This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story about relationships between and among teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.
If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.
Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.
Chapter 95 -- Adventures in Learning
I find it hard to believe that it was just two days ago when we decided to tell Rocco's family about our relationship. And if Rocco's emotions were on a yo-yo the previous week, they were on a roller coaster for these two days. But in spite of all the exhaustive and contentious confrontations, it was almost like Rocco seemed somehow restored. Until now I had not fully realized how greatly this whole problem with his family had been sapping him. But now he was mostly back to his usual cheerful self. (OK, with his usual touches of occasional melancholy. But that is the White-boy I've learned to love).
He was sure buoyant walking across the airport terminal. And so was I. I was wondering if we really needed a plane to get us off the ground. The entire thing was a big adventure. I had never been to an airport before let alone on a plane. A new adventure. A new life together. The future looked bright. (And I promised Rocco I'd stop thinking like a colored boy).
One of the last things we did last night was to say good-by to Joey. He was real curious when he realized that we were both going to be roommates in college.
He remarked: "It seemed to me that I've so rarely seen you two apart in the past couple years. So it just don't surprise me none that you chose to go to the same college. If anything surprises me is that a colored boy I know is going to college at all!"
I asked him about Gina, originally his sister`s best girlfriend. They'd been dating for the past year
Rocco remarked to Joey that Gina was a fortunate girl to get such a caring guy. "I still vividly remember the first time I played basketball with you. You never got upset when I played so poorly. In fact you just tried to show me the right way to shoot and move with the ball. I was so scared when I realized that my big mouth got me to play into a game that I was so bad at."
Joey smiled and replied: "And that's what I keep realizing about you. All the obvious things you seem totally unconcerned about. While things that nobody else gives a hoot, you are so passionate about. My Mom still thinks you are the strangest boy she's ever known."
And of course we had to say good-by to their cat Sheba. Joey's parents wished us both good luck. And they were very sincere about it. I could feel the good feelings all around just being in their house. This is the way families should be.
I was wondering about if Joey ever suspected about the true relationship about Rocco and me. I knew I'd tell him some day, but that day was not now.
On the way across the terminal I could feel the perceptible bulge made by the twelve 1000 dollar bills that Rocco had pinned (twice) to the inside of my undershirt. We hadn't raided my trust yet but we did empty our bank account. We were going to get traveler's checks, but they were purchased at a different window at the bank where we had our account. And could you believe it. The bank closed while we were between windows! Rocco almost made a scene. The situation did seem a bit ludicrous, but there was nothing to do. No one would budge. And we never did get another chance to get to a bank again.
The day we left for the airport was a major exercise in rushing `city style.' Although we were `rushing,' rushing through downtown city traffic consisted of periods of movement interspersed with so many stops, that as Mrs. W was fond of saying, it would test the patience of all the saints in heaven.
And to make matters worse, we had shaved off some of the important cushion of time by Rocco's insistence on seeing our old principal, Father McNeil. We had to pay the cab extra to wait. The rationale of just why he had to do this escaped me entirely. And I told Rocco that his action was purely the product of perversity.
Rocco answered: "Definitely not. There is real purpose here. I want to dent, as much as possible, Father McNeil's attitude of superiority. His assumption that he and his Church are so infallible. I would like, if possible, make him have some doubts."
"And how are you going to do this?"
"Well, remember about a month before school ended when I was asked to see him? That was a few days after the awards ceremony for the top twelve graduates in our class."
"How can I ever forget! I was 13th!" I couldn't stop showing Rocco that this still rankled a bit.
Rocco continued: "Well, I found out later that he had seen a number of students that various priests at the school had assumed were of . . . let me see if I can remember his words,. . . sufficient moral character, and thought to have sufficient spirituality,. . . that we were asked if we perhaps had thought we might have a vocation to be a priest. Those weren't the exact words, but you get the idea. I was severely annoyed."
"And I never completely understood why. You talked about this when it happened, and I still don't completely understand what you got so all fired upset about. In fact I thought you should have been proud that they thought you such a great person."
"But don't you see? They were so wrong in their judgment! I couldn't possible have ANY vocation to be a priest. I'm no longer even Catholic."
"So what does that have to do with your being so annoyed?"
"Because they can never admit that ANY of their judgments concerning religion could be flawed."
"Well, White-boy, I know why you're really doing this. To satisfy your own need to shock somebody. And just to get a rise out of him."
Rocco, I could tell, thought about this a bit and remarked: "Well, I think your partly right after all. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure of all my motivations myself." Then he got this big smile. "But I'm sure going to enjoy it!"
We joked about it the rest of the way to the school. Class was in session and so Father McNeil would hopefully be available to see Rocco. I was NOT going in with him. Rocco tried to get me to come with him for additional shock value, but I was adamant. "No. Definitely not."
Rocco wasn't gone long.
As we were headed downtown to the airport I asked Rocco how Father McNeil reacted.
Rocco was smiling as he answered: "It was satisfying. I think I truly shocked him. The expression on his face helped at least a bit to get back at having to live the big lie. He seemed genuinely glad to talk to me, and asked why the visit. I mentioned I was about to fly off to Washington to start college and we exchanged the usual congratulations and stuff. Then I handed him a copy of that letter that I wrote about being a homosexual. The original."
Rocco described what went on next.
"Father I wanted you to have this letter."
He took the sheet of paper. And then looked up. "What's this?" He probably only read a few sentences when he said: "I don't understand. This was that letter someone put into our school paper a couple of years ago."
"Actually Father, what you have in your hand is not the letter put into the paper. This is in fact the original draft of that letter. There are a few minor differences."
"But how did you get it? Are you telling me you know who put this into our paper?"
"What I'm telling you is that I wrote this letter!"
His eyes went wide: "But you've always been one of the most religious students we. . . But you couldn't have. . ." That was all he got out. He was finally realizing just what I was saying.
"I could and I did. And I would still like to think that I still am one of the more religious students you had. But even if I'm not, I just wanted you to hear me on this, now that I can't be chastised for my views. You have no idea how much suffering many of us go through because of the uncaring, intolerant, and even sometimes hateful attitude the Catholic Church has towards all of us who are homosexual. And worst of all, you try to steal God from us. I just wanted you to know."
"But this is so wrong. It's immoral. It is our duty to teach proper morality to our students."
"Your first duty is to love. That includes us students who may even be gay. Your second duty is to inform us. This you refuse to do. Fortunately someone else did it for you. Someone else put that in the school paper; I didn't have the courage. But I was glad it happened. And as far as instructing us in the morality or immorality of homosexuality, I simply do not believe as you do. You're wrong. By you I mean the Catholic Church. The Church has been so wrong on so many things in the past, I decided that I'd be much better off coming to my own conclusions. And I'll let God judge me. Not you, and definitely not the Catholic Church."
He started saying a number of things but finally settled on: "Well, I'll be praying for your soul."
"And Father, I'll be praying for you. I wonder who will have much more to answer for."
"Jade, his expression was as good as I'd hoped for!" Rocco kept chuckling all the way to the airport.
We checked our luggage and made our way toward the proper gate. The place was huge. We stopped at a long series of floor to ceiling windows and watched the planes take off. After buying a couple snacks, we finally made our way to our gate and took a seat. We had about a half hour wait.
When the flight was called we cued up and gradually made our way to the desk where they examined our tickets. I had mine in one of my hooks. And what a fuss one of the attendants made of my hooks. For a moment there I thought he was going to make me take them off. Rocco was getting exasperated. There was somehow some new rules just put into effect. Someone had determined that all dangerous objects had to be stored away. And now someone was trying to decide if my hooks constituted a dangerous object.
Rocco finally said: "OK, Jade will take them off, but a stewardess will have to feed him." He tried to keep a blank face but eventually he couldn't stop chuckling. Finally some higher-up came over and apologized about everything and assured me that I certainly didn't have to be inconvenienced. Rocco said that we already had been. But I said it didn't really matter. For me it all just blended in under the category of adventure.
I had never flown before and that alone brought excitement. We boarded the huge, brand-new, Boeing 727 and I was happy to take a window seat. I told Rocco he could have it but he insisted. And I guess a tiny bit of selfishness crept in and I didn't argue with him. Well, we could always exchange seats later. I looked out the window and was quite puzzled.
"Rocco, where're the engines? The wings have no engines!"
Rocco laughed. "Well they just use this super big bungee." At my continued confusion he relented. And pointed. "Back there. They're at the back of the plane."
It seemed like forever before we got to the moment of take off. The stewardess had to go through a big talk about emergency devices and exits and all that. Then we must have traversed the entire airport. Then the engines were revved up and I was surprised at the noise, and then made anxious by the sudden acceleration. I looked out as we left the ground and experienced a moment of `scardness.' But as we climbed over the city and the Delaware River below I was mesmerized. Rocco was leaning over my seat to look out and he had this look of pure wonder on his face. He mentioned a few times that he was slightly afraid of heights but gave no indication now as we gained the sky and everything was reduced to miniature. It reminded me a bit of a train set I had many years ago. Then we were trying to figure out where out neighborhood might be but we had turned in the wrong direction for that. But he did see the Tacony-Palmyria Bridge where it seemed like decades ago Rocco and I had tossed off a tailpipe to figure out how high we were from the river. Now it looked like a big shiny brown snake.
Mama I hope you're watching. I am so happy. Who could have believed this just four years ago. I tried to hide an errant tear, but my White-boy saw and wiped it away. I told him the cause. We both smiled and had to resist hugging each other.
After we leveled off and seatbelts were unbuckled, Rocco leaned way over and looked back.
"What are you looking at?" I asked.
Rocco gave me one of his patented sly grins and said: "I just wanted to make sure that all the cans and the just married sign were still attached to the back of the plane."
I laughed at the image but wondered if indeed, Rocco had gone off the deep end. "Rocco, that was a year ago."
"I know, but this feels like a honeymoon anyway."
The meal they served was also an adventure. I asked for a straw since I couldn't pick up the flimsy cup without spilling it. I guess I should have brought my handled one. And my hooks weren't designed with cheap plastic forks in mind. But I was so elated by the trip and everything else, these things weren't even annoying. In fact we kept laughing about the humor of the situation. By the time we landed I think the business man next to us was glad to be free of two giggling kids.
We landed in Chicago, and then in Minneapolis with a couple hours layover. Here we got onto a smaller plane which had the engines where they were supposed to be. Fortunately, the clouds we encountered over Ohio were pretty well thinned out by now. We both definitely wanted to see the glory of the Rocky Mountains. We weren't disappointed. They unfortunately handed out packages of peanuts and I thought Rocco was going to have a conniption. In fact he did get sick for a while and he lost the previous lunch in the men's room. The stewardess wouldn't believe him when he tried to explain what was getting him so sick. Fortunately, he was better enough by the time we reached the Rockies that we were again able to enjoy the view and were totally enthralled.
We puddle jumped our way from Minneapolis to Billings, Montana, to Bozeman, Montana and finally to Spokane, Washington. Landing and taking off again only added to the enjoyment of the trip. Dropping into Bozeman was amazing. (The stop was officially called Bozeman, but the airport was actually in Belgrade, 15 miles away). Here stairs were wheeled out to the plane and we got off for the 20 minute layover. We never made it into the terminal. Rocco and I just turned in circles drinking in the amazing view. Mountains in every direction. And some of them even had snow! In September! The air was so clear you could see every detail. Rocco was so ecstatic I thought he was going to explode. He couldn't stop saying "Oh my god," as he kept circling around me, trying to look in all directions at once.
"Jade, how come the catalogue for MSU didn't show all this? Maybe we picked the wrong school."
I smiled, understanding what he meant.
The other thing that Rocco asked about were the trees. Or rather the seeming lack of them.
"Hay Jade, what happened to all the trees? Even spots on the mountains are bare."
We only learned much later that most of the reason was there just wasn't enough rain fall. Soil conditions also sometimes contributed.
We were eventually asked to reenter the plane for the final leg. (Or enplane -- the word the stewardess used). The area around Spokane was a bit of a disappointment mountain wise, but we were still so excited it didn't seem to matter that much. We were going to get a cab out to Eastern Washington State College, when we met a couple of other students at the luggage area and were offered the 12 mile ride out to the campus in Cheney. They didn't even stare too much at my hooks.
They were all intent in describing to two newcomers all about the campus and the small town.
The girl named Melissa said on the way there: "Except for the college, there's not too much there. The one department store is a small Ben Franklin that must still have clothes dating to the early fifties. There is a Pizza place and a couple of bars. But to tell you the truth, it's the type of small town where they roll up the sidewalks at night."
When we started through town Rocco exclaimed: "Holy smoke, Melissa, you were right! They ARE taking up the sidewalks!"
It turned out that for the first several blocks through the main street of town, the sidewalks were being dug up and replaced. Campus was only several blocks from the so-called downtown area. The campus was larger than the rest of the town itself. I wondered if I could get used to not being in a city.
We made it to the Registrars Office in Showalter Hall late in the afternoon, and only because we gained three hours on the day traversing across most the country. We signed in, picked up our official class schedules, and were directed to our dorm in less than 10 minutes. Rocco made some remark about red tape, or rather the lack thereof. We were in the new dorm near the Math and Science building. Melissa said that she and her boyfriend John had claimed to be married so they could room together in the married couple's dorm.
And I could see that Rocco was barely resisting saying that was where we needed to go.
"So, lets see if we can manage our luggage." He said. Fortunately there was an elevator. We processed through the dorm manager's office and found our room on the fifth floor facing west. There were two of everything, but Rocco groaned as he saw the beds.
Rocco inspected the beds, even scooted under one of them. "Blast it Jade, the beds' frames are bolted right to the wall."
I could see what he meant. Leave it to my White-boy to home in on the most important aspect of the room. He then mused: "I wonder if they really would let us get into the married couples' dorm?" He seemed half serious.
And then I got a bit spooked as he started `thinking' about the problem. I went out in the corridor to get the rest of our things while Rocco wrestled with the bed problem. I started putting our things away as Rocco wrestled with the bed problem. I put the few books we brought onto the book shelves as Rocco wrestled with the bed problem. Finally I said: "OK White-boy, are you going to help?"
He looked up as if coming out of a trance and looked around. "Sorry Jade, I should have been helping. But wait. I have a couple of ideas." And he shot out of the room, almost colliding with a student big enough to be compared to a wall. Fortunately the guy just smiled.
Rocco was gone so long I wondered if he got lost. He finally came bounding back into the room with renewed energy. "Jade our problem is solved. There are all kinds of notices down in the lobby about students wanting to transfer into this dorm. Apparently it's brand new and even closer to the classroom buildings. I ran over to one of the older dorms and there the beds are normal ones. We can scoot them together and get a double mattress. The rooms are older but almost as nice really."
I moaned a bit thinking about all the work involved, but after a motivational kiss and hug from Rocco, attacked the job with renewed enthusiasm. An hour later, there were four happier students. The only trouble was trying not to explain the real reason why we wanted to change rooms. We asked at the dorm manager's office and the exchange required two very short forms to be filled out and signed and that was that.
An hour later we were ensconced in our new abode. Rocco pulled out from his big suitcase one of the blown up pictures of us taken a couple Christmas's ago. One of the A rated ones. He hung it on the wall. Then we took out our wedding photo and placed on the bookcase cater-cornered to our desks. The desks were now up against the wall where one of the beds had been and below the west facing window. We even had a queen sized mattress on the now locked together beds. How Rocco appeared with it was another mystery. I was to learn later there was a good supply of them in a dorm about four blocks away. He had carried the thing the whole way. One determined boy!
Dinner in the cafeteria was pretty darn good. They even had a couple roasts they sliced meat from. I was intrigued by the milk dispensers. Huge containers of milk dispensed through a small rubber hose by lifting up a heavy knob of a handle.
In fact everything captured my interest. We walked about campus until near dark, and the sunset was spectacular. And everything about the campus was an object of curiosity. It was all so different from all my previous experiences.
That night, we were so exhausted both physically and emotionally, we never made proper use of our entwined intimacy. But awakening the next morning in each others arms brought a smile to us both. And we were almost late to our first class because my White-boy was too horny. (Well, maybe I had something to do about it too). We missed Freshmen orientation since it was the day we arrived. Fortunately it wasn't mandatory.
Rocco and I had most of our first quarter classes together. We had deliberately arranged it that way. Later that day we were in the bookstore getting our required text books when I looked up and saw two other black students advancing toward us. And by their posture, advance seemed the most accurate word. Rocco was busy looking through a used book so that he didn't notice right away. (Why used I didn't understand since his scholarship included tuition and all books).
"Hey man, what's up?" I was greeted. They both offered their hands and were taken aback as I offered my right hook. One of them started with his hand toward my other side only to see the other hook.
"Damn man, what happened to you?"
By this time Rocco had turned around and said: "Hi, my name's Rocco" and he offered his hand. And he continued without the slightest pause: "And by the way, this is Jade and he doesn't really like to talk about his disability."
For a second there I thought they were going to refuse to shake his hand. Then finally they both introduced themselves (Rob and Jeremy) and we started talking about where we were all from. They were from LA. Every so often they gave Rocco a peculiar glance.
Finally Rocco wouldn't put up with it anymore and said: "Let's get this out of the way right now. Jade and I have been close friends through four years of High School. And if either of you have any problems with that tell us right now."
They looked at each other and one of them even smiled. The bigger guy (Rob), sort of dark coffee colored, and with a now friendly smile said: "Sorry `bout that. It's just a bit strange for us. We jus' didn't mix where we come from."
Jeremy then spoke up: "In fact we came here specifically to get away from the ghetto atmosphere and all that. So I guess we can start now." Jeremy had a more serious demeanor and seemed like he was constantly taking everything in.
We crossed campus together, talking about where we were from, what we were majoring in, and all the usual topics of new college students. We wended our way to a combination coffee shop and meeting place and a few other things called the Student Union in Isle Hall. We sat down and they ordered coffee while we got lemonade. And we had a pleasant conversation for almost half an hour. They were surprised to find out I had graduated from a Catholic High School in spite of not being Catholic.
Rocco said: "I guess I probably can't claim to be Catholic anymore either. I was wondering if there was any Unitarian Church around here?"
Jeremy answered: "Well, we don't have too much truck with formal religion so we don't know. The dorm director should though. And come to think of it, I think I remember all kinds of notices including church services on one of the bulletin boards in the dorm lobby."
We agreed to meet the next day and we also gave them our dorm and room number.
It was Jeremy who then said. "Well, I see they put you in that old dorm too. We're two floors below you. I guess we get the older accommodations." Then he realized Rocco wasn't black and tried to explain.
Rocco said: "Hey look, I know how it usually is, but in this case I think you're wrong. And I even bet no one had even asked for race in the form they sent you. It was just the luck of the draw which dorm you got, or more probably when you applied."
It was Jeremy who then said: "You know you might just be right. I don't remember any question like that. Just if we had someone we wanted to room with."
Rocco continued. "Beside, Jade and I were originally assigned Pearce Hall* but we swapped out. Didn't like the narrow built-in beds." And he gave me a smile that I could interpret a number of ways. I smiled back.
[* I remembered after I wrote this that Pearce Hall wasn't built until 1964. But heck -- this is fiction after all.]
We talked about all kinds of things, including the places where we grew up and our plans for the future. We parted on good terms. I was wondering if we'd actually get to be friends.
Classes got underway with a vengeance. There was a lot of continuing work and Rocco bemoaned the prospect of the required courses he had little interest in but had to take nonetheless. Most of our teachers were pretty good and I liked most of my classes. Rocco was taking Multivariable Calculus this quarter and I even caught him studying it on occasion.
Rocco started out like a daemon. I think he averaged six to seven hours a day studying even on weekends. I asked how come.
"Well I need a four-point. I want to make sure I get a fellowship or at least a Teaching Assistantship to grad school."
I had an extra English Literature Class (The Modern Novel) instead of Math. (We both got advanced placement after taking Calculus during our Senior year in High School). It was the only class I didn't have with Rocco, but a nice black girl came up to me the second day and offered to make a second copy of her notes for me. It was greatly appreciated. But things were getting awkward by the end of the week. I couldn't believe how some people here were so forward. I finally had to tell Melody (the note taker) that, although I definitely appreciated her notes, her other `offers' I would have to decline. She was pretty nice about it all. Rocco, on the other hand, proceeded to joke about it until one night I convinced him to stop. (The `convincing' was great for both of us).
It was also the end of the second school week that brought another predicament. A couple of students in the dorm that we casually knew, knocked on our door one afternoon and asked if we were interested in playing cards in the common room that evening. One of the games they liked to play was called Hearts. I said that I didn't know how to play it, but Rocco said we'd be there, it was time for me to learn.
It was then a comment one said to the other that highlighted the possible `predicament.' "Damn, how come you have your beds together?"
The other guy tried to shut him up but I guess he was too naive to understand. "But Pat, they have. . ." His buddy Pat literally pulled him from the room.
I looked over to Rocco and asked: "Think they suspect?"
"Almost certainly. But I don't care. I'm done with the big lie. But do you mind?"
I really wasn't sure. I finally realized I was only interested in not getting into trouble. I wasn't too sure how the powers-that-be would react if they discovered we were sleeping together. And I voiced my concerns to Rocco.
Rocco sighed: "Well, I don't think we can stop some rumors, especially if we keep our beds together." The understanding being that we were NOT about to move them apart.
That evening we dug out my card rack and we headed to the room at the end of the corridor. There were a number of chairs and tables. No TV; that was in the TV room downstairs. Rocco said there was also a ping pong table down there, and that he was interested in learning how to play better. I wondered if I could figure out how to play with my hook.
Rocco knew the rules for hearts and filled me in as we were waiting for Pat and his friend whose name we hadn't quite gotten yet. The rules were easy and the strategy fairly simple too. I said I thought it was Mike and soon discovered I was right. A few minutes later in came Pat, along with his friend Mike. They were from the Chicago area, Glen Ellyn to be precise, a pretty rich suburb. They seemed very curious about my hooks and the card holder I used. I'd seen one in a magazine a couple of years ago and finally Mr. Webster made me a couple from a plain block of wood. Simple but so helpful.
Mike was pretty talkative and friendly. He talked about his family: "My father is a bank examiner, and I can't mess up since he's footing the bill. I have several brothers also either in college or recently graduated. But I'm the black sheep. Instead of business or some similar field like everyone else, my major is English. And I`ve come way out here for college."
That got me interested, and I told him my declared major was Education but I planned to also get a major in English. Then we started talking about the books we had enjoyed reading. It turned out his reading was much more diverse than even mine. And I got very interested in hearing about works and authors I only had a slight acquaintance with.
Rocco seemed bored until we got onto the subject of science fiction. He expounded: "I've read a lot of Heinlein, Simak, Silverberg, Clement, Norton and several others." And the conversation took a slight turn.
Mike remarked: "I've liked Andre Norton's stories but recently she's just been plagiarizing herself."
We laughed at the way he put it that she was now rewriting similar plots but in different settings.
Pat made a comment now and then about the play of the hands, but other than that seemed somewhat reticent. I wondered if it were because of the bed incident of this afternoon. Rocco already said that it was up to me to decide how much to explain about ourselves. Finally after the second game of Hearts in which we played partners, and in which we lost by a narrow margin, I asked if they wanted to mix partners. Mike said fine but Pat mumbled something about he liked them the way they were.
Finally I decided to see if there was a problem. "Pat, let's be candid. Do you have some problem with Rocco or myself?"
Pat seemed not inclined to answer other than to say that nothing was wrong, but Mike asked right out: "I was just wondering, . . ." and then a "oooff" sound. I supposed Pat kicked him under the table.
Rocco was smiling as he knew what had happened. "Jade, OK with you?" I said yes.
Rocco continued: "Look you guys, we don't intend on advertising it but Jade and I are a couple. We rather this not be spread around but we won't deny it. If you guys have trouble with it, that's OK, but just say so."
Mike answered first: "See Pat, they don't mind if we talk about it. I was just a bit startled to see the beds together. Never known a gay person before. Well, none that I knew was gay at any rate. It's pretty uncommon around here for anyone to be open about it. But I don't care."
Pat looked uncomfortable. "OK by me too." And that all he said. I was wondering.
But it was Rocco who remarked: "Just one more thing. Jade and I were married a year ago just last week."
That did get Pat's interest. "Married!? As in a marriage ceremony with a minister? And all the trappings?"
I answered: "Yes. Yes. And not quite. We went to a Unitarian Church back where we're from, and the pastor there conducted the ceremony. My foster parents were there and a number of our friends. We even have rings." And they were both curious about mine.
Pat actually smiled saying: "Now I've heard everything. Wait `til I tell my brother. He complains that he can't find anyone who isn't just looking for sex."
Now it was Mike's turn to be surprised: "Bill's gay?"
"No, it's Tom. You don't know him. He's my next oldest brother. He moved away before I got to know you. And don't say anything to anybody. Especially my parents. They don't know."
Rocco then added: "I know how that is. I just told my Mom before we came out here and she's having a difficult time with it. In fact my whole family is. But Jade and I don't believe it's morally wrong for a committed couple. I had struggled with it for a couple of years before I could come to this conclusion. And a lot of the stuff you read is mostly bullshit. Don't believe most of it."
Pat remained interested, and asked some questions. Perhaps getting information for his brother. We mentioned a few of the better books and articles. There wasn't a lot. "But what's this about a Unitarian Church. Do they welcome gay people?"
I replied. "Actually they are non-dogmatic. That means they don't preach any specific dogma so you are pretty much on your own as to what you believe. They just try to preach the positive aspects of Christianity. As for being friendly to avowed homosexuals, I don't know. It might depend on the individual church. But the pastor of ours was gay and also had a life time partner. So maybe Rocco and I lucked out. I know most churches would send us packing."
Pat then asked: "If I gave Tom your mailing address, would that be alright? He's five years older but he's pretty disgusted with the few gay guys he knows and you seem more his type. And I got another question if you don't mind. How in the world did you guys get together? Such different ages and different ethnic backgrounds."
I laughed: "Even if Rocco here looks 16, he's only a year younger than me, and we both graduated from the same High School last June. And it was Rocco that was determined that we be friends when we met in a park four years ago. At the time I was starting to not be exactly fond of white people. I call him White-boy all the time, and sometimes I forget and call him that in public. It sometimes turns heads."
Rocco chimed in: "And sometimes he calls me other things. But I'm 18. Just a bit small for my age. OK, a whole lot small. Jade missed a year of school when he had his accident. I didn't know him then."
Mike then jumped in: "Jade you previously mentioned foster parents, and Rocco, you said your family isn't exactly fond of your being with Jade, so how're you getting through college?"
I answered: "Rocco got a Scholarship, and I got a grant from the Sears-Roebuck Foundation. We had also saved about 12,000 bucks from a summer job the last two summers and from a TV repair business we ran for a couple of years."
Mike smiled and said: "Shit Pat, we got a couple of wise guys here."
Pat looked over at us. "Twelve thousand!? And from just a summer job!? And you ran your own business!?"
Rocco laughed: "Where I come from, a wise guy is part of the mob. And the business was just Jade and me with a multimeter, a homemade tube tester and several books. We fixed TV's. And as for the summer job, it was both of us for two summers working mostly six days a week for my uncle. It helps if you know the owner of the business. My uncle runs a hardwood floor business."
Mike looked at my hooks and I could see the question on his lips, so I explained: "I did inventory control, and Rocco ran a huge forklift. He really liked zooming around on it." I then remembered a past offence on Rocco's part and added: "I think it helped make up for his feelings of inadequacy because of his size." Rocco's glance carried with it the assurance that I would pay for that remark.
Mike replied: "Sorry. I didn't mean to pry; I was just curious."
We seemed to hit it off pretty well after that. And the night gouged a good portion out of the morning before we broke up the card game. These guys were pretty friendly and Rocco and I thought we'd like to pal around with them some more. And Mike had a car here with him that could come in handy. Although Rocco had gotten his license two summers ago, we had decided a car was a luxury we didn't need at the moment. We also discovered that there was a designated place where students could wait where other students or faculty would pick you up to go into Spokane. There was also a designated spot in Spokane where you could wait for a ride back to campus when returning.
That evening, when we went to bed, Rocco brought up the subject of anal sex again. I was really interested but was afraid of hurting my White-boy. And I mentioned that fact.
Rocco then said: "Well, maybe I got a small surprise for you. I've been using a plug now and then to help stretch things. I think I'm ready to try it. I'd like to feel you inside me."
I was not too surprised. I knew he was wanting to go further with our sex, and I may have dropped a few hints now and then myself. (OK, a lot of hints). The next day we picked up some lubricant and that night we tried it. I was afraid that I was simply too big but Rocco was determined. At first it was a disaster. But with some experimenting on technique over the next week, (and helping expand things a bit more), we had eventually added a fantastic new dimension to our sex life. Rocco wasn't much interested in reversing roles, however, and generally took a pretty passive role overall. There were notable exceptions, of course, that added some nice variation on occasion. And we were using the precautions suggested by Dr. Krazenski.
School took on it's own routine, interspersed with a frenzy now and then when a paper was due or when a big test came up. It was almost a month into school when Rocco carried in a big box. I could tell it was pretty heavy as he set it on my desk. "Got a surprise, and before you scream about expenses, I got it used for less than half price." And he took out an IBM Selectric typewriter. I was amazed.
"But those cost a fortune, even at half price," I lamented. But that didn't stop me from admiring it. "And who the heck was selling a Selectric at half price?"
"It came from a place going out of business in Spokane. That girl in our Chemistry class, the one I've been tutoring, she had worked there and told me about a big sale they had on everything, including five of these. I gave her a couple hundred dollars and asked her to try to get one if she could at less than half price. There was a silent auction kind of thing Saturday. I also said I'd tutor her free the rest of the quarter."
I made one last moan about unnecessary expense, more just to get it out of my system, and then put some paper into the typewriter, plugged it in and experimented.
Rocco smiled, knowing I was won over. "Jade, we can afford it. More importantly, we can't afford NOT to have it. I can't be here to type up all your papers, and now with this, you can do them yourself. And here's a box of ribbons that came with it. What do you think?'
Rocco already knew what I thought. He was just going though the motions.
I eventually got pretty good on the machine and developed my own special two hook technique. The correction ribbon was invaluable, since I mis-hit keys now and then. I was determined to reciprocate, and the next week I bought Rocco (and myself) that fancy slide rule he'd been eyeing every time he went into the bookstore. We were starting to have assigned problems in our Chemistry class where it was needed. Rocco said someone in his math class claimed that eventually students would have little computers that could not only do everything that a slide rule could but a whole lot more. Rocco said he and bunch of others laughed.
There were a few remarks like: "Yeah, but only people related to Howard Hughes could afford one." Or "and you'd need a fork lift to haul it around." And so on.
But I remarked to Rocco after he was telling me all this: "But look what they've already done with solid state electronics. Radios as small as a pack of cigarettes. Don't laugh too loudly. It might happen."
Rocco laughed anyway. "And I guess you will then tell me that people will have phones they can use anywhere like on Get Smart, without any wires. Or TV sets you can put in your pocket. Or a little gizmo you can put all your favorite songs into and play them anywhere you want."
"Don't laugh White-boy. And years from now, when we do have all those things, remember this conversation. Sometimes for a smart boy, you lack imagination."
Rocco tried to prove he was imaginative that night, and I really appreciated it. I wondered what Dr. Krazenski would have said about a couple of the things he did especially with his tongue. I was so caught up in other thoughts at the time, however, I didn't think about this until later. We'd have to talk about it. And find out some things.
History was the class that Rocco most disliked, while I wasn't exactly enjoying Chemistry. (OK, I downright hated it). But it was a required course. The other courses weren't too bad. Spanish was the language we picked for our language requirement and we both had a big head start because of having it in High School. Next semester, our curriculums would diverge a bit more with Rocco taking a course in Abstract Algebra while I had another English Class. But school went chugging along with little difficulty. And the people on campus were mostly very friendly. The atmosphere was amazing to me. This was the type of place where I'd love to get a job teaching. And we saw one thing I thought I'd never see. I wrote Mrs. Webster about it just a few days ago. She won't believe it either. There was a black guy on campus dating a white girl. And he was still alive. It sure created quite a buzz, however, but so far nobody objected enough to do anything. I wondered if Was hington was one of the states which allow them to marry -- I mean each other.
So anyway, I don't miss the city too much after all. Just some of the food I was used to. And a few other things.
Rocco had a short list. "Soft pretzels, scrapple, decent baked goods, a Jewish delicatessen, and Twain's swimming pool. Those are the things I miss most," Rocco said.
I said I missed grits (Rocco grimaced), corn bread, (and in general Mrs. W's cooking), my record player that I had left behind, and Tim.
Then we decided to call Tim the very next day. We had gotten a short smudged letter from him last week, but it didn't say much.
Rocco was also worried since, although he had written home twice, his Mom hadn't answered back. "I'm getting worried. My Mom said to write but she hasn't written back yet."
"Maybe we could call her too."
Rocco said he'd think about it. I was worried for him. I knew what it was like to lose what family I had, and I knew he felt that his was slipping away.
The next day was a Saturday, and we had gone to the house of Rocco's math teacher. It turned out that they hit it off pretty well and we were invited to a barbecue. There were a number of the teacher's other students there as well. That led to our using his phone to call Tim. Much easier than trying to use a pay phone. (We left several dollars behind to pay for the call). Tim was ecstatic, even though we almost missed him. He was ready to leave for Billy's house where he was staying for a sleepover. He was excited. We got a whole lot of information about a new show on TV we really didn't need to know. Some weird science fiction called The Outer Limits.
But just to talk to Tim was enjoyable. We said we'd be home for the Christmas holidays. He said he didn't want to wait that long. (We were taking the train back since we had the time and it was so much cheaper than plane fare -- even if it took almost three days for the trip). We also talked to Mrs. W and Rocco asked if she had talked to his Mom. She had but the conversation was short and centered mostly about how could she be so accepting about myself and Rocco. We talked for over a half hour.
When we got back to the party in the back yard, we overheard his teacher and several of the students talking about cross country skiing. Rocco suddenly got very interested. When we got back to the dorm that evening, Rocco asked me if I might be interested in getting the equipment and trying it.
"Only if we can figure out how I can use the ski poles." I said, but Rocco almost dismissed it as merely another challenge.
"OK, White-boy. How come you are so ready to accept challenges, so long as it's ME that gets the challenge?" We laughed about that and decided to put off any decision for the time being.
The two colored kids we met from LA, in spite of claiming they wanted to escape the "ethnic isolation" of the ghetto, got involved in the separate Black Student Union on campus and wanted me to join. But after a few meetings I lost interest.
Mike and Pat, however, eventually became pretty good friends, and several times we had taken some time off from school to go to town for a pizza, or even into Spokane once to walk along its downtown area. There was a park that ran along the Spokane River that was a favorite destination for some of the students. Once we made the short trip south to the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge where they were just starting a breeding program for the severely endangered Trumpeter Swan. They had this entire lake fenced in to keep out predators. (And people). Wow, were those birds big! And beautiful.
And one letter we DID get, was from Pat's brother Tom. Rocco spent several hours that night writing back.
The very next day, Rocco got back to the room all excited. He held up a letter from his Mom
"What'd she say?" I asked.
"Don't know yet. I'm afraid to open it." He waved it around. "Pretty thick though."
He eventually did. Almost ten written pages and another part that was typed. It turned out that the typed part was actually the letter Dr. Krazenski had written for his Mom that Rocco had given her the day before we left. Until now we never did know what he had written.
Rocco started reading the letter out loud. His Mom explained that she had written about ten times, but the first nine she had ripped up. She said that she still had a lot of trouble with our being together but that she loved Rocco and not to worry. She had talked with Dr. Krazenski for almost an hour a few weeks ago, and was trying to understand. She couldn't see how anyone could think that the way we were was not a sickness, but Dr. Krazenski disagreed and told her a lot about some research people were presently doing. A lot of the letter was about that. Then there was something about how we could think that what we were doing was not a sin. She was real hung up on that. She said that the one talk she had with Mrs. Webster confused her even more. (But at least she had made the attempt to actually talk with her. Rocco said he was a bit surprised about this, in spite of him getting her to promise him before we left).
Rocco put the letter down and remarked: "Mom's actually a bit like I was. It couldn't occur to me for quite a while that the Catholic Church could actually be wrong about something. And she's been brainwashed for many more years than I had."
He started reading again. But he suddenly stopped reading it aloud.
"Oh shit!" Rocco went almost white. (No pun).
"What's the matter?" I asked. I was pretty concerned.
"She said Dad didn't take it too well. They had a big argument and he stormed out of the house and didn't get back until almost midnight. She said he now refuses to talk about it any further."
Rocco started crying. I held him tight and tried to console him. He never did read the rest of the letter until the next morning. And I wound up being late with one of my English assignments.
Rocco skipped his morning classes saying he needed to think about things. I didn't see him again until lunch. At least he seemed calmer, and I could see that almost fanatical gleam in his eyes again. He'd been thinking again. I mean his kind of deep, shutting-out-everything-else type thinking.
"Sorry Jade. It's just hard. Why can't people just get along? Even families are torn apart. To me that isn't Christianity. Christ could not possible have taught any of that. And I wish there was something I could do. I mean not just about my family. But how about all those other poor kids out there just discovering they're homosexual? Or lesbian? I'm starting to think that it's not the Churches or any religion that direct people in areas of morality, but almost the other way around. Instead, they just go along with what society in general believes and find some way of using either the Bible, or in the case of the Catholic Church, arguments using the so-called Natural Law, to justify those beliefs."
"Sorry about your Dad." I didn't know what else to say. I remember even though I never had a Dad -- a Dad that counted -- there was a neighbor that almost acted as my Dad until right before I had my accident. Then he retired and he and his wife moved to the shore area of New Jersey. I stopped thinking about him for so long, I felt good remembering about him again. "By the way, did you finish the letter?"
"Yeah." I was surprised that Rocco did seem OK. Emotionally that is. He just seemed more determined than ever to `fix' things as he put it.
"I just have to figure out how." He said.
And then he talked about the remainder of the letter. "Just some stuff about Carl doing well in school at LaSalle College, and he even went out on a date if you can believe it. And even more amazing, he dated a girl that was in my grade school class that I went to the eighth grade graduation dance with. How can we be so different and still like the same girls?"
We talked about his first date a bit and then I asked: "How about your sisters?"
"Well, Dolores is going to night school at St. Joes and also working where my Dad works. Mom said Dolores is learning Cobol for her job at work. I guess she's doing pretty well. Mariann, my Mom claimed, is finally starting to mature a bit and doesn't keep making `big fusses over nothing' as she put it."
Then Rocco pulled out some typed pages and handed them to me. "This was the letter Dr. Krazenski wrote my Mom. You should read it."
And so I did. I was a little amazed. I never realized that Dr. Krazenski even thought about us that much. He claimed he was hoping to write some paper, and we even told him we had no problem even if he wanted to use our names, but it seemed too fantastic to actually believe it had any importance. And those crazy test he gave us, I never though of them as anything significant. Apparently they were to Dr. Krazenski.
Here was what he wrote:
Dear Mrs. Papariello:
If you are reading this letter, then I assume that you have recently become aware of your son's sexual orientation, and of his intimate relationship with Jade Brown. I have tried to compose this letter a number of times, but could not come up with any words that I felt could adequately explain to you how I myself feel about your son's relationship, nor to persuade you that he and Jade are in definite need of at least your acceptance if not your active support.
Please remember, it is THEIR lives that they are living. It is not necessary for you to agree with them, but it is necessary, for their sakes, that you allow them their own beliefs. I would greatly urge you to please talk with me about this before you take any action that you may in the future regret. Please call me at any time. (And I mean ANY time, day or night). My private number is MA 5 - 5959. Thank you.
Dr. George Krazenski, MD
The following is a rough draft of the introduction of a paper I am considering for submission to the Journal of Psychology. It involves a longitudinal study I am doing on your son and Jade Brown, with their permission. I would urge you to read it. Thank you again.
I find it amazing what a shift in perspective can bring to a situation. Thanks to recent research by a number of people including the Kinsey Group, and especially by Evelyn Hooker, along with information supplied in the report by Lord John Wolfenden (see Bibliography), I have come to the conclusion that homosexuality in NOT a psychological disorder. With this new perspective in mind, I believe it is much easier to understand the relationships between homosexuals in an entirely different light. Instead of seeing pathology, one is now free to see commitment and real love where it exists.
I started to wonder about the traditional view of the invert by psychologists when an apparently well adjusted young teen came to live with me one year as an exchange student. His father sent him to this country to "wean him away from his boyfriend." I had volunteered for this student exchange program shortly before, and since I was a family doctor with credentials also in psychology, his father asked me to take him in. By observing his behavior over many months and after extensive talks with him, I started to wonder if our accepted view of homosexuality as a pathology was a mistake. This boy was certainly a normal teenager in every regard (except for his sexual orientation which he insisted felt normal to him). So I started to read the literature and found it contradictory at best and remarkably unpersuasive. Then my investigation eventually turned up some research being conducted by a remarkable woman in California. Her name is Evelyn Hooker. She was also convinced that homosexual orientation was not a pathology, and had set out to prove it. I read her five papers and then wrote to her to ask if she had any additional information she could supply me with. We have been corresponding, on occasion, ever since.
During this period, two young teens had entered my life. One in temporary foster care, and the other, his close friend. Their names are Jade and Rocco. (They have both insisted, that if I ever wrote about them, that their actual names be used). They confided in me that they were both homosexual, and boyfriends! This was three years ago. During this time, they have contributed greatly in helping me shape my new understanding of individuals with exclusive homosexual orientations. Evelyn Hooker, in turn, had become vitally interested in these two young teens when I explained to her their circumstances.
If no one else could, Jade and Rocco have helped convince me that sexual orientation is a natural phenomenon, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. (See also the various reports of the Kinsey Group). They also convinced me that in order for homosexuals to live a relatively normal and adjusted life, it is necessary for the them to discard all the usual heterosexual prejudices concerning homosexuals that society has tried to immerse them in.
In these two people, none of the usual descriptions of neurotic or untoward behavior, found in the literature, fit. There were no expressions of femininity, fear of woman (or of female sex organs), narcissism, sexual compulsiveness, nor paranoid disposition inherent in either of their characters, as so commonly described of the invert in the literature. Also contrary to the prevailing view, I can find no unresolved inner conflicts or identification patterns on which to trace back the exegesis of their sexual orientation.
At this date, though precocious intellectually, Rocco is somewhat immature for his chronological age, both physically and emotionally. However, this is by no means pathological. His high emotionality, impulsiveness, remarkable empathy, need to maintain a high degree of independence, and habitual presumption of leadership, are merely the usual varying attributes of a normal personality. Jade shows great maturity for his age, and his usual passivity, especially toward antagonistic persons and events, is a normal defense mechanism. Jade has shown an uncommon degree of courage, determination, and intense loyalty. His adjustment to his life circumstances is superior, although it relies to a marked degree on the profound support of his accepted life partner. (Almost a year ago, at the early ages of eighteen and seventeen, these two teens had made a life commitment to each other akin to marriage i n heterosexual couples. They even regard themselves as married, having gone through a ceremony before a minister).
Ironically, in their sexual response to each other, the active/passive traits shown in their respective personalities, is most commonly reversed. Again I see in this neither an attempt to adopt any specific feminine role, nor any pathological response usually subscribed to the invert. The eminently healthy adjustment of both Rocco and Jade to their circumstances and sexual orientation is a direct result of many factors, but some important ones include:
1) their successful reappraisal and ability to reject what they view as the unjustified and erroneous moral judgments of both society and their respective religions;
2) the interdependent emotional and intellectual support they have given to each other; and
3) the adoption of the usual interpersonal dynamic of a monogamous committed relationship.
In short, contrary to the judgment of the mainstream psychological literature on the invert, their relationship is neither pathological nor essentially self indulgent. Much to the contrary, I find that these two boys are involved in a true love relationship.
With the usual support given to a couple by both family and society severely limited, their ability to maintain this relationship will be severely tested as they fully mature and take on their adult personalities. I plan to conduct a longitudinal study for as long as they permit. The body of this paper will deal with specific interviews I've conducted over the past three years, my ongoing observations, tests I have conducted with their permission, and interim conclusions.