Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sam and Gil, A Love Story
Sam-the-lawyer met Gil-the-seamstress-for-the-band in a gay bar. So typical, but mercifully their relationship was not. Sam considered himself to be a plain-wrap kind of a guy, he was forty-nine, and nervous about turning “you know—that number.” Gil was only thirty-three and had no idea what plain-wrap meant. Gil bore absolutely no resemblance to ordinary—because Gil was anything but plain-wrap. He was wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. He was cominatcha. He was all about glorious Technicolor!
Don’t think these glaring differences didn’t get in the way now and then. Sam was a realist, and so did his best to almost always view his situation with brutal honesty. Sam and Gil’s differences did tend to wreak havoc on their domestic bliss. For instance, Sam had hired a straight (yes, straight) decorator (the fabulously famous Mitt Schell) to create a serene, austere look for his loft-condo in Long Beach. And Sam adored the atonal vibes of the various grays, the cocoa wool sectional, the sisal carpeting, the glass countertops and stainless steel cabinetry. He held the highest admiration for the linear composition of the furnishings, and the deliberate use of fine art in such a measured, minimalistic fashion.
Only love had the audacity to barge in and introduce turquoise feathers, fuchsia rhinestones, gaudy chandeliers shellacked in black, horrendous bogus Warhol rip-offs, and garish super-shag throw rugs into the mix. Only LOVE! Sam had waited for love and wouldn’t you know it—he found it long after giving up on the idea. His soul mate turned out to be a Dancing With The Stars watching Pilate’s enthusiast, with a penchant for tofu and sake, a hummer of show tunes, a man that called his mother before breakfast every morning, a man that cried over spilt milk. Gil.
The third time they got together, to spend an afternoon sightseeing, Sam pulled into the Denny’s parking lot and Gil threw a fit. Seemed, he did not do Denny’s. After dragging his new boyfriend inside screaming and kicking, Sam explained to Gil how it worked over a Moon Over My Hammy, how he didn’t do drama. How important his work was to him, how important it was to start slow, to learn all about one another before jumping in with both feet. “I can’t believe you’re eating that,” Gil said, glaring at the villainous sandwich, his contemptuous eyes as green as the crisp parsley on his plate of tomatoes. “Save my soul, food should not be named after songs, after all.”
Sam wiped his mouth with his napkin. “Huh?” He took the bait.
“Moon Over Miami,” Gil said, “you know…Joe Burke, Edgar Leslie, 1935?”
“No, I don’t know.” Sam said emphatically, “Who the hell does? You’re the encyclopedia of useless knowledge.”
“That I am,” Gil said, his tapered fingers toyed with the edge of Sam’s sweater. “Fair warning, don’t play Trivial Pursuit with me.”
Sam had never cared to play board games. When he was a kid he thought of them as bored games. “Don’t worry; I won’t.”
They became inseparable—the only obstacle in their way—Sam’s insecurity regarding the difference in their ages. One night he decided to bring the divergence out in the open, just as they were about to dive into Gil’s heavenly homemade Cesar salad, he dredged up the courage to ask, “How long do you give us? Before it dawns on you that I’m too old?”
“What kind of question is that?” Gil let the wooden salad servers drop ceremoniously into the matching over-sized bowl.
“I have to prepare myself,” Sam elevated his chin somewhat, a telling gesture.
Gil crossed his arms, huffed, and then asked, “Okay, prepare yourself for what?”
“Come on,” Sam urged. “Look at you. Look at me.”
Gil launched into a tirade about how it always came down to appearances with gay men. How sick and tired he was about the whole focus on what was on the outside of the person, instead of what was on the inside. Besides, he felt free to point out, Sam looked to be forty—tops. And he was handsome and in shape. Although Gil did believe that Sam’s poor arteries were more than likely well on their way to being clotted all to hell with gunked up muck as a result of his poor food choices. That was the night that it was decided that Gil would move out of the cockroach-ridden apartment that he lived in just off Sunset in Hollywood. He would be free of the tyranny of the Russian mobsters and ladies of the night that harangued him at his dark alley parking space as he came and went daily. They would be partners. Neither had ever lived with anyone but their parents before.
When the opportunity presented itself for Gil to work on a new movie with the well-known stylist and costume designer Sally May Wu, he reluctantly took the position at Sam’s insistence. “You’d be foolish to pass this up,” Sam admonished.
Gil stood in front of the bureau sliding various rings on to his well-manicured fingers. “I don’t like change. I hate to leave The Lords, I really do. This is so hard.”
Sam put his hand on Gil’s shoulder. He was so short, so compact, so unlike any man that Sam had been with before. “Change can be a good thing. The band will go on without you. It’s a movie Gil. A movie that millions will see. You’ll be dressing Greg Kinnear and Cameron Diaz. Jesus, get real.”
“I know, I know,” Gil muttered as he smoothed his shirt. “You’re right. I should be excited but instead I’m freaking out.”
“Why aren’t you jealous?” Gil asked Sam one night after he’d arrived home after eleven. Sam had been working on a case. His laptop, and stacks of papers were spread out over the silk bedspread. “After all, I’m never here.” Gil added. “Sally and I are practically joined together at the hip, but you never bitch or moan about my being away!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sam said. “You know I miss you. I tell you all the time.”
Gil did have dark circles under his eyes. Sam couldn’t help but notice that he’d taken to chewing his cuticles, and how he hadn’t shaved in days. Maybe the pressure was too much.
“Mother gives me a hard time. She’s pissed I hardly ever call.”
Sam threw his arms up in disbelief. “It’s called work. Work! Your mother needs to understand that. Gil, this is an important career builder, the real deal, a movie!”
“Yeah. But what do you do without me? You work too much. You eat crap from Jack in the Box. You drink too much white wine. You watch Law and Order. I guess I want you to complain about loneliness. Convince me you love me!”
Sam smiled at his harried partner. “When you’re finished with this job, we’ll go on vacation,” he promised. “We’ll fly somewhere. So you can rest.”
And they did. They chose Paris. Gil said that everyone should visit The City of Light at least once; that they should go there with someone they truly love. He cried when he described the view outside the window of their hotel room to his mother over the phone. “Oh Mother,” he gushed, “Paris is all it’s cracked up to be, and more! It’s Disneyland for grown-ups!”
Sam got a kick out of Gil’s comment. Disneyland was Gil’s favorite place. So, for him to compare Paris to Disneyland meant that he was thrilled. All Sam wanted was for Gil to be truly happy.
Strolling through Montmartre arm in arm, Gil singing some old Gershwin tune softly with Sam humming along, they belonged to the night and to each other.
All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.