I went about digging up my past history armed with a camera and no map; I started with my room, went by way of the kitchen and ended up at my father's den. I wasn't sure what I'd find, but what I did either amused or disgusted me.
It started the day after I arrived at my parents' house, when I went into the bathroom and found a dusty, twenty year-old bottle of shampoo + conditioner in the shower stall.
I think it was a brand that my mother used when she still used to buy all my personal hygiene products--usually the cheapest brands on the shelf, you know, like Tide. I think she figured that since it worked on our grubby, dirty clothes, it should work just as well on our grubby, dirty bodies. It was years later when I found out that my face didn't have to burn every time I washed it.
As I grew older and started to become aware of my burgeoning sexuality, at age seven, I tried to make myself attractive to members of the same sex. Back then, it was hard to find sexy clothing for a seven year-old. These days, you can find a t-shirt for a two year-old that says "Slut."
Boys were easy. At that time, it wasn't too hard to do get their attention. All I had to do was let them play with my toys or video games, or dab a little peanut butter behind my ears. It was later that they became more sophisticated, when they grew up and gained maturity, around the age of 60, that I had to become more sneaky and practice my gay wiles. Dabbing peanut butter won't do anymore, I had to up my game. Cologne is too subtle. I needed something stronger, like a shovel, or a stick, something to bludgeon them with.
Growing up, I shared this bathroom with my twin brother Peter. I looked at all the stuff accumulating dust in the bathroom counter, the artifacts of our juvenilia.
I found an old toothbrush which I used to clean my white sneakers, sitting on the shelf. There was the old hairbrush that I used to carry in my back pocket when I was fourteen; my vintage cologne circa 1989; an old bottle of lube--wait--lube?
That wasn't mine, it must've been Peter's. It's really weird that it was just sitting right next to the sink, out in plain view. I wonder what my mother thinks of it? She must see it when she washes her hands. Maybe she uses it to moisturize?
When I became a teen, I started to become withdrawn, more introspective. I spent most of my time wrestling with my homosexuality; I did this primarily by jerking off.
I tried reading the bible to try to find some answers. I locked myself up in my room. I was afraid--afraid that people would find me with the bible. It was hard being known as "the fag," can you imagine how much worse it would be to be known as a "jesus freak?" I shuddered at the thought.
I had put up a "NO TRESSPASSING VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED" sign even though I had no idea then what "prosecuted" really meant. In my mind, it meant I would throw a huge tantrum.
The tape holding up that old sign is older than most of my cousins. Across the hall, my older brother Jon had also put up a sign. I think it worked better keeping people away than my sign. It said "Ewok Village."
I went on with my expedition.
In the kitchen, I found that the old refrigerator had decided to quit its job after thirty years. Instead of sending it off to the junkyard, my mother started to use it as a closet to store her tupperware and take-out containers that she re-uses to pack my brother Jon's lunches. I guess if the oven ever breaks down, it might end up in my parents' bedroom to store my dad's shirts.
Check out the Anchored Nomad's Refrigerator Project, you can find a picture of my fridge there.
The last place I went was my dad's den. His desk was overflowing with odds and ends, jars full of dried-up pens, orphaned keys, five empty eyeglass cases. An abacus and a calculator lay side-by-side on the table, a May-December romance.
I don't think my dad understands the concept of "neat," except maybe in the context of "scotch."
My mother sat behind my dad's desk and I, opposite her. We were chatting, laughing at my dad's disorganization when I found a twenty year-old unopened can of sour balls.
I asked my mother, "Seriously, is this the same can from when I was in high school? Why is this still here?"
My mother shrugged. "That's the one," she said.
The aluminum can let out a small whisper when I pulled the tab that sealed it. I took a whiff, smelling a heavy, thick sweetness.
I pushed the can towards my mother, daring her to eat it. "Eat it, eat it, eat it," I said repeatedly.
She shook her head giggling. I kept at it until she took one and gingerly put it in her mouth.
I held my breath, not knowing whether she was going to start frothing at the mouth or throw up. I wasn't sure what I would do anyway, except that if she started throwing up, I'd take the can and offer some to my dad.
She frowned a bit but kept on sucking, trying to figure out whether it was still good. I wondered if she made the same face when she used to blow my dad. That was gross I know, but I had to go there. I was dying to know what the twenty year-old sour balls tasted like, whether it was anything like the taste of unwashed testicles.
Not able to wait any longer, I took one and put it in my mouth...
On the last day of my trip, as I packed up all my toiletries and my travel kit, I accidentally grabbed that old toothbrush. I realized my mistake and took it out. I was going to throw it into the trash, but I hesitated. I held on to that brittle, worn toothbrush for nearly a minute, debating. It's been here for fifteen years, I should throw it out, all this stuff out, everything here, these relics?
I slowly put it down. It will be here for another fifteen years.
I bid you to go on your own archeological expedition, find an object in your house--not a keepsake or a collectible--the oldest one you can find and tell us some of its history. Good digging!
This is part of a series of posts about my vacation in February of '06 in the Philippines. Read the rest here:
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