Brian Goes To College
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2015-2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Brian saw Louisa several times at school the next week. He had never noticed her before but now that they had met she seemed to appear at odd times in the hall. He figured it was like his red Hyundai Santa Fe, He had never recalled seeing one before he had one and now he saw them all the time. Funny how that worked.
The first time they passed each other he heard someone call his name, "Hi Brian." He looked up to see Louisa and waved at her.
"Hi Louisa. On your way to your next class?"
She smiled and nodded and went on her way. The next time was as he was going to the cafeteria for lunch. She came up beside him and asked, "Is this your lunch period?"
"Yes, you too?"
"Yes, would you like to sit together?" she suggested.
"Well sure. I need to go through the line though. I didn't bring a lunch today."
"Me either. We can go through the line and get something."
"Sounds like a plan. I really enjoyed talking with your dad, It was very helpful."
"Louisa gave him that beautiful smile, "I think he enjoyed talking with you – Eagle Scouts, you know."
"Yes, that was an interesting coincidence. It sounded like he really enjoyed his time in scouting."
"He did. I think he was disappointed that I was a girl rather than a potential Boy Scout."
"Were you in Girl Scouts?"
"I was. I am a Gold Star. That's the same as an Eagle Scout for you. Dad was very active in Girls Scouts when I was younger. Or as active as he could be – his free time is sort of limited."
"Oh, that's great. Did he go on camp outs and things with you?"
"Yes but I don't think we do as much camping as you do. The program is set up differently," Louisa explained.
They had reached the serving line and had to decide what went on their trays. Brian had let Louisa go first and she looked over the selections and choose a turkey chef salad. "Are those any good?" Brian asked.
"They're OK. At least they aren't greasy. I have that fairly often."
"That looks pretty good," Brian agreed. "Turkey chef salad and unsweet ice tea please," he told the server.
Brian followed Louisa to a table populated by several students who waved as they approached. "I usually eat with these guys," she explained.
She introduced him to the small group. "Brian this is Lanny, Melissa, Keith and Francine. Guys, this is Brian."
They smiled and said hello and started to talk among themselves. Melissa spoke to him, "I think I have seen you around but I don't think we have met. Are you new here?"
Brian laughed, "No, this is my third year. I guess I must keep a low profile."
"What class are you in?" Lanny asked.
"I'm a senior actually. Louisa and I met at the Senior Tea."
This brought on a chorus of chuckles. "We had to do that too," Melissa said, "I guess we were in different sessions. We are all seniors too."
"This is a big school. It's impossible to know everybody," Brian admitted.
"I know you," Lanny spoke up. "I think we are in the same Senior English class."
"You're right. I recognized you when we walked up. Mrs. Kunkle, right?"
Lanny laughed, Right, dear old Mrs. Kunkle."
Having gotten the introductions out of the way the others went back to talking among themselves. Melissa was sitting next to Louisa and asked her something that Brian didn't catch, Louisa replied back, "Brian is interested in being a doctor. He came over and talked to my father about it. He plays tennis too."
"Oh really. Are you good at it?" she asked Brian.
"No. I suck at tennis. I have just batted some balls around a few times. I can't claim to really play at all."
"Mother wants to give him some lessons," Louisa volunteered, then laughed, "We are sort of desperate for a fourth for doubles."
"You must really be desperate if you are going to recruit me. I would be embarrassed to get on a court with you people," Brian replied, "I really don't know how to play tennis."
"Oh I bet we could teach you. And it would give you a chance to talk to my dad some more." There was that smile again. "What do you do on Sunday afternoons?"
Brian shrugged, "Not much usually. I go to church with my family in the morning and then sort of hang out after church."
"Where do you go?"
"We go to St. Jerome's."
"Really? We go to St John's. I guess we are all Episcopalians. We have several things in common," she smiled again.
"Right, it looks like we do," Brian admitted. He was wondering if he could actually learn to play tennis.
They finished their lunch and got up to bus their trays on the way out.
"Well, I guess I'll see you around," Louisa told him. "You can sit with us at lunch again if you would like."
"Sure, I have to sit somewhere, don't I?"
"Would you like to come over Sunday afternoon for your tennis lesson?" there was that smile.
"Well, if you insist, but I'm warning you that I might be pretty hopeless."
"I bet you're not," she smiled once more. "See you later," and she disappeared into the after lunch crowd of students.
Brian had the chance to talk with Marco a few days later. "You have a minute?" he asked.
"Sure, what's up Brian?"
"Well, you remember my telling you about the girl who has the doctor father?"
"Right, Louisa Carpenter wasn't it?"
"That's right. Well I saw her at school on Tuesday and we ended up eating lunch together. She and her mother are plotting to get me over to play tennis with them. She said they were looking for a fourth for doubles and that if I come over maybe I can talk some more with her father. That's nice, but I'm not a tennis player."
'Well, maybe they can teach you."
"Right, that's the plan I guess. But I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that."
Brian sighed, "Louisa is a very sweet girl, very attractive with the most beautiful smile I ever saw. But I'm afraid she might be interested in more than just tennis."
Marco laughed. "Is she putting moves on you?"
"She is awfully friendly," Brian admitted.
"Does that make you nervous?"
"It does, actually. I don't want to give her the wrong idea. I mean, I don't think I'm very good boyfriend material."
"Have you ever dated a girl before, Brian?"
"No, never. I don't think I have ever done anything with a girl except maybe in a group, like at school or church."
Marco looked at Brian. "Do you like this girl?"
"Well yes, she is very nice, pretty and friendly. She is well, very nice."
"Would you say she is attractive?"
"Yes, she is very attractive Marco, and she has the most beautiful smile. I don't know what to think about her."
"What would happen if you went over to play tennis? Do you think she would jump your bones or something?"
"No, I don't think that. She's nice, her mom and dad are very nice. They go to St. John's, they are even Episcopalians."
Marco chuckled, "Sounds like a match made in heaven."
Brian lowered his voice, "But I'm gay, Marco. You know that. Shouldn't I warn her or something?"
Marco shook his head. "I don't really know how to advise you. By the time I was your age I was married to Marty. I never went out with a girl. There was never any doubt in my mind about my sexual orientation. But from what you have told me about your early childhood I am not sure about you."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I always thought your sexual orientation was something you were born with. But your earliest sexual experiences were with a father who showed you no attention or affection until he began to molest you. I can see how that might be very confusing to you. Did you find some enjoyment in that because you were gay or were you simply starved for approval from your father? That sort of thing could really put your head in a spin."
Brian frowned and sat back. "I don't know, Marco. I hear what you're saying but I just don't know. I was beginning to come to terms with being gay but you're telling me that maybe I'm really not?"
"I'm suggesting that maybe you might consider checking out the other side of the street. Actually, if I recall correctly, you were shy abut making friends with guys because you were unsure about your ability to just be friends with a guy. You found out that you could do that. Remember Luke? He has been a great friend for you, and I don't think there has been a sexual component to that."
"No, not at all," Brian shook his head, "Luke is just a friend, and a good one at that."
"Well, is it possible that you and Louisa can be friends? If she is a nice person, she might be a nice friend."
"But what if she wants to be more than just friends? I mean, what if she wants, you know?"
"Then you will have to draw boundaries on the relationship. You can politely explain that you are not ready for a serious relationship without going into a long discussion about your perceived sexual orientation – or you might decide to rethink your situation."
Brian looked confused. "You think?"
"I think you shouldn't slam the door on the possibility. Could it be that you have never considered that you might find a girl attractive because you have been convinced that you can only be attracted to other males? Could it be that you are comfortable about anal sex with a male because that was the only way that your father ever showed any attention to you?"
"Ouch." Brian winced.
"I'm sorry. That was pretty blunt, but it could be true. Do you remember when you first came to live with us, I tried to get you to go to a therapist to help sort all this out? You didn't want to do it then, but maybe you should reconsider."
Brian took a deep breath. "Nobody but you and I guess Marty knows about what happened with my father. I just don't think I could talk about that with anybody I didn't know and trust. I trust you, Marco. You've helped me with a lot of things. I think I would rather just keep this between the two of us. I guess you can tell Marty if you need to but this is really personal."
Marco smiled gently. "I did share a little of your story with Marty when we were considering asking you to live with us. I thought he had a right to have some idea of where you were coming from. But I only gave him a general idea of your situation, I didn't go into detail. I have never shared that with anyone. Let me ask you this, has Marty ever brought that up with you? Has he ever said or done anything that lets you know that he's aware of what happened with your father?"
"No, never come to think of it."
"And he never will." Marco sat back and sighed, "Brian, I love you very much and would do anything for you. I am really not qualified to advise you on what you should do about Louisa, but I hate to see you wall yourself off. This may be a good thing or it might go nowhere. I will say that your sexuality is no one's business but your own. If you need to step back from this girl I would advise you not excuse yourself on the basis of being gay. That would definitely be the wrong thing to do for a number of reasons. Just tell her you like her but are not ready for more than friendship. She may get her feelings hurt but you will not have opened Pandora's box. See what I mean?"
Brian nodded slowly. "Damn, Marco. You always give me a lot of things to think about. But you always give me good advice, and I do trust you. Let me think about this." He stood up and gestured for Marco to stand. "Please stand up. I want to give you a hug."
Marco rose and Brian put his arms around him. "Thank you Marco. You're the best friend I have ever had. I thank God for you every day."
Marco returned the hug warmly. "Thanks for trusting me. I could not ask for a better son or a better friend, and you are both to me. Don't worry, Brian, you will get through this. Give it a shot. You might even learn how to play tennis."
Now Brian smiled. "Who knows, you reckon?"
Marco's Uncle Eugene called them on Wednesday night. Marco hung up his phone and said to the family gathered around the dinner table. "That was Eugene. We are invited up to his place Saturday evening for bar-be-que. How does that sound?"
"Sounds good to me," Marty said, "We haven't seen them for awhile."
""Not since that powwow down in Texas last summer. Eugene and Eunice are really nice." Ben recalled.
Sam looked excited. "They have all that great regalia stuff. We would never have been to a powwow if it wasn't for them."
"What about you Brian? Can you get away to join us?"
Brian nodded, "I think so. I missed that powwow. I'm not Indian like you guys but I like to see the dancing."
"Sounds like a plan. I'll let him know we are all coming. He said he had a surprise for us."
They all went up to Eugene's place in Owasso on Saturday and arrived about five o'clock. They were greeted by some good smells coming from Eugene's back yard.
"Hello nephew. How are all the Montgomerys? Hey, you even brought Brian. Good to see you."
Brian smiled, "Good to be here. I missed that last big powwow."
"You missed a good one. Sarah and the twins all won medals."
"That's what I heard. You have made dancers out of them for sure.'
"Well, I have kind of a treat for you all today. Joshua is here and wants to show you something. Come on back around the house."
They followed Eugene to his back yard where a smoker that looked like a small locomotive was pouring white smoke from its chimney. Marty followed them carrying an armload of folding aluminum lawn chairs.
"Wow, that smells good Uncle Eugene, "Ben exclaimed. "Are those hamburgers?"
"No, I thought I would do a nice brisket for you. It's been on the smoker all day and should be ready pretty quick."
His wife Eunice was sitting in a plastic lawn chair and got up to give them all hugs. "Oh it's so nice to see all of you. I'm so glad you came."
Sam went over to sniff at the smoker. "I'm glad we came too."
Eugene pointed to a tall young man who got up to greet them. "I think you remember my son Joshua, although you might not recognize him he has gotten so tall."
Joshua smiled and shook everyone's hand. "I've been away to college," he explained, "I'll graduate from Oklahoma State in a few weeks."
"Brian will be graduating from high school this year," Marty said as he introduced them.
"That's great. Are you going on to college?" Joshua asked him.
"Yes," Brian explained, "I will be going to OU Tulsa for pre-med, then on to medical school I hope, but that remains to be seen."
""Well now I don't know if we can feed you or not. We are all OSU Cowboys here," Eugene joked.
"Now don't hold that against me," Brian laughed, "I'm just going to the closest school. OU doesn't have a football team here in Tulsa."
"Well in that case I guess we'll keep you," Eugene clapped Brian on his shoulder.
"You said that you have a surprise for us," Marco asked Eugene, "Is Joshua it?"
"He is, but why don't we all sit down and get comfortable first. Can I get you something cold to drink? We have soda, ice tea and even some beer if you like."
The boys asked for a coke and the rest wanted tea. The beer went begging.
Eunice disappeared into the house to fetch the drinks and the rest arranged their chairs in a circle on the grass and began to visit.
"We're curious to know what your surprise is Joshua. What do you have for us?" Marco asked.
"Why don't you go in the house and get ready," Eugene suggested to Joshua, "We'll enjoy our drinks and get caught up on things while we wait."
"So how are Jacob and Sarah?" Marty asked.
Eugene smiled, "They are doing great. Jacob graduated from college and got married a year or so ago. They have a little baby girl. We are pretty excited about that. Sarah is going to nursing school down in Chickasaw and couldn't get away for the weekend but she will be home pretty soon. I thought Joshua was maybe going to get married but he and his lady friend had a parting of the ways."
"Better now than after they marry," Marco smiled.
"Oh that's right for sure. She was a nice girl and we liked her well enough but I guess she just wasn't the right one for Josh." Eugene turned to Brian, "So you plan to be a doctor?"
Brian smiled, "Well that's the plan. I hope it all works out. Marco and Marty are very supportive and recently I have found a doctor in town who is giving me good advice. It's a long road but I hope to make it."
"Oh I think you will do fine," Eugene assured him. "Marco thinks the world of you and expects that you can do about anything you set your mind to."
They chatted for a few more minutes than they heard Joshua call to his dad from the house that he was ready. Eugene excused himself for a minute then came back with his big drum. "You know Josh has been dancing for a long time and since he was over in Stillwater he found some friends who have taught him something new. I think you'll be surprised." He called back to the house, "Whenever your ready."
Joshua came out dressed in leggings and a nice ribbon shirt and was carrying an armful of hoops which he laid out overlapping each other on the ground. "OK, I'm ready dad."
Eugene began a steady beat on the drum and after composing himself for a moment, Joshua began to dance with a quick skipping step. He danced around the hoops several times then stepped on the end hoop and flipped it up over his legs grabbing it with his hands and twirling it around. He bent forward and passed it over his body, stepping through it like it was skipping a rope. He did some fancy things with it then stepped on another and began to alternate skipping through first one and then the other, never stopping his footwork. When he had four hoops he extended his arms and managed to spin two hoops around each wrist, moving them in opposite directions.
He kept picking up more and more hoops, fanning them out like wings and whirling around while never missing a step. He placed several over his head then flipped them into the shape of a ball and laid them to one side as he picked up the rest of the hoops and did more interlocking patterns with them, finally picking up those he had laid aside and including all nine hoops in a great fan which extended across his back and past his arms. All the time his feet danced and skipped to the beat of the drum. He finished by flipping the hoops into two globes which he laid on the ground at his sides and finished with a flourish.
When Joshua stepped back and spread out his arms to take a bow, the family erupted in applause. Everyone was impressed by his performance but Sam and Ben were jumping out of their chairs with excitement.
"How does he do that?" Ben was jumping up and down with his eyes big as saucers.
"I want to learn how to hoop dance!" Sam exclaimed.
Eugene laughed, "I thought you boys would like that."
Joshua came over and sat in a chair, breathing heavily and sweating. "Whew! That's a lot of work," he laughed and acknowledged the compliments of his family. Sam and Ben were swarming him with requests to teach them how to hoop dance.
"Give me a chance to catch my breath," Joshua begged them. "I guess I can try to get you started but it takes awhile to learn how to do all that stuff."
"Teach us please!" Both boys begged.
"Why don't you boys wait until we get something to eat," Eugene suggested. "I think this brisket is about ready." He flipped open the smoker and a cloud of fragrant vapor rolled up towards the sky. "It looks pretty good. I put a couple of chickens in there too. It's as easy to cook several things as to cook one."
Eugene put on a pair of heavy leather gloves and picked up the contents of the smoker and placed them on a large metal tray. He set it on the picnic table and Eunice started bringing out bowls of potato salad and baked beans. Brian ran in and helped carry out paper plates, utensils and paper napkins. The smell was heavenly.
Everybody lined up as Eugene carved the brisket and one of the chickens. Joshua was made to be first in line as a reward for his hoop dance. Sam and Ben wedged themselves in behind him, determined not to let him get far away. Soon everyone was sitting in the circle with a plate in their laps enjoying Eugene and Eunice's cooking.
"This is delicious," Marty exclaimed and he was followed by a chorus of agreement somewhat muffled by mouths full of good food. There was a little chatter then Marco excused himself and returned with a big dish of apple cobbler that he had brought from home. They ate well.
Some time was alloted to resting and digesting then Sam and Ben were badgering Joshua to teach them to hoop dance.
"OK, OK. Let me try to get you started," he said and eased himself out of his chair. "Man, I am so full of brisket I'm not sure I can move, let alone dance."
"Let's start out by learning the skip step," he told them. Sam and Ben were at his sides and totally focused on his instruction. Eugene obliged by starting a beat on the drum as Joshua demonstrated the dance step.
"You always keep in time to the beat of the drum, but when you pick up your foot, bring it up high and skip with the other. You can alternate from foot to foot and twirl around, but never lose the beat, OK?"
Sam and Ben tried to imitate what Joshua was doing and made some progress with it although it felt a bit clumsy at first. "OK, you can work on that," he told them.
Then he tossed two hoops on the ground with one slightly overlapping the other. He stepped on the outside of the one on top and it flipped up against his leg. "If you quickly put both feet inside of the hoop then step on the side, it will flip up with you inside of it, see?" He demonstrated.
"When you start out you might have to reach down and grab it with your hand, but after you practice this you can flip it up high enough so you can catch it with your knee and bring it on up so you can grab it without bending over, OK?" He demonstrated this several times putting more hoops down for Sam and Ben to try and do the same.
The results were somewhat comical as the twins stomped on the hoops without a lot of success. Finally they began to get the idea. Joshua very patiently coached each boy as they learned the moves. Now he had each of them take a hoop in their hands with it hanging down around their waists.
"Practice on picking up the hoop with your feet," he told them. "It will come to you. Now once you get it up around your waist let me show you how to jump through it."
Joshua took a hoop and put it around his hips. "These hoops are kind of small, but plenty big to go around your body. It should even be easier for you because you guys are still pretty slender. Now watch me. Hold the hoop at your waist in your hands and bend over. Now turn the hoop so it comes up over your head. See, it will go right over you, OK? Now watch."
Joshua bent and brought the hoop up from his waist, over his head, then down at his feet as he jumped slightly and passed the hoop under his feet and back up around his waist. "See there? It will go all around you. Work on that and then try to keep it going, like this."
He jumped again, passed the hoop under his feet, over his crouched body and then back under his feet. He did this slowly several times then repeated it very quickly, twirling the hoop around himself, jumping through it almost like skipping a rope. The result was amazing to Sam and Ben.
"Wow, that looks awesome," Sam exclaimed.
"Right, it does look good, but it is really just something pretty simple that looks real flashy when you do it fast." Joshua explained.
Both Sam and Ben began to attempt the trick while Joshua coached them. They began to get the idea, but the result was enough to set Brian to laughing as first one and then the other stepped on the hoop and tumbled to the ground.
"Hey, that's OK," Joshua assured them. "Nobody learns that the first time. You're doing fine." After they started to look winded, Joshua called them to a halt.
"Take a break and sit down and I will show you a couple of other simple things." He took two hoops and hung them from his wrist. "Now if you move your arm up and down a couple of times, you can get the hoops to swing in the opposite direction. When you see that they are doing that then start moving your arm up and down faster and you can get them to start swing clear around still going both ways, see, like this." Sure enough the hoops were spinning around his wrist in both directions.
"Now when you figure out how to do this, you try to get a pair of hoops going on both arms and it looks pretty cool, see?" He demonstrated and had a pair of hoops spinning on both arms.
"You can keep trying until you get this figured out. Try to get each one of these things worked out then you can start putting them together. Like first you bring one hoop up and jump though it, then you bring up a second hoop and twirl it on one wrist. Then you bring up two more and get both arms going, right?" Of course all this time you are doing that skip step in time to the drum. It takes some coordination and a lot of practice but it really is just putting some fairly simple things together."
Joshua nodded to his father who started the drum going and then he demonstrated what he had just suggested. The result was very impressive to Sam and Ben who watched with the look of amazement.
"I don't know if I can ever do that," Ben shook his head.
"Sure you can. It's not really as hard as it looks if you just keep working on it," Joshua assured him.
Sam looked unconvinced, "That's easy for you to say. You're really good."
Joshua laughed. "You should have seen me that first time I tried it and fell on my face. You can do it if you are willing to work at it long enough. I promise you."
Marco had been watching closely, "I have no doubt that as stubborn as you guys are, you will be doing that in no time. We can work on this when we get home."
Joshua decided that the lesson was over for the day. "I think that's enough for you to work on. I gave you a lot to think about at one time, but I tried to show you as much as I could while we were together. I have to go back to school for a few more weeks to finish up and go through graduation. But I have a job starting in Tulsa when school is out and I'll be back for most of the summer. If you're still interested maybe I can work with you some more."
Ben grinned. "That would be cool if you don't think we're hopeless."
"Not at all. You might feel pretty clumsy right now, but I thought you were picking up on it," Joshua told them. "What will make it happen for you is just a lot of practice. You guys can watch each other and work together. You'll figure it out as you go along. First work on the pieces, then work on putting the pieces together."
"OK, we'll try. Thank you very much for trying to help us," Sam said.
"Yeah, you're really awesome Joshua," Ben agreed.
Joshua went back over and talked with his family while Sam and Ben tried to do the new things they had been shown. Joshua continued to keep an eye on them and shouted encouragement and suggestions from time to time. By the time they had to go, the twins had just about worn themselves out.
Marco walked out to the car with Joshua and clapped him on the shoulder. "I was very impressed with your hoop dance," he said, "and we really appreciate your spending time with Sam and Ben."
"No problem," Joshua told him. "They are really neat kids and I enjoyed it. They did pretty good for the first try. They look determined. I think they'll pick that up if they work on it. If they lose interest then that's fine, but if they are still interested I will try to help them some more. Let me know. Just call my dad." He handed Sam and Ben four of the hoops he had used. "Take these to practice with. I have plenty more."
Hugs were exchanged all around and there were a lot of compliments on the fine food. They all piled in the Sienna and headed for home.
"That was really a nice evening," Marty said. "I like your uncle and his family Marco. They are a treasure."
Marco smiled. "They are the nice family I didn't know I had. They have introduced us into a whole new world. Now we have a pair of hoop dancers on our hands."
He looked back at Sam and Ben for their reaction but they were on each side of Brian, leaned over against him and sound asleep.
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