Copyright © 2001 by Lyle Wilkerson
All Rights Reserved
Comments and inquiries may be directed to LyleWilkerson@mail.com.
The terms "Zippo," "Visine," "Gatorade," "Tender Vittles," "Mr. Bubble," "Milk Bone," "Cracker Jack", "Alpo," "Playgirl", "Benihana" "Plexiglas," "Bud," "Budweiser," "Marlboro," "Coors" and "Pall Mall" are used in this work as trademarks. The author of this work does not intend to infringe upon the rights of the owners of these trademarks by use of these terms in this work in a conversational manner without the ® or TM designation.
The book Love Story and the motion pictures Gone With The Wind, Titanic, Forrest Gump, Auntie Mame, They Might Be Giants, Inherit the Wind and The Wizard of Oz are copyrighted works. Reference to these works and their content is done by the author pursuant to the fair use provision of United States copyright law.
Special thanks to the University of Pennsylvania Library/Schoenberg Center For Electronic Text & Image for providing the 1608 printed version of William Shakespeare's Henry V.
The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, dead or alive, or actual events is fully and completely intended; hey, it ain't a science fiction novel. I didn't pull all this stuff out of thin air. Most of it all happened (or at least could have) to somebody at some time. It's a conglomeration but not an actual depiction. The names of the principal characters are fake, well, at least I don't know anybody with those names. The work contains adult language and descriptions of sexual acts between persons usually of the same gender. In order to keep the author out of jail on obscenity charges, it is also intended to contain a certain amount of serious artistic and literary value, maybe not a lot, but just enough.
Well, time to get this over with and tell the parental units I'm gay. Not a bad day for it. Beautiful Saturday afternoon at the end of May. Sun shining. Birds singing. Clayton (that's me) about to come out of the closet. Shouldn't be too bad. My parents are really cool, strange, yes, but in a nice way. I figure the best way to do this is tell Dad and then he and I can gang up on Mom.
As for me, I'll graduate from high school next week. I think I look like a big dumb jock: one inch over six feet tall, brown hair and eyes, about two hundred pounds, nice chest, narrow waist, lots of muscles. Being built like this can be a real pain in the ass when it comes to buying clothes. I have to have my good shirts altered so they're not all baggy at the waist.
Although I've just turned eighteen, people tell me I look like I'm in my early or mid-twenties, probably not so much because of my size and build, but because of my hair. For some reason, my hormones or whatever kicked in with a vengeance when I was thirteen. It was kinda neat being the only freshman in high school with hair on his chest and the ability to grow a full beard.
Even though I look like a jock, I'm not. I think I'm the only kid in the world who never got in a fight at school, not just because of my appearance, but also because I probably could have beaten the crap out of anybody else, even older kids. That was fortunate since I'm the one in school everyone loves to hate: the smart one who never really seems to have to study. I also know there is another source of people loving to sorta hate me: my looks. Girls drool over me. It's really embarrassing. Of course, given the choice between being this way or butt-ugly, I'll put up with being this way. Still, I feel like crawling in a hole when people start complimenting me on my appearance.
My home life has always been rather different. I'm an only child, but that's because my parents couldn't have children so they adopted me. I guess after they got me they figured one was enough. We live in a suburb of Houston in a very nice neighborhood. Dad's an engineer for an oil company. When they married, Mom was a real estate agent. After I came along she became a housemother until I started high school; she then went back to college to get an MBA. Rather strange, Mom just graduated from college and I'll be starting in three months.
Even our house is different from what you would expect. After my parents married, but before they adopted me, Dad began doing some side work for a real estate developer Mom knew. The developer had acquired a large tract of undeveloped land; Dad called it the Swamp because of all the creeks and marshes that covered the area making it virtually worthless for any practical use. As part of his compensation for doing all the engineering work to make the land usable, Dad got a rectangular shaped twelve-acre parcel. Dad, being Dad, then literally engineered the whole development around his land making it into the prime location. The lot is on a low, gently sloping hill bordered on two sides by a creek with a golf course across the way (the creek and golf course are the central elements of the drainage system Dad devised). Everyone expected he would subdivide his acreage and sell it off for a profit, but he didn't. He and Mom built the Shack.
Dad loves to build things, it's one of his hobbies, his major one in fact. The Shack has to one degree or another been under construction for over twenty years and probably always will be to some extent. Originally, it was a small, flat-roofed concrete structure set into the side of the hill at its crest on the north end of the lot, somewhat like a basement with an exposed exterior east wall and no house above it. You really couldn't call it a house; it was more like an overgrown one bedroom apartment that had been plucked out of an apartment complex and stuck in the side of the hill. Dad called it the Shack and the name stuck, just as we refer to the land as the Swamp, even though everyone else in the subdivision calls our place the Hill.
After the basement section was finished, Mom and Dad moved into it and Dad started building and he still hasn't stopped. The Shack is, well, huge; at least it now is, all done to Dad's long-range plan. You could probably call the place a mansion (more like a country club actually) and my parents are rightfully proud of it. The basement section is now Mom and Dad's study, or as we call it, the Cellar. He's got the original bedroom, she's got the original living room; the old kitchen is now a utility room with a heating and air conditioning unit for the central portion of the Shack and a boiler that provides hot water for the whole place. The Cellar is very large, about two thousand square feet, and is located beneath the Saloon, living room and dining room at ground level.
The central portion of the Shack, consisting of the living room, dining room, Saloon, kitchen and den, faces due east. An enormous living room is in the front middle portion with large entranceways at the northeast and southeast corners. Between the entranceways is a large bay window, the floor of which forms an awning over the front of the Cellar, which now has an open air atrium in front of it with exterior stairs leading down to it, as well as another set of stairs down to it on the inside. We use the dining room on the south end behind one entranceway only during the holidays or when Mom and Dad host a party, which is not an unusual occurrence.
On the north end of the living room behind the other entranceway is the Saloon, what most people would probably call a game room, complete with pool table, shuffleboard table, big screen television and a full service bar. In back of the Saloon, living room and dining room are the kitchen and den, side by side. The kitchen is big enough to prepare meals for Napoleon's troops; if the den had a hardwood floor, you could host a small basketball game there.
The Shack doesn't have bedrooms as such; it has suites, each with a sitting room, bedroom, bathroom with dressing area and an enormous walk in closet with a washer and dryer in it. The suites are located in two wings that adjoin the central portion of the Shack at a forty-five degree angle running back from the front of the house, one on the north side and the other on the south. Currently, there are four bedroom suites. Mom and Dad's suite and one guest suite are in the south wing of the house, my room and another guest suite are in the north wing. At the end of my wing is a large garage and workshop that adjoins the north wing at a forty-five degree angle but is separated from the house by a covered breezeway. The garage is angled in so that it is perpendicular to the central portion of the Shack and isn't visible from the front (one of my father's pet peeves is being able to see a garage from the front of a house). Out back is a large patio area, swimming pool and pool house. I'm telling you, Dad really enjoys building things.
The strangest part is that the place despite its appearance, didn't cost that much to build. By taking his time and using commercial building techniques, Dad picked up the materials for next to nothing, snagging leftovers from construction sites, tearing down old houses and buildings as well as scavenging about scrap yards, picking up steel beams, trusses, conduit and the like. Plus, Dad did most of the work himself and acted as his own general contractor for the major portions of the project that required using outside labor.
The place costs virtually nothing to run. Dad cut some kind of deal with the electric company to lease them the land and building for an electrical substation (carefully hidden on a back corner of our lot) that pays for all the utilities. He also drilled a water well (located in the pool house); not only does this provide the water for the swimming pool and watering the grounds, he also sells water to the golf course for the same purpose and uses that money to pay the taxes and insurance on the place. Because they love parties, Mom and Dad even rent the place out from time to time for weddings, anniversaries, receptions and other functions, including my high school graduation party next Saturday.
As an example of how the Shack evolved, when Mom and Dad decided to adopt, the first thing Dad did was start building what would become my wing. This was the only part of the project he really pushed and had it finished in about eight months, a record rate of construction for him. In later years, he finished out the guest suite to complete my wing, just as he did with his and Mom's wing.
As luck would have it, the day somebody from the adoption agency stopped by on an unscheduled visit to determine my parent's suitability to adopt, Dad had arranged to borrow some equipment from a construction site in the neighborhood to start building the foundation for the entire wing. The adoption agent arrived to find my father laying sewer pipe while my mother was running a backhoe to dig the trenches. Mom said she nearly died when the agent asked Dad some type of question about his sincerity in wanting to adopt a kid and Dad replied, "You're goddamned right I'm serious. Hell, most folks expecting a kid buy a crib and paint pictures of bunnies on the nursery wall. We're building the little rug rat his own two thousand square foot addition to this joint." (My suite actually only takes up half of the wing addition but the adoption lady didn't know that.) But Dad then worked his magic on the adoption lady, and an hour later had her drinking a beer and helping him lay pipe. Must've worked since they were able to pick me up just a few months later rather than having to wait over a year or more like other couples (Mom still is not sure whether Dad worked one of his deals out with the adoption lady or not; he probably did, but denies doing so).
Mom also did her part in putting the Shack together. The first part of the upstairs to be finished was the living room, dining room and Saloon; the kitchen and den section got added later. Not only did Mom help Dad with the actual construction, she cut her own deals with interior decorators and landscape designers to use our place as a showroom for people building or remodeling in the area. Originally, the Saloon and dining room served as model bedrooms and did so for years until after the two bedroom wings were completed and furnished. By the time I was eight or nine years old, I began receiving sales commissions on furniture and plants I'd convince people to buy. Hey, not only can people not resist a cute kid, I could offer my sincere opinion on how child resistant stuff was. The end result of all this was that not only did the house get very well furnished dirt-cheap, the landscaping is truly fantastic.
As you can expect, my growing up was different from what other kids experienced. At school when we had to write the essay about what we did during the summer, other kids would write about what all they did at camp. I would write about things like helping Dad build the garage, or getting to push the plunger thing down to detonate a dynamite charge to blast a hole in the ground where Dad wanted to put in a pond stocked with bass so he could have fresh fish for dinner whenever he wanted (yeah, Dad could have used a bulldozer to dig the hole but the dynamite was faster and it did a great job of scattering the dirt around).
We aren't super wealthy even though it may look like we are, but we aren't in bad shape financially. In addition to his regular job and little engineering projects for others now and then, Dad started dabbling around with computers when he was in college and after the silicon chip was developed, he started doing computer consulting as well and rakes in a tidy sum doing that on the side. Mom has continued to dabble in real estate as well as handle the planning and organization for the paid events hosted at the Shack.
What was truly peculiar about growing up was that my parents and I always got along together. I always heard other kids bitching about their parents, but I never had any problems. I wasn't spoiled or anything, but Mom and Dad pretty much always let me be a free spirit. For example, I think I'm the only kid in school who doesn't have a curfew, not just on weekends, but seven days a week. As for staying out late, my parents trust me to be reasonable about it and I respect that. My parents always told me that the thing about trust, for it to be real trust, is that it has to be extended to a person before it is truly warranted. It's sort of like a test. So far I've never flunked the test, well, at least not on anything of real importance. As a result we don't have a bunch of the typical house rules and regulations. We do have rules, in a way, but they're all unstated ones.
Anyway, time to go find Dad. I found him in the Cellar downstairs, sitting behind his computer, a really serious look on his face, rapidly moving the mouse and clicking away. I stood quietly in the doorway watching, and waiting.
"Goddamnit!" shouted Dad at the screen, "You little bastard son of a bitch!"
"What's wrong, Dad, lose again?"
"You're damned right I did. Just look at this. A lousy eight thousand points away from scoring two billion and that little son of a bitch changes direction at the last second and wastes my last warrior."
Dad really gets into computer games.
"Why don't you just go in and reprogram the game?" I asked.
"I already did that! How the hell do you think I ever got past one million points to start with?"
Dad also likes to cheat at computer games.
"Crap," he muttered as he stood up, shot the finger at the monitor, then looked at me and smiled. "Wanna beer?"
"Sure." I figured a little alcohol in Dad and me both wouldn't hurt the upcoming conversation. That's another thing about my parents I guess that makes them different. All the "bad stuff" like alcohol was never a big issue. For my thirteenth birthday Dad took me aside and gave me a joint with the explanation, "I know you're going to try it sooner or later and I wanted to make sure you got some good stuff rather than some crap that might be laced with PCP or something." Dad never would tell me where he got the thing, probably from someone at work. I guess their approach worked. Drinking is no big deal with me and, other than an occasional toke of marijuana, I've never done drugs.
We walked through the Shack into the kitchen. Dad opened the fridge, pulled out two bottles of Bud, handed me one, popped the top on his, took a swig, reached in his shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He silently offered me one but I declined (yeah, I do smoke; it's yucky and all that, but I do enjoy it). "Clayton, you really ought to smoke more, maybe it will stunt your growth some."
"I think I'm about done growing, Dad."
"Well, maybe it would shrink you some. It really sucks having a son three inches taller than you are. You done the pool yet?" Dad has this habit of changing the topic of conversation rather abruptly.
"Yeah. I had to dump in quite a bit of chlorine, so don't go swimming until tomorrow afternoon."
"Did you tell your mother? Don't want her jumping in, searing her eyeballs and getting pissed."
"Uhhh, no." I walked out of the kitchen into the den and over to the patio door. Mom was out in the back yard (okay, it's around two acres in size but it's still a yard to us). She was on the patio stretched out in a lounge chair reading a book. I opened the door and yelled, "Mom, I just cleaned the pool so don't go swimming until tomorrow afternoon."
"Okay, dear." Why do mothers always call you "dear?"
Seeing that Mom was safely out of the way, now was the time to spring the gay thing on Dad. He had walked into the den, sat down, picked up the remote control and was about to flip on the television when I interrupted his course of action with, "Hey, can we talk about something?" I sat down on the couch that was next to Dad's chair.
"Sure. But if it's about a new car for your graduation, forget it. I gotta buy Kathleen one."
"No, mine's fine. Besides, Mom's about driven the wheels off that thing of hers going back and forth to school everyday for the last four years."
Dad leaned back in his chair, tossed the remote on the table between us, took another swig of beer, took a drag on his cigarette and burped as he exhaled smoke out of his mouth. You have to admit, there's something special about a man relaxing in his own castle. "You gonna drink that thing or just hold it?" he asked.
"Oh." I'd almost forgotten the Bud. I took a long drink, swallowed and looked back at Dad. Dad looked at me, waiting. I took another drink while gathering my thoughts. After swallowing I asked, "When you picked me up, did the adoption agency give you any kind of warranty or something like that?"
"Not that I recall. What have you gotten into this time?" I have this tendency to pull pranks from time to time. Sometimes, well, they sorta turn into fiascos but nobody ever gets hurt, other than maybe their pride.
"Nuthin.' I've just been thinking about this whole go to college, get a job, get married, have 2.4 children thing."
"You don't want to go to college, is that it? And what the hell does that have to do with a warranty on adoption?"
"Oh, no, that's not it," I quickly replied. "I do want to go to college. It's just that after I tell you something, you may want to trade me back to the adoption agency for another kid or maybe get a refund."
"Why?" my father asked as he cocked his head downward and looked over his glasses at me.
"'Cause after I'm done with college, there ain't gonna be a wife or 2.4 children."
Dad sat his beer down on the table and took another drag on his cigarette. "Okay, Clayton, you have my full attention. Do you wish to continue?"
"I'm gay." There. I finally said it.
Dad didn't seem to react all that much. He just stared upwards, thinking for about ten seconds. "You're sure," he finally said, looking back at me.
"Yeah, I'm sure. And can we not have any questions about particulars? I mean, I never ask about your sex life and I'd appreciate the same in return." I'd rehearsed that last line a whole bunch figuring that would be the best way to stay out of the sensitive stuff. "Can I bum a cigarette?"
My father tossed me his pack. I fished one out and sat the pack back on the table. I started digging around in my pants pocket, searching for a lighter when Dad reached across the table, flipped his Zippo and lit me up. After sticking the lighter back in his pocket he started speaking slowly, "How long have you . . . uhhhhhh . . . ."
"About a year, well, known for sure, that is. I kinda wasn't a hundred percent sure before that, but I am now."
"Why have you waited until now to say anything?" I could tell by the sound of Dad's voice that he wasn't angry, maybe somewhat confused, but definitely not angry. I was right, this wasn't going to be so bad after all.
"Well, I wasn't really trying to hide anything. I just figured, well, guys at school can be real little shits about this and I didn't want to cause any problems. Now that I'm just about done with high school, there's really no reason for me to keep my mouth shut," errrrr, bad choice of words, Clayton, "uhhhhh, no reason to keep on being silent or stay in the closet about it."
After that verbal faux paux, Dad looked down and broke into a grin, obviously catching the sexual innuendo regarding keeping my mouth shut. He looked over at me and stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray, slightly shaking his head from side to side with the typical Dad smile that says, "What am I going to do with you?"
I took a long drink of beer. So did Dad. After setting his bottle back on the table he said, "And I suppose you want me to tell your mother?"
"Well, I thought we could go tell her together."
"Yeah, right. Son, have you ever, I mean just once, ever gone to talk with your mother first about anything?"
"Sure, well, not if it was anything really important," I reluctantly admitted. "After all, every time the school called about something, you were always the one who went and saw the principal."
"Clayton, this is not like filling the shop teacher's car up with sawdust or setting off a stink bomb during a pep rally."
"I did not set that stink bomb off," I quickly responded in my defense. "Jimmy Hedrick did."
"Yeah, but you're the one who took the hinges off the door off the chemistry lab, swiped the chemicals and made the damned thing."
"But you're the one who gave me the formula," I whined. I still think that if I had to take the rap over that deal on some type of criminal conspiracy charge, Dad had partial responsibility as well. He furnished the know-how.
My father got up out of his chair going into pace back and forth mode saying, "Whoa, whoa, whoa; we're getting off track here. Let's get back to this gay thing."
"So you're not mad at me?" I asked, trying to sound timid.
"Clayton, have I ever been mad at you about anything? A little pissed off from time to time, sure, but not mad."
"You sure gave a pretty good impression of being mad after I put that dead skunk in your sleeping bag."
"Listen, will you please give that up?" scolded Dad in a frustrated tone of voice. "I've told you time and time again I had to act that way. I was the fucking scoutmaster. If I hadn't punished you in a so-called normal way the rest of those boys would have run all over my ass. Anyway, quit changing the subject and let me think a little bit."
I did the dead skunk thing during a Boy Scout campout. I didn't think it was all that bad at the time, but Dad kinda weirded out. It was the only time I ever got a spanking, more of a whipping actually. And I guess Dad was right, he did need to make an example of me to preserve his authority in front of others. Still, it scared the shit out of me; it was the only time I've ever really been afraid of my father. He later apologized and said he realized that he had fucked up, that parents aren't perfect. Anytime I think Dad might be getting into a situation with me where I think he might fuck up again, I bring up the dead skunk. It seems to work.
After pacing around for about a minute, Dad lit another cigarette, drained his beer bottle and headed off to the kitchen. I heard the empty bottle land in the trash, the fridge door open and close followed by the little hiss of another beer bottle being opened. Dad walked back into the den and over to the patio door looking out into the yard, probably at Mom. After standing there a few moments he walked back over to where I was sitting, resumed his pacing and started talking in normal Dad voice.
"Clayton, there's something I've never told you. You know that I love you, but what I want you to know is that not only do I love you, I love you more than anything else in the world, perhaps even more than I love your mother. And if you ever tell her that," he quickly added, "I'll strangle you. I'm sure she probably knows that but I don't want her to know I said it. Anyway, this gay thing. When I was a kid, I never woke up one morning and said, 'Well, I got three choices. I can be straight, I can be gay or I can be bi. I think I'll be heterosexual.' Nobody does that. Christ, I can't imagine anyone in their right mind choosing to be homosexual what with all the crap you're going to have to put up with. Okay, so you're gay. I believe you. About all I can think of right now was something Sigmund Freud said along the line that being homosexual was certainly no advantage but it was nothing to be ashamed of."
What my father was saying was getting to me. I could feel tears starting to build up and I ducked my head down. Seeing this, Dad came over and sat down next to me on the couch. He put his arm around me and with his free hand reached under my chin and gently turned my face toward his.
"Clayton, I really don't know what to say. You're gay, and now I know. Well, you were gay yesterday as well. Why should I love you any less today simply because I know more about my son? If anything, I love you even more now because I'm very proud of you coming to me and telling me. I know it wasn't an easy thing to do."
That did it. A double hug and tears followed. Both me and Dad. That's just another one of the wonderful things about my father. There never was any of that "Clayton, men don't cry" crap. After a minute or so Dad broke the hug remarking, "We'd better stop this before your mother walks in."
"Oh, shit!" I gasped, sitting back upright and trying to regain my composure. The battle was only half over. There was still Mom to deal with.
"Better go to your room and get straightened up," Dad told me, followed by, "Oh, damn, bad pun, uhhh, you know what I mean. Squirt some Visine in your eyes so she won't see you've been crying."
"Okay, Daddy. Uhhh, I think you'd better go change shirts."
"I kinda got snot on your shoulder."
Dad looked down at his shirt, surveyed the damage, looked back at me, grinned, shook his head, then stood up, pulling me up along with him and said, "Come on." As we were walking through the den Dad started laughing, more of chuckle actually. Of course I had to ask, "What is it?"
"You blowing snot all over my shirt. I remember when we brought you home the first time. The only thing that really had me worried was the diaper thing. Just the thought of changing a diaper grossed me out; I'd never done it. So I figured I'd better get over it, you know, the sooner the better. You didn't need to be changed but I decided I'd practice a little bit while you were still dry. So I laid you down on the bed, took off the hospital diaper and spread out a fresh one on the bed. I reached under you, and just as I picked you up to set you down on the new nappy, you cut loose and pissed all over me. I had no idea that a two-day-old kid could pee like that. Eighteen years later and you're still excreting your bodily wastes on my shirt."
"Hey, at least I'm consistent."
"No, you're still an asshole."
Okay, so that's probably not something a father says to a son all that often. But I knew what he meant. I turned around, placed my hands on each side of my father's face and looked him squarely in the eyes. Holding him as such for a few seconds, I leaned down and gave him a loud, full-lipped, wet and sloppy smooch on the forehead. I knew that would piss him off, but in a good way. I couldn't help but do anything but smile at him, and not just a little one. We're talking a smile that goes all the way through you, all the way up into your ears. Finally I added, "Yeah, but I'm your kind of asshole."
I heard a long exhale of air out of him and he went somewhat limp. Then he pulled himself fully upright, softly whacked me in the gut with the back of his hand, turned around, made some sort of a growling sound and went off to his and Mom's suite while I went to mine.
Looking at myself in my bathroom mirror, I didn't look all that bad, well, at least not any worse than I usually did on a Saturday afternoon. Normally, Saturday is grunge day; wake up, jack off, skip the morning shower and shave, put on a T-shirt and cutoffs, mow the lawn and do the yard routine, eat something, play with the dog, go swimming, look for dirty pictures on the Internet, jack off again, take a nap, then get cleaned up to go eat something and hang with the guys doing whatever. I decided to brush my teeth. I thought about maybe changing clothes but that would tip Mom off that something was up. After rinsing and spitting I pulled off my cap to brush my hair. It was sticking out in all the wrong places so I put the cap back on to hide the mess, squirted some Visine in my eyes and went to look for Dad again.
He was back in the den sitting in the same chair. As I walked into the room he pointed to the couch indicating I should sit down while saying, "There's something I want to get straight here, oh damn! There I go again."
"Dad," I interrupted, "you don't have to go changing the whole English language just because I'm queer."
"Well, that's sorta what I wanted to ask. You said something like you didn't want to be in the closet. As for this coming out or whatever the hell it is, just what is it you want? I mean, this is your life we're talking about here. What is it I need to do or say or not do or not say? You'll have to forgive me but I don't have much practice yet being a gay son's father. You've had a long time to think this through and I know you have. How are you going to handle this with the rest of the world?"
"You mean, like, am I going to put on a pink tutu and go march in parades and stuff like that?"
"Oh god," groaned my father, "have you been buying weird stuff on eBay again?"
I was thoroughly lost with that question. "What do you mean?"
"Like when you bought that yarmulke and tallis or whatever you call that Jewish prayer shawl thing and wore them to the Christmas party at school. Are you gonna start running around wearing a tutu and a T-shirt that says 'Nobody Knows I'm Gay?'"
Now I understood the question. "No, nuthin' like that. I was just kidding about the tutu and parades. I'm just gonna be myself, and I don't want to have to lie or worry about hiding anything, and I don't want you or Mom to worry about covering anything up. Have you ever had someone come up to you, shake hands and say, 'Hi, I'm John and I'm heterosexual?' Sure it will be a little different, being open and all. Like I want to start openly dating guys, well, queer guys that is, not just guys in general, stuff like that. I'm not gonna go around with a sign on my back or anything, but if the subject comes up, I'm gonna tell the truth. And as I told you before about that Christmas party, I was merely being multiculturally sensitive."
"Bullshit," exclaimed Dad, "you were just trying to piss off those born again Christian Bible beaters. I'm surprised you also didn't show them your circumcision scar."
Dad slumped down in his chair and lit a cigarette, setting the pack and lighter on the table within my reach if I wanted one. And he was right about the Christmas party. We're not Jewish or really into any kind of religion. I've never even been baptized. Again, that was my parents' way of raising me; if I wanted any kind of religion or whatever, it was up to me to figure out what worked for me. If those guys at school wanted to be Christians, fine with me. But I didn't appreciate them trying to shove their beliefs down everybody else's throat. And yes, I did think about showing them my circumcision scar, but I knew I'd really get into trouble if I'd done that.
After a few moments Dad asked, "You got a boyfriend?"
I decided to filch one of Dad's cigarettes to buy a little bit of time before answering that one. "No," was my honest response. I fired up, took a drag, exhaled, then continued, "I've got some friends who are gay, but no boyfriend."
"Clayton, I know I'm not supposed to ask this, but I'm going to and I want you to give me just plain 'yes' or 'no' answers, okay?"
Oh shit. Here it comes. The sex questions. You're damned right I like dick. I find pussy boring and unappealing. That's how I know I'm gay. Sure I find it a blast to suck dick or have a guy hoover down on me. The taste of cum turns me on. I also like it in the ass and I absolutely love fucking a cute guy who enjoys getting it in the butt. That's all true, but as much as I get along with him, there is no way I could ever admit any of that to Dad. After another puff on the cigarette I answered, "Okay."
"I presume you've had sex with a male."
"Have you ever had sex with a female?"
"When you say that you're gay, does that mean that you're sure you're not bisexual?"
Dad was silent for a few moments. "Okay, end of questions. Give me a couple of minutes to think and we'll go see Kathleen." Dad got up to go back into pace around the floor mode.
I knew what Dad was thinking, or, more accurately, trying to not think about. The thought of his hunky son down on his knees with another guy's dick in his mouth, as well as details of all other homosexual acts, both giving and receiving. I felt really embarrassed, no, I felt ashamed. And I felt like crying again. But then I remembered something Dad had said earlier. "Daddy?"
He stopped his pacing and looked at me, waiting for me to continue.
"You said something earlier about something Sigmund Freud had said. What was that?"
"Oh god, that was a long time ago," he answered while walking back toward me and sitting down in his chair. "It was in this psychology class I had in college. It was a comparison of the different methods of analysis and theory, Freud versus Jung versus Adler or whoever all those old farts were back in the early days. As I remember, there was this American woman who wrote Freud in Vienna, some rich old dame whose son was gay. Of course back then they didn't use the word gay or even homosexual; they called it inversion. Anyway, this woman offered Freud any amount of money he wanted to come to America and cure her son, you know, make him into a heterosexual. Or, if he didn't want to come to America, she'd haul the kid's ass over to Austria so Freud could work on him. Well, Sigmund writes her back and basically says, 'No deal, save your money.' His belief was that if you're gay you're gay and if you're straight you're straight. There's no changing it one way or the other. And one phrase that Freud used stuck in my mind because I thought it extremely gracious and caring. It's been so damned long ago I can't remember the whole thing, but it was his conclusion that being a homosexual was, and I quote, 'certainly not an advantage, but nothing of which to be ashamed.' And then he went on to tell the woman that psychoanalysis could not change the way her son was, but if he was all screwed up about being queer, then therapy could help him be a well-adjusted person. Oh, does it bother you if I say 'queer?' I noticed you used it earlier."
"No, it doesn't bother me, at least when you say it the way you say it."
"I kinda figured that. It's sorta like the old Lenny Bruce routine."
"What do you mean by that?" You have to understand something about my father. It seems that Dad knows something about everything. Despite his nonchalant way, he's extremely intelligent and very well read, experienced and educated. Where he comes up with stuff I'll never know. When he's relaxed, from the way he talks and acts, you'd think he was an ordinary, blue-collar laborer who works in a cement plant, but he can also easily have the demeanor of a tenured college professor when it is required. Several years ago, he and Mom went to this incredibly formal reception and dinner for some foreign dignitaries the oil company was wining and dining. Dad's there, waltzing with an ambassador's wife and charming her to death, later convincing her husband of the technological benefits to his country from installing a natural gas liquefaction plant. Mom's doing her number on company executives, chatting with some foreign guy in French and other stuff when she notices Dad was gone. She figured he had gone to the lavatory but after ten minutes or so he still wasn't around so she knew something was up and went looking for him. She found him in the hotel kitchen, dressed to the nines in his white tie and tailcoat, down in the floor shooting dice in a craps game with some of the waiters (the waiter who tipped Mom off on Dad's location had returned to the ballroom after losing twenty bucks to him). The way Dad looked at it, he had accomplished what he had come to do so now he could have some fun.
Dad leaned back in his chair and began to give me the explanation of his comment. "Lenny Bruce was a comedian, a white comedian, during the sixties when all the civil rights marches and protests were going on. After they started getting whites and blacks together in the same crowd at nightclubs, he came up with this routine. He'd look at a black audience member and say, 'Hey, nigger.' Of course, this shocks the shit out of everyone in the audience, and he keeps on calling the guy 'nigger.' Nobody can believe he's saying this. The whole routine revolved around his tone of voice and demeanor. When he started he was acting really serious and demeaning to the black guy, but then gradually let off, changing his tone of voice and mannerisms until he's up on the stage, dancing around in a circle, saying 'nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger' like some little six-year-old kid on the playground. By the time he's done the whole audience is laughing their asses off, even the black people. And everyone realized that he had taught them a lesson, that the word itself is meaningless and has no power. It's how you use the word and all the stuff in your mind that counts. I guess another part of the lesson is that if you've got a sensitive situation on your hands, sometimes the best way to handle it is head on and don't beat around the bush. Anyway, I figured you calling yourself 'queer' is sorta like that, if that makes any sense."
Just then the door to the den from the patio opened and Mom walked in, just barely missing what Dad had just said. I could see by the look on his face that Dad realized he had just missed committing a major fuckup had Mom heard that last sentence and the reference to me calling myself a queer. We both just sat there saying nothing. Mom shut the door, started walking toward the kitchen, then stopped dead in her tracks, turned around and looked over at us. After surveying the two of us quietly sitting there, obviously not watching television, two half-full beer bottles and cigarettes on the table she asked, "Okay you two, what's going on?"
Dad swiveled his head around to look at Mom, his mouth hanging slightly open looking slightly like a bored idiot. "Huh? Oh, nuthin.' I'm just listening to Clayton bitch and moan about having to give a valedictory speech next week." With that, Dad turned his head back around and scratched his nose.
Okay, Dad's thrown out the ball. Now it was my turn to pick it up and run with it. Doing my best to sound annoyed I looked at Dad and continued the ploy with, "I was not bitching and moaning. I just don't want to stand up there and look stupid. You know, pretending to be Winston Churchill rallying the troops, telling everybody how we're all about to go out and fight on the beaches or some shit like that."
"Goddamnit, Clayton," said Dad as he threw his arms up in the air in mock but convincing disgust and rose from his chair, "just go write fucking something and I'll read it. And your mother too. We'll let you know if you sound like a dumbshit." He headed off toward the kitchen. It worked. Mom resumed her way to the kitchen as well. She didn't have a clue. After she was out of sight Dad turned around back to me, pointed his finger at me, silently mouthed "you," then pointed to the back door and mouthed "outside." I hadn't the vaguest idea what Dad had in mind but I immediately complied.
Walking out into the back yard I wondered what I should do to not be conspicuous. I spotted Wilbur, the canine unit of the family, and Wilbur spotted me and came running. Wilbur is a great dog. We got him at the animal shelter when I was eight; Wilbur was my birthday present. I think one of the reasons he's so super is that he knows we rescued him from jail and is very appreciative for that. He's medium sized, brown with white and tan markings, floppy ears, doesn't bark much, all in all, he's perfect. He's our attack dog: if anyone ever broke into the house, Wilbur would have a heart attack. I sat down in the grass and Wilbur began to receive the standard scratching behind the ears, under the chin, down the backbone to the base of his tail. Wilbur loves to have his butt scratched really hard at the end of his backbone, just at the base of his tail. I guess that's because that's about the only place on his body he can't either scratch or bite himself. Looking over my shoulder to make sure my parents hadn't come out yet, I stopped scratching Wilbur's butt, grabbed him behind the ears, looked him squarely in the eyes and said, "Wilbur, there's something you need to know. Clayton is gay. What do you think about that, huh?" Wilbur licked me on the face. Great. I got a winning streak going here. Two down, one to go.
I resumed screwing around with Wilbur when I heard Dad yell out the back door, "Clayton!" The "oh shit" sensation started coming over me while I hollered back, "Yes," which was followed by Dad's single word, "Telephone." Great. A momentary reprieve. I got up and trotted over to Dad who was standing outside the door on the patio with the cordless phone held against his chest. As I reached out to take it from him he whispered, "Don't worry, I won't say a thing without you around; we'll be out in a minute," and then handed me the phone. After the standard "hello" there was "Hey, Clayton, it's Rob," followed by the usual "what's up, nothing much" crap.
With the introductory stuff out of the way Rob asked if I wanted to go to a movie later on. Considering what was happening on the home front I answered, "Maybe, what you got in mind?"
"Well," continued Rob, "how about Clayton The Muscle Hunk Sucks And Fucks Rob The Stud Puppy, Part 286?"
Rob is one of my gay friends. He's also my fuck buddy. Like I had told Dad, I don't have a boyfriend. With some of your friends you shoot hoops or go rollerblading just because it's fun to do. With Rob and me, we have sex because it's fun and we enjoy it. Why jack off by yourself when you can share an orgasm with a friend?
Rob's statement immediately caused fantastic visions to race through my head, which got interrupted by the sight of Mom and Dad walking out the back door. "Yeah, sure," I told Rob walking past my parents back into the house. "Listen, I'm kinda in the middle of something right now. Give me a couple of hours and I'll call you back." Rob and I then had the usual good-bye sign off routine and we hung up. I continued walking across the den to replace the phone.
I didn't want to go into any details with Rob about what was currently going on with the parents mainly since the saga was not yet complete. Regardless of what happens with Mom I've got the legitimate excuse of later needing to go off by myself for some quiet time. Can I help it if I'm human? I'm a typical horny teenage boy whose gonads need to be drained on a regular basis.
Dammit, Clayton, stop thinking about it. You're standing here in the middle of the den about to go out and tell your mother you're gay and you're getting a hard on.
I walked into the kitchen so I'd be out of sight, reached up the leg of my cutoffs with my thumb and forefinger, grabbed the head of my dick and squeezed hard. No, I'm not into S&M or any weird crap like that. One of my friends had explained this valuable technique to me: get an unwanted hard on, just pinch the head and it goes away. Yeah, it hurts some, but it's better than sporting a boner when such would result in social embarrassment.
With my dick back under control, I walked back into the den and grabbed my beer. I'd noticed Dad still had his and Mom had a glass of wine when they walked outside. I saw that Dad had left his coffin nails and lighter on the table so I picked them up and headed off to conquer Mom.
They were sitting at a patio table, Dad scratching Wilbur, Mom talking about going out and getting a job or doing consulting work. All in all I think that's pretty cool for my mother to do: go back to school and get a master's degree just because she wanted to. I put Dad's stuff down on the table which prompted a nod and a "thanks" from him, then plopped my butt down in a chair. I didn't join in the conversation but just sat quietly sipping my beer.
After a little bit their conversation dwindled off into nothing. Mom looked at me and asked, "You going out tonight?"
"Yeah, maybe. That was Rob who called about going to a movie."
"Which one?" Oh jeez, Mom, did you have to ask that? Now you've got me thinking about sex again. I crossed my legs to contain what was apt to soon be an errant penis.
"I dunno, just go to the theatre and pick out one." We've got a couple of those mega movie theatres in town, one with six screens, one with eight. Okay, so my statement about going to a movie with Rob was not exactly correct, but I figure, no harm, no foul.
"Oh, Kathy," said Dad, drawing Mom's attention away from me back to him. "Clayton mentioned something earlier you might find interesting." Okay, here it comes. Get ready for the lead in, Clayton; be ready to catch the ball when Dad tosses it over to you.
"What's that?" asked Momin all innocence as my father took a drink off his beer.
"He's queer." Dad casually sat his beer down on the table and reached for a cigarette, lit it, leaned back and began smoking, staring off into space. Mom had started the process of taking a sip of her wine but the glass didn't make it to her mouth; her arm stopped in mid-air. As for me, well, so much for trying to verbally catch the pass Dad had just hurled right past me. I looked at Mom and gave her a big grin, attempting to look like a happy puppy that just wet on the rug. Mom didn't make a sound. She just looked back and forth at Dad and me, not moving her head, just moving her eyes, very slowly. Finally, the wine glass continued its journey to Mom's lips, poured a little bit in her mouth and then slowly returned to the table.
After Mom's hand disengaged the glass she reached over and tapped Dad on the shoulder causing him to look at her. Dad didn't say a word. He just looked at her and also gave her a happy-puppy-that-just-wet-the-rug grin thereby forcing Mom to ask quietly and slowly, "Clayton is what?"
"Queer. You know, gay. Homosexual. The boy/boy thing as opposed to the boy/girl thing."
Mom's head still in slow motion rotated back over to me. Her eyes slightly widened as her gaze met my eyes. I nodded my head up and down to confirm the truth of Dad's last statement. After a short eternity Mom asked, to neither one of us in particular, "You're not joking, are you?"
And that's when Dad swung into action. He turned his chair around so he was directly facing Mom. His voice was calm but there was no hint of a smile on his face, just a matter of fact serious look. "No, we're not. Clayton is gay. That's what he and I were discussing this afternoon. Now to save time, let me lay it out for you. Clayton is gay, he's not bisexual, he's homosexual. This is not some temporary thing or simply a phase he's going through. He's always been homosexual and he always will be. While there was of course some doubt in his mind for a while, he's been sure of this for at least the last year. The reason he has not said anything before now is because he did not want to cause any problems at school. Out of respect for him we have agreed that we will not ask any questions regarding intimate details of his life, that's his business, not ours. He's not going to be going out on any sort of gay crusade. He simply wants to live his life openly and honestly. Under no circumstances are we ever to deny to anyone that Clayton is gay or to in any way indicate that he is anything but gay. I've assured him that my love, my respect and my acceptance of him have not diminished in the least. Lastly, I want you to know that I'm damned proud I helped raise Clayton to be the man he is with the guts to do what's right and I hope you are too." Looking at me Dad finished with, "Clayton, is there anything I forgot?"
"No, I think you pretty well covered it." So much for me helping Dad tell Mom I'm gay.
Mom looked at me with a very grave look on her face and then did absolutely the last thing I expected. She laughed. A real laugh, not a fake one. She grabbed her wine glass, drained the thing in one gulp, slammed the thing down on the table shouting with glee, "I got you! I finally got the two of you! I've been waiting months for this moment. I finally got you two little bastards!" And then without explanation Mom got up and sauntered, no, almost danced back into the house.
Dad and I just sat there, our mouths hanging open trying to figure out exactly what had just happened. We didn't say anything. We just sat there and exchanged confused looks. Mom burst back out of the house bearing a bottle of champagne and three glasses. Depositing the glasses on the table she began to pop the cork on the bottle saying, "It ain't cold but I just gotta celebrate." The cork flew out of the bottle with a loud pop causing a confused Wilbur to flee in terror. Mom held her thumb over the top of the bottle spraying Dad and me both with champagne before filling the three glasses, then handed one to each of us. Raising her glass in the air she shouted loudly enough for the golfers across the creek to hear, "Here's to Kathleen! Drink up boys!" She drained her glass right down, poured herself another one and then sat back down in her chair.
Dad was the one who finally asked, "Kathleen, what in the holy fucking hell is going on here?"
Mom looked over at me and said, "Clayton, I've known you were gay since last summer."
"How?" I couldn't believe what was going on here.
"You two have always had this thing going on between you," continued Mom. "And thinking I didn't know what was going on when you were plotting or scheming about something. Well, boys, you fucked up, and what was even better, you didn't even know you did it. You remember last summer when the two of you decided to upgrade and rebuild all of our computers, using that stupid excuse, 'Well, school will be starting soon and Kathy and Clayton need more hard drive and memory?' That was bullshit. I knew it and I know that both of you knew it. All the two of you wanted was more stuff on your computers to play with. Mine was perfectly fine; it didn't need anything done to it, but you insisted, so I went along with your little game. Well, you messed up. I don't know exactly who did what but you somehow wound up putting one of Clayton's old hard drives on my computer and, Clayton, dear boy wonder, loving son of mine, you failed to properly clean the thing up."
Oh, Jesus H. Christ! I knew in an instant what was coming. I seriously began to consider crawling under the table.
Mom leaned back in her chair sipping champagne, savoring her moment of glory before continuing. "Now, Clayton, I did not purposely go looking around for anything untoward. I just happened to stumble across this one interesting photograph of two rather handsome young gentlemen engaged in, well, shall we say, sharing an erotic moment. My curiosity naturally being piqued, I looked about your old hard drive some more and began finding images you had presumably downloaded off the Internet. Now finding a picture or two of nude men could have many explanations. With your strange sense of humor, possessing a few images of homosexual acts would be understandable. However, having hundreds, no, having over a thousand of such pictures certainly raised the definite possibility of homosexual inclinations upon your part. But, dear one, do you know how I conclusively established that you were indeed gay?"
"No, Mom, how?" I felt like shit. This was not getting any better but I had to know.
"You didn't have one single picture of a naked woman. Not a single, solitary one. Never forget, son of mine, what is absent can often be more instructive than what is present.
"Now, Ted," continued Mom, turning her attention to Dad, "you stated earlier that we are not to inquire into any details regarding our son's personal life. Rest assured I will not. However, unlike you, based upon the evidence I have heretofore witnessed, I happen to have a very good idea of the type of men Clayton is attracted to and, speaking from a woman's point of view, I think he has excellent taste in men. I also have formed certain conclusions about Clayton's preferences regarding the type of, shall we say, personal attentions one gay man can offer another. Unlike some people, I find those apparent preferences to be no more ridiculous than the ordinary things heterosexuals do in bed. I've long believed that god indeed has a wicked sense of humor; otherwise, he wouldn't cause us to engage in such outrageous behavior in order for us to enjoy sex as it should be enjoyed. However, since you have laid down the law in this area, I will happily comply and divulge my conclusions to no one, especially not to you.
"And so, gentlemen, with this knowledge in my possession, I decided to wait. I knew that eventually, in the fullness of time, Clayton would go to you, Ted, explain that he was gay and enlist your assistance in breaking the news to me. I wanted the two of you to worry and to fret over what to say to me and how to say it, not exactly sure what my reaction would be. I wanted to see you squirm in trepidation. And the wait was worth every moment. The looks on your faces, your little speech, Ted; the entire matter was exquisite. My only regret is that none of it was videotaped so I can enjoy it again and again.
"So, in conclusion, Clayton, I could care less whether you are homosexual or heterosexual. In a certain sense, I'm rather pleased that you are gay since that means I will never have to share your love with another woman. I love you and all I want is for you to be happy. And to you, Ted, my life mate, my precious soul mate, I'm damned glad you have finally recognized that our son has indeed become a man. Of course, I doubt that will change anything. You certainly never grew up, and I doubt Clayton ever will either.
"Now, you two little boys go off and do whatever it is you usually do. I wish to resume reading my book."
Dad and I got up and walked back into the Shack in silence holding our untouched champagne glasses. We stopped in the den and just stood there, looking silently at one another. Dad looked down at his glass then raised it in the air, looked over at me and quietly said, "She got us, Son. Here's to Kathleen."
I raised my glass, clinking it to his, saying, "Here's to Mom." Then, both smiling, we drained the toast.