Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bio Pic

Sometime in mid 1976, his high school life behind him; Pax Romano, the long haired, rock and roll loving slacker was born. This version of Pax felt that he needed nothing more in life than some good tunes, some righteous weed, the company of good friends and an occasional sexual dalliance with either a man or a woman to get through the day. The thought of working a full time job, or worse yet, going back to school to better him-self, never crossed our hero’s mind.

For a few sparkling moments, there were indeed some halcyon days in the 70’s … a trip to Los Angeles that turned into a lost weekend that even now, he rarely speaks of (and when he does, a far away look and a sly smile grace his lips), or that time in New York City in Greenwich Village when he met that rock star and smoked a joint with him in front of CBGB’s … and then there were all those nights, those beautiful, star-lit halcyon evenings that woke the romantic in him up…

And so he went on his way, for awhile, at least, until he got the first in a series of wake-up calls. This one came, person-to-person-reverse-the-charges, when his roommate discovered that he was gay – said roommate went ballistic when he discovered, upon snooping around in Pax’s bedroom, magazines that featured men in various stages of comprised positions. The roommate, (who by the way was working under the table and collecting unemployment at the same time: who by the way was always stoned on some kind of illicit drug: who by the way would loudly fuck his girlfriend in the adjoining bedroom every night) told Pax that he was going to hell for his sins … he actually said this, “You are on the road to perdition!”

Pax never bothered debating his situation with the roommate. Instead he packed his bags, and, tale between his legs, went back to the family home.

Now our boy became a worker. Name the job, and Pax did it. Retail (why of course!), waiter (I’ll be back with your drink in a second), deli stand worker (do you want that sliced thin, sir?) … a series of mind numbingly dull and poor paying opportunities fell into his lap during these years…and then the phone rang again.

One day, while working at a large retail outfit that shall remain nameless, Pax had just finished a double shift and was about to leave when he was called into the office of management; assuming that he was going to get a promotion, or at least be complemented on doing a double shift, he sauntered in and took a seat and when Big Boss Man came into the room, he promptly fired Pax. Well actually they called it, “Laid off”. Pax asked what he had done wrong, and Big Boss Man said, “It’s not you, son, we just have to cut staff…”

Now he is disgusted and he is still living at home and he has a revelation – he has to go to college.

So he does, and he flourishes. Two years at a county college where he is encouraged by wonderful teachers and professors; finding his niche as the entertainment editor at the college’s local rag - why he even makes the Dean’s list twice!

For the first time in his life, his Mother and his Father actually tell him how proud they are of him. He knows that if he finishes up these two years, his parents will help him go to a great university at a nearby city; and one day he interviews at said university and applies at said university, and is accepted to said university…he is walking on fucking sunshine!

During this time, his sister is preparing to marry (the first of two such ventures on her part), and his parents realize that they are going to lay out an awful lot of money for their little princess's Fairy Tale Dream Wedding… that’s when his parents tell him that they can not help him pay for big city university…

Bummed, but resilient, our hero, agrees to go to a state college and puts on his best game face.

It is here at Mud State that Pax gets another phone call(truth be told, he made this call). He is seeing someone, a girl from school, and she is beautiful and sweet and sexy, but try as he may, he can no longer have sex with her … and he admits to his girlfriend that he is gay and he tells her that he can no longer see her and when he’s hanging up the phone after telling her this news another call comes in…

He discovers that a friend of his has died. A friend he’d known was gay. At first he is told that the friend, at the age of 23, had died of cancer … a few weeks later, he discovers that the friend died of AIDS – it is the early 80’s, and while enough is known about this horrid illness, it is still something of a great mystery to the general public.

Now he considers that having sex with men may kill him, and thus begin the years of celibacy – Saint Pax is born in 1984.

He finishes up his schooling in 1985 and while his course of study had been communications, he finds himself doing social work, by accident really, but it happens. At first he tells himself that this is a temporary thing, but over time he finds himself entrenched in the lives of people, who would probably be ignored at best or shut away at worst … he finds himself actually looking forward to working – and he works long, long hours at a home for developmentally disabled men, and while the pay is lousy and the benefits non existent, he quickly rises through the ranks and finds himself managing a home, and then later managing a day care center for disabled adults …

A rather abrupt call comes late in the summer of 1985 in the guise of a car accident that Pax is involved in. His father is driving him to work this one morning as his own car is in the shop, and someone,on the highway they are traveling, cuts someone else off and another car comes careening into the vehicle that Pax and his dad are in. A head on collision occurs. Pax’s dad breaks several ribs, Pax goes half way through the windshield, the driver of the car that hit them is killed…

Father and son convalesce at home, and it’s a long hot summer of pain and anxiety…but like everything else in life it comes to an end.

Another call comes; this time it is his mother acting crazy, convinced that Pax has committed some kind of transgression against her. While he loves her and his father, he can take their strange world no longer, and this time it shakes him out of his complacency, and he leaves home again and moves in with some friends in a funky three story house , at the base of a hill, on a street that leads to a gothic cemetery.

For awhile, life is good, great in-fact. A new family of sorts is born in that funky house and Pax is like the adopted son.

Soon he grows restless, and horny, and decides that the celibacy thing is not working, and he needs to at least meet other like minded men. So he moves from the funky house and rents a small second floor apartment on a dingy little street in the same town, in the hope that he can begin a social life away from prying eyes.

He goes to Colorado a lot during this period. Boulder is where an old college friend lives these days … one time while out there, he meets a guy named, “Jan”,(he of the bluest eyes with ringlets of dirty blond hair) at a coffee house and just like that, his celibacy comes to a brilliant end in a motel room just outside of town… he sees Jan a few more times and then realizes that while distance lends enchantment, it’s hell on a relationship… He sees him one more time and it’s during one of the worst snowstorms Boulder has seen in decades and so he ends up spending a very long weekend with his, soon to be, former long distance boy friend.. When he finally gets out of town, he never sees Jan again.

Meanwhile, Pax grabs the gold ring of social work and lands himself a job with the state! Weekends and holidays off, decent pay, regular hours, a new car … it’s all good.

All during this time the phone keeps ringing, and sometimes he answers it and other times he just lets the machine pick up…

But Pax is busy living his life, working, spending weekends in Boston to visit another old college chum who now teaches at MIT, trying to find a way to reverse male-pattern-baldness, working on a local level for political campaigns…and then, as is often the case, when he was not looking, love fell into his ready lap in the way of Mr. Ex.

For six long years, Pax and Mr.Ex co-existed together; theirs was a relation built on physical attraction and a mutual love of Warner Brother’s cartoons… for a time there, Pax seemed to lose his identity and became one of the “We People”(Oh we just went to the movies – We loved that play! – We spent the day at the beach). It was good…

…until it got bad and ended.

Now in his late 30’s our hero finds himself single again and decides, for a bit, to just enjoy the solitude…during this period, Pax finds himself dealing with a financial mess (some of his own doing, and some thanks to Mr. Ex) and he spends a large deal of time cleaning that mess up … even today, there is still some residual muck that needs attending to – but like always, our boy finds his way out of the mud and cleans up nicely.

The single-year-and-a-half heralds a return to a few wild nights, and some thrilling adventures and impromptu vacations. For a split second in late 1995, Pax almost cashes everything in to head out west, but he does not do this because he is afraid to leave what he knows behind…he makes all kinds of excuses, and, like most times, takes the safe route, but he wonders what if, would that he could go back in time and be that 18 year old in California and New York, or that twenty-something in Colorado… what if, what if…oh never mind the phone’s ringing again!


The Pax Romano you know, is the one that came about sometime in 2004, the guy with the lame blog, the same job for almost fifteen years, the partner he calls, “Whatshisname”, dwelling in a state of contentment in a little town in South Joisey, he calls, Utopia… this one still gets phone calls, but now he knows there are ones that are urgent and others that should just be ignored. He is by no means 100% satisfied with anything these days as he feels the cold draft of middle age breathing down his neck, and he is sometimes prone to very morbid flights of fancy where he imagines the worst, and yet, to add to the confusion, he is a goddamn optimist - can you believe that?

These days you can find him in front of his computer, or maybe at a coffee shop, his nose in a book, sometimes you might catch a glimpse of him driving some back road in South Jersey (usually on weekdays as work requires), or maybe strolling the streets of Philadelphia … if you see him, just go up and say "hi"! He’s very talkative and loves to chew the fat with anyone.

One word of warning though, don’t call him, he still hates taking phone calls.

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