How to Tame a Rugged Fox
When I was a little wee Fox, I heard on good authority from my mom, that apart from being cute as F, I was steadfast when it came to routine. As far as I was concerned, each day that passed had to be an exact replica of the one that came before. If my nap, snack or bedtime did not arrive at the precise second I anticipated it to, then my world, as far as I knew it, would come crumbling down.
I can remember staying dutifully this way up until high school – or shall I say, the reckoning of puberty. Despite ongoing taunts and threats from other students for being too fabulous, I held on tight to a dream of the future that included a wife, dog and two-point-five kids. The fact that, meanwhile, I was thirteen-years-old and downloading naked pictures of men on top of each other from a 14.4 modem, complicated matters.
From a freshman to a sophomore, to a junior to a senior, I fought hard to hold on this heterosexual narrative primetime TV had scripted for myself. If you talked to me when I was sixteen, even though I would have been distracted by my mad crush on the high school quarterback (who sat beside me in each class with his hands down his pants) I would have made it clear that “being gay” was not an option. It was simply not part of my life plan.
Well, as destiny would have it, we’re not always allowed to pick the road more traveled; even though, sometimes, we desperately want to.
After coming out, I took a mental machete to every dream I had slow-cooked for myself and launched a full-scale rebellion against the young man I used to be. (Side note: My penchant for drama never waivered during this time.) I exchanged one routine for another. I started dressing better, drinking red wine by the bottle, smoking menthol cigarettes and trying to have same-sex sex.
For a decade, I blamed any addictions or mental health issues on my sexuality; which was ludicrous because (a) I was not sleeping with anybody and (b) if I had the chance to, I was too drunk and smelling like cigarettes for anyone to stick around. When I moved into the basement, I think the part of me that wanted to hide this from the world was relieved. It’s amazing how much you can get away with six-feet underground.
The wake-up call, however, came for me this past year. I had scheduled in my calendar to attend a panel discussion on loneliness and its deleterious effects on the modern gay man. Set at XY, the luxury gay bar, I was tipped off that the who’s who of downtown homosexuals would be in attendance. So, on the day of, I set aside hours to piece together the perfect outfit. Problem was, in the process, I got a bit too cheeky with a bottle of red wine, and, after taking a seat on the couch, promptly passed out. I woke up several hours later having missed the event, dressed to the nines, drunk and alone.
The next morning, I resolved that this was not the man I ever dreamed to be. As the gay uncle to three pooches, one teenager and seven babies, I knew in my heart they deserved better than this.
And so, now that I am back downtown and living in the Fox Den, I am consciously trying to get the same sense of routine back I had when I was a little boy. I don’t know if I ever truly lost it; but it certainly became less healthy as the years went on. As we speak, I am literally shedding an old skin (seriously, I cannot moisturize enough) in hopes of growing a new hydrated one. I know it is going to take some time to get back on the wagon; but fortunately, most of the steps I take these days, I feel are in the right direction.