The Consequences of Dissonance - Chapter Twenty-eight
I shared breakfast with the Careens on the first of the new year. Brunch, was more like it. Kathy cooked eggs to order and some turkey bacon, and there was plenty of coffee to go around. Kris and I then spent some time calling around to various places we thought the party might happen at. Results were mostly disappointing due to us waiting until so late a time in order to try to reserve a room. We lucked out, however, at a place in Winter Park. Someone, it seems, had to cancel their plans earlier that day and had left one suite open, which the lady was kind enough to book for us, even promising us a discount — very small, of course — for filling that spot on short notice and in the middle of the week. With today being Monday, we were able to book for Wednesday night the week after. Kris called the others involved and let them know the final date while I borrowed her computer to look up Thomas’ number. When I got a hold of him, he informed me that he was “bored out of his gourd” and would “totally dig” a trip up into the mountains.
With everything set for next week, I spent another hour or so canoodling with Kris in her room before the clock let me know that it was time to get going. I needed to get back down to Steamboat before it got dark, and I figured my welcome didn’t extend to another night at Kris’ place, despite her whining about getting me to stay. Since my mom’s was closer to Winter Park than my dad’s, it would be worth the tortuous drive to my mom’s straight from Boulder in order to save time in the long run. Especially since the place was registered in my name.
Kris and I held a prolonged goodbye in her room before both heading upstairs so that I could give my farewells to her parents. There was another kiss on the stoop before I made my way back to the car, watching her stand on the front step with her arms crossed against the chill in order to watch me until I turned onto the main drag of Boulder.
The main street led to the Boulder/Denver Turnpike, Highway 36, and out of town, but I skipped that turn and stayed on Broadway. It felt a little as though my chest held a spool of thread, and one end of it was attached to Kris; the further I drove from the city, the more I felt emotions unravelling in my chest, spinning into a dull ache of loneliness. By the time I was away from Boulder and following the winding road I had looked up along the front range of the mountains, I was actively pining. I rummaged around in the center console for my CDs and found the saddest one I could think of, Mozart’s Requiem, and slid it into the car’s radio. Sad music always cheered me up.
That winding, scant highway led me back on to I-70 which drove me deeper into the mountains and closer to home. By the time I left the small, Interstate-side towns behind and pushed on towards Highway 40, my route back home, I was no longer overcome with the sadder emotions, replaying the New Years party in my mind instead.
That whole incedent with Alan had proved to be exceptionally weird. I thought back through my younger years, through the time that I had come out, to try and remember if there was any time that I had tried to be that manipulative in order to expose a part of myself to someone else. I had been dramatic at times, to be sure, resulting in some embarrassing moments of anticlimax, as I’m sure I had caused for Alan, but hardly to the extent of what he had done. Everything about it had seemed so rehearsed, as if he had been planning it all from the point he had decided that I was gay.
That was another problem with the whole thing. It was decidedly difficult for me to not just chalk things up to gaydar, because I was fairly sure that I didn’t do anything stereotypically gay, certainly nothing overt, to be sure. I dressed like an idiot, talked like any other band dork, and was awkward around everyone, not just guys or girls. I felt that I was as affectionate with Kris in public as I had been with Chris or any other boyfriend. Moreso even, due to the lack of stigma that went with homosexuality. Gaydar, though, was something I never trusted. It wasn’t just that I didn’t have anything resembling it myself, so much as there was no logical basis for it when things weren’t completely obvious, especially once mainstream media had deemed it just fine to be ‘metrosexual’.
I shook my head and drove on. I thought instead of Kris’ story of Dante. Anger sank into the pit of my stomach and I gripped the steering wheel tighter. It was hard to take what Kris had said about what had happened afterwards into account. I didn’t care if the kid was remorseful or if Kris forgave him. Everything else just spelled date rape to me. I even began to twist the story in my mind, wondering if the pot that she had smoked with him had been laced with anything.
Thoughts of Dante led to worries about myself and the fact that I had never really asked Kris if she had wanted to the four times we had had sex. Of course, the first time had been at her encouragement, but still, I worried. The comment about Dante wearing a condom had struck a nerve as well, and I began to worry about possibly getting Kris pregnant. Kids were not on my list of things to have any time soon, and I had always pictured adopting rather than fathering. And here we had never once been safe beyond Kris taking birth control pills. I added that to my list of things to bring up with her, along with just talking about sex in general. We had only talked about it once or twice and always right after. Since things had progressed to that point, it seemed rather strange I didn’t even know what she liked, when it came to affection and intercourse.
I had enjoyed myself during those four times, to be sure. When I asked myself the questions I told myself I would ask Kris, the answers were strangely hard to come by. Catagorizing our experiences to date, I added items to lists of like and dislike: I disliked feeling like I was crushing someone smaller than myself, making missionary position rather strange; I liked how things went last night, much slower than before; I disliked the awkward sounds I made when I breathed heavily; I liked how much softer Kris was than myself, or any guy I had been with for that matter.
Boys, I chided myself. Always thinking about sex.
Of course, I gave in and fantisized about future encounters most of the rest of the way back to Steamboat.
Mom and Jared both greeted me at the door and wished me a happy New Year. I gave my mom a hug and shook Jared’s hand, greeting them both.
“So, Cory, how was the party?” Jared asked once we made our way in to the kitchen, dinner already laid out, thankfully still warm.
“Oh, it was alright,” I shrugged, slipping into my usual chair. “Kris’ mom is a pretty good cook.”
“What all did she make?” asked my mom.
I served myself a heap of spinach, rice, and feta cheese and thought back, “Little Greek spinach pies, daal… uh, I dunno, lots of stuff.”
“And it wasn’t weird, you staying over at her parents’ house?” Jared never was one for small talk. Mom gave him a dirty look.
“No,” I shook my head. “Well, I mean, of course it was, but normally so. It was weird when Chris stayed over here, too, remember?”
Jared nodded, but pressed on, “Did you sleep on a couch or something?”
“Jared!” mom scolded.
I felt my ears redden. I hadn’t realized it had been that big of a deal. Dad was okay with it and Kris’ parents were fine also, even joking about it before we went to bed. “No, we shared her bed.”
Jared looked about to ask more probing questions, but, seeing my mom’s glare, thought better and there was a moment of silence as he mentally reworded the query. “And everything went fine?”
More than fine, I thought. “Of course. I said, no weirdness out of the norm,” is what I said instead.
Jared’s searching look asked if I had fucked her, if we had been safe, if he would have to help pay for a step-grand-child, but nothing was voiced. Instead he served himself and we ate in silence.
Finally, I spoke up, “So we got the trip all squared away. Going to Winter Park next Thursday.”
“Should be fun,” mom said cheerily.
I wondered if staying up here was a mistake.
“You’ll be safe out there alone, you think?” my step-dad asked after a moment.
“Yeah, it’ll be fine. There’ll be five of us in all. Kris, me, my roommate, and two other guys from my hall. They’re all pretty cool.”
“Good,” mom replied, scooping the last of her food onto her fork, adding before she took the bite. “No drinking or anything stupid like that?”
I laughed and shook my head. “No one’s old enough to get alcohol, mom,” I replied, lying curtly. “And even if they were, I don’t think any of us are into that. Maybe Thomas, but I think he’d rather smoke pot.”
“Would you?” Jared asked. “I did once or twice in school.”
I shook my head, answering truthfully enough, “Doesn’t really interest me, honestly.”
Mom nodded approvingly.
I changed the subject eagerly. “Think anyone else around town would need any computer help? At dad’s I put up flyers offering support for computers people had gotten for Christmas.”
“That’s pretty good idea,” Jared mumbled. “Probably get a few bites doing that. Kinda makes me wish I knew more about computers.”
“Still no luck on the search, then?”
He shook his head. “No one’s really hiring around Christmas, but I expect things will start cropping up in the next few weeks. New tax year for lots of people, and all.”
I nodded and finished off my rice. “Well, wish you the best of luck. Hopefully I can find something up near school, myself.”
Jared nodded and seemed to lose himself in thought.
As I cleared the plates and helped my mom with dinner, I wondered about him. He had been unabashedly supportive of me going out with a girl, which got on my nerves and seemed to affect my mom as well. That all seemed to have shifted in the past few weeks, assuming it wasn’t all my imagination. I sighed and scrubbed at the rice pan. This relationship must look like trouble to everyone around me, judging by the way they were reacting. I was left puzzled by the fact that Kris and I were the only two that seemed to take the whole thing in stride.
I shook my head. Too much time spent thinking about the doubts of others and I would start doubting, myself.