Marco, Marty and the Twins
by Nick Brady
Copyright © 2016 – 2016 by Nick Brady, all rights reserved.
Several days went by after the incident at the soccer game. One evening when it was Marco's turn to read to the boys after their bath, the three of them were stretched out in the big bed after the latest chapter of Harry Potter had been read.
"OK, are you guys ready for lights out now?" Marco asked.
"Yeah, but could we talk about something first?" Samuel asked.
"Sure. We can always talk if it's important," Marco assured him.
"Well, me and Ben were wondering what queer means," Sam wondered.
"Yeah, sometimes we hear guys call somebody a queer but we don't know what that means. It kind of sounds like something bad," Ben added.
Marco sighed and marked his place in the book. He felt a certain sense of dread about what the conversation to follow. "Well guys, when people use that to describe somebody it is not usually mean to be a compliment."
He thought for a moment. "The word queer really means something odd or unusual, but said in a rude way it means that someone is a homosexual."
"OK, so what's a homosexual?" Ben asked.
Marco took a deep breath. "Well if two people of the same sex love each other in a romantic way then we say they are homosexual. Homosexual really means like-sex. When a man and a woman love each other that way then we say they are heterosexual. That means different sex. Is that confusing?"
"I like my cousins Jacob and Joshua a whole lot. Is that homosexual?" Sam wondered.
"No, that just means you are good friends. If two guys love each other in a romantic way and want to get married or something like that, we say they are homosexual," Marco answered as honesty as he knew how.
There was a pause. "Like you and Papa?" Sam was trying to understand.
Another deep breath. "Yes, like me and your Papa. We love each other and got married. We are both homosexual. That's what works for us. It's not a bad thing, it's just the way we are."
"Oh." Another pause.
Ben said, "All of our friends have moms. Most of them have a mom and a dad, but we have two dads. I guess that's kind of confusing to us."
"Well, it takes a mom and a dad to have babies. When two guys get married and want to have kids they have to adopt. You guys know you are adopted don't you?" Marco asked.
"Yes. You told us that a long time ago. Our real mom and dad got killed so we needed a family and you and Papa adopted us," Ben recalled.
"That's right. We loved each other and wanted kids so we could be a real family. When we found you we loved you very much and knew you would be perfect for our family. You are what make us a family really," Marco struggled to explain.
"So, you and Papa are homosexual. Does that makes you queer?" Sam said thoughtfully.
Another deep breath. "Well if queer means something odd or unusual, and usually it is a man and a woman who get married and have a family, then if two men marry and have a family it's unusual. So I guess you could say we are queer or unusual. But the way people use that word is intended to be rude and insulting because they don't understand about two guys who love each other. People are sometimes afraid of things they don't understand."
"I guess I don't understand either," Sam continued. "How come you and Papa are so different?"
"I don't really know Sam. Most guys are attracted to girls but some guys, like your Papa and me just were always attracted to other guys. It wasn't a choice we made, it is just the way we are. For some guys that's really hard but Marty and I found each other and fell in love. Now we have you and Ben for a wonderful family and we're very happy. We are lucky I think."
"So being queer is not really a bad thing?" Ben asked.
Marco was trying hard to choose his words. "It is only bad because some people who don't understand will give you a hard time about it. But God made us the way we are and we know that God loves us. We just have to accept ourselves the way God made us."
"So will we be queer too?" Ben wondered.
"I doubt it," Marco assured him. "You guys will probably get girl crazy like your cousin Jacob when you get older. Most guys do. But if it turns out that you prefer other guys then we will love you just the same."
That was rather a sobering thought for a pair of boys who were still at the "girls, yuk" stage of their development. But it gave them something to think about.
"Does that help you understand or just make you more confused?" Marco asked them.
There was a thoughtful silence as the young boys tried to process this new information.
"Look guys. The important thing for you to understand is that Papa and I love each other very much, and we love you very much. We have a nice life and feel like God has blessed us with each other and with you. You are our sons and you make our lives complete. I have no words to tell you how much you mean to both Papa and me." Marco's voice began to tighten with emotion as he struggled to help his young boys understand their situation.
Ben and Sam caught the depth of his feeling and responded with hugs. "I love you Daddy," Sam assured him.
"I love you, and Papa too," Ben hugged Marco tightly.
Words failed Marco so he held his sons tight and waited for the moment to pass.
"I know this is a lot for you to think about right now, but you guys asked me serious questions and I tried to give you honest answers. We can talk about this again whenever you want to. You can talk to Papa too, and maybe you might want to talk to Father Hoover sometime."
After a minute the boys sat up and looked at each other with sleepy eyes. They both said goodnight and got up to return to their own room.
"Don't forget to say goodnight to Papa," Marco called to them..
They trotted in to the living room where Marty was looking at the newspaper. They climbed up on his lap and gave him enthusiastic hugs.
"Goodnight Papa, I love you," Sam told him.
"I love you too Papa. Goodnight," Ben assured him.
After their boys disappeared into their bedroom, Marty looked at Marco with surprise.
"Wow, what was that all about?" Marty wondered.
Marco collapsed on the sofa. "We just had the talk about why they have two dads."
"Better you than me. How did it go?"
"I don't know. I did the best I could. I wish you had been with me."
"I imagine you did fine. They are closer to you than to me really, and I suspect they would rather have you to themselves," Marty suggested.
"I don't know about that. Who I was really wishing for was Father Hoover. He knows how to say everything," Marco admitted.
"Well, at least the dam has been broken. I suspect that was not the end of the conversation," Marty said.
"We shall see. Those guys don't miss much."
"Thanks for taking that on. I love you Marco."
"I love you too Marty. I think I am ready for an early bedtime."
"How about a nice long shower?"
"Sounds good, if they left us any hot water," Marco laughed.
They retired to their bedroom and enjoyed a shower together. Not as long and as satisfying as a few in the past, but enough to get the juices flowing. After insuring that the door was tightly closed they retired for the night and reminded themselves of how much they enjoyed each other's company.
If the explanation regarding the same-sex relationship between Marco and Marty created any extreme discomfort for the twins it was not apparent. If anything they seemed a little more respectful and affectionate than usual in the days following. The impression given to their parents was that they had been reminded of how much they were loved. They knew that their extended family and their friends at church respected all of them, and realized that the harsh reaction of the woman at the soccer game was the thing that was out of place. At some level despite their lack of complete understanding of Marco's explanation, they were satisfied that all was well.
The only change that took place was a certain reluctance to engage in any parental hugging at the next Saturday's soccer game. Marco and Marty cheered and shouted encouragement but kept their hands to themselves. That sort of thing had not occurred before and since they would not play the Tigers again that season the ugliness would not repeat itself. In fact they were somewhat reassured when one of the team dads made a point of mentioning that the red faced man was someone who had made trouble for another parent at a previous game, and it was his impression that the man was carrying a belly full of beer. While the team dad did not make a big issue out of it, it was clear that the twins and their parents were accepted. That was very reassuring. It also helped that the incident was never again mentioned by another player or parent. Case closed.
The soccer season was nearing an end and the next event on the horizon was the big powwow to be held in just a few weeks. Uncle Eugene invited all the Montgomery family – Marco, Marty, Samuel and Benjamin over to his home in Owasso for a backyard barbecue on Sunday afternoon. The plan was to eat hamburgers, review the proper way to wear their regalia and do some elementary dancing. The boys were made aware of the respect that must be shown to the tribal wear and the way to wear it properly and take care of it. Aunt Eunice told them that the beadwork was made according to traditional patterns, and contained symbolism that over time had come to represent certain spiritual elements that were considered sacred in the old religions. While Eugene's family were practicing Methodists and Marco's were Episcopalian, their own understanding of religious symbolism and their respect for those things led them to easily understand what was being explained. This all served to make these handsome garments even more impressive to the young boys and they took all these things quite seriously.
Uncle Eugene had a round cowskin drum that he set up in the back yard and played while he chanted some traditional songs to which the children danced. Jacob, Joshua and Sarah understood the footwork and body movements used to properly express the elements of the dances. The steps were simple but there was more there than met the eye. If Sam and Ben were not as proficient, they would learn to be very soon. For the present, they were aware that these dances were much more than just jumping around. They also began to understand that what at first sounded like the nonsense syllables of Hey-Ya Hey-Ya were in fact the Seminole words to these ancient chants. They understood a little and wanted to know more about what they meant.
Jacob in particular was very pleased to see that the young boys were genuinely interested in these things and tried to explain as much as he could. The attention of this handsome older boy was very encouraging to Sam and Ben. Of course this was the traditional way of handing down knowledge about history and culture, and Eugene and Eunice were very pleased to see this happening.
To Marco's surprise he found himself taking a similar interest in all this, and before long was listening to the chants and attempting to learn the dance steps along with the boys. All of this served to emphasize that while enjoyable, it was much more than just a silly game.
Later in the afternoon Jacob and Joshua went into the house and returned wearing elaborate costumes of colorful shirts and leggings decorated with long colorful ribbons, and long round feather fans they called bustles that were tied behind their hips and in the center of their backs. Their head gear now included roaches of porcupine hair which fanned over the center of their heads from front to back. They began to dance and twirl around causing the feathers and ribbons to fly in all directions.
Eugene drummed and his sons spun and danced displaying great agility. While they danced Eunice explained that these costumes originated with the Cherokee and were known as Cherokee Fancy Dance regalia. Because they were so handsome the dancers from many tribes had taken them up and there was now quite a contest held at each powwow to pick a champion dancer in one of several age groups. Jacob and Joshua were planning to compete. Sam and Ben were wide-eyed with excitement. This was a new world they were seeing for the very first time. No doubt they had dreams of joining such a competition when their time came.
The drumming and dancing went on for some time until even Marty joined the group and stepped and spun with the rest. This might have been a common activity for the uncle's family, but for the Montgomery clan it was all new and a lot of fun. When Eugene finally laughed and made some drumming that seemed to say the end, everyone was hot, tired and ready for some cool refreshments. Back at the house Eunice had a tub of cold watermelon slices which was consumed as soon as the regalia had been properly folded and put away.
"Well now," Eugene asked Sam and Ben, "Do you think you will be ready for the powwow?"
"Yes!" they agreed enthusiastically. "We can't wait."
Then Eunice brought out a pair of buckskin leggings and a matching beaded leather shirt and handed it to Marco.
Marco took it but looked confused. "What's this?" he asked.
"It's for you," Eunice told him.
"I can't borrow this, it looks priceless. I might mess it up." Marco said.
"No, you can't borrow it. It is my gift to my nephew," Eugene insisted. "I want you to have it."
"Oh no really. This is too nice, I can't take it," Marco protested.
Eugene looked Marco in the eyes. "You need to understand that to refuse a gift from your uncle would be considered an insult."
Marco wondered if Eugene was joking but when he looked around at the faces of Eugene's family he realized that this was not a joke. So he took the buckskins and held them up to look at them. He ran his hands over the soft leather and traced his fingers over the delicate beadwork. Then he carefully folded them together and held them in his arms.
Tipping himself forward in a slight bow towards the older man he said rather formally, "Thank you for this gift. I am honored to accept it from my Uncle Eugene. You are a very fine man. Thank you again. I am proud to be your nephew."
With this Eugene burst out with a broad smile. "Well done nephew. I think we will make a real Seminole out of you yet, you and your fine boys. You are most welcome."
At that everyone relaxed and even clapped for them both. The little ceremony was over.
After some conversation and ice tea, Marco and Marty gathered up their boys and excused themselves. It had been a memorable day. On the drive home from Owasso they talked about what they had seen and learned that day. Ben and Sam were very pumped up.
"I can't wait for the powwow," Ben said.
"Me too," said Sam. "I'm ready to dance to that drum, and even sing some of those songs!"
"Yeah! And see Daddy out there dancing too," Ben predicted.
"I can't say I don't have a proper costume now, can I?" Marco admitted.
Marty laughed. "I have to admit that I never took this sort of thing seriously before. There is really a lot to it. I was impressed, and I thought the dancing was terrific."
"This is going to be a lot of fun for all of us," Marco predicted. "And to think that I never knew about these people. Wow, what a blessing. We need to tell Father Hoover all about this."
"Maybe we can take some pictures to show him." Ben suggested.
"I bet he would like to see them," Marco agreed. "We can do that."
On the morning of the big All Tribe Powwow at the Tulsa Fairgrounds the twins woke early and put on their regalia, impatient for the day to begin. After breakfast they all piled into Marty's Camry and drove to the fairgrounds. After paying for their admission they found that entrance fees were only required for the competitive events so they were all free to join in the open dancing spotted throughout the day. Once inside they wandered around marveling at all the costumes and looked for Uncle Eugene and his family. They found them sitting together in the bleachers sorting out their regalia. Eugene and his boys were wearing regalia similar to those he had given Sam and Ben while Eunice and Sarah were wearing long dresses with beaded decorations. The fancy dance outfits were carefully stowed away in special bags. Marco was dressed in his new buckskins with his long black hair brushed out over his back, and felt very much a part of things.
"Hello Uncle," Marco greeted the family group.
"Are you boys ready for the powwow?" Eugene asked the Sam and Ben. "We will begin in just a few minutes and you should be ready to make the grand entrance with us. You too Marco," he smiled.
Soon a large number of costumed participants began to assemble at one end of the large arena. At the other end sat a circle of men seated around an enormous drum about six feet across. At a signal from their leader they began to strike the drum in unison, maintaining a steady beat: boom bah, boom bah.
Soon a uniformed military color guard bearing US and Oklahoma flags began to march slowly towards the drummers, followed by a procession of people all proudly wearing their regalia. Following the color guard were tribal chiefs and dignitaries, royal princesses and distinguished veterans, and a number of young people elected to represent their specific home community at the powwow. Next came the men's traditional dancers, then the men's fancy dancers in their elaborate costumes. Following them were women in traditional dresses, jingle dresses and shawl dancers. They were followed by the teenage boys and teenage girls. Jacob, Joshua and Sarah were among them. Next came the younger boys which included two beaming eight year old twins. Marco, Eugene and Eunice were walking with Samuel and Benjamin. Finally came the tots, some decked out in miniature regalia and a number of ladies who kept them on track.
As the grand procession snaked around the drummers the announcer solemnly named each group and the community they represented. By the time all had entered, the arena was a sea of color and movement. Finally the drummers sounded four last drum beats and everyone stopped and planted their feet. Then an honoring song for veterans was sung and a prayer was given. It was a spectacular sight and Marty sat alone to watch, a little sorry that he had not taken advantage of Eugene's offer to borrow a simple costume.
At the conclusion of the grand entry the dancers filed out of the arena to rejoin their families or begin to prepare for the next events. Eugene, Eunice, Marco and the twins came back to sit with Marty. Sam and Ben were breathless with excitement. Finally some awards were presented to honor various individuals. Traditional gifts were exchanged, typically very handsome blankets. Then at last the real dancing began in roughly the same order that they came in the procession.
Eugene slipped back down to the arena to join men's traditional dancers. These were gentlemen who were wearing a variety of regalia, some simple, some elaborate but representative of that man's tribe. Some wore ribbon shirts and leggings, some were bare-chested with breastplates of parallel rows of tubular white bone decorated with beads and leather fringes. Some wore simple pairs of feathers fastened in their hair, some had full feather headdresses with additional rows of feathers hanging down their backs. Some, like Eugene wore a turban or other headgear.
While they watched, Eunice explained to the boys (and to Marco and Marty) that the feathers were traditionally eagle feathers, but those were so rare and expensive that most feathers used in the regalia now came from wild turkeys. They were not as large or heavy but looked very nice. She explained that real eagle feathers were much preferred however, as to have one in the hand was to feel a kind of magic.
Next were men's fancy dancers who danced and swirled around with their elaborate feather bustles and head gear. Most wore porcupine hair roaches with a pair of feathers fastened in such a way that they stood up and rocked back and forth as they danced. Then groups of women in traditional dresses with elaborate beadwork, and then jingle dancers with rows of conical silver bells fastened to their long dresses which made a wonderful sound as they danced. The women's shawl dancers were next and wore long fringed shawls around their shoulders or over their heads. Most of them carried feather fans which they waved in a most graceful way.
Now came the boys fancy dancers with lots of feathers and ribbons. Jacob and Joshua were among them and danced as well as any. This was simply for show however, as the competitive dancing would be held later in the evening. Finally came the young boys with Sam and Ben beaming with joy and dancing their hearts out. Marty had his good camera and slipped down to ringside to take photographs.
The events seemed to go on and on. When their family group was reassembled they decided that lunch was in order and they went down to the concession area to enjoy Indian Tacos and a cold soda.
"What's an Indian Taco?" Sam asked.
"You will see," Eugene told him. "It is a flat piece of fry bread filled with ground meat, lettuce and tomato. You will like it." Sure enough, they were very tasty.
While they were in the concession area they looked at the many booths selling arts and crafts of paintings, ceramics, and beautiful silver jewelry. They admired the wares but after looking at the price tags decided to postpone any purchases. Sam and Ben found some inexpensive items that interested them but after close examination found they were made in China and decided to pass. Finally they settled on a pair of sinew dream catchers made by Che Tullis from Hominy Oklahoma as souvenirs.
"Do Indians live in China?" Ben wondered.
Eunice laughed. "No honey, but everything seems to be made in China nowadays."
After killing more time looking at things they could not afford, they returned to their seats to watch the competitive dancing.
Now there were smaller groups of six to eight dancers who competed for prizes. Both Jacob and Joshua competed but in different age groups. Marty took photographs as best he could, but the flurry of motion was hard to capture. Jacob won second in his group and Joshua took third in his. It was generally agreed that they were outstanding no matter their prizes. Sarah was in the girls traditional dance and did not place in the top three but was cheered loudly by them all.
When the young boys competed Sam and Ben ran down to ringside to get a closer look. One of the boys looked to be about twelve or thirteen and was dressed in buckskin pants, but was bare-chested except for a loosely tied white breastplate. He was very slim and muscular and his face was painted white on one side and black on the other. In his long hair were tied a group of three feathers which hung down his back. When he danced he spread his arms and spun around, bobbing from front to back and side to side. He looked very striking.
"Wow, look at that guy," Ben pointed him out to his brother Samuel.
"The boy with the black and white face paint? Yeah, he's a good dancer," Sam agreed.
Ben found it hard to take his eyes away from the boy. "He is, but I mean the way he looks. Don't you think he is cool?"
Sam nodded his head. "He looks pretty studly alright. I wonder who he is."
"I don't know, but I wish I could meet him. He just looks so, I don't know, so cool," Ben got a strange feeling watching the older boy dance and whirl. "I wish I looked like that.'
As the boy danced near he caught sight of the young twins watching him and did not change expression but held his gaze for a moment and nodded in their direction. Without thinking, Ben raised his hand and gave him a little wave. The boy's face flashed a quick smile and then he spun away.
"I think he saw us, "Sam said.
"Watch where he goes when the dance is over. I want to meet him," Benjamin whispered.
As the dancing stopped the handsome boy walked to one side and they moved to where he was standing. He was talking with an older boy who they guessed might be his brother. When the twins approached he looked towards them and said, "You guys were watching me."
Ben smiled shyly and said, "You look really cool. I like your face paint."
The boy had tried to maintain a stern countenance while he danced, but now he smiled in a friendly way. "Thanks, my brother did it," he said, nodding at the older boy.
"My name is Benjamin Montgomery and this is my brother Samuel," Ben said quietly.
The young boy introduced himself, "My name is Travis Wilson and this is my brother John. How come you guys aren't dancing?"
"This is the first time we had something to wear," Sam explained. "Our uncle Eugene just gave us our regalia for our birthday and besides we don't really know how to dance."
"You dance really good," Ben added.
"Thanks," Travis smiled and looked them over. "Are you guys twins or something?"
Ben laughed, "You might say that." He paused and then asked, "Where do you live?"
"My family lives on a farm near Owasso. Where do you guys live?"
"We are in Tulsa," Sam told him. "Our Uncle Eugene lives in Owasso. Do you know our cousins Jacob and Joshua Cusco?"
"Yes, I go to school with Josh. They were dancing tonight." Travis replied.
Just then John interrupted. "Nice to meet you guys, but we have to go now."
"Maybe we can get together sometime," Travis suggested. "I could show you some dance stuff."
"Oh, that would be cool," Ben replied. "I would really like that."
"Yeah, that would be way cool," Sam agreed. "Maybe we will see you later."
The twins walked back to sit with the rest of their family. "Hey, do you know Travis and John?" Ben asked his cousin Joshua.
"Is Travis the boy with the black and white face paint? Yeah, we know them," Joshua said.
Jacob agreed, "I know John from high school. I think he is a senior this year. Their family is really into the powwows."
"I know the family. They are good people. Did you make some friends tonight?" Eugene asked.
"I hope so," Ben said. "Travis said maybe he could teach us how to dance like he does."
Eugene smiled. "I bet he could do that. Maybe so."
At the end of the program the twins were sagging so it was decided to leave before the finale. On the way home Marco looked back to the back seat and laughed at the sight of two little warriors sound asleep with their turbans slipped down over their eyes.
Once home Marco carried Sam and Marty carried Ben into the house, eased them out of their finery and slid them into bed in their underwear.
"They have had a big day," Marco observed.
"So did I," Marty agreed. "That was just fantastic. I didn't realize I had married into such a band of warriors. I am a little jealous to be an ordinary white guy. You know, you really look terrific in those buckskins Marco. They suit your long black hair."
Marco hugged him tight and kissed him on the neck. "You do your best dancing in bed," he said. "How about we take advantage of a full tank of hot water and take a nice long shower. We used to dance pretty well in there as I recall."
Marty smiled. "That sounds like a great idea. I don't think we will be disturbed by our little savages. They are down for the count."
And so they did, and it was good. It was very good.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]