Don’t Say Gay

I’ve become that person at parties. The one responsible for that awkward moment of silence interrupted only by uncomfortable coughs and shuffling of feet.  In the midst of everyone’s lighthearted banter, along comes me, the conversation killer.

I stuck my foot into my mouth once again at TDL’s end-of-season company softball party a few weeks ago. Players and significant others were gathered to celebrate because, against all odds, the team had made the playoffs.

Everyone was in high spirits. The evening started out with a play-by-play rehash of the season. After an hour or so, the conversation shifted (mercifully, for the sake of those of us who’d heard about the grand slams and double plays ad nauseum already) into different realms. Someone asked a bride-to-be how her wedding planning was going.

This is dangerous territory for me. I looked around for support from TDL, but she was upstairs. Left to my own devices, I clamped my lips together determinedly. I promised myself I wouldn’t utter a sound.

The bride rolled her eyes and shook her head. Next to her, her fiancé chuckled. She turned to him with an outraged look and spitefully punched his arm. He took a swig of beer and shrugged. “The problem-of-the-week this week is the Save the Date cards. Or the response cards. Or the thank-you cards. Or some other kind of cards. I’m not really sure, but it’s cards.”

A nervous titter rippled through the men. They could identify. The bride described her travails and ended with, “Of course I’m upset!” She indicated her fiancé. “But him? He could care less! He just doesn’t get it!” she mourned, obviously hurt and bewildered.

A friend of the groom-to-be remarked, “What I don’t get is how you girls stress out over stupid things, like cards or whatever. Why can’t you just relax and enjoy it?”

“Humph!” his wife remarked. She looked around at the other women in the room and said, “It’s just one of those things men will never understand. That’s why they say, ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus.’”

Both the men and the women nodded and murmured in agreement.

There was a slight pause in the conversation.

Unfortunately, I felt compelled to contribute in my own little way.

Merrily I said, “Well, being that TDL and I are both from Venus, we don’t have those problems.”

The air went out of the room faster than a balloon pricked by a pin, but without the accompanying ‘pop!’.  All eyes lowered to the floor. Followed by several long seconds of – “crickets.”

I made everything worse. I kept talking.

“I mean, we’re both women, so we communicate like women. We understand each other more easily, I think.”

The cricket choir launched into the chorus.

I was in so deep I couldn’t stop. “You know, it’s like when your best girlfriend understands exactly what you’re talking about with just a few words, and your husband or boyfriend needs a whole paragraph . . . ?“ My voice trailed off.

Just as the star of the cricket band was about to hit her operatic high note, the host shouted down to us that dessert was ready. I remained rooted to the couch to avoid the stampede up the steps to the kitchen.

Later, a smaller group including the bride-to-be drew me into a more detailed conversation, still on the subject of weddings. They wanted my opinion about cost. Which would I splurge on, the dress, the flowers or the food at the reception? The consensus among the three newly-married women advising the bride-to-be was that, if they had to do it over again, they’d just elope to Vegas and save the money.  They wanted to know, what did I think?

While I considered the question and inwardly composed my response, my gut took over. Words I hadn’t intended spilled out of my mouth.  Very softly, I said, “I think you’re fortunate that how and when you get married, and how much you spend, is up to you.  When and if our time comes, I don’t know what we’ll do. But I tell you this – the way I feel right now, I’d give every cent just to have the choice.”

“That was rude, Katie,” I told myself as I looked at their shocked faces. “You’re just jealous. It’s not their fault other people’s weddings are difficult for you to talk about.” Before the cricket choir could bust out into song again, I excused myself and went to find TDL. I stayed by her side the rest of the night.

TDL’s team ended their year officially the following week. They went one-and-done in the post season. Maybe, just maybe, when we all convene again next summer, I’ll be the one asking for wedding planning advice.


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  1. Pepibebe says:

    Do you know what I think Ms Katie? I think that they were being totally insensitive asking you those questions. I hope that the shocked silence was them feeling horrified at themselves, tht they had been so unthinking. That’s what I think. X

  2. Author says:

    You’re so nice! It’s one of those things that is so close to the surface it comes out in all kinds of ways. It just takes over, you know? I’m sure you understand this, given your journey over the past year. Your comment made me feel better — thank you!

  3. Rachael says:

    Katie, I agree. The silence is not your fault. It’s the same guilt I feel when I have to correct people about my ‘husband’ or Punky’s ‘father’ that neither of us have. I get that awkward look. It’s not your fault, or mine, that these people don’t have the decency to think before they speak and actually consider other people around them. The crickets are their embarrassment that they didn’t have the forethought to think. Totally not your fault. AND, you are not alone in the wedding issues. I am always uncomfortable in these talks and they were insensitive not to think about this before asking you questions.

  4. Author says:

    Thanks so much, Rachael. Not that I expect to be foremost on people’s minds, but I wish it would occur to someone sometime how long we’ve been together and that we’d love to be able to marry. Or that there are many different ways to make a family. I bet the questions you get DO hurt, and I’m sorry about that for you. Hopefully, when Punky grows up, her family tree will be just another interesting aspect to her character and personality, and not something people gawk about.

  5. What a great article. When I tweeted this i was halfway, cracking up. I hadn’t got to the really profound and deeply touching part about your own tenderness. I think what you said was true and beautiful and raw.

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