Friday, April 13, 2007

Fear Is the Path to the Dark Side

If you saw two very handsome gentlemen chasing two wild Jedi warriors through the Gateway Mall yesterday, then you saw us. My aunt made the boys a couple Jedi capes and they absolutely had to wear them all day. I know, Kengo, no capes. I told them about Dynaguy and Splashdown, but they won’t listen. Besides, it must be nice to be at a point in your life when you can wear a cape in public and know people will look at you with complete understanding, even joy by proxy.

We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen. We do often as they’ve really good mac and cheese, or so I’m told. The twins love taking the train there and so it’s become a restaurant habit. We get in these eating habits and kind of take for granted, for the smaller establishments, they know us and our family.

But the posts on “covering” by Chris and MoHoHawaii have me thinking on how, when, and if we cover. And last night such an option to cover came up.

Of course, CPK is not a “smaller establishment” and we got a waiter who evidently was guessing at our table. To be clear I don’t mind this a bit; I expect wrong assumptions and should, as they are reasonable by the odds. Typically they come in a couple forms:

1. The “Guy’s night out, huh?” reaction. This is the most common--and in those exact words too--and it’s the reaction we got last night. I think because it doesn’t overtly assume too much, yet relieves the notice of the novelty. It could mean many things, even get near the actuality, but it leans towards the common assumption. To this I typically say something like, “Heck, it’s guy’s night out every night,” and that’s enough to explain.

2. The “Would you like separate checks?” reaction. Typical, if the waiter is paying significant attention to our table, our family is blaringly apparent. Our children do not cover one bit. They have no idea it’s even an issue. Throughout the meal they switch from me to Rob or Rob to me; it’s clear. But sometimes, typically when the waiter is distracted, we’re asked if we want separate checks at the end. I suppose we could say "No, we're gay, see." But that's over the top, right :-)? I just say no… unless I want to tease; then I say, no, Rob will pay for it (He often forgets his wallet and I keep telling him if I ever forget mine we’ll be washing dishes… But I’ll never forget, and he knows it :-))

3.The “You’re such great husbands” reaction. Numerous times we’ve had very polite old women come up to us and tell us how nice it is that we’d take the kids and let our wives go out for a night on the town, shopping or something. I assume these are the folks that pay attention to stuff like the wedding bands on our fingers, and put our 2 and 2 together just a bit wrong. I must admit, when the boys were infants, without the ability to hear and remember everything we say, we’d sometimes just accept the kudos and let it be. No need upsetting a 60 year-old grandmother, right?

Nope. We changed our minds on that while they were still infants. We absolutely know we can’t show them an atom of hesitation in correcting such assumptions, and we don’t. We simple say “Thank you very much, but we’re a couple and these are our sons.” At that they do sometimes become uncomfortable and, at first, I regretted that as a necessary pain in social motion. But inevitably it turns out to be such a positive experience for our family and, seemingly, theirs. Most often, at the end of their meal, the same person will come up again and say something like, “I just want to say we’ve been watching you all, and I want to say how nicely you’re raising your children.” This of course takes me aback at times, as it’s typically when I think the boys are being their most irrepressible :-). But then I think how wonderful is that. One more person who never expected our family in Utah now will have a face on the politics; they went from uncomfortable to wanting to say something positive. Next time they talk to their neighbor about a bill affecting our home they’ll remember seeing us, and when their children send their children to school with ours, their children will be more apt to have been taught to be civil in this arena.

I wonder if such isn’t why we’ve had it so easy from the start at our boy’s school. At the last Birthday party of one of their classmates, there was a lesbian couple with their children. And we didn’t even know them! :-) Being long-time friends of our kid’s classmate’s parents, they made life easier for our children, before our families were even interacting, I’m sure. It really is this web of personal experience that’s pushing us along; not the large political movements.

I’ve noticed over the years, time has made all those above reactions more and more rare. What’s funny is that this nearly only happens now when I’m seated next to Alan. As the fates would have it, Alan looks a lot like me and Brian looks a lot like Rob. When I sit next to Brian, it seems most all can figure it out right away. Responses like the one we received last night, though, have now become the oddity regardless, and it’s been a good long while since we’ve been commended for being so nice to our “wives”. People see us in the media, they see us in their friends and neighbors, and, when they then see me reach over to wipe the face of whichever son is seated next to Rob, they can now figure it out for themselves.

It just seems things are getting simpler each day for families like ours; there’s thankfully very few instances where even the question of covering or not comes up anymore. And even when it does, so what? Last night we had a wonderful evening. The waiter was very nice... On the other hand, he did mistake Brian for a “padawan learner”. Now, if you want offensive, that’s offensive. Everyone knows Brian was actually dressed as Mace Windu. (I love the fact that he most identifies with the Jedi played by Samuel L. Jackson; Frozone is Brian’s favorite superhero in The Incredibles too :-))

6 comments:

Master Fob said...

I'm always flattered when random strangers compliment me on what a great father I am because I actually spend time with my children (!!!), but I'm also bothered by the cultural assumptions underlying the compliments. I'm tempted to approach a random woman with her children and say how nice it is of her to take them off her husband's hands for the morning, but I suspect few random women would appreciate my cleverness in thus subverting cultural norms.

playasinmar said...

That just makes me so warm inside. :)

Beck said...

You have opened my eyes in so many ways... Thanks for not covering... and allowing me to see.

MoHoHawaii said...

Next time they talk to their neighbor about a bill affecting our home they’ll remember seeing us.

This is one of the best reasons to come out.

In Yoshino's terminology, what you were discussing is passing, i.e. whether to be mistaken for straight or be recognized as gay. When Yoshino says "covering" he means a situation where you are out but where you choose to tone it down a notch to meet straight expectations. I'd be interested in hearing if there are any cases where you feel pressure to be "straighter" in front of people who already know you are gay.

Scot said...

Master Fob
I'm tempted to approach a random woman with her children and say how nice it is of her to take them off her husband's hands for the morning, but I suspect few random women would appreciate my cleverness in thus subverting cultural norms.

Probably not. She may have taken the kids off her wife's hands ;-).

Playasinmar:
That just makes me so warm inside. :)

You best watch it or I’ll fill my blog with cute little anecdotes about our kids. I’ve hundreds of them :-).

Beck, thank you, that means a lot to me. I hope you all know how you've changed my perspective here.

MoHoHawaii:
In Yoshino's terminology, what you were discussing is passing, i.e. whether to be mistaken for straight or be recognized as gay.

oops :-).

I'd be interested in hearing if there are any cases where you feel pressure to be "straighter" in front of people who already know you are gay.

That brought to mind a very vivid memory and I'm sure I can make it into a blog post :-).

Loyalist (with defects) said...

i loved this post Scot. Why i have such a distaste for debate is that it leaves out the human side. Which, if the debaters had forgot, we are. It is in connecting with each other we realize that we are not dis-simular, but indeed simular and (I'll add my own twist of belief) brothers and sisters. we dont need to fight - unless it is with a Seth Lord. :)