Phase

Kenneth Pobo

Aunt Silkie had many, many lovers which she talked about at
family parties.  In very specific
ways.  Even as a grade schooler, I liked
hearing about these guys.  Maybe I’d meet
a guy and he would “burn off my buttons,” as she said.  I didn’t know I was gay until I was thirteen
and played around with Rick Wenboscly.
Rick was happy naked—but no kissing.
That was bad.  If a guy kisses
you, you’re cooked.  Even then, I told
myself it was a phase.  Or people told me
it was a phase.  

I had
been through many phases.  I loved
turtles for six months, loved the piano for six months, loved learning how to
play guitar for six months.  With Rick, I
knew something wasn’t phase-like.  I
decided it was too risky to be gay, that if I prayed enough, God would put me
into a heterosexual phase which would stretch into old age.

I
told my Sunday School teacher, Gary Winthem, and he too said it was a
phase.  God had a woman picked out for
me.  He asked me if I masturbated.  That too wasn’t a phase.  I told him no.  He knew I was lying.  We pretended I was telling the truth.  I didn’t ask him if he did.  He was seventeen and already applying to
colleges.

Sometimes
on my knees in prayer, I pictured the disciples naked, even Jesus with his
spaniel eyes and long golden hair.
That’s how he looked in the picture in the Sunday School room. 

“Turn
it over to God,” my mom said, for any situation.  She had turned the smallest things over to
God like riding her bike up to the Micah Mart.
“Dear God, lead me to the best sales.”
She said he did.  We ate many
grapefruits.

I
tried.  I kept getting crushes.  Some got sexual.  Most consisted of me sneaking glances and
hoping not to get caught.

By
the end of high school, I graduated into a new phase of my life, entered
Missouri Western State University, lived in a dorm, wrote extremely gassy
papers that mostly got B’s for my Communications Studies major.  My Aunt Silkie died of pneumonia when I was a
Junior.  Her latest boyfriend, Sid, fell
on her casket and wept.  They had been
together for seven weeks.  Several
ex-flames showed up.

Many
family members privately were glad she was gone.  We could have less ribald conversations.  I tried to replace her, mentioned two guys I
was seeing at once over the Thanksgiving turkey.  There was only one guy, but I thought I’d
spice it up.  I got sent to my room.  At 21.
My dad said I was going through a rebellious phase.  He figured I wouldn’t ever be a “steady” guy,
the kind he believed he was.  He thought
of me as a hummingbird, flitting to the feeder, flying off.  He was a little right.  I’d get the nectar and, I hoped, a home.  


Kenneth Pobo had three new books in 2015: When The Light Turns Green
(Spruce Alley Press), Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), and Booking
Rooms in the Kuiper Belt (Urban Farmhouse Press).  He teaches creative
writing and English at Widener University.  He gardens, is somewhat of
an authority on Tommy James and the Shondells, and plans to read Hardy’s
Return of the Native this June.

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