Roger was sweet, and dear. He and his big brother were well behaved. They had soon learned that I liked that in them. When my granddaughters came to visit, Roger loved it and the three children would dance, put on plays, and paint with watercolors. (Much to the dismay of his bigoted father.) His father had already teased the older boy out of these “sissy” things. Occasionally when his father wasn't home he would become involved with all of it and have a great time.
Roger and I were "Buds", as he put it. When we chatted as I work around home we had some sweet conversations. He didn't really know about being queer but I was obviously discussed in his home. His parents would have been dismayed if they knew the things Roger told me.
Roger shared a lot one of those Colorado, partly cloudy days. You know the kind-- where you can paint your house and get a suntan and not dry the paint too fast. I was sitting on my favorite stool, had my radio tuned to my favorite jazz station, paint was well stirred. I was ready to go. This was going to be so relaxing.
My brush was moving along with an even speed when I heard a rustle and sniff. I turned to see my friend Roger and his dog Smokey.
"Hi, Roger and Smokey." They both responded to my friendly pats on their heads. Roger expected me to ruffle his hair. He had said one day that he wished I would pat his head like I did Smokey's. From then on I always did.
"What are you and Smokey doing today?" I asked and continued to paint.
"We just came over to talk to you."
"Uh,Huh, well you and I always have good talks so what would you and Smokey like to talk about?"
He ignored that I had included Smokey. This usually drew a giggle. Must be something pretty serious.
"I wanna talk about you,” he said quickly.
"Me? Really?" I put my brush down.
"When I went to bed last night I heard my dad tell my mom you were queer."
"Roger, do you know what the word "queer" means?" I'm thinking terrible things about Roger's dad and his low level mentality. (The brainless clod of dirt.)
"Yeah, it means you are different."
"Roger, is it o.k. with you that I am different? Do you know there is nothing wrong with a person being different?” I replied. Knowing I must not let my anger touch this gentle child.
"Yeah, I like you 'cause you're different. You talk different and you use words that are different and you always tell me what words mean when I don't know what you're talking about."
"Right." I heaved a sigh of relief and picked up my brush to resume painting.
Then Roger said,” Dad said something else. He told Mom she better not be visiting with you so much when you are gardening cause you might pinch her butt or try to kiss her. My mom said you wouldn't do that."
My brush was set aside again. My temples pounded with anger but I would never let Roger know. He would find out soon enough that his dad was stupid!!!
I put my hands on his shoulders looked him in the eyes and said, "Roger, you know I would never do anything like that, don’t you?"
"I didn't think you would but now since you told me I know you won't. (So he perhaps had some doubts at one point.) I gotta go 'cause Mom said lunch would be ready pretty soon. Bye."
"OK" I said quietly. My painting was at a stand still. Momentarily my head was in my hands. I began to pick up my things and realized that Roger and Smokey were standing end of the house.
I tried to regain my composure.
"Roger, I thought you and Smokey were going home for lunch.” I said
with a forced smile.
"I can’t”, he said with his lips quivering and big tears bubbling out of his eyes as he tried to blink them away. I hurried toward him, dropped to the ground and put my arms around him. He sobbed a wretched sob.
"Roger,Roger, please don't cry. Tell me what is wrong", I said.
He sucked in a gasping breath and said, "I know I must have said something terrible to you and now you must hate me. "
"Roger, I don't hate you. You and I are "Buds". Remember? You are my best friend in the entire neighborhood. Why do you think I hate you?"
"You never said goodbye, you never hugged me and you never patted Smokey and me on the head." More tears came.
"Oh, Roger, I'm sorry. Come here, Smokey." I patted and hugged them both.
"Smokey and I saw you put your head in your hands like you were sad. I think it was our talk about you being queer." His crying was letting up and he was gaining courage. His chin jutted out, his lips formed a very tough, straight line. He was standing up straight and his hands were on his hips.
"Jeanie, Smokey and I like you the way you are. Please will you just stay queer.”? I roared with laughter, hugged and patted them both.
"Yes, Roger, I promise you--- I will always stay queer."
Roger spoke to Smokey as they walked home,"Now,that's better."