Plastic People – Chapter 6

THE GRADUATE

‘Gator lay in bed, propped up with his hands behind his head,Tim 485 waiting for me to join him. I slid in beside him. Our nightly ritual had devolved to my falling easily to sleep before he left to join the twins. Tonight he had something on his mind. It was scary to see. Generally he was all action and little introspection.

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

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

“My boyfriend is real possessive, ‘Gate.”

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

“All musicians ain’t fags.”Tim 623

“It’s fer the twins. They’s sad they cain’t tells no one that 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 bein’ difficult.”

“When is she not?” Tim 585

We laughed. “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 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 knows.”

“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 what others thinks?”

“I don’ts, but the twins is all worked up ‘bout it.” Tim179

“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 was 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’ it’s all a bad dream.” Tim 461

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

Noah cornered me and had a minor meltdown.

“I ain’t being the horse’s ass Tim 400 no more if’n ‘Gator’s gay,” he declared. Then he broke down and admitted he was jealous of me. “I’s known you was his best friend since the day y’all showed up and wouldn’t give in to ‘im in arm wrestlin.’”

“Jeez, Noah. Y’all was such a good horse’s ass and all. Sure ya wanna gives it up?”Tim 429

He just gave me a nasty look and walked away.

Band practice was somewhat dispirited due to the gay controversy. ‘Gator admitted that Coach Ball had told him his scholarship to Iowa State was in jeopardy due to a ‘morals’ clause that defined aberrant sexual behavior as cause for rescinding sports scholarships. He had promised Coach that he had not and didn’t plan on acting on his gay tendencies. I was so relieved. The twins were reevaluating their relief at not being the center of ‘Gator World gossip. The gossip grapevine was wondering why one of them had not ‘sealed the deal’ with ‘Gator. My advice was to let it all blow over. The majority of the gossip centered on how nasty I was for taking advantage of the local football hero. We sat around bemoaning  our reputations. Finally I said we should write a song about it all.

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

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

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

I just substituted 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 is on 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

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

Songwriters: DEE DEE RAMONE, DOUGLAS COLVIN, JEFFREY HYMAN, JOEY RAMONE, JOHN (RAMONE) CUMMINGS, JOHNNY RAMONE, THOMAS ERDELYI, TOMMY RAMONE

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 

Playing lifted our spirits and we jumped around pretending to be the Ramones family.

“Y’all knows they’s just callin’ themselves Ramones. They ain’t all brothers,” ‘Gator showed he was 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’re family.”

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

“When’s the next barn party?” I asked.

“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 stated.

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

We sat around discussing what songs to play until it was time to go milking. I had difficulty hooking up ol’ Bessie. I swear she was jealous of my new love affair with ‘Gate. I finally calmed her down by singing our version of ‘Happy Family.’ I substituted the line about me to ‘Bessie likes men.’ ‘Gator found this amusing except it took us twice as long to milk that day as all the cows were excited and anxious listening to us sing Ramones songs. ‘Gator’s dad complained that milk production was off that day. It takes too much energy to be a punk rock cow.tim-704

My session with Dr. Kam ran long that Thursday afternoon. I described the deception we were trying to pull on our classmates. He was not a big fan.

“It was not my idea. And, I seem to have lost half my friends at school. They blame me for ruining 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.” Tim 354

“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 seemed natural.”

“Why is bein gay more natural 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 was hard for them, having gay moms and a gay brother. They wanted 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,Tim 324 haunting all his junior high friends. I think Jace likes being fifteen once 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 moved on. Maybe I can get him to be 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 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 smiled and leaned over to kiss my on the cheek.Tim 35

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

 

That night I called 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 crooned.

“Yeah, we sing ‘Andy likes men.’”

“That’s news?’

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

“What?” Tim 310

“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 was sensing competition.Tim 210

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

“You better not be lying.”

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

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

“He leaves to be with the twins soon’s 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’s the cousins?” I changed 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 loaded the drums, amps, speakers and power supply into ‘Gator’s pickup. John Boy was denied personal service as the Lear was in use. We could plagiarise the Ramones without any New Yorkers calling us on it.

After setting up, we attempted to socialize with our friends and classmates. Our popularity was at its nadir, as no one offered us beer or joints. We could care less, happy we had a great show in store for our ex-fans. To Tommy’s dismay, Jace had come back to Iowa to repeat his space alien impersonation. He agreed to limit the intimidation and just provide fireworks. We were 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 was squealing and acting oblivious. Someone yelled out, “Faggots.”

We stopped playing.

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

We went 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

Songwriters: DEE DEE RAMONE, DOUGLAS COLVIN, JEFFREY HYMAN, JOEY RAMONE, JOHN (RAMONE) CUMMINGS, JOHNNY RAMONE, THOMAS ERDELYI, TOMMY RAMONE

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Everyone stood around with their mouths open, unsure what they were hearing.

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

We changed 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 broke up when Noah and the rest of ‘Gator’s posse attacked the people calling us faggots.

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

“One two three four’

The shoving got intense.  Many girls ran up in front to where we were playing. The footballers formed a protective chain for them and us. Guys were throwing themselves against the chain. Several broke through, and then ran back to the scrum.

We finished ‘The Blitzkreig Bop,’ and I grabbed 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 realized they were having fun. The pushing became less violent and arms were waving instead of throwing punches.  The footballers stopped protecting the girls and us, entering the fray like they were blocking on a run-back. The thrashers were thrown off guard but regrouped and held their ground. It was a sea of testosterone washing up to the edge of our performing space, then rushing out in the opposite direction. We stopped.

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

We jumped into ‘Surfin’ Bird.”

At the end, ‘Gator jumped from behind his drums and yelled, “Gimme a beer.” The girls and I stood there giving everyone the bird. Cups of beer rained down on us. I was back in the Southern road houses. Jace made his appearance in a blaze of golden light, zooming back and forth above the throbbing scrum of thrashers. He landed on ‘Gator’s pickup, pulling out his dick, instantly cumming wispy streams of ghostly sperm.  Each string of jizz burst as it hit the kids in the stunned crowd. They panicked and started writhing to avoid being splattered on. Just like the last time, many kids rushed to their pickups and tore 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 was over. I doubted that the kids understood our message, but except for a few bruises and contusions, everyone had a great time. Those couples who had spent their time making out in the surrounding fields wandered in to ask what had happened.

“Faggots on fire,” ‘Gator responded. “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 cracked.

“Y’all’s gonna play next week?”

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

The barn party ended so early that when we arrived home to unload the equipment, the moms were still awake. They quizzed us on why the party broke up early. We tried to explain flying saucers, space aliens, the Ramones, and everyone running away screaming. The moms stopped listening.

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

“Always,” we all agreed.

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

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

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

That got us scratching our heads.

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

Mom just shook her head. She looked meaningfully at Molly. They obviously had something up their sleeves.

Molly took 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 worried that your folks would be 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 would like to see you more. They think you’ve adopted us and are part of our family.”

The moms stared 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 announced.

“What about us,” Angie cried. “We’ll miss ‘Gator, too.” Tim 543

The moms looked at each other, nodding that their worries were confirmed.

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

I was about to burst from needing to tell the moms the truth. ‘Gator gave me a warning look. I wasn’t the object of the moms’ scrutiny. He and the twins would eventually have to tell.

We finished the unloading and sat up of the third floor, whispering about the moms’ concerns.

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

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

“Com’n an’ sing our song. Dario 06 At least it’s a outlet fer all this drama.” I picked up a guitar and strummed the leads, mouthing the title:

‘Triplets

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 played it through a couple of times, making us smile every time we sang ‘Our lives are songs, so we won’t be sad.’ The twins picked up their basses, singing along. ‘Gator slapped out a rhythm of his thighs, driving the girls’ bass lines to eerily come together yet keep apart. It seemed sexy which made us repeat it and start the song up again.

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

It was up to ‘Gator. The twins knew that their secret affair may not work when others knew. Especially if they were parents.

My ears picked up a slight shuffling on the stairs. I didn’t need to guess who was listening in. I caught Amy and Angie’s eyes and nodded at the stairs.

“I wish the moms seemed more receptive. I am dying to tell them,” Tim 234 Amy winked at us and nodded toward the stairs.

“Me, too,” Angie lied.

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

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

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

“Shur 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, ‘s better than just one,” Angie snapped. “Ya plannin’ on more additions to yer harem, ‘Gator?”

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

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

“’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 explained.

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

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

We did a couple of more of our songs. I liked that we wrote about our lives, even the ones from the old band. Well, not the drug parts but it felt real comfortable. Keepin’ it real. Movin’ to the farm. Tim 594

The moms took our hint and were more attentive to the twins. I was glad not to be hogging the spotlight for once. The last night before we all left for our new home, we celebrated with a special dinner. They even included ‘Gator in their hugs and kisses. No shame among the Baptists. It was agreed to spend alternating weeks at either house, with weekends as wild cards. jack-diamonds01 I liked the sound of wild cards. After school we drove to ‘Gator’s family farm and settled into two bedrooms. ‘Gator insisted I stay in his room which was maxed out with athletic trophies and posters of his sports heroes. Soon we were all herding the milk cows in from the pastures. It was cute how he got the twins to ride on the backs of the largest cows. They squealed as he lifted them on, complaining that the cow’s spines were too bony, making them uncomfortable to ride. They needed help dismounting, much to ‘Gator’s amusement. I just watched, enjoying how he dominated the twins. The milking routine had ‘Gator’s dad showing the twins the procedure to clean teats, hook up the suction cups, and know when to disconnect. Our farm lives began. ‘Gator’s parents seemed pleased to have a house full of kids. I took the twins’ station wagon back to town in order to do my pizza deliveries. I went by Hyland house  for dinner once I was done, as the ‘Gator farm had dinner right after milking was done. By the time I returned, it was so late everyone was in bed. Waking up for morning chores was early the next day.

“Y’all asleep?” I asked as I slipped 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?” Tim 429

“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 think ‘bouts it in my dreamin.’”

“No John Boy?”

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

We laughed.

“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.” Tim 440

“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 youse is.”

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

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

“I don’ts mind bein’ yer boyfriend, Andy. It jist seems natural.” Tim 397

“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 material.”

“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?” Zorik

“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 ta  change that.”

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

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

He looked surprised, and then, hit 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 were no different from our previous routine. If the Stone’s Lear was available, Jack flew out here or it came and flew me to the City. When Jack was in Ames, we attended the weekly barn parties until some one thought it funny to burn down the abandoned barn we used that weekend. The newspaper generally didn’t report on teen barn activities but after the barn burning, a reporter did an investigative piece on Ames’s heathen youth culture. The normal cow tipping exploits were sensationalized by 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 became warm, lake parties were organized with more parental supervision. It was still easy to slip away for sex when the urge hit us. John Boy stayed in his own room at the ‘Gator farm, but he was never alone. Everyone would gather in ‘Gator’s room where we had moved all the band equipment. All his trophies were banished to his closet. It looked more like a high schooler’s room, although someone was keeping it decently clean, probably Mrs. ‘Gator, or may be the twins. I often ate dinner with the moms, but it seemed that the twins were permanently enshrined at the farm. They took to farm chores without a complaint other than insisting that milking and other outdoor chores were not the sole province of the farm men. John Boy found getting up early on his weekends was not in his DNA. I solved the problem by moving to his room once ‘Gator joined the twins. Thirty minutes of wake-up sex got him going each morning he was in Ames. When I visited NYC, Daddy was always amused when we showed up for his breakfast hour, even when we had been out late in Soho. The cousins tagged along with us at first, but our Page Six celebrity faded as we became more frequent scenesters. Fame was fleeting at 17. We had become weekend warriors, somewhat beneath contempt. Andy was nearing completion of the Big Shot portraits for the Jace’s Place exhibition. Jack and I talked Marty into hiring us as production assistants on his current project, ‘New York, New York.’ The plan was we’d be liaison between Marty and Andy for the video portion of the exhibit. We were looking forward to spending more time with our friend Bobby De Niro. tim-708 Jack was enthralled with Liza Minnelli, as well.  Originally, we planned to be unpaid interns, which my dad nixed, saying it was costing him so much to send me to Harvard that I had to contribute with a paying summer job. After the success of ‘Taxi Driver,’ Marty’s big budget on ‘New York, New York’ allowed him to pay both of us menial wages, satisfying Dad and again amusing Daddy. ‘Gator and the twins were sad  that I was leaving right after graduation. At least the twins farming abilities meant I would not be missed. I put off telling Ol’ Bessie that I was leaving her until the last-minute. She took it in stride and even seemed glad that the twins would be doing the milking. Devotion cuts both ways. I was going to miss her while she seemed oblivious to the change. tim-701

I realized that my time on the prairie was coming to an end. It had been a short nine months, yet I now had a sense of family there. Two moms and twin bigamists may seem like an odd family. Yet I felt more grounded than ever before. I was almost 18 but I had become less adventurous and less of a risk taker than when I was 15. Maybe I just knew better. I thought about all of the celebrities I had met and how they needed to be reminded that you are only old when you are become too cautious to act crazy or to risk failure. My hopes of an entertainment career had been dampened when Doug told me I needed to grow up. Now that I was growing up, I was unsure what I really wanted. Jace told my heart I needed to renew the underlying premise of Jace’s Place, that kids need to be safe. Jack and I  had learned that they need each other to feel safe. Even we, almost adults, couldn’t meet that primal, tribal need. Well-meaning adults often felt they knew what kids needed; they were wrong and became misguided. I determined to stick with the original premise, keep the kids safe. They had to work out their emotional needs through each other. I remembered 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 was more grounded, I would be likely to consider the consequences. All these thoughts became the focus of my final weeks with Dr Kam. He was not judgmental with me, recognizing I was reevaluating how I had always acted first and thought about it later. He was philosophical about accepting my decisions, although the change in plans meant our Shikoken pilgrimage was now delayed to another year. tim-727 More choices meant tougher decisions.

Graduation was upon us. “Gator was enrolled in summer school at State so he could attend summer football practice. He would be a college student before all of us. The twins decided they also should start college right away. As summer farm chores increased with crops close to harvest, they decided to be at the ‘Gator farm full-time. The moms bemoaned that they had lost all their kids. Molly called it empty-nest syndrome.lampoon_ibis_1888 I secretly felt they were looking forward to their privacy and time alone together to fully appreciate their relationship. It seemed ironic that both my parents were happily involved with loving partners. I questioned whether my tendency to have intensely involved relationships was in my best long-term interests. I needed Dr Kam to sort me out. He laughed at all my concerns.

“You act like your life is set now that you’re graduating. They call it Commencement because your life is only starting now.

John Boy’s graduation was two weeks before Ames, due to so many snow days on the prairie. The weekend before our graduation he came to stay. After chores he insisted on taking the twins shopping for their graduation gifts. I thought I sensed the hand of Mummy in this act of generosity. John Boy was a little put-off when their shopping preference was again from Goodwill. It cost him less than twenty-five dollars, spent mostly on gingham dresses that covered their ankles. Prim and proper were these farm girls. I swear there were 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 was at the ‘Gator  family lake house, as all the French faghags and football posse were staying over after wake-boarding all day. When the twins walked out in Little House on the Prairie drag, no one noticed. They looked at each other and high-fived. “Mission Accomplished.”

Seamus accompanied John Boy as his regularly assigned Regis Knight, protecting him from both the deranged Baptists and my deviant sexual practices. I was slightly jealous when Ol’ Bessie perked up at the sight of her favorite milking hands. Seamus used his charm on Cindy, his assigned comfort/girlfriend. His farming skills were noted as a possible career choice if the city boy wanted to permanently relocate to Iowa. Seamus maintained friendly relations with everyone, enjoying  freedoms unknown to most Catholic boys from an all-male high school. John Boy and I schooled him on the important details of pregnancy prevention. He was relieved that we provided him with the condoms that his Catholic upbringing forbid him from buying on his own. Jace even showed up when we instructed him on proper usage, reveling in the erection he caused rolling the rubber over a hardening dick. I felt Jace was acting pretty immature, which resulted in my feeling sad that I was aging out of 15-year-olds’ pranks and antics. John Boy and I just laughed at the embarrassed Knight’s obvious discomfort on getting hard in front of us. Like most Irish boys, his hard-on was less than impressive.

The ‘Gator lake house had bunk house sleeping arrangements. By the time everyone went to bed, there were two in almost every bunk. I tried to convince John Boy we should find a more private sleeping/fucking spot. He would have none of it, laughing at all the moaning, squealing, and bedspring squeaking going on around us. No one took an interest in what anyone else was doing. Some of the girls looked worse for wear at the breakfast table, none as much as Seamus’s partner. I concluded that size was not as important as vigor with girls. Mrs. ‘Gator’s pancakes lacked my mom’s blueberries but the use of real buttermilk created such a demand that breakfast went on for several hours. By then, the day was warm and toasty, perfect for another day of wake boarding. The twins were upset that we were missing church and their choir performance. We agreed to attend the local Baptist chapel to make up for our absence in Ames. Seamus was on high alert, but word of our deviant practices had not made it that far. When we joined in with the choir, a hush came over the worshipers. The twins were inspired with high, soaring solos. I felt totally innocent afterwards. The afternoon of wake-boarding inspired me to execute 360 degree spins and full flips on the board. Of course, ‘Gator had to keep up. We put on a display for everyone on the shore. Mr. and Mrs. ‘Gator had provided ample cold beers for everyone. They even found PBRs for me, the Florida snob. John Boy and Seamus went home on the Lear feeling very toasty from the sun and the brews. The whole crew saw them off, giving John Boy the opportunity to make a speech about how much he loved Ames and everyone there. How maudlin could he get? Tim 276

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

“Y’all thought you’d have the house to yerselves, inviting’ all the local lesbians over for wild parties,” I kidded 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 to be accepted by 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 believed Mrs. McCarthy needed liberation.

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

Of course, I was in tears at the end.

‘Gator jumped 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?”

“Never.”

“Y’all cain’t leave,” Angie was 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 could go on. We were all sitting around the dining room table, including the moms. It was the last night we’d all be together. John Boy had us flying out in the morning, after church choir. I was sad that it was also our last performance in Ames, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from finding new places to show off.

I had to respond.

“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 boarded that Lear and jetted to our new life. John Boy decided 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 cannot have a hayseed  roommate in Cambridge.”

“Well, la dee da.”

“Do you not 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 sensation 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 wounded his pride. He reached over and hugged my arm, looking beseechingly at me. 11c The charm offensive was on. I pulled him into the lavatory, and he joined the mile high club with a quick blow job. When he didn’t reciprocate I understood that the ouster of my country persona was 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 kissed me and looked pleased. Maybe I was mistaken for making him muck out the milking barn every morning. We had different styles. I figured that Ol’ Bessie had plumb forgotten me already. Cows is pretty dumb.

On the approach to Teterborough, the pilot made the approach right over the City. It was pretty exciting to look down and see Central Park. Tim 475It wasn’t hard to want to fit back in. We were home.