What time will you be home tonight?” I ask the man in my life, Brett, as he walks out the door every Saturday evening. “Will you be home tonight?” invariably follows. Brett is on his way to a bar or to dinner with a “friend.” Sometimes he comes home; sometimes he doesn’t. When he does, it’s usually very late — after the clubs close. He wakes me up with a whispered “hi” and slides in next to me under the covers. He holds me and tells me how his night went. I tell him what Robby, my 5-year-old son, and I did. Then we fall asleep — usually with me clinging Siamese-twin close to him. (Brett calls me his own personal lichen.)
Robby adores Brett. Since he moved to Los Angeles — and in with us — about a year ago, it’s Brett who takes Robby to the movies. They fix our broken-down old house together. They ride the roller coaster at the pier. (I’m too chicken.) They karate chop and wrestle and even play catch out front — just like in the suburbs. Brett stays with Robby when I have to work late or go on a business trip — no complaints. Brett tells me he loves me and that I don’t need to lose weight. He even thinks my whining is kind of charming. And he does all the grocery shopping. My single girlfriends are jealous. My married girlfriends are incredulous. Plus, we have great … pillow talk.
OK, you’ve probably figured it out: Brett likes guys. Nevertheless, the three of us are a family — an unorthodox one, but one filled with love, respect and affection just the same. It’s the nicest and most functional family I’ve ever belonged to. And Brett feels the same way. (Quick author bio: I was married and divorced in my 20s and never married Robby’s dad, whom I lived with for years.) Of course, many people are ready to naysay our happy arrangement. “You don’t have sex” is one common apprehension. So what? Most of my married friends can’t even remember the last time they had sex. “It’s bad for your son” is another concern. Why? Since when is a generous, smart, strong, funny, thoughtful male presence in a home bad for anybody — man, woman or child?
It’s not all asexual bliss. We snip and snipe and have grand fundamental arguments just like any conventional couple. On the other hand, we have some pretty eccentric moments, too: Me: “You’ve gone on three dates now with the same guy. You’re leaving us for him!” Brett: “Are you getting your period?” He asks this question frequently, having just learned at age 33 (I swear) about how menstruation and hormones affect a woman’s insecurity and witchiness levels.
We also have plenty of predictable episodes, ones that any working-mom-with-a-kid-and-guy-at-home can relate to. At the end of the day, for example, after a nearly hour-long commute, I lumber into the house, attempt to kiss Robby and hug Brett and ask them about their days. Without fail, I’m interrupted about 30 seconds into my prattle by one or both of them demanding an immediate answer to that universally urgent male question: “When’s dinner?”