On Tuesday Dad came home with some vacation plans.
"There is a meeting I have to go to in Montpelier the week after next. If you like, we could stay over a few days and go to the beach. What do you think?"
Normally I'd jump at the chance. I love the Mediterranean and of course being in France was fun for me because I could speak French so well. But the thought of being separated from John for that time, and given that it was only just over a month or so before I had to go back to school, I wasn't sure what to do.
"What are the options, Dad?"
"Obviously Montpelier is one option, Mike, but if you decide not to go, then you have to go to stay with Grandma. I still can't leave you alone here for several days, and I don't know anyone in town who would look after you."
"I'll think about it and let you know tomorrow. OK?"
"OK, but don't wait too long as I have to make hotel reservations soon."
I went upstairs to my room to think things over. I thought maybe I could go and stay at John's house, but we wouldn't really have much time to ourselves because of his brothers and sisters. And he shared a room with one brother.
Then the light went on in my brain. It does sometimes function quite efficiently when it is about personal needs like food and sex. I called John immediately.
"My Dad has to go to Montpelier in France in a week or so. He thinks we could go to the beach for a few days afterwards. How would you like it if I could talk him into both of us going?"
"Wow, that would be wonderful. But I don't think my parents will pay for me to go."
"I'll make sure my Dad agrees to pay all your costs. Actually I don't think they would be much because I would have my own room anyway, and we would probably drive."
"Do you really think he would do that?"
"Yes, he is a lawyer so he can afford it. Plus, he owes my big time for making me go on that trip to Calais on my first day of the holidays."
"OK. But there is one thing I'm worried about. If we can go together, don't you think he is going to find out about us?"
"Hmm, you are probably right. But you know, John, I had decided that I would come out to him when I found someone I really wanted to have a relationship with. I just didn't want to do it as some form of show of independence when I didn't have a proper boyfriend. But you are special, and that's why I don't care if he knows. I don't think he will give me any grief over it anyway. I'm sure he has guessed about me anyway."
And so I agreed to see how my Dad reacted to the idea of having John come along, and if he did then John would talk to his parents.
I went downstairs. My Dad was reading the local newspaper – he likes to see who gets into trouble so he can try to be their lawyer and make even more money from their misfortune.
"Dad, I've thought about the trip to Montpelier. I'd like to go but there is one condition."
"OK. That was quick! Shoot!"
"Well, you remember when you dragged me off to Calais to buy wine, I said I would come up with something I really wanted to do, and you said you would let me as repayment? Well there is something I'd really like to do, and I hope you will agree."
"Sounds serious. What is it?"
"Well, if I went to Montpelier with you, I'd like to bring a friend along so I'll have company. But we would have to pay his way. But I worked out that if we drive, and if he shares my room, its really only food that would be extra. So it wouldn't be too much."
"Is this a school friend? Do I know him?"
"No, he's not a school friend. He's from Oakbridge. You sort of met him. His name is John, but I doubt you would remember him. We gave him a lift from Folkestone, remember?"
"Of course I remember him. The boy in the brown shorts. He helped us unload all the wine. Very polite. I didn't know you had become friends."
"Well, we have been pretty much together ever since because he does swim training with me, and he and his friends and I hang out at the Leisure Centre. John and I have become really good friends. With school starting up in a few weeks, I really don't want to go away and not see him for several days."
"OK. I'll have to talk to his parents and make sure they agree. I can't imagine they would say no to a free holiday for one of their kids, but you never know."
"He said if you agreed, he would talk to his parents and he thinks they would say it was OK as long as they don't have to pay. He really want's to come – he's half French anyway so he is bilingual, and that would make it great for both of us."
"Perfect. Let me know how it turns out. I'll still want to meet them so we can all check each other out."
"Thanks, Dad, you are the greatest! Yes!! But there is something else I need to tell you."
"Well, it is sort of difficult to tell you but I'm going to anyway."
I took a deep breath, looked my Dad straight in the eye (they told us at school that was the best way to make parents take you seriously, and this was serious business), and got straight to the point.
"You see, Dad, its like this. John and I are more than just close friends. He's sort of my boyfriend and we really like each other. We both felt that we would not be able to hide this from you if we were together every day. Sorry."
There was a small silence. Then my Dad got up, walked over to me, opened his arms and said
"You do not need to be sorry. I'm just happy you have found a really good friend and want to share part of your vacation with him. I've often wondered if you were going to turn out gay. It's not a problem for me. Come here!"
And he grabbed me and gave me this huge hug. And I lost it. I burst into tears with the relief of getting all of this off my chest.
"Thanks, Dad, I love you."
"Me too! The three of us are going to have great time together. Oh, by the way, does this boy have a name?"
"Yes, I told you. Getting so old you can't remember anything, right? It's John."
"No his family name, idiot"
"And his mother is French?"
"Yes. Oh God, do you know her"
" Yes. Of course, I know everybody in Oakbridge. She will agree to John coming, don't worry."
I gave him another hug.
"There's one thing Dad. I don't think she knows that John and I are boyfriends. So don't out him, please?"
"I'll be careful. Remember, I'm a lawyer."
So John asked his Mum, and she said maybe, and then she talked to my Dad, and then they both agreed, and then she asked John how we knew each other, and he explained. And then she asked him right out of the blue whether we were boyfriends, and he said yes, and he had a meltdown just like I did, and then he got sorted out, and he asked he how she knew and all she said was
"I'm your mother. Mothers always know these things."
So it all got sorted out. My Dad did this really cool thing. Instead of renting a couple of hotel rooms, he rented an AirBNB apartment right on the beach at Sete, and he could drive to Montpelier for his meetings, and we could spend all day by ourselves on the beach and doing other stuff.
The day before we left, I told John not to forget to pack his brown Adidas shorts because they were going to get lots of action. And they did! But that's a whole other story!
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