Sunday, April 28, 2013

Night of Surprises

In a strange blog twist, I posted this picture last week saying that T and I have never been dressed up together.  Well now we have been.  Who knew?  (When I wrote the previous post I didn't know the dress code for the party.)

When the guests started to arrive, T and his siblings all had jobs to do.  They had worked it out in advance.  One would act as the MC and coordinate the band and make sure the guests knew what to do.  Two of them maintained oversight of the kitchen and keeping the food hot and replenished.  T and the other siblings were in charge of greeting guests as they arrive and showing them to their assigned tables.     

I hung out at the back of the room near the main entrance.  I wanted to be near T.  I maintained some distance so I would not be in the way.  I liked watching T as he greeted the people coming in.  He was so warm and friendly.  It made me think that when we are living together we should have dinner parties.  T is a good host.

Most of the people were distant relatives or friends of his parents.  People I would likely never see again, so I didn't mind he did not introduce me to most of them.  But there were a few he did.  Once was an older woman he has known for many years.  One of his closest friends.  He has told her about me and our relationship. 

"This is Jim.  My boyfriend." he said.     "I know" she said with a smile towards me.

I smiled and filled up with happiness.

While I did have a seat assignment, I made the decision that I was not going to sit in it.  I was going to stay with T.  I was going be there if he needed to do anything. More importantly, I was going to be near the man I love.   I was a little worried that he might want me to sit so as not to get anyone gossiping about us.  But it never happened.  I stayed by his side through the entire night. 


A whole bunch of other things happened that night.

While I was stand there one of T's sisters came over and handed me some cards.   "Hold these.  I think there is money in them."  And she hurried away.  I tucked them into my jacket.  This continued as people arrived.  I was handed all the cards and envelopes that guests brought.  

T has another close friend.  T describes him as being like a brother.  I have seen him several times at T's house.  He has always been nice and friendly.  Tonight he was in charge of photography. He took a million pictures.  At one point he came a took a picture of T and I.  We stood next to each other and smiled.  Snap!  Later he came back.  I was holding a water bottle, but T put his arm around me.  Snap!  Later he came back a third time.  This time we stood close and both put our arms around each other.  Snap!   Each picture made me a little bit happier.

I was one of 4 white guys at the party.  T's niece is married to a white guy.  He was working as the bar tender for the event.  The other two are T's CPA and his lawyer.  I also made the observation that I was the tallest guy in the room.  (I am 5' 10")

Since I spent most my time standing in the back of the room.  In my suit.  T's sister, the one that kept handing me checks, joked that I looked like a Secret Service agent.  All I needed was an ear piece sticking out of my jacket.  I thought that was funny.  I mentioned it to T and he thought it was funny too. 

At the end of the night T again greeted everyone as they were leaving.  I stood nearby.  Most of the people ignored me, but occasionally someone would shake my hand and thank me.  I thought that was a little strange since I had not really done anything.  I smiled and thanked them for coming.   One elderly gentleman came to me and said, "You have done a great job with security."  At first I was not sure if he was joking, but I don't think he was.    "Thank you, sir." I replied.     Once we were alone, I told T about it and we both laughed together.   

Staying with him for the evening and in public was special.  I felt like we were there together, not just there at the same time.  I told him so and thanked him.  He opened himself up to some uncertainty in how people would react.  I wanted him to know that I appreciated it.

Once the last guest left they wanted to have a large group picture.  All of T brothers and sister.  Wives, husbands, grandchildren.  I figured I would not be asked to join in so stayed in my place by the door.  But again I was surprised.  I was asked to join, not only by T but several of his siblings.  I stood next to T behind his parents, in the middle of the picture.  I was very happy.  I noticed the only 2 white people in the shot was me and T's niece's husband.  I told T that someday people will see the picture and ask why the security guy and the bar tender were in the family picture.  

I fulfilled my "security guy" persona one last time that evening.  Everyone was a flurry of activity breaking down the event.  There was a lot of stuff that needed to be removed form the church and loaded into cars.  Lot's on mini-vans and SUVs packed to the gills with stuff.  What did I take in my car?  I took all the stuff from the gift table, of course.  Who else would you trust with all the portability valuable gifts people brought for T's parents?

So as you can see, this night was a tremendous success for me.  T's mother made a point of thanking me for all my help and it was clear to me she was happy I was there.  T and I drove back to his house to unload all the stuff.  when it was done, my car was blocked in so we sat next to each other by his koi pond.  

It had been a long night.  We were both tired. My feet hurt.  I was very happy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Setting The Table and The Emergency Supply Run.

After getting the cake I returned to T's house.  He and his parents were all changed for the party.  (He looks damn good in a suit.)  I had brought my suit with me, but had not put in on yet since I knew I would be working.  He drove his parent to the party and I drove my own car by myself.  I wished he could come with me, but his parents don't drive and I needed to have my car with me.

T was supper stressed.  He is a planner.   This party has a lot of moving parts and he wanted everything to go well for his parents. By the time we got the church hall, it was clear the preparations were behind schedule.   He asked me to help with setting the tables with plates, chopsticks, and the other things you might expect. 

I got half the plates out and couldn't any find more.  It turned out not enough were purchased.  T asked if I would take him and his mother to the store to get more.  T was even more stressed and I knew he appreciated me driving him.   Off we went and got all the last minute stuff.  When we got back it was time to finish setting up.

All together it was a couple hours of work to get everything ready.  I was happy to help out.  With everyone doing their part it made me feel like I was part of the family.  I was actually a little disappointed when we were finished. 

We finished just before the guests were due to arrive.  It was time for me to get changed.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can You Go Get The Cake?

I am sorry to have made you wait.  I have been swamped at work.  Even T is getting impatient waiting to see how this story ends.

In case you forgot, our story takes place last Sunday.  K was working, so I worked it out with AJ to watch my kids for the day.  

I got to T's house just after noon for lunch.  There were a million cars there.  Well, not a million, but a lot more than usual.  I parked on the street and walked up to his house.  He met me at the door with a big smile.  He guided me to the kitchen which was full of people.  Everyone was talking in Vietnamese.   T's younger sisters said hi to me and then went back to their conversations.  

Because of the party, his house was full of relatives and friends who were staying at his house.  (I think another work for them is "freeloaders").  T started introducing me to people.  He did not introduce me as his boyfriend, or partner, just a friend.  I expected that, but I thought it was nice he was making a point introduce me.  It was not something he always does, so I appreciated the special effort.

There were so many people there was no place to sit at the table so a lot of people were standing up eating around the kitcen.  While I was putting food on my plate, someone started talking to me.  It was T's oldest sister.  I have written about her before.  She generally ignores me, but not today. She lives most of the time in California.  She had arrived a couple of day previous for the party and would probably be staying the month.

She took me off guard, since she had never spoken to me before.  She told me she about her new granddaughter.  (T had told me his nephew had a new baby) and we talked for a few minutes about babies.  I could not believe it.  It was a total shift from what I was used to from her.  She was warm and friendly.  WOW!

After lunch it was time to get the cake.  The picture at the top is the actual cake in my car.  I knew it was a tall cake so I was nervous about it.  He handed me the papers from the bakery and I saw what he paid for it.  Now I was even more nervous.  The last thing I needed was to be remembered as the guy who ruined the cake.

I headed off with one of T's sister-in laws.  She does not speak much English so I didn't think there would be a lot of conversation.  T often talks about how nice she is and she also know's the true nature of my relationship with T, so I automatically felt more comfortable with her.  

We got the cake, loaded it in the car and I drove the 20 minutes from the bakery to the church hall.  I spent the whole time white nuckled on the steering wheel.  I pretended I had raw eggs on my feet and I had to operate the pedals gently so as not to break them.  After what seemed like forever, we pulled into the church parking lot.  Mission accomplished!!  I did not have to unload the cake myself.  There were already people at the church setting up, preparing food, and such.  They took the cake and brought it into the large walk in cooler.  I felt a huge weight lift on my shoulders.  

Before I headed back to T's house, T's sister "D" asked me to help her bring in some huge pots of soup.  Really big pots of soup.  Oh, and they were hot too.   Of course, that was no problem, I was happy to help.  We each grabbed a handle and carried them into the kitchen.   When we walked in, I heard "Hi Jim.  Bring that pot over here."  

What?  Someone called me my name? I don't remember that ever happening before during one of T's family gatherings.  Again I was taken off guard.  Truth be told I did not recognize the person who spoke to me, and there was not any real conversation, but the acknowledgement by name was really nice.  I also did not expect any conversation.  The kitchen was a flurry of activity, so there was not really time for chit chat.  

It was at this point, I was starting to feel hopeful the evening was not going to be as horrible as I first feared.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bracing For A Horrible Night

This month T's parents will have been married for 60 years.  T and his family threw them a big party.  They rented a hall, hired a band, and cooked lots of food.  T invited me months ago and, of course, I told him I would go.  

The event was last Sunday.  I want to write about lead up to this event and the event itself.  It will take several posts to go through it all and might take me a week to write it all, but I feel the need to get it out.


Over the past several months T has been telling me about this party.  It was almost like planning a wedding.  Guest lists.  Invitations.  Food.  Entertainment.  A few times I went with him to stores to buy things for the party.  There was a lot of stuff to buy because his family decided to make all the food themselves.  There is a restaurant that usually caters events for the Vietnamese church where he attends and where the party will be.  But T's family does not like the food.  Since they have a large family, with a lot of good cooks, doing it themselves seemed like the right thing to do.   

People attending would include his immediate and extended family,  family friends and even the employees at his clinic and his sisters pharmacy. There would be well over 100 people.  That sounds great to everyone but me.

Remember the gay thing?  That is going to be a problem.

I have written before about T's fears and his family fears about more and more people knowing he is gay.  And worse, knowing he has a boyfriend (and a white one, no less).  They worry about the gossip that will go on.  It gives them stress.  It gives his mother stress.  T is worried about his business and that it might be uncomfortable for his employees.  I have made it clear that I think it's total crap, but there really is nothing I can do about it.  I just have to live with it.  

Last year around Thanksgiving T took his whole staff out for dinner.  He invited me, but told me I could not sit with him.  He didn't want in the office anyone to talk.  When the big group picture was taken I put my arm around his sister and smiled for the camera.  It was very hard for me to deal with that.

So fast-forward to last Sunday.  The morning of the party for his parents.  My blood pressure is already rising.  I wonder what I will say if someone asks me how I know the family.

"Tell them you met me and my sisters through a friend." he tells me.  My blood pressure goes up more.

I know that most of his family will ignore me.  That's usually what happens.  I will get a polite nod or a "hello" but not much beyond that.  To be fair, lately his mother has been much more open with me, but I expect with a lot of other people around that will not be as much the case.  

I tell him today will be very uncomfortable for me.  History has taught me that, while T and I will both be there, it will not feel like we are together.  I will be sat a table with his lawyer,  CPA and other American guests for the duration of the party.  He will check in on me but not much more than any of the other guests so as not to raise suspicion.  I will see him around, but I will not be with him.

He stared to get defensive, but I cut him off.  This was not the time to talk about it.  Today is not about me, it's about his parents.  I tell him I am going because I love him.  I will help him as much as I can.  I ask that he keep me busy as much as possible so I can get through it.  

My first assignment...  go get the cake.

Over the next several days I will write about what happened.  

It did not unfold in the way I expected.   Stay Tuned.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Like Going Out

I imaging that T and I look like this when we go out.  We have never been out together in tuxedos, but I'm sure we would look great!!  Well...T would anyway.

T asked me to come over to his house this week.  He needed me to help with some stuff at his house.  When that was done he need to run a few errands.  Of course I was happy to take him where ever he wanted to go.

We hit several stores, but the one we spent the most time in was the pet store.  He wanted to get some new koi for his pond.  I as he was picking out his fish we looked together.  When the store person came to actually get them out of the tank, I alternated between poking around at things in the store and see how T was getting along.

We got the fish and headed back to his house.  After putting the fish his pond, I had to head home.   On the way home I am reminded in how I delight in going out and doing things with him.  Anything.  No matter how mundane, as long as we are doing it together.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dad, I Know Where You Are.

I have not had the chance to write much lately, but it's because I have not had stuff to write about.  I have note pad with a bunch of things over the past few weeks that have happened that I really want to get out, but I just have not had the time to sit down and write.    Today, I am attempting to work on the backlog.  


I was hanging out at K's house, sitting at the kitchen table with her, AJ, and my oldest son.  AJ had just come back from a college visit trip with his daughter and he was preparing another trip to the same state.  

Oldest Son: You are going back to Florida?  What for?  You were just there?

AJ: Are you keeping track of where I go?

Oldest Son: Well, I was just asking.  I wanted to know where you are going.

Me:  Hey!  Wait a minute.  Why don't you ever ask me where I am going?

Oldest Son: (looking at me like I am crazy.)  Dad, I know where you are.  You are either home, at T's, at work or here.