Martin Foreman
First and Fiftieth

The Stories
   Kitchen Table
   Night Traffic
   Foucault's Nightmare
   Homophobia, Darling
   Cold Silence
   Los Feliz
   Ten Million Years
   The Last Saturday in May
   First and Fiftieth
   Ben and Joe's


The Publishers

The Author
picture of Martin Foreman by mitamada
   Also Available

   A View from the Edge
   Arbery Books
   Arbery Productions
   God would be an atheist

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Homophobia, Darling ...

An English man in his thirties
opening paragraphs

... is rampant in this office. You can smell it the moment you walk in the door, like a rugby player’s used jock-strap. And believe you me, if I had to sniff any sportsman’s sweaty drawers, rugby players would come right down the list, just above women’s cricket. That’ll give you an idea how bad the homophobia is.

pic: publisher to be credited
But I’m used to it, darling. As an out, proud, gay man, I’ve spent all my working life among breeders who can’t deal with me the way I am. Three years at Arseholes Insurance, remember. Every single day I slaved my guts out there, I had to put up with Jolly HockeySticks - the woman who worked across the corridor. I say worked, but you could approve three claims and authorise a write-off in less time than it took her to change the coffee filter. She was the one who was always organising collections for someone’s leaving present or because one of the tarts in accounts was getting married. I used to reckon for every time I’d put a quid in one of her bloody envelopes and worked extra to cover the time she was away from her desk, I ended up paying the company for the privilege of working there.

You could rely on Ms Hockeysticks to come up with at least one outright homophobic statement a day. Like the time she and a couple of cronies were going on about baby’s nappies - not the kind of thing you want to hear about when you’re making yourself a herbal tea because you’ve had stomach cramps all day. “You’ll never have to deal with that kind of problem, will you, Steve?” she said. I kept my mouth shut, but what does she know? Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m not going to have kids. Richard and I have talked about it often enough. With the money he makes, we could easily go out and bring back a couple from China, buy the whole fucking orphanage if we were in a mind to. The only thing that stops us is the hassle it would be finding baby-sitters - what with all the dinner parties and openings and shows we go to, we’re lucky if we’re home two nights a week. Even if we did find one - probably some Swedish bit who spent all evening on the phone to her boyfriend in Uppsala - we couldn’t stay out late because we’d have to be back in time for her to catch the last tube home. And holidays are right out of the question if you’ve got a kid, unless you want to spend two weeks building sandcastles in Mallorca. The Louvre’s enough of a pain for two adults; I refuse to fight through crowds of Japanese tourists with a six year old in tow.

But Ms Hockeysticks thinks that because I’m queer I can’t deal with children. That’s pure prejudice, that is. I’d be a damn sight better parent than she ever would. She’d rely on “maternal instincts”, God save us, the kind of instincts that lets brats run around restaurants and bawl their heads off on airplanes. I can tell you, any kid I had would learn manners before it could learn to speak and I wouldn’t give in to any of that crying game. Children have got to learn who’s boss. And even if I never have kids, what makes her think I’ll never have to deal with nappies? What if Richard got AIDS and had diarrhoea ten times a day? I’d have no problems dealing with it but I know she couldn’t cope. One glance of his willy and she’d scream her head off.

She wasn’t the only homophobe at Arseholes Insurance, darling. The place was full of them, especially the men. Well, they can’t deal with it, can they? It makes their balls shrivel up, the thought of an out gay man who doesn’t care that the world knows he likes to suck cock and take it up the snatch. It sets them thinking, well maybe it’s something they want to do too. For a lot of them it’s better than going home to the bags they’ve married. But they can’t face that reality about themselves, so they turn it around by insulting poofters and telling anti-gay jokes. Not that any of them dared say anything in front of me - they knew they’d get the back of my tongue if they did - but it was there all the same.

You know the kind of thing, sweetheart. Thursday evenings they’d all troop down to the Well-Fucked Virgin - AKA the Fuchsia and Firkin - for a couple of hours male bonding. Did they invite me? Did they hell. Didn’t want a faggot spoiling their evening, did they, telling them the reason they were knocking back pints and trading football scores was because they were too scared to admit that what they really wanted to do was stick their hands down each other’s drawers and play with whatever they found there. Didn’t want to hear that, did they? Still, you’d think one of them would have asked me to tag along, once, just to be polite. I’d have behaved myself. I wouldn’t have stirred any shit. But not a peep from any of them. Not once did the idea come up. Just one more example of breeder insensitivity.

Next story: Cold Silence

All Rights Reserved / World Copyright © Martin Foreman 2015

"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."

First and Fiftieth

Background & Comment

The inspiration for this story is someone I once knew and worked with. Libel laws prevent me from identifying him further, but I have never met a colleague who was so unpleasant and so disliked, even hated, by every person he worked with. This story fairly accurately reflects his attitudes and language.

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