Jeremy's Swimming Lessons
The house was a huge place, just outside the next town, which was many times larger than our little town. And the house was many times larger than mine or Chet's, or anyone's I knew.
There were cars parked in the long drive, almost filling it. Chet parked behind the first one, or last one, whichever way you want to think of it, nearly in the country road. They got out. I tried to, but I was almost frozen in place.
"Think he's got real cold feet this time," Howie said.
Chet leaned down and into the window beside me, and said, "Hey," very softly. Howie leaned in through the front window.
"Hey, nothing different than the last place. Okay? If anyone bothers you, we'll take care of it. Besides, here, there's no chance of that. Here, well, everyone knows. Okay?"
Those words rang like claxons in my head.
"Everybody here is. No one is gonna bother you about it. Maybe hit on you real hard!"
They both laughed a little. I tried to, but it wasn't going to happen. I was just way too nervous.
"We can take you home if you want," Chet said.
Home. No party with all homosexuals. Safe. No worries.
But then I won't know, I thought. I won't find out how many there are. I won't find out if I feel something for somebody else who's... but am I? What if I like Katy? What if I'm normal? How will I know if I don't go in?
I swallowed, remembered to breathe, then shook my head. I opened the door, got out, and closed it behind me. The we walked toward the door, just like we had to Greg's party, with me in the middle. Chet knocked. We waited for a long time before a guy with red hair and freckles answered the door.
"Hi, Chet, Howie. Come on in. Who's this?"
"This is Jeremy. He's not sure. If you know what I mean," Chet said.
"Ah. Sure. How old are you?" he asked me.
"Gonna be a freshman?"
"On the baseball team, too," Chet said.
"Well, welcome, Jeremy," he said to me, holding out his hand.
"This is Carl Weatherman. He graduated last year. His house, his party," Howie said.
"My parent's country house," he said. "But my party."
I shook his hand. He smiled at me. He had deeply red hair that was parted in the middle, and blue-gray eyes that sparkled a bit. He was pale, with freckles, and red lips that really stood out against his pale face. His eyebrows were almost invisible, and his eyelashes were the same color as his brows, and they really stood out because of that. He had a wide smile.
I didn't find that I felt anything for him. He wasn't attractive to me. I relaxed.
"Come on in, Jeremy, and meet the rest of the guys."
We followed him into the back of the house, and then downstairs. The room was carpeted, and well lit with lamps on the tables, and one hanging above a big, round table where several guys were playing cards. Another square table had four guys also playing cards, and two guys were sitting on a couch, really close, and I was sure had probably been making out before we came downstairs. No one was wearing anything other than jeans and regular shirts. That made me feel like I stuck out. Chet and Howie were already taking off their ties and jackets.
"Hey everyone," Carl said loudly. "Chet and How found a new guy. His name is Jeremy. He's going to be a freshman this year, and on the baseball team."
All of them smiled at me, waved, and said hi or hello. I felt like I did in nightmares were I was naked at school.
Carl pointed and named everyone, and they waved at me again as their names were said. Some of them were about my age, some older. A couple looked very much older. Some were really handsome! Two in particular were very, very handsome! Terry and David. They both had nice blond hair, tanned faces, big smiles, and nice faces. Terry had dark eyes, and David had bright, probably blue eyes - it was hard to tell from across the basement room. They both looked to be a year or two older than me.
"Play poker?" Chet asked me.
"Uh, yeah, sure," I said.
Who didn't? But these... guys?
I followed Chet, Howie, and Carl to the table where only four were sitting. Chairs of all kinds were brought over, and we filled up the table. Some chips were pushed to me, and we began playing cards. It was just like when my friends and I sat around doing the same thing.
I looked around as we played, and found myself looking at the other table where Terry and David were playing. I could see Terry's face, but David's back was to me.
The guys at the table with me weren't bad looking at all. Except Carl, who I really didn't care much for. There was Kevin, who had dark, short hair, small lips, and dark eyes. He was going to be a senior, in the same class as Chet and Howie. He was very slim, and had sideburns. James was taller and older, had blonde hair that was the color of wet hay, and was thick and wild. His eyes were a pale blue. Large lips and a big, round, friendly face. He talked a lot, and had a deep voice. He was leaving for college this week, had graduated with Carl last year. Vince was small, but he was a year older than me. He had very short black hair, very dark eyes, a deep tan, and narrow, lean features. His lips were almost so narrow they didn't exist. He hardly talked, but almost always smiled. Steve was two years older than me, and going to be a junior. He was pretty good looking. He had sandy-blond hair, curly but combed down, and brown eyes. He had that kind of face you think of when you hear "Roman features." His body looked sturdy and strong. He liked to joke around, and seemed really friendly. Then there was Carl, Howie, and Chet. And me.
And we're all homosexual, I thought, stunned. If I am. I might be. But why did I feel so funny about Katy? I liked her, I think. Or something. Maybe I'll like both? Or maybe just girls? Geeze, why is this so confusing?
I tried not to think about that stuff and just play poker, and maybe have some fun. That was surprisingly easy. The guys told jokes and cussed at each other, and some of them were drinking beer. I was given a soda, and told by Chet not to even think about the beers. I agreed. Some of them smoked. I was worried I would smell like cigarettes when I got home.
I won my first hand by bluffing. The house rule was not to show your hand if everyone else folded, so I didn't have to admit to the bluff. I lost a few hands trying that again. Also, when you lost all your chips, you changed tables and started over. After a few more hands, I started losing on purpose, but not too obviously. I wanted to get to that other table.
Finally, I went broke, and I moved to the other table. I got so lucky. The empty seat was next to Terry, and almost across from David. I sat down and was introduced again to the guys I hadn't played with yet, including David and Terry. Terry smelled like spices of some sort. I guessed it was him anyway.
We played three games before I won one, with another bluff. I was raking my chips in when I saw Terry's lap. I hadn't thought to look before. I lost some chips over the edge of the table because I kept pulling too long, because I was almost staring. I'd say it was the biggest bulge I had ever seen, but I couldn't for sure. But I could say it was one of the most interesting. He wasn't wearing underwear, or if he was, they were thin or something. I could see what was what! And it had to be hard. It had to! It was along his other thigh, across his lap from me. I was sure I could see the shape and edges of the head of it. And his balls were filling up this side of his jeans.
I forced myself to look away, finished pulling in my chips, then, as silly as I felt, scooted my chair back and got under the table to get my lost chips. Then I got another surprise. Jack and David were feeling each other's laps! Right there under the table! I almost hit the back of my head on the underside of the table when I saw that. I picked up my chips and sat back down. I glanced at them, and they were grinning at me. They had to know I had seen what they were doing. We were all pretty tightly packed around the table, so it wasn't possible for them to get away with what they were doing.
I was probably beet-red, and I started sweating. I tried not to look at them again. It was a huge distraction, though.
"Hands on the table," Dan said to them.
Everyone laughed. They laughed, too, and put their hands on the table, which they had to do now that the cards were being dealt anyway.
"The new guy saw, so now you can stop yanking his chain," Dan said next, then looked at me. "They think they're hilarious."
"If I were sitting next to him, I'd have shown him in person," Rob said, grinning at me.
He was a year older than me, and not bad looking at all, just not as nice looking as Terry or David. I blushed so badly!
"No teasing Jer!" Chet said from the other table. "Take it easy on him. He's not sure what way he wants to go yet."
Oh, God! I must have turned so red!
"Really? Not decided on it yet? Not sure?" Terry asked.
I nodded, unable to even look at him. I picked up my cards and pretended to concentrate on them.
"Me too," he said next.
Now I looked at him.
"Really?" I asked.
"Yeah. I mean, I like some girls, and some... well, some guys."
"Some guys a hell of a lot," Dan said, laughing.
"Shut it," Terry said to him, then looked back at me, grinning.
His eyes were dark brown, and looked really deep. He had huge eyelashes that looked almost impossibly long, and that made his eyes look even darker. His smile was really nice, warm, and just... nice. He looked very cute. I felt myself breathing funny, and looked back at my cards.
"Me too," Brent said. "Why choose? If I can have the best of both, why not?"
Brent had a huge nose, and big ears, and shaggy blond hair. Kind of blunt features, really. Not really very good looking.
"You're just lucky to get any from anyone," Dan told him.
"Yeah, you shouldn't talk too much. You sure don't complain any when you're groaning under me."
"Fuck you," Dan said, but grinned.
"No thanks, I like doing the fucking, as you know."
"You guys have-" I started to ask, before I cut myself off in shock.
"Sure. Almost all of us have together. At least once," Dan said.
I looked around in shock. They were all looking at me, and no one argued. It was amazing.
"None of us are with anyone, except Tom and Jeff over there, they're together."
The two guys on the couch were arm-in-arm, faces really close. They were holding hands and kissed a few times, ignoring everyone else.
"You guys have all... uh..."
How could I phrase it?
"We've all been in the sack together, yeah," Dan said. "Open for five."
I sat there unmoving, pretty much staring at them.
"Huh? Oh! Uh..." I had two kings and an ace. "Sure." I threw in my five chips and dropped two cards.
"You look pale," Terry said to me as he dropped three cards.
"He's shocked," Dan said flatly.
"He's cute," Rob said, grinning at me.
"Rob? Do I have to come over there and neuter you?" Chet asked loudly.
Everyone laughed. I got red-faced again.
"Five again," Dan said when we all had cards, throwing his chips in the pot.
Rob and Terry folded. Two guys came out of a door on the far side of the room, holding hands and smiling at each other.
"Hey, guys, come here a sec," Dan said to them right away.
The rest of us threw in. The two guys headed over, and both noticed me right away.
"This is Jeremy. Freshman incoming. He's not sure yet. Friend of Chet's and How's. Jer, this is Kyle and Vince. They're pretty much just with each other."
They waved and said hi, and kept holding hands. They looked sweaty. I saw Tom and Jeff head through the door, and it closed.
"Yeah, it's what you think," Dan said with a nod. He laid down three nines and a pair of twos. "Full house."
"Nice to meet you, Jeremy. So, you're not sure yet, huh?" Kyle asked me.
He was tall and lean, and looked kind of scrawny. He had curly brown hair and brown eyes, and was sort of dorkish looking. Vince was another redheaded guy, but stronger and tougher looking than Carl. He had piercing blue eyes, like gems, and almost no freckles.
I put down my full house, surprised I had drawn another king and an ace. And a trey. I won.
"Uh, yeah, I guess," I said as I raked my chips toward me, careful no to lose any over the edge of the table.
"Lucky at cards..." Dan said as he gathered the cards.
"Unlucky at love," Terry finished.
"Yeah, I've heard that before."
"Hopefully not too unlucky," Rob said.
"Rob!" Chet called.
"I'm just making a joke!" Rob said back, grinning.
"We all know how you are. Lay off the new guy," Howie said.
Rob rolled his eyes and grinned wider.
"He won't hurt you or anything," Terry said to me. "He just likes to talk big."
"Not all that's big about me," Rob said, bouncing his eyebrows.
"Geeze," Dan groaned. "If I have to listen to you brag, I'm gonna go get the whiskey."
"Rob is a pain in the ass in more ways than one," Terry said. laughing, as if I should have gotten the joke.
"He's hung like a horse," Dan explained.
"Oh! I get it."
"Oh, you could get it all ri-"
"Rob!" Chet yelled.
"I'm just making jokes!" Rob shot back.
David dealt me a flush, ten high. I stayed pat after I matched the ten chips to open.
"He's lucky, but staying pat? What'd you give him, Dave?"
"I know what I'd like to give him," David said.
I think I could have served as a beacon in the red-light district in New Orleans.
"Now do I have to warn you, too, Dave?" Chet said.
"You're being awful protective," David said back to him.
"He's new, and he's not sure, and he's kind of shy. So I told you all to take it easy on him," Chet explained. "No more warnings. Next guy who cuts into him gets a shot to the gut!"
"Geeze! Sure you're not into him yourself?" Rob asked.
"Take it easy on him. Cut up each other all you want."
It was my deal. I kept fumbling the cards.
"He's having trouble shuffling the cards, can we at least jab him about that?"
"No," Chet said, but he laughed, so we all knew he was kidding. "Just don't make it sexual."
"Awww," Rob groaned.
No one said anything about me dropping cards. I finally got them shuffled and dealt. I gave myself nothing, and lost. Terry dealt next, and he gave me four jacks. I raised Dan's five to ten.
"Uh-oh," most of the guys groaned.
"Pat," I said when asked how many cards I wanted.
"Oh, shit," most of them groaned, and two more folded.
"What did you deal him?" Kyle asked, still standing by the table with Vince.
"I don't know, but I meant to give it to myself," Terry said, smiling at me.
I really liked his smile. A lot.
When they had kittied up, I laid down my jacks.
"Son-of-a-bitch!" they all said together.
Something was up, I could sense it, and not just from their simultaneous exclamations.
"He's got the jacks, Chet!" Dan called.
"Son-of-a-bitch!" Chet said. "You're kidding!"
"Nope," almost all of them said together.
"So?" I asked.
"Well, should I tell him?" Dan asked, apparently of Chet.
"Yeah, but he don't have to go for it," Chet told him.
"When you have four jacks, you choose who you want to give you, well, he'll take care of you... with his hands."
"Oh!" I gasped.
Now I could have served as an airport landing beacon. The red one, anyway.
I glanced at Terry. I don't know why. Well, okay, I do know why.
"Uh, no, uh... no thank you," I said, pushing the cards toward the next dealer.
"Too bad, but up to you," Dan said.
"I can't believe he drew the jacks," Rob said, looking at me. "Lucky bastard. And wasted it."
"I... I don't want..."
"It's fine, Jer. Don't worry about it. Maybe next time," Dan said.
I felt like everyone was looking at me. Most were. Terry included - which was the worst.
David and Jack went into the room after Tom and Jeff came out. They all ignored the fact and didn't say anything about it. Kyle and Vince took their seats and played. Tom and Jeff went back to the couch.
We played until Chet said it was time to get me home. Everyone remembered my name and used it as they said goodnight to me. It was like they all had known me for a long time. I even felt like I had known them for a while. It was almost like leaving my friends after a baseball game.
"Great to meet you," Terry said to me.
I wanted to say it was great to meet him too, but my mouth wouldn't work. I barely managed to smile at him. He waved, and I waved in response, without thinking. I wished I could hug him goodbye. Or... yeah.
I felt bad that Chet and Howie had to leave early because of me. When we got to the car, I said so.
"Hey, don't!" Chet said, almost as if he were mad at me. "Don't be like that! I'm glad to do it. You got to meet most of the other guys, and they got to meet you. And we can go back after we drop you off if we want, so no big deal. So don't think like that. Okay?"
Howie handed me a stick of chewing gum and a small bottle of cologne. "Go easy with that, it's strong, just a drop on your finger and then put it on your neck."
I chewed the gum and barely applied the cologne. It was very strong, and smelled more like a girl's perfume than a man's cologne. When I said so, Chet said, "That's covered, don't worry about it."
His and Howie's grins made me really nervous. I asked, but they wouldn't say anything else.
When we got to my house, they both came in with me. Mom and Dad were in the living room watching television, like usual at that time of night. The news hadn't started yet. We were almost ten minutes early.
"So, Son, did you have a good time?" Dad asked as Mom stood up.
I nodded, unable to speak.
I knew she was coming in for a hug, and I knew why. It was embarrassing, in front of Howie and Chet, but I didn't have any choice. She smiled nicely as she straightened up and smiled at Dad. I guess the smell of cigarettes wasn't strong enough for her to smell over the flowery cologne.
"He had a great time. We caught him dancing close with Katy. Had to drag him away," Chet said with a grin at my Dad.
"Oh? Really?" Dad asked, grinning at me.
"Yeah. I think you might have to keep a close eye on him, he might turn out to be a real lover-boy with the girls."
I worried I might start sweating even worse from the heat of the blush!
"She wears nice perfume!" Mom said with another grin at my dad.
I was ready to wilt and die.
"Well, we've got to get home," Chet said. "Can we have a look at your room before we take off?" he asked me.
"Uh, sure, I guess," I said.
Chet and Howie said goodnight to my parents and I led them to my room.
"Nice," Howie said, plopping down on my bed, looking around the room.
His sitting on my bed made me really uncomfortable. Chet put his hand on my shoulder and turned me to face him.
"So, have a good time?" he asked, giving me that charming grin of his.
"Uh, yeah," I said, nodding.
"Good. We were both glad to take you. If you want to, you can come with us next weekend. We can take you with us after the swim lessons."
"Oh, uh, um..."
"I, uh, I sorta don't have any swimming trunks anymore."
"Oh? Well, I can bring an old pair of mine that'll fit ya," Chet offered.
"No problem. So, think you might want to go to the party next weekend?"
"Really? You won't mind taking me again?"
"Sure, up to you," Chet said.
Boy, did I want to! I was already looking forward to seeing Terry again. When I thought of that, I wondered if I liked him more than Katy.
I had to find out.
"Great. Well, guess I'll see you around school on Monday."
The realization that I was going to be in high school hit me kind of hard. It seemed impossible.
Chet held out his hand and I shook it. He smiled at me really nicely. He was so cute.
Howie stood up and patted my shoulder as he followed Chet out of my room. I thought about following them, but I was almost stuck in position. My mind was racing wildly. I heard them say goodnight to my folks again, and I was still standing near my door, thinking, in shock.
I'm going to be in high school! I have two friends that are seniors! They're both homosexuals! Too! I made friends with a really cute girl! And at a high school party! And I made friends with several homosexuals! At another party! A party where guys were going into a room to... Gosh!
I swayed on my feet and felt so dizzy! I barely made it to my bed before my legs gave out. I was panting and sweating.
"You look like you're going to faint," Dad said as he came into my room.
"Must have had a heck of a time!" he said, sitting on the bed next to me.
"So, this girl. I guess she's got your tongue?"
"And your brains," he laughed.
He put his arm around my shoulders and smiled at me.
"Son, you're fourteen now, and you're going to be going to high school on Monday, and, well, I think it's time maybe we should have a little talk about the birds and the bees."
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