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Archive for September, 2012

After the Army issued me a top secret clearance, Captain Tsapralis, head of communications security for 1st of the 32nd Field Artillery Battalion, signed the paperwork to arrange for an additional $300 to be added to my monthly pay-check. Anyone fortunate enough to be assigned to the ‘commo vault’ at 1st of the 32nd was given money to purchase their meals, and unlike other soldiers, I was not required to eat at the Army’s mess hall. 

According to Cpt. Tspralis, a communications security custodian was always on the road and away from base during meal hours. The supplemental pay made it possible for me to buy my own meals while we were out on the Autobahn, burning rubber all over Germany, picking up electronic encryption codes that ran our radios and needed to be updated every Friday. 

Prior to the raise in pay, I, along with all the other non-married, non-commissioned soldiers who lived in the barracks, was issued a meal card which guaranteed three meals a day at the mess hall on base. 

I was required to turn in my meal card when the stipend kicked in. Mess hall guards did not ask to see meal cards. We simply called out our numbers while waiting for our three squares a day. 

“R7659962473,” I shouted shamelessly three times a day and ate at the expense of Uncle Sam and still got the extra $300 each month. The military’s stance against homosexuality really pissed me off, and somehow, getting over on Uncle Sam with free meals was retaliation against a nation that did not practice what it preached in regard to freedom. 

Cpt. Tspralis was was the most grounded commissioned officer I’ve ever met in the military. Nothing was complicated with Cpt. Tspralis and he never raised his voice. He did not have a big ego and never made enlisted soldiers feel like second-class citizens. I appreciated the raise he got for me and I took my job as his right hand and eye very seriously. 

The captain once confronted me about the rumors regarding my sexuality that floated around the barracks like my seeming endless supply of laundry detergent and snack food that guys in the barracks always wanted to “borrow”. I was like a mother to the men and few women who lived in the barracks. They could care less that I was gay. I always had everything they needed to make life easier– like it was back at home, with our real moms. 

“Specialist Taylor, do you have any laundry detergent?” The guys often begged. I felt sorry for them. They spent all their extra cash on booze. When they ran out of things like soap, shaving cream, shoe polish or coffee, I handed them what they wanted as I stood in my private barracks room in fuzzy house slippers, secretly wishing they’d come in and get more comfortable. They wouldn’t though. They kept their distance. No one in the military wanted to be caught associating with a suspected homosexual. 

“What are you talking about Cpt. T?” I asked with a big smile on my face, after he confronted me. 

“Taylor. You are very bright. Do you know that?” 

“Thank you sir,” I said. “We have an inspection next Wednesday. Can we get back to work?” 

“I want to let you know that I personally am against that military policy.” He said, although the fact was, his opinion meant nothing to a nation that hated gays so much. 

We were rarely away from base during chow hours. In fact, we were rarely away from the vault at all. We made the run for new codes on Friday and ate at Burger King. Once a month we traveled to division headquarters to obtain a month’s worth of radio encryption codes and turn in our logs which indicated that we had properly destroyed the previous month’s radio scrambling secrets. Other than that, there was nothing more to do in that vault, but think, and wish somehow that the rest of the world was gay too. 

Those days were sometimes very long and boring, despite the company of the captain and his trainee replacement, 1st Lt. Bottomley.

I headed out to lunch for hours on end while the other two officers in the vault sat and read big thick books. I couldn’t stand reading down there when both of them were around– especially Lt. Bottomley. She constantly interrupted the absolute silence of the underground room with chuckles or moans caused by the things she was reading in her books. I couldn’t stand it sometimes, especially when I was locked deep within the trance that written words sometimes do to one’s cognitive reality. 

One of my favorite places to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner was at a restaurant on base run by the Armed Forces Exchange Service. The joint was known as the ‘Burger Bar’. It was a total rip off of McDonald’s and Burger King, and run by German civilians. 

The Burger Bar had one of the world’s first video juke boxes. It played popular music videos for a mere quarter. Songs like Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’ and George Michael’s ‘Monkey” played in rotation at the popular off- hours hangout. I felt that being seen all the time in the Burger Bar would put to rest any suspicion that I was robbing Uncle Sam blind by eating for free in the mess hall all the time. 

The men drank beer and ate pizza and I waited for them. 

I sat in the far stall in the bathroom of the Burger Bar, down along the wall, next to the opaque glass window. I waited in the stall with the big hole drilled with a key or other sharp object, between the toilet partitions. I waited like a Russian spy conducting reconnaissance.

Some of the soldiers who I spied upon, I grew tired of, like one gets sick of wearing the same uniform day after day. Their denial was as redundant as communism, but overall, I was becoming an addict for the danger of getting caught, and kicked out of the Army altogether. I savored the taste of every last soldier who fed me threw the ‘glory hole’ found right on base. There were moments when I’d just laugh thinking about the fact that there were “no gays in the military.” Someone had to bring this all to light, I thought. But how? There were at least a hundred men I got to know over the year and a half I spent with 1st of the 32nd. Some of them I loved, some of them were a bore and some made me spit. 

I wasn’t the only Army cocksucker who felt safe and at home in the fox hole at the end of a row of toilets in the Burger Bar bathroom. It was a real whore war sometimes trying to gain control of that last bunker, the one next to the window. There were lots bottoms feeders who tried to maintain control of the coveted spot, and would sometimes spend an entire evening in that precious stall. 

We all wore uniforms and mine had unique patterns in the camouflaged fabric along the breast pocket where the name “Taylor” was advertised shamelessly. 

My name was never hidden from those who came down my way, even thought very few actually looked through the hole to see who was on the other side. I often wondered what I’d do if ever Cpt. Tspralis ever stopped by for some head. I’d have to call him out on it, I thought. 

Most of my fellow soldiers put their hands over their hearts and name tags as I blew them, but I knew who they were. One does not have to read a name tag to see inside someone. Each one had a different taste to it. Like a soldier with extra cash, thanks to a raise in Army pay, I did my part protecting this country, and I got plenty of free meals out of the years I spent serving 1st of the 32nd. 

When the ban was finally dropped on gays in the military, nearly 20 years later, I realized that I am an American hero! 

 

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Three friends from high school marching band squeezed into my green Ford Pinto. We drove to State College to see the movie “A Chorus Line”. The song “Tits and Ass” rang through my head as we drove over Nittany Mountain in the dark. I prayed that my car would not break down. 

Dana Scott, a non-Baptist Christian who claimed to have spoken in tongues on several occasions, sat in the front seat next to me. To avoid the embarassment of the noise my clunker was making, I asked Dana to explain the process of “falling into the spirit and speaking in foreign tongues,” to the gang. 

“They say you cannot speak in tongues around non-believers,” she explained as I shifted into fourth gear and the car began to shimmy. “It would be impossible for me to do it here in this car, and besides, I don’t like doing it. It scares me.” Dana explained. 

“There is always a translator, sent by the Spirt, to translate what is spoken in tongues, otherwise, what is spoken is not authentic,” my friend Mark explained from the back seat. 

“I am glad to be a Baptist,” I confessed, “we believe that once one is saved they are always saved and we don’t have to do silly magic tricks to win others over to the Lord.” 

Dana refused to speak to me for the remainder of the ride. The tension in the car was stronger than the brakes on the Pinto. 

A rabbit ran from under a bush and we hit it. I shrugged my shoulders and was glad that it was not a deer. Dana did not mumble a word in English or in Latin. 

Two miles further down the road, another rabbit ran from the woods. We hit it as well. I laughed and screamed, “Got it!” 

Dana nearly spoke in tongues. 

When a third rabbit ran from a hillside along the narrow, dark road, I screamed, “Watch this!” Suddenly the rabbit decided to cross the road and the Pinto squashed it. 

“Please stop doing that! You are so evil,” Dana cried. 

“I usually don’t do that trick in front on non-believers,” I responded. 

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Specialist Murray was up for promotion. She had been in the army for more than five years and had yet to make the rank of sergeant. The gold teeth in her mouth clashed with the camoflauge she wore and she was one of the last women in the world to use jheri curl juice in her hair. It did not strike me as odd that it had taken her so long to make the rank of E-5. She was what drill sergeants in basic training called a “rag bag”.

I was rather fond of Specialist Murray and considered her a friend. On field training exercises in the woods of Bavaria, she often stopped by my teletype rig late at night for a hot cup of coffee or to share stories of growing up in Alabama.

It seemed the moment Specialist Murray got word that she had made enough points to be promoted, she started to show her black ass. My section chief, another black woman, put Murray in charge of the teletype operators—there were three of us and we were all white, and all shared the same room in the barracks.

One morning, following formation, Specialist Murray inspected our room in the barracks. The promotable specialist decided to “write us up” for having a messy room. She stated in her report that there were “beer cans all over the floor”. I was upset because I did not drink. Specialist Murray knew this because I shared this with her over coffee in my rig one cold January night.

What the Specialist did not know was that my lover, Anthony, worked in the military personnel office, and had been assigned the case of promoting Specialist Murray.

Anthony picked me up for lunch the day I was written up by Specialist Murray. Soon after giving my lover a blow job while driving down the Autobaun on our way to McDonald’s, I shared my frustration with being written up by the woman with the gold in her mouth.

“She thinks she’s the shit now that she’s about to be promoted,” I noted.

“Oh, I know the cunt. I’ll take care of this!” My lover promised.

Specialst Murray was not promoted on the 1st of October, as was projected. It seemed there was a paperwork issue with one of the classes she had taken to earn promotion points.

Several weeks later, Murray approached me and stated, “I know you have a relationship with Specialist Miller at the MilPo. Everyone knows about you. I’ve never made an issue about this with you, nor has anyone else. How dare you use your influence over him to ruin my career!” She yelled.

“I have no idea what you are talking about. What are you saying, Specialist Murray?” I asked.

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We missed the 8:00 ferry and had an hour to burn before the next boat to the mainland arrived. We sat on a dock, overlooking the Long Island Sound, and watched lesbians dance in a little bar that was at the water’s edge.

 

Barry White crooned as the ladies downed their beer. Brian rejected my offer for a nightcap, noting that the girls in the nearby bar, although festive, would likely want to fight with us, just because we were men on their turf.

 

A little boat came floating up to the dock. It was not the ferry we were waiting for, but was what the locals on Fire Island call water taxis. Two young men stepped off the boat and tied it to the dock. Moments later, at least a dozen homosexuals and their admirers poured off the boat. “How and the heck did so many people fit onto that little boat?” Brian asked, “It looks like one of those clown cars where a million people jump out of.”

 

We smoked our American Spirit menthol cigarettes and flicked the butts into the choppy waters, moments after the water taxi sped off. As 9 p.m. approached, many others joined us on the dock to wait for the ferry.

 

“I cannot believe how dead it is out here,” I noted. “It must be the recession. This is Friday night and this island looks like Gilligan’s.” Brian brushed the remaining sand from his legs and pulled up his socks as the boat slowly approached in the darkness of the water. Not a single person spoke. We all filed on the ferry without speaking words. Water lapping the side of the boat was all that could be heard.

 

We went to the top of the boat so that we could feel the cool air on our face as we headed home. We watched as the last of the passengers entered, and just as I took a deep breath, a ferocious voice pierced the silence of the evening. A butch lesbian with silver hair was standing on the dock, yelling to her friends who were leaving Fire Island—

 

“See ya later, Joey!” She yelled like a construction worker over a jackhammer. “I enjoyed having them, but I have to admit, I don’t mind seeing them go.” She chuckled like Santa, and actually grabbed her belly when she laughed. I reasoned she was saying good-bye to children—nieces and nephews perhaps. Whoever it was on that boat she was yelling to did not have the courage to respond to the raspy cries that seemed to shake the boat we were crowded onto.  

 

“I better not show up on that Facebook either,” she cried, like an old dude who was not familiar with the new, quiet ways humans make contact with one another.

 

On the ride over the sound, I looked up and saw the Big Dipper for the first time in many, many years. It’s so bright in New York City that we cannot see the constellations. I rested my head on the seat behind me and wondered if there are lesbians on other planets. 

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Every Sunday, before calling in to claim his unemployment beneifts, my partner had a glass of wine and would make the statement: “It’s time to call 1-800 Dial A Check”.

I called Anthony an unemployment whore. During the course of our 10 year relationship, he collected unemployment benefits at least a dozen times. He often took a new job, worked like a mule for six months, and on the first day of the seventh month, he awoke early in the morning and would say over his muffin, “It’s time to show my ass at work today. I’m eligible for unemployment again.”

“That isn’t right,” I would say.

“What isn’t right?” He asked. “I’ll never get over the time I went to the welfare office and heard a fat black woman yell to one of the workers– ‘Just shut the fuck up and give me my check.’– that line became Anthony’s favorite saying. He said it so many times and laughed hard every time.

I too have become an unemployment insurance whore. I have managed to suck up nearly 200 weeks of benefits and I feel like a slut in the current recession.

An employer, the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, fired me in 2009 for “refusing to fulfill my job duties”. The Jews were “restructuring” the clinic I worked in and fired the secretary that took minutes at board meetings. They insisted that I take the minutes, but I requested “resonable accommodation” for my disability of schizophrenia, claiming that the new job responsiblities were causing symtoms of my illness to resurface. The Jews at the Jewish Board do not subsribe to the state insurance fund, which means that if someone files for unemployment, they have to pay it all out of their own tight pockets. They faught me like dogs in court. I represented myself and lost, but filed an appeal. I won the appeal and was awarded nearly $20,000 in retroactive weekly claims.

I already started a new job before I was told that I won the appeal. With all that cash in the bank, I decided to once again request reasonable accommodation at my new job. I asked that one of my supervisors, Gladys Cruz, a mouthy, fat Puerto Rican girl, stop yelling at me. That job was three months of pure hell. I have never hated pussy so much! I called a meeting with the director of human resources of SCO Family of Services and stated, “If she yells at me again, I cannot be responsible for my actions. I have schizophrenia! You’ve been warned.”

Rather than address my request for “resonable accommodation” SCO Family of Services wrote a two page termination letter, a letter of pure lies which described how I was not able to perform my job functions. I applied for unemployment and got it—all 99 weeks of it. I could only collect $200 a week from that job, but it was better than spending the money I won in court from the Jewish Board.

I learned two weeks ago that I had not claimed all 99 weeks from the Jewish Board. My payments have once again skyrocketed to $400 a week, and all symptoms of my illness have vansihed.

So what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? One may ask.

Because the appeal letter that I wrote in 2009 was posted to my blog and has gone viral. More than 10,000 have turned to me for legal advice. The letter, under the posting, “Sample Letter of Appeal for Unemployment” has made me a household name in the game of 1-800- Dial a Check.

When the checks do run out, I plan to apply for permanent disability. There are no real jobs out there anyway—just those crappy jobs with bosses who all act like Judge Judy. The workplace is no place for a queen with a pen with schizophrenia.

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A twelve point buck walked near the beach, just a few yards from our blanket. There was still felt on the massive antlers. The creature seemed more like a moose or a reindeer than a white-tail. It occurred to me that the animal picked up the scent of the food we were eating and wanted some. Since it was Fire Island where everyone is gay, the animal was not at all threatened by our presence or by the presence of the many dogs that were being walked at sunset on a beach that faces east.

B had been feeding a seagull all afternoon. The winged creature, upon discovering that all our bread had been eaten, seemed to scream in pure terror near the edge of the hand-knitted blanket upon which we sat. “Please don’t feed that deer,” I ordered, “you have already angered the locals. They hate deer out here. They call them rodents.”

“How long do you want to stay?” B asked.

“Let’s wait and be the last ones to leave the sand. You do have another hand-rolled cigarette don’t you? I think the Long Island Railroad runs at least until midnight. You’re eyes are red as hell. Just sit here and marinate,” I suggested.

B hadn’t left our blanket all afternoon. He managed to finish the entire pint of vodka we brought with us, and he had yet to walk to the water to take a piss like I had done several times throughout the day.

“Let’s walk to the Grove,” he suggested. The Fire Island Grove is considered the poorer neighborhood on Fire Island. Unlike the Pines where wealthy homosexuals rent summer homes for nearly a quarter of a million dollars, the Grove is much cheaper and is infested with Lesbians. B, a butch street thug himself, gets a kick out of lesbians who he calls “professional wrestlers”.

We walked the narrow boardwalk that leads from the beach and extends the entire length of the Pines neighborhood. B, who wore sneakers with socks to the beach, fussed as we tip-toed along the wooden planks. It seemed inevitable that we would get splinters, yet we marched on and came upon a wooden trash receptacle, upon which my lover could sit to brush off his feet and put on his shoes.

A trio of gay men with highlights in their hair saw us tip toeing down the boardwalk—“Oh look, they are being so quiet. Shhh!” one of the men exclaimed. The others chuckled as they passed by. “We don’t want to get splinters,” I confessed. It occurred to me that we had smoked too much and were not being quiet but were actually paranoid and somehow, the queens knew it and were poking fun of the two common stoners who had made their summer homes a playground for the day.

We walked as far as the boardwalk would take us before entering a wooded area that leads to the Grove. I stopped at the tip of the runway and showed B where my old boss, Claude Winfield and his friend, Tilly Davis once owned a home. Reeds and bamboo had grown so high it was no longer possible to see the heated swimming pool built upon stilts which along with the cozy house with a fire place, rested like a bird in a nest upon the green swamp.

“When was the last time you saw him?” B asked.

“It has been a very long time. He’s probably in heaven now,” I confessed. “I heard ‘from him’ years ago, on one of those 900 gay hotlines. I was so shocked when I called that number and was scanning through the voice messages when I heard that fake British accent of my old black boss, Claude. It was December and it was cold as a lesbian’s tit outside. Claude left a message inviting anyone to come on out here to Fire Island. That’s when I knew for sure it was him. He was seeking some sort of play with toys. I never would have guessed he was the type. He even offered to pay for a limo in his message. Claude was such a generous guy. I wish to God he still lived here and was still alive—we could drop by and have one of Tilly’s famous mimosas—she made them with freshly squeezed orange juice that she squeezed with her bare hands.”

We entered the wooded area near Claude’s old home. The area is called the “meat rack” because of the heavy cruising that once went on there. Unfortunately, the area is now flooded and a swamp covers the area where men were once strapped like blow up dolls in the trees.

Claude liked to share stories about the meat rack. He was one of the few gay men to survive the 1970’s Fire Island. According to Claude, who was a twin himself, with a sister named Claudette, nonetheless, there were two identical male twins who were “twice as hot as Rock Hudson” who once ruled the meat rack.

According to Claude, they were the best gay sex any homosexual man would ever encounter. The brothers, while in trios, often had sex with one another. According to Claude, they were strikingly beautiful, and watching them was like watching the beautiful bucks that are so plentiful out here.

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