech and how they worked together. I finally learned all of the tenses of verbs, and when to use them. I learned not to infinitives split (after Latin taught me what an infinitive was!) I continued to take Latin throughout high school and continued studying it through four semesters in college. I learned that the language is not dead, as it lives in many modern languages, including English.

2) I had inspiring teachers. In addition to my Latin teachers who were great, I also had an English teacher in 10th and 12th grades (same person) who was absolutely incredible. She taught with great energy and passion. She asked us to write about what was in our hearts and on our minds. Not just for function, but to express oneself. I learned to take risks in writing that made me write better, stronger, and more clearly.

3) I received a typewriter for a birthday present in the summer before 10th grade, and my Mom “suggested” (forced?) me to take a typing class. It turned out that doing so was the best thing that I could ever have done. While my mother could not foresee how important learning how to type would be due to the widespread use of computers at home and in the workplace nowadays, she knew that if I learned how to type, that I wouldn’t find writing to be such a chore (and she wouldn’t have to type my papers!) In high school, teachers would accept typed compositions. They didn’t care how they got them — just that they got them. So I typed away! I even won the school speed typing contest that year (first male student ever to do that!)

4) My very patient mother had a special way of helping me with my English compositions. She did not to review and edit, but rather, she had me read what I wrote aloud to her. Then she would ask questions such as, “what do you mean by that?” or “how could you say that differently?” or “what is the main point and where’s the summary?” She could always spot where I had gone astray, but through her questioning technique, I learned to spot the errors myself. By reading aloud, I could hear what was not right and self-correct. My Mom had a gift for bringing out the best in all of us, and I do not think she even knew it, or how thankful we all are.

There are two writing skills with which I continue to have trouble. The first is writing succinctly. Ha! Look at how long some of these blog posts are! The second is placing an adjective before the noun it describes, instead of after it (as is done in Italian). I enjoy the boots black (and brown, and other colours).

By learning that writing can be fun and a joyful way of expressing oneself, and also by learning how to type, I have found that blogging is a way to continue honing my writing skills.

Life is short: write what you think! (So sez Mrs. D from 10th and 12th grades)

Combining Passions

Yesterday was a day of service in the United States, where to honour the memory and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are encouraged to take time to serve others. Both my partner and I had the day off from work as a holiday.

The day began with the early arrival of our friendly Man in Brown (UPS delivery) where I received a pair of Berliner Riding Pants made by 665 Leather of West Hollywood, California.

I quickly changed into the riding pants and put on my 665-made grey leather shirt. They made a great combination and felt wonderful with tall Wesco patrol boots!

Side note: I have always said that when you’re having leather gear custom made, to give the maker a call and discuss your interests. These riding pants are different from what is usually offered because I prefer a zip fly (instead of snaps), tighter closure at the leg opening (like breeches so I can wear them with tall boots over them), and a higher rise at the waist, so they will fit me better. If you want something made the way you will like it so you will wear it more, then by all means, call the maker and discuss options. Doing that will result in a product from which you will enjoy a lifetime of wear.

When we rose at 6am, I had prepared Cialda (waffles) for my partner and me. I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, then mounted my Harley and rode to a food bank where I volunteered for about six hours, helping them to sort out donations, clean up, and repair some broken shelving.

Turns out I was not the only guy who was wearing leather and boots while volunteering! A very nice guy was also wearing a pair of leather jeans and engineer boots (with a denim shirt.) He doesn’t ride a motorcycle, but he once did. He gave me his card and asked me to get in touch, as he is seriously interested in buying a motorcycle and getting back on the road. He was quite an enjoyable helper/companion for the day’s work.

It had warmed up to be a very pleasant day, with temperatures reaching 55°F (13°C) by mid-day when finished my shift and left. I rode for about 30 miles (48km) while enjoying the wonderful day. Ahhhh… boots, bike, and leather.

What a wonderful way to combine my passions of community service with riding my Harley fully geared.

Life is short: combine your passions!

Yet Another House

I am not one to take advantage of the misfortunes of others, but there are times when people walk away from an investment, and banks and local governments intercede to take over ownership of properties.

Such was the case recently, once again, where I was notified that a house right next to one that I already own as an investment property was coming up for auction on a tax sale. The previous owners had disappeared and the county would accept a rather token offer plus back taxes and fees to dispose of the property.

I had been reading in the local newspaper and seeing spots on TV news that such “hot properties” were becoming involved in bidding wars, and like the hyperescalation of the housing market we observed in 2007, that investors and first-time buyers were competing with one another to bid at such auctions to acquire properties.

Because this house was right next to one that I already own, I was interested in it. Especially because there was great value at a very reasonable cost. I found a way to inspect it, and it had “very good bones.” While it was built in 1946, apparently someone along the way updated some of its features, plumbing, and electrical systems. It needs to have air conditioning installed (I can’t imagine how a house of that size in this area could still not have central A/C).

When the auction for this house was held, I expected to see a crowd, or throng, of investment bidders. I was very surprised that there were only two others going for this property. They didn’t know what they were doing. I only had to bid US$100 more than they did, and I won, upon presentation of a substantial cashier’s check. Of course, I had the “privilege” of going to the bank and drawing a cashier’s check for the remaining balance the same day. But it’s done, and the deed is now in my name! Oh boy! The house is in an established, livable, walkable, safe neighborhood. I will have to invest about US$50K to fix it up and bring it to current safety codes and standards, fix the landscaping, repair the driveway, have it sided (removing the crumbling clapboard) and install a new roof, but overall, it is worth it. Its assessed value is more than three times what I have and will put into it.

I have been spending some time going through it from attic to basement, from shed to under the front porch. I have been using an estimating program on my computer to determine just what needs to be done. Now I am determining what repairs I will do myself and what work I need to hire others to do. It’s a balance, but I have outgrown re-roofing houses, thanks. Or chopping out broken cement and replacing it with asphalt. I know how to do the work that is required, but my poor ol’ achin’ body isn’t that interested (or motivated) in doing such physical labor any more. Nor do I have the time to do all those things by myself.

Soon enough, the house will be properly renovated, and I will seek out a deserving servant of our community — law enforcement officer, firefighter, or teacher — and arrange a rental with them. These are the people who rent my other properties. I don’t get market rent, but I get great tenants, along with the good feeling of being able to provide affordable housing to the people who serve our community yet can’t afford to live here.

My partner thought I had lost my mind when I told him about this potential investment. However, once I got into it and we determined that the financial requirements were within our means, I “went for it.” You see, I don’t expect much from Social Security, 401K investments, retirement, or pension plans, so these houses are my “retirement fund.” Hey, if you can do it, do so! Considering the market, now is the time to invest if you can. Housing prices have, in my opinion, hit bottom. That’s why I moved quickly on this purchase.

Life is short: invest wisely!

Leather Weekend!

It is Leather Weekend in Washington, DC! Time for Mid-Atlantic Leather. Alas, I did not participate in any of the MAL activities, either official or unofficial, such as the HotBoots gathering yesterday afternoon. I didn’t even travel more than a few kilometers from my home, out in the suburbs of the city (about 20km from downtown.)

In honour of Leather Weekend, even though I chose to do other things and not participate, I wore full leather commencing Friday evening and all through the weekend as I went about my daily life.

Saturday morning, I wore a short-sleeved leather shirt and leather jeans over Chippewa firefighter boots. When outdoors, I had a simple black motorcycle jacket on. I presided over a public meeting with my community group, followed by grocery shopping with my senior friends, then doing our own grocery shopping, too. I checked in on my lovely aunt and ran some errands, as well.

On Saturday afternoon, my partner felt well enough to put on some leather gear, and asked me to put on my LAPD leather uniform. We modeled our new wrist cuffs about which I blogged the other day. These cuffs have a great masculine appearance and feel great. My partner loves his, as I enjoy wearing mine. After taking some photos, we watched a movie at home. (Haven’t done that in a long time!)

Today I have a meeting with a state senator as we prepare his campaign re-election website, and I work with him on his bill regarding a requirement to use only hands-free mobile devices while driving — a perennial issue for me that our spineless state legislature can’t seem ever to pass out of committee despite the weighty evidence and studies about distracted driving.

Since rain will fall all day today, I have on my naked leather jeans, long-sleeved leather shirt, and lug-soled Wesco Harness boots that give good grip while walking on wet pavement.

After the meeting with my senator, I will change leathers to “more grubby” (such as an old pair of cheap leather jeans and shirt), change into Wesco Combat Boots, and get to work on renovating a house I bought a week ago.

I had a rather typical weekend. Busy with things I do in my regular life, but nothing special. I would like to have hung out at the MAL host hotel for a while and visit with friends who are in town for the special leather weekend; however, my partner is recovering from a set-back he had with his disability, and could not walk nor stand for more than a few minutes. I would not have left him at home while I went off to socialize with the booted leatherdudes, as doing so would make him feel bad, which is the last thing I would want to have happen.

Enjoy your leather! Wear it more often than once a year at MAL, hear?

Life is short: enjoy it in boots and leather.

Leather Belts

I received an email the other day that asked, “I was wondering have you or your partner ever given someone a belt spanking.” (there were a number of typos and misspellings, but that is what was meant.)

It caused me to think (there I go again) … being a vanilla leatherman in a monogamous relationship with another of the same ….

I guess there are ongoing visual impressions, and perhaps misunderstandings, that anyone who wears leather gear — particularly the “old guard BLUF” style gear — enjoys carrying out or observing S&M activities, including hitting someone else with a belt, spanking, or such.

I am not saying that those who enjoy these types of activities are wrong or bad — BUT… my answer was:

“The only use that my partner and I have for a leather belt is to hold our pants up.”

…and that’s the truth.

Then the guy wrote back almost immediately and pursued with this statement, “no i ment for punishment” [sic]

My reply was rather terse, as I was becoming annoyed. I said:

“You did not understand me. We never have or ever will use a belt for punishment, period. That’s it. We don’t do that. We never have done that. We never will. The ONLY use we have for a belt is to hold our pants up. How can I be more clear?”

Generally, I try to be patient with people, but sometimes they just don’t get it. The writer may have other “issues” about which I am not aware. But that’s it. I do not intend to communicate with him again on this matter. If he cannot understand what I wrote, then there is little more that I can explain or do.

How many belts do I have? Six. I have owned most of them for so long that I do not remember where or when I got them. The belt that I wear most often is a standard western 2″ black leather belt — you know, the kind on which you can change buckles; one belt is a a brown version of the black western belt; one is a brown western belt with conchos; one is a garrison belt that I wear with uniforms; and one is a Sam Browne belt with shoulder strap that I also wear with uniforms; my last belt is a 2-1/2″ belt with pyramid studs on it, which I wear with leather jeans.

That’s it. I do not own any of those 1″ thin leather dress belts. I hate dressing up. My 2″ western belts work on my dress pants on the rare occasions I have to wear that garb.

I am rather boring when it comes to belts.

Life is short: keep your pants up (in public).

Partner, Husband, Spouse?

I refer to the man of my life as my partner. We met on April 25, 1993, and began dating, seeing each other on weekends, then more often. We traveled within the U.S. where I brought him to states he had not previously visited before — twice long-haul on my Harley, two-up, saddlebags full of clothing. We traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and Europe together, including a wonderful (to me) and scary (to him) motorcycle trip on the windy roads of the Almafi Coast of Italy, and a very scenic trip on the Romantic Road in Bavaria, Germany.

Then he worked with me as I purchased an old farm that was to be developed, and I built it out while turning gray in the process. We built our dream house on one of the lots. This is our home where we have built our life, and plan to live here ’til we can’t climb stairs any more.

I think of him as my “best half,” which is a better reference than “other half.” And certainly a better reference than “boyfriend” which is far too casual. He is, to me, my heart, soul, and very essence of being. My soulmate, best friend, treasure, listener, cuddler, lover… all these words that function more than just as labels. He means the world to me.

We know gay men who have married in states where it is legal to do so in the United States, and some gay men where it is legal to do so in their respective countries. The state where we live isn’t “there yet” but may be… eventually.

For now, I refer to him as my partner. But that sounds so business-like. He is for all intents and purposes my spouse. But I have this funny feeling about calling him a husband should we marry some day when/if our state makes it legal to recognize a civil marriage ceremony and afford us the recognition and status that man/woman marriages provide, with all the rights and responsibilities thereto pertaining.

Funny, the other day, someone did a search on this blog for the word “wife.” As if I had one. The only thing that comes up in that search is references to my twin brother’s spouse — his wife. Sorry fellas who may think something-or-other, I have not had and never intend to have a marriage to a female and thus have a wife.

My partner is definitely a masculine man. He is everything a man could be, and more so. What a blessing it is to have him, to love him, and to call him my own. Calling him my spouse will be wonderful… someday.

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