Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Still trying to prove something

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | November 03, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Chicago, homophobic behavior, intergenerational queer relationships, squirrels

Today is the day when everything hurts. It was going to be the day when I caught up on everything computer-related, but now it's the day when everything hurts. Maybe I'll still catch up. At least it's sunny out and I'm going to get to the park to watch the squirrels, so that might help. Actually there are no squirrels at the park, but it does help anyway.

Someone comes towards me from the other side of the baseball field, heading directly to me so I'm figuring he likes this bench too, it's the one with direct sunlight. It's an older guy, and when he gets up close he stands right in front of me, maybe two feet away so I have to look up and squint to see him and he smiles and puts his arms out in the air and says you're very colorful!

So I'm kind of excited, here's this fag about my grandfather's age coming to talk to me and I don't often get a chance to talk to fags of that age, and never before in Chicago he wants to know where I'm from, how old I am, basic questions but then: are you married? What kind of work you do? Who do you write for? Do you live nearby?

He's 84, lives at the Catholic home down the street he did something and then something and then something else and now they take care of him. He looks at the postcard for So Many Ways to Sleep Badly and then hands it back to me. Do you live nearby?

Oh, San Francisco, there are a lot of gays there.

Hmm -- not quite the conversation I was expecting. I say yes, a lot of gays, like me.

Oh, but did I mention that he wants to know if I pray, heaven means happiness forever don't you want happiness?

I tell him I'd rather have happiness now, but don't say that I'm pretty far from that. He says: what kind of work you do? Who do you write for? Do you live nearby?

When I hand him the postcard again, this time he tucks it back in my bag, he says you must have a lot of talent. But do you pray? There's no hope for your prayer?

No hope. And then he hits me really hard on the back, in that friendly hyper-masculine straight guy way that he wasn't projecting until now, way way too hard like maybe he's 35 and trying to prove something except he's 84, and I guess still trying to prove something.

(Mattilda also blogs at

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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 3, 2008 8:58 PM

Wow, Mattilda. What an intense encounter...wish it had played out differently.

I love meeting older gays and lesbians. A lot of the time you can really see the generational gap that Stonewall had for us.

And I think we'll all still have something to prove no matter how old we get. :) Otherwise, we'll be "settling."

how sad. Yep, some people never get over trying to prove things to everyone.

Brynn, yes it could've been more exciting if it turned out otherwise.

And Bil, yes I'm not for settling, but hopefully not for proving masculinity or straight identity either, help!

And Alex, never indeed -- never never never it's true...