As they walked down the long corridor Jurek noticed and asked, "Are you OK?"
"I'm fine," Henry said cracking a shabby smile to upkeep the facade.
They reached the door and Jurek knocked. Oh God, this is it, Henry thought as he anticipated his competition to swing open the door. The door opened and an unattractive, hefty man in his 50s greeted them.
"How are you," Piotr said shaking Henry's hand.
"I'm great," Henry replied, "just great." Henry had a grin from ear to ear, and this time the smile was 100 per cent genuine.
It’s been three months since Jurek and Piotr got married and Henry is making the trip down the long corridor yet again. He has been invited to Piotr’s for dinner more times than he can count. Now that Jurek lived there as well it was kind of hard to say no. Henry had tried to get Jurek to come to his place more often or to go out, but his efforts were futile. Piotr insisted that Jurek stay home and Henry could see that Piotr’s passive aggressive ways were gaining a stronger grip on Jurek.
At first Piotr was acting like an overbearing mother hen, but lately it was transforming into the behaviour of a bitchy wife.
After dinner, Jurek asks Henry: "What are you doing on Wednesday night?"
"Good, Piotr insists you come here for drinks and American Idol."
"Also, Saturday night for dinner."
"I can't, I have plans with Jesse," Henry replies.
"No, no I insist," Piotr says.
Henry looks at Jurek, but gets no help. Henry says, "I guess I can invite Jesse here."
"That would be lovely but I think we should just keep it in the family," Piotr says.
Henry desperately looks at Jurek to intervene. He doesn’t, so finally Henry does.
Even though Jurek was the married one, Henry quickly began to feel like the old married couple. Henry and Jurek were only in the early stages of dating yet they were already bolted down by "family" commitments. And this wasn't the first time Henry had to cancel on Jesse. When Henry thought about it, he realized that he's been blowing off many of his friends because of Piotr.
"Jesse comes or I’ll have to pass," Henry says taking a stand. "And we can watch it at my apartment."
Piotr doesn’t say anything but takes a long look at Henry, and finally agrees.
"Why are you dragging me into this?" I say to Henry after he explains that I have to come on Saturday night.
Henry begs some more and I cave in. "OK, I’ll bring a bottle of wine."
"No bring a box," Henry says.
"Is it that bad?"
"No, not really but you’re gonna need a lot of wine to wash down the goulash and pickled eel. See you then. Bye." Henry says and quickly hangs up.
On Saturday morning I get a call from Henry. He tells me that I don’t have to worry about coming to dinner because he broke it off with Jurek.
Henry had put up with his boyfriend marrying another man. Henry dealt with the fake husband's overbearing expectations. Henry is tolerant of many things, but on Friday Jurek did something that Henry considered a deal breaker; he asked for money.
Piotr must have sensed Henry’s insubordination and took it out on Jurek by upping his fee for their arrangement. Jurek didn’t have it so he asked Henry to loan him the money.
"It was getting way to messy," Henry tells me on the phone. I can hear that Henry’s upset but I can also tell he’s relieved.
"I still have this box of wine," I say.
"I’ll see you tonight," Henry replies.