Gary Rinsem

Chicken Cordon Bleu

2020 NOTE: This journal was a 1996 composite, written on our thirteenth anniversary, a year after BB died. The first anniversary journal is included in full, just as I wrote it. The others I abbreviated to tell the story of Chicken Cordon Bleu. 1996 NOTE: This journal was originally written with code words for everything. It was pure gibberish to anyone but BB and I. They typed it into my computer around 1990 and translated everything. It makes me happy to find this now, a bit over a year since they died. I can't believe I will never see them, never hear them, never touch them again as long as I live. It makes all these journals much more important to me, knowing I'm reading ALL of our words sometimes. None of them are all MY words. There's a little of BB in everything they entered into the computer. I can smell them in the words.

2-18-1984 First wedding anniversary


Sorry it's not a report of a happy first anniversary. That's yet to come, just wait. I wrote what's in my life and that's the hole. Thinking about it tonight I can only suggest that it could have been worse. Our frustration over the situation is unavoidable, but we could have been completely separated and not even seen each other. Anniversary dinner couldn't have been worse, it smelled like engineering berthing when the CHT backs up and it tasted like red lead smells.

Like it or not, here's our first anniversary story.

It's the third Saturday in February and we're stuck on the ship. Our first wedding anniversary and we can't even have one kiss. It's not worth the risk of getting caught. We took a chance and spent two hours together on the flight deck before dinner, then another two hours after dinner. We decided to celebrate our anniversary in the next port, maybe PI in three months. We're going to find a NICE hotel wherever we are and a NICE restaurant to repeat our wedding night dinner. Chicken Cordon Bleu and whatever they have to go with it. The mess deck food is unbelievably bad since the freezers quit working and all the normal bad food was spoiled.

The last weeks at sea were really hard on me. Normal 6x6 watches in the hole are too much, but it's been over 120 degrees down there. We anchored three or four days ago, maybe more, I'm not sure because I've been recuperating in my rack all this time. It was the doctor's orders and they kept checking on us the first day or two. Sick Bay was in the holes constantly for weeks, but they weren't allowed down there for more than ten minutes because the temperature made it too dangerous! We're down there six hours at a time! Twice a day every day! With no air conditioning in between. They have air conditioning when they go back to sick bay. Lt. Mariano was down there a few times and examined us. She went to the Captain and told him we had to have relief. It was so funny. The ship's doctor doesn't even understand the NAVY. Cheng and MPA came down to share the story so we could all laugh about it. Who did the doctor think was going to keep everyone on the ship alive, if we all left the holes?

Even the seawater is HOT in the Indian Ocean. Both main and all aux condensers have been nothing but trouble. Turbine backpressures have been rising since we left PI with induction temps sometimes over 90 degrees. Navy turbines don't have relief diaphragms. Everybody panics when exhaust pressure gets close to critical. We're constantly searching for ways to prevent loss of vacuum. I stayed in the fwd. hole during sea and anchor detail to keep an eye on it. They didn't have anyone else available. The Cheng and the MPA insisted somebody stare at the gauge until secured. Talking to me they realized that I'm the only one down there who understands exhaust pressure, and why and how it's so far below atmospheric.

That gets me to this afternoon. BB sent a trusted male into R-2 berthing to get me. He had trouble waking me up. I had no idea it was our anniversary, I haven't seen BB in at least a week. They usually meet me twice a day when I get off watch, once for lunch and the second time for mid rats together. That's the only time we see each other at sea. There were rumors about us and for the last week we decided it wasn't safe to be seen together.

I could have left out everything before this, but I think it's an important part of our first anniversary. For you two, being at sea is fun time with nothing to do but party.

This was a great afternoon and I'm so happy we went to anchor before our anniversary. We couldn't have had even the day we had if we were still at sea. Our first wedding anniversary was a flop by normal expectations, but under these conditions it was fantastic that we got hours together. There were a bunch of couples on the flight deck to make it a party. Nobody noticed the three of us with so many people hanging out. The other girls enjoyed it too, but they can always spend time together without anyone noticing. BB hit their racks long ago and now it's mid rats time.

It's just after midnight so our anniversary by date is starting now, instead of by day of the week. I'm happy for both days. BB, I hope we can spend even more time together today. It sucks being so close on the ship, and being unable to spend our free time together.

Good night girls. WCABW FOREVER!

Months later
(NOTE from BB: Sorry Puppy but it wasn't dated but we think Australia was around May 15.)

We're back at sea now and I'm exhausted again, but I want to write a bit about our first anniversary. The ship pulled into Hobart Tasmania after four months at sea. We couldn't get a hotel room, but rented a car to tour the countryside. Late that afternoon we were with a big group of our crew in downtown Hobart. People kept telling us the best food in town is at the casino, so off we went. They wouldn't seat us because we didn't dress for dinner. We rushed to the ship and put on dress uniforms. NOBODY wears dress uniforms off the ship, especially in a foreign port. A hundred shipmates stared at the big group leaving the ship together in dress. The Quarter Deck OOD asked a couple of the girls what we were up to, but he was just curious. They told him the truth.

A military dress uniform is accepted as "dressed for dinner" anywhere in the world. They seated us the second time. The restaurant was nearly empty when we got there and we could see the door from our booth. We eventually relaxed a little because it was a safe place to be ourselves. The best moment of our first anniversary came when the hostess said "Yes" to the question "Do you have Chicken Cordon Bleu?" She tried to give us menus, but we refused. No need for menus. Dinner was fantastic after so long with nothing but garbage on the USS Rust Bucket. Holy crap, what happened to the paint job? For months we couldn't see what it looked like, until the quay in Hobart. I'm always ashamed of our piece of junk, but this is too much rust.

Dinner was incredible. The food was even better than our wedding night, but the experience didn't come close. We had to wear clothes in the restaurant. Three men and three women were sitting at a large table in front of our booth. When dinner was done one of the women turned around in her chair and spoke to me. They'd been talking and guessed that we're a triple. The six of them are two "close triples." That's their definition of themselves. They were excited to meet another triple, they were the only two in Tasmania and had never met any others. They were too excited to be shy about asking questions. We all talked for an hour about our relationships, finding the similarities and the differences. The two triples lived out in the country near each other and were only in town for the weekend. They had two hotel rooms. A a gift they gave one room to us and said they'd be even happier in a room together. Maybe it's true.

February 1985 Second Anniversary

Chicken Cordon Bleu is officially our anniversary dinner. We decided not to eat it any other time, forever. For our third anniversary we found a gourmet restaurant with a view of Venice Beach. We spent the afternoon on the beach and watched the sunset over the ocean as we ordered dinner. It seems like each year our dinner is better than the last. We cruised the night life in Venice and ended the evening back at our hotel room, it too had a view of the beach. BB, the weekend was worth every penny of 500 bucks.

1988 Fifth Anniversary

We just bought the house and it was BB's first time coming home to it from the Navy. I found Chicken Cordon Bleu at Price Club. Each one was huge and they came in a giant box of nine. Samples were being given out and it tasted great so I decided to surprise BB with anniversary dinner in our own home. I wanted to recreate the original experience of fixing it in the apartment in Long Beach. We had our dinner in bed in or own new old house.

March 1988

Alone I've had three of the chicken dinners. They taste wonderful, but it makes me sad to eat them by myself. With three left I invited Mom and Sue to have dinner at the house. Sue brought Kelly and another girl. I fixed them kid food and they hung out in the living room. It was so cute. I found them jumping on the big chair and they got all worried they'd be in trouble. It's an old crappy worn out chair that Dad used for years.

Mom and Sue and I ate the dinner I fixed, but I don't think they really liked it. There were no compliments about it. Out of courtesy, Mom and Sue would compliment to no end if it wasn't bad. Am I just nostalgic? BB, are the Price Club chickens bad? I'll try them again next year by myself, before our anniversary if they still have them.

Compass Restaurant
(this journal wasn't dated, I don't know which year it was, but likely 1991)

We went to a girls pride event at the Phx Convention Center. BB immediately wanted to tour the hotel when I pointed and said that big building is the Hyatt Regency. We could see the elevator running. "Sunday Chicken" was the day we fell in love and I shared the story of all the times I had sex in the center glass elevator. BB remembered and insisted on a tour of the hotel. We rode the elevator for an hour, mostly stopped on a high floor with a view of the east valley. Our clothes stayed on, sort of, because I don't have a key to disable the elevator anymore. Wish I'd kept it, looks like the same key switch and the lock on the control panel door looks the same.

We got off the elevator a couple times and walked around the Compass restaurant. It was closed. Nobody there so we relived bits from our day at the Seattle Space Needle. BB found Chicken Cordon Bleu on the menu at the hostess podium. A few months later we had our anniversary dinner at the Hyatt Regency.

After working there I never thought I'd go to that place again. It's a very unhappy work memory for me, filled with nothing but hate from the head of the engineering department, and most of the men I worked with. It didn't matter last week, for a special dinner. I heard several times over the years that the Compass had bad food. We thought the food was great and the memory of making love in the restaurant made it even better.

The hotel was busy when we got there. After a late dinner there was nobody around. We toured the hotel a while, ending up at the pool. All I had to do was point to a door and tell BB it's a stairwell to the first floor employee entrance, and the third floor roof with the pool equipment room along the way. We made love at the top of the stairwell just like I did when I worked there.

June, 2020
End of Love...

1983 to 1995 I wrote each year about our anniversary dinners. The dinner was so special to us that journals specifically about dinner, have been in addition to long journals detailing each anniversary. The last several years were at a French restaurant in Tempe. They were by far the best food, but our wedding night was by far the best dinner.

February 1995 was the end of love in my life. I last had Chicken Cordon Bleu two days before the last time BB and I were together. The thought of it still makes me cry for hours. I can't help it. BB, I miss you so much.


The second Trump impeachment trial is playing in the background. BB would have been so excited by it. They would have hated Trump as much as they would have laughed at him. With only a few days to Valentines day and only eight days to our thirty-eighth anniversary, I decided to get a jump start on reminiscing and missing them, by editing and posting this journal to my public journal pages. Reading it through vast tears, I realize that it's only special to ME now. Nobody will ever read it, but if they do it won't have any meaning to them. Still, I want it public at least in the tiny way that this pseudo website provides.

Goodbye BB, goodbye Vicki, goodbye Tami. I love you all beyond measure. Tami, of my four loves you're the only one who could end up reading this. It's really here for you to find, and to know one more important bit of the life of the boy who never stopped loving you.

July 16, 2023
Sadness never ends

Five months ago was our 40th anniversary. My mind was numb for the entire month of February, nearly in a comma. Twenty eight of the forty years... I've somehow lived without them. at times like this I can't imagine how I have done it.

Two months later was far worse. Every April I can't stop it, I spend the entire month crying for them, for US.

It has taken five months for me to even consider writing... ANYTHING. There is no life without the LOVES of my life. All is no more than a bottomless black hole.

My only reason for living these last 28 years is the possibility of hearing from Tami or Vicki. It will never happen.