Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Family In the Window- the Goodnight Kiss

It wasn’t the usual date, Tristan thought, but he had been able to bring his date, a boy, home for dinner.  His family had been quirky but friendly all through dinner.  His father tried talking sports but he was out of his element so Mark asked him lots of questions about computers.  He was good at keeping the conversation going and he was a good listener.  Tristan watched him, studied him, as he became comfortable with the family.  He had even seemed to taken a liking to Brandon who insisted on sitting next to their guest and tried a few times to start a wrestling match while they ate.  Nothing serious, just a poke in the arm or a verbalized dare which Mark played off with ease.
As she served dessert his mother began to ask Mark about college.  She asked if he liked it, what he was studying, if he found it difficult to keep up sports and academics.  Mark answered each question easily until she asked the wrong question.  A question that raised the hairs on Tristan’s body.
“So are your parents and your teammates accepting you being gay very well?  No passive aggressiveness on the field or anything?”
Mark had been looking at his plate as she asked the question and he froze for a moment before he looked to her then to Tristan.  
“Mom,” Tristan said.
“I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have pried.  I know it’s not easy.  I mean with... I mean it’s none of my business.”
“No it’s fine,” Mark said.  He looked back to his plate and continued to pry at his piece of apple pie with his spoon.
Tristan hadn’t thought he wouldn’t have been out to his team, probably not to his father either, but he didn’t ask because he didn’t want to know.  That would have been too cliche to assume because these were changing times.  Weren’t they?
“I’m uh, not really out to anyone.”  Mark cleared his throat.  He looked Tristan in the eye.  “Tristan is my first real date.  It hadn’t really been an issue before.  I mean I never really hid anything.  I just haven’t said anything.”
“Your team doesn’t know?” Brandon asked.
He looked to the boy then.
“No, they don’t.”
“It’s okay to be gay,” Brandon said.
Mark smiled and then everyone laughed in a nervous, amused way except Brandon who looked around at them and asked, “What?”.  
They shook their heads but they all knew they had shared something that no one wanted to comment on right then.  They ate dessert mostly in silence after that.  Mark’s heartbeat slowed as they sat together until when Tristan motioned his head out of the room he came alive again.  Then when Tristan stood he followed until they were down the hallway.  For a moment he thought they would go back to the living room so he was surprised when Tristan indicated they should go up the stairs.  
“We’re going up to my room,” Tristan called out.  “I want to show it to Mark.”
“Keep the door open,” Kelly called back.
Tristan blushed at the phrase but didn’t falter as he walked.  When they reached the top of the stairs he turned on the hallway light.  He opened the first door on the right a crack and said, “Barney is in here.  We thought it would be too much if he was at the door and always around when you were here.  He likes to beg.”  Mark peeked into the bathroom where Barney lay spread out on the linoleum.
“Big dog,” he said.
“Yeah, he likes to sleep on the linoleum because its cooler.  Come on.”
Mark followed him down the hallway.  When he spotted an open doorway Tristan said that was his brother’s room.  At the end of the hallway on the right Tristan pushed open his bedroom door and turned on the light.  The room was clean and orderly.  There was a desk against one wall with a computer tower and flat screen monitor, two dressers littered on top with various papers and knickknacks, one with a mirror, there was a folding door for a built in closet, and when the door closed slightly there was a hanging, plastic shoe holder full of different types of shoes.  Tristan’s bed was made, a power cable ran under it to a laptop.
“You have a tower and a laptop?  Your family is pretty serious on electronics.”
“Yeah, when your father is in the industry,” Tristan said scratching at the back of his neck.  “Look, I mean it’s sick.”  He stepped to one of the dressers and pushed aside papers to show an iPad that had been buried.  “He likes to stay up to date.  I get everything passed on to me.”
“You like this stuff?”
“It’s okay,” Tristan said.  “But what I really wanted to show you was these.”
He stepped to the closet door and opened it.  Inside on a little rack was a collection of bow-ties.  Tristan pulled one out and set it on the dresser with the mirror.
“Did you really like mine?”
“Yeah of course,” Mark said.
“Then I want you to have one.  Let’s see.”
Tristan took his time to find the right one, often holding them up to Mark’s shirt, even partially tying them or completely tying them then having him give his opinion as he looked at himself in the mirror.  Finally he settled on a dark blue one made of silk.  
“Let me show you how to tie it,” Tristan said.
Mark watched then had him do it again before he tried himself but it wasn’t working.
“I’m hopeless,” Mark said.
“Don’t say that.  Here.”  Tristan showed him again then pulled it loose.
Mark closed his eyes to repeat the steps to himself before he took up the task.  In a few quick motions it formed easily in his fingers.
“That’s it,” Tristan said.  “Here let me give you a reward.”  He stepped close and taking Mark by the shoulders pulled him into a brief kiss.  Mark loved the feeling of it yet felt weird about being in the younger man’s bedroom, in his home no less.  He pushed back for a small separation.
“Don’t worry, I can hear them if they come up the stairs,” Tristan said.
They kissed again and this time Tristan ran his hand up Mark’s back.  Mark felt so excited he decided to do the next thing and reached down to grab at Tristan’s buttocks.  He gripped them lightly but enough to make Tristan rise off the back of his feet and into Mark’s kiss.  
After a few moments of groping and kissing Tristan pushed away slightly.
“We really should be getting back down there.  But I really want to keep this up.”
“They’ll notice we’ve been up here too long.  I mean how long does it take to put on a tie?”
Tristan smiled and stepped out of Mark’s hold but took him by the hand and led him downstairs.  When they got down to the landing Mark stopped and pulled Tristan back to him.  From where they stood he could see that Brandon was at the television playing video games again and Tristan’s parents were still in the dining room.
“I think I should be going,” Mark said.
“Yeah no problem just let me show my parents that we picked out the perfect tie.”
Tristan dragged Mark down the hallway to where his parents were enjoying a glass of Cognac and holding hands on the table.
“Check it out,” Tristan said pointing to Mark’s neck.
“Nice,” Craig said.
“Quite handsome,” Kelly said.
Mark blushed at the compliments.  
“Thanks,” he said.
Their fingers had become entwined then.
“I picked it out for him.  Something to remember me by.”  His parents smiled.  “Because Mark said he had to be getting on the road.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty late.”  He looked to his watch.  It was only quarter after ten but that had to be late to them.  “I should get on the road before the snow really comes down.  If it hasn’t already.”
“No, I just looked not too long ago and it looked okay still.  No blizzard like back in 2003.”
“That was pretty bad stuff,” Mark said.
“You’ve driven in snow at night before?  You know about black ice?” Kelly asked.
“Yeah, I know about it.”
“Well, okay then.”  And for a moment it seemed too simple then she stood and she walked to the two of them.  “We really liked having you here tonight.  We want to see you again.”  
She reached out to him and took him in her arms and gave him a deep hug.  Mark looked over her shoulder to Craig who smiled back and he felt Tristan’s hand squeeze his own and he felt his eyes become watery, just enough to be wet but not enough to cry.  A hesitant feeling of sorrow, or was it joy, just at his skin.  
She let go of him and he smiled more at her before Tristan led him away and back to the main door where he handed back the sweater and the coat.  Then he leaned into the living room and said:
“Hey, say goodnight butt head.”
“Good night butt head,” Brandon called out from the living room.
Tristan looked back to Matt and shrugged his shoulders.
Mark was about to leave when Brandon ran from the living room and stopped at the edge of the foyer.
“You said we’d wrestle.  You’d show me some moves.”
“Next time,” Mark said before backing out of the door.
“Yeah, next time,” Tristan said before following him out.
“It’s cold out here,” Mark said as Tristan closed the door.
“Then we better make it quick.”  Tristan grabbed him by his coat and pulled him into a kiss.

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