Excerpt #4: Friends' Experience (Book 6)
In a quiet voice, Jessica said, “We’re going to have a baby! I was only sure a few weeks ago, and we decided to wait until Christmas to tell everyone.”
The table erupted in applause and cheers, and Sam smiled broadly as he held up his own glass, “Congratulations! That’s great!” Then, a brief flash of seriousness crossed his face, and he mumbled, “I guess I’m going to be a grandparent!”
I got up and walked around to Jessica and hugged her, then went behind the couch and put my arms around Sam’s neck, “Congratulations, granddad!” Now, our age difference had suddenly emerged again, this time in a totally different – and unexpected – context. I leaned over the couch, and kissed him on the cheek.
The conversations around the table picked up, again, my father now asking Sam’s sons what they did. He nodded, when Robert explained that he was developing commercial properties, but seemed flustered when Mark said that he was an artist. He took a gulp of his bourbon, and looked at Greg, “And what do you do, Greg?”
Greg casually answered, “I work for a big ad agency ... doing creative projects for our clients.”
My father drained his bourbon and set the glass on the table. “And Mark works with you?”
Greg answered carefully, “No. Mark is a friend.”
Mark and Greg were much more than ‘friends’. I had to jump in, “No, dad. Mark is Greg’s partner. Just as Sam is my partner.” It was direct, but I still didn’t quite go as far as to say that Mark and Greg were lovers. My dad rolled his eyes.
Sam took my dad’s glass, stood, and made his way around the coffee table and to the bar. “I’ll refill your drink, Dave.” Now, my brothers were tittering and snickering, which I thought quite unbecoming for men of their age; but, in many ways, they were still boys.
Just as Sam finished refilling the drinks, the buzzer went off in the kitchen, and Sam announced, “I’ll go take out the turkey. Dinner will be served in 20 minutes.”
“Fuck!” My dad shouted, and all eyes around the table were on him. He cried, “That was a simple field goal. That guy can’t kick worth shit!” My brothers turned to the large screen, and shook their heads. The rest of us rose, took our glasses, and made our way upstairs. I suggested that Mark and Greg sit on one side of the head of the table, and Robert and Jessica on the other side. I put my wine glass at the ‘tail’ of the table, and went into the kitchen to help Sam.
Sam tossed the salad, and divided it onto salad plates, which I brought into the dining room. The football game had finally ended, and my family came up and took their places at the table.
Sam sat at the head of the table, and raised his wine glass. “Here’s to good friends and good food, to loving, and to appreciating what we have.” He looked around the table, “I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and great success in the New Year. It’s wonderful to have you all here with Kelly and I.”
Then, he focused on Jessica, and said, “And here’s to having another member of the family join us next year!” We sipped the wine and ate our salads in silence.
After I had collected the salad plates, I ushered my family and then Sam’s family into the kitchen, where they loaded their plates with turkey and stuffing, gravy that Sam had made with a thick brown roux as base, the marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, onion-topped green beans, and cranberry sauce. It was an incredible spread, and Sam had made it look easy.
The conversation came full circle with more discussion about babies, and I turned to Mark and Greg and asked, “Is there a baby in your future?” My father had a coughing fit, and had to excuse himself. Greg smiled at Mark, and then replied, “Well, we’ve thought about adopting ... or using a surrogate.” Sam was nodding, but my mother pushed her chair back, and said, “I’ll help you clear the table, dear.”
My parents were of the age – or mentality – that females had their ‘role’ in the family: Cleaning the house, making the meals, having the babies, and taking care of the family.
As I carried the dirty plates and silverwear into the kitchen, I thought about the traditional roles and relationships, and those that I would want. I didn’t reject outright the tasks that my mother valued, but they wouldn’t be my entire life, either. I saw myself sharing the responsibilities with Sam; perhaps Sam even taking most of the traditional ‘female’ role, as he was such a good cook, and so neat. But I saw my life as something greater – giving something back to humanity, with my technology, my company, and setting higher standards as a role model to those around me ... as Sam had done for me.
It was strange: I had nearly thought ‘I wouldn’t be subservient to a husband, to a man’ ... but in some sense, that was part of what I craved; perhaps not subservience, but submission. And not in a one-sided relationship, but at times taking the dominant role. In fact, I now saw myself primarily being the dominant – in business and in the family, with periods of submission to break up the monotony of a single role.
As far as having kids, I couldn’t imagine it at the moment; perhaps that would change sometime in the future? But Sam had had a vasectomy. Would I also be looking for a surrogate, or adopting? My mind was muddled from the wine, and there were many questions I could not answer. But there was no question that I would not be following in my mother’s footsteps as the traditional housefrau.