Monday, July 27, 2009

Why did the Cub climb the mountain? Because he needed to

I have never been a strong physically fit person except but for a few periods in my life. My husbear, Orlando is very physically fit. He is a big brawny Man with a capital M. By that -I mean he loves the outdoors and could live outdoors non-stop if it were up to him. I like the indoors very much. I don't HATE the outdoors but I like modern technological conveniences and indoor plumbing. He loves Kayaks and wild looking rivers, and rocky hiking trails. I love crab stuffed ravioli and pan seared duck breast. Orlando loves Cowboy Chili and hot dogs. Occaisionally we come together on certain activities, movies, (horror, action adventure, romantic comedies), Syfy and couch cuddling, a good steak, ( me rare, him well done)and a well made, modestly priced cocktail- and of course sex. So since we both think that we'd like this romance to last a good long time, there has been a certian amount of entering each other's worlds. Worlds we wouldn't have entered had we not met.

He attended the production of "Some Men" at New Conservatory Theater a record 4 times. That is not to say he didn't enjoy the performances but, previous boyfriends fail the "dating an actor test". These men have shown up late for the play, or drunk, or fallen asleep during the performance. The ones I broke up with immediately were the ones who didn't enjoy it when I got recognition for my work on stage. Orlando not only got an A+ in my book, but also showed me that he was seriously interested in making me happy. I wanted to return the favor. We've almost begun a contest of sorts to see who is the more dutiful, attentive boyfriend. It was easy for me to fuss over him when he was here in San Francisco, because one of the best ways I can do that is to cook for him. He actually traveled to see me nearly EVERY WEEKEND of the 12 week rehearsal/performance schedule. I don't think he even complained ONCE about doing the 3 hour drive.

I have very recently made some changes in my life to better myself and to show him that I am worthy of the investment he has made. The best development of meeting him is that he helped me to surface from the haze of a 9 month depression where I was grieving over the death of someone who was once close to me. My apartment became a dumping ground and neglected living space. Mold and clothing and dirty dishes and soap scum were EVERYWHERE. He is a tidy man and was concerned that I considered THAT, a healthy and normal environment to live in. I didn't. I didn't even know how bad it had gotten. I realized I needed help. For an astonishingly good rate, I hired an organizer /cleaner and now Orlando beams when he comes to SF to visit me to witness the miracles that my helper, Mr.McGinn, has created. (Anyone in SF needs a GREAT cleaner, send me a quick e-mail.)

The other change I made was to get back to fitness. It's been a slow start, but I am getting back into exercising and I wanted to do it for me, as much as anything- even though he is the dedicated exercise addict. My depression had turned me into a dedicated couch potato. It seemed the benefits to getting back to a fitness routine were numerous. Aside from having an activity to share with my new boyfriend, I was sick and tired of... feeling sick and tired. I was taking too many escalators and elevators. I don't want you to think that winning Bay Area Cub mean't I was going to begin this hardcore body transformation by the way. With the emergence of the Muscle Cubs and Muscle Bears it seems there has been a loss of acceptance within the community of certain body types. I feel it is my DUTY to maintain my pot belly. I just want to acquire a little more energy is all. Did I mention that Orlando, my big bear, loves to dance? He only requires 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night and can dance until the wee hours of the morning. This little cub needs a full 8 hours to function and poops out after the first few songs. This didn't bode well for a successful Lazy Bear Trip because lets face it, there's ALOT of dancing goin on. I DEFINITELY needed to build up my stamina.

So now that the play has closed and my weekends are my own, I have made the trek up to Anderson California to visit my 'Lando. I thought I could handle making a few extra trips up there so he could relax about driving to my part of the world for a few weeks. I should tell all the bewildered out there that Redding is right next to Anderson and's not the most sophisticated part of California. I suppose all the not-so-fine citizens that let the Prop 8 mess happen live right there. See this-

Yep Kids it's still an ugly place out there in the nooks and crannies. Orlando knew the couple that was killed ten years ago. I don't want to depress you with the reality that homophobia is alive and well in rural California because most of you KNOW that already. I bet you can tell me a story about harassment right in the Castro! I want to talk about Mount Lassen this week and the birth of P.A. Cooley Bay Area Cub 2010 OUTDOORSMEN !!!

My last trip to the Redding this past Spring my beloved took me on a nice little SEVEN MILE stroll on the banks of the Sacramento River. Beautiful scenery and many folks were on the Sundial Bridge that day. I was determined to show him that 7 miles on a pretty sunny early spring day was EASY for me. In truth -I felt like I was on the Bataan Death March. Truly my legs needed to be removed from my hips I was in such agony. I smiled tightly trying not to show Lando I was NOT suffering that day but he wasn't fooled. I think when I cried out in anguish sharply as I lowered myself into the car seat and passed out momentarily he had gotten the idea that a 7 mile was a bit much for my sedentary body.

This Saturday he proposed that we hike up the "active volcano" Mount Lassen. (no -no Lava just nasy smelling sulfur fumes) He'd lived in that area for 20 years and had never done it. I was game. I even joined him for his PX90 video work out before breakfast. He looked a little stunned when I suggested it because typically he woke up to exercise and I slept on. I didn't do too badly for a guy who hadn't lifted a weight in over a year, but I couldn't keep up the pace that the buff, playful video instructor had us on. When we got to the abdominal exercises Lando swore at the television screen. I pooped out a little over half way through.

So Lando made some rockin pancakes and then we had a little private celebration of the rockin pancakes and showered and got ready for the big hike. It was a beautiful drive in his convertable and the 97 degree heat was tolerable. He told me that since he knew that I couldn't handle the hellacious tempatures of Anderson, (Sunday reached a fire breathing 103) he thought I would enjoy the much cooler mountains. When we saw "Drag me to Hell" we had joked about the demons reaching up from the earth and snatching me down into the center of Redding CA. We stopped at an Australian hat store so I could have some nice sun protection for my fish belly fair complexion. I like my new hat and can't wait to show it off at Lazy Bear. I will spare you my Crocodile Dundee impersonation.

We drove up 8000 feet and the air immediately had cooled to a comfy 79 degrees. The scenery of Mount Lassen Park was stunning with the towering Pines and lush green meadows. Tons of families and couples were about -I didn't find any Gay couples but there were some shirtless athletes running around. WE pulled into a parking lot that had a giant mound of ice sitting near it. "What's that?" I asked. "A Glacier" Lando calmly said. My eyes shot up. "A Glacier? really? " I ran up and touched it's dirty granular ice. Some patches looked pink from the minerals. At least I hoped they were minerals. Then he showed me what we were going to climb..."huh! well lookit that! That's a lot of mountain" He then informed me it was 2 and a half miles to the top. " Oh well...that's not all that bad.."I said uncertainly The Sacto River trail was 7 miles and this would probably be a piece of cake..Then I noticed it was straight up.

We saw a one legged man -(I'm not lying) and his pack of 7 and 8 year olds completing the last leg of the journey down..(sorry) as we were headed up. "See honey?" Lando coached, "If they can do it then you can certainly do it!" I stuck my tongue out at him. I was indeed daunted by the steep hill. I was amazed at the vastness of it. It wasn't straight up. It kind of zig zagged so that every view you saw as you arrived at each turn was dramatically different then the one you saw that was a mere 20 feet away. We stopped quite a bit to drink it in. "This" Orlando said, sweeping his arm out in the direction of beautiful mountains and lakes..inspiring enough to make you start singing about purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain, " why I bought you up here so you could see ..." I watched him gaze serenely at the endless stretch of mountains that hundreds of thousands of years ago were spouting lava and ash. We trudged further and saw a sign saying that we had reached the 1.5 mile mark and only a mile to go. ONLY A MILE??? MOTHER OF GOD. My face was boiling off my head and I could barely speak because of the lack of oxygen at this altitude- as an elderly obese woman trotted past me. This was treacherous!!! Couldn't she see that? There were stones that one could EASILY slip on and go sliding down the rubble and smash into a glacier! In fact -walking across the glacier in sneakers was no easy feat. Lando suppressed a chuckle as I carefully did this cross country skiing motion in my rapidly dampening sneakers.

After we rounded the 35th corner and found yet another elderly couple cheerfully munching on granola bars under the shade of a huge rock. We were only .5 miles from the top and stood there gasping coated in sweat. We had been smart enough to bring water-albeit in a dreaded carcinogenic plastic bottle-but my beloved had a brilliantly mapped out picnic lunch that regrettably never made it to realization.I looked sad when he told me about it, and he went over and hit his head on a rock over and over saying " I'm a bad boyfriend a BAD boyfriend" The elder couple looked alarmed. "Honey? you are scaring the elders. Now wipe the blood off your forehead and lets conquer this bad boy!"

I scrambled up the rubble with renewed vigor. "Hey!" Orlando called after me "You never told me you were part Billy Goat?" A wispy basset-faced woman who looked like she'd be more comfortable at a bar with a Cosmo in her hand loped by me and said, " Keep going baby, if I can do it -ANYONE can!" A surprisingly obese couple prattling away in Spanish stopped and cheered me on in English. "There's a beautiful blanket snow at the top, you are almost there." Behind me Orlando said, "I'd love to see the expression on your face right now so I could see what is inspiring everyone to cheer you on." I gasped and grunted and huffed up the crushed bits of volcanic rock. Orlando was reminded that he had heard the same sounds emanating from me this morning when we "celebrated" the pancakes. I was indeed getting one HELL of a work out, yet it was more fun that morning.

The top was at least within out view 30 min later and a happy Mom pointed toward the peak for us as her sullen teenage daughter stomped by her. Suddenly Orlando heard the theme from Chariots of Fire in his head and sprinted the remaining 20 feet. I couldn't swing it. I walked up dragging and paused with him as we looked out. It astonished just how far the mountains went. It was cool but not cold -despite my river of sweat dripping down my back. Families and couples chatted -camera happy Dad's clicking away like mad. We clicked some pics and drank the water that earlier was a burden and now was a God send. A chipper frat boy and sorority girl took our picture. I ruined it by blinking. I am the KING of the safety shot and I am Kicking myself for not having the chick take a second one.

Orlando and I sat very close under a rock looking out on to the Northern California Landscape. I don't think I can write a big enough word to give you an idea of what we were seeing. He reiterated "This is why I brought you here honey." I rested my hand on his thigh. "I'm glad you did babe..I'm glad you did"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Cub above

Last Fourth of July a man by the name of John Caldera held a contest at The Lone Star Saloon in San Francisco. This contest was called "The Bay Area Cub" Contest. (For the heterosexual followers of my blog I touch upon the Bear and Cub subset of Gay culture in my previous blog, but it's pretty common knowledge as to who they are within the Gay Community to the other Gays) There were only three contestants in this contest. There was an earnest beefy blond white twenty something with enormous blue eyes and there was a friendly gracious soft spoken Peruvian man -and yours truly.

Why did I enter the contest? prove a point. There were a lot of other youngsters out there who thought that a cub couldn't possibly be over 30. Yes -I am turning into THAT guy. The one who runs a marathon at 50 because he was tired of people saying, "Well you are older now and you can't do the things you used to." My Dad's midlife crisis was a beaut and I watch my older brothers and search in vain for those tell tale familiar signs of "I-don't-give-a-shit-what-anyone-thinks,-I-am-going-to-go-ahead-and-do-it anyway." Even though they are a decade or so older than me, it seems I am the one to follow in my Dad's uncompromising footsteps first when it comes to midlife crisis. I guess I do have a problem with people thinking I don't have what it takes to do something. My boss has been using it as effective management tool on me for 2 years now. She'll sigh, after I explain I hadn't gotten around to doing something, and say that she'll guess she can do it faster and that's when I snatch the file from her saying, "No -Don't worry I can handle it." Chicken McFly?

I arrived early after talking briefly to Mr.Caldera. We were acquaintances from roughly 15 or 20 years ago at the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus. I was aware that garnering the title meant some significant fund raising would be part of my responsibilities. Not exactly a piece of cake, but definitely something I thought would be within my capabilities, since I had done like 8 fundraisers for Theater Rhinoceros and few to produce my own show as well. It was all the other qualities that I was concerned about. I mean -was I perceived as a cub by other bears and cubs? Would the judges think so? Was I breaking rule by calling myself a cub at my advanced age? Where the hell IS the definitive Bear, Cub and their den Manual? (Most of the info is right here at The Complete Bear by the way, but I didn't know that then. All I knew was that a group of guys who frequented the Lone Star were considered the Bear population of San Francisco. Beyond that, I needed a little education. Luckily I had read and heard from reliable sources that the Bear population kind of defies any specific definition, but there were some obvious visual common denominators. Furry and Masculine with a wide variety of sizes seemed to be the essential ingredients. Also a friendly open attitude about sex was important. I thought I could muster that-despite my queeney tendencies. Anyway -it was all for a lark anyway.I was dead sure the kid was going to win.

My competitors seemed to have the appropriate qualities , but I was indeed a little furrier than the both of them. I wore a flight mechanic's jump suit -that when strategically zipped gave a nice focal point of my "treasure trail". I thought somehow the judge's panel would like that. I answered my questions salaciously and made the wonky wire in the mic stay put so all my answers could be heard. All the while during the competition I was banking on the twenty something to win. The mellow Peruvian and I were about the same age. After my competitors and I had sold a round or two of raffle tickets, I felt significantly enlightened. I learned about the role of the Bucket Bitch. This is a role that my best friend Drew was groomed for! The Bucket Bitch ( in our case a Bag Bitch because we didn't have Buckets) is the person who is in charge of ripping the raffle tickets and making change while the Raffle sales person is carefully measuring the length of the inseam of the purchaser. They ran quite a deal at this Raffle. It was a mere five dollars for tickets that were the length of the inseam, or the circumference of the chest, or the waist. So essentially I felt all these men up and Drew collected the money...The amount of money we made I believe was only 10 percent of the score -or was it 30? I don't really recall because I saw that the kid had gone wayyyyy ahead and had a full bag of SOLD tickets. Luckily my Bucket Bitch is a Drag Queen. He wasn't in Drag that particular day, but he is hugely successful at taking the littlest activities and imbuing them with an importance one would NEVER think possible. He once stole the show at Josie's Juice Joint by simply changing the set -in full drag mind you but all he was doing was changing the set. He even got mentioned in the freakin review of the play!

So Drew is chattering away like an entertaining little magpie and I am jamming my thumb and forefinger waaaaaay up the inseams of these men. My fingers would linger at the crotch and their eyes would sparkle in appreciation at me. I actually got to sell tickets to a couple of former Bay Area Cubs. Kevin-got the experience of me rubbing my forehead up against his crotch -kind of like he was tea bagging me while the family jewels were still in the jeans. Well ...he WAS one of the judges after all. What did you expect me to give him -a kiss on the cheek? Rolando (the reigning cub 2009) was polite and perfunctory. He didn't need me to go through the rigmarole of tickling his nether regions. Together we guesstemated the length of his inseam I'm pretty sure he thought I was going to lose and took pity on me and my Bucket Bitch. We were the only ones brave, and or stupid enough to go in the bar and harass the patrons trying to avoid the contest all together. He wished me luck though. He raised a lot of dough biking down to LA and back for the AIDS Ride.

I was also informed by Rolando that my "husbear" Orlando, would be a Sash Widow. I highly doubt that Orlando would opt for watching a basketball game on TV when he could be partying with a bunch of other Bears. It's pretty funny that they use the term Sash Widow, because you don't get a sash when you win these things you get a vest. You don't get the vest right away either. I'll get it in 2010-I think that's what John told me anyway. Rolando was disappointed in the design they chose for his 2009 vest. He had hoped for more creative input. I didn't think I would complain. It would've been cool to sport a sash or vest when Orlando and I go to Lazy Bear in Guerneville this year but maybe I can get a T-shirt put together with a Decal saying, P.A. Cooley Bay Area Cub 2010-He's not your Daddy's little Bear Cub!...or maybe not.. Maybe I'll make stickers saying, "P.A. Cooley -wait till he gets his paws on you!" oh Dear ...

So we sold all our tickets and we are all up on stage and John Caldera announces that I won the freakin contest. In some of the pics you can clearly see my slightly frozen smile and my eyes broadcasting my fear at what I had gotten myself into. Now I REALLY needed a crash course in all things Bear. It had to be more than flannel and Woof and Grrrr...or did it? Didn't they tell me that this title was essentially what ever I decided to do with it-as long as I raised money for the community in the form of two fund raisers? Well here he comes folks. Mr. P.A. Cooley - a whole new breed of Cub, older, wiser and sexier...ok ok so there's plenty of sexier cubs out there but not ones with my kind of moxie and exhibitionism dammit.

The ideas are flowing freely now and I am excited to take my reign. I wanna assault every bear at Lazy bear with some hardcore flirtations so they KNOW who the Bay Area Cub 2010 is! I have been carefully restructuring my wardrobe for that Perfect Leather outfit, that Perfect flannel and jeans number, and the endless selection of Cargo shorts. Help! Someone get me a bear stylist who specializes in Cub gear! I breezed over to Mr. S Leather with visions of chrome studded leather jock straps, a pair of chaps that looked like a second skin and a vest that looked like it took HOURS to get into...then I looked at the prices ....then I ran to Worn Out West in the Castro -used leather will have to do.

I have been plotting and planning feverishly ( events, clothes, stand up comedy, a Cub-aret!) and Orlando(husbear), looks at me and marvels."Wow are taking this Cub thing seriously, aren't you?"

" Hell yes!" I piped back at him "Taught you something Loverbear! You CAN be over 40 and be a Cub!" My beloved unfortunately was one of the non-believers -and no-I did NOT do this contest because he and I were having a disagreement.

I did it because I AM a Cub...welcome to my world...stay tuned!