It was 1997 or perhaps ’98. I was in Chicago for 10 days of intensive medical education review course. There were hours of lecture during the day and then hours of “free time” to spend at the microscope looking at material from abnormal cytology demonstrating all sorts of pathological changes. It was all very long and tiring.
My assigned microscope was next to a young man from the Northeast. Our conversation at first consisted of talking about the material. As the week progressed we found that we both played guitar. Then we found that we were both big city blues fans. And then he told me of plans to go to Buddy Guy’s club, and asked if I wanted to go along.
Our families came up. I had been married for about 30 years then. The kids were grown and we had young grandkids. He had kids and was divorced. Recently divorced as it turned out.
We caught a cab to Buddy Guy’s and got there early. The waitress brought us both a beer. My buddy was intrigued. There were a couple of 30-somethings playing pool in the back room. My blues buddy was intrigued. The house band was great. There was more talent on the stage than I’ve seen in a long time. An olive skinned guy with a ponytail came up and played harmonica. He was superb. We were really getting into the music.
The waitress came back to see if we wanted to reorder. My friend made a very clumsy attempt at flirting. The waitress very adroitly side stepped the flirt and left the young doctor sheepish. “I haven’t done this for a while, I guess.”
During the second beer my friend opened up. He met his wife in school. They were both medical students at the time and decided to get married. They finished, did their residencies and she had a couple of kids along the way. And then one day she told him that she didn’t love him. She had never loved him. She was lesbian and had a relationship with her lover before she and my friend met in school. The marriage was one of convenience.
Devastated was what he was. Still. “I can’t believe she never loved me.” “I can’t believe she was acting the whole time.” He recalled trying to find a way to hold the marriage together. “What do you say? ‘Honey I’ll try to do better?’ “
He was such a nice guy and I wondered who asked for the first date. Who proposed? He needed a course in teaching confidence as opposed to bravado.
Buddy Guy dropped by and demonstrated how the BEST play. There was no thought. The music just flowed straight to the tips of his fingers from somewhere in his musical soul.
One of the “thirty-somethings” in the back came out and proceeded to dance with the star as he played. He never missed a lick and the two demonstrated what confidence looks like.
I had a great time. It was one of those musical experiences that stays with you. We had to be in lecture early so we didn’t close the place down.
We talked more as the week went on, about his work, his partners at work, his kids and what he planned to do as he got his personal life sorted out. We talked about staying in touch, but we didn’t.
My take away from all of this was:
Buddy Guy’s is a topnotch club, and he is a hell of a musician.
Chicago is a great city to visit.
It’s too bad that gays and lesbians have to construct elaborate double lives that require them to lie and hurt other people.
I’m happy that the president and vice-president have come out in support of open, committed, loving relationships, including those between those of the same sex. And that the president has revealed his own “evolution” in his thought about this whole topic.
There will be many who are critical of the president, and they will have many reasons for being critical.
The important thing, as I see it, is that there is a continuing dialogue; a dialogue that is in the open, unfettered by political correctness. And, I’m encouraged that the majority of Americans have begun to understand that another person’s sexual preference doesn’t affect them.
As a commentator put it a couple of days ago, “Being gay is natural. Hating gays is a lifestyle choice.”