“You want us to watch an old movie from the ’sixties?” I asked, incredulous that Jake and Ken were even thinking of wasting time before their wedding. Surely they had better things to do.
“But it’s a classic, Freck,” Jake explained, “and with us all going to Europe for the summer, we thought you might enjoy it. It had an all-star cast for 1969, and they just don’t make light comedies like that anymore.”
“For good reason,” Roger countered. “Comedies back then were so lame.”
“Yes, it’s silly and contrived,” Ken chimed in, “but it reflected the times, and do you really think The Avengers is any less contrived?”
“Hey, don’t bad mouth my Avengers,” Roger responded. “Marvel Comics rule!”
“Oh gag me,” Kyle replied. “I’ll watch a dozen mindless twentieth century comedies over that rubbish.”
“On that, I agree with my boyfriend,” I added.
It was June 26 and a few hours ago, school had let out for the start of summer vacation. In just two days, Jake and Ken would be getting married in Wave Hill Gardens, a very popular site for weddings that was located just a short walk from our house in Riverdale, an upscale neighborhood in the North Bronx. First, there would be a rehearsal dinner at our house tomorrow night – already, a tent had been erected on the terrace behind the great room, right above the pool – and then on Friday, the wedding itself would be held in the late afternoon, before the sun set and the Jewish sabbath began. Jake and Ken weren’t all that religious, but some of the family members were and so certain traditions needed to be observed, although there was nothing traditional about a Jewish gay wedding. After taking their vows under a canopy overlooking the Hudson and the New Jersey Palisades across the way, the reception would be held at the famed Wave Hill House.
Ken was an epileptologist… a neurologist specializing in seizure disorders, at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Jake was an ophthalmologist specializing in retinal disorders who worked at the Edward Harkness Eye Institute, a part of New York Presbyterian, the primary teaching hospital of Columbia University and a part of the Columbia-Cornell system. They met because of some mutual patients of theirs and I guess they’d been crushing on each other for years, until Jake finally admitted to himself that he’s gay. They only started dating in January, but they were already hopelessly in love and decided to get married as soon as Jake’s divorce was final. Since the divorce wasn’t contested, it was more a matter of Jake’s wife, Kyle’s mom, finishing her alcohol rehab, which she did in April.
As part of the divorce settlement, Jake offered to buy her a house or apartment rather than fight over the one they already had, but then Ken offered to give her his apartment in Castle Village, a co-op complex in Manhattan’s Hudson Heights that was just north of the GW Bridge. I think he meant it as a joke, but she readily agreed. It was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on the top floor with an unobstructed view of the bridge, George Washington Park, Fort Tryon Park and, across the Hudson, Fort Lee and the Palisades. It was worth a small fortune. So just last month, Kyle’s mom moved into Ken’s old apartment and Ken moved in with us.
The day after the wedding, on Saturday night, we’d all be taking an overnight flight to London for the start of nearly ten weeks on a whirlwind trip encompassing much of Europe. It was actually Jake and Ken’s honeymoon, but they insisted on taking us with them. As they put it, they wanted to see Europe through our eyes. How fuckin’ awesome was that? The day after we got back, Ky and I would start our Senior Year at Stuyvesant High School, one of New York’s elite specialty public high schools.
“So it’s settled,” Jake responded before any of us could object. “We’ll watch the perfect European travel movie.”
“Just tell me it’s not European Vacation,” I interjected.
“That definitely wasn’t one of Chevy Chase’s better films,” Jake agreed. “Besides which, that was in the mid-1980s. The only thing worse was Vegas Vacation. No, tonight we’re going to watch the classic, If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium.”
“But we aren’t even going to Belgium,” Roger complained.
“That’s beside the point,” Ken countered. “What matters is that it’s a light-hearted comedy about a group of tourists on a whirlwind two-week tour of Europe. At least we’re going to take the time to enjoy our trip. We’re not going on a tour… we don’t need to. Freck, you speak the languages… all of them.” That actually was pretty much true. I was fluent in more than a dozen languages including Spanish, French, German and Mandarin Chinese, and could communicate passably in a few dozen more. Languages came naturally to me.
So we all sat down in the great room and streamed the old movie, which wasn’t even in high-def and looked pretty crappy on our 4k-HDR TV. It was contrived, but funny and actually a pretty cool way to get us in the mood for our upcoming trip.
Taking a flying leap, I dove head-first into the deep end and began swimming my laps. Since moving in with my boyfriend, their indoor pool – actually, now it was as much my pool as theirs – had become my daily refuge. When I lived in Battery Park City, I played soccer and basketball regularly. Options for team sports outside of school were much more limited in Riverdale, however, and forget about school. There was no way a twelve-year-old high school senior could compete with his teenage peers in team sports – not even in intramurals. I did okay in gym class, but that was the extent of my sports activities in high school at Stuyvesant.
Swimming was a different matter, though. Size truly didn’t matter at all. The bigger issue was that until last year, I didn’t even know how to swim. Opportunities were limited and as a city boy, I really didn’t have an interest – but that was before moving in with Kyle’s family. That was before I had an indoor pool, right in my home. The great thing was that, even when the extensive floor-to-ceiling glass doors were open to the outdoors, we were on a hillside and had complete privacy. The only ones who might see me swim in the nude were my boyfriend, Kyle, his brother, Roger, and their two Dads, Jake and Ken. Yup, it was just us five guys and clothing wasn’t even optional in the pool. None of us wore any. This would be my last chance to swim in the nude until we got back from Europe. It might be my last chance to swim – full stop, as the Brits would say.
The sound of splashing water alerted me that I was no longer alone in the pool. I tried to continue my laps, but the feel of arms around my waist and a hand grabbing my dick let me know that my boyfriend was awake. Turning to face him, our lips came together, and tongues meshed with tongues.
“Eew, you didn’t brush your teeth, did you?” my boyfriend asked.
“Did you?” I asked in return.
“Well no, but I’m not the one with a name like Freak,” he answered.
“I’m not either, but I’ll let it slide this time.” Actually, I got called Freak a lot by bullies in school until I learned to take the teasing. My real name was Francis, but I hated it and went by Freck, ’cause of all the freckles I had.
“What the fuck are you doing up so early, swimming, of all things?” Kyle asked.
“Gotta stay in shape over the summer,” I replied. “Not that I’m complaining, but this is probably the last time I’ll have a chance to swim until we return to New York, and then school’ll be starting back up. Maybe I’ll even join the swim team this year.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Kyle responded, “With all the eye candy, it might be fun to attend all your meets. Just, don’t you get interested in any other meat.”
“Very funny,” I chuckled, but hastened to add, “not that I’d even want the attention, but what fourteen, fifteen, sixteen or seventeen-year-old would even take an interest in a twelve-year-old senior?”
“Some guys like their boys young,” Kyle responded. “At least you have pubes. Sometimes I wonder what you see in me.”
“Are you kidding?” I replied. “For a ten-year-old, you’re pretty we’ll endowed, and I seriously doubt than anyone could do what you do for me. More importantly, you’re the only one who really gets me. You’ve been there, and at an even younger age. You’re perfect, Ky. I can’t imagine life without you. I don’t even want to think about it.”
Once again, our lips came together and then our tongues, and the kiss seemed to go on forever as we ground into each other.
Pulling apart, we were both breathing heavily when Kyle said, “Just let me catch my breath, and then I’ll show you how long I can hold my breath.”
“What do you mean,” I asked naïvely.
Before I knew what was happening, Kyle’s head was underwater, and I understood exactly what he meant.
Although it might have been the start of our summer break, we couldn’t sleep in – not with the rehearsal dinner that night. The caterers would be arriving by mid-afternoon and soon the guests would follow. Jake and Ken had been working feverishly all week, tidying up as much of their clinical practices as they could before the wedding. Even now they were at work, taking care of last-minutes issues that couldn’t be left to anyone else. They were supposed to be home by early afternoon to get ready for the rehearsal dinner, but I suspected they’d be challenged to make it on time for the roasting afterward. I knew all to well what their professional lives were like.
In any case, they were both at work from before we even got up and Kyle and I were on our own, along with Kyle’s brother, Roger who was fifteen. The irony was that while Ky and I were now seniors and would be heading off to college together next year, Roger would be starting his sophomore year at Stuyvesant. We teased him mercilessly about how dumb he was, but he was no slouch to have gotten into Stuyvesant. He was very smart – he just wasn’t a genius like Kyle or me.
“It’s about time you guys showed up,” he announced as we entered the kitchen. Roger was wearing boxers whereas Kyle and I were still in the nude.
“Something sure smells good,” Kyle remarked, “especially the coffee. What are you having?” I chuckled at how Ky lasered in on the coffee before even thinking of the food. Sometimes he sounded more like a twenty- than a ten-year-old.
“Tuna melt on a bagel with a bowl of Amy’s tomato bisque,” Roger replied.
“Is there any left for us?” my boyfriend asked.
Rolling his eyes, Roger answered, “I made enough for all of us.”
Sure enough, there was a pot of the soup simmering on the stove on low heat, and a bowl of tuna salad on the counter next to it, along with a plate of bagels and a brick of Swiss cheese. The tuna salad, which was loaded with diced bell peppers and onions, looked delicious. Grabbing the bread knife, I sliced a couple of poppy seed bagels in half and dropped them into the toaster. While the bagels were toasting, I spooned the rest of the tomato bisque into a couple of bowls and carried them to the table while Kyle sliced the cheese into thin strips. When the bagels popped up, I grabbed a couple of plates and placed a bagel, open face, on each one. I spooned the rest of the tuna salad onto the bagels and then laid the cheese on top, nuking them until the cheese was just starting to bubble.
Carrying the plates to the table and setting them down, I went back for silverware and napkins while Kyle poured each of us a full mug of coffee. He added milk and sugar to mine to my taste, but he left his own black, and carried both mugs to the table. As we sat down, Kyle said, “Thanks for making brunch, bro. It’s fucking awesome.”
“You’re welcome, shithead,” came Roger’s reply.
Brunch really was awesome, but I couldn’t help but remark, “Yeah, I know you went to a lot of trouble, opening those cans and that package of frozen peppers and onions.”
“Hey, Freak, I served you guys only the best,” he replied. “I coulda served you any soup… even Campbells… but I served you 100% organic tomato bisque from Amy’s, heated in a genuine Corning pot. And I’ll have you know that was dolphin-safe StarKist chunk-lite tuna with Helman’s real mayonnaise and Goulding’s spicy mustard. None of that crappy grey French mustard for you. And how do you know I didn’t chop up a fresh onion and a couple of peppers?”
“Um, maybe it has something to do with the empty package in the trash?” I replied.
“OK, so I took a shortcut, but isn’t it better this way?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s way better,” I admitted, “and we do appreciate you making enough for all of us.”
“Which he had to do, once he opened the package of peppers and onions, “Kyle pointed out. “And doesn’t StarKist buy their tuna from Thai slave ships?” he asked.
Actually, that was a subject I knew a lot about. “Unfortunately, StarKist isn’t alone in using fish caught with questionable practices,” I added. “StarKist uses absolutely no strategies to protect the environment or human rights. In a Huffington Post article that ranked twenty brands of tuna based on sustainability, StarKist ranked dead last. I wasn’t going to say anything when I got here and saw what was in your cupboard… not yet…”
“So what tuna would you have us use?” Roger asked.
“American Tuna and Wild Planet tied for first place, with Whole Foods coming in a close third,” I replied. “I’ll send you the link.”
“Maybe you can make a list of everything we need to change in our cabinets and closets, babe,” Kyle suggested.
“That might take a while,” I replied.
“C’mon,” Kyle said, changing the subject. “Let’s clean up from brunch, and then maybe we can all watch a movie before the circus begins.”
Shaking his head, Roger replied, “You two go ahead if you want. My new camera just arrived and I need to get it ready for the trip.”
“It better take fantastic pictures for what you spent on it,” Kyle replied. It was true. Whereas Kyle and I spent a fortune on music and on audiophile equipment for listening to it, Roger’s passion was photography. Roger already had what I thought was a pretty expensive camera, but it wasn’t good enough for our ‘trip of a lifetime’. So he spent thousands of dollars on the latest, greatest full-frame mirrorless ILC, which he claimed was way better than a DSLR. He spent thousands more on lenses, memory cards, batteries and a professional backpack in which to carry it all. He literally cried when I pointed out that the restrictions on carryon luggage meant he’d have to check it, so he wisely also ordered some more practical gear for travel.
“Besides which, you guys don’t like to watch what I wanna watch,” Roger countered. “Things like The Avengers and Spiderman. You know, the good stuff.”
“Oh gag me, bro.” Kyle replied. “That Marvell action superhero shit’s fuckin’ awful. It’s fake, contrived and a waste of perfectly good synapses.” Then turning to me, he added, “Come on, Babe. Let’s go watch Green Book. I’ve been dyin’ to see it since it won Best Picture.”
“Can you imagine the balls it took to do that?” Kyle asked as the final credits rolled. We were both still nude and cuddled up on the great room sofa. Kyle sat upright and stretched out his lithe body, with his arms straight overhead, his legs straight ahead and his back arched. With his chest puffed out, the position was very erotic. He then settled back down and rested his head in my lap, placing his feet flat on the cushions with his knees bent and in the air. My dick poked him in the ear, which caused him to giggle.
“The incredible thing was that it really happened,” I replied as I started rubbing my hand on his chest and settled into rubbing his nipple with my thumb. “I mean, how many African American concert pianists are there, even today?” I pointed out.
“Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller were no less great in their own way,” Kyle responded as he turned onto his side and started playing with me. “So was Thelonious Monk. They weren’t schooled in classical music, but their fingers could do plenty of amazing things, and they did it on the fly.”
“Of course you’re right,” I agreed, “and they weren’t the only ones who could do amazing things with their fingers,” I added as I started running my fingers through his hair. His hair had been on the longish side when we met, but he’d been letting it grow longer since he started at Stuyvesant in January, and now it was nearly shoulder length. I really liked it that way and I loved running my fingers through his long wavy brown strands. “People still expect black pianists to play Jazz. The gay issue was interesting, though.”
“And the way they addressed it head-on was surprising,” Kyle added.
“It didn’t affect their friendship,” I pointed out, “and they remained friends all their lives.”
That was the last thing I was able to say as Kyle took me into his mouth. I lay myself down in the opposite direction and returned the favor.
“You look nervous,” I said as my boyfriend and I got dressed up for the rehearsal dinner. We were both wearing navy blazers over white shirts with khaki slacks. At least tonight we wouldn’t have to wear ties, and we could even wear sneakers in my case, and sandals in Kyle’s case. Tomorrow, we’d have to wear much dressier clothes.
“Of course I’m nervous. I’ll be meeting a lot of people I’ve never met before, none of them aware that I’m gay, let alone that I have a boyfriend.”
“But Kyle, they’re coming here for a gay wedding,” I pointed out. “They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t accepting.”
“Yeah, but even accepting people have trouble when confronted by a ten-year-old gay boy, and my grandpa is very homophobic,” Kyle countered. “I think he’s only coming so he can put us down. I don’t think anyone else is coming from Brazil. If they’re like him, it could be a real fuckin’ mess.
“And then there’s my dad’s siblings. The whole reason I stayed in town last year for Thanksgiving was ’cause Dad didn’t want Aunt Helen to know I’m gay.”
“She’s the one who lives in California, in Berkley?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s her, and it’s hard to imagine her being homophobic when she lives in one of the most liberal places in America, but this’ll be the first time I see her as an out preteen, which is a little scary. She and my Uncle John, and my three cousins are all coming. And there’s my Uncle Frank from Chicago, Aunt Eileen from Columbus, not to mention their spouses and kids. That’s a lot of people who could hate me. And then there’s Ken’s whole family.”
“My dad likes to say that no family is without it’s bad apples, including our own,” I noted. “So what if there’s a ’phobe or two at the wedding. When it comes to dealing with the haters, you’re formidable. It’s not a fair fight… not by a long shot. You can deal with them…” Just then Asher and Seth walked in. “And of course, there’s our friends, Asher and Seth,” I added.
“What about us?” Ashe asked.
“Ky’s worried that some of the guests will have a hard time accepting an out-and-proud ten-year-old,” I answered, “but he won’t be alone. For one thing, I’ll be there, right by his side, and for another, you guys will be there. There’s strength in numbers.”
“There is that,” Kyle responded. “It’s too bad Clarke and Carl couldn’t come.” Seth’s snicker let me know that I wasn’t the only one who found Ky’s choice of words amusing.
“So, are you guys excited about your upcoming trip?” Asher asked.
“More like panicked,” I replied. “We probably shoulda started packing last week, but with school and finals and all, there just wasn’t time. Kyle and I should have started our packing this morning, but it’s the first day of summer vacation, you know? We kind of blew it off and had wild, passionate sex instead.”
“And we watched Green Book,” Kyle interjected.
“That was a really good movie,” Asher exclaimed. “Imagine a closeted black concert pianist making a tour of the Deep South in the 1960s, having to rely on a ‘green book’ that listed safe places where ‘colored’ people could stay.”
“And he had to play Jazz in front of white audiences, even though he had a PhD and was versed in the likes of Beethoven, Chopin and List,” Seth added. “I’d like to think things have changed, but in many ways, I know that they haven’t. Thank god that at least in New York, no one bats an eye that I’m in love with a half-black, half-Asian boy.”
“But now we’ll have only a few hours to pack for a ten-week trip,” I pointed out.
Laughing, Seth responded, “Hell, being the son of a politician, I’ve been traveling since I can remember, but I never know about it until a few days before if I’m lucky. Sometimes I don’t find out we’re leaving until a few hours before we hafta leave. Dad makes sure my passport’s always up to date, but I sometimes have to pack a suitcase with enough clothes for a week overseas at a moment’s notice, including dress clothes. A few hours is plenty of time. Just take a few minutes to make a list of everything you’ll need. Then when you pack, you need only go down the list and cross things off as you go.”
“Spoken by someone who’s obviously a packing veteran,” Kyle laughed.
“How’s your mom, Asher?” I asked. Bernice White had been struck by a kid on an electric bike while crossing Grand Street. It happened two weeks ago and she was still in the Hospital for Bone and Joint Diseases, having undergone surgery for multiple fractures. The kid fared far worse, though – way worse. He lost control of his bike and veered into the path of an onrushing MTA bus, and was dead at the scene. The kid was only fourteen and still in middle school.
“She’s in surprisingly good spirits, even with what happened to her,” Asher replied. “She starts her rehab at the Rusk Institute next week.”
“Fuck, isn’t your new restaurant opening next week?” Kyle asked. “Have you figured out how you’re gonna run two restaurants without your mom?” Asher’s family was opening a new Cajun restaurant, just north of Delancey on the Lower East Side, near where they lived. It had long been a dream of Asher’s father, Gary, who was Creole. They already owned an Asian takeout place on Grand Street, and the plan had been for Bernice, who’s Chinese American, to continue running it, but now those plans were in turmoil.
“Our Grand Opening is this Monday,” Ashe answered. “Seth and I are gonna run the new place ourselves with a little help from my dad, who’ll be busy keeping things going on Grand Street. I have a lot of experience in the kitchen, but for Seth and me to open our own restaurant…”
Just then there was a knock on the door and Roger stuck his head in and announced, “Guys, the guests are starting to arrive. You need to finish getting ready and come out to mingle with them.” Damn!
“You just want us to keep them entertained,” Kyle responded.
“You’re just now figuring this out?” Roger replied, “Entertainment is our primary role as children, so, yes, we’re expected to keep them from getting restless.”
“How much are we being paid for this gig, and does the union know about Dad hiring under-age, non-union actors?” Kyle asked with a straight deadpan face. As always, his delivery was flawless.
Roger didn’t miss a beat either as he answered, “We’re being paid in kind with a trip to Europe, and we’re fleeing the country, just in case the union finds out about it. Anyway, please finish getting ready and make your appearance,” he admonished us, and then he slipped his head back out the door.
Once Kyle and I finished getting ready, he said, “Come, let’s face the execution squad.”
The great room was already full of guests in fancy garb, with many of them filtering their way onto the terrace, where the caterers were busy serving drinks.
“Hey, let’s go see if we can score some booze,” Kyle suggested as he nudged us to the door to the terrace.
“Yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” Asher responded, but we headed toward the terrace anyway. At least maybe we could get non-alcoholic mixed drinks, or even just Cokes.
Before we could even get half-way to the door, however, a strikingly handsome young teen called out, “Kyle, is that you?”
“Jason!” Kyle exclaimed as he ran up to the boy and they embraced warmly. “You’ve grown! Damn, you look good. So how’s my favorite cousin?”
“Can’t complain,” he answered. “I’ll be starting my freshman year at Berkeley High in the fall and I’m pretty excited about that…”
“You’re already fourteen?” Kyle interrupted in surprise.
“Actually, I’m still twelve,” he replied. “I know, I’m tall for my age and my voice has already changed, and I look older, but I’ll turn thirteen in August. I skipped fourth grade.”
“Seth was home schooled and started high school last year at the age of thirteen. He just turned fourteen in June,” Kyle added, but then blushed and said, “Sorry, but I forgot to introduce my friends.
“Seth and Asher are my two best friends. Like me, they go to Stuyvesant High School, but like Roger, they just finished their freshman year. I met them when we couldn’t come out to California for Thanksgiving. Taking pity on Roger, they invited him to have Thanksgiving with them, and Roger invited me. They in turn introduced me to Freck, who just completed his junior year at Stuyvesant, same as me.”
Shaking his head, Jason commented, “It’s hard to fathom you starting your senior year at high school when you’re still only ten, right?”
Nodding his head, Ky answered, “Yeah, I won’t turn eleven until the winter break.”
“How old are you, Freck,” Jason asked me.
“I know I look like I’m more Ky’s age,” I answered, “but I’m actually two years older than my boyfriend. Like you, I’m twelve, but I won’t turn thirteen until the day after Christmas.” It was only after I’d said it that I realized I just outed myself, and probably Kyle too if Jason drew the obvious conclusion.
Sure enough, Jason cocked his head to the side and asked, “Your boyfriend?”
“Well yeah,” Kyle answered. “That’s the real reason Roger and I didn’t visit you guys for Thanksgiving. I came out last year, when I was only eight, and Dad was having a hard time dealing with it. I think he was having trouble dealing with his own sexuality…”
“And not many parents want to think about their own kids’ sexuality, particularly when they’re only eight,” I interjected.
“Anyway, Roger stayed home with me in sympathy,” Kyle added.
“Seth and I are a couple too,” Asher commented as he took his boyfriends hand, and I did likewise with Kyle.
“And your parents are cool with you having a boyfriend at your ages?” Jason asked Kyle and me.
I explained how my dad was the CEO of a major brokerage and my mom owned one of the best-known designer labels in the world, and how they were never around and so I now lived with my boyfriend. Kyle explained that since we’d both be going to college next year, it was better for us to explore our relationship while we were still in high school and had adults around we could ask for advice and guidance.
“Shit, my parents won’t let me have an actual boyfriend until I’m sixteen,” Jason complained.
“You’re gay, Jason,” Kyle asked.
“Well yeah,” he replied. “I came out last year when I was still eleven and although they were surprised, they’ve been nothing but supportive.”
“But waiting until you’re sixteen, when you’ll be a senior in high school, is absurd,” Asher stated.
“Tell that to my parents,” Jason complained. “They have no problem with me dating, but they think I should gain experience through dating and learn from my mistakes before I try a steady relationship, and I guess I understand that, but Gees!”
“So we’re both gay,” Kyle related. “I knew there was a reason why you’re my favorite cousin. Then turning to me and to Seth and Asher, he explained. “Jason’s one of the few kids I know who’s as passionate about music as we are. Not only that, but he’s a talented musician too. He plays piano, violin, bass, guitar, bass guitar and saxophone…”
“I’m impressed,” Seth interrupted. “Sounds like you’re into jazz. Ashe and I are major jazz fans.”
“That’s real cool, and I’m more than into it,” he replied. “I started my own band when I was like nine and starting middle school. I’ve won a few contests.”
“He’s won more than a few contests,” Kyle related. “He’s won national competitions. He’s fantastic. He’s amazing. If you closed your eyes, you’d never know he’s just a kid.”
Blushing, Jason responded, “I’ve done pretty good, but I’m also very lucky to have the support of my parents, who let me practice for hours on end. Kyle’s one of the few kids I know who’s as passionate about music as I am, even if it’s mostly crappy music he likes.”
“I like a lot of different kinds of music, including jazz, rock and even hip-hop,” Kyle countered. Glancing at me, he continued, “Freck, on the other hand, is a die-hard classical music fan. He’s been introducing me to the opera. Thanks to his parents, he has season tickets to the Met.”
“Out of curiosity, how’d you get the name ‘Freck’?” Jason asked.
“My real name’s Francis,” I explained, “but I’ve hated that since I was little. I got teased a lot in school as you can imagine. I coulda gone by Frank, but my Dad’s name is Frank and I didn’t want to end up always being compared to him. When your name’s Frank Junior, everyone knows there’s a Frank Senior. Anyway, the kids at camp called me ‘Freckles’, ’cause of all my freckles, and I shortened it to Freck. Unfortunately, a lot of kids called me ‘Freak’ and some still do, but I learned that the best strategy for that was to simply ignore them.”
Just then, a thin man with dark curly hair approached us and Kyle called out to him. “Hey Uncle John. It’s a really great to see you.”
“It’s nice to see you, Kyle,” he replied as he clearly seemed to notice our joined hands. “We really missed you at Thanksgiving last year.”
“Yeah, well Dad was having a hard time dealing with a nine-year-old son who was out and proud,” my boyfriend answered. “By the way, this is my boyfriend, Freck, which is short for Freckles, and our best friends, Asher and Seth.”
“It’s nice to meet you boys,” he replied, and then added, “You’re all so young. Are you really ready to have boyfriends?”
“Uncle John, Freck and I are seniors at one of the top high schools in the world. We both got perfect scores on the SAT and we hope to go to MIT together next year. Freck is fluent in about a dozen languages and can speak and understand several times more. Half my course load next semester will be across the street at Manhattan Community College, a part of the CUNY system. We plan to get married in five-and-a-half years, when Freck turns eighteen. I’ll be sixteen by then.
“Roger likes to joke that I have the brain of someone twice my age, but only the maturity of my actual age. To a degree, that’s true, but in comparison to my peers at Stuyvesant, I’m not that much different except for my age. A lot of the kids are young for their grade level, but I’m definitely an outlier. So’s Freck. The bottom line is that a lot of so-called prodigies never manage to fit in. A lot of them resort to taking drugs or even commit suicide. Freck tried both and the thought of that terrifies me.
“A lot of so-called normal people spend a lifetime searching for a soulmate they’ll never find. I don’t need to be an adult to know that I’ve found the boy who’s my other half. Intellectually he’s my equal and we share so many interests in common. We do have our differences, me being the skeptical idealist and he being the obstinate pragmatist, but that’s definitely a good thing. We complement each other, we respect each other, we share common goals and we enjoy being with each other. And isn’t it better for us to learn about life, love and, well, sex from each other than from some pedophile pervert? After all, who else would take an interest in us?
“So to answer your question Uncle John, no we’re not too young to be boyfriends, and we’re definitely not too young to be in love. And as for Asher and Seth, they’re the couple that introduced Freck and me. As far as I’m concerned, they walk on water. Asher’s fifteen and he’s opening his own Cajun restaurant in Manhattan in a few days, and he’s definitely one of the best chefs I’ve ever met… well, he’s the only chef I’ve ever met, but his food’s the best I’ve ever had. And Seth’s dad’s one of the most powerful politicians in New York. He’ll be the governor someday, or maybe a senator or even the president. Seth’s fourteen, and he’s going to follow in his dad’s footsteps too.”
“Damn, I know you’re only ten, but you talk more like one of my middle-aged colleagues,” Uncle John responded after Kyle had said his piece.
“It comes from spending more time with books than with friends growing up,” Asher interjected. “Seth and I are a bit like that too… Seth in particular ’cause he was around politicians all his life and he was home schooled, but Kyle and Freck are more like adults in kids bodies. It’s one of the reasons they’re our best friends. They’re a lot younger than we are, but they think and talk like we do.”
“You’ve certainly given me food for thought,” Uncle John said as he looked a Kyle. Then looking at Jason, he added, “Not that I’m suggesting it’s OK for you to get a boyfriend, Jase, but if you happen to fall in love before you’re sixteen, let’s just say I’ll keep an open mind about it.”
Just then a tall blond woman came up to us and Kyle said, “Hi Aunt Helen.”
“Hi kiddo,” she replied as she ruffled my poor Ky’s hair. I could only see how much my boyfriend was struggling not to tell his aunt how much he was not a kiddo, but then his Aunt Helen turned back to her husband and said, “Come on, dear. I’d like to introduce you to some of our relatives from Brazil.”
As they departed, Kyle responded under his breath, “Fuck, I didn’t think any of them were coming. This could get ugly…”
We were interrupted by a couple of boys who looked very much like Jason, one who appeared to be younger and one older than he was. “Hey faggot,” the younger one said with a voice that hadn’t yet changed.”
I was just about to give Jason’s obviously younger brother a piece of my mind, when Jason interrupted, “It’s OK guys. Phil and I have been calling each other that for years, since long before I even thought I might be gay, let alone came out.”
“I knew you were gay,” the younger boy responded. “I knew it by the time I was eight, and you were turning ten. Why do you think I called you that in the first place?”
“Damn, I guess I knew it too,” Jason replied, “but I wasn’t ready to admit it even to myself just yet. But then why did you call me something so vile, you fucker? Why didn’t you just ask me if I was gay?”
“Cause it was more fun to call you faggot,” he answered, “and because it kept you from asking me if I was gay… I’m definitely not, by the way. I definitely like girls… and boys too. Took me a while to figure it out, but I’m bi.”
“And you’re what, eleven,” I asked.
“As of March seventeenth,” he replied. “Yup, I was born on Saint Patty’s Day. And how come no one’s asked if I’m too young to know I’m bi and not straight?”
“Because I knew what I was at your age,” I answered. “I knew when I was even younger. And my boyfriend came out when he was eight,” I added as I squeezed Ky’s hand.
“By the way,” Janson interrupted, “these are my brothers, Phil and Steve. Phil’s eleven and just finished seventh grade, and Steve’s sixteen and just finished his freshman year at Berkley… U Cal Berkley, that is.”
“I’m twelve, and just finished my junior year at Stuyvesant,” I interjected, and you probably know about Kyle,” I added.
“Actually, they probably don’t,” Kyle countered. After all I just started at Stuyvesant in January, so they might not know I’ll be a senior next year. Last they knew, I was in the sixth grade.”
“Damn!” Asher exclaimed, “I’m the only normal boy in the group.”
“Normal if you mean you’re in the age-appropriate grade level, Honey,” Seth chimed in. “Not so normal if you consider you’re attending one of the top public high schools in the world. Not so normal if you consider you’re about to open your very own restaurant at the age of fifteen, and that in my book, you’re one of the best Cajun chefs outside of New Orleans. Not so normal if you consider you’re incredibly handsome and a dead ringer for Tiger Woods in his youth, with a Creole American father and a Chinese American mother. Not to mention that your boyfriend’s father’s one of the most powerful politicians in the New York and his grandfather’s the director of astrophysics at the American Museum for Natural History. Yeah, you’re just so fucking ordinary.”
“Guys,” Jason interrupted, “let me finish the introductions. You already know our cousin, Kyle, but you probably didn’t know he’s gay and he’s out and proud at the age of ten. Actually, he came out when he was only eight?” My boyfriend nodded his head. “So Kyle transferred to Stuyvesant High School, where our cousin Roger, who’s fifteen, just finished his freshman year, but Kyle just finished his junior year and will be a senior in the fall. Kyle’s as passionate about music as I am and as I recall, he wants to be a scientist.” Again, Kyle nodded his head.
“Kyle’s boyfriend, Freck,” Jason went on, “which is short for Freckles, is twelve and also finished his junior year at Stuyvesant. He’s equally passionate about music and loves classical music and especially opera. Is there anything else you like to do?”
“I love Star Wars,” I replied, particularly, since I knew how much it’d annoy my boyfriend. “I think it’s the best sci-fi series ever made.”
“Really?” Jason responded. “Me too,” he agreed. “It’s a fuckin’ shame the saga’s coming to an end.”
“It’ll never be over, bro,” Steve said as he patted his brother on the shoulder. “Disney won’t let it die so long as there are major fans like you and me to demand more.”
“God, I’m surrounded,” Kyle said in response.
“At least some of us have an appreciation for real science fiction, like Star Trek,” countered Asher.
“Best sci-fi ever,” Seth agreed, “and plausible, as opposed to that Star Wars crap.”
“Like I said,” Ky complained, “I’m surrounded.”
“For once, we agree on something,” Phil began. “Star Wars is pure fantasy. It’s way too mystical to be considered science. And Star Trek is too optimistic. Somehow we’re supposed to believe we survived global nuclear war to emerge with our technology intact, that we discovered warp drive, which breaks about a zillion rules of physics, and that we broke bread with the Vulcans, formed a grand alliance, a federation of planets, and went on to find dozens of other intelligent life forms out there with compatible DNA with whom we could mate.”
“Leave it to you, to think of the sexual aspect of Star Trek,” countered Jason, “rather than the fact that everyone spoke English or that all those advanced civilizations were at the same level of development as our own.”
“Hey, it’s just that bisexual kids are less inhibited about sex than the rest of you,” Phil explained. “Anyway, the Borg weren’t at our level of development. They were far ahead of us. Frankly, I think we are much more likely to end up like the Borg, if we don’t destroy ourselves first. We’re already practically glued to our smart phones, and it’s entirely likely that we’ll eventually develop implantable technology. From there it’s only a short trip to cybernetics and mind control.”
“You’re on target there, cousin,” Kyle chimed in.
“I just don’t think we’re gonna make it that far,” Phil went on. “With climate change, and the destruction of the world order, I think we’re witnessing the end of civilization right now and we’ll see it come to pass in our lifetimes. No, we’re not gonna get any farther than the moon. Hell, we may never get off the surface of our planet again, and with global ecosystem collapse, our species might not even survive.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I concurred. “My dream is to become an architect and to design sustainable cities, but you’re right Phil. We may never make it that far.”
“When it comes to science fiction,” Phil resumed, “I think a far more likely scenario is a dystopian future… something like The Hunger Games, or The Maze Runner, or The Divergent Series.”
“Oh Barf,” Kyle exclaimed. “Those movies and books are so bad. If civilization collapses, there won’t be anything left upon which to build a dystopian future. No, my idea of great sci-fi is the Ender’s Game Series and the Ender’s Shadow Series of Orson Scott Card.”
“That’s dystopian,” Phil countered.
“He’s right, babe,” I chimed in. “I know the whole concept of a little kid going on to save humanity appealed to you when you were six, but the concept arose from the aftermath of a global attack by an advanced alien civilization. I hand it to Card for not pretending we’d come together in a Kumbaya moment to fight the invaders. Military corruption and nationalism don’t just go away when our survival’s at stake. Our survival’s always at stake when it comes to war, so there’s plenty of military history to cite as examples.
“A lot of his ideas were way out there,” I continued, “and it’s far more likely we’ll have wrecked the earth before we have a chance to venture beyond our home planet. To paraphrase something I read, intelligent life is so improbable that it’s likely separated by so much time and space that we may never encounter it outside of our planet. Not only that, but any advanced civilization that came to be in the past has probably long since moved on and if it still exists, it’s probably been replaced by the very artificial intelligence it developed.”
“And on that cheery thought, let’s see if we can get something to drink,” Kyle suggested. But before we even made it very far, the caterers shut down the bar and discretely informed us that it was time to move into the tent for dinner.
I never could understand why some people felt the need to play matchmaker when it came to planning a formal dinner. Growing up with billionaires for parents, I was exposed to the concept of event planning from a very early age. By the time I started school at Stuyvesant, I’d already been to dozens of such events. It wasn’t like I had a choice in the matter and frankly, I’d have rather been doing something else, but my parents never missed an opportunity to show off their genius son in front of all their business partners, colleagues, friends and relatives. Invariably I ended up being seated at a table with a bunch of snobby rich kids who looked down on me, I guess because I wouldn’t play their social games. The irony was that I was the one who was several grades ahead in school.
So when the dads decided to host a rehearsal dinner and settled on making it a buffet, I assumed that it would be informal and that people could seat themselves as they wished, with people they found interesting and not with people someone else decided they’d enjoy being with for dinner. Oh, how I was wrong. The caterers were fine with serving a buffet, but they wouldn’t hear of people sitting wherever they wanted. That just wasn’t how it was done. Heaven forbid, people should wait in long lines and then have to carry plates all over kingdom come as they looked for an empty seat. No, that kind of disorder could never be allowed. Instead, people would have to be assigned to sit at tables, which would then be called up individually to the buffet line in an orderly fashion.
And so it fell to the dads to decide who would be assigned to sit at which table and even who would be seated next to each other. I knew they meant well and they really did make the effort to have people with similar interests, but who didn’t know each other well, sit next to each other. Unfortunately, by the time the guest list was being arranged for the rehearsal dinner, there just wasn’t much time. They might as well have thrown darts with people’s names on them at a dartboard with a layout of the tables, for there was little evidence of the serious thought that had gone into the seating chart. I had hoped Kyle and I would be seated together at a table with several other kids, preferably young teens, but that was not to be. At least we were seated together, but at a table with a contingent from Brazil. I guess Jake felt that when he made the seating chart because I was one of the few Americans in attendance who spoke Portuguese, I’d be better able to converse with the family members from Sao Paulo. However, Kyle doesn’t speak any Portuguese, and we were thirty or forty years younger than the next youngest person at the table. What was Jake thinking?
As the group of us made our way into the tent that had been erected on the terrace, the only thing I knew was that Kyle and I were seated at table seven. None of our cousins from California were seated at table seven, nor were Asher and Seth. Now, I would have thought table seven would be somewhere between tables six and eight, but Kyle and I found table six right away. Surrounding table six were tables eleven, fifteen, twelve and eighteen. Go figure. We searched high and low and, naturally, table seven was where we least expected it.
When we finally found table seven, there were already two couples seated there, one of them appearing to be in their sixties and the other in their eighties or older. I started to introduce myself, but the younger man quickly interrupted, “My English not so good. I speak some, my wife speak a little and my parents no speak.” Okay… How in fuck was Ky supposed to understand them either. Was I supposed to spend the night translating?
“You are family?” the man who spoke some English asked. I was about to respond in Portuguese, but then something told me I should wait to switch languages. Sometimes it’s better if people don’t know you can understand them, and so I responded slowly, in English, “Sort of. I don’t know if you know Kyle, Jake’s younger son. I am Kyle’s boyfriend.”
“You children are faggots?” he practically shouted. That was the last thing that anyone at the table said to us for nearly the entire evening. The man quickly explained to his wife and parents in Portuguese that, not only was Jake a faggot, but his younger son was too. As the remaining family members from Brazil arrived at the table, he duly informed each one that the cute children at the table were disgusting faggots. I asked Kyle if he knew who any of the people seated with us were, but other than that they were family from Brazil, he didn’t know any of them. The one consolation was that, because they didn’t know I spoke their language, they said things they would have never said in front of me otherwise – things they wouldn’t have wanted Jake to hear about from me. It seemed that none of them wanted to be there, nor did they even condone what they referred to as sodomy, as if the only thing that mattered was the sex act.
No, they came to the wedding because Jake paid their way and thus it was an opportunity for a New York vacation. They didn’t even ask him if it was okay to extend their stay – knowing Jake, he’d have been happy to do so if they asked – but instead, they took it upon themselves to change the return flight Jake had paid for to one that left two weeks later. Also, they’d extended the reservations for their hotel rooms to match without changing the billing. One of the women actually laughed that Jake wouldn’t realize they’d stayed an extra two weeks at his expense until he saw the bill, if he even noticed it at all, given the size of the bill for all the other guests.
This was one of those times when it was great to have a father who was the CEO of the major brokerages. Although I was now living with my boyfriend’s family, I still had my connections with some of the key staff there, including the accountant I’d recruited to make all the wedding arrangements for Jake and Ken. A quick text between the dinner courses to her was all it took to set things in motion and shift the charges for their hotel rooms without their being aware of it. I wouldn’t even tell Jake or Ken about it until we got back from our trip to Europe. They could consider it a wedding present from me. Chuckling to myself and thinking of my friends with their weird Star Trek obsession, I remembered the old Klingon expression, Revenge is a dish that’s best served cold.
With no one to talk to at our table, Kyle and I spent the time during dinner talking to each other. The food was excellent as I would have expected, but still not on a par with Asher’s cooking. The nice thing about having a buffet was that we could fill our plates with food we liked, even if the caterers insisted on serving us portions they thought were appropriate. And Jake and Ken still were nowhere to be found.
With no one else to talk to as we ate, my boyfriend and I discussed our mutual interest in space exploration. Although Ky’s primary interest was in particle physics and the so-called grand theory of everything, the cost of building ever larger, ever faster particle accelerators was prohibitive. With the potential for a return on investment being decades into the future, if not centuries, governments were cutting back on funding such projects. The situation was not all that different when it came to space exploration.
Assuming the perils of climate change didn’t lead to our extinction or the fall of civilization, we’d soon need to mine the solar system for the minerals we’d depleted here on earth. However, as I see it, space exploration and colonization represent humankind’s ultimate destiny. On that, Kyle and I could agree. The problem with space exploration is that the laws of physics as we understand them severely limit the speed and hence the distance we can travel in space. With existing technology, it would take months or years to reach the planets in our own solar system and reaching the nearest star would take lifetimes.
Unfortunately, generating faster spaceships means generating more momentum, and the only way to do that still involves ejecting a propellant at high velocity through a rocket nozzle. Rocket fuel is very inefficient, but even if we developed the technology to convert the propellant to pure energy at an ideal one-to-one ratio, there’d always be a limit to how fast we could accelerate before the weight of the additional propellant exceeded what was needed to propel the additional weight of the propellant alone. The only possible resolution might be to somehow scoop up dark matter from around the spaceship as we travel, not that we even knew what dark matter actually is.
Kyle and I talked about the use of more novel strategies for space propulsion that we’d read about. There’d recently been an article on the subject in Scientific American and there actually was a program of funding from NASA to investigate novel high-risk, high-potential strategies for propulsion. One of the more promising strategies, for example, used land-based lasers and light sails, but it would only be useful within range of land – be it on earth or the other planets, and it wouldn’t be useful for deep space exploration at all. Perhaps the most interesting idea involved the use of the piezoelectric effect to alter the shape of a large mass, in effect generating minute gravity waves. Kyle called it gravitational peristalsis, but all joking aside, the effect was infinitesimal, but measurable. Still, there’d be no need to expel mass in the form of rocket propellant to generate thrust if there were a way to directly manipulate gravity. The trick would be to do so without needing a ship the size of a planet.
Yes, we had a much more interesting conversation than we’d undoubtedly have had if our table mates had spoken English.
As the meal wound down, Jake and Ken were still missing in action. Jake’s sister made it a point to announce that both were accounted for, but Jake was tied up with emergency surgery on one of his longtime patients and Ken was stuck in emergency dealing with a patient he’d been treating for epilepsy for many years. She assured us that, come hell or high water, they’d be home soon, even if she had to go down to Presbyterian herself and forcibly abduct them.
“You’d think they could have gotten someone else to take over on such an important night,” one of Jake’s second cousins complained in Portuguese. “Family should come first. They have a responsibility to entertain their guests.”
Without thinking, I responded in Portuguese, “I’m sure they would have if they could have. They probably started with their emergency patients while they were still on-duty, but there probably were other emergencies and there wasn’t another attending physician to take over, and they didn’t feel comfortable leaving it to the resident on-call. That’s the kind of doctors they are… ones that put their patients’ welfare over their own. The only thing more important is a family emergency. A rehearsal dinner is not a family emergency, nor is the need to provide entertainment.”
The faces of the Brazil contingent actually paled as they realized I could speak Portuguese. Oh well, the cat was out of the bag. “Your Portuguese is excellent,” one of the cousins stated. “Why didn’t you tell us you could speak it?”
“I’m fluent in more than a dozen languages,” I replied, “and Kyle and I have only one year left in high school. These cute, disgusting faggots hope to begin their studies at MIT in another year. Truthfully, we had nothing to say to you that could be said in polite company. Besides which, it was so much more fun to listen to what all of you said.”
“You heard everything we said?” another cousin said.
“Pretty much,” I responded, “and I’m sure Jake and Ken would have been happy to pay for your vacation if you’d asked. They’re very generous that way and, after all, you schlepped all the way from Sao Paulo to attend the marriage of two perverts. However, since all of the arrangements were made through my father’s brokerage firm, I took the liberty of informing them of the change in arrangements you made. You might want to save yourself some embarrassment by notifying the hotel yourselves that you intend to pay for the additional two weeks.”
“Son, do you have any idea who I am?” the senior man at the table implored me.
“I know you’re Jake’s granduncle, or something like that, and that you escaped with your parents from Nazi-occupied Hungary,” I replied. “Your Hungarian accent is even stronger than Jake’s,” I added. “I’m afraid I don’t know who you are outside of being a valued member of this family, but then you don’t know who I am either, other than being Kyle’s boyfriend and future husband.”
“You’re, what, thirteen?” he challenged, “and you expect me to take you seriously?”
“Haven’t you been listening?” I countered. “I’m not thirteen… I’m only twelve, and I’m fluent in more than a dozen languages and can speak dozen’s more. My boyfriend, your great grandson or grandnephew, is only ten years old, but we both just finished our junior year… what you probably call grade eleven, in one of the best high schools in the world. We’re both taking college-level courses too.”
When I told him the name of the brokerage where my father was the CEO, he exclaimed, “My God, they’ve been handling my investments for decades,” and when I told him the name of the fashion label my mother owned, his wife exclaimed, “Oh dear, I’m wearing one of her evening gowns right now.” Once Kyle’s great granduncle, or whatever he was, realized just who my parents were, he shut up. Completely.
It wasn’t long after that that the dads finally arrived and started making the rounds to the various tables, before Jake’s sister interrupted them so that the roasting could begin. Each armed with a plate full of food, they finally had a chance to sit down while friends and family told amusing and embarrassing anecdotes. I learned a lot about the men who’d come to mean so much to me.
I was sleeping so soundly and so deeply that I didn’t even remember my dreams, when something or someone came crashing down on Kyle and me. “What the fuck?” my boyfriend responded as we tried to extricate ourselves from whatever landed on top of us.
“Wake up, you lazy bums,” Roger said as he continued his assault. “Tomorrow night, we fly to Europe for the entire summer. But this afternoon, Dad and Ken are getting married, so there’s no time to waste. There’s very little time left, and so much to pack. So you boys have five seconds to get your asses out of bed before I start tickling you.”
Roger started counting, but only managed to get down to two before Ky and I were both standing next to our bed. Of course we were both naked, but Roger was used to that by now. “I talked to the dads about what we need to bring,” Roger went on. “Keep in mind that we’ll only have a car for part of the time, and not at all in London or Paris. The cars will be sized for European roads, which is to say, kinda puny, with barely enough room for the five of us, let alone a lot of luggage. Some of the time we’ll be taking trains, which means we’ll each have to carry our own luggage and lift it to place it overhead.
“The bottom line is that, even though the airline lets you to bring close to a hundred pounds of checked and carry-on luggage, you shouldn’t bring more than about fifty pounds worth. You might like to bring a large suitcase or maybe share one between the two of you, but smaller suitcases are easier to stow or fit in a car. The dads bought all new stuff for us… really good stuff. It arrived yesterday via FedEx and I unpacked it and stashed it in the den. We each have an expandable rolling international carry-on bag to check, plus a cabin bag and a backpack. They don’t hold a lot, but then there’s no way we could take enough clothes for ten weeks anyway. Our instructions are to pack enough socks and underwear for ten days, along with four or five t-shirts, one or two dressy shirts, a sweater, a sportscoat, two pairs of shorts, a pair of khakis and a pair of dressy casual shoes. You’ll wear your sneakers, another t-shirt and another pair of khakis on the plane. Also, you should bring a cheap pair of flipflops ’cause even in luxury hotels, in some places the bathrooms won’t be all that clean.”
“What about sandals or flipflops to wear?” Kyle asked.
“Would you really want to wear flipflops on the streets of Barcelona?” Roger asked.
“I guess not,” Kyle answered.
“You can bring sandals if you have room, but it won’t always be practical to wear them.”
“How about bringing wifebeaters?” I asked.
Kyle visibly cringed and Roger responded, “That term is never to be used in this house. I’m sure you realize how offensive it is.” I nodded my head in response. “We call them tank tops or just ‘tanks’, and you can pack a few of them if you have room, or some muscle shirts if you wish, but keep in mind that there are a lot of times wearing one wouldn’t be appropriate.”
“How about swimsuits?” I asked.
“I doubt there’ll be much time for swimming with all the dads have planned for us,” Roger replied, “but some of the hotels will undoubtedly have pools. It’s probably a good idea for all of us to bring a pair, especially for you, given your love of the sport.
“Oh, and don’t forget to pack an umbrella and a light hooded jacket or windbreaker. It probably won’t get cold enough for hoodie or a warm jacket, but you can always combine the sweater and windbreaker if it gets cold enough. And don’t bother to bring toiletries… not even toothpaste. We’ll buy everything else there after we arrive. The airlines only let you bring enough toiletries in three ounce or hundred ml sizes to fill a one-quart zip-lock, which isn’t nearly enough for ten weeks. It’s just easier to buy it there and throw out what we don’t use.
“In terms of other things, you’ll obviously bring your phones to use as cameras if nothing else. Dad added international calling to our data plan, so you don’t have to worry about that…”
“Isn’t that like ten dollars a day?” Kyle asked.
“Yup, $700 for ten weeks per phone,” Roger answered. “Talk isn’t cheap, and neither are text or data. If you want to save a little money, turn off data roaming and use WiFi where you find it. And don’t forget to bring USB chargers for your phones and any other toys you decide to bring. Speaking of which, you might want to bring your own noise-cancelling headphones along. Most of the major airlines provide noise-cancelling headphones in business class, but they’re not Bose or even Beats.”
“Not that I’d want Bose,” I countered as I wrinkled my nose. “Frankly, noise-cancelling headphones don’t sound natural. Kyle and I will take our A&K IEMs any day.” Kyle and I both had very expensive portable music players and in-ear monitors – what some might call earphones – that are way beyond Bose for sound quality.
“If you like sticking crap in your ears,” Roger objected. “Anyway, you need to get busy packing while you have a chance. There’s a brunch under the tent at eleven, and then you’ll be getting ready for the wedding after that. The reception will last long into the night and there won’t be nearly enough time tomorrow before we have to leave for Kennedy. So get going.”
“Just so there’s coffee at the brunch,” Kyle responded, much to my amusement, and Roger’s.
Let the madness begin…
Disclaimer: This story is a fictional account involving gay preteen and teenage 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. Some of the locations described are real locations, and some of the characters and organizations described may bear a strong resemblance to real individuals and organizations; however, this is a fictional story and should be taken as such. The author retains full copyright.