Pear Picking in the USA

In my cousin Carol Ann’s backyard.

Last fall I took a no expenses paid trip to the mid-west. The region was in crisis. The local Fort Wayne Steak and Shake could not maintain regular business hours.

This franchise had experienced numerous unscheduled closures. Either they didn’t have enough staff to open or no-shows at shift changes forced shutting down in the middle of the day. Hiring was at a standstill, the usual suspects had no interest. High school kids couldn’t stomach the idea of working fast food. Immigrants preferred the underground economy to rampant xenophobia.

If capitalism is dependent on cheap labor, this trend could spell trouble. Ray Kroc might have to rise from the dead to demand: “Mr. Trump, tear… down….. this…. wall!”


Studying growth patterns to formulate picking schemata.

In retrospect the skyrocketing prices of Imodium should have been a tip-off. Of the many acronyms I’ve been diagnosed with, I’ve had some success controlling IBS with a gentle dose of loperamide. I know something about this shit. Two years ago 100 tabs cost $11 on Amazon. Today my local Walgreens sells 12 for $7.

It’s part of the FDA’s feebly belated attempt to control opiates. Apparently each tab contains a small trace of narcotic. Taken in huge quantities they get you off. If pain meds can’t be refilled or your dealer is out of China White, crush up a hundred little blue blockers instead. It must be a hell of a high if the trade-off is eight months without a bowel movement.

OxyContin seems to be the root of this generation’s problems. These Oxyennials have overindulged in the deadly cocktail of opiates and video games. The result is a bunch of apathetic lemmings primed to be led over the cliff by the next great dictator.

Going that extra mile to pull in a bumper crop.

I ran these ideas past Billy when I was home but he wasn’t buying them. He’s the oldest openly gay man on the planet and a major reason I go back to Indiana. He will be 87 on St. Patrick’s Day and has one of the most wicked senses of humor of anyone I know.

When he opened Fort Wayne’s preeminent beauty salon in 1959 he made no apologies for being gay. He was having too much fun to feel any shame. He owned his business so he didn’t worry about being fired and he was so charming all of the society women befriended him. I’ve always admired him for what he did because not many did at the time. It would be another 15 years, for example, before Harvey Milk deigned it safe to come out.

Because people accepted him didn’t mean they wanted to understand him or lose their prejudices. They just didn’t talk about it. Fort Wayne has always been very conservative and remains so today. The surprising thing is Billy has been a life-long Republican too.

When I had the condo in Fort Wayne, people visited from around the country. Billy always enjoyed these occasions because he shared many of their interests and no longer had a local outlet for them. He, in return, was a hit with my friends because he was unlike anyone they expected to meet in Indiana.

One evening my Kentucky Derby hosts, Jan and Mar, stopped on their way back to New Albany. Billy joined us at dinner for a rollicking good time. He still talks about how open and accepting they were compared to heterosexuals he knows. When I point out the link between their political thinking and social justice he will have none of it. To him they are simply good people.

This red state/blue state thing may just be a lot of blind allegiance. Like picking a sports team, my Dad was a Bear’s fan so I’m one too. Billy is bored by politics and puts little energy into it. It’s such a minute component of his personality, I can live with that.

I may have lost the battle but overall I think I won the war. Billy has been a friend to my Mother and me since I was a teenager.

Billy leading the Peru High School Band down Main Street in 1948. There’s a discernible hitch in that get-a-long that fortold greater things.

7 thoughts on “Pear Picking in the USA

  1. Billy is too wonderful for us to care that he is often distracted by AC 202 calls from (I guess) closer friends Vladimir, Oleg, Konstantin, and so many women! Ekaterina, Manya.. (I think they’re German hikers!)…can’t keep up with it all, even while drinking on a Sunday night at Henry’s, there they are, catching up in the bathrooms!

      1. Discuss???
        When you “discussed” politics with him the last time oh, you had him in a choke hold. I have photos of that… (how’s the lawsuit going, Billy?)

    1. Thanks Ed. Believe me, he’d enjoy meeting you. If we’re ever back there at the same time it would be fun to hook up. Weren’t you from somewhere esoteric that I’d been to like Chillicothe or Washington Court House?

  2. Ok. Billy is not a shill to the Oligarchy. I went too far. (And this is the last apology you’ll be seeing, ever!)

    The Republican Party is not what it was in the 50s. Or earlier.

    1. Even II liked Ike! Pity these Repukes have strayed from their roots. I live in a small village in Saratoga County, New York. Quite a change of pace from NYC where I lived for about 33 years. We have had a bad situation happening in the mayor’s office which is crushing the spirit of many of the villagers. He is not going to run again, thank Goddess, and I decided to throw my hat into the ring. I met the caucus members, gave my speech, another well-known candidate was offered and won the balloting for endorsement. I didn’t think of really getting the endorsement because I am relatively unknown to these party members, but they were most encouraging and impressed that I would be so bold to take a shot at the highest office and made it clear that in two years when the next election comes around, they would like me to run again! I plan to go to it. And the support I received from outside the caucus is extremely positive surprisingly form generational families looking for a new start! In the meantime, I will return to the meet in Saratoga Springs in April when the horses begin to arrive for training. I was a security officer at the Belmont Stakes and watched the Triple Crown win! Good stuff. Openly gay in this village has not been a liability.

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