By Scott . . .
Valentine’s Day. A day to show our love for those who are special to us. Not just our spouses and or the person we are dating, but also it is a time to show our friends that they are special to us.
For me, Valentine’s Day has a double celebration. It happens to be my anniversary my wedding anniversary.
We have a group of friends that we socialize with regularly. But there are six men, six friends, that I consider our core friends. These are people who know us pretty well and we know them pretty well. We’ve shared meals in each other homes, we’ve gone out to dinner with them, and we’ve gone to civic celebrations with them. ArtFest, October Fest, and other events. We also hang out at the “club” for Taco Tuesdays and Sunday Fun Day. Although, Bobbey and I don’t go as often as our other friends.
For Valentine’s day, well more for our anniversary, I prepared dinner for eight of us. My friends know that I enjoy cooking for them. And, they all seem to be pretty excited about my cooking.
These friends knew that it was our anniversary… we have been married four years. Anytime I invite our friends over, they always ask what, “ can we bring.” Every time I invite Van and Wayne for dinner, they bring a delicious salad. Their salads are always made with a couple of different fresh greens, tomatoes, sweet onions, and croutons.
Dave always brings dessert. He loves baking pies and other sweet treats. Our friends look forward to his treats almost as much as my cooking. LOL And when Steve is invited for dinner, we can always depend on bring some good wine. He failed us not last night. The other men either bring something to drink, or some other treat that they usually pick up at Publix or Winn Dixie.
So early last week when I sent out the invitations, all six friends confirmed. And, as is the “ritual” goes, they each asked what they could bring. Here was the message I sent to each of them:
Hi …: We will provide everything for tomorrow’s dinner. However, I support a 501C3 organization. If you are in the habit of making a tax-exempt donation each year, a small donation in our name would be a wonderful gift. HTTPS slash/ evante espero.com. Looking forward to seeing you.
When I told my spouse about the response I had sent to them, he felt a little uncomfortable. Of the six core friends that we invited only two of them know that I’m a registrant. Giving them this website could possibly expose my status to the rest of our friends. Bobby wasn’t sure if everyone invited would respond positively.
Steve was the first one to show up for dinner. He told me that he had gone on to the web site and tried to make a donation, but for some reason he could not complete the transaction. So, he handed me cash and said, “I don’t earn enough to take a tax deduction. However, this organization seems important to you.”
One of our other told me that he also made a donation because the organization was important, “to your mental, physical, and spiritual health. None of our other guest mentioned it, although I am sure that Mike also made a donation.
This was liberating for me. If our friends did not know that I was a registrant prior to last night (Valentine’s Day), they probably know now. My spouse was concerned that there might be some negative backlash. But, by not being ashamed or afraid at my being on the registry, and being confident about my friendship with these men, I was not concerned.
We had dinner, then some dessert, and then we had our after-dinner beverages and fun conversations out on the lanai. good conversation out on the lanai. It was for me, a time to renew my love for my spouse and my friends reinforced my belief that my status as a registrant is NOT who they are friends with. It is me!
2 thoughts on “Valentine Friends”
I have found more often than not, that if you are a good person NOW, your true friends and family will support you even after they find out about your status. I have had very similar experiences. I had a few here and there that did not accept me anymore and cut ties, but overall, the response has been fairly positive. The first reaction I usually get is, “What? You don’t come off as one of ‘those’ guys!”. That’s obviously due to the “Cho-Mo” stereotype that has existed for a long time. That stereotype was even displayed in a recent popular movie. It’s usually an unattractive white male who doesn’t take care of himself and displays “creeper” behavior. Anyways, I digress.
I noticed when I was incarcerated that many of the other men there for similar crimes didn’t fit the stereotype although a few of them did.
Long story short, all of my family and my wife’s family knows of my status and over 90% of our friends know. The only ones that don’t are the people we befriended in the last year. I didn’t even tell one of the best friends of my wife until a few months ago and then only because her son was dealing with some deviancy involving minors and I was tasked with giving him a talk after telling his mom and asking her permission. He’s 17. In this situation, my status was used for good.