The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Countdown: 5 - Kiss & Tell (Part V)

I might have bettered my lot by blabbing about the harassment. One reason not to might have been The Code. You know the one: Deal with it yourself and don’t run crying to the grown-ups. Is it a stupid code? Of course it is. Is that any help in breaking it? Not much. I happen to believe in that code. Also, do I think peeps would have believed me? Certainly, there were the vids and it probably would have been possible to scrounge up some witnesses, though one never knows with these things. Smarter men than me have noted that the truth is a whore, willing to go to bed with whoever pays her best. And the real question probably rather was, who did I think the relevant peeps – teachers, principle, rents, etc. – would have wanted to believe? Me, or tall, good-looking, well-dressed, well-spoken, promising Samuel Richter? But be that as it may. None of it was the real reason to keep my trap shut anyway.
The real reason was that I would have had to tell them about it. Tell them about the piss and the cat litter. I would have had to show them the vids, those beautiful, shaky-yet-spot-on captures of the redness in my face, the glistening in my eyes, of me trying to blink it all away. And it wouldn’t have been just once, to one teacher. I would have had to tell all of them, over and over again. And I would have had to tell them the reason for it all. I would have to tell them about Tim, about the kiss. I mean, come on. You didn’t really think I would do that, do you?
So I took the punishment in stride. And funnily, when I returned for the remainder of that school year, I discovered that I had become something of a celebrity. Turns out it’s okay to be queer as long as you prove your manliness by violence. Seriously, all you queer boys out there. If you are getting static at school, just go berserk. It might get you into all kinds of hot water with the grown-ups, but it’ll counter most of the homophobia from your mates. As for queer girls, you’re on your own. Butch behaviour isn’t going to earn you any points, I guess. But then, do you want to earn any? I couldn’t make myself like those kids anymore. I couldn’t forget what had happened. I couldn’t forgive.
The other consequence was that I finally had my official coming out in front of my mum. The fight had happened on the Friday before mother’s day, and she was not amused when I told her about the suspension.
My mum must have known I was queer. I mean, I knew ever since I was eight or so. Lukas found out one day when I was nine or ten. He asked me if I was queer, not because he had any reason to question my sexual orientation or anything, but just because it’s something kids say as an insult, meaning soft or wimpy or something of the sort. Too bad it had been mere minutes after I had been wanking to thoughts of my assistant football coach, and when Lukas asked me like that I took the question literally for a second. And the guilt and shame written all over my face was too obvious for him to miss.
He grabbed me by the t-shirt and slammed me against the wall.
“Don’t you ever tell anyone, not while you and I are still living under the same roof, you little shit,” he snarled, his nose almost touching mine. “Or I’ll have to break ever bloody bone in your body. Got that?”
Of course, that same rule of discretion didn’t count for him. He told ‘Nessa the same day. But ‘Nessa never gave a damn. She sometimes made snide remarks – and she didn’t care if mum heard those – when she was feeling mean, but you could tell it was just any damn thing that came to her mind she could use to cut me with. She certainly never minded me looking after little Nicky.
From time to time mum must have noticed how I reacted to some bloke on the telly. (Amına kodum, did I ever have the hots for Harvey Keitel in National Treasure. Wouldn’t have minded him slapping cuffs on me…) She must have noticed that there were never any straight porn mags in my room, not like she found in Lukas’s from time to time, but sometimes well-thumbed, dog-eared girly teen mags with pictures of male emo band singers. And at least one time, almost 2 years before all this, she caught me and Jonas making out on the living room couch. We let go of each other at once, of course, but, I mean, 2 flustered boys, red faces, wet mouths, mussed hair, clothes in disorder, sitting next to each other on a couch, looking up at you decidedly sheepishly, how can you not know what’s going on?
But she had never mentioned it, never commented upon it in the least way. No clumsily probing questions (that wouldn’t have been her style anyway), no quietly sarcastic, knowing remarks (that would have been more what I’d expected from her), not even some hasty channel changing on the telly if homosexuality came up as a topic, or when someone happened across some culture program about dance theatre or so. Nope, she displayed total ignorance, until I came home and had to tell her why I had been suspended from school for 2 weeks.
I mean, at first all I said was that I’d been in a fight, and normally that would have been that. But she was so hurt, hurt that I couldn’t pull myself together that once, that I’d made a mess of things already again, not a quarter year after having been released. I couldn’t stand her wounded, disappointed eyes on me. I mean, my mother has had reasons to be disappointed in me plenty of time, and neither of us really expected much else from each other. But that time, well, I suppose, I could understand the blow this gave her. I wanted her to know how much I had tried not to, how hard I had struggled with myself, what I had endured, before I couldn’t take it any longer.
So I told her. Told her what had happened. Told her I was queer.
She took it with a stony, tired face. She thought about it for a while. And then she asked me, still so tired, so weary: “Can’t you try not to be that way?”
And when I just stared at her, she continued, still too tired to display even any haste in explaining herself, as if it was a bother that she had to clarify this at all: “I know it’s not fair, but people will react that way to you when they know you are, well, homosexual, if we like it or not. And with all your other problems, do you really need this one, too?”
I was that close to asking her how being straight had worked out for her: Almost 50, dumped by her worthless toe-rag of a husband, with four kids, one of whom had gotten herself knocked up at 18, and her oldest apparently hell bent on doing the same to any one of his many flings before long. I didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t pissed off enough. Maybe because following that argument would have lead dangerously close to mentioning ‘Nette. And that was something I knew mustn’t be done. So I didn’t say anything. I just left.
After that, I was back in my old rut. I got into a fight at football and was kicked off a team I had been a member of since I had been six years old. Then I had a bad one with Leo. He forgave me, afterwards, but that fight was what lead to me being on my own that Friday night in early July, when I woke up not knowing where I was, or even, for a delicious few moments, who I was.


  1. "If you are getting static at school, just go berserk. It might get you into all kinds of hot water with the grown-ups, but it’ll counter most of the homophobia from your mates"

    Oh I tried that, very nearly killed one of the bastards but all it got me was the kicking of a lifetime, a ruined uniform and my arse thrashed at home. The queer taunts didn't stop for a minute. Still, if it worked for you then maybe it's an answer.


  2. Yeah. I dunno. Maybe you fought, I dunno, defensive? Kurwa, how to say that: i've known kids who faught out of desperation, not anger. Who fought to stop something, not to truly get back at someone. Other kids notice these things, even if they maybe cannot explain it in words. I think what Sam and the others reacted to was that at that moment, I didn't care what would happen to me. I wasn't trying to stop him, I only wanted to end him. In other words I was stupid and evil. Peeps like stupid and evil. They don't forgive you if your smart and kind.

    Ah, who knows...

  3. Hell of an anti-climax coming out to your mum then.

    Mind you - these days among our fellow bloggers it often is.

    And it was for me too. Dad was a different story, but coming out to Mum was a doddle really.

  4. @Micky: You think. I think it was the second most painful thing she ever said to me. Even worse than telling me I wasn't welcome in her home anymore.
    Never got to come out to my dad. How did your coming out go? (You got my mail if you don't wanna tell it here, and I undertstand if you don't wanna tell at all. But if, I'm all eyes and ears.)

  5. Hello. Just to say I've been reading, and will carry on reading. Really fascinating stuff.

  6. hey hey, it's been a while. where's the new installment?


  7. A non-working fragment of what I am trying to make into Chapter 5 is here.

  8. Checked out the fragment. A little more than a fragment I'd say! As some of the commenters there have noted, it stands alone just fine, but unless you're aiming at a dramatic change of tone, it doesn't currently seem to belong here. If it's part of the story though, I guess you have to find a way, and maybe you're on to something with switching to a third person narrative for more graphic passages.

  9. @Ben: Yeah, you are right about the tone. (BTW there is a rewritten version of that "fragment" up which I hope is an improvement.) That is part of what troubles me. The Edinburgh Chapter is about two chaps, Charley, who I loved for his art of deception and Ponyboy, who i loved for his artless despair and desires. Meeting both of them gave this story a decided turn for the darker - a turn that would indeed come back to haunt me much later - and I am at a loss how to navigate that sudden twist in the road of the tale without rocking my narrative boat too much and either chucking the reader overboard or smashing the whole boat against the rocks of biographical fact... or at least letting it founder on the shoals of memory.

  10. Even with the rewrite, it's looking quite a leap from some of the previous chapters. Perhaps what isn't coming across is the love you have for the guys you mention. There's a playfulness about your earlier character descriptions which is lost here (and I appreciate it may be more difficult to get it across due to the nature of these new relationships.) However it ends up looking and feeling in relationship to the foregoing passages, I get the impression you need to write it, so don't get too bogged down in concern for your reader - at least not yet. Plough on, then see if you feel you can make adjustments when you re-read the story as a whole.

  11. *coughs*
    just post the fucking chapter fox.

    my suspense is getting edgy *)


  12. I really don't know what to say, other than I can see how important it is to tell this story.

    These reactions, from family and school and others, are all too human and way too common to let go on any longer.

    I think the world is changing, getting away from these attitudes and seeing people for who they are rather than what is expected. But it just takes so long to change people. Generations and generations to get any change from people.

    This is a great passage. It felt honest and frustrating at the same time.