#26 Dylan’s coming out
It’s like she never existed at all. I get one lousy text saying that while she will miss me, she can no longer hang out with me, and then it’s radio silence all the way. She doesn’t come to the gym anymore, doesn’t respond to my texts, doesn’t pick up when I call, and… well, that was it. Sad as it is, I never saw her outside of the gym anyway, not since she got back with Michel.
“Please tell me you’re not waiting for Tracy again,” Aston says as he sinks down onto the bench in the gym, where I am pretending to do something on my phone. What I’m really doing is checking her Instagram to see her face again, and to see if she’s still with Michel or not, but she hasn’t posted anything in months, and the last picture is actually one of me and her on my couch with The General in her lap, so now I’m pathetically staring at it.
“Just taking a break before my workout,” I reply, tucking my phone again and getting up to stretch. “You up for a boxing match?”
“Nah man, I’m headed home to the missus.” He grins. “Annabel is dropping Steffi off at my parents’ place right now, so tonight it’s all about spanking that sweet ass and sinking into her tight wet pussy.”
“Gross,” I comment, but a smile creeps onto my face anyway.
He grins and gets up as well, slapping me on the shoulder. “One piece of advice, man, don’t hang around here hoping she will show up. She told you point blank that she’s choosing Michel over you, and that you can’t be friends. Live your life and stop pining over her. Besides…” He hesitates. “I’m not really supposed to say this with privacy rules and all, but Tracy cancelled her gym membership here last week.”
“Ah fuck.” I grunt and kick the wall hard.
“Dude, go home,” Aston says, his tone surprisingly kind. “Call Dylan, have him take you out. Get shitfaced, find some hot girl to take home and fuck Tracy right out of your system.”
“Would that have done you any good back when you weren’t settled down with Annabel yet?” I ask, rubbing my knuckles. Fuck, it hurts when you hit stuff without your boxing gloves on. Gotta remember that. I’m not usually a violent guy. “Do you think you could have fucked her out of your system?”
“No, but Tracy isn’t your-” He stops talking and curses. “Ah man, is Tracy your Anna? Because if she is, you’re fucked. I hope for your sake she feels the same way and just needs some time.”
“Yeah, me too.” Honestly, I have no idea if Tracy is the one for me. All I know is that I love that infuriating, emotionally stinted girl with all I’ve got, even though I know it’s stupid. I’ve been setting myself up for heartbreak all along, haven’t I?
Aston takes off after a few more words of wisdom and some rude remarks about his fiancée’s ass. When I’m alone again, I start hitting the punching back next to the ring, getting all my frustration out. I imagine it’s Michel I’m hitting, and that gives me a vague sense of catharsis for about then seconds, but then the hurt is back again. It’s not his fault, and I know that, but I still blame him. He’s an asshole. He doesn’t deserve Tracy. At least I lost Franny to a great guy who is making her happy. It took me along time to get over her, but it’s comforting to know that Joshua was treating her right. With Tracy, I’m not so sure about that. Call it a gut-feeling or whatever, but something about Michel doesn’t sit well with me.
After an hour of working through my issues by using my fists, it’s time to go home and feed my goddamn cat. He’s annoyed with me, I can tell, and I don’t blame him. I’m not fun to be around these days. I miss Tracy more than I thought I would.
Why did I have to tell her I loved her? I could have just told her and Michel that I wasn’t into having sex with them and leave it at that, keep her as a friend. Or at the very least, I could have taken the time to sit her down and explain to her how much she means to me instead of blurting it out so stupidly. Of course she chose Michel. She’s been with him on and off for six years now, and she’s living with him. I’m just the blubbering idiot who yelled in her boyfriend’s face that he can get her off. Way to make her feel cheap, dude.
What the fuck was I thinking?
Christmas arrives before I know it, and it’s hard not to call Tracy again. I know her uncle died last December, so this month will be the first anniversary of his death, but it’s not up to me to be there for her. She doesn’t want anyone to pay any attention to it anyway, and I’m not her friend anymore, but I can’t help but wonder how she’s doing. Is she coping with it in a healthy way, or is she shoving her feelings down the way she always does? Is Michel being good to her, helping her through it?
It’s my turn to host the annual Christmas Eve dinner with my parents, my brother and his wife, Dylan, his stepfather and baby half-brother. They barely all fit into my apartment, but we’re used to that. It’s not like our parents are rich and have big houses or anything. In fact, I think my living room is about the same size as the one in my parents’ house. And I know for a fact I make more money than my father does. He doesn’t drive a fancy car like I do – instead he still has the same battered truck he drove back when I was in high school.
“Dude, more beer,” Dylan grunts, leaning his head against my shoulder in the kitchen. “If my father makes one more stupid sex joke to my stepmom, I’m gonna puke.”
I laugh and pat his back, handing him another bottle. We both love our parents, and they live on the other side of town, but we don’t see them all that often. For me that’s because my parents don’t exactly approve of the life I lead, and for Dylan it’s because his stepmother and him aren’t the best of friends. Nor are him and his dad, for that matter. Dylan’s mother died a few years ago, and she’s the one who raised him, since his dad left when he was young. He remarried with some ditzy blonde half his age, who can’t possibly have more than two working braincells.
“Sleeve,” Dylan says, tugging at my long-sleeved shirt so it covers the tattoo peeking out at the bottom.
“Thanks, man.” I adjust my clothes and head back to the table with more drinks for everyone. We’re halfway through dinner already, and my father is piling more chicken onto his plate.
My parents aren’t fan of my tattoos. Not at all. I got my first one on my 18th birthday and Mom cried for hours when she found out. They know I’ve got way more than just that small tat by now, but they have no idea that my entire chest is covered and that I’ve got a full sleeve on my right arm. My left one is catching up slowly, and I plan to add some more ink soon. There’s a snake poking out from my shirt, kissing my neck, and Mom has already commented on how tacky it looks twenty times since everyone arrived two hours ago.
Yeah, it’s lovely when my family visits…
“Still single, son?” my father asks between bites when I settle back in and listlessly play with my mashed potatoes.
I grunt. “Yeah, happy single.”
“I wish you would find yourself a nice girl,” Mom says with a sigh. “You’ll be 30 soon enough, Thomas. When I was your age, I had already given birth to you and Charlie.”
Fucking hell. It’s not like I’m not trying to meet someone, or that I’m not dating. I just don’t seem to be able to find the right girl. I’m not even sure I want kids. I’m not opposed to the idea, but it seems like such a theoretical question to me when I don’t even have a girl, so I don’t think I’ll know for sure how I feel about becoming a father until I have a girl by my side who I could see myself growing old with. For a heartbeat, I thought Franny was that girl for me, but now… I don’t know. Even if Tracy would show up at my door right now, I don’t know if kids would be on our minds. I love her, but she’s got a lot of shit to work through before she should consider bringing kids into this world.
To be honest, so do I. It’s not like I’m a mature adult. I drink, get high, go out whenever I feel like it, have threesomes and fuckbuddies and all that shit… That doesn’t scream responsible father, now does it?
“Please, give the guy a break,” my younger brother Charlies says with a grin. He’s only two years younger than I am, and he got married to Jolene last year. “Married life is not all that it’s cracked up to be, bro.”
“Hey!” Jolene whacks him on the back of his head, her brown eyes shooting fire at him. “Careful there, mister, or you’ll be sleeping on the couch again.”
“Please, baby, like you’d ever kick me out of bed,” he shoots back, his hand sneaking into her hair so he can pull her to him for a kiss. It’s just a peck, since our parents are watching, but there is so much love in that simple gesture that I have to look away for a moment.
I want that.
My younger brother found a good woman, and he got down on one knee, asking her to be his forever. I want that for myself as well. Not necessarily the one-knee thing, or the big wedding with the poofy dress, but the love. That feeling of having someone in your corner every single day.
Sure, I’ve got Dylan, but isn’t it kind of sad that closest I’ve ever come to have a real, serious relationship is my best friend? The longest I’ve ever been with a girl is 6 months, and I was only serious about a handful of them. I’ve never lived with a girl. Never even told a girl I loved her without getting turned down, for crying out loud. There were a few girls who wanted to settle down with me, but I wasn’t into them.
No, I always go for the unavailable ones. What the fuck is wrong with me?
“Oh Thom…” My mother’s tone is appalled, and when I look down at myself, I realize I rolled up my sleeves without even thinking about it. “Are those real?” she asks with a disapproving click of her tongue.
“Nah, he drew them on with a sharpie,” Dylan jokes, but my mother gives him such a hard look that he apologizes, gulping down some beer while he tries to hide his embarrassment.
“Yeah, I got them the past couple of years,” I say vaguely. I’ve had most of them since the start of college, but she doesn’t need to know that.
“I like them,” ditzy blonde – aka Dylan’s stepmom – says, her eyes moving over my arms. I think she truly means it. “I’ve got a butterfly tattoo myself.”
“Let me guess,” Dylan says, choking on his beer. “Above your ass-crack?”
“Yes, on my lower back,” she says looking up at him while she grabs her 3-year-old kid from the floor, lifting him onto her lap to feed him some chicken. “How did you know?”
“Lucky guess,” Dylan says.
Our eyes meet and I mouth “tramp stamp”. He winks, and in that moment, I’m so lucky we’ve got each other. Since we were 7, we’ve been making fun of our families together, and we started the tradition of spending Christmas Eve together when we were 19, after one miserable year of both going home to our parent’s home during Christmas break during our first year of college. Together, it’s way easier to brace the crazy that is our parents.
“You should cut your hair,” Mom says, reaching over to push it out of my face. “Girls don’t like guys with long hair. It’s not very masculine, now is it?”
Dylan clears his throat, saving me from my mother picking on every single part of my body. “Okay… Anyway… I’ve got something to tell you guys.”
Oh God. It’s happening. He’d told me he was going to do it tonight, but I wasn’t sure he truly would.
“What is it?” his father asks, rubbing his big belly and burping. Such a charming, lovely man. How he got a hot young blonde to marry him is beyond me. Not that she’s a prize, but surely she could get herself an ugly, rude, rich guy, instead of Dylan’s dad, who is… well, ugly and rude. Definitely not rich, though.
“The past year, I’ve realized something about myself,” Dylan says.
I laugh out loud – he sounds like the gay best friend in a freaking Hallmark movie.
“Shut up,” he bites out, but I can tell that he’s happy I’m here to support him. “Okay, here we go… I’m bisexual.”
It’s quiet for a long time, and all eyes are on Dylan, except mine. I search his dad’s face first, and I see utter and complete shock. His young wife doesn’t seem all that bothered, making faces at their baby boy. Well, good for her. She may be dumb and trashy, but at least she’s not narrow-minded. In fact, she smiles up at Dylan with fondness in her eyes. She’s not that much older than we are – only three years or so, but I can tell that she has motherly feelings right now. Pride, even.
Ahw, the girl might be alright after all.
My mom and dad don’t actually seem all that surprised, to be honest. Mom almost looks… knowing? And my father nods once and goes back to stuffing his face. Hmm. Weird.
“Good for you,” Charlie says, being the first to speak up. My brother is very different from me, but we get along great, and I’m happy that he’s not making a big deal out of this.
“I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to share this with us, Dylan,” Jolene adds. That’s a bit too touchy-feely for my taste, but at least the girl is trying. She’s a good egg.
And then, my mother speaks up. “So… how long have the two of you been a couple?”