I hate being SSA (gay). In fact I think it would be fair to say I loath it. Growing up here in West Texas, I was given nothing but negative images of it. I thought I had to wear dresses; I thought I had to like pink; I thought I had to have a boyfriend. I could never be the type of man my father wanted me to be: rugged, captain of the football team, a girl on each arm (yeah right). Instead he got a limp wristed pansy, who hated football, was always reading, loved to cook and hated to get dirty. I must have been a major disappointment. He was sure surprised when I defended myself against on attacker who tried to run me over with his car. I never told him about the guy who tried to rape me. We weren’t on speaking terms then.
When I finally bought a house in 1997, I wasn’t prepared for what that entailed. Mom had always lived from place to place, never paying the rent. I had decided to have someplace permanent. My down payment was in pennies, as they were hard to spend. $3,000 worth. My realtor was shocked.
Home repair was something else. I had to learn it all as I had never been exposed to it. I replaced the water heater myself, and I felt manly doing it. When my wife and kids came along, I realized my groovy bachelor pad with the license plates and Frisbees was no longer suitable to raise a family. I started remodeling.
I ripped out old sheet rock and replaced it with new. I put new siding on the house, to get rid of the asbestos shingles. I replaced the wiring, putting in all new electrical sockets and new insulation. I also did new light fixtures. I ripped out the kitchen and put in a new kitchen, with tiled floors. I did the same with the bathroom, and did the plumbing.
I did these things myself. I hired no one. Was I overcompensating? Most assuredly. I thought that a straight man would do these things. I also did much of the maintenance on the car: oil changes, brake jobs, etc. Again, overcompensating. At the same time some of what I perceived as gay tendencies came out.
My wife is a terrible cook. She should just quit trying. I began cooking for the family, making everything from scratch. I made homemade cookies, roasts, Caesar salad, tamales, bread, cake, you name it. I did all this while managing the household, juggling two jobs, animation school, and three kids. My mother was amazed. She asked where I had learned to all this. I told her I read a lot, which is true, but I was trying to do what I thought a straight man did. I had become an all around repairman, electrician, plumber, mechanic, cook and a great dad.
When the stroke hit, I no longer had the capacity to do these things. I had a breakdown when I couldn’t even properly crack an egg for frying. That was a bad day. When the roof on the back of the house needed replacing, I had two options. I could pay someone to do it or I could do it. I still thought I had something to prove. My wife was aghast when I climbed up on the roof to replace the shingles. She insisted that the kids help me.
When I got up there, I found I could no longer swing a hammer and strike a nail; but the kids could. For the first time we started working together as a family. I directed the kids on where to do the shingles, and they were my brawn, bringing up the shingles and the power saw. We replaced the roof in two days. Even my wife got into the act by making us lunch, doing her best with bologna. That was a great day.
I learned to cook again, and not take it so seriously when I break an egg yolk.