gay marriage

Switzerland, Gay Marriage, Public Vote; Sharon Osborne on Rosie O’Donnell’s Daughter; Sam Smith Nominated

Switzerland, Gay Marriage, Public Vote

This article is exactly why I didn’t want gay marriage put to a public vote here in the US. I don’t want my fate decided by a segment of the public who doesn’t know how to separate religion from government. And I support religion completely. I’m not an atheist by any means. I can be very conservative on many issues, not fitting into the typical gay stereotype. I also support religious freedom as long as it doesn’t stand in the way of equal rights. 

This is happening in Switzerland.

Switzerland could become the first Western European country to block gay marriage through a referendum changing its constitution.
On 28 February 2016, Swiss citizens are called to vote in a referendum on four confederate bills; one of them, titled For Marriage and Family – against the marriage penalty, could block marriage equality.
Initiated by the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland (CVP), part of the Swiss coalition government, the civil initiative seeks to add a paragraph into the federal constitution defining marriage as being between man and woman.

I am curious to see how it turns out. According to US polls, support for same sex marriage in the US is continuing to rise. However, the LGBT+ community is still a minority, not a majority. And I don’t think it’s fair to have a public vote on the rights of a minority. In the US, this is why we have a constitution and laws protecting everyone from discrimination. It’s a system that works.  

You can check this out here.

Sharon Osborne on Rosie O’Donnell’s Daughter

The only reason I’m following up on this is because I posted about Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter disappearing and that story was extremely sketchy. Frankly, I’m not a huge Rosie fan and I can live without Osborne, too. Rosie lost me on The View years ago. I’ve always believed dirty laundry is for the hamper, not twitter.

In any event…

Sharon Osbourne is speaking out passionately in defense of Rosie O’Donnell whose daughter complained in a recent interview that O’Donnell smokes pot, has a short fuse and delegates a lot of her parental duties up to nannies.
‘It’s just one of those ugly, horrible situations – the heartbreak that Rosie must be going through,’ Osbourne said on The Talk, the daytime show on which she is a co-host. ‘These arguments, it’s horrible when they go public.’

You can read the rest here, if you care. 

Sam Smith Nominated

Now here’s a guy I love, Sam Smith. He’s hard-working, excellent at his craft, and he’s taken some of the worst punches I’ve seen in a while with complete grace. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything negative coming from him.

Taylor Swift may have gotten the most American Music Awards nominations today with six but Sam Smith had a strong showing with three AMA nods.
The openly gay British singer-songwriter was nominated in the Artist of the Year, Favorite Album and Favorite Male Artist categories.

Well done.

You can check that out here. 

The Rainbow Detective Agency
The Wedding

Gay Marriage, Schools and Taxes; The Rainbow Flag and Hate; Hillary’s Pride Month Video

Gay Marriage, Schools, and Taxes

This is something I never realized until I read this article. Conservative religious schools in the US are worried about legalized same sex marriage for monetary reasons, not the religious reasons you hear about all the time.

The religious schools are concerned that if they continue to ban gay relationships, the Internal Revenue Service could take away their tax-exempt status as a violation of a “fundamental national public policy” under the reasoning of a 1983 Supreme Court decision that allowed the agency to revoke the tax-exempt status of schools that banned interracial relationships.

In a recent letter to congressional leaders, officials from more than 70 schools, including Catholic high schools and evangelical colleges, said that a Supreme Court ruling approving same-sex marriage would put at risk all schools “adhering to traditional religious and moral values.”

You can read the rest here. Now I’m starting to wonder what else might be challenged if SCOTUS rules in favor of same sex marriage this week.

What I still don’t get is how these religious people think their religious and moral values are going to be compromised if LGBT people get the same equal rights as everyone else in the US. It’s not as if gay men will become gay Catholic priests. THAT would be unthinkable…because you NEVER see a gay Catholic priest, said no one ever. 

The Rainbow Flag and Hate

I think this next article I’m linking to shows how some people feel about left wing gay activism. It’s about the rainbow flag, but it goes far deeper. They equate the rainbow flag with hate and other things that gay activists have been accusing them of doing for years.

Under the banner of what is dishonestly called a gay pride or gay “rights” flag, hate, fascism, and intolerance has festered for years, specifically against Christians and conservatives.  Under the auspices of a “rights and equality” symbol, Leftists have been on a rampage to take way the rights of others through bullying, lies, and online terrorism.

The list of misdeeds and victims resulting from an increasingly emboldened Big Gay Hate Machine continues to grow.
Under this banner of hate, people are outed against their will,  terrorized out of business merely for being Christian, bullied and harassed for thoughtcrimes; moreover, “hate crimes” are being manufactured to keep us divided, Christians are refused service, death threats are hurled, and Christianity is regularly smeared as hate speech.

You can read the rest here. The author also mentions he wants the confederate flag taken down, too. So I have to wonder what’s going on beneath the surface of all this.

Hillary’s Pride Month Video

This is the first time I’m seeing this. Hillary Clinton who is running for President released a video that celebrates same sex marriage.

Speaking over footage of marriage proposals or of wedding ceremonies, Clinton says: ‘Being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights. And human rights are gay rights.’

You can watch it here. Say what you will, but she’s paying attention and she’s going down on the right side of history with this one.  You just can’t take that away from her on this issue no matter how hard you try to twist, spin and turn.

The Rainbow Detective Agency 

Box Set Series $5.99

Bristol Palin/Duck Dynasty; Defending Gay Teacher in Catholic High School

Bristol Palin/Duck Dynasty

Update: spelling correction with the word duck…it really wasn’t intentional. The u and i are side by side and I type fast. So are the f and d. 

Bristol Palin, reality TV personality and daughter of Tea Party radical, Sarah Palin, has a blog on what appears to be a far right web site where she blogs for commercial reasons and hocks her readership with ads that range from those Chicken Soup books to her book. (It’s really a messy blog, as blogs go, and not one that will win any awards.) I don’t know where the book ad link leads because I’d rather not support her. If you click those ads the blogger sometimes gets some kind of compensation, though most people don’t know this, and I didn’t see it disclosed anywhere on the blog. In any event, Bristol Palin wrote a short blog post supporting another reality TV personality, Phil Robertson, from the reality show Duck Dynasty. In Palin’s post she makes claims about free speech and generalities about the LGBT community and I thought I would comment on a few of them briefly.

For those who might not have heard, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made a few gay hate comments recently and since then videos of previous anti-gay statements have surfaced. You can read more here. Robertson didn’t just come out against gays, at least not in a logical, civil way. He compared gay sex, among other things, to bestiality. If you are an LGBT person or you’re familiar with LGBT people his comments aren’t just offensive. They don’t make sense.

First, Bristol Palin thinks all LGBT people think that everyone should support gays. This is what I mean by generalities, and making assumptions. She thinks we expect every “flippen” person (yes, flippen) to agree with our lifestyle. She also makes the assumption that ALL LGBT people have no respect for what other people believe. Ultimately, she knows very little about the LGBT community and how diverse it is. I’m with my partner twenty-one years and our lifestyle isn’t much different from any other straight couple we know.  In fact, most would think we’re a little dull. We support equal rights and same sex marriage for obvious reasons, and I blog often and write often about them, but we’re far from being activists of any kind. And we don’t expect everyone to agree with us.

Yes, there are gay activists who are just as radical (and amusing) in the opposite direction as Bristol Palin’s mother, Sarah Palin. And those gay radicals don’t always have respect for the opinions of others. I know a few myself. Tony and I have had friendships suffer because of this. But I respect them, too. We’re just not like them, and that’s the way it works with the entire LGBT community. Although we’re all fighting for equal rights, the same equal rights Bristol Palin is allowed to have without even realizing her privileged circumstances, the diversity within the LGBT community is often polarized and LGBT people don’t always agree on everything…just like straight people don’t always agree. I think that’s called normal.

But I don’t want to digress. In another part of Bristol Palin’s blog post she mentions God and the bible, as if she has a claim to religion and faith LGBT people don’t have. But here’s where Palin shows again how little she knows about the LGBT community at large. Religion, spirituality, Christianity, and all other forms of faith are not exclusive to Bristol Palin, straight people only, and the radical Christian right wing of America. I get private e-mails all the time from gay men who are still in the closet telling me how hard it often is for them to get through a church service these days because of the gay hate they hear in church. These are not radical gay activists. These gay men are quiet, humble people without an agenda and no one even knows they are gay. I also know gay priests and ministers who could go verse for verse and line for line with Bristol Palin on the bible.

But I think this line in Palin’s blog post is the most interesting.

I hate how the LGBT community says it’s all about “love” and “equality.”

She “hates.” That’s an important word. That’s also a direct quote from the post and I’m not making it up. Unlike Palin’s blog, mine is non-profit and I have no viable reason to sensationalize. My only goal here is to disabuse a few myths people may or may not have about the LGBT community. Palin could have said she didn’t understand, especially when making reference to the LGBT community as a group of haters. But she used the word “hate” instead. What’s that about?

Toward the end of Palin’s post, she makes reference to an article written by a “homosexual” at Time Magazine. I’m not a huge fan of Time Magazine because of their politics and I haven’t read that article so I can’t comment. But in the end Palin claims she doesn’t agree with everything this “homosexual” writes but she thinks it’s time to stand for free speech. This free speech issue has been going around the Interwebs ever since Phil Robertson made the offensive gay slurs and once again, Palin doesn’t seem to get the basic concept of free speech. In case I forgot to mention it, Bristol Palin is an avowed “heteronormative.” If she’s going to label people as “homosexual” I think she deserves a label, too.

In a simple search, I found this article that seems to sum up free speech about as well written as I’ve ever seen it done. It’s actually titled, The Idiot’s Guide to Free Speech. And I purposely decided to link to this article because it was written before Phil Robertson made the offensive gay slurs and the Palin family started ranting about free speech. When the article was written there was no hidden agenda.

Free speech, according to the article, means this:

As an American, you have the right to say most anything you want to say without being penalized by the government

It continues in more detail. But it also states free speech does NOT mean you can do or say anything without reactions. You are not exempt from “Criticism, Shame, The Right to Anonymity, Mockery, and, again, Consequences.” In other words, you can say what you want and the government can’t come after you (in most cases, not always), but you may face a firestorm afterward. Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson, made some of the most hateful comments I’ve ever read about LGBT people and there were consequences. In his case he was suspended from his TV show and most normal people will now dismiss him completely. No one is exempt from this, especially not Bristol Palin or her mother. I’m not exempt from it either, which is why I always choose my words with care.

But the original point of this post wasn’t about free speech. It’s about Bristol Palin making assumptions and generalities about the LGBT community and not really knowing a thing about the community. There are gay Christians, gay Republicans, gay Democrats, gay Jews, and so on. And it’s that kind of diversity in the LGBT community that is always underestimated the most. Phil Robertson didn’t just offend gay activists and left wing political pundits with his offensive free speech, he offended the invisible gay brother/sister who hasn’t come out yet, he offended the gay minister who is terrified to come out, he offended the gay neighbor, friend, boss, employee, and cousin who lives a simple discreet life and minds his/her own business. He also offended the straight people who are close to gay people. And that’s why this “flippen” issue is far more involved than just making general assumptions with the underlying intention of selling a book or some other product, Ms. Palin.  

You can read Bristol Palin’s entire commentary post here. Just don’t click the links on the sidebar.

Defending Gay Teacher in Catholic High School

In a post that I think is directly related to how uninformed heteronormative Bristol Palin really is about gay people, I posted last week about a Catholic high school teacher in a Philadelphia suburb not far from where I live in New Hope who was fired from his teaching job because he filed for a marriage license in New Jersey. Something similar happened in Washington state and now students are offering their support.

Students at a US high school in the state of Washington staged a sit-in after finding out a gay teacher had been fired for marrying his partner. Vice principal and swim coach Mark Zmuda worked for Eastside Catholic High School for approximately a year and a half.

You can read more here. It’s an interesting article, and one that shows how things are changing in more positive ways than the negativity we’ve seen in the past. The Catholic school has every right to fire the teacher, and the students have every right to react to the decision. I wonder if Bristol Palin would classify these students as haters.  

If you’re a Bristol Palin supporter and you want to leave a comment, please don’t bother. You can exercise your right to free speech on your own web site, not mine. This is my world.

Golden Girl Legos; Fed Judge Utah Gay Marriage; Bob Newhart Cancels at Anti-Gay Event

Golden Girls Legos

In a way, the old sitcom The Golden Girls has become a cult classic within gay male circles, to the point where someone has come up with Golden Girls Legos.

Thanks to LEGO CUUSOO, a site that reviews and makes official versions of user-created Lego sets, one person is trying to make Brick Lady-versions of Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia. Misterr’s proposed set includes the four girls gathered around the kitchen with everything one needs to recreate the sitcom. And who doesn’t want to recreate their favorite GG storylines?

I once went to a small dinner party and a gay couple I didn’t know well could actually recite scenes from the GG line for line. I’ve quoted them here on the blog once, too. I’m not sure why there’s such a strong attraction, but I would bet a great deal of it has to do with camp, great lines, and vicious wit. And, the GG was one of the few TV shows in the eighties to tackled coming out of the closet, a lesbian in a long term relationship who lost her partner and grieved as if she’d been married to a man, and open discussion about how AIDS was effecting everyone at the time. There’s a lot of historical and pop cultural significance to the show. Another show just like it was Designing Women.

You can read more here.

A lot of people don’t know that the GG was originally written with a gay character/roommate. I think he’s in the pilot episode and his name is Coco.

Fed Judge Utah Gay Marriage

Judge Robert J. Shelby declared Utah’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, basically stating it went against the 14th amendment.

He wrote this:

Shelby writes in part: ‘The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.’

This is a big plus for equality. Courts typically don’t get involved this way unless it’s something significant. You can read more here.

Gay Marriage was just legalized in New Mexico. Two women who worked in county offices chose to resign from their positions rather than issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. You can read more about them here. 

Their names are:

Donna Carpenter and Janet Collins. I’m doing this so their names go down in history, too.

Bob Newhart Cancels Anti-Gay Event

I post about this earlier this week, here. Bob Newhart was scheduled to speak at an anti-gay Catholic event and at the time equality groups were asking him to reconsider. He’s since canceled his appearance.

Comedian Bob Newhart announced Thursday online that he would not be appearing at a conference organized by a Catholic magazine that blamed the Devil for marriage equality in the state of Minnesota.

Towleroad reported that Newhart’s Twitter feed posted a statement saying, ” Bob will not be performing at the Legatus Summit in Orlando FL on February 6.”

That’s all Newhart said and equality groups are speculating Newhart most likely didn’t know that organization was so anti-gay. I know a lot of Catholics who wouldn’t know about that, too. The Catholic religion is interesting, and in a way like the LGBT community, because only the most ridiculous and sensationalized news is ever posted about them. And most Catholics I know support gay marriage and the LGBT community. I also know a lot of gay Catholics.

You can read more here. And sometimes you have to read between the lines.

FMLA & Gay Couples; PA Gay Minister Fired

FMLA & Gay Couples

This was something I learned this morning and never knew because it never directly affected me. By the time Tony was hospitalized in 2007 I’d already been in business for myself for years and working as a freelance writer. So I basically had to contact editors, let them know what was happening, and tell them I had to take an extended break from work and couldn’t meet all my deadlines. It was summer and things were slower. All the editors I worked with at the time offered me their support and told me I had nothing to worry about. But that’s not the case with all gay couples who don’t have the protection of legal same sex marriage. And unlike couples who are legally married and do fall under the guidelines of FMLA, many still have no protection whatsoever when a partner is taken ill for an extended period of time.

FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act. It covers spouses and family members. Here’s an overview from the .gov website.

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

I learned about this earlier today while reading through an update on social media from author, T.J. Klune. He’d been informed by his place of employment that because same sex marriage is not legal in his state he wouldn’t qualify for FMLA while is partner, Eric Arvin, is in the hospital. Fortunately for Klune, his employer was gracious enough to tell him it didn’t matter and that he/she would work with him each step of the way and that his job was not in jeopardy. But not all employers are as kind and it could have made a serious situation even more difficult to deal with.

So this is yet another reason why it’s so important for same sex couples to have legalized marriage on a federal level throughout the US. Right now, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where I live, I wonder how many gay couples are dealing with issues like FMLA with nowhere to turn. It’s one of the smaller things we don’t see mentioned all the time in the fight for equality, but can be vital to those who are affected by it. And that has to change soon, because now it’s even more unfair to see that same sex couples in some states are protected and those unfortunate enough to live in other states aren’t. It’s actually gone beyond LGBT discrimination and now it’s become discrimination based on where you live.

You can read more here at the .gov web site.

PA Gay Minister Fired

I posted about the Pennsylvania minister who has recently come under fire for performing a marriage ceremony for his gay son and partner. And he didn’t even do this in PA. He did it in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal and recognized on a federal level.

According to church officials, their “Book of Discipline” condemns Schaefer’s behavior, and he was told to resign by Thursday if he could not respect the rules.

Jurors who convicted him in a church trial told Schaefer he should take the month to decide if he agreed with the church’s belief that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Of course I think this is unfortunate, I’m not a fan of organized religion of any kind, and I know how these things work. The problem with this situation is that as horrible as it is and as much as these things are always a reflection on the so-called good Christian values to think that a church would deny a minister something like this, I do believe in the complete separation of church and state. Right down to the bottom line.

You can read more here.

KDP Exclusives; Ricky Martin’s Wedding; Story Competition

KDP Exclusives

I wrote in the post right before this one that I have a Christmas novella, The Littlest Christmas Tree, up for free as a thank you to readers. Unfortunately, on Amazon the book will still be .99 because Amazon doesn’t give any other options with the KDP lending program. In other words, if I were to opt into the KDP lending program and I were to put the book up for free it would only be free for five days on Amazon, I would have to sign a three month exclusive with Amazon, and I wouldn’t be allowed to put the book up for free anywhere else for three months. If I were to violate this I would be in breach of contract. So I opted out of the KDP lending program this time because I want the book up for free for the holidays in as many venues as possible for as long and I as the publisher and author want to do this, and I don’t want to wait three months. The KDP lending program can be beneficial to everyone sometimes, but not always. This is one of those times I wish things were different, but it is what it is.

Amazon link here.

Side note: This is why I try to guide readers to smaller web sites where e-books are sold, and to publisher web sites.

As a big thank you to Amazon and KDP lending rules and exclusives (I HATE exclusives of any kind), I’ve asked Tony to also put another one of my previous Christmas novels up for free as well. I’ll post more details when I get them.

Story Competition

I read about a short story competition earlier today that will benefit people with autism. I like these competitions because they motivate writers to do things they normally wouldn’t do unless they were under contract with a publisher. Sometimes we need something as a motivational tool. This is a good example. You can read more here.

This Short Story competition is an amazing opportunity for new undiscovered writing talent to pursue their dreams of publication and contribute to a great cause.

All entrants will have their work judged by the internationally acclaimed authors Colin Bateman, Declan Burke, Lucille Redmond and Nathan Bransford

 Ricky Martin’s Wedding

I have to smile when I read articles like this because they refer to Ricky Martin’s longtime partner, Carlos Gonzalez, as his “beau”…as if Martin and Gonzalez have been dating all this time. It’s the hetero norm most straights don’t get about gay couples, especially now that gay marriage is becoming legal in more places. Look at it this way, if Tony and I were to say we’ve been engaged for twenty-one years wouldn’t that sound a little stupid? Tony’s not my “beau” and I’m not his. Our “beau” days ended during the Clinton administration. And until things balance out and gay dating and engagements even up with straight couples I think words should be chosen with care.

So Martin is not marrying his longtime “beau.” He’s marrying his longtime partner to make an established relationship/marriage legal because he didn’t have an opportunity to do that before.

This is where Ricky Martin would like to get married.

“I would get married,” he told King, according to Pink News. “There are many countries around the world where same-sex marriage is a right… yes, we could go to Spain and get married. We can go to Argentina and get married. But why do we have to go somewhere else? Why can’t I do it in my country where the laws are — you know, protecting me?”
Martin and Gonzalez, like Tony and me, can’t marry in the place where we live because Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania don’t recognize same sex marriage. That’s why we’re scheduled to get married this January in Vermont…not in Pennsylvania.
Side note two: The comment section in this article has something interesting I’ve never seen before. Evidently, Huff Po is trying to promote more civil discussion. In order to do this you have to link to a facebook account and verify. I wonder how many Huff Po users have FB accounts. Frankly, I’d never bother because I don’t like to mingle FB and Huff Po. This is what it says:

James Franco/Batman; Free Gay Xmas Excerpt; Marriage

James Franco/Batman

If you have a faint heart, you probably shouldn’t click the link to this piece about James Franco and his Batman and Robin photos. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll love it. And like with everything else Franco, I’m sure there’s an underlying message somewhere. He does nothing by accident. We might never know what exactly that message is. But it’s there.

James Franco’s version of 50 Shades might actually be more NSFW than the original.

The actor took to Instagram Wednesday, Dec. 4, and posted two photos of a little something he titled “50 Shades of Batman and Robin.” The first post was a shot of the torso of a man — probably Franco himself — dressed in BDSM Batman garb. The second was a shot of someone wearing a Batman mask with something that resembled semen on the top of the cowl.
My only comment is why do these journalist people continue to refer to 50 Shades in a way that suggests it represents BDSM? It doesn’t. It’s not even close to BDSM representation. I also learned another Internet-ism: NSFW. Until now, I didn’t know WTF that meant…Not Safe For Work.
You can read more here, and view James Franco’s amusing photos as well. I can’t post them; I don’t want Franco suing me for infringement. And here’ a link to my review about Franco’s book, Actors Anonymous. There’s an Amazon link there where you can purchase the book. I loved it.
Speaking of 50 Shades, hasn’t it been a long time since E.L. James wrote something? I’ve been curious to see what her next book after 50 Shades would be like. Most of the career writers I know have written at least three or four romance novels since the release of 50 Shades. Maybe she has something out and I missed it.
Marriage (Mine)
Tony and I usually keep these things private, and by private I mean from friends and family, too. We really don’t like to hawk people for gifts or attention with these things, and we’ve reached a point in our lives where some things are more significant when they are private. But since I’m always ranting about gay marriage here on the blog, I would be highly remiss if I didn’t post something about my own marriage at least once in a while.
Yesterday was our twenty-first anniversary. We went out to a local restaurant/gay resort, The Raven, like we usually do and I figured we would be celebrating in private…like we usually do. After dinner, as the waiter took the credit card, I noticed three good friends enter. I figured they’d stopped by for a quick drink on their way home from a company party. There was also a male revue/stripper show going on that night in the bar area. In any event, what happened after that stunned me, and it takes a lot to do that. I had no idea Tony had planned for them to be there, with a cake that said, “Marry Me,” and two gold wedding bands. I have no idea how he pulled that off without me finding out. I usually know everything.
So, following a twenty-one year long engagement, we’ll be getting married this January in Northern Vermont in a place Tony found where some of the first gay weddings were held. Of course our marriage still won’t be recognized in the Commonwealth of PA, only one mile from the New Jersey border where it will be recognized. But at least things are still moving forward and we’ll be legal in some states.  
And James Franco did a gay Batman and Robin photo shoot, which wouldn’t have happened ten or twenty years ago.  
Free Gay Xmas Excerpt
Here’s an excerpt from my Christmas novel, A Christmas Carl. It’s a gay parody on the old Dickens story and I had a lot of fun writing it. If you think what James Franco did to Batman is interesting, you’ll love what I did to Bob Cratchit. There are also a few tender moments, too…AND, Hillary Clinton eventually does become the first woman President of the United States in a scene from “Christmas future.” That’s me being self-indulgent, and wishful thinking on my part.
This book was released a few years ago, but it’s still on Amazon and other venues where digital books are sold. Stay tuned for more posts about my newest Christmas book coming out. It’s the second book in the indie Second Chance series I recently started, and this one will be very emotional and I’m not going for parody of any kind.
Keep in mind that like all excerpts I post here, this one is from the raw version:  
While Carl Smite was wrapping bundles of loose change on Christmas Eve, a cell phone in the back room of his antique store rang. His body jerked forward and he almost dropped ten dollars in quarters on the floor. He was sitting on a gilded Louis IV chair, behind a French Empire desk with detailed inlays and bronze ormolu trim. There were price tags with large numbers in bold red print on both pieces of furniture. Everything in Carl’s antique store was for sale, including the nineteenth century cup and saucer he used to drink his morning coffee.
            When Carl’s employee answered the phone and said, “I’ll be there after eight tonight,” his voice went up with a light, pleasant hum. And when he said, “I’ll see if I can get there sooner, but my boss is keeping the store open until eight tonight,” his easy, friendly voice didn’t drop or waver.
            Carl frowned and wondered why pitiful Able Anderson was always so damn cheerful. He folded the ends of the paper coin wrapper shut, then he lifted his head and shouted, “Able, hang up that damn phone and come in here, now.” He’d just wrapped twenty-three dollars worth of loose change and he didn’t want it lying around the store.
            There was a shuffling sound in the back room, and then a few whispers Carl couldn’t make out. Carl heard him click the phone shut and toss it on a counter. A minute later, Able loped into the showroom with a half smile on his face. “What can I do for you, Mr. Smite?” His soft blond hair fell to his forehead in thick, straight shocks. He was wearing loose, faded jeans that fell low on his slim waist, and a puffy down jacket made out of black shiny fabric. He smiled at Carl and rubbed his palms together to keep them warm.
            Carl placed the last roll of quarters into a bank deposit bag and said, “Why were you on the phone again, Able? I’ve told you time and again that I won’t tolerate an employee of mine making personal phone calls during business hours. I’m paying you good money to do an honest day’s work. And I expect you to do your job while you’re on my time.” Normally, Carl would have fired someone else on the spot for doing this. But Able was an excellent furniture restorer and upholsterer, he didn’t mind working for low wages, and he had a large, floppy penis that moved around in his jeans when he walked fast.
            Able took a deep breath and rubbed his palms together again. Carl hadn’t raised the thermostat that day and the store was freezing. He smiled and put his hands into his pants pockets. “I’m sorry, Mr. Smite. I was only on the phone for a minute. I was telling a friend of mine, the woman who owns the tea room across the street, I’d be down at the homeless shelter to help hand out Christmas Eve dinners tonight. And I’m helping out tomorrow on Christmas Day, too. My friend was wondering if I could get off early to get down there by six. They need all the help they can get, and I doubt anyone is going to come into the store at this hour on Christmas Eve.”
            Carl frowned and shook his head. Able Andersonwas so dirt poor he was almost homeless himself and here he was talking about handing out free food at a homeless shelter. “No,” Carl said, “you can’t get off early tonight. I might need you to move something heavy. You never know who will come into a retail shop for last minute gift. One year on Christmas Eve, I sold a crystal chandelier to a very famous actress.” This had never actually happened. But Carl liked to think there was a chance it could.
            “But it’s snowing outside this year,” Able said. “And all the other stores around us are already closed. And I’m sure you have plans tonight, Mr. Smite. If you don’t have plans, you could always come with me to the homeless shelter and help out. We’d be glad to have you, and afterwards maybe we can go out and have a Christmas drink somewhere.”
“And I’m sure you’d expect me to pay for these Christmas drinks,” Carl shouted. Then he rubbed his strong jaw and laughed. Carl suspected that Able was trying to flatter him and seduce him. Able flirted with him all the time. But Carl wasn’t about to let some young, penniless loafer take advantage of his wealth.
Carl had found success at an early age. And now he was only in his mid-thirties, about ten years older than Able. Carl had thick brown hair, a naturally muscular body, and a hard, round buttocks. But he didn’t care about his good looks. He wasn’t interested in finding a lover. The only time he used his looks to his advantage was to sell an expensive antique to a wealthy client. He knew how to make women swoon and older gay men giddy.  
            Able shrugged his shoulders. “Then I’ll buy you a drink, Mr. Smite. I’ve been working here for about a year now and we hardly even know each other.”
Carl lifted an eyebrow and stared at him. Then he shook his head and said, “I’m going home tonight, just like it’s any other night. And I’m not wasting my time handing out free food to a bunch of losers. No one ever gave me a free dinner. No one ever gave me anything for free. I’ve worked hard for everything I have. We would all be homeless, getting free dinners and handouts, if we didn’t work. And then what kind of a world would this be? I’m over it.”
            Able rocked on the balls of his feet and shrugged his shoulders. “You look good today, Mr. Smite. Is that a new pair of pants?” When he smiled, there were two perfect dimples on his rugged face.
            “Don’t change the subject on me, Able,” Carl said. “I’ve worn these slacks many times and you know it. You should know by now that just because you’re better looking than the average man, silly flirtatious remarks won’t work with me. I’ve used them all before myself, and you can’t con me.” Carl was wearing tan slacks, a white dress shirt, and a weather-beaten black wool sport jacket with threadbare elbows. There was a long beige scarf around his neck to keep him warm. He wore this outfit, and a few others like it, all the time. He preferred a classic look that lasted, and didn’t believe in wasting money on expensive, trendy clothes.
            Able laughed. “Did you get a haircut?” he asked. Then he spread his muscular legs wider; his right hand moved around in his pants pocket.
            Carl pressed his lips together and folded his arms across his chest. He knew that Able was groping his penis on purpose, hoping that Carl would become distracted and forget about why he’d called him into the showroom. Able was always doing annoying things like this; there was always a sex starved expression on his face. He’d touch Carl’s arm and breathe on his neck when Carl least expected it. He’d press his large, thick fingers into Carl’s shoulder and leave them there a moment too long. When the weather was warm, he’d wear skimpy shirts to show off his chest muscles, and worn jeans that fell so low on his young waist that Carl could see the waist band of his underwear. Sometimes he was even bold enough to place his palm on the small of Carl’s back and guide him through the store.
            But Carl always stepped away from him. He’d pull back fast and take control of the situation. He was much too sensible to be distracted by anyone’s good looks.
Carl owned one of the most successful, important antique stores in the city and his only concern was money. The fact that he hadn’t made any money that day infuriated him. People didn’t buy important, expensive antiques as Christmas gifts. They bought cheap junk in discount department stores. Holidays made Carl clench his fists; they always interfered with normal business. So Carl pointed to the deposit bag filled with change and said, “I didn’t call you in here to talk about the homeless or getting drinks. I need you to make a deposit this afternoon.” It made him feel calm and warm inside to know that at least something was going into the bank that day.
            Able’s eyes opened wide; he blinked a few times. “Seriously,” he said. “It’s four o’clock in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, Mr. Smite. The banks are all closed. And the snow is really starting to accumulate out there. We’re supposed to be getting at least nine inches.” When he said nine inches, he gave Carl a naughty look and smiled. Then he pushed his dick forward and tugged the shaft a few times on purpose.
            When Carl saw the outline of Able’s long penis protrude through the fabric of his worn jeans, he took a quick breath and said, “You can go across town, to the main branch of the bank, and put the money in the drop-off box.” Then he handed Able a long, thin key to the bank deposit box and said, “And don’t waste time either. When you come back, I want that chair you’ve been working on in the back room to be completely finished by the time we close tonight.”
Able pulled his hand out of his pocket and took the key from Carl. He put the key into his pants pocket and then pulled a pair of black gloves out of his coat pocket. Before he put on the gloves, he pulled a ten dollar bill out of his back pocket and placed it on Carl’s desk.

        Carl looked down at the money and said, “What is this for?”
        Able put on his gloves and reached for the deposit bag. “I ordered a sandwich from the deli down the street. I haven’t eaten anything all day and I’m not going to have time to eat anything before I get to the shelter, so I ordered something. Ten dollars will be enough.”
          Carl pointed to a rumpled brown bag on his desk and said, “I brought my own lunch today, a cheese sandwich on white bread and an apple. You’ll never have any money if you keep squandering it away on sandwiches from delis, Able. After all, you don’t find ten dollars in the street every day.”
         Able pressed his lips together and took a deep breath through his nose. He said, in a lower, controlled voice, “I usually skip lunch, Mr. Smite, to save money. I never order out. But I figured I’d splurge today because it’s Christmas Eve.” Then he turned away from Carl and crossed toward the front door. On he way out he asked, “Is there anything I can get for you while I’m out?”
          Carl shook his head and said, “Just get back here as quickly as you can so you can finish that chair before the day is over. I’ll be looking at the clock while you’re gone. If you don’t finish the chair by eight, I’m keeping the store open until you do. And I don’t care what time that is.”
        “Yes, Mr. Smite,” Able said. “I’ll be right back and I promise I’ll have the chair finished by eight.” Then he pushed the door open and a small bell on a Christmas wreath jingled. 
        A few minutes later, the front door opened and the bell jingled again. Carl looked up from his desk and forced a smile. He’d been reading the financial pages from yesterday’s newspaper. (Carl never bought a current paper. He just waited until the owner of the shop next door to him tossed his in the street trash cans every night.) His first thought was that a customer had entered the store. He wanted to sell at least one item that day. He was hoping that it was someone older who would be attracted to him.
            A thin young man wearing a flimsy denim jacket stepped into the shop. He walked with a limp. He wasn’t wearing gloves or a scarf. His brown hair had been shaved short and he wasn’t wearing a hat. There was snow on his shoulders, two small sliver hoops in each ear, and his angular face was red with wind burn. He crossed to the back of the store and placed a brown bag on Carl’s desk. Then he looked Carl directly in the eye and said, “That will be nine dollars, Sir.” His voice was deep and nasal. He turned his head and coughed into his elbow.
            Carl’s eyebrows went up and he stepped back. He didn’t want to catch a cold from some stupid, grungy delivery boy.
            The young guy cleared his throat and said, “I’m not contagious. This is just the end of a month long cold.”
            Carl pulled a taped receipt off the bag, and then removed the bag from the desk so it wouldn’t ruin the expensive burl veneer. He placed the bag on the floor and stared down at the receipt. When he confirmed that it was nine dollars, he handed the young man the ten dollar bill Able had left him.
            The young man stared at him for a moment without speaking. His face was smooth and handsome, his chin strong and square. He couldn’t have been more than fourteen or fifteen years old. He tilted his head and said, “Thanks,” and put the ten dollar bill into his back pocket.
            As the boy walked back toward the front door, rubbing his wet nose and limping, Carl stood up from his chair and shouted, “Hold on there. I didn’t get my change.”
            The young guy stopped short in front of a Bombay chest that had a ten thousand dollar price tag and turned back to face Carl. “You want change?”
            Carl furrowed his eyebrows and said, “If the bill was nine dollars, you owe me one dollar back. Don’t you know how to count change? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you didn’t, from what I’m seeing with people your age these days.” He walked to where the guy was standing and looked down at him and frowned.
            The young guy squared his shoulders and lifted his head. He looked into Carl’s dark brown eyes with his own dark brown eyes and pulled a one dollar bill out of his pocket. He handed it to Carl and said, “I know how to count, Mister. I just thought you were giving me a tip, is all.”
            Carl hesitated. There was something about the expression on the guy’s face that made his stomach jump. It wasn’t sexual and Carl would never have been interested in anyone so young. Carl was cheap, his heart was the size of an English pea, and he couldn’t care less about Christmas. But he wasn’t attracted to minors and he never would have harmed a child. This reaction was more like he’d seen this guy somewhere before. There was something familiar about him, a connection of some kind that Carl couldn’t pigeonhole.
But that didn’t stop Carl from taking the dollar bill. He ripped it out of the guy’s hand and said, “Why should you get a tip for doing your job? Don’t they pay you where you work? No one tips me for selling an antique. It’s my job.” The dollar bill felt soft and wet, as if it had been in his pocket for a very long time.
            The young guy took a deep breath and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, man,” he said. “I guess you need that dollar a lot more than I do.” Then he turned his back on Carl, opened the front door, and shouted, “Merry Christmas, buddy.”
            “Keep your ‘Merry Christmas’ to yourself,” Carl shouted back. “I’m over it, you little smart ass.”
            When the door was shut and the boy was gone, Carl shoved the dollar bill into his back pocket and walked back to his desk. A half hour later, Able returned from the bank and asked if his order form the deli had arrived. His shoulders were coated with snow, his thick blond hair was soaked, and his face was red. Carl lifted the brown bag from the floor and handed it to him. “It was nine dollars even,” he said, shaking his head.
            Able took the bag and said, “Damn. If I’d known that it was nine I would have left a few extra bucks to tip the delivery guy.”
            Carl was about to reach for the dollar bill in his pocket. But he stopped when Able asked, “Did you give him a few extra bucks? I’ll pay you back.”
            Carl’s hand dropped to his lap and he frowned. “Of course I didn’t give him any of mymoney. I didn’t order the food.”
            “Well,” Able said. “At least he received a dollar tip. It’s better than nothing. I would have given him more because it’s Christmas Eve and all.”
            Carl reached for a polishing cloth on his desk and stood up. “I’m going to polish that eighteenth century game table. And you’d better get back to work on that chair so it’s finished before the day is over. And I don’t want to hear anything more about Christmas, or homeless people, or giving large tips to nasty, germ-carrying delivery boys. I’ve had enough. I’m over it.” Then he stormed past Able with the polishing cloth in his left hand. With his right hand, he patted the dollar bill in his back pocket three times. If anyone had walked into the shop and seen him smile, they would have thought he’d just sold a fifty thousand dollar bronze statue.