Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh The Cubanity!!!!! Part 2

Well the plans for my trip to Cuba are set. Or are they? What I am learning that this is a huge scam, run in a very suspicious way.  First, it's an all cash business. The Cuban visa, the airline tickets, the processing fees are done with a wink-wink.  Any misunderstandings are not the fault of the travel agency. Since the official announcement of this trip the plans have shifted like the sandbar on Haulover Beach.  My trip started out as a ten day excursion of the island from Havana to Santiago, to five days in Santiago, to seven days with a side trip to Havana, to a five day trip with a 12 hour all night bus trip from Havana to Santiago. I think that is the first rule about trips to Cuba....all plans are subject to change. Funny, this even before we've left the U.S.

What I am learning about my trip is that there is a confluence of factors at play. First between my Husband and his brother, second between my brother-in-law and his mother-in-law and finally between the mother-in-law and a particular "viajes a Cuba" travel agency.  Apparently several conflicts have broken out between various branches of the family that "are taking care of this for us" so we could arrive in Cuba to relax, meet the family and see the sights. The woman at the travel agency told my very exasperated husband: "after this you will learn to have patience with your people again."

Word is that the family is preparing for our arrival in Santiago. The Spanish Colonial house in downtown Satiago is being fixed up, yet there are still several rooms without a roof. I am anxiously waiting for my shopping list which should weigh not one ounce over sixty pounds. I have been asked to take pillows, and I'm desperately hoping I don't have to take sixty pounds of them. Countless times I've seen the desperation at the Publix scale.  Nervous exiles with endless packed and repacked luggage get on and off the scale. Weighing their luggage, scowling that they have exceeded the limit, removing some basic item: rice cooker, heart medicine, tennis shoes, powdered milk.  One of their family will have to go without some basic necessity until the next exile goes back to the island.  I'm sure Santa goes through this every year....I mean there is only so much that goes in that sleigh or in the belly of Boeing 767. This time it will be me with sixty pounds of cotton pillows. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weren't You That Guy in High School? No. I wasn't....I was the gay one.

So Friday I partake in that long American tradition of going to a High School Reunion. I really don't know why I've decided to go. I mean I went to a very large high school with a graduating class of over 600 students. I wasn't much of a standout. Due to the large anonymity of the school, teachers refused to call me by my middle name, which is the name I've always gone by, "Kirk". Instead they would only go by the name on the attendance sheet, Daniel, Danny, Dan, Danny Boy, which was not a name I particularly liked. So there was pretty much an identity crisis from the start.

As a student I was not particularly distinguished either. I wasn't popular, or athletic. I didn't achieve any of the benchmarks expected of a high school student. I was a solid "C" student, which meant I could achieve passing grades with minimal effort.  I was not athletic. I was pudgy, 36 inch waist at 15, devastating. Not particularly handsome, but not too pimply.  I was called "weird" but not "gay".  I had an anonymous style, shying away from brand names (very big in the 80's) but jeans, boat shoes and pullovers were standard. So all in all I just did my best to blend in and survive. 

I didn't really accomplish much socially either. I had some close friends, quite a few crushes, but we weren't particularly popular, but we were close.  I graduated virginal in a heterosexual sense, but I had one or two opportunities....ewwww.  I graduated semi-semi virginal in a homosexual sense, but that's a tale for another day. I mean we're all semi-semi virginal in some sense aren't we? 

I went to my 10th high school reunion and I was the only gay, out of several hundred people who actually went. Why? I mean I became aware of enough of them after high school, but not one came back. Just me.  Nobody cared and one of the guys on the baseball team invited me back to his room.....with his wife...for some "fun".  Still trying to maintain my heterosexual virginity, I politely declined....but I can't say I wasn't tempted. So I guess there was one gay and a bisexual, kinky swinger guy. 

So why do we go back? Why this nostalgia? It's not cheap either.  What unresolved issues can be solved in a high school reunion?  Will it be like Peggy Sue Got Married? I mean I never married the prom king, in fact I don't even remember his name. There was no girlfriend or boyfriend to speak of. I don't have any really great memories to relive, nor have I kept up with many people from that era of my life.  With a few exceptions, would I know them if I ran into them on the street? 

In any case, I like group activities (within limits, see paragraph 4), in a beachfront hotel.  It should be interesting, I mean that pudgy, pimply, indistinguishable boy has been gone for a long time. My life has taken many interesting twists and turns and I'll be there to represent for all of the gays who were too chicken to show up. 

Next week: Oh the Cubanity!!(part 2)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yes, I talk to the TV? Doesn't Everybody?

The other day my husband came home and asked "who's there with you, I heard voices."  

"Nobody," I replied.

"Yes, but I heard you talking to someone, who is he?" (Cuban much?)

 "In my head maybe, but I wasn't talking to someone." and there lies the problem.  I don't really "talk" in my head, I talk out loud, out loud.  Yes, I scream at the television because I know they can hear me.  I can see Chris Mathews, flinch, look at me and give me the "settle down" look. I can see Rachael Maddow roll her eyes in a "there he goes again" look.  I can see Joe Scarborough give me that, "you kooky liberals" grin when I go off on a diatribe about Republican partisanship.

You should see the arguments I have with  President Obama.  I haven't stooped to calling him names yet, but I know he's always equivocating, hemming, hawing because he can't get a word in edgewise because I'm yelling at him to make a stand, shut up and stop talking.  I know he's thinking: "I can't get in a clear thought, because Kirk is yelling at his TV again."  President Bush would just get words wrong because I was calling him names, nasty ones, and I know they hurt. I can't even watch Fox, because I doubt they could broadcast from me actually hitting them in the face with whatever I have in my hand....which is a crime and I don't want to get arrested for physical attacks through my television.

I come from a long line of men who talk to the television.   My Grandfather would actually have conniptions watching Jimmy Carter.  His face would turn red, tears would come to his eyes and then he'd wish for Richard Nixon.  He would boast that when was in Honduras, they would take reporters out to the banana fields and "shoot them."  He felt that similar policies would help America too. You could imagine his dismay when he found out that his daughter was raising liberals.

I've learned that my brother also has some long running arguments with various TV artists. Living in an all-female household, I understand he's had some run-ins with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and the entire E! news team.  He's also had some disagreements with some of the girls on Sixteen and Pregnant, which is a sure way he can tell his daughters about the dangers of boys.....but more importantly about the dangers of showing up that way in his home.

So to put my hubby's worries at rest, I'd just like to state that I'm not having a deep emotional conversation with a lover, I'm telling off Dr. House, because I think he's an ass.  As far as the American political establishement and the harpies we call pundits, you'd better listen to what I have to say.....because you'd rather have me ranting at the Television, than silent rage at the ballot box.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh the Cubanity!!! (Part 1)

Ah Miami, hot tropical city of Salsa, Santeria and all things Cuban. A city of Latino passion, exotic beauty and rabid anti-communism.  What was Miami before the Cubans?  A Cuban might ask: "what was the world before the Cubans?"  The Cuban would answer that question: "a very boring place."  As my great-grandfather was a Miamian, I may or may not disagree, however there is no denying that this town that I love so much would be quite a different place without "El sabor Cubano"(Cuban flavor).  So to better understand this city I adore so much I've agreed to go to the island of Cuba. I am also going to meet my in-laws who I've never met, despite being with my Cuban husband for the last 15 years.

I would like to say that this decision was not an easy one for many reasons.  The first time I mentioned visiting the island was about 20 years ago.  My Cuban friends simply said: "I will no longer be your friend if you go to Cuba because you will be supporting a murderous regime that took everything my family had and threatened to kill us."  It was very hard to argue with that logic. I also wanted to keep my friends. Another reason was that several stupid laws made traveling to Cuba difficult and in the Bush era legally risky, unless you were Cuban-American.  Why Cuban Americans get to go to Cuba and other Americans can't is strange to me, but some Americans get more rights than others and few in Miami seem to see any hypocrisy.  A Cuban would say: "If I go to Cuba I'm helping out my family by giving them dollars, but if you go to Cuba you're directly helping out a murderous regime that took everything from my family had  and threatened to kill us".  So I can see the distinction, however fine. I am allowed to visit China, Vietnam and Myannmar in case I really want to see "communism" close up, but not Cuba.  However, the new rules set-up by President Obama allows anyone "residing with a Cuban" to visit the island, so now I'm going with my husband, directly from Miami. 

I can't say that I'm exactly thrilled about the prospect.  Firstly, it's an expensive vacation for us because my husband is a naturalized U.S. citizen. However, the Cuban government doesn't recognize his citizenship and demands he return with a Cuban passport that costs $650. (Money that all Cubans who left after 1973 HAVE to pay to a murderous regime that took everything from their family and tried to kill them.)  It's basically a Fuck You Tax from Castro for leaving and trying to come back. Which we have paid. $650 would have bought a round trip ticket to New York and left me some cash for theater tickets or a pair of Bruno Magli slip on mocs. 

Also, it's the whole "meet the parents" scenario.  Yes, I'm finally going to meet my in-laws. I mean, I figured I dodged that bullet for a decade and a half.  In all honesty, I've never met the parents of any of my boyfriends, ever.(I'm just beginning to wonder, why? Was something wrong with me?)  I'm not even sure what the protocol might be.  Is it like "Hi Papi, nice to meet you!" or like  Hey, dude, it's cool, I've slept with your son and raised your grandson for the last 16 years."  OR do I pretend I don't speak a lick of Spanish an keep asking "donde esta la casa de Maria" and ask for chimichangas?  Not to mention my hubby hasn't had "the talk" with his parents about the whole, "I live with a guy" thing.   So can anyone say "awkward" in Spanish?