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Prompt #350 - Word List


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Hey Ben, If your prompt isn't too long I would suggest you copy+paste into this forum thread.  Cia is on vacation for the weekend and wont be back to approve it for a few days. :)

 

((This was we can read it NOW...I'm impatient and hate to wait, LOL)) :D

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Hey KC,

Here it is below - hopefully, this isn't too long...

 

 

 

 

“It’s not like I grew up in a farm”, Jeremy answers defensively. Responding, somehow, to my convoluted attempts to get a sense of his level of comfort with the sexual orientation of his father, the teenager seems oddly both defensive and tentatively engaging.

 

“I’m sure there are some gay farmers”, I crack, but immediately regret my lame stab at a joke.

 

“I meant I grew up in city with, like, diversity and all. I know gay people”.

 

I swallow a “so do I” and silently curse Patrick for the fifth time in the twenty minutes since Jeremy got here. Why does he have to be late all the time? Why does he have be late today, of all times?

 

Patrick and I started dating six months ago. “This probably won’t last if you’re not okay with meeting my kids”, he said early on in our relationship. “This probably won’t last if you’re not okay with introducing them to me”, I quipped back, weary of his endless testing of my emotional maturity. There’s almost twenty years between us. At 44, Patrick is today leading the life he had secretly longed for most of his life. At 26, I wake up every day to a kind of quiet happiness I never envisioned for myself. Patrick came out, left his wife and the Upper East Side, quit his big architectural firm to go solo, and settled in Brooklyn like an ethnographer of hipsterdom (and a hungry immigrant to gayland) all in the course of a month, the same month I was graduating from Williams, eager to leave the Massachusetts countryside for the grimy glamour of lower Manhattan. Four years later, we share an apartment in Queens and a degree of intimacy I had never thought possible.

 

“I guess I don’t get why it took him so long to, like, be gay, you know? How do you live with yourself? It just all seems like a big lie.”

 

“I don’t know”, I answer. Truthfully.

 

“You don’t? Don’t you guys, like, talk about this?”

 

“We do. We have. I guess I just never really got what he was trying to explain.”

 

I don’t want to add to any emotional distance between them or contribute to shape his father as a distant mystery – or worse, a coward and a liar. But I think I see in Jeremy’s eyes and demeanour some kind of relief not to find himself alone in the puzzlement of his father’s actions and life. I could play on that to win the boy’s affection or trust, but a creeping sense of disloyalty keeps me from further dwelling on this aspect of the subject.

 

A silence follows, probably the third since Jeremy arrived. He was supposed to meet his father here, so they could hop in the car and drive together to spend the weekend at Patrick’s mother’s, up in Connecticut. Patrick is on a construction site not too far (he said) and he didn’t want to have to drive to the city to pick up Jeremy. “Besides,” he had said, “you’ll get to meet him. Even if briefly.”

 

Indeed. Except that I had forgotten all about this plan. And I opened our front door, late afternoon on a Friday, wearing only sweatpants and a tank top, to a teenager looking at me with some puzzlement. “I work from home” was all I could come up with. He frowned, embarrassed, and muttered “Oh no, it’s just… No, it’s fine. I mean, are you Toby?”.

 

“Yes, I am. Yes, absolutely. Just come on in. Your father should be here any minute.”

 

But he still hasn’t shown up and I have run out of things to say to his teenage son.

 

“What are you working on?” he asks, politely, a young man of the world. He must get his good social manners from his mother.

 

“Oh, right now? Well, I’ve spent the day on the phone actually, trying to see if I could get the rights of a song of the Bluebells, to score a commercial I’m working on.”

 

“The Bluebells?”

 

“Yes. They’re a British band. Scottish, I think, actually. From the eighties, well before your time.” He looks blank. “And mine”, I add, just in case it wasn’t obvious.

 

“Okay”, he says, walking towards the window and peering at the view. Advertising used to be somewhat cool and glamorous. I guess it’s not anymore. Another ship I jumped on just a bit too late. “Can I see you stuff?” he asks, still looking out.

 

“My stuff?”

 

“Yeah, you know, what you do. Your projects or something. You’re a graphic designer, right?”

 

“No. Well, yes, kind of. But sure, I’ll show a few things, if you want.”

 

I pull out a big folder, slightly elated by the prospect of filling some time. I’m quickly disappointed, however, as his attention (and appreciation of my work) is flimsy at best. He stops my browsing on a picture of a frog, something I used for an insurance company (and which they rejected).

 

“I don’t get that one”, he said, pointedly.

 

“It’s a toad. Under the sun. So, it’s calm, you know, like a toad under the sun. Calm like people would be if they were insured by this company”.

 

“Right,” he nods. Suddenly, I see why the client passed.

 

He scans the room, obviously ready to change the subject, to move on to something more interesting. “What’s this?”, he asks, with a sparkle I had not yet witnessed in him. He is pointing at a painting standing on the floor, against the wall.

 

“It’s a gift from your father. It’s a painting from an Israeli artist I love. I saw it in a gallery recently and your father must have noticed, because he brought it home as a surprise a week ago. I still need to hang it somewhere.”

 

“What’s it called?”

 

“’Idiots in the Pond’”.

 

“’Idiots in the Pond’? Is that supposed to mean something?”, he asks, with no trace of conceit or disdain. He doesn’t really listen to my feeble answer (I really don’t care much what it means). He seems absorbed, moved by the colors, the geometric shapes, the odd and minimalist aesthetic of the piece.

 

“I love it”, I say, stepping a little closer to him.

 

“I do too. And I like that Dad bought it for you. He does that, doesn’t he? He buys gifts like that all time, on a whim, for not particular occasion.” He quickly glanced at me, maybe worried he might have hurt me a little, in case Patrick’s inclination for surprise gifts did not extend to me.

 

“He does”, I reassured him.

 

“I think I get a little something almost every time I see him. I don’t think he’s trying to buy my love or any shit like that, you know? I’m not saying that.”

 

“I get that.”

 

“It’s usually a book. Sometimes a CD or some kind of mix tape on a USB key. But usually a book.”

 

“Do you read them?”

 

“Of course, I do”, he replies, with a little scorn. We’re still both looking at the painting, staring ahead really. And talking. “For a while, I kept expecting that there was some sort of messages in these books, you know? Like he is trying to tell me something, to explain something about himself.”

 

“But he is not?”

 

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. I mean, the last one was ‘Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenter’. What kind of a message is that?” he chuckles. I don’t want to move, but looking at him slightly sideways, I catch a sort of smile in his gaze. And affection.

 

“Well, I know he really loved Salinger when he was your age.”

 

“Yes, I know, he told me. Still. There might be something more.”

 

I could let it go with this uncertain, yet somewhat definitive, statement. But I sit down on the floor, cross-legged, pretend to peer at some newly spotted detail on the painting. He sits down next to me, and just stares ahead.

 

“Well,” I resume, “what other books did he give you? Maybe there’s something to it.”

 

And Jeremy talks. He lists titles, sometimes authors, a few plots. He get animated describing the theories he had formed from these readings, what they could tell us about his Dad, about Patrick. We laugh a lot, actually, especially when the mention of ‘The Lovely Bones’ makes him riff on his father being a secret killer in disguise. Every time we’re ready to conclude that there’s most likely no hidden meaning in his father’s gifts, one of us finds a new way to make Patrick look foolish, or mysterious, or malicious, or touching.

 

This is nice.

 

Don’t come home Patrick, not just yet.

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Ben, I did neglect to mention Toby's age being close to Jeremy's in my review, and that was remiss of me. Without that closeness in age this would have been a different story. Good to see that small reminder in your reply.

Edited by Ron
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