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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 62. Chapter 62 Examination

Examination

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

Entry for March 30, Thursday night, continued…

I entered the house last, holding onto Zander's hand. In seconds, Nonna Costanza had bustled over to us, all hugs and two-cheeked kisses. "Sandro, Andrea, you are here, finalmente!" Her iron grey hair came just about to my chin. She looked even tinier when she tried to do the same for Kaz, who had to bend almost double to get his greeting. She was practically level with Terry, by comparison, and I couldn't help chuckling a little.

In the wake of Nonna's exuberant greeting, a younger, more severe, more serious version of Monica followed. Gravely, she took my hand and looked at me keenly. "I'm Maria, Zander's oldest sister. You must be Andrew."

I returned her critical examination. Eyebrows drawn down, worry lines, black eyes. I wasn't sure she liked me at all. "Yes, that's right. I'm Andy. Thanks for coming so we could meet."

Her face relaxed a little. "You look different than I imagined," she said frankly.

"What did you expect?" I asked, surprised.

"You look…I don't know…normal. Not all…swishy." She put a hand to her mouth. "I'm sorry, that was awful of me. I don’t even know you, and I had this preconceived notion…" her words trailed off lamely. "I'm really sorry."

I tried to reply lightly. "That's all right," I smiled back, "Zander hasn't started wearing sequins or lace yet, either."

Despite herself, Maria allowed a smile to creep onto her lips.

And then Zander was giving his sister a warm hug. She hadn't been home for Christmas, and it had been a long time since they had seen each other. Maria had children – Zander's nieces – who hadn't made the trip. I wondered if he would ever see them again, given their father's attitude. She pulled Zander aside.

Then it was my turn to meet Carol, the younger sister, who came into the kitchen with her husband. She was a shorter, more abundantly proportioned woman than her older sister, and she wore a huge smile that seemed habitual. Her pregnancy showed a little, so the hug she got from me was a little delicate – that is, until she made sure to wrap me up harder.

"I'm pregnant, and it's not terminal," she joked, "and I want a real hug from my new brother-in-law." She got one. "It's so good to meet you," she said, her face lit up like this was the biggest treat she'd ever had. "I can't believe Zander kept you a secret for so long. Especially since you're hot," she laughed.

I felt myself flush, and Carol laughed. Then I got introduced to her husband, Jeremy, who seemed like a good guy.

But I didn't get to spend more than a second with him before I came face to face with Frank.

Zander's brother Frank was stockier and shorter than Zander, but his Stevenson ancestry was clear in his face. Like Maria, he gave me a critical once-over as he firmly shook my hand.

"So. You're Andrew," he greeted me briefly.

"Yeah. And you're Frank, right?" Not a huge guess, but he nodded anyhow.

He released my hand, but remained in front of me. "You the one who turned my brother gay?" His intense brown eyes, so like Zander's, bored into me.

"No. You don't get 'turned gay.' You're born that way," I said evenly. No way was I going to back down. Not now.

"You're saying that's the way God made you?" Frank challenged.

"Yup, Frank, that's right," said Zander, returning to me and slipping an arm around my waist with a wide grin, "and isn't he adorable?" And Zander planted a kiss nice big kiss on my lips, just to prove it.

"Geez, Zander, don't rub it in," Frank winced. He turned his attention back to me. "You love my brother?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I really do," I said, breaking into a smile to match Zander's.

"You realize I'll have to break your legs if you hurt him, don't you?" Frank said seriously.

"I'll break yours if you mess with my boyfriend anymore," Zander returned.

Frank didn't flinch. "He's my baby brother," he went on. "I love him. I don’t understand him, and this whole gay thing was a big surprise, but if you make Zander happy, then I can be happy. Don't think about breaking his heart, because you'll have to deal with me. Just so we're clear."

I didn't know what to expect after that, but Zander embraced his brother tightly. "Thanks, Frank. I love you, too," I heard Zander say. "Andy makes me happy. I love him, and he makes me so, so happy. You don’t have to worry about anything."

That broke the ice effectively.

Soon, everyone was called into the dining room. How we all managed to crowd around the table, I don't know. There was a roast, two kinds of potatoes, greens, green peas, and lots of wine – none of which I touched. No thanks, Dad. I had no intention of trying out for the part of next generation's drunken bastard.

There was lots of family cross talk at the table, as the Stevenson siblings caught up with one another and on the news from home. Zander and I came in for some gentle teasing, but I got the feeling the family was going to approve of us, eventually anyhow. Then Frank asked about where the shotgun was for the wedding, a question I didn't really understand, but which raised some laughter.

Dessert was something Italian – okay, two things Italian, neither of which I can pronounce – that Nonna had spent much of the day making. One was a rich, dense, yellow, crumbly kind of cake, and another was a rounded dome of a chocolate cake. I gathered this was supposed to look like the dome of a cathedral or something. I wouldn't really know, as I've never seen a real cathedral before.

I don’t think I have ever eaten so much in my life. I doubt I will need to eat again for a week.

As if that weren't enough, there was fruit and cheese afterwards. Glasses clinked together, and Zander and I got toasted multiple times, with much laughter and many smiles. With all the food and chatter, I kept pretty quiet, content to observe the Stevenson clan celebrating. And I warmed to the thought that I was a welcome part of that.

"A toast, Andrew, a toast!" the shout brought me up short out of my murky distant thoughts.

Shit. Did someone want me to make a toast? I looked around, hoping someone would let me out of it. But Zander smiled at me gently and nudged my elbow.

"Go on, Andy. Make a toast," he encouraged. He could talk. He'd had at least one glass of wine.

Shakily, I stood. I had no idea what to say. I glanced around the room nervously, but only saw attentive, relaxed faces, smiling back at me expectantly. Monica and Garrett. Nonna. Kaz, Terry. Maria, Carol, and Frank. These people were here because they loved Zander. And maybe because they loved me, too, at least some of them.

"I…I'm not…" I began. I tried to smile back. Deep breath. "I want to thank you, all of you tonight. Thank you for letting me be part of this family." I turned my face to Kaz and Terry, who sat next to each other, holding hands like Zander and I do. "You're family, too," I grinned. I started again, "I just want to toast you all; you have one of the best gifts to give anyone, and you've given it to me: the gift of family. And I'm really, really happy. To family," I added.

Tentatively, I raised my glass and touched it to my lips, while my toast was enthusiastically echoed around the table. I sat, still shaky.

Zander seized my hand and leaned over to my ear. "Perfect," he whispered, "that was just perfect."

Not long after, Monica rose from her chair and started clearing plates. Immediately, I got up to help, but she firmly waved me off. "Sit, Andrew. There's plenty of help tonight." I saw Maria actually smile at that as she exited the room with a handful of plates.

Frank shifted chairs over to sit next to Zander.

"So guys, is there a wild bachelor party planned for tonight?" he asked, eyes glinting with mischief. "Don't know where to find a male stripper in Blackburn," he added.

Zander blushed. "Hey bro, I think we're all good."

"No, really, Zander, if I can't get you laid, I should at least get the two of you sloshed before you tie the knot. I can even go buy a couple of bottles someplace. It's a tradition." Frank looked completely serious.

I felt really uncomfortable about where this was going. It must have showed.

"No, Frank," Zander said really firmly. "Thanks for the thought, but no."

Frank looked surprised. "What? Don't you guys cut loose at all?"

"It's not that. It's because I…" I suddenly realized I was the one speaking. That was my voice. Well, Frank had to know, sooner or later. "I don't want to drink, Frank. Not interested. My dad was a vicious drunk who beat on me more days than not. I don't want to go down that road."

Hell, I'm scared stiff right now that I'm going to wind up down that road anyway, whether I want to or not. But I didn't know what Frank had learned about me.

Anyway, Frank sat back, surprised and a little stunned. "Shit, I'm sorry, Andy. I didn't know…"

"It's okay. The whole story is long and ugly. Someday, I can tell you all about it, if you want. But not tonight. I'm too happy, and I don't want to spoil it." I tried to smile and relax.

"No, it's not okay, Andy. I'm sorry I was a dickhead," Frank apologized.

"No problem," I answered and held out my hand. We shook. "Family?"

"Yeah. Family," Frank replied seriously.

Not long after, Kaz signaled that he really needed to get home, if only to get Terry home early enough to placate her parents. I got up. I still had to pack for overnight at his house.

The plan is for Zander and me to separate, to spend the day apart according the ancient custom, go to school, get to the church, review the ceremony, and so on. Kaz is supposed to cart me around, make sure my dress clothes follow me to the right place, and carry the rings.

There's a wedding in there somewhere. I guess we get to sleep in Saturday morning, but it will be school as usual on Monday. There's a track meet again on Tuesday. I wonder if people will gawk at our rings?

Zander followed me upstairs to our room. He sat on the bed and watched while I got out some clean things; clothes I will wear to school tomorrow, clothes and shoes for running (yes, Kaz is insisting on taking me running tomorrow morning, even though there's rain in the forecast), along with a hairbrush, toothbrush, and the razor I almost never have to use. I wonder when I'll start to really need it. Zander's eyes looked sad, almost scared.

"It's happening, A, isn't it?" he asked. "Nervous?"

"Like you wouldn't believe." I nodded. I wanted to tell him about my dreams. About what I fear for the future. But I couldn't – wouldn't - burden him with that. Not then.

Question: If I don’t want to share something with my husband – with Zander – does that mean we aren't in love enough? That we shouldn't be together? Something else to think about.

I shook these thoughts off. "Yeah. It's happening." I stuffed everything into my backpack and zipped it up. It bulged at the seams. "You'd think I was leaving for a two month vacation," I sighed, looking at it.

"You have your suit?" Zander reminded me.

I shook my head and fetched the beautiful garment out of the closet. We'd agreed that we would match – dark suit, white shirt, matching ties. Everything was there on the hanger. Kaz was going to see that my clothes got to the church, along with the rings. He has been taking his responsibility very seriously and has assured us – frequently - that everything is going to be just fine. We'll see about that tomorrow.

Zander stood. I could tell he was as nervous as I felt. "So, this is it, until tomorrow. No time at all, is it?"

Then why did I feel so empty? Like I was losing him? It was going to be an eternity, not a day. I couldn't help it. I leaned in to kiss Zander, and in an instant we were locked in a wonderful hot embrace. While our tongues danced, my hand gently held the back of his head. My other hand strayed down to cup his ass. Zander's fingers found the hem of my shirt and started stroking the flesh at my hips just above the beltline.

"Hey Andy it's…whoa," I heard Kaz's voice at the doorway, "hey, can't that wait until after the wedding, guys?" We hadn't even noticed his approach.

I'm not sure, but I think Zander might have flipped Kaz off. I didn't let Zander's lips go in order to watch. But a few seconds later, we released each other. It was time for me to depart.

I turned, gathered my things, and followed Kaz downstairs. Zander walked down behind me.

In the kitchen, Terry already had her coat on. "Come on, Kaz. Zander's dad is waiting in the car," she said. I grabbed my coat off the hook, while Kaz gave his earnest thanks to Monica for the dinner and ride and everything.

I walked over to her, too, gave a hug, and said "Thanks, Mom. For everything," loud enough for everyone else to hear. Mom. What a great sound.

Another farewell kiss from Zander, which I didn’t want to release. "See you tomorrow, A. Sleep well," he said fondly. "Oh, and one more thing. If you're sleeping in Kaz's room? Kaz snores."

Kaz laughed at that, and then we were out the door, into the chilly night.

Garrett dropped Terry off at her house; Kaz saw her to the door like the gentleman he is. While we were alone in the car, Garrett turned to me. "It's going to be fine tomorrow, Andy. Don’t worry about a thing."

"What, do I look nervous?" I asked.

"About as nervous as any of us did the day before our weddings," he grinned. "And I want you to know, I'm really, really happy that you're a Stevenson, too."

It felt so good to hear him say that. Maybe it would be all right after all.

Kaz came back to the car, and it took only a few minutes before we were dropped off in front of the rambling Victorian Kasimierski house.

Mrs. K met us at the door, tall and cordial. "Welcome, Andrew," she greeted me. The house was quiet, but it was rather late on a school night, after all.

"Thanks, Mrs. Kasimierski. Thanks very much for having me tonight." I blushed, kind of embarrassed.

She waved away my thanks. "In this house? There is always room for another." She directed her attention to her son. "Walter? Take Andrew's things to the guestroom on the second floor."

I handed over my backpack and suit, and Kaz leapt up the stairs with them.

"Come into the kitchen for a moment, Andrew," she beckoned and I followed down the passage. How long ago it seemed that I'd first ventured down that hallway in January.

A single light shone over the sink in the kitchen as we entered. The whole house was hushed. Everyone must have gone to bed.

"Come, sit a moment," she gestured to a high stool at the island in the middle of the cavernous kitchen. "Are you hungry?"

Hungry? Why does everyone think I need to be fed?

"No, thank you, ma'am. We just had a big dinner with all the Stevensons." Calling that a 'big dinner' was like calling the Titanic a big boat, but I didn't just want to come out and say that I was stuffed.

"Yes, of course. How are all the Stevensons tonight?" she inquired politely, her accented English sounding somehow rather elegant. But I wondered. What information did she want?

"Everyone's fine, ma'am. I got to meet all of Zander's sisters and his brother. Did you hear that his sister Carol is pregnant?" I tried to give her some kind of news.

"I had heard that. She is well?"

"She looks great," I said. And she did; she practically glowed. Like me, she didn't touch any of the wine tonight.

"Andrew, you realize that this…ceremony…you will have tomorrow…Nicola – Walter's father – and I…we're just not sure…" Her words trailed off into the stillness. "The church – our church – does not permit this. We're not certain what to think, you see?"

Actually, I didn't.

She continued. "I am allowing Walter to take part because he loves Alexander…and you…very deeply, as friends. You understand?" she glanced at me worriedly.

I nodded.

"You do not feel the same thing for Walter as you do for Alexander, do you?" she probed.

So that's what she meant. I wrinkled my nose. "Oh. No, no, not at all, Mrs. Kasimierski. God, no. Kaz…er… Walter is one of the best friends a guy could have, but…I only want Zander," I told her earnestly. "Besides, I can't imagine…Walter without Terry."

She sighed. "Neither can I. And they are so young. I wish my twins could be as serious." She fixed me with a glance again. "I do not understand this being gay. How two boys can be in love or get married is a great mystery to me. But Walter feels very strongly about this…ceremony." She lifted her chin. "And if you are truly certain of being…gay, and truly certain of Alexander, then it seems only right to go through with it. If Walter supports you, Nicola and I will support you, too."

I didn’t know what to say. I hadn't realized how much conflict we might have caused for our truest friends by getting married. How long did Kaz have to argue with his parents to let him stand for us tomorrow? It was clear the Kasimierskis had wrestled with their beliefs before making a decision to defy their church. I appreciated them for that.

"Thank you," I replied, quietly.

She might have been about to say something else, but the door swung open at that point. Kaz entered. "There you are. I wondered where you went." He wore his trademark grin.

"Yes. Time for bed. Morning will come early in this house," his mother said, rising. "Walter will show you where your towels are and your bedroom. You are very welcome, Andrew." And I knew she meant it.

Kaz showed me to my bedroom, a simply furnished guestroom with a single bed. The bathroom was across the hall. I had to remember to change into sleep clothes here – no walking to the bathroom in my underwear tonight. When I returned from brushing my teeth, I found Kaz sitting on the bed.

"I'll wake you up tomorrow for a run, Andy. Everything is going to be taken care of," he said seriously. "All you have to do is sleep. You need anything?"

I shook my head. "No, I'm fine, thanks, Kaz."

"You know, I'm really, really happy for you, Andy," he said seriously. "For you and Zander, both. This couldn't have happened to two nicer people. And you two are the best…except for Terry, of course," he finished, grinning.

I had to stifle a laugh in the silence of the house. "Go on, go to bed, Kaz. I'll see you in the morning. Early," I groaned.

Kaz closed the door behind him.

I propped up a pillow and got in under the blankets. I'd manage for one night in a strange bed without Zander. I could only hope. I got out my journal. I needed to write about the day, which has been long and eventful. But it wasn't completely over, not yet. My writing was interrupted by a soft tapping at the door.

"Come in," I called out softly.

I was completely surprised to see one of the twins slip quickly in the door. I couldn't tell which one it was – even though Kaz had given me lessons on twin identification – but she seemed to be wearing only an oversized t-shirt. Maybe it belonged to Kaz.

"Lena?" I asked, taking a fifty-fifty shot at the identity of my visitor.

She nodded. Bingo. Got it right, for once.

"What are you doing here?"

She looked directly at me, eyes wide and sad. Something was clearly bothering her. Lena was okay. In the times I've hung out here at Kaz's house, she's always had something nice to say and a smile for me.

"Are you really getting married? To Zander?"

Shit. Another 'Are You Sure' thrown at me. At almost midnight. "Yeah, it's really happening. And yeah, I really want to marry him," I told her. "I love him."

"You're not…interested in girls…even a little?" she asked in a small voice.

I looked at Lena a little more carefully. I could see curves outlined in places under the t-shirt she wore. I began to wonder if she wore anything at all underneath it.

Oh, hell. I couldn't believe it. Here I was, the night before my wedding and presented with a high school boy's dream – alone with a pretty girl who appeared to be getting ready to jump between the sheets. Except she'd got the wrong guy. And she was my friend's sister.

"No, sorry, Lena. I like boys. Only boys." I tried to be definite with her. I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

"But, maybe, if only the right girl came along, you'd change your mind," she reasoned hopefully.

I shook my head. I needed to be really clear without ruining things. "Lena, it's not like that. It's not something you change your mind about. You don't wake up one day and decide to be gay; it's just the way you're born. I figured it out in sixth grade, but I'd been gay all along. Girls never interested me at all."

Lena seemed to crumple. "It's not fair," she said unhappily. "The best boys are taken. And you and Zander? That's really not fair – two of the hottest guys in school, and they take each other."

She sniffed. I almost wanted to climb out of bed and comfort her, but I thought that wouldn't be very wise. Not at that moment.

"There have to be other guys you like at school," I coaxed.

"Nobody like you and Zander," she sighed. "I mean, Zander, he's funny and smart and hot – and you, you're cute, and shy and hot, and…oh, shit, I can't believe I'm here telling you I'm lusting after both you and your boyfriend." She blushed so deeply I could see it easily in the dim light.

"So not cool," I said, trying not to laugh, "and I'm not cute. Just really, really lucky."

She shook her head at me wistfully. "You just don't know, do you?"

I snorted and tried to change the subject away from me. "Hey Lena, there's this guy on the track team I know. I think he needs a friend, and he's really, really shy."

Lena sniffled, then eyed me suspiciously. "Who are you trying to set me up with?"

I shrugged. "Just a friend of mine. He's in your class, and I think he's a good guy."

"You're not going to be like Terry, are you? She tried to get me to date this guy at church; eew. All slick hair and full of himself." Lena made a face.

"No, I won't do that, I promise. I'll make an introduction, that's it. The rest is your problem," I grinned back at her. I picked up my pen again, trying to signal that I wanted to be alone.

Lena stood, but instead of letting herself out, she walked over to me. Swiftly, she bent down, and gave me a quick, firm kiss. Pressure on my lips, but nothing else. "Sorry. I just had to do that," she said, straightening again. "Good night, Andy. You're going to be one really hard crush to forget."

Then she slipped out the door as quietly as she had come.

Left alone with my thoughts, I still can’t make sense of what happened. Lena had a crush on me? I can't believe it. I always thought Kaz was kidding when he said stuff like that. I feel bad for her. But that's all I feel about her. Unfortunately, my mind wouldn't rest there. I got a serious case of the "what ifs?"

What if I had met Lena instead of Zander? Would I have tried to be "normal" for her? Would I have fallen for Lena and gotten sucked into the Kaz family instead of the Stevensons? No chance of that, I think. More likely I would have made myself – and Lena – miserable by pretending to be straight, so I could cover up the way I really felt about boys.

And what if that was the same kind of misery that drove my ogre of a father crazy enough to kill my Mom? Or what if I have the same kind of rage deep inside me? Will it come out later in life someday? What if I hurt Zander? What if I drive him away with whatever is genetically wrong with me? What if he wakes up tomorrow morning and realizes this is all some stupid mistake?

What if, what if, what if?

My gut has been churning for two weeks. Maybe it will let up after tomorrow. I doubt it.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Craftingmom, without whose careful editing, this story would not have seen the light of day.

Please leave a review. Your reflections and insights are greatly appreciated.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Loving the family meeting/dinner! And really enjoying Zan's brother--all gruff and protective, but a genuinely good guy.
Also loving the insight into his best man's family--the wrestling they dd with their faith before making a conscious decision to move forward and support the wedding despite their not understanding all of it. Plus, it's gonna be fun to watch how his playing matchmaker with Lena is gonna go.
You did a great job of covering a busy evening, as well as pointing out the obvious case of nerves/self-doubt. Now, can't wait for the wedding!

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On 03/02/2016 12:16 AM, Robert Rex said:

Loving the family meeting/dinner! And really enjoying Zan's brother--all gruff and protective, but a genuinely good guy.

Also loving the insight into his best man's family--the wrestling they dd with their faith before making a conscious decision to move forward and support the wedding despite their not understanding all of it. Plus, it's gonna be fun to watch how his playing matchmaker with Lena is gonna go.

You did a great job of covering a busy evening, as well as pointing out the obvious case of nerves/self-doubt. Now, can't wait for the wedding!

Andy got to meet the family, and he must have felt some relief - at least until Lena showed up. Poor Andy ought to have packed a bottle of antacids or something; he's an anxious wreck. Frank was a fun character to conceive; as was the whole family as an organic whole. No doubt it was overwhelming, but wonderful at the same time, once Andy got used to it. The Kasimierski family seems to have wrestled itself into the 21st century, which must have been challenging. Get ready for what happens next on Friday...thanks so much for reading, and for your quick review!

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Glad my wedding eve night was not like that. I don't think I'd have lived through it. You are doing a good job, showing the tidal wave that is a wedding. Hopefully they will only do it once.

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On 03/02/2016 01:07 AM, Mikiesboy said:

Glad my wedding eve night was not like that. I don't think I'd have lived through it. You are doing a good job, showing the tidal wave that is a wedding. Hopefully they will only do it once.

That's the hope, surely. Not everyone goes through the gather-the-family ordeal, but that may be part of Monica and Garrett's way of trying to make sure the boys have a wide, broad net of support under them. And you use an excellent metaphor - a wedding can sure be a tidal wave. Andy's next entry posts Friday, and I hope you like it, too. Many thanks!

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4000 words for one evening - true, lots of things are happening here, but comparing it to chapter 7 which tells us about one day in half as many words, Andy's last day somewhere on the outskirts of Carlsberg - this is so much denser, I feel so much closer to Andy.
Great scenes at the Stevensons, great how you have depicted Kaz' family, obviously devout Catholics, Lena's last attempt at seducing (?) Andy is a perfect mirror of her parents' attitude, yet peacably with both accepting Andy and the marriage in the end. That Mrs. K. cannot call the marriage what it is is quite telling.
And I am so impressed with Andy's handling all these situations, Maria's reaction, Frank's protectiveness and expectations of a stags' night and the drinking involved, Mrs. K's 'interrogation' and Lena's midnight visit. I also loved your hint at how closely Maria is watching Andy when she sees how helping Monica is something he usually does and when she appreciates his being helpful.
I like how you have given us a kaleidoscope of mild aversion towards gays withing the families and their stereotypes. I can only hope that the boys won't have to face the other part of the spectrum the next day.
Andy's anxiety of becoming like his dad have become more poignant, more worrying. In some ways it seems almost like the last stand of his father's viciousness and evil within Andy. Kaz seems to to feel Andy's worries somehow and I love how he is trying to reassure his friend, even if he may only guess that it is more than the usual nervousness of a bridegroom.
You have slowed down your narrative considerably, especially compared to the chapters which cover a whole week, which to me indicates we are coming to a turning-point/climax.
Again, a great chapter, Parker. Thank you.

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Andy has normal wedding eve jitters, but amplified by the K-family confusion, the S-family rainbow of reactions, the Z-lacuna and, unique to him, the fear of a genetic curse.

 

I doubt much sleep will be in the picture tonight. Maybe he'll get some shut-eye during the service. :P

 

Let's hope he explains his fears to Zander soon. I think he can help put the worries to rest. Maybe the good Doctor can too.

 

A kaleidoscope of a chapter Parker! Very delicately done.

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In all of Andy's nervousness and anxiety, he manages to think of introducing Lena to Jeff! And it seems like they might be good for each other. Andy is still oblivious to his clearly visible attributes.

 

So much is happening, but it still feels rushed, just as it feels like to Andy. We only got a brief glimpse of Monica's side of the family. And we haven't met Garrett's side yet!

 

It's interesting to see how Kaz's mother has reconciled the conflict between her religious beliefs and her love and support for her son, and by extension, his friends. A solution that must be common considering the discrepancy between what many churches teach and the support for LGBTs and Gay Marriage identified in polls.

 

I'm thinking that Andy and Zander may get a brief honeymoon over the weekend as a gift from Monica and Garrett, but don't tell A and Z that I said that!

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Overall, I liked the chapter but a couple of things bugged and/or slightly confused me. Frank's comment about Andy "turning Zander gay" just seemed really ignorant of both his brother's situation as well as ignorance of homosexuality in general. Maria's attitude (expecting Andy to be camp) is somewhat perplexing as well. I know they grew up in a smaller town, but I just don't fully understand why two of the siblings in the Stevenson family have such old fashioned notions about gay people. They didn't read to me as Zander's older siblings so much as like a much older Aunt and Uncle. Monica and Garrett are not homophobic at all, and they seem to have much more enlightened attitudes. Why do two of their kids seem so ignorant? I know differences of opinion occur in families (boy do I ever) but why these two definitely have attitudes that differ greatly from the rest of their family, and how they were raised isn't a good excuse when they couldn't possibly have been brought up with those attitudes. Perhaps homosexuality was never a topic of conversation within the family? I know that it's not a major point, but it still seemed weird.

 

Also someone needs to tell Frank that Zander came out to the parents months before he met Andy. That statement just really rubbed me the wrong way for that fact on top of the ignorance.

 

Ok, so one complaint I have with this chapter is the scene with Mrs. K in the kitchen. I mean it's great that Kaz stood up for his friends, and the parents were able to put aside their personal reservations to allow Kaz to do that, but I just don't know. Her calling Andy aside and going through that whole routine in the kitchen felt superfluous. They've only met like once before that, it's not like she and Andy have any kind of relationship that she would have any place questioning him like that or that he'd even need to answer any questions or defend himself in any way to her. There just was no foundation for the extremely limited interaction they've had.

 

I think I would have appreciated more time with Andy getting to know Zander's (and now his) family more so than him having one-on-one time with somebody who barely knows him who's opinion one way or the other won't matter in the long run anyway.

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With Andy's fears and worries it will be a wonder if he makes it to his wedding in a calm mental state. It was nice to meet with just about all Zanders family including their interesting opinions. Hopefully Andy can work out his fears of turning out like his Father!

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Thank you Parker. Another great chapter.

 

I am intrigued by Andy's fears about what he may inherit. I suspect that past will haunt him in various ways over time.

 

My favorite part was Garrett's brief response to the days events: simple, important, and powerful.

 

This is worse than a cliffhanger ... bring on the wedding :) !

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You did it again, Parker: you've given us a really nice chapter. I love the wording Andy uses to tell us he is having wedding eve jitters: I got a serious case of the "what ifs?", I cannot think of a better way to put it into words.
Thank you for your writing. Wish you the best

 

Jose
PS: Could you think of posting two or three chapters on the same day? Greedy, I know, it's your fault! :P :worship:

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On 03/02/2016 02:50 AM, skinnydragon said:

Andy has normal wedding eve jitters, but amplified by the K-family confusion, the S-family rainbow of reactions, the Z-lacuna and, unique to him, the fear of a genetic curse.

 

I doubt much sleep will be in the picture tonight. Maybe he'll get some shut-eye during the service. :P

 

Let's hope he explains his fears to Zander soon. I think he can help put the worries to rest. Maybe the good Doctor can too.

 

A kaleidoscope of a chapter Parker! Very delicately done.

Andy is unlikely to get anything but fitful rest. He'll probably sleep in math class, but be wide awake for the wedding. Maybe he'll doze during the sermon :) Andy's fears are justified, I suppose. I am grateful for your encouragement and comments. Thanks for reading, and hope you like Andy's next entry.

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On 03/02/2016 02:51 AM, droughtquake said:

In all of Andy's nervousness and anxiety, he manages to think of introducing Lena to Jeff! And it seems like they might be good for each other. Andy is still oblivious to his clearly visible attributes.

 

So much is happening, but it still feels rushed, just as it feels like to Andy. We only got a brief glimpse of Monica's side of the family. And we haven't met Garrett's side yet!

 

It's interesting to see how Kaz's mother has reconciled the conflict between her religious beliefs and her love and support for her son, and by extension, his friends. A solution that must be common considering the discrepancy between what many churches teach and the support for LGBTs and Gay Marriage identified in polls.

 

I'm thinking that Andy and Zander may get a brief honeymoon over the weekend as a gift from Monica and Garrett, but don't tell A and Z that I said that!

Andy probably thought of that as a defense with Lena present...or maybe he's just a really sweet guy...or both. We only get a very brief introduction to Zander's family before the tide of the wedding sweeps him away. For the K family, they have had to wrestle with the teachings of their church and with their experience of Zander. By extension, they must have discerned a path different to what the church teaches, something you point out so well. Thanks for your comments, and for reading this chapter in Andy's journal. Hope you like the next entry.

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On 03/02/2016 03:58 AM, spikey582 said:

Overall, I liked the chapter but a couple of things bugged and/or slightly confused me. Frank's comment about Andy "turning Zander gay" just seemed really ignorant of both his brother's situation as well as ignorance of homosexuality in general. Maria's attitude (expecting Andy to be camp) is somewhat perplexing as well. I know they grew up in a smaller town, but I just don't fully understand why two of the siblings in the Stevenson family have such old fashioned notions about gay people. They didn't read to me as Zander's older siblings so much as like a much older Aunt and Uncle. Monica and Garrett are not homophobic at all, and they seem to have much more enlightened attitudes. Why do two of their kids seem so ignorant? I know differences of opinion occur in families (boy do I ever) but why these two definitely have attitudes that differ greatly from the rest of their family, and how they were raised isn't a good excuse when they couldn't possibly have been brought up with those attitudes. Perhaps homosexuality was never a topic of conversation within the family? I know that it's not a major point, but it still seemed weird.

 

Also someone needs to tell Frank that Zander came out to the parents months before he met Andy. That statement just really rubbed me the wrong way for that fact on top of the ignorance.

 

Ok, so one complaint I have with this chapter is the scene with Mrs. K in the kitchen. I mean it's great that Kaz stood up for his friends, and the parents were able to put aside their personal reservations to allow Kaz to do that, but I just don't know. Her calling Andy aside and going through that whole routine in the kitchen felt superfluous. They've only met like once before that, it's not like she and Andy have any kind of relationship that she would have any place questioning him like that or that he'd even need to answer any questions or defend himself in any way to her. There just was no foundation for the extremely limited interaction they've had.

 

I think I would have appreciated more time with Andy getting to know Zander's (and now his) family more so than him having one-on-one time with somebody who barely knows him who's opinion one way or the other won't matter in the long run anyway.

You make some excellent points here, and I really thank you for your honest and forthright commentary. There is plenty here for me to chew over and reflect on. I think there deeper stories for both Frank and Maria that were too long to be told here. I appreciate your remarks about Mrs. K. Thanks for taking the time to read this chapter in Andy's journal and for your thoughts.

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On 03/02/2016 06:48 AM, said:

Thank you Parker. Another great chapter.

 

I am intrigued by Andy's fears about what he may inherit. I suspect that past will haunt him in various ways over time.

 

My favorite part was Garrett's brief response to the days events: simple, important, and powerful.

 

This is worse than a cliffhanger ... bring on the wedding :) !

Undoubtedly, Andy will be revisited by his past over and over again. It is to be hoped that he will have learned ways to cope with those visits as he matures, and that his past will hurt him less and less frequently. Garrett surely continued his habit of saying good words at the right time. I am glad you enjoyed this chapter, and hope you like Andy's next entry.

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On 03/02/2016 07:36 AM, JACC said:

You did it again, Parker: you've given us a really nice chapter. I love the wording Andy uses to tell us he is having wedding eve jitters: I got a serious case of the "what ifs?", I cannot think of a better way to put it into words.

Thank you for your writing. Wish you the best

 

Jose

PS: Could you think of posting two or three chapters on the same day? Greedy, I know, it's your fault! :P :worship:

We all get caught with the 'what ifs' from time to time. Of course, they are about as useful as a cold virus, but they happen all the same. I am glad you liked this chapter, and hope you like Andy's next installment on Friday (sorry for the delay!)

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On 03/02/2016 08:27 AM, Jade1988 said:

Another great chapter!!! I look forward to more!!!!

Thanks so much for reading this entry in Andy's journal. Hope you enjoy the chapters that remain.

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On 03/02/2016 05:14 AM, slapshot said:

With Andy's fears and worries it will be a wonder if he makes it to his wedding in a calm mental state. It was nice to meet with just about all Zanders family including their interesting opinions. Hopefully Andy can work out his fears of turning out like his Father!

Andy to meet everyone, but didn't get to know anyone - that will come later, I expect. That is certainly the experience of many people, I think. But at least Andy got a whole week with Nonna Costanza, who surely has taken a shine to him. Doubt he'll be calm for the wedding, but most people are anxious to some degree. Thanks for your comments, and hope you like the next entry on Friday.

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I'm happy for Andy getting a family, even if they are not perfect. But then again who are? They are human and honest, which is more than you can say about a lot of people. Sweet of Andy to think of his friend when talking to Lena. Maybe he'll see them be friends. Or more...?

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On 03/02/2016 08:46 AM, Puppilull said:

I'm happy for Andy getting a family, even if they are not perfect. But then again who are? They are human and honest, which is more than you can say about a lot of people. Sweet of Andy to think of his friend when talking to Lena. Maybe he'll see them be friends. Or more...?

No, they aren't perfect; nobody's perfect, not even Andy ;) Andy's quick thinking about Jeff probably got him out of an unpleasant situation - and in addition, might indeed start a beautiful friendship... :) Thanks for your thoughts. Hope you like Andy's next entry...

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I recall, during my own pre-wedding counselling sessions, the good reverend making a point that you don't marry your mate...that you actually marry the entire family. At the time I thought he was nuts, but as it turns out...he was right. I know exactly how Andy was feeling during the meet the new brother in law dinner....not to mention that he is gay and underage. I'm quite surprised that it turned out as well as it did.
I'm still hoping that things proceed smoothly and Andy and Zander are happily joined in marriage...I've got my fingers crossed.........:)Mike

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On 03/02/2016 09:55 AM, flamingo136 said:

I recall, during my own pre-wedding counselling sessions, the good reverend making a point that you don't marry your mate...that you actually marry the entire family. At the time I thought he was nuts, but as it turns out...he was right. I know exactly how Andy was feeling during the meet the new brother in law dinner....not to mention that he is gay and underage. I'm quite surprised that it turned out as well as it did.

I'm still hoping that things proceed smoothly and Andy and Zander are happily joined in marriage...I've got my fingers crossed.........:)Mike

Well, Andy got to meet the siblings, and Nonna Costanza. There are plenty more relatives where those came from, but that's a big enough group to overwhelm Andy anyhow. The rest of the family will be taking stock of Andy, too. Everything is happening so fast! Not sure if Andy really knew what he was doing, but it's happening now. Thanks for your reflections, and I hope you like Andy's next installment!

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On 03/02/2016 01:54 AM, mayday said:

4000 words for one evening - true, lots of things are happening here, but comparing it to chapter 7 which tells us about one day in half as many words, Andy's last day somewhere on the outskirts of Carlsberg - this is so much denser, I feel so much closer to Andy.

Great scenes at the Stevensons, great how you have depicted Kaz' family, obviously devout Catholics, Lena's last attempt at seducing (?) Andy is a perfect mirror of her parents' attitude, yet peacably with both accepting Andy and the marriage in the end. That Mrs. K. cannot call the marriage what it is is quite telling.

And I am so impressed with Andy's handling all these situations, Maria's reaction, Frank's protectiveness and expectations of a stags' night and the drinking involved, Mrs. K's 'interrogation' and Lena's midnight visit. I also loved your hint at how closely Maria is watching Andy when she sees how helping Monica is something he usually does and when she appreciates his being helpful.

I like how you have given us a kaleidoscope of mild aversion towards gays withing the families and their stereotypes. I can only hope that the boys won't have to face the other part of the spectrum the next day.

Andy's anxiety of becoming like his dad have become more poignant, more worrying. In some ways it seems almost like the last stand of his father's viciousness and evil within Andy. Kaz seems to to feel Andy's worries somehow and I love how he is trying to reassure his friend, even if he may only guess that it is more than the usual nervousness of a bridegroom.

You have slowed down your narrative considerably, especially compared to the chapters which cover a whole week, which to me indicates we are coming to a turning-point/climax.

Again, a great chapter, Parker. Thank you.

I composed a reply - twice - and my computer ate it - twice. Ugh. Here it is, finally:

 

4000 words means that Andy has so much more to talk about than in the summer when he was running. We do indeed feel much closer to the way Andy is feeling – anxious, worried, beset by unfamiliar demands few (or none) go through at his age. Mrs. K surely had to think this one through over and over; as a parent, how do you decide if it's right to let your child take part in a very public ceremony you aren't sure about? Andy surely handled many situations gracefully, from Frank's challenge to Maria's initial faux pas to gently turning Lena away. But his stomach was churning the whole time. His worry about his genetic links continue to haunt him. Thank you so much for your fantastic commentary, and I hope you enjoy Andy's upcoming entry.

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A really great chapter Parker. Andy met the family, got through that. Then he got through Mrs. K and Lena. You managed to showcase his jitters and anxiety through it all. Add to that his fear of genetically inheriting his father's evil. I really hope he finds calm soon because holy cow, I know I'd be rattled.

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