Category Archives: gay Christmas

Pondering New Years With Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

In Within a Budding Grove (À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs), the second volume of Marcel Proust’s novel, In Search of Lost Time, the young narrator describes his disillusionment with New Years Day and the moment he discovers that “New Years Day was not a day different from the rest… it’s not the first day of a new world.”

Here Proust’s narrator begins to see that time passes indifferently.  The future does not magically open up on New Years Day; there is no break in the calendar.  There is only the unheeding fluidity of the old days and years that, unknown to the Years themselves, we choose to invest with a different name each January in our attempt to shape and modify them to suit us.  Proust writes:

“I returned home. I had just spent the New Year’s Day of old men, who differ on that day from their juniors, not because people have ceased to give them presents but because they themselves have ceased to believe in the New Year.”

For Proust, loss in the belief in New Years is a loss of hope.

So, as the year come to a close (a random demarcation in the fluidity of days or not) the Gay Groom is spending some time looking back over the past 364.25 days and pondering his successes and (shall we say) non-successes of 2014.

There were many grand moments.

My novel, Shirts and Skins, continues to do well. I did a number of readings and signing including a couple in Provincetown, Montreal, Palm Springs and my first in my Hometown. I also met a lot of great people who connected with the novel. I was also short-listed for a Hamilton Literary Arts Award for the novel which was very exiting (for a first time novelist).  I went on a cruise in January to see the Caribbean for the first time.  I also launched my website jeffreyluscombe.com and started on my second novel which I hope to have finished in the first half of 2014.

And there were less than grand moments.

I did not win the aforementioned award I was short-listed for, my father is still battling Multiple Myeloma and we have had a couple of bad events through the year though he seems to be better right now, the husband had an operation on his knee which took months of recuperation.  Early in the year my asthma was out of control but with some extra medication I was able to get it in check by the end of summer.

“But”, Proust may have asked if he were to drop by this New Years Eve,  “does the Gay Groom still believe in New Years?  Or will he have the New Years of old men.”

“Well, Marcel,” I’d say as I handed him a cognac, “believe isn’t quite the right word.  Instead, I choose to accept the contrived and artificial demarcation of New Years.  Let’s call it a ‘New Years of mature men’”.

I choose to accept New Years because I hope.

And aren’t all those fresh pages in my new red 2014 journal (which one day will prove to be a most scandalous memoir) 364 pages of lined hope?

At the end of Proust’s enormous novel, when his narrator (after squandering year after year of his life and writing potential on frivolous society parties and obsessive love) suddenly discovers that death is imminent, is overcome with the need to write.  In writing, the narrator regains time by folding time – and himself – into the pages of the book.

And on that note, your humble blogger signs off for the year.

The story continues…

Happy New Year!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

2 Comments

Filed under gay, gay atheist, gay canada, gay Christmas, gay men, gay new years, gay paris, gay toronto, gay wedding, gaygroom, gblt, just married, New Years, proust new years, same-sex marriage

The Worst Christmas Gift EVER

The Little Gay Groom not enjoying his Xmas gift.  Winter, 1970.

A Christmas re-post of one of my most read blogs…

Continuing with my “Christmas in the 70s” series, I look back gifts.  Not the gifts I wanted and received like my pogo stick, the soundtrack album to The Sound of Music or my Stretch Armstrong (or even the ones I really wanted but couldn’t mention like an Easy Bake Oven), but the one I received almost every Christmas and never ever wanted.

Hockey skates.

With visions of NHL hockey contracts dancing in his head, each winter my father would stand out back of our house in the freezing cold and flood our lawn with a garden hose to make my older brothers and me a backyard skating rink.

My dear old dad wanted your humble blogger to be a great hockey player.  He had me on ice-skates before I was two years old.  The logic being, I suppose, that the earlier I was on the ice then the better skater I would become.

Sadly, for him, this was not to be the case.

Unlike my older brothers, I hated hockey. I hated the cold. I hated the big heavy uniform.  I hated the big smelly bag you carried the hockey accouterments in.  And I especially hated how hockey skates hurt my feet.  I told my dad that skating for long periods hurt my chest (my asthma not yet being diagnosed) but any protestations I made were dismissed by my father with a shake of his head as he would put those damned skates on my feet at the kitchen table each evening and then have me skate in circles around that backyard ice rink.

“You just need more practice,” he would say as he shoved me out into the cold.

On Saturday nights, he would have me sit in front of our huge Zenith color television and watch “Hockey Night in Canada.”  The little Gay Groom did not like watching hockey anymore than I liked playing it.  The games seemed to go on forever and I never really cared who won or lost.  To pass the time as they skated up and down and up and down and up… I would critique the colors of their uniforms:  loved the purple and gold Kings, hated the brown, yellow and orange Canucks, and decided that the Whalers needed a splash of crimson.

I would wait patiently for the end of the game when the camera would move into the locker-room and someone would put a microphone in the face of a half-naked husky hockey player with a bare chests and long sweaty hair.

In those days your humble blogger really dug those Montreal Canadians with their French accents.  Actually, your humble blogger still does.

When I was seven, the time came for me to join the city boy’s hockey league, just as my brothers had, where I played on a team called the Cardinals.

“Shouldn’t cardinals be in red?” I asked my dad when I saw my green uniform for the first time.

“Stop worrying so much about color,” he said.

And I was hopeless on the ice.  I tripped.  I fell over.  I slid on my face.  And at times I simply gave up and lay on my back staring up at the lights on the ceiling as others skated around me.  The lights are pretty from down here, I thought.

“Get up!” my father yelled from the stands. “For Christ’s sake, skate!”

I didn’t feel like it.

After a few games, I was not put on the ice much and spent most of the game sitting on the bench with Tommy Young who was also a terrible skater (and who, incidentally, I would run into at a gay bar a few years later) and discuss important things like Tiger Beat magazine.  Warming the bench with Tommy was fine by me.

(I should mention at this point that many gay men are great athletes and, particularly, great hockey players… and the Gay Groom’s own rottenness at hockey should be in no way seen as stereotypical of all gay boys.  There are excellent gay hockey players out there – I am just not one of them.)

On the drive home from the neighborhood hockey rink after a Cardinal’s game my dad was always quiet.  He was never one to mask his disappointment well and would look shell shocked as he drove (rather like he did years later when I told him why my roommate and I had rented an apartment with only one bedroom).

“But he was on skates before he was two,” he would say quietly say to himself.

When we got home he would make me put my skates back on and skate circles around the backyard rink in the dark.

“You need more practice,” he said.

One night after he made me go out in the backyard to skate circles I waited until I saw him looking out the kitchen window at me.   Then I stretched out my arms wide at my sides and, in the best Dorothy Hamill imitation my lousy skating skills could muster, I started to do big flamboyant figure eights on the ice.  As my father’s eyes narrowed I even managed to throw in a few tiny little jumps without falling.  The final spin never materialized properly but I still finished with a defiant “TA DA!”

It worked.  He flew outside in a rage running over the ice in his stocking feet and pulling me by the shoulder, threw me through the back door.

My dad never made another backyard ice rink.

And as for your humble blogger’s first and only year playing hockey with The Cardinals?  Now the only reminder I have of that unhappy winter is my team photo.

TA DA!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

Worst Hockey Player Ever?

4 Comments

Filed under 1970s christmas, 70s christmas, canada, gay, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay hockey, gay men, gay men toronto, gay men underwear, gay men's hockey, gay sports, gay wedding, gaygroom, Xmas

Enough Already with the Christmas Tipping!

Your humble blogger isn’t cheap.

He will gladly add 20% to his bill at a restaurant (even for mediocre service), let his cabbie keep the change of a ten-dollar bill for a seven-dollar ride, and throws his change in the tip jar at Startucks when getting a chai latte.

Now I don’t want to be a Scrooge and I hate to complain, but come December I seem to be tipping everyone and their brother.

Just who am I tipping?  I’m glad you asked…

First there is the Cleaning Lady:  The usual tip (or so I was told years ago) is an extra week’s salary on her last cleaning day before Christmas.  It is not, apparently,  appropriate to give one’s cleaning lady a gift of say, towels or fancy olive oil.  Cold hard cash is what is expected and it’s what I fork over.  Though it is the one day of the year when their work seems to be lacking.  You know you will be re-cleaning the toilet in the guest bathroom before your guests pop by Christmas Eve.  “Ah well”, you say as you dig in your pocket, “it’s Christmas”.

Condo concierge:  This is the cheerful guy that sits behind the desk in the lobby of the condo.  Tipping him costs me either a very good bottle of scotch or champagne every year.  Keeping the concierge happy at Christmas means that guests to your condo will be sent up quickly and you will know right when the package from Amazon arrives. A happy concierge will also unlock the security door when he sees you arrive with six shopping bags (and getting to your keys is difficult).  Your humble blogger forgot to tip the concierge once and paid for it the entire year with the cold shoulder whenever I arrived with armfuls of groceries.

Condo security:  Not to be confused with the concierge, security needs to be tipped as well.  We have about four full-time guys on staff at our condo (I think I can name one of them) plus a bunch of part-time weekend guys.  We are asked to contribute to a Christmas fund that is distributed in some way that, I suppose, is fair.  The suggested donation is 100 dollars.  If you don’t want to find your belongings gone when you get home from Palm Springs in February, tip security.

The Paperboy:  Though have you noticed delivering newpapers really isn’t done by ‘boys’ anymore?  It is now some guy in his 40s who I never see or hear from until a week before Christmas when I get a Christmas card inside my newspaper telling me his name, how great it was to delivery papers to me all year and that tips can be left at the concierge.

Personal Trainer: The 100 dollars an hour you’re shelling out for this torture isn’t enough during the holiday season.  Biff, Steve or Rocko will be expecting a tip after your last workout before Christmas.  Anything less than a hundred dollars and you will be paying with an extra two hundred crunches at the gym on December 27.

Getting your hair cut for Christmas?  Then many of you know you will be tipping nearly everyone in the salon.  You will have to tip your hairdresser, plus the shampoo girl, the girl behind the counter… and it’s double since it’s Christmas.

Did I forget anybody?  If I did I’m sure I’ll pay for it come January.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

5 Comments

Filed under christmas blog, christmas tipping, gay Christmas, gay groom, gaygroom, how much to tip at christmas, tipping

The Sears Christmas Wish Book (My First Book of Gay Erotica)

Sears Christmas Wish Book Underwear Ad.

A Gay Groom Classic Blog!

——————————————————————————————————————-

Long before the Internet put countless images of beautiful men in various stages of undress at our fingertips with the simple click of a mouse, we young gay boys had to be much more creative in our search for homoerotic visual stimulation.  For me, like many gay men my age, my first secret peek of what lay behind the silver zipper of a pair of man’s slacks was found in the Sears Catalog.

In these semiannual catalogs from the late 70s and early 80s, handsome sexy men with wide chests and chiseled V-shaped torsos would stand close together in intimate twosomes and threesomes smiling or laughing in their underpants, while, if one looked closely, a hand or elbows would wander seductively to the shoulder of the other men standing beside them.

These men seemed to be saying to me: “It’s fun to stand around with other men without your pants on.”

And it looked like an awful lot of fun to me.

A Sears catalog underwear page

I loved looking at men in their underpants.  Their packages, although looking somewhat confined and constricted in their white briefs (I suppose as not to offend the housewives who were buying underpants for their husbands), did provide a little gay boy like me the hint that something exciting and was hidden beneath the bulges of those white, yellow, green, blue or even leopard and python print undies (it was the 70s).

To the young Gay Groom, it seemed that in these little catalog photos, I was seeing a snapshot of a steamy sensual moment that was occurring either just after the instant when these men had stood together naked – or the second just before they were about to strip down entirely.  Though I was unsure what they would do when they did rip off those colourful shorts in wonderful grinning unison – I do know that I really wanted to watch them do – whatever it was they did.  The Sears catalog was my first book of gay erotica.

Early each autumn, Sears would deliver their annual Christmas Wish Book to our door.  The Sears Wish Book was a beautiful and magical glossy catalog full of Christmas gift ideas for mom, grandpa and aunt Doris and then the last half of the catalog was devoted to toys – lots and lots of toys (Stretch Armstrong, Dancerella, Ants In The Pants or Hugo – Man Of A Thousand Faces).  But for me, the little gay boy, I would turn to the pages that contained the photos of men in their Christmas robes, plaid flannel pajamas and long winter underwear.

Sears Wish Book

Alone on the sofa, pretending to be looking at GI Joe With The Kung Fu Grip, I would instead moon over these attractive half-naked men.  Then, with my overactive (and underdeveloped) writer’s imagination, I would create an entire back-story for each of the good-looking men in the photographs.  In my invented story, I would tell myself that these three men (I would name them something like Bob, Tom, and Sebastian) were spending Christmas together because Tom had been thrown out on Christmas Eve by his shrewish and clinging wife, Helga.  Fortunately, Bob and his roommate Sebastian were happy to share their home with their buddy for the holiday.  I could tell by the wide grins on their faces that these men liked being together a lot.

Christmas robes

I imagined that in their fluffy velour robes, these three attractive men would enjoy Christmas morning together without women, drinking hot chocolate out of big red mugs, opening Christmas presents, patting each other on the back, laughing, joking, and trying on all the different colored long underwear in the Sears Wish Book catalog for one another in front of the tree:

“How do I look in these blue drawers, Bob?”

“You look really good, Tom – but you better take em off and try on these red ones!”

“Here, let me help you out of those, Sebastian!”

“Oops, my velour robe fell open!”

“Hey, whatcha got going on under that nightshirt?”

I didn’t know what “Perma-Prest” flannel was – but it sounded sexy.

It was these men of the Sears Wish Book, standing together by a fireplace or in a decorated paneled living room on Christmas morning, which gave me the impression that (somewhere) there were men living happily together – sleeping together, getting up together, dressing together, eating together, celebrating holidays together – and I wanted to be one of those happy men when I grew up.

So, I guess there must have been some magic in that old Sears Wish Book, because eventually I did.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

7 Comments

Filed under 1970s christmas, 70s christmas, catalog mens underwear, Christmas, gay, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay Xmas, men in underwear, sears, sears wish book

The Worst Christmas Gift EVER

The Little Gay Groom not enjoying his Xmas gift.  Winter, 1970.

Continuing with my “Christmas in the 70s” series, I look back gifts.  Not the gifts I wanted and received like my pogo stick, the soundtrack album to The Sound of Music or my Stretch Armstrong (or even the ones I really wanted but couldn’t mention like an Easy Bake Oven), but the one I received almost every Christmas and never ever wanted.

Hockey skates.

With visions of NHL hockey contracts dancing in his head, each winter my father would stand out back of our house in the freezing cold and flood our lawn with a garden hose to make my older brothers and me a backyard skating rink.

My dear old dad wanted your humble blogger to be a great hockey player.  He had me on ice-skates before I was two years old.  The logic being, I suppose, that the earlier I was on the ice then the better skater I would become.

Sadly, for him, this was not to be the case.

Unlike my older brothers, I hated hockey. I hated the cold. I hated the big heavy uniform.  I hated the big smelly bag you carried the hockey accouterments in.  And I especially hated how hockey skates hurt my feet.  I told my dad that skating for long periods hurt my chest (my asthma not yet being diagnosed) but any protestations I made were dismissed by my father with a shake of his head as he would put those damned skates on my feet at the kitchen table each evening and then have me skate in circles around that backyard ice rink.

“You just need more practice,” he would say as he shoved me out into the cold.

On Saturday nights, he would have me sit in front of our huge Zenith color television and watch “Hockey Night in Canada.”  The little Gay Groom did not like watching hockey anymore than I liked playing it.  The games seemed to go on forever and I never really cared who won or lost.  To pass the time as they skated up and down and up and down and up… I would critique the colors of their uniforms:  loved the purple and gold Kings, hated the brown, yellow and orange Canucks, and decided that the Whalers needed a splash of crimson.

I would wait patiently for the end of the game when the camera would move into the locker-room and someone would put a microphone in the face of a half-naked husky hockey player with a bare chests and long sweaty hair.

In those days your humble blogger really dug those Montreal Canadians with their French accents.  Actually, your humble blogger still does.

When I was seven, the time came for me to join the city boy’s hockey league, just as my brothers had, where I played on a team called the Cardinals.

“Shouldn’t cardinals be in red?” I asked my dad when I saw my green uniform for the first time.

“Stop worrying so much about color,” he said.

And I was hopeless on the ice.  I tripped.  I fell over.  I slid on my face.  And at times I simply gave up and lay on my back staring up at the lights on the ceiling as others skated around me.  The lights are pretty from down here, I thought.

“Get up!” my father yelled from the stands. “For Christ’s sake, skate!”

I didn’t feel like it.

After a few games, I was not put on the ice much and spent most of the game sitting on the bench with Tommy Young who was also a terrible skater (and who, incidentally, I would run into at a gay bar a few years later) and discuss important things like Tiger Beat magazine.  Warming the bench with Tommy was fine by me.

(I should mention at this point that many gay men are great athletes and, particularly, great hockey players… and the Gay Groom’s own rottenness at hockey should be in no way seen as stereotypical of all gay boys.  There are excellent gay hockey players out there – I am just not one of them.)

On the drive home from the neighborhood hockey rink after a Cardinal’s game my dad was always quiet.  He was never one to mask his disappointment well and would look shell shocked as he drove (rather like he did years later when I told him why my roommate and I had rented an apartment with only one bedroom).

“But he was on skates before he was two,” he would say quietly say to himself.

When we got home he would make me put my skates back on and skate circles around the backyard rink in the dark.

“You need more practice,” he said.

One night after he made me go out in the backyard to skate circles I waited until I saw him looking out the kitchen window at me.   Then I stretched out my arms wide at my sides and, in the best Dorothy Hamill imitation my lousy skating skills could muster, I started to do big flamboyant figure eights on the ice.  As my father’s eyes narrowed I even managed to throw in a few tiny little jumps without falling.  The final spin never materialized properly but I still finished with a defiant “TA DA!”

It worked.  He flew outside in a rage running over the ice in his stocking feet and pulling me by the shoulder, threw me through the back door.

My dad never made another backyard ice rink.

And as for your humble blogger’s first and only year playing hockey with The Cardinals?  Now the only reminder I have of that unhappy winter is my team photo.

TA DA!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

Worst Hockey Player Ever?

4 Comments

Filed under 1970s christmas, 70s christmas, canada, gay, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay hockey, gay men, gay men toronto, gay men underwear, gay men's hockey, gay sports, gay wedding, gaygroom, Xmas

The Sears Christmas Wish Book (My First Book of Gay Erotica)

Continuing with The Gay Groom’s look at Christmas in the 70s.  I thought I would take a second look at the Sears Wish Book…Long before the Internet put countless images of beautiful men in various stages of undress at our fingertips with the simple click of a mouse, we young gay boys had to be much more creative in our search for homoerotic visual stimulation.  For me, like many gay men my age, my first secret peek of what lay behind the silver zipper of a pair of man’s slacks was found in the Sears Catalog.

In these semiannual catalogs from the late 70s and early 80s, handsome sexy men with wide chests and chiseled V-shaped torsos would stand close together in intimate twosomes and threesomes smiling or laughing in their underpants, while, if one looked closely, a hand or elbows would wander seductively to the shoulder of the other men standing beside them.

These men seemed to be saying to me: “It’s fun to stand around with other men without your pants on.”

And it looked like an awful lot of fun to me.

A Sears catalog underwear page

I loved looking at men in their underpants.  Their packages, although looking somewhat confined and constricted in their white briefs (I suppose as not to offend the housewives who were buying underpants for their husbands), did provide a little gay boy like me the hint that something exciting and was hidden beneath the bulges of those white, yellow, green, blue or even leopard and python print undies (it was the 70s).

To the young Gay Groom, it seemed that in these little catalog photos, I was seeing a snapshot of a steamy sensual moment that was occurring either just after the instant when these men had stood together naked – or the second just before they were about to strip down entirely.  Though I was unsure what they would do when they did rip off those colourful shorts in wonderful grinning unison – I do know that I really wanted to watch them do – whatever it was they did.  The Sears catalog was my first book of gay erotica.

Early each autumn, Sears would deliver their annual Christmas Wish Book to our door.  The Sears Wish Book was a beautiful and magical glossy catalog full of Christmas gift ideas for mom, grandpa and aunt Doris and then the last half of the catalog was devoted to toys – lots and lots of toys (Stretch Armstrong, Dancerella, Ants In The Pants or Hugo – Man Of A Thousand Faces).  But for me, the little gay boy, I would turn to the pages that contained the photos of men in their Christmas robes, plaid flannel pajamas and long winter underwear.

Sears Wish Book

Alone on the sofa, pretending to be looking at GI Joe With The Kung Fu Grip, I would instead moon over these attractive half-naked men.  Then, with my overactive (and underdeveloped) writer’s imagination, I would create an entire back-story for each of the good-looking men in the photographs.  In my invented story, I would tell myself that these three men (I would name them something like Bob, Tom, and Sebastian) were spending Christmas together because Tom had been thrown out on Christmas Eve by his shrewish and clinging wife, Helga.  Fortunately, Bob and his roommate Sebastian were happy to share their home with their buddy for the holiday.  I could tell by the wide grins on their faces that these men liked being together a lot.

Christmas robes

I imagined that in their fluffy velour robes, these three attractive men would enjoy Christmas morning together without women, drinking hot chocolate out of big red mugs, opening Christmas presents, patting each other on the back, laughing, joking, and trying on all the different colored long underwear in the Sears Wish Book catalog for one another in front of the tree:

“How do I look in these blue drawers, Bob?”

“You look really good, Tom – but you better take em off and try on these red ones!”

“Here, let me help you out of those, Sebastian!”

“Oops, my velour robe fell open!”

“Hey, whatcha got going on under that nightshirt?”

I didn’t know what “Perma-Prest” flannel was – but it sounded sexy.

It was these men of the Sears Wish Book, standing together by a fireplace or in a decorated paneled living room on Christmas morning, which gave me the impression that (somewhere) there were men living happily together – sleeping together, getting up together, dressing together, eating together, celebrating holidays together – and I wanted to be one of those happy men when I grew up.

So, I guess there must have been some magic in that old Sears Wish Book, because eventually I did.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

5 Comments

Filed under 1970s christmas, 70s christmas, catalog mens underwear, Christmas, gay, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay Xmas, men in underwear, sears, sears wish book

Season’s Greetings, 1970s Coca-Cola Style

As we get closer to Christmas your humble blogger finds himself, from time to time, strolling down a gingerbread scented Memory Lane where The Carpenters Christmas album plays and I unwrap Lite Brite and Stretch Armstrong on a shag carpet in the rec room.

Yes, I’m remembering Christmas in the 70s.

For the next few weeks The Gay Groom will be looking back at Christmas in the 1970s with a series of blogs.  This week I was thinking of a wonderful old television commercial that ran every Christmas throughout the seventies (and into the eighties). The commercial begins with one bright candle shining through the darkness as a choir begins to sing.  Next, we see a happy, overly hopeful-looking girl holding a white candle and singing:

I’d like to buy the world a home

And furnish it with love

Grow apple trees and honey bees

And snow white turtle doves…

Suddenly, young men and women of all different races, creeds, colors (and fashions) surround the young girl and join in singing the song.  Finally, as the camera pulls back, we see that the candles being held create the image of a huge human Christmas tree (the original commercial would end with the words: “Season’s Greetings from your bottler of Coca-Cola”).

Apparently, world peace was possible – if we would just buy each other a Coke.

Leaving issues of marketing, consumption and commercialism aside for the moment, for me, that shining Coca-Cola Christmas tree made up of beautiful young people (I suppose there is no ugly people in the Coca-Cola Utopia) was an iconic image of Christmas.  And that sappy song can still cause a lump in my throat (also try and put aside for the moment how most of the girls in the commercial seem to resemble Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Louise Van Houten).

But there was something so sweet and innocent about this idea that generosity (and soda, apple trees, honey bees et al) could bring people together in harmony – and, being a young idealist gay boy, I believed it.  For in that Coca-Cola tree I saw the white guy in football jerseys sitting beside the Asian in a kimono who is sitting beside the Native American in beads and braided hair (OK, try and put aside the stereotypes presented in the commercial as well).

And being a little gay boy in the 70s, I did have my favourites – just take a look at the handsome blonde guy wearing the cowboy hat.  I really wanted to share a Coke with him.

So was this commercial just another example of a silly 70s naivety?  Perhaps.  But, I think the idea was (and still is) admirable.

Seasons Greetings from me (and your bottler of Coca-Cola).

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

Xmas 1972:  Jeffrey, The Gay Groom, as a little fella.  That cardboard Santa Claus behind me is actually a Coca-Cola display ad my father ‘found’ someplace.

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Filed under 70s christmas, Christmas, coca-cola christmas, coke commercial, gay blogging, gay Christmas, gay groom, gay Xmas, gaygroom, seasons greetings coca-cola, teach the world to sing

Enough Already with the Christmas Tipping!

Your humble blogger isn’t cheap.

He will gladly add 20% to his bill at a restaurant (even for mediocre service), let his cabbie keep the change of a ten-dollar bill for a seven-dollar ride, and throws his change in the tip jar at Startucks when getting a chai latte.

Now I don’t want to be a Scrooge and I hate to complain, but come December I seem to be tipping everyone and their brother.

Just who am I tipping?  I’m glad you asked…

First there is the Cleaning Lady:  The usual tip (or so I was told years ago) is an extra week’s salary on her last cleaning day before Christmas.  It is not, apparently,  appropriate to give one’s cleaning lady a gift of say, towels or fancy olive oil.  Cold hard cash is what is expected and it’s what I fork over.  Though it is the one day of the year when their work seems to be lacking.  You know you will be re-cleaning the toilet in the guest bathroom before your guest pop by Christmas Eve.  “Ah well”, you say as you dig in your pocket, “it’s Christmas”.

Condo concierge:  This is the cheerful guy that sits behind the desk in the lobby of the condo.  Tipping him costs me either a very good bottle of scotch or champagne every year.  Keeping the concierge happy at Christmas means that guests to your condo will be sent up quickly and you will know right when the package from Amazon arrives. A happy concierge will also unlock the security door when he sees you arrive with six shopping bags (and getting to your keys is difficult).  Your humble blogger forgot to tip the concierge once and paid for it the entire year with the cold shoulder whenever I arrived with armfuls of groceries.

Condo security:  Not to be confused with the concierge, security needs to be tipped as well.  We have about four full-time guys on staff at our condo (I think I can name one of them) plus a bunch of part-time weekend guys.  We are asked to contribute to a Christmas fund that is distributed in some way that, I suppose, is fair.  The suggested donation is 100 dollars.  If you don’t want to find your belongings gone when you get home from Palm Springs in February, tip security.

The Paperboy:  Though have you noticed delivering newpapers really isn’t done by ‘boys’ anymore?  It is now some guy in his 40s who I never see or hear from until a week before Christmas when I get a Christmas card inside my newspaper telling me his name, how great it was to delivery papers to me all year and that tips can be left at the concierge.

Personal Trainer: The 100 dollars an hour you’re shelling out for this torture isn’t enough during the holiday season.  Biff, Steve or Rocko will be expecting a tip after your last workout before Christmas.  Anything less than a hundred dollars and you will be paying with an extra two hundred crunches at the gym on December 27.

Getting your hair cut for Christmas?  Then many of you know you will be tipping nearly everyone in the salon.  You will have to tip your hairdresser, plus the shampoo girl, the girl behind the counter… and it’s double since it’s Christmas.

Did I forget anybody?  If I did I’m sure I’ll pay for it come January.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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The Worst Christmas Gift EVER

The Gay Groom at age three on his backyard rink

Continuing with my “Christmas in the 70s” series, I look back gifts.  Not the gifts I wanted and received like my pogo stick, the soundtrack album to The Sound of Music or my Stretch Armstrong (or even the ones I really wanted but couldn’t mention like an Easy Bake Oven), but the one I received almost every Christmas and never ever wanted.

Hockey skates.

With visions of NHL hockey contracts dancing in his head, each winter my father would stand out back of our house in the freezing cold and flood our lawn with a garden hose to make my older brothers and me a backyard skating rink.

My dear old dad wanted your humble blogger to be a great hockey player.  He had me on ice-skates before I was two years old.  The logic being, I suppose, that the earlier I was on the ice then the better skater I would become.

Sadly, for him, this was not to be the case.

Unlike my older brothers, I hated hockey. I hated the cold. I hated the big heavy uniform.  I hated the big smelly bag you carried the hockey accouterments in.  And I especially hated how hockey skates hurt my feet.  I told my dad that skating for long periods hurt my chest (my asthma not yet being diagnosed) but any protestations I made were dismissed by my father with a shake of his head as he would put those damned skates on my feet at the kitchen table each evening and then have me skate in circles around that backyard ice rink.

“You just need more practice,” he would say as he shoved me out into the cold.

On Saturday nights, he would have me sit in front of our huge Zenith color television and watch “Hockey Night in Canada.”  The little Gay Groom did not like watching hockey anymore than I liked playing it.  The games seemed to go on forever and I never really cared who won or lost.  To pass the time as they skated up and down and up and down and up… I would critique the colors of their uniforms:  loved the purple and gold Kings, hated the brown, yellow and orange Canucks, and decided that the Whalers needed a splash of crimson.

I would wait patiently for the end of the game when the camera would move into the locker-room and someone would put a microphone in the face of a half-naked husky hockey player with a bare chests and long sweaty hair.

In those days your humble blogger really dug those Montreal Canadians with their French accents.  Actually, your humble blogger still does.

When I was seven, the time came for me to join the city boy’s hockey league, just as my brothers had, where I played on a team called the Cardinals.

“Shouldn’t cardinals be in red?” I asked my dad when I saw my green uniform for the first time.

“Stop worrying so much about color,” he said.

And I was hopeless on the ice.  I tripped.  I fell over.  I slid on my face.  And at times I simply gave up and lay on my back staring up at the lights on the ceiling as others skated around me.  The lights are pretty from down here, I thought.

“Get up!” my father yelled from the stands. “For Christ’s sake, skate!”

I didn’t feel like it.

After a few games, I was not put on the ice much and spent most of the game sitting on the bench with Tommy Young who was also a terrible skater (and who, incidentally, I would run into at a gay bar a few years later) and discuss important things like Tiger Beat magazine.  Warming the bench with Tommy was fine by me.

(I should mention at this point that many gay men are great athletes and, particularly, great hockey players… and the Gay Groom’s own rottenness at hockey should be in no way seen as stereotypical of all gay boys.  There are excellent gay hockey players out there – I am just not one of them.)

On the drive home from the neighborhood hockey rink after a Cardinal’s game my dad was always quiet.  He was never one to mask his disappointment well and would look shell shocked as he drove (rather like he did years later when I told him why my roommate and I had rented an apartment with only one bedroom).

“But he was on skates before he was two,” he would say quietly say to himself.

When we got home he would make me put my skates back on and skate circles around the backyard rink in the dark.

“You need more practice,” he said.

One night after he made me go out in the backyard to skate circles I waited until I saw him looking out the kitchen window at me.   Then I stretched out my arms wide at my sides and, in the best Dorothy Hamill imitation my lousy skating skills could muster, I started to do big flamboyant figure eights on the ice.  As my father’s eyes narrowed I even managed to throw in a few tiny little jumps without falling.  The final spin never materialized properly but I still finished with a defiant “TA DA!”

It worked.  He flew outside in a rage running over the ice in his stocking feet and pulling me by the shoulder, threw me through the back door.

My dad never made another backyard ice rink.

And as for your humble blogger’s first and only year playing hockey with The Cardinals?  Now the only reminder I have of that unhappy winter is my team photo.

TA DA!

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

Worst Hockey Player Ever?

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Taking Another Look at the Sears Christmas Wish Book (My First Book of Gay Erotica)

Continuing with The Gay Groom’s look at Christmas in the 70s.  I thought I would take a second look at the Sears Wish Book

Long before the Internet put countless images of beautiful men in various stages of undress at our fingertips with the simple click of a mouse, we young gay boys had to be much more creative in our search for homoerotic visual stimulation.  For me, like many gay men my age, my first secret peek of what lay behind the silver zipper of a pair of man’s slacks was found in the Sears Catalog.

In these semiannual catalogs from the late 70s and early 80s, handsome sexy men with wide chests and chiseled V-shaped torsos would stand close together in intimate twosomes and threesomes smiling or laughing in their underpants, while, if one looked closely, a hand or elbows would wander seductively to the shoulder of the other men standing beside them.

These men seemed to be saying to me: “It’s fun to stand around with other men without your pants on.”

And it looked like an awful lot of fun to me.

A Sears catalog underwear page

I loved looking at men in their underpants.  Their packages, although looking somewhat confined and constricted in their white briefs (I suppose as not to offend the housewives who were buying underpants for their husbands), did provide a little gay boy like me the hint that something exciting and was hidden beneath the bulges of those white, yellow, green, blue or even leopard and python print undies (it was the 70s).

To the young Gay Groom, it seemed that in these little catalog photos, I was seeing a snapshot of a steamy sensual moment that was occurring either just after the instant when these men had stood together naked – or the second just before they were about to strip down entirely.  Though I was unsure what they would do when they did rip off those colourful shorts in wonderful grinning unison – I do know that I really wanted to watch them do – whatever it was they did.  The Sears catalog was my first book of gay erotica.

Sexy 70s undies

Early each autumn, Sears would deliver their annual Christmas Wish Book to our door.  The Sears Wish Book was a beautiful and magical glossy catalog full of Christmas gift ideas for mom, grandpa and aunt Doris and then the last half of the catalog was devoted to toys – lots and lots of toys (Stretch Armstrong, Dancerella, Ants In The Pants or Hugo – Man Of A Thousand Faces).  But for me, the little gay boy, I would turn to the pages that contained the photos of men in their Christmas robes, plaid flannel pajamas and long winter underwear.

Sears Wish Book

Alone on the sofa, pretending to be looking at GI Joe With The Kung Fu Grip, I would instead moon over these attractive half-naked men.  Then, with my overactive (and underdeveloped) writer’s imagination, I would create an entire back-story for each of the good-looking men in the photographs.  In my invented story, I would tell myself that these three men (I would name them something like Bob, Tom, and Sebastian) were spending Christmas together because Tom had been thrown out on Christmas Eve by his shrewish and clinging wife, Helga.  Fortunately, Bob and his roommate Sebastian were happy to share their home with their buddy for the holiday.  I could tell by the wide grins on their faces that these men liked being together a lot.

Christmas robes

I imagined that in their fluffy velour robes, these three attractive men would enjoy Christmas morning together without women, drinking hot chocolate out of big red mugs, opening Christmas presents, patting each other on the back, laughing, joking, and trying on all the different colored long underwear in the Sears Wish Book catalog for one another in front of the tree:

“How do I look in these blue drawers, Bob?”

“You look really good, Tom – but you better take em off and try on these red ones!”

“Here, let me help you out of those, Sebastian!”

“Oops, my velour robe fell open!”

“Hey, whatcha got going on under that nightshirt?”

Sears Nightshirts

I didn’t know what “Perma-Prest” flannel was – but it sounded sexy.

It was these men of the Sears Wish Book, standing together by a fireplace or in a decorated paneled living room on Christmas morning, which gave me the impression that (somewhere) there were men living happily together – sleeping together, getting up together, dressing together, eating together, celebrating holidays together – and I wanted to be one of those happy men when I grew up.

So, I guess there must have been some magic in that old Sears Wish Book, because eventually I did.

Jeffrey, The Gay Groom

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