Things just continued to get better as the holidays drew nearer. Mitchell and Tammy were seeing a lot of each other, and Alex and Jason spent the weekends together, almost always at our house. The boys had their little spats, just as all kids their age do. But the amount of love that was being shared among us was almost palpable. Mitchell became more and more comfortable with his relationship with the boyfriends, and the boyfriends grew closer and closer together. It was interesting as well as enjoyable for me to watch the love being shared between Mitchell and Tammy and compare it to the love that Alex and Jason shared. Except for their ages and the fact that one was boy/girl and the other boy/boy, I couldn't see much difference.
I tried to give Alex and Jason as much opportunity for privacy as possible because the biggest difference between them and the other couple was the fact that they couldn't share their love for each other in public. We all talked about this particular issue with Tammy joining in as well. It turned out her father was a lot like Tom, an outspoken critic of gays. This gave Tammy something in common with Mitchell, but she had always handled it differently, frequently getting into arguments with her father over the issue.
We ultimately agreed that at the age of 14 and in the environment of sometimes open hostility towards gays at the school the boys attended, coming out was not in their best interests. So when they were in public, they tried to act just like any other best friends. But when they were at home, I encouraged them to feel comfortable showing their affection for each other even in my presence. It took a while, but I was soon just as comfortable seeing Jason and Alex kissing as I was when I saw Tammy and Mitchell doing it.
There were still times, however, when the boys needed time to themselves, and this eventually posed an interesting dilemma. Initially, I had no problem when they wandered off by themselves to Jason's bedroom, especially when they left the door open. In those instances, I knew they just wanted to be left alone to share kissames and huggles. An open door invited interruptions. This was an advantage they had over Mitchell and Tammy who weren't allowed the same closed door privileges. But as they spent more and more time together over the next few weeks, I noticed that the door was closed more often than not.
The issue came to a head at Thanksgiving. With so many different families involved in our household, Thanksgiving Day itself was shared elsewhere, with other people. Mitchell spent most of the day with Tammy's family, Jason was at Alex's, and I went to my daughter's house to watch the Dallas Cowboys game, eat ham (she refuses to cook a turkey), and play with my granddaughter, Amber.
Friday saw the crowd at our house - Mitchell & Tammy, Jason & Alex, Nancy & John and little Amber. I suppose it was just as well that I spent most of the day in the kitchen preparing the traditional turkey dinner as my wife had taught me over the years. At least that way my feelings weren't hurt that the kids hogged Amber all day.
Nancy & John left with Amber around 8:30 and Mitchell took Tammy home about 9. When he and Tammy left, Alex got up from the floor in front of the TV and joined Jason on the couch. I have to admit that they were getting rather serious in their necking, and I was just about to say something when Mitchell walked in.
The youngsters stopped their kissing, but Alex remained practically laying on top of Jason until the two of them got up and headed off to bed. It was nice that Alex felt comfortable kissing me on the cheek just as Jason had, but I noticed Mitchell frowning after them as they trudged up the stairs, giggling at each other. I suppose the look on his face was the catalyst that made me finally admit we might have a problem.
"Are you thinking what I think you're thinking?"
"Are you thinking we might have a bit of a double standard here?"
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, that's exactly what I was thinking. I know I shouldn't be assuming anything, because maybe those guys aren't doing anything with each other yet. But they sure have an opportunity that you'd never let me and Tammy have. It doesn't seem fair."
"Yup. You're right. I've been thinking the same thing. It's just that I have a lot of mixed feelings about it myself. I'm not going to say anything to them tonight, but let me sleep on it and I'll talk with them tomorrow. Are you going to be home or out?"
"Robin Masters and I are going Christmas shopping at the mall. He's picking me up at 10."
"OK. Make sure you take money for lunch and don't plan on getting home before 2:00. Will that work for you?"
"Sure, Dad. No problem."
"You guys need to be home about noon for lunch. We have some things to talk about."
"Me too, Uncle Pop?"
"Yes, Alex, you too."
Shortly after 12 the boys came in all hot and sweaty, grass in their hair, mud on their shoes and their clothes a mess.
"You guys strip down to your shorts in the laundry room. No sense tracking that stuff all over the house just to bring it back downstairs again."
I could hear them giggling and jostling with each other as they disrobed, and it wasn't difficult to picture what was going on in that little room crowded with washer, dryer and piles of dirty clothes. They tried to whisper, but you know how 14 year olds do that - just slightly lower than normal voice level.
"Hey Alex, keep your hands to yourself. Hehehe"
"I'm just helping you get your pants off, silly. Hehehe"
"Well leave my shorts alone, grabber. They don't have grass stains on 'em."
"Oooh, is Jasony afraid I'll tickle his weenie? Hehehe"
"I'll tickle your weenie, smartass. Geez, you're all hands today."
"Well you were all mouth last night!"
"Alex! Hush! You want Dad to hear you?"
The following silence told me the boys must have thought I could hear them. And when they ran across the kitchen towards the stairs, they were showing that tell tale sign in their shorts that confirmed what they had been up to. Their showers took quite a long time, too.
As we were eating the turkey sandwiches I had prepared for lunch, I brought up the subject that I knew was not going to sit well with these guys. I guess you could say I set them up, or entrapped them. But what can I say? It's a parent thing.
"Jason, do you remember that talk we had a couple of weeks after the episode?"
"Sure, Dad. It really helped."
"And what was it you said about being normal?"
"I said Alex and I just wanted to be treated like normal people, that being in love with each other might be unusual but for us it was normal."
"When you said you guys wanted to be treated like normal people, I take it you meant you expect me to treat you just like I do Mitchell, right?"
"And you guys both like the fact that I treat your relationship the same way I treat Mitchell's and Tammy's?"
"Sure, Uncle Pop."
I sprung the trap.
"Then you won't have any problem with sleeping in separate bedrooms from now on when Alex spends the night."
I wish I'd had a camera ready. The expression on their faces was priceless, although not one that made me laugh.
"What are you saying, Uncle Pop? How come we can't sleep in the same bed?"
"You don't see me letting Mitchell invite Tammy to spend the night and share the same bed do you?"
"No, but that's different."
"How is it different."
"Well.... they're straight, Dad. They'd want to have sex."
"What does straight have to do with it? And are you telling me you guys aren't tempted to "have sex" as you put it?"
"But Tammy could get pregnant, Dad! Alex and I aren't gonna get pregnant! Besides, we don't f.... uh, I mean... uh... well you know what I mean."
"I'm glad you guys don't do what I think you think I know you mean," I said with a grin, although neither of the boys thought it was funny.
Jason went on with his defense.
"But, Dad, guys and girls aren't supposed to sleep together until their married. Alex and I aren't going to get married. We can't!"
This statement was followed by what is called a pregnant pause. As I looked on, the boys looked at each other, and I saw a tear form in the corners of their eyes. These guys had it bad for each other.
"I realize you can't go through a ceremony that's recognized by the state, guys. Even if you could you're too young anyway. But if your relationship lasts into adulthood, you can be married in your own eyes, if not the state's. Right now that's not the issue. Look, some things just can't be rushed. At 14 your hormonal growth is racing way ahead of your emotional growth. There's very little anyone can do about that. It's what puberty is all about. That's why we have to put some brakes in place along the way."
The stares the boys were giving me showed a mixture of emotion. I thought I could see apprehension, anger, confusion, and I'm sure frustration.
"Look, boys. Tammy's parents and I don't say no to Mitchell and Tammy having sex just because she might get pregnant. You know that. Heck, if that were the case, we'd just buy a case of rubbers and make sure they used them. You said it yourself, Jason. Guys and girls shouldn't start having sex until they're married. I know a lot of couples do now days, but they should still wait until they're old enough to understand and deal with the emotional consequences. The act of making love does just that. The very act of intercourse can heighten the feelings of love and commitment between two people who are already feeling that way about each other, or who are vulnerable for any reason."
"But Uncle Pop, we can't have intercourse! We don't have the right equipment!"
"That all depends on how you look at it, Alex. You're right that neither of you has the same equipment Tammy has, but there is more than one way to have intercourse. Even oral sex can be considered intercourse in terms of its affects on your emotions. And I'd rather not talk about the other type of sex you guys might ultimately be tempted to try."
Both boys turned bright red at that comment, and I'm admit I did too.
"Geez, Uncle Pop. Don't go there, OK?"
"Right. Now where was I? Oh yes. Any act of intimacy between two people, be it a boy and a girl or two boys, should be treated as sacred, the deepest sign of love for one another. Many straight couples feel that oral sex is the deepest sign of love they can give or receive because of the body parts involved, or the nature of the act. I would hope that you two would treat it the same way."
"But, Dad... Alex and I aren't going to do that just because we share the same bed. Lots of times we don't even beat... well, you know. Geez!"
"Jason, we might as well get used to using the words. I don't really care if you guys beat off together. We all do it. And you're going to do it alone, you might as well do it together. That's what the towels under the beds are for. But think about it. That's something you guys can do that Mitchell and Tammy can't."
"But making us sleep in separate bedrooms doesn't seem fair. It's like you're assuming we're going to have sex."
"I'm not assuming that, Jason. I just recognize the risk, the temptation that you'd be faced with. And it isn't like you guys won't have plenty of opportunity to hug and kiss and stuff. You'll still have the privacy of your bedroom before bed time as long as you leave the door open a crack. You said you wanted me to treat you like normal people, like I treat Mitchell. That's just what I'm doing. In my book, couples in their teens shouldn't be sleeping together. Whether it's a boy and a girl or two boys, or even two girls doesn't make any difference."
Alex's reaction to the finality that I just put to this issue was startling to say the least.
"Well FUCK YOU, Uncle Pop!"
"ALEX!" Jason yelled at him as he ran from the room and out the front door.
The look of anguish that Jason gave me hurt real bad. I mean, REAL BAD. Tears poured from his eyes as he rose slowly and left the room. I listened as he ran up the stairs and slammed his bedroom door behind him.
Well that went over rather well, I thought sarcastically.
I sat there a while longer and then went upstairs and began moving my things from the guest room down to the master bedroom. I hadn't felt comfortable moving into it before, but I no longer had a choice. Putting Alex in the guest room upstairs was still risky, but if they were going to have sex behind my back, there were plenty of other opportunities for it. And I wasn't about to turn the master bedroom into a guest room just for Alex.
"Oh! Hi Alex. You startled me."
"I'm sorry, Uncle Pop. I didn't mean to."
"That's alright. Are you OK?"
"Yessir. Are you mad at me?"
"I love you Alex. I was upset for a minute at what you said, but I could never stay mad at you for very long. Besides, I know how difficult things are right now."
Tears started leaking from his eyes and dripping down his cheeks as he stepped over and wrapped his arms around me.
"I'm sorry, Uncle Pop. I shouldn't have said what I did. We're lucky we have you."
I hugged my son's boyfriend without responding for a minute, feeling his tears soaking into my shirt.
"What do you mean. Alex? What's wrong?"
He stepped back and looked down at the floor as though he were embarrassed.
"I told my Dad what you said and how unfair I thought it was. He didn't take it very well. From what he said, I think he barely tolerates Jason and me. I mean our relationship. He said we were damn lucky that you let me sleep over here as often as you do, cause he didn't want my queer boyfriend sleeping over there."
As fresh tears poured down his cheeks, I fell onto my knees, both in sympathy for Alex and in shock at what his Dad had said. I reached out and pulled the boy to me and hugged him as hard as I could. I would not have expected his Dad to say something like that. I had always thought he was more comfortable with his son's love for Jason.
When we had both stemmed the tide of tears, I gave his back a final rub and pushed him back a little, holding him at arm's length.
"Why don't you go in and let Jason know you're here."
"Can I close the door?" he asked in a whisper and a sniff.
"We have to start sometime Alex. Leave it open just a crack. I won't bother you."
I watched as he walked to Jason's room and quietly opened the door. He turned and gave me a shy smile as he wiped his face with the back of his hand. At that moment, I thought he was a vision of loveliness, this boy of 14 who loved my son... well almost my son... sort of... kind of...
... to be continued
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