Brian Goes To College

by Nick Brady

Chapter 13

Copyright © 2015-2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.

The first week of classes rolled by. The biology lab was more interesting than the lecture, but it was the writing class that Brian enjoyed. He was at home talking to Marco about his new friend Gunder.

"He seems like an interesting guy," Brian told him. "I told him that you, Sam and Ben are Seminole and do powwow dancing and he was really curious. I guess that sounds pretty exotic for a Danish guy."

"I imagine it would be," Marco agreed, "but I don't know that there is a big powwow coming up very soon. Maybe you should ask him over sometime."

"I was thinking about that. Do you suppose we might get him over for dinner some time soon?"

"Sure that would be OK. He doesn't know anybody here and I'm sure he would enjoy a good meal," Marco agreed, "We don't have any other plans, let's see if he would like to have dinner with us on Saturday."

That was just what Brian was going to suggest and Marco had beat him to it. "I'll give him a call." He called and Gunder accepted with enthusiasm.

Brian drove over and picked up his new friend at four Saturday afternoon. "I hope you are ready for a noisy family. We have kind of an unusual situation," Brian warned him.

Brian decided to let him know in advance about the nature of his family. If it was a problem, Gunder might as well know what he was in for. "I hope you will be OK with this, but I live with a gay couple, Marco and Marty are married and have adopted a pair of twin boys. Marco, Samuel and Benjamin are Seminole although only related through adoption. Marty and I are white guys and I'm not related to any of them. I got to know the twins through scouts and ended up living with them about four years ago. Are you sufficiently confused by that?"

Gunder looked at Brian and laughed, "Well, that is not what I expected, but now I am really interested in meeting your family. You have an interesting situation indeed."

They parked in the driveway and went in the house to find Marco and Marty in the kitchen and the twins in the back yard. "Hello, you must be Gunder," Marty greeted him. "Welcome to our family."

Gunder was all smiles, "Thank you, I feel welcome already."

Marty led them into the kitchen where Marco was basting pork ribs with a marinade. "This is my partner Marco. He is the chef here and a good one. Marco, meet Gunder."

"Hi, Gunder. Brian tells us you are a native of Denmark. How do you like Tulsa?" Marco wiped his hands with a towel then shook Gunder's hand.

"I like it better now that I have made a friend. Brian was kind to ask me over."

"I will have these ribs ready for the grill in a minute. Sam and Ben are in back if you feel brave. Want to walk him back, Brian?"

Marty stayed in the kitchen to help with dinner and Brian took Gunder out to meet the twins. "Hey guys, I want you to meet somebody."

"Hi Brian, watch this." Ben tossed a hoop on the ground then stepped on it and flipped it up around his waist and started it to spin. "See that?"

"You're getting better," Brian told him. "Hang on and meet my friend Gunder."

"Hi Gunder," Sam and Ben said in unison.

"Hello," Gunder replied. "Now who is Sam and who is Ben?"

Brian pointed to first one and then the other, "This is Samuel, and this is Benjamin. They are working on the hoop dance."

"Really?" Gunder looked uncertain. "Is that like the hula hoop?"

Sam laughed, "Kind of, but with more hoops. We aren't very good yet."

"No, we are just learning. Our cousin Joshua is teaching us." Ben explained.

Gunder smiled and asked, "Do you guys really dance at Indian powwows? We have no Indians in Denmark. I've never seen that."

"No? We could show you," Ben offered.

"Would you like to see them dance? They're pretty good," Brian suggested.

"Yes I would if they don't mind. I would like that very much."

"Run in and put on your stuff, OK? Let's give Gunder a private powwow, and bring out the little drum," Brian told them.

"Oh, this is exciting," Gunder said. "I didn't expect this."

"It's not a big deal, they practice all the time. Let me get some folding chairs, so we can sit and watch. Hang on."

Marco came out with a tray of ribs and some hot links and stepped over to the grill. "Are you getting a show?"

"Yes, I think so. I hope this isn't too much trouble," Gunder said.

"Not at all. They love to show off," Marco told him. "They have been doing this since they were eight, and they're very good. My uncle introduced us to powwows and we all enjoy it. Let me get the grill going and start the ribs, OK?"

Sam and Ben were back in a few minutes in buckskin breeches and the turkey bone breastplates. Brian took the small drum and started a steady beat of boom-bah, boom-bah and the twins began to dance, lifting their feet high and spinning around with arms outstretched. They were good dancers and put on a nice show for Gunder who watched with a broad smile on his face. After about 20 minutes they began to get warm and their brown torsos were shiny with sweat. With a laugh, they broke it off.

"Oh, that was wonderful. Thank you very much," Gunder clapped for them. "I like that very much."

"You need to come with us to a powwow," Marco called from his place at the grill, "There will be a lot of people dancing at once and a group of men all beating on a big drum. It's quite a spectacle."

"And men in big feather bustles and ladies with jingle dresses," Ben told him, "I bet you would like it."

"I'm sure I would. Thank you for a preview."

Sam and Ben wanted to know something about Denmark and began to pepper Gunder with questions which he answered with good humor. He was enjoying these curious boys.

"What is it like to live in Denmark?," Sam asked.

"Well, it is much like here in Tulsa," Gunder told him, "We are a very modern country. The weather is cooler there and we have very long summer nights and short nights in the winter."

"Why is that?" Ben wondered.

"Because we are much farther north that you are in Oklahoma. Denmark is as far north as Nova Scotia in northern Canada, so we are much farther from the equator," Gunder explained.

"Do you have mountains? What does the country look like?" Sam asked.

Gunder smiled. He rather liked their enthusiasm and was pleased to talk about his home country. "Oh yes, our mountains are maybe not so big, but there are deep fjords, that's like a steep canyon with water at the bottom. Much of Denmark is a group of islands and our capital city of Copenhagen is on one of the smaller ones. Much of our country is covered with tall forests of pine trees. It is very beautiful really."

"It is a group of islands? Does that mean you are in the ocean or something?" Ben was curious.

Gunder chuckled, "Well most islands are surrounded by water. The largest part of Denmark is the Jutland, a long peninsula which connects us to Germany. There are bridges to connect the larger islands and another which connects us with Sweden, our neighbor to the east.

"So, what is it like to live there?" Sam wondered.

"It is very nice really. I think we pay a lot of taxes, but almost everything is provided for us, like universities and health care. The society is very secure maybe because we have fewer things to worry about. Some polls have said that the people in Denmark are the happiest in the world."

"Then why are you here?" Ben asked.

"That's a good question I suppose," Gunder smiled, "I like the society in Denmark, but I have always wanted to travel, especially to America. I want to know more about the United States. Really, I think one of the most interesting things about this country is the history and culture of the Native Americans. And here I am with you dancing for me. I think this is wonderful."

Ben and Sam laughed at this. They liked Gunder and thought he was just a little exotic with his white hair and subtle accent. Then Brian told them that Gunder was in the Boy Scouts in Denmark. This prompted another round of questions about scouting in Denmark and Gunder told them about some scouting adventures in his homeland.

Marco called out to them, "OK guys, give Gunder a break. The ribs are ready and it's time to eat. Here Brian, please take them inside while I shut down the grill."

They all sat around the dining table and enjoyed Marco's skill with pork ribs. After a nice dinner they all sat in the living room while Sam and Ben continued to interrogate Gunder about Denmark and his travels. Gunder had questions for them as well and the conversation amounted to a cultural exchange.

Later in the evening Brian drove Gunder to his aunt's house and they sat for awhile and talked in the car.

"I hope the twins didn't pester you too much. They are curious about everything," Brian apologized, "I thought it was interesting though. Your social structures are very different from ours."

Gunder shrugged, "Well, it is a different idea about government. We are Socialists and you are Capitalists. We think that government is intended to look after the needs of society. Here I think maybe it is more intended to let people make money. That's OK, I think everyone likes money, but it means that people who are poor are somewhat neglected."

"Sam and Ben were so interested in what you had to say. You would make a good teacher."

"Of course you remember that we are both Boy Scouts, I have explained many things to young boys as have you. I enjoyed their curiosity."

Brian was thoughtful, "I understand that you wanted to come here to study so you could travel and learn about the US, but did the problems you mentioned in your paper have anything to do with coming here?"

Gunder smiled and laid his head back. "Yes, in some ways it did. I had some problems with my family there and wanted a fresh start I suppose."

"Can I ask what problems? I gather that your grandfather was very stern."

"Well yes in some ways, but he was not a bad person, perhaps very old-fashioned, but a good man really," Gunder looked over at Brian to get his reaction. "It is a long story, eh?"

"I'm in no hurry," Brian assured him.

"Alright, I will tell you, but after I do, I hope we will still be friends. You see, my mother and father do not live with each other at this time although both are in Copenhagen. They are not enemies, they just found that they were better living apart. So since I was about 8 years old, I live for the first part of the school year with my mother and the second with my father. In the summer I stay with my grandfather, my mother's father, on his farm in the Jutlands. That was nice when I was a young boy. He had goats and chickens and things."

"So what happened?"

Gunder sighed, "As I got older, I found myself changing as all boys do. I had school friends who became very interested in girls, but I did not," He glanced at Brian was was listening intently. "I found that I was more interested in some of the boys. I discovered that I was gay. I hope you do not judge me harshly for that."

Brian suppressed a smile and shook his head, "Not at all. Please go on."

"As I told you, Denmark in general and Copenhagen in particular are quite tolerant of homosexuals. Your family would not attract that much attention there, other than the Native American element. My parents were a bit disappointed but accepted me pretty well. It didn't occur to me that I needed to keep this a secret from them.

"The problem came when I spent summers with Grandpapa. He was not a bad person at all, but very old-fashioned. When I was thirteen, I made friends with some other boys who lived near Grandpapa's farm and we, well, we discovered some things together. Somehow my grandfather found out, and he was very angry. He told me it was a terrible thing and that I was not a good person if I did those things. He made me afraid, I think.

"Grandpapa told my mother all about my bad habits, and she decided that I was too young for such things and became more restrictive of me. This meant that for most of the year I was under pressure to be something I was not. I suppose that my father knew as well, although we never discussed it. When I was with him, I did as I pleased. So you see, for part of the year I could be who I was, but for most of the year I had to pretend to be otherwise. I didn't like that. I wanted to start over in a place where I could just be myself."

Gunder looked over at Brian, "Have I offended you by my candor? I hope we are still friends."

"No, I'm not offended. I think perhaps we have more in common than classes and scouting," Brian smiled.

Gunder looked surprised then smiled, "I don't think you are serious. You can't say that you are homosexual."

Brian laughed, "I'm afraid so."

"Oh, then that is very interesting. I think maybe we have a lot of things to talk about. I will need a guide in this strange terrain of Oklahoma if I am to avoid any problems."

"I'm surprised that you can acknowledge your sexuality so easily. I am not so candid about myself," Brian admitted.

"I can see that. I would never have guessed that you are gay. If there is a stereotype for gay men, you fit none of them, other than the fact that you are very nice looking."

"I guess I don't really think of myself that way. I don't identify as 'gay', I just am more attracted sexually to other guys.

Gunder smiled, "I understand, I think I am the same way. I never liked playing with dolls."

Brian chuckled at that, "No, I never liked dolls, other than my trusty G.I. Joe. But I thought that Denmark is very open about that sort of thing. Why was that a problem?"

"Ah, but there are people everywhere who will voice their disapproval. Really though, my problem was mostly at home with my mother and grandfather. I loved them, but wanted very much to be far away from them. That sounds terrible I know, but I wanted to be free, do you understand?"

Brian smiled, "Yes I do understand. It is hard to pretend to be something we are not."

"So do you have a boyfriend? May I ask that?"

"No, not really. I am maybe a little too shy about that. Like you, I want to avoid problems. Tulsa is a much more conservative place than Denmark I think."

"So must I be careful to keep myself a secret? I had hoped that things might be different here," Gunder said.

Brian shook his head, "Of course there are gay people everywhere. I don't know how it is in Denmark, but here I think we are OK if we keep sort of a low profile, you know?"

"Do you think people will know I am gay by looking at me? That was not a problem in Denmark."

"I don't think so. You don't fit the stereotypes either. Just be careful who you come out to. You are very attractive Gunder, I think you will find someone who is right for you."

Gunder smiled, "I hope that you don't think that I will try to take advantage of your honesty. I am not trying to seduce you my friend."

"No, I don't think that," Brian said, "I would like to have you for a friend, but I'm not planning to make you a lover."

"Yes, let's be friends. I need a friend more than I need a lover, although I do find you attractive. Do you not have anyone for a close friend? Someone you can speak honestly about such things?"

Brian chuckled, "I do actually, but my closest friend is a girl, although not my girl friend." Brian told Gunder about his friend Louisa and her doctor father who is instructing him on the art of tennis."

Gunder listened patiently then told Brian, "I think that is very interesting. I love to play tennis myself. Perhaps we can play some time."

"I am just learning so I might not be a challenge for you," Brian admitted. "Maybe you could come with me on Sunday afternoons when I go to the Carpenters. They might enjoy meeting you. Louisa is not always home on the weekends and you might make a fourth for doubles. I can ask if they are OK with that."

Gunder smiled. "I think you are a very good friend for me Brian. But please don't think that you need to do so much for me. I don't want to be a burden for you."

"Not at all. I need a friend too. I think we can learn a lot from each other. Are you comfortable with that?"

"Yes, of course. Let's be friends. If we are to be more than that it will become clear to us both. Am I right?"

Brian was not certain where this was going, but he liked this tall Danish boy. His time in college was starting to get very interesting. "Yes, I think you're right. Let me ask about the tennis tomorrow and I will talk to you on Monday."

"Very good," Gunder extended his hand, "Thank you for a very nice dinner. I really like your family. I'll see you on Monday."

They shook on it.

After church on Sunday Brian called Dr. Carpenter to ask about tennis. "Yes, please do come," he replied. "I am batching while Cathy and Louisa are in California. I would enjoy a game."

Since it was only the two of them they played singles with Brian being challenged by the good doctor. He felt like Ethan was going a little easy on him but not by much. He had to work very hard to keep the ball in play. Still, Ethan gave him a lot of instruction and Brian felt like his game was improving. When they had enough they went into the house to cool off.

"Cathy makes the lemonade," Ethan told him. "You will have to settle for a diet cola."

"That sounds great," Brian said as they sat in the living room.

"So how was the first week of classes for you?"

"It went very well, thank you. I really like the English Composition class. The instructor is going to be demanding but I'm enjoying it."

"Good, I hope you are enjoying your classmates. College is a bit different from high School."

"Yes it is. I met an interesting fellow from Denmark. He claims to be a tennis player."

"Oh really? You will have to invite him over. Does he play well?"

"I don't know but he says he likes to play. He looks like he might give you some competition."

"I would like to meet him. He might make a good practice partner for you too."

"Yes, I was thinking that. I need to practice more if I am to stay on the court with you," Brian smiled.

"Well, Cathy and Louisa will not be back from California until Monday of next week. Why don't you bring him over next Sunday and we'll see how good he is. I will look forward to that."

Brian excused himself then went home to check in with the family.

"How was the tennis lesson?" Marco asked when Brian came home.

"It was pretty challenging today. It was just Ethan and me and he is a lot better than I am," Brian replied. "He was nice enough to give me some good instruction while we played. Actually, I think I did better today. There may be hope for me."

"You need to practice in between your Sunday sessions with Dr. Carpenter," Marco suggested.

"I do, and it turns out that Gunder claims to play tennis. Ethan said to invite him over next time. I thought maybe Gunder and I might play a few games in between."

"I bet he would enjoy that and it might sharpen your game."

"It might at that. Where are the twins by the way? The house is too quiet."

"They are riding their bikes trying to stave off summer boredom. I should warn you that when they found out you were playing tennis again, they started asking if they could play. You may have started something."

"I guess I could try and teach them what little I know. Have they ever played before?"

"Nope," Marco smiled, "You would have to teach them."

"I could try, but I am just learning myself."

"Well, if you have the patience I'm sure they would appreciate it. They think you can do about anything."

Brian smiled, "That means you will have to spring for a pair of racquets you know."

"No problem. They may get bored with it, you know how they are. But it might be fun."

When Brian picked Gunder up for classes on Monday he told him that Dr. Carpenter was agreeable to inviting him over for Tennis. "We play almost every Sunday afternoon. Louisa and her mother will be home by next Sunday and you can meet them."

"OK, that sounds great. I might be rusty, is that the right term? I mean out of practice," Gunder said.

"I guess we might play a little in the evening after classes," Brian suggested. "I could sure use the extra practice."

"Yes, I think we both could do that. Is there a place to play not far away?"

"There are courts at the park near where I live. Would you like to get together tomorrow afternoon?"

"Yes," Gunder smiled, "I would like that very much. I even brought my tennis racquet so I am prepared, like a good boy scout."

"OK then, throw your racquet in the car tomorrow and we can see what happens."

After classes Brian dropped Gunder off at his house then went home to get his school work out of the way. He kept thinking about Gunder. Here was this attractive young man who was quite open about his sexuality, but gave no indication that he was looking for anything sexual. Brian thought back to the camp counselor who was his first introduction to sex, and to Noah who had come on to him so strongly when they first went camping. Maybe Gunder was a different sort of person. Still, they had known each other only a short time. Time would tell where this would go.

In a way, Brian was pleased that Gunder was willing to just be friends. One of the things that was so nice about Louisa was the lack of tension that sex introduced into the relationship. Yet, he found Gunder very attractive. It caused Brian to ask himself what he really wanted in a friendship. His friendship with Luke was strictly platonic, but Luke was clearly straight. That was not an option with him. Gunder was a different story however.

After class on Tuesday, Brian and Gunder headed for the tennis courts in the park. They found a court open and began to warm up by lobbing a ball back and forth. Gunder moved like he was pretty good at this. When they actually started to play it was apparent that Gunder was a good player, perhaps not as good as Ethan, but good enough to be more than a challenge.

After a game or two they switched sides and it was Brian's turn to serve. He muffed his first serve then eased up and got his next one across. Gunder returned it to the other side of the court and Brian failed to reach it.

"Would I offend you if I tried to help you with your game?" Gunder asked.

"Of course not, I need all the help I can get."

"When you serve, toss the ball up more gently then look down the court when you strike it. If you toss it the same way every time you will not have to look to see where it is. It is better if you see where it is to go. Then after you serve, step more to the center of your court. That way you can move in either direction to return the ball. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, it does, thanks," Brian smiled, and tried again, this time placing his first serve in the proper place. Gunder returned the serve to the opposite side again but this time Brian was able to reach it."

"Did that help?" Gunder asked.

"Yes, I think so," Brian replied and they got a good volley going before Brian hit it out of bounds.

"Sorry, my bad," Brian admitted.

"That's alright, you are doing better I think. I have been playing longer than you."

They played hard for another thirty minutes then found themselves getting warm.

"I am not used to your hot weather here," Gunder told him. "I will take off my shirt, is that OK?"

"Sure, me too. I'm working up a sweat," Brian pulled off his shirt and Gunder did the same. He saw Gunder's body for the first time and liked what he saw. Gunder had appeared to be rather thin but in fact was quite muscular. His shoulders were very broad but tapered down to a very narrow waist. His hips were only a bit wider, and his chest was nicely defined with chiseled abs. His long arms where not heavily muscled but his shoulders were round and firm. His was the body of an athlete. He was not thin, but he was carrying no body fat at all. His skin was very white and smooth.

Brian was shorter and more compact. He was more muscular and his arms were thicker, his chest deeper. His skin tone was naturally a little darker than Gunder, white by comparison to the twins, but not quite so pale as his Danish friend.

They smiled and nodded at each other. "Ready?" Brian asked. Gunder served to him in reply. They played several more games then decided that was enough for one evening.

They walked together to the car, wiping the sweat from their bodies with their shirts. "You are not so bad for a beginner," Gunder smiled. "You gave me a workout."

"Thank you, but I'm not as good as you are. I will have to practice a lot to be competitive," Brian replied.

"Maybe, but it is fun to play, and you will get much better. I can tell that you are in very good shape. Better than me I think. I have not been exercising so much. This will be good for me."

They pulled on their damp shirts and looked at each other with an approving eye.

"You look very good," Gunder said with a smile.

"So do you, Next time I need to bring a towel for us."

"Yes, me too. I am not used to sweating so much. It is cooler in Denmark."

"Brian laughed. "It is only the beginning of summer. Wait until it gets really hot."

"I wonder, how hot does it get here?"

"In August it gets to a hundred or more, Sometimes a hundred and ten. Get ready for it," Brian grinned.

"Åh min Gud, jeg vil dø," Gunder gasped, "I will die."

"Brian laughed, "Or you will get used to it. Maybe we will skip tennis when it gets that hot."

"I hope so. I can't imagine that heat. You are a hardy people here."

"Well, I can't imagine the snow you have in Denmark. You are pretty tough yourself."

When Brian let Gunder off at his house, Gunder told him, "Thank you very much my friend. It means a lot to have met you and I appreciate your kindness. I do not feel so much like a stranger now."

"The pleasure is mine, See you in the morning?"

Brian got home in time for dinner then had to do his school work later in the evening. He showered and went to bed seeing Gunder's slender torso in his mind's eye. It surprised him to think that class had begun and he had met Gunder only two weeks ago. Things were happening almost too fast.

The tennis practice became a daily occurrence and Brian's game began to improve. Gunder did not go easy on him but stopped to coach him and give good advice when he could. Improvement aside, their matches were a lot of fun and they were becoming fast friends. When Sunday came he checked again with Ethan and when he came for the afternoon game he brought Gunder with him.

"I have brought a more worthy contender for you today, Dr. Carpenter, this is my friend Gunder."

"I am very pleased to meet you Gunder, please call me Ethan. I hope you will not embarrass me."

"Oh not at all," Gunder smiled. "I can scarcely compete with Brian."

"We have been playing some practice games after classes," Brian told him, "Why don't you two start off and let me take a break. I will be your cheering section."

"Is that alright with you Gunder?" Ethan smiled.

They went to opposite sides of the court and Gunder served. Ethan hit it back and they started a volley. Ethan did not press Gunder too hard but was trying to determine his skill level. Gunder volleyed well, so Ethan began to play harder until Gunder was unable to keep the ball in play.

"Oh, good one," Gunder called out. "You play very well sir."

They played out one game then switched sides for Gunder to serve. He made a good serve which Ethan cannoned directly back to him. Gunder got a racquet on it but it went wide. Ethan returned Gunder's next serve and they began a short volley which ended quickly when Ethan lobbed the ball just over the net and out of Gunder's reach. This was developing into a serious match.

Brian watched with some amusement while the two played on. Gunder began to play harder and stayed with Ethan until Gunder began to fade and lost the game.

"You are too much for me Doctor," Gunder admitted.

"No, you are good competition. I love a fast game," Ethan told him.

They played several more games until Ethan won the set. Brian had not seen Ethan play all out before and was very impressed.

"Now it's your turn Brian, will you play the winner or the loser? It's your choice," Ethan smiled.

"The loser I suppose, although I can't compete with either of you," Brian admitted.

Fortunately Gunder was getting tired and Brian was able to do fairly well until Gunder finally dispatched him.

"Good game Gunder. You are too much for me," Brian complimented him.

"You are getting better," Gunder told him.

"Yes," Ethan agreed. "With more practice you will make a very competitive player."

Then Ethan had Gunder and Brian play another game while he watched them closely and gave both of them pointers on improving their skill. It was quite a workout but instructive to both.

Ethan finally called a halt to the play and took them inside for something cold to drink. "This was great," Ethan told them. Gunder gave me some real competition, and Brian, you are getting much better. When Cathy and Louisa come back I hope we can play some mixed doubles."

When they left Dr. Carpenter's house Gunder said, "I am so hot and sweaty. Is there someplace we might take a swim?"

"Sure, there is a community pool not far from my house. Would you like to go there to cool off?"

"Yes I would, but I need to get my swim suit. Could you take me to my aunt's house?"

"Sure, then I can stop by my place and do the same. The pool is not far from there."

They fetched their swim suits and headed for the pool.

The next adventure had begun.

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