This excerpt takes place roughly one week before the last one. Don’t worry, it still makes sense. It’s the first time Valentine’s Day comes on Matt’s radar in a “oh shit, that’s almost here” kind of way. 🙂 Enjoy!
The first time I gave half a thought to Valentine’s Day was the actual weekend we moved in, which was the Saturday before our towel shopping expedition. It happened to also be Super Bowl Sunday weekend.
Aaron gave me a blank stare when I reminded him of one of my own personal high holidays. I had to explain in depth why it was significant to a sports fan and particularly to a football fan.
“But the Steelers aren’t in it, are they?”
“Ouch. Go ahead and add a little salt into the wound, why don’t you?”
“Oops. Sorry, honey. Not to worry. We’ll do all the moving on Saturday and Sunday will be your day of rest. I’ll unpack boxes and you can go watch The Super Football with your friends. Deal?”
“The Super Bowl.”
“That’s what I said.”
“No, you said Super Football.”
“Oops again. Once we have the heavy furniture where it needs to go and boxes where they need to go, I can take over. The hard part is the actual moving.”
“The painting was kind of hard too.” I reminded him. He just rolled his eyes. No sympathy would be coming my way.
Richie and Dean had agreed to lease us their Dupont condo for one year, beginning mid January. Additionally, Aaron got Richie’s okay to paint whatever he wanted. Aaron explained that was because Richie understood Aaron had exceptional taste and was a perfectionist. There would be no sloppy paint job to worry about with Aaron on the job. Oh yeah…and me too.
Painting with Aaron proved to be fucking exhausting. In a way, it was our first test as a couple, especially a couple who was planning on cohabitation. He wanted my opinion, except… not really. He wanted my help, except… he had very exacting rules about painting procedures. The prep work alone was draining. And we hadn’t even picked the colors… plural. Once he had Richie’s permission, Aaron decided white was out and a whole new palate was called for. He pored over colors with names like Charcoal Pinstripe and Revere Pewter. He would ask my opinion and almost immediately disagree. I understood that was part of his own creative process, but it was tiring to say the least. It took us two weekends to finish the job. The next weekend was move in day. Frankly, I was really looking forward to getting away from the new condo for a day. Super Bowl Sunday couldn’t get here soon enough.
We hired movers rather than jeopardize friendships, so the actual day went relatively well. I helped Aaron clean and clear crap from his old place so he could concentrate on our new one while I was busy on Sunday. And with a clear conscience and a hall pass, I showed up with a twelve pack of beer at the apartment I’d just vacated the day before. Curt, Dave and Jason were sprawled on the furniture watching preliminary commentary as they knocked back Bloody Marys. I was met with a round of cat calls and good natured teasing.
“So Matt, tell us about your first night as a married man!” Jason teased.
“Did you get some for all your troubles, man? Wait, don’t tell me. I can’t hear that stuff.” Dave chimed in.
“Speak for yourself! You can tell me all about it, Matt.” Curt, my gay former roomie added. “Half time, though.”
“Yeah yeah. You guys are hilarious.”
We settled down to watch the game and hang out. It was kind of funny to realize I no longer lived there. I examined my thoughts, wondering if I should feel nostalgic or even worried that I’d made a huge mistake. I felt neither. My friends would always be my friends no matter where we lived, but Aaron was my future. I wanted to live with him and build a life together. No question necessary.
At half time, Jason and Dave headed out to the market for more snacks. I stayed back with Curt who was glued to the television anxiously awaiting Madonna’s upcoming live performance. Funny, you wouldn’t know Curt was gay at all until he said shit like, “You’re kidding, right? Madonna is the halftime entertainment. You three figure out who’s going to the store. It damn sure ain’t me.” The rest of us shared a look, but refrained from saying anything. What could I say anyway? It was just another example of how un-stereotypical people could be. Another “don’t judge a book by its cover” moment.
I handed Curt a beer and took a seat at the opposite end of the sofa. He raised the bottle in a toast and gave me an apprising once over.
“So… everything good so far?”
“Well, since it’s technically been less than twenty four hours, I guess I’d answer yes. So far so good.”
“Technically maybe. But the fact is that you’ve basically been living together for, what?… six months?”
I nodded in acknowledgement.
“You really are gay then, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“It’s really kind of unfair. I’ve known I was into guys since I was thirteen and I’ve never been in a relationship for as long as you and Aaron have already been together. It’s been like a year, right?”
“A year almost exactly.” I smiled, and figured that was a good sign.
“Hmm. You don’t seem to have any issues with the gay life, that’s for sure.”
“What is that suppose to mean?”
“Nothing bad.” Curt looked surprised at my sharp tone. “I just meant that you spend a lot of time with Aaron’s friends, who are all either gay men or women who love gay men. Right? It seems funny in a way that you never seemed to know any homos beside myself and now you’re practical surrounded. That’s all. Is it weird?”
I didn’t know how to answer him because part of me wasn’t sure if I was being insulted, but that didn’t make sense. Curt was out and proud. He was simply making an observation. I didn’t think he was trying to send a message that he didn’t approve of the company I was keeping.
“I don’t know how to answer that.” I replied truthfully. “Aaron is all I care about. Don’t get me wrong. I love my friends and my family. I’ll always want to hang out with you guys and watch games and stuff Aaron doesn’t appreciate, but… fuck! I don’t know. I work so much now, and I want to be with him every chance I get. Maybe that’s how it starts. Who knows? I just know I’m happy and I really like the company I keep, gay, straight… whatever. It’s all good, Curt.”
Curt looked surprised at my candor. My words weren’t particularly poetic, but the point was made. Aaron was my number one. It wasn’t like me to share my feelings, but there had always been something about Curt that made it easier for me to confide in him. Hell, just over a year ago I was telling him I was crazily attracted to a man, and that for the first time ever I was willing to do something about that attraction.
“Well, that’s good then.” His grin was lop-sided but sincere. “So, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?”
“Matt, come on. He’s going to want to do something or get something special for hearts and flowers day! Just cuz you’re with a guy now, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. I guess you could always just go for candy and flowers… kind of boring, but…”
I tuned him out. Hearts and flowers? Valentine’s Day? Fuck. I hated made up holidays. It was just a vehicle for commercialism I thought. But damn, Curt was right. Aaron would probably like some acknowledgment of my affection. I wasn’t off the hook at all. I sighed deeply and decided to forget about it for the time being. My mother was visiting soon. We needed to get through that bit of fun first. Thankfully Madonna successfully diverted Curt’s attention and the subject was dropped.