Standing at a wedding reception in San Diego, California five years ago, Mr. Chicken Fry and I were making small talk catching up with our long time friends Heather and Jeff Rohrer. I was excited but a bit surprised to see Jeff and Heather together at the wedding because the had divorced a while back.
The guys, who have been friends for 35 years, in gentleman fashion took our drink order and walked away together towards the bar. Without missing a beat, Heather and I continued girl catch up and chit-chat. As soon as the fellas were out of ear shot, Heather abruptly changed the subject. She didn’t waste any time. She came right out and point-blank asked me if I was privy to the cause surrounding their divorce?!?! Bewildered and completely caught off guard by her candid off-color question, I politely and truthfully replied “no!”
Her next two words sent my brain into a zippy 2O year rewind of friendship and memories. Imagine the quick rewind than fast forward sound frenzied inside my head then all at once I was back in the moment and present! All I heard were her vocal chords saying, “Jeffrey’s gay!”
“He’s gay,” she repeated without dramatic emotion. “I have made peace with it and our kids know so all is good. Except Jeffrey, he’s totally terrified because not many people or his friends know!”
She went on to assure me that she was doing fine and that their two teenagers, Isabella and Don Dillon, were “in the know” but that Jeff was in quandary. He was totally terrified that might potentially lose his job, friends and family if he came out.
Trying to listen with intent but my brain was wandering and reeling the play back tapes. While I was absorbing the intel…it sort of made sense to me. Like a light bulb ahaa moment I remember thinking, yes this makes perfect sense. Then I heard her say…”but Angi, must not say anything to Mr. Chicken Fry until y’all leave the wedding.” GULP!
That was a lot to put on a girl right off the bat and before a glorious celebration for our friends Pam and Charlie. No light chit-chat to grease me up for the big revelation, nope…she just laid it on me.
But she was so right…this was NOT the right time to tell him. So I didn’t…until later.
I recall Heather and I snapping back into impromptu teenage mom banter as soon as guys reappeared with our cocktails. Which looking back was less than 8 minutes tops. Wow whee!
What I wish to acknowledge is Heather’s extraordinary bravery. She transparently put her heart out on the line with me that evening. She wasn’t forthcoming with this information out of deviant spite or anger. It was coming from an organic well of pent-up pain and grief in a sense. Almost like she was an oozing volcano erupting with words coming from frustration, loss of the marriage and family unit. Not to mention the obvious her husband’s sexuality. While she had known for a long while, Heather seized the opportunity with me to push the envelope if you will. I do believe that her bold actions in a small way blew the top off initiating numerous healthy conversations between Jeff and his friends.
I kept my promise to Heather and enjoyed the fun-filled celebration that it was. Later that evening…at about midnight in the Uber on the way back to the hotel I let the cat out of the bag.
I don’t recall my exact preface but it was something to the effect of “hey babe…I have something to tell you and I need you to listen and not say a word and just think about what I’m about to say to you!”
“Jeff is gay! He’s come out! And if you think about it…it all kind of makes sense!”
Then we sat and rode in silence for about 10 minutes. He was processing my words. I followed up with a question, “so, what do you think?” Chicken Fry didn’t utter a word.
I did a quick recant of my experience from the early evening. As I told him the story our eyes were locked and when I was done, I began to chant, Jeff is gay…Jeff is gay! It’s so clear to me now…Jeff is gay!”
Chicken Fry looked down and then looked back at me and said…”well it is what it is and I don’t care because it really doesn’t change a thing.”
The million dollar question…did we know? Did we ever suspect that this was the end result?
FOR YEARS… I never thought I was smart enough for Jeff!
In the early years I thought Jeff had pegged me as a superficial dumb Dallas blonde rather than someone who appreciated travel, art and politics.
I just assumed that this YALE graduate with high cerebral intelligence didn’t care much about making small talk with his buddies girlfriend. It wasn’t until after Chicken Fry and I were long married that Jeff and I found a few common denominators which were travel and parenting. At the time Jeff was producing commercials and shooting a ton of work in Thailand. We spent hours talking about the ins and outs of his work excursions.
I didn’t meet Jeff in his power house days of football stardom as a starting linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. I met Jeff as my hubby’s friend from Cali. I inherited him twenty-two years ago. Jeff was at our wedding and he called to wish me congrats at the birth of our baby girl when I was in the hospital. When Jeff comes to big D he always stays at our home. He’s my/our friend.
There was a short period of time when Jeff went dark. He didn’t return calls or want to see us when were in his hometown of Manhattan Beach. But No…I never suspected nor did Mr.Chicken Fry that Jeff was gay! Nor would it have mattered!
Because like Chicken Fry said…it is what it is and nothing has changed!
I can’t recall when or how long after that evening Chicken Fry and Jeff had their heart to heart. What I do know is that there is mutal love and respect between the two. Their history and our family friendship and bond is not that superficial. NOTHING HAS CHANGED!
HOW TO HANDLE A COMING OUT!
We didn’t advertise Jeff’s coming out. We accepted it and that was that! We encouraged him, we said it’s okay. We told him not to be sorry and or embarassed. We told him that we cared and that we supported him 100%. We shared our faith. We prayed. We hugged, we sang and we kissed goodbye.
While in Hermosa Beach two years ago Carter and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting his boyfriend, Joshua Ross. The five of us met for chips, guac and salty margaritas while the teens hung out on the strand. THE FIVE of us…Heather, me Jeff, Josh and Chicken Fry.
Heather, Don Dillon, Isabella Raine, Jeff and Josh all live together as one big happy modern family.
We laughed, we listened to their story of love, and we celebrated the truth. The best news is that we gained an amazing friend in Josh. I wrote a blog piece two years ago…check it out here. ROSS SKIN LABS
Last weekend, Joshua and Jeffery were married in West Hollywood at the Wattles Mansion Garden surrounded by his ex-wife Heather, the kids and many family and friends. More about our magical time and their historical glorious three-day extravaganza later this week.
Let’s talk about ART BABY!
Jeff’s infamous art is on the horizon. It’s big and bold just like the gentl giant I have come to know and love! Every piece of art has hidden figures to be found much like the artist his work is multilayered. But it’s the scribbled words – Rhorer-retoric as I like to to say, on the back side that is more than customary. Have a look at his unique collection of art HERE!
The 500 Club. Jeffrey Rohrer is a painter on a mission to release 500 Portraits of icons such as JFK, Ted Williams, Tom Landry and even the amazing Donald Trump.
Jeff paints fast…like real fast. He used to actually be fast on his feet when he played for the Dallas Cowboys and Yale Football Teams as a nasty Linebacker but his body is somewhat broken now as he awaits his dark days as a drivelling idiot.
Jeff generates 50 paintings a year. Most of the canvasses are devoted to portraits but sometimes Jeff strays into other weird stuff like florals next to candelabras at night or guns but the 500 Club is all about the Portrait world.
Speaking of night that is when Jeff paints. Jeff likes to paint while the rest of the world sleeps. Like the Werewolf he is, Jeff transforms when he paints at night and becomes a creature in tune with the other side. When the sun comes up Jeff is covered in oil paint stinking of fine wine only to wake and discover a work of art nailed to the wall of his studio with his name on it. Hopefully you will enjoy this art of a legitimate idiot savant
The 500 Club are only Portraits of people Jeff wants artists and historians to talk about hundreds of years from now…like who is this person and why would someone want to paint them. History past has given us paintings of royalty like kings and queens and of course the religoius
work. Jeffrey paints all kinds of people…kind of using one test as to why the subject is being included to the club…would this person be interesting to
meet at Coffee Shop for a beverage and of course what kind of beverage would that person order?
Unfortunatley I STILL don’t have a Rohrer orignal on my wall. I’m waiting patiently, begging, hinitng and proding Jeff for an ELVIS or JESUS! But I’d gladly hang Elton John, Donald Trump or any of his colorful, meaniful gun paintings on my wall. Shoot I’d have a Rhorer on every wall if he’d let me!
His priceless portrait of Ronald Regan is his most prized piece. I would want to part with it either. I love it! You can see it and Bridgett Bardot here on the wall of their home in Venice beach. Would you beleive that Jeff Rhorer is politically conservative!
While Chicken Fry and I STILL don’t have one of Jeff’s canvasses on our wall, we do have his friendship. Most importantly we a family bond with Heather, Josh and the kids! (whom all live together as one BIG happy modern family)
We are all friends for life..that means through the thick and thin and the unexpected and the memories to come.
Love, don’t judge!
(a lesson I’m work on as human on a daily basis)