...Oh my love
It was June and my birthday. Jerry Atwood had thrown a party for me every year since I met him, at that point 3 years.
I had several friends, more than most, before I met Jerry. After meeting Jerry, this list of friends grew ten fold. If you are in the gay community, this is normal, so I should say, I had more friends than a WASP. The gay community is a family blanketed community and once a brother or sister met another, they became your friend. It is for survival. And yes it is that fundamental. I would not be alive today without the many caring individuals in this clandestine society. Dana, Juli, Risa, Vivi, Carol, Keith, Clay, Bobby, Stephen, Debra and on it goes. And finally Jerry. .
I met Jerry in 1993 at the Consulting Engineering company I worked with. I was the Cad Manager. I was also an Electrical designer. I baby sat 40 men who wanted nothing to do with AutoCAD. I was the beast taking away their creative freedom. You had to have tough skin to be in a company ran by a Jehovah’s Witness and surrounded by them. The JH's were relatively harmless, but they had their clique. They weren’t half as bad as the rednecks, homophobes and racists.
Being the only woman, I was the constant target of many of these very small men with even smaller minds. Yet they pestered me all day long. No matter how long I spent going over the computer commands, like explaining a ball to a 2 year old, they would still ask me to come over and do a replay. I programmed digital tablets where all the commands they needed were in colorful icons. Like that chimpanzee who was trained to docommands on a computer from a board of festive pictures. Look at the icons, pick the right one. Pretty basic. No. They could not even do what a monkey could do.
I served them without one complaint, repeatedly.
And then I had “the opposites”. Men so egotistical and chauvinistic, they will pull down the AutoCAD manual rather than ask. This was a, inch and a half thick book. And I WAS PART OF THE CREATION OF THE BOOK. They would spend an hour trying to find one simple command, something that all they needed to do was call me over and I could most likely yell the command back at them.
One fellow, Ken A., a kaki and men’s warehouse guy, sat immediately next to me. He was one of those that had an office and company car marinating. I didn’t have a position, the time or the money to be caught up in office politics. I just did what I did. He was one that would give an air of equality, but he was a pack wolf, and he wanted to keep me in my place by stubbornly relying on that manual, so he wouldn’t be caught asking me.
Something like Andy on the Office:
Andy kissing up to the boss
Silence is the best reward.
Dave M., the VP of the company would grace us often, walking up and down the aisle, making derisive remarks about wasted efforts when he would see a pile of eraser shavings on the floor. He made his way to my cubicle, but not without catching Ken in one of those supercilious moods perusing the manual.
“Ken, whatcha reading there during my Exxon deadline? Before Ken could answer “Ohhhh, AutoCAD. I thought you already knew CAD?”
“Just looking something up” he went back to flipping through the tissue paper thin pages.
“What? Our CAD guru actually doesn’t know something in CAD?”
Dave perused the bull pen, seeing all of the interlopers passing money between them. I continued my work, because, frankly, I didn’t give a shit.
“I didn’t ask her, I just felt it was easier to look it up” Ken slowly, deliberately laid down the book.
The room started to rumble and more people were staking their bets.
“Soooo, you didn’t even ask her” Dave folded his arms in certain judgment. You have the closest seat to the woman who taught ALL of these men CAD, successfully. Some who will fake illness if she’s not here.”
“I don’t care for her tactics…“ Ken closed the book and put it to the side, folded his hands on his drafting table.
I stopped what I was doing , and turned to face him with my hands on my table. This fuck. Why do men feel the necessity to make me uncomfortable in my job? As if I was going to rise to meteoric level and rule over all of them. I could have, but it wouldn't have happened at that company. They were racist as well, so it wouldn't have mattered if i could have, I certainly wouldn't have wanted to.
“That book that you were reading, " Dave smiled, "look in the back “
Ken went over the list of contributors and came upon my name. And of course, the kiss ass that he was (he would buy Chapstick by the case) he apologized to me. The next day, there he was reading through the manual. Talk about wasted effort.
Ken and several of the other guys played basketball at lunch, leaving all deadline “redmarks” for me to complete. I often worked lunch so I could go home early. I also came in at 5am so I could have some quiet and work on drawings. But I never got to go home early. And these guys expected me to do their bidding.
Now multiply that chauvinism times 40.
This is what Jerry walked into. The first day of his hire, during his walk through, I immediately knew he was gay. I don’t know why, I just knew. He was assigned to work with me on the Exxon project. And I was to teach him CAD.
That evening he came clean and we became instant friends. That winter I worked on his personal charity, The Christmas Songfest.Jerry is by far the most altruistic, enigmatic person I have ever known. His influence is felt across a melting pot of personalities in Houston. He has the quintessential A-list and never enters an establishment without people knowing him. Everyone wants to touch his coat tails. He was a prodigy at 10 years of age. He has never been very far from a piano, and any piano he sees he plays.
And he is quite beautiful to look at.
At Christmas Jerry recognized that not all people in the Gay community were embraced by their family. As a matter of fact, very few are. They spent their Christmases alone. He would invite all these people to his home and he would have a magnificent feast. He then played piano on his 100 year-old concert grand, flawlessly while everyone took turns either singing solo or with a group, mostly Christmas Carols. He was a child prodigy and played magnificent piano. I could gush on him forever, he’s too humble to do so himself.
That is now a Charity. It is called A Christmas Songfest. It is the Biggest Christmas Sing along in Texas. And it included EVERYONE. We had celebrities, silent auction, food drink and singing of course.
Bobby (Jerry’s S/O) created the ambiance. He spent countless hours, days, creating the perfect effect. It drew thousands of people and had an overhead of 4%, due to the outpouring of donations. We raised sometimes up $50,000 or more.
The beneficiaries were AIDS related. Omega house, where AIDS patients spend their last days, Children with Aids, prescription drug assistance, you name it, he did it. I nestled into this by creating the songbooks, selling advertising, and being Jerry’s kicking girl. This put me on the “A-List”. I could pretty much count on my dating eligibility grow. And it did.
That is how my friendship base expanded. Better than Facebook.
I couldn’t wait for Willie to meet them all. She had already met Jerry, and he approved. He liked my ex, but always felt our age difference would preclude any chance of permanence. He decided to merge mine and Willie’s birthdays for one big blowout. And blowout it was. There were so many people, it spilled to the outside. It was June, hot. But everyone came. Almost 200 people. The food was marvelous, catered by Hunan. The entertainment were the several talented musicians Jerry knew. Some had their CD’s, which others felt it was tacky to pander at a party for someone else. I could’ve cared less. I bought two.
Yvonne and Susan showed, the 2 who helped NEW GIRL move out. It had been 6 months since I talked to them. I have no idea why I invited them. Perhaps to rub Willie in their face. They begged my forgiveness. I was in a good mood so I offered it. ·I favor logic over dissention. That situation was over.
Peculiar, I had invited Juli and Dana. Willie's two exes. They didn’t show. The reason?
Things were not as they seem.
To be continued
About Jerry … and maybe YOU.
If you are going out anyhow, why not Phil and Dereks. Fabulous food, a romantic hideaway on Bammel, where you too can be part of the Jerry Atwood experience.
He plays all venues, wedding, bar-mitzvahs, parties. You name it, he's there. You can see him Friday and Saturday nights with:Ricky Comeaux, Glynda McGinnis/Country Pop, Deborah Boiley/French Chanteaus, Sharon Montgomery/Romantic, Julie Link/Jazz Blues , Terry Pierce/An unbelievable, huge, seriously beautiful voice (she sang with the Rightous Brothers), Kaycee Glass/Sweet dreams etc.
Music: Atwood and Comeaux/ Silent Voices
Top Photo: Jerry Atwood playing Elton John's Red Piano
Some of the names and characters in this blog are fictitious. This is an acount of actual events. For the few who have given me permission, I thank you. © Truth has witnesses ©DSL
© This material is the copyright of Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author. All rights reserved