Brian Goes To College
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2015-2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Brian followed Gunder out to the pool, watching his firm hips through the fabric of the tight blue suit. They stepped side by side to the edge of the water and nodded to each other. Then Gunder bent and stretched out in a low dive with Brian only a moment behind him. There were only a few other swimmers and by unspoken agreement, they raced each other for the length of the pool. Gunder had a small lead when he hit the water but by the time they reached the other end, Brian had touched the edge of the pool first.
Gunder looked around, expecting to see Brian behind him then looked back at his smiling friend.
"Oh, you are fast! I thought you were behind me," Gunder admitted.
"You can't expect to beat me at everything," Brian laughed, "You're a pretty good swimmer yourself."
They swam slowly back to the shallow end where they leaned against the wall to rest and chat. Beneath the water Gunder let the back of his hand pass lightly over Brian's chest and stomach, which made him a little uneasy.. After a few minutes, Brian noticed the time.
"I really need to get home for dinner," Brian told him.
"So soon?" Gunder smiled, "I was hoping we had more time together. Do you always meet together for your evening meal?" Gunder asked.
"Yes, if we can. Marco usually fixes something nice for supper and we like to eat together. We get up at different times and seldom eat breakfast as a family. We are all doing different things at noon but we try to all be home for supper. I guess that's usually about the only time we are all together."
"That is a good thing I suppose. My brothers are both living apart and we are seldom at one place except for holidays. With our parents separated we are almost never together as a family."
"Are you close to your brothers? You have not talked about them before."
"I think we were together when I was younger, but it seems that we always were in pursuit of our own interests. I have no problems with my older brothers but I don't think we were ever that close. You seem to be quite fond of Sam and Ben."
"Yes, I am. I have no brothers or sisters of my own and I really enjoy the family I have now. It seems like a gift sometimes."
"Was your life so different before you came to be with them?" Gunder asked.
Brian was not sure just how much he was willing to share about his earlier time. "Yes it was. My father left us when I was about twelve and my mother and I did not get along very well. I was living with my grandmother before I came to be with the family I have now."
"Are you angry with your mother and father? That must have been difficult for you."
"Yes, I suppose. I have been much happier where I am now. They have become my real family."
"I think there is more to your story but I can see that it is very personal. I should let you get home to your family. Thank you for tennis and the swim."
They got out of the pool and went into the dressing room to change clothes. Brian dressed quickly with his back to Gunder.
When he dropped Gunder at his aunt's house, Brian told him, "We had a good tennis practice today and I think I'm beginning to improve. I hope we can do this more often."
"Yes of course. Tomorrow then?" Gunder replied.
"Sure, I'll see you in the morning. Bring your racquet and your swim suit."
Brian got home just as dinner was being put on the table.
"Hey, there you are. You're running late today," Marco said.
"Yes, sorry to be late. Gunder and I played some tennis then cooled off with a swim."
"How are you and Gunder getting along? He seems like a nice guy."
"He is. I'm not sure where I am with him though."
"I don't know exactly. I guess we could talk about it after supper if you have time."
"I always have time for you," Marco said. "I need to run to the market. Would you like to tag along?"
"We're getting tennis racquets," Ben told Brian, "Will you teach us how to play?"
Brian laughed, "It will be the blind teaching the blind, but I'll try. How about this Saturday?"
After supper Brian joined Marco in his new Mustang for his errand and they sat in the parking lot. "So what's up with you and Gunder?" Marco asked. "You said you wanted to talk."
"Well, I am a little confused about him. We have been talking and it seems we have more in common then classes and tennis. He came out to me as gay and seems very nice, but then at the pool he sort of came on to me. I find him very attractive but I'm not sure what I want to do."
"I see. So how do you feel about Gunder?"
Brian sighed, "I don't really know how I feel. He is a nice looking guy and fun to be with. To be honest, I find him kind of attractive, but the thought of doing something sexual with him kind of scares me. I guess that's how I feel. I'm afraid."
"What are you afraid of?" Marco asked him gently.
"It's hard to put into words Marco. Maybe I'm afraid of getting hurt. Maybe he's just looking for casual sex and I am not sure that's what I want. He's pretty open about being gay and I'm not. I guess I don't know what I want."
"Well, let me ask you this, if things could be perfect for you, what would they be?"
Brian looked away and sighed, "If things were perfect, I wouldn't be like I am. I would be straight and have Louisa as a girlfriend. I don't want to be gay."
"You are who you are, Brian. You have to accept who you are."
"But I don't like who I am. I don't want to be this way," Brian tried to explain.
"Can you change who you are? Can you will yourself to be straight?"
"No, I don't think so," Brian shook his head, "What should I do Marco?"
Marco sat back and thought for a moment. "You know, there is a little prayer, the Serenity Prayer. 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference'. Maybe that might be helpful."
"Yeah, it might at that – accept what I can't change and change what I can. But what can I change? I feel kind of hopeless."
"Pray to know the difference I guess. Look Brian, your dilemma is not that different from what a lot of straight guys feel. They find themselves attracted to some girl but aren't convinced that they want to do casual sex – they don't feel right about it. It is more an ethical dilemma than anything else."
Brian thought for a moment. "I guess I never looked at it that way."
"Brian, I know your history because you have been courageous enough to share it with me. I have seen you grow into a very fine young man and I have nothing but the greatest respect for you. I think you are a thoughtful, ethical person. It is like in the Scout Promise where you agree to be morally straight. Being gay doesn't negate that. You have to be true to yourself – 'To thine own self be true' is what they say in AA. You have to be who you are, and do what is right for you."
"Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to a lot of Al-Anon meetings when I was younger. My mother and father were both alcoholics and made some really bad decisions. Al-Anon is like a twelve step program for people who have a family member who is alcoholic. It helped me put a lot of things in place. You might look into that. It's a good program for living and helped me have a sense of peace about some things."
"I don't know. That sounds kind of scary."
"You can't let fear rule your life Brian. That's a terrible way to live. Look, you are not a bad person at all, far from it. From what you have told me I expect that you are gay and nothing is going to change that. I think you have to accept it and then decide what is right for you. For some people casual sex it OK, for others it's just not. Sometimes what our hormones tell us we want to do is not what's right for us. But I think you have to decide that, and I'm not in any position to decide that for you."
"But you're a good person. You don't screw around on Marty."
"No, but I'm married to Marty. We promised to be faithful to each other. I have a partner who satisfies my sexual nature. It's a more difficult decision when we are single."
"I don't know if I will ever find that sort of partner," Brian sighed.
"Oh, you will Brian. It wasn't Noah and it might not be Gunder, but you will find him, or he will find you."
"So how did you meet Marty? You have never talked about that."
Marco laughed, "Well, that's a long story. To be honest, it started out to be an evening of casual sex, but very quickly deepened to genuine love for each other. We were a good fit. I think I saw that before he did, but he came around. As it turned out, we are a very good fit and are very happy together, but it might have been just a one-night stand. I think we were lucky."
"That's interesting. I don't think that Gunder is going to be the one, although I do find him attractive. I'm not sure what to do."
"And I can't tell you. I'm not preaching a life of celibacy for you or anyone else, but you have to do what's right for you. It's about setting your own boundaries, we have talked about that before. Pray for wisdom I suppose."
"This is hard," Brian admitted.
"Yes it is. Life is hard sometimes. What's right for one person might not be right for another. You have to figure that out for yourself I'm afraid."
"What was right for you Marco?"
Marco smiled, "At that time, I was at loose ends. I knew what I wanted and fell in love with Marty. But as you know, he's older than I am. When we first met I was almost seventeen and Marty was twenty-five. Marty faced something of the same dilemma that you have. Marty is an ethical guy and had some misgivings about the difference in our ages."
"I didn't realize that. Maybe I should talk to Marty."
"You could do that. I know that you aren't as close to him as you are to me, but Marty is an easy guy to talk to. That's an option I suppose, but he can't tell you what to do either."
Brian sat quietly for a minute. "Thanks, Marco. I think this has been helpful, but I still don't know what to do about Gunder."
"You'll figure it out Brian. You're OK. Ready to go in the Market?"
When they got back home Brian excused himself and worked on his classwork then showered and went to bed. He lay for some time, thinking about his conversation with Marco, wondering what was right for him. Gunder would be open to some sex play but that just wasn't right for Brian, at least not this soon. But why not? Marco had told him that there was nothing wrong with him, so why was this so scary? His body told him that he wanted to play with Gunder and Gunder looked ready. He fell asleep praying for wisdom.
Since Brian had promised Gunder that he would take him to class, he stopped by for him at eight-thirty. Gunder walked out to the car with his leather shoulder bag and his tennis racquet in his hand.
"Hello Brian. Some tennis after class again today?" Gunder suggested.
"Sure, the extra practice is good for me."
In the English composition class Dr. Brown passed back their essays from the day before. Brian and Gunder were both pleased that they had received good marks. Brian drove them to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.
"The Viet Huong is one of our favorite places," Brian told him. "Everything is good but I especially like the Pho – it's a wonderful soup."
"I don't know food from Vietnam. Please tell me what to order."
Brian made a suggestion and in a few minutes they were served steaming bowls of noodle soup filled with interesting meat and vegetables. They were provided with a spoon and both forks and chopsticks. Brian was interested to see that Gunder was quite proficient with the chopsticks.
"I thought you weren't familiar with this kind of food," Brian said.
"Not with food from Vietnam, but there are Chinese places everywhere. I can do the sticks. Oh, this is very good soup. I like it."
They chatted about class while they ate their lunch. Since the restaurant was a greater distance from the school, they had less time to waste before they returned.
"I will leave my racquet in your car so we can go straight to the tennis court. Is this OK?" Gunder asked.
"Yes, that's fine. I'll see you after our afternoon class," Brian replied.
They drove to the park and found an empty court. Brian was determined to be more competitive today and while Gunder still was able to beat him, it was a closer game. Brian was improving. They played for an hour before Gunder declared that he was too hot to continue.
"I am not accustomed to this heat. Are you ready for a swim?"
"OK, did you bring your little suit today?"
Gunder pulled the little blue Speedo from his leather bag. "Yes, I am prepared."
They went into the dressing room to shower and change. Brian stepped into the shower to rinse off but wasted no time under the water. He was careful to keep his back to Gunder and changed quickly. He wished to be in control of the situation. In the back of his mind was Marco's advice about boundaries. He walked out to the pool without looking at Gunder, and slipped into the cool water.
Gunder followed him out with a look of slight disappointment on his face. "You are in a hurry today."
"Yes, I am hot and sweaty and wanted to get in the water to cool off. Shall we swim?" Brian asked.
"Yes, of course," and Gunder jumped in next to him. Brian pushed off the edge of the pool and began to swim at a modest pace for the far end. Gunder swam harder and beat him to the end, then looked back at him.
"Will you let me beat you?"
"I'm too hot to race," Brian said. "I just want to enjoy the water."
They turned and swam back to the shallow end. This time Gunder matched the slower pace. Brian hooked his arms over the edge of the pool and let his legs float out in front of him, making it harder for Gunder to step close to him. Gunder stood next to him and let his hand fall over to rest on Brian's thigh, and Brian moved away.
Gunder frowned, "Do I make you uncomfortable?"
"No, well yes, maybe a little," Brian said, and started swimming back down the length of the pool in a slow back stroke. Gunder watched him for a moment then followed his pace.
When he caught up with Brian at the far end, they stopped and Gunder asked him, "I'm sorry, is something wrong?"
"Not really, but I guess I'm a little shy about being touched."
"Oh, alright, I meant nothing bad. I was just a little careless I think. Sorry."
"Hey, no problem. Can you butterfly?" Brian asked.
"I can a little but I am not good with that. You seem to know all the strokes. Are you a competition swimmer?"
Brian laughed, "Not really, but at one time I wanted to be. I can swim well enough but never tried out for a swim team. I just swim for fun. But you are a good swimmer too. Have you had lessons?"
"Yes, when I was younger my father let me take lessons."
"But it's so cold in Denmark. Is it warm enough to swim there?"
"Yes, of course in the summertime. But we have many indoor pools and usually the water is heated. We Danes love all sports, hiking, skiing, and swimming. I played football sometimes. I think you say soccer. Do you play it?"
"I like soccer, but never really played on a team. I did play a lot of baseball when I was younger. The twins like baseball too. Do you know the game?"
Gunder shrugged, "I have seen it on the television but never tried to play. Baseball is not so well known in Denmark."
"I guess it's an American game, but it's very popular in Japan, and in The Dominican Republic, and even in Cuba. Maybe in other places too. A lot of our major league baseball players come from Japan and the Dominican Republic, and the Cubans defect to come to us when they can."
"That's interesting. They can make more money here I think."
"Yes, and can live more freely," Brian laughed, "We are the land of opportunity, remember?"
Now at the deep end they were both treading water while they talked. But this time Gunder kept a respectful distance from Brian. It seemed that Brian had made his point. They swam slowly back to the shallow end.
"I really need to be going on home," Brian told him. "Have you had enough?"
"Yes, the water feels very nice, but I suppose I am ready if you need to return. Can we do this again tomorrow?"
"Sure, why not?" Brian smiled and lifted himself out of the pool.
They went back to the dressing room and Gunder stripped and went to the shower. Brian simply changed into his clothes and went out to wait for Gunder.
"Are you ready?" Brian asked.
"Yes, I enjoyed the swim. Thank you for the ride. I would be stranded without you."
"That's OK, I am enjoying this too," Brian said with a smile.
And Brian did enjoy Gunder's company. He liked the tennis and the swimming, and he enjoyed his conversations with the tall blond. If he was able to keep things going at his chosen pace, he thought they could be friends. But to be more than that would be only when Brian was ready for it, if at all. He felt more comfortable after today.
He dropped Gunder off at his house then went home to his family. Marco was in the driveway washing his new black Mustang.
"You're going to rub the paint off of that thing," Brian teased.
"Do you think so? I'll tell you, nothing looks better than a shiny black car, and nothing gets dirty quicker.
"You didn't spend much time washing the old one," Brian laughed. "I bet your old Honda is jealous."
"I washed that one every time it rained," Marco joked.
"I could help you towel this dry," Brian offered.
Marco tossed him a hand towel and they worked together until the car shone like a dark jewel.
"Thanks Brian. It goes quickly with two."
Brian shrugged and looked at the beautiful car with admiration.
"You haven't had a chance to drive this yet have you?" Marco asked.
"No, not yet. But I have to admit I would like to."
"I have to go in and get dinner on. Would you like to go for a drive after we eat?"
"Sure, you bet I would," Brian smiled.
They went inside where Sam, Ben and Marty were sitting in the living room looking like hungry birds.
"What's for supper Daddy? Something smells good," Ben asked.
"I have a casserole in the oven. Set the table and we'll be ready."
The gathered around and enjoyed Marco's concoction.
"Did you play tennis again today?" Marty asked.
"Yes and I think I'm doing better. I'll be ready for Sunday."
"Are Louisa and her mother back from their trip?" Marco asked.
"Yes, I think they got back on Monday. Maybe we can play some doubles on Sunday," Brian answered.
"When are you going to teach us to play tennis?" Sam demanded.
"On Saturday I told you. If you have done your chores."
"We will. Don't forget, you promised," Ben reminded him.
After the dinner dishes were put away, Marco announced, "Brian is going to take me for a ride in the Mustang. Is anyone interested in going with us?"
Marty smiled and passed, but Sam and Ben were ready. They went out to the shiny new car. Marco sat in the passenger seat and the twins clamored into the back seat. Marco put the top down. "Take us for a ride, Brian."
"Where do you want to go?"
"You're driving. Wherever you like."
With that, the happy group took a long loop around their part of Tulsa with the radio blaring. Brian drove carefully, but accelerated sharply when they entered the expressway.
"Wow, this has a lot of power," Brian said with admiration. Marco just grinned.
"Do we get your old car when we're old enough to drive?" Ben asked.
"Could be," Marco answered. "If I think you are responsible enough to drive."
"Well, you won't have to worry about speeding," Sam said.
"That old car will go fast enough to get you in trouble," Marco replied.
"We'll be careful," Ben assured him.
They came back after thirty minutes and Brian pulled carefully onto the driveway. Marco opened the garage door and Brian eased it in next to Marty's Sienna.
"Maybe we need a three car garage," Brian suggested.
"That might be nice, but until then you will have to park your Santa Fe in the driveway," Marco told him. Marty and I get dibs on the garage for now."
"Fair enough," Brian agreed. "I'm just glad to have a good car."
It was a nice drive.
The next day was a repeat of the day before for Brian and Gunder. They played tennis and went for a swim. Gunder tried again to make skin contact and Brian again avoided him.
Ben appeared at the Saturday breakfast table with tennis racquet in hand. "Don't forget our tennis lesson."
Brian laughed. "Hey, a promise is a promise. Are you ready Sam?"
Sam held up his racquet.
Brian drove them to the park where they found that all the courts were occupied. Saturday morning was a popular time for tennis. While they were waiting, Brian tried to start Sam and Ben off the same way that Ethan had started him, and showed them how to hold the racquet both for forehand and backhand. He told them what he knew about the game and then waited for a court to free up.
After a short wait a couple left one of the courts and Brian led the twins out to take their place.
"You guys go to the other end and let me lob you some balls," Brian said. I'll hit them to you easy. Just think about what I told you and hit them back to me, OK?"
They started a back and forth with Brian trying to get the ball to them to be hit forehand. They did pretty well. Then he talked to them about hitting back hand and hit some to them on the other side. They were a bit more awkward with this, but were willing to listen to Brian's instruction and began to improve. This was going better than Brian expected.
Sam and Ben had never played tennis before but had played a lot of baseball, and were good little athletes. They would pick this up quickly. He thought he might invite them to join him and Gunder for an afternoon practice. That might be a good idea for several reasons.
They hit balls for about a half hour then Brian told them to try and play a game with each other. He told them a little more about the scoring and gave them a quick lesson on serving the ball. This did not go as well.
"Just lob it over forehand to get started," he suggested. "You can't learn everything the first time. We'll do this some more another time."
"This is fun!" Ben enthused. "I think I like this game."
"Me too," Sam agreed. "Maybe Ben and I can ride over here on our bikes and play while you are in school."
"That would be a good idea," Brian agreed. "Just be sure you clear it with one of your dads."
Sunday morning was church, and Sunday afternoon was tennis with the Carpenters. Brian picked up Gunder and drove to the park.
"Are Louisa and her mother back today?" Gunder asked, "I am anxious to meet this girl."
"You'll like Louisa," Brian predicted, "She is really a nice person."
Sure enough Louisa, Ethan and Cathy were waiting for them at the house.
"Hi Brian, it's good to see you," Louisa said happily.
"Good to see you too. How are you Cathy, Ethan?" Brian replied.
"We had a nice trip but I think one week would have been enough for Louisa," Cathy responded.
"I'm just glad to have my cook and housekeeper back," Ethan smiled then said, "Nice to see you again Gunder. Are you ready to give me another tennis lesson?"
"Oh no, you have that backwards," Gunder laughed. "And you must be Louisa. Hello, Brian has told me about you."
"Nice to meet you Gunder. Brian says you have a class together."
"Yes, he is teaching me English," Gunder laughed.
"And Gunder has been working with me on my tennis game," Brian added. "I hope I have improved just a little."
"Well, we will soon see," Ethan said, "Shall we play? How about some doubles?"
Cathy turned towards the house. "You go ahead. I will join you later."
"How shall we pair up?" Ethan asked, "Shall Louisa and I play the two of you?"
That was fine with everybody. They took their positions and began to play. Probably Gunder was a little stronger player than Louisa and of course, Ethan was much stronger than Brian, but it was close enough to be competitive and they were not too unevenly matched, except when Ethan served.
They played several games although not a full set, then the heat began to tell on them.
"I think I've had enough," Louisa called, "If you gentlemen are ready for more, I'll go in and get mother."
Ethan looked at Brian and Gunder who nodded in agreement. After a few minutes Cathy came out with her racquet in hand.
"Ah, reinforcements have arrived. Now you boys are in for it," Ethan laughed. "Come play with me dear. We will show these upstarts a thing or two."
The game continued and it was soon apparent that Ethan was not joking. Cathy was an excellent player and she and her husband began to run Brian and Gunder all over the court. This game was not really close. Gentle practice was over and they were playing for keeps this time. After losing three straight games, Gunder and Brian surrendered.
"Did you make us some of your wonderful lemonade?" Ethan asked his wife.
"It's in the living room. Have you boys had enough?" she laughed.
Brian and Gunder said that they were exhausted and walked to the living room for refreshments.
"You are playing better today," Ethan told Brian. "I think you have been practicing."
"How can you tell? You destroyed us," Brian laughed.
"Sorry, but I like to play hard. It's more fun, and that's how you learn," he told Brian. "You are a good player too, Gunder. I'm glad you have joined us."
Gunder smiled. "Today I was the lamb led to slaughter."
"No, not at all. Next time we will mix it up to make things more even. Cathy and I are used to playing doubles together. We can even it out. I hope you will continue to play with us," he told Gunder.
"I will sir, thank you. If I learn nothing else in America, I will improve my tennis game."
"So how was California?" Brian asked Louisa.
"Oh, it was nice. I got to know my aunt a lot better," she said with a little roll of her eyes. "We did a lot of touristy things."
"So you are from Denmark? That's exciting. How do you like Tulsa?" Louisa asked Gunder.
"I like it very much. Brian has been very kind to me and I am learning a lot. Do you know that his little brothers are Indian dancers?"
"I've heard that but I've not seen them yet."
"Oh they gave me a private powwow. It was wonderful. They are quite good, you know."
"I'm so jealous. I want to see them dance."
"There will be a powwow later in the year. Maybe you can come to see the dancing. It's quite a show," Brian told her.
"You have to promise to invite me," Louisa gave him her beautiful smile.
"I promise," Brian replied. "Perhaps you can all come?" he said to Ethan and Cathy.
"I would like that. I don't know that I have ever been to a real powwow before. Have you dear?" Ethan asked his wife.
"Once when I was a little girl. I would love that. Do invite us," Cathy said sincerely.
Brian and Gunder thanked the Carpenters for their hospitality and excused themselves.
As they drove away, Gunder said, "Louisa is a beautiful girl, and her parents are very nice. You have such good friends."
"Ethan is a pediatrician and has been talking to me about medical school. That's how I met Louisa really. She invited me over to meet her father," Brian explained.
"They seem to be very fond of you."
"Yes, they do and I really appreciate them. They have all been very kind."
"Have you always been so fortunate?" Gunder asked.
Brian shrugged, "Not really. All my luck began when I came to be with my present family. They seem to have brought me luck."
Brian stopped in front of Gunder's house to let him out.
Gunder shook Brian's hand. "Thank you for a very nice day. I'm sorry if I gave you some bad feelings, but I must respect you for that."
"Hey, no problem," Brian smiled. "See you tomorrow."
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