Monday, September 16, 2013

The Minister

When I was in college, I lived in a gay neighborhood across the street from the hustlers. A few blocks up was Rittenhouse Square, which was a fancy area with huge brownstones and expensive boutiques, and a few blocks down was Broad Street, the busiest connector street in the city. The boys that stood out there were different from the loud, colorful trannies that worked around the corner. They seemed a little sad and hungry, basically just standing around waiting with their hands in their pockets. It was the only place I ever lived where my home was broken into.  They came in through the fire escape and washed their hands in my bathroom sink, the soap was blackened and there were still grey drips everywhere when I returned. I remember calling the police and telling them I had been robbed, and they said Ma’am you weren’t robbed, you were burglarized. Anyway, the boys, they were always there, quietly getting into cars, or standing with one hand on the pay phone.
I watched them. A lot. I watched the guys who picked them up too, most of them were men in suits, with nice cars, men who probably had wives and kids and golden retrievers. It was all very peaceful and gloomy. One night I remember coming back from dinner with friends and I saw the father of a kid I went to school with walking towards the boy-corner. He was actually the minister at a church I went to for a confirmation class when I was 14. I went to the class mainly because of the barely supervised retreats we took where we smoked pot and made out for two-day stretches. There may have been a few discussions about religious studies but I don’t remember any of them. 
I had always liked him, both the minister and his whole family really. My own parents were divorced and my family complicated, and he seemed kind and happy and easygoing. “Sure we’ll take the kids on a hiking trip, it’ll be fun”. His wife never went with us, just he and “Tom”, another guy who worked at the church. Then, there he was out of the blue. Without a thought, I yelled out and waved “Mr H. HEY!” I was so happy to see him. I started to cross towards him but he immediately turned and walked away from me, not knowing that in one swift motion, he told me so much more than if he had just said hello.

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