Thanksgiving at Gordon House

18 01 2015

On our first night in London, JB took me to a Bombay Cafe in an emerging neighborhood near King’s Cross. It was good to catch up. I filled him in on the details of summer in Glacier and challenges of my first management gig. I was delighted to learn JB had been nominated for a teaching honor at his college. Being recognized for excelling at what you love is always a time for celebration.

Dinner was wonderful, the waitor made sure to explain how each sauce complimented our entree. I drank a lot of hot tea that night, hoping to unplug my sinuses. Preparing for this trip and finally getting across the pond was not easy. I was concerned about traveling alone into Europe and attending a Thanksgiving dinner party at the Gordon Square House where I would finally meet some of JB’s closer comrades.

There is a fine line in showing self confidence yet not arrogance. This would be my challenge in London.

As I got ready for the party, I recalled my departure from Glacier, driving across the country in an experience that made my world seem quite small. On the first night I slept in the Jeep at a reststop just outside the Little Bighorn Battlefield. The next morning I awoke and went to the National Monument, getting in just as the gates opened. I walked through the cemetaries and exhibits dedicated to this memorable moment in American history. Moved by such powerful historical moments, I called my father with a progress report.

Custer's Last Stand

Custer’s Last Stand

“I should be home in a week, Dad,” I told him. “We’re going to spend a few days in Denver.”

“Where are you now?,” he asked, the AT&T service coming in crystal clear on the southeast Montana plains.

“I’m at the Battle of Little Bighorn,” I responded, explaining to Dad how incredible a presentation the Park Service had put together at the Battlefield and how moved I was by the stories of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, the U.S. Army’s 7th Calvary, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and the warriors of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne.

Dad’s next words struck a nerve.

“Ego,” he said. “You see what happens.”

I did. Custer marched his men right into a massacre — unknowingly, blinded by his perceieved strength.

Back in London, as I prepared to meet JB’s best friends, I was conscious to present a confident young man new to this uppercrust world he had been invited into. Chris was my shepherd. There were 12 of us.

I wore my Kenneth Cole Reaction sports coat. The one from the ill-fated campaign for the Florida House. It fit much snugger now. Chris and I chatted before the other guests arrived. He owns the Gordon House with his husband David. They are a wealthy couple, both very handsome, distinguished and quite sucessful. Americans — raised in New England and now thriving in London.

JB would not attend the dinner as he would be accepting his teaching honor at the college down on the Strand. Eleven new men, I would be meeting and eating with. Nervous, you say? without a doubt … Yes.

Troels and his partner Peter were the first to arrive. A tall man from Denmark, Troels, I would find to be a fascinating person to converse with. He was quite stylish too, wearing plaid designed long trousers made of a tweedish material. Thanksgiving was irrelevent to Troels.

He peppered me with the fact that a majority of Americans were obese and stupid and when I asked him about our President he offered a skeptical remark, “He’s weak on foreign policy.”

This I took without mustering a defense, noticing the room was beginning to fill. I was introduced by David to Marco, a very handsome Italian, whose looks distracted me from Troels’ insults. Marco was with Evan, an American Jew, who like Chris and David, is a successful businessman living in London.

We all were served wine and champagne by a sweet young lady whose name I do not recall. After Marco and Evan, I met the Spanish representatives, Phillip and Javier, very friendly guys. There was laughter in the air and smiles all around. We would proceed downstairs to the dining room where our dinner awaited. There I met Stephen and Daryl, another incredibly handsome couple, Stephen, a New Jersey ex-pat and Daryl, his British boyfriend, a fellow politician from Cambridge. Joining me as a solo participant was Grant. JB warned me about this young Scotsman. His story later.

Gordon House

Gordon House

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