Monday, May 23, 2005

Four Day Weekend in Washington DC

E’s Number One Son (NOS) graduated last weekend from George Washington University with a double major. The guy is a smart kid.

We flew out on Thursday morning on a cramped United plane. We meet E’s aunt, uncle and ex-wife in DC. They also flew to DC from the SF bay area. The first night we all had rooms at a gay-owned, straight-friendly bed and breakfast not far from Dupont Circle. The William Lewis House is a cozy, Edwardian-style furnished, restored Victorian house. The Washington Blade just had a nice write up in its print edition. This was E’s third time staying there, my second.

Our long weekend visit was very different than our previous one six months ago. Back then we had lots of time to ourselves to visit museums, attend plays and hit the gay bars and dance clubs. This time it was about entertaining family and friends. I felt so lucky and fortunate to be a part of this new family. We (I, E and E’s ex-wife) hosted several meals that included many of NOS’s college friends and old family friends.

NOS always introduced E and I to his friends as “his Dads”. He even insisted that we go drinking with his buddies. Of course they were straight bars and The Dads paid.

Befitting any good family event, there was an abundance of eating. We had good lunches at Bertucci’s and Sette Osteria. Thursday night dinner was with family and college friends at Mimi’s American Bistro. Not only was the food good, but that night the singing waiters were cute and talented. Friday night was at a Malaysian restaurant called Penang. We had 16 people. Most were old family friends of E and his ex. Everyone had such a great time that most of us decided to meet again for brunch the next day at a hotel restaurant. Saturday night’s dinner was at Odeon Cafe where NOS had worked one summer. It featured old fashioned Italian food.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Weekend of kids and dinners.

We had six kids for Shabbat dinner on Friday. My two young kids (6 & 8) were with us for the weekend. My 20 year old daughter was also around. She has been staying at my parent’s house before going back to college for summer classes at the end of the month. And E’s high school age son is living with us now. They were all expected for dinner. Midday my older daughter calls and asks if she can bring an old friend from high school. Then a half hour before dinner, E’s son calls asking if his friend can come to dinner. Fortunately there was enough for all. E and I felt truly blessed as we lighted candles and said the blessings over the wine and bread at the beginning of the meal. It is great that the kids feel so comfortable to have their friends over.

Saturday night we were invited to a dinner party with four other gay couples at a house that looked like it came out of the pages of Sunset Magazine or Architectural Digest. We are trying very hard not to have house envy.

Sunday afternoon we picnicked in the park with another gay dad couple and their kids. Later that night we attended a benefit dinner for a teacher training organization called “Facing History and Ourselves”.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Show roundup

We have been to nine theatrical productions in the last six weeks. At the beginning of April we saw “Crowns” by Regina Taylor. It was the last show of the season at TheatreWorks. The show featured rousing gospel songs surrounded by an oral history of "hattitude", the story behind the hats that African American women wear to church. It is based on the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.

The following week we organized a small group of people for an intimate evening of “living room theatre”. Tony nominated actor and local resident Gerald Hiken performed excerpts from the writings of Marcel Proust, W.H. Auden and Gertrude Stein in his living room with dessert afterwards. It was a wonderful and charming evening.

We saw a touring production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” in San Francisco. It was produced by the Theatre Royal Bath and the Peter Hall Company in England. The best things about this production were the lights and the forest set. They were beautiful. However, I’ve seen Shakespeare performed better locally.

The last week of April we saw three new works at TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival. These were workshop readings. The best was Firoozeh Dumas’ “Laughing Without an Accent”. It is her one-woman show from her book Funny in Farsi. It is a very funny account of what it was like to be from Iran and grow up in American suburb.“The Funkentin Rapture” by Lee Summers and Ben Blake is a funk musical about love and a secret recipe for a dish called catfish surprise that is going to rival KFC’s chicken. The show needs to invest in a good editor with a sharp pencil to make a number of cuts.The final show had the strange name of “Piece”. It is by Scott Alan and Tara Smith. I would describe it as a memory musical of a woman at four stages in her life. The show seems ready for a full stage production. The music is very beautiful and touching.

Two weeks we saw the out of town tryout, “Lennon” in San Francisco. It is the John Lennon story that mostly focuses on the Yoko Ono years. The production had great singing but the structure and book of the show was disorganized. The point of the show appears to be: Imagine that there is a John Lennon in all of us. Give John Lennon a chance. All you need is John Lennon’s love.

This week we saw a strong production of Eugene O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten” at A.C.T. and a fun semi-staged concert version of “The Boys from Syracuse” by Rodgers and Hart at 42nd Street Moon.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Third meeting with the Rabbi

Last week we had our third of four pre-martial counseling sessions with the senior rabbi that is going to marry us. The first couple sessions covered the mechanics of the ceremony and sharing personal history. This session she raised two very interesting and challenging questions for which there is no easy or right answer.

The first question was how are we going to define and deal with monogamy in our relationship? What would we do if one of us found ourselves attracted to another man? Wow! First, how do you talk about this in front of a married female rabbi? Early on we decided that our relationship would be exclusive and monogamous. Over time we have developed little rules such as “look but don’t touch” and “share what you see”. For fun, we are allowed to have a top five celebrity exception list. The rabbi’s question prompted E and I to have an ongoing discussion on whether gay monogamy is different then straight monogamy. I think it might be. It includes much more diverse agreements and understandings. Reviewing the gay bloggers in a relationship listed on my blog role demonstrates a variety from extremely open to very traditional. Joe Perez at “Gay Spirituality and Culture” has written several interesting essays on the subject. (1, 2). For us, the more traditional understanding of monogamy is what we are going to practice. But I think the key for us is to always keep talking about it and not keep sexual secrets from each other. I believe this will also help get us work through situation if one of us becomes attracted to another.

The second question dealt with our ex-wives. Have we repented or teshuvah to them for the sin of breaking our original marriage vows and the hurt, pain and disruption we caused? This is important for us because we will always be bound to our former spouses through our children. There will always be some sort of relationship with them as long as we have a relationship with our kids. Even as the kids become adults there will marriages, births and other important family events. E and his ex are having a much easier relationship then I am. They have moved to the rare level of “former lovers/best friends” stage. They are comfortable sharing information and activities. It is more like the relationship in a close extended family. Together, we have hosted and attended many dinners, parties and other events. Meanwhile, my ex is still at a hurt and anger stage. The ONLY reason she communicates with me is on issues regarding the kids. I doubt this will change anytime soon.
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