[I repeat this blog every once in a while so that new readers will know why my blog has the name that it has.]
Have you wondered where the name for this blog was “born?” Like most names of things, there is a reason for the name. One of the rules of semantics is that “man is the namer of things.” I have learned from my cousin Priscilla in Houston, TX, that the first Bobo relative lived in France and spelled the name Baubau. I also know that my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family was named Clara Bobo. For some reason, my grandmother decided to name her last-born child Thomas Bobo Cooper, the only child in the family to bear the maternal maiden name. When I was born (the first-born), I was given the same name and became Thomas Bobo Cooper, Jr. As I was growing up, I lived in fear that someone would discover that worthy-of-ridicule middle name. However, I grew into the name and later in life gladly exposed it which resulted in my wife and me deciding to continue the name with our first-born, Thomas Bobo Cooper III. For the first time, we decided to use the middle name as the given name, and “Bo” was introduced to the world. He has relished the name and seemingly has had no fear of the other -bo being re-attached to the name. There is a wonderful movie entitled “Front of the Class” in which the main character is called “Dr. Bobo” by his family. The movie, which is based on the life of a real person, doesn’t reveal the reason for the name, but perhaps I have found a long-lost relative. In case you’re interested, Bo now has a six-year-old son named — Luke.
After I decided to accept myself as a gay man, I faced not only challenges from my family but also challenges from myself. My best friend and male roommate had told me that “some day you will celebrate your gayness.” That seemed totally impossible at the time. However, I eventually came to realize that being gay was the way God had created me. One of my greatest encouragers was not another gay man but a lady for whom I have grown to have tremendous admiration. She is the widow of a life-time diplomat and has lived in many different parts of the world. Through a mutual friend, we became friends, and that friendship has grown over the years. She encouraged me during the time that I was dumped after a four-year relationship by my Dutch lover and told me that he was not “the one” for me but that God had someone very special for me out there somewhere. In 2013, when I met Dimitris, it was she who gave me the most encouragement. She is now a friend to both of us, and we owe her so many debts of gratitude and encouragement. Kathy Fink, you are our friend, and we treasure your friendship, dear lady.
When I reached 62 years old and was eligible for Medicare, I was invited by Humana health insurance to a luncheon where the representative presented to us retirees a new plan called Medicare Advantage. It meant that, instead of having a monthly premium, Humana would take the Medicare money paid to me monthly in my Florida retirement pension check. That plan has worked very well for me including leading me to my primary care physician, Dr. Bonnie Lloyd. I had previously had a male doctor and had some misgivings at first regarding Dr. Lloyd’s gender, but she soon disarmed me and made me realize that I had a physician who cared not only for my physical health but for my mental health as well. I never felt rushed in her office and gradually came to confide in her regarding how I was dealing with my gayness. She was completely understanding and offered me encouragement during the time that I was courting Dimitris. Trusting your physicians is so important. I’m pleased that I have someone of the caliber of Dr. Lloyd who keeps me both healthy and happy.
A friend of ours in our neighborhood has started a group entitled “Nextdoor” and includes many people who live in this area of the city. Membership is voluntary, and I signed up Dimitris and me right away. Last year, our neighborhood had its first ever block party, and I met many neighbors with whom I had not previously been acquainted. Dimitris was away at that time so missed meeting the new people I met. Part of the “Nextdoor” attraction is a place to write about things that you needed to be done that you could not get done yourself. My problem was not being able to replace the fluorescent lights in my kitchen, a task I had been unable to do because of a short stepladder and my own deficient equilibrium. After I placed the request, I soon had a response from a fellow who lived five avenues north of me. He wrote, not only offering to install the lights but offering to bring over his ladder. The new lights are now shining, and our kitchen is once again bright. Thank you Craig. You are indeed a good neighbor.
Last week, I had a phone call from a voice from the past. When I was in elementary school at Florida Street School in Clinton, South Carolina, we were allowed to crown a king or queen on our birthdays. Although I crowned Molly Jean Freeman, I wanted to crown Jane Todd. However, Molly needed to be crowned so I did the gracious thing. Jane Todd is now Jane Todd Presseau and was the caller. She and her husband Jack were making a trip from their home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, to St. Petersburg where Dimitris and I live. I encouraged them to come down and promised to show them around although they were going to have only a limited amount of time. They arrived, and we rode out to St. Pete Beach, went up to Spinners, the revolving restaurant; saw the Don CeSar hotel, crossed the picturesque Bayway and ended up at one of my favorite restaurants, Kissin’ Cuzzins. What a joy to renew fellowship with Jane and to meet her husband Jack. We both graduated from Clinton High in 1956, a “thousand” years ago.
During one of the coldest mornings of this recent cold spell, I stopped in the hall to check the thermostat. I am the cold-natured member of this family and freeze in the house even at 70 degrees. In order to read the digital counter on the thermostat, you must look at it directly so, at first, I thought I did not have my head at the right angle. However, that was not the case–the thermostat was not working. My realization that this was a real emergency occurred when I remembered that it was Sunday morning. I recalled from my last air conditioner/heater emergency that Bayside Heating and Air has a big service charge if they must come out on a Sunday. Could we survive the day and night without heat? I wasn’t sure. Dimitris was the one who decided to check out the unit which resides in a closet in the hallway. When he did, he called me to show me the plug hanging out of the socket. When he plugged it in, the compressor came on immediately. Evidently, Dimitris had been ironing clothes and, when he put the ironing board back in the closet, the plug had come out. The heat felt so good.
On January 22nd, my partner left his family home in Athens, Greece, and flew to Frankfurt, Germany. When he left Greece, I was still asleep as Athens is seven hours ahead of our eastern standard time. However, when he left Frankfurt, the time difference had shrunk to six hours, meaning that I could start tracking him at 6:00, local time. When I looked at my favorite airline flight tracker, http://www.Flightaware.com, I read that no information regarding the departure of his Lufthansa flight was available. I therefore called Lufthansa and learned that flight 482 was indeed in the air. I breathed a sign of relief as the flight from Frankfurt to Tampa was direct. The reason for my anxiety had been caused by the fact that he and I had an appointment at the immigration office in Tampa the next morning. We had been awaiting this appointment for months and knew how important it was to his becoming a legal resident of the United States. Well, his plane did arrive pretty much as scheduled. Therefore he had the time to come home, unpack, get a good night’s sleep so that he was fresh for the interview, which he passed with flying colors, which entitles him to receive his green card in about three weeks.