My (ex) wife Gabbie says I tricked her into getting married. She says I didn't want her or her vagina, I only wanted her uterus, and that's why I proposed.
She's wrong, but not entirely so. I wanted kids but I also wanted more than that. My dream was to have a big, happy, supportive Brady Bunch-like family, anchored by a loving partnership between Gabbie and me.
I've realized that I want the same thing with Dean. Gender and sex really aren't make-or-break factors for me. Love, stability and happiness are.
On our first date Dean joked about waiting to have sex until we were married. I played along and said, "No problem. I can stay celibate before marriage for as long as you can."
"In that case, we might be in trouble!"
I've never been on a first date where someone dared to mention marriage, even as a joke. The fact that he brought it up so soon made me like him even more. Commitment is very sexy to me, even better than six-pack abs.
Dean has made several more jokes about getting married in the months since we first met. Usually he says something like, "Too bad we can't get legally married in California - yet. Not that it matters, of course, since you're already married and plan to stay that way."
Clearly, the fact that I'm still married bothers him. And just as clearly, when he needles me about possibly staying married, he wants me to contradict him, which I do.
I like the marriage jokes, even when they come at my expense, because they suggest that our long-term goal remains the same. I really do believe that we are on the path to marriage, although getting there is likely to take years.
What's been frustrating is that Dean's actions do not always match his words. If he really is open to spending the rest of his life with me then shouldn't I feel like a priority in his life right now? For example: four days without a phone call. Really??
Well, a decision Dean made last week gave my 'happily-ever-after' dreams a big boost.
Early in the week he asked if I had any plans for Friday night. That was a surprising question because he always has his kids then, which means we can't meet. "What do you have in mind?" I excitedly asked.
"I have an extra ticket to my ex's performance. I'm taking the kids and I was wondering if you might like to come too?" His ex-wife used to be a professional dancer and still performs in local productions whenever she can.
His invitation really floored me because a week before I asked if he, his kids and I could all hang out together sometime. He immediately rejected the idea: "No, that won't work. I know my kids won't want to share me."
The invitation to his ex's performance was also a big deal because if I went, I'd meet his kids and his ex-wife for the first time. Huge.
I said I'd love to go.
On-and-off for the next several days I was nervous about meeting his ex. All I could think about was how awkward it would be (will be) if Dean ever meets Gabbie. I'm sure she'd be polite but I just know she'd be thinking negative thoughts about him. She never likes any of my friends.
As Friday approached, I asked Dean to check with each of his kids and his ex and make sure they felt ok about meeting me. He did and everyone said they were looking forward to meeting me. That information was so reassuring that I wasn't nervous again until the moment I walked into the theater.
His kids (9, 11 and 14) are all young for their ages. His oldest will turn fifteen in a few months and he still hasn't hit puberty yet. As I said hi to each of them I was struck by how child-like they are compared to my kids. No wonder he talks about how sweet they are all the time - none of them has crossed the bridge to teenage attitude.
After saying hello, I decided to be as low-key as possible and not force them to talk to me. They all sat on or around Dean, while he and I talked, or he talked to them. They seemed comfortable with me and I was comfortable with them.
My biggest interaction with them happened during intermission. All three of the kids begged Dean to buy them something to drink but he kept saying no. I had brought flowers to give to his ex (three cheers for bribery) but I forgot them in the car so I went back to get them. On my way back, I stopped at a convenience store and bought the kids a large bottle of water. I didn't want to annoy Dean by countermanding his decision not to buy them anything, but I thought one bottle of water was pretty innocuous. When I came back with the water he didn't seem to mind and the kids were genuinely grateful. They drained the bottle in just a few minutes. The next day the oldest told Dean to tell me that bringing the water saved their lives - they would have all died of dehydration without it.
As the show ended I got really nervous again because I knew I'd be meeting his ex-wife in just a few minutes. We ended up waiting for her for at least 10 minutes, which made for a lot of anxious anticipation for me.
When she finally appeared, the kids and Dean mobbed her with hugs, as did several other people. I stood back a little; the post-performance greetings were supposed to be about her, not about the two of us meeting. I expected Dean to break the ice and introduce us, and just as I thought he was going to do so, he saw some friend across the room and cluelessly announced that he was going to go say hi to him. That left his ex-wife and I somewhat awkwardly smiling at each other from about six feet away. I said hello, complimented her performance, and gave her the flowers. Just as we were about to exchange a few sentences of polite chit-chat, a woman launched herself between us, and raved to Dean's ex about the show. Several more people followed her and did the same. I tried to stand and smile as casually as possible, but that's not easy to do when a bunch of people you don't know are enthusiastically hugging and chatting all around you. As the minutes ticked by, I started looking around for Dean. He was no where to be seen. Finally, I heard him call to his kids and tell them it was time to go because it was late. They ran to him and all four of them turned to go.
Of course I don't want to be rude to his ex and run off without really talking to her, so I turned back and said, "Thanks for giving your permission for me to come. That was very nice of you. I really enjoyed the show. I've never seen it performed before." Honestly, I don't remember how she replied. I do know that she was polite and friendly, but also shy and nervous. For some reason I expected her to be more bold, the way Gabbie would be. With our three sentences exchanged, we said goodbye and that was that.
In what I consider to be the most bizarre aspect of the night, Dean never asked how it went between me and his ex. Actually, it's now been six days and he still hasn't asked. I have to say that I find his cluelessness/thoughtlessness on the matter to be frustrating. What bothers me most (more than anything else he's done or said since we've met), was that he walked away to say hi to someone else when he should have been introducing me to his wife. For him not to not know that our meeting was worthy of his attention leaves me speechless - and a little hurt.
Well here I am again, bitching about small slights that don't mean anything in the long run. Maybe I'm more petty than I realize. Whatever. His insensitivity is not a big deal, except that it brings me back to the subject of the contradictions between what he says and what he does. The obvious lesson for me is that I need to deal with my insecurities myself and not expect anything from him.
Overall, I'd say that meeting his ex and kids went well. I'm glad to have broken the ice with them and I really hope that I'll be accepted enough that Dean and I will be able to spend more time together, with his kids. The way I look at this is, we've taken an important step toward becoming the big, happy family I always hoped to have.
The next big step is for me to tell Gabbie and my kids that I have a friend named Dean. I hope to be able to do that within the next 60 days.
Ultimately, I'd like to bring our two families together, although not necessarily to live in one house. It's a fun idea to imagine us as the Brady Bunch with two gay dads; between us we have three boys and three girls. All we'd need is Ann B. Davis to help cook and clean.
As always, thanks for reading and commenting.