Swagger vs Stereotype

There are certain things that rub me the wrong way when I see people interpreting what they perceive to be circus or carnival inspired style.  The most offensive are attempts that make it obvious no thought was put into the finished product, but they are tagged with terms which I feel should be reserved for things which properly represent them nonetheless.  At this point it is proper to say everything posted in this article is my own opinion and in no way is meant to be taken as offensive.  However, I have always noticed that there is a certain vision that comes to mind when people think of the circus and carnival, which inevitably carries over to fashion.

My credibility comes from the fact that I am someone who has dedicated a large portion of their life not only to studying the above mentioned cultures, but also has experienced them first hand.  While I understand the desire to have fun with one’s wardrobe, after all they are just clothes so they don’t really need to be taken seriously, I am also of the mind that the way one presents themselves speaks volumes above their personality. Society does not judge you on whether you donate to charity or have a kind heart – it scrutinizes every last inch of your outward appearance and then tells you everything that is wrong with it.  In the same vein, the purpose of this guide is to serve as an example of what is stereotypical garb versus reinventing inspiration into personal style.

UNDER THE BIG TOP

A fashion article that appeared in an issue of Auxiliary Magazine offered insight to ‘circus punk’, accompanied with a hodgepodge of striped clothing that was wasn’t very appealing and looked quite cheap.  The accessories could be considered kitschy, but even that lends itself to being overdone.  In fact, the only items I even considered wearing were the shoes, though I would certainly find an alternative to the expensive ones suggested.  My main beef with the article was the description of the aesthetic, which I personally define as mixture between the two cultures.  Refined Victorian inspired statement garments can be juxtaposed with rustic DIY pieces to create a truly progressive look that has nothing to do with music.  In fact, I wasn’t even aware that such a  genre existed, because I know circus punks as these funny looking stuffed guys with wild fur that you knock down at the carnival for a prize.

The author says “take Victorian vaudeville, mix with punk rock, throw in lots of stripes and Voila! you have circus punk!”  A novel idea no doubt, except I loathe the notion that stripes must equal circus.  Also, the Victorian era was particular to British history, while vaudeville is a genre native to the United States and Canada.  While the two can certainly be exhibited in one outfit, they are exclusively separate identities.   Not even sure how punk and circus as music influence the style represented in this article, as I see no punk at all and very commonly stereotyped circus items.  “There are no set rules for styling circus punk”, the author continues, “but incorporating striped items into an outfit is one of the most popular ways to achieve a carnival-esque ensemble.”  Contradictions are not things I like to read in style guides, and once again, enough with equating stripes to the circus.  Would also like to point out that circus and carnival are very different cultures that while similar in some aspects, have very different aesthetics.  The suggestions of clothes to style oneself ‘circus punk’ come in the form of marching band uniforms, riding pants and more Victorian wear.  It’s one blurb but it sure managed to be packed with a whole of assumption.

The author is certainly entitled to her opinion, though to me it reeks of a lack in understanding the four distinctive cultures that were mentioned.  Surely everyone has been guilty of passing judgment on someone else’s style, particularly when the individual goes out of their way to put a label on it.  In which case I reserve the right to defend my analysis of the article and say it certainly bears no representation of circus, carnival, punk or vaudeville.

BREAKING THE MYTH

Once and for all, I present evidence that early circus tents never had stripes.  If one is to be more accurate, before there even were tents, circuses were held in enclosed buildings that were nothing short of amazing.  The desire for travel and evolution of the acts moved circus under the protection of a canvas tent held aloft by towering steel poles.  As can be seen in the photo on the right, this canvas was one solid color.  Certainly they would have to be patched over time as wear and tear set in, an example of which can be seen on the HBO series Carnivale, but I feel that’s definitely not the same as being striped.  Modern circuses that stay true to their heritage still use plain canvas tents, but even I have to admit that some opt for the more eye-catching striped variety.

Well then, certainly something had to influence this idea.  Perhaps it was the costumes?  They are ostentatious, brilliantly hued and usually have an insane amount of sparkle – after all, the whole point is to draw attention from the crowd towards whatever act is happening at the moment.  One cannot expect to do this in blue jeans and a T-shirt, but even costuming has standards so that it retains that air of fantasy and doesn’t slip in the realm of tacky.  However, those worn by trapeze artists and other aerialists were form-fitting to show off their physique while performing tricks that required flexibility of the body, where as animal tamers have been shown wearing leather boots and looser garments  for easier mobility.  Of course we all know the ringmaster had a flashy costume and the parade of beauties were not without their own charming frocks.  Circus thrived on its lavish presentation even though it may have suffered financially, and I often wonder what happened to this pride.  It seems to have been replaced with competition to be as ‘tacky’ and ‘trashy’ as possible, which could be charming in small doses or paired with the right situation, but those are certainly not words that I want people constantly associating with my image.

With a decent sense of security, I can say that the one place I have found stripes among any kind of circus wardrobe are within images of clowns.  Their depictions often display a number of emboldened patterns on their humorously sized clothes, which also includes polka dots, diamonds and plaid.  Each type of clown has its own specific type of dress, and the inclusion of stripes seems to be something that just happened, perhaps in recycling an old prison uniform.  A pattern can be used on any number of objects, and I do not understand where this knee-jerk reaction came from associating stripes with circus.  If one wants to look like a clown [and I am sorry, but often times striped fashion achieves just that, but not in a good way], that is their decision.  Stripes are also related to goth, burlesque, raver, cyber, steam punk and other scenes, so using circus or carnival as a buzzword to describe an outfit, piece of clothing or even an accessory simply because it has stripes comes across as pretty unenlightened.

SUMMONING SWAGGER

It might sound like a ridiculous concept, but the idea of swagger goes hand-in-hand with having confidence [not cockiness] and is something many desire though few actually master.  Presentation encompasses everything about a person, especially when they want to fill the role of a particular characterization.  The brilliant film noir Freaks comes to mind at this moment, because many of the sideshow performers did not have elaborate costuming, and those who did certainly held an undeniable position of power among the others.  This hierarchy of sorts is  a topic that I have expressed my feelings on in the past, so it comes as no surprise that I continue to maintain this position.

Taking everything that I have written in past articles plus the information presented here, there comes the question of how exactly does one execute a circus inspired style utilizing stripes, but not in a conventional way.  This stunning vintage 1930s tweed jacket features a woven texture and has a contrasting plaid detail on the lining of the sleeve cuffs.  It also happens to have been made by an Italian immigrant who worked as a tailor in Philadelphia, and it is always a nice bonus to have a bit of history to things one owns.  Pair it with a 1950s black wool circle skirt that has simple decorations and this vibrant red halter neck top from Vivien of Holloway to channel the classic pinup vibe.  Finish with red leather Mary Jane’s that have a slight heel, because platforms and spikes are ridiculously mainstream and have no place here.

While it may seem that wearing Cuban heel stockings with such a long skirt would be a waste, sometimes one can feel beautiful without having to put everything on display.  Toss in a black vintage quilted clutch with a golden tassel, fasten up this vintage 1980s blue leather wasp waist belt and you will almost be ready to hit the town.  Personally, I feel no outfit is absolutely complete without accessories and each component must be delicately selected so that they do not take over.  A good hat always does the trick, particularly when the design is simple and allows for a well-executed hairstyle to speak for itself, while Citrine gemstone dangle earrings, an art deco double strand faux golden pearl necklace and a set of thick textured gold bracelets with contrasting metal circle details add the right amount of sparkling glamour.

It is not for me to dictate what others can or cannot wear, nor are there really any definitive rights or wrongs when it comes to fashion.  However, I believe there is sufficient evidence that has been offered which determines what is or is not correct when putting a label on a look.

Photo credit: 1 – macamour.com, 3 – camelphotos.com, 4 – calliegrayson.blogspot.com

6 – weirdrealm.com

Drinking Games

[Originally written 12.12.03]

Two days ago Jon and I decided to have some drunk fun.  It began with tiki shots of Southern Comfort while watching some Oz, which is one of HBO’s better original series.  He laughed at me because I had never played a drinking game before.  Then I reminded him that I was still a few weeks shy of turning 22, so I did not have a lot of opportunity to be well-versed in alcohol consumption.  However, my sister and I used to play bar with our dolls in my Mom’s basement, because we had found these tiny bottles that were just the right size for Barbie and we made some really aweful mixes with them.  Hey, I was like 11 and she was 13, so it’s not as tho we knew anything about booze.  Most of the mixes found their way into the drain, but I did find my taste for liquers before I ever understood what they were.  Ten years later, I had many weekends of going to the club and filling my body with absurd amounts of alcohol, which I attributed to being Polish and coming from a history of alcoholism.

In any event, we then switched things up and played the Hellraiser drinking game, which is pretty much asking for death.  Of course we cheated because playing by the rules is for when you don’t have to get up for work the next day…or the day after that.  It started off with a shot of Southern Comfort and then the bottle of Captain Morgan was passed between us, because it was just easier to keep up that way than attempting to pour shots.

Took a break for dinner so that our stomachs weren’t rotting with booze and then smoked a blunt while waiting for thigns to settle.  watched more Oz, some Simpsons and fell asleep to Run Ronnie Run.

It was nice to wake up to a quiet house with my best friend by my side, and it reminded me how much I miss being on my own.  Suffice to say it was another kick in my ass to stop being so  lazy and go find a job.

Jon made breakfast which I sorely needed, and after having our fill it was wake ‘n’ bake time.  Watched Office Space followed by a marathon of Married With Children.  Not exactly exciting compared to some of our other adventures, but it’s always nice just to curl up on the couch while stoned silly and just enjoying his company.  While part of me wanted to talk about what had happened between us at that motel, I figured that he didn’t seem botherd by it and neither should I.  However, I still have a few subjects to address, but I have to make sure I can express them correctly so I don’t come across as needy or whatever.  I mean, why ruin a good thing?  Figured that our relationship will just evolve as it is meant to, and there’s no reason to rush things and pressure him into making a  commitment.  We have been friends for this long, and I highly doubt that he would ever just up and leave me.  The time will come to discuss our future together, so for now I am just going to wallow in the happines I already have.

In 18 more days I get to once again celebrate surviving another year on this planet.  Jon will be providing me with entertainment again, which I really appreciate considering for the longest time I have felt that my birthday is ‘cursed’.  Case in point, it happens to fall on a Tuesday this year.  And people wonder why I hate my b-day.  It’s bad enough that I have to wait almost the whole fuckin year just to celebrate, and by the time it cones, it falls on a bad week day where I can’t do anything with other people because of work situations.  Which is why I am glad that we are going to continue the tradition of it not sucking, as it has for the past 20 years.  No idea what my boy has in store for me, but I am definitely excited.

Much thanks goes to Jon for coming thru for me once again.  He kept e-mailing the Bindelstiff’s about an internship, and finally got a reply.  Pretty stoked about it considering they are still looking for volunteers, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed while waiting to se what happens with the whole situation.  Having a well-spoken Carny with prior circus and carnival experience with whom I’ve been performing sideshow with for the past couple of years certainly is working to my advantage.  While I have no idea what the job will actually entail, I will be absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to offer my assistance to such a well-known troupe.  No matter what, sideshow is really the only thing I see myself doing, so I might as well pursue every option that comes my way and see what comes from it.

Aesthetic Autopsy: the Talker

One of the most crucial parts of any successful sideshow was the talker.  Do not call him a barker, for that is term reserved for those annoying assholes who harass you to play a rigged game for some mediocre prize.  It is in fact a derogatory term and should never be applied to those who have the skill and grace to execute a string of words that captures the curiosity of a gathered crowd and users them into a tent full of mystery, promising that they will be witness to an assembly of individuals that Nature created different, ensuring that these so-called freaks are in fact alive.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is of a fast-talking gentleman wearing nothing but the finest suit, because the point is  to attract attention while stimulating imagination.  In essence, if this is what the guy talking about the acts looks like, then surely the illustrations depicted on canvas banners must be a representation of the people inside.  Than again, once cannot blame the Carny for taking advantage of susceptible thirst for knowledge.  Depictions on sideshow banners may have amplified certain physical attributes, but it was the descriptions that boomed from a microphone handled by the talker that had to convince people to part with their money.  It is for all of these reasons that I feel this embassador should of course best exemplify this title through not only his clothing, but also in the swagger that defines a Carny from someone playing dress up.

The stereotyped projection of what people think a talker looks like include a [red and white] striped jacket, shirt or vest, bow tie, red or black pants, black and white spectator shoes and a straw hat or bowler, sometimes with a curled moustache, megaphone or cane.  While the pieces themselves can certainly be an overall part of Carny Style, I feel the image falls short of actually capturing the unique personality that each talker brings to the bally stage.

THE SUIT

Traditionally, the role of the talker is filled by a man, but inspiration does not have to be limited to a specific gender, and so I will be exploring both men’s and women’s fashion.  The first item to be explored is what I consider to be an iconic representation of a taker – the suit.  For the masculine taste, this particular look begins with a navy and blue striped jacket that is 100% and has a classic fit, which will certainly come in handy when delivering the pitch on a warm afternoon.  It might be tempting to wear pants with the same pattern, but this time simplicity lends itself to versatility with accessories, and so a pair of black men’s herringbone trousers will be appropriate.  Besides, they will certainly coordinate well with the Steamtrunk Vaudevill Vest in black pinstripe.  Finish with a simple but bright striped blue dress shirt and a slim blue silk bow tie – the silver and white pattern ensuring that it doesn’t get lost among the other elements of the outfit.  Replace awkward leather belts and their equally clunky buckles with vintage black leather suspenders.  [Note, if you don’t have buttons on your pants, they can easily be sewn on.]   The one thing that the stereotyped dress of a talker gets right are the shoes, and so I chose a pair of Stacy Adams Matte Finish Bright Navy Specators, while blue argyle trouser socks add a bit of quirky fun to the whole outfit.

The female translation is inspired by a recent episode of Boardwalk Empire, where a scene depicted a talker pitching an act on the boardwalk of Atlantic City.  He was wearing what I believe were soft yellow plaid pants, and since this is intended to be a more visually stimulating outfit, I am basing it on this Hell Bunny corset, which features a sweet heart design and black contrast to a yellow, blue and red plaid.  This time the colors and patterns can be brought to the lower portion of the outfit, achieved with a blue Tartan Mini skirt by Obsidian Gothic Clothing – add a fluffy Hell Bunny black and red tutu for extra volume.  A simple black Victorian style neck ruff is a nice alternative from shrugs and other types of cover ups as cleavage is encouraged on the bally stage.  Red satin opera gloves are always acceptable and should be a staple in any classy wardrobe. Bordello’s black and white Burlesque Ankle Boot is a nice alternative to the more masculine spectator shoe [and better than the stripper version that is always floating around], while a nice pair of lace tights can never be a poor choice to adorn shapely legs.

THE HAT

What one wears with the suit is just as important as all of the elements that create a successful style, and the outfits presented here are just one way to translate it.  The accessories, I feel, should be more definitive since they are what bring the clothes character when they are placed together on stage.  A vintage straw hat with colorful band is always a good bet, or perhaps a brightly hued classic bowler compliments your head shape better.  It is perfect acceptable to try on a number of hats before purchasing one that fits, since once does not want to risk being mistaken for being a clown.  Ladies can never go wrong with opulent cocktail hats, or burlesque style hair clips with feathers and crystals.

THE ACCESSORIES

By now it should be obvious that while these items should also be of good quality, they should never overwhelm an outfit, but rather embody characteristics of the individual wearing them.  Antique pocket watch, sturdy bamboo cane and yes even a bright red Splashproof Handheld Compact Megaphone are appropriate finishing touches for the stately gentlemen wishing to call attention to what’s happening on the bally stage.  Sometimes one has to bring out a teaser to get the audience excited for what else might be on the inside, and so it is beneficial to know how to handle a large snake – pythons and boas are ideal as they can reach large sizes but are quite docile if raised right.  The albinos are obviously more enticing, but keep in mind that these serpents are living creatures and certainly should not be treated like a coat that is just hung up at the end of the day.  Alternatively, reptilian inspired jewelry is recommended for those who want the glamour without committing to the care and feeding of a living animal.

On a final note, I feel that it is important to reiterate that the things listed here are to merely serve as a guide when selecting your own look.  It is very easy to cross the line into costuming that stereotypes certain figures in circus and sideshow.  Showing respect for a culture is not throwing things together and then slapping a label on it, because that totally ignores all of the existing aesthetics determined by those who created it.  There is nothing wrong with inspiration, but keep in mind that your opinion could be wrong and what you perceive as a ‘cool outfit’ might be offensive to someone who has embraced the lifestyle.

Photo credit: 1 – sawdustnights.blogspot.com,

Style Spotlight: Bindlestiff Family Cirkus

There are a number of things that come into consideration when deciding whether or not someone embodies the aesthetics of Carny Style, and as the articles presented here so far have gathered is that these can be clearly defined by a rational guideline.  For me, a large part of this also comes from how one is presented to the public as well as how one acts outside of that realm, because you never know who is watching or what they might see.  It would surprise many to know that it is very easy for a performer to put on a front – after all, a large part of what makes a successful sideshow act is the fine art of bullshit.  However, I have had the pleasure of encountering some genuinely amazing individuals who treated me with nothing but kindness.  Impartial as my opinion can be, I feel confident that others would agree this month’s spotlight is more than deserving of the praise presented here.  They are elevated into my personal collection of Carny Trash Aristocracy and have served as great inspiration for several years, for which I offer my utmost thanks.

BINDLESTIFF FAMILY CIRKUS

My introduction to this extraordinary troupe came in 2004 when I was honored with a position among their volunteer crew that assisted in their Palace of Variety which was located on 42nd Street and had been considered the last vaudeville house in Times Square.  It was not only an incredible opportunity to be a part of this project, but also an intimate experience with some of the nicest people I have ever met.  Their dedication and passion for the arts is something to be admired, and it is certainly not difficult to witness hours of preparation and practice succeeding to entertain audiences with ease.  Presentation is a large part of performance, which is often left to who can do what the best or shout about it the loudest, but I prefer animated words delivered from a character that makes the act interesting.  Throw in a visually stimulating outfit and punctuate the actions with appropriate music, make sure there is ample audience participation and that is what I consider to define a well-rounded production.

They have been together for about sixteen years, performed all across the country and continue to support circus, sideshow and other variety arts in a number of ways.  There are enough people who put on this facade but are motivated by greedier desires which I feel detracts from all of the positive aspects of the community.  It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why the Bindlestiffs have this position in what could be argued as a fictional hierarchy, but I have seen generosity, sincerity and for a brief moment in my life I truly felt that sense of belonging among people I could relate to.  The lack of judgment and genuine acts of courtesy   speak volumes of their constitution and serves as an example of quality which I feel is important when representing any culture.

KEITH NELSON

One of the main components of this troupe is Keith “Bindlestiff” Nelson, who has two distinct characters on stage.  The first is Mr. Pennygaff, a suave smooth-talking gentleman straight from the hottest vaudeville review with the ability to charm audiences, swallow swords, juggle clubs and even presents an amazing top act.  The cut of his suits are slightly exaggerated, but that is to be expected for such a caricature.  The colors are primary hues that are accentuated with pinstripes or plaids.  A collard shirt and matching tie, coordinating bowler and vest along with two-tone shoes complete the ensemble and it certainly stands out when there is not much else on the stage.  Additionally, such items can be translated into contemporary wardrobes by obtaining well-fitted suits and key pieces that can easily be formed into a variety of looks by simply mixing and matching.  The acts themselves are riveting and can be noted for great dialogue that places humor in just the right places.

Kinko the Clown is a silent character, which means he must find other ways of communicating his story of woe to the audience.  The difference between a hobo and tramp clown lie within their perspective attitudes and variations of costume.  A hobo clown is a ‘devil-may-care’ vagabond content with his life on the road and what few personal possessions he may have.  A tramp clown believes himself to be a victim of circumstance and that this condition is caused by others.  It is safe to say that Kinko falls somewhere in the middle of these, and provides some sort of hope in his saddened smile.  The look of this type of clown is directly inspired by the appearance of homeless migratory workers who road freight trains in search of a temporary job or new adventure.  Even the makeup is inspired by the faces of these travelers, which would be covered by soot from riding coal driven trains – after wiping the soot from the eyes and mouths, they would appear white in contrast.  The main difference in costume is that the tramp’s will appear more tattered and dirtier in comparison to the hobo’s,  but they are both composed out of a suit and tie in dark colors, worn and patched with gloves and a hat.  Kinko wears a rope around his neck, perhaps in lieu of a tie or as an means of expression about the corporate work force.

STEPHANIE MONSEU

The other founding member of Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is Stephanie Monseu, aka Philomena Bindlestiff.  She makes an excellent ringmistress and emcee, capturing the audiences attention as they are brought into a world of imagination where circus, sideshow and other variety arts surpass imagination.  Her skills include the bull whip, juggling, fire eating, walking on stilts and singing, not to mention a larger-than-life personality and quite a collection of tattoos that I personally feel prevents her from being just another stage prop as is quite common among the females in this business.  Her style is both elegant and classic, not to mention that she makes quite a few of the outfits herself.  From beaded evening gowns and small top hats to corsets, frilly petticoats and heels, every choice is bright, glittering and overall fits her body well, which is also quite important since ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ are only cute when they are part of a burlesque routine.

THE FAMILY

The other members of this outstanding troupe may change over the years, but each and everyone has their own unique personality and style.  The shows are not strict to adhere to specific genres, but rather utilize acts and to tell a story presented in a variety of formats.  Even budding artists have a platform to showcase talent with a cavalcade that extends the opportunity towards today’s youth.  If circus, sideshow and related arts are to have any sort of future as a certifiable means of employment, then we must learn to respect it and treat it as such.  For me, the Bindlestiff’s have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that this is their lifelong mission, and I can only hope to have a fraction of their success.  Truly they serve as inspiration both on a personal and professional level, but they also set the precedent for the Carny Trash Aristocracy.  After all, it’s perfectly acceptable to be oneself, excel at what you love while keeping in mind where you came from and supporting the future of this culture.

Resources – http://www.bindlestiff.org, http://www.allaboutclowns.com

Photos: 1 – backwashzine.com, 3 – vaudevisuals.com, 4 – juggle.org

All Others – bindlestiff.org

Unspeakable Love

[Originally written 12.10.03]

Right now I feel like I’m digging myself a hole that I might not be able to climb back out of.

For the first time in the history of forever, I have two men in my life.  Just to make it clear, I am not complaining at all, so I don’t want any of this to come across that way.  It’s just that I never had to deal with something like this before, so it’s all new to me and I haven’t the slightest clue as to what I should do.

Last Tuesday, I rolled out to Newark and met up with Jon at the train station.  We hopped on the PATH into the City and wasted no time in heading to the Village while sharing a joint.  Hung out there for a while to spange while making fun of those elitist assholes with the holier-than-thou attitudes who are too good to acknowledge you.  Don’t exactly understand where that comes from, but maybe it’s because I’m from Jersey and we tend to be friendly when coming across people who look cool.  In the City, it’s like you’re breaking some unwritten law by smiling at someone because they have tattoos, piercings or you just dig their style.  Not that we really care, but it’s just something very noticable when you spend enough time watching others.  They look down at us like we’re fucking garbage rotting in the street but have no idea who we are or what we’re about.  That’s what we find most amusing, especially if they try to engage in attempts to insult us because we’re hitting up tourists and rubes for spare change.  They don’t understand that we’re doing it more for the entertainment value than the money we get, but they’d rather make assumptions and rude comments.  Jon is always armed with witty comebacks that shut down even the smartest mouth, and that’s just one of the many reasons I love him so much.

Once we had our fill of dirty looks, we headed down to Chinatown for a lavish sushi dinner.  The fish tasted incredibly fresh, to the point I dare say it was like an oral orgasm.  We laughed about the afternoon’s events and toasted good fortune with saki.  Leaving a sizable tip, we walked back to the PATH and returned to Jersey to fetch our vehicles.  Drove about fifteen minutes down the road and then checked into the Super 8 in North Bergen, and by the time all was said and done we decided that we should just stay in.  There’s really not anywhere to go walking around there, and we were kind of tired from our adventure in the City.  Jon had also hauled his VCR all the way from South Jersey so we could watch movies, and it was pretty damn cold, so he rolled a couple of fat blunts and poured shots of whiskey while I selected what we would be viewing that evening.

Hooked up the VCR then commenced watching 28 Days Later and X:2.  Both were great films.  We hit the drags and stayed up half  the nite just bullshitting about whatever.  That’s around the time Jon’s tongue got loose and he admitted that he liked me as more than a friend.  Which is something I have known for quite a while now, but hearing him say it got my stomach full of nerves.  Of course I told him about the way I felt, and it was such a weight off my chest.  Next thing I know we’re in bed together…and things got non PG-rated from there.  Not exactly the one to kiss and tell, but let’s just say that what happened was really nice and something which has been building up between us for a long time.

We parted ways yesterday afternoon so he could go home and catch some sleep before he went to work.  On the ride back here, I had some time to gather my thoughts and reflect on what happened.  Certainly not going to say that I regret what we did, because that’s just stupid.  There is such a thing as saying No, but I seem to have a hard time doing that when I’m with Jon.  He makes me incredibly happy in so many ways, and every time we’re together, it’s like nothing else in the world matters because I feel safe, secure and completely loved.  No one else has ever made me feel that way, and while I understand I haven’t exactly dated a lot of people, sometimes you just know when you have found someone that you can spend the rest of your life with.

Anyway, I had to really sit down and ponder over a lot of things.  Is it really cheating?  The Asshole is still in my life, but I don’t consider us to be dating no matter what he thinks.  As far as having a relationship with Jon, I can’t really say that’s what we are doing at this point.

There’s no doubt he digs me, and I have to say I am really flattered.   It’s not too often I hear a guy say he likes me in that way without wanting something physical in return.  That might be due to the low opinion I have of myself, but whatever.

To most, it would seem like I don’t actually have a problem at all.  Jon loves me just the way I am; he supports me, inspires me and encourages me on so many levels.  When I met him at the train station, I had no makeup on, and he didn’t make a big deal out of it like someone would.  When I mentioned this to Jon, he said that he didn’t even notice, because that’s not what he was looking at.

On the subject of the Asshole, I don’t consider us to have a ‘relationship’ as most people would view one.  We see each other an a rather consistent basis, we go out places together, he buys me things and gives me money.  On rare occasions we are intimate, but I don’t really enjoy those moments.  As much as I bitch about him, in some odd and off the wall way, I still care about him and consider him a friend.  Things between us have been strange since the beginning;  four and half years later, the situation hasn’t changed much.

There is no reason I should feel guilty then, because I have stronger feelings for Jon than I ever did for the Asshole.  That is made abundantly clear every time we are together and I never want him to let me go when I find myself in his tattooed arms.  Yet we part ways and I either wind up at my Mom’s house or the apartment in E-town, covering my ass with lies when the Asshole starts asking too many questions.  Part of me knows that I could just tell Jon that I don’t want to be there any more, and if the Asshole made a fuss, my boy would have no problem taking care of him.  What is holding me back then?

After writing all of this, I’m not even sure what the point is, excepct that I haven’t been in this kind of situation before, and I really don’t know what I should do, if anything at all.

In the end, my heart knows what it wants.  If I don’t let that happen, I’m just going to be miserable and stuck in a lie of a relationship I would like to be over so I can move on.