I’ve been juggling my workload this week, and one thing I’ve been working on is the upcoming anthology I’m indie publishing, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance, with three short stories by Bella Stanberry. She did something interesting for this anthology. Instead of one short story, she submitted three stories…all with slightly different titles…as a trilogy of shorts. The first story begins the trilogy, and the final story which ends the trilogy is filled with the kind of serious emotion that made me re-read the ending twice.
She also left herself open at the end in case she wants to continue to write about these characters. If I said anything else I would be giving out spoilers. So here’s an unpublished excerpt from the first story, titled, “New Adult One.”
I don’t have a detailed description for this, but here’s the set up. The entire trilogy is told in the first person, from the POV of the gay character. And it gets into the highly emotional relationship that three unlikely people find while they are almost ready to graduate from college…one gay man, a bisexual man, and one straight woman who wind up in an intimate, monogamous, permanent relationship that works for them. And even though they are all new adults, there’s another reason why the stories were titled this way that adds more depth to the stories. But that would be another spoiler.
The photo above from wiki commons reminds me of the setting in one of the stories.
The other day my mom started talking about my younger brother and his new girlfriend. We were on the phone; this isn’t new.
It was one of those weekly chats where my mom rambles on as if she’s taken too many Lyrica pills for her bad knee and I’m on the depressing single bed in my dorm room in my underwear scratching my sack, nodding and saying yes the entire time. It’s a process; a ritual. And the less I disagree with her the faster I get off the phone.
It’s not as if she’s unhappy with me being gay. When I came out to my folks the summer after I graduated from high school they took it fairly well. They didn’t jump up and down and sing show tunes. They barely even smiled. We were in the kitchen and they remained silent for a long time while they processed the information. But they finally said what most liberal parents of college age kids say when they are faced with a child coming out of the closet: “We’re fine with this as long as you’re happy. And please practice safe sex at all times.”
In other words, they would have preferred it if I were straight, but they could learn to live with me being gay, in time. I often wondered if they ever told my straight brother to have safe sex at all times. Did they mention to him that straight dudes can get cancer from cunnilingus because of the HPV virus if they aren’t careful? I never actually asked them these questions because I thought it might be too confrontational. I was so happy they didn’t freak out on me when I told them I was gay I took what I could get and hugged and kissed them both.
It’s been three years since that conversation and I’m a junior in college. My dad rarely mentions my gay lifestyle aloud. My mom has grown to accept me, and she’s taken it upon herself to offer suggestions about meeting gay guys. She’s read all the books on how to be a great gay mom. When she begins these conversations, she always heads it off with a hint about my younger brother’s girlfriends. She seems to think that we all need to be paired off as couples in life, and that no one single ever lived a full or authentic life…gay or straight. And I just smile and nod while she speaks, looking at my watch, and wondering how she would react if I told her the truth.
Sometimes I play the imaginary conversation over and over in my head, wondering how she might reply. It would probably go like this:
Mom would say, “You really should get out more and meet a nice young gay man. I’m sure there are plenty of them where you go to school.”
I would smile and say, “I’m already in a relationship, mom. I haven’t mentioned it because it’s just a little unusual. I’m not sure you’d understand it.”
She would remain silent for a moment, and then ask, “What do you mean unusual?” I’m sure she would be wondering what could be more unusual than two men sleeping with each other.
“It’s different,” I would say. “It’s not conventional.”
She would become frustrated and ask, “Oh please. How different could it be?”
I would take a deep breath, exhale, and say, “I met a nice couple.”
“A couple of what?” she would ask.
After another deep breath, I would say, “I met this couple. A guy and a girl. And I’ve been seeing them both for the last several months. We’re all very fond of each other. I think you’d like them.”
Then there would be dead silence, and I would hear a crash on the other end of the line. My dad would come rushing into the room to see what had happened and I would overhear him asking my mom, “Oh my God, Joanne. What’s wrong? Why did you pass out?”
Bu these are only fantasies I replay in my head sometimes, because I’m not sure when I’ll ever tell my mom about this relationship. I don’t think she would understand, and I’m not even sure I fully understand what I’m doing with another couple half of the time. Maybe it’s a generational thing. People my age seem to be doing things a little differently than generations before them. But I could be wrong about that. Maybe we’re just doing it more openly.
This all began a few months ago. I belong to a gym a few miles from school and I go there to work out with my friend, Gina, four or five times a week. But I should backtrack a little first. I met Gina my freshman year of college in a registration line while waiting to be approved for a history class we both wanted to take that semester. Gina was standing in front of me in line, tapping her black pumps with six inch heels and looking at her watch. I noticed her large breasts and her expensive seven shades of long blond hair. She noticed my tight jeans and my large biceps. At first, she flirted with me and I took this as a compliment. It was even more of a compliment when I mentioned I was gay and she didn’t blow me off. We started talking about how frustrating it was to get anything accomplished during registration week and found out we both had a lot in common, especially when it came to men. We started whispering about the hot guy in front of us, and we’ve been best friends ever since that day. I even used to joke around that if I weren’t gay Gina would be the woman I would marry.
I had no idea how true these words would one day be.
A few months ago at the beginning of the semester, Gina met a guy named Luke at the gym. I wasn’t there that night. I was in my dorm doing what I always do at the beginning of a new semester: trying to organize my schedule and working hard not to freak out about taking on eighteen credits that semester. And while I was kicking myself for taking that extra film course on Thursday evenings, wondering how I would deal with all the reading from the English class, Gina was in Luke’s Corvette giving him head in the parking lot of the gym. I will never forget the elated tone in her voice when she phoned me at midnight and told me what had happened with Luke.
“Fuck,” she said, “I met the hottest guy tonight at the gym. He looks like fucking Ryan Reynolds and he has a dick like a porn star.”
I laughed and closed my lap top. I was used to her crude descriptions by then. She tended to objectify men more than most men objectify women. “How big are we talking about here?” I am a detail person.
Before I continue, it’s important to understand that one of the reasons Gina and I get along so well is because of the way she never minces her words. Although Gina is all woman in every sense of the word, she has never been ladylike and demure. She usually uses the word fuck in every other sentence, and she loves sex more than most of the gay men I know. She actually has a shirt that reads, “Smut,” in bold back letters. In the same respect, she thinks most hardcore feminists need better hairdressers, a little lip gloss wouldn’t hurt them, and they shouldn’t wear those “hideous” flat shoes and pencil skirts that make them look like ex-nuns. Gina wears stilettos and tight tops to show off her breasts. She loves mini shirts that make construction workers whistle and catcall. She’s also a straight A student, thinks about becoming an attorney, and she belongs to Mensa. I’ve been in more than a few amusing situations with her when she’s put a few scruffy faced feminists in pencil skirts in their proverbial places. In many ways, Gina is the gay man I always wanted to be, with all the high camp included.
“He’s like a freaking beer can,” Gina said, laughing so hard she started to snort.
Of course I was sitting on the edge of the bed by then. “What happened?” I had a feeling this story would be interesting. She hadn’t snorted this way since the night she’d met those painfully shy twin brothers from Iowa.
“He helped me do bench presses,” she said.
“But you know how to do bench presses better than most of the guys there,” I said.
She laughed. “I know that, but he didn’t.”
“You were the damsel in distress,” I said, in a shy helpless tone.
“Damn fucking right, dude,” she said.
“Are you going out with him again?” I asked.
“I hope so,” she said.