There was only one thing left to do – pizza and beer at Sorrento’s. We lock up the studio and all jump into Hippie’s poor, overloaded station wagon. Jack and I lay with Flo and Edi on the floor in the way back, leaving room for everyone up front.
Flo looks at me, snapping my waistband, “My turn,” and she goes down on me. Jack rolls over, kissing me, while Edi gives him head. Jace signs, “This is an encore orgy,” and jumps in. Everyone up front ignores the swaying and bouncing of the station wagon, blaming Hippie for bad driving. He does not go off the road, but admits it makes him feel better when he looks in the rear-view mirror, able to see the girls working on us. His prayers are answered.
Jack is over the moon, no longer a silly virgin. I am a little sore, but it is the price for the ride he gave me. Pot is definitely a wonder drug for that boy. At least he does not call his nerdy friends to tell all. When I ask about them, he insists I come to their next game night. Sounds about as much fun as a Baptist hoedown, so I readily agree. Jack hosts them in an attic game room, where his robber baron ancestors ran their clandestine weekly poker games. It is on Saturday nights. I plan to stay over and go to church with the Stones before Sunday dinner. I am starting to experience culture shock from hanging out with the ultra-rich and doing so much with our parents. I hardly have a chance to be a rebel. Maybe Teen Jesus is taking over, possessing me like the Guardian warned. Max to the rescue. Instead of going to my room, we all troop over to Robby’s for midnight madness. Jack has become a preppy stoner. Max is satisfied. Dave is all over me to stay out of the church youth group if I continue to tell stories about him. We attack Robby to rev up our hormones, until I throw Jack over my shoulder and return the hard fucking favor until we both pass out.
Surprisingly refreshed in the morning we are only fifteen minutes late to English. Although we both are slightly stiff, Jack manages to strut into class and proclaim, “I have a girlfriend.”
Even Mr. Clark gasps. The girls all look sad for me, so Jack says, “Tim’s fine with it because she’s his girlfriend’s best friend.”
Now the girls have no sympathy for me. The drama club ’s (somewhat) straight boys congratulate Jack, wanting details. He is not kissing and telling.
“So you had the orgy,” a boy remembers.
“I thought you were both sick yesterday,” Mr. Clark complains.
“We took a sick day to record the soundtrack to our movie and after, five of us had an orgy.”
“Did you have to pay the girls?”
“We all got it on in the back of Hippie’s station wagon. I had already been laid, so it was easy to do it again,” Jack provides details
“Enough,” I whisper. ‘How are you going to explain that Edi was/is Jace’s girlfriend.”
“If you got laid, how come you’re walking funny?”
“The orgy, Tim was there.”
“Jack!” I hiss.
“Enough of me, what did we miss yesterday.”
“Not as much as we missed,” quips Mr. Clark.
The rest of the week zips by. It’s Saturday night. I find myself sitting with a group of zitty teen boys pretending I am a warrior elf. Dungeon Master Jack is torturing my elf with multiple Orc attacks. I am on my fifth replacement arm, considering a suicide attack just to escape a deviously complicated cave. Finally Jack asks if we are ready for snacks. I pull out a joint from behind my ear, “I invoke this magic spell to overcome the Orc attack.”
Everyone freezes and looks at Jack, our dungeon master, the final authority.
“Spark it up. Those who do not partake will fall under a thirty minute time-out spell.”
I inhale and pass the joint to Jack. The pot spell works instantly. He jumps into my lap, kisses me and announces that we are boyfriends.
I am sure that the power of the pot spell will scare off the rest of our gaming crew, but it only encourages them. I am not ready for another orgy. Whereas Jack gets horny, the rest of them just get silly, giggling and falling off their chairs. We sit around on the floor in a circle, as they pester Jack about what has happened to him. They have only heard rumors.
“Yes,” he is involved with Teen Jesus and going to Baptist and Catholic youth groups.
“No,” he isn’t selling his ass at a gay shop in the Grove, just selling and signing underwear to pre-teens. He pulls up his shirt to show off the day’s garish briefs.
“That is so gay,” they compliment him.
“Yes,” he plays a girl in the Shakespeare performance class, but that’s how it was done in Elizabethan times.
“Yes, he’s in a rock band and we just shot a documentary about the New Year’s Eve show at Viscaya. In true nerd style, they know who Martin Scorsese is.
Yes, the band is opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd at a concert in the Bay. They have never heard of that band.
“You haven’t heard the latest. I have a girlfriend.” This is the biggest shock. They all look at me in sympathy.
“It’s okay,” I say. “She’s my girlfriend’s girlfriend.”
They refuse to believe this, saying we are putting them on about everything. Casper has been dozing in the corner until the joint comes out. He furiously signs, “Teen Jesus.”
“So you don’t believe in Teen Jesus?” I ask.
They all shake their heads. Casper picks up the D&D dice. He madly shakes them and scatters them on the floor inside our circle.
The boys all scream and move away. Casper floats above us and finds one boy who can feel his presence and starts kissing him. Soon the boy is writhing on the floor from the stimulation. I grab him away from Casper and sit him between Jack and me, keeping Casper away. It looks like I am fighting the devil for his soul. It is worse than when Robby tortured Dave and Jazz about being burned by hell fire. They’re blubbering incoherently.
“Enough,” I sign to Casper who thinks it is all hilarious.
“What happened to you?” I ask the boy.
“Someone was kissing me. It was too scary. Kinda sexy though,” and he giggles. The rest of them crawl back, believing Jack and I will protect them.
“The first time he did it to me, I thought I had a wet dream with Tim in it. I’d never been high before and ended up in his bed,” Jack confesses all.
Their eyes get big again. I notice that two boys are holding each other. These nerdy boys are all alike. Another boy notices also.
“Look who’s also queer,” He points and looks superior.
“Is that a bad thing?” Jack asks.
“Sure, if you ever wanna have a girlfriend and get married.”
“Why do that if you’re queer?” Jack responds.
“Everybody should get married,” he believes.
“Not if you’re queer,” several people answer.
I pull the queer-baiter over and have him sit with us.
“My last boyfriend died fighting with his brother over their dog. His older brother shot him when he meant to shoot the dog.”
“Max?” several kids ask.
“Yes, the famous star of our band. Max was protecting Jace. When his brother shot, Jace took the bullet for his dog. He loved Max so much.”
“Yes, but love makes you do crazy stuff. I beat a redneck with my guitar to protect Jack.”
“The police came and locked him up. His friends had run away.”
I look at the hater, “Do you have anyone in your heart, who you truly love. If you go to church, then maybe Jesus.”
“I only felt that way for a couple of years, when I was a kid.”
“He’s no longer there.”
“I dunno. I know Jesus thinks being queer is evil.”
“Who told you that?”
“It’s in the Bible.”
“So you no longer love Jesus because he’s a man?”
“Jesus ain’t queer.”
“Then why’s he not in your heart?”
“Aw, I just grew up. Now, that church stuff is for kids.”
“Maybe you just hardened your heart?”
He looks at me and gulps, “I wish I still was a kid.”
“We‘re all still kids. Why do you want to be so hard-hearted?”
“I dunno. My brothers say I have to grow up.”
“My boyfriend was killed by his brother, who had evil in his heart and abused him since he was ten.”
Several boys gasp. One actually tears up.
“My brothers never abuse me. They’re toughening me up.”
“Teen Jesus is about stopping the abuse, physical, mental and sexual. Do you think I have you in my heart right now?”
“Yeah, you ain’t being gay or anything but I feel you like me.
“Do you like me back.”
“As long as you don’t try anything gay.”
“Jack would kick my butt.”
Everyone laughs and Jack hugs me. The hater does not flinch as I kiss Jack.
“Does everybody feel the same way I do? We just want to like each other and not worry if it’s gay or not. Face it, tonight’s date night and here we all are. The big secret is, if you show how much you like your friends, girls will naturally feel closer to you. You might have to change game night to a weekday.”
A disbelieving cheer barely goes up,.
“All I am saying is don’t give up being a kid because someone older tells you to harden your heart or you read that in a book. Jesus isn’t the only person in our hearts. If it’s your mom or grandparents or a dead friend, don’t leave them lonely in there. Let others in and see if you can hold them there.”
“I got high and just grabbed Tim and his heart let me hold him. If it’s a girlfriend you want, just let her in and see if she stays. Just don’t break up the old gang ‘cause you’re horny,” Jack explains
Everyone laughs. We go back to playing D&D but Jack can’t be his old mean Dungeon Master. We’re burned from the pot. Jack asks if anyone wants to stay over. We all go to bed, after the much delayed snacks are devoured. The munchies still rule.
We wake up with the two boys who got outed in bed with us. All the others are spread out on the floor, although it looks like a couple inched their way together. Nobody points at them. The straight boy is sleeping head to toe with two others. Maybe sexual energy flows differently for straights.
Jack calls Isabelle on the intercom. He tells her six other boys from the game night stayed over and want breakfast. She tells him that Mummy plans to eat in thirty minutes. Everyone is waking up. One boy asks if he can go to church with Jack’s family. All the rest ask also.
“Mummy will be so pleased.”
We all take showers and Jack opens his closets for church outfits. He wants me to wear all white.
“I’m not Teen Jesus,” I whisper.
“Then maybe Teen John the Baptist.’
“Father Frank already suspects I’m a Baptist.”
When we troop into the dining room, Mr. Stone is sipping his coffee and reading the Sunday Herald. He smiles at our shiny faces, hiding behind the newspaper.
“No picture of you this week, Johnny.”
“I’m just Jack now, Dad.”
“Oh, okay, Jack.”
Mummy makes her entrance, stopping at the door when she sees all seven of us.
“What sweet faces for a Sunday morning. Anyone want to go to Church with us?”
We all answer, “Yes,” and she sits down beaming.
“Father Joseph will be so pleased. Any reason for this teenage conversion?”
They all point at me, “Teen Jesus.”
“Oh, Christ,” Mr. Stone murmurs.
Uncles Tam and Steve are called to provide backup transportation. I call my parents and tell them I’m going to Mass with the Stones, in case they want to attend.
“Did ‘Mummy’ put you up to this?” Dad asks.
“No. Jack had friends stay over last night. They all want to go. She’s over the moon about it. At least it’s a chance to see them on neutral ground. You may be joint in-laws someday.”
“We’ll be there,” he curtly says.
Mummy is in her element, leading our large entourage into the church. I see Dave with his folks, looking shocked when he sees Jack and me. I wave, but he slumps in his seat. I guess it is as much of a shock seeing me there as if Robby has come with the hounds from Hell. Father Frank has reserved two pews for us, including my folks. So much for being on neutral ground. Mummy leans over after we are seated and asks my parents to come back for dinner. They must talk about wedding plans. Dad looks trapped, as he always does in church. Father Joseph speaks about the Stations of the Cross Masses that are being said since it is Lent. It gets me to think about our trip to New York for Easter. I want to see Tina. I am confident she and Jack will get along. I wonder if we should bring the Jacettes, especially if Martin can get us a gig at CBGB’s. That is really exciting. Can you imagine, Good Friday at CBGB’s and Easter Mass at St Patrick’s? All these daydreams take me out of the present, until Father Joseph thanks the Stones for bringing a large youth group to Mass. He hopes everyone feels welcomed. The Mass ends with everyone hugging and showing peace signs. The nerds take it like another D&D adventure, hoping the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will burst out from behind the altar. Mummy makes us wait outside for Father Frank to join us. I see Dave again and wave to him. He tries to slip away, but his parents drag him over.
“Hi,” he says half-heartedly. “These are my parents. Meet Tim and Jack from our bands.”
“Hi, Mr. and Mrs. O’Toole, Let me introduce you to my parents. Mum and Dad, this is Dave from our band and his parents, the O’Tooles.”
Jack takes Dave and introduces him to the D&D crowd. Dave perks up.
“How do you play D&D?” he asks.
“Our new rules are you hang around until Tim brings out a joint. Then everyone fags off.”
“Sounds like our band practices.” Dave laughs.
“What’s it like being in a band?”
‘We’re in the younger band and play kids’ parties, just oldies so they can dance. I’m the drummer. I get to do what I want, just as long as I keep the beat.”
“You can play D&D at our practice. I wanna learn.”
“We should. Tim’s making us chase girls on Saturdays from now on. He said if we fag off a little, the girls will flock to us.”
“Seems to work, look at Jack. Last week he was a whiny queen and this week he almost raped a girl and she liked it.”
“You were there?”
“No. They were supposed to have an orgy, so we weren’t invited. My guitarist was there because it was a tribute to his brother who was killed.”
“Was that Jace?”
“Yeah, you heard about it. It was our big time fame thing.”
“Tim told us about it to make me like him after I mocked him for being a fag. Now I’m supposed to act like a fag to get girls.”
“These older guys are always playing tricks on us. Their friend Robby had Tim throw holy water bubbling from an Alka-Seltzer on him and told me it was hellfire. He summoned the devil to cast us into Hell.”
“What did you do?”
“I started saying Hail Marys but I was so scared I forgot the words.”
“They always so mean?”
“Naw, I was a kid then. Now Robby’s teaching me the drums, so it’s cool.”
“Can we really play D&D at your practice?”
“Sure, just ask Jack for the address. Come during Easter Break. The older guys are going to New York to play St Patrick’s.”
“Yeah, Tim always comes up with shit. He’s got me and Jazz, my bass player, selling underwear at a gay shop in the Grove. We get a hundred bucks a day for modelling.” Then he pulled up his shirt to show pink and purple paisley briefs.”
“Watch your language,” Dave’s father warns, “you’re still at church. And tuck your shirt in,” slapping Dave across the back of his head.
Mummy asks Dave’s folks to join them at dinner, so he’s roped into our new D&D posse. It is weird to see him without Jazz, who is Jewish. The uncles make an extra effort to be nice to Dave, who is instantly suspicious. He makes it to the Stone’s without being molested. He and the straight boy bond over their testosterone.
Jack asks me what song and dance we should do for everyone.
“Let’s get everyone into the act. Something simple like ‘Oklahoma.’ They probably don’t dance or even know the words. We’ll rehearse them while the adults are having cocktails and perform after dinner.”
I see Jack doing this with his 3rd grade friends, putting on a show, and all the kids letting him down by failing to meet his production standards. It makes me sad, but here he gets another chance. At least I am on his side.
We take all the kids, including Dave, upstairs to find cowboy costumes. There are lots. I get a hint of where Jack’s dress-up fetish comes from. There are even Stetson hats.
Jack becomes the director.
“Nobody has to learn all the words. But at the end we all spell out O k l a h o m a and yell ‘Oklahoma!’ We’ll stand at the top of the stairs in the sitting room in a line. Just sway and move in rhythm.”
He has me sing the lines, another mindless show tune my folks imprinted on me, while he gets everyone line dancing, keeping their arms swaying and not overdoing it. He runs down and gets the show album for his stereo. At the grand finale, we yell out the letters and the State’s name. The first time half the kids don’t know how to spell Oklahoma, so we practice that.
“Anyone who gets lost, just stop singing but mouth it like you still are .”
Isabelle calls up that dinner is served. All eight of us troop down to eat. We are all dressed as cowboys. There are seventeen place settings at the table. Mummy ushers the kids to all sit at one end, with Jack at the foot of the table. She sits at Mr. Stone’s side. Uncle Tam remarks, “I can guess what’s coming after dinner.”
“Well, don’t spoil it for the rest of us,” Mummy warns.
Father Frank raises his glass, “Here’s to Dorothy Stone and her brood, may it grow ever larger.”
“Heavens, no,’ she protests. Even the kids raise their glasses. Sadly, it’s punch, not wine.
Dave asks if the D&D guys can play at Michael’s during band practice, now that Tim has ruined their Saturday game night.
“I was only trying to help.”
“Sure Teen Jesus, that’s why you’ll end up crucified.”
“Who’s being crucified?” Father Frank breaks away from the adult conversation.
“Isn’t that what happened to Teen Jesus when he grew up.”
“I’m glad you remember. But maybe Teen Jesus will never grow up.”
“Like Peter Pan?”
“Different era. Don’t you want to grow up?”
“Tim says we should keep our hearts young and open to others, Father.”
“You’re definitely too young to be hard-hearted.”
“I didn’t like him because he’s gay, but he made me think I didn’t have to be gay to love Jesus.”
The adult conversation has stopped at their end. The O’Toole’s are agitated. I’m sure Dave never spoke about us being gay. Father steers the subject away from us, “Well, Jesus wasn’t gay, so loving him is like making him your best friend.”
“Tim says everyone’s heart is full of the love they receive from family, friends and other loving people. When we close our heart, we make those already in our heart lonely.”
Mummy interrupts, as her no politics or religion rule is being violated. “Please let’s enjoy our meal and discuss more serious matters after dessert. And Teen Jesus is welcome here,” she quips. Casper does several flips up the table and smacks a kiss on her cheeks.
“Ow, that’s a surprise,” she remarks without explanation. Jack and I think the spectacle is highly amusing, but only because we are the only ones to see Casper’s part.
I whisper over to the boy who spoke up for me, “Thanks.” His eyes are shining.
Jack answers Dave’s question, “Well, I think it’ll be great to welcome my friends to practice. Do you want to learn how to play?”
“Sure,” says Dave.
“And Tim only asked why all the guys don’t have dates on a Saturday night.”
“’Cause they’re nerds?” Dave jokes.
“At least we’re not stoners.’
“ Sounds to me like you may have been one last night.”
All the D&D boys turn red and shut up.
“I’ll call you and give directions when we’re practicing there,” Jack promises.
“But you’re going to New York.”
“What?” all the other D&Ders ask.
“Yeah, I’m singing ‘Amazing Grace ‘ at St Patrick’s on Easter Sunday,” Jack can’t help bragging.
“Our little saint,” the uncles coo.
The meal is steak, with the adults getting special vegetables and Delmonico potatoes. The kids get extra steak and French fries. For dessert, we have crème Brulee. I show the kids how to crack the glaze. I have tears in my eyes when I look at Casper who reacts the same way. He cracks the glaze for the boy who can feel his presence. The boy reaches out and touches Casper’s hand, looking up in his direction. I hope so sensitive a boy won’t be identified as gay, unless of course, he is.
Mummy announces that coffee is served in the sitting room, while Jack and Tim will put on a performance. All the kids get up and troop up the sitting room stairs, stopping behind the door to the living room. Casper puts the song on the phonograph.
He flings the doors open. We all troop out to form our encore line, with Jack and me in the middle. He and I sing all the verses, with the kids swaying and humming behind us. At the finale, everyone raises their Stetsons, spelling out Oklahoma and tossing them up at the final ‘Oklahoma!.’
The adults all clap. We bow and run down to be greeted by our fans, the gay Uncles. The O’Toole’s are thunderstruck that Dave acts so angelic. They give all their praise to Father Frank, telling him how frustrated Father Joseph has been with Dave.
“I’m sure that he’ll never give up on him, but that’s why he’s in a parish and I’m in the Order.”
“Wait ‘til we tell his older brothers.” Mr O’Toole says.
“Please don’t, Dad. They’ll kid me forever.” Dave looks genuinely pained.
Dave’s mother hugs him and says she will protect him, her baby.”
“That’s exactly what I don’t need,” as he stomps off.
“Ready to drive to New York?” I ask the Uncles. They have matching 50’s Chrysler convertibles, a DeSoto and a New Yorker. “I really like your cars. They’re so big, everyone will fit easily. What if we bring the three girl singers? Will that depress you?”
“We love girls. But how will that affect the sleeping arrangements.”
“Well, before, we all planned to each sleep with you guys on different nights.” They squeal. “But now we all have girlfriends, so it’s complicated..”
“Johnny has a girlfriend?!!” they squeal even higher.
“Johnny has a girlfriend” echoes around the house.
Isabelle comes out of the kitchen, “Johnny has a girlfriend? Gracias Dios. No more messy sheets.”
“Stop it. Yes, I like girls now, “Jack announces. “Tim has converted me. And she’s saving herself for her wedding.”
“Oh,” general relief sounds.
“My god, you think I’m retarded,” He complains, leading us upstairs to change.
“Another interesting Sunday dinner,” Mr. Stone remarks. “I’m beginning to enjoy being middle class.”
“Never,” cry the Uncles.
“And he’s to be called Jack from now on.” Daddy decrees.