As adults Mary Beth and I saw little of each of other. She married Richard Colpitts, a lawyer and now federal judge, and they lived for many years in the panhandle of Florida, far from me in the Midwest. But then they moved first to New Orleans (see “The Sayings of Robert Whaley,” May 13, 2010), and now Las Vegas, and since I sometimes visit those cities (particularly Vegas), Beth (as I call her—she calls me simply “D”) and I have become closer. As mentioned in a prior post (“Goodbye to St. Paddy’s Day,” March 2, 2010), she became interested in genealogy and traced the Whaley family back through the Civil War to Nathaniel Whaley, born in Maryland in 1760, and we had fun talking about family history.
Here’s where things get strange. When Jerry, my partner of twelve years (see “Recidivist: A Criminal Who Does It Again,” September 10, 2010), and I broke up in 1997, he set off across the country, his car packed with his things, unsure of where he would end up. That turned out to be Las Vegas (which he and I had often visited in our years together). He had met Mary Beth and Rich once before (see the post first mentioned above), and, on a whim, when Beth and Rich moved to town, called the Colpitts up and invited them to his Xmas party. They came, and—here’s the strange part—my sister (never known as a liberal) and my very gay ex-partner have become good friends! If you put that in a novel, no one would believe it.
Now, whenever I get to Vegas (most recently last month, when I took my nephew Aaron there as a way of celebrating his 21st birthday), Beth and I get together, frequently at her house, and Jerry (and assorted gay friends of his, including members of his Vegas gay family) is always one of the guests. The first time this happened was 2005. Rich was out of town, but Mary Beth invited me for supper, and also Jerry and his gay roommate (not partner) Rick. She prepared a terrific meal, and much alcohol was consumed. Beth was quite curious about how gays really exist in this world, and since none of the three of us are shy quiet people, she got an earful. At one point she asked if we hadn’t all three been to bed with women, and we said yes. I gave her my bowling analogy (see “Marijuana and Me,” July 11, 2010), which made her laugh, and when she asked Jerry about that, he replied, “I think I like bowling better.”
Beth also showed us her teddy bear collection, and it was something to see. She has an overwhelming number of teddy bears (my guess is 70, but I’ll probably get an email from her after she reads this telling me the number is no more than, say, 34). Since her birthday was coming up shortly thereafter, I decided to get her a gay teddy bear, and I did. As the above photo demonstrates, it was a gay teddy bear with an attitude. She was delighted, and showed it to all her friends.
As Jerry, Rick, and I were leaving her house that night, all in a great mood from the drinks and good company, I hugged her on her front stoop and thanked her for a wonderful evening. She hugged me back—brother and sister reunited at last. Then she turned to Jerry and threw her arms around him, saying happily, “I love you, Jerry Bunge!” “Wait a minute!” I protested loudly. “I’M THE BROTHER!” She laughed. “Oh, I love you too!” she said, only slightly embarrassed. Last month as we left the exact same scene was re-enacted, but this time she did it deliberately just to rattle my cage.
When I sent her the gay teddy bear in 2005, I told her I wanted a picture of her and Jerry with the bear. Let’s close this post with that. Beth and Jerry are both wearing beads, because the photo was taken at the Colpitts' annual Mardi Gras party.
“Dog Meat,” December 27, 2009
“Recidivist: A Criminal Who Does It Again,” September 10, 2010
“The Day Jerry Left,” October 30, 2010
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013