Sometimes we get caught between worlds in a relationship. You just have to adapt.
It was a glorious chain of events. And they would culminate with my evisceration via two death beams.
My dad was a Navy SEAL for 36 years and, knowing how much I love being around him and his buddies, he called me one night with an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Every year, the Navy Seal Foundation holds this massive gala and, as luck would have it, he had two extra tickets. Throw in a free hotel stay near Times Square, and it was an easy excuse for my girlfriend and me to burn some PTO.
As I sat at this celebrity-filled gala, I couldn’t help but marvel at how far the SEAL community had come. I grew up in their world in the 1980s and 1990s, when they were mostly anonymous. Now, after all these fancy movies and the Bin Laden raid, they were like rock stars.
Again, I can’t overstate how nice the event was. The picture below doesn’t even do it justice.
The chandeliers cost more than a luxury car. The food was “holy-shit” quality, prime meat on the bone. It felt like the military Oscars. Everyone had either tuxedo attire or a military uniform that was covered in war medals (including one medal of honor winner).
General Mathis, who was recently fired by Trump, gave the keynote speech. The guests of honor were the Thai Navy Seals, who helped rescue that soccer team in that thai cave. The widow of the one soldier who drowned was there as well, sitting with her sister.
We got incredible seats, right near the front of the dining hall. What really stood out was the number of famous people. Laura (my girlfriend) and I weaved through all the tables looking for our assigned seats.
Finally, we found them, our handwritten calligraphic name tags in front of a plates. After we sat down, I looked to my left and was shocked. Sitting by us was a table full of Fox News anchors. I don’t even watch the news, but I recognized them because my parents have a 24-hour loop of Fox News going every time I visit them.
Seriously though, five TVs blasting Fox in different rooms of the house. It sounds like a stadium, with Carlson Tucker echoing across the house about the latest assault on American values.
At one point, my mom grabbed me and we walked over and got a selfie with one of the anchors. His name is Steve Doocey. He hosts Fox and Friends.
There were others though. I’m on Medium right now so you many of you won’t know their names (I’m kidding, sort of). Among them were Brett Baier, Martha MacCallum, Ansley Earhardt, and, strangely, hall of fame QB, Troy Aikman, who was physically quite large. Notably, one of the Fox anchors seemed to be heavily flirting with him all night. Troy still has it, apparently.
There were a plethora of other famous people, but I’ve maxed out my name dropping for the moment.
Notably, all these celebrities ninja vanished before the show ended, which was unfortunate for them, because I was going to allow them the pleasure of taking a selfie with me.
After we sat back down, I couldn’t help but glance occasionally at the Fox News anchors, who were at arm’s length.
I actually hate it when people talk about celebrities too much. My ex used to rattle off random celebrity facts while I drove and it made me want to careen the car off a bridge, “I don’t give a f-#k what Selena Gomez’s zodiac sign is!”
But it’s entirely different when you are suddenly surrounded by them. It’s hard not to be a bit awestruck.
Some weird part of me wanted to walk over and poke them in the cheek to see if they were wax statues. But that probably wouldn’t have gone over well, considering this room full of special forces soldiers.
Also, going into the event, I was sure all these TV personalities would be uglier in real life without all the makeup and doctoring. But in fact, both the men and women were just as attractive off camera, perhaps more so. It was easy to understand why they were on TV.
But that wasn’t why I was looking.
The night goes on. There are several very inspiring speeches.
Then, there was a particular moment, an hour later. I remember looking left at the Fox News anchors, pausing, turning right, and seeing flames, dancing in the abyss of my girlfriend’s pupils.
I hadn’t even considered that my ogling might bother her. The table was stuffed with attractive news anchors in red dresses.
I don’t want to portray my girlfriend as some demonic, jealous, blue-haired feminist. She’s certainly liberal — but very cool. Although, some part of me worried that the ground my crack open, spilling magma, with people screaming and falling in, with my girlfriend’s voice lowering 11 octaves, “Is that want you? Orange skin and yellow hair?! Do you know what else is orange and yellow? My Hellfire! Burn!”
She’s actually the least jealous girlfriend I’ve ever had. But my slack-jawed gawking had caught her attention.
I leaned over and whispered, “It’s Brett Beier and Martha MacCollum! Isn’t that cool?”
She just stared at me.
I let out a big sigh. I did understand.
If we’d been sitting next to a table with the cast of Magic Mike, and she’d spent the evening looking at their bulging crotches, and abs that had their own zip codes, I’m sure I’d have been like, “Babe — you are missing the speech. This is really important stuff.” or some other passive-aggressive way to convey my insecurity.
For context, Laura and I live in Florida but she and her family are from upstate New York and are on the opposite side of the spectrum of this crowd. Not only that, but she is very politically active, has strong opinions, and donates money to causes. She’s vegan and has lots of rules with eating, which I’m totally adaptable to. Meanwhile, I’m not that political and hate everything politics (it’s too divisive and negative). However, my family is the epitome of Republicans. My dad is a Trump appointee and my mom wore a Trump shirt on election night to celebrate.
So visiting Laura’s family up near Albany was a bit surreal. I’d lived in a blue state before (California) but this was different, particularly because of the demographics. Their area was 98% white and almost all liberal. All around me were fuel-efficient cars and white people wearing Obama shirts, cars with green peace bumper stickers, and various social causes. Having grown up near military bases in the south, I was used to aggressive, red, lifted pickup trucks with NRA bumper stickers.
So yes, that night, I saw the coming of the apocalypse in her eyes, I had to steel my resolve and look straight forward with horse blinders, and practice my mantra, “Don’t stare at the Fox News ladies. Don’t stare at the Fox News ladies.”
This is the nature of the world. Sometimes, you find yourself sandwiched between factions, and that’s OK. Honestly, politics isn’t something that should be discussed at family get-togethers anyways. It’s not realistic to expect everyone you love to agree with each other.
To my parent’s credit, they were very adaptable. During Laura’s last trip to my parent’s house, they had the least amount of Fox News I’d ever seen on their TVs. I didn’t even have to say anything.
The charity event wasn’t a huge fight. I didn’t get a drink thrown in my face with her yelling, “Why don’t you just marry Anna Kooiman since you can’t take your eyes off her!”
It was more subtle where, for a brief moment, I saw the prospect of eternal suffering in her eyes.
It’s kind of comical in away. A liberal girlfriend’s nightmare: putting her and her boyfriend next to a table full of attractive Fox News anchors wearing tight dresses.
I suppose the key takeaway in all this: if you are taking your partner into uncharted waters, don’t leave them adrift. Most of us have family members we disagree with, and there will be times where people get put in uncomfortable situations. A relationship is not an election. But it does require tradeoffs.
Whether it’s her sitting with a bunch of Fox News Anchors, or me helping her with her vegan dog treat business.