There are several positions that can make a gay man very uncomfortable; however, standing across from your mother in the front lobby of Graceland answering questions as to why you are still single has got to be the worst.
Now typically, big family events like weddings or reunions are a total breeze for me. All my aunts, uncles and small town cousins are much too nervous to ask me any questions about who I am sleeping with or what I am doing with my future. Unlike my heterosexual cousins, no one cares if I get married or work outside retail. Not to mention, the thought of me having children is just as far-fetched as me buying a house in Vancouver. So long as I have not contracted a virus or become addicted to methamphetamines, in the eyes of my extended family, I am doing just fine.
Unfortunately, the only family figure I am not immune from on this subject is my mother, who has made it her personal mission to find me a husband.
“Rugged, I just don’t understand how you haven’t met anyone in Vancouver yet,” Mama Fox said to me, “the city is practically swarming with attractive gay men."
The two of us stood in the front entrance to Graceland waiting for my father to buy us tickets to get on the tour. Elvis played overhead on the speakers while videos of his gyrating pelvis flashed all over the t.v. screens.
“Ugh!” I gasped, rolling my eyes and brushing the invisible hair back from my forehead. The last time I engaged with my mother on this subject the conversation got completely out of hand. Before I knew it, she was forcing me to Google pictures of Elton John’s and Neil Patrick Harris’ kids just to see what was possible.
“You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog, cryin’ all the time.”
“I told you mother, I am not blessed with the luxury of time right now to answer the texts of any gentlemen callers. I am married to my job. The restaurant cooks me lunch and dinner and slams me every Friday and Saturday night – what else could I ask for?”
“I just don’t think you are putting yourself out there,” she said.
It was clear that she and I were on completely different pages of the same People magazine.
“What happened to the last boy you were seeing?” she carried on. "You know the one who worked at the flower shop... what was his name again?”
Every time we discussed the tragedy called my love life, my mother insisted we look back at the last relationship I had in order to to figure out what I did wrong.
“Mom! What are you trying do to me? If I wanted to drive all the way to Memphis to check in at the Heartbreak Hotel, I would have walked across the street by now.”
“I’m all shook up. Mmmm ooh yeah."
I looked for my father who was still in line waiting to buy tickets. I willed for him to jump to the front so that he could come back and save me from this maternal sabotage. There was never any talk about sex or relationships when my dad was around. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell.
“Sweetheart, it is clear to me this boy is obviously the reason why you have drowned yourself in work at the restaurant in a desperate attempt to mask your feelings of loneliness and prevent yourself from ever feeling rejection again. You are almost thirty years-old and it’s important that we talk about these things now so you can get your life back on track. Remind me, what was his name again? I swear, it’s on the tip of my tongue."
I was trapped. There was no white flag I could raise and the only exit out was through the gift shop.
“Derek,” I muttered reluctantly under my breath.
“Derek…Yes, yes, of course, now remind me again what happened to him?”
“He dumped me on the first day that it rained last year because he thought I drank too much.”
“Are you lonesome tonight?”
“Well call me crazy but maybe if you spent less time drinking and more time dating than you would have met a nice boy by now you could hold on to longer than six months.”
By the grace of Meryl Streep, my father returned at that moment with our tickets, a souvenir guide book and three diet cokes . I was safe for at least the duration of the tour.
“Dad?” I asked, twisting the bottle cap open.
“Yes, Rugged,” he replied.
“Do you think they serve alcohol on this tour?”