Monday Memes 21 (Black)

Years ago, when I moved to Cleveland, for a short time I managed an indie coffee shop – LONG before the meteoric rise of Peet’s and Starbucks and Caribou and the like. The coffee shop  was called Arabica and it was in a trendy-cool little mall called Coventryard (yes, it IS spelled that way). The year was probably like 1984 or 1985 – I was in my mid-twenties, a fresh-faced farm boy from Shelby, Ohio, now living in Cleveland – a HUGE city compared to where I had come from. Anyway, for about six months, I managed this coffee house and it was here that I met my first openly gay man (Wade) and my first self-proclaimed bisexual man (Douglas). I adored them instantly and we became fast friends…

Wade and Douglas were a colorful pair – at one time they had been lovers (briefly) but – in a moment of sincere love for one another and logical thinking – decided they would be better best friends than boyfriends (plus Douglas had that whole “bi” thing happening). Anyway, they were great to me, nurturing and patient, loving and paternal, and helped me really get comfortable with my own sexuality.

They had a zillion ridiculous stories but this is one of my favorites:

One day, without any preface, Douglas looks at me and says, “Wade and I wore all black for six months. I mean, black EVERYTHING – shirts, shoes, pants, socks, underwear, everything. I even bought some black condoms.” (Remarkably, there was a condom store in our trendy little neighborhood called, appropriately enough, “Condom-nation”).

I was intrigued.

wearing black

“Why?” I asked, seeking to gain some enlightenment or understanding that the experience had imparted to Wade and Douglas. “Why? Why all black for six months?”

Without missing a beat, Wade – who was standing behind the counter with us, making an iced coffee, sashayed past me and announced, “Just to see if we could do it.”


That was it – a 180 day trial of endurance, just to see if they could “do it.” I asked what happened on the the 181st day.

“Nothing,” said Douglas. “I just started wearing other colors of clothes again.”

At the time it made me smile, and it still does. I guess this story popped into my head recently because I ran across these memes. all relating to black, wearing black or seeking out black. As a designer, my life is full of color and yet I still find myself oddly and irresistibly drawn to black. Maybe Douglas and Wade had some insight they never shared with me…


I think about those days from time to time, and wonder what ever became of those two. I had heard that Wade passed away in the early 90’s, a casualty of HIV; I saw Douglas once, a few years after our work experience together, walking hand in hand with a knock-out woman at our local “high-end” mall. I didn’t speak, and I kinda’ regret that.

I hope those two somehow know/knew what a positive and important impact they had on my life and personal development. And how – in addition to everything else – they instilled in me a love and respect for black. Not brown, not orange, not navy blue – black will ALWAYS be black.


Luxury Theater vs. Redbox, Round One

So today, as is our usual routine, my sweet partner Martin and I went to see a movie; two movies, actually. The movies we saw are irrelevant (although both fell a bit short of our expectations) but, as always, I stood in the theater concession area before we went into the theater and asked myself, “Who can afford to go to the movies anymore?”

Martin and I went to see a matinee show (before 6PM) at a super 24 screen, stadium-style multiplex theater. Our matinee tickets were $5.50/each. Martin treated himself to some sort of Starbuck’s latte-something for $4.55 and I brought my 2013 “Endless-refills-for-$3.00” cup and had a Diet Coke. All told, we spent $18.55 to see an average film – at 1:00PM on a Monday afternoon.

Now, had we seen the same film on a Friday or Saturday evening, ticket prices would have jumped to $9.75/each. And let’s suppose we are “living large” and making it a “Date Night.” I still have my cup and Martin still has his Starbucks but we also add a large, buttered popcorn for $7.00 (free refills) and a box of Raisinettes, available anywhere for $1.99 but at the theater that box is $3.75. So, that total is $37.80. THIRTY-SEVEN-DOLLARS-AND-EIGHTY CENTS!


Now, I am hardly some big cheap-o but, really? Almost $38.00 for two people to go to the movies?  Let me put that in some perspective…

$37.80, divided by $1.29 (the average cost of a Redbox rental) equals 29.3 movies, or almost ONE movie per DAY for an entire MONTH!


As I have stated, I am hardly some super tight wad but movie houses can cry all they want – the price to go see a recent release in a theater is almost ridiculous, especially given that most movies make it to Redbox within two months. And don’t EVEN get me started on the price we get raped to see a 3-D pic…

As a business owner myself, I understand the cost of overhead. I know those faux leather stadium seats cost a lot to buy/maintain/replace. But man oh man, if no one can afford to attend movies at those theaters then what’s the point?

I’m not really sure what the answer is, and maybe I am overly-sensitive to this situation because I LOVE movies. I.LOVE. MOVIES. Martin and I see at least 2-3 movies a week. So, I hope someone, somewhere, sometime soon connects the dots and has some sort of “a-Ha” moment, and realizes why theater attendance continues to drop.

Otherwise, there will soon be a Redbox on every corner…