The Dog is not good with birthdays. 8 years ago on my birthday, he got drunk while we watched a World Cup game in a pub, then afterward--he told me he didn't think he loved me. 7 years ago, when he lived in the UK, he forgot my birthday altogether. It's gotten better since then, but the Dog is flawed in his procrastination and selfishness. He would be the first to admit it.
This year he asked me, a good 6 weeks in advance, what I would like for my birthday. "A weekend alone with you," I replied. And somehow, he actually listened. So we sent Nate up to Grandma's and headed up to Stratford. The car ride on the ever-dull 401 was filled with the earnest chatter of two people desperate to reconnect with one another. We talked about Nate, about our hopes and dreams, about memories we've made over the years. We held hands over the automatic shift and giggled. We kissed at stop lights.
We arrived in picturesque Stratford, Ontario to find sunny sidewalks brimming with people. Stratford has a cool "downtown" comprised of several main streets. Cute, modern shops and restaurants are within walking distance of the theatres and accommodations. Surrounding the business area are tree-lined side streets with unique century homes and of course, the "Avon" river. It's an ideal place to live if you're looking for a small town look and feel, but access to culture and good walkability/bikeability factor. Oh, and if you don't mind that the entire town is WHITE.
The Dog and I often entertain the idea of moving out of the city. But our ideology is: either right in the city or way the fuck out of the city. In other words, no suburbs. But the problem with more rural living is the lack of multiculturalism, which is perhaps my favourite thing about Toronto. If I want to have Egyptian food Tuesday and Tunisian food Wednesday -- I can. If you want to see Toronto at work, you need only look to the Christian home across the street from me. A home that houses both an Eritrean and an Ethiopian. Both men are refugees because their countries are at war, yet they live together peacefully--as friends even!--dreaming of the day their families can join them in Canada. This is what urban living means to me: that my son can grow up not just learning about other cultures, but learning how to live beside them.
Anyway, we checked into our super cute inn, then got all dolled up (have to work extra hard for it these days people) to have dinner in the cellar of a 150+ year old building. We talked intimately, flirted some more (I had forgotten how gorgeous his eyes were), and then walked to the theatre. We stood in the lobby critiquing people's outfits until it was time to go in. It's amazing how men fall into that trap of Dockers with a short-sleeved button-down tucked in. I hate that look with a passion, especially when the button-down is plaid. Ick. The women in the room seemed to be suffering mostly from the "comfortable shoe syndrome". Come on ladies! Even Naturalizer's attempting to make some decent looking fashion knock-offs these days. The Dog assured me that I had the best outfit by far (LOVE him!). I felt young and desirable (not hard in that crowd) and very aware of how clean my outfit was (read: no banana hands!).
South Pacific isn't the greatest musical (the story's kinda cheese), but it has some of the best-known songs in the Rogers and Hammerstein catalogue. If you were a Facts of Life fan like Queen Nomad and I were, then you may recall Tutti singing, "I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair...". Cynthia Dale (image on the left), who I believe is married to my nightly news crush Peter Mansbridge, was the star and I gotta say -- she's really charming. She was the best thing about the show, save a couple of the comic relief characters and the incredible sets. The irony of the number "There is Nothing Like a Dame" being sung by a bunch of probably-gay sailors made us nudge each other like high school kids. But hey, I have always maintained that I'm a gay man in a woman's body. So beefy shirtless sailors singing songs is totally my thing.
After the show, we walked along the banks of the Avon, then window-shopped on the main drag. Hand-in-hand we wound our way back to our inn and had a few drinks at the pub downstairs. It took me 32 years to figure out that I don't like mixed drinks when I want to get drunk. I'm too wee. I need to get the most amount of liquor in me with the least amount of liquid. Otherwise I get too full before I can get a buzz. So I drank single malts in the pollution-free air, to get the courage to go up to the room and be naughty.
The next morning (come on, you gotta earn the smut. I can't say "random hand-jobs" in every post can I? Take my word that it was GOOD), the Dog got me giant hot latte from Balzacs--while I slept in. I showered without a toddler screaming for me to get out. I got to watch the Wimbledon final without having a die-cast truck driven up and down my leg. I was in a giddy trance. It was JUST what I wanted. Then the Dog told me that he had something special planned. Oh goody! "I feel like you're going to propose," I giggled. We were in love again.
We got in the car and headed down a side road. "If you'll permit me an hour and a half, there's someplace I want to take you," my Romeo coaxed. Sure! Why not? I love a surprise. Then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. A dilapidated minor league baseball stadium. No. It can't be. This can't be what he means. I turn to look at him and I see the look of glee in his face. "A cuppy hot dogs and some beer in plastic cups! Whaddya think?"
Should I be honest? Should I burst his bubble? Dammit. It's MY fucking birthday and I want to go to Aberfoyle to look at antiques. How is it that he doesn't have the clairvoyance to know that? "Um, I don't think so dude. It's my birthday weekend and we're going to see baseball games for two weeks straight next month." I felt horrible for turning him down. Saying no to baseball is like rolling over and telling him you have a headache.
I would have rather rolled over and taken it in the pooper than to watch the game that aft (there's your smut)-- no offence to the Strat Nats. In a weekend that was all about me (narcisist much?), my idea of bases and homeruns didn't involve an actual field and chewing tobacco. Alas, as the last line of Some Like it Hot goes, "Nobody's perfect."
Still, we did do something right. We remembered to take time out for us. Because without us, there'd be no Nate. It's a lot harder to do than I ever thought, but like sex and exercise, it feels good once you get off your ass and do it. Thanks to my amazing partner in life for giving me an ideal weekend, complete with a good, goofy anecdote at his expense. Je t'aime.