Saturday, February 14, 2015


Dennis and I became an item after our dinner on January 17th 1986, and things were wonderful between us until I let him know that I wouldn’t be in town for Valentine’s Day. I had planned to go back to New Haven for the 125th anniversary of the Yale Glee Club. Dennis was crushed. But he soon got over it and said we’d have dinner on my return. I was planning to be back Monday night and said I’d come over, but Dennis preferred to wait until Tuesday night.

The Glee Club reunion was a lot of fun, and it was the last time I stayed with Marie Bronson at her home at 32 Marvel Road near the Yale Bowl before she moved to a retirement community in Hartford. When I returned I found six Valentines from Dennis, plus a formal invitation to dinner on Tuesday. It was on one of those partially pre-printed cards with Mr. so & so requests the pleasure of such & such, and, of course, RSVP. The next day I received three more Valentines.

Tuesday night I showed up at Dennis’ door on McAllister Street at eight o’clock, the appointed time. I think I was wearing a coat and tie. Dennis was most likely in a bow tie.

We had dinner in Dennis’ beautiful yellow bedroom with the rose pattern window seat (where Nell had given birth to her five puppies) and the handsome mahogany poster bed. (Dennis complained for years that I wouldn’t allow him to paint the front room on 23rd Street yellow – it was a subtle mauve grey— but eventually after eighteen years he got his way.)

Dennis had set up a table-round with a tablecloth to the floor. I don’t remember the entire menu, but think we started with champagne and oysters on the half shell. The main course was a poached chicken breast with a flower design on the glaze top. It was all very beautiful and cooked to perfection. Afterwards we had a mixed salad and chocolate torte with strawberries. The wine was a good California chardonnay followed by port and decaf coffee with dessert. The background music was Baroque— probably Vivaldi.

After-dinner was so convenient. After all, we were already in the bedroom. I think the three dogs had been in the room at dinner. Now Dennis put the puppies in their airline kennel.

Dennis pulled back the comforter. Immediately I burst out laughing. The flowered sheets were strewn with pink and yellow rose-petals. It was one of the most romantic evenings of my life. (Coincidentally, rose-petals stain sheets. I don’t think we ever got them completely out.)

In February 2004 I was in rehearsal for the winter play “I Never Sang for my Father” directed by Peter Divine. Mayor Gavin Newsom had only been in office a few weeks, when he announced that he would sponsor same-sex weddings at San Francisco City Hall. Reportedly this came about because a woman on his staff requested a City Hall marriage and the new Mayor determined if he allowed it for her, he’d have to open it up to the general Gay community.

The first registrations took place on February 12th and the newspapers reported that they would continue through the close of business on Friday February 13th. Dennis and I talked about the events at City Hall at dinner that Friday night, but it seemed as though we were too late even to consider registering.

I was also ambivalent -- since Dennis had pulled out of Project Jonathan and David, our planned same-sex blessing at Grace Cathedral seven years before (just before we went to Italy on the St. Dominic’s Choir concert tour -- he was angry that I had committed to the trip before consulting him, and felt that I had spent the money we would have used for a reception after the proposed blessing -- but it was a marvelous holiday in Italy with a second time together in Venice!).

Saturday was Valentine’s Day. I gave Dennis several Valentine cards at breakfast, and then headed to the Club for my rehearsal.

We had only recently acquired cell phones (after a logistical mix-up with my nephew, Sheridan, when he was in the Bay Area recording live CDs as a concession at Grateful Dead concerts—and we concluded that cell phones would be a great way to keep track of each other at large events and on vacations.)

In the middle of my rehearsal, I felt a vibration on my phone. At a break I returned Dennis’ call. He was not satisfied with the newspaper report that registration had ended the night before, and had gone down to City Hall to check it out.

On the phone, Dennis asked me if I would marry him. I answered: “Of course!!”(What else could I say?) He said to meet him at Tiffany’s.

As soon as my rehearsal ended, I headed off to Union Square and met Dennis in the ring department in the front room of Tiffany & Co. His former co-worker Benjie showed us rings. There had been a run on gold wedding bands, and there were only a few left in our size. We got matching slender gold rings (in Tiffany blue boxes, of course) and went home to change.

I showered and shaved and dressed in grey flannels and navy blazer with a blue and gold Venetian tie. Dennis was in a double-breasted navy blazer with a different color Lion of St. Mark’s tie. We took BART to Civic Center and waited in the line several blocks around City Hall. After about three or four hours, a young woman came up and told us that we would need to return tomorrow, but gave us a number. (To be continued tomorrow)

The day before we left for Venice on February 15th 2006, he gave me two Valentines. They were inscribed: “Forever, Dennis.”

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Titian in the Frari (Venezia)