The whole family fell in love with me: funny story

So far all my posts have related terrifying events which led to my final acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord, my King, my Savior. This story will be brief, but I want to share it because not everything in my life is some terrible tragedy, and this one always makes me laugh to myself when I think about t.

Back in the mid and late 1970s I met a guy that was just two years younger than myself, good looking, an athletic and intelligent guy named Jim. We quickly became quite intimate and spent a lot of time together. His parents, like my own, were working class people, and seemed to like me as a person. Neither Jim nor I had told anyone about our relationship beyond mere friendship, which indeed, it was beyond mere friendship.

Both of Jim’s parents lost their jobs within weeks of each other and were both struggling to keep the family finances afloat. Jim’s younger sister was a typical teenaged girl as far as I knew.  I had a pretty good job, and as it drew close to the Christmas holiday it was obvious that it wouldn’t be a very merry Christmas for their family.

I had spent enough time with them to have a pretty good idea what they liked and disliked and took it upon myself to adopt the entire family and give them a memorable Christmas. I was making enough money that I could afford to do that. So, I went on a major shopping spree and bought each member of the family a very nice and fairly expensive primary gift, along with another half dozen gifts for each like socks, and useful items which didn’t cost a lot. And because their refrigerator had died, I bought them a family gift of a brand new fridge.

They had no idea it was going to happen. I arranged for a friend with a box truck to store the gifts until Christmas Eve when I had invited to take the whole family out to eat. I knew that they never locked the front door, and arranged for my box truck friend to go into their house after we left to put up a fully decorated tree, all the wrapped gifts, and to leave the new fridge with a big bow in the kitchen. It went off like clockwork, and when we got back from dinner, and the family noticed the lit Christmas tree as we pulled into the driveway, Jim’s dad said “what the heck? We don’t have a tree this year”

Everyone rushed in to see the tree and all the gifts under the tree and were literally crying tears of joy. Jim looked at me puzzled, and I just winked back. Jim’s mom went to the kitchen and saw the new fridge and let out a shriek. Everyone rushed into the kitchen and absolutely went nuts with glee. I was feeling pretty proud of myself seeing the joy on their faces.

After that Jim and his family were feeling like they could get back on track financially with whole new attitudes. Mission accomplished?  Nope. It backfired terribly in the months to come. Each time I was at their house they treated me like royalty, but they each held a secret I had no idea about.

3 months after that Christmas I was at a St. Patricks Day party with Jim. We were having a lovely time. Jim stopped the party to announce that he was truly and forever in love with me. Everybody clapped and toasted us. That would have been such a lovely memorable moment had it ended there, but it didn’t.

About 30 minutes after Jim announced his undying love for me, his mother showed up to the party (un-invited, and drunk), and neither Jim nor I thought anything wrong with her showing up. But only 5 minutes after her arrival, she decided to also stop the party with an announcement of her own. Okay, I thought she would say something about Christmas. I was wrong. She blurted out that she was absolutely in love with me and had been from the first time she met me, and that she would divorce her husband (Jim’s dad) if I would be willing to marry her.

You could hear a pin drop. Everyone, including Jim and me, were stunned. Neither of us had any idea his mother was in love with his boyfriend. But wait, it gets better. I told Jim’s mom how flattered I was, but that while I cared deeply for her and the rest of the family, that in fact Jim and I were a couple. She sat in a chair and sobbed while party goers tried to console her. Then the next shoe to drop, was the arrival of both Jim’s dad and younger sister a few minutes later.

You guessed it, Jim’s sister also proclaimed her undying love to me, and offered her virginity to me in front of everyone else. She hadn’t witnessed her brother Jim saying he loved me publicly, nor her mother doing so. In the span of 30 minutes, 3 members of the family publicly announcing their love for me was the most embarrassing moment of my life. I thought that Jim’s dad would probably want to punch me in the mouth, even though I hadn’t done anything untoward. Jim’s dad looked like a man about to explode.

Jim ran off to the guest room to hide from the fiasco of his family making such a scene. Then, once again the last member of his family, did the exact same thing as the first 3. Yup, his dad said “I’ve been hiding my homosexuality my whole life. I love my wife, and I love my kids, but Danny, I love you more than all of them combined.” 

So Jim is now hiding from the embarrassment, his mom still sobbing in a chair, his sister yelling at his mom for “trying to steal me away” and now his dad also crying and pleading with me to be his “forever”.

Everyone was staring at me, and I was like a deer in the headlights. How do I comprehend what just happened? Why had I not seen any of this coming?  How could this seemingly normal family converge on a party in front of 100 strangers and make such a debacle? What was I supposed to say. 

The party host, a good friend came to my rescue. He politely suggested that they should all go home and try to resolve their differences privately and understand the humiliating experience they had just subjected me to without warning. Luckily, Jim’s Dad, mom, and sister had each driven themselves to the party, and each left in their own cars.

After they left, I went to Jim in the guest room to let him know that his family had all left and he could feel free to rejoin the party if he wanted, or that I could take him home. He said there is no way that he could look anyone in the eyes after what just happened. He apologized to me, assuring me that he was just as surprised as I was. So, I drove him home pretty much in dead silence. I assured him that he was still my guy, despite the awful scene.

After almost a week Jim finally called me and said that the family had a huge argument. His mother and father decided to get divorced. Jim was in college and said he was going to transfer to a college far away. His dad was going to move back east. HIs mom and sister would be going out of state. Jim said that even though his feelings for me hadn’t changed, that he couldn’t bear the thought of knowing his family had split over me. That just seeing me would remind him constantly of the humiliation and confusion of the party confessions of his family. That was the end of Jim and I.

I contacted Jim upon his graduation from college. We agreed to have dinner together. It was still very painful for him to see me, but he was getting on with his life. His parents were divorced and getting on with their lives, and his sister had a steady boyfriend. I too had moved on with my own life. 

For years after that party, each time I was with people who were there, they would laugh and shake their heads. Of course it’s sad to see a family split apart, even more so that it happened so publicly.  But the problems which were at the root of that split were neither my fault nor for that matter totally their own. The last time I knew anything about Jim was that he got married and had a child of his own, and was doing well in his life.

Just because my motives were pure at that Christmas didn’t mean that they wouldn’t misinterpret my gesture as something more than what it was. I still try to be a generous person, but always in the back of my mind is the memory of how terribly wrong it can go. I think that had Jim and I been honest about our relationship from the beginning perhaps things would not have spiraled out of control. 

I’ve never considered myself to be handsome, and in fact rather average if not below average as a desirable  pick for a soulmate. Despite that self analysis, there are 3 other times subsequent to  what happened with Jim where people I barely knew or hadn’t seen in 30 years did something similar, but at least it happened privately and not in front of 100 other people.  To this day I have no idea what would cause anyone to randomly show up out of the blue professing a deep love. I’m old enough and grizzled enough now that I think it won’t happen again. 

Just so you know, I don’t find the split of Jim’s family to be hilarious, but I cannot help but chuckle when I recall the absolute ridiculous spectacle of that St. Patricks Day party.