Letters to Nettie

Letters to Nettie


For a few days I haven’t posted here – I’ve been busy.


Primarily typing up letters from my grandfather to my grandmother. In 1948 he was in Venezuela working at building a refinery for Shell Oil. She was in Queens New York with their five kids, my mom among them. The letters were saved, all carefully bundled, tied with a lavender ribbon, and forbidden to be looked at for decades. Ah ha, but I got them now. What interesting stuff. How obvious that my grandfather wrote English nearly exactly as he spoke it – and since he was an immigrant from the Czech Republic, well, let’s say it was charming the way he did it. Here, take a look at just one paragraph:


“Realy (sic) Darling I am blue today – You can’t go out because the military government is quiet (quite) strict about and so the camp is the limit with some restrictions. But the movies was open for the foreign staff only – so tonigth (tonight) I am operating – the picture is Senda Ho! Senda Hay! So I hope that that will change my blue filling (feeling). Realy (sic) darling I am more with you this year with you – and just Hopping (hoping) that the time afther (after) this year will be faster than the rest of it. I know, whath (what) is before me when I come home – but darling there is no money which can hold me separated like this from you. When I look on all the picture of yours – I am asking my self – many and many times wy (why) left you there alon (alone), seams (seems) to me like 20thy (twenty) years – I am so glad and happy that all that is over — now the only thing we can do is get together and figure something whath (what) will be the best for us all – well we will see – Now darling I have to answer your lovely letter.”


But note too, how somethings still haven’t quite changed – there’s still a military government in Venezuela that is putting “the limit with some restrictions.” Indeed. And too many of our Hollywood dim-stars and our politicians think it’s a fine thing this Chavez fellow is doing.


Oddly, my grandfather had to escape the clutches of the Austrian Empire, a militaristic thing certainly, and his brothers were stuck in Prague through the military dictatorship of the Nazis, and then the military dictatorship of the Communists. We know military dictatorships, my family does, and we’re not happy with them or even the inklings of it. Hence my Liberty streak.


Meanwhile, in our own freewheeling Republic the elections are nigh, days away and no sign of a military intervention of course, despite the more paranoid among us certain of its incipient arrival. Still, it seems the Republicans are going to win big – how big is hard to say. There are many prognosticators doing what they are paid to do. The Democratic doctors giving care to their sick patient are saying the disease is in remission, while the Republican doctors are cautiously optimistic that they’ll take both the House and the Senate, but dare not say it, lest voters become to assured that this might be the case and not bother to go to the polls. And turnout is going to be a big factor, for sure. From the feel of it there’s going to be more voters voting than in any midterm elections in quite a while.


There is one group, though, that I wish would not go to the polls. I think that gay folks should stay away. That’s right, just not vote. In protest of a sorts, but strategic too. For we shouldn’t vote Democratic because they are not the gay friendly puppy dogs they pretend to be, and we’re just as disastrously affected by their economic management (I use the term loosely, for they think they are managing, but their ideas are just nuts.) Nor should we vote Republican for they seem still to be sure we’re a threat to the nation somehow, though they be vaguer and vaguer about why this might be. In this way, Republicans in Democratic-heavy districts might even the group of potential voters by our removing ourselves from the voting totals. So Democrats might loose, and Republicans win, and we hit back at the ones doing harm, but don’t help directly the ones who won’t forswear harm.


Meanwhile, all over the internet, on conservative and Republican, Liberty minded and Tea Party sites, this gay subject keeps showing up. Quite amazing. And on the TV news, and in the newspapers, and just everywhere, it’s a subject that won’t go away. And the feeling we get is, (and I’ve discussed it with folks) well, yes, it is getting better for gay people. But still, we’re not quite there yet. I’m not even sure we know or can articulate where there might be. Surely it has to do with Florida ending its ban on adoptions by gay folks. Surely it would be the end of DOMA and DADT, and actually figuring out a way to include us in whatever laws and rules might be around. For instance, no gay man wants sissy queens in the military – but if a gay guy can pulverize an enemy, so good for him. So stop worrying about such nonsense as to the right way to wear camoflage feathers boas. The military should have more than enough ways to keep out the weaklings. Don’t they? But it’s also got to include the right to walk through a public park hand in hand on a sunny day to enjoy our lives and tax dollars at work. Without the freaking out that would surely ensue at this moment.


And still, there’s the push back by many against candidate Carl Palidino’s ill-thought comments on us being dysfunctional while still being quite able to pay all those New York State and City taxes, and adhere to the most absurd rules of business that might be fostered on gay owned businesses too. What a way to lose a slew of votes for something he’s got no control over – the gayness of any given number of gay folks living within his precincts. Really – perhaps he would like those of us there to just leave the state? You know, like a Chavez might like? Hmm.


Then there’s the recent spate of publicly reported gay teen suicides, and the slowly, very slowly growing recognition that quite young boys do know they’re gay, and some can’t take the hate. It’s a bit ridiculous to keep the pressure up on the youngsters, no? Just like the killing and splaying on a fence of Matthew Shepherd did wake the nation up to the rather crude treatment that was meted out to gay folks. That sort of started a more, shall we say, sensitive look at gay folks. Well, good for that. Too bad it took a martyr, eh? And the constant bleating about “God hates fags” by the registered Democrats over at Fred Phelps’ church is getting tiresome to all the decent people, finally. Who knows, maybe the Supreme Court will rule it “shouting fire in a crowded theater” rather than free speech when it takes up the case this term. Or maybe, in defense of the right of free speech they might point out that that doesn’t mean you have to exercise it. Which brings to mind the gay bar suggested as a way to stop the mosque at Ground Zero. How nice to be in service to the nation.


Which brings me to thoughts of the new terrorist threat of some Muslim guy threatening to blow up the DC Subway. And all the fracas over Juan Williams and Muslims in garb on airlines, and now reports today or yesterday of a problem on a flight with such a man in the bathroom a little too long for comfort before the flight even left the gate, I think. Funny how it might well be some male flight attendant, a gay man almost certainly, to within 90% of those men in that profession, who might well save some future flight. One wonders if his “partner,” or whatever term he uses, might be allowed near him as he receives the award and recognition for bravery.


And that brings me to thoughts of Mohammed and the murderous rage that ensues by his followers at the slightest slight. Contrast that gay folks, who never go in for the violence, do we? We don’t riot (OK, once to stop the bar raids, the second time in outrage that eating Twinkies was just a fine defense for killing two men, but that’s it.) and we don’t blow things up, and we don’t really make much of a fuss at all. And we are the targets of some quite vociferously venomous attacks, physical and by word. Gay folks also don’t track down our ex spouses and blow their brains out and any innocent bystanders. Nor do we kill our spouses at home. Nor our kids. Nor anyone really. We don’t even have bar fights, or birthday party shootings. Boring folks we are, in comparison, don’t you think? We seem to be the most docile segment of the population indeed. And yet, for all this peace, we’re called a menace for wanting to file a joint tax return in wedded bliss. And for all the violence of your kind, you’re allowed to get married and tax me for the courts to settle your seething disputes. This is something else that is becoming apparent to oh so many more straight folks. It’s rather jarring, the disconnect, isn’t it?


Well, I’m off to Halloween in New Orleans. I wonder if will see any Carl Palidino heart attack inducing guys in Speedos, and all the other wacky costumes that might be worn around the French Quarter? Should be gorgeous weather. So who can tell?


So my advice, prior to the election is this: Gay folks – don’t vote, unless you vote Republican. Democrats – resign en masse in service to the nation. Republicans don’t screw this up and be slow socialists with an anti-gay bent. Have a pleasant weekend. See you in November.


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