Monday, September 15, 2008

Invisible...


It's amazing how we can be so invisible to those around us.


I was on a cruise ship last week and we had a set table for dinner every night with the same waiter and "water boy". Obviously, those at the table developed a rapport of sorts with the waiter as we came to know each other and look forward to the experience of another meal of gluttony. (Really, I hate cruises. This was my first and probably my last - toward the end of the week it felt so wrong, so excessive, so over-the-top, so self-centered, so gluttonous - but I digress. However, truth be told, what really bothered me was being told what to do, when to do it, and being held prisoner to someone else's rules and schedules... AAGGHHH!).


Where was I? Oh yeah, the nightly dinner event... It became interesting to me that no one at our table (there were four couples), took note of the gorgeous water boy. He was a twenty-something Indonesian beauty with the most beautiful smile and deep engaging eyes. I was instantly mesmerized by his smile. It was genuine and sweet and had a sense of innocence. He spoke very little English and did not engage in conversation as the waiter did. He was polite and attentive, but non-obtrusive.


The first night I smiled at him as he poured the water (and since none of us were drinking alcohol, the need for water and attention to our table kept coming) and he smiled back. The second night, we smiled together and our eyes connected. The third night he watched me arrive at the dining room and our eyes and smiles connected before we even sat down as I noted he was following me eagerly. The fourth night I touched his arm and thanked him, and he lingered a bit. The fifth night I put my arm around his shoulder as I came to the table and greeted him with a brief, quick hug. The sixth night we hugged each other openly and I put my arm around his waist. The seventh night, our last night, we were talking around the table about needing to tip the waiter and I mentioned to not forget the waiter's assistant, and to my surprise, everyone looked at me confused of who I was even referring to. I called my friend over to the table, calling him by name, and introduced him to the table to seven people who hadn't even taken notice of him.

I was flabbergasted. How could they have not seen this beautiful male specimen serving them? How had he been so invisible to them and so noticeable to me? Didn't they note his engaging heart-melting smile? Weren't they attracted to his sweetness? How could they have not seen his beauty to have had their hearts pound faster every time he came to our table? Were they so consumed in their own gluttony to not even take notice?


At the end of the last night, after the others had left, I wrapped my arms around him, gave him a big hug and a kiss on the forehead (in the infamous "Beck" way) and slipped him a big tip and thanked him for being so kind. I don't know if I was too forward, if he was taking advantage of me for that tip, or if he was just a genuinely kind person that connected with me. I felt it from him. You know what I mean. He engaged me back. When our eyes connected, he didn't turn away.


Now, as much as I may have gone further and looked him up and found his room, etc, I did not. I never intended anything of the sort. I just enjoyed the connection with another man. It was brief and innocent.


But, two points that baffle me...


1) how was it that I was the only one who "saw" him?


2) how come I'm still thinking about him?


19 comments:

robert said...

Glad to see your comment on NL. I thought it best to leave that one alone. I, too, find cruises can feel very strange. I felt like I was trapped in a floating shopping mall and could not escape. Once and no more.

Living in Vietnam, I see these beautiful creatures all of the time and they are endearing, gentle and very friendly. Sexuality and sensuality are more fluid in these cultures. "Getting involved" is another story, as the emotional maturity can be seriously lacking due to cultural differences. There can be stormy jealousies and the like; sort of like high school in adulthood. I steer clear of intimacies here for many reasons, but that is a good one.

Many westerners find it easy to ignore "the help". It is class consciousness at its worst.

Might I recommend a Thai massage if it ever comes your way.

Kengo Biddles said...

1) Because you notice people. You're a people person, and that's what I like about you.

2) it may be a bit of a crush, but I think it's more you're feeling for him being swept aside and forgotten for the reasons that everyone else disregarded him.

Damon In CO said...

Beck,

Like Kingo said, it may just be that you notice people more.

I find that I notice people, not necessarily always the pretty ones either. And I wonder about their lives etc. It's amazing to me that two people can interact on a regular basis over the course of several days or several years and never readlly know each other.

I'm not really sure how one can allow themselves to be so disconnected.

Why are you still lingering over him? Yes, again what Kingo said.

Beck said...

ROBERT: Thanks for confirming my feelings about cruises. I felt trapped and imprisoned.

As for his attractiveness, he was definitely a "beautiful creature". Whether it was sexuality or sensuality, I do not know, but it was definitely fluid.

As for "ignoring the help", I think when there is a language barrier and you are definitely in a position to be waited upon, there is a tendency to ignore these people... But I just couldn't. I just don't think that my motives were as altruistic as you may think... :)

Beck said...

KENGO & DAMON: You are giving me much more credit than I deserve.

As for my motives, yes, I may be more attentive to people around me and notice people (both attractive and not), but I think that I noticed him because he was attractive and he made me melt with his smile... simple as that.

As for why I'm still thinking about this little encounter, I think it could be:
a) I definitely cared about him being slighted.
b) I am shocked at the insensitivity of others.
c) I had a little bit of a crush on him.
d) His smile made me melt.
e) I wanted to kidnap him alone in my room when my wife went to the fitness room.

You decide, but like I said, my motives aren't as altruistic as you make them out to be.

Kengo Biddles said...

Hey--I said there was a bit of a crush involved, but you're also a deeply caring person.

Damon In CO said...

LOL Beck! I think we've all been there...intrigued by a younger, attractive guy.

Kingo did say crush and I just didn't point out the obvious answer...

J G-W said...

This is so... James Cameron's Titanic!!! :-)

And this is such a gay thing! I work the same way. I am very much a people person. I notice people. There is certainly an attraction thing going on, but it runs deeper than that, I think. And it tends to transcend race, class, and other barriers.

How many times, time and time again, have I seen myself and other gay men do this...!! I understand totally what you're saying about having no sense that there's anything more to it than the immediate connection... (Not like you're planning to date him or anything like that, just that you notice him, appreciate him, and want a real human connection, not just the artificial waiter/waitee roles.)

The other people at your table, gentle Beck, did not notice him because they're not supposed to notice him. He's supposed to be invisible, a servant, unimportant compared to the wealthy guests he's there to serve. I hate that culture... One reason why I will probably never do a cruise. (I see that culture all the time working at a law firm.)

Bravo to you for not paying that culture the least bit of attention!

Beck said...

JGW: Okay, so you're giving me bravos for not ignoring him, for not participating in the cultural norms, for noticing him, for appreciating him, and for desiring a real human connection. And you're helping me to realize that doing so is "such a gay thing!"

Wow. This is amazing.

I thought, especially after my last post where I'm understanding my wife and needing to give my heart to her and be more emotionally involved with her and inclusive of her, that while at this same time and same epiphany of sorts in my marital relationship, I'm slowly courting a crush bromance on the side.

Doesn't anyone see the irony of all this?

I guess I've progressed in the sense that I'm not beating myself up because it happened, I wanted it to happen, and I felt free and comfortable enough with myself to have it happen (never hiding anything from anyone in the dining room - including my wife), so claim progress where I can, but why am I still baffled by the irony of it all?

I guess it's okay. I'm okay with who I am and that I have a life-long pattern where I continue to do these things - not for sex, but for the appreciation of beauty when I see it, and for real human connections.

I just wish someone would say that I'm a flirt and I should stop it! :) Instead, I'm getting compliments.

bravone said...

Quit flirting you filthy animal!

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Mille grazie!

bravone said...

Di niente, fratello mio!

I wasn't going to say anything about this because it is pretty sacred to me, but maybe someone will benefit from it. Tonight I got my temple recommend for the first time in a long time. In the past, I hated going to the temple. I am sure it was because of my unworthiness and feelings about the church. I resented my wife always wanting us to go.

I was glad to be worthy to get my recommend, but didn't have immediate plans to go back. On my way home from the stake center (I realize that I might be outing myself a bit here)I drove past the temple and felt an overwhelming desire to go inside. I resisted at first, but veered into the lot and went inside. I had the strongest desire I have ever felt to be there. My recommend was so new that the temple didn't even have record of it being scanned into the system. After a few questions, the man at the desk let me in. I didn't have time or really want to do a session, I just wanted to be there again. I worked my way back to the locker room and found an empty cubical in the corner and knelt down and thanked my Heavenly Father for helping me make it back. I prayed that he would never let go of me, that I would always have the desire to be worthy and attend the temple. I thanked him for the the "happiest day of my life" that took place there nearly 23 years ago when I married my wife.

It was a sweet experience. It was worth what it took to get there.

I have no illusions as to my vulnerabilities and the difficulty of the path ahead. I am just grateful that for now I am doing well and that I have the desire to stay that way.

santorio said...

a little reality testing.

this was not a man to man relationship; it was a man to boy flirtation. this isn't athens. boundries, beck, boundries.

how would you feel if your son/daughter were working as a waiter on a cruise ship and had a similar experience?

then again, maybe i'm just jealous because i could never allow myself these innocent relationships

J G-W said...

Beck, you're always discussing situations where you sort of dance the line between legitimate friendship and flirting/emotional unfaithfulness.

This particular situation was complicated by the class/power divide. Now that you mention it, the relationship between you and this young waiter was potentially humiliating and abusive for him. If he felt at all uncomfortable about your advances, what could he do? He's at the bottom of the corporate hierarchy in this cruise line, and his livelihood really depends on pleasing customers. So this was actually a potential sexual harassment situation.

If your interaction with him was respectful of his humanity and of his feelings, and you didn't do anything to make him feel uncomfortable, then Bravo. I see people treat waitstaff like shit all the time, because they think they're powerful and they can.

If you were annoying him and making him uncomfortable (and embarrassing your wife by hitting on him in front of other cruise guests), then Boo. Shame on you.

But the line between those two things can be a fine one. And none of us on this blog can judge that from a distance, based on what you've chosen to reveal to us.

Beck, you have a legitimate need for friendship. Male friendships, for you, will always involve an element of the erotic. It's how we're wired as gay men. If you keep that erotic component in the right place, you can let it fire your sense of humanity and solidarity with people, regardless of race or class or other social barriers. Or you can let it get out of control with inappropriate crushes, flirts, romances...

Beck said...

BRAVONE: Thank you for sharing this moment. You really need to open up and share these things in a blog. There is so much within you that can be expressed for not ony the benefit of others, but for you yourself! Think about it...

Beck said...

SANTORIO: Thanks for setting the record straight. Boundaries are the story of my life... and yes, I'm always testing those boundaries, probably to the detriment of all involved.

JGH: Now I feel you've gone too far the other way. But I appreciate that response as well. I feel the truth is somewhere in the middle. It was altruistic. But, because of my position of power, of influence, being the "rich client", I can see where I may have pushed him into an uncomfortable and "harrassing" situation with no recourse. However, it didn't feel that way and he showed no discomfort or uneasiness. But, I can see where I could have stepped over that line easily and felt impowered to do so - and I can see the inappropriateness of such steps.

So, why do I feel always like I have to push such "encounters" into the limits of beginning to be erotic? Sure, the answer is because I'm "wired" that way and because I'm "gay". There are warning lights going off all over, and depending on what I can get away with, I ignore them and allow myself that little flirtation or inappropriately placed crush.

So, how do I learn from these inappropriate boundary-crossing, innocent but still flirtatious male encounters? Since I'm wired this way, and I'm triggered to go there time and time again as I've noted, how do I learn to turn such encounters into appropriate male relationships?

Beck said...

I'm really having a hard time thinking about work... I'm just thinking about how much I'm REALLY NOT progressing in this journey...

So, in my childish way, I think I'm going to go hide under the blankets now...

J G-W said...

Well, first of all, it wasn't my intention to "go the other way."

The point is, I can't judge which side of the line you were on. I (and many other of your friends) want to be supportive, and we will generally assume the best about you and your intentions. But ultimately only you know.

Here's the thing about your situation...

Lot's of men -- gay and straight -- find themselves attracted to people (of either gender) outside of their marriage. Even when you marry someone you are initially attracted to, people age, attraction fades, whatever. It's not unique to you as a gay man.

What is unique to your situation is the wondering, "What if??" What if I had explored this aspect of myself? Would I be happier? Would my relationship be better?

And I think that's why you keep pushing these boundaries... You're still wondering. You still haven't answered that killer question to your satisfaction. Once you have answered it, the boundary testing will be done.

playasinmar said...

I bet you like kissing more now.