In an old science fiction story by Robert Heinlein, a man discovers that the world is a lie. Every building in every city is a movie-set fake, constructed for his benefit and disassembled when he passes on.
His friends, family, and even passersby are actors, staging scenes for his benefit and then going home to memorize tomorrow’s script.
He uncovers the lie only after years of living in what he thinks is the real world.
One day he is scheduled to go away for the weekend. It is raining outside, so he opens his umbrella. Suddenly he realizes that he has forgotten something upstairs, and rushes up to get it. But it is not raining upstairs! “They” neglected to produce sufficient rain to cover the entire house, and in that small detail their entire deception was revealed.
But I kept noticing momentary lapses, tiny mistakes, unguarded moments that revealed that it was not raining upstairs.
Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans living together in the Treasure House.
Rich and Sean smiling at each other in The Secret of Boyne Castle.
Robbie Douglas singing about boys holding hands among the candles.
The first unguarded moment came very early in my life, when I was still a toddler. Probably in the summer of 1964, when I was 3 1/2 years old. We were living in Garrett, Indiana.
I woke up late at night, but I thought it was morning because it was light out, so I walked into the living room, where my parents were watching our old black and white tv. On the small, flickering screen, I saw two men. They looked like a cowboy and Indian, but in modern clothes. They were hugging.
My mother noticed a moment later and rushed me off to bed, but it was too late. I had seen two men who weren't swooning over women. They wanted men.
It was an episode of of The Real McCoys (1957-63, but rerun through 1964): a hayseed comedy about a farm family in rural California. The hugging "cowboy and Indian" were eldest son Luke (Richard Crenna) and farm hand Pepino (Tony Martinez).
Luke was married, and Pepino had girlfriends. They weren't "really" gay in the series.
A glimpse through the machinations and dissimulations and lies.
It wasn't raining upstairs.
See also: My Book of Cute Boys