Not Enough Love and Understanding

It really sucks when your dearest friend in all the world is 1800 miles away.  It sucks a lot actually.

It sucks when you’re only guaranteed one day (not even a whole day) with your dearest friend, once a year.

It sucks when your friend decides that she’s going to bring her boyfriend with her and so your one day (not even a whole day) per year isn’t even one on one.

And it really sucks when people who are supposed to be mature, grown up people, can’t manage to behave that way and have to ruin a precious experience for someone else.

In my post titled It’s All About Eve I talked about my relationship with “Eve”.  I talked about how very important she is to me, and how despite being a gay man, she’s the love of my life.  Obviously, moving to California when she was staying in Oklahoma was a harder choice because of my feelings for her.  I don’t think I knew when I moved that she came to California every year to visit her Grandparents, so naturally I was thrilled when I found out, the first year, that she would be here and I could spend some time with her.

I was very anxious the first year, while driving down to her Grandparents house.  At the time, from where I lived it was a nearly 70 mile drive (this year, only about 45) which gave me plenty of time to worry and stress about how it was going to go.  I knew Eve’s parents, but I had never met her Grandparents and I was anxious about meeting new people (go figure.)  I was asked to be at her Grandparents house at 9:00 in the morning, which seems reasonable enough on it’s own, but with the 70 mile drive on California highways I didn’t know what to expect as far as traffic is concerned, I didn’t know how long it should take (70 miles on all highways should, theoretically, take about 45 minutes).  I left home at around 8:00 in the morning and stopped for gas and breakfast along the way.  I arrived at the house around 9:10 and was hassled for being late, and then sat around for another fifteen minutes waiting for Eve and her clan to be ready to go.  I didn’t care.  I got to see my friend who I missed so much.

I spent the day with Eve, her infant son and her parents.  After a long, planned to the minute day of shopping, or recreation of some sort, we returned to her Grandparents house where we had dinner, after which Eve and I went out on our own for some one on one time.  I returned Eve to her Grandparents house around 10:00 or so, in the evening and called it a night, before my 70 mile drive back home.  I didn’t care.  I got to spend a long, pleasant day with my dearest friend.

On that first visit, Eve’s infant son, developed an ear infection.  He was miserable and in terrible pain and had no other way to convey that than to cry and fuss.  Eve’s Grandfather, was horrible about it.  He complained throughout dinner that the boy was being noisy and disruptive and why couldn’t Eve do something about it?  He acted like the boy should have been able to control himself and act differently, while simultaneously acting like Eve was somehow at fault for not doing something about it.  Besides his issues with Eve’s son, he was not terribly hospitable to me, but mostly he just ignored me.  I was gracious and grateful and tried to stay out of everyone’s way and was very grateful when Eve and I were able to go out after the meal to spend some time alone.  It was then that she informed me that her Grandfather had always been a vicious, horrible, unkind, temperamental, hateful man and that no one liked him.  The visit’s were mostly for the sake of the Japanese Grandmother, whom, I’ve only ever heard referred to as “Obachan.”  “Grandpa” was only about 5’8″ but must have weighed nearly 400 pounds (if not more) and had difficulty walking without leaning on something to support his weight.

A few years ago Grandpa got very sick (he’s diabetic), was hospitalized and ultimately had to have two or three separate surgeries during which both of his legs were amputated, the right one above and the left one just below the knee.  He lost a significant amount of weight, and not just from the amputations.  He is also legally blind and can’t see anything more than to know that there is a vague shape in front of him that is not familiar but he doesn’t know who or what it is.

When he no longer had legs and was far more dependent on Obachan, his demeanor started to change quite a bit.  He’s still surly and he has some really unpleasant moments but he started to appreciate his wife more and treat everyone with a little more common decency.  Or so I thought.

Three of four years ago, when I came for my visit the whole posse was going to go to a Chinese buffet and I was supposed to meet them at the Grandparents house at 11:00.  By this time, I had grown quite accustomed to sitting around and waiting when I arrived because no one was ever ready and I was bout fifteen minutes late.  This time was no different, except that it only took about five minutes for everyone to get their poop in a group and out the door, yet somehow it was still all my fault.

“They,” (both Grandparents,) “are diabetic and have to eat on a set schedule to keep their blood sugar level,” Said “Big-D”.  This is what Eve’s son calls his grandmother, Eve’s mother.  I can appreciate that and respect that they’re trying to maintain said schedule.  With that in mind, however, I would think they could have gone on to the restaurant and just called me on this new fangled contraption I had, called a CELL PHONE and told me they’d gone on without me and that I should meet them there.  That’s what I would have done under the circumstances.

On that particular occasion, when the waiter brought the check, I reached into my pocket and took out some cash to give to Obachan to cover my share of the bill.  She would not take it and I was told to put my money away.  (This happens every time but I never assume or take it for granted and I always express my appreciation.)  This event was no different.  Obachan refused my money and I said, “Thank you, very much.”  Apparently, Grandpa didn’t see any of this and while he didn’t say anything to anyone at the time, he got his panties in a bunch because I was “ungrateful and unfriendly.”  He told Eve the following year that he didn’t really want me to come around because I wasn’t friendly, I never talked to anybody and I wasn’t grateful for their generosity.  After finding out what his problem was, she explained to him that his perception was inaccurate and stopped him from denying me “access”.  But when I arrived, she made a point of pushing me to proactively say hi to her grandparents.

Now, I know that sounds reasonable enough and like I shouldn’t need to be reminded, but here’s the thing.  I have never been introduced to her Grandparents any more than to say, “These are my Grandparents.”  Eve’s Grandmother is Japanese.  Her Grandfather met her during World War II (I think) and brought her back to America with him.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that fact except that, I can’t understand a word she says!!! Her Grandfather, as I have already stated is blind as a bat and doesn’t seem to even know I’m in the room most of the time.  And again, I’ve never been introduced to them.  I have no idea what their names are or what I should call them, and I realized the other night while telling all this to Insightful Therapist that I can, and should ask Eve, in private, what I should be calling them but it never occurred to me before and I haven’t done so.

How incredibly uncomfortable for someone, who is an outsider to begin with, is tremendously socially awkward and has not been properly “initiated” into the group to be left to fend for himself in such a setting.  And how insanely unfair to ridicule and belittle that person when they don’t perform to your standards.  I was angry when Eve informed me of this turn of events and I wanted to run away and cry after having been put in that situation, but I did not.  I dealt with it, because I wanted to see my friend.

Every year it’s a variation on a theme but it’s the same old story.  I try to make sure I’ll get there “on time” but I’m coming a great distance at such an early hour and a little leeway is in order.  I’m often “late” but not by more than fifteen minutes.  I always have to wait while Eve and her clan finish preparing and I’m hassled because I didn’t arrive on the dot at the assigned hour.  It is ALWAYS Eve that holds things up.  So not only am I harrassed for being late, but I’m forced to sit around and try to make conversation with the people I did not come to see.  After 10 years, this is not such a hardship but it is still stressful to me, because of all the negative treatment I know I can expect.

This year was different from the get-go.  In setting up plans with Eve and the boyfriend, she said, “Just tell me what time you’ll be here and we’ll figure the rest out then.”  This translated, to me, as, “It’s just going to be the three of us so there’s no pressure.”  I told her 9:30, but wasn’t able to get out of the house before 9:15.  I called her and told her this and she said no big deal, no one was ready anyway.  (Big shock.)    I had to stop for gas and breakfast on the way and I arrived at Eve’s Grandparents house around 10:45.  I was ushered into the kitchen/dining room and instructed (by Eve) to “have a seat at the table and talk to my parents.”  Obachan was in the kitchen and I said hello to her on the way through, which amounted to making eye contact with her (so we’d both know who I was talking to) and saying, “Helloooo!  It’s nice to see  you again.”

So I sat at the table with “Big-D” and “Saba”, (Eve’s step-father is Israeli) and chatted with them about the weather, and about work (Saba always asks me “hows your job”, it get’s really old trying to be polite and not say, “It sucks big gorilla dick and I wish I could quit but I don’t have any other prospects or any hope and I’ll probably die at this job because I’m worthless and can’t do anything else and I hate it, but thanks for asking.”), GPS devices, an offer of seeds (pumpkin I think), Invisalign (I have it and therefor declined the seeds) and Sudoku.  (Bear in mind, I did not know that it was going to be anyone besides me, Eve and her boyfriend.”)  Every five minutes Obachan would say something I couldn’t understand and Big-D would say, “I’m ready.” and Saba would say, “I’m ready” and I would say, “I’m ready.  What am I ready for?”  and no one would make a move for the door.  Three guesses who we were waiting for, only this time, she had a decent excuse.  Eve was on the phone with the VA trying to straighten something out for Grandpa.

While we were waiting a woman I’ve never seen before wondered into the kitchen and milled around for a little while.  I did not say anything because she had not noticed me,  I was in a room full of people who knew both of us and I was uncomfortable, and I was in the middle of a conversation with Big-D and Saba.  Where I come from, when two people who do not know each other encounter each other and there are others around who do know both parties a third party introduction is the considerate course of action.  Apparently, that is not the case in this household.  Finally, this woman looked across the room at me and said, “Who are you?”  I told her who I was and somehow I became aware that this was Eve’s aunt but still no one made any effort to introduce us.  This was the moment it dawned on me, again, that I was never introduced to Eve’s Grandparents and this is probably the reason I’m so uncomfortable being around them and expected to be the one to start up a conversation.

When Eve was finished with the VA, we headed out with Saba, Big-D and Obachan in one car and Eve, the boyfriend (TBF) and me in my truck.  We went to “the Japanese store” (I’m sure it has a real name, but again, I’ve never heard it – and I certainly couldn’t read it) and afterward Eve, TBF and I broke off on our own.

We had lunch at Tony Roma’s and went to the mall were we went to the movie theater and saw “Roll Models” (Pretty good movie but it was a little bit ruined for me by the six people who decided they had to sit in the top row with us and asked (five minutes after the movie started) if we could move down and make room for them, only to be disruptive the whole time and then I overheard one of them, during the final credits, say, “That’s the first time I’ve ever gone to see the same movie twice in the same day.”)  After the movie we (and by we I mean Eve and TBF) did a wee bit of shopping.  We then left for dinner and went to a Cuban restaurant (I’ve never had Cuban food before.  Don’t know that I ever will again, but it wasn’t terrible.)  After dinner we decided to go shoot some pool but Eve said, “Before we do, I’d like to go back to the house and drop some of this stuff off.”  That should have been the fist indicator of trouble right there, but as I was backing up to get enough distance between my truck and the vehicle in front of me so I could pull away from the curb, I literally forgot there was a car behind me and I backed into it.  Fortunately, it was really just a nudge and there was no damage done to either vehicle and fortunately, the owners of the vehicle (after the hostess finally tracked them down) were perfectly fine with the situation and didn’t even ask for my name or insurance information, but talk about your harbingers of doom…

The three of us returned to the Grandparents house so that Eve and TBF could offload their haul and while we were in the house, Grandpa started in complaining about how Eve had not taken care of all the things on the list…  Every year Eve’s Grandparents give her a few hundred dollars and in exchange, Eve takes care of some items on a “honey-do” list generally having to do with inputting information into the computer, or as in this case, talking to the VA.  Grandpa was having a tantrum because Eve had not taken care of all the items on the list which she said, he had told her not to worry about because other parties were dealing with those things.  And then came an issue with his watch.  (I know what you’re thinking, “what does a blind man need with a watch?” I was thinking the same thing but then I found out that apparently, it talks to him, so, yeah!  OK.)  Something wasn’t right with the watch and Grandpa and TBF went off to Grandpa’s office to find the instructions for it.

I had only been half paying attention as I was talking with Eve’s, now 10 year old, son and watching him play a video game (and I did not want to be a part of – or in the vicinity of – the conflict) so I missed a lot of the action but it was at this point that I heard her complaining to Big-D about Grandpa’s attitude about things and the fact that he apparently holds on to things forever.  “He made a comment about me ‘pulling an Eve'”, she said, in reference to something that had happened when she was 16 years old, she’s now 32.  It was also at this point that I found out that Grandpa had made a point of telling TBF what an ungrateful ingrate I am.

Eve said we should go and sit in the living room and wait for TBF to finish with Grandpa and then we’d go out again.  I asked her, “It sounds like maybe it would be best if I left?”  And she told me no.  That’s when she said we’d leave in a minute.  So we went to sit in the living room and not two minutes later, TBF came into the living room and Grandpa called Eve into his office.

Now, I have tried really hard to look at this situation from other peoples perspective and not be unduly angry but I’m having a hard time not taking this thing personally.  Eve went to see what Grandpa wanted and was gone for almost an hour while I sat in the living room with TBF making small talk (which I suck at) and waiting.  About fifteen minutes into this I felt like I should leave but I felt like if I left without saying good-bye that would be rude and if I interrupted their conversation to say good-bye that would also be rude and give Grandpa more excuses to dislike me, so I sat there looking at the TV with the “The Lord of the Rings” on (Which I do not want to watch.  I read the books as a child and felt they were very demonic) and listening as TBF’s breathing slowed and then turned into a quiet snore.

Finally, Eve came back into the living room, mouthed, “I’m so sorry” to me, and then woke TBF up to tell us (him) about the conversation.  “Do you know what this was allabout?” she asked.  “He’s throwing his little princess fits, (see I come by it honestly)” she told TBF, “because I’m his only Grandchild and he feels like I come all this way to see him and he still doesn’t get to spend time with me because I’m ‘always off doing other things.'”

Now if I look at this from Grandpa’s perspective, sure, if that’s how he perceives things I can understand why he’d be upset.  I don’t think I’d have chosen that moment to talk about it when my Grandchild had a friend waiting for her, though…  If I look at this from Eve’s perspective, I know she was pissed.  I know she wanted to “have it out” with Grandpa but she was going to wait till morning.  I can understand, though, that if this conversation that you feel strongly that you need to have comes up before you planned to have it, you need to follow it through and talk it out with the other person.  I really do get that.

And because I absolutely love Eve, I don’t want to be mad at her.  Nonetheless, I think she could have handled it better.  She knew I was out there waiting for her.  If I’d been in her shoes I’d have told Grandpa, “Hold on one minute.  I want to have this conversation but it’s obviously going to be a little bit and Kevin’s out there waiting.  Let me go send him home and I’ll be right back.”  And then I’d have come out to the living room and told me, “I’m so sorry to do this but I really need to have this conversation and it’s obviously going to take a while so you probably should go ahead and go after all.”  If she’d told me that I, of course, would have been dissapointed but I would have understood it and I would have gone.

None of that happened, though, and in reality, I’m only seeing this from my perspective and my perspective is that her crybaby, whiny-assed Grandfather, deliberately decided to take that moment to have this conversation.  That “always off doing other things” really meant, going off and spending the day with the ingrate, and that it was his intention to ruin the rest of my visit.  And no!  I am not paranoid.  I can’t help it if they’re all out to get me.

But here’s the thing.  As if that weren’t bad enough and enough evidence to support my argument, here’s the rest of the story:

Five minutes after Eve finally rejoined us in the living room, he wheeled his way into the arch-way (can’t roll his wheel chair on the carpet, I guess.) and started talking, to her as if we were not in the middle of a conversation (I’m supposed to believe he didn’t know I was there?)  He started talking to her and it was obvious that he was stretching for things to say (“When you get back to Oklahoma” (this was their last night in town) “see if you can find out who the ‘author’ of this painting is.”?)  This went on for about five more minutes and then when it was obvious that my time had ended I told her I should be going.  It was about 9:30 PM and we’d had a long day together.

After making me seek out and say good-bye to Obachan and Grandpa, I got to the door with my shoes on my feet, coat on my back and car keys in hand, expecting that she would walk me out to my car as usual (and, I guess, hoping for a bit of an apology for the way the evening had turned out – for which I would have absolved her of all responsibility) but instead, she gave me a hug, opened the door and stood aside.  I hate to think I’m making more out of that then I should but there was an almost physical feeling of not-right-ness to it.  I don’t think she’s ever, not walked me out to my car and I don’t like that she didn’t do it this time.

So here I am, nearly a week later, and I’m still bothered by the experience.  And I’m bothered that I’m bothered.  And I don’t know how I should react.  I want to ask her about it but I don’t want to blame her, and I don’t want to piss her off, which I have never succeeded in doing and she swears I can’t…  but I never believe her…  and I’m sad…  and I want her to be a more constant part of my life…  and I want her to be a boy…  and I’m sad…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: