Jeff was at ease, in almost every aspect of his life. He believed in good and trust, was happiness contagious and willing to try anything anyone else liked.
He was also open about who he was. The antonym of pretentiousness, he lived his life way open. Arms, heart, head; experimental tendencies (mostly) without hesitation. If there was any, it was pushed aside in favor of a try.
Easing Jeff into my immediate family was a two part process.
We all visualize that one person we are sure we will someday meet. Captured on VHS in a University project, he would be a tall, thin, long dark haired, musician. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but pre-brunch at my brother’s, I warned him. He’s not the best looking guy ever, and he’s really huge, just so you know.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought he was beyond adorable, and absolutely attractive, to me. It’s just that he was very different from anyone else in my world, or my family’s world. He was also the first guy I’d ever brought around for a ‘formal’ introduction. Based on his attire, I’m pretty sure I was more nervous than he was about how this was gonna go.
Jeff first impressioning wardrobe consisted of his best blue jeans, least muddy boots, multiple earrings, a necklace and a bracelet, a Dale Earnhardt ring and an off-white, waffle-weave, long-sleeve pullover featuring an embroidered Tigger sitting atop a reclining Pooh’s tummy. Truth.
I don’t know how to explain this, but I’ll try. Jeff never didn’t know anyone within more than a minute of meeting them. He picked up on topics, asked questions, and possessed a completely unaffected ability to make other people feel happy.
Most families and cultures have a ‘best’ menu they offer. Whether it’s the bringing a boyfriend home for dinner, hosting the clergy, or holiday fare, my family had one, too. Brunch, no matter who hosted, always included a variety of bagels, at least two types of cream cheese, lox, sliced onion and tomato.
Sometimes, eggs or an egg casserole, a quiche or French toast would find their way to the table. Sometimes, chopped liver, creamed herring, donuts or fruit, showed up, too. It never occurred to any of us that these were culture specific foods.
Jeff took one look at the orangey, fishy-looking stuff, and spoke right up. “I’ve never had that before. What exactly is ‘lox’?”
The answer of ‘smoked salmon’ brought a nod, and he matter-of-factly speared some to his plate. Following our lead, he layered the traditional accouterments mentioned above, and took a bite.
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