This is my monthly column about our life, life in a triad in general, or whatever rants & raves I feel like talking about at the time.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

Life is Not a Funhouse

I'm sure that everyone has gone to a carnival at least once in their life. If you have, then I'm also sure that you've been in the Hall of Mirrors at least once. That funny maze that's made up entirely of mirrored walls that distort reality, meant to entertain and potentially make you lose your way as you try to navigate the maze and find your way out. Now imagine for a moment that glass as a film that covers your eyes as you make your way throughout your life, presenting distorted images and perceptions of people you meet.

I think that over half of mainstream society views the people they meet in their lives exactly that way.

Several months ago I started a new job. In my last job I found myself stringing a web of lies that, while they were fun in the beginning, got harder and harder to keep up as time went on. The three of us decided that we would lead everyone to believe that my wife and Kriek's wife were two different people. As I said, it was fun in the beginning, but in the end someone confronted me on the situation and I lied in order to protect my family. I wasn't upset that I lied to protect my family, but at the same time it was unsettling to have to do so.

I took advantage of my new job to get a fresh start and not have to weave such an intricate web of deception. So, instead of using misinformation and misdirection, I took a much easier approach. Silence. I didn't volunteer any information about myself, and if asked I gave only the most succinct answer needed to pacify the person asking. When asked "Are you married?", I answered "No". Not a lie, because technically Dagger and I aren't married through any means that mainstream society recognizes. Despite the Celtic knotwork wedding band that I wear on the ring finger of my left hand, no one asked any further questions. When asked "Do you have a girlfriend?", I replied "Yes". Again not a lie, even though Dagger is so much more than simply my girlfriend. Mainstream society only knows so many ways to quantify things in life, so using simple yes or no answers to these questions seemed the best approach. After a week or two of people asking the questions that people typically ask someone they've just met, their interest in me lessened.

Or so it seemed.

After about a month of working there, however, I got asked a question that seemingly came out of nowhere. One of my coworkers actually said to me; "I don't mean to be in your business, but are you gay? Because I heard you were." I was pretty flabbergasted by this question until I stepped back and analyzed the distorted perceptions that had led to the presumption. If Dagger was dropping me off or picking me up, most of the time she never came in the store. Even if she did, it really wouldn't matter. See, she works for the same company that I do, but at a different location. Everyone knows who she is, which is why she couldn't be identified as the woman in my life. For some reason, though, not many of our coworkers knew that Kriek was her husband. Add into this the fact that when Kriek picked me up or dropped me off, most of the time he would come inside with the redheaded stepchild. Enough "damning" evidence to label us as gay? Apparently so to those who were seeing us with their "funhouse" eyes. They saw two men together and made the huge leap that we were gay. Apparently in their world two men can't go anywhere together unless they're gay. Apparently in their world life is either black or white. By looking at life this way they miss all of the gray areas that exist, and there are plenty of them. Apparently a person has to be either married or single, gay or straight. There's no in between to these people, no room for any variations that deviate from their perceived "normalcy". If something doesn't fit into it's neatly labeled container, it's something to be ridiculed or feared. This kind of logic is exactly what makes mainstream folks somewhat dangerous to those living alternative lifestyles of any kind.

Now the ironic thing about people who perceive reality in this distorted manner is that, by doing so they are setting themselves up to be labeled the exact same way. 95% of the people I work with are females, mostly high school and college aged young women. Despite the fact that most of them have boyfriends, I have yet to see any of them with men. I see them alot with other females, but never with members of the opposite sex. Based upon their logic, apparently they're lesbians. Makes sense, doesn't it? I suppose that I could distort the reality of the situation, but why? The amount of energy that kind of thing requires could be better applied somewhere else. The thing that flabbergasted me the most is the fact that these people were so concerned with my personal life to begin with. I'm not sure if I should be insulted or flattered by the amount of time they were apparently talking about me. Either way, I approach situations like this in the same manner everytime. Along time ago, in the early stages of my management career, someone said something to me that has stuck with me to this day.

"If they're talking about you, that means they're giving somebody else a break".

These are good words to live by, especially when dealing with the "funhouse" eyes that society seems to be looking at us through. I wonder, though, what stories they've concocted about other people in their lives. Perhaps I'll invite them out to a carnival and we can all talk about it.

~ Chias, August 28, 2006


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