Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Uncomfortable

He stretched his legs until his knees locked straight.  He crossed his arms over his chest and lowered his chin and drew a line along his collarbone. He sighed, “I’m uncomfortable.”

 “Would you like another chair?” The priest sat straight. “We could change places.”
He sat straight and pushed his hips into the back of the chair. “No.” He scratched his shoulder through his sweater. “No.” He sighed. “I make people feel uncomfortable.”

“Why do you say that?”
He stood up and walked to the window. He looked at the snowfall. “I’ve been told that.”

“Do you think it’s true?”
He turned and looked at the priest. “Yeah, it’s true.”

“How do you make people uncomfortable?”
He took his hand and reached below the back of his sweater and scratched the top of his shoulder blade, “God I hate sweaters.” He dropped his head to the back of his neck and blew a breath out of his circled lips. “I just say things that make people uncomfortable.  That’s all.”

“You do.”
He laughed. “I know.” He took his index finger and rubbed his right closed eye. “But do know why I do?”

“Tell me.”
He crossed his arms. “I’m so Goddamned tired of bullshit.”

“Well, perhaps you need to think whether or not your behavior is appropriate.”
He sat down. “I’m too raw. I know that.  I get all that.  You know what I was thinking about?”

“Hmm.”

“You know when you were a kid and you saw how many times you could rub one out in a row?”
He laughed. “You serious?

“Yeah, of course.  Every guy did that.  Why do we have to pretend we didn’t?”
“Okay.”

“Well remember how you actually hurt yourself?  Like before you learned about lubrication? Remember that?”

“Where’re we going here?”
“All that friction!  Until you were raw!”

“And?”
“So I’m raw. My conversations are raw. I was thinking about how my conversations rub against people’s conscience. I was just thinking about it today. That’s all.”

“Do you think you should change?”
“No. I’m comfortable. I’m okay with me.”

“Okay.”

“You know what else I was thinking about today?”
“What?”

He sat straight. “Now this has nothing to do with sexuality…”
He interrupted. “Why do you feel you have to add a disclaimer?”

“Because I don’t want you to dismiss what I’m going to say and label it a gender issue.  That’s why.”  He stood up.  “I was thinking about the movie Reds today.” He walked to a book shelf and fingered the spine of a book.  “Do you remember that movie?”
“I don’t think so.”

He turned toward the priest in the chair. “Diane Keaton. Warren Beatty. Anyway.  There’s this famous scene where Diane Keaton is looking for Warren Beatty. She’s waiting for him to get off a train. And when she sees him, it’s a big moment. And I know how she felt.  I so know that feeling on her face.”
“Okay.”

“Now the feeling doesn’t matter but I thought about the whole thing.”  He put his hands into his pockets and leaned against the bookshelf. “When I was a kid, I identified with women more than with men.  I knew how they felt.”
“Okay.”

“No. Not okay.” He mimicked the priest and elongated the O in the word. “I told you this isn’t a gender issue.  I’ve never felt like I was secretly a woman or that I was gay or anything.” He stood straight. “I’m just saying I was emotionally intense and other boys didn’t seem to be, so I always felt more …” he struggled for the word and found it, “kinship with women.”
“I understand.”

“I didn’t see myself in other guys.  I just didn’t.” He turned back to the window. “And then one day I did.”
“One day you did what?”

“One day I didn’t identify with women so much.  One day I saw the guy’s side of everything.” He sat down.
“Why are you so fidgety today?  You’re traveling the room.”

“I don’t know.  I feel uncomfortable with putting all this into words.  I’m just so Goddamned tired having to defend every emotion I have.”
“Do you feel I’m contentious?”

“No Padre.  Not at all.”  He laughed. “I’ve just had so many experiences lately where I’ve said something and someone contradicts it.  It’s fucking exhausting having to defend yourself every time you open your mouth.”
“Do you think you see conflict even when it doesn’t exist?”

He laughed.  “No!  And this isn’t about any of that.  Anyone with an opinion encounters opposition.  Well, unless they’re Kleenex.”  He shifted in the chair.  “My point is I thought about that movie today and I thought about how much I’ve changed.  I’m more comfortable being a man than I was.  That’s all.”
“Okay.”

“I think it’s helped me in my writing.  Seeing both sides.  That’s all.” He patted the armrests and rubbed the texture smooth. “This really isn’t a conversation I can have with people.”
“Why not?”

“Tell people I identified with women more than men as a kid?”
“I don’t’ see a problem.”

“An unmarried man in his fifties talking about all this shit?”  He laughed. “I’m too old to justify my life.”

“Who’s asking you to justify it?”

“The Goddamned world Padre.” He sat straight and adopted a slanted accent. “Hi!  When I was a kid I found my echo more with women than men!  I did!”  He laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think so.”
“I think you’re defining gender roles too rigidly.”

“No.” He sat straight and pointed his finger.  He collapsed his fist. "Yeah, maybe I am. I don't know.  Maybe none of this makes sense.”
“Does it have to make sense?”

“No.” He stood up.  “No it doesn’t.  Just things I’m thinking about.  Anyway, today I realized how much I haven’t changed.  And I thought I had.  That’s all.  I thought about Diane Keaton and I knew I was still just me.”
“Is that a good thing?”

He smiled.  “I don’t know.  I’m not all that comfortable with just being the same as I was.”  He looked outside and watched the snow cover the sidewalks. "Don't you ever worry that you didn't become more?"