An Unsent Letter to Paul Newman
Dear Mr. Newman,
Hi. You don’t know me, but I certainly know you. Or, at least, in college I annually consumed excessive amounts of alcohol in your name for reasons I never fully understood. Did you know a whole Friday at Bates College is dedicated to you each year? Actually, it was because of you that I came out of the closet. Honestly. I thought you might like to hear about it.
I was a second semester freshman, enduring my first Maine winter. I know you spend a lot of time in California, but Maine is very very cold in February. Cold enough to actually make you want to drink 24 beers in 24 hours – as the tradition in your name goes – which I was attempting when I kissed my friend Adrienne at an off-campus party. I shouldn’t have even been there – let alone kissing girls – as I was on crutches and pretty out of sorts. So it was a good thing Adrienne walked me home.
But the next part is where the story gets good, Mr. Newman. Adrienne walked me to my dungeon in Parker Basement – that’s a dormitory here – and put me to bed. I kissed her again, but then stopped myself. She said: “Give me one good reason why this wouldn’t work.” I said: “I have a pretty good one. I’m gay.” Awkward, yes, but only for a while. That very night, Adrienne deemed herself my GP – “Gay Planner” – and together we compiled a list of people I wanted to discuss my newly disclosed sexual preference with before I was officially out.
I cruised through that list Mr. Newman, you would have been proud! I even hit 4 people in one day. But despite my 100% success rate, I was terrified of telling my best friend, Evan. He is a great guy, but he grew up in the boondocks of Maine and had never really known gay people before. To heighten the drama-factor, we had agreed to live together next year. Yikes. After hitting everyone else on my list, I got Evan alone on the Parker porch, and dropped the bomb. The rest is lost in an adrenaline blur, but I followed it up with something like: "I understand if you second guess living with me next year, but I just want you to know that you're my best friend and I’m not attracted to you or anything.” Silence. Crap, I thought. Then, from Evan: "What do you mean you're not attracted to me? I'm a good looking guy!" It’s still the best reaction I ever got.
10 days and 21 people later, I was relieved, exhausted, and officially out – whatever that means. It all ended up being pretty easy; all I needed was a catalyst. Had I not been challenged to drink 24 beers that fateful Friday in February, I may never have come of the closet! So thank you, Mr. Newman, for being my catalyst. You set the bar high, and for that I salute you.
Bates Class of 2005
- home -
ŠOUTfront 2006 | design by jemufo