My Poseidon Adventure


A few months before our September 1972 wedding, I and my living-together fiancée (my ex-wife of a few decades now, a soul mate to whom I’m sure I’d still be married if I were straight) smoked a joint and went to see the Poseidon Adventure. The movie was an agonizing two hours of anxiety for me. At the time we lived in the Santa Ana apartment complex where Lance Loud, of the reality TV program An American Family, stayed while working construction—the Lance Loud who came out to his family during the program, a revelation I didn’t want to talk about.

I’d begun to allow the men in my fantasies to have sex with other men. I even had a fantasy in which, instead of getting married and starting law school wherever, I moved to Phoenix and began some other kind of life. Or I lived in Seattle, my life mysterious to my parents and siblings who knew only that I had a successful job, an apartment, a car—all things hard to come by in my post-college, half-assed grad student days.

A more intelligent, courageous–less goofy–young man might have seen, in his irrational, trembling terror over a ship turned upside down by a tidal wave in a mere film, a message, a foretelling of what he was about to do to his wife and himself. But all my energy went into trying to be “normal,” never mind that in a weak moment I could string out a casual hello to a shirtless neighbor until I would’ve backed off the steps of the balcony that ran along our apartment front doors had he not shouted a caution at me.

On our 25th anniversary Todd and I married and took a transatlantic cruise as a honeymoon. Mid-sea the captain announced that the ocean was three miles deep where we were. I thought of riding my bike from my childhood home three miles to the train station, where, as a rail fan, I’d spent the hours other boys spent playing sports.

I also thought of the Poseidon, but not in fear, in relief. The ocean of my life had turned out to be as smooth as a pond once I got myself right side up.

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