My auntie has a letting agency, which means that she works in the field that may be more respected than being a member of parliament. Maybe, there’s a bit of a competition about which field is more sneered at. Auntie doesn’t have a shop or anything, she runs everything from her house.
She doesn’t sell houses or anything like that; people just contact her when they want to rent out their houses or bits of their houses. For a fee she makes sure to find, vet, and sign on tenants – and then she makes sure the tenants pay on time, and takes care that everything is legal and proper and maintained.
I used to work in this letting agency on odd weekends, but it wasn’t really for me, so Abbie took over my spot because apparently Auntie found that having a clerk was really helpful. When I left Abbie took my place, and he has actually thrives in the job. Auntie has made it into a part-time position, and not just the odd weekend. This means that Abbie has a little income of his own, and that means he can buy his own things.
Today Abbie came over and he gave me and Mark our wedding present. He wants to pay for our wedding cake, so he cave us gift checks to a bakery in town. Abbie won’t be able to be at our wedding because his family is travelling to Turkey next week, and they’ll stay for three weeks.
“At least in Turkey I won’t have Granny pinching my cheeks and asking when I’m getting a wife,” he joked. Then he got sort of serious when I started to protest that he could give us a toaster or something that was cheaper. “I don’t want to give you a fucking toaster. Mum and dad didn’t fuss about me being gay because they knew you and Mark. You made things a lot easier for me, you two. So no, I don’t want to give you a fucking toaster like everyone else.”
When I objected that he’d told me that his parents had known forever about him he said something that stuck with me. “Yeah, like they would have known I had leprosy or missing an arm. Real life isn’t like that. They would have pushed me to stay in the closet because they love me and wouldn’t want me to be hurt because they don’t know anything about this. Maybe mum would have joined Gran and nagged me to get a girlfriend because she loves me and don’t want me to get hurt. I don’t know. But you and Mark showed her that you could be happy and normal.”
I still think that Abbie is overreacting, like he’s wont to do because he wears his nerves on his sleeves, but maybe there’s a little bit of truth in that seeing open gay people in normal relationships and with normal lives is a good thing. I’ve always resisted the idea that being with Mark is some kind of statement, which Mark says it inevitably is.
Mark’s theory is that our relationship is inherently political, whether we want it or not. It is political because other people impose a political edge to it. It is political because the first thing that people think when they see us isn’t the usual “isn’t young love sweet” but more like “aren’t they brave for being out and open”.
I hate the idea that Mark and I and anything but what we are, but maybe Abbie is right. Maybe Mark is right. And maybe that isn’t actually a bad thing. I’m still not convinced though. Maybe, heaven forfend, we’re actually a positive example to people, like in Abbie’s case.