|Rob and me at the Alcazar, Pattaya, Thailand|
It's become a "tradition" for us to get together to celebrate his birthday that ends in a '0'. So, 40 was in Maine. 50 was in Vermont. 60 was in Hawai'i. And now, 70 in Thailand.
I know. The sacrifices we make for friends, right?
He doesn't look - or act - 70. I don't know what that is supposed to mean, actually. I suppose everyone who reaches a certain age they think is "ancient of days" is surprised by how young they actually feel.
Oh, he has a bit of arthritis in the hip which slows his step from time to time as we travel the "Sois" (lanes) around his neighborhood, and he's got even less patience - if that's possible - than he had when he was 40 (don't get me started about his learning how to use the internet), but his mind is still razor sharp, his curiosity about people still active and open, and his humor is still outrageous.
No one makes me laugh the way Rob does.
Alcazar in "uptown" Pattaya last night and had an absolutely FABULOUS time. The Alcazar is a drag show, but nothing like I've seen, even in NYC.
The sets and costumes and lightening and sound were amazing. There was lip syncing, of course, but the choreography was well done and nicely, professionally, executed.
There was a great, interesting mixture of cultural representations - Thai, Japanese, Korean, Russian and American. Clearly, they know their audience. The house was PACKED - and, we were at the first of three shows for the evening.
Rob wants me to remind you that, except for the boys who were playing male roles, all the "women" were in drag.
My apologies to those of you on the gender binary or spectrum who may take offense at that. It seems to me that the complicated issue of gender identity and expression is even a bit more complicated here in Thailand. The thing of it is that some of those boys think of themselves as men who like to dress up as women (transvestite) - sometimes called "lady boys" here - which doesn't necessarily mean they are gay. Others are. They just like to dress up and express themselves as women.
That's gender. Sexual orientation is separate and different from gender identity and expression.
Then, there are the transgender folk, most of whom have taken hormonal therapy and/or have had "the surgery" - well, at least, most have had breast implants but not necessarily had "gender reassignment surgery". Some are in process to have that procedure done, but most will simply have breast implants but keep their external male genitalia.
Up to them. See? Not up to me. Or, you.
Again, that is separate from their sexual orientation. I know, it can be confusing, even on a good day. That's our problem. Not theirs. One has to be very clear about that or one will find oneself becoming judgmental and frustrated and grumpy, and what's the point of that, really? It won't change a thing.
Those who have had breast augmentation are obvious - I must say, there was a LOT of silicone on that stage - because their breasts were perfectly symmetrical, but there were also lots of boys with prosthetic breasts that looked so natural I was amazed that they weren't "real" - well, implants. These makeup artists are positively genius.
At one point, Rob leaned over to me and said, "I'll bet his mother is so proud". We giggled a bit and then he said, "And, of course, she IS proud of her son, and more than happy for the money he sends home at the end of each month."
We're going to a little Thai-French place down the Soi called "The Marina". We ate there the second or third night I was here and the food was to die for. Rob made reservations on the spot for tonight and invited two of his good friends to join us.
I am so looking forward to it, not only for the great food but the company. Gay men, in general, are so much fun. I hesitate to confess this, but I do love being treated like a
I know my place. They are the Queans. Actually, I am less a princess and more a "lady in waiting", except, I'm the one who is greeted by having my hand kissed and complimented profusely about what I'm wearing. I love that they notice things like rings and jewelry and hair style and clothing. It may just be the circles in which I travel, but it has been my experience that most straight men I know seem to care less about those things - or, at least, letting a woman know that they appreciate her style (If that's important to her and yes, even dykes like to dress well, even if it's just jeans and Birkenstocks. If you take the time to notice, the jeans are ironed and creased, the shirt is starched and the leather on the Birkenstocks oiled.).
The thing of it is, I notice what the men are wearing and return the compliments. It's all very sincere and genuine but there's also a ritual of sorts. We take time to notice things like that about each other. It's all terribly superficial, I know, but there's something wonderful about having an appreciation for aesthetics and the attempt to look nice.
I've noticed that Thai men and women do this quite naturally. Men to men, women to women, men to women, women to men. Everyone notices personal aesthetics and beauty and does not let it go past without mention.
It reminds me, in a way of that famous line in "A Color Purple" when Celie says, "I think it pisses God off if you don't notice the color purple." When you live amidst so much poverty and suffering, it makes God smile, I think, to recognize and lift up the beauty around you, even if it is in someone else's clothing or hair or jewelry.
Ah, and age. I think, when we are granted long life, we ought to celebrate it. We need to honor the gift of life and gather a few good friends 'round and eat well, if we can, and laugh often.
Of all the beautiful prayers in the BCP and in our liturgical heritage, I think it pleases Jesus most when we honor the gift of our lives by breaking bread and making a "sacrifice of presence" to be with the ones we love - and who have loved us in return - over the years.
There's a song our Girl Scout granddaughter, Mackie, has learned, "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold."
You are golden to me, dear Rob. Happy, happy birthday.
|Alcazar Opening Act|
Well, dear friend, it's not exactly the same, but it's the best I can do: I love you more than my lipstick!
God grant you many, many years of life and health and intellectual curiosity and openness and compassion and, of course, outrageous humor.
It would be good if you learned some patience, but I won't push the point with God and ask for that. In the grand scheme of things, I think S/he may have other things in the cosmos that need more attention. I'll see it as an opportunity for me to practice patience - not exactly my strong suit, either - and be happy for all that we have be given.
Please join me in celebrating Rob's birthday and, if you are of a mind, send a few arrow prayers of praise and thanksgiving for his life.