If you’re reading this, I’ve successfully scheduled this post introducing Chapter 20 to magically appear at the usual time. Let’s hope I’ve been equally successful in scheduling Chapter 20 itself to appear. If not, I’ll post it when I get back from out of town next week.
As I’m writing this, I’m uncertain whether I’ll be able to respond to any comments or emails on this chapter or anything else while I’m away. But as I mentioned in the previous post, please don’t let that deter you. If I can’t respond while I’m away, I’ll do so on my return.
In Chapter 19 last week we caught up to Jeff about seven years after Jimmy walked out on him. He’s been a pretty enigmatic character in the story thus far, but we’ll learn a lot more about Jeff in Part IV.
In the last chapter we learned he was still living in Washington and still in the same Capitol House townhouse he originally rented when he first came to D.C. in 1975. However, he seems to have actually purchased the place in the interim as he has a mortgage.
We also learned Jeff is still working for Congressman Bresnahan although he’s spending less time back in the congressional district they represent in western Massachusetts since the Congressman has pretty much entrenched himself with the voters.
These days Jeff seems primarily focused on the work of the House Appropriations Committee, perhaps the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives at that time because it determined how much money would be allocated to support different Federal agencies and programs.
We learned Congressman Bresnahan was a member of the Committee’s Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the subcommittee that recommends funding for overseas programs. That subcommittee no longer exists as a separate entity these days having been folded into the Appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for State Department operations.
At the time, however, Foreign Operations was a very important subcommittee for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy.
It’s 1982 so Ronald Reagan is President and apparently neither Jeff nor the Congressman are big fans of his approach to foreign policy, which is heavily focused on stemming a perceived communist menace in Central America being led by the Nicaraguan contras.
I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit ironic that thirty-five years later, after helping kill thousands of innocent people and spending billions of dollars fighting that communist menace, the leader of those contras, Daniel Ortega, is the President of Nicaragua these days.
I also find it interesting that one of the major issues in our own 2016 Presidential campaign revolves around all the Hispanics who have flooded into the United States over the years. Do you think the instability we created in the 1980s in Central America and the brutal regimes we supported there have something to do with that?
Ah, yes, Ronald Reagan, so beloved by all our conservative friends; the President who keeps on giving years after his death from pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease. But I digress.
The point is Jeff is involved in work he finds exciting and interesting. But he’s also living alone. Like many people who come to Washington, he seems to use work as a substitute for a social life. To put it another way, Jeff has become a bit disconnected from the gay community.
He doesn’t have a boyfriend. He doesn’t seem to be looking for one. His connections to the community involve reading the local gay newspaper, volunteer work at a center that helps homeless and runaway kids, primarily gay boys, and participation in an informal group of House staffers who are also gay and working on Capitol Hill.
In the last chapter, we listened in on two phone conversations Jeff had on a Friday evening in May, one with a counselor at a clinic providing health services to the D.C. gay community and the other with a gay friend who also worked on Capitol Hill and was attempting to persuade Jeff to spend Friday evening visiting the baths or bars with him and his boyfriend.
Jeff declined and that’s where Chapter 20, which I’ve hopefully managed to schedule, picks up. If it’s up and you have a reaction, feel free to share it with me. I’m definitely interested in seeing how people react to the story at this point.