Available for download from Dreamspinner Press
Benson Yee is Chinese, gay, not out to his parents, and sick to death of the Christmas hype. When Benson is asked to plan a dinner for the Jewish Community Center, he meets Josh Singer, who, just like Benson, has no interest in Christmas or in finding a nice girl. Between the two of them, they might find the courage to celebrate the gift of being themselves with the people who love them—no Christmas required.
Solstice Bushes and Hanukkah Wishes
By December first, even though Benson didn’t celebrate Christmas, he couldn’t ignore the fact that Christmas had officially arrived in San Francisco. The tall buildings along the waterfront were draped with glowing lights, every lobby of every office building downtown had some kind of Christmas display and the City’s two specially set up skating rinks were doing a brisk business. Chinatown welcomed it’s version of Christmas too, as pictures of Santa Claus and Rudolph were hung alongside images of the latest anime characters. Christmas music drifted out of shops that at the same time had small alters at their front doors to honor the Taoist God of Wealth. Amid the crazy salad of East and West, the traditional Christmas displays at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in at the corner of Grant Ave. and California St. looked quite ordinary by comparison.
“Ah Benson ah, where is the party menu for Mrs. Singer?” Lily Yee asked her son. She spoke to him in a mix of Cantonese and English that had become a habit whenever the family was speaking among themselves.
“Mrs. Singer hasn’t gotten back to me yet, Ma. I was going see if she comes in today before I called her.” Benson answered.
Lily was furiously writing away in Chinese on a large pad of paper as she talked. “Don’t’ forget. They don’t like last minute orders,” she said in a business like manner and walked away without even looking up from the list that she was making for the restaurant’s suppliers. Benson was about to reassure his mother that Mrs. Singer was always very good about getting her food order in on time when a man with dark curly hair walked through the door. He was about Benson’s aged, dressed in jeans and an old sweatshirt, he wasn’t what anyone might call gorgeous. He had a pleasant thoughtful face and his slight frame carried just enough extra weight to give the impression that he was at peace with his body. Except for his eyes, the young man was as ordinary looking as anyone on the street. Benson tried not to stare, but he was drawn to the sensitive deep-set brown eyes, which at the moment had the same look of doubt that many customers had on their first visit to the restaurant.
“Hi, welcome to the Lotus Garden. Table for one?”
“Well, no actually. I’m here about a group reservation. I’m supposed to speak to a Benson Yee.”
“That would be me,” Benson said cheerfully.
“Oh, yeah, well hi. I’m here about the menu for the community center dinner,” the man said with shy smile. The young man had a quiet air about him that immediately endeared him to Benson.
“Would that be the Jewish Community Center? We were just waiting for Mrs. Singer to give us her menu choices.”
“Mom is in the hospital. She sent me here to do the menu for her.”
“Oh no, what happened! Which hospital? Is she going to be all right?”
“Mom’s at…Mt. Zion? Yeah, Mt. Zion. She fell and broke her hip a few days and had to have hip replacement surgery. The orthopedist says she’ll be out of the hospital day after tomorrow.”
“Oh, UCSF Mt. Zion; they’ll take good care of her there. Good, good. Glad to hear that she’ll be all right. You must be Josh then,” Benson said offering his hand.
“Yeah, that’s right. I guess my mother’s been talking about me,” Josh said in return and clasped Benson’s hand in a firm handshake.
A little flush of giddiness popped from out of nowhere and washed over Benson as they made skin-to-skin contact.
“So this is the man Mrs. Singer is always complaining about. Well, hello brown eyes.” Benson thought, but he quickly averted his gaze and let go when he realized that he was holding onto the hand for just a second longer than he should have.