New Neighbors

Confronting Eric's Dad


By MuscleBoy27

Mike and I looked at each other with saucer-wide eyes. The fear of god – well at least god in the form of my father – was in us. “Shit Mike! He must have heard us last night, what do we do now?!?” I jumped out of bed and fumbled to put on a pair of shorts. Mike threw his legs over the side of the bed and looked down at the floor.

“I dunno, bro – there isn’t much we can do. We just have to listen to your Dad and answer him honestly.” He turned his head slightly so he could see my reaction. By this time, I was leaning against the desk just shaking my head. I wasn’t ready for this – not yet. I had a nice semi-distant relationship with my parents and that’s the way I liked it. My parents knew I’d take responsibility for my actions, but this wasn’t like leaving the side door open or forgetting to take out the garbage. This was all about their only child not being what they’d always wanted. God, I didn’t want this conversation to happen.

I didn’t have to tell any of this to Mike. He knew it all in his own heart, and he could see my feelings in my face. We’d actually talked about the day our parents would find out. We’d discussed the “fantasy” version, where we stood together and declared our love above all else – never allowing them to separate us. We’d also talked about the “nightmare” version, where they ripped us apart and sent us to private schools on opposite coasts or something. We absolutely believed that either was possible. Mike found a pair of shorts – my shorts – and put them on. We threw on T-shirts and then stood there for a second looking at each other. Finally Mike broke the silence. “You ready, bro?”

I looked at his now very sad face – I looked at him, and then I lost it. “No!” I started crying, “I’m not ready. I don’t want to let them fuck this up!” We walked toward each as I was breaking down. We held each other for what couldn’t have been more than a minute or two, but it seemed like an eternity. I just cried and cried. I felt like someone was about to rip my heart out of my chest. It couldn’t end – not now; I needed Mike so badly. Why couldn’t we have been more careful? The tears just wouldn’t stop. Mike’s hand stroked the back of my head. I couldn’t believe how my life could have gone from the highest high just a day ago to what I was sure would now be the lowest low. I eventually started to pull myself together. I finally heard Mike consoling me.

“Eric, come on man. No one is going to break us apart. They can’t do it. Even if they try – we’ll convince them it’s wrong, but we have to face this now.” There were tears in Mike’s eyes too, but he was holding it together a lot better than I was. I guess it was partially our personalities and partially the fact that it was my Dad we were about face. I finally regained my composure. I went into the bathroom and washed my face off. My eyes were still puffy from crying, but this was as good as I was going to look.

I led us down stairs and into my Dad’s office. This was a very Ward Cleaver moment as my Dad was sitting behind his desk looking over some papers. I briefly imagined Beaver saying, “Uh, you wanted to see me, Dad?” and then looking completely pathetic. Mike and I stood in the middle of the room, and rather than announcing us, Beaver-style, I just cleared my throat.

He looked at us over the top of his reading glasses, “it’s about time you got down here. Now, I’d like you two to tell me where this came from.” He reached down by the drawers of his desk and pulled up the bodybuilding trophy. He read the inscription, “’2nd Place, Teen Light Heavyweight Division, Pomona Bodybuilding Classic’, you boys wanna tell me where this came from?”

It was the trophy? I couldn’t believe it. You could feel the tension go out from each of us. Since this was my Dad, both Mike and I knew it was my job to explain. “It’s my trophy, Dad.” I paused for a second and he gave me one of this patented, ‘no shit Sherlock, now tell me how you got it’ looks. I continued on. “I won it last night at that bodybuilding show in Pomona.”

He glared at me silently for a minute. “You… entered a bodybuilding contest – and took second place – and you didn’t tell your mother or me?” He continued the glare.

My eyes went down to the floor. Even though I felt relief that he wasn’t confronting me about Mike, I felt ashamed that I hadn’t told them what I was up to. “Yes, sir,” were the only words I could think of. He picked up the trophy and turned it as though to look at it from all angles.

“It’s pretty goddamn big trophy, isn’t it? Didn’t it occur to you that your mother and I would have liked to have seen you in this show?” He continued to stare at me, but his tone was softening. I could tell he was honestly more hurt than angry. I looked at him as best I could.

Without really thinking, I told him the actual reason why I didn’t tell him about the contest. “I’m sorry Dad, I sort of did it as a surprise.” Even as I said the words, I could hear his next question. He’d have to ask for whom I’d intended the surprise.

There was a look of amazement on his face. “Surprise? Surprise for whom, Eric?” Shit, why did I say that? Mike was standing there next to me. I couldn’t look at him, but I knew his heart was going out to me. This was really hard.

“Umm, it was a surprise for Mike and Justin, Dad.” There. I’d said it. I’d have to take whatever punishment he wanted to dish out, but at least I felt good about telling the truth. He looked at me for a minute. His expression changed from one that questioned me to one that showed he was trying to figure out what say next.

“Mike and Justin, huh? Well, I guess you managed to surprise the hell out of your mother and me too. Next time you want to do something like this, tell us. We’d be very proud to watch you, son.” The tone in his voice was sincere. He wasn’t mad at us, quite the opposite, he was proud of me, but hurt that I hadn’t included him. I realized I was kinda hurt that I hadn’t too. “OK boys, that’s it. You’d better get ready for school.” Mike and I both turned and took a step toward the stairs.

“Oh, one more thing…” he said, just before we were about to leave his office. We both stopped and turned back to face him. “You two seemed almost relieved that I was upset about finding this trophy.” He paused to analyze our reaction to his statement. “You two weren’t afraid that I was going to be upset about the two of you having sex in Eric’s room last night where you?”

Both of our hearts stopped. We looked at my Dad slack-jawed. I’m not quite sure why – probably because he knew this was my worst fear becoming reality – but Mike decided to speak up. “Ya, You know about that, sir?” Mike said; there was respect and strength in his voice. I had no idea how he was managing it. My knees felt weak and I honestly wondered if I was going to get sick.

My Dad’s voice was calm and level. “Yes, Mike. Eric’s mother and I known that you two were more than friends for a while now.” I couldn’t believe my Dad had delivered this bombshell like this. Why did he make us suffer through telling him about the trophy if he wanted to get on us for being in love? To my amazement Mike started talking again.

“Sir?” he said, waiting for my Dad’s acknowledgement, “do my parents know too?” My Dad looked at Mike – in fact their gaze was locked on each other. My Dad was capable of incredible compassion and this was one of those times when it came out.

He pursed his lips a little and gave Mike an understanding look, “yes Mike, they do.” For the first time since we’d entered my Dad’s office, I looked at Mike. Now he was doing everything he could to hold himself together.

“Are they OK with it, sir?” Mike asked. His lip was trembling and he was fighting back tears. My Dad continued to look at him, luckily there was compassion in his eyes.

“That’s something for you talk about with them, Mike. I will tell you this, you’re parents love you a lot and they are very proud of you – just like Eric’s Mom and I are proud of him.” A single tear ran down Mike’s face, he didn’t say another word. I don’t know where it came from, but found the courage to ask my Dad the questions that Mike and I were so afraid to ask.

“Dad? Are you and Mom OK with Mike and me?” I closed my eyes for a second and swallowed hard. One of my Dad’s favorite sayings was ‘don’t ask questions unless you really want to know the answer.’ I wasn’t really sure I wanted to know the answer to this one. My Dad leaned back in his chair and looked away from us.

“I’d being lying to you if I said this is what I’d always wanted for you.” He paused a second to think about his next words, “I know a lot of gay people in the entertainment business, boys. No matter how out they are and how comfortable they are with themselves, their sexuality makes their lives harder – trust me, no parent wants their son’s lives to be harder than it has to be.” He paused again and turned to look at us. “Honestly guys, it’s taken your mother and me a while to get used to this, but we can see that your relationship has done Eric a lot of good. Good that we couldn’t do for him. A year ago, Eric was too shy to meet my business partners, shake their hands and look them in the eye. Now he’s entering bodybuilding shows. That’s because of you, Mike, not because of us.” He turned to look away from us again. “Yeah, Eric. Your mother and I are OK with this.”

I was stunned. My parents and I had never even begun to talk on this level before and now my Dad was doing an incredible job of explaining his feelings. All at once my whole relationship with him changed. He understood stuff that I never imagined he knew – let alone understood. He stood up and walked toward us. I’m not sure what came over me, but I ran toward him and hugged him – crying again. “I love you Dad!” were the only words I could think of.

“I love you too, Eric.” We hugged only briefly. “Now go get ready for school.” •

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