Monday, December 19, 2005

Stepford Wife???

My friend Mike (from http://michaelmeadows.blogspot.com/) read my last blog post and wrote: "I love reading your blog. You're like... a Stepford Wife. But not in the robot way." A Stepford Wife??? So I wrote an email back to Mr. Michael Meadows and requested he explain just HOW I reminded him of a Stepford Wife. His response? "Well, I meant that as a compliment. Your dinner parties, home decorating ideas.... etc. Perhaps I should have clarified that." Uhh... yeah. Right. Well the next time you want to "compliment" me, Mr. Michael Meadows, why don't you try going on and on about what a fabulous life I've scratched out for myself, huh??? I'm just kidding, of course. In Mike's very own, unique kind of way, I do believe he was trying to give me a compliment. Moving on...

Last week's trip to Richmond for those two agonizing days of sales meetings turned out to be better than I'd expected. Its always kind of fun to meet up with peers who work in different cities, and with whom you normally only talk on the phone or exchange emails. The meetings themselves were sufficiently boring and I believe I learned exactly one new thing, which hardly justifies two full days away from my real work. But there were a few bright moments to be recalled.

I met a very nice man who's only been with the company for six weeks, and who works in our London office. He was interesting and thoroughly enjoyable to talk to. By chance I was seated next to him on day one of the meeting. That night, the entire group went to a restaurant where they had no large tables, so we were all split up into groups of 4. Since my car group was the last to arrive and I got detained talking to a colleague, I took the last empty seat, directly across the table from my new British friend Bruce. On my right was another British gentlemen who happens to be in charge of European operations. He told the story of his first sales job in Paris. He felt fairly comfortable speaking French, but as you might expect, local dialects and similar words with very different meanings soon became his downfall. He went to a posh hotel to meet the female sales prospect. He'd injured his neck while working out at the gym so when she greeted him and asked how he was, he turned his head from side to side and said in French "I'm doing well, but my asshole hurts." Apparently the word for neck and the word for asshole sound very similar, and he used the wrong pronunciation. We howled with laughter, to the point that the those at the other tables became jealous, as they knew we were having more fun. Then next day I sat next to Bruce again. Cheers mate!

Shortly after returning home Thurs evening, I got a phone call from an old JW friend of mine. We'd met in 1984 when I moved (temporarily) to Norfolk VA. We became very good friends quickly. I think we both knew that we shared a certain secret. Finally one day it came out, and we felt good knowing we weren't the only JW guys attracted to men. I moved back to the DC area, but we stayed friends, calling and visiting from time to time. A couple years later, he got married. I wasn't totally surprised, as I knew it was thought to be the cure for any JW guy who was attracted to men. It appeared that they had a happy marriage for several years. Meanwhile, I left the JW religion so I was cut off from all of my JW friends. I moved, he moved, and we lost touch for over 12 years.

He said he'd been trying to locate me for some time by Googling my name and calling the phone numbers attached to the responses. After many wrong numbers, he finally found me. Just for clarity's sake, I told him I wasn't a JW anymore and he confirmed that he knew it. He told me he'd never stopped thinking of me as a friend, and felt like I was one of the few people he could really trust. He was going through a rough time and needed a friend. He told me his wife had left him 5 years ago for another man. About 2 years ago he began to get acquainted with other men he knew to be gay. Recently he'd had a few "encounters" (his words) and felt guilty enough to confess to the JW Elders. He told me he would be disfellowshipped (the JW term for ex-communicated) this coming Thurs. I asked how he felt about that. Was he sad? Was he relieved? He said he really didn't know what to think or feel. He thought he'd just take it day by day and try to come to terms with what he thought and felt. I encouraged this, and told him that as JWs we weren't really given the opportunity to think and feel for ourselves. We read the JW publications, went to church and bible study groups, and our thoughts and feelings were explained in detail for us. There was no real thought or feeling required of us. Now that he was no longer going to be a JW (at least for a while), I told him it was an excellent time to begin to trust himself to think and feel for himself; to trust himself to know what was right for him. He said he wanted to see me, so we are trying to work out a convenient date. I'm excited and scared for him. He is indeed going through a difficult time. I wish I could somehow infuse him with everything I've learned in the 12+ years since I left the JWs. But that is my experience, which may be able to help him, but certainly can't replace HIS experience. My friend: I'm sending you positive energy!

Fri evening Joe & I headed up to the beach. Sat after breakfast we headed out to a few outlet stores, trying to cross that last Christmas gift off our list. After no success, we decided to pick up a few things for ourselves... nothing big deal, just a few pieces of clothing on sale, more holiday cards, and some items for Toys for Tots. We drove to Herring Point (in the state park) and got out to look at the ocean. It was very calm and beautiful. Joe took a nap in the afternoon while I wrote and addressed more cards. This is the latest I've ever gotten my holiday cards out. With only a week until Christmas, I gave myself Sun as the deadline.

Sat night I decided to indulge Joe by acquiescing to go to The Wharf in Ocean City for dinner. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet that has crab legs so he loves to go there. I think the food is terrible and most of the time convince him not to go. But since we didn't have anything planned for the evening I figured I didn't mind driving the 45 minutes to get there. I could put up with the food since we hadn't been there in a long time. On the way down there and back we enjoyed seeing all the holiday lights and decorations. Bethany, Fenwick, and Ocean City all had decorations on the utility polls and elsewhere. We had the radio on the station playing nothing but Christmas music. It was nice. We drove into the tiny downtown area in Bethany to look at the lights, and drove around several blocks in Rehoboth to enjoy the ample displays of lights, garlands, candy canes, and snow men.

Sun morning we came home, showered and shaved, and went to a small holiday gathering at our friends Ron & James' house. It was nice, and we saw some friends we'd not seen since last Christmas. Ron & James normally have a huge open house where you SEE lots of people but aren't able to TALK to many, so this year they decided to do something much smaller and more intimate. It was nice to catch up with everyone and wish them happy holidays. (Mike is now thinking I'm a Stepford Wife again...)

Afterward we came home and Joe took a nap while I continued writing and addressing cards. When he woke, I talked him into sealing the envelopes for me. FINALLY... all 126 cards were written, addressed, sealed, stamped, and ready to go into the mailbox. I dropped them off at the post office this morning. I don't mean to sound like the card thing is a big chore. I don't feel that way at all. I write and send them because I like to. Its a time when I think of friends I see frequently and those I've not seen in years. I jot them a short note inside a card with a printed holiday greeting, and hopefully they feel good when they receive and open the card. That's the point, right? I know I enjoy getting holiday cards, knowing that friends are thinking of me and wishing me "every happiness this holiday season, and always".

1 comment:

Michael said...

Lol!

Mark. I meant it as a compliment for sure. You have this perfect life. I miss spending time with you and Joe.

Interesting story about your old JW friend. Can't wait to hear how that turns out.

Mike