Chapter 4

A February Song

Did you know I can sing?

Yes, it’s true! I, actually, love to sing! Mom recorded me at three singing ‘Smile’ which is an old standard. You know ‘🎶 Smile though your heart is aching. Smile even though it’s breaking. When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by . . .🎶’

Now, mind you, I was pretty much preverbal in those days, so, I’m sure I made up words to sing to the melody that had nothing to do with English or any other language on earth. However, I did have the melody! Actually, having been embarrassed by said video enough times in the past by Mom, I know that I babbled my way through the whole song and had my babbling memorized so I could repeat the melody when there was no music!

Yes, I am tooting my own horn here, hehehehe. I am doing that with a purpose, though. You see, I’m going to a recital tonight with the Gay Men’s Chorus, and, as usual, I have the jitters! They want me to solo a Josh Groban song called ‘February Song’. Apparently, my tenor is appropriate for the song and they want to do a mushy solo for their ‘Two Hearts That Beat As One’ gay-themed Valentine’s Day show. It’s a pretty song, but, for some reason, I choke up when I sing it! So, I’ve been trying to ‘desensitize’ myself to the lyrics so I can get through the fucking thing before I dissolve into the totally dramatic femmed-out Bottom Boy that I am!

Honestly, couldn’t they’ve let me sing ‘Smile’ instead, complete with babble lyrics?

So, what does this have to do with Brandon since, I suppose, that’s who I’m writing this for, (as a matter of fact, maybe I’ll start referring to you in the first person rather than in the third).

~~~ So, you are now ‘Brandon’ for the rest of this entry because, one day, I want you to read this:

So, what does this have to do with you? Not much directly, I guess. When I was singing in Church still, you must have only been an occasional visitor to the High Mass where I’d always sing. I do, of course, know your Dad, Mr. Temple, though he always insisted we call him ‘Brian’. Your Dad has always been down to earth and hated formalities. He was certainly a way better choir director than the one before him, Mszzzzz FRESHley! God what a fucking bitch! I was about ready to quit because of her! My Mom nearly decked her in the Church parking-lot one year. I was only twelve and that bitch was riding me like a broken-down horse! No, you perv! Not in that way! Sheesh! I was twelve (and, by the by, already had a ‘thing’ for boys).

I couldn’t get anything right for that bitch! As a matter of fact, none of the other boys on that choir could do anything right either! The only boy that was ‘perfect’ was her own son Richard (we called him Dick of course, because he was one)! The girls were safe, no matter how sour their notes were, particularly if they were half-way attractive and especially if their parents were well-off. Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make Dick a match?

Anyway, my Mom called her out on her shit, so Freshley-Bitch ran right to the Pastor at the time complaining and making threats and demands if the son (me) of THAT WOMAN (my Mom) stayed on the choir another minute! That’s when your Dad suddenly appeared in the Church the next rehearsal day. Though I didn’t want to, my Mom insisted I go and that she’d come with me if that bitch was still there. See, I loved to sing and still do, but that stupid lady was putting a serious harsh on my Angel Pipes to the point that I didn’t want to sing anymore! So, much to my relief, my Mom’s relief, and everyone else’s relief on the choir, your Dad was sitting at the piano and playing away just like Chopin! Freshley was nowhere to be seen! I guess Pastor Bill found the solution to two of his problems! He got his choir a new director and got rid of a giant pain in the ass all in one swift stroke!

You know what’s weird, though? Hehehe! After he didn’t have to be on the choir anymore, Dick and I became good friends after that!

Very good friends, as a matter of fact! In a way, I’ll always have a soft spot for . . . Dick!

Ok, I’ll quit. That was seriously wrong even if it is true!

So, that’s how I met your Dad and why we became friends. He was very encouraging and often let me sing solos!

He even helped me out of a particularly nasty jamb.

You see, Margaret Maguire was our resident teen-soprano and I was the resident teen-tenor so we often got paired doing harmonies together. I loved that, but unfortunately for her, Margaret loved me loving that and also anything else I happened to be doing at the time! She developed a serious crush on me! If that wasn’t bad enough, all the ‘Nonnas’ in Church were already planning our wedding! I wasn’t even fifteen yet and already the whole Old-Church-Lady set had me and Margaret married with rings, rice, cakes, and kids! Even if I hadn’t been gay, the whole thing would have been too much! I seriously felt pressure from the whole Church community that this thing should happen! I think it was due to the duets we’d do that got romantic fairytale prince and princess vibes going on and it allowed some of the more lonely parishioners a vicarious thrill of suspected God adorned love, pure as Angels, budding in their midst!

It was sweet and very ‘family/village’ in its way. I now know of a lot of parishes, particularly Catholic ones, that aren’t nearly that community-spirited. But, as you know, Palosanto is not a big town and Catholics are only a part of the religious types there. So, our little parish has a special community bond other places don’t have and that’s generally great for most of everybody concerned. But, not for all of everybody! Unfortunately, for someone like me, that can be really confining. I knew, sooner or later, I was going to have to out myself. I was not ashamed or afraid to do this, mind you. I’d long ago put away any idea that I was a ‘bad egg’ in any way. If anyone thought that way then that was their problem and not mine! I also no longer credited religious ideas that called me out as ‘evil’ or whatever. If I was evil, then God made me that way! It’s, kinda, not fair to make me one way and then condemn me for it! So, I never let that part of the religion sink in too far, but the social complications were starting to weigh on me.

Mr. Temple saw this happening, talked to me about it, and started pairing Margaret with Piper Stanley who was the second-best tenor in our choir (CUTE strawberry blond kid, but hopelessly straight, dammit)! I was allowed to ‘sit out’ during these since I’d ‘strained my vocal cords’. Mr. Temple insisted that I not talk to anyone for a whole MONTH while this was going on since he knew that the best way to handle the Church was to simply make me as uninteresting as possible while not raising any suspicions. It worked and suddenly Margaret and Piper were the new Prince and Princess of the moment. As it turned out, both of those two became a real item and, believe it or not, I think they might very well marry and soon! But, whether that happens or not, I got off the hook and Mr. Temple was the reason for it!

Despite this, I started to fade away from Church altogether as I approached Graduation Day. It was just getting harder and harder for me to reconcile my ‘gayness’ with Church doctrine. The two were completely incompatible and I had no intention of living in that vice anymore. Thankfully, my Mom and Pop are pretty open-minded about religion. Neither ever pressured any of us kids into anything other than going with them to Church and trying it out. When they figured I was old enough to make up my own mind about my faith, they accepted my need to step away for a while. They figured something was causing my sudden chilliness toward the Church that was over and above the nuttiness of the whole Prince and Princess of the Choir thingie. Neither were surprised when I came out to them and neither held it against me! They have been my biggest supporters in my life-choices ever since! I only wish more parents were like mine.

My final break from the Church came one week when I went to sing at Mass and Mr. Temple wasn’t there! I asked what had happened and the others said he’d quit the choir. I wondered why and that’s when I found out about your mother. She’d passed away! I was truly heartbroken! I hadn’t known your mother well, but what I did know was only good things. I also knew she made the best tiramisu on planet earth! My heartbreak was for your Dad and for you, though! I figured such a beautiful soul as your mother’s was well inside the Pearly Gates, no problem. I wanted to reach out to you guys, but my family has an odd disposition when it comes to dealing with other grieving families. Mom and Pop tend to want to step back and not interfere. I was all for going over and helping out, but my folks prevented it mostly for Marie and Jamie’s sake. Mom, in particular, felt it unwise to involve the young ones in the funerals or deaths of others. She wanted to ‘protect’ us from the ‘harsh realities’ of the world for as long as she could! She wanted only happy memories for our childhoods. I figure that came from her upbringing. She was poor and abused by her father, my grandfather. She’d be damned if we were going to get any of that negativity in our lives! It may be why you find Jamie rather ‘immature’ for his age and a bit naive. I admit, he is a bit dim on things, but I think this upbringing did wonders for making him an all-around good guy and innocent of a lot of the muck of this world. I was sheltered too, but, being gay, one learns quickly about how nasty people can get and that’s when I called on my Mom’s other attribute . . . her fiery temper! That is one woman you don’t want to piss off! I didn’t allow myself to be so ‘innocent’. Being gay, you have to keep your eyes open and your sensors out for problems! But, then I figure you know this by now or you are finding out.

In any case, I knew of your plight and, I guess, I’m admitting to not having gotten involved in helping you guys out then. Maybe, that’s why I am trying to help now! I want you to have an easier time of it than I had growing up gay. I’ll give myself one excuse, though . . . I really didn’t know you then! I’d never really met you so it was more for your Dad that I wanted to help, but couldn’t. Maybe, I can make it up to him by helping you now. But, actually, seeing how you are, I’d really like to help you for you!

I love your Dad! He is one of the best people I’ve ever met! He taught me a lot and I’m sure he’s teaching you too. Listen to him and, above all, trust him! He has a big heart and an understanding and kind nature.

I’ll let you in on a secret, Brandon: I came out to your Dad when he asked me why I only came to sing and not stay for Communion and things! He didn’t reject me. He didn’t ‘cast me out’. He didn’t even give me the ‘love the sinner but not the sin’ routine. He accepted me for who I am, but still would have liked me to continue in the faith despite what the Church said or whatever! I just couldn’t reconcile what I am with those beliefs, but your Dad is the one beacon of true Christian love that could change my mind one day!

I hope you’ll have the courage to come out to him too, soon. You have nothing to fear! I know, for a fact, that your Dad loves you more than his own life!

I promise if you are honest with him and yourself, your life will become much easier! Don’t be afraid of the assholes at school or anyone else that might come at you about who you are! They don’t know who you are! They don’t know what a true gift you are and how, given a chance, you can make another person’s life a heaven on this poor messed up earth.

You are amazing, Brandon!

Don’t get lost in a February Song. Open your eyes, smile, and realize who you are!

~~~ So, I’ll save this for a later time, when you really need it, Brandon, my friend.

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