Life Partners (aka Big Gay Wedding Toasts)
`Acceptance. To feel respect and approval from our family, our friends, our fellow man. Something we all yearn for, something we all seek, whether we recognize or admit to it or not. Acceptance can come in many forms, sometimes after long periods of searching for it, after struggles and struggles to work towards it, and sometimes – out of nowhere – when we most least expect it. For me, one of the singular and most life affirming moments that I’ve felt this degree of acceptance was a few years ago at my dear friend Elaine’s wedding.
Elaine and I met through the workplace almost 8 years ago now. In just a short time, we developed an amazing friendship, in a brother from another mother kind of way….well, except she’d be a sister. We bonded over music and food and beer and dancing, and shared a very similar, very wicked Gaelic sense of humour. That, and the girl is absolutely stunningly beautiful, and DAMN – we thought – we looked good together as we went off to take on the town on one of our many adventures. Ironically, and although I am (ahem) a few years older than she, we grew up (me in Whitney Pier, Elaine in New Waterford) about 25 minutes apart in good ol’ Cape Breton, but never met until our paths crossed here.
Anyway, the fun continued, and then one day….er make that night at the Lower Deck, Elaine meets Andy, this good looking, rugby playin’ transplanted Newfoundlander now living and working in the Valley, and the sparks flew. In a magical, here come the fireworks kinda way. And then….nothing. Andy was presumably back home, but had her number, but still, no phone call. The first day I said “don’t be silly, of course he’ll call! You just wait!” The next day, seeing Elaine’s disappointed face, I said “Um, maybe he’s busy, or maybe his dog ate the phone number you think?” And after the third day of no contact, I cried “forget that loser, we’ll go cruising for another one, a better one next Saturday!” (Yes, I literally did teach my buddy how to “cruise” guys, to her great success, but that’s a story for another day!) But then, wouldn’t you know it, Andy phoned that very night. And every night after that. And suddenly he started visiting his sister Charmaine (I love this girl! And a beer rep sister….I mean, come on, seriously, how cool is that??) in the city And months later, moved himself to the city and before long they were completely inseparable, and within a year or so happily engaged to be married.
With this exciting news, Elaine’s Ma Kaye was a more frequent visitor to town, eager to help plan her youngest daughter’s wedding. After hearing so much about her mom, a very lively spirit if ever there was one, well-known in our homeland of Cape Breton for her love of music and step dancing, I was excited for the chance to finally meet her. And we did meet, although rather unexpectedly during the work day, when I ran into them in the hospital corridor where we both worked, on an afternoon Kaye stopped by for a visit. Elaine greeted me with a big hug, while her mom gave me a quick, polite smile but kept walking. “Ma, THIS is my friend Colin that you’ve heard so much about!” Kaye looked at me quizzically, then back to Elaine. “Huh, this is Colin? This guy? Really?” To me “Are you sure?” “MA!” Elaine cried, looking just slightly mortified. “Yup, 100 percent!” I laughed, assuming she must mean my sexuality, “but if I weren’t I would’ve run off with your daughter here years ago, just so you know!”. Elaine continued to apologize long after, and noted what came out of her mom later was even “worse”, something about how I didn’t seem to look gay or act gay, and people must look at me and think “wow, what a waste, with no girlfriend, no wife.” But I thought her mom’s reaction quite funny and amusing, and knew her comments were to be taken lightly. “Come on,” I’d say, “We ARE from Cape Breton! The only point of reference many of our peeps back home have these days is Jack MacFarland, by way of Jack Tripper. Kaye and I came to grow quite close over the following weeks, and she came to love Shawn even more, and the three of us delighted in each other’s company and our ability to make each other laugh, usually at Andy and Elaine’s eye popping and/or eye rolling expense.