Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Boy

The Boy's birthday just passed. I made a fabulous meal for the house, which we devoured before I could photograph it. But, though I'll talk about the food (because I'm me), I want to talk about The Boy. Because he deserves it.

To talk about politics for a moment, the way our relationship works in the world is complicated, and it's about who is allowed to form complex, devoted relationships with whom. It's understood, in our culture, that people can form romantic attachments that are life-long, committed, adoring, and passionate. In fact, that's what most people aspire to; that's what marriage is about in our current cultural understanding. (Marriage wasn't about that a hundred and fifty years ago; it was those beloved Victorians who made it what it is today, conceptually. But marriage is a topic for another post, probably associated with a cake tasting at some later point.) There is also an understanding that women can form passionate, life-long bonds with each other that are not necessarily sexual, but that are entirely committed. This is what Sex in the City was about, really, and the whole stupid sisterhood genre of chick lit. Men don't get to form these relationships, because our society doesn't really believe that men can have those sorts of emotions without being terribly conflicted about it. (The only real, close relationship between two unrelated men I've seen on TV is the relationship between Turk and J.D. on Scrubs. Scrubs has really fascinating, and I think useful, politics. But that's another post.) But for a man and a woman to be in that sort of committed friendship--it's odd. It smacks of suppressed sexual tension. It's unseemly.

For a man and a woman to be in that sort of committed friendship--it's odd. It smacks of suppressed sexual tension. It's unseemly. It's only allowed between a woman and a gay man, which strips the sex out of it (just as relationships between women have the sex stripped out). However, the 'hag' (female pal of fabulous gay man) is always, always straight. Or bisexual in the popular, flirty way that is so commonly discussed these days. (And I'm pro-bisexual. I might identify as bisexual, if I didn't hate men. But a lot of people are pop bisexual these days, and it's corny and stupid and I'm a revolutionary queer so get the hell away from me.) There is no cultural space for a lesbian to be a hag, or, as is more appropriate for me and the Boy, for a gay man and a lesbian to form the sort of committed, loving friendship that women are allowed to form together, or that exists in a different form between spouses/lovers/partners/whatever your generic for things like that is.

So when we're together, the Boy and I get read as one of two things. Either we're a couple, or I'm his [straight] hag. The couple thing I kinda get. We hold hands in public; we walk arm in arm; we call each other "baby," "honey," and "mama;" we wear each other's clothes; we end all our phone calls with "love you." Compulsory heterosexuality reads us as a straight couple. We realize we look like a couple, and find it terribly funny. In fact, I regularly call him my boyfriend.

But, if you read him as gay, assuming I'm straight? That doesn't make any freakin' sense, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, it does--I don't dress dykey, I don't have short hair, I only have one piercing per ear. (I do have cat's-eye glasses, and wear Timberland boots, but that's insufficent, apparently.) But, when I am 'hagging' (by which I mean accompanying him, in wing-man style, on bouts of organized and slightly drunken gayness) why, oh why oh why, does mainstream gay male culture have to read me as straight? Come on, people. Lesbians can be fabulous too!

Well, maybe that's my problem.

But the politics of relationships between gay men and lesbians, or, more accurately, between men and women in the broader queer community, are not the point of this post. I'm getting away from what is supposed to be important here, which is the Boy, and why I am so grateful for him in my life. This guy is totally dedicated to those he loves. He is completely emotionally open and honest. When you are with him, he is there. I need people like that in my life. (The Wife is like that, too, in a slightly different way, but it's good to have backup. For emergencies. And I have those sorts of emergencies frequently.)

And it's amazing to live with people who you can trust. Who you can count on. Who really want to live the way you do, so that you can make it work. A beloved roommate just moved out (very, very far out, different-state out), and while I loved her (and still do), we didn't always agree about how to live. But Wife, Boy, and I, we are on the exact same page.

The real way you can tell this is that we all walk in the door and take off our pants. We then spend the rest of the evening in our panties (which I assert applies to both male and female underpants, plus what he wears are totally panties and nothing butcher), reading our email, watching shows we TiVoed, and eating. It is totally together and united and beautiful. And pantsless. (I'm not wearing pants as I type this, in fact.)

And he has not been happy recently. There's a lousy job, which I won't write about since I'm pretty sure there's a confidentiality agreement involved; there's a bad breakup, which I won't write about because no one involved was an asshole, it just sucked; there are life decisions to be pondered, which I won't write about because everyone in their mid-twenties is having a similar version of the same thing. But he's not happy. So I have to be there for him. And the main way I know how to do that is through cooking.

Luckily, he's Mexican, and therefore believes that cooking=love as much as I do.

The Boy, at the beach last fall.

Menu for a Slightly Sad Best Friend, Upon Turning 25

Salad course:
Romaine lettuce, sliced steamed beets, and goat cheese rolled in real Mexican chili powder, served with balsamic vinaigrette
  • The goat cheese was Fairway brand, and I wasn't too impressed. Not assertive and goat-y enough for me. My Mexican chili powder comes from Kansas, of all places, but the Boy asserts that it is authentic. And since he gets mad when people put tomatoes in guacamole, I think he knows from authentic.

Main Course:
Brie Souffle
Yukon Gold Potatoes with Herbes de Provence Infused Olive Oil
  • To make brie souffle, add an entire wedge of brie, rind removed and cut in chunks, to the bérnaise (white) sauce you are using as the base, along with the egg yolks. More brie is always good, but even with just one wedge of lousy cheese the flavor will be excellent. I infused the oil by warming about a quarter cup of olive oil (mixed with some canola, to prevent smoking) to about 200 degrees in my smallest cast iron skillet, adding the dried herbs, and turning off the heat. It sat for about an hour, at which point I strained it and poured it over the chopped potatoes. Don't use cast iron if you want to store the oil; the iron which leaches into the oil, while yummy if you are an anemic vegetarian like myself, would make the oil go rancid more quickly.
Dessert
Namaste Spice Cake, sprinkled with powdered sugar
  • The Namaste Vanilla Cake is also excellent.
Wine Pairing
Réservé Maison Nicolas 2005 (chardonnay)
  • This is not an informed pairing; I had two bottles of red in the house, and one of white. I asked LiveJournal to help me, but got mixed responses. Something in me said "white with eggs," which is why I went with it. But, ya know, I didn't really care. It was good; I'd recommend it.
Serve, on the good china, in the new dining room, on a table with a table cloth. Spend two hours, at least, sitting together as a house, laughing, feeding the cats bits of souffle, and talking about life. Repeat more often than once a year.

Love you, baby. Happy birthday.

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