Posts Tagged ‘Family Values’

FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY

Nine days ago, Carolyn and I celebrated our 50th anniversary. The usual question: “How did you guys do it?” The first part of my answer is simple.

You get up each morning. A golden anniversary requires longevity. When we were married, I was 25, Carolyn nearing 22. We maintained healthy lifestyles. My parents made it to almost 47 years; my father died at 80, just weeks before their anniversary. Of note, my sister and brother-in-law celebrate their 60th in March.

Not every 50th anniversary marks success. Old joke: “I’ve had 10 great years of marriage. Ten out of 30 isn’t bad.” Some couples are miserable but stay together because of religious beliefs. Others can’t imagine living separately minus sufficient income, housekeeping and someone to yell at if not converse with.

Here, the second part of my answer comes into play. It’s not enough to love each other. Or to define love solely as physical attraction, which may seem the case initially. Carolyn and I were attracted to each other from the beginning and still are. That helped. Having married a beautiful woman, I never wondered what it would be like to go after other women. Who could match up?

Still, sex isn’t enough. And when you’re bringing up three children (who surely are uncomfortable if they’re reading this; get over it; this is life), there’s not all that much time or energy left for sex. (Thankfully, there’s some.) Moreover, bringing up kids is a tough job—tougher than you ever imagined. Disagreements over what course to take for each child constantly pop up. You talk. You argue. You compromise. Sometimes, you even admit you were wrong. When you’re done with the theatrics, you get over it—or pay a price.

Carolyn and I were fortunate. Our backgrounds were very different, but our values very much aligned. We wanted children. A close family. We were willing to deal with them as individuals who might not fulfill our parental fantasies. We didn’t necessarily fulfill the fantasies of our parents. We had good days. We had bad days. The next morning, we put one foot in front of the other.

Eventually, the kids flew the nest. We raised them to do that. They had their adventures, and we weren’t always thrilled, but we stood behind them. That takes patience and a willingness to set aside your ego. We learned to cast off our last lingering daydreams and see them as they were. We guided them by setting an example of basic values. They learned from us. They learned from life. They’re doing well.

How did we celebrate our anniversary? Carolyn attended Burning Man for the second time—it’s not my thing—so we met in Las Vegas. I surprised her with a suite at Bellagio and a dozen roses. We ate at top restaurants. Saw Penn & Teller and Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE.

Next? We know we won’t celebrate a second fifty years. So, as we’ve been doing, we’ll take it one day at a time. Carolyn’s acting and music classes. Auditions. Hopefully, more TV/movie roles. My new novel. New short stories. Another novel.

Fifty years seems hard to comprehend. I understand what went into them. I appreciate the full life we got out.

Big Truth: New and Collected Stories,is available at Amazon and bn.com in paper or e-book. Or, ask your favorite bookstore to order a copy. And, please leave a review on either or both sites.

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OUR CHILDREN, OUR CHOICES

Americans love choices. But choosing can be frustrating. Which flavor? Style? Color? Buy a house? Rent? New car? Used? Leased? But not everything in life involves choice. If a large segment of Americans comes to see that, our nation will come closer to upholding the family values they promote.

Last Sunday, Carolyn and I went to the brunch drag show at Hamburger Mary’s on Castro Street. A friend of Carolyn’s was performing. A ballet dancer and choreographer who grew up in London, Rex enjoys entertaining in drag and is a wonderful performer. No one high kicks like he does. Going on stage is Rex’s choice. Being who he is—a gay man—is not.

Many Americans still believe that people choose to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or “other.” Not so. I never chose to be a straight guy. I just am. Same for Carolyn as a straight woman. And our oldest son Seth.

On the other hand, our son Yosi never chose to be a transgender man. He discovered that’s who he was. His choices involve expressing who he is. The same is true of my son Aaron and his husband Jeremy (who celebrate their 7th anniversary in a week). Being gay is who they are. Yet they make an important choice every day—to be proud of who they are as human beings. And they have lots to be proud of.

Of course, Carolyn and I had a “choice”: accept or reject Yosi and Aaron. No contest. They are our children. We loved them from the womb. We love them still. All we wanted from our kids is that they be true to themselves and live their own lives, not lives imposed on them.

Still, choices confront us daily. Some are trivial, others critical. One supposed choice should be seen as no choice at all: Do unto others. Let all people live their lives unmolested as we wish to.

Unfortunately, bad choices have emanated from the White House. Donald Trump decided that transgender men and women may no longer serve in our military. Many patriotic trans Americans chose to shoulder their part of the burden of the nation’s defense. Some served in war zones. Yet our president, who chose to avoid military service during the Vietnam War, rejected them.

Yes, some choices are highly complex. The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) is mulling whether woman runner Caster Semenya of South Africa, born with testes, should take drugs to reduce her high levels of testosterone usually found in males. I believe that Semenya, who was brought up and identifies as female, has an advantage over her competitors. Her levels of testosterone have produced greater bone density and more muscle mass. But world-class athletes, male or female, with “normal” hormone levels boast obvious genetic advantages over the rest of us.

I don’t know what the IAAF will do, but I hope they make the key choice to avoid determining whether Semenya is “really” female despite her intersex characteristics. Caster Semenya may not be usual, but she is normal because she is, above all, a human being.

We’ll soon hear a lot of political jabbering about family values. Fine. Let those who preach them walk the talk by choosing to love allour children.

Big Truth: New and Collected Stories,  is available at Amazon and bn.com in paper or e-book. Or, ask your favorite bookstore to order a copy. And, please leave a review on either or both sites.

To respond, click on “comments” to the right just below the title of this post. Then go to the response space at the bottom of the post.

 

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard an appeal against California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. If the arguments for Prop 8 hold weight, the court’s decision—if it doesn’t dismiss the case and renders one in June—may force my wife and I to divorce.

First, a disclosure. We have a gay son. A married gay son. Last August, he and our son-in-law exchanged vows in Vermont—one of nine states along with the District of Columbia that permits same-sex marriage. Now, according to conservative thinkers, same-sex marriage poses a grave threat to American families and thus the nation. Sadly, they’ve missed the point. The real villains are straight married couples, who underhandedly subvert family values.

Ask Charles J. Cooper, representing the opponents of same-sex marriage at the court. The purpose of marriage, he said, is procreation. Same-sex marriage, Mr. Cooper declared, “will refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples.” Evidently, Mr. Cooper has not heard of birth control and its widespread employment. Or that same-sex couples raise well-adjusted children.

Most important, he hasn’t factored in the “straight-couple factor.” Based on Mr. Cooper’s views about marriage and procreation, it’s only logical—not to mention moral—that my wife and I divorce. Our 43-year-old marriage is a sham. We’re in our sixties now. Our three kids range from almost 37 to almost 30. We’re empty nesters and not about to have another child. So these days, our marriage consists of nothing more than a very satisfying focus on what Mr. Cooper dismisses as our “emotional needs and desires.”

Should California tolerate our flaunting the purpose of marriage? And what about young straight married couples concerned only with their own “emotional needs and desires?” Should Sacramento demand that straights declare their intention to have at least one child within five years of their wedding to obtain a marriage license? Should the state abrogate their marriages if they fail to become parents? Likewise, should the state terminate marriages that produced children when said offspring reach the age of independence?

This is all new stuff to be sure. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who may cast the deciding vote, noted that, “We have five years of information to weigh against 2,000 years of history or more.” Yet studies of children raised by gay and lesbian unions indicate positive outcomes. And let’s be honest. Cases of children abused and neglected by straight parents fill our courts. Many, many more never see a courtroom.

So Justice Kennedy’s observation doesn’t ring true to me. It almost suggests that Abraham Lincoln should have accommodated the United States’ 300-year tradition of slavery and never pushed the Thirteenth Amendment.

Be that as it may, my wife and I will hold our breath until June. Because, giving full credit to the late Walt Kelly’s Pogo, we have met the enemy of family stability and America’s enduring foundations—and they are us.

Again, Happy Passover and Happy Easter. May freedom and love guide us.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.