“You want us to do what?” I asked Asher. I couldn’t believe he could even suggest such a thing.
“I said I’d like to have a party for New Year’s Eve with you guys,” Asher replied, “and I think it would be fun to dress in drag.”
“Are you crazy?” I asked. “I’m not the least bit interested in cross-dressing, and as far as I know, neither is Kyle.”
“I’m with Freck on that one,” Kyle chimed in. Freck was my nickname and was short for Freckles. My real name was Francis and I hated it.
I was an athlete. I played in a soccer league and played basketball. Sure, I was gay, but I wasn’t interested in cross-dressing — at all. Neither was my boyfriend. Kyle was more of an intellectual than an athlete, but he was an in-your-face brash New Yorker with not an effeminate ounce in him. We were both strong, masculine and all-boy. And young — Kyle just turned ten and I just turned twelve. Too young to be boyfriends? Not a chance. I’d be graduating from Stuyvesant High School next year at the age of thirteen and we hoped that Kyle would graduate right along with me, at the age of eleven. Kyle might be two years younger than me but he was my intellectual equal.
“Look, I wasn’t crazy about the idea either,” Asher’s boyfriend, Seth, said as he stood up, “but you have to admit that’s an unusual idea and a great theme for a party.”
As he stood, it reminded me that he was stark naked. We all were. A freak Christmas blizzard had left us stranded in Asher’s apartment and once the main roads had been cleared, we’d stayed to help Asher’s parents with deliveries from their Asian restaurant. Kyle and I had been wearing the same clothes for five days now and even with daily showers and washing our boxers out every night, our clothes were no longer wearable in polite company, especially mine. Kyle didn’t yet need to use deodorant, but even still, his clothes smelled like those of a homeless kid. On the other hand, I did use deodorant but in spite of doing so, all the climbing over snow drifts to deliver Chinese take-out had left me soaked in sweat by the end of each day, and my clothes were positively rank. Kyle and I both showered this morning, but there was no way we were going to wear those clothes again, so we decided that brunch was going to be clothing optional. Our friends took pity on us and opted not to wear clothes either.
Kyle and I were exclusive, as were Ash and Seth, so being naked had nothing to do with sex or any kind of interest in group sex. Still, I couldn’t help but notice how handsome our hosts were. Asher had the classic ‘Tiger Woods’ look, having an African American father from New Orleans and an Asian American Mother from Queens. At fourteen, he was well into puberty and was already shaving, but his physique was virtually absent of any muscle definition at all. Asher had no interest in sports. His passions were sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and classical Jazz. Actually, the love of music was the one thing we all shared, besides being gay and exceptionally bright.
Seth was a year younger than Ash, yet he was also a freshman at Stuyvesant, one of New York’s elite public high schools. He appeared even younger than me, however, with the curliest natural blond hair I’d ever seen, emerald green eyes, modest muscle definition but little other evidence that puberty had begun. Like Asher, he was a Star Trek junkie and a classic Jazz fan. Also like Asher, he had loving parents who weren’t often around. His father was one of the most powerful politicians in the New York State Assembly.
Kyle was tall for his age — almost as tall as I was — and he was surprisingly well-endowed for a ten-year-old. Because of his size, he looked like he was more like eleven, and his longish, wavy brown hair and hazel eyes were absolutely dreamy. Like Seth, he didn’t yet have his pubes, whereas I already had a small patch of hair down there and my voice had already started to change. That I was so short and young-looking didn’t bode well for me, though. I could probably look forward to a growth spurt and top out at maybe 5’8” or so. Kyle would have his growth spurt in a couple of years and probably top out over six feet. But the thought of that actually made me smile. I liked it that we were about the same height now, but the thought of a manlier, taller Kyle that I could cuddle up with was… nice. It was a good thing I was sitting down, as I could feel myself plumping up.
“What are you smiling at?” Kyle asked.
“I was just thinking of us in five years or so,” I replied. “I’ll probably still be on the short side, maybe 5’8”, and you’ll probably be around 6’4”.”
Nodding his head, Kyle answered, “That’s about what I figured too. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I kinda like the idea cuddling up with my cute little redhead.”
“No offense taken, Kyle,” I replied. “I like the idea of cuddling with my studly, tall brunette.”
“Oh gag me,” responded Seth.
“So it’s agreed,” Asher went on as he paced around the dining room. “We’ll dress in drag for New Year’s Eve?”
“Fuck no!” I replied.
“No fuckin’ way,” agreed Kyle, “but this doesn’t sound like you, Ash. What’s the deal? What’s really going on here.”
“They probably made a bet or something,” I suggested, and Asher actually colored up. Even with his mocha-colored skin, I could see it. “You did!”
Sighing as he stood up, Seth answered, “You remember that bet Ash and I made with each other and the discussion we all had over it?”
“You mean the one about how your dad would react to Ash’s thoughts on welfare mothers and using DNA to track down the dads?” I asked.
“That’s the one,” Seth explained, “but we didn’t tell you what we agreed to do if either of us won or lost the bet. Well we agreed to dress in drag for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day if either of us lost…”
“You both lost?” Kyle interrupted in surprise.
“We both got it half-right,” Asher answered. “Frank Moore agreed with me when it came to the importance of breaking the cycle of dependence that kept whole generations in poverty, but he balked at the idea of using DNA to track down the fathers, calling it a slippery slope.”
“My dad went on to explain that his political views of necessity reflected the views of his constituents,” Seth added, “and didn’t necessarily reflect his personal views. Because a large portion of his district contains housing projects, it would be political suicide to talk about tying benefits to responsible behavior.”
“So it was a draw,” I summarized, “and so you both have to dress in drag for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.”
“We agreed afterwards that since we also both partially won, that we only had to dress in drag for New Year’s Eve,” Seth clarified.
“And now you want to make us suffer too?” I asked.
“Misery loves company,” Kyle chimed in.
“We’ve never done anything like that before,” Asher continued, “and as long as we’d already agreed to do it, Seth and I thought it might be fun to make a party out of it.”
“Four people does not make a party,” I countered.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve,” Kyle interjected. “Maybe we could kill two birds with one stone?” He suggested.
“You mean dress up in drag and go to Times Square?” I asked in disbelief.
“Guys, we do not want to do that,” Seth responded. The pulling out his iPhone, he continued, “Here’s the FAQ for it. First of all, if you want to actually be in Times Square for the ball drop, you need to get there by early afternoon, preferably by noon.”
“Fuck, that’s twelve hours early!” I exclaimed.
“And more than twelve hours in drag,” Seth continued. “Be sure to empty your bladders in advance, ’cause there are no public toilets in Times Square, and if you manage to convince a restaurant to let you use theirs, you’ll lose your spot on the street.”
“Maybe we could wear Depends,” Kyle said with a bit too much enthusiasm. Maybe he was into that sort of thing and I’d try to keep an open mind about it if he was, but I had absolutely no interest in anything related to diapers, except maybe when it came to having kids of our own someday.
“It would be pretty hard to wear a nice dress over a diaper,” Seth pointed out. If it could keep us from wearing diapers, perhaps dressing in drag wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
“There are no vending carts in Times Square,” Seth continued, “and most of the restaurants will close well before midnight. Unless you want to go hungry, it’s wise to bring high-energy breakfast bars with you to snack on. No alcohol or other mind-altering substances are allowed, not that I think any of us would care except maybe Freck…”
Fuck, that hurt, and so I interrupted, “I haven’t touched anything alcoholic since we met, and I haven’t smoked any weed since I tried to take a nosedive from the roof of the Battery Park Garage. If I’m gonna spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square, you better believe I want to remember it.”
“No large packages of any kind are allowed,” Seth went on, “including backpacks. A small or medium purse is allowed, but all items will be searched. Pickpockets will be out in force and so it’s recommended to leave your wallets home and just bring ID, a MetroCard and a small amount of cash. Mobile phones should be secured in an inside jacket pocket and placed where they can be felt to vibrate.
“It’s expected to be exceptionally cold and there will be residual ice and black ice where you least expect it. Dress in layers with thermal underwear, warm slacks and boots, two layers of shirts with a sweater or sweatshirt, and a heavy winter coat. Scarves, hats and gloves will be essential to prevent frostbite, and even then, glove liners are recommended.”
“Shit, it doesn’t sound like a good night to be out in high heels and a dress,” Asher responded.
“No one will be able to tell that you’re wearing a dress if we go to Times Square dressed like that, and high heels will definitely be out of the question,” Seth agreed. “With all the black ice, a broken ankle is definitely not on my bucket list.”
“Agreed,” I added.
“OK, so no Times Square,” Kyle replied, “but how about having a real New Year’s Party in drag and inviting the entire GSA membership from Stuyvesant? To be fair, we could have the girls dress as guys too. There could be prizes for the best drag costume and the best butch costume.”
“Yeah, but that’s only a few days away,” I pointed out. “Most kids already have plans for sure, and even if some wanted to attend, where in fuck would we hold such a party?”
“I know for a fact that most teenagers spend their New Year’s Eve at home with their parents,” Seth interjected. “I read it in the Times or something. No parent wants to take a chance on their kid driving home drunk or getting hit by a drunk driver on the way home.”
“But how would we keep that from happening?” I asked.
“We’d hafta hold it someplace that’s easily accessible by public transit, that doesn’t involve going through Times Square, and with adult supervision and a promise of no alcohol or drugs,” Asher suggested.”
“And we’d need enough space for people to crash for the night,” Seth added.
Suddenly, all eyes turned to me with looks of eager anticipation. What the fuck had I gotten myself into? “Guys,” I began, “My parents always have a huge New Year’s party every year at our place.”
“Your play room is bigger than a lot of living rooms,” Kyle pointed out, the little traitor.
“And didn’t you say your mom was on a buying trip in Paris?” Asher asked, “and you said your dad was in Chicago.”
Sighing, I replied, “My mother is going to be spending New Year’s in Paris. She’s extended her buying trip. Something about several designers bringing out new lines of clothing that she wants to feature.” My parents were super-rich. My mom owned one of the best-known designer labels in the world and my dad was the CEO of a major brokerage firm.
“Negotiations for exclusive deals take time,” I went on, “and my dad is still stuck in Chicago, thanks to the snow storm. No sooner had our airports reopened, than Chicago got socked in with a storm of their own. So yeah, my apartment could be available, but there’s no time to get a caterer and there’s a hell of a fucking lot to do!”
“Why would we need a caterer?” Asher asked. “I can handle it, even if I am wearing high heels.” And then he got a look of surprise on his face and added, “Mom?”
This was definitely an ‘OH SHIT’ kind of moment as it dawned on all of us that we’d been talking long enough for Asher’s mother to have returned home. Asher and Seth were standing in full frontal view. At least Kyle and I were still seated, yet we were just as naked as they were.
“Sorry to interrupt, boys, but I thought you’d like to know I’m home,” She said. “I was going to go right to bed, but I’m guessing this has something to do with Freck and Kyle not having any clean clothes? Perhaps, Asher, you’d like to do the laundry today, and maybe you’d like to get your clothes out of your hamper before I go to bed.”
Nodding his head, Asher replied, “That’s a very good idea.” Waking past his mother and disappearing around the corner, he returned a moment later with the same cart he used to ferry the groceries home. He disappeared into his parents’ bedroom — the one we’d been using since Christmas — and reappeared a moment later with the cart half-full of dirty clothes and bedsheets. He then disappeared into the bathroom and reappeared with the cart nearly full from the addition of all the dirty towels. Finally, Asher headed into his bedroom and returned a bit later with the cart overflowing with the addition of the dirty clothes and bedsheets from there.
“I’d better check to make sure he got everything of ours,” Kyle said to me as he stood up and walked in the nude, right past Asher’s mother. How could he do that?
Seeing the look on my face, Seth shrugged his shoulders and said, “I can’t speak for Kyle, but in the tiny Manhattan apartments Ash and I have, there’s no real privacy. With my bedroom in a closet, I couldn’t even get out of bed without my parents seeing me naked. I’ve been sleeping in the nude since I was nine, so it was no big deal. And the other day, Ash’s parents saw both of us when we burned the stuffing…
“You burned the stuffing?” I asked.
“Damn!” Asher exclaimed. “You weren’t supposed to know about that.”
“We were so tired after preparing all the food the night before Thanksgiving that we forgot the stuffing was still in the oven and we went to bed,” Seth explained. “We woke up an hour later when the smoke detector went off. While Ash was dealing with all the smoke in the house, his parents came home and saw both of us like this, without any clothing.”
“So, if you burned the stuffing,” I asked, “what did we eat?”
“There wasn’t time to get the rest of the dinner ready and to prepare another batch,” Asher explained, “so my dad graciously agreed to make the stuffing for us in the restaurant.”
“So that wonderful stuffing we all had was your dad’s recipe and not yours?” I asked.
“My recipe is based on his, but I’ll be the first to admit that his is better. Dad uses a ton of butter whereas I use canola oil and buttermilk. Mine’s much lighter and healthier, but I’m just grateful Dad was able to come to the rescue.”
“You have a wonderful father, Ash,” Kyle said as he returned from the bathroom with our dirty boxers and added them to the cart — how embarrassing!
“He is wonderful,” Seth agreed. “I love him the way I love my own parents.”
“So do I,” Kyle added.”
Suddenly realizing that he’d slighted his boyfriend’s mother, Seth went up to her, still in the nude, and hugged her tightly saying, “And I love you too, Mom.”
“You don’t need to worry about me, Seth,” she responded. “Gary White is someone special. I’ve always known that. I’m just thankful that he wasn’t blinded by race and that of all the women in the world, he chose me to be his wife.”
Kyle then went up to Asher’s mom and hugged her himself, murmuring his thanks for all she had done for him as a surrogate mother, since his own mother was an alcoholic. Asher followed suit, also still in the nude, and hugged her.
“What the fuck,” I said as I stood up, but before I could hug Ash’s mom, she admonished me with, “Francis San Angelo?” Ouch, How formal!
“I’m sorry Ms. W.” I responded as I went up to hug her. “It’s a bad habit.”
“A lot of kids think it’s cool to use words like that,” she continued, “but it becomes a habit that affects you for life. To be sure, there are times that words like that are appropriate, but if you use them so casually, they lose their impact when they’re needed the most.” Damn if she was right!
“So what was that I heard about a New Year’s party?” she asked, and we were soon heavily involved in discussing our plans.
Arrangements for the party came together surprisingly quickly. We used the high school directory and the GSA membership list to track down as many kids as possible. Much to our amazement, 28 kids agreed to come to the party off the bat, and six of those asked to bring boyfriends or girlfriends who didn’t go to Stuyvesant. Four asked about bringing a total of eleven straight friends, for a total of 35 guests, 21 boys and 14 girls, in addition to the four of us. It was going to be a pretty big party! Some of the guys were quite enthusiastic about coming in drag, but even among those who weren’t, no one out-and-out refused. None of the girls objected to coming dressed as boys either.
With the help of the GSA president, we posted a notice about the party on the GSA’s website and on our school’s social media pages. We made it very clear, however, that the doorman would turn anyone away who was not on the invite list, which would be finalized by Sunday at midnight. An RSVP was required to attend. My penthouse apartment was huge, so hosting as many as a hundred kids wasn’t out of the question — not that I expected anywhere close to that many. All were told to bring sleeping bags with them if they wished to stay overnight.
I had assumed that we could obtain our clothing and accessories from the high-end boutiques at Brookfield Place and the Oculus at the World Trade Center, near where I lived. Alternatively, we could have gone to the flagship stores on Fifth Avenue but as Ash’s mother pointed out, even if I dropped my mother’s name, no one was gonna lend us outfits for the night and then turn around and sell them to someone else. Even at cost, a suitable outfit for the evening could run tens of thousands of dollars. Fuckin’ Hell!
Instead, we were at the City Opera Thrift Shop on 23rd Street, meeting with the shop director, a personal friend of Ash’s mother. The City Opera Thrift Shop was dedicated to supporting the arts in New York City and was closely affiliated with the Metropolitan Opera, which made it near and dear to my heart. I loved the Met and I loved opera. Anything to help support the opera was golden in my book. The thrift shop at its lowest denominator was a second-hand clothes store, but the clothes in its inventory were one-of-a-kind items donated by some of the wealthiest patrons of the arts. It wasn’t unusual to find a ballroom gown, custom-made by a well-known designer and worn for only one night by a famous celebrety. Items of that ilk, however, were still very expensive, even second-hand. The most expensive items were sold at curated events or sold at auction for top-dollar. However, one could also find stunning, unique items donated by the less-than-famous wealthy, and by middle- and upper-middle-class individuals with eclectic tastes. My own parents, for example had donated a number of items to the City Opera Thrift Shop over the years. So had Seth’s, Kyle’s, and even Asher’s. However, should we fail to find what we liked, Goodwill had their own thrift store a few doors down.
I had my eyes on a petit strapless red ballgown with matching shoes and a coordinating red purse. Yes, strapless. Truth be told, it was more the shoulders that were a problem for dressing in drag and not the lack of boobs. With convincingly realistic falsies and a lot of adhesive, I could support a strapless dress. The use of a hidden belt helped further reduce the weight of the dress on the torso, but my shoulders and arms were more muscular than typical for a girl, and my shoulders were a lot wider. At barely twelve, however, my torso wasn’t too far out of range for that of a mature girl, and with the right makeup and high heels, I was assured that I would make a stunning young woman.
Kyle decided on a golden bronze-colored dress with gold and sapphire sequence, with a strap over the left shoulder and a bare right shoulder. His chest was just a little too flat to be effective with a strapless dress. He chose matching gold shoes and a coordinating purse, but when he looked at a matched gold choker and earring set, I realized that to be believable, I was going to need jewelry too. A lot of guys had a pierced ear at school, but I’d never even considered it. Now I was going to need two.
Holding up the pair in his hand to his ears, he asked me, “What do you think?”
“If I were into girls,” I replied, “I would think they’re stunning on you.”
With a smirk, he said, “Maybe I’ll wear them in school and on dates with you.”
“Gold and dangling pearls do not look masculine,” I complained. “They’d look weird with jeans and a T-shirt. And guys usually wear only one earring.”
“Some boys wear two,” Kyle noted, “and I’m gay after all.”
“Don’t I know it,” I replied, and gave him a quick kiss on the lips.
“How about these,” he suggested as he held up a pair of sterling silver studs with a single golden tiger’s eye stone in each. I had to admit that the coloring was perfect for him. They really accentuated his wavy brown hair and hazel eyes, and they definitely looked better as a pair.
“I love ’em, Ky,” I said as I pulled him close to me. “They’re really perfect on you. Please let me get them for you.”
“That’s the first time you’ve called me ‘Ky’,” he responded with a smile. “I really like that.”
After giving me a kiss, and not just a peck, he pulled away and said, “Now, how about these for your outfit.” He held up a pair of rose gold studs with a single round dark amber stone in each and held them up to my ears. The instant I looked in the mirror, I could see how well they brought my coppery eyes together with my red hair. Unfortunately, I noticed that he stones were real and the gold was 14K. The pair alone would set me back $500, which was hardly worth it for just one night. But then Kyle said, “Now those are unisex, so you can wear them after the party, to school and on dates with me. This time they’re my gift to you.” I gave. Kyle a brief but passionate kiss in return.
“This necklace should coordinate nicely with the earrings,” Kyle pointed out as he pointed to a multi-strand necklace with tiny amber beads. It was costume jewelry and not that expensive, but it looked real enough to wear with the dress and earrings. However, my glasses ruined the overall look of the ensemble. Unfortunately, the shape of my frames was far to masculine and just didn’t go with the outfit. I wasn’t about to spend several hundred dollars on new glasses that I’d only wear once, and I’d long ago been told I wasn’t a candidate for contacts. I could see passably without glasses and had been doing so in gym class as long as I could remember. I was just gonna hafta go without for the party.
I ended up spending $550 on my outfit, not counting the earrings. The dress was expensive enough that I had to pay tax. Kyle spent $700 on his, and it truly did him justice. After Kyle and I went to have our ears pierced — fuck, that hurt — we met up with Ash and Seth to see what they were getting.
Seth was wearing a stunning black evening gown that contrasted beautifully with his golden curls. In each ear he wore a single stud with a solitary emerald that brought out the color of his eyes to perfection. Then I realized he was wearing them.
“How the fuck can you be wearing earrings so soon after having your ears pierced?” I asked.
It was Asher who answered, “His ears were already pierced. He just doesn’t wear earrings very often.”
“I had them pierced when I turned twelve,” Seth added. “I have to push a wire through them every night if I don’t want them to close up, but I decided to keep them in case I found a boyfriend who likes earrings.”
“And I have to admit that they look fantastic on Seth,” Ash chimed in.
Yes, Seth looked great, but I knew Ash was gonna be a challenge the moment we set foot in the store. His Tiger Woods looks were about as masculine as could be, and he was the only one of us with visible hair on his face, under his arms and on his arms and legs. Thank God he didn’t have any hair on his chest yet, but that was of little consolation when he balked at the idea of shaving his underarms, his arms and his legs. What he needed was an evening dress that fully covered his arms. Seth did a good job of finding something that worked for him. The color was a light gold that complemented Ash’s mocha complexion perfectly. The dress had shear sleeves that covered the arms just enough to hide the hair under and on his arms. They also helped soften the sharp angles of his shoulders and elbows. The torso was low-cut, showing off what appeared to be ample breasts, as rendered by the falsies. Because he was rather tall, Ash opted to wear flat shoes rather than high heels. He tried on a pair of 2” heels, and even that much of a lift caused him to lose his balance and nearly fall. He just wasn’t coordinated enough to wear them. Asher absolutely balked at having his ears pierced and so Seth ended up finding some clip-on gold earrings and a matching necklace with a pendant for him.
Finally, we all were given a surprisingly thorough lesson on how to apply makeup to raise the cheek bones, highlight the eyes, lengthen the eye lashes and soften the lips. The makeup kits and lipstick in aggregate set us back another four hundred dollars. Already this party was costing us a small fortune, and we hadn’t even bought the food yet.
“I can’t believe you’ve never been up here,” Kyle kept saying as we took an Uber car north toward Riverdale. Truthfully, for someone so adept at languages, I’d hardly ever been out of Manhattan at all. My parents traveled all over the world, but that was as required for their work. They hardly ever traveled for the fun of it, and so they saw no reason for us to travel either. My sisters and I were far better educated than most and had been exposed to the arts in ways few kids our age could imagine. We were patrons of the opera and the symphony. Hell, we had an original Picasso in our apartment that was said to be worth millions.
Through school trips I’d visited Washington, Chicago and San Francisco. I’d even been on a ‘freedom tour’ through the deep south. But places I’d have liked to have seen, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and the Inner Passage of Alaska might as well have been on Mars for all I cared. Hell, my mom constantly went on buying trips to Paris, yet she’d never seen the Louvre. She’d never been to the fucking Louvre, for cripes sake. Oh, how I’d love to see the treasures of the world. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Lisbon, Prague, Budapest, Venice, Florence and Rome. Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo. Jerusalem, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Bonas Aries and Rio. The list went on and on.
But Riverdale? It may have been a part of the City, but it hadn’t even been on my radar until now. I had no idea what to even expect. I’d been up to the Riverdale Diner once before, when I was introduced to Kyle for the first time, but I’d not been back since. At least that gave me some idea of what Riverdale was like. The diner was literally in the shadow of an elevated subway. The area around it looked like it could be anywhere in Brooklyn or Queens, and so I wasn’t expecting anything different when it came to where Kyle lived. He said he lived in a house, which was a bit difficult to imagine. Most of the houses I’d seen near the diner were tiny. There were some large high-rises that looked nice, though.
Because we’d had to stop first at Asher’s place to drop off some stuff, we took the FDR and Harlem River Drive. Christmas and the shopping season were done and most of the snow from the blizzard had been cleared. What was left of it was already melting. Traffic was light since it was a Sunday and a lot of people were away for the holidays. The Uber made good time and before long, we were crossing over the Harlem River at Willis Avenue and taking the ramp to the Major Deegan Expressway, which we took past the George Washington Bridge and into Van Cortland Park. According to Wikipedia, this was the second-largest park in the city, after Pelham Bay Park, but I’d never been there either. While still in the park, we turned onto something called the Mosholu Parkway, which I’d never heard of before, and then looped around onto the Henry Hudson Parkway southbound, but it seemed to me we were going west.
We crossed over Broadway — Broadway, of all streets — who knew it came all the way up here — and in less than a minute exited onto 254th Street. I was stunned to see what appeared to be a suburban neighborhood in the city. There were high-rise apartment buildings on a par with the ones we left behind in the city, but mostly there were large stretches of land with green lawns and single-family houses. Some of them were fairly modest — ranch houses and small colonials, but a lot of them were truly mansions, some of them new and obviously built where more modest houses had once stood. I’d heard the term ‘tear-down’ before, but now I was actually seeing what that meant.
We turned onto Independence Avenue and again there were rather modest ranch houses and small colonials, interspersed with tear-downs. What I couldn’t see was anything behind the houses on the right side of the road, except for rolling hills in the distance, which made me wonder if they were built into a hillside. I really loved that kind of architecture and the newly-found architect in me was curious as to what they looked like inside.
The Uber pulled into the driveway of one of the more modest houses. The house was a very modern ranch-style house, but it was clearly built into the hillside with the garage below street level. I surmised there was very likely another story or two underground. As we exited the car, I noticed to the side a glint of sunlight reflecting off water and I suddenly knew what it was. It might not have been very polite, but I ran to the side of the house and gawked at the scene below me. Laid out before me was the Hudson, but this wasn’t the Hudson I knew, flanked by tall buildings and endless development. This Hudson was surrounded by gentle rolling hills and a broad valley. Across the way in New Jersey — at least I assumed it was still New Jersey — were soaring rock columns and I realized that this must be the Palisades I’d heard so much about, but never seen before. Train tracks were clearly visible below me, right along the Hudson, as was a commuter rail station, so nearby that it looked like I could stroll right down there. The return trip would be a bitch, though, ’cause it was all uphill, but then I remembered seeing buses running on 254th Street. Kyle’s house was within walking distance of a commuter rail station and a subway station, and it was right off a major highway that led into The City. It might not be as expensive as my parents’ penthouse nor even as large, but it was still worth millions.
“Not quite what you were expecting, is it?” Kyle asked as he came up next to me and took my hand.
“Not by a longshot,” I responded. “It’s beautiful.”
“Wait ’til you see it from inside the house,” Kyle added as he guided me to a small terrace back behind the house that ran the entire length of the house. There was a panoramic, unobstructed view of the Hudson below us and it was magnificent. Taking out a key, Kyle opened a back door that was right off the terrace and guided me inside. A very tall, distinguished-looking man with graying hair at the temples greeted us, right at the door. Standing next to him was a very tall young teen who looked a lot like Ky. I realized that this must be his brother, Roger, whom I’d not yet had a chance to meet.
Before Kyle could even introduce us, his father smiled at me warmly and shook my hand, saying, “You must be the infamous Freck. I’ve heard many things about you, mostly from Gary White since I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to my son, but you are every bit as cute as Gary said you’d be.” Then speaking in another language, he said, “I hear you can speak more than a dozen languages. Do you by any chance speak Portuguese?”
“Wow, I knew you were Jewish, but Ky never said anything about you being from Brazil,” I responded. “You definitely have a Brazilian accent, but there’s something else in there. It’s not Hebrew, but maybe it could be Yiddish. I just don’t know Yiddish that well… only the basic phrases that every New Yorker knows. I think I may hear some German in your accent, though and maybe a little bit of… Hungarian! Yes, I think it’s Hungarian. It’s definitely not Slavic, as I’d be able to understand at least some of that, even Polish. So if I had to guess, your family was originally from Hungary and escaped the Nazis, ending up in Brazil. Probably Rio if I had to guess. And then you came here.”
“I can’t believe you can speak Portuguese and I can’t” Kyle complained. “My mother’s family is from Brazil and so my parents used to speak Portuguese whenever they didn’t want me to understand them, so I never learned the language.
“Portuguese is a lot harder than Spanish,” I commented, “which is why I took the time to learn it. I liked the challenge of it.”
“Yes, but I never expected you to speak it so well,” Jake Goldstein replied in English. “I assumed you’d understand at least some of it because of the similarity to Spanish, and everyone and their dog seems to speak Spanish these days. But you speak it so well, and you were able to trace my ancestry, even when I wasn’t aware I had any accent, but Hungarian? How on earth did you pick out that?”
“I’ll probably never actually speak Hungarian, since it’s not really related to anything else other than Finnish,” I replied, “but there are certain inflections that are unique to the language and they crept into your Portuguese. Portuguese isn’t so flat as is Hungarian, and that was evident when you spoke a few of your words.”
“And from that you were able to piece together our entire history?” Jake replied in incredulity.
“That, plus the bit of Yiddish and German I picked up,” I explained. “I have a very good ear for languages. Some call it a gift, but I’ve never been without it and so to me it seems natural. It’s like listening to a symphony. When most people hear a symphony, from what I’ve heard, they only hear the melody and everything else kind of blends in. When I listen to a symphony, I hear all of the individual instruments and even the individual instruments within each of the sections. It’s not like it takes any effort either… it’s just the way I seem to hear things. If I took the time to learn music, I could probably reproduce the score from hearing it.
“For me, it’s the same with languages. When I hear someone speaking in a foreign language, I hear their words as one of many voices that make up the score of human language. Words are not unique to a given language, but they carry across many languages in one variation or another, just as a melody can carry across all the instruments of a symphony.”
“Wow, that’s amazing,” Jake exclaimed. “And even with that gift of yours, you want to go into architecture? I should think you’d want to study etymology, or archeology, or anthropology or something of that ilk.”
“But in any of those fields, I wouldn’t be able to build anything. There’s much to explore, but nothing creative involved,” I explained. “And I don’t just want to design buildings. I want to change skylines, maybe even to design entire cities. I want to use sustainable methods and to work with the environment to make buildings that can adapt in a changing climate, rather than merely trying to stand our ground.
“Lower Manhattan’s a perfect example of that. If we do nothing, most of the land will be under water, and the best solution the engineers can come up with is to erect barriers that will ultimately be breached by rising seas. Instead, we need to clear the most expendable structures from the flood zones, particularly on the Lower East Side, and create parkland that can absorb the water when needed, preventing flooding elsewhere, and we need to move infrastructure from underground to above ground, so the buildings can still be functional even in the face of widespread, frequent flooding.”
“Asher and Seth will be happy that you’re planning to sacrifice their apartment buildings to save New York,” Roger responded.
“It might be possible to save the co-ops,” I replied, “but there’s no point in saving cheaply-built pre-war buildings that wouldn’t survive anyway. We can always build more robust high-rise buildings on solid ground to replace the older, dilapidated public housing projects and what’s left of the original tenements. Sometimes it’s much more practical and less expensive in the long run to abandon stuff and buy people out than to fortify or rebuild in place.
“And rather than fixing the aging subway system, maybe we should outright replace it. Perhaps we should reimagine Manhattan with sleek above-ground trains, suspended in the air from graceful, cantilevered carbon-fiber cables rather than running on ugly railroad tracks, and graceful elevated pedestrian walkways of opalescent non-slip glass. Better to replace our aging infrastructure with structures that will survive the rising seas than to bury our heads in the sand and waste our resources ‘hardening’ infrastructure built for a very different city.
“And as far as my language abilities are concerned, they’ll allow me to communicate with people all over the world. People will hire me to design something for them because I speak their language. And I’ll give them something exceptional in return.”
“I am very impressed, Freck,” Jake responded. “Gary told me you were exceptional. I just wasn’t prepared for someone with your abilities.”
“Ky is every bit as impressive as I am,” I countered. “Even more so.”
“Yes, well about that,” Jake replied. “I know that you’re right and I’ve known about his gifts, practically since he was born. That’s part of why I asked you boys to come up here today. I’d asked Gary to come too, but understandably he’s tied up with the restaurant, so we spoke at length over the phone. Let’s go someplace more comfortable, where we can sit down together and discuss some things.”
Leading the way, Jake Goldstein led us further into the house. As we approached the front of the house, we came to a curving stairway that led to the upper level and the front entryway, as well as down to the level below us. I could tell that there was a lot more light coming from downstairs than was possible unless there were large windows downstairs, and so I surmised that the downstairs level must extend under the terrace we’d walked on outside. Descending the stairs, we walked out into a large, open room with of all things, an enclosed swimming pool. It was separated from the rest of the house, behind a glass wall, which explained why I hadn’t known of it from the smells and echoes that are typical with an enclosed pool. Off to the side was a cozy room with dark red walls on one side and floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the Hudson, on the other. It was to there that we headed.
Once inside, I could see that the room was octagonal, and in the center was a grouping of two loveseats facing each other, with high-back chairs at the ends. A coffee table was in the center.
Kyle immediately headed to one of the loveseats and, grabbing my hand, pulled me down with him. We continued to hold hands as we sat together on the loveseat. Jake sat opposite us on the other loveseat, and Roger chose to sit in one of the high-back chairs, facing the river.
“I asked to meet with the two of you,” Jake began, “because I’ve been doing some soul-searching and have made some decisions that will affect both your lives. I know I’ve been a really shitty father to both of my sons and I’ve decided that it’s time to change that. Call it a New Year’s resolution, but it was precipitated by Gary’s request to assume guardianship for Kyle. It made me stop trying to ignore you and to think about what it was I was doing, and what I was missing because of my penchant for work.
“I know you probably think I don’t love you and that I’m intimidated by your intelligence, or that I don’t approve of your being gay. Let me set your mind at ease on that one. I have no problem with your being gay or even having a boyfriend, particularly when he seems to be such a good influence on you and vice versa.”
Taking a deep breath, he continued, “I’ve already explained the situation to Roger, but the reason I was taken aback by the declaration of your sexuality is that it brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for me, personally.” Although the vacuous look on Ky’s face showed he didn’t have a clue, a smile spread across mine as it dawned on me what Jake Goldstein was trying to tell us.
“I grew up with a father who was raised in a very male-centered, conservative household in São Palo,” Kyle’s dad continued “Although it’s the most populous city in the world, it’s nothing like Rio de Janeiro with its free-wheeling, anything-goes culture. My father saw to it that I was introduced to suitable Jewish girls from good, mostly Brazilian families. Your mother was the cream of the crop and with so much pressure to get married, particularly with medical school looming ahead of me, we did.” I couldn’t believe it — Ky still didn’t have a clue.
“Of course, it was important to both our families that we have children, but I held firm that we not have any kids until I’d finished my residency and fellowship. At first, I was too busy with my studies to satisfy my wife and then I was too busy with on-call rotations and my residency, and even after getting my board-certification, I was too busy with my fellowship. Finally, I was a newly-minted assistant professor in Ophthalmology, and with a nation-wide shortage of retina specialists, I was busier than I’d ever been in my life. Yet the parents still wanted to know when we were going to have children, and my wife, your mother, couldn’t understand why I never touched her.
“So we bowed to family pressure and I made an effort to become more involved at home, and then Roger was born and I assumed the family pressure would abate, but it became even more insistent and so we had you, Kyle. At least with two children, there was no reason to try for more, even if our parents expected it. But I couldn’t sustain a loveless relationship with my wife and so I immersed myself fully in my work and made it a point to never be home. Your mother responded by drinking. I thought she’d change… that the necessity of her being a mother would overpower her drive to drink.”
“But it doesn’t work that way,” I interrupted. “Believe me, I know.”
“Yes, I suppose you do,” Jake responded. “Fortunately, my wife never was suicidal. The alcohol was sufficient for her to deal with the pain of a loveless marriage. It just didn’t allow her to be a mother to her children. I’m sorry, Kyle.” Then turning to his brother, he added, “I’m sorry, Roger.” Then turning back to Kyle, he continued. “I left the two of you to fend for yourselves. I think it was only your intellect and your ability to care for each other that got you through it, but that wasn’t enough.”
“But how does any of that change things?” I asked. I felt responsible for my Ky and had to stick up for him if he wasn’t going to do it. “I don’t know if Ky realizes that you just came out to us…”
“Of course I do,” Kyle interrupted. “I already knew he was gay.” Jake appeared shocked by the revelation. “I’ve always known. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Mom and Dad don’t have any kind of relationship, and I’m not blind to the fact that we have the best-looking gardeners in the neighborhood.” Jake actually blushed deeply with that as Kyle continued, “It was pretty obvious that the boys were tending to more than the gardens. It was also pretty obvious, Dad, that you made it a point to be here when they were, in spite of all your claims of not having control over the call schedule.”
“You’ve always known?” Jake asked for confirmation.
“Well, ever since I can remember anyway,” Kyle replied. “I was already reading by the time I was three, so it was probably not long after that. I also was beginning to suspect that I was gay too.”
“You knew you were gay when you were three?” Jake asked.
“I thought I might be… that I probably was,” Kyle answered. “By the time I turned eight, I knew I was.”
“The question, Jake,” I interjected, “is what you intend to do about it.”
Smiling for the first time, he answered, “To start with, I’m going to be honest with myself as well as with you. I’ve taken the first step by admitting that I’m gay. In a way, I just came out to myself too. In all fairness to my wife, I’m not going to continue to pretend, and neither is she. She checked herself into a rehab facility this morning… again… but this time I’ll be behind her, one hundred percent. She’ll stay here for a while after she gets out, enough to get back on her feet, and then we’ll discuss getting a divorce. It’s the only fair thing to do. She’s still young enough to find a man who’ll love her and give her what she needs. In the meantime, I’ll start dating men…”
“Do you have anyone in mind?” Roger asked with a knowing smile.
Blushing, Jake answered, “I’ll bring him around to introduce you when I’m ready.
“But getting back to how I intend to make things up to you, I’m really going to be a father from now on. I’ll work no more that is absolutely necessary to meet the needs of the department. And we’re planning to hire our current fellow after she completes the program in June. She’ll start on the faculty in July and then we’ll all have more time to ourselves. I’ll do my share of on-call coverage, but from now on I’ll only take the minimum of new patients and schedule only one day of surgery per week.
“What that means to you boys is that I’ll be home a lot more often. I expect to be done with my work and home by seven on most weeknights, and I’ll be home on the weekends all but one weekend day per month. I intend to use all four weeks of vacation time I earn each year, and I’ll make use of the fifteen weeks of accrued vacation I’ve saved over the years. I expect to travel with you to places all over the world. Perhaps we can even take an around-the-world tour this summer, or at least part of one, before you boys end up in college.
“You’re gonna make me jealous,” I sort of complained, “and I’ll miss Ky terribly while he’s away.”
“But I’d like to include you too, Freck, if you’re interested,” Jake answered to my stunned silence. “That’s one of the reasons I asked you to come here with Kyle. Kyle’s convinced you’re his other half… that you’re the man he’s gonna marry someday.”
“You don’t know how true that is,” I responded as I put my arm around my baby and pulled him tightly into my body.
“No, you’re right… I don’t,” Jake agreed. “I could only hope to one day find that kind of love, but it means a lot to me to see the two of you together and seeing how you interact makes me realize that the two of you really are a couple. I know you haven’t had much in the way of parental supervision either, and I think you may need some. Your parents seem to think they can pay a shrink to try to cure you of what they in fact did to you to make you want to jump to your death…”
I couldn’t believe it. Jake was taking my parents to task in a way I never could. But if he was sayin’ what I thought he was, he needed to know the whole truth. “Jake, it was easier to tell everyone that I tried to kill myself, but that’s not the real story, and the only one who knows it is Kyle…”
“Gary knows,” Jake interrupted. “You may think that parents are oblivious, but we’re much more perceptive than you give us credit for. I discussed your suicide at length with him and we both agree that it really was attempted suicide, regardless of what you may think. We know you were a heavy marijuana user and pot smokers do crazy things, like jumping off buildings because they think they can fly.” I couldn’t help but show my shock at what he was saying. He knew!
“Just because you thought you could fly as part of a drug-induced delusion doesn’t mean that the attempt wasn’t real,” he continued. “Physicians are required to take courses in drug addiction to renew their licenses, and with an alcoholic wife, I ended up taking more than the minimum. Kids who smoke pot often do so because it induces apathy. You might think you can fly, but you honestly wouldn’t care if you flew or fell to your death. The pot merely dulls the pain of the hopelessness you already feel in side you.
“Regardless, someone who relies heavily on pot as you did really is suicidal, and the fact of the matter is that when you started to jump off that parking garage, thinking you could fly, you honestly didn’t care if you could fly or not.”
How the fuck did he know so much? I didn’t see how Kyle could’ve told him. Was I really all that transparent? Before I realized what was happening, I was trembling as my body was wracked with sobs. Ky pulled me into him and hugged me tightly until the tears subsided and I became aware of those around me once again. When I did, I realized that Jake was no longer sitting across from us, but he was right there with Kyle, trying to calm me and soothe me.
Still crouching beside me, he went on, “There are many kinds of child abuse, Freck. Perhaps the most insidious is neglect. It took Gary calling me out on it to get me to realize that, regardless of my own problems, my children had to come first. Thank God he was willing to step in until I could get my own house in order. But now that I have, it’s time for me to make it up to my sons, and maybe I can return the favor by helping the boy my younger son loves with all his heart. Perhaps I can do for you what Gary did for Kyle.”
Standing up, he continued, “Your parents weren’t easy to track down, even though they have ultimate responsibility for your safety. Not even your nanny had their contact information, so there would have been no way to contact them in an emergency. To make matters worse, René is undocumented.” Shit! I’d had no idea. “Your parents could have sponsored her visa, but they didn’t, and her student visa expired some time ago. Instead, your parents used her status to avoid paying employment tax and to pay her a subsistence wage, under the table. She couldn’t have complained without the possibility of being deported, so she chose to keep quiet.
“The location of your father’s hotel in Chicago was a closely-guarded secret but, borrowing a page from the way Gary tracked me down, I went through the corporate office and used the threat of getting CPS involved to get him to call me back. I never thought I’d meet a man who’d sunk to a lower low with his children than I had, until I spoke to your father, Freck. I’m sure this isn’t news to you, but your parents only concern with their children is that you not embarrass them. They don’t care that you’re gay or that you smoked a lot of pot, so long as you did it in private. They only cared about your suicide attempt because it made them look bad, which was why you were treated in private and were never hospitalized.
“The threat of them being cited for neglect, however, is not something they’re willing to accept. Besides which, if it became known that they’d hired an undocumented woman as a nanny and not paid her a decent wage, the resulting scandle would be of epic proportions. Add to that tax evasion for failing to pay her payroll tax all these years, and we could be talking jail time, which is why they’re willing to sign over guardianship to me in return for keeping it quiet.”
“What?” I asked, not quite believing my ears.
“From now until you and Kyle leave for college, and even after, until you reach the age of eighteen, you’ll be my responsibility,” Jake explained to me. “Of course, you can still live in your penthouse apartment if you want to, whenever you want as long as there is adult supervision around, but it’s my hope that you’ll stay up here with us. You’ll have your own bedroom… I insist on that, but where you actually sleep is up to you. You, Kyle and Roger will all commute down to Stuyvesant together until you graduate…”
“What do you mean I’ll go to Stuyvesant?” Kyle interrupted.
Smiling, Jake explained, “The city school superintendent’s son had a retinal detachment last year. I was the one who saved his vision. I’m not usually one to pull strings, but I had to make up for what I did to you, Kyle. I thought I was doing what was best for you when I held you back, but I can see that you learned only in spite of me and you already took it upon yourself to take the specialty high school exam. The results are supposed to be sealed until the spring, but the superintendent was able to get them and, not surprisingly, your score was the highest of all the students’ who took it. In fact, your math results were so high that they’re going to have to send you across the street to CUNY to take a math course that’s advanced enough to challenge you. Apparently it’s not unheard of, though, and it’s one of the reasons Stuyvesant and City University were built right across the from each other, and why there’s a pedestrian bridge over West Street, between the two.”
“At least it’s good to know I’ll be going there next year for sure,” Kyle responded with little enthusiasm.
“No Kyle, you’ll be going there this year,” Jake corrected his son. “It’s not usual, but there have been exceptions before and I got the superintendent to make one for you. You’ll start there at the beginning of the next semester, in January.”
Suddenly, Kyle’s entire demeanor changed as a huge grin split his face. Hugging his dad tightly, he said, “I can’t believe you did this for me.”
“I should have done it a long time ago,” he replied, “and by the way, based on your test scores, you’ll be starting there as a junior, and will graduate at the end of next year at the same time as Freck. Freck’s status will also be upgraded to that of a junior next semester, based on having enough credits.” Wow, I hadn’t realized that! “You’ll even be in a lot of the same classes, including American History, English Lit and Spanish Lit, all of them AP of course. You’ll also be in the same gym class but will take advanced Physics and Advanced Calculus over at CUNY.”
“I can’t believe I’m going to go to Stuyvesant this year!” Ky exclaimed, and then he hugged me and kissed me deeply. When we finally came up for air, Jake was smiling at us and I could see how happy he was to see us so in love with each other.
“One more thing,” Jake added. “Your father was a bit surprised to find out you were hosting a party for teens at his condo for New Year’s Eve. Not that he cared really, and he stated that he usually leaves such things to your nanny, but he had concerns that your guests might trash the place. But in his next breath he said words to the effect that his own guests would have trashed the place anyway. In any case, I assured him that there would be plenty of adult supervision at the party, including from me.”
Once again, my boyfriend was hugging his father tightly, which more than likely was a first for either of them. And for that matter, I couldn’t have been happier. Soon I’d be living right here with my baby in this very house and perhaps just staying in The City with him on the weekends, and soon my Ky would be joining me at Stuyvesant and then in college. Life was good. No, life was excellent.
What a night! The party was insane! What had started out as a party for just the four of us had turned into a party for more than fifty kids, most of them straight, but all of them in drag. I couldn’t believe it when Seth gave us the final tally after Kyle and I returned from meeting with his dad. From our postings on the Internet and on social media, and by word of mouth, the word had gotten out. We ended up having to recruit additional parents to chaperone the event, as things could have easily gotten out of control. There were kids as old as eighteen there and, not unexpectedly, we ran into issues with kids trying to sneak alcohol and pot into the party in spite of our warning that the party was to be alcohol- and drug-free.
At the first smell of pot smoke, I had to admit I was tempted, as it brought back memories of being carefree and high, but the feeling was fleeting and didn’t even compare to the feeling of being in love with Ky. I could’ve easily invited the pot smokers to my room so we could have partaken of it in private, but if I succumbed to alcohol or pot, Ky would be heartbroken and I could never hurt that boy. Not in a billion years. Besides which, I truly didn’t need or want to get high anymore. Making love to Ky was the ultimate high. Those who insisted on partaking of alcohol, pot or other controlled substances were told to leave.
It was funny, after we’d all gone to the trouble to get used to walking in high heels. We ended up taking our cue from the girls, who were all dressed as boys and wore clunky dress shoes. The first thing they did when they got off the elevator was to remove their shoes, so we did the same. It didn’t take long to realize why — there was no safe way to dance in heels. We spent the evening dancing in stocking feet or barefoot.
There hadn’t been time to hire a band for the evening, nor even a DJ. We ended up putting together a playlist making use of my extensive collection of high-res tracks. We downloaded them from the cloud service I used to my iMac, and then piped the music into our extensive sound system over our home network. In the meanwhile, those who wanted to follow the festivities in Times Square could do so in the home theater. I could even use a wireless mic we had to interrupt the music and make announcements if I wished. I planned to use it for the countdown, and to announce the queen and king of the party — those judged to have the most convincing cross-dressed outfits. That was planned for just before the stroke of midnight.
Ash outdid himself when it came to the food. I didn’t know how he managed to prepare food for more then fifty hungry teens on such short notice, but he did. We had a large assortment of spring rolls stuffed with meat and vegetarian items, Cajun chicken, beef, shrimp and roasted peppers on a stick, stuffed mushroom caps, stuffed shrimp and scallops, and so much more. There was even a large selection of sushi, all hand-prepared by Asher. All that would have been enough, but he had miniature cheese cakes, fruit tarts and pumpkin and sweet potato pies for dessert. My parents hosted parties like this all the time, but they always hired a catering company with a staff of at least five or six people to prepare and serve a meal like this. Ash did it all himself, in our kitchen. It was an amazing feast.
For the drinks, we had a self-serve wet bar with an assortment of soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages. We had several bottles of non-alcoholic Champagne all set to go for midnight. Truthfully, we could have probably served the real stuff, as one glass would hardly be enough to get anyone drunk, but we’d made a promise to the parents in return for being allowed to hold the party. I could live with that.
Because there were so many of us who might not know each other, everyone was given a nametag when they arrived, which included their nickname and a number. Everyone was also given a small envelope with a ballot inside, listing their top five choices for best male in drag and best female in butch clothes. The instructions on the ballots told them to mark their choices on the ballot using the numbers on the nametags, and to drop the ballots in the ballot box before 11:30. It was Ky’s idea to use rank-choice voting as a way to get a more normalized distribution of votes, but it made it several times more difficult to count the votes. We had to literally enter them into a computer database and use an algorithm to eliminate the kids with the least number of votes until a boy and a girl emerged with a majority of the votes cast. At 11:00, I announced that the voting would end at 11:30.
The ballot box was set up in the dining room, with all the food, and at 11:30, I collected the last of the ballots and took them back to my room, where I entered them into my iMac. The algorithm gave me two numbers back — a boy and a girl who each had received a majority of the votes. I then went back to the party with the mic in hand and announced that the prizes for queen and king would be given out in the dining room. I then announced, “For the best queen in drag, the winner is number 34, and for the best king in butch clothing, the winner is number 23. Please come to the dining room to receive your crowns.”
The king turned out to be a girl I didn’t know, but she made a very convincing boy in a three-piece suit. The queen was a shocker — Kyle's brother, Roger! He was a last-minute addition to the invite list, as he came with Kyle’s dad. His costume was literally thrown together at the last minute from their mother’s clothes and using her makeup. He didn’t need to spend a cent on it, yet he made for a very convincing girl in a simple but elegant dress and a wig. My friends and I had discussed wearing wigs and decided against it. I was the only one with close-cropped hair, but with makeup could easily have passed for a girl. Yet I had to admit, the wig made Roger look so feminine, and he was straight! The wig very nearly came off when I pinned the crown on his head, though, which was good for a laugh.
Looking at the clock in the kitchen, I realized it was very nearly time and so I pulled out my phone and grabbed the mic once again. When the time reached 11:59:50, I called out the countdown, and at midnight I shouted, “Happy New Year everyone!”
Kyle had snuck up next to me during the countdown, and so I turned to him and our lips came together in the most passionate of kisses that seemed to go on forever. When we came up for air, as preprogrammed on the computer, Auld Lang Syne was playing, and we joined in singing it with everyone else, even though we didn’t have a clue as to the words. After that, the music resumed with an oldie, but an appropriate one, Celebration by Kool and the Gang. I led Kyle to an empty patch of floor and we started gyrating to the music and danced the night away.
The party was still going strong at two when Jake Goldstein approached me and told me it was time to start winding things down. It turned out that a number of the kids at the party had made arrangements for limos to take groups of them home, so people were starting to leave anyway. By 3:00, there were only eleven boys left, including Seth, Ash, Ky and me, and two girls. Roger left with Jake after René assured him that she could watch over the rest of us, who were all sleeping over. None of us was the least bit tired, though, as we were still pumped from the party, so we all pitched in and cleaned up what turned out to be a colossal mess, and put the leftover food away. We could’ve just left it for the hired help — at one time I would have — but my exposure to Ash and Seth had taught me a lot about how most people live and somehow it just didn’t seem right to leave the place as it was.
For the girls, I offered to let them sleep in the guest room so they could have some privacy, but they wouldn’t hear of it. Since they were girlfriends with no interest in boys, it hardly seemed to matter anyway. None of us were interested in their plumbing, so it was no big deal. I got out a bunch of air mattresses that I’d bought for the occasion and we laid them out around the living room. Following the example of some of the others, Ky and I zipped our sleeping bags together. I’d bought one for the night and made sure it was compatible with Kyle’s. Stripping down to our underwear, we all slid into our sleeping bags and I snuggled up with my baby as the sun began to flood the living room with light.
“Our first start of a new year together,” I whispered before giving my Ky a quick peck on the lips.
“The first in a lifetime together,” Ky replied with a kiss of his own. “It’s gonna be exciting, joining you at Stuyvesant next semester, graduating in another year and then going off to MIT together, or wherever we go. Maybe we can even get married when we graduate.”
“Um, I know there are still some states in the South where girls can marry at thirteen, but I don’t think there’s any place where a boy can get married at age eleven,” I replied.
“Then perhaps we can get married when I turn thirteen and you turn fifteen,” Kyle suggested. If only!
Sighing, I replied, “I doubt your dad would sign off on it, and I doubt we’d find a judge to go along with it unless maybe we applied for emancipation.”
“We’re capable of emancipation right now,” Kyle suggested. “We both have the resources to live on our own,” he argued.
“No, we’re not,” I countered. “We may have the knowledge and intelligence to live on our own. We may have the minds of adults, but we’re still just kids in kids’ bodies. People would take advantage of us, and even though we’re not innocent, we’re still young and naïve enough to let them.”
“I can see your point,” Kyle agreed, “but will they even let us share a dorm room together at our age?”
“They’ll have to if they want us,” I replied. “Even MIT would jump at the chance to have kids like us in the student body, so I think something like that is a reasonable demand we can make. And if they don’t go along with it, we can live with your dad and go to Columbia, a short commute away. One way or another, we’re gonna live together from now on, no matter what.”
“I think we’ll have to get married when you turn eighteen, Freck. I’ll have just turned sixteen, but most states would charge you with statutory rape if we had sex, so we probably wouldn’t have a choice, not that I’d object.”
“I expect your dad would sign off on it for you,” I agreed, “so, yeah, the winter break when I turn eighteen and you turn sixteen would be an ideal time for a wedding.”
“Is that a marriage proposal, Freck,” Ky asked with a smile and a hint of amusement in his whisper.
“I suppose it is,” I replied, “but we might want to wait a few years before we make the announcement, if we want it to be taken seriously.”
“Our friends and families will take it seriously,” Ky countered.
“I suppose your right,” I agreed, “so I guess we can tell them we’re engaged.”
Rather than say anything else, Kyle got up out of his sleeping bag, wearing only his boxers, and with the sun streaming through the windows and illuminating is lean, lithe body, announced, “Hey everybody, Freck just asked me to marry him six years from now, and I said yes.”
“If it were anyone else,” Asher called out from somewhere, “I’d say you guys had snuck some real Champagne in to drink. But knowing you, you’re serious, so all I can say is, ‘Congratulations!’ And go to sleep.” There was laughter all around us from Asher’s remarks.
Getting back in the sleeping bag and cuddling up with me, we quickly followed Asher’s advice.
Disclaimer: This story is a fictional account involving gay teenage and pre-teen boys. There are references to gay sex and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. The reader takes all responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author retains full copyright.