Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Samuel and Benjamin would celebrate their eighth birthday with adoptive dads Marco and Marty on July twelve which was on a Saturday this year. They had very little memory of the time before they were adopted at age four. Marco and Marty had been given several names by the boys but what stuck was Daddy or sometimes Dad for Marco. Like the twins, Marco was of Seminole heritage and they guessed that Daddy was what they called their birth father who had died along with their mother in a tragic accident just before they turned four years old. As Marco conjectured, he was the right color to be Daddy. Marty who was eight years older than Marco was christened Papa, or sometimes Pop.
The boys had been told they could have a party at the house but it would be a family affair. Sam and Ben had plenty of friends from school, church and their soccer team, but inviting them all would overwhelm the family resources. The guest list would be limited to Marco's Uncle Eugene and Aunt Eunice, and cousins nineteen year old Jacob, seventeen year old Joshua, and thirteen year old Sarah. They had all become very close since Marco had discovered the brother of his father Billy who had previously been unknown to him. In fact, Jacob, Joshua and Sarah had become almost like older siblings to the young boys and had begun to introduce them to local Native American activities and the powwows held in Tulsa every year. This became an extended family unit that celebrated the Seminole heritage that Marco now knew and enjoyed very much. Marty was accepted as Marco's partner and was an enthusiastic supporter.
Ben and Sam were in their bedroom discussing the upcoming birthday party.
"I can't wait until Saturday for the party," Ben said.
"It will be fun, but I wish we could have invited the guys from the soccer team," Sam replied.
"Yeah, me too, but Dad said that would be too many people. We had to either pick the team or Uncle Eugene's family."
"I guess. If we had to choose I would rather have the cousins over. We can kick the ball in the back yard with them. We don't get to see Jacob that much since he started college."
"Yeah, and since he got that girl friend. All he wants to do is hang out with her all the time."
"Well, she is kind of cute," Sam observed.
"Do you supposed we will ever get girl crazy like that?" Ben wondered.
Sam shrugged. "I dunno. We are too busy with other stuff right now. Papa says we can start in Cub Scouts when school starts."
"That will be cool. Do you think they will go camping and stuff?"
"I don't know. I think you have to be a little older to do that. We have been camping with the cousins a few times. I really like that."
"Me too. I can't wait until we are old enough to do more grownup stuff."
"I guess. Eight seems pretty grownup though. We will be in third grade next year. That's pretty cool."
They were disturbed by a rap on the door. "It is about bath time. You guys need to be getting ready for bed," Marco's voice called through the door.
The twins reluctantly grabbed clean underwear and trudged towards the bathroom. They had some time ago opted for showers instead of tub baths but still usually showered together. In fact, they had done almost everything together for as long as they could remember.
Marco was waiting for them with the water going and waited as they undressed and stepped into the shower. "Soap up good and wash everything," He instructed, gathering up their dirty clothes and leaving them to their task.
As identical twins they still looked very much alike. When they were younger they were distinguished by the custom of wearing blue shirts for Ben and red for Sam. Now that they were a little older the task was made easier by their haircuts. Ben generally sported a buzz cut while Sam preferred to wear his a bit longer, hanging just over his ears and over the back of his neck. Ben had remained a little taller and stockier than his brother but those outside the family still had some problems telling them apart. Once naked and in the shower they were both handsome little brown boys, slender and fit.
Marco and Marty sat in the living room while the boys exhausted the supply of hot water.
"They will be eight on Saturday. Can you believe it has been four years since they invaded our peace and quiet?" Marty asked.
"They have certainly livened up the place," Marco replied. "It's hard to remember what things were like before they came."
"It was quieter, but not nearly as much fun. Do you ever have any second thoughts?"
"No, of course not. I can't imagine life without them. I think they have brought us closer together."
"No question, they have done that. When we first considered Father Hoover's suggestion that we adopt, I wondered how it would work out being a same sex couple with kids. But life seems very normal with them. A few people have been a little surprised at our family, but we haven't had any real problems with acceptance," Marty observed.
"Well, I think we are pretty normal. Other than the fact that we like to have sex with each other, we are both pretty normal guys. I don't lisp and you don't wear pantyhose under your jeans," Marco chuckled.
Marty smiled. "No, I guess not. But even if we were inclined that way, I think we would try not to confuse the boys. I wonder sometimes when they are going to get curious about why they have two dads instead of a mom and dad like their friends."
"I wonder about that too. But a lot of their friends are being raised by a single parent, usually a single mom. I am convinced that we are a more conventional family than a lot of those kids have. Certainly more so than I ever had," Marco admitted.
"You had a pretty crappy home life, for sure. Your mother was alcoholic and abusive. You never even knew who your father was and when you finally discovered him, he was in prison. But look at you now. You managed to come out of that a very stable person. Maybe it is true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Marty said.
"I'm glad you think so," Marco laughed. "But to tell the truth, you have made a tremendous difference in my life. I would not be the same person without you."
Marty looked at him thoughtfully. "I don't know about that. Maybe I helped you see what you already had. But you have had a number of good influences. Think about Luigi at the restaurant, Mr. Blankenship from your high school, Mrs. Walters at TCC, Ms. Lubowski at TU, Mercer at the messenger service, and Peter who really got you turned onto your art. And don't forget Father Hoover. He has been wonderful to both of us. All these people saw things in you that you didn't see in yourself and helped you realize your potential. And look at you now, a financially successful young artist. I think this year you will make more from your art than I do at computer programming. At the age of twenty-four I would have to say that was pretty exceptional."
Marco nodded. "I take your point, but I still say that none of that would have happened without your love and encouragement. You were the first to really have faith in me. Don't you see that? I think we are both blessed."
Just then they were interrupted by two damp boys dripping their way into the living room. "We are ready."
"OK boys. I think it is my turn to read to you. What'll it be?" Marty asked.
Both of the boys were reading well and could probably have managed most of the Harry Potter series by themselves but liked to be read to. They were too big now to fit into one of their bunk beds with an adult, so the reading was now done in their parents queen sized bed with the boys retiring to their own room when the chapter was finished. As important as the story itself was the snuggle time with a boy on each side as the story was read. It was a nightly routine that they all enjoyed. Afterwards they went to their room with little protest, Ben now taking the top bunk and Sam the lower. They had decided several years before that they were too big to share a bed. The exception to that was in the event of a thunderstorm when they quietly joined Marco and Marty in the big bed. It was an acceptable routine.
Saturday came and with it the arrival of Uncle Eugene and the cousins bearing nicely wrapped gifts courtesy of Aunt Eunice. They were placed on the dining table next to a big cake decorated with eight candles.
"Happy birthday squirts," said Jacob, giving the excited boys a hug.
"What did you bring us?"
"That's a surprise!" Joshua said while Sarah smiled shyly.
"It is a surprise but I think you will like it," Sarah told them.
"Wait just a minute," Marco insisted. "We have to sing to you first."
There was no postponing the celebration. After a minimum of small talk they all gathered around the table while the candles were lit and the birthday song was sung. Then the boys stood side by side and blew out the candles. With no further delay packages were handed to each boy who quickly tore into them.
The immediate reaction was one of surprise. Expecting toys, they found that there was clothing inside. That soon turned to delight as they found traditional Seminole regalia inside. For each boy there was a long tailed shirt with full sleeves and banded cuffs of colorful gingham, blue for Benjamin and red for Samuel. For each was a beaded waist belt and matching sash to be worn over the shoulder and tied at the waist. To complete the costume were brown leggings with leather thongs to be tied just below the knee and a pleated turban for headgear.
"It's for you to wear at the powwow," Jacob explained.
Cool!" said Benjamin.
"Way cool!" agreed Samuel. Can we put them on now?"
"Sure," Marco approved. "Go into the bedroom to change. Maybe Jacob and Joshua can go help you put them on."
The excited boys quickly disappeared and returned in a few minutes fitted out like the Seminole boys they were, and displayed themselves with great pride.
"Eunice made them and did all the beadwork," Eugene boasted. "They are traditional Seminole outfits. The turbans are very Seminole. You can wear them for the big powwow next month."
The boys were almost speechless with excitement and began to dance around in their best imitation of what they had seen at the powwow they had attended the previous year.
"Can we wear them to church tomorrow?" Benjamin asked.
"Yeah, can we, can we?" Samuel echoed.
"I don't see why not," Marty agreed. "But haven't you have forgotten something?"
The boys hesitated a moment then remembered their manners. "Thank you Aunt Eunice!" they chanted in unison.
Eunice smiled and said, "You are very welcome. I'm glad you like them. I made them kind of big so they will last a little while."
The boys continued to dance around. "Are we doing it right?" Samuel asked.
"You are just fine," Eugene laughed. "Just watch the other dancers and you will figure it out."
It took several minutes before the boys could be enticed to sit down and enjoy their cake and ice cream, being extra careful not to dribble food on their new regalia.
"It was really nice of you to go to all that trouble," Marco told her. "The beadwork is very beautiful. That must have taken a long time."
"It did, but it's stitched to buckskin and will last a lifetime if they take care of it. It is much too long for them now but you can pin it to fit," Eunice explained. "Sarah helped with the beading."
Without prompting the twins chanted, "Thank you Sarah!"
Jacob explained. "Mom made some like these when we were younger and we can still wear them, the belts and sashes at least. We wear them at the powwows. We can all dance together next time, and Sarah has a new dress for this year."
Eugene looked at the boys with a serious expression. "We are proud of our Seminole heritage and want you to be proud of yours too. We are a proud people."
Marco felt his throat tighten. He was beginning to understand a kind of pride in his heritage that he had not known before, and it felt good to him. Marty sat and looked on, very pleased with what he saw.
"I have something you can wear at the powwow too," Eugene said to Marty.
Marty laughed. "I think maybe I will just be a cheerleader for now, but thank you. There are a couple of other gifts for you boys." He pulled out a pair of packages which contained hand held video games. Sam and Ben were very pleased with them but they did not outshine their new regalias.
There were some cards to open from some old friends David and Wayne and one from Marty's mother Irene with a pair of twenty dollar bills and the explanation that it was too far to drive up from Austin but thanks for the invitation. Marco had called his mother Margaret to let her know about the party but she did not respond.
With the exciting part of the party out of the way, the twins were encouraged to change out of their new finery and the youngsters went out into the back yard to kick a soccer ball around while the "old folks" sat and talked.
"Thank you so much," Marty said. "We didn't expect you to do that."
"It was our pleasure," Eugene said. "I know a lot of native people don't care to even acknowledge their heritage but we have always felt it was important. I reckon you weren't even aware of your blood until recently and now that you have these two little Seminole boys, we wanted them to feel part of a larger community. What you two are doing for these little fellows is a very nice thing and we are proud to be a part of their lives. It turns out that you are blood to me even if they are not directly. We are proud of you, of all of you."
"We appreciate your acceptance of us as a couple," Marty said. "Not everyone would be."
"Well, there is an old tradition in some tribes to accept some people as "two-spirit" people. There has always been some prejudice against such things, but times have changed. We talked about it as a family and agreed that you are both fine people and what is right for you is your business. We accept you as good spirits, with no labels. What you are doing with these boys is proof of that," Eugene said this in a matter of fact way with Eunice nodding her agreement.
Marco replied, "I am so blessed that you have come into my life. I never knew I had any family and sort of assumed that if I did they would be ashamed of me. I can't tell you what your love and acceptance means to us. I have no words."
Eugene simply answered with a smile. "We will let you know when it is time for the next powwow. I know you took your boys to one last year, but you can dance with us this year. It will be fun."
All stood and exchanged hugs all around, then Eunice went to the back door and called out that it was time for them to go. After some token protests they are came inside to cool off and enjoy a cold drink. Sam and Ben were bouncing with joy. They had not only had a nice birthday and some wonderful gifts, but had enjoyed their cousins. It had been a very nice day for everyone.
It was a struggle, but Sam and Ben were put to bed in their usual sleeping attire of under shorts and tshirts that night, but nothing would have it but they had to wear their new regalia to church the next morning. They arrived to Saint Jerome's a little early and caught up with Father Hoover to explain about the unusual church garb. As usual he was delighted to see the boys and wanted to know about their nifty apparel.
"These are for the powwow," Ben explained.
"We get to wear them when we dance," Sam added.
"Yes, we are Seminole Indians!" Ben elaborated.
"Oh that's wonderful!" Fr. Hoover exclaimed. "I wish I was Seminole so I could wear such wonderful clothes." The boys both beamed.
"Do you think you can show your new costumes to the people in church this morning?" he asked. They nodded enthusiastically.
During the time for announcements he called us all to the front and said, "Our boys Samuel and Benjamin celebrated their eighth birthday yesterday and their uncle presented them with genuine Seminole regalia that they will be wearing to the All Tribes Powwow next month. And I understand you will be dancing there, is that right?" The twins nodded vigorously.
"Do you suppose you could dance for us now?" he asked. They looked nervously at each other and shook their heads from side to side. "Well maybe next time after some practice, eh?" Big grins.
As usual they were greeted with smiles, laughter and applause. This was another extended family for which they were very grateful. After the service they headed home and changed clothes to avoid catchup getting spilled all over the new garb. Then they headed back out for a celebratory lunch at McDonald's. While this was not a favorite restaurant for Marco and Marty, the twins were convinced that the fries and McNuggets were the best in the world. So be it.
It was back to school on Monday and it was explained gently but firmly that the new regalia was not going to be worn to school. They were a little disappointed but not surprised.
"We have to save them for the powwow," Ben said.
"Right. We can wear them to the powwow," Sam agreed.
With that, things were back to normal. Summer soccer league was in season and Marco took the boys to practice, filling in to help with some drills in ball handling. Most of the boys were brought by their moms so having an extra dad or two was always helpful. Sam and Ben were good little soccer players. At that age few kids were in the star category but the twins were fast and agile and showed great promise. The important thing was that they were enthusiastic and having fun. They probably competed with each other as much as with the other boys and exhibited a lot of hustle. Marco encouraged all the boys but smiled to himself as he watched the shuffle for control of the ball and noting that Sam and Ben were holding their own. It was more orderly than last year, but still pretty chaotic.
Marty loved the boys as much as did Marco, but his nine to five and sometimes later corporate job made his schedule much less flexible than Marco's. That and Marco's natural inclinations had placed him in the role of primary caregiver. It was a role that he enjoyed. With the addition of the twins to his marriage to Marty he had found a healthy loving family unit that he had never known before. When the practice was over he put the boys in the back seat of his little Honda and made their usual stop at the Sonic on the way home. The boys liked to push the little red button that invited the voice on the loudspeaker to take their order. As usual it was for a pair of sodas and a large order of tater tots which they shared amiably as they drove to the house.
They got along well, this pair of litter mates. Like puppies, they wrestled and scrapped but were normally very congenial. Sometimes they whispered conspiratorially to each other in what Marco called "twin speak". It was not always intelligible to the listener what they were talking about, but from their giggles it was clear that they were sharing something amusing between them. If asked what they were talking about they would grin and reply "Nothing". It was no doubt fun to be a twin.
Once back home they busied themselves with their new video games and left Marco alone to start dinner. He did most of the cooking primarily because he had the time to do it. Besides, he was a pretty good cook and enjoyed it. Marty could fill in when required but they all preferred Marco's cooking. The menu was usually simple but featured lean meat, fish or chicken with fresh vegetables and a side of something filling. Starchy things like rice, potatoes and pasta were side items but seldom the main dish. Never having been exposed to what is generally called junk food, the boys had learned to eat what was put on their plate, although if something was declared as "yucky" it was permissible to pass on it and it was not likely to appear on the menu again. They were not picky eaters. Mostly they were just hungry boys who ate what was available. The diet was healthy, tasty and there was always more if a second helping was requested. Those dishes tended to appear on the menu more often.
When Marty arrived he was swarmed by a pair of boys who pounced on him and searched his pockets for loose change. It had been agreed that whatever he had in his pockets could be shared equally by the boys to be put in their respective piggy jars. He knew to keep folding money in his wallet. That money could then be used to purchase small items that caught their fancy. Both boys also received a small weekly allowance. It was understood that this was their pay for keeping their rooms picked up and helping with a few simple tasks when requested. The idea was that love was available in unlimited quantities but money was earned. Money could be withheld if the little chores were not done, but never the love. It seemed to work for them.
Tonight's menu was some pork cutlets stewed in half a can of cream of celery soup, green beans with a little chopped bacon and some baked sweet potatoes served with a pat of butter. There was a lettuce salad with ranch dressing if they wanted, and a little dish of instant chocolate pudding for desert. Seconds were allowed for anything except the pudding. Simple, healthy and tasty was the rule. Everybody took his dishes to the sink and whoever did not do the cooking, usually Marty, loaded the dishwasher. It worked for them.
After dinner there was a time to examine the events of the day, if any, and then watch a little family friendly TV. Eight o'clock was bath time, followed by story time, followed by lights out. It was usual that the chatter stopped and the boys were sound asleep by 9:00 at the latest at which time Marco and Marty could have some adult TV and conversation until they decided to retire, generally after the news, weather and sports at 10:30. Then as likely as not, their bedroom door was closed and some private activity might occur. It was understood that closed doors were to be knocked on before being opened, whether by adults or kids. That seemed to work too.
Their routine was fairly fixed. Occasionally Marty had to work late on a project. Occasionally Marco had to finish a painting in the studio he shared with his teacher and mentor Peter. Always one of them was home with the boys. Their social events were primarily limited to church activities and almost always included the boys. While some would consider this confining, or even boring, to them it was secure and comfortable. It was at heart what both had always wanted and they considered themselves fortunate that nothing major had come along to rattle their world. Marco in particular had lived through more than his share of trauma and relished the lack of drama.
In point of fact they tried to insulate themselves from situations that might disturb their domestic tranquility. It helped that they loved each other and their adopted boys dearly. It helped that while by no means wealthy, they were financially secure enough to be able to live comfortably, albeit modestly. It helped that they were sexually very compatible and looked for no other diversion. It helped that the twins were secure in the home that was provided and seemed free of serious physical or emotional problems. Marco and Marty often thanked divine providence for the birth parents who had given their boys such a good start in life.
Those who knew them at all knew that they were a gay couple raising adopted twin boys. Marty's employer knew this, their church community knew this, and the school personnel knew this. If Marco's patrons knew their situation it would make no difference as the expectations for artists in this regard were likely ambiguous. The composition of their family was apparent to their neighbors but as long as the yard was well kept and the household was quiet the neighbors seemed to be indifferent to their situation. After four years in the house they felt that they were accepted and felt no concern. To those who did not know them well they gave no cause for gossip. Because of their working schedules they seldom appeared together as a couple and other than the occasional outing to the neighborhood markets and restaurants they blended in quite well. The unfortunate situation which occurred after their wedding photographs appeared in the local newspaper seemed long behind them. They had worked hard to carve out a secure niche for their family and life seemed to be secure and tranquil.
The one exception to their routine was when they both appeared to watch Sam and Ben play in their Saturday soccer games. Since it could be assumed that the parents of the other kids on the twins team understood their situation, they felt comfortable around them. Besides which they were on the same team which engendered a certain sense of comradery. But in this venue they were also surrounded by parents and supporters of the other teams who might be less willing to turn a blind eye to them.
On this particular Saturday Marco and Marty had brought a pair of folding chairs and were enjoying the game between the twins team the Roughnecks and the Tigers from nearby Broken Arrow. It was a typical game of soccer for eight year olds with goals struck as much by luck as skill. Like all parents they were very much into the game and when Ben scored a nice clean goal giving the Roughnecks the winning score, they jumped to their feet and hugged each other, cheering loudly. When the game was over, the twins ran over to where their parents were sitting and received hugs and encouragement from both. Sitting with the parents of other kids on the team this barely was noticed. But nearby a group of Tiger supporters were disappointed with the outcome and one woman in particular looked angry.
Looking at the twins and their dads she said loudly enough for them to hear, "Those guys are queers!"
Marco and Marty tensed but pretended not to hear the remark. Ben and Sam looked at the woman with surprise.
"Why did she say that?" Ben asked. "Was she talking about us?"
Sam looked confused. "What's a queer?" he wondered.
Marty answered, "Oh, she is just upset because they lost. Don't pay any attention to her."
"Hey, good game. Let's go get a burger, OK?" Marco said, folding their chairs and preparing to leave.
Before they could walk away, the woman's husband stepped toward them. "What are you doing with those boys?" he demanded.
At this, several of the Roughneck dads turned to scowl at the red faced man and he stopped, then thought better of the situation and rejoined his companion.
Back in the car and on the way for a post game treat the conversation was all about the game as Ben and Sam described the highlights as they recalled them. After a trip to the Sonic for burgers and tots they drove home with the incident hopefully forgotten.
Nothing more was said about the exchange at the soccer game but that night, after baths and in bed, Ben and Sam were talking.
"What's a queer?" Sam asked Ben.
"I don't know. I've heard boys call people queers when they don't like them. It is supposed to be an insult but I don't know what it means."
"So it's like calling somebody a jerk or something like that?"
"Yeah, I think so," Ben replied. "I think they were just sore losers. It didn't bother Daddy or Papa."
"I guess. I still wonder what it means though," Sam wondered.
Back in the living room Marco and Marty were also discussing the brief episode at the conclusion of the game.
"We knew this would come up eventually," Marty acknowledged. "How are we going to deal with it?"
"Just be honest about it I guess. The last thing we want is for them to think our relationship is something bad that they need to feel shame about," Marco suggested.
"Do we know someone wise and trustworthy we can discuss this with?"
Marco chuckled. "Yes, we might run this by Father Hoover."
After church the next morning they asked their priest for a moment of his time and retired to his little office.
"And how are things with your beautiful family?" he asked
"We are doing very well, thank you. But we did have something we wanted to mention to you," Marty began.
Marco continued. "Ben scored the winning goal at the end of the soccer game yesterday and we got a ugly remark from one of the other teams' parents."
Hoover looked concerned. "And what was that?"
"Well, one of the mother's from the other team remarked that we were queers, and the boys heard what she said," Marco explained. "We passed it off at the time, but now that the seed has been planted we are struggling with how to deal with this. I guess we knew the time was coming that the twins are going to have questions about our relationship."
"We want them to understand that our relationship is not something they should be ashamed of," Marty added.
Father Hoover sighed. "Yes I understand. People can be terribly cruel. It comes from their own ignorance of course, but the important thing is for it not to have a negative impact on Samuel and Benjamin."
Marco explained, "We know we're going to have to discuss this with them but would appreciate your counsel before we do."
"Certainly there is nothing that any of you need feel ashamed of. You are good people and are raising two delightful boys." Father Hoover leaned back in his chair with his hands folded on his lap.
"This is a discussion about love. The love you have for each other and for your beautiful sons. We cannot always choose who we are to love, but you have gone about your lives with great integrity and have been blessed in the eyes of God and of his church. That some individuals fail to understand this is unfortunate, but is in no way a reflection on you or your boys. I would suggest that when the question comes up, you answer it as clearly and as simply as you can. Let it come up naturally and I suggest that you tell them no more than they need to know. At the age of eight, simple explanations are sufficient. At some future time they may wish for more details but that can wait until they are old enough to understand such things. Innocence is a precious thing for a child."
Hoover smiled at them. "Your situation is not much different than for most parents. At some point most children want to know what their parents are doing when the bedroom door is closed. I would suggest that the openness which allows such questions is a positive thing. The operative word here is love. Your love for each other and your love for Sam and Ben. You are on the right track here. I think you will do fine."
Father Hoover stood to indicate that the interview was over and we stood and thanked him. We pried the boys away from the tray of cookies and headed for home. Sooner or later, probably sooner, we were going to have "The Talk" with our sons. We hoped we would find the right words.
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
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