Thursday, December 30, 2004

Thursday dinners with Evelyn

In yesterday's post ("Me and Joe") I mentioned that we pick up Joe's mother Evelyn for dinner every Thursday night. All three of us really enjoy and look forward to this; not because we eat some place exclusive or fancy, but simply because we have a good time together.

Evelyn lives in a town with a surprisingly small number of restaurants for the town's population, so we frequent many of the same restaurants. And, some of the restaurants have been placed on our DNR (Do Not Return) list. Some of those on the DNR list include Bob Evans, TGI Friday's, and the chinese place next door to the vet. Now, we are not boycotting Bob Evans or TGI Friday's in general, we've simply learned that the food at this particular Bob Evans is horrible and the service at this particular TGI Friday's is terrible. We've never actually eaten at the chinese place next door to the vet, but the stories we've all heard about chinese restaurants replacing the chicken with cat AND it's proximity to the vet need no further explanation.

During our regular Thursday dinners with Evelyn she tells us in detail about her week's activities, family news, and upcoming events. She's a very active senior citizen. We get to hear all of the details of her Saturday morning shopping trips with Gloria at JC Penney, the day trips to Atlantic City NJ and Williamsburg VA, her overnighter to Ogleby WV to see the 'festival of lights' (the little town is lit up for Christmas), and her 4-day trip to Dollywood. She sometimes brings us back refrigerator magnets or Christmas tree ornaments from these 'exotic' locations. She often goes on these trips with various groups to which she belongs, and often one or more of her girlfriends will join her. We affectionately refer to her circle of female friends as the hag bridage. Gloria is one of the hag bridage.

One Thursday when Mike from Seattle was visiting, the four of us ate at Bertucci's, an Italian restaurant chain. The food and service are rather good, and there are no vets nearby. As Evelyn told us about her Saturday morning shopping with Gloria at JC Penney, she says that she and Gloria passed a man in JC Penney who was dressed as a woman. She continues: "After the man is out of earshot, Gloria looks at me and says 'Aw Christ! Did you see that? What is this world coming to?'" Of course, the four of us can barely contain our laughter as we imagine Gloria's tactless remark in the store. The rest of the evening we insert 'Aw Christ!' into our conversations.

Just recently, Evelyn told us about a trip taken with another of the hag bridage, Helen. Helen used to live across the street from Evelyn, but now lives in a condo. She's been married 6 times. She's 83 years old but thinks of herself as the senior citizen version of Heather Locklear. Helen doesn't like the way her beautician styles her hair because she thinks it looks 'too fixed'. Helen prefers her hair to look 'wind-blown'. Evelyn says her hair looks like she just rolled out of bed. Evelyn goes on to tell us that on this recent trip Helen was encouraging Evelyn to wear more make-up and to tossle her hair a bit. Helen even put Evelyn's make-up on for her, to show her how she should look. Never wanting to offend anyone, Evelyn kindly thanked Helen for showing her how to do her make-up. Helen kept going on and on, as if she were some beauty consultant. So Evelyn wrapped it all up by saying "I promise I'll try to do it like this in the future. I want to be just like you, Helen." Joe & I burst out laughing! 'I want to be just like you' is something a child might say, not an adult. But Helen apparently took the remark as a compliment. Evelyn said they had a great time together on the trip.

One Thursday our friends Hugh & Kerry and Kerry's dad George joined us for dinner with Evelyn. We ate at the Family Restaurant & Pizzeria. Afterward we all went back to Evelyn's house for coffee and apple pie. Evelyn didn't bake the pie, it was store bought. She says she 'cooked dinner every night for 48 years' for her husband and family (not actually true - they often ate out) so she rarely cooks or bakes now that her kids are grown and her husband is deceased. Evelyn made the coffee and asked me to help her cut and serve the apple pie. After placing a few pieces onto plates and sending them out to the others I notice that there is orange-colored fruit in this apple pie. Unknown to me and Evelyn in the kitchen, the others in the living room have discovered this is not apple pie - it's peach pie. I become a bit concerned and say out loud "Umm, there is orange-colored fruit in this apple pie..." From the living room Joe replies "It's peach pie." From the kitchen Evelyn shouts back "It's not cheap pie... it cost $6.99!!!" Amongst the laughter, Joe tells her "Peach pie - not cheap pie." I look at the box and sure enough, it's clearly labeled Peach. We all have a good laugh, and as Hugh, Kerry and George are leaving, we promise to get together for dinner again soon, and that we'll have to be sure to have some CHEAP pie afterwards.

Then there was the time Joe, Evelyn and I had finished eating at a restaurant called King Street Blues. (Evelyn calls it Hill Street Blues, like the late-80s TV show.) As we're leaving she and I both grab mints. Once in the car, I said something to Joe and he smelled my mint. "Is that spearmint?" he asked. I said "Yeah. It's green and white, rather than the red and white peppermints they usually have." Then from the back seat Evelyn pops up "Mine is sour cream flavored." I said "What??? I've never heard of a sour cream mint before..." and Joe and I begin to laugh. The more we think about it, the harder we laugh! Now, we can imagine mints that might be flavored like different fruits (remember those fruit flavored lifesavers?) but sour cream??? By this time Evelyn is cracking up too. I have to stop driving for a moment in order to wipe the tears from my eyes and recover from the laughter!! So now, every Thursday when we leave any restaurant with a mint, I ask Evelyn if she got a sour cream mint this time.

Check back regularly for more episodes of Thursday dinner with Evelyn. :-)

Seeing an old friend

I was excited on Sunday night when I read an email from my old friend Brian telling me he would be visiting the area several days this week. He suggested we meet for dinner.

Brian and I lived near each other as kids and attended the same elementary school. We were in different classrooms so we didn't technically know each other then. We also went to the same middle (junior high) school, and that is where we met. We are very different in many ways, but became fast friends. I am taller, heavier and more outgoing than he. Brian is smarter, gentler, and more insightful than me. We remained friends through high school, and even after he went off to college we would occasionally run into one another when attending concerts at our old high school. After college Brian moved to NC and became a band teacher.

A few years later we reconnected and Brian invited me to visit him in NC for a weekend and attend a school musical in which his students were performing. We had a very nice weekend and enjoyed catching up. A few years later I received Brian's wedding invitation. I wanted so much to be there, but as luck would have it, his wedding date was the same as my cousin's, and I couldn't be at both weddings.

A few years later Brian and I began emailing. We found it an efficient way to keep up with what was happening in each other's lives. One day Brian emailed me that he would be in the area visiting his parents, and would like to get together. It had been about 10 years since we'd seen each other. We met at Chilli's and talked for several hours about his wife and marriage, my coming out and Joe, work, family, and religion. It was a great visit and we promised that the next time we'd include his wife Jennifer and my partner Joe.

So, two and a half years later, Brian and Jennifer and Joe and I met for dinner last night. We had a lovely time talking and catching up. Brian seems the same to me as he always has: sweet, kind, gentle, smart. His wife Jennifer was all of the same. I couldn't believe how fast the time had gone by when we put on our coats and walked to our cars.

What a gift to have a friend like Brian, who's remained a friend through all of life's changes.


In my first post I indicated that because I was not asking permission of people who 'star' in my blog I would not use their real names. At first that seemed like a good thing. After all, I could simply re-name these people in my blog. But then I began to think that it would probably get difficult after a while to remember which replacement names I'd used for whom. So, I've decided that I will go ahead and use my friends' real first names and simply not use any last names. After all, it's not like I'll be telling their personal secrets here or anything like that. So, for the record, my partner's real name is Joe, and the friend who turned me on to blogging is Mike. You can visit Mike's blog at

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Me and Joe

I met my partner Joe (that's his real name - not Howard - but thanks for playing along Michael) in the summer of 1996 and we have been together since. We are very much a 'together' couple; we do everything together. We go to the grocery store together, we go to family and office functions together, etc. We don't have 'my friends' and 'his friends' - we have 'our friends'. But it's that way because we like it that way, not because we're trying to fit into some conventional design of what an ideal couple should be. Despite the way it might look, we are not trying to mirror married straight couples. We're just living our lives together as we feel comfortable. And even though we are not legally married, we very much FEEL married and committed to each other.

Now, if you're not heaving and gagging over all that, you'll be happy to know that we do not always agree. In fact, despite our many similarities, we are also quite different. Much of that I believe comes from the way we were raised. Joe was raised in a very-Catholic family and I was raised in a very-Jehovah's Witness family. Joe and his siblings were raised in a 'do unto others' household, and were encouraged to go to college and become independent. (Note: this encouragement worked on 3 of the 5 kids.) My siblings and I was raised in an apocalyptic household, and were encouraged to convert all we could, as 'the end of the world is just around the corner'. These different types of upbringing molded our thinking, and even as adults who no longer identify as Catholic or Jehovah's Witness, we still recognize their occasional traces in our lives. But as the saying goes: Variety is the spice of life. I think we compliment each other.

When a member of the Jehovah's Witness religion decides to he/she no longer wishes to be a member, or if the congregation leaders determine one no longer qualifies for membership, one is disfellowshipped. That means he/she is no longer allowed to associate or have any contact with anyone who is still a Jehovah's Witness - even one's family. When I 'came out' I knew that I no longer qualified to be a JW nor did I desire to continue being a JW so I was disfellowshipped. Since all of my immediate family and most of my extended family are JWs I felt quite a loss. (More on that in a future post.) But I felt very fortunate when Joe introduced me to his family, who is warm, loving, and accepting. They have welcomed me into their family.

Joe and I would frequently have Sunday dinner with the family at his parents house. Rigatoni with sausage and salad; a Sunday tradition I gladly accepted. When Joe's father passed away in 1999 due to leukemia, the Sunday dinners stopped. Joe and I wanted to be sure we regularly spent time with his mom and cared for her, so we decided to pick her up on Thursday evenings and take her out to dinner. (More about Thursday night dinners with Joe's mom in future posts.) These visits have given us the chance to really become close, and she treats me like her son, rather than her son-in-law. We always laugh and have a good time!

Joe and I are fortunate to have a great circle of friends with whom we enjoy spending time, traveling, eating, and just hanging out. Not all of our friends are like us, which is just fine with me. (Remember: Variety is the spice of life...) We've enjoyed weekend trips to the mountains and the beach with friends. Joe went to Alaska with a friend. And next month we are going skiing in Vermont with friends. We also enjoy eating out a lot with friends. My two favorite food types are Mexican and Thai, and living near DC there is no shortage of places to eat ethnic food. We also enjoy entertaining in our home. Most years we have a big holiday open house! We invite neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, everybody and for a few hours we all pack into our house and enjoy homemade food, drinks and friendship. It's a lot of fun, but a lot of work too. For that reason, we don't have it every year. It's a fun chance to see some of our friends we don't see often, as well as a good chance for some of our friends to meet each other. We also enjoy very casual entertaining with some of our closer friends. Since we know each other so well, we eat in the kitchen and use our everyday dishes and flatware. After dinner we'll just sit in the living room and talk and laugh and have a good time. To me, 'this is the stuff that life is made of'.

Joe and I love being at the beach. Just a few months after we met, we went on a week's vacation at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We rented a beach house, just the two of us, and had a great time. Neither of us are the types to lie for hours baking in the sun. (Joe is afraid of skin cancer and I am just to fair-skinned to tolerate all that sun.) But just being near the water has a soothing affect on us. We've been back to the OBX several times since then, both with friends and just the two of us. Then, in 2001 a friend of ours invited us to stay in her little mobile home near the beach in Lewes, DE. (Lewes sounds like Lewis.) She'd bought the trailer (mobile home) from an older couple who used it as their summer and weekend get-away for many years. It was built in 1955 and still retains much of it's vintage charm. We enjoyed staying there several times, so when our friend's circumstances changed and she decided to sell the trailer, we bought it from her in March of 2003. Since then, we have spent at least one weekend per month, every month, at the beach. This month we invested with another couple and bought a house in Lewes. We've just started moving our stuff from the trailer to the house, and look forward to spending our first weekend there. We're looking for a new 'care taker' for the vintage trailer.

Joe is a social worker and psychotherapist by training. He is currently the Associate Director at an HIV/AIDS and GLBT clinic. Much of my career has been spent in the telecommunications industry. For the last 2 1/2 years I have been the Client Services Manager for a web conferencing company. I produce live web conferences on the internet for our clients.

We have two pets: Jordan and Pouncer. Jordan is a Lemon Beagle. Typically beagles are brown, white, and black but a lemon beagle is tan and white. Many times people are not sure what breed she is because of her confusing coloration. We got her from a rescue league when she was almost 2 years old. She was already named Jordan. We considered changing her name to something less trendy, but since she had so many bad habits (getting on the furniture and bed) that we had to dissuade her from, we thought that changing her name might be too much. So, we added to it. Her name is now Jordan Merna Louise. :-) Pouncer The Wonder Cat is our domestic short-hair cat. We got him from the local animal shelter a few months after Jordan. He was just a few weeks old, but since he was tan and white like Jordan, Joe thought it would be funny to have 'matching' pets, so we brought Pouncer home. I picked the name Pouncer The Wonder Cat, but we usually just call him Pouncer. In the movie 'Beaches' (one of my all-time favorites), Hilary's daughter Victoria has a cat named Pouncer, and in one scene she sings to the cat "Pouncer, Pouncer, the Wonder Cat. I'm so glad you're not a rat... or a bat... or too fat." Our Pouncer truly IS a wonder cat: he responds to verbal commands! When I tell him to 'come here', or 'get down', or 'stop' - just about anything - he does it. He is not at all the typical cat that ignores people. Pouncer is quite affectionate, and loves to sit on my stomach and chest while I watch TV. He also licks me. The vet said it is a bonding behavior, similar to the licking that dogs commonly do. He is the first cat I'd ever heard of that licked. Jordan and Pouncer get along great. We have a sweet photo on our mantel of the two of them sleeping together on the same pet bed. :-)

More to come...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Hi and welcome to my blog. My name is Mark and I live near Washington DC.

You may be wondering about the title of this blog 'Tales of the Sissy'. It is a play on words related to Armistead Maupin's novel 'Tales of the City' which chronicles the daily lives of several seemingly unrelated people. Eventually the reader finds that they are all related. It's a great book, and was also made into a movie. Since my blog will chronicle my daily life (although I am not promising to post daily) and I am gay (hence the stereotype 'sissy'), I decided to call my blog 'Tales of the Sissy'. I hope I'm not the only one who 'gets it'...

I have enjoyed writing since I was a kid. When a friend Mike began blogging and suggested I blog too, I decided to give it a try. I hope that you will enjoy (or at least be entertained by) my postings, and I welcome your comments. In coming posts I'll tell you more about myself and share with you some of the happenings in my life. Just to make this clear now: all names in my blog (except mine) have been changed. Since I am not asking anyone's permission to 'star' in my posts, I thought it would be courteous of me not to use their real names.

More later...