Monday, February 7, 2011

A Sunday in the Life of "This Gay Relationship"

A detour now, from the self-esteem posts of the past month or so, and a piece I've wanted to write for a long time, in part, to show just how like everyone else Chris and I are, despite being a gay couple.  

Yesterday was a fairly typical Sunday for us.  Chris's alarm went off at 6:00 am.  He sets his alarm even on weekends because of his demanding workday commute schedule so he doesn't get off his routine.  I go to bed later and get up later, too--usually around 7:30 am. While Chris waited for me to get up, he worked on his computer to complete updating an online manual for this job.    

Our first task together on Sundays is to go for a run.  We have something light to eat, drink a little water, and get dressed in our rain gear (this being the Wet Coast).  We ran along a different route yesterday, covering a total of over 8 km.  Once back home, we showered together, then ate breakfast side-by-side at the island in our kitchen, while finishing the weekend "Vancouver Sun."  I had cereal, toast, and orange juice; Chris had oatmeal, toasted English muffins, and coffee.

Following breakfast, we prepared our menu for the week.  We plan out all our meals, from Sunday to the following Friday, making sure we use many of the items we already have and keep the food we eat relatively healthy.  I ensure I'll prepare several meals with left-overs so Chris has lunches to take to work.  Once our menu plan is made, we go through the fridge and cupboards to decide what we need to buy from the local Save-On Foods.  I budget $150 per week for everything from personal items, to household products, to food (sometimes we go a little over, but, on average, we stay within our budget). Planning our meals ensures we don't buy anything we don't need (although there's some leeway for treats, like potato chips (Chris), Lindt chocolates (me), etc.).  We got dressed, brushed our teeth, and left.

At the mall where Save-On is located, I picked up a half-dozen bagels for my lunches and one of Chris's Hush-Puppies I took in to be repaired.  Then it was off to Save-On, where we shopped for about three quarters of an hour.  (By the way, Maria, one of the cashiers at Save-On, loves us because we pack our own groceries in the reusable bags.  Hey, I would just end up standing there anyway, and at least I know they're packed right.  She wishes every customer would do the same.  I'm just saying. Maria paid me to write this.)

On the way home, we stopped at a local market and picked up fresh sockeye salmon and a package of day-old strawberries (why pay more than I have to? Chris and I are diligent around not spending any more money than necessary for day-to-day items).

Back home, Chris unpacked the groceries, and I organized everything in the fridge and cupboards. Then I made ranch dressing for our salads this week, ate a light snack (a Honey Crisp apple and a few spoons of French Vanilla yogurt) and got down to cleaning the main level of the house.

Chris puttered around, completing a few tasks I assigned him (taking the banana plant out of the shed, unwrapping the burlap from around it, and putting it in a place where the rain will get to it now that the temperatures are warmer than they were in December and January).  He also worked on cleaning his bathtub, and completed more of the project for work on his computer in between doing the laundry. Part way through cleaning, I had another snack of a few crackers and a bit of cream cheese--enough to get me through to dinnertime.  By about 5:15 pm, I was finished cleaning and ready to start dinner.

Chris and I have an arrangement.  He earns our household income (I've been retired since July 2007), and I look after almost everything to keep our household going, including cooking, cleaning, the finances (balancing all our accounts, paying the bills, ensuring funds are held in reserve for everything from Chris's diabetes supplies to annual property taxes to what I call True Savings), cutting Chris's hair, gardening (a shared task from spring to fall), decorating, taking the car in for its preventative maintenance, picking up and dropping off dry cleaning, shovelling snow from the sidewalks (when there is some)--in short, all those daily tasks that come up.  Beyond that, I work on my writing, including this blog, my novel, etc.

Chris insists on doing the laundry, because, otherwise, he doesn't think he'd do much around here (although I help from time to time), fixes things when they break, addresses all needs with our computer network and laptops, does the heavy labor outside and in the garden (I help, too), etc.  In other words, we are the stereotypical gay male couple--I do the wifely things and he does the husbandly things, or, as I put it, he makes us function, and I make us look good.  Works for us, like a well-oiled machine.

Generally, I make dinners for us by myself.  Even though our kitchen is large enough for two people, I like free run of all the space and usually yell at Chris if he's in the way.  Plus, I believe preparing meals is my responsibility.  Yesterday, however, dinner was a little more complex than usual, so I asked him to help.  He prepared small side salads, while I got my ingredients together.  He sliced the skin from fresh sockeye salmon, cut the meat into small pieces, and pan-fried it.  I prepared a lemon-dill sauce, cooked the spaghettini, and steamed a cup of frozen peas.  Once cooked, I tossed everything together and served it.  Dinner was delicious, and, afterward, we cleaned the dishes together.  

Around 7:15 pm, I trimmed the hair from Chris's ears and cleaned up his sideburns. Then he showered and shaved to get himself ready for work today.  I enjoyed a hot steaming bath in our guest bathroom downstairs, complete with bubbles, lighting candles and turning off the lights.  Then, taking a glass of pink grapefruit juice with me, I went back downstairs to our theatre room and sat down to watch the new episode of "Glee" following the Super Bowl (no, we did not watch the game; Chris and I have no interest in football).   Chris worked on his computer on the main level.

When the Glee cast performed the Michael Jackson classic "Thriller," I called Chris downstairs because he said he wanted to see that.  Following "Glee," we watched an old recorded program on our DVR.  Afterward, we went up to the main level, where Chris tested his blood sugar levels and took his long-acting insulin for the night.  I started to write my daily journal beside him.

Around 9:45 pm, Chris and I kissed each other goodnight.  I wished him a good sleep and a good day at work the following day.  He went upstairs, brushed his teeth, closed his bedroom door, and read for a few minutes until he clicked off his light around 10:00 pm and went to bed.  I finished my journal downstairs, then checked to ensure all the doors were locked, the alarm on, and all the lights off.  I went upstairs, checked email one last time, turned off my computer, went into my bedroom, and closed the door.  I flossed and brushed my teeth, read a little of the new book I just started--The Sentimentalist--and my lights were out by about 11:30 pm.

And that's what a typical Sunday looks like in "This Gay Relationship."  If you're still with me, thank you.  Otherwise, my apologies if I put you to sleep.                      


  1. I love it! What a great post! And fitting that as I was reading about you watching Glee, "Teenage Dream Glee version" came up on my iPod. That's really neat to see how you plan out your meals (I've never been that organized, but it sounds like a really good way to do it.) I may just have to email you some of my favourite recipes now!

    Thank you so much for sharing an ordinary day with us, Rick, you guys sound like you work very well together.

  2. Great post Rick! It was fun to read about a day in your lives. You and Chris really complement each other well, and like you say, are a well-oiled enterprise. I admire you waking up early and going running too. Jesse always likes to wake up early and go to the gym. Then we have breakfast together and plan our day, which often involves food shopping in Chinatown, or exploring in Stanley Park. We alternate with the cooking depending on who has time, or has a great idea for dinner. But I can see that apartment living is a lot less work than a house! I'm hoping to watch Glee tonight online... I love that show.

  3. Both of you are so sweet and so generous with your compliments. I almost didn't publish this post, thinking it was too dull or even arrogant--as though anyone would be interested to read about what Chris and I do on a typical Sunday. How dull is that?

    @Sarah: I'm a bit of a picky eater, but I'm always interested in new recipes. Bring them on.

    @Doug: What do you do while Jesse goes to work out? Can I ask why you don't work out with him?
    When we lived downtown, we always did interesting things together. There's so much to downtown. Here..not so much.
    You are quite right about the difference between apartment and house living. Even between townhouse and house living. At least in an apartment or townhouse, the strata looks after a lot of stuff. But, when you buy a house, you look after everything yourself. And I mean everything.
    The "Glee" episode was amazing. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Don't forget, there's another episode this week tomorrow, on Tuesday evening. Can't wait for that. (Secretly, I hope something goes on between Curt and Karofsky. Now, wouldn't that be a story? I guess we'll see.)

    Again, my thanks to both of you. I really appreciate your interest in what I write.

  4. It was so heart-worming! Haruki Murakami's books (which I love) came to mind.

    I was babysitting my little sister for a week at my parents home and for the last two days of my vacation I have been just sleeping in, going to the movies, reading your older posts. My mind has been so turned off lately and this is the reason for the few comments.

    I'm quite positive, a new semester has begun and the subjects have been very interesting. Plus today I have a new hobby course in photography.

    Your posts are so full of life. Thank you for spreading the love!

  5. I'm so grateful to hear from you again, elevencats, as I'm sure my other readers are, too. I hope your vacation has been a good one. Sounds like you're simply letting go and recharging before you have to return to school. All of us can relate to that.
    I'm glad to hear you are positive and excited about a new semester. And the fact you've started a new course in photography is excellent. Not that I knew you before, but it sounds like the old elevencats is coming back--the happier one--and that's great. Keep on being the young man you were meant to be.
    I wrote many of my posts some time ago, so I have no idea what you're reading and what headspace I was in when they came out of me. The fact you think these posts are so full of life makes me feel good. I'm sure some are not all that positive, so watch out for those. They're lurking somewhere.
    You have no idea how thrilled I am that you're digging back into my past posts and enjoying them. I'm not sure this is insecurity talking, but, sometimes, I wonder if what I write here really makes a difference, or if anyone gets anything out of them. Your compliment makes me feel so much better. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
    Please keep in touch. Don't be scared to write any time you want to.
    Thanks again.

  6. @Rick: Oh I dont get up till 8:30 or 9:00.. I dont function well in the morning! We work out together in the afternoon, three times a week. Jesse goes every day. So really I'm a slug-a-doug : ) I'm hoping to get Jesse interested in more culturey stuff downtown. Loved the sunday episode, but it feels like Kurt now isolated in his private school world. Makes it seem like he can't hack it in the "real" world. Karofsky character is a little scary but interesting.

    @Elevencats: You sound so positive now... hope your new semester is a great one!

  7. Doug, I said the same thing to Chris about Kurt. He may be free of the bullying he received at McKinley, but viewers are missing out on his incredible talent as part of New Directions. I still think about "Le Jazz Hot" he sang from "Victor/Victoria." I want to see more of that sort of thing, but I don't see how he can be that outrageous attending school at the sedate Dalton Academy.
    Quick, get Kurt back to McKinley, so he can take out his hurt and frustration in his performances.
    (Plus, we need to get him back in contact with Dave Karofsky. I'm DYING to see what happens there.)
    Thanks for your comment.

  8. Thank you. This post is neither arrogant or dull. This gay relationship is just like anyone else's which is all I ask people to understand when they're trying to understand my homosexuality against their heterosexuality. Though you might have traditional roles within your relationship, Rick, it's not really about stereotypes for me, as there are hetero couples who have traditional roles, but the gender dynamic is reversed.

    I am thrilled to be privy to some of your more intimate life. I'm glad that that you're feeling open and confident enough in our appreciation for you to share these things. Thank you. A million times over.

  9. You know, Heather, if I can do anything to demystify gay relationships as compared to straight ones, then I will be one happy man.
    I love writing about the bigger subjects, those I'm passionate about (most recently self-esteem in gay people), but part of what I want to do here also is demonstrate just how ordinary gay people are. When it comes to living life on a daily basis, Chris and I do that just like everyone else. No mysteries. No surprises. We put our pants on one leg at a time, too. So if I can help normalize gay people in the eyes of non-gays, then so much the better.
    Your kind words are so appreciated. And, dare I say it, encouraging.

  10. I'm inspired to chime in as well, to share my 'gay boring weekend' too...which to us, isn't boring at all, just like yours isn't either. I'm so glad you shared this. I feel like it's often 'not cool' to talk about my relationship, or what we do together, because people think we're bragging or boring. I've gotten a few eye rolls at mere mentions of our happiness, or in the silly fun we engage in...or even the downright normalcy of it all. I think it's interesting, and I wish more gay men wrote like you, and shared this stuff.

    So here goes...

    Monday was Labor Day, and my boyfriend Mark and I had spent the long weekend at my place. He had made Indonesian beef stew on Saturday, using spices he got from his recent trip, and I had made Chicken Tikka Masala on Sunday, which I am always trying to perfect (but I'm not quite there yet, as good as it tastes). Monday morning, after some really great intimate time together and showering up, it was all about creative use of leftovers. For brunch, Mark made a rice omelet, and used some of the leftover masala sauce in the middle. Then, we also made toast and tried out the new jams we bought the day before, and he tried his hand at a cold brew coffee which he brewed in a French press from the night before. Also had some plain yogurt with plum and apricots chopped up from the farmer's market the day before.

    I had a wild idea, let's spread this new truffle spread I found onto the omelet! Mark thought that was a really bad call. But, in my truest form, I put some onto my omelet, defying his humored disapproval, and it was incredible. It added a lovely mushroom flavor to the already eclectic omelet. He ventured to take a bite, and was surprised at how good it was, so then he put it on his piece too.

    Then we cleaned the house, and groomed the cats. I had told him recently about a time years ago where I had gone with a couple friends to Half Moon Bay and saw a lovely llama in the yard of a house on the way to the beach. He spontaneously suggested that if we leave after doing the dishes, we could make it from SF down to HMB in an hour, and have enough time to see this llama (assuming she was still there), and check out the sunset on the beach, and plan our dinner. We did just that, the llama was still there, was wholly unresponsive to us (she merely stared at us while we made all kinds of sounds to encourage her to come closer), and we had learned that this llama was once owned by Neil Young, who traded her for 15 geese.

    ...loquaciousness continues at next post...

    1. Simon, I hope you'll forgive me, but I'm away from home until next week, visiting my mother, and I don't have the opportunity to respond to all your wonderful, and generous, blog post comments. I hope you'll check back next week, when I can focus on what you've written and respond appropriately.

      By the way, I love hearing from you, so please don't stop. I hope you'll find something else in my blog that interests you and inspires you to keep in contact.

      Until next week.

  11. ...continued

    We had a nice sunset view on the beach, while singing some songs together in silly voices. He cracks me up when he sings in his fake Indian voice.

    Then we got some groceries and made up a sausage and pasta dish back at my place, and used the leftover beef broth from the Indonesian stew (which at the time I had thought he was crazy to save and put in the fridge), and it was really great. I also got creative with some ciabatta bread from the farmer's market, and made up some bruschetta, using fresh ingredients from the market: chevre, pecorino, basil, olives, roma tomatoes, balsamic drizzle, and of course the all important truffle spread, generously applied. We splurged on some nicer red wine at the grocery, and opened that up and snacked and sipped vino while he finished making the pasta. At one point during the cooking, he looked at me with a huge smile of gratitude and gave me a kiss before turning back to his pasta. Everything turned out lovely, and we spent the next couple hours after dinner quizzing each other on our knowledge of 80s hits (at which we are both self-professed experts), and listened to some obscure 80s stuff on Spotify, taking turns with songs we wanted to hear again.

    Then, our long weekend coming to a close, we kissed goodbye, and he went home...and the ritual is always that we watch each other leave out the window too, even after saying bye, and there are lots of waves goodbye until we can't see each other anymore. This time I held one the cats while saying bye, sometimes making the cat's paw say bye.

    Many of our weekends involve trips or concerts, dancing, hitting a new restaurant in SF, cooking, or simply watching a sporting event or sitting in a café quietly reading our books together. Each weekend is a bit different, but it's entirely all about just another ordinary gay couple doing what they do, sharing their time, enjoying the simplicities of life, working out differences as they come up, and generally trying hard not to overthrow the government or organized religion, as many still believe we are up to...

    Thanks for reading.

    1. This comment made me laugh out loud in recognition, because of how ordinary what you did was, how extraordinarily special it was too, and how beautiful I found it to witness the love between you and Mark in the simplest things you do together.

      Dude, we have it made, don't we? Isn't what we have what most of us want (some would admit it, but others wouldn't, because they're too damn scared of love or commitment or whatever). I LOVE the detail you shared here, to the extent that I can envision the two of you together, making memories, things you'll talk about for years to come. Pretty special stuff.

      Simon, the whole point of this post was to show the world just how bloody ordinary Chris and I are, as a gay couple. There is nothing for anyone to fear in the love we have for each other. We are just like everyone else. We want to live our lives, be respected as human beings, and experience the truth and beauty of love. There's really nothing else, is there?

      This is what it's all about (and let those who want to role their eyes at what we have go right ahead).