I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the family, but now I began to dread what I had to do next. Friday morning, after breakfast, I approached my parents.
“Mom. Dad. May I speak with you in private, please?” I asked. They looked at me confused, but nodded their consent.
“Why don’t we go outside then, dear,” Mom suggested, after a brief delay.
She did this because there probably wasn’t any place in the house where we’d actually be left alone. Even their bedroom was not sacrosanct, because their grandchildren (my nieces and nephews) always seemed to barge in there whenever they were around. Therefore, we slipped on our jackets and went outside. As soon as we were alone, my father spoke.
"What is this all about?" he wanted to know.
“I have something to tell you, but I didn’t want to do it in front of everyone else just yet,” I began. “Mom. Dad. I love you both very much and hope you still love me after you hear what I have to say. I'm gay and I have a boyfriend."
They didn’t react to what I had just told them and merely looked at each other for a moment or two. After a few seconds of awkward silence, my mother spoke.
“Well, dear, we’ve always kind of suspected it, even though we didn't know for sure” she began. “You know, once you began to mature that is."
“What? Do I have a sign on my forehead or something?” I asked, surprised and slightly irritated. I couldn’t believe they already knew this.
“Not exactly, dear,” my mother answered. “We just kind of thought you might be gay, because you never had a girlfriend or even seemed interested in girls." Yeah, like I shouldn’t have been able to figure that one out on my own.
“We don’t mind, son,” my father added, and that was the second time he’d called me son since I’d been home and he hasn’t done that in ages. “I know we were hoping you’d give us grandchildren, because your children would carry on the family name, but it’s not that big of a deal."
“Well, there’s still a chance I might give you grandchildren yet,” I countered, which earned another confused stare from both of them. “My boyfriend and I have discussed this and we’d both like to have a family some day. We’ve agreed that we would donate sperm and use a surrogate to give birth, but then we’d raise the children ourselves."
“Donate sperm,” my father repeated, in a droll monotone voice. “How, um, clinical."
“It may not sound like a very romantic way to procreate, but the child or children born when I do it will still carry half of their DNA from me,” I explained. “That means they’ll be just as much my children as any child born as a result of a heterosexual sex act and they’ll also carry on the family name."
“It just sounds, well… unnatural,” my father commented, “but if it gives us grandchildren to carry on the family name, then I can live with it."
“I have a question about that, dear,” my mother stated next, as she looked at me closely. “You said you and your boyfriend both intend to donate sperm. So will the children born from your sperm have your last name?"
“Not exactly, mom,” I answered, as I tried to do this both honestly and delicately. “We’ve decided that any child born this way will be given a hyphenated surname, so they will all have the same last name, no matter who donated the sperm. That way, the various siblings will grow up without the stigma of not having the same surname as each other. I think my boyfriend and I will probably do the same, to keep everything consistent."
“I guess that sounds reasonable,” she agreed, while nodding her head and looked at my father.
“So what did you say this fellow’s name was?” my dad asked a few moments later. Noting the way he asked the question, I didn’t think he could bring himself to say the word 'boyfriend'.
“His full name is Aiden Fox Perry,” I announced, as I wondered what he was going to say next.
“Sounds pretty sophisticated,” my dad observed, but I wasn’t sure if his comment was meant to be sarcastic.
“So what order would this hyphenated name take?” my mother wondered.
“We’ve agreed to use Wallace-Perry,” I confirmed, and then I saw my dad smile.
“At least we get top billing,” Dad chucked. “So what can you tell us about his parents?"
“Aiden comes from a very good family,” I replied. “His father is a noted psychologist and his mother is a teacher."
“Well, at least it sounds like you were smart enough to find a guy with brains and money," Dad joked.
“Not quite. I fell in love with Aiden before I knew about any of that,” I confirmed. “He is handsome, smart and a really nice guy. I know you're going to love him when you finally get to meet him."
“Well, it may work out about the same as if you had a girlfriend,” my father drolly replied, “and we may LIKE him, but I’m not sure about the love part."
“I’m sure he’s very sweet and we’ll welcome him with open arms,” my mother added, "just like we did your sisters' husbands."
Wow! This went a whole lot easier and much better than I ever expected. Maybe if they’d shown this side of themselves before, we might have gotten along better and I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed by them. Well, maybe that’s not exactly accurate. I’d have to assume my dad would still have been gruff and crass, and my mom probably wouldn’t have taken any better care of her physical appearance and done a better job of keeping the house presentable, so maybe things wouldn't have changed that much.
Before we went inside, I debated about how I was going to tell everyone else about this. I knew I was going to have to inform my sisters too, but I wasn’t so sure about their husbands. Maybe I’ll just tell my sisters and let them tell their husbands when they think it’s best. That works for me, so I hope it also works for them.
Before they went inside, I asked Mom if she’d ask the girls to meet me outside, without their husbands. She agreed, so I stayed outdoors and waited. A few minutes later my sisters came out and strolled up to me.
“What’s up, squirt?” my oldest sister began. I've always pretty much hated it, but they’ve all called me squirt, ever since I was little. The thing is, I’ve always hated that name, because it was based on the fact that I've never been as tall as them.
“I’ve already broken the news to Mom and Dad, so now I want to tell you as well," I explained. "I'm gay and I have a boyfriend." The oldest and youngest sisters looked at me and tried to stifle their laughter.
“Congratulations on the boyfriend,” my middle sister stated, “but we have all kind of known you were gay since you were 13 or 14."
“Does the whole freaking world know about me?” I screamed. “I come home dreading the fact that I have to tell you this and all of you seem to know about it already."
“We didn’t know about the boyfriend, squirt,” my older sister added.
"We just kinda knew about the gay thing."
“And well, duh,” the younger one said elegantly. “What were we supposed to think, since you never brought any girls home? Most teenage boys talk about girls all the time, but you never said a word about any of them. We just kind of figured you were either gay or planning to become a priest."
“How could I have been so dumb?” I wondered, aloud. I shouldn’t have.
“You were thinking with the wrong head,” the youngest sister responded, even though I didn’t want any of them to answer. “Just like most guys.” The three of them then tee-heed over that comment.
“Well, at least no one got upset, screamed, threw a tantrum or punched me," I joked.
“We could still punch you, if you want us to,” my middle sister offered.
“Very funny,” I responded, drolly. “I suspect your husbands know too then."
“Well, they’ve suspected it as well,” the oldest answered, “so we just told them that's what we've always thought too."
“Damn! I can’t believe this,” I nearly shouted. “All this time I’ve been dreading telling you and worried about how you’d react, but you’ve known about it all along."
“It’s hard to keep secrets from the ones you love and who love you too,” the middle sister told me. “You’re our brother, so we didn’t really care. We even had to stand up to a few people who tried to make jokes about it."
“Yes, I once slapped my date across the face when he told me he was glad I wasn’t queer like my brother,” the oldest sister admitted. I also noted she didn't call me squirt this time either.
“So the whole school knew too?” I asked, completely stunned and humiliated.
All of this time I thought I’d been keeping a secret, but it appears as if it never was a secret at all. It seems I must have been walking around with a billboard that announced I was gay.
“Not everyone,” the middle sister added, “but quite a few of them did. It was especially apparent to anyone that knew us well. You weren’t very good at hiding it and we even caught you staring at the kid down the street quite a few times, especially when he wore those skimpy little shorts he was so fond of. We thought he was trying to get your attention to do something, but you never made a move on him. All you ever did was stare."
“I can’t believe this,” I whined. “Everyone else was able to see and interpret the clues about me, yet I failed to recognize when someone was giving me a signal and it was staring me right in the face. And all that time I thought I was just lucky he lived down the street."
“And would find a reason to come all the way up here to ride his bike or skateboard?” my youngest sister teased. Damn, I guess I was a real idiot when it came to all of this stuff.
“Well, thank you for defending my honor and accepting me for who I am," I told them as sincerely as I could.
“It’s not a big deal and we’re just glad you found someone,” the middle sister answered. "I can't wait to meet him."
“Besides, we’ve talked this over before and decided it wasn’t that you made a choice or anything,” the oldest sister added. “Since you’d never really dated anyone or had a relationship with person from either sex, how could you choose? Since it appeared you were just stuck with it, we felt it would be cruel NOT to accept you for who you are."
“Not everyone thinks that way,” I confessed, “but I’m glad you do. Thanks again for being so supportive.
The remainder of my time at home was great. No one treated me any differently, not even my older and younger sister’s husbands. I also got my parents to agree that I would come home for the Christmas break and then be able to leave on the 27th to go spend the rest of the vacation with Aiden. This meant I’d be able to celebrate New Year’s Eve with him. I thanked my parents many times for being so understanding, so when I made the return trip to college I was feeling great.
The ride back on the bus was equally long and boring, so once again I slept as much as I could before I reached campus. I got off the bus at the terminal and had just walked outside and crossed to the other side of the street when someone grabbed my arm and shoved me up against a wall. Before I had time to react, I heard a deep voice speak.
"Give me all your money, kid," it demanded.
I glanced over my shoulder to see who had a hold of me, because I wanted to be sure it wasn’t someone I knew that was just playing a prank on me. Even though he tried to stay out of sight, I still caught a glimpse of his face. When I didn’t recognize the guy, I knew this was no joke.
Since he realized I’d seen him, he now positioned himself so I could see his other arm. His hand was stuffed into his jacket pocket and he was moving it toward me in a menacing fashion, to indicate he had a weapon. Since I wanted him to believe I was going to cooperate, I made it appear as if I was just going to reach into my pocket and get my money for him. Instead, I wheeled in the opposite direction and slammed my elbow into his gut. While he was still reeling from that blow, I stomped down on his foot as hard as I could and then turned toward him, so I could knee him in the groin. The guy doubled over in pain after I did that.
“So you want me to hand over all my money,” I screamed, in order to draw attention to the situation.
I wasn’t certain if the guy really had a gun or a knife, so I thought it would be best to get others involved in helping me. I could tell the thief was still in considerable pain, but he was desperately trying to get up so he could escape. Since I didn’t want him to get away, I moved behind him and kicked his leg, just behind the knee. The force of that blow made his leg buckle and sent him off balance, so he end up sprawled out on the cement.
“Now stay there,” I yelled again, “and will someone please dial 911 and get the police here to arrest this piece of crap?"
By this time, I had attracted a small crowd of spectators and a couple of the huskier guys came over and stood on either side of the man to make sure he didn’t leave. One even placed his foot on the thief’s back and pinned him down, after the guy kept trying to get up. Then, the other man pulled the scumbag’s arms behind his back, so he couldn't use them to fight against us.
When the police finally showed up, the first thing the officer did was to slap the guy in handcuffs and place him in the back of his patrol car. Once he’d done that, he began asking what had happened. The others pointed at me, to indicate I was the one who’d been attacked, so the officer moved in my direction. As I was giving him my statement, several people stopped by to tell him they had also seen what had happen, so he asked them to wait until he finished speaking with me and then he’d take their information. They complied and I finished up with the officer.
One of the two guys who had come to assist me stayed around until after I finished speaking to the cop, so he could congratulate me for what I'd done.
“That guy was bigger than you, so I’m impressed by how you managed to take him down," he told me.
I smiled and thought about how Aiden had told me I had to learn to stand up for myself.
“I may still be a shrimp,” I told him, “but I’m a shrimp who’s learning to defend himself and is no longer going to take crap from jerks like him."
The policeman overheard my comment and merely grinned and shook his head. Some of those waiting to speak to him had also heard me and they began to applaud my remark.
Once everything was cleared up, I headed off toward the campus. When I got to my room, Aiden was already there. He greeted me very warmly and we kissed for several minutes. Once we broke apart, I told him how well everything had gone at home and explained that I was all set to be with him for part of the Christmas holiday. He was thrilled by this news, so he hugged and kissed me again.
Seeing that issue had been cleared up, I told him about the incident outside the bus station. He laughed and then mocked me.
“I’m Dr. Frankenstein and I’ve created a monster,” he teased as he started laughing again.
He continued making fun of me by imitating the way the Frankenstein monster walked as he circled around the room and this got me laughing. After a few seconds he moved away from me, as he edged nearer to his computer so he could type something on it. Before long, I heard the familiar melody of ‘Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting’ playing from his speakers. That's when I really cracked up.
"Very funny," I croaked out.
“Well, I’m glad to see you aren’t going to let others push you around any longer,” Aiden responded, before he offered me a word of caution. “I’m proud that you handled the attacker and defended yourself, but I know the first time you take down a bully or someone bigger than yourself it can be a rush. Please don’t let it go to your head. Your success doesn’t mean you’re invincible and there’s always someone out there who can beat you, no matter how good you are, so don’t go looking for trouble. Only take on the thugs who come at you or go after someone else."
“Okay, I promise you I won’t start anything,” I agreed. “I’m really glad you taught me how to defend myself though, so I don’t have to take anyone’s shit any longer. I’m not going to let them pick on me or anyone else either."
Once I’d told him this, Aiden wrapped me up in a bear hug and began kissing me again. As we continued being affectionate, I thought about how much I owed Aiden. Not only had he made me feel comfortable about being gay and helped convince me to come out to my family, but he’s also taught me to defend myself and not allow others to push me around any longer. With his help and encouragement, I have overcome so many obstacles, some of which I had created for myself by building various mental barriers. Now, my self-confidence is soaring and I feel better about myself than I can ever remember.
Once all of the excitement from the day had died down, Aiden explained that he’d gone ahead and cleared everything with his family concerning my visit. He said he did this because he was hoping I’d be able to spend some time with him at Christmas and his father had offered to buy my airplane ticket, so I could fly from my home to where they lived. His father said he would also buy another ticket for me, so I can return to campus with Aiden when our vacation ends. I was blown away.
“Aiden, I can’t let him do all that for me,” I objected, suddenly feeling like a leech.
“Yes, you can,” Aiden countered. “My dad offered and it was totally his idea. He can easily afford to do it, so just be quiet and accept it as our family's Christmas present to you."
What could I say now? Aiden then went on to tell me that since I’d be spending New Year’s there, he had also worked out some special plans for the two of us, but he wouldn’t give me any details. He merely said I’d have to wait and see what he had in store. I was intrigued.
When we returned to our classes after the Thanksgiving break, things were going really well for us and it seemed as if everything was falling into place. I was even doing much better in Spanish class and Aiden had absolutely nothing to do with that – well, except for giving me the confidence to succeed.
We continued doing our workouts and Aiden taught me more moves, which I practiced over and over again. We also continued studying together and I was even beginning to understand what Dr. Swift was talking about in psych class, even before Aiden clarified it for me. As finals approached, we studied even harder, but I no longer looked forward to the exams with fear and trepidation. I was confident going in to every final and came out feeling as if I had done very well. Damn, that really is a switch.
During the last couple of days before classes ended, Aiden confronted me about our plans.
“I hope you’re all set to come out and spend time with me,” he quipped. "I'll be there to pick you up at the airport when you land."
“Yes and I can’t wait, but I am a little nervous about meeting your parents," I admitted.
“Why? You’ll love them and they’ll love you. No big deal,” Aiden assured me.
“But your dad’s a psychologist and will know what I’m thinking and everything," i blurted out, and Aiden started laughing.
“He’s a psychologist, not a psychic,” Aiden mocked. “He can interpret your behavior, be he certainly doesn't know what you're thinking."
I saw my mistake and realized how stupid my comment had been, so I decided to move on to something else.
“You know, you’re going to be a great psychologist just like him,” I told Aiden.
“Except I’m going to be a child psychologist,” Aiden stated, surprising me again.
"Oh? Why a child psychologist?" I wondered.
“Well, Petey, I’ve had plenty of practice and done pretty well working with you," he teased. I merely reached out and punched him in the shoulder for calling me Petey again.
“I told you I hate that name, so don’t ever call me that,” I scolded, while shooting him a dirty look.
“Ah, so you’re only reacting to the fact that I used that name for you,” Aiden pondered, while stroking his chin, pretending he was thinking, “and not because of the fact that I was saying you had acted like a child back then." I punched him again.
“That too,” I said, as Aiden dramatically began to rub the spot on his shoulder where I'd punched him.
“Well, I definitely think I’m going to regret that I taught you how to defend yourself," he informed me.
After saying this, he stuck his tongue out at me and then began to laugh. I don’t know how he does it, but Aiden can find the humor in almost any situation.