“Mom, Dad… I’m gay.”
They were perched on the edges of their seats, tension visible in their faces, the lines of their body, the way they held their hands.
The mantel clock ticked so loudly that I wasn’t sure if it was the clock or the blood in my head. Tick/thump, tick/thump. After five tick/thumps, I forced myself to breathe.
Still they sat there, watching me. The silence lengthened. My Dad squirmed just slightly. I forgot to breathe again. Tick/thump.
Mom’s eyebrows twitched. She looked like she wanted to look at Dad, but was afraid to look away from me. I might disappear. I might not.
Tick/thump. Tick/thump. My chest hurt. I remembered to breathe again.
I waited for them to say something. Anything, really. How this conversation was going to go was up to them.
I’d practiced both ways. “Okay…but…” and “Get the hell out of my house.” My bag was alread packed, behind my bedroom door. I knew where I could go, who I could stay with for a while. My eyes burned. I really didn’t want to have to go.
Mom opened her mouth. I was so tight I thought I’d implode. Mom’s mouth closed, she finally turned her slightly towards Dad, then back to me. She took a deep breath.
I gaped. Tick/thump tick/thump. That wasn’t in the script.
“What do you mean ‘and….?’” I flailed for words. “I’m gay.”
Mom looked at Dad again and this time, something visible passed between them.
“We know, dear. What is it you wanted to tell us?”
“What…I mean, that is what I wanted to…” the words slipped off my tongue, out of my brain, away, running away, no words, no ideas. This was not in the script. I had no….
“Do you have a…” Mom took a breath, “…a lover?” She looked at Dad again. “We’d like to meet them.” Ever so slightly emphasizing the last word. Oh. My. God. Denial, they are going with the denial script, I thought, and I wasn’t going to let that become a wall between us.
“Mom!? Are you hearing me? I’m gay!” I practically shouted at them. They looked back at me, confused, hurt. I was breathing heavy, read to fight, to flee, still waiting for a cue from them.
Dad sat back, blowing a breathy sigh. He had given up. I turned towards Mom. She had the strangest look I had ever seen on her face. Not anger, frustration maybe and what?
“Darling,” my Mother reached forward and took one of my clenched fists. “We know.” She thought about her next words, for a moment, then said, “We’ve been waiting for you to…figure yourself out.” She looked at Dad again, “We talked about what we would say. We even came up with a script.” She made a face.
Dad sat forward again. “Look, we don’t know what it took for you to say that, and I don’t want to diminish your internal struggle, but…what do you think we are, idiots?” Mom gave him a slap and he sat back, shaking his head.
My internal struggle. They knew. Bastards. They knew and they let me figure it out on my own. All the energy I had ready to run or to fight pushed to the top of my head. But I breathed really hard, until the Tick/thumps quieted. Oh, like, what, were they going to tell me, “Hey, kid you’ll be gay, but it’ll be cool.”
Mom and Dad nodded.
“I…um…promise to not get in with a bad crowd.”
“Don’t promise shit like that,” Dad said. “You can’t promise that.”
“Don’t be mean, dear.” Mom snapped.
“I’m just saying, being a teen sucks,” Dad snapped back, but finished towards me, “You’re a decent kid. I trust you to not make more than the obvious bad choices.”
I laughed. God, Dad, you’re such a Dad.
“You’ll be…safe?” Mom asked hesitantly. I forced myself to not roll my eyes.
“Yes, Mom, I’ll have safe sex.” I said it, and suddenly thought, THIS was the meanest, most pointed thing I could find to say? The pent-up tension and energy washed out of me. Oh well. Tired, so tired. My head hurt and my stomach felt like I hadn’t eaten in days.
“So, yeah.” I lamed.
We all sort of stared at each other blankly for a bit, then Mom stood up. “I’m making Pad Thai for dinner, I could use help.” She gave us both that “Mom” look. Dad was on his feet before I was. “Who wants some Thai iced tea?”
“I do,” I said, and we went into the kitchen to make dinner.