This story details explicit gay sex between men, teens and boys. If you find this kind of thing distasteful, or if you are underage wherever you live, then stop reading this now, and delete this file. The story is completely fictional; the author does not condone or encourage any of the acts contained herein.



Chapter 34

By: Tim Keppler

Two days later, Robbie is back at 4:30 precisely. He's ridden his bike from school, two miles away, and he's gotten here exactly on time. He has his last report card, homework for the week, a math quiz, and a biology exam. He is absolutely prepared, and his performance on the exams and homework is absolutely abysmal. The math test is incomplete. He didn't even finish it. The biology test has earned him a D. I can't help him much with biology, but Kenny can. He took Bio 126 at San Jose State a year or so ago. I can help him with the math, though, and that's how we spend the first half hour of our time. But the homework is also incomplete. He has a book report on A Tale of Two Cities that needs to be finished, a series of math equations that need to be completed, and an essay on Lincoln that needs to be written. His report card, by the way, is also a disaster. He has a B in English, C's in History and Civics, D's in Math and Biology, and an F in Physical Education. I don't give a damn about the F in PE. Hopefully it's an F because he didn't go at all. I never attended a single PE class after tenth grade. The high school principal told my mother toward the end of twelfth grade that I wouldn't graduate because my PE attendance was non-existent, and she promptly tore him a new one. My mother had quite a mouth on her, which is probably where I got it. "You're telling me that you're not going to graduate my fucking son because he never attended your fucking PE program, but he has A's in every other fucking course he took? I don't think so." I memorized that statement. It had three "fuckings" in one sentence, and I was so proud of her, so impressed. She was about 5'3" tall, and the principal was around 6'2". She was one fierce woman. My report card didn't list PE at all. They just wiped it off the books, and off my transcript for tenth through twelfth grade, and out of my GPA. It was as if they didn't even offer PE. One fierce woman. Even my father was afraid of her. She was so abrasive, she scared the neighbors.

After half an hour on math, and three quarters of an hour with Kenny on biology, Robbie came back to me. "Two days this week isn't going to do it, Robbie," I comment.


He nods.

"We've got papers to write and math homework to do. I think you'll need to come back tomorrow -- even though it's Saturday -- so we can get some of this done. In the mean time, what should we do about these grades? What would you do if your kid brought home grades like this?"

"I...umm...don't know."

"Oh, come on, Robbie. Is this good enough?"

"No," he whines.

Jason has just gotten home, and I motion him into the office. We kiss, and I introduce him to Robbie. "Do you remember the quarter when you were still at San Jose State when you got the four A's and a B+ in comp sci? I can't remember. What did we do that quarter?"

Jason thinks. "I think we went to Carmel for the weekend, didn't we, for the four A's? And...and...I think I got thirty strokes over two days with the razor strop for that B+. You were really pissed because it was a class in my major. I think that's right."

Neither of us is really clear, but that's as close as we come, and Jason goes off to make dinner. "So, what should we do about this?" I ask Robbie, waving his report card in the air. "I'm not big on retroactive punishment. It's not fair. We didn't have this deal when you were pulling these grades, but your tests this week are no better, and your homework isn't really even started. What should we do?"

Robbie is staring at the carpet, very forlorn. "I should be punished," he says, softly.

"I agree. How many?"

"I don't know," he whines, near tears, looking into my eyes.

"I don't either," I say. "If this were Jason's report card, you'd be getting so spanked. It'd take a couple of weeks for me to finish with your ass. But, I don't know you very well, yet. I don't know how much punishment you can take, and I don't know what you're capable of academically. Do you trust me?"

He nods.

"Then, let's play it by ear."

I lead him to the bedroom, and close the door. "I want you naked and on the bed, on your belly, facing the headboard. Now."

Robbie is clearly very embarrassed, but begins taking off his clothes, and once he's naked, he turns to me, covering his genitals. "Don't ever do that," I command. "You're naked because you need to feel vulnerable and exposed. I expect you to be exposed. Drop your hands to your sides."

He does, but moves at lightening speed to lay himself out on the bed.

"Wait," I say, and he stands before me, turned toward the bed. "Turn around," I tell him, and slowly he does, now fully exposed. I move toward the door, and call out. "Jase, can you come back for a minute?" Jason returns, and Robbie is mortified, standing naked in front of this guy he's only just met. "Could you drop your pants, please?" Jason nods, and does.

"I expect A's and B's from you right now, Robbie, not D's and F's. We're going to let it go this time, but if the next report card has a D or an F on it, part of your punishment will be to look like Jason, which is going to make your gym class a bit...embarrassing. I personally like Jason like this," I say, stroking his hairless pubis, "and I think he likes it, too," I say, looking at him quizzically. Jason nods. "But your straight buddies in gym class are going to wonder. I expect improvements." I reach over, kiss Jason, and smile. He pulls up his pants and leaves.

"Now, on your belly." Retrieving the razor strop from the cupboard, I lay into him slowly, and with only moderate force.

I should probably say that Robbie is very white, very pale. He's really cute, with shortish blond hair, and an almost perfect complexion. He's taller than I like, around 6' but very toned, probably from playing sports rather than spending much time at the gym. His ass quickly goes crimson as I spank him, and bruises quickly. He holds on for twelve strokes before breaking down, and he isn't sobbing until I've given him sixteen. To his credit, he doesn't move an inch as I spank him. He takes it well. Once he's sobbing, I return the razor strop to the cupboard, lift him off the bed, and carry him to the chair in the corner where I set him on my lap. His dick is hard, and that mortifies him, but he drapes himself over my shoulder and continues to sob for maybe another thirty minutes while I lecture him. "You can do better than this, Robbie. These grades are not acceptable. I want to see more effort, especially on your homework. I want you here at 10am tomorrow morning. I want to see significant progress on your book report, and on your essay. And if I don't see that, I'll spank you again. Do you understand?"

"Unh hunh," he whines. I hug him, and continue to hug him, and finally he settles down a bit. "You know you can do better than this, right?"


"I want to see that, Robbie," I say, stroking his back and kissing his hair. "I want to see improvement."

"Okay," he whines, and starts crying again.

"You okay?"

"He nods, and I keep hugging him. All told, we spend about an hour and a half in recovery time in the chair. I've already warned Kathy that he'd probably be home late on the first several sessions, and have asked Jason and Kenny to set an extra place at the table. After nearly ninety minutes I kiss him. He climbs off my lap and begins to dress. When he's dressed, he comes and hugs me. "Kenny was right. I do feel better. A lot better. Thank you."

"No problem. Let's get some food. Jason is cooking tonight, so it'll be the best Asian meal you've ever had. Why don't you go help them get it on the table?"

And that's what he does. What I'm hoping is that they'll bond. He's younger than Jason and Kenny, and lot less...mature. But there's common ground, at least in terms of their personalities.

"How'd it go?" Kenny asks when he sees him.

Robbie goes three shades of red. "It was...umm..."

"'Intense'?" Kenny suggests.

"Umm...yeah...at least."

"Yeah. Tim's nothing if not `intense,' and he's very focused on grades. He knows this is his own neurosis, but that doesn't seem to have changed anything." He laughs. "Tim got a bachelors degree with a 4.1 grade point average. The best that was possible at that time was 4.2, if you got an A+ in every class. He got an A+ in every class except European History because he fucked up a midterm. He answered the wrong set of questions because he didn't read the test instructions very carefully. He got a B+ on that midterm, and a mere A in the class. He's never gotten over that. If he hasn't set grade goals for you yet, he will, and he'll hold you to them, and if you don't meet them, well... Today is a sample," he giggles.

"Yeah," Jason laughs. "Any time Tim get's `focused' on something, you need to watch out. Don't get me wrong: I'm married to him; we both are. We adore him. But, if he's focused on you, your ass will be black and blue unless you perform. You'll have a lot of fun if he thinks you're working to your potential -- you'll have vacations, cool day-trips in places you've never been, you'll end up at the zoo or the Monterey Aquarium, and you'll get gifts. But if he thinks you're slacking, he'll...umm...wear you out. That B+ in comp sci was not fun, and I usually like to be spanked."

"How'd you meet him?" Robbie asks.

Kenny and Jason both laugh, and take him through the history.

"Wow! He sounds great!"

Kenny smiles. "He is great. He has made my life so much better, and me so much happier. But...umm...don't fuck with him. It's not a good thing to do. He's going to be pretty clear about what he wants from you. You're going to need to find a way to satisfy him, or else."


After two weeks Robbie is starting to make some progress. His homework is getting done on time, the scores on quizzes and tests are rising steadily, and the e-mail comments I get from his teachers are all positive. His ass is a mess, and he's gotten a number of comments about it, he tells me, from classmates in his PE class, which he's started attending, to my surprise. I never discussed the F in PE because I don't give a damn about PE, but I did tell him that if he had any D's or F's on his next report card he'd end up with no pubic hair. He's trying to avoid that, I think, although I'm not sure he'll have time to redeem himself in Biology and Math, both of which were D's last term. His performance has come way up, thanks to a lot of help from both Kenny and me, but we only started working with him in the middle of the current term. He missed a lot of homework and messed up a lot of exams before that time. I'll cut him some slack for PE, but not for his academic subjects. He's going to have to pull off an absolutely miraculous turnaround, or I'll see him shaved.

These past two weeks he's been coming daily rather than twice a week, which was my initial plan. He seems to concentrate better here than either at his own home or at school. We've put such an emphasis on stress reduction in this country that we've failed to keep in mind the benefits of a little stress. When Robbie is here, spanking is constantly in the back of his mind. That's a pretty good motivator for performance, although I think, like Jason and Kenny, he's starting to want to be spanked. It reinforces what he's doing. But there are spankings and there are spankings. As reinforcements for reasonable performance, the spankings are fairly mild, designed for emotional release. As punishment, which is where we were at the beginning of these two weeks, they were designed to be unpleasant. We're past most of that now, I hope, and his spankings have been rather tame. Like Jason and Kenny, he likes an excuse to cuddle and cry, and his recovery times are quite long, which is fine. This is a boy who has never really had a father, and his mother has been somewhat distant. I think he's longed for someone to just hug him, but can't, of course, ask for that. The spanking gives him an excuse.

By week three, we have an A on a biology exam, an A- on a math exam, and B+ on a history essay. He gets dinner and a movie with Mom for those two A's, and three extra strokes on his next spanking for that B+. "You write very well, and have a knack for thorough research," I tell him. "A B+ isn't good enough." He nods sadly, but takes his punishment well, and continues to work diligently. By week four, we have another A, this time on a Civics exam, but his history grade has slipped to a C from a B+ on a previous test. He gets another dinner out with his Mom and two friends, and an extra spanking for the C, and this spanking is not intended to give him an emotional release. It's designed to punish, and it does. The last five strokes draw screams, and he sobs for a full hour and a half. "You need to do better than this, Robbie, much better. We know you can do better, because you've done it before; you've done much better. How much pain will this take?" He sobs, and sobs, and hugs me, and sobs, and I just hold him. "Get on with it, boy!"

In week five, report cards come out, and Robbie has a B in English, a C- in biology, a C+ in math, a B in History, and a B- in Civics. This is progress. Real progress. But, I'm not going to sell it to him that way. I'm going to sell it to him as a mixed bag, and I call Kathy to sell it the same way. The last thing I need is for her to gush, but I really am very pleased. "So, English has stayed the same, biology and math have improved by a grade, and Civics and History have improved by a grade. I'd hoped for better, Robbie."

He starts to cry, and I let him dissolve. I let him sob. "I'm going to punish you for these grades, because they're not good enough. You can do better." Long pause. "But...this is after only five weeks. Five fucking weeks," I scream. "Where are we going to celebrate?"

He's absolutely stunned. He has no idea what to say. I'm fucking elated, and he has no idea what to say. "You only get a weekend. This isn't good enough for a full-blown vacation. But it's fucking damned good. Where are we going?"

"Umm..." Through his tears. "Could we go to Calistoga? I've been reading about their mud baths. And there's a good seafood restaurant I'd like to go to, and...umm...could I take my friend Vincent?" Is this boy gay or what?

"Yes," I scream. "We can do that."

"And...umm...could this be you, me, and Vincent? I, sort of, don't want my Mom..."

"I'll have to check with your Mom, but I don't think she'll have a problem with that. But...if you don't use a condom I will kick your fucking ass. Are we clear on that, clear on what it would mean to have me kick your ass after the damage I've done to it already?"

He's choking on tears, of happiness, of sadness, of fear, of anticipation. But he's also laughing. And he's beet red. "I...umm...get it," he chokes.

"I mean it, Robbie. I'm not kidding. You WILL get it if I find out..."

"Okay," he says, quickly, still flushed.

"Do you love him, this Vincent?"

"I don't know" he says, looking sheepish.

"Do you want to fuck him, or is this something he wants?"

"Umm...he's been pretty...insistent."

"Baby, you're going to do what you're going to do, but please...don't let yourself be pressured into sex...with anyone. I mean, kiss, and cuddle, and pet each other all you want, but please don't do anything you're not sure about. Do you know, I've only ever been with five guys in my life? And I'm a little ashamed about two of them." He is aghast. "We aren't all promiscuous, you know. I've always felt that if you're going to do something as intimate as fucking -- or kissing, for that matter -- it should be with someone you love, someone you're sure you love. I haven't always been sure, but I have been lucky. I don't want to see the regret in your eyes if this doesn't work out. Please be strong."

And then he leans forward and kisses me. "Thanks, Tim. I wasn't sure I wanted to do this. Now I'm sure I don't. Can we change our plans? I'd still like to go to Calistoga, but...umm...I'd like to go with you and Jason and Kenny."

I smile, and kiss him back. "Yeah, I think we can do that. And maybe we can give your Mom a consolation prize by getting her to take care of the boys for the weekend. She has a major crush on Kai. Kai will be majorly jazzed. She's not allergic to cats, is she?"

He shakes his head.

"Good. I'll give her a call. Maybe she can come here. The cat will not like displacement. The smells in your house will be wrong. Kai won't like it much either," I say, giggling. "But if she's willing to come here, that'll be perfect. Let me see what I can work out with her."

He leans forward and kisses me again, looking deeply into my eyes. This is getting complicated -- not that complications are bad. They're just...well...complicated.


Kathy agrees to the trip, delighted in the improvements in Robbie's grades. Robbie I spank within an inch of his life, and he sobs piteously for the bad grades. Kath agrees to babysit, and to house sit, and comes over two days later to get the lay of the land. Jason has made dinners for the two days we'll be gone. All she needs to do is heat them up. Kevin is a fruit-hound, he tells her with Kevin in the room, and he does not get his banana or sliced mango unless he eats his dinner. "Clear?" Jason asks Kevin, sounding remarkably like me. He nods solemnly, and Jason winks at Kathy. "He'll be fine," he whispers, "but don't cut him any slack." She smiles. That's going to be a tall order, because he and Kai are just so damned cute, and this woman is just so susceptible to cuteness. It's the trouble she's with Robbie.

We stay at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs, one of the cheaper places for mud baths in Calistoga, but the place that Robbie zeroed in on. They have a mineral pool, which is just lovely, and buoyant. It sort of makes you float, and is very invigorating. We go swimming at 11pm naked, and it is just amazing. I'm not sure Robbie has ever been skinny-dipping before, but he is tonight, and doesn't seem too self-conscious. The next morning, we have breakfast at a restaurant three doors down from Dr. Wilkinson's. The doctor is there -- at the counter. I'm not convinced that Dr. Wilkinson is really a doctor. I am convinced that he got his nose caught in a bee-hive, though. It has a lumpy look that seems like it was painful once. He is a jovial old fellow, though, and once he discovers we're staying at his spa, he is all smiles, outlining the history of the town, of the spa, of the healing waters, of everything -- except his nose. Breakfast is excellent. The omelets are wonderful, and cheap, and the prompt service gives us plenty of time to make our 11am appointment at the spa.

So, this is Robbie's reward, but he hasn't, apparently, researched it enough to know that he's going to be naked in a room with Kenny, Jason and me, naked for about two hours. His mud-boy is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen, and catches Robbie's attention instantly, and mine. He's Hispanic, about 5'7", very tan, and has just the quality of skin that I love. He's gorgeous. Mine is very plain. But, ultimately, it doesn't really matter, does it? It's not like I'm going to fuck him, and I get to stare at Robbie's mud boy even though he's not shoveling the peat on me. ­­­­­­­­­­­You buy a package at this spa, and the package we bought is for up to 30 minutes in the steam room (if you can last that long), a mud bath, and a 30 minute massage. The steam room is communal, and we're in there with about four others besides us. Robbie is very self-conscious, very flushed, but doesn't cover himself, to his credit. In reality, the other four guys, all in their forties and fifties, are way more interested in Kenny and Jason, who are shaved, than in Robbie, who is not. The novelty of it intrigues them, apparently. One of them finally asks Jason why he shaves down there, and Jason giggles. "Because he likes it," he says, pointing to me, "and because it feels really good. It makes you a lot more...umm...sensitive." This is way too much information for this guy, and he goes back to talking to his friends.

After about 20 minutes of this, I've had enough. It's just way too hot in here, and I make for the door, with Robbie, Kenny and Jason following. As you leave, your mud boy gives you a towel and leads you to your tub. It's still very warm in the mud room, but it feels cold after the steam room, so you want to get into your tub as quickly as you can because you're chilled. The mud boys have been turning the mud in the tub to ensure it's soft and squishy, and when you get in, you sink very, very slowly to the bottom. It's sort of like quicksand. You have to work your way into it. It's very warm, very nearly too hot, and as you sink into it, your mud boy dabs a bit of salve along your upper lip, just under your nose. The salve smells like lavender, which is good because the mud smell like...shit. The mud boy then redistributes the mud, taking mud at your sides, or at your feet, or between your legs, and, with a big ladle, scoops it on top of you. The Hispanic boy seems especially attentive to his work, I notice, smiling at Robbie as he redistributes the mud. I later learn from Robbie that he was feeling him up as he redistributed his mud, a claim that made sense when I recalled that Robbie's mud boy wasn't using a ladle; he was scooping with his hands. Robbie seemed to enjoy it, so what's the problem?

You remain, submerged in mud right up to your chin, for about forty minutes, and the nice part is that, because there are four of us, we fill every tub in the mud room. Basically, we have this place all to ourselves (except for the mud boys), and don't have to wonder how something we might say affects other clients. Robbie and I are next to each other in the two tubs in front, and Kenny and Jason are behind us, although we're facing them. "Is your dick hard?" Kenny asks me. "My dick has been hard since the minute I hit this mud. Is that one of the benefits of the treatment?" he asks.

I giggle. "Are you doing anything to...umm...exacerbate that problem?" a question which has everyone in the room, including the mud boys, doubled over with laughter.

"It's the Hispanic guy, not the mud, that's causing his condition," Jason says with a big grin. "He doesn't need to exacerbate." The Hispanic mud boy is three shades of red, as is Kenny, but everyone is smiling and laughing. This is, apparently, a very gay-friendly mud bath.

After about forty minutes, during which I begin to fall asleep, held in very comfortable suspension by the mud, the mud boys begin to rouse us. The challenge now is to get up and out of this mud, not because we're groggy, but because moving in this mess is quite difficult, surprisingly difficult. You have to work at it. We're finally up, though, and make our way to the showers. Now the challenge is getting the mud off.

Mud, I suppose, is a fairly interesting substance. Until now, I've never really thought about it. Kenny cooked a Thanksgiving turkey that was absolutely encrusted in ground black pepper. When we cut into it, we had to break that pepper crust. That's how I feel. And my mud crust is fibrous. It's as though there's sawdust mixed in with the mud, which sort of makes sense. Mud is, after all, decomposing organic matter, which is not a thought I want to pursue right now. All I know is, it's hard to get it washed off -- for Robbie and me, at least. Why? Because we have body hair, and the fibrous bits get stuck in it. Jason and Kenny are in and out of the shower in minutes, but I find myself having to untangle the hairs in my ass-crack to get the mud out of them, and that's not nearly the biggest area of difficulty. Robbie makes it out of the shower in about double the time of Kenny and Jason, and I'm next, still later.

As an aside, I should add that I'd considered shaving my own body, like I ask Jason and Kenny to do. What put me off the idea is the magnitude of the task. Caucasians have a lot more hair than Asians. We have leg hair, ass hair, and of course pubic hair, not to mention armpit hair. Some guys even have back hair. Chinese guys are a lot less hairy. Jason just has pubic hair and armpit hair, and that's it. That's a whole lot more manageable. What really stopped me though was Kenny, and later Jason, who both told me that they're turned on by a little...hairiness. I'm not especially hirsute, but to the extent that I am, they found it attractive. Given that they shave because that's the appearance I find most erotic, I see no reason to disappoint them.

Having all, by now, finally emerged from the shower, we're ushered off to our massages, and here again, it's a group grope -- six massage tables in a single room. The "massage therapists," as they're called, are all men (allowing for nudity, I suppose), and all seem competent. I have to confess that I judge massages by a massage I had years ago in Thailand. My then boyfriend and I ordered a masseur to come to our hotel and massage us both. Two hours for the equivalent of $20. My boyfriend had a traditional Thai massage where they walk on your body. I couldn't do that because I was so completely sun burnt from snorkeling that I couldn't stand to be touched in that way. I got a more American oil massage, with a lot of oil, and Christ was he good at it. The lady at the front desk had asked us, with a smirk, whether we wanted a masseur or masseuse. We giggled and said we'd prefer a masseur. She nodded, knowingly. I was not naked during the massage. I had on a pair of shorts. But it was difficult to keep this guy focused on what he could see versus what he could not. I mean, I loved having my ass massaged, but when I flipped over? Oh...my...god...

At the end of the massage, we're led back to the men's locker room, where we dress, still a little oily, and leave. It has been a really, really enjoyable two hours. On the way out, I lean over and kiss Robbie on the cheek, something that surprises him given that he's still pretty deeply in the closet. But then, he stops in the street, reaches behind my neck, and pulls me into a really sensuous kiss, and a pretty good kiss at that. This time it's my turn to be surprised. "That was nice," I say, a little dazed.

"Bet you weren't expecting it, hunh?"


"Yeah. It felt really good. It felt really...umm...liberating."

"Good." Long pause. "So, is there anywhere else you'd like to go while we're here?"

"No," he says with a giggle. "Let's just wander around. But...umm...could we stop in Santa Rosa on the way home?" He hands me a 3"X5" card with a hand-written address on it. "I'd like to go here."

"What's this?"

"You'll see," he tells me.

I shrug. "Okay."

Dinner is great. We eat at the California Culinary Academy, a place I've read about for years, but never been to. It has very good food, and is quite experimental. Robbie is captivated.

"Would you like to be a chef?" Jason asks him.

"I've...umm...sort of thought about it."

"Do you cook much now?" Jason asks.

"I don't really have a chance," Robbie responds.

"Wanna try your hand at it?"

"Umm...yeah. But...how?"

"Well...we eat," Jason responds. "Kenny and I are the cooks at our place. Maybe Tim'd let you cook, too. Kev is a very tough food critic, though," he says, giggling, and Kenny cuffs him, laughing.

"I'd love that," he says. "Could you teach me?" he asks Jason.

"Yeah. Sure. If it's alright with Tim."

I nod. This is more direction than I've gotten from Robbie since I met him. This is my carrot, and I've been looking for one. I've had a stick from the beginning. Always look for a carrot and a stick, positive and negative reinforcement. I'm set. I've always used sex as the positive reinforcement in past relationships, but I can't really do that in this case. Sure, I'm attracted to Robbie, but I'm not going to have sex with a teenager, even if he wanted me to, which I don't think he does, thankfully. Cooking is the answer. We can even invite his Mom to the dinners.

"Cool," Robbie says, smiling broadly. Jason has struck a nerve. Excellent!

Santa Rosa is all of about twenty miles from Calistoga, and it takes all of about twenty minutes to get there. We leave the next day around 3pm, and get to the address on Robbie's card at around 3:30pm. He's excited, but I'm not sure where we are. It looks like a tattoo parlor. "Where've you brought us, Robbie?"

"Umm...Tim...I'd like to...umm...get my...nipples pierced."

All of us -- Jason, Kenny and I -- look at him for a long, long moment. I don't know what to say. I honestly have no idea. Finally, still staring at him I say probably the most stupid thing I could say. "Umm...won't that hurt?"

"Probably. But I want to do it anyway."

Typically, I say really stupid stuff like this to earn myself time to figure out something better to say, something that makes sense. But, nothing more intelligent comes to mind. "They're going to want a parent's authorization, Tim, because I'm under 18. My Mom wouldn't give it. She...umm...didn't like the idea."

I nod. I see where this is going.

"But she'll never see them...the piercings...she'll never...know."

After what seems like an eternity, during which I'm weighing my options, I finally look into his eyes. "If this were an eyebrow, or your nose, I'd refuse. Your nipples seem pretty intimate, though. Your next report card had better be really good, because you're asking for a down payment on it. Okay, Robbie. If this is what you want."

He is overjoyed, nearly beside himself with excitement. We get out of the car and make our way into the shop. A girl with more metal than flesh on her meets us at the counter. I sure as hell hope she doesn't travel much, because she's going to set off every metal detector she encounters, and that's only for the piercings we can see. How many others...? No, I don't want to go there."

Robbie tells her what he wants, and she nods, matter-of-factly. She can do it, and she can do it now, before his fear overtakes him. "Are you his father?" she asks. I nod. This is my role. Robbie fills out a form, I sign it, and he selects his jewelry -- small, gold captive-bead hoops, probably ˝ inch in diameter, identical to the one I wear in my right ear. Years ago, when I was still in college, a girl friend convinced me to get my ear pierced. Which one, I'd asked? She'd explained that the right ear was the gay ear, and the left was the straight ear. Being an out-and-proud gay guy, I'd had the right ear pierced. Who made these rules? I had no idea. But I followed my heart and had it done. Now, here I was again, but with very different piercings.

The girl, Annie, takes us to a room in the back -- very white, very sterile. She puts on a mask and latex gloves, and asks Robbie to take off his sweater and shirt, and to lie down on a very medical-looking table. "You okay?" she asks. He nods, confidently. "I want you to breathe evenly," she tells him, and he does.

She does it as fast as I've ever seen anything done in my life. She does it faster than a speeding bullet, which is a very good analogy. She's obviously done this before, been through this before. She uses hollow needles. "18 gauge," she tells me. And she does not pause between the two nipples. She pierces the first, leaving the needle in place, and then pierces the second. Only then does she go back to insert the jewelry. After the first piercing, Robbie grabs my hand and squeezes very hard. This has to hurt, but he is determined.

"I would have expected you to pierce the first nipple, insert the jewelry, and then move to the second nipple. Why'd you do both piercings first and then insert the jewelry?"


"Because it hurts," she says, "and some people lose their nerve after the first one. I've found it's better to get the pain out of the way up-front, and to mount the jewelry later. Inserting the jewelry doesn't hurt at all." She is very wise about this, and Robbie is very happy, almost euphoric. It's those damned endorphins. She gives him a quick kiss, and a small bag of sea-salt in which to soak his piercings, though how he's going to do that beats the hell out of me. And then she sends us on our way, $150 lighter.


"Okay, Robert, my friend," I say. "You'd better keep those nipples out of sight of your Mom, lest she come and kick my ass."


He giggles. "And she would."


"Oh, yes. I know. I remember her well."



We make our way home, arriving at around 4pm. Kevin and Kai are in the living room building a fort with their blocks, and Kathy is in my office, doing e-mail. The minute the boys see us, Kai latches onto my leg, and Kevin launches himself into Kenny's arms, screaming. Kathy comes out of the office to meet us, hugging her son affectionately. He cringes. It's a little too soon to make physical contact with his chest. "Hey, babe," she says. "How was it?"

"It was majorly fun," he responds. "We got steamed, got muddy, and got rubbed. Oh, yeah... I guess we got naked, too," he giggles.

"Umm...yeah... I assume you'd need to do that to do all of the rest," she laughs. And, then she stuns all of us: "Did you manage to get the mud out of your pubic hair?"

I just flat out start to laugh, and Robbie goes three shades of red. Kathy is smiling so broadly that I have to believe she's planned this. Kenny and Jason are initially stunned, and then they break into peals of laughter, which confuses Kevin and Kai, who don't really know what pubic hair is.


"Do I gather that you've done the mud bath thing before?" I ask.

She nods. "Yeah," she says. "It's sort of hard to get it off, isn't it?"

I've never seen a boy as crimson as Robbie. "Umm...yeah...I guess," he says, and Jason and Kenny explode in laughter once again. What is it about teenage boys and their parents? Their capacity for embarrassment seems infinite. I was certainly embarrassed by mine, and you can tell from their laughter that Jason and Kenny had the same experience. Robbie isn't laughing. He's simply mortified, so appalled by his mother that he can barely speak.

"Kathy, I believed you've embarrassed the boy," I say with a giggle.

"Apparently," she laughs. Robbie is just so cute standing there, beet red.

Finally, Jason rescues him, giggling furiously, dragging him off to the kitchen, and Kenny herds Kai and Kevin off to the living room to complete their fort. Kathy and I move to the office where she shuts down her e-mail session. "How was it?" she asks me.

"It was fun. I think Robbie had a great time. We swam a bit, and, of course, enjoyed the mud bath. And then we kicked around Calistoga. Did you know that Robbie wants to learn to cook?"


"Actually, he thinks he might want to become a chef."

"Really? That's news."

"Yeah. I think we should use this as a reward for good performance. If he keeps getting good grades, Jason and Kenny can teach him how to cook. And, I think you should plan to join us for dinner when he does cook."

"I can do that. Actually, I'd love to do that. Anything that keeps me out of the kitchen is fine by me... Umm...Tim...is...Robert...umm...gay?"

I give her a long look, and then hold up a finger, indicating that she should wait, and leave the room, returning in about fifteen seconds with a confused Robbie. Closing the door, I motion him into the chair next to his mother, and plunk down behind the desk. I wait. No one speaks. Kathy looks embarrassed. Finally, I look at Kathy and say "Umm...Kath...can you repeat the question."

Robbie looks even more confused, and Kathy stares at the carpet. Finally, she looks up at Robbie, and asks "Are you gay, Robert?"

Now Robbie flushes, staring at the carpet. "Umm...yeah, I think so," he says, quietly, so quietly that he can almost not be heard.

Kathy stares at him, stares through him. I can see her mind grinding away on this, but have no idea what she's thinking, no idea what she's feeling. Her face is absolutely blank. After what must be two minutes, maybe more, I break the silence. "What's that mean to you, Kathy?"

She's startled, looking at me abruptly, and then she starts to cry, covering her face with her hands. Robbie looks very sad, close to tears. I can't let this go on. "What's that mean to you, Kathy?" I ask again, passing her a box of Kleenex.

She takes the box, pulls out several tissues, and mops her tears. Then she looks at Robbie, and her expression modulates quickly. You can see exactly what she's thinking, what she's feeling. She goes from sadness to panic to anger to sadness...and then to love. In the course of perhaps fifteen seconds, she moves through a panoply of emotions, and at the end of it, all you see is adoration for this boy. And as she's moved through her feelings, Robbie has moved through his, from sadness to fear to hope, and back to sadness. Finally, he looks up into her face, and when their eyes meet she starts to cry again. "I don't care," she chokes. "It doesn't matter to me. I don't care why you think you know you're gay. If YOU think you are, then you are. I love you Rober...umm...Robbie. Nothing has changed about that. Nothing has changed about anything. I love you..." Then she dissolves. Getting up from her chair, she takes his hand and pulls him out of his chair, pulls him onto his feet and hugs him. "Be who you are, baby," she whispers, and they hug for several minutes, rocking back and forth. And as they hug, I make my escape, leaving them to it. I make my way to the kitchen, a little teary-eyed myself.

"Where's Robbie," Jason asks. "He was cutting up Gai Lan."

"Put it on hold, Jason," I say, hugging him. "He just came out to Mom. They're drowning each other in there," I say, nodding toward the office.

He looks at me, surprised, and then looks worried. "How'd it go?"

"Very, very well."

He smiles. "Good. Good for him."

I think it will be -- good for him.

Published first at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nemo-stories/