90-to-40: The Enlightened Redneck

Day 34:

Tonight, I went to dinner with my partner, K.J. It’s been a long week and we needed to reconnect and actually have human conversation.  A little Mexican food and some good conversation goes a long way to rejuvenate a person – especially when it is with someone like him. 

K.J. is what I like to call, “an enlightened redneck.” (It’s okay…  you can laugh at that. He thinks it’s funny, too.) It’s a term I coined when I first met him in my effort to figure out how to refer to his “force of nature” personality. I doubt I’ll find many people who truly qualify for that description, so he wears it as proudly as he does his Hawaiian Shirts and flip flops (year round).

He is one of those guys who is instantly liked by everyone who meets him. He’s practically magnetic. He has a larger-than-life personality, the soul of a poet, and the vocabulary of a college-professor-turned-trucker. A bigger person might describe him as having a genius-level intellect, however I am mostly amazed by his ability to complex math in his head and his knowledge of the “right names” for biological, medical and scientific terminology. But, with his oh-so-charming Texas accent (with just a touch of southern Arkansas and a smidgeon of N’awlins), he makes everything sound like a Hallmark card. 

I have a huge list of quotes I periodically threaten to publish as a book called “Sh** My Boyfriend Says.” For example, “I’d poke your eyes out, but they are my favorite part of you.” (Um… Aweeee… I think?) is one of my favorites. Then, there are times like tonight at dinner when our conversation ranged from theology to social issues, and amazing personal insights about “us.” On top of all of that... he thinks I’M smart, funny and handsome. He looks at me as if Gerard Butler just asked for his hand in marriage - every time we speak. (or, like Jennifer Aniston for you straight guys). 

He is a true gentleman who gives up his seat for women and the elderly. He wakes me up with a cup of coffee EVERY morning we are together. He has bright eyes and a joyful spirit that make it nearly impossible to be mad at him. He’s an optimist and even the most challenging situation gets turned into a, “But that’s okay… it’s just <insert positive turnabout statement>.”  As a life-scholar of the “positive-arts” – I think I appreciate that most of all.

Then there is the stuff he wouldn’t want you to know. Like the countless hours of service he does for people in the community. The care and research he puts into the gourmet meals he prepares for me, friends and family. The personal relationships I’ve witnessed that have helped transform people. The remarkable transformations he’s championed in his own life. Not to mention, the kindness with which he handles truly mean people he encounters from time to time.

I’m impressed daily by his character. I’m moved by his kindness. He is my best friend and the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.

And then... there are situations like tonight at dinner when the people at the next table were clearly disgusted by us. We weren’t acting in any way out of the ordinary for any couple out to dinner on a Friday night… but I caught them mocking us and obviously talking about us. I didn’t tell him until we left because I didn’t want to ruin the great evening – and they really weren’t bothering me at the moment. But, as they continued... I zoned out a little and imagined myself standing up and saying, “How dare you? How dare you make light of my emotions, commitment and life?”  I wanted to tell them all the things I’ve just told you, and follow up with, “And who in the HELL do you think you are that you can be openly judgemental about one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met!?”

Sometimes I want to “Freaky Friday” people. You know… change places with them in some magical switch-a-roo, accompanied by a crash of thunder and flash of lightening. I truly, TRULY would be open to learning about what makes these people tick in their lives. I would try to understand how their beliefs and values led them to feel superior... or inferior, whatever the case may be. I understand that they have likely never fathomed the reality that I may NOT be a disgusting mutation. I may NOT be a horrible mistake made by nature and an affront to God’s very nature. They have never had the experience of BEING in my heart and knowing God so deeply within myself that it has helped me to overcome the very hatred society has tried to make me have for myself.  So.. it’s obvious that they also do not understand the TRUE impact their actions could have on my life and those around us - and, of course, why I didn’t want my partner to be exposed to such negativity. 

“Freaky Friday” or not, they’ll never know how blessed I am to have met the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. It makes me sad for them that they spend so much effort looking for what they don't want to see. They couldn't see the love, admiration, kindness and friendship that was happening right in front of them. 

But, as always, K.J. centers me with just a touch or a word. When he noticed I had become distant from the distraction, he touched my hand and I was back. I was back to “us” and stopped wishing I could let them snap into my life for a moment to experience the wonder of epiphany at the pure and unconditional love I’ve come to know. Instead, I went back to experiencing it myself. It doesn't matter if they can see it... because I can.

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