The First Time – The Understory and Next Theme

Here’s Rob McRay’s understory from January 2019’s theme “The First Time.”

Tonight, Nashville, was our first time.

We spent our first Southern Christmas without oddly wrapped socks or a “What’s-a-Jew-65 - The First Timeto-Do Party.” But we helped Nanny with the gravy, opened an athiest’s search for Jesus, and cherished her favorite cookbook.

We went to our first Hanukkah party on a jaded road trip with a pornstar, where we had a God-arranged date to Abilene, and got a goodie bag from a surprising place…that seemed to surprise no one.

We had our first psychedelic experience at the legendary hippy refugee camp, where our spiritual awakening turned out to be hurling zucchini; and we left the disappointed Deadheads to go listen to CSN in the a/c.

We remembered our first images of beauty, when we saved our lunch money for a magic hair potion and learned that being “black black” wasn’t attractive. But in time we learned to wear our natural hair and agreed with his compliments…even if he was kind of stupid.

We took our first joy ride in a stolen family minivan, when we tore up the yard and raced around at an astonishing 15 miles-an-hour! But our new sense of self nearly cost us our greatest ally—and it wasn’t worth it.

In our first year of teaching, a gallon of cheese balls revealed that 7th graders lack integrity. We struggled through a culturally insensitive kimono hole and gave Spanish instructions about finding trash—only to hear again that fateful chant.

After growing up in a very Baptist town with no bars or Catholics, we experienced our first Mass, wearing highly inappropriate footwear and being inappropriately grateful for the moon-sized wafer. But we have learned to receive a gentle blessing and say, “Amen.”

For the first time we took charge of our own happiness and reversed societal roles—then hid in the Phantom’s darkness. Rereading the Instagram led to a roller coaster ride of emotion, but now we are content waiting for the right person.

The first time we had a gun pulled on us we were on beach just 50 miles from horror, when a creepy soldier invaded our space and questioned our vocabulary—and we came to wonder, “What is an acceptable reason for war?”

Thanks to Natasha, Paul, Josh, Sally, Emma, Deena, Karla, Brad, and Jenny for such great stories! Join us February 25 for our next night, with stories on “Whoops.” Got a story? Let us know here!

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Katy Kinard – The First Time

Our opening story of January 27th’s Tenx9 night of “First Time” experiences was told by the delightful Katy Kinard. Enjoy!


The First Time I Held A Handgun

I was 26 years old, and I hadn’t planned on needing to defend myself that day.  I had never planned on using a handgun in my life. My dad is hunter and had taught my sister, step-brother, and I how to shoot rifles – kind of.  I was never good at it, but I liked hanging out in the woods with my dad.

This particular day, however, both my parents were out of state, and I was manning their house in Colorado for a week. Let’s NOT say I had moved back home to live with my parents in my mid-20s – Let’s say I had been visiting them for an elongated summer while I worked hard on my music career…

That being said, I had on a super cute outfit for a concert that night, and I was practicing guitar in the backyard.  I like to practice outside at my parents’ house, because the weather is always perfect in the summertime, beside afternoon showers, and it’s always quiet and secluded, being private property.

As I was playing, I heard the phone ringing from inside the house.  I had to run around to the front door, and by the time I did that, shut the screen door behind me, put my guitar down and ran to the kitchen to pick up the phone, I had missed the call.  I knew it was my mom calling to tell me they’d made it ok.  I dialed the number back and waited for her to pick up, but suddenly I heard a very different noise coming from around the corner – from the front door.  It was as if someone thought they could walk right in but realized the screen door had locked, and the faint rattle of the door turned into subtle scratching noises like someone trying to pick a lock or see how sturdy the door wasn’t so they could continue.

I dropped the phone in panic and froze against the wall.  With my parents gone, none of my friends around…this being private property with only anti-social neighbors… there was no reason anyone should have been trying to get in the front door.

I figured they’d probably seen me outside and gathered that I was alone… The last thing I wanted was to be a victim of whatever they had planned, so I immediately ran to my parents’ bedroom where I had remembered my dad saying he kept a handgun. Thankfully it was in the same place he said it would be. I grabbed the gun, surprised out how cold, but especially how heavy it was for such a small gun. Naturally prepared, my dad had it preloaded.  I cocked the hammer back, and I probably looked like a scared Charlie’s Angel as I crept around the corner, holding the gun just like a movie.

I could still hear the noises, but they kept getting louder, like someone had taken out a knife and was now impatiently cutting through the screen webbing.

I thought back to horror movies I had seen.

My heart pounded as I turned the corner… To my utter surprise… but not at all to my relief…

It was a bear.  Literally clawing through our screen door.

Earlier that day, I had been indulging in my obsessive compulsive amusements, helping my parents out by processing the bad parts off their fruits and vegetables – putting the good parts in plastic bags and Tupperware, neatly in the refrigerator… and the stinky bad parts, in a nice salad bowl for bears, otherwise known as our trashcan.

No one really uses air conditioning in the mountains of Colorado – you just open all the windows and doors and keep the screen door shut to let in the breeze – but apparently that breeze goes both ways, and this particular guy liked what was being advertised from our home.

So the bear had clawed all the way through the screen door at this point, leaving a huge square hole, and his head and arms were through the door and in our house, as if he were going to somersault into our home at any moment.

I forgot all about how you’re supposed to make a lot of noise when you see a bear.  I didn’t want to aggravate him, so I stayed completely silent -just pointing the gun straight at him, walking toward him, questioning whether or not I could actually shoot a living thing if I had to.

He looked up, startled…wiggled his chubby self out of the middle of the door and surprisingly backed away.
I quickly ran forward, closed the main door and called my dad to freak out over the phone.

He calmed me down, said it was good I didn’t shoot the bear – as I would have gone to jail according to Colorado law.  He said to wait a few minutes…and then to go outside and put bleach around the doors and windows, because apparently bears hate this.

(Naturally, my first response was: “mm…you would like me to go outside right now—where a bear is  walking around—and mop the edges of our house and come back?”) He said the bear would have probably walked off into the woods by now and that it was important that I do this soon, so that he didn’t come right back. (Naturally my 2nd response was: “umm…he might come back really soon and you would like me to go outside right now and mop the edges of our house and come back?”)

He thought it’d be ok.  My dad loves me.

I mustered up the courage, grabbed one of those noisemaker hand clappers – (yes, it was nearby because my mom makes me take that with me every time I go hiking behind the property) – and I don’t care what Colorado law is, I took the gun – along with my bleach, and made my way around each window, working fast.

When I came around the back of the house to the front, I saw my new friend again—in our driveway— and I sprinted toward the door.  The little guy must have been pretty wussy, because he got frightened again too, and he shimmied up the glorified Charlie Brown pine tree by our driveway, got up to the top and sat there looking at me looking out at him.

Then the funniest thing happened.  He was too big for the tree, and just like a cartoon, as he held on for dear life, the tree bent over sideways and dropped him off in rejection.  He lumbered off to the woods. I put the 45 automatic back – hopefully for good – then I gathered my belongings, raced off to the show that evening, and that was one time where it was very appropriate to get up on stage and say, “Thank you, it is so good to be here tonight!”

Jacques Sirois – The First Time

Here is Jacques’ brave, compelling story from January’s Tenx9. This story was featured in The Tennessean.

Before I get to “My First Time” I need to give you a little background of my life. Born a Yankee from VT in a French Canadian heritage , the 8th child in a family of 13 which include 9 sisters, 3 brothers, living in a house that had only ONE BATHROOM. Brought up Roman Catholic until the age of 21 when I committed the Mortal Sin of leaving the Church to become a Protestant. Living a very safe and uneventful life until I turned 58 when everything changed.

  • 58 I decided to retire from a job I worked at for 39 years, sell the Homestead that had been in my family for over a hundred years
  • 59 decided to leave VT. and move to Franklin, TN. a 1,000 miles away
  • 60 got my first and only Tattoo, at this point my family really started to get worried!
  • 61 decided to got my ears pierced.
  • 62 walked my first 5K race, and bought an airplane ticket.
  • At 63 I plan on running the next 5K race and using that airplane ticket to go skydiving.

Coming from a large family was more like growing up in a village, there was so many of us fighting to getting the love and attention we all needed. We  had to make sure that we behaved properly as not to bring shame to the family. Things like not getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant before marriage, having an affair, or being GAY could never happen in our family because of the shame that followed. As hard as we all tried not be bring on the shame, we still brought it to the table. Our actions lead us to believe would bring shame to our parents, disgrace to the community, which made the  fight all the harder for love and acceptance. This battle is still on going, even today with both of our parents decease.

Around the age of 12 I knew I was different, I was attracted to older men, I was gay and I had to keep it a secret. In the early 60’s the word was not gay, but queer, faggot, homo and a list of other names that made one feel  less than human. I needed to keep this secret hidden to protect a little boy who had no one to turn to, from a family who were afraid of what the community would think, from a Church that already had me condemned for my sin.

About the age of 15 I did get some courage to go to confession to the parish priest with my sin, instead of receiving absolution, I receive a heavier load of Guilt and Shame. Using this information,this man not only molested me but convinced me that it was my fault and I could not tell anyone what happen because it would ruin his life. For over 40 years I believed his lies.

Once out of high school, living in the closet with my secret, I would come out only when I needed to fulfill my sexual needs and run back in, closing  the door real tight. I was never able to find the intimate relationship I wanted or needed. As time went on I sought  therapy to change my thinking pattern. Even tried to live a life of absence, which you can bet never lasted long.

What I did not realize at the time that being Gay had nothing to do with who I really am. I maintained a job for 39 years reaching many awards for my performance. Was the primary care giver from both my parents for over total of 32 years, allowing them to die at home, not in a nursing home. My  mother died at 94 in the same room she was born in. Some Churches was very accepting as long as I did not act out. Most of these Churches never covered my shame but were willing to take my tithes.

It took over 50 years to come to this freedom I have today. I’ve had enough of the shame that held me in bondage all this time and now it’s time to throw open the door of my life and really start living.

There are 2 “First Time” that started this journey that I now travel:

My primary “FIRST Time” was the day I finally had to courage to say out loud the name, ………….., the man who molested me, convinced me it was my fault and told me I could not tell anyone because it would ruin his name!

Hearing my voice as I spoke that name felt like I released an air bubble that had been stuck in my throat not allowing me to breath. For once I could breath, feeling alive and knowing that I was not a bad person.I repeated that name over and over, and over and over, feeling better about myself each time I said it.

I still carry shame and guilt for some of the things I have done along the way, but I am not ashamed of who I am as a person: I’m a good and loving person who need love and support just like anyone else in this room.

In the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, the Rabbit asks if it hurts to become Real. The Skin Horse replies, “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt” He goes on to say, “ Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been love off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once your are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”.

At the age of 63 I want to start to be real, not living in the closet, hiding from everyone out of fear of rejection. Rejection will happen, but it will come from the people who do not understand. I’m looking for the day when I can have the Freedom to finally be free!

Now to my Second Big “First Time”. I stand in front of you tonight announcing for the first time in public that I am a gay man.

This may be uncomfortable for some of you and you may not agree with my stand. All I ask is that you give me the FREEDOM to BE FREE and allow me to REAL and not UGLY.

Thank You.