Kyle, Part 3
Disclaimer: This story is a continuation of the story of Kevin Foley, Rick Mashburn, and their "sons," Tim Murphy, Kyle Goodson, Justin Davis, and Brian Mathews that started in "Tim," continued in "Justin" and "Kyle," "Kyle, Part 2," and now continues in "Kyle, Part 3." It is about gay men and gay boys living and loving together as a family, and it contains descriptions of sex. The sex is never intergenerational, though. If you are offended by descriptions of gay sex, or if the law in your area forbids you to read them, please exit the story. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it. I appreciate feedback, and you can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We had a really good day on Monday. The Lundi Gras Festival in Woldenberg Park was a lot of fun, the fireworks over the river were great, and the parade of the Krewe of Orpheus was beautiful. We were all too tired to go into the Quarter that night. We had been down there three times already, and, frankly, the crowd was just a little much to contend with after a full day of merry-making.
Everybody was up early Tuesday morning. My dad went to a bakery to buy doughnuts and other goodies for us to take that day. If there was traditional food besides King Cake associated with Mardi Gras in my mind, it would have to be glazed doughnuts and fried chicken. When we had discussed the matter in the past, we had concluded that doughnuts and fried chicken were both well suited to Mardi Gras because both could be eaten standing up, and you could hold either food in just one hand and still have the other hand free to catch beads and other throws.
We got to the parade route around seven o'clock on Tuesday morning, and we staked our claim to the section of sidewalk we would occupy all day. We weren't the first ones out there, and already advance-men from several other families had set up near us. The kids had palled up with Seth Adams, and we had more or less joined our forces with their family. Cherie worked with Matt Adams, of course, and she had been together on several cases. Seth was a homely kid, but he was very nice and obviously very intelligent. He seemed to be under Kyle's spell.
By eight o'clock, the street had begun to fill up. The people a few groups down from us, who weren't part of our crowd, had a huge set of speakers and an amplifier. They started playing Mardi Gras music, and that added a lot to the festive air of the place. A few businesses in the area had some Mardi Gras decorations up, but the festive nature of the holiday was in the music and the parades. Later in the day that same group started playing the music to "The Chicken Dance" about every third tune, and that really got old.
"I'm going over there and choke the chicken," Kyle said. "And I don't mean what y'all think that means."
The men standing around talking to him were Rick, George, my Dad, Gene, Matt Adams, and me. We all convulsed in laughter at what he had said.
"I think we might be dealing with an experienced chicken-choker," Rick said.
"I have no doubt about that," Gene said.
He made us laugh, too.
First thing that morning, though, I had said, "Guys, come over here. I want to talk to you."
They all came over to where Rick and I were standing.
"There is going to be a really big crowd on the street today. Where does everybody have their money?"
Most of them said in their wallets in their back pockets .
"Well, put it in your side pockets. The back pockets of jeans are too easy for a pickpocket to slide a wallet out of," I said.
"My wallet won't fit in my side pocket," Kyle said. "My jeans are too tight."
"That's cause you got that big ole fire hose packed in there," Justin said.
Everybody laughed, but Seth positively howled. He seemed really excited and happy that morning. We had had a great day with him the day before, and we all like him a lot.
"Take your money, your credit cards, and your driver's license out of your wallet, Kyle, and put those in your pocket. Then ask your mother if you can put your wallet in her purse," I said.
Kyle did as I suggested. He took Tim's, Brian's, and Jeff's wallets over to Rita, too.
"Kyle, come on back here so Kevin can finish wiping your nose," Jus called out to him.
Kyle shot him a bird, and we all laughed. He trotted back.
"Okay, here's the lineup for today," I said. "The first parade will be Zulu, and it should get here around 9:30. It used to be an all-black krewe, but it's not all black anymore. It will probably have a theme related to Africa, though, and there is still a very large African American look and feel to that one. It's a great parade. The next one will be Rex. He ought to pull through here around one o'clock, maybe a little earlier. Immediately after Rex, with no interruption, will be the Elks Krewe of Orleanians. We call that parade and the next one, the Krewe of Crescent City, the truck parades."
"We should have come in my pick-up," Justin said.
"Is that the kind of trucks in that parade," Tim asked.
"You're thinking about our Christmas parade, aren't you," Kyle asked.
"No, they're not pick-up trucks, Tim. They're huge flatbed trucks that can hold a fifty people or more. People in families, neighborhoods, businesses, social clubs, and so on, get together and ride a truck on Carnival Day. The first ones in the parade will look just like the floats you've already seen, but the ones later on will have homemade decorations that were done by the people who ride them. There will probably be three or four hundred trucks. It's a really neat tradition," I said.
"Can anybody be in it," Kyle asked.
"Why? You want to be on one, don't you?"
"Damn, Kev. I'd give my left nut and Tim's foreskin if I could be on one."
"Hey," Tim said slapping at Kyle, and we laughed.
"Maybe we can talk about us re-joining a krewe back home. All of us," I said.
"Yeah, I thought you all rode last year. Why did you quit," Kyle asked.
"Two new jobs and five new kids, that's why," Rick said. "No time."
"Anyway, don't expect to catch much from Zulu and Rex, but you can probably expect quite a haul from the trucks," I said. "Oh, and nobody touch those quarts of beer that are in one of our coolers. I've got special plans for those."
"What are you going to do with 'em? Open a stand," Jus asked.
"No, I'm going to trade 'em for beads with guys on the trucks. You wait and see what I get for 'em," I said.
"Oh, cool," Seth said.
Kyle put his hand on Seth's shoulder.
"You never thought of that, did you, buddy," he asked.
"No, but it's a great idea," Seth said. "Some of those guys will probably give you their costumes for that much beer."
"Kyle would, as much as he loves to get naked," Jus said.
Kyle started to say a come-back line, but he stopped. We all knew Justin was right on the mark.
"He busted you a good one that time, didn't he," Rick asked.
"If y'all are trying to piss me off, forget it. I'm in too good a mood," Kyle said.
"Now, would I ever try to piss you off, Bubba," Justin asked with fake innocence.
"I think you pissed him off Sunday night," Seth said.
Justin laughed. "Yeah, how about that? 'Why don't you jump up on the fucking table and scream it out for everybody to hear?'" He said that last part in a pretty good imitation of an angry Kyle, and everybody was roaring with laughter.
"Shit," Kyle said through his laughter.
"You guys can walk around. Just be back for Zulu," I said.
"Or not," Rick said.
"Yeah, or not. Have fun, and be safe, you hear. I don't want any of my babies stolen by the Gypsies," I said.
"Are there Gypsies here," Brian asked.
"There's probably some of everybody here, Bri, but I just said that as a joke," I said. "My grandmother used to say that every year at Mardi Gras."
That concluded our pre-parade conference. They took off walking up St. Charles Avenue toward Lee's Circle.
"I don't know what they've done to or for my son, Kevin, but whatever it is, thank God for it," Matt Adams said to me after the kids had taken off.
"He seems like he's in a real good mood. He's a nice kid," I replied.
"Thanks, but he's not without his problems. He spends most of his time in his room, alone, and when he's with the rest of the family, he never talks."
"Well, he was participating in the general fun back there a minute ago. He seemed to really have fun with us yesterday, too," I said. "In fact, he made some pretty funny wisecracks."
"Oh, I know he had fun. He couldn't shut up when he got home last night. This from a kid who never says anything to the rest of us," Matt said. "That's why whatever has happened is so wonderful."
"Well, he's in the hands of the Wonderworker. That's what Justin calls Kyle because he says he works wonders with people," I said.
"Oh, it's Kyle. It's definitely Kyle. It's almost as though he has a crush on him," Matt said.
I got a little uneasy. "How much do you know about us," I asked.
"Not too much, but some. Cherie and I have talked a few times."
"Would it bother you if he did have a crush on Kyle?"
"Not in the least. I'd hate to see him get hurt, though. Kevin, Seth is gay, and Cathy and I are fine with that. I wouldn't want Kyle to use him. That's what I meant," Matt said.
"May I step in here," Craig asked. "I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I couldn't help overhearing some of what you just said."
"We're talking about Seth. The big turn-around seemed to happen Sunday night when you took the boys to the strip show," I said.
"Seth knows the boys are gay," Craig said. "That all came out at the strip show. He also knows that Kyle and Justin are both taken, and I tried to help him understand that they're really in love with their boyfriends."
"Kyle and Tim, and Justin and Brian, right," Matt asked.
"Is it that obvious," I asked.
"Cherie had told me they were all gay and that they had boyfriends," Matt said, "so I watched carefully. It would never have been obvious to me if I hadn't known what to look for. They're some amazingly good looking kids, too."
"Yeah, they are," Craig said.
"Poor Seth didn't get the handsome genes, if any exist in our family. I'm sure that contributes to his low self-esteem, too," Matt said.
"Have you talked with Seth about being gay," I asked.
"Not yet, but we plan to very soon. Cathy and I talked about that last night. He's never brought it up, and, frankly, I didn't know how to bring it up. Now I have an opening, though," he said.
"Our boys," I asked.
"Exactly. The Florida Boys, as he calls them. Once he even referred to them as the Krewe of Kyle. Kevin and Craig, thank you so much for what you've done for my son. I feel as though I have my boy back, and he's happy, gregarious, and excited about life again."
"We haven't done anything. It's Kyle. Kyle and Justin," I said.
"The Wonderworker Team?"
"Now they are, but Kyle had to work his wonders on Justin first to get him to where he is. That's a long and rather unpleasant story, though," I said. "Don't call them the Wonderworkers, though. That's supposed to be a family secret."
"Gotcha. I'm ready for a beer. Can I get you anything," Matt asked.
"Oh, Matt. Er, don't be too shocked if you see Kyle and Justin drinking beers, and smoking cigarettes, too. They're not angels," I said.
"Good for them," Matt said. "But, see, they really are, Kevin. You just have to look at my boy to know that."
When Justin, and then Kyle, told me they were gay on Sunday night, my first reaction was disbelief. How could they be gay? They weren't strange. They weren't weird. They weren't different. They had great bodies and appeared to be athletic. How could they be gay? Kyle had even gotten an erection when he had seen the two female strippers, and he had gotten angry when Justin touched him. Craig confirmed that they were, though, and that they were in love with their boyfriends. Nobody would let someone get away with saying that about them unless it was true.
All of a sudden, sitting in that sleazy bar on Bourbon Street, I had a revelation. I was okay! It was okay to be gay! I wasn't necessarily strange, weird, or different. Craig was right when he said I wouldn't find a better group of guys, and I included him in that, too.
If Sunday was the beginning of life for me, then Monday was my first full day of being alive. I wanted to do something for Kyle, Jus, and Craig, so I bought Mardi Gras caps for them at a convenience store in my neighborhood before they picked me up Monday morning. They already had caps, of course, and it was maybe a little tacky to get them something and not get anything for the others, but those were three very special people in my life. I had a great time on Monday, and it really wasn't so much because the stuff we did was all that much fun. It was because I was doing something with people I liked and wanted to be with for the first time in a very long time.
And they liked me, too. They said they did, but I could also just tell. They teased me, joked with me, and treated me like I was one of them. It was easy to get into their spirit, too, and I made a few wisecracks that they thought were funny. One of the things I really liked was their being able to laugh at being gay. They teased each other all the time, and a lot of the time it was related to sex. Not in a nasty or vulgar way, though. It was just fun. On the way to the festival in Kenner, I was sitting in the middle seat between Kyle and Justin. They each had their boyfriends on their laps.
"Did you say anything about what I told you last night," I asked.
"No. Why would we," Kyle asked.
"I want everybody here to know," I said.
"Do you want me to tell 'em," he asked.
"No, I'll do it. Everybody, you all don't really know me, but there is something I want to tell you."
Everybody got quiet, and Rick turned the volume down on the CD that was playing.
"I want everybody here to know that I'm gay," I said. "I fought it for a long time, but being with you all yesterday made me not ashamed of it anymore. That was a great gift, and thank you for it."
I don't know what I expected at that moment.
Kyle spoke up. "Come on, guys. We've got a new brother, and he gives great . . . baseball cap. Let's hear it for him."
They laughed at what Kyle had said, and they cheered for me. They actually cheered for me. Nobody had ever done anything even remotely like that for me before. I started crying tears of joy for the first time in my life.
"We've got some happy tears here," Justin said. "Damn, if this ain't an ice cream moment, I don't know what is. And here we are in the middle of the damn Interstate."
I didn't understand what he meant, but Kevin, Rick, and the boys screamed with laughter.
"All right. We demand an explanation," Cherie said.
Kevin was still laughing, but he explained it.
"Cherie, in our family, whenever something really good happens, often the resolution of some crisis or conflict, but at other times, too, we have huge platters of ice cream to celebrate. And Justin is right; this is definitely an ice cream moment."
"So why ain't the blinker on," Jus asked.
That guy was so cool. He said the funniest things in the most deadpan way. He said he was from Alabama, and he had a really nice accent. I think that was part of why he was so funny.
"Do y'all really want to stop for ice cream," Kevin asked.
"Hell, yes, we want to stop," Kyle said. "I'm so famished I'm lightheaded."
"My God, son. You ate enough breakfast for three people," Rick said.
"Three of you maybe, but not even one of me," he said.
Everybody laughed, and Kevin turned on the blinker so we could get off the Interstate.
We actually found a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in a shopping center right after we got off the highway. All six of us boys ordered banana splits, and the four adults ordered ice cream cones. That was some of the best ice cream I had ever eaten.
Back on the road again, Jeff asked, "So who are you out to, Seth?"
"Just the people in this car," I said. "I'd like to tell my parents, but I don't know if that would be a good idea or not."
"Seth, I know your dad. There won't be a problem with him, sweetie," Cherie said. "Or with your mom, either."
"He's the one I was worried about," I said.
"Well, don't be," she said.
Hearing her say that was like the last piece of the millstone that I had been dragging for so long falling away from me. I felt totally free, totally relaxed, and totally happy.
"Not all parents react that well to the news, right, Jeff," Brian said.
"That's for sure, Bri. You and I are proof of that," Jeff replied.
"Can you guys tell what happened," I asked.
"Our parents disowned us. Put us out of the house, Seth," Jeff said. "I had just turned eighteen. How old were you, Brian?"
"Fourteen," Brian said.
"Seth, I think Jeff's point is that you're the best judge of what and when to tell your parents," Kevin said. "Rick and I, and Kyle and Tim had it very easy. Witness the fact that Kyle's parents and Tim's dad are with us on this trip and are having a great time. They were here with us right before Christmas, too, and participated in the celebration of our first wedding anniversary. As you heard, Jeff and Brian weren't so lucky."
"Kevin's right, Seth, but I think in your case there won't be a problem. If there is, you can come and live with Craig and me. Or, better yet, we'll ship your ass to Florida, and you can live with all of these guys," Cherie said.
"Cherie, what you're saying is, if I win I win, and if I lose I win," I said.
Everybody laughed, and that felt soooooo good.
"If you come to live with us, you'll have to go through the initiation," Kyle said.
"What's the initiation," I asked.
"The finger," Kyle said, only he said it with a tone of mystery.
"What's the finger," I asked.
"The finger is . . ."
Kevin cut him off. "Okay, Kyle, that's enough. Tell him later if he really wants to know, but not now." Kevin's tone of voice wasn't mean, but I could tell he was serious and meant business.
"Yes, sir," Kyle said.
I was genuinely puzzled. I made a quizzical face to Justin.
"He doesn't want us talking about S-E-X," Justin said.
That made everybody laugh hard.
"Seth, in our family, sex is private. Rick and I will answer honestly any question you or any of them have, but we don't have sex in public, and we don't talk in public about what we do in private. That rule never changes," Kevin said.
"And the second rule," Rick said, "is we never do anything sexual 'unless both guys really want to do it.'" They all joined in on those last eight words, and they all laughed.
"Just for clarification, would I be breaking the first rule if I said they don't seem hard," I said.
I had intended that to be a pun, but I never expected the reaction it got. They screamed with laughter.
"This dude's a keeper," Justin said. "Kyle, you're still on probation, you know, but he's off probation as of now."
"Yeah? I'll probate your ass," Kyle said, and again everybody laughed.
"Is that what they did to Will," Craig asked.
I didn't know what he was talking about, and nobody else did either because they didn't laugh.
Cherie groaned. "Kevin, pull over and put him out." That made Craig laugh.
"I don't get it," Kyle said.
"Bubba, to probate a will is a legal term for filing it in court so it can be acted upon," Cherie said.
Kyle chuckled a little bit. "See, that was lost on me because I didn't know 'probate' was a real word. I thought I just made it up from 'probation.'"
"Me, too," Jus said.
"Don't worry. Nobody in his right mind would have gotten that pun, which, I guess, doesn't really speak all that well of me," she said. That made people laugh.
"Cherie, I noticed you just called Kyle Bubba. I know what that means, and I know it's a nickname, but you all seem to use it for everybody," I said. "I'm a little confused."
"Tim, scoot up a little bit, would you, Babe. You've about crushed 'em," Kyle said.
Tim started bouncing up and down on Kyle's lap, and everybody laughed.
Tim turned around and gave Kyle a short kiss on his lips, and then he moved forward on his lap. I had never seen anything like that before between two boys, and I was surprised at how perfectly natural and normal it seemed. I didn't say anything, though.
"So who's going to answer Seth's question," Kevin asked.
"I will," Jeff said. "I was very confused by all of that, too, Seth, at first. Somebody correct me if I get this wrong. Kevin and Rick call each other Babe. Occasionally one of them will say Baby, but it's usually Babe. Kyle and Tim call each other that, too, as you just heard. Rick and Brian call each other Buddy. Am I right so far?"
"You're doing good. Keep on," Justin said.
"Kevin and Rick call Kyle, Tim, Justin, Brian, and me Buddy. They also call all of us Bubba, although it's almost always Buddy for me. Kyle, Tim, Justin, and Brian call everyone Bubba except their boyfriends, which I already explained."
"Kyle and I call each other Stud, and Rick calls us Stud, too, Justin said.
"What do you call them, Jeff," I asked.
"Unlike the rest of them, I'm able to remember their actual names, so I use them," Jeff said.
Everybody laughed hard.
"That's bullshit, Bubba. Sometimes you call me Clay," Kyle said.
"Yeah, but not on purpose," Jeff said.
"I know, but I love it when you do call me that," Kyle said.
Everybody got real quiet after that. Finally, Justin broke the ice after several minutes.
"Are we having a moment of silence for Clay, and, if so, for Big Clay or Little Clay?"
That made everybody laugh, and Kyle and Justin bumped their fists together.
"Oh, and Seth, this is Big Rick, and this is Little Rick. The one right next to you with his hand on your dick," Justin said.
Kyle wasn't touching me at all, but his hand flew across in front of me and hit Justin on his arm.
"Davis, when we get to where we're going? You. Me. On the levee. Your ass is mine," Kyle said.
I got scared. I thought a fight was developing.
"You keep making all those big promises, Goodson, but you've yet to deliver," Justin said.
They all laughed.
"Phew! I thought you guys were really doing to fight," I said.
Justin said, "Naw, we're brothers . . ."
". . . and best friends," Kyle finished.
"Since when did that keep two guys from fighting," Craig said.
Kevin laughed hard.
"There must be a story here," Cherie said.
"Not really. How long has it been, Kev," Craig asked.
"I think you were fourteen and I was twelve," Kevin said.
"Yeah, that's about right," Craig said.
"You brute! You had the puberty advantage," Cherie said playfully to her husband.
"No, he didn't, Cherie. I know. I used to see it every day," Kevin said.
Everybody laughed hard.
"Foley, when we get to where we're going? You. Me. On the levee, shithead," Craig said.
"Are we going to fight," Kevin asked. I knew from his tone of voice that this was yet another joke.
"Hell, no. We're going to watch Kyle and Justin beat the crap out of each other."
We all laughed.
That's the way it was all day with them. It was joke after joke after joke. I laughed more that day with them than I had laughed the previous four years put together. Nothing was sacred and nothing was off limits when it came to humor. It was obvious that they genuinely loved one another, and the verbal sparring was their way of expressing affection for each other. I felt totally accepted and totally at home with them, and I loved every minute of it.
Later in the day, after we had gone downtown, I caught up with Kyle by himself.
"Are you having fun, Bubba," he asked me.
"Yeah, the best time. Thank you so much, Kyle."
"You see that we really do like you, don't you?" He was grinning so nicely at me.
"Yeah, and I feel so good I could float up into the sky," I said.
"By the way, I love my cap. Thanks for getting it for me," he said.
"You're welcome. Can I ask you something?"
"Of course you can, but it's seven-and-a-quarter inches long and five-and-three-eighths inches around," he said.
I laughed. "You never stop, do you?"
"I know. I'm sorry, man. I'm on this big excitement high, and getting you with us is a big part of that. I'll behave."
"I don't want you to behave. I'm having the best time of my life with you guys," I said.
"Me, too," he said.
Somehow I really didn't believe he could distinguish one good time from another, much less determine which one was the best. Kyle was the happiest, most joyous and carefree person I had ever known, and I envied Tim.
"I'm thirsty. Are you? You want me to see if I can score us a couple of beers from that stand?"
"Yeah," I said.
He did it. He got them, and they didn't even ask for ID.
"Let's go sit down and talk," he said.
We settled under a nice tree.
"What's on your mind, Bubba?"
"Today in the car, you started to say something about an initiation, but Kevin cut you off. What was that about?"
"I know. He cut me off and made me shut up. I was joking, and he should have known that," he said. "There's not really an initiation."
"Yeah, but what were you going to say. He said for you to tell me later," I said.
"You're a virgin, right?"
"Yes." I sort of whispered it and hung my head a little.
He took my "chin" in his hand and lifted my head. He was dead serious when I looked in his face.
"There's no shame in that, Bubba. No shame at all. Say it."
"Okay. No shame," I said.
"How much do you know about gay sex?"
"Well, I think I know the basics. I've done some reading and all," I said.
"So you know about the prostate gland that guys have?"
"Have you ever touched yours? When you were jerking off?"
I shook my head no. I had thought about doing it, but I had never had the nerve to try. I had never talked to anybody about masturbation, either, but talking to him about it wasn't embarrassing in the least.
"It feels really good when somebody rubs it. That's the whole point of butt fucking, really, at least for the guy taking it. That's not quite all, but that's a big part of it. Anyway, Tim and I have showed a couple of guys what that was like on the prostate with our fingers. That's what I was talking about."
"Are you guys promiscuous? I mean, like, three-somes and that sort of thing?"
"Tim and I never do anything with another guy just by ourselves," he said. "Only when we're together."
He took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one up. He offer the pack to me, but I declined.
"Sometimes, with people we care about, we've done some things. Never sucking and fucking, though. That's just for us. Or heavy kissing. That's just for us, too. Some people might think we're promiscuous, but we don't think of it that way. We think of it as helping a friend out," he said.
"I'm not sure I understand," I said.
"Let's take somebody like a friend we have whose name is Chad. Chad was fourteen years old at the time. He was, and still is, a flaming drama queen, and he basically knew nothing about sex, gay or straight. We were on a camping trip with him, and the three of us were in the same tent. We were talking about sex, and Tim and I were trying to teach him. Well, you guessed it. We all got hard. Chad wanted to touch our dicks, so we said okay. He started stroking them, and, of course, Tim and I shot. Then he wanted us to do him, so we did. I don't remember all the details, but I put my finger up his butt and rubbed his prostate. That much I do remember. He came like a motherfucker. He later told us that that night was the beginning of his life."
"Kyle, I'm scared to death of having a penis up my butt," I said.
"It's not bad, really, if it's somebody you care for and he knows what he's doing. In fact, it's damn good. But a lot of gay guys never do that, man, and that's okay. There's so much else you can do to express your love physically besides butt fucking. Tim and I don't do that every time we make love, and neither do Kevin and Rick. And, please, don't ever let a guy do that to you unless you want it, okay? You heard Rick say that rule in the truck today. That's a rule we live by, man. And it's not just for butt sex. It could be . . . anything. If one guy wants it but the other one doesn't, it's rape if the one guy forces it on the other one. Sex is about expressing love. It's about making your partner feel good. It ain't about getting what you want, regardless."
"You seem so much older than seventeen," I said.
"I'm not, though. I just turned seventeen in November," he said.
"Where are you going to college," I asked.
"I don't know. Probably the community college at home for a year, until Tim graduates. He wants to be a doctor, and we've talked about coming here for him to go to Tulane. Then to Tulane medical school. Kevin's parents are both doctors, and they can help him."
"They are? Really?"
"His mom's a pediatrician and his dad's a heart surgeon," he said. "Tim's dad is an oral surgeon."
"Wow! This is a really educated group of people."
"I know. I'm the dumb one in the crowd. Me and Justin."
"Kyle, do dumb people entertain car loads of friends? Do they make fourteen-year-olds begin their lives? Do they make seventeen-year-old nothings like me into somebodies?"
"Who are you talking about, man? Jesus or somebody like that?"
"No, Kyle. I'm talking about you, and Justin, too. Haven't you noticed the change in me?"
"Yeah, and it's for the better, too," he said. "Who caused it? Justin?"
"Yeah, but mostly you. Kyle, I'll never forget you. There aren't many like you, that's for sure."
"Thank God. The world could be in serious trouble if there were more of me."
"I don't agree," I said. "But you know what?"
"My uncle is on the board of trustees of Tulane University. He just got appointed for a ten-year term."
"Cool," he said.
"I'm going there, and so are two friends of mine," I said. I knew he wasn't processing what I was saying.
"I hope Tim gets accepted there. I'm probably going to go to the University of New Orleans," he said. "I looked them up on the Internet, and I think I could probably get accepted. They pretty much take everybody."
"Kyle, you're not hearing me. Tim will get accepted at Tulane, and so will you."
"That would be so good for Tim. Medical school, too?"
"Yeah, if he's got the grades," I said.
"Don't worry, he'll have the grades. You are so good, man," he said.
I laughed. "No, you're so good," I said, and we got up to join the rest of the group.
They said Tuesday was going to be the best, and it has been. We got up pretty damn early, but that didn't bother me. Tim was sluggish, though, so I had to jump-start him in the shower, if you know what I mean.
We were on the street by seven o'clock this morning, and I was surprised by how many other people were already out there. You can't rent sidewalk space. You just have to get there early to get you a spot. And parking's a problem, too. It cost us fifty bucks to park in the exact same lot that had only cost twenty-five yesterday, but I guess you have to make hay while the sun shines.
Speaking of sunshine, we had some beautiful days. It was a little nippy when we got there at seven o'clock this morning, and we were in the shadow of all those big buildings. I was glad I had my jacket, too. By noon we all had our shirts off, though. Tim's dad always freaks out if we do stuff like that in the winter, but if it's hot, it's hot. Off come the shirts.
Tuesday is the costume day, and we saw some good ones. We saw two little boys, brothers, who were about three or four years old. One was a bee, and the other one was a flower. They were so cute. They reminded me of Kyle, Mathew, and Michael Broman, those little guys we got to play with in North Carolina. And some people didn't have much on, either. In the afternoon after the last float, we walked over to the French Quarter for the last time, and we saw people there in some skimpy outfits, for sure. Nobody we saw was butt naked, but some were mighty close to it. We saw a bunch of guys dressed up like women, but you could usually tell they were men and not women. A couple of 'em even had thick moustaches, which was pretty much a dead give away.
One of the things I didn't know about was all the marching clubs. These are just groups of people, musicians mostly, who just march around playing music and having fun. Each group was dressed alike in the same uniform so you knew they belonged together, and some of them were even passing out doubloons with their club's name and logo on them. One was called the Half Fast Marching Club, which I thought was pretty funny. I told Kevin and Rick that's what they ought to name the FSU band to go along with their Semi-hole football team, but they didn't think that was all that funny. Craig did, though. One of those clubs called themselves the Krewe of Spermes. You were supposed to say it "Sper-meeze," like Latin or something. It was all guys from a fraternity dressed up like they were sperms, and one girl who was dressed up like she was an egg. The sperm guys tried to get the egg girl. That was kind of funny.
A lot of the cops there were on horseback. That was something I had never seen before, and those horses were huge, too. Kevin said the police department there were experts at crowd control, and I believed it after seeing those horses. They weren't parading; they were working. When those horses came down the street, you got back, son. I saw them for the first time on Saturday. I was all excited and jumping around, and I didn't hear the first one coming. I was right in the way, too. Rick grabbed me by the hair of my head and pulled me back just in the nick of time. After that, I was on the lookout for those things because they could come at any time. Sometimes the cop blew his whistle, but most of the time you just had to hear the clip-clop to know one was coming.
A lot of people with little kids had ladders with seats on the top for the kids to sit on. It was probably great for the little kids because then they could see what was going on and catch stuff, but people on the ground behind the ladders were shit out of luck. We didn't have any little kids in our group, so we didn't have any ladders in front of us. I hoisted Tim up on my shoulders a few times, but he's as big as me. Carrying 160 pounds of boy around for very long isn't all that easy, no matter how much you love him. One time, right after I had put Tim down, Justin said to me in that ole Alabama drawl of his, "You can mount me, if I can mount you." I thought that was funny, but our new friend, Seth, laughed so hard I thought he was going to piss his pants.
Speaking of Seth, he turned out to be a really nice guy. I knew he was shy and unpopular when I first laid eyes on him Sunday morning, and that's just the kind I want to go after and make have fun. That boy came out to us for the first time to anybody Sunday night, right after damn Justin was feeling me up in the strip club. Seth cried, of course, like I guess everybody has to do when they come out for the first time, but he got all right. He's not cute looking, but he's cute acting. Plus, he's just so nice. I've got me a new friend for life, I think. My motto is, If you're going to go to the trouble of making a friend, you might as well make that friend for life. We're going to keep up with each other through e-mail, and I'm hoping he can come and stay with us a while during the summer.
Another subject I want to deal with is drinking. Mardi Gras sometimes gets a bad reputation as being some kind of drunken orgy or something. Well, people need to forget that because it isn't true. Sure, there was beer and other stuff to drink for our crowd if you wanted it, but you really don't have much time to drink. I'm a perfect example of that. I got thirsty, so I opened me a beer. I took about three sips of it and put it down, thinking I'd get the rest of it after the next float. Well, I got busy and forgot about it. I never saw it again. I did the same thing three or four times. I didn't see a single drunk person anywhere around us. Now the Quarter was a different story. Some of those people were drunk. No question about it. But all up and down St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, it was all mostly families and groups like us, and those people were not drunk.
I've got one more observation, and then I'm quitting this to go play with my beads awhile, see what Jeff put on the Web site from today, and then go to bed. We're leaving tomorrow morning to go home. This is about music. Two things. One. Every parade has a bunch of bands in it, and I think we only heard about three bands actually playing music in all the parades we saw. Now I know that a band can't play all the time. They probably don't know enough songs, for one thing, and that's got to be tiring, for another thing. But if a parade has thirty bands, and every one of them marches down the street just to drums, something's wrong. Two. The people about a half block down from us had this monster stereo with gigantic speakers, and they played music all day long. Loud. At first it was just jazz and Mardi Gras music and oldies, and that was fine. Then they started playing the music to the Chicken Dance. At first that was fine, too, and Cherie even taught us how to do it. We were dancing right there on the sidewalk, having a good time. Those people overdid it, though. The first thirty times you hear it, you think, That was fun, but let's give it a rest. After hearing it seventy-five times, you want to break the fucking CD.