Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I Can Afford a Little Time
I was wishing he had given me some notice.
Domestic Partner and I were enjoying a leisurely do-nothing Monday off, this past holiday weekend. It wasn't until I heard him talking to "Billy" on his cell phone that I knew that the three of us were going to lunch, later. We were already a few miles away from home, getting a caffeine fix before a gym workout. I couldn't graciously bow out with the usual excuse of "needing to stay home and keep the dogs company."
I know that it's too easy for me to be selfish in my plastic bubble world. It wouldn't cost me anything to join DP and go to lunch with Billy. And I couldn't remember the last time I had seen Billy and his partner "George." The two are nice enough, at least to me and to DP.
Billy is only slightly older than me. He is 27 years younger than George, who is in his early seventies, and they have been together for a quarter of a century. I like George, enough. But he is extremely critical, and he is an equal-opportunity critic. At times, he is downright racist.
So, I found myself riding to their home with the smallest of chips on my shoulder.
I was trying to think of a bitchy-with-a-smile comeback for the inevitable comment from George about my weight gain. George is white and Billy was born in Taiwan. It's as if George expects any of us Asian men to stay eternally thin and forever youthful, at least for those of us still under fifty. Even before we arrived, though, I knew that I couldn't do it. I couldn't be snarky to George.
George has been living with AIDS for a couple of decades. That part of his life is everyday, routine, by now, for him and for friends like us who have known him a while. But George seems to have really slowed down in recent years. Sometimes, it seems as if Billy is silently and patiently waiting for George to finish living his life.
At the door, I hugged George and kissed him on the lips, the way I usually greet him. I was already prepared for the teasing pat to my thicker waist.
"You used to be prettier when you were younger," George taunts.
"We all used to be prettier," I tell him.
It's all I can manage as a response before we change the subject to the usual meaningless topics.
George didn't go out to lunch with us. Billy confessed to us later that he feels trapped because the two of them never go anywhere together. He feels guilty for going out by himself to visit with family and friends. He is caught between wanting to continue his normal, social activities and trying to leave George alone at home as little as possible.
George and Billy are like my honorary in-laws. I had met them within the first 24 hours of knowing Domestic Partner. Twice a year, George remembers to mail birthday cards to both Domestic Partner and me, a few days before our respective birthdays. I had forgotten to thank George for his consistent thoughtfulness. I have never once mailed him a birthday card . . . I don't think. I don't even know when his birthday is.
I shouldn't be so critical of George, even behind his back.