Monday, June 3, 2013

Coming Out

Some say our national pastime is baseball.  Not me.  It's gossip.
~ Erma Bombeck

When it comes to gossip, I have to readily admit men are as guilty as women.
~ Marilyn Monroe

I've previously shared a little bit about how Boomer and I met at work (read Getting Caught and Smooch) and our shared agreement on our first date that we would keep our budding courtship to ourselves (read Illegal) - - well sort of...

Corporate romances are common.  Without doing any substantiating research, I'd guess the work environment is number two when if comes to places to meet your mate; college being first.  Actually, I do have substantiating evidence to prove my theory - -  Boomer.   He met his sons' mother in college; he met me at work.  There you go, one and two.

The corporate culture where we worked, was of another time from what it is today.  It was the kind of company where people worked most of their professional career, where employees were valued and appreciated, grew through the ranks, met/married their spouses, their kids came to work there.  There were holiday parties, one for the grown-ups and one for the kids, holiday gifts of crystal for every employee.   It was a large company, with a small company work ethic, for a time.  People worked hard and played hard - - a place where friendships developed, your co-workers were also some of your closest friends.  It was also a place where gossip was the preferred extracurricular activity, next to hitting the bar.  Gossiping at the bar - - the bigger pastime.

Boomer and I were both willing participants in gossip games, and equally guilty in not being able to keep our own romance quiet to ourselves even though we said we would.  Excitement and enthusiasm got the best of us both - - he shared, as did I, with a "trusted" few.  So when our romance was "outed" at a departmental golf outing, there was really no one to blame but ourselves.

I had never golfed in my life, but welcomed the chance for a freebie afternoon on the links and some socializing fun with my colleagues in 1998.  Boomer and I were closing in on being together 1 year and still hush-hush.  The day was loaded with fun; this rookie duffer somehow managed a birdie on the 14th hole,  I was named Birdie Babe by teammates then on.  It wasn't long after the beverages began to flow back in the clubhouse, the gossiping started-up and before you knew it, our so-called secret relationship was on the table.

Dan (not his real name) was a sales guy, warm with personality and sincerity.  As the gossip banter of various affairs were flying around, Dan innocently enough, turned to me and said, "Well Shannon, how long have you and Mike been seeing each other now?"   Did you hear that?  It was the pin - - dropping.  There were about 15 people gathered around the cluster of tables, not a peep uttered from a single one.  This was a deer-in-headlights moment for me, sitting there, without Boomer as a bumper to rebound off of.  "Gee Dan, that's really not public knowledge," was all I could muster.   Remember the old E.F. Hutton commercials?  "When E.F. Hutton speaks..."  It was like that.  All eyes turn to me - - silence.  Dan chimed in with an apology, "Oh wow, really?  I had no idea. Frank (not his real name) told me."  Frank, by the way was Boomer's close friend.  Then the firing squad of inquiry exploded in my direction; everyone wanted the  low-down on the apparent "big scoop" that was just let out of the closet.   When I came clean, the greater news wasn't that Boomer and I were a couple, it was that it was nearly a year old.   In the grand scheme of gossip - - that's pretty darn good to have lasted that long on the qt.  The reaction from the group was an overall show of support filled with an abundance of praise and exuberance.  In my mind, "Whew.  I can't wait to tell Boomer all about this day."  That call came from the parking lot the moment I sat in my car to go home.  

Still dangerously close to hyperventilation, I phone Boomer,  rapidly spewing out to him all about the clubhouse "outing".  Never mind the birdie - - it was all about my panic over us being outed.  I hear him begin to chuckle, "What?" I aked.  In his cool, chilled-out tone he soothingly said, "It's o.k. SMO.  Relax.  Don't worry about it.  It is time."  "Really, are you sure?"  "Yes, I'm sure.  It's fine."   This is what I've always loved about Boomer - - his ability to ground me when I'm about to go over the edge.

The following morning, I picked up my voicemail and there was a message from Dan -- apologizing again.  He's such a nice guy.  He said he called Boomer too to apologize.    Shortly after listening to his message, Dan showed up at my desk to apologize once more.  Then, in mid-sentence, I'll never forget it, he said, "Wait a minute, you know what?  I'm not sorry.  This is great news.  Mike is great, you're great, the two of you together is great.  So never mind, I'm not sorry at all."

Dan forever holds a special place in my heart.  First,  for this anecdotal memory of mine and Boomer's early history.  Second,  he was on of the few people we use to work with who personally called me to express his condolences after Boomer passed.  That's the kind of guy Dan is, warm and sincere, and one who enjoys a really good piece of gossip now and again. 

The following year, 1999, there was another departmental golf outing.  Now, my second time ever hitting the links, only on this occasion Boomer was by my side -- and he's not a golfer either.  Another match point for us.  Muwah!  I love you Honey.
The anomaly that is SMO & Boomer & Golf - 1999




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