By J. Corbett Holmes
Most of us live our lives amid a succession of routines. And generally we embrace them. They make us feel — even if false — safe and secure within our day-to-day existence. If we keep things the same, uphold order in our daily lives, the winds of change will somehow blow in a different direction — avoiding our house of cards.
Admittedly, I like my routines. Yet I also like change. So I create little life games around the contradiction. For example: To feel secure, I paid off my home. But, to embrace change — like Auntie Mame — I routinely change out and around the contents within; currently I’m in a chocolate and moss phase.
I also have routines with various friends — mixing our habits together. One friend in particular, Jeff, loathes change. Our routine, which has existed for nearly 20 years, is to gather — always at my house, always on Sunday, always early evening, always with wine and nibbles, and always perched on my bed — and watch old movies.
Jeff is a huge Doris Day fan. This is not to say that we always watch Doris’ movies, but suffice it to say I’ve seen each and every one. Many times.
Recently, while sprawled across my celadon bedspread (the newest color scheme in my bedroom) we sipped chardonnay and fast-forwarded to all the best parts (the Sigourney Weaver/Katherine Parker parts) of “Working Girl,” poured a second glass of wine then took in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” For those of you who’ve not seen the film, Doris plays a famous actress whose son has been kidnapped. Naturally, she has to sing — even as a distraught mother and even in an Alfred Hitchcock film. But, I suppose singing was part of her career routine.
While boozing and noshing — Jeff and I commentating on coveted items from the set — Dee serenaded us with her infamous song, “Que Será Será.”
The benefits of my wine brought a mental shift as the song took me to a conversation I’d had a few days earlier, during my weekly (routine) dinner with my friend Chris.
“So how are things going with your new future husband?” I asked, nursing my margarita.
“They’re going OK,” Chris replied. “I like him. He’s funny … he makes me laugh.”
“Well good … here’s to your wedding,” I countered, raising my fishbowl of tequila. “So, what makes him so funny?”
“He’s kind of a geek. And he totally owns it.” Chris pondered a moment, pushing at the lime in his margarita glass, then added, “But, he has this thing.”
“Thing?” I asked, raising my eyebrow.
“Well … he, he has a whole routine around dating. And he only does things in that order.”
“Reeeally?” I prodded. “Do tell.”
“Well, first you meet the best friend. Then, you meet the secondary friends. After that, if things are still going well, you go away together for the weekend.”
Chris stopped and took a long drag on his straw — pulling a noticeable reduction from the contents of his cocktail.
“We had a debate here,” he continued, “because he thinks step number four is when you should meet the family. And then, finally, if everything is still going well, the last step is to go away together for a week’s vacation. But I thought you should have the week away before you meet the family.
“He says that ‘After the week’s vacation we’ll know if we can live together.’”
“He sounds like a professional,” I said. “When did all of this get discussed?”
“After I met his best friend.”
First, I wondered why I’d not met the new future husband yet. Then, I wondered if Chris was having relationship reservations because of the newly revealed routine. But while Chris chattered on about wrangling with routine and the appropriate order of things, I quickly became both happy and sad for him. I was elated to hear of my friend’s burgeoning relationship, but concerned about the necessity for order — and the sham of thinking that, because there is a ranking to dating that somehow it might all evolve without risk, without challenges — everything remaining ideal.
Akin to Chris’ new boyfriend, we (probably) all attempt routine — establishing orderly practices in our lives in ways that give us comfort and a sense of control. But the reality is this: nothing is permanent. Things evolve — sometimes for worse, with things like the end of a relationship. And sometimes for better, with things like gay rights.
Que Será Será is Spanish for “what will be, will be.” It’s something you say when you are in a hopelessly unchangeable situation, but have come to accept, or even embrace the intangibility of it all.
Maybe this column, the thoughts I leave you with will evoke a change in your way of life? Or maybe the way you think about dating? But regardless, something else, big or small, perhaps unexpected, will bring a shift in your daily routine. And, good or bad, like it or not, things will be different from how they were yesterday. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter, because it’s the end of this column, the end of our time together.
Or, maybe not. Gay Será Será.
I dedicate this column to my brother, Mark, who had not planned to leave this world at the premature age of 54. The loss has altered my mind about many things I saw differently yesterday — before the unexpected change in sibling count.
For a closer shave visit www.shavingsfrommyhead or to share your shavings graces, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org