It was bound to be difficult, David wasn't expecting anything different. Gero had told him everything would go perfectly but he personally didn't felt so.
The week prior to the Christmas dinner, David had gone almost crazy trying to buy presents for every single person that was going to be at the dinner: at least two aunts, an uncle, one grandmother, one grandfather, six cousins or so, Gero's parents and his brother and sister. And the dog and the cat...
It was pure luck or maybe a stupid move that he called Gero to ask what her mother would like better, if an apron or a baking set. His husband stopped him short and told him to wait for him at a restaurant in the mall. He met him there and tried to calm him down but exactly the opposite happened.
David crumbled, crying in silence, saying he felt Gero's family would hate him. Gero told him that was not going to be the case because he happened to be an endearing guy and any person would love to meet him and chat with him,
The man answered he felt guilty for making Gero live so far from his home and for never before having meeting them. And the worst, he thought, was the fact they still had no idea they were married.
Gero answered, calmly, that they did not lived far because of any of them but because of their jobs. Besides, he said, he would go insane if he lives too close from all his relatives. He reminded David they had never met his parents because they had always had a tough time thinking of him as their gay son and that was the same reason he had chosen not to tell anyone but their best friends.
David calmed down slowly and then, he decided he was too hungry to be sad which made Gero very happy. If there was something he loved was sharing a meal with the person he loved and that was exactly what they did.
The days passed faster than expected. David had managed to stay busy, visiting friends of Gero and visiting all the places his husband had loved when he was younger: the park where he had his first kiss, the school he hated so much, the ice cream parlor he and his friends were go to dish about guys. It was like entering Gero's thoughts and that was nice, as he had decided to share his life with him. It meant the relationship was stronger than ever.
They day came and they drove early to be the first ones there. Gero had decided he only wanted his "nuclear" family to meet David first, so the shock or weirdness would be less accentuated for all involved.
Indeed, only Gero's sister had arrived to their parents house before them. For David, it was a relief to see her there. She knew everything and she was very supportive and enthusiastic. Her and her husband had given them some money as a wedding present.
Then, it came time to meet the mother and father. No other situation is more surreal or strange, and all the Christmas ornaments around the house made it even more strange. The greeting was quite simple: David smiled and the parents did small bows and fake smiles. It was obvious they weren't thrilled about this meeting. David looked at Gero and he was smiling too, but he appeared to be honest about it.
After that dreadful scene, everything was a little bit easier as many things had to be done in order to get the dinner ready. Gero's mother had decided to make fish for dinner so Gero decided to help her with that and David was assigned to do the salad, which was dreadful for him. What if he put in something they didn't like?
But that was not possible as his mother-in-law put every vegetable that needed to be in the salad in front of him. As she did that, she only spoke to herself, reminding to get fish in the oven for the right time and things as such.
When he finished the salad, the woman thanked David with another fake smile and asked him to fill the coolers with the beers they had on the garage. Apparently, there was a small picnic cooler everywhere in the house. Gero wanted to help but David stopped him short and told him, without saying a word, to leave him do this on his own.
He went out to the garage and saw they had a lot of beer cases. "They must love their beer", he thought. Each case was really heavy but he decided to lift it to carry it inside. But he dropped it when a loud honk scared him. As he saw all the spilled beer on the floor, the garage door opened: it was a van filled with people.
As people passed by him, he cleaned the beer of the floor with a mop he found behind the beer boxes. Not one of them said "Hi" but he knew every single one had looked at him, in different ways: with pity, with disgust, with resentment and even with a smile on their faces.
All aunts and uncles and cousins were in there and they settled in the living room with Gero's father, watching TV. They were watching some repetition of an old football game from Europe or so he thought it was. David had no idea about sports.
And as the hours passed, he entered with several boxes of beers and filled the damned coolers. And people that hadn't even acknowledged his presence would ask him for a bottle, even after seeing him putting them in a cooler. He felt like a glorified waiter.
When he finally finished, dinner was ready. They all sat down at the table, which had small names written on papers, placed on each plate. As people sat down, he realized his seat was not adjacent to Gero's seat which was just next to his mother. David decided not to say a word and breath deeply. The night was not going to go on forever.
So he sat between two of Gero's youngest cousins and served himself some of the salad he had made. But when he started chewing the first bite, he noticed something he hadn't put in there. So he grabbed a napkin and put on all the food there, all chewed up. And everyone, now, was looking at him. For a moment, he couldn't speak. He looked at David who had also noticed the attention his husband had attracted.
- I'm... I'm allergic.
And then David saw his people and realized what happened.
- Mom, David can't eat peanuts. I thought you hated them, too.
And the mom said she had read they were good for blood pressure and that she had no idea of knowing David was allergic to them. She apologized, but it looked as she was saying it to her glass of wine and not to David.
The dinner went on. They served the fish, which David hated but ate as much as he could, and the a surprise dessert made by one of the girls there, that wanted to be a chef. Her concoction was awful but no one said a word. They all ate at least a bite of it, saying they were too full to keep going.
Midnight was less than hour away when they stood up from the people and gathered on the living room, some chatting, others watching yet another game.
David tried to talk to Gero but that was impossible. His mother was always there, talking and talking and he didn't wanted her to have a reason to kick him out or something. Anyway, there was no need.
Gero's uncle asked for a beer and one of the kids told him there weren't any left in the cooler. The looked in another one and the same thing happened. Then the guy, visibly drunk already, said something everyone heard loud and clear.
- That faggot doesn't even know how to fill a cooler. And he's allergic to peanuts. What a pussy.
David felt the world crumble around him. Now he was sick, really sick. The stupid lights all over and Santa Claus images and reindeers. All of it made him feel sick to his stomach. He couldn't move though, he was stuck there, in his chair at the dining table, still trying to eat the awful dessert the stupid kid had thought was a dessert.
Then something else, equally awful happened. Gero's dad answered:
- Leave it alone. Here.
And he gave his brother a beer. "IT. Leave IT alone". It all happened in seconds but it had been enough. David had never been the kind of person to shut his mouth and stay down as he was being insulted. Love wasn't enough to ignore that.
So he stood up and practically ran towards the coat closet. He grabbed his and looked at his husband's stupid family and said:
- I might be a fucking faggot but I'm not as full of shit as you people are. Merry Christmas.
And he went out the door, the cold night. In the distance he could hear other gatherings and parties but they made him even angrier. He arrived at the car but realized it was Gero that had the keys. He got his wallet out and saw he had some money.
- Taxi it is. - he said to himself.
He started walking again but then someone's arm stopped him. It was Gero.
- I don't want to do this now. I want to go to the hotel, have a decent meal and sleep.
- I don't care. Just let me go. Stay here and we'll talk tomorrow.
David released himself from Gero's arm and resumed his walking. Ten minutes later, he was sitting on a bus stop waiting for a taxi to pass by but no one drove by. Everyone was with family, obviously.
He knew he had been right all along but even so, he felt bad for leaving and hating Gero's family. He did hate them but he loved him so much. And now, all that had happened.
Then another honk scared him. But this time it wasn't a van full of annoying kids. It was his husband. He lowered the window and said:
- I'm looking to get lucky tonight. You look hot. Wanna ride?
David burst in laughter and so did Gero. They looked at each other and smiled, with pure love. So the guy on the bus stop stood up and entered the car. After all, it was their first Christmas together as a married couple.