Mad Men

Paul has just picked me up from Logan airport and we are heading home on the Mass Pike when he says “You are going to love Brian’s wife; she is cute as a button. I invited them to Evelyn’s birthday party slash graduation party.” He says this in an upbeat way, as if he has just invited the neighbors to stop by for a drink, but Brian is Paul’s first boyfriend, whom I have never met.

“Why are you grimacing?” Paul says. “Oh, I’m not. It will be fine, the sun is in my eyes” I say. Paul looks suspiciously at me out of the corner of his eyes as he turns on the wind shield wipers. In my mind I am wondering if there is a previous boyfriend I can invite. But, I have no history. The time between my divorce and Paul was a period of five months and five one date disasters. I was looking for Mr. Right. They were looking for Mr. Right-now. And in a strange twist that often happens in the gay world, he dated two of those guys for a much longer time period than I did. I suppose I was incredibly lucky to find Paul so quickly, but now when I need to bring up the specter of a previous relationship, I’ve got nothing. And if I did bring one of them, they would have more to talk about with Paul.

“Ok” Paul says elongating the “k”, “I can un-invite him, but, the kids loved him”. Surprisingly, this does not make me feel any better. So I begin thinking about how much Jon Ham charges for an appearance fee. I imagine myself at the party saying “Oh, yeah, Jon and I go way back, long before Mad Men. I would help him practice his lines!” But then I picture Jon getting drunk and making a pass at my sister in law and the vision is shattered. “No, no, it’s fine!” I say to Paul.

I am surprised by my feelings and in a classic move, I keep this bottled inside of me, so that it can ferment and become toxic. Apparently, I have learned nothing from my previous life in the closet. I let it drive me mad.

Paul and I take great pride in our relationship. We trust each other implicitly and we never ignite each other’s insecurities by making comments about other guys that we see. We are the poster couple of maturity and respect. And this is why I say nothing until one week later when we are eating lunch in the park. Paul begins to speak, “So June 4th is Evelyn’s birthday and she’ll be graduating from high school….” And out pops the cork “And Brian will be there!” I say in a much more shrill emotion filled voice than I expected. Paul looks at me and smiles. “I mentioned it to him, but I won’t send him an invitation, he’ll forget about it”

Paul begins talking about something else that I can’t remember. “OK, so what about Brian, do you want to talk about this some more? I want to know what you are thinking” I say. “I thought we had moved on.” Paul says simply. It’s clear that I have made this a much bigger issue and Paul is now aware of it. “Oh, I forgot, you are the delicate one.” He says as he smiles and rubs my shoulders and looks at me like I am a wounded animal in a joking way.

Mistake number one: I thought I was being mature by not saying anything. Mistake number two: I expected Paul to read my mind. Suddenly, I really don’t care if Brian is at the party or not. The solution was as simple as it was difficult. Open your mouth and start talking.

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