I’m now winding down to final edits and I wanted to post an excerpt from “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” before the book goes live on Amazon next week. I’m not sure of the exact release date. But I’ll post soon about this.
When Jonah went home that night, he started practicing his cutlery skills right after dinner. His mom and dad lived in one of those older row homes in Queens. The house had been built so the front door opened into the living room, the living room led to the dining room, and the door at the back wall in the dining room led to the kitchen. Three years earlier his mom and dad had renovated the entire first floor, making it an open concept floor plan. They’d knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and put in a center island with a gray granite counter top to define the kitchen. Jonah’s mom liked to talk while she was cooking and hated being alone in the kitchen. Jonah’s dad wanted good resale value for when he was ready to move to Florida.
Jonah cleared his mom’s vintage cookie jar collection of elves and gnomes off the center island and started practicing his cutlery skills for an exam he had the next day for a class that was called, The Art of Chopping Yummy Veggies. On the way home from school he’d purchased four large bags of onions and picked up a sharpening stone at a small kitchen supply store. While his mom and dad sat in the living room on brown chenille sofas covered with plastic slipcovers watching a fifty-two inch flat screen TV, he went to work on the sharpening stones with his mom’s old knives. They weren’t the best knives. But he didn’t have a choice and he had to make do with what he had.
About the same time he sliced into his first onion, the doorbell rang and his mom got up to answer it. Before he sliced into the onion again, he glanced across the room to see who was there. He frowned and took a quick breath when he saw it was Stanley Minford. Stanley had been dating him off and on since high school. Jonah had dated a few other guys, but mostly Stanley because there wasn’t anyone else.
Though Jonah had never actually been with a man in a literal sense, he’d come out of the closet to his mom and dad his senior year in high school. Coming out of the closet that young hadn’t been easy. He wouldn’t have done it at all if he hadn’t been terrified about something. He’d gone on a class trip to the mountains to a ski lodge and he’d met a cute guy from another school. He wound up making out with the other guy for hours in the backseat of an empty school bus, which ended in mutual masturbation. He forgot all about it when he went home. But two weeks later he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and he was convinced he’d been infected with HIV because he’d made out with this strange guy. He went into an adolescent panic and confessed everything to his mom and dad because he thought he was dying.
Of course he didn’t get infected with HIV, not from making out with a guy. And all that teenage drama and fuss had been for nothing. It was too late to turn back and deny it all. He learned that once a guy comes out of the closet he’s out for good. There had been screaming and histrionics followed by more than a few tears. But his mom and dad eventually calmed down and accepted his lifestyle with silent resignation. Lately, which raised Jonah’s eyebrows more than once, they’d even started to push Stanley Minford on him. Jonah’s mom thought that if he had to be “a gay” Stanley seemed to be good “gay partner” material.
Jonah had grown up with Stanley and they’d been childhood friends. Before he’d moved to an apartment of his own on the avenue, Stanley had lived four doors down the street. While Jonah had been more introverted growing up and less inclined to show signs he might be gay, Stanley never had any problems skipping down the street with picnic baskets, coloring his hair various shades of blonde, and sitting with the neighborhood women while they talked about knitting or their monthly cramps. Oh, that Stanley Minford could tell you more about a uterus than most women. He even crocheted a blanket for Jonah when he went away to college to study puppetry. Stanley used all the colors of the rainbow for the blanket and referred to it as his “fabulous pride” cover. Jonah kept it hidden in a dark green plastic bag the entire time he lived in the dorms.
And now Stanley was here again and Jonah wasn’t in the mood to deal with him. Before Jonah’s mom closed the front door, Stanley threw his arms in the air, told her how much he loved her new hairdo, and then kissed her on the cheek. He turned to Jonah’s father and smiled. Then he glanced back at the kitchen and lifted his right arm, “Yoo–hoo,” he said. “I just popped in to say hi and to see if you want to see a movie on Saturday night. There’s something fabulous playing I’ve just been dying to see.”
Jonah felt a pull in his stomach and his heart started beating faster. Stanley was wearing a purple sweater vest, a pink shirt, and tight low-rise jeans with a white belt. Jonah noticed his hair was a lighter shade of blond since the last time he’d seen him. And he wore so much eye-liner that night Jonah saw it all the way back in the kitchen. He shrugged and said, “I have to work on my knife skills for the rest of the week. If I don’t, I might not pass.” His voice remained low and even; he kept his head down.
Jonah’s dad looked up at the ceiling and rolled his eyes. His mom lowered her head and shook it slowly. Jonah read their minds, which was something he didn’t do often. He’d learned it was often wiser not to know what his mom and dad were thinking. He was right, too. They weren’t reacting to Stanley’s flamboyant behavior like most people would have, and they were reacting to the shabby way Jonah treated Stanley. And Jonah knew they were right.