Brian Goes To College

by Nick Brady

Chapter 15

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

The summer rolled on and eased into a sort of routine. Brian gave Gunder a ride to school and they usually ate lunch together, sampling the food at as many ethnic restaurants as were in striking distance from their classes. After class they played some tennis and often went for a swim afterwards. Mostly due to Brian's efforts, the friendship was kept on a platonic level.

Marco was the one person that Brian knew he could trust. He was many things to Brian: friend, father figure and confidant.

"How are you and Gunder doing?" Marco asked.

"We're OK. I like him as a friend and he's helping me get better at tennis."

Marco did not pry, but waited to see if Brian wanted to say more.

"Gunder's an interesting guy. He's smart and I find him attractive. I think he would like to take things to another level but I don't think I'm ready for that."

"Where are you with that?"

"Well, I guess I'm kind of conflicted about it. On one hand I would like to do something with him, but I don't feel right about it."

"Why is that?"

Brian thought for a moment. "I'm not sure really. He has come on to me a couple of times and to be honest, it kind of scares me."

"Can you say why you feel that way?" Marco asked.

"I don't know. I think I want it to be my idea."

"I've never preached celibacy to you Brian. If it's something you both would like to do, why does it frighten you?"

"I can't put it into words, it just scares me."

"Think back to your earliest sexual experience. What do you remember? I mean how did that make you feel?"

"I told you about that. My father got into my bed and forced me to have sex with him and it scared the crap out of me. Then when I was at camp and did stuff with one of the counselors, it was because he came on to me. The same was true of Noah. I was excited about it, but it wasn't my idea. I did like it once we got started, but then it made me feel ashamed. Nobody told me it was wrong but it just wasn't right."

"So are you saying that maybe you associate sexual activity with shame and guilt? Is that why is scares you?"

"Yeah, maybe so. It's pretty confusing, Marco."

Marco smiled, "When those things happened you didn't know how to react, you were a victim and not in control. But from what you told me, you began to take control of the situation with Noah, and were able to establish some boundaries. With Gunder you have taken control and are setting the pace yourself. Isn't that some kind of progress?"

Brian nodded, "I guess you're right. Maybe that is progress. But it still scares me."

"I'm no shrink Brian, but I would say that because of your early experiences you have come to associate your sexual feelings with fear and shame."

Brian frowned, "So what do I do about that? I mean, am I always going to feel that way? Sometimes I'm horny as hell but I don't know how to act on it. I just end up jerking off and even then I feel kind of guilty about it."

Marco shook his head, "I'm not sure what to tell you, Brian, our life experiences are different. I think for some people casual sex is no big deal, for others it is. I think it has to mean more to you than just getting off. That's not a bad thing, you know."

"So what do I do until that person comes along?"

Marco smiled, "I guess just be thankful that you have the full use of both hands. There's nothing wrong with masturbation."

Brian laughed. "Since you put it that way, I guess you're right."

"Think about it this way, Brian. With your father you were a victim. With the guy at camp you probably felt used by him even if you enjoyed the sexual part of it. With Noah and now with Gunder, you have begun to take control of the situation. You aren't a victim now.

"Look, don't do anything you don't feel right about. If the situation arises where it does seem right to you, then see where that takes you. But don't feel like you need to be in a hurry. Rosey Palm isn't a bad companion," Marco laughed.

"Thanks Marco. You always seem to know just the right thing to say. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that," Brian smiled, "If I was better able to control the situation with Noah and Gunder, it's because of what you told me about setting my own boundaries. I owe a lot to you."

Marco shrugged, "I hope that's helpful. Remember that my advice is worth what you pay for it."

"But I don't pay anything for your advice."

"Right." Marco smiled.

The Saturday morning tennis lessons with Sam and Ben were going well. The boys were good athletes and tried to do what Brian suggested. They biked over to the courts during the day and worked with each other. As a result they were improving rapidly. Brian decided that they would benefit from joining Gunder and himself for their afternoon practices. He suggested this to Gunder and they stopped by the house for the twins.

"Oh, I see you are bringing some reinforcements," Gunder joked.

"They've been practicing and are getting pretty good," Brian said, "I thought they were ready for your expertise."

"I will be glad to help if I can," Gunder agreed. "Do you like the tennis game?" he asked Sam and Ben.

"Yes, tennis is a fun game," Ben replied. "Brian says you're really good."

"Well, I have been playing longer than Brian, so I have more experience I think."

"How about we play some doubles; Ben and I will stand Gunder and Sam. Let's see how that goes," Brian suggested.

They began to play, with Gunder and Brian trying to hit easy balls for the twins to return. They did pretty well and got some nice volleys going. When it was their turn to serve, they stopped while Gunder tried to show them how to serve properly. It was more of a tennis lesson than a game but they all enjoyed it.

After an hour or so they were beginning to get hot and sweaty. "Let's break this off for now," Brian suggested. "How about a swim?"

Sam and Ben had brought their suits and were ready, so they walked over to the pool. In the dressing room they undressed for a quick shower and the young twins looked Gunder over with admiration. They dried off and put on their swim suits. Brian had his usual swim trunks, Sam and Ben wore board shorts, and Gunder slipped on his blue Speedo.

Sam looked at Gunder and laughed, "Wow, are you going to wear those in the pool?"

"Of course," Gunder replied. "Everyone wears these in Denmark."

"Well not here. Those show off everything!" Ben exclaimed.

Gunder looked concerned. "Is this not a good thing?"

"Well, this isn't Denmark," Brian chuckled.

They passed it off and went out to the pool for a swim. While Sam and Ben were good swimmers, they were more interested in splashing and playing than anything else. The presence of the twins changed the chemistry and Brian relaxed and enjoyed himself. After the swim they dropped Gunder off at his house and Brian took his brothers home.

That night, Brian got a phone call from Louisa.

"Hi Brian," she said, "I was hoping you might call so decided I would just call you. How are you doing?"

"Oh, I'm fine, just busy with school and everything."

"Well, I have missed you. Could I invite you out for dinner Saturday night?"

"Well sure. Really I should ask you out. I've been meaning to call you."

"It's my turn," Louisa said.

"Um, OK. Shall I pick you up around seven?"

"That would be great. We can get caught up on everything, OK?"

"Right. Thanks, I'll see you then," Brian agreed.

"I'm looking forward to it. Bye Brian."

Brian sat trying to remember if he had ever been asked out for dinner by a girl before. He had not. Why would Louisa do that? If she was another guy, it would be just because she wanted to see him and find out what was going on with him. Louisa was his friend and he supposed that was all she wanted. It surprised him, but he felt pleased that she cared.

Sam and Ben wanted another tennis lesson and Brian agreed. He called Gunder to see if he wanted to join them, but Gunder declined, saying that he had something else he needed to do. Brian worked with the boys on their game, then they jumped into the pool for a swim. He had a nice time with them. He realized that he should spend more time with these guys. They looked up to him and he enjoyed their company.

He showered at home, put on slacks and a nice polo shirt, and told the family that he was going to dinner with Louisa. He picked her up at seven.

"Hi, Louisa. This is quite a treat," he greeted her.

"Well, it's my turn and I just wanted to see you. It's been three weeks since we were able to talk," she said with a smile.

Louisa directed him to La Tequila where they found a booth to sit in. The restaurant was crowded but the noise level was such that their conversation would be private. They ordered some dinner and began to talk.

"So, tell me about California," Brian suggested.

"It was OK," Louisa replied. "My aunt is sweet but two weeks of tourist attractions was at least a week too long. I was ready to come home. Mother enjoyed it though. So how is school? How is your friend Gunder?" Louisa came right to the point.

"School is school. I like the English Composition class. The instructor is very good and I think I'll learn something in there. The Biology is one of those group lecture things with a lab on Friday. It's kind of boring but something I need to learn I guess. It's OK."

"So tell me about your new Danish friend Gunder. Is he interesting?"

Brian knew he could trust Louisa so he took a deep breath and tried to explain about Gunder. "Well, Gunder is an interesting guy. He's smart and nice looking and all that. He says he wants to be a writer. He's planning to major in English and American History. We have a class together and since he doesn't have a car, I have been giving him a ride to and from school. Most days I take us somewhere for lunch which he enjoys. We invited him over for dinner and the boys danced for him, you know, powwow dancing. He thought that was great."

Louisa nodded her head. "It's nice of you to do all that for him. Do you like him? How do you feel about him, Brian?"

"I don't know. I think he is kind of interesting," Brian shrugged, "I guess it's hard for him to be in a strange country and not know anybody. I want to try and help him out a little. I don't have many friends either to tell the truth, so... I don't know."

"What else do you have in common?"

Brian paused and said quietly, "Well, he's gay Louisa. He came out to me and then actually, he kind of came on to me."

"Does he know that you're gay?"

"Yes, I admitted that I was, so he knows that. I mean, he was honest with me so I tried to be honest with him."

"Is tennis a big part of the attraction?"

"Well yes. It's something we have in common, I guess. We've been practicing in the afternoon after classes and then I take us swimming afterwards."

"You said he was attractive. Are you attracted to him?" she asked bluntly.

"Well, I don't know. That's the thing. He has made it pretty clear that he would like to do some things but I'm kind of uncomfortable with that."

"Does he try to push you into doing some things that you aren't ready for?" she asked.

"He did at first, but I let him know I wasn't ready for that. Now he seems to have cooled off a little."

"Do you think that's all he was really interested in?"

Brian nodded, "I don't know Louisa. Maybe it was. I don't think he's really somebody I want to get real close to."

Louisa leaned back and smiled.

"That's good, Brian. Good for you. Don't do anything you aren't comfortable with."

Brian laughed, "You sound like Marco."

"Are you talking to Marco about this?"

"Yes, I've shared some of this with him. I guess I can talk to Marco about anything. He is about the only person I really trust – Marco and you."

"Louisa smiled that beautiful smile. "That's sweet of you to say."

"Well it's true," Marco assured her. "There aren't many people I trust."

"So you don't think Gunder is right for you? Do you wish there was somebody who was?" Louisa asked quietly.

Brian thought about that. "Actually, I do. I've been alone forever. It would be nice if I had somebody."

Louisa looked at him thoughtfully. "What would you think if I introduced you to somebody?"

"What, like if you played matchmaker for me?"

Louisa laughed, "Well not really. But what if I knew somebody I think you might like? Would that be a bad thing?"

Brian shook his head. "I don't know what I'm ready for."

Their dinner came and the conversation shifted to something less serious. When they finished Brian offered to pay the bill.

"Nope, it's my turn, this is on me," She insisted.

"Thanks Louisa. I appreciate the nice dinner. I appreciate your friendship too. I'm not sure why you're doing this."

"Because I like you. Because you're my friend and I want to see you happy," Louisa smiled. "You deserve to be happy Brian. You're a good person."

"So who is this guy you would like for me to meet?"

"Are you curious?" Louisa smiled.

"Well, not really – well, maybe a little," he admitted.

"You think about it then. Don't let me talk you into something you aren't comfortable with. Are you coming over for tennis tomorrow?"

"Yes if that's OK. I really do enjoy that. Your family has been very kind to me."

"They like you too, Brian. See you at two?"

Brian dropped Louisa off at her house then went home. He had a lot to think about.

He chatted with the family for a few minutes then excused himself and went into his bedroom and closed the door. He knew he could talk to Marco, but was not quite ready to talk to anyone else right now. His conversation with Louisa had been enough for one evening. He undressed, showered and crawled into bed.

He thought about Gunder. He liked Gunder. There were a lot of good things about him. He was intelligent and rather charming. He was curious about a lot of things and had been kind to Sam and Ben. He was a good tennis player and had helped Brian with his game, as well as that of the twins. Besides the interest in tennis, they were going to class together, and had even acknowledged some difficult things about their childhood, to include the discovery of their sexuality. So what was wrong?

He tried to recall what interest Gunder had in him. Gunder enjoyed the ride to class and going to lunch at noon. He had enjoyed the dancing that Sam and Ben had showed him. He was polite and appeared to appreciate what Brian had done for him. But what had he done for Brian? Actually, it was all about Gunder and what he wanted. He was very nice about it and at the time it seemed like Brian's idea, but it was mostly one way. The only thing that Gunder had tried to initiate was the possibility of some sex play. Once Brian backed away from that, Gunder sort of lost interest.

At dinner, Louisa had pried that out of him, and he was beginning to see that it was a rather shallow relationship. Life was so complicated sometimes.

Sunday afternoon, he decided not to call Gunder but went over to Louisa's by himself. No doubt the twins would have liked to come too, but he wanted to keep things simple today.

The Carpenters welcomed him warmly but didn't ask about Gunder. They went out to the court and played a good game of doubles with Ethan and Brian playing Louisa and her mother. The time spent practicing was improving Brian's game and the play was fairly even. Despite the brief time he had been playing tennis, he was picking up the game quickly. Ethan returned a ball to him that was almost out of reach but he returned it well and stepped up to return another.

"Oh, well done," Ethan called to him. "That was a nice return."

"I think you're going easy on me," Brian replied.

"Not really, you are improving."

They played a full set and were ready to quit. "Would you like to come in for a cool drink?" Cathy asked.

Louisa answered for him, "I think Brian wants to take me for a milkshake."

"Uh, yes, I would like that," Brian agreed.

They drove to a Braum's and went through the window for shakes. "So how are you today?" she asked.

"I'm OK. That was a good game. I think I may be getting better."

"Have you thought about my suggestion?"

"You mean about meeting your friend? I guess I have to admit I'm a little curious. Who is this guy?" Brian asked.

Louisa sipped her milkshake. "Well, there is this guy I've known for a long time. I really like him and I think you might like him too if you got to know him."

"What's he like? I mean, what makes you think he's somebody I should meet?"

"Actually, you've already met him. Do you remember Lanny?"

"Lanny? The guy in my English class that we ate lunch with sometimes?" Brian was surprised. "But I thought he was Melissa's boyfriend."

Louisa smiled, "He's friends with Melissa kind of like you and I are friends. I think you might have more in common with him then you realize."

"No, you're kidding. I have talked with him several times and he's not...., not in a million years. Really? He seems like a really nice guy, but no, not Lanny."

"He's a lot like you Brian. He's a very nice person and very private. I don't know for sure that he's gay but I think he might be. Melissa knows him pretty well and I've talked with him some. I told you that people talk to me about things."

Brian shook his head, "You're easy to talk to Louisa. I can see that. But I don't know anything about Lanny. He was in my Senior English class but he was kind of quiet. What's he like?"

"You would like him," Louisa smiled, "He's really smart, a lot smarter than he lets on. He's very artistic, he writes, paints and sculpts. He has a good voice too. He's very talented."

"I wouldn't have guessed that. I figured him for a jock."

Louisa laughed, "He said the same thing about you. I told him you played baseball. I think he wrestled in middle school."

"What else did you tell him about me? Does he know about me?"

"No, of course not. I didn't say anything about that. I wouldn't share that kind of thing with anybody. Melissa doesn't know you're gay and I'm not that sure about either one of you to be honest, but I think you two might hit it off. If you aren't interested in getting to know him better then we can just forget it."

"Why are you doing this?"

"Well, because I'm, well...."

"Because you're matchmaking?"

"Well, maybe," Louisa laughed. "Look, I like both of you. I just think you two might like each other."

"But he looks like he's Melissa's boyfriend. I can't very well ask him for a date or something."

"No," Louisa smiled, "but we might go on a double date. Then you two could get to know each other better and see what happens."

"Oh, that's devious," Brian laughed. "Is Melissa in on this?"

Louisa glanced away, "Well, we talked about it. She really likes Lanny and feels the same way that I do."

"But won't that put Lanny on the spot? I thought nobody knows about him."

"Well, nobody knows about you either. When I talked about this with Melissa, I had a hard time convincing her that you and Lanny might have that in common."

"I can't believe this. My 'girlfriend' is setting me up with a guy," Brian shook his head. "This is kind of awkward."

Louisa asked Brian, "Look, if you are willing – and I won't do this unless it's OK with you – why don't we all do something together?"

"But he doesn't know me at all. What if he doesn't even like me?"

Louisa smiled, "I think he might."

"What's that mean? Do you know something I don't?"

"Not really, but maybe Melissa has talked to Lanny a little about you, you know? He told her he thought you were pretty cool."

Brian leaned his head back and closed his eyes. "I can't believe this. This is just crazy."

Louisa reached over and took Brian's hand. "I'm sorry. We're just trying to help our friends. If you aren't interested then we'll forget it. But if you're curious to know him better, why don't we go on a double date or something. The Drillers are in town next week. A baseball game is an easy place to talk and get to know somebody as part of a group. As far as Lanny knows it's just another time to be with friends. He's a really interesting guy, I promise. If it doesn't go anywhere then what's the harm?"

"Well, other than maybe being outed by our best friends and tossed together to see what happens. Don't you think that's kind of awkward?"

Louisa looked a little annoyed. "Well it doesn't have to be, but what's the alternative? Here are two really neat guys who might be right for each other but would never know it because they are both so darn shy and discreet. What if their friends who care about them kind of open the door a little to give it a chance? What's so wrong with that? We aren't setting you up or anything, we're just giving you both a chance to get to know each other."

Brian sat in disbelief for a minute then looked at Louisa and asked, "So when it the next baseball game."

Louisa smiled. "They are playing Springfield here next Thursday through Saturday. How would that work for you?"

"Do you think that Lanny will go for this?"

Louisa smiled again. "He says he's free all week."

"My God, you've already set this up! I can't believe it."

"Brian, just relax. This is going to be a good thing. You will never know until you try. Just be open, OK? I thought you trusted me."

"Well I do, but...." he sputtered then smiled back at her. "OK Louisa. I'll try."

"Good for you. If nothing else we can enjoy a baseball game."

All Brian could do was laugh and shake his head.

Monday morning Brian stopped to pick Gunder up for class. He had not seen him since Friday.

"Good morning. How was your weekend?" Brian asked.

"It was good. And how was your weekend?" Gunder replied stiffly.

"It was fine. I mostly spent it with Louisa."

"I see. So is she your girlfriend now?"

"No, just a friend. A good friend, but just a friend."

"Well, I am making new friends too."

"Really, that's nice. We all need friends," Brian said. "Where's your racquet? Are we still playing tennis after class?"

"Do you still want to play?" Gunder asked.

"Sure. We are still friends too, aren't we?"

Gunder smiled briefly then ran back in the house to return with his racquet and a new swim suit.

"You got some new swim trunks," Brian observed.

"Yes, well your little brothers convinced me that my style didn't suit this place so well."

"When in Rome I guess," Brian chuckled.

They went to class then to lunch, where Gunder offered to pay. "Thanks," Brian smiled.

At the tennis court Gunder played Brian hard. No taking it easy today, and Brian was still somewhat outmatched, but he held his own.

"You are improving," Gunder acknowledged.

"You're a good teacher," Brian said appreciatively.

They went to the pool and showered quickly. Gunder changed into a light blue pair of swim trunks. "I hope these are more acceptable," Gunder said.

"You look great," Brian assured him, and went out to slip into the cool water.

They swam together and talked pleasantly, but the chemistry had changed. Brian felt relieved.

As they hung on the edge of the pool, Brian asked, "So you are making some new friends?"

"Yes, I met some fellows in a club this past weekend. They are very nice."

"That's great, where did you meet them?"

"In a place called The Silver Spur, do you know it?"

Brian recognized it as a gay bar. "I've heard of it but I've never been there."

"It was very nice. Maybe you should go there sometime."

Brian smiled, "Maybe. I'm glad you're making new friends."

"Yes, well I need more than one friend, don't I?"

"Yes, of course. You're a nice guy Gunder. I wish you only the best." They seemed to have come to an understanding.

The friendship with Gunder evolved into class, tennis and a quick swim, but nothing more. Gunder had moved on and so had Brian. Brian was relieved.

Thursday evening Louisa called on the phone.

"Hi, are you up for a baseball game tomorrow night?" she asked.

"I like baseball. Are we doing a double date?"

"A triple date actually. Do you remember Keith and Francine?"

"Right, the rest of the lunch crowd. Are they coming too?"

"Yes, we thought it would be nice to go as a group."

"So is Keith, uh you know?"

"Oh no silly. Not all my guy friends are gay. I'm not even sure you are."

Brian laughed, "You make me wonder sometimes."

"Well, this is just a baseball game with friends, nothing more – unless you want it to be. Can you pick me up at six-thirty?"

"Sounds like a date," Brian laughed. "See you then."

It was a beautiful warm June evening, and the others were waiting for them at the gate. They picked up a set of tickets for the third base side and chatted as they walked in to find their seats. Not quite by coincidence, Brian found himself sitting next to Lanny.

"Hi, nice to see you again," Lanny said.

"Nice to see you too," Brian replied. "Are you a baseball fan?"

"I am, although I never played much – just backyard stuff. Do you play?"

"I played in high school. I love baseball. Louisa tells me that you were a wrestler."

Lanny laughed, "That was back in middle school. I wasn't that good."

"What do you like to do? Louisa said you were something of an artist."

"Oh, has Louisa been talking about me? Well, I do like to paint and am trying my hand at sculpture. I enjoy that, and I like to write sometimes."

Brian began to feel more comfortable with Lanny. "My dad is a painter. Have you heard of Marco Montgomery?"

Lanny looked surprised, "Yes, I think so. He does watercolor mostly? I have seen some of his work. He is great. Is that your dad?"

"Yep. Are you showing your work someplace?"

Lanny shrugged modestly, "Not really, just some student exhibits. I didn't know you had an interest in painting."

"Only as an admirer. I have no talent myself."

"Melissa told me that you've started college already. What are you planning to do?" Lanny asked.

"I'm doing pre-med through the Classics program at OU Tulsa right now. I'm not sure where that will go, but that's the plan."

"Oh wow, a doctor? That's ambitious."

Brian smiled, "Maybe too ambitious. I'm just getting started."

Lanny seemed genuinely interested. "What classes are you taking this summer?"

"English Composition and some Biology. I am enjoying the English comp. I never thought of myself as a writer before, but I like it."

"I think it's hard to try and choose a profession right out of high school. At that point most of us don't even know what all our options are, right?"

Brian nodded in agreement. "So what are your plans now that you're looking ahead?"

Lanny smiled, "The honest answer is that I don't have a clue. I'm taking a gap year to do some traveling and try to figure that out."

The ballgame had started and Brian was trying to keep track of the game but found himself more interested in his conversation with Lanny. "What sort of traveling? Where are you going?"

"Sort of a budget version of the grand tour of Europe. There's an informal program available through the Youth Hostel system. It's basically backpacking around Europe and exploring museums and cultural places. I'm pretty excited about it."

"Gee, that sounds like fun. I would love to do something like that."

"Why don't you? It's really not that expensive," Lanny suggested.

"Oh, I couldn't do that," Brian shrugged, "I've never been anywhere. I've only been out of Oklahoma a couple of times."

"Neither have I. But I figure that this is might be the best chance I'll have to travel and I'm going to do it while I can."

Brian nodded, "Right. That's a great idea. I hope it works out for you."

"So tell me about your writing class. What sort of thing have you been doing?"

"Oh, nothing really. Just whatever the professor assigns us. He has us read a lot of stuff, and has us write little essays, vignettes, that kind of thing. I think we are supposed to write some fiction before the session is over. I've never tried to do that before."

"It will be interesting to see what you come up with. You may have more talent than you realize," Lanny smiled.

"So have you done some writing yourself?" Brian asked.

"Lanny laughed, "Well yes, a little. I kind of like poetry."

"Are you a poet too?"

"I don't know. I have always liked to read poetry. My own is pretty lame though."

"Have you shown it to anyone?"

"Just to a few people. Writing poetry in high school is not something you brag about."

"Why not? Most poets start out pretty young," Brian said.

"That's true, but not everybody has a positive image of guys who write poetry, especially in high school."

"But you're not in high school any more. You can be who you want to be now, right?" Brian was beginning to like this guy.

Lanny smiled, "Well, that's the plan."

Just then somebody hit a long triple and Brian realized he had lost track of which team was at bat. It was Tulsa and they stood up to cheer the home team.

"I need to pay attention," Lanny chuckled.

"Me too, but I'm enjoying the conversation.

"So am I," Lanny smiled.

The game continued.

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