Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How To Tie A Bow Tie

As our battered, rust and silver 10 year-old Dodge minivan pulled up to the old-world grandness of the Fairmont on San Francisco's Nob Hill I could already see the blank expression on the bellhops' faces. Tourists asking directions, must be, their faces say. No! I feel like calling and waving: Yoohoo, it's us. Here we are - we're staying with you guys.

Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
"I wonder if they'll park the Grey Ghost out the front?" Kevin mused as we bumped up to the entrance. I opened the car door and out rolled: a handful of parking receipts, half a bagel, one month of marked homework and Cy's old SpongeBob underwear.

To their credit, the staff stepped up courteously: "Can we help you with your dress?" one offered as my cocktail frock fell off the wire hanger while I dived for Cy's undies. I looked up from the ground to see a pair of black CC-ed boots and a bag of multi-coloured V's giving us a very wide berth.

Some poor valet climbed in our smelly Dodge to park it in the garage and Kevin murmured: "Lucky guy, sweet ride."

We scrambled through the pretty Alphabet-laden people and up to our room. There was a view of the stairwell and a $8.86 bottle of Evian. Yay! We're in a posh hotel.

Tonight is the benefit ball for HRC which lobbies for equal rights for gay men and women and campaigns against bullying. The Fairmont has generously donated three ballrooms for the event and has discounted room rates.

At this stage I'm exhausted after hussling all day to leave the house by 3pm and I'm ready to slip under the covers and watch a $24 B-movie staring Jennifer Aniston. But we put on our duds and join the others. Well, not as quick as that. Kevin left his shirt at home so there is a fair amount of faffing around with some store in the hotel and me readying the iron.

And finally, Kevin must watch the YouTube video on How To Tie A Bow Tie. Again and again and again. This is a "favourite" on every electronic device in our household. Which might give you the impression he is constantly wearing his tuxedo. No, but it is a confirmed obsession. Let's just say while driving to the kids' soccer games on Saturdays he is keeping out a vigilant watch for tuxedo stores where he can buy more bow ties to not know how to tie.

Up and down and around and through...
We head to the ballroom which is chocka full of people having a good time. Among the most beautiful in the room are sisters Rachel and Amber, college friends of Kevin from Penn State. (You've met Amber before, she's writing a book about her dating adventures.)

Belles of the Ball, sisters Rachel and Amber
Last year my friend Lisa and I joined some shenanigans in the hallway, dancing and having splits competitions with our BFF of the moment, the "smokin' yogi." This year I stayed seated and listened to all the speeches, from Senator Dianne Feinstein to Brit rugby star Ben Cohen. It occurred to me that this hotel was a wonderful oasis of acceptance. Outside not so much.

In more than 30 states there are no laws to protect gay people from being denied housing or rejected for a job because of who they are.

Our friends Kenny and Mike have been together for nearly 19 years and married - in that short window before the laws were reversed - for three years. They have a house and a life together. But if Mike died, their home and all his possessions would be a taxable item for Kenny - not so for a straight couple. And though many companies offer health benefits to same sex couples, again they are taxable. 

Mike and Kenny
So it seems this post is not about How To Tie a Bow Tie. The title is as nonsensical as not giving the same rights to all people. Not special rights, just equal...


  1. I agree with you completely. My sister has a wife and it is ridiculous that they are not afforded the same rights as a non-gay married couple. As far as I'm concerned, churches can do whatever they want regarding marrying people within their church but the government shouldn't. It's denying 2 consenting adults the opportunity to enter into a legal contract with each other.

  2. Fabulous post! I cannot understand why a gay couple do not have the same rights as a non-gay couple! I love all the photos! Everyone looks amazing and the hotel looks fab!:)

  3. What a super evening, and for an excellent cause. You all look very glamorous. :)

  4. This is such a great post Jody, I did not know that about the taxes--how truly unfair! You, btw, look elegant as always! The Fairmont is always fun!

    xo Mary Jo

  5. I'm not sure what the situation is here in the UK but I have gay friends who have had civil partnerships so I assume they have proper rights the same as married couples?
    By the way, I'm a dab hand at tying bow ties. My husband can't do his own but I practised for ages using the neck of a toy panda (!) and am now an expert.

  6. What a wonderful event.... such an important cause....

    Meanwhile, I love your depiction of driving up and getting out of the car. It made me laugh--- it reminds me of my brother-in-law and his wife. Although, they keep reminding Lukus and I that this life isn't too far off for us!

  7. Was great to spend time with everyone again! Sorry I missed the after party! xo amber

  8. What a great cause. And good info on the taxes - didn't know that either. It's good to hear exact examples of what "equal rights" really means.
    I also laughed at your description of your van. Hilarious!

  9. OMG your friends are all so glam! I am a woman of few talents, but one thing I can do is tie a bow tie without watching a video! Looks like you had an amazing evening...

  10. Great cause! One day we'll look back on all this and think: of course everyone should be treated equally - isn't it odd that it wasn't always that way!!! Or at least I hope so!!

    You look gorgeous in your dress. Love the shoes!

  11. Thank you so much for posting about this. Most people are unaware of the disadvantages gay couples have.

    Although I am fortunate to be legally married to my wife in my state of NY, our rights are not equal to straight couples. Especially when it comes to the federal level. I can't tell you how many people assumed that we are able to file joint tax returns now that we are married but we are not because you must file state the same way you file federal and our marriage is not acknowledged on a federal level. That's just one small example. And you're right. It's equal, not special rights we're looking for. We're not asking for anything out of the ordinary or anything above or beyond the rights of straight couples.

    Anyway, sorry to blabber on. I don't often go off on these tangents but this issue is obviously extremely important to me.

    Thanks again for the wonderful post and for the support.

    Oh and I had to laugh at the beginning of this post because it's so our experience. Can't tell you how many times I've driven up to a Fairmont or Ritz or any other nice hotel in my 2004 Corolla. The looks we get... :)


  12. Thanks for posting Jody and thank you for supporting HRC again. Ken and I appreciate having such great friends. So many people are unaware of the inequalities even if we are married. We need to do our taxes twice, as we must file in California jointly, but separate for Federal. Adds to the Tax Preparer Bill. Anyhow, was a great time, with fabulous friends.

  13. Okay, so I am OBSESSED with Amber's necklace - what an exquisite piece! :)

  14. Sounds like you had a wonderful time at a super wonderful event! So important to raise awareness and funds to fight for equality! And as a side-note, I can soooo relate to you on the pulling up to the hotel scene. ;)

  15. Such a sad truth, and you're absolutely right... Nonsensical. Thank you for writing about this topic and giving me a chuckle at the same time :).


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