A story about a guy who grows and learns to see his life and socialization differently.
|I woke up the next morning and rolled on my side. My alarm clock said it was only ten in the morning. I thought back to my date with Bill and my balls ached. I wished that he had been more direct, assuming that he had been interested in having sex last night. This morning, I was horny. I tried to imagine what it would have been like to have given myself over to him while I stroked myself to climax.
I laid there for a couple minutes afterward, enjoying the post-orgasmic bliss. Finally, I reached for the tissue box on my nightstand and began to clean up the majority of the mess. Satisfied that I wouldn't leave a trail of goo, I got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Katie, my yellow lab, saw me stand and climbed out of her bed in the corner of the room to follow. Me. I patted her head as I relieved myself in the toilet. I washed my hands and began my daily ritual of shaving and showering.
I was just starting to rinse off in the shower when I heard the phone ringing. I let the call go to voice mail, not wanting to drip water all through the house. I finished rinsing off, made sure the suds all rinsed down the bathtub drain, then toweled myself dry. I pet Katie a few more times before I made my way to the living room. The cordless phone was not in its cradle. I wondered how much charge it had left as I began to search for it. I found it between two of the couch cushions. I put on the headset and dialed into voice mail.
A middle aged woman's voice came over the headphones as I played the first message. "Curtis, it's your mother. I haven't heard from you in a couple weeks, so I thought I'd try calling you." I groaned as I deleted the message. My parents had never adjusted to me coming out to them. It tended to make conversations with them tense and tentative at the best of times, so I tried to avoid them as much as possible. This was the third day that she had tried reaching me though, so I relented.
I dialed my parents' number and listened as it rang on the other end.
"Hello?" came the reply on the other end.
"Hi, Mom. It's Curt."
"Oh, so you finally decided to quit avoiding me, huh?" I groaned. I hated the guilt trip, especially since I had to admit that she was right about me avoiding her.
"Sorry about that, Mom. I've been busy lately. I actually heard the phone ringing when you called earlier. I was in the shower though."
"You're just getting up? I'm not sure sleeping the night away is such a good idea, Curtis. Are you tired? Maybe it's a sign of something more serious." I rolled my eyes and wondered if she would ever quit treating me like I'm still ten.
"I'm fine, Mom. I just had a somewhat late night. I had a date last night."
"What's her name?"
"His name was Bill, Mom."
"Oh, another man, then?" I choked back the expletive as she continued, "I hope you were at least careful and made sure he didn't have any diseases."
My voice strained and almost cracked. "The subject didn't come up, Mom. Since we didn't even discuss sex, let alone have it."
"Oh. Well, okay. Anyway, how's work?" I sighed in relief. I was glad Mom was usually pretty quick to move the conversation away from sex. Only after bringing it up in the first place, of course.
"Work's okay. I've been making 3-D images of the new lobby for the Hilton floorplan my firm is proposing. It's actually quite cool. The design includes a lot of marble surfaces, so the rendering has involved a significant amount of texturing.
"That sounds rather complicated."
"Yeah, I suppose it is. Actually, it involves a lot of trial and error and thinking about what would look good."
"You always were artistic..." her voice trailed off. My creative side was something that my mother was both proud of and conflicted over. I suspected that she often thought that it somehow contributed to my sexual orientation and romantic inclinations.
"Yeah, I know. I'm just glad I found a way to make my talent into an employable skill." I began gathering up my dirty clothes scattered in the bedroom to throw in the wash. I silently smiled as I imagined her reaction if she could see the disorganized state of my bedroom. Then again, I could imagine her insisting that it was proof I wasn't really gay.
"Yes, that's true. Have been been trying to sell any of your other artwork?" she asked.
"Not really. I talked to the owners of a local coffee shop a couple months ago about putting up a few of my paintings. They said they were interested, but never followed up."
"Anyway, Mom. It's good to hear from you, but I need to get going. I want to get some laundry done, and then Ted and I are going to the dog park together."
"Oh, okay. You take care then."
"You too, Mom. Bye." I hit the disconnect button, glad that things hadn't gotten too tense this time. I loaded the washer and started it. Then I began getting things ready to head to the dog park.
Ted and I sat on a park bench talking while Katie ran around sniffing at various trees, rocks, and other dogs. I had just finished recounting my date to Ted. "Do you think he'll call you?" Ted asked.
I shrugged, staring at the leash in my hands. "I don't know. He was charming and seemed polite, but I'm not sure he's all that interested."
"I don't know, Curt. It sounds like he was pretty interested. From what you describe, I feel like he was trying to test the waters during the movie."
"Um, yeah. Seriously? Do you need a guy to grab your cock or something before you get that he's interested?"
"Well, it would help," I offered hopefully.
"Yeah, but for all they know, you'd turn around and charge them with assault. You can't expect a guy to be that forward. It's not right."
"I know.....I guess I'm just afraid...."
"Of showing interest and getting rejected?"
"Well, yeah. Doesn't that scare you?"
"Of course it does, Curt. But I do it anyway, because you have to be willing to risk things. I mean, you can't expect the other guy to take all the risks. And that's what you seem to be doing."
"I know." I fell silent as I pondered the unfair standard I was setting. After a moment, I decided to change the subject. "So, how are you Shawn?"
"Oh, I ended that the other day. He was getting too serious for me."
I shook my head in bewilderment. "And you think this is a problem?"
"You know how I feel about things getting serious."
I nodded. "How long has Zach been gone now?"
"Four years. Four long and sorrowful years." I had moved to the area and met Ted about a month after his lover, Zach, had died in an accident. It quickly became obvious that the couple had shared something special. The loss of that seemed to haunt Ted to this day.
"And you don't think he'd want to move on now?"
Ted laughed. "Oh of course, he would. And believe me, I'm doing my best. You know I date and fool around regularly? Zach would be delighted to know that. But, a serious, long-term commitment isn't the same as a short term relationship or a casual sex arrangement. I don't compare the flavor of the week or even a short term boyfriend to Zach, because it's not reasonable to expect that from them. But a real partner? I've had the best one in the world, and I know I'd constantly compare another one to him. I know they'd come up short, and that wouldn't be fair to them. I'd rather be honest with guys and let them know up front that they're probably never going to make it to that point with me."
I shook my head. "It still seems like you're only hurting yourself."
"Maybe so, but it's better than hurting them."
"I guess. At least you're getting some regular action, unlike me."
Ted snorted at that. "Well, maybe if you lowered your standards a bit. Or at least loosened up a bit and let yourself have some fun."
"Yeah, I know. I just don't know how."
Katie ran up to ted at that moment. He patted her head and scratched behind her left ear for a minute or two before speaking. "Honestly, Curt? I think you over-think things. You need to learn to just go with the flow. Or grab the bull by the horns from time to time. Worry about what it all means and the 'what ifs' later."
I scuffed my sneakers along the dirt in front of me. "Yeah, I know. Everyone keeps telling me that. But what if I screw something up? What if I screwed something up with Bill last night."
Ted put a hand on my shoulder and we both stopped walking. "Would it be so horrible if you did?"
I blinked. "Well, if I missed my chance, then what."
He sighed. "Curt, that's part of your problem. You believe in soulmates, that you only have that one person than you have to meet or you'll be forever lonely. That's just not the way things work."
"This from the guy who had the perfect lover for years?"
"No. I've never said that Zach was perfect. Trust me, he wasn't. You didn't know me back in the day, when I'd spend hours stewing over having to unclog the bathtub because he never remembered to clean up the hair after manscaping."
I gasped. I had never heard Ted say anything negative about Zach before. "But the way you talk about him..." I offered.
"We were together for years, Curt. We built a close relationship and were very intimate. I simply got used to the annoying quirks -- and invested in a plumber's snake -- and focused on the great things that I found far more valuable."
"Okay. But you've also said you'd compare everyone else to him unfairly."
He snorted. "Well, of course! Like I said, I spent years with him. He's my ideal partner now. But he didn't start out that way. It took a lot of work and adjustment on both our parts. He became my ideal partner. Truth be told, when we first met, I wasn't sure I like him."
"Well, yeah. In fact, I almost turned him down when he asked me out on our first date. If I had, I'd probably be with someone else and thinking of them as my ideal partner."
"I never considered that."
"Well, I think you should. Because here's the other thing, Curt. While you seem to think there's one person out there that you must find to have a relationship, you don't seem to believe that the same destiny that says you're meant for each other will make sure you get together. And I have to say, that's pretty messed up. Either drop the whole idea or have a little faith in it."
"I see your point. Anyway, are you ready to get out of here?"
I pondered his advice as we returned to the car and I loaded Katie into the back seat. Soon, we were headed back to Ted's place.