Sunday, February 17, 2013


The following morning, Adrian didn’t have to work until that afternoon, so he didn't need to rush out the door after we’d spent the night together.  We decided to stay in for breakfast.  I offered to make us pancakes, from scratch.  I don’t know what made me suggest that.  I don’t think I’d ever made pancakes from scratch before.  I was strictly an Aunt Jemima-type, pre-made all the way.  

Still, the adventure of attempting something different, while trying to make a good impression, motivated me, and away I went, busying myself in the kitchen while Adrian relaxed in the living room.  The whole domestic scene was completely foreign to me and an utter thrill to someone who had always envisioned himself coupled with a sweet and wonderful guy.  On that particular morning, Adrian fit the bill nicely.

A word about my state of mind will help.  In addition to feeling the exhilaration of finally having someone in my life, of experiencing physical intimacy for the first time, and of sharing my bed with another human being for the entire night, I was completely buzzed out.  I hadn’t slept with someone in the same room, let alone in the same bed, for many, many years.  I have always been an unsettled sleeper.  If I fall asleep, and manage to go into that deep, restful state, I’m usually good for the night; however, if I can’t get to sleep and struggle for a long time, I’m a mess.

I was a mess that morning, believe me.  If I’d slept more than an hour, I’d be surprised.  Most of the night, I’d lain there, nervous, uptight, and rigid.    

Adrian seemed to be completely comfortable beside me, the rate of his breathing telling me he was relaxed and asleep.  Meanwhile, I was wide-awake, my eyes chasing the shadows inside the room, acutely aware of Adrian lying beside me.  I resented him:  he was asleep, I wasn’t.  This was my bedroom, and we were in my bed.  If anyone was entitled to sleep, I was. Countless times, I didn’t want him to be there, and, yet, I wanted him to be there more than anything.  I was both thrilled and pissed off by his presence.

The following morning, when he woke up and found me already awake beside him, I told him I hadn’t slept, I wasn’t used to someone sharing my bed, and I felt dizzy with exhaustion, my head in a thick fog.  Sweet as he was, he apologized for his part in my sleep-deprived hangover.  There was nothing that could be done now.  The night was over, and the day had begun.  All I could do was make the best of it, hopefully get my second wind when I needed it most, and pray for blessed sleep that night, before I had to go to work the following day.  

We got up, showered together, and started to think about breakfast.  That’s when the idea to make pancakes came to me.

In the kitchen, I found a recipe for homemade pancakes and began to carefully measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl.  As the pan heated on the stove, I whisked everything together, looking through the pass-through into the living room from time to time, where Adrian was busying himself with something (I don't remember what).  Every time I looked at him, I saw a little boy, a sweet, innocent, patient little boy, and my heart went out to him.  I loved the way he looked, I loved his short, tousled hair, I loved his childlike face.  The whole scene made me feel warm inside.

At long last, I had someone in my life–someone I liked a lot, someone who made me feel good when I was with him, someone who had wanted to be with me from the previous evening, through the night, and now the morning.  There he was, in my living room, completely relaxed, just like he was in his own home, not the least bit anxious to leave as quickly as he could, so he could get on with the life he lived without me.  

If this is what a relationship looked like and felt like, I wanted more of it.  Who knew?  Perhaps Adrian was the right one for me.  I wondered it if was possible to meet a life partner the first time out.  I’d heard it sometimes happened with straight couples.  Didn’t that mean it could also happen with gay couples?  

I wondered if I could love Adrian, if, in my own inexperienced and immature way, I already did.  Was that possible?

What was love?  Would I know it when it happened to me?  Had I ever experienced it before?

When I thought of love, the first and only person who came to mind was my mom.  I was pretty sure I loved her, even though we’d had our troubles over the years.  Sometimes, I was definitely fonder of her than at others.  But, overall, when she came to mind, I felt genuine warmth inside, whether we got along or not, which we did–most of the time.  That was love, right?  Perhaps it was.  That's what I decided to go on.

Did I feel that toward Adrian now?  Did I feel the same warmth, that same fondness?  I thought I did, at least a little, even only after the short period we’d been together.  I really wanted to feel it.  I thought Adrian was great, and, if there was someone I could potentially love, it made sense it could be him because…look at him.  How could you not love him?  He was cute and sweet and gentle and, from what I could tell, a special human being, not like I believed most men to be, especially gay men.

Looking at him again via the past-through, I really believed there was potential for this fledgling relationship of ours, to find its feet, take off into flight, and soar.

But, first, I needed to get through breakfast–and figure out what was wrong with the pancakes.  I’d scooped some of the batter into the heated frying pan, and the pancakes had cooked all right.  But they hadn’t risen, as they should have, as I was used to them doing.  Everyone knew pancakes had to rise, become thick and fluffy, so they’d be light in the mouth when you bit into them, savoring the airy texture covered in delicious syrup.

I made a comment to Adrian that something was wrong.  He came into the kitchen and looked in the frying pan.  He said they looked fine to him, and I told him what I thought the problem was.  When I pointed it out, he agreed it appeared they hadn't risen as they should.  

Working in a restaurant, and something of a cook himself, as I would soon learn, Adrian asked to see the recipe.  I showed him the book on the counter. We reviewed the list of ingredients together, and it was when we got to baking powder that I realized, in my half-asleep, heightened awareness of at last having someone to make breakfast for, that I’d forgotten to add the baking powder.  That's what had prevented them from rising.  I looked at the flat, lifeless, and unappetizing pancake frying in the pan.

To say I was mortified is an understatement.  Not only had I wanted Adrian to have a wonderful pancake breakfast, just the two of us together, but also I’d wanted desperately to make a great impression.  I’d wanted him to hold me in high esteem because of what I’d done, because I’d produced the most amazing pancakes he’d ever eaten.  (Many years later, I'd realize I'd always tied my self-worth to what I did, not to who I was.  I suspect I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to overcome this.)

Again, Adrian came through.  By that time, his response shouldn’t have surprised me.  He’d already proven how sensitive he could be, how patient and kind.

“It doesn’t matter if the pancakes rise or not," he said.  "They'll be good just the same.”

I’m sure he knew from the look on my face that I didn’t believe him, that I was sorely disappointed this had happened, all because I’d been so damn stupid by forgetting to put in one of the most critical ingredients.  I hated myself at that moment, and I wanted more than anything to throw away the flat pancake in the frying pan, along with the batter, and start all over again.

Except there was one problem:  I’d used the last egg.  I hadn’t gone out yet to do my grocery shopping for the following week, and I was running low on a number of things.  I looked in the fridge again, in the off-chance I’d been mistaken.  Nope.  I was right.  No eggs.  I looked at Adrian and told him I couldn’t mix new batter, unless I drove to the store and bought some eggs.

“These pancakes will be fine,” he assured me.  "Really,” he continued, “they’re a little flat, but they’ll taste just as good.  There’s nothing wrong with them.”

I wasn’t convinced.  I was angry with myself for being such an idiot and for not having enough ingredients to make another batch.  Running out of things in the household was fine if you were alone, if no one else was counting on you, but not if you had someone in your life.  I had someone in my life now, and, in the future, I’d have to be more conscious of our joint needs and not so thoughtless.  

Eventually, Adrian and I sat down for breakfast.  To compensate for the thin pancakes, I tried to make everything else perfect.  There was bacon and fresh orange juice and pure maple syrup and a little light music on the stereo.  And the sun was shining outside and Adrian was sitting beside me.  It all felt wonderful and surreal.  I was exhausted from my sleepless night, and still pissed off at myself, but I was grateful for this time with him, and for being able to share something as simple as breakfast.  

Adrian dug into his pancake with gusto, as though it was the biggest, fluffiest, most delectable pancake he'd ever seen.  With his fork and knife, he folded a piece over to make it look thicker, then put it in his mouth.  I poured syrup on mine, cutting it into several rows, back and forth, then sideways.  Anyway I looked at what was on my plate, I still saw the same thing, and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed.  Adrian was making the most of the situation, but I couldn’t forgive myself for what I’d done.

We started to talk about something, and Adrian tried to make a joke, just to lighten the mood at the table.

That’s when I started to cry.  I tried to eat, but I couldn’t.

Adrian looked at me and saw that I was crying.  He asked me what was wrong, and I cried even harder.  Soon, I was bawling.  I couldn’t even speak.

Adrian got up from his chair, came over beside me, knelt on the floor, and wrapped his arms around my waist, resting his head against me.  That made me cry even harder.

“What’s wrong?” he asked me again.  "Why are you crying?”

“Because,” I said, between sobs.  “Because I can’t believe I ruined the pancakes.  Because I wanted everything to be perfect.  Because I feel like I don’t deserve you."  And then I said, "Because I feel so unlovable.”

Adrian held me tighter then, and I sobbed.  I cried far more than I should have, far more than ruined pancakes warranted.  But Adrian could not have been kinder or more understanding.

When I finally settled down, we ate our breakfast.  By then, not only were the pancakes flat, they were cold too.  

What you’ve just read is an excerpt from an unpublished memoir I wrote in 2008. 

What strikes me about this story is, I have no idea where the word “unlovable” came from.  To my knowledge, I'd never used it before, certainly not in relation to myself.  

When I think about it, I could have used any word at all to describe how I felt in that moment.  But it was not a conscious choice; I hadn't had time to think about it.  It's what came out, and I will always remember it.

Of course, I could not have said anything truer.  But I didn't see it then.  All I knew was, for the first time ever, I had a wonderful young man in my life.  And I needed to be perfect for him.  Because, if I wasn't, I’d lose him.  And I couldn't afford to let that happen, after I’d waited so long to meet someone like him, and because I wasn't sure I’d ever meet anyone else.     

It would take another six years for me to realize I not only felt unlovable to people in general, but, more importantly, to myself.  That was a shocking realization.  I had never been aware of how I felt about myself.  And, when I was, I couldn’t believe how unworthy I felt.  

But I shouldn’t have been surprised.  If you haven't been taught from an early age that you're worthwhile, that you make a difference by being here, then you lack the tools to feel about yourself as you rightly should.  And, at some point, in order to repair the relationship you have with yourself, and to prepare you for that future relationship with someone important in your life, you will need to find those tools and use them.  

I shared this story with you for one reason only:  to demonstrate that any one of us can go from where I was in 1986–feeling utterly unlovable–to where I am today–knowing not only that we must love ourselves as gay and lesbian people, but also writing this blog to help you on your journey to knowing how worthy and lovable you really are.  


  1. I just want to let you know I read your story and cried. Because it was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much, ApoRiA, for taking the time to read this piece.
    When I wrote it, I was worried no one would get all the way through it. But I also thought, if they did, the message would be helpful.
    I appreciate your interest in my blog and your comment. I hope to hear from you again.

  3. it was a good and detailed story,
    i really liked it,
    love is a general word, but it happen in details ,even in making breakfast for the one you feel good about.
    thank u for sharing,

  4. Ehsan, so good to hear from you again.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this very long post, especially considering English isn't your first language.
    That said, you have a unique way of saying very complex and deep things using the simplest of language. Many writers could take a hint from you.
    Of course, the love that's most important in this post is not how I felt toward Adrian, which I know now was anything but love, but the love I felt toward myself (or lack thereof). That's the love that matters most in all of our lives.
    Thanks again for your interest in my blog. I hope you continue to find posts here that interest you.