Untotaled: Stepping 33 (March 12th, 1967) Charley … September 27, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2364)

(Transcript)

Charley loved to run.

Not me.

I had chubby legs that seemed to be made out of cotton candy, generating the gait of a circus elephant.

In one of the brief fits of verbosity that possessed his soul, Charley once shared with me that running faster and faster made him feel that his feet were leaving the ground and he was soaring into the heavens to dance with the angels.

Pretty articulate for a Midwest kid.

I decided to go out for track and field more or less because I didn’t have anything else to do. Since I could not run or jump, they asked me to try out on the shot put. I did.

I was unimpressed, so I fell back into my acquired nature of quitting. But even though I departed the team, I found myself during study hall sitting at the table with these athletes, and when the monitor left the room, Randy spoke up and gave us a juicy piece of gossip. (Randy was also a runner but never quite as fast as Charley.)

Randy explained that Charley was a “gypsy type.” Now, I do not know what the origin of that phrase was in our community, but I knew that “gypsy type” meant that Charley was–well, dangerous. The adults had other terms for Charley’s problem when they were alone and away from the children.

  • “Effeminate.”
  • “Queer.”
  • “Sodomite.”

Although I had no personal experience with Charley demonstrating such bizarre behavior, in 1967 just the mention of the situation caused your skin to crawl, making you want to avoid any contact with such perverted beings.

Randy knew this. In other words, it didn’t have to be true–just spoken. The gossip mill and bigotry would do the rest.

No one drew close to Charley after that.

He ate alone, he ran alone, he walked alone, he talked alone.

When he asked me why I was not sharing with him anymore, I clumsily replied, “I’ve been busy.”

One day we came to school and he was gone. No one even asked where he was or if he was coming back. Charley was soon forgotten, and the quest for other “gypsy types” was set in motion with renewed scrutiny.

It was many years later that Randy, the accuser of his running friend, came out of the closet, admitting that he was gay. (“Gypsy type” was no longer acceptable terminology.) Randy was lauded for his courage. He was embraced by his friends. Matter of fact, he was set apart as an example of someone who had endured a silent persecution and now was set free.

Mustering some boldness, I asked Randy about Charley. He said he didn’t remember much about Charley.

He paused and then added, “Oh, wasn’t Charley that good-looking kid that was really fast?”

I just smiled, and said, “Yeah. That’s him.”

I walked away from that encounter realizing that there is no such thing as a “righteous” judgment.

It’s all just crapping on people.

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