What A World

What A World: The Man in My Life

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Sometimes you have to go there to discover that’s not where you belong.

NancyFord at desk
Nancy Ford

By Nancy Ford

It was a Monday morning like most others. Rainy, kind of steamy. I was plowing through my de rigueur 200+ daily pieces of spam, separating the wheat from the chafe.

No, thanks, I don’t need a prescription of Cyalis at discount prices. No, thanks, I’ve already seen more never-before-seen photos of Britney Spears than I’ll ever need to see.

And as for you, Prince Abuenrtsposnbepcir of Tanjsbagtania, I couldn’t be sorrier that you are being forced to live in exile, but you’ll just have to find your way back to your rightful throne without benefit of my bank account number.

I was almost finished delete-delete-deleting when I came upon another spammish-looking e-mail.

It was from my ex-husband.

No typo. You read that correctly.

Those of you who have been faithful WAW readers for these past 20 years know that, yes indeed, for a brief, crampy period in the ’70s, I was married.

To a man.

With a penis.

During that period of wedded less-than-bliss, I discovered unequivocally that I am a lesbian. After the ensuing ballyhoo, we divorced, I left Ohio for Texas, and last I’d heard, he’d enlisted in the Air Force. That was 1980.

And now here’s an e-mail with his not-very-common name in the subject line. Nawww—couldn’t be, after not hearing hide nor het hair from him in 28 years.

This is one skillful spammer, I thought. Whoever sent this blast has definitely done their homework.

Curious, I opened the message. Sure ‘nough.

“Nancy – I will be in Houston this Sunday and Monday at the Convention Center as part of an equipment demo that my employer is putting on. I thought we could get together for coffee and catch up. Let me know if you are interested.”

Am I “interested”?

If “freaked out,” “slack-jawed,” and maybe even a little “frightened” are similes for the word “interested,” then yes, you could say I was “interested.”

Other than the many jokes it inevitably spawned in my early stand-up career, my hetero marriage is a part of my life that I have since compartmentalized into a seldom-visited corner of my memory. When I do think of it, it is in a frame, bordered like a TV screen, like I am watching a sitcom of the story of someone else’s life.

X and I were married back in the day when all the boys and many of the girls sported haircuts we see on That ’70s Show reruns. A gallon of gasoline was barely a dollar. I drank scotch and voted Republican. I wore pantyhose. It was a much different time.

Curiosity being a strong motivator, I suggested we meet at Baba Yega, high noon, for lunch. I wanted to be on my home turf, some familiar place where, if I suddenly shouted “Gun!,” wait staff (knowing I’m a decent tipper) might jump to my defense.

Nearly three decades later, X’s Ashton Kutcher haircut has been replaced by a standard-issue corporate ‘do. He’s a little grayer, he’s a little heavier—aren’t we all? But he was still as good-looking as ever. White collar. Two cell phones. He assured me that the heart of a hippie still beats under his now-corporate demeanor.

Politics, philosophy, music, religion—X and I talked about nearly everything except how different our lives would have been if we had not divorced.

Who would I be today if X and I had stuck it out to celebrate our 32nd anniversary last month? Who would I be if I had never found my way to a gay nightclub stage to strum my angst away on, or to a gay rag to deposit my rantings in? Who would I be? Would I even be at all ?

I could easily have been doomed to spend these past 30ish years sublimating my true self to be a wife, and probably a mother. How many other women of that era married men, not knowing they were lesbians, and sublimated away their entire lives?

I thought about those women as X and I said our goodbyes. I also thought about how very, very fortunate I am to have married a man who, chaotic as our divorce was at the time, let me go on to live my life without trying to beat the hetero back into me. Or worse.

Funny, I didn’t know X and I had any peace we needed to make; I’d never felt the need for closure, per se. But walking out of the restaurant that increasingly sunny Monday gave me a renewed sense of faith in—I don’t know—in something.

Maybe it was just comforting to be reminded why I had married this man in the first place: He was a nice guy. Funny. Smart. Decent values. Loving. Great hair.

Who knows? If he hadn’t been born so straight, so vaginally challenged, maybe we’d still be together this very day.

Comments

Leave a Review or Comment

Back to top button