A story about a guy who grows and learns to see his life and socialization differently.
|It was around six when I rang the buzzer for Nate’s apartment. I heard footsteps on the stairs beyond. When the door swung open, I saw a young blonde woman in light blue jeans and a tee shirt. She smiled, “I take it you’re Curt.”
“Well, I try not to be, but sometimes I just don’t have a lot to say,” I said.
She burst out laughing. “How long have you been holding onto that one? I’m Melissa, by the way.”
“Actually, I just came up with it. I have moments like that. And it’s nice to meet you.”
Melissa turned and started back up the steps with me following her. “With a sense of humor like that, I can see why Nate likes you. Poor Nancy’s the quiet, restrained type. I suspect she’s going to feel outnumbered even more than usual tonight.”
“Well, I’ll try to go easy on her. I mean, I want to make a good impression.”
“Don’t you dare! Trust me, you’ll make a better impression if you’re just yourself.” As we walked into Nate’s bedroom, I saw Nate lounging on the couch in jeans and a pride tee shirt and another young woman -- a brunette wearing a black broomstick skirt and a mint green blouse -- sitting in the recliner. Melissa spoke to Nate? “See? I didn’t scare him off. How’s the food?”
“Just about ready,” he said as he stood up and crossed the room to stand in front of me. “Hey, man of my dreams.” He pulled me close and kissed me on the lips. My cheeks reddened as Melissa let out an approving hoot.
After a few seconds, I broke our kiss. “Hi yourself.”
Curt turned, guiding me to the couch. “Nancy, this is Curt.”
“Pleased to meet you,” she said, nodding slightly. “We’ve heard quite a bit about you. I have to say, though, you might actually be cuter than Nate led us to believe.”
“Thank you,” I said, sitting next to my boyfriend on the couch. Melissa sat on Nancy’s lap and flung her arms around the other woman. “It’s nice to meet both of you.”
Melissa said, “So, have you met many of Nate’s friends?”
“Not really. To be honest, you two are the first. Other than meeting Raph at his art exhibit.”
Nancy shot Nate a look. Nate held out his hands in a defensive posture. “Raph already got after me for springing that shock on Curt.”
“As he should have,” Nancy said. She turned to me, “I hope the experience wasn’t too traumatic.”
“I recovered pretty well,” I said. “We ended up having a rather pleasant night overall.”
Melissa smiled, “I hear there’s been a few of those.”
Nate shook his head. “Come on, Melis, don’t embarrass him too much.”
“Yeah, I’m not used to being around people quite so...open,” I admitted.
Nancy said, “You might want to get used to it if you’re going to spend time with my girlfriend. She’s inevitably going to ask for details, like the number of times you each came.”
“Not until the fifth time or so that we hang out!” Melissa protested. Nancy gave her a disbelieving look. “Okay, the third time, maybe.”
“That’s more like it,” Nancy said.
“Well, let’s make an obvious subject change,” Nate interjected. “The pasta primavera should be ready now. And just because my boyfriend is here doesn’t mean I’m going to serve you. Plates and silverware are on the table. Help yourselves.”
Melissa chuckled. “If you haven’t had his cooking yet, you’re in for a treat, Curt.” She stood and helped Nancy up. “Shall we.” The other woman nodded and followed her toward the kitchen.
Nate rubbed my back. “So, what do you think of them so far.”
“They seem nice. That Melissa is a spitfire.”
“Yeah, Nancy often ends up rolling her eyes at the two of us when we get together.”
“I think I can see why.”
“Yeah. Want me to get you a plate?”
“You don’t need to wait on me, either.”
“No, but I’d enjoy it.”
“Well, I suppose. Who am I to deny you such enjoyment?”
He kissed me, then stood. “I’ll be right back. In the meantime, check out the stack of games there by the coffee table and see what ones look interesting to you.”
As Nate headed for the kitchen, I slid off the couch and onto my knees. I sorted through the various boxes, looking at pictures and reading descriptions. I finally came across the box for Carcassonne. I was still studying the box when Nancy returned carrying her plate. She said, “That’s a good one. One of my favorites, actually.”
I studied the box a bit longer. “I think I played this once back in college. My sophomore roommate had some friends over one evening and they invited me to play with them.”
“What did you think of it?”
“It was a bit confusing at first.”
“Yeah, a lot of the games we play are at first. Plus they take some practice to really get good at the strategy involved.”
“I know what you mean. If memory serves, I came in last place when we played that evening.”
“Oh good, I might actually beat someone today,” she said, smiling.
I laughed. “Could be.”
Melissa joined us, “So, did you pick yet?”
“Pick?” I asked, momentarily confused.
“What game we’re going to play, of course!” Melissa said. “We had all agreed that the new guy should get to choose tonight.”
Nate carried two plates into the room. Handing me one of them, he said, “That’s why I told you to look the games over, silly.”
“Oh, I didn’t make the connection. Well, since I really have no good basis for choosing one, I think I’m going to stick with Carcassonne. Especially now that I know it’s one of Nancy’s favorites.”
Melissa chortled. “Yeah, she just likes it because it’s one I’m not too familiar with yet.”
“Doesn’t stop you from beating me,” Nancy said, patting the other woman’s back.
“Sounds good to me,” Nate said. “Curt, why don’t you set the box on the coffee table and we’ll start setting the game up in a bit. Right now, I’m starving.”
“I set the box down and sat with my food. I took a bite of pasta primavera and sighed contentedly. Nancy chuckled, “I think he approves of your cooking, Nate.”
I smiled at him. “This is wonderful. Why have we been going out to eat when you can cook like this?”
Nate shrugged. “Habit, I guess. I mean, you’re supposed to take your boyfriend out when you first start dating, right?”
“That’s what they say,” Melissa said. “Though I’m not sure why we care what they say.”
“I have to agree with Melissa, Nate,” I said. “A meal like this would mean more to me than any fine restaurant you can name.”
Nate rubbed my shoulder and said, “Noted then. We’ll have to plan a dinner here at my place for this weekend.”
“That’d be great,” I said.
“So, Nate tells me you two met online, Curt,” Melissa said.
“Yeah, he responded to a personal ad I had. He was incredibly charming.”
Nancy said, “He’s good at that. And he normally lives up to the charm.”
“Hey now,” Nate said.
“So what about you two?” I asked.
“Oh we met my sophomore year and Nancy’s freshman year through the gay student union,” Melissa said.
“Yeah, we’re one of the reasons some of our classmates refer to the GSU as the dating club,” Nancy said with a smirk.
“At least you two can have a relationship and not create drama,” Nate said ruefully. “To be honest, if another meeting is disrupted by Jeff and Dan and their on again/off again relationship.” His voice trailed off.
Melissa nodded sternly. “I know what you mean. By the way, which is it?”
“Off again, I think,” Nancy said.
I shook my head. “It sounds confusing.
“Let’s put it this way,” Melissa said. “Some members of joked about having score cards printed.”
Nancy finished chewing the mouthful of food she had, swallowed and said, “I still prefer the other idea.” Nate stared at her quizzically. “The betting pool on how long before they’re back together.” Nate laughed.
“Is it really that bad,” I asked.
Nate shrugged. “We’re probably exaggerating a little. But not much. And it does get frustrating for everyone who’d rather talk about something else.” He set his plate on the small table beside him and opened the game box.
“So let’s talk about something else,” Melissa suggested. “Curt, Nate tells me that you’re a Christian and go to the big evangelical church over on Avon.”
“How have you been handling the fact that Nate’s an atheist,” she asked. “I mean, in terms of your family and church friends.”
Nate said, “Actually, his one friend from church, Steve, was quite cool about it all.”
I nodded. “It will be a bigger issue if and when other people from church find out. Of course, with some people, the fact that I’m dating any guy would be a problem.”
Melissa nodded. “Yeah, I can sympathize. My family is from an Orthodox Jewish background, and many of my aunts and uncles are still quite observant. At family reunions, they constantly asked when I was going to find a nice Jewish boy. Imagine their surprise when I introduced them to my naughty witchy girlfriend.” She squeezed Nancy’s hand.
“You’re a Wiccan?” I asked Nancy.
“Yeah, I converted when I was seventeen. I grew up Lutheran, though.”
“Ah that’s cool. I met a couple Wiccans back when I was in college, but I never got to know them very well. Or what they believed.”
“Well, I’ll gladly talk to you about it sometime, if you want. No pressure though.”
“Be careful there, Curt,” Melissa said in a teasing voice. “That’s the one subject that will turn her into a real chatterbox.” Nancy thumped her between the shoulder blades.
“So, how has your family adjusted,” I asked Melissa.
“Well, it depends on who you’re talking about. My parents have adjusted quite a bit. As they’ve gotten to know Nancy, they’ve really come to like her. And they see that she makes me happy. So they’re happy for me.”
“Her grandmother, on the other hand, is a different story,” Nancy observed.
Melissa nodded. “She still likes to refer to Nancy as my ‘friend.’ And she always makes sure she emphasizes the word. So, have your parents ever met any of your boyfriends.”
“Not yet,” I said. “I’ve mentioned a couple of guys by name or said something. Mom usually ends up getting extremely quiet when I do.”
“That has to be rough,” Nate said as he placed an arm on my shoulder. He had finished setting up the game.
“Yeah, I don’t even want to think of what some of my aunts and uncles would be like,” I said. I set down my plate and turned my attention to the game pieces on the coffee table. “Anyway, shall we play?”
“Sounds good to me,” said Melissa.
A few hours later, we were picking up game pieces and putting them away. “That was pretty good for your first time playing, Curt,” Melissa offered.
“You beat me,” Nancy offered. “I’m a bit disappointed. I was hoping that I wouldn’t be last for once.”
“I think it was mostly luck,” I said.
“Well, I hope I get a chance to try and beat you next week,” she offered.
“I’d like that, as long as I’m not intruding.”
Melissa laughed. “Don’t be silly. You’re fun to hang out with. Besides, it was fun to be able to kiss my girlfriend without Nate saying ‘ew’ every time.”
“I knew I was forgetting to do something!” Nate said, slapping his forehead with the heel of his hand.
“Seriously, you two make a pretty cute couple,” Nancy said. “And it’s nice to see Nate so happy.”
I blushed. “Thanks. He makes me happy too.”
“I still wish he’d let you show up the drawing you did of him,” Melissa said.
“You know, for a lesbian, you’re awful interested in seeing my cock,” Nate said.
“Well, you brag about it often enough, I’d just like to see if it’s as wonderful as you claim,” Melissa teased.
Nancy said. “Well, then maybe an artistic rendering done by his infatuated boyfriend isn’t the proof you’re seeking anyway.”
Nate glared at Nancy. “And here I thought you were the nice one.”
Melissa grinned, “I keep telling everyone that she’s fooling y’all.”
“What? I’m sweet and innocent,” Nancy protested.
I thought for a moment before speaking. “In comparison to these two yes. But that still gives you plenty of wiggle room.”
Melissa laughed. “And the newbie gets in a good burn.”
Nancy smiled and spoke with fake menace in her voice. “You may have just forfeited your newbie leniency.”
“Don’t worry, hon. It’ll still protect you,” Nate said.
“Really? I figured you’d be the first to jump in and tease me mercilessly?” I said.
Melissa snorted. Nate shook his head and pinched my butt. “Well, I meant for another week or so. Then all bets are off.”
Nancy held out her hand and I shook it. “It really was nice to meet you, Curt. I hope to see you again next week.”
“Unless something comes up, you will.”
I turned to offer my hand to Melissa, who knocked it away and pulled me into a tight hug. “I don’t do the handshake thing. Don’t be a stranger. And make sure you keep Nate in line.”
“Don’t task him with the impossible, Melis,” Nancy said.
“Thanks. It’s great to meet you too. I hope we can talk more again soon,” I said.
“Have Nate give you my number. Text or call anytime.”
Melissa and Nancy then gave Nate a hug and said goodbye in turn. Nate asked, “Are you providing food next week?”
“Yeah,” Melissa said. “I’m thinking I’ll make my lentil soup. If Nancy has time to bake this weekend.”
“I think I can manage at least one loaf.”
Nate rubbed his stomach. “Homemade bread and lentil soup. Sounds like heaven to me.”
“Anyway, we better get going,” Nancy said. “See you next week. Take care, Curt.” With that, the couple walked down the stairs.
As I heard the exterior door latched shut, Nate turned to me. “So, what do you think.”
“They’re awesome. And I had a great time tonight. Thank you for inviting me.”
“Any time. And you really liked my cooking?”
“It was fantastic.”
“I was a bit concerned, since you tend to eat meat. It kind of makes you the oddball in our quartet.”
“Oh?” I hadn’t thought about it, but it occurred to me that Nate tended to order vegetarian selections.
“Yeah. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian and Nancy is strictly vegan. I think Melissa will still eat fish, but tends to follow Nancy’s dietary practices to simplify meal preparations and so they can eat together easily.”
“That’s cool. As long as none of you are asking me to give up my hamburgers.”
“Just don’t ask any of us to cook them for you,” Nate said, then kissed me.
“It’s a deal. So, did you do that favor for me!”
“Crud! I almost forgot. Let me just grab my backpack out of the bedroom!” He ran back to his room and returned with his backpack, pawing through it. he pulled out a few sheets of paper and handed to me. “Here you go. Professor Hudson even highlighted a few she thought you might be interested in. I hope you don’t mind that I told her about you and why you asked me to get the information for you.
I scanned over the list. “Not at all. Wow, I’m impressed with some of these classes. Thank you so much.”
“Anything for my sweet, sexy man,” he said, pulling me close again. “So, do you have to go right away.”
I glanced at my phone to check the time. “Yeah, I better. I need to let Katie out. Plus I should get some sleep tonight.”
“Yeah, but you’d sleep better if we had a little fun first,” Nate suggested, caressing my hip. His touch was electrifying.
“I know. But I’d rather wait until we had more time. Plus it’d be nice to be able to fall asleep next to you.”
“Friday night, then?” he suggested. “If you bring Katie, you can even spend the night. I already cleared it with my landlord. He says he’s okay with her being in the apartment as long as she’s only visiting for a night or two.”
“Mmm, and you would cook for me again?”
“In or out of the bedroom?”
“It’s a deal. Now let me walk you to your car before I try to talk you into staying now.”
“That’s a good idea. If you try again, you might succeed.”
“No tempting me like that.”