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When I was  about six or seven we lived in California.  My dad was gone a lot, doing who knows what , and I was left with my first step mother her daughter that was six years older than me and my youngest half-sister that was just a baby. 

 Let me back up a little.  What I mean by who know where my father was, meant really that.  He would just disappear for weeks, not leave much money, we had no transportation, but could walk to the store if we needed food, again that is if we had enough  money.  As mentioned before my father was a Vietnam Vet that was still trying to adjust back into reality and was not doing that well (he is doing amazing now and has turned out to be a good dad to his adult daughter and a wonderful grandfather.  I would never call him a great father, because he was not that when I needed him to be and he owns that.  He has a strength that I admire so much in him.  He made tons of mistakes and big ones, but he owns them all, turned his life around and polished up his heart of gold and made himself a success story – there are still issues and he does like to push buttons, but he conquered his personal Everest!).  

During this time, my step mother would make these dolls, I called them Pee- Pee Dolls, because that was exactly what they were.  They were made out of nylon stockings and fluffy felt.  They were little cave men and when you would lift up their beards, their pee-pee’s would pop up.  I was part of the assembly line on those projects and I think that is why I abstained from sex until well into my twenties, those things scared the death out of me. Anyway, we had three next door neighbors in their late twenties and early thirties that always  participated in flea markets selling their art and willow furniture they made.  They would take bags of this Pee -Pee Dolls and sell them for her.  With that money we would have money for our daily needs.

If things were a bit tight and there were no cave men to sell, these next door neighbors would bring us bags of groceries and check up on us a couple of times a week and do odds and ends around the house if needed or just be a companion for my step-mother to smoke weed with and socialize.  They were very wonderful men, beautiful men, the kind you could stare at all day and never get bored doing it; they each looked like a member of an 80’s hair band. They had great patience with us and even took interest in our pictures we drew, stories we waned to be read, you know kid stuff.

One day my step mother explained to me that our neighbors were gay.  I responded to her, “I know they are happy, they are the nicest people on the street, why wouldn’t they be”.  She laughed and left it at that.  She realized that child like perception was the best way to look at life. 

We moved away a little while later leaving my father there and lost touch. Over the years I always wondered what happened to them and wished I could have thanked them for their kindness.  My grandmother told me that they moved to Wisconsin and opened a restaurant (since she owned that house we lived in).   A year ago, I was having a conversation with my Aunt (not related to my father) and somehow this story came up.  When I said Wisconsin she asked if their names were Jim, David, and Jessi.  I was floored! How did she know them?  Apparently, the world is a small one and when it comes to antique dealers and ex husband’s ex wives.   Turns out my aunt’s ex-husband and father of her son married a woman who was friends with them and they were all antique dealers (they are now divorced).  They all moved to Wisconsin and they started a restaurant and antique shop.  Within twenty-four hours of that conversation, I had a phone number and was calling these three angels from my childhood.  I could finally thank them!

The phone call was a bit of a shock to them and it was a bit of a shock to hear Jessi passed away about ten years ago.  It was a great conversation and I could tell that they were genuinely happy  “gay”  to hear from me. I was able to thank them and they were able to hear good reports on how it all turned out.  I could tell they were proud and honored that I made an effort to contact them just to say thank you.  We never exchanged information, we just left the conversation the way it was and hung up.  I feel that for some reason both of us needed to have that happen, not sure why, but it did.  

Those three men were my first introduction to the gay community and I was blessed to have them in my life.  With that experience, I could never hold prejudice or malic towards someone because of their sexual orientation.  What someone does in their bedroom is less concerning to me than what someone does out among society.  These young men were kind, caring, loving and thoughtful.  They showed compassion to a woman and three children, they were even kind to my father.  They understood that he was messed up from the war, and even though they did not like what he was doing, they were kind.   I cherish this piece of my history very much.  It was part of the molding process of understanding what being a kind and tolerant person is about.

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Not my jeep, but looks exactly like it.

When I was in my mid- to- late twenties I was a Human Resources Manager and Payroll Manager for a large car dealership with several locations.  There were about 220 employees that ranged from sales, service techs,parts clerks, managers, office staff, etc.  We had a color of diversity in culture, personalities and management styles.  The one department I very much loved and appreciated was the Service and Parts Departments.  It was a man’s world and I tend to get along very well with men; I am not easily offended and I love practical jokes.  Every day I would check in with the various service departments and get my fix of off-color banter and practical jokes.  I was far from being a conventional Human Resource Manager, which I was told made me a good one (I think many in my field would debate that).

I had recently bought a brand new bright yellow Jeep Wrangler (that was the love of my life until I got pregnant and had to sell that for my beloved Volkswagen wagon – somewhere in Idaho that little yellow Jeep is playing in the snow.).  The first day I drove it to work a bunch of the service technicians and managers were standing in the service bay drinking coffee and one yelled out, “Did someone call a cab?”.  They did that everyday, thereafter, it never grew old to them.   As I was getting out of the car, one of the service managers starting giving me the business that I must have decided to change teams.  “Change teams?” , I asked.  He said,  “Yes, you decided to become a “lip stick” lesbian.” He continued with,  “Everyone knows that when an attractive single woman buys a Jeep that is their “coming  out” gift to themselves.”  I just rolled my eyes and laughed and finished his banter with famous Seinfeld line, “Not that there is anything wrong with that!.” 

A few days later I had happened to pull into the local health food store and a woman just pulled in right behind me and started up a very friendly conversation. Once inside she kept following me and talking and finally she blurted out that I was so beautiful and she just has to go out on a limb and see if I am seeing anyone.  Me, being naive, yet obviously knowing that she was on the opposite team the minute I met her, I thought she was asking because she had a brother or a male friend she wanted to set me up with.  I told her I was single and she said, “Great, would you like to go to dinner with me tomorrow,”  My head started spinning since I had never been picked up by a woman before. I turned a million shades red and fumbled all over myself trying to find the words to say,  “I am not gay,  but flattered by your invitation.”  The woman then proceeded to ask me if that was my Jeep I was driving.  I was a little confused what my Jeep had to do with this, but I told her it was.  She looked really confused and then rejected and quickly excused herself. 

The next day I went into work and told the two service managers about my adventure in the health food store and they were just rolling on the floor in tears holding their stomachs.  One of them said to me, “See, I told you, that Jeep is going to open doors to your rather boring dating life that you never knew existed.” 

Over the next two weeks I had four more similar experiences happen like at the health food store.  Every time I would go and tell the service managers about it and they would just be hysterical over it.  I was starting to think they were right.  Wow! I never knew the type of car you drove determined your sexual orientation.  It was a shame that I was not interested in women because my dating life would have been resurrected from the dead. 

A few days later I was leaving work early and it was the light of day.  I went to put a box of employee handbooks in the back of my Jeep and there I saw it; the answer of why all the advancements from the same-sex.  It was a thin rainbow bumper sticker that ran along the length of my bumper.  I never saw this before, I had not put anything in back of my jeep until that day, the way I parked at home never gave me the opportunity to see it and I never left work before sunset. 

The sticker looked very closely like this.

The minute I saw the sticker, I knew who the culprits were.  I peeled it off my bumper and headed into the service manager’s office. As I entered in the office with the sticker in hand they exploded into laughter and asked me what took me so long.  They told me that they put that on my Jeep the very frist week I bought it.   They said it was a riot to hear me come in and tell of my encounters and walk away so puzzled by how a car could be that impactful. Now it made sense why each woman looked utterly confused when I would tell them I was not gay.   Apparently, the whole service and part department were in on this joke and were highly amused.  I had to admit after all the practical jokes I was in on with other people, I had it coming to me and I too had a good laugh.  However, I did tell them to fasten their seatbelts, the karma from the lesbian community coming back to them was going to be really bad.

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