5 – Blog 12 – The Graduate

‘Gator lays in bed, propped up with his hands behind his head,   waiting for me to join him. I slide in beside him. Our nightly ritual has devolved into my falling easily to sleep before he leaves to join the twins. Tonight, he has something on his mind. It is scary to see. He’s generally all action with no introspection.

“I’s bin thinkin.’ We should be boyfriends.”

Oh, no. Shades of Scott Watt. At least I know ‘Gator isn’t hero-worshiping me.

“My boyfriend is real possessive, ‘Gate.”

“I don’t means fer real. It’s what we tells ever’one, ‘cause we all’s in a band.”

“All musicians ain’t fags.”

“It’s fer the twins. They’s sad they cain’t tells no ones they’s both my girlfriends.”

“So, y’all wants me ta pretend one of ‘em’s my girlfriend?”

“Naw. That’s stupid. I knows ya love ‘em both, even Angie when she’s ain’t bein’ difficult.”

“When’s that?”

We laugh. “We’s a band. It’s like a family. I loves both o ‘em. Y’all knows that. An’ I loves y’all like a brother. Why not all four o’ us’n be in love?”

“Yer popularity will take a hit if’n ya tell people you’s a fag.”

“Gay. I kin be gay, cain’t I?”

“Yer crazy. Ya thinks yer football friends wants ta be called the gay posse?”

“Screw ‘em if they’s worried ‘bout all that.”

“How’s this help the twins? They’s already upset that besides the moms, they gots a gay brother now.”

“They ain’t ready ta tell ever’one that they’s having three ways wid me.”

“Jesus, ‘Gate. I don’t wanna know.”

“If people thinks y’all’s my boyfriend, they won’t even thinks twice ‘bout why I’s always sleepin’ over.”

“Y’all’s over-thinkin’ this, ‘Gate.  Why’s ya care ’bout what others think?”

“I don’ts, but the twins is all worked up ‘bout it.”

“Ya got that right. Yer my best friend. If’n y’all wants to say we’s doin’ it, go right ahead. As long as the twins agree. They’s purdy sensitive ‘bouts all the gayness in their lives.”

“It’s their idea.”

“Okay. Then we’s boyfriends, but I gots ta tell John Boy. He ain’t gonna be happy.”

“Do we havta kiss on it.”

“Jesus, Gate, If’n ya needs me ta kiss ya in public, I will. That’s it. Now I’s goin’ ta sleep. And don’t be gittin’ no funny ideas. This is bad enough. Ya owe me for this and paybacks a bitch.”

“I do loves ya, Andy.”

“Shut up. I’m pretendin’ this is all a bad dream.”

The next day, the word is out: “’Gator’s gay.” I lose half my friends, or the people who like me only because ‘Gator is my friend. Noah is jealous and feels betrayed. The twins are off the hook on how to explain their relationship with him. At a minimum they get sympathy for havin’ everyone in their lives turn out gay. Gay is the Spring Theme at Aims High. Just another reason to blame me. Oh well, popularity breeds contempt.

Noah corners me and has a minor meltdown.

“I ain’t being the horse’s ass no more if’n ‘Gator’s gay,” he declares. Then he breaks down and admits he’s jealous of me. “I’s known you’s his best friend since the day y’all showed up and wouldn’t give in to ‘im in arm wrestlin.’”

“Jeez, Noah. Y’all’s such a good horse’s ass and all. Sure ya wanna give that up?”

He just gives me a nasty look and walks away.

Band practice is somewhat dispirited due to the gay controversy. ‘Gator says that Coach Ball told him his scholarship to Iowa State is in jeopardy due to a ‘morals’ clause that defines aberrant sexual behavior as cause for rescinding sports scholarships. He promises Coach that he has not and doesn’t plan on acting on his gay tendencies. I am so relieved. The twins are reevaluating their relief at not being the center of ‘Gator World gossip. The gossip grapevine is wondering why one of them did not ‘seal the deal’ with ‘Gator. My advice is to let it all blow over. Most of the gossip centers on how nasty I am for taking advantage of their local football hero. We sit around bemoaning our reputations. Finally, I suggest we write a song about it all.

“Yeah. We’ll call it ‘How my gay brother stole my boyfriend,’” Angie laughs.

“No. It can be like the Ramones’ ‘Happy Family.’

“Let’s just do it, changing the words to fit  our situation,” Amy suggests.

I substitute our names in the appropriate places:

“We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, me and the twins

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, “Gator’s just our friend

Sitting here in Ames

Eating corn and beans

We’re in all your dreams

Rumors make us scream

We ain’t got no friends

Our troubles never end

No Christmas cards to send

Andy likes men

Now he’s telling lies

Angie’s eating flies

Amy’s taking pills

‘Gator’s got the chills

I’m friends with the President

I’m friends with the Pope

We’re making a fortune

Selling Daddy’s dope

Sitting here in Ames

Eating corn and beans

We’re in all your dreams

Rumors make us scream

We ain’t got no friends

Our troubles never end

No Christmas cards to send

Andy likes men

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, me and the twins

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, “Gator’s just our friend.”


© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Playing lifts our spirits. We jump around pretending to be the Ramones family.

“Y’all knows they’s just callin’ themselves Ramones. They ain’t all brothers,” ‘Gator shows he’s up on all the latest punk gossip.

“Well, we ain’t all related, too. Like the Ramones, being in a band tagether makes it seem like we’s family.”

“We gots ta have us a show, so ever’one knows,” ‘Gator decides.

“When’s the next barn party?” I ask.

“Every Saturday night.”

“Let’s just do Ramones. Shake up them lame rock fans with sum’thin’ fast and wild.”

“We gots ta have power fer the amps,” I state.

“I kin borrow my dad’s portable generator,” ‘Gator has all the answers.

We sit around discussing what songs to play until it’s time to go milking. I have difficulty hooking up ol’ Bessie. I swear she’s jealous of my new love affair with ‘Gate. I finally calm her down by singing our version of ‘Happy Family.’ I substitute the line about me to ‘Bessie likes men.’ ‘Gator finds this amusing except it takes us twice as long to milk that day as all the cows are excited and anxious from listening to us sing Ramones songs. ‘Gator’s dad complains that milk production is off that day. It takes too much energy to be a punk rock cow.

My session with Dr. Kam runs long that Thursday afternoon. I described the deception we’re trying to pull on our classmates. He is not a big fan.

“It was not my idea. And, I seem to have lost half my friends at school. They blame me for crushing their hero-worship of ‘Gator.”

“Why is he called ‘Gator?”

“I told Tommy’s ‘Gatorsaurus tall tale the day I met him. We got into a verbal argument, so I challenged him to arm wrestling. He looked all horror-show, grimacing and straining to beat me. Everyone started calling him ‘Gator after that.”

“Can’t he decide which twin he likes the most? He may have to move to Utah and become a Mormon if he needs two women at the same time.”

“John Boy and I had already thought it was going to happen with the three of them. He’s such a big personality that one girlfriend isn’t enough. The twins are inseparable. It just seems natural.”

“Why is bein gay more unnatural than polygamy?”

“Everyone knows I’m gay. And ‘Gator doesn’t care what others think. It’s for the girls that we did it. It’s hard on them, having gay moms and a gay brother. They want the gossip to stop always being about them.”

“Is it possible that they are gay.”

“The odds make it very unlikely that everyone in the family is gay. Twins means they’ve spent their entire lives together.  ‘Gator has a big enough heart to share with the two of them.”

“I’m just glad your problems seem resolved enough that you can deal with other dilemmas.”

“Well, I haven’t told John Boy he has new competition.”

“How’s Jace doing with Tommy.”

“They’re thick as thieves, haunting all his junior high friends. I think Jace likes being fifteen again.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“I feel sad that I may have pushed him away with all the John Boy drama. Now John Boy’s all involved with running the Jace’s Place shelters. It’s like he’s also moved on. Maybe I can get him here in Ames. My country boy persona seems fake when I see it through his eyes.”

“Thoreau called that miraculous. ‘Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?’ is from ‘Walden.’

“The guy who marched to a different drummer?”

“You can identify?”

“I have too many damn drummers in my life,” thinking about Robby.

“’Gator plays drums in your band.”

“He is something else and hard to resist.”

“Do I see lust in your eyes?”

“Naw. He’s my best friend. We sleep together every night with nary a hard-on in sight.”

Dr Kam smiles and leans over to kiss me on the cheek.

“I think it’s time for me to teach you a love song on the samisen. You’re too damn cute.”

That night I call John Boy.

“Can you come this weekend? We’re playing a Ramones tribute at a barn party.”

“Why not just ask the Ramones. I’ll fly them out. I hear they’ll play for next to nothing.”

“Naw. We’re playing a ripoff of ‘Happy Family.” They may not approve.”

“’Daddy likes men.’” John Boy croons.

“Yeah, we sing ‘Andy likes men.’”

“That’s news?’

“Well, the real news is ‘Gator is telling everyone that he’s my boyfriend now.”


“Don’t git bothered. It’s all smoke and mirrors to take the gossip off the twins and their budding threesome with our boy.”

“What?” John Boy is sensing competition.

“Don’t worry. With Jace and Tommy fucking like bunnies, you are my one and only.”

“You better not be lying.”

“Shut the fuck up. It’s all about the twins. ‘Gate is as straight as the day is long.”

“I know you sleep together. Where’s that going?”

“He leaves to be with the twins soon’s as I falls asleep. If yer suspicious, ya best git yer ass out here.”

“I was just there.”

“Maybe I do need another boyfriend.”

“You’re a piss-ant. I’ll see if I can use the Lear again.”

“How’re the cousins?” I change the subject.

“They’re pissed ‘cause they gots ta spend the summer on the farm in Vermont. Not exactly the Hamptons.”

“Guess they won’t git on Page Six by milkin’ cows in the country.”

He laughed. “And what did you do with my Knight Seamus. All he can talk about is cows. I know he got laid. I swear he’s into bestiality.”

“Better than explaining how he got abducted by space aliens.”

“I bet he’s conflicted about either lyin’ that he was abducted or lying that he didn’t get laid.”

“Or that he has the hots for cows now.”

“The country can be overwhelming for New Yorkers.”

After pizza delivery on Saturday night, We load the drums, amps, speakers and power supply into ‘Gator’s pickup. John Boy is missing, denied personal service as the Lear is in use. We can plagiarize the Ramones without any New Yorker calling us on it.

After setting up, we attempt to socialize with our friends and classmates. Our popularity is at its nadir, as no one offers us beer or joints. I can care less, happy we have a great show in store for our ex-fans. To Tommy’s dismay, Jace has come back to Iowa to repeat his space alien impersonation. He agrees to limit the intimidation and just provide fireworks. We are pumped.

“Well, Barneys. Welcome to our nightmare. You may hate us now but hear us out in defense of our sleeping arrangements.”

The first song was Sly’s ‘Family Affair.’

The twins were slapping out funky bass lines while taking the lead on the chorus. I’m squealing and acting oblivious. Someone yells out, “Faggots.”

We stop playing.

Y’all is too interested in our sex lives. Y’all’s a bunch o’ pinheads.”

We go into our Ramones set.

D-U-M-B, everyone’s accusing me D-U-M-B, everyone’s accusing me

I don’t want to be a pinhead no more

I just met a nurse that I could go for

I don’t want to be a pinhead no more

I just met a nurse that I could go for

Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey Gabba-gabba-hey, gabba-gabba-hey


© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Everyone stands around with their mouths open, unsure what they’re hearing.

“Confused. Well, don’t be comin’ to conclusions ‘bout us. ‘Cause we’re a happy family.”

We change the lyrics to make our case.

‘We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family

We’re a happy family, me and the twins

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family

We’re a happy family, “Gator’s just our friend

Sitting here in Ames

Eating corn and beans

We’re in all your dreams

Rumours make us scream

We ain’t got no friends

Our troubles never end

No Christmas cards to send

Andy likes men

Now he’s telling lies

Angie’s eating flies

Amy is on pills

‘Gator’s got the chills

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, me and the twins

We’re a happy family, we’re a happy family We’re a happy family, “Gator’s just our friend’

People were pushing to get up front. A fight breaks up when Noah and the rest of ‘Gator’s posse attack the people calling us faggots.

“Com’n up here  and duke it out,” I yell and we jump into ‘The Blitzkreig Bop.’

“One two three four’

The shoving gets intense. Many girls run up front to where we play. The footballers form a protective shield for them and us. Guys are throwing themselves against the blockers. Several break through, and then run back to the scrum.

We finish ‘The Blitzkreig Bop,’ and I grab the mic.

“This song’s for everyone. In a few weeks school will be out for ever. So let’s celebrate and remember these as the best/worst days of our lives. ‘Rock ‘n Roll High School.’”

Somewhere in the middle of the song, the thrashers realize they’re having fun. The pushing becomes less violent and arms are waving instead of throwing punches. The footballers stop protecting the girls and us, entering the fray like they are blocking on an end-run. The thrashers are thrown off guard but regroup and hold their ground. It’s a sea of testosterone washing up to the edge of our performing space, then rushing out in the opposite direction. We stop.

“Y’all think that’s fun. Well, your shitty attitude gits no respect from us. This is it.”

We jump into ‘Surfin’ Bird.”

At the end, ‘Gator jumps from behind his drums and yells, “Gimme a beer.” The girls and I stand there giving everyone the bird. Cans of half-filled beer rain down on us. I’m back in the Southern road houses. Jace makes his appearance in a blaze of golden light, zooming back and forth above the throbbing scrum of thrashers. He lands on ‘Gator’s pickup, pulling out his dick,  and instantly cums wispy streams of ghostly sperm. Each string of jizz bursts as it hits the kids in the stunned crowd. They panic, fall down and start writhing to avoid being splattered on. Just like the last time, many kids rush to their pickups and tear off down the dirt road away from the barn. At least we played five songs, plus the Sly and the Family Stone intro. Our night is over. I doubt that the kids understood our message. Except for a few bruises and contusions, everyone had a great time. Those couples who spent their time making out in the surrounding fields wander in to ask what happened.

“Faggots on fire,” ‘Gator responds. “They’s tried to burn us at the stake but space aliens arrived ta the rescue.”

“Man, we missed it.”

“You play, you pay,” I crack.

“Y’all’s gonna play next week?”

“Maybe. If we’s in the mood,” ‘Gator has his mojo back.

The barn party ends so early that when we arrive home to unload the equipment, the moms are still awake. They quiz us on why the party broke up early. We all try simultaneously to explain flying saucers, space aliens, the Ramones, and everyone running away screaming. The moms stop listening.

“Well, was it fun?” Molly asks finally.

“Always,” we all agree.

“Will we have to read about it in the paper tomorrow?”

“The paper never says nothin’ ‘bout barn parties,” ‘Gator pretends we aren’t into it for the fame.

“Proper English, Brock,” Mom orders. “That was a double negative, which may be heard as ‘the paper always says everything about barn parties.”

That gets us scratching our heads.

“Mom. We know ’sactly wot he means and that ain’t it,” I try to get her goat.

Mom just shakes her head. She looks meaningfully at Molly. They obviously have something up their sleeves.

Molly takes the lead. “We haven’t said anything about ‘Gator becoming a semi-permanent member of the family. Because, he’s Andy’s best friend and the band is like a second family for you kids. We are worried that your folks are concerned that you are always here.”

“I always do all my farm chores. Ol’ Andy usually helps out. One of the milkers’s taken a real shine to the boy.”

“We called your folks, ‘Gator. They want to see you more. They think you’ve adopted us and are part of our family.”

The moms stare at all four of us, looking worried and distressed. “We have no objection if Andy stays out at the farm as often as you stay here, ‘Gator.” Molly announces.

“What about us,” Angie cries. “We’ll miss ‘Gator, too.”

The moms look at each other, nodding that their worries are confirmed.

“They kin stay, too, We’s gots plenty o’ room,” ‘Gator has a ready solution.

I’m about to burst from needing to tell the moms the truth. ‘Gator gives me a warning look. I’m not the object of the moms’ scrutiny. He and the twins will eventually have to tell them.

We finish the unloading and sit up of the third floor, whispering about the moms’ concerns.

“Y’all’s gotta tell sometime. Man up and show ‘em how ya feels. They know somethin’s up. How bad can it be, after all my shenanigans of late?”

“It’s just one more thing that makes us weirdos.”

“Com’n an’ sing our song.  At least it’s a outlet fer all this drama.” I pick up a guitar and strum the leads, mouthing the title:


“They say we’re not normal

Our lives are too strange

Maybe we should be Mormons

Wouldn’t that be a pain.

We got two moms

We don’t need dads

Our lives are songs

So we won’t be sad

We grew up with each other

That’s just what twins do

Then along comes our brother

Now we’re triplets too

Normal’s not gonna happen

That may be good for you

We’ll just keep on truckin’

Triples better than two

We got two moms

We don’t need dads

Our lives are songs

So we won’t be sad.”

We play it through a couple of times, making us smile every time we sing ‘Our lives are songs, so we won’t be sad.’ The twins pick up their basses, singing along. ‘Gator slaps out a rhythm of his thighs, driving the girls’ bass lines to eerily come together yet still apart. It seems sexy which makes us repeat it and start the song up again.

“Enough o’ feelin’ sorry fer ourselves. You should tell ’em sooner than later.”

It’s up to ‘Gator. The twins know that their secret affair may not work if others know. Especially if they are our parents.

My ears pick up a slight shuffling on the stairs. I can guess who is listening in. I catch Amy and Angie’s eyes and nod at the stairs.

“I wish the moms seemed more receptive. I am dying to tell them,” Amy winks at us and nods toward the stairs.

“Me, too,” Angie lies.

“Maybe if you leave them little hints, they’ll say it’s okay.”

“Right. We could do things like hold hands more and just relax with them,” ‘Gator has his ways.

“Do you really want us to stay out on the farm, ‘Gate?” Amy puts on her sweet face.

“Shure thing. My folks’ll know right away. Won’t bother ‘em none. We’s Mormons way back. It’s natural to ‘em.”

“Yeah, two wives ta help out is better than just one,” Angie snaps. “Ya plannin’ on more additions to yer harem, ‘Gator?”

“No one knows what’s rilly goin’ on. They don’t wants ta know, figurin’ we’s young and dumb.”

“We gots ta do chores there?” Amy frowns.

“’Course, no one sits around. We all do chores, even John Boy did. He insisted on doin’ the muckin’ out fer sum reason.”

“Sumthin’ ta do with Daddy issues,” I explain.

“Ma’ll have ya sewin’ or cleanin’ or cookin’. Jist tells her ya gots ta study.”

“No sittin’ ‘round fer the weirdo sisters,” Amy cracks.

We do a couple of more of our songs. I like that we write about our lives, even the ones from the old band. Well, not the drug parts but it feels real comfortable. Keepin’ it real. Movin’ to ‘Gator farm.

The moms take our hint and are more attentive to the twins. I’m glad not to be hogging the spotlight for once. The last night before we all leave for our new home, we celebrate with a special dinner. They even include ‘Gator in their hugs and kisses. No shame among the Baptists. It’s agreed to spend alternating weeks at either house, with weekends as wild cards.

I like the sound of wild cards. After school we drive to ‘Gator’s family farm and settle into two bedrooms. ‘Gator insists I stay in his room which is maxed out with athletic trophies and posters of his sports heroes. Soon we herd the milk cows in from the pastures. It is cute how he gets the twins to ride on the backs of the largest cows. They squeal as he lifts them on, complaining that cow spines are too bony, making it uncomfortable for them to ride. They need help dismounting, much to ‘Gator’s amusement. I just watch, enjoying how he dominates the twins. The milking routine has ‘Gator’s dad showing the twins the procedure to clean teats, hook up the suction cups, and know when to disconnect. Our farm lives begin. ‘Gator’s parents seemed pleased to have a house full of kids. I take the twins’ station wagon back to town in order to do my pizza deliveries. I go by Hyland house for dinner once I finish, as the ‘Gator farm has dinner right after the nightly milking. By the time I return, it’s so late everyone is in bed. Waking up for morning chores is early the next day.

“Y’all asleep?” I ask as I slip into bed with him.

“Naw, just drifting off. I dreamt I was married to the twins and y’all was our farm hand.”

“Did I sing cowboy songs while riding the range?”

“Naw. Ya didn’t say much, jist a hard worker.”

“Where was yer folks?’

“I guess they died. That makes me sad now. I jist didn’t thinks ‘bout it in my dream.’”

“No John Boy?”

“He was off ta college, still la dee dah.”

We laugh.

“Ain’t ya goin’ into th’other room?”

“I kinda jist wanna lay here an’ talk. That okay?”

“Okay with me, but the twins may git antsy.”

“Seems strange ta be sneakin’ in there in my own house.”

“Worried ‘bouts what the folks think?”

“They think I’s jist a kid, not even interested in gurls.”

“Maybe they’ll wake up once they see how close the three of y’all is.”

“Yeah. I’ll give ‘em time to git used ta it.”

We’d been laying there on our backs while we talked. He rolls in my direction.

“I don’ts mind bein’ yer boyfriend, Andy. It jist seems natural.”

“Maybe fer y’all, but it’s a bit weird fer me.”

“Ya ain’t unhappy movin’ out here on the prairie.”

“Naw. I’m used ta movin’. It feels like junior high, havin’ sleepovers agin.”

“Yeah. Ever’one says I’s a big kid.”

“I dunno, ‘Gate. Yer a big kid with two girlfriends, dreamin’ yer married. Not exactly junior high experiences.”

“Cain’t it jist be simple, no drama?”

“Fer me, it’s never simple. I’s jist glad the people I loves is happy.”

“Ya means the twins?”

“Y’all, too, ‘Gate.”

“Ya means ya loves me?”

“Yer my best friend, ever since my first day at Ames High. It ain’t no girly love thing. Ya makes me happy. I never wants that ta change.”

He punches me in the arm. “I’s happy, too.”

“Well, go tell the twins before I gits too romantic fer y’all.”

He looks surprised, and then, hits me again, with a big grin on his face.

“We’s the best, Andy.”

“Shure thing. Now git out o’ here.”

My wild card weekends are no different from our previous routine. If the Stone’s Lear is available, Jack flies out here or it comes and flies me to the City. When Jack is in Ames, we attend the weekly barn parties until someone thought it funny to burn down the abandoned barn we used that weekend. The newspaper generally does not report on teen activities but after the barn burning, a reporter does an investigative piece on Ames’s heathen youth culture. The normal cow tipping exploits are sensationalized with spiced up reports of flying saucers, alien abductions, orgiastic rock from a band similar to ours, and general drinking and drug use. As the weather has become warm, lake parties are organized with more parental supervision. It’s still easy to slip away for sex when the urge hits us. John Boy stays in his own room at the ‘Gator farm, but he is never alone. Everyone gathers in ‘Gator’s room where we move  all the band equipment. All his trophies are banished to his closet. It now looks more like a high schooler’s room, although someone is keeping it decently clean, probably Mrs. ‘Gator, or maybe the twins. I often eat dinner with the moms, but it seems that the twins are permanently enshrined at the farm. They take to farm chores without a complaint other than insisting that milking and other outdoor chores are not the sole province of the farm men. John Boy finds getting up early on his weekends is not in his DNA. I solve the problem by moving to his room once ‘Gator joins the twins. Thirty minutes of wake-up sex gets him going each morning he is in Ames. When I visit NYC, Daddy is always amused when we show up for his breakfast hour, even when we’ve been out late in Soho. The cousins tag along with us at first, but our Page Six celebrity fades as we become more frequent scenesters. Fame is fleeting at 17. We are weekend warriors, somewhat beneath contempt in Greenwich Village. Andy is nearing completion of the Big Shot portraits for the Jace’s Place exhibition. Jack and I talk Marty into hiring us as production assistants on his current movie, ‘New York, New York.’ The plan is we’ll be liaison between Marty and Andy for the video portion of the Jace exhibit. We are looking forward to spending more time with our friend Bobby De Niro. Jack is enthralled about meeting Liza Minnelli, as well. Originally, we plan to be unpaid interns, which Dad nixes, saying it’s costing him so much to send me to Harvard that I have to contribute with a paying summer job. After the success of ‘Taxi Driver,’ Marty’s big budget on ‘New York, New York’ allows him to pay both of us menial wages, satisfying Dad and again amusing Daddy. ‘Gator and the twins are sad that I’m leaving right after graduation. At least the twins farming abilities mean I won’t be missed. I put off telling Ol’ Bessie that I’m leaving her until the last-minute. She takes it in stride and even seems glad that the twins will be doing the milking. Devotion cuts both ways. I’m going to miss her while she seems oblivious to the change.

I realize that my time on the prairie is coming to an end. It’s been a short nine months, yet I find I now have a sense of family here. Two moms and twin bigamists may seem like an odd family. Yet I feel more grounded than ever before. I’m almost 18 but I’m less adventurous and not so much of a risk taker than I was at 15. Maybe I just know better. I think about all of the celebrities I’ve met and how they need to be reminded that you are only old when you become too cautious to act crazy or to risk failure. My hopes of an entertainment career were tempered when Doug told me I need to grow up. Now that I am growing up, I feel unsure about what I really want. Jace tells my heart I need to renew the underlying premise of Jace’s Place, that kids need to be safe. Jack and I learned that they need each other to feel safe. Even we, almost adults, cannot provide that primal, tribal need. Well-meaning adults often feel they know what kids need; they are usually wrong and become misguided scolds. I decide to stick with the original premise, keep the kids safe. They have to work out their emotional needs through each other. I remember Preacher, from Daytona Beach, who felt uncomfortable addressing his charges’ sexual feelings. At 16 Jack and I just forged ahead and said what we felt. Now that I am more grounded and likely to consider the consequences. All these thoughts become the focus of my final weeks with Dr Kam. He is not judgmental with me, recognizing I am reevaluating how I always act first and face the consequences later. He is philosophic about accepting my decisions, although the change in plans means our Shikoken pilgrimage is now delayed to another year.  More choices mean tougher decisions.

Graduation is upon us. “Gator enrolls in summer school at State so he can attend summer football practice. He will be a college student before all of us. The twins decide they also should start college right away. As summer farm chores increase with crops close to harvest, they need to be at the ‘Gator farm full-time. The moms bemoan that they have lost all their kids. Molly calls it empty-nest syndrome. I secretly feel they are looking forward to their privacy and time alone together to fully appreciate their relationship. It seems ironic that both my parents are happily involved with loving partners. I question whether my tendency to have intensely involved relationships is in my best long-term interests. I need Dr Kam to sort me out. He laughs at all my concerns.

“You act like your life is set in stone now that you’re graduating. It’s called Commencement because your life is only starting now.”

John Boy’s graduation is two weeks before Ames, due to so many snow days on the prairie. The weekend before our graduation he comes to stay. After chores he insists on taking the twins shopping for graduation gifts. I sense the hand of Mummy in this act of generosity. John Boy is a little put-off when their shopping preference is again at Goodwill. It costs him less than twenty-five dollars, spent mostly on gingham dresses that cover their ankles. Prim and proper are these farm girls. I swear there are several pairs of Mormon boys, cycling around the Hyland House, their repressed hormones awakened by the sight of a well-turned ankle.

Our wild card weekend is at the ‘Gator family lake house. All the French faghags and the football posse are staying over after wake-boarding all day. When the twins walk out in Little House on the Prairie drag, no one notices. They look at each other and high-five. “Mission Accomplished.”

Seamus accompanies John Boy as his regularly assigned Regis Knight, protecting him from both the deranged Baptists and my deviant sexual practices. I’m slightly jealous when Ol’ Bessie perks up at the return of her favorite milking hands. Seamus uses his charm on Cindy, his assigned comfort/girlfriend. His farming aptitude is noted as a possible career choice if the city boy wants to permanently relocate to Iowa. Seamus maintains friendly relations with everyone, enjoying freedoms unknown to most Catholic boys at an all-male high school. John Boy and I school him on the important details of pregnancy prevention. He’s relieved that we provide him with the condoms that his Catholic upbringing forbids him from buying on his own. Jace even shows up when we instruct him on proper usage, reveling in the erection he causes rolling the rubber over a hardening dick. I decide Jace is acting pretty immature, making me feel sad that I’m aging out of 15-year-olds’ pranks and antics. John Boy and I just laugh at the embarrassed Knight’s obvious discomfort on getting hard in front of us. Like most Irish boys, his partial hard-on is less than impressive.

The ‘Gator lake house has bunk house sleeping arrangements. By the time everyone goes to bed, there are two in almost every bunk. I try to convince John Boy to find a more private sleeping/fucking spot. He will have none of it. We laugh at all the moaning, squealing, and bed-spring squeaking going on around us. No one takes any interest in what anyone else is doing. Some of the girls look worse for wear at the breakfast table, none as much as Seamus’s partner. I conclude that size is not as important as vigor with girls. Mrs. ‘Gator’s pancakes lack my mom’s blueberries, but the use of real buttermilk creates such a demand that breakfast goes on for several hours. By then, the day is warm and clear, perfect for another day of wake boarding. The twins are upset that we are missing church and their choir performance. We agree to attend the local Baptist chapel to make up for our absence in Downtown Ames. Seamus is on high alert, but word of our deviant practices has not made it out this far from town. When we join in with the choir, a hush comes over the worshipers. The twins are inspiried with high, soaring solos. I feel totally innocent afterwards. The afternoon of wake-boarding inspires me to execute 360 degree spins and full flips on the board. Of course, ‘Gator has to keep up. We put on a display for everyone on the shore. Mr. and Mrs. ‘Gator  provide ample cold beers for everyone. They even find PBRs for me, the Florida beer snob. John Boy and Seamus go home on the Lear feeling very toasty from the sun and the brews. The whole crew sees them off, giving John Boy the opportunity to make a speech about how much he loves Ames and everyone here. How maudlin can he get?

Graduation is the following weekend. John Boy’s maudlin speech is just the start of a week of sentimental reminiscences and good-byes. Like many of our classmates, the twins are following ‘Gator to Iowa State. The original plan was for both girls to move from Hyland Street into an on-campus dorm. The need for them to do chores at the ‘Gator farm makes dorm life impractical.

“Jist think, you’ll have the house to yerselves, inviting’ all the local lesbians over for wild parties?” I kid the moms.

“As if there’s more than us two lesbians in the whole state.”

“Ya never know. I bet Mrs. McCarthy would love ta attend, if not exactly to join in the celebrations.”

“I thought she was your favorite teacher, helping you get into Harvard?”

“Don’t mean I cain’t see her envious of all the doin’s in the Mueller-Castle household.”

“Best you keep your observations to yourself. She’s a married woman.”

“And loves every minute she gets away from him.”

“Oh, the twisted, perverted minds of teenagers. Nothing better to do than fantasize about the normal lives of their teachers.”

I still believe Mrs. McCarthy needs liberation.

Frustrated trying to instill some fashion sense in the twins, John Boy arrives for graduation with matching white dresses with blue trim for the ceremony. There’s even a note from Mummy wishing the girls the best. John Boy is no longer her number one daughter. At the close of the ceremony, after we toss our mortar board caps into the air, our band assembles on stage and plays a dance party set to mark our new maturity as graduates. After an hour of dancing, most everyone gathers at the ‘Gator farm for a Bar-B-Que, ATV riding, and more than a modest amount of beer. The football posse convinces the French Club girls that they are more than fag hags. The large farm-house has many hidden spots for making out. Most all of them are fully occupied. At the end of the evening, Seamus announces that he is spending the summer at Cindy’s farm as a paid farm hand. Everyone cheers his conversion. Young Prince John Boy regrets the loss of his personal Regis Knight.  The evening ends with a sing-along led by our band, playing strictly country and folk songs. We end with John Denver and ‘Country Roads.’

Of course, I am in tears at the end.

‘Gator jumps up from the drums, hanging onto John Boy and me, with the twins on either side. “Jeez, Andy. When’s ya gonna stop bein’ such a wimp?”


“Y’all cain’t leave,” Angie is uncharacteristically emotional. “Ya ain’t bin here but less’n a year. We took y’alls in and made ya family. T’ain’t right nor fair. Ya makes us all loves ya. Now y’all’s walkin’ away. Well, takin’ a jet plane. Y’all acts like ya rilly is John Denver, some big celebrity. Y’all ain’t nothing, withouts yer family.”

The girl can go on. We all sit around the dining room table, including the moms. It is the last night we will all be together. John Boy has the two of us flying out in the morning, after church choir. I feel sad that it is also our last performance in Ames. I know I cannot stop myself from finding new places to show off.

I have to respond to her taunts.

“Yer right. We is leavin’ on a jet plane, but I’s never gonna be some celebrity that fergets his family.  I shows off ‘cause I wants ta please y’all. I even loves singing in church. Hell, all my catholic friends say I’s a Baptist now and the Baptists wanna crucify me  fer bein’ Catholic. Jist proves I loves y’all.”

Next morning we board that Lear and jet to our new life. John Boy decides to take charge.

“You need to stop calling me John Boy now.”

“Not even whens we says ‘good nite?’”

“And you can stop with the phony accent. We are going to Harvard soon. I can’t have a hayseed roommate in Cambridge.”

“Well, la dee da.”

“Don’t you want to be taken seriously, Tim?”

“Seriously, I kinda likes Andy. Reminds me of my favorite artist.”

“Andy’s a pop sensation. You need to be yourself for once.”

“More like a daddy fixation in Andy’s case.”

“You love him as much as I do.”

“Yer serious, ain’t cha?”

“Well, yeah.”

“How’s that workin’ out fer y’all, ya little nerd?”

That wounds his pride. He reaches over and hugs my arm, looking beseechingly at me. The charm offensive is on. I pull him into the lavatory. We join the mile high club with a quick blow job. When he doesn’t reciprocate I understand that the ouster of my country persona is a long thought-out campaign.

“Okay, Mr. Nerd, we’re no longer over Iowa. I’ll only be acting but I won’t purposely embarrass you with my adopted country ways.”

He kisses me and looks pleased. Maybe I was mistaken for making him muck out the milking barn every morning. We have different styles. I figure that Ol’ Bessie had plumb forgotten me already. Cows is pretty dumb.

On the approach to Teterborough, the pilot makes the approach right over the City. It is pretty exciting to look down and see Central Park. It is not that hard to fit back in. We are home.

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