So… what the hell happened?

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Last week, I posted this short paragraph to my Facebook account:

Just had an experience that is making me re-evaluate the way I live my life. I need to make some changes, post-haste. For now, though, I’m going to spend a quiet night at home.

The comments, emails, text messages and phone calls that followed were overwhelming.  In a good way.  Without even knowing the source of my dismay, my friends from far and wide reached out to me with words of comfort and encouragement.

Mom and Beth, sorry you are hearing about this firsthand– I didn’t include you on that post– I didn’t want to worry you.

So… what the hell happened?

Well, in hindsight, it seems kind of silly.  Really.  I wasn’t held up at gunpoint or told I have some life-ending disease.  I wasn’t fired from my job or evicted from my home.  Nobody was maimed or harmed in any way, shape or form.

Only my ego.  And maybe my self-esteem.  But it’s really my fault.

OK, enough with the setup– here’s what happened.

On Friday after work, I was preparing to meet some friends out for drinks and then head to a fundraising event for the chorus.  I was looking forward to the events, mainly because in the very near future, things were about to get really busy with the chorus show.  A last hurrah, of sorts.

So I decided to go shopping and buy a new outfit for the evening.  I needed some new shirts, as I’ve worn my short-sleeve shirts to death.  The most logical stop was The Gap, since there was one just a block away from my first stop for the evening.

I went in, and I found a couple really nice short-sleeve shirts and a pair of jeans.  I also looked at a new jacket, since it had suddenly turned colder that day and I didn’t have one with me; and the jacket I already have is starting to look a little worn.

I found XL sizes for the shirts, because that’s been my size for years now.  I had been working to change that, but in the past few months I haven’t been so good about going to the gym.  We’ll talk more about that in just a few minutes.

Anyway, I proceeded to the fitting rooms to try my new selections on.

NOTHING fit.

Absolutely nothing.

Not the shirts, not the jeans, not the jacket.  They were all too tight.  In fact, the shirts were so bad I couldn’t even bring the buttons together with the buttonholes, and I had a hard time getting my arms in the sleeves.

Now I could see if one shirt was bad, but two?  That’s just weird.  I’ve worn XL Gap clothes for years and they always had ample room.  But not with these shirts.  At the first attempt, I thought, “This has to be mis-labeled. ”  It felt like a MEDIUM, not an XL.  But I took it off, and it was definitely marked an XL.

Dejected, I stood in the fitting room and started at myself, then at the clothes.  What was this telling me?

  • I wasn’t going to buy anything that day.
  • I needed to fix this problem.

How did it get to this?  I was doing so well just a year ago.  And now I can’t fit into new clothes.  How did I fall so fast?

Then I started to feel humiliated.  All I wanted to do was get out of there and go home.

So I patiently gathered up my things, brought the clothes back to where I found them, sauntered out of the store, and went straight home.

That’s what happened, and that’s why I was feeling so low that day.

Now, in hindsight, I have a few thoughts:

First, there has to be something amiss with those clothes and the sizes.  I could see if they were a little snug, but to be so tight that I couldn’t even bring the buttons together seemed ridiculous.  I have never had that happen before, and I’m sorry, but I haven’t gained THAT much weight.  In fact, I had a doctor appointment the following Monday, which only proved that to me– I am still well under the weight I was at when I started my workout regime in May 2010.

Second, I don’t usually resort to the tactic of “Vaguebooking” to elicit responses from people… but I felt pretty vulnerable that night.  I almost deleted that post shortly after I wrote it, but after the responses started coming in, I actually did feel a lot better.  I can’t thank those of you enough that reached out.  You helped me greatly.

Third, I have made a promise to myself to get back to the gym once and for all.  It’s going to be tough at first, I know; but I did it before and I know I can do it again.  I can’t help but think of how well things were going last year and how great I’d look now if I had only stuck with it.  So I need to stick to it and keep thinking of the end result.  It will come.

Now I need to actually JUST DO IT!  Getting started is the hard part.  But I know that (second) first day back is coming very soon.  It will happen.

And a year from now, who knows… I may be wearing that MEDIUM after all.

But let’s just take things one step at a time.

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Friday Flesh: Ryan Phillippe

These are happy times in the Phillippe/Witherspoon household. Reese, a/k/a Mrs. Ryan Phillippe, just won a Golden Globe for her performance in the movie Walk The Line. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hear it was a well-deserved win.

But we’re not here to talk about the talented Ms. Witherspoon today.

We want to discuss her husband.

We all remember the beautiful man we know as Ryan Phillippe when he was just a young lad, when he played the first major gay character on the soap opera One Life To Live. He was adorable then, but we had no idea what we were in for at the time.

Ryan Phillippe in his younger days.

Then came a movie called White Squall, which had all kinds of young boys running around shirtless all the time– Ryan included. He was instantly moved from “Cute young kid” to “Hot young stud.”

Then came I Know What You Did Last Summer and Cruel Intentions. And then, finally, 54. A star– and a stud– was born.

Ryan had become a superstar. His face was everywhere. His body was everywhere. And we loved him for it.

And then he got married. It seemed that after marriage, our boy Ryan took a backseat to acting to become a father. And you know what, I find that very admirable in a guy.

But lest you think that Mr. Phillippe just sat around drinking beer and getting fat, I am here to prove you wrong. For Ryan has only improved with age; much like a fine wine or a sharp cheese. OK maybe that was a bad analogy. But still.

Ryan Phillippe looking HOT in recent days.

These recent photos of Ryan working out were posted on the Most Beautiful Man.com website and let me tell you, if all dads looked this great, there would be a lot of adulterin’ going on. Damn.

Sure he’s looking a little streety here, but sometimes I find that kinda hot in a guy. Especially on him. For another view of Ryan, checking to make sure that everything’s hunky-dory (and I do mean HUNKY), check out this photo.

These pics also remind me to let you know that tomorrow starts a new day for me. I will be attending my first Weight Watchers meeting. It’s a big step for me, and a scary one at that. I’ve wanted to do something about my weight problem for a long time (and for the record it’s not THAT bad.. but bad enough that I want to change it). So watch for updates on my progress as things go along. I don’t know if I necessarily want to say how much I weigh when I go in there, but I’ll be more than happy to share how much I’m losing.

And for the record, my weight loss goal is 35 pounds.

Wish me luck… and have a great weekend!

OH and PS – Friday Flesh stays as is. Enjoy 🙂

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours

It always seems that, when things seem to be going really well and everything is looking up, some things happen that make you wonder if the “higher power” out there really enjoys seeing the events of one’s life go up and down like the hills of a rollercoaster.

To preface all of this, last Friday, a horrible incident occurred in Chicago. A passenger in a cab apparently had an altercation with the cab driver, and it resulted in the passenger pulling the driver out of the cab and running him over– not once.. not twice.. but THREE times. He then sped away, crashed the cab, got out, hailed ANOTHER cab, and fled the scene. The cab driver died later at the hospital.

For most of the weekend, the story dominated the news. people were disgusted and astonished at the horrific crime. At first glance, you would think the story would have taken place in one of Chicago’s worst neighborhoods, where things like this are all too common. But it happened in Lakeview… right in the heart of Boystown… where things like this are not at all of the norm.

On Sunday night, during one of the breaks at rehearsal, the degrees of separation between me and the story instantly became much smaller. One of my friends approached me and said he just heard some shocking news about one of his friends and was reeling from it… apparently he had turned himself in as the cab driver killer. I asked him who it was and he said “Mike Jackson of Chicago’s Department of Health- HIV/AIDS Awareness Division.”

My jaw dropped. “I know him,” I replied.

I had met him over a year ago online. We met for… well… we messed around. He was a really nice guy and was very easy to talk to, and I actually enjoyed spending time with him. I had seen him at numerous events since then, and we always talked and caught up. I never, EVER would have guessed that he would be capable of something as heinous as this.

Apparently, everyone else that knew him felt the same way, including my friends in the Chorus. In the news that followed, he was portrayed pretty much as my friends said, and as I knew. Nobody knows why he snapped. (Drugs have been suspected by some, but nothing has been confirmed. I wouldn’t know one way or the other.)

But that still doesn’t change the fact that someone I know… someone I had sex with in fact… is a potential murderer.

The next chapter in this story lies in the fact that two people very close to me have recently told me that they have tested HIV Positive. I will not say much more than this about it, but hearing this about people who mean so much to me makes me very sad as well.

The (hopefully) final, and to date most painful, chapter happened today. Another dear friend of mine from the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus passed away.

Larry had been a member of the Chorus for nearly twenty years. He had organized every GALA (Gay And Lesbian Association of Choruses) convention trip since the very first one, and had rarely ever missed a show. His presence in the Chorus was practically expected. He always had a jovial spirit, if not a bit of a drawn-out story to share.

Larry had been suffering from the effects of Liver Cancer for many years, but had been in remission up until this past summer. While in Montreal, Larry and I talked for quite some time while out at one of the bars, where he shared with me what he had been going through lately. It didn’t sound good. But Larry never, EVER made himself out to be a victim, or let himself sound as if he were hunting for sympathy. He just wanted to share his story and get to know people. He was endlessly friendly. I loved that about him.

The trip to Montreal was Larry’s last appearance on stage with the Chorus. Nobody knew it at the time. He and his partner, Rob, made the trip into an extended vacation. They saw sights and shared stories. One of my favorite memories of Montreal was after seeing Lily Tomlin, watching the fireworks from afar. It was here that I talked to Larry and Rob about possibly spending a day with them, as my trip was originally supposed to last until the Monday after the festival was over. Unfortunately, that never happened, because I had to cut my trip short by a few days. I regret that now. I would have enjoyed spending the time with them.

I saw Larry again a few times after that at Chorus rehearsals. Even though he was no longer able to sing because he was too weak, he still made it a point to attend as many rehearsals as he could. He loved the Chorus that much.

I saw him again at the Holiday show. He was looking incredibly gaunt and frail, but his spirit was still warm and as upbeat as he could be. At least until I asked him how he was doing.

“I’m doing ok, but I’m not getting any better,” he said. “I am just too weak to do anything anymore. And that includes singing with the Chorus.”

He started to choke up a bit.

“I will never be able to sing again,” he said firmly. “And that makes me really sad. I miss it so much.”

“We miss you, too, Larry,” I said, holding back the tears as best I could.

The last time I saw Larry, he braved his illness and his pain, climbed three flights of stairs, and came to my Christmas party. I was so touched by this. I knew how ill he was. I knew how he must have been hurting. But he took the time to come and be a guest in my home. I will forever be grateful for that.

I spent a long time talking to Larry that night. He told me that his doctor told him to make final plans. And if he wanted to travel, now was the time. I told him that he was very dear to me and that I was so glad he took the time to be there that night. And to remain strong and enjoy every day.

He stayed for a long time, and when he finally left, I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him.. and to stay strong. He said he would do his best.

After he left, my friend Jeremy and I sat on my sofa and cried. We knew that might have been the last time we’d see him. We had no idea that it truly would be.

The service is this Saturday, and the Chorus will once again be singing. Since this is the second time within a year’s time that we’ve had to do this, I don’t know quite how we will get through it. But somehow, we will. As our president said in the Email that I received just as I was getting ready to leave work, which echoes how I feel word-for word:

“Larry was one of the most amazing people I have had the privilege of knowing during my … years with the chorus. He will be missed in body, but will remain in our hearts.”