(As written in Wes' journal)
I was very excited for weeks. November 20 I'd asked Tom to be my date to my company's Christmas party on December 6, 1991. [I worked for the 2nd largest company in Houston.] I spent much of my free time during the following two and a half weeks getting ready for his visit. I knew that he was holding back: Previous men he had gone out with had mistreated him. I was going to leave no room for doubt that I love him deeply -- he could trust me absolutely and I would never violate that trust. It would be a weekend we would never forget.
I started making plans and getting things to help him realize that this is our Houston home and that he is always welcome. I went to Stor and got a "Feather" halogen lamp, just like mine, for his side of the bed. When I was assembling the lamp I saw a couple blemishes. That was unacceptable. Not worthy of my precious. I took it back to exchange it, mixing and matching from two other boxes to find a combination of parts to make a perfect lamp for Tom.
Over dinner with my friend Johnny Mooney, I told him how Tom's visit was extremely important to me and that I wanted to bring Tom to the party in a limousine. As soon as I mentioned it, I knew he was the perfect person from whom to get a reference: He does floral design for some of the wealthiest people in town and knows almost everything about the best things available in town. He suggested I use not just a limousine, but a "classic." He made some calls and got me the contact the next day: A place in town with vintage Rolls Royces. I went out immediately -- to ensure I got in my reservation early -- to select the best one. There were two that were just gorgeous. I decided to have one of them pick us up to go to the party, and the other pick us up from the party. The second car would drive us around town so I could show off Tom. I filled out the itinerary forms.
As a general financial strategy, I'd decided to charge all the things I could to my American Express Optima card -- my Mastercard was full -- during December and January while my salary took a 40% drop until my private disability policy kicked in. [I'd just gone on disability October 8.] I'd pay cash for just what I had to. I moved all my savings to my checking account to cover the cash shortfall for things I couldn't charge. I encountered my first dilemma: The traditional limousine companies took Visa/Mastercard and American Express. Jordan Limousines, with the Rolls Royces, only took Visa/Mastercard. I was downfallen until I remembered that I'd moved my savings to checking and had enough to pay cash; and if it came down to it I could get a cash advance from American Express at a higher interest rate and use that to cover my bills. I wrote out the check and drove it to Jordan Limousines with the itinerary forms.
My friend Ric, who works at Enron, and I had been playing phone tag for several days. Finally I decided to leave a detailed message on his PhoneMail. Most of it was about how I was in love with a man named Tom and that I would be bringing him to the Christmas party -- in a white, 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud convertible touring car. I also mentioned that out of 500 or so guests, we'd likely be the only same-sex couple. And that we'd be in our matching black tuxedos.
Ric called me later that night. I asked if he'd gotten the message I left him. He said "No, but Eileen did!" Eileen is his bumbling secretary who tries very hard. I was shocked for a moment, and then I bust out with a loud laugh. Ric continued "She took very detailed notes. You should have seen her relaying the message to me. It was a moment. I had to call you because I knew you'd enjoy it as much as I did." He was right. I imagined Eileen's day being rearranged as she went through each of Ric's many messages and came upon mine, and could see her replaying it several times earnestly trying to accurately take down the message for Ric.
Tom and I would need pictures to capture the evening. I asked Louis if he would arrive shortly before the Rolls and take pictures for us.
Johnny had also suggested that I "have Tom's chart done." I got his birthplace and time from Tom -- I already knew the day and year -- and went to Aquarian Age Bookshelf to have his natal chart done.
I purchased black sheets for our bed. I got a toothbrush for him and placed it next to mine in the holder. Together, where they belonged.
I also wanted to set a bedside table on Tom's side, but it wouldn't fit with the furniture where it was. My friends James and Don would be staying with me during Round Up over Thanksgiving, however, and they'd be the perfect help I needed: Big boys to move big furniture. With some effort, they helped me move the armoire, bookcase and toy chest. Putting the thinner bookcase where the thicker armoire had been gave me just the right amount of room for Tom's nightstand and bedside lamp. I picked up the nightstand to move it -- and the drawer came crashing on my foot. Didn't hurt much, but the drawer's facing popped off when the drawer bounced off my foot and hit the floor. I went to Southland Hardware and got the necessary sandpaper and carpenter's glue to make it good as new, then stocked it for Tom with his own ashtray, Kleenex and Proventil.
That evening, Don, James and I went to a speaker meeting and the Round Up show. When they gave out chips at the end of the meeting, I strutted up in my boots and got my 6 month chip.
Saturday, James left to tend his crawfish ponds since his parents told him it was raining in Louisiana. Don would leave the next day to sing with the Turtle Creek Chorale.
At the Round Up banquet, I wished Tom were with me. I wanted to put my arm around him. I thought warm thoughts. Afterward, Don changed clothes and went out to sleaze. I cleaned up the plaster from the drilling earlier, then went out to the Ripcord -- where of course I ran into Don -- to meet my friend John, in town from Dallas. He wanted to mess around. Though I'd told Tom when he was here last that I didn't expect him to be monogamous - - living 250 miles away -- I felt things had changed in the time since he left. I told John I was going to wait until I cleared things up with Tom. He understood. We went out and grabbed a bite to eat.
I also wanted to look good for Tom. I went and got a pair of black 501s, black engineer boots, some more black "Ripcord" and "Leather by Boots" T-shirts, and a new tuxedo shirt, links & studs. I also began real bodybuilding. My friend Jim Hopkins assumed the role of my personal trainer as a favor.
The week before he arrived, I sent three postcards. The first was a picture of Houston during Jean-Michel Jarre's Rendezvous Houston concert, which we'd watched on video. On the other side I wrote "More fireworks during the next rendezvous Houston... Looking forward to your visit." The second was a baby's hand gripping a man's finger. On the flip side I wrote "Thinking warm thoughts. My arms are around you as you sleep tonight. I love you." At the bottom I added "Mmm mmm mmm!" which is how I feel when I talk to him. The third was a postcard with a leatherman with crossed arms on it. On the back I wrote "Preparations are nearly complete. Looking forward to your visit."
Thursday the fifth was the last day before Tom arrived. I'd started bleaching my teeth two days prior so that they'd be pearly white for Tom. That day, I had the wall next to the bed mirrored. DecoGlass was insistent that they needed at least 9 feet of floor space next to the wall to lay down the sheets of mirror or the mirrors would snap. So, I disassembled the four- post pedestal bed. But they didn't arrive when they were supposed to. I was going to have none of this -- I had carpet cleaners scheduled for noon. I was very clear that if they didn't arrive soon they could keep the custom cut sheets. I also called the carpet people and rescheduled them for later in the day. I called the stereo repair place where my amplifier was to be ready that day: When they put the new part in, however, they realized another part was also needed. That meant I couldn't temporarily set up the stereo in the bedroom as I had planned. Oh well, the good jam box would do ok. I was disappointed nonetheless -- I'd wanted to give Tom a total sensory experience, complete with planned music. I kept hounding the mirror people before they arrived and when they went back by the store to make some more cuts. They had just finished and pulled out of the driveway when the carpet people arrived. When they were done I cleared boxes out of the attic -- since trash day was in the morning -- and cleaned out the rain gutters near the door. Then I washed the car and took a shower. I was grimy.
On Friday the last things were done: I had the lawn mowed and got money for the weekend. After two and a half weeks of preparations, and pushing myself the whole time because I realized I would just barely make it even with a lot of effort, it had all come together just hours before he arrived. I worked out with Jim, we ate lunch, and I took a much-needed nap. I rested well that hour, knowing everything was ready.
After my nap, I dressed in my black 501s with my leather belt, a black T-shirt and my engineer boots. Then I headed to the airport to pick Tom up. (I had so much adrenaline going I had to take several puffs of Proventil to ease my breathing!) On the way there I stopped and picked up a dozen red roses, choosing the best ones they had, and had the man put baby's breath around them.
I made quite an impression at the airport: A leatherman carrying a dozen red roses for whomever he was picking up. Tom's flight was a little late, so I sat in the tiny smoking section and read the paper. There in an inside page near the front was what I needed to make the weekend perfect: A surround sound stereo, on sale. I would buy it and set it up around the bed. I ripped the ad out and stuck it in my pocket.
Tom's plane arrived after a while and I placed myself close to where he would come out. I scanned all the people coming up the ramp and didn't notice him. I also realized I couldn't hold my camera and hug him at the same time, so I had the man next to me hold the flowers while I strapped the camera onto my belt loop. It was a little awkward when his lady visitor arrived and he handed the flowers back to me instead of to her! With the flowers back in my arms, I re-scanned the crowd. Coming toward me was Tom. I momentarily didn't recognize my fuzzy partner -- with the beard I'd asked him to grow. Oh it felt so good to see him!!! I gave him the flowers and wrapped my arms around him! We hugged for a couple minutes, holding each other tightly. Mmmmm! It had been weeks, and our love had grown during that time. Ah!!!
It was a special moment.
Back at the Houston Home, I parked next to the apartments next door to leave the driveway free for the Rolls, explaining that I'd just had the yard cut and didn't want grass blowing on the car.
Inside, Tom gave me some wonderful CoasterStones that coordinated with my stone-like furniture. I took him to our bedroom and I think he was impressed. We laid down and just enjoyed each other for about an hour, then started getting ready. I'd told Tom that my friend Louis would be coming by to take pictures of us getting ready. Sure enough, Louis arrived as we were getting out of the shower. I made introductions and we went about getting ready. Louis took a few pictures as we progressed.
About 20 minutes later, Tom was ironing his shirt and I was putting mine on when Louis and I both heard a low rumble in the driveway. We looked at each other, knowing that the Rolls had arrived. Tom and I continued dressing. The driver waited about 15 minutes, then knocked on the door. I was doing something and nonchalently called out, "Will you get that, Tom?"
He went to the door and there stood our uniformed chauffer, Ken, who simply stated "Your car is ready, Sir." Tom was kind of dumbfounded and closed the door and looked at me, incredulous. "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we have a car" I smiled. I was tickled pink! I didn't realize it then, but he still hadn't seen the car itself.
It took us a few more minutes, then we were ready. Tom gave me his gold diamond ring to wear. It was lovely, and very special to me since it was Tom's. Louis was outside with his camera on a tripod. We came out and there was our car: A 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud convertible touring car with red leather interior, our driver standing at attention at the side in his gray uniform and driver's cap. Tom's eyes just lit up! He just stood there, shocked -- and pleasantly overwhelmed. I led him closer and pointed out the license plates I'd ordered for the front of the car: "WES & TOM." I could feel the emotions sweeping over Tom: He was really getting how much I love him. I was thrilled!
Louis took pictures of us around and inside the car. (Tom especially liked the license holder in back, which said "Life is too short to drive a Mercedes.") I'd instructed Ken to take us downtown via Shepherd. Waiting to turn from Branard, a lady in a black truck turned onto our street, hanging her head out the window. "You almost made me have a wreck! You're car is so gorgeous I had to stop and take a look." She said we looked great, wished us well, and headed on her way.
We cuddled close for warmth when Ken turned the car from Shepherd onto Allen Parkway. The night was windless with brisk air and a clear, dark sky. It was truly grand to have Tom nestled by my side, in our matching tuxedos, sitting in the back of a Rolls Royce touring car on a beautiful night, while our chauffer drove us down Allen Parkway's gentle curves to the Christmas party.
We passed through the skyscrapers to the glittering lights of the George R. Brown convention center on the east side of downtown, where the company had reserved Ballrooms A and B. Ken opened our doors for us and we took the escalators up to the reception area with the other guests.
Karen, a friend of mine who is the LAN person for another company unit, was manning the line that included my last name. She gave us our pre-printed nametags and drink coupons. Michael Miller, my former immediate boss, was one of the first people we ran into. "Michael Miller, I'd like you to meet my lover, Tom. Tom, this is Michael." Despite everyone knowing that Michael is gay, he is very closeted with the non-gay people at work. He was polite, but flustered -- and quickly retreated to his female escort.
We got some drinks from the bar and smoking area that was outside the ballrooms, then headed inside to take a look. Bill Horwitz, the new president of my former unit, came up to us by the door. Jean-Francois Coste had announced, on the Monday before I went on disability, that he was moving within the company to set up a new international company. That spelled a new person would come in to replace him -- and a reorganization with possible layoffs. I went on full disability effective Tuesday, October 8. Wednesday, when I was in to do paperwork and clean out my desk, Mike Muckleroy, the president of the division, announced at an all-employee meeting that Bill Horwitz was selected to be the new president of the unit. After the meeting, Bill went around to everyones' cubes and introduced himself. When he got to mine, he said "I'm Bill Horwitz. What is your name and what do you do?" I said "I'm Wes and I..." I paused as I thought of a simple way to put it. "No, I want the short version" he said curtly. I knew I'd made the right decision by going on disability: This person was all business with no soul; and not to be trusted. "I'm Wes and I do disability." I knew this would confuse him, and it did -- which gave me the opportunity to give this prick one of my unwaveringly honest, no-bullshit and no-holds-barred statements for which I was well-known, respected and feared throughout the company: "I am the former head of your systems group worldwide. I went on partial disability earlier this year due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome caused by chronic understaffing in the Business Systems department -- despite my repeated proposals for new hires -- and related excessive work demands. I went on full disability effective yesterday with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ARC; AIDS- Related Complex; and am just here to clear out my desk. One of the people in the group was fired yesterday. A temporary was fired today. This means that you have lost three out of four people in your systems department in two days. This will be a problem area for you and it will require your attention. You would be well-served to fully staff it if you want to accomplish anything. The one person remaining, Wayne, is excellent and you should treat him well. He deserves a promotion and a raise, both of which I had been working on." He was rather stunned. I then wished him well in his new position and continued packing up as he went down the hall to meet Wayne.
So here was Bill Horwitz, the snake, asking how I was feeling. "Pretty good. I had bronchitis and fevers for about a month, but other than being sick 50% of the time, things are great." Then I introduced him to Tom. "Bill Horwitz, this is my lover, Tom. Tom, this is Bill Horwitz." Bill handled it well, for a creep.
The ballrooms were joined together as one very large room. The entry area was right in the middle, so that half the tables were to the left and half were to the right. A wide walking area extended from the entrance to the large dance floor. At its sides along the far wall were coffee and dessert bars. Pasta and omelette bars were along the sides of the room. In the near left corner were three caricature artists, with a photographer in front of an oversized snowflake scene a little closer to the door.
I chose a front and center table for us -- the only one appropriate for me and Tom -- sitting with Wayne and his wife, my friend Twyla. Darlene and Scott, who are now living together, were also sitting there, as well as Rita with a male date.
Pretty soon, Dave Roussell, president of the pipeline group and the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, got up and made announcements and a few jokes. One that surprised me was that there were 1,000 people in attendance. It was much larger than I'd anticipated, as I thought there were about 400 people at last year's party. A comment that surprised many people was when he was talking about how successful our division was. He said something like he couldn't say "butt", then proceeded to explain that the success was the result of people "working their twats off." I got a lot of mileage out of that! I asked Darlene if she worked her twat off. "Not at work!" she replied. Rita sniffed when I asked her.
Tom and I went outside to smoke. First we went by the restrooms, where we ran into Tammy, from Human Resources, and some of her young lady friends. I introduced Tom and the ladies told us: "You two look wonderful!" We visited for a while and then headed to the cocktail tables in the smoking area. Pretty soon Phil and Michaela came by and we had them sit with us. Then Theresa Diamond, a friend of mine even before she became Phil's secretary, and her beau joined our group. When I introduced Tom as my lover to her, she introduced her date as her lover to me.
Bill and his lover, Doug -- the only other same sex couple there -- also joined us at our smoking table. Tom and I had arrived first, so we get to claim the breaking new ground award. Nonetheless, I was excited to see Bill bring Doug. It was a big step for him, particularly since he was still working in the office, unlike me.
On our way back in, I brought Tom over to Mary, my friend in Administration who handles most everything and who had overseen the party. I introduced Tom and Mary and we told her what a wonderful job she had done. When we returned to our table, after our leisurely smoke and visiting, Scott and Darlene said that Bill Horwitz' secretary, Pat, and her husband were sitting there and that the table was full. Not having relinquished our seats, I said exactly that: "They were sitting here." We set down our drinks and went to have our pictures made.
As we strolled up to the line together, and stood there in our matching tuxedos, we got lots of looks. Not blatent glares, but looks. When we finally got to the photographer, he asked if we were taking our pictures alone. I said "No, with my lover."
Wayne and Twyla had gone off to the caricature artists by the time we returned. We strolled over to get our caricature made and caught up with them. The artist was almost done, doing a good job of them at two computers and throwing in computerese gibberish. I whispered in his ear that what Twyla's character really needed was a collar around her neck, in reference to the time Twyla wore the collar of a lady CompuServe friend of hers "who is a dom" when she went clubbing in Los Angeles. Twyla howled when the collar was added!
Time was going by quickly. We danced a while, then finally left.
We spent the rest of the weekend doing things like getting the surround sound stereo and setting it up, plus going to friends' Christmas parties. It was a really nice weekend. We were officially a couple.
When it was finally time for Tom to fly back, both our boots set off the airport's metal detectors. When I got home, I made and sent a card for Tom that said "You're the Rolls Royce of Lovers. I love you."
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