Friday, June 1, 2012
Evan pulled another cigarette from the pack and lit it as he drove. He turned the music volume back up to drown out the thought of conversation. When they reached Tristan’s home he parked in front by the curb and turned off the car.
“What’s going on?” Tristan asked.
“I’m just letting you out.”
“Yeah, but you turned off the car.”
“Are your parents home yet?”
“No,” Tristan answered. He opened the door and began to stand.
“Do you still have that heated Jacuzzi?”
“Of course,” Tristan said.
“Why don’t we take a dip? Hang out.”
Tristan leaned into the car. The last time they had been the Jacuzzi together was the last time they had been together out of school. They had kissed and groped each other and it could have gone farther but they heard his mother returning from running errands. Suddenly they had to be two friends, to friends who were boys and enjoying the water. It was the previous summer before school started and somehow they had stopped talking to each other afterwards. They didn’t breakup. They weren’t officially a couple.
“Yeah sure, but this time you have to keep your hands to yourself.”
“Hey there were two of us,” Evan said.
Tristan turned and walked over the snow covered lawn to his front door where he opened it with a key. Evan wasn’t far behind him. They were greeted at the door by Barney who followed them to Tristan’s room where he sat in the hallway and watched them. Evan began to undress by sliding off his shoes and shirts.
“What are you doing?” Tristan asked.
“What? It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Nothing we haven’t touched before.” He pulled his pants and underwear down in one action then took off his socks.
“You’re just proud of that thing of yours,” Tristan said looking down to Evan’s flaccid penis.
“I’d walk around nude except your parents are coming home sooner or later.”
“Yeah, yeah, the trunks are in the lowest drawer,” Tristan said pointing to the dresser near the door. He watched as Evan squatted then began to laugh. “No seriously they’re in the top drawer. I just wanted to see if you’d bend over.”
Evan stood and blushing he opened the top drawer.
“Cheeky bastard,” Evan said.
“Takes one to know one. Get out the blue ones for me.”
Minutes later they were both dressed in their swim trunks and in the Jacuzzi on the back deck of Tristan’s home. Tristan made them each a turkey sandwich for a snack. Barney stared at them from beside the Jacuzzi with drool hanging from his mouth.
“That’s disgusting,” Evan said.
“You keep feeding him so he drools.”
“Here puppy,” Evan said throwing another bite of his sandwich.
Barney swallowed the bite with very little chewing then shook his head making the saliva wrap around his face and off against the window.
“Awe, that’s disgusting. Now he looks like a go go dancer at a bukkake party.”
Tristan laughed. “That’s a messed up mental image. Now I am never going to be able to look at my dog the same way.”
“So, your new boyfriend,” Evan said.
“I knew we’d get around to this.”
“Is he well hung? Did you guys do anything?”
“We didn’t do anything. I’m not a whore.”
“I’d be a whore for a college guy, a soccer player too. I’m sure he has great thighs.”
“If you had sex half as much as you talked about it--”
“--hey, I’m just saying. So tell me about it. Is he relationship material?”
Tristan shrugged his shoulders. “I like him.”
“Is he a bottom or a top?”
“You’re such a dork. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
“That was the problem with us. I knew when you wouldn’t let me fuck you that we were both tops. You wouldn’t think it because we are a couple of skinny twinks but we are. Shit, I forgot my cigarettes.”
“You can’t smoke here anyway. My parents don’t like it.”
Evan let out an exaggerated sigh. “You parents can go fuck a duck for all I care.”
“Okay, I don’t want you to smoke,” Tristan said. “It’s bad enough you get cancer but I don’t want to get it from second had smoke.”
“You can go fuck a duck,” Evan said.
Tristan shrugged his shoulders.
“I just might,” he said.
The school day had been long, full of moments when all Tristan could think about was his date the night before and when he would get to do it again and under what circumstances. He wanted Mark to call him. He wanted to call Mark. But all the speeches of television characters went through his head as he thought about it. Even just a text might be too much. Give it time, he told himself.
Mark was everything he could want in a date: physically, emotionally, and personality. He was confident, sure, and capable. He felt like they had connected on the date and it was worth a second date but it felt too formal. When did dating end and a relationship begin?
The day was long and to make it worse he had a meeting with the Gay, Straight Alliance after school and that meant Evan would be there. Tristan had wanted to run the group like A.A. where you got up stated your name, your sexuality and/or your gender identity but the by-laws forbid ‘peer pressure identity’ as a part of the ethical code to resist assumed identity and allow for self-identification. It didn’t matter much anyway as there were only three other active members: Emily, Justin and Evan.
They had one ‘straight ally’ named Dean who was also a part of the Christian Youth Club but he didn’t participate much in the meetings. The four of them had met in a secret meeting after he joined and they debated about kicking him out of the group or otherwise shunning him because he could have been a spy.
He could have been gay, straight, bisexual, or maybe he was try-sexual. Tristan couldn’t help but forgive him because of his stylish clothes, pouty lips, soft, kissable lips. Besides who volunteers to join the group? That was like putting a ‘kick me’ sign on your back.
But he was also the one that Tristan wanted to get to admit something. He would settle for bisexual at least or curious maybe, some inclination of feeling that he wasn’t really a spy or that he was like them. Straight was nice but it felt unsafe in what was supposed to be a ‘safe space’. He was putting his own life on the line as a gay boy so it should mean something to say it.
Everyone in the school knew about Emily and Justin as well. Emily was an out and proud lesbian, a militant vegan who also believed in conservation and rode her bicycle to school. Justin, well Justin was just obviously gay. Tristan felt proud to take the freshman under his wing as it were, to give him a place to go though the boy didn’t seem to need any protection because he was full of energy and always the optimist.
His energy at times pained Evan who was the opposite of the spectrum. Evan wore black clothes, painted his fingernails black, wore combat boots. He wore a stud in his eyebrow, one in his nose, and ear. He always seemed to be on his last breath. It was all of that which attracted Tristan to him and all of that which caused them to break up.
For thirty minutes Tristan forgot about his other problems as they talked through the their plans for the rest of the year. They debated the value and response to having a fundraising table during lunch after the New Year as it was almost Christmas break and they had already spent their money for the AIDS Walk. They decided to table the discussion, which meant if anyone was passionate about it, wanted to put themselves at risk, then they would have to take the initiative.
“Well that’s it,” Tristan said looking to the clock on the wall.
“Great,” Emily said.
“Thanks guys,” Dean said before slipping out of his desk and out of the door.
They got to their feet and began to rearrange the furniture.
“He’s still a weird guy,” Justin said.
“So are you,” Evan replied.
“Look who’s talking,” Tristan said.
They laughed a little, more false than real.
“So how’d your date go stud?” Evan asked.
He had told Evan two days before his date was to happen. It was an impulsive feeling that he partially regretted because he didn’t want him to be jealous but he had to tell someone else about it.
“A date?” Justin asked. “When did this happen? Is he from school?”
“No, he doesn’t go to school here.” Tristan pushed the chair the rest of the way and slung his back pack over one shoulder.
“And just where does he go?” Evan asked. He already knew the answer.
“State school,” Tristan said.
“He’s in college?” Justin said.
“A college boy,” Emily said. “Was it a nice date?”
“Yeah, it was.”
“Well, let’s hear the details,” Emily said.
Tristan told them the basics of his date: where they went, who drove, how he looked, how they were dressed, and how his parents felt about it. He didn’t mention that they had kissed or the lies he had told.
“Sounds nice,” Emily said. “Well I have to get going.” She held her books against her chest and walked out leaving the three boys to follow her quietly.
Out in the hallway a new silence fell upon them one where they didn’t want anyone else to overhear them. It was one thing to be gay and a member of the GSA but it was another to be sexual. They walked to Justin’s locker.
“Hey I’m giving him a ride home. Do you want to come along with us?” Evan asked.
Tristan looked to both of them then down the hallway. He could have walked home, taken the shortcuts, tried to avoid any of the other kids hanging around the streets. He could have called his mother and rode home in silence, which he did sometimes if he didn’t want to deal with the kids who sometimes threw eggs at him from behind their house as he passed by.
“Yeah sure,” he said.
“Hey did you guys watch TV last night?” Justin asked. “Modern Family was on and it was pretty funny. The guys on the Swish Edition don’t think they’re very cute but I kind of like the redhead.”
“Uh, you like them older, a real daddy complex.”
“Shut up,” Justin said closing his locker.
“I’m just saying. Besides when they’re older they have more money to spend on the young ones. The young, dumb, and full of cum.”
Justin laughed a little then closed his locker and fastened the combination lock. They walked down the hallway and out to the car in silence. Tristan held the passenger seat for Justin to climb into the back the got in himself. Evan lit a cigarette from the pack he kept in the glove compartment and started the car.
“I’ve been waiting all day for this,” he said. He pulled his MP3 player from his pocket and connected it to the auxiliary line. “You have to hear this one.”
“What is it?” Justin asked kicking trash in the footwell.
“Ministry’s ‘Everyday is Halloween’,” Evan said.
“Turn it up,” Justin said.
Evan turned the volume high and drove out of the parking lot. They didn’t talk as one song turned into two and eventually they reached Justin’s house. Evan pulled into the driveway and waited for him to exit then Tristan to get back into the passenger seat before he lowered the volume. Together they watched Justin go inside his home then Evan began to drive again.
“I worry about that kid sometimes,” Evan said.
“Why? He knows how to take care of himself.”
“I know but still. It’s not like you or me. I mean I got one more year in this hell and you got like six months then it’s off to college. He doesn’t know how to play it cool like we did. It’s different. In just two years things have changed. There’s television shows and everything that makes being gay look cool and easy.”
Tristan looked to Evan with a deep sarcastic but serious face.
“You know what I mean.”
Tristan put his hand out of the window to feel the wind then asked why it wasn’t easy to be gay.
“It’s hard man. I mean we get our asses kicked and somehow we deserved it. All this bullshit about gay marriage and repealing things. It’s just like they can take it away any moment. Kick our asses and that’s it. And it’s not like TV makes it easy. Everyone has to be cute and hung and have muscles.”
“You’re just jealous,” Tristan said. “Have another cigarette.”
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
After the date Tristan made his way into his home feeling happy, anxious, and a little bit worried. He was fifteen minutes late for his 11:00 PM curfew and he was worried someone had spotted him in the car. He breathed a little easier when he pushed open the door to be greeted by the family dog’s nose and to see that the first floor was mostly dark. This most likely meant that both of his parents were in bed which meant it was also less likely they saw the car.
“Let me in Barney,” he said to the dog, a St. Bernard, who stepped backwards for his entrance. “Thanks,” he added. He closed the door behind him and the dog was quick to rub its muzzle against the leg of his jeans leaving a deposit of drool. “Aw shit man, you’re worse than Slimer from the Ghost Busters.”
The dog wagged his tail. He patted Barney on the head then stroked his back as he looked up the stairs to see if there were any lights visible from his parents room. There were lights visible. He inhaled and decided to go with his best excuse, but only if they asked.
He started up the steps. Their door was wide open and he could hear them talking. His mother was explaining where to find the extra deodorant which meant his father was headed out on a business trip. He stopped in the doorway and saw his mother in bed with the covers across her lap as she held a puzzle book with her left hand and held the eraser end of a pencil to her lower lip with her right. His father was in the attached, master bathroom with the door closed. She looked to him. Hate the sin but love the sinner, he thought.
“Hi there,” she said. “Tristan is home!”
His father said hello through the door but it was muffled by the sound of the bathroom sink faucet.
“Hi,” Tristan said loud enough so his father might hear. He gripped both sides of the archway and leaned into the room a little on the support of his arms.
“You have fun?” she asked.
She hadn’t known where he had been. He could have lied and said he was with a friend. All he had wanted to do was go to his room, listen to some music, and fall asleep. But she stared at him. Did she really want to know? Better be up front, he thought, that will make it real to them, to her, and to himself.
“It was a date,” he answered.
“Oh,” she said.
He pulled himself back then let himself drop forward again. He wanted to turn away and leave yet he felt obligated to stay as he had not seen his father who was no doubt leaving early in the morning and he didn’t know when he’d return.
There was the sound of his father turning off the faucet. He opened the door and wafts of steam began to escape into the regulated bedroom air. His father stepped from the bathroom dressed in an open robe and a pair of white briefs.
This was not an unusual sight since Tristan had been a boy. His parents were casual about these things all his life even though he eventually grew uncomfortable with it. He used to watch cartoons in a shirt and his underwear when he was little, until the age of seven or eight, then he would never leave his room unless he had on shorts or long pants. He wasn’t sure why.
“Henry,” his mother said. She pointed the end of her pencil towards her husband who quickly closed his robe. “Men.”
“It’s fine,” his father said. “It’s just family right?”
Tristan gestured like it didn’t mean anything. That he wouldn’t know why she might be concerned. It didn’t really matter, he guessed. It wasn’t a sexual thing. Besides wasn’t he supposed to want to kill his father and marry his mother? Nature or nurture? Hadn’t they been in the locker room together? He had been around guys all of his life in various states of undress. It didn’t have to mean anything. Wasn’t nudity just another part of life? Was it supposed to be taboo or did it just feel more risky and exciting if it was?
He spotted an open, partially packed suitcase on the chair at the far end of the room. It was his father’s suitcase which meant he was traveling again. He noticed his mother became uncomfortable after he had seen it.
“Where you traveling to?” he asked.
“Chicago,” his father said, “more recognizable than the state’s name and is the home of deep dish pizza.”
“Now you’re bragging,” Tristan said.
“You’re right I am. But it’s all I can brag about. Will you fly four hours on a jet for me and deal with airport security, lost luggage, and jet lag?”
“You know I would,” Tristan answered.
“Maybe not if you had my job.”
“What’s so bad about your job?” his mother asked.
“All of the flying,” his father said.
“Ask your son here where he was tonight.”
“Where were you?”
Tristan held his breath and it felt like his heart skipped a beat. He felt like he had been ‘out’ to his parents since he was fourteen and some other boys were harassing him for being a ‘fag’. They never questioned him about whether he was or not and his mother went to see the principal several times on his behalf and eventually the boys quit. Even though they couldn’t do much to protect him it was nice to come home. If he was moody then they knew why and they worked to cheer him up.
But he had never officially ‘outed’ himself. He had never had that moment where he sat down with them and said, ‘mom and day I’m gay’ because he felt he didn’t have to. Evan had said it was his secret and that was part of the reason they broke up, but it wasn’t a secret. It was private. There was a difference.
“He was on a date,” she said.
Oh God, he thought, could they not realize? Did they not assume?
“Oh,” his father said. Then he made a face as if he wanted to ask more but then stopped himself and it changed to as if he was slowly working out the questions and answers in his head.
Would he have asked more? Was his mother the one stopping the questions? Somehow between the two his father was the one who seemed most comfortable when he ‘came out’ to them. Tristan suspected it was because he worked with men and women who were ‘out’ in the workforce but his mother was different. She had been the home-maker, the stay-at-home mother and her world had been secluded to church. She worried that he was going to hell.
They looked at each other for a long time. That part of the conversation had ended. He hung in the archway looking at them suddenly unsure of what he had. It was a moment to remember.
“Well, do you want me to wake you before I leave tomorrow morning?”
Tristan shrugged his shoulders. “Naw, that’s okay,” he said. “Unless you want to?”
“No need. Well give me a hug before you go to bed.”
Tristan stepped to his father conscious of his father’s wardrobe and hugged him with as little of his arms as possible.
“Thanks,” his father said.
He stepped back then turned away and began to walk to his room. After he stepped through the archway into the hall he remembered his mother and said aloud a goodnight wish to her which she responded to with similar sentiment. He gritted his teeth and reminded himself to be more conscientious with her next time.
His bedroom was at the end of the hall on the opposite side of the house. That meant there were no awkward nights hearing his parents have sex like friends of his had complained about. No worries about them hearing him while he masturbated. No complaints, no arguments about loud televisions or music through the wall. He opened the door and closed it behind him. He was alone. He had made it and there were no threats of being grounded or a further restricted curfew.
He knew it wasn’t easy for them, his sexuality. They had shown little resistance to it. And little interest. He suspected that his mother felt that sexuality and sin was mostly between him and God but maybe, just maybe, she also worried she was to blame. But his father, his father traveled a lot and worked long hours so when they talked, they didn’t talk about sex.
Things were complicated. He sat on his bed and kicked off his shoes. Life was inexorably going forward and there was a lot to look forward to but there was also a lot to live through. He looked tot he clock on his nightstand and thought about school the next day. Then he remembered where he had just been. He had been on a date with a boy at least a year older, a college boy no less. They had been to a restaurant. They had held hands, held each other, and they had kissed.
He pulled his phone from his pocket and briefly considered updating his profile or sending a text message but the only person who would have been interested, really interested, would also be the one who might be jealous or offended. He set his phone on the night stand. He smiled. It had been a date. The date was over and he wanted another one.