The furniture and kitchenware were both delivered the next Saturday – a nightmarish four-hour ordeal for the both boys. Danny tried to get the living- and bed-room straightened out, while Kevin took care of the kitchen. It didn't help that he'd just brought home eight bags of groceries when the delivery men rang the doorbell. Danny's job was made that much harder when the delivery men brought up the area-rug LAST, meaning he had to undo everything and then start again.
And then there were the little things -
"We forgot to get sheets," Danny said.
"And dish-towels... I don't own a single dish-towel!" Kevin added his own problems.
"And bathroom stuff."
"Not even paper towels! God – how could I forget paper towels!"
"I'll start a list... uh... Got anything I can write on?"
"No. Make that first on the list."
"Got anything I can write with?"
"Maybe we'd better just go, Danny... before it gets worse."
They made it back just after 11 that night, and trudged in and out four times each bringing in things from Kevin's incredibly stuffed-to-the-roof car. Once everything was finally in, they were exhausted, and Kevin collapsed on his new Lay-Z-Boy to stare at the black wide-screen TV before him. He was too tired to even look for the remote. Meanwhile, Danny called his mother to check in and ask if he could spend the night. His mother had never said 'no' so far, but Danny thought it best to keep up appearances anyway.
Kevin didn't listen to the conversation, didn't even hear the other boy come up to the recliner, didn't even know he was there until Danny got in with him, draping his legs over the arm and using Kevin for back support. Damn... good call on the Lay-Z-Boy, babe, Kevin thought, This is nice. He pulled his arm from under the other boy's back and wrapped it around his belly. Danny leaned his head back on top of Kevin's shoulder and stared off into space.
"I almost hate to say this, Danny, after how we fought over so many things – but I really do like our, uh, 'decor'."
"Yeah, well... You know how us fags are. All fashion and decorating. And hair-styles."
Danny sounded dejected, somehow. Plus, he'd used the word 'fag'.
"Something wrong, babe?"
"My dad's coming home, in a few days. Doesn't know for how long, though."
"I thought you liked your dad... You always talk about him like you do. Doesn't sound like you're very happy about it now..."
Danny didn't say anything for a long time.
"Danny? You saw him at Christmas... you're out to him – and he thinks it's great! What's the problem?"
"I think him and Mom are... having problems."
Uh-oh, Kevin thought. This was another one of things that was going to be out of his league, then. Kevin's own mother was little more than a distant memory now, not that he'd really missed her at all. Her career had always come first – even when Kevin had been little. It was a wonder that his mom and dad were still married at all... Not that his father had been having affairs or anything, just that his life – and her's too, he expected – were completely devoid of... of a partner. Of what he had with Danny... Of romance. And had been for a long, long time... "You need to tell him to keep his ass at home, is about all I can say. I don't think my mother even knows how old I am anymore. Every holiday I get socks and underwear."
"It's not just that. It's... well, during the holidays, when he was home, we had lots of visitors and stuff... y'know, the house was packed. Now it's just gonna be me and him. And Mom. I bet Mom's told him about you – she's been telling him everything. She's... she's probably sent him pictures of me in drag, too..."
"That a problem?"
"Kevin... my dad... My dad is like Indiana Jones, okay? He goes out to god-knows-where, lives in tents or on boats, has to pay off the local militias to keep them from harassing his workers... When he worked in Nigeria, kidnapping was just another business. He was always having to deal with kidnappers..."
"Okay – so he's John Wayne. Or Bruce Willis or whatever... So what?"
"So... so I'm not," Danny sighed, "Forget it, Kev... You wouldn't understand."
"You don't measure up to your dad. Oh gawd, babe – been there done that! Fuck ya mean 'I wouldn't understand'?"
"Like you and your dad get along so well..." Danny said.
"We're not talking about me."
"You're gonna have to meet him, y'know..."
"I don't have a problem with that... He sounds cool, from what you've said. You really think you're a disappointment to 'im?"
"Good sons don't wear bras, Kevin."
"So you're a good daughter then... who sometimes goes bra-less. Topless, even."
"Not funny," Danny said, smirking.
Danny elbowed Kevin in the ribs, "Still not funny. Hey – how the hell did your Uncle Keith find out about The List, anyway? He scares me sometimes."
"Tell me about it. When he said he was gonna keep an eye on me... I didn't think he meant so close! I wouldn't worry about it anyway, Danny. People don't get away with that kind of stuff anymore. Someone's gonna crack. Everyone in the school office can't be a raging homophobe..."
That night they went to sleep together – without having sex beforehand – for the first time. And it was still worth it.
TO: [Admin] [Staff]
FM: [Office of Headmaster, St. Augustine's Academy]
Subj: PDA enforcement
It appears the problem of homosexuality within the school is worse than was first believed. As an interim solution, being as the school year is almost over, I'm hereby directing all staff to rigorously enforce the school's currently-existing, but sadly ignored, policy against Public Displays of Affection. The emphasis shall be on homosexual displays of this nature – natural interaction between the boys and girls, after all, can only be expected. We may not be able to kick the queers out – yet – but at least we can preserve our appearance to the Community and preserve our own dignity.
Many of the parents I have contacted do not seem to be concerned about what is happening here, I suspect they see it as "our" problem, along with everything else they themselves cannot take the time to correct about their children. It does not help that we all live in a place where the Gay Agenda has taken a strong hold.
We must continue to be the outpost of what is Decent and Right in America– that is and always has been our Tradition at this school. I intend to keep it that way even in the face of Leftist Liberal encroachment.
Alfonz Gottlieb, D.D. – Headmaster, St. Augustine's Academy
God... the man's really losing it... I'd better keep a copy of this e-mail – it's just the kind of thing that no one can find when the shit hits the fan. In fact – I'd better keep a copy in a safe place. Actually... I wonder if I can copy my Inbox file and take it home...
Those were the thoughts of Mr. Rundgrin – the Geography teacher – upon seeing the announcement. He wasn't the only one – but still no one did anything. There would no doubt be a few staff who would attempt this "selective enforcement" - but they would eventually find their peers against them, it would quietly fade away, and everyone would go back to the way things were. Except for the Headmaster, of course. He had no "peers" to measure himself against, and therefore considered himself to be the manifest model of Good and Right. He had proof that it should be so - he was Headmaster. It was his duty to set the standard of conduct.
It's an old story – learn from history or repeat it.
I look ridiculous... Dani thought, examining herself in the mirror. She'd just come upstairs "to put on pajamas", she'd told her father, but the night-gowns were right next to them. And her favorite one was on top; a simple pink almost-knee-length nightshirt that was supposed to resemble a football jersey, the number 88 emblazoned on the front and back. She stared at herself. She looked like a boy in a girl's night-shirt. Okay, a cute boy, then. Girly, at least. Kevin sure thought so... and... and Mom seemed to think so, too... and Stacey...
But what would her Dad think? Mom was already in bed, exhausted after driving to the airport to pick up her husband, and now Dani's dad was down there watching the late-night news. Danny had excused himself to change "into pajamas", he'd said. Now look at him. Her.
Fine – maybe I make a cute girl. I'm still a boy, though. Even if Dad DOESN'T think I look ridiculous, I still feel that way... at least around him. I bet HE'S never worn women's... aww, fuck it. Why am I even THINKING about doing this?
She continued staring while the answer formed by itself in her mind – because this is who I am. Ridiculous or not. This is it. It's not a fetish. It's not erotic. I don't get turned-on because I'm wearing girl's clothes... I just... LIKE it! Maybe it IS ridiculous – but it's not my fault!
She rolled her eyes to the ceiling to converse with the Greater Power that always seemed to live in high places, for some reason, Thanks a lot for your help... Real funny. Ha Ha. Good one.
She took a deep breath and opened her bedroom door. She took more deep breaths going down the stairs – it was taking all the concentration she had to manage not to trip, her anxiety was so great. She was going to expose her true self to her ultra-masculine father – a guy's guy, a man amongst men. At least, that's how she'd always thought of him. The Model of Macho.
Well... at least I don't have any make-up on.
Reaching the bottom of the stairs she could see the top of his head above his recliner. She took several more deep breaths – this was one of the hardest things she'd ever done. She walked zombie-like to the couch, staring at the television as if her life depended on what was being shown there, and sat at the far end, away from her father. She curled her legs up next to her and pretended to be interested only in what was on television. If anyone had asked her what was showing – she would have had no idea whatsoever.
An extremely tense moment passed in silence.
"That's cute," Mr. Rainier said.
"Thanks," Dani choked out - her voice didn't seem to be working right, so that her attempt to sound casual about it didn't come out nearly the way she'd planned.
But the situation was really no better than before – those remarks were only perfunctory, and they both knew it.
"You've never..." Mr. Rainier began, but changed his mind mid-thought, "You mom says you do this quite a lot. Just never in front of me, I guess... I'm serious, though – you really do look good in it."
Dani's eyes never left the tv screen, "M-mom bought it for me..." she said weakly, stammering. It sounded like an excuse, but she couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Yeah, She's told me about that. She says it sort of gave you two something in common to talk about.... To do together. You should have heard her on the phone – she was so excited. You guys were pretty distant, I guess, before you came out..."
Dani braved a glance in her dad's direction – yup, he was looking at her. She unconsciously adjusted the hem of her night-shirt, then abruptly stopped herself when she realized how incredibly feminine that must look to him. "I guess it did. I... I never expected she'd react the way she did... I mean, never in a million years. It was SO weird when she took me shopping..."
Mr. Rainier laughed easily, "Yes – she told me about that, too. Apparently your boyfriend just happened to come and 'rescue' you. Something about an emergency football practice?"
Between her father's laughter and the memory of the event – and in spite of everything else – Dani had to smile, "Pretty lame, huh? Mom bought it, though."
"What your mother knows about sports wouldn't fill a Pez dispenser."
They both chuckled. This wasn't so bad after all... again, Dani reached down to adjust her shirt, and again stopped herself.
Her father noticed it, though, and thought he'd best say something else right away, before the awkwardness descended upon them again, "When do I get to meet the inestimable 'Kevin' I've heard so much about, then?"
"Oh – well... this weekend? Maybe we could go play a round of golf or something..."
"Does he... I mean, uh... well hell: does he cross-dress too?" Mr. Rainier asked.
There was something that had never crossed Dani's mind before – Kevin in a dress – oh my god! "NO!" Dani burst out laughing at the thought, "Kevin?! No! Gawd... absolutely not! Oh... oh Jesus..." her laughter became giggles as images presented themselves in her mind. Kevin in heels. Kevin in a gown. Kevin in a... mini-skirt. The giggles erupted into laughter again.
"I see... well, I'm new at all this. Didn't know. I take it the idea is a funny one..."
"A little," Dani said, the giggles finally dying down.
Now that the ice seemed to be broken, Mr. Rainier decided it would be a good idea to clear it away completely - "So Daniel: it was hard for you, coming down here like that, wasn't it... I hope we're okay about this now..."
"You have no idea Dad. Yeah... it was. Thanks for... for being cool and everything. I really didn't have any idea what you were gonna think..."
"Can I ask what you were afraid of? I mean – I'd have thought you'd knew me well enough..." he trailed off.
"Well... I guess... I'm just not exactly a 'chip off the old block'... I mean... I'm not like you. I wanted to be, y'know – for as long as I can remember. But... as you can see, I guess – I'm just not."
"Uh... Daniel, I-"
"Dani. With an 'i'."
"Oh. Dani – how oddly fitting – I never wanted a clone, you know. Never even occurred to me. I've always wanted you to go your own direction... God knows it took me long enough to go mine. I grew up just assuming that I'd do something along the lines of what my father did. That'd I'd be like him. I never wanted that for you, for that very reason. Not that I was thinking... about, y'know, this... but in general."
"I didn't know that, though."
"Of course you didn't. How could you... I've barely seen you for the last few years of your life. I've missed a lot..."
"Four years, Dad. Four and a half."
"Has it been that long..."
"Yeah. It has. Mom misses you a lot, Dad. So do I. When do you have to go back?"
"Ten days. The project should be completed in... actually, it'll probably be another year..."
"Another year?" Dani said, "Dad... a lot of things are happening here... Kevin, me coming out in public, things at school, I got caught on fire once, and then there's Kevin's Uncle Keith who-"
"Did you say 'caught on fire'?" Mr. Rainier's ears perked up, "You caught on fire? Fire?"
"Uh... it's a long story, Dad, and it's not really-"
"Dani – tell me about catching on fire. In fact, tell me everything that's happened for the last... four and a half years. We have all night."
"Uh, Mr. Denner? This is Danny..."
It had been almost three weeks since Kevin had moved out, and never a word from him. So a phone call – even from his son's gay boyfriend, made Robert Denner's heart jump a little.
"Danny! Good to hear from you! I hope you and Kevin are doing well..."
"Yeah... yeah, he's okay. Studying for finals, actually. He's sort of getting into it now that he knows how. Uh, anyway... I'm sort of calling you behind his back. I was thinking of teaching him to play golf next weekend, and-"
"Kevin has never expressed an interest in golf, Danny. It bores him, he says."
"Mr. Denner – Robert – Kevin doesn't know what he likes. No one's ever shown him. Did you know he likes chess?"
Chess? That was a rather... complicated... game for a boy like Kevin. Ah. Yes – I'm doing it again. Apparently I just need to scrap everything I thought I knew about my son and start over. "No, I didn't know that..."
"Neither did he – until I showed him how. So, uh... I've made a reservation at Hampshire Greens, for me and Kevin and my dad. Tee-off at 10 am."
"What are you up to, Danny?"
"I thought you might accidentally show up at the same time, Mr. Denner..."
"... you thought... Well..." Mr. Denner was mildly shocked – gay or not, this Danny boy had some amazing qualities. What a great idea! Except - "You think that's really a good idea, Danny? I mean... I don't want to spoil your fun – Kevin and I don't exactly-"
"I made kind of a breakthrough with my Dad, Mr. Denner. It took way too long. But I guess it made me realize... you guys need to talk. Or maybe not – not talk about anything, I mean, but just make small-talk, y'know? No big issues or anything. Golf-talk. He should have a lot of questions... he's never been, right?"
"No. No he was never... 10 am.? Hampshire Greens? Saturday?"
"I'll see you there. Oh – I mean, perhaps I'll run into you accidentally. Strictly cloak-and-dagger."
"Great! Okay, well, good-bye, Mr. Denner..."
"Good-bye, Danny. And – thank you."
It did seem like a silly game to Kevin – hit the white ball until it goes into the hole, then do it again, and again, and again – but if Danny wanted to go, then that was good enough for him. Well, perhaps with one little change...
"You got me a what?" Danny said, trying to hide his shock at the unexpected news.
"It's a 'golf-skirt'. Blouse too – the whole outfit! Oh, don't look at me like that – I asked the sales-girl for help. It's nothing porny. Is there a problem? I thought you'd want to go in drag..."
"Well... uh... I hadn't planned on... uh..." Danny stammered – he hadn't really planned to show himself to both his father and Mr. Denner in drag.
"You hadn't planned on what?"
"It's just that... my dad's gonna be with us... So, we're not gonna be making-out or anything, and-"
"Making-out? Danny, we don't fool around every time you go somewhere in drag. Gyah. And you said your dad was cool with it anyway... Look, okay – I presumed too much, I guess. I thought you'd like it. I'll just take it back." The hurt in his voice was evident; apparently Kevin had thought he'd at least get a hug out of Danny for thinking of him. He began to fold up the skirt he was holding, feeling like he'd somehow fucked up again.
"No! I mean... uh... I mean – I like it but... well, for one thing, it's awfully short..."
"It has built-in shorts. See?" He shook the skirt loose again and held it open.
"Oh. Well, that's okay. I guess," Danny said nervously, "Kevin... thank you, really. It's sweet. It's just that... y'know... my dad..." What was really bothering him was the thought of Kevin's dad seeing him dressed as a girl. His own father – well, they'd already been through all that. Mr. Denner, on the other hand...
"Okay, Danny, okay – I don't want you to do it if you don't want to. You know that. I just thought you would, is all. You would if it was your mom going instead of your dad. You'd want to if it was Uncle Keith. You'd even want to if it was just me – or even if you were just going by yourself you'd want to. I thought you said everything was cool with your dad..."
"It is cool, Kev... But he's never seen me... y'know... with the bra and everything..."
"Danny, I dunno how to tell you this... The bra isn't a big deal. I never even notice whether you have tits or not. Uhm... that sounds weird. Anyway, I can't explain why... but you're making a big deal out of nothing."
"It's not 'nothing', Kev. People treat you different depending on whether you're a boy or a girl. It is a big deal!"
"I wouldn't know," Kevin said, wondering why Danny was getting so worked up, "All I know is: you're more fun to be with – especially when there's other people around – when you're a girl. You're just... more... uhm-"
That was true, and Danny knew it. He was more 'uhm' as a girl. "Oh, all right. I'll do it. I just hope it doesn't... freak anyone," he said, and then caught his faux-pas, "My dad, I mean. Here – lemme try this stuff on. Damn! – all my bras are at home..."
"But what can we do?" was the tone of the murmuring.
"Look," another voice – louder than the rest – said, "all of us here think this List business is... worrisome, to say the least. But so far – aside from calling a few of us parents, he hasn't actually done anything. I daresay he got enough irate responses from us that Mr. Gottlieb has given up that tactic... Although, I do feel sorry for any of the boys or girls who's parents might be... well, like Mr. Gottlieb."
"He's not going to stop at just calling the parents, though. Did you see the e-mail?"
There were many assenting noises, and other's to the effect of "What e-mail?"
"No PDA at the school? God, man... I mean, I know it's a rule – it was in my high school days too – but everyone knows it's bullshit."
"You folks realize the Prom is coming up? Think it'll be 'No PDA' at the Prom?"
More murmuring, with the words "the Prom?" scattered here and there.
It took a while for Mr. Rainier to get over seeing his son as a woman – fully a woman – for the first time. He knew his son was 'on the feminine' side, and he actually thought that was kind of cool. Seeing him in the football jersey night-shirt – well, his first reaction had been; damn, he DOES look cute that way...
But when he found himself mentally thinking of his son as her... Well, that just felt strange, is all. He hadn't expected that. The picture his wife had sent him of Danny decked out in the black dress had been a non-event – so the boy was wearing a dress? So what? Besides, he looked good in it...
The difference now was that he could see and hear how Danny behaved. And just like everyone else, he found that his son somehow just seemed like a girl ought to seem. It was like a wake-up slap in the face – no, he's not acting. Danny... Danny was a girl.
And a nice one, too.
Mr. Rainier had thought he had a good imagination. Man... Life is stranger than fiction, eh? He kept shaking his head as he made his way to the Pro Shop to rent some clubs.
"Oh shit!" Kevin whispered to Dani as she retrieved her golf-bag from her locker, "My dad's here! Don't look... oh fuck..."
"Kevin? And... uhm... Daniel?" Mr. Denner said, feigning surprise at seeing Kevin there – but truly surprised by Dani.
This was almost as embarrassing for Dani as wearing the nightgown in front of her father had been, "Oh, Mr. Denner! What a coincidence... uh... and call me 'Dani'. With an 'i'." She stuck out her hand.
Mr. Denner stared at it: painted nails, feminine costume jewelry. The fine hairs on her arm. His arm... This was just too much...
"You're a transvestite too, then..." he said, still staring at the outstretched hand.
There was, of course, a lot more to it than 'being a transvestite'... although, technically, using the definition of the root words – yes, Dani was a transvestite. Another label. Did Mr. Denner want to hear the details, the nuances, the shades of meaning as to whether Dani qualified as 'transvestite'? No, he didn't. Dani knew that.
"Yes," she said, giving up on the offer of a handshake.
"Dad – fuck off. Dani, let's go. You dad will be waiting for us by now on the first... thingy," Kevin said. He expected his father to be disgusted at seeing Dani in drag, and he saw exactly that – although it wasn't exactly true.
"'Tee', Kev. First tee. Yeah, uh..." Dani hesitated – the way Mr. Denner was acting, it didn't seem likely that he'd want to accompany them now... still, it would be polite to ask, "Would you care to join our group, Mr. -"
"Dani!" Kevin cried, "Are you crazy? No he doesn't want to-"
"Yes... that is-" Mr. Denner interrupted, finally overcoming his initial shock and remembering why he was there. After accepting Danny as a gay boy, he'd at least had prior experience with new ideas - it's just that they were such... odd ideas. "Kevin – just a moment. I apologize, Daniel. Dani, I mean." He stuck out his hand, "It's just that this... stuff... is rather new to me. I'm afraid I don't know what to think about it all..."
"Look, Dad. This is supposed to be a fun day for us, okay? You're just going to make me feel stupid, make her feel embarrassed... and God knows what you're going to think of her father - he's cool with everything, so you'll probably hate him, too. So why don't you just get in your little cart and-"
"I don't 'hate' anyone, Kevin. And... I'm sorry that I used to make you feel stupid. Believe it or not, I never really intended to do that... even if I have used those very words. It's... difficult to... make excuses for – put it that way. Perhaps... perhaps now that you're out on your own, we can try again? Make a fresh start..."
Kevin was speechless. His father was making him an offer? He'd never done that before... was it a trick of some sort? No... No, that didn't feel right. But why would he.... it wasn't like him... not like how Kevin thought of him, anyway...
Dani broke his reverie, "Apology accepted, Mr. - uh, Robert. Kev? C'mon – it'll be a father-and-son kind of day. Well... sort of."
"Okay Dani. Yeah, Dad," Kevin said sarcastically, "Please join us. But you make one 'fag' joke – and we're outta here."
Dani smirked, "So that's where you learned those from, huh?"
Robert looked at his son questioningly, one eyebrow raised.
"Dani – shut up," Kevin said, "Gawd, this is gonna be a weird day... Let's get to that first... thingy."
Dani and Robert said simultaneously - "Tee, Kevin!"
Mr. Rainier was indeed there waiting for them, checking his watch. Introductions were made, hands were shook, the two adult businessmen falling into their adult business-like personas out of habit. There was some tension – enough that everyone used the excuse of politeness on the tee as a reason to keep quiet. Dani went first – as the lady of the group, after all. Then it was Kevin's turn – and he'd never swung a club before in his life.
Five balls later – Kevin kept slicing severely to the left, until his father corrected his grip – the two fathers tee'd off, and they began walking up the fairway. Dani hadn't rented a cart on purpose, just so they'd have the time to talk.
The father's made small talk to start with – what they did, how they did it, other golf-courses they'd both been to. Then they got around to what they both really wanted to discuss – Dani. Robert, for his part, was curious about how the other man felt about having a cross-dressing gay son, and Theodore – Dani's father – wanted to know just exactly what Robert thought about Dani, too. Theodore ("Ted") was still getting used to his son being a daughter, and Robert was still working on trying to figure out exactly what kind of boy, or girl, or whatever, his son Kevin was involved with.
It was almost easier for Robert to deal with Dani as a girl – except for the nagging fact that Dani was not, in fact, a girl. Dani was a boy. Kevin's girlfriend was a boy. That girl up at the tee with the short skirt and nice legs... was a boy. Both men were having complicated thoughts about that.
Robert started them off - "Dani's quite the golfer..." he said, as Dani was helping Kevin tee off again. It was likely to take a while.
"She's been at it a long time – we used to go almost every weekend, when she was little."
"You call her 'she'..." Robert observed.
"Well... yeah. I'm still getting used to it, actually. My son the daughter. Kevin and her seem quite comfortable with each other, though..."
"Really... Kevin told me that you were 'cool with everything'... I have to confess – I have mixed feelings about it, still. There's a certain amount of – stigma – attached to it, you know."
"I do know. And despite that – there they are. Can you imagine what kind of guts that must take? You should have seen her when she first came downstairs in a night-gown. I was afraid her face was going to bleed, she was so red."
"I suppose," Robert said. In fact – he had not thought at all about 'what kind of guts it must take' – but now that he'd mentioned it, Ted had a point about that.
"So – when did Kevin come out to you, then?" Ted asked.
"Oh. Something over a month ago. I'm... I'm afraid I didn't take it well, at the time. In fact, I thought he was saying that just to spite me – which he was. I haven't been very close to my son for some time. That's why I'm here now, truthfully." He could say that because they were far enough away from their sons – and talking low enough – that Dani and Kevin wouldn't be able to hear them. Nonetheless – Dani and Kevin could hear enough...
"They're talking about us, Dani..."
"I know. What did you expect? I knew I shouldn't have come in drag..."
"You couldn't have known that my dad was gonna show up."
"Uh..." Shit. Was she going to lie to Kevin? Kevin made a point of never lying to her... Hell. "Actually, Kev... I did. I called him and told him when we were going to be here. I just thought you needed to talk with your dad some, Kev... Please don't be mad at me."
Kevin smiled to himself. Of course. "I should be, y'know. I have every right to be mad at you, Dani..."
"But you wore the skirt I bought for you – so I can't be. Now – what was that thing about follow-through, again?"
One crisis averted. Two holes later, there would be another.
"Do you have a... problem... with my son cross-dressing, Robert?" Theodore said. They'd been discussing it previously, and now it was coming to a head.
"Hey – not my problem. But it is going to be a factor in her life. Would you hire a cross-dresser to work for you?"
"As a matter of fact – I would."
"Maybe. You'd think twice about it, though. Maybe more than twice?"
Hearing Robert say that – and knowing it was true – was a little infuriating. Ted was proud of his sexual-awareness. He'd been fascinated by all things gender for years now – hence his homosexual romance-writing hobby. But that was fantasy. Now it was hitting home – and things weren't quite so sunshine-and-roses as they were in his stories... For one thing: stories end. Dani and Kevin, however, were going to go on, and on, and on. They were going to have to deal with this constantly, and forever. And there was nothing Ted could do about it. Most of the time, he wouldn't even be around...
Guilt put Dani's father on the defensive even more than he had been before.
"The world is changing, Robert. Catch up, or get left behind."
"Perhaps – or perhaps that's just what you want to see. Every cult thinks their's is the 'fastest growing'."
"Homosexuality isn't a 'cult'."
"No – but they are outside the norm, even you will have to admit. Society treats people outside the norm as if they were a cult."
"Look at them, Robert! Have you ever seen a more 'normal' couple?"
That was true. If Robert hadn't known ahead of time that Daniel was male, he would have said they were a normal, cute, couple. Couple. Two boys... One of them his son. There had to be a problem with that! Somewhere!
The men's voices had risen enough that Kevin and Dani were hearing every word now – but they ignored it as best they could. Dani was just embarrassed at being the subject of conversation – this wasn't why she'd set all this up, after all - so she was a little sad about it going this way. But Kevin... Kevin was getting mad at both men.
Robert said, "Yes – they look like a 'normal couple', as you say. But you and I both know that they aren't! And they won't be able to hide it from everyone – word will get out. She doesn't cross-dress all the time, you know."
"Ah ha! So you call her 'she' now, too! Did you notice that? I'd say the value of 'normal' might be something you need to think about. Our kids aren't 'normal' – they're gay. And mine makes for a fine woman! I have no problem with that – why do you?!"
"Because, Ted-" Robert was cut off -
"GUYS!! Would you give it a rest?!" Kevin shouted at them, "You're standing there feeding off each other! Dad – you're trying to prove to Ted why me and Dani are a Bad Thing – because you just can't bring yourself to admit that it isn't, even though you can SEE that it isn't! You know it! And Ted – you're pushing my dad's buttons on purpose because you're not so sure yourself how you really feel about us - her, me, any of it! So both of ya just SHUT THE HELL UP!" He turned back towards Dani, "Dani – you're beautiful and I love you – but this wasn't one of your best ideas. Now everyone just be quiet while I hit the stupid little white ball and make it go into the stupid little round hole! GAWD!"
All three of them stared at Kevin while he swung. The stupid little white ball flew straight and high, and landed on the green. Apparently a little focus – no matter what it was directed towards – was just what Kevin needed.
Robert and Ted were still staring. "He's right, you know," Ted said.
"Yes. I noticed that..."
Dani, walking up to them to take her place, stuck out her tongue at Robert – who stared at her in consternation, and then looked over to Ted and started to say, "Did you see-" only to find him trying to hide his grin. Things lightened up after that.
Ted Rainier eventually decided that the Caspian Sea Project could do without him.
Robert Denner had to admit – if only to himself – that Dani really was a nice girl. For a boy.
Kevin learned the wonders of Focus, and wondered what else it might be good for. He could drive the ball like a pro. Putting was a rather different story.
And Dani felt good.
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