This week my partner “Van” celebrates his birthday and we rushed home from South Carolina on Sunday to get the celebration started with a brunch with friends at Woodberry Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants in Baltimore.
We were waiting on our table when I glanced across the room and there was “Constance,” a woman I have known since we were in sixth grade. She was having brunch with her husband, a retired professional football player.
“Shit,” I thought. “Of all people I got to run into I have to run into Constance.”
Let me tell you why. Constance, who today is an instructor at a community college, is a busybody and bossy. She has been that way since she was a flat-chested, pre-teen wearing pigtails and saddle shoes.
Okay, this is a big, crowded restaurant, I rationalized. So the hostess will probably seat us far from Constance and they won’t even notice us.
Nope. No such luck. We got seated at a table near the bar right in front of them.
I wasn’t going to spoil Van’s birthday brunch, especially since he had hung with my mother and I like a champ last week after my stepfather’s death. Besides, God had my back. I was going to man up. And so I did.
I walked over to her. “Hey Constance!”
“Oh, Immanuel! It’s so good to see you.”
And we chatted about our kids and mutual friends and I told her I was having lunch with friends. And I sat down with Van and tried to act normal. But she kept glancing over. And leaning over and talking to her husband excitedly.
I mean, my friends and I are not flaming. But it was no mistaking we were a gay party. And her eyes were wide with curiosity. And every once in a while she would call over to me and urge me to try the dark ale or not order the bacon because it was too tough.
Constance was a big gossip from way back. An hour after brunch ended at 2 p.m. she would be on the phone with half my high school and middle school class, informing them that the same Immanuel who had married his gorgeous college sweetheart and had two beautiful kids and a big house in the suburbs, two cars in the garage and a dog was now a…faggot.
So I took the bull by the horns. Fuck it. I wasn’t going out like a bitch. I’m still a proud man. I just happen to be gay.
“Hey Constance come over and let me introduce you to my friends,” I said.
She practically knocked a waiter down getting over.
“This is Gerald and Michael and Harvey and Mitchell,” I began. “And this is my partner Van, who is celebrating his birthday.”
Baby girl didn’t miss a beat.
“Oh, Happy Birthday Van,” she gushed. “And it’s so nice to meet everybody.”
“Nice to meet you too, Constance,” everybody said.
And she chatted awhile and took her ass back to her seat. And we went about our brunch.
Still, I noticed her texting furiously on her phone.
“Yep, Facebook is going to be interesting on Monday,” I thought. “Cuz she is going to tell everybody.”
But you know. I really didn’t give a fuck. I pay my own bills. I was living my life. I’m happy. Constance can kiss my ass.
Besides, I had some dirt on her. I knew her husband, who is at least 10 years older and overweight like many retired football players, wasn’t doing his duty in bed anymore and she had taken a few lovers to get dick. But hey she was married to a rich baller so she stayed.
But deep down inside I knew I wouldn’t trade dirt for dirt if it came to that.
Eventually she and hubby got up and left. “We have to hang out soon, Immanuel,” she said, smiling sweetly.
“Yeah, right,” I thought. “Don’t try to act all phony. I know you are getting ready to put that knife in my back.”
That night I was surprised to get a text message from her.
She said I shouldn’t worry about the situation at the restaurant and she was glad I was living my true self and was happy. And she did want to come hang out with me.
And you know. She did really seem sincere.
I smiled, turned over and went to bed.
Q: Readers, have you been outed unexpectedly? Tell us how that happened?