This is Part 2 of Chapter 98 in the "Queer Theories" series.
Go back to "Ordinary World -- Part 1", the previous section.
Narrated by Justin Taylor, featuring Lindsay Peterson, Melanie Marcus, Wade Anderson.
Rated R and contains no warnings or spoilers.
Summary: Justin goes to dinner at Lindsay and Mel's. September 2002.
Disclaimer: This is for fun, not profit. Watch Queer As Folk on Showtime, buy the DVDs, videos, and CDs. Read the stories and enjoy.
I finish my classes early in the afternoon on Fridays. Usually, I stay around and work in the studio in the Art Building, but I have the dinner at Lindsay and Mel's tonight and the promotion party at Woody's, so I rush home the minute I get out of graphics class.
My main problem is that I don't have any idea what to wear. I got a bunch of new clothes in England, but some of them seem kind of fancy for Pittsburgh -- even for going to dinner. And Lindsay and Mel are pretty casual dressers.
I consider calling Emmett to come over and be my fashion consultant -- but only for a minute. He'd probably put me into a tangerine jumpsuit or stretchpants with a transparent top! Yes, I think that if I want a Halloween costume, Em is my best bet, but if I want to look like an adult artist, then I better stick with my own closet. Or Brian's.
So, I stand in front of Brian's full length mirror and try on a few things. I want Lindsay and Melanie to take me seriously when they see me, but whatever I wear has to look good for Woody's, too, so I don't want to dress like a dork.
I pull out a pair of dark brown leather pants Brian bought me in London. I've never worn them here because they don't really seem be my style. At least, not my Pittsburgh style. But I wore them a number of times in England and everyone liked them. Brian had the man tailor them so they fit snugly over my butt. Brian thinks I look hot in leather, but he's a little biased. Brian looks so good in leather himself that he can't imagine that it doesn't suit every occasion! But after trying the brown pants on, I decide that I'm definitely going to wear them. I know that Michael and Ted are probably going to make fun of me, but who cares what the guys say? I'm sick of wearing nothing but sweatpants and a sweatshirt every day of my life!
Brian says that I've outgrown the need for every top I own to have a hood on it! And he's right. So I pull out a sky blue silk shirt that I bought in London at Harrod's. It's almost the same color as my eyes. Usually I don't think too much about how I look, but Brian says I should pay attention because other people certainly pay attention to the way I look. I put the shirt on and I guess it does look nice. It goes well with the pants, too. Then I put on a pair of brown leather boots I bought at the clothing market on Portobello Road. I picked them out because they match the leather pants perfectly.
I check myself out again. I like what I see. This is not the Justin everyone is used to. I don't look twelve years old anymore, thank God! I guess the way I usually dress does make me seem a lot younger. But I'm almost twenty and I don't want to look like a teenager forever!
My hair is getting really long, too. I guess I should get it cut, but I like it long. Maybe it looks too British for Pittsburgh, but I think it matches my vision of myself as an artist. I brush my long hair around a little more, playing with it. It doesn't look bad.
I think I should have my own 'look,' like my art pieces have their own distinctive look. Sometimes I mess around with Brian's clothes -- the ones he left at the loft. He said I could wear anything I wanted and I might start doing that sometimes. At least wear some of the shirts and jackets -- his pants would never fit me. But that would really be more Brian's look, not my own. I'd might seem like I was playing dress-up. Brian looks best in the classics, which is why he loves Armani. I think I'm funkier. More Bohemian and far-out, maybe. Which is good for an artist, I think.
Finally, I put on the cowrie shell necklace Brian bought me up at Put-in-Bay. I don't wear it every day, like Brian does his bracelet, but I wear it a lot. And my slave bracelet, too. I only leave that off when I have painting class or I'm working in the studio and don't want to mess it up. I polish the bracelet up regularly to keep it shiny, too. I check myself in the mirror one more time. Even Emmett would approve, I think.
I try to decide if I should bring a gift for Lindsay. She told me not to bring food, but maybe I should take a bottle of wine or something. I root around Brian's wine rack. I'm trying to remember what Lindsay said she was making. Some chicken thing she learned in her Chinese cooking class. White wine goes with chicken -- but what goes with Chinese food? Saki? No, that's Japanese. Besides, Brian doesn't have any. I end up grabbing a bottle of German stuff. What the heck. They don't have to open it -- it's just a 'gracious gesture,' as my mom would say. Before I leave the loft, I stick an envelope of photographs I took on the island into my leather carry-all. I just got them all developed. I'm going to make an album up to send to Brian, but I want to show Lindsay and Mel the pictures first.
I pull up to what Brian sometimes calls the Lesbian Love Nest a few minutes before 6:00.
"Justin!" Lindsay is at the door before I even get out of the Jeep. "You look so grown up! That shirt! Is it new?"
"I got it in London," I say, casually. I don't want to seem like I'm bragging or anything. Even though that 'grown up' comment sounded a bit condescending to me. I wonder if people like Lindsay will ever see me as anything but a little twink?
"It's lovely! I wish I had a silk blouse that nice," says Lindsay, feeling the sleeve. "You didn't have to bring wine," she says, as I hand her the bottle.
"I thought it would go with the chicken."
"Perfect!" she gushes. "SOOO perfect!" I begin to wonder if Lindsay has already had a few glasses of wine. She's usually a little gushy, but this is more than just a little. "And you remembered that we are having chicken!"
Lindsay ushers me to the front door. "You told me when you invited me. Oh, and remember, Lindz -- I have to leave by 8:00 -- for the promotion at Woody's."
"I haven't forgotten, Justin," says Lindsay, primly.
I know she and Mel aren't going to go and it bothers me. You'd think that they would want to see Brian's movie -- or at least support the promotion. "I wish you guys would change your minds and come. Brian would really want you to be there to see the film clips."
"Well, I'm sure we can catch the film when it comes out."
"Is it because Brian didn't come to Gus' birthday party? Because he really wanted to, Lindsay. He wanted to come very badly."
"I'm sure he did, Justin. This has nothing to do with Brian, hon. Mel and I just don't care for Woody's. Or bars in general."
Right, I think. Mel spent enough time there when she and Lindsay broke up last year. Mel was at Woody's all the time, drinking with Ted and Brian! It's Lindsay who doesn't want to come -- I'm certain of it. "Okay, I just want to make sure."
Lindsay opens the front door and we walk in. I look around for Gus. "Where's the rugrat?"
"He's next door with our neighbor, Mrs. Harrison. Her grandson is over there and she's watching the two of them together. I thought he'd be underfoot during dinner."
"Oh," I say, trying to hide my disappointment. Seeing Gus is really the main reason I still come to Lindsay and Mel's house. Besides the fact that I want to tell Brian how he looks and acts and what he's doing. "When you invited me over, Lindz, you told me that I should come over for Gus' sake. So, naturally, I assumed he'd be here. I haven't seen him since his birthday party a week ago."
"Oh, he still looks the same. Big as ever!" says Lindsay. Yes, Gus is growing like crazy. He's going to be tall, just like Brian. He'll probably be taller than me before he even starts junior high.
Lindsay leads me into the living room. Mel is sitting there talking to someone I don't recognize. A guy. A kid, actually. Mel sees us come in and she stands up.
"Justin! You're right on time!" Mel says. She's beaming. And that's strange. Mel is never in that good a mood!
"I finish classes at 2:00 on Friday, so I had plenty of time to get ready." I look at the other guy, sitting on the sofa, and wonder what the fuck he's doing here.
Lindsay sees me looking at him. "Oh, Justin -- this is Wade Anderson. He's a student in my Saturday art class down at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Wade, Justin had some of his drawings in the student show down there two years ago and now he's going to be in a show at the Austin Gallery in a couple of weeks."
"Wow, that's really great." The kid gets up to shake my hand. "Hi, Justin."
He's a little taller than me, but he seems younger. He's also sort of twitchy, like he's nervous about something. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out WHY he's twitchy. It's so obvious and so embarrassing. I want to kill Lindsay right there. And Melanie, too, but I'm sure it was all Lindsay's idea. I feel like turning around and walking right out the door. But that would really be like declaring war on the Mommies. And then I'd never see Gus at all.
"Justin, Wade is thinking of applying to PIFA. I invited him over tonight so you could talk to him about it. Justin is beginning his second year there, Wade."
"Uh, right," says the kid. He's completely flustered and I don't blame him. Nothing like not being prepared for a fucking blind date!
"Justin, why don't you talk to Wade a little while Mel and I get dinner? We should be ready to sit down in about ten minutes," Lindsay is practically dragging poor Mel out the door.
"Sure," I say. I might as well talk to this kid -- he looks terrified.
We watch Lindsay and Mel go into the kitchen. I wonder if they are listening, their ears pressed up against the door?
I guess I might as well deal with this like an adult. Which means at least being civil to this poor kid they've lured here to serve as my real main course.
"So, Wade," I say. "Have you been taking Lindsay's art class very long?"
"Just a... a couple of weeks," he says, blushing. He's kind of cute in a geeky way. But he's certainly not my 'type' -- if that's what Lindsay was looking for. Of course, my 'type' is tall and beautiful and Brian-like -- and NOT some gawky kid! But this guy is so intimidated by me that it's almost funny. And I don't want to be an asshole by being mean to him.
"How old are you, Wade?" Why not get right to the direct questions. "I'm nineteen, but I'll be twenty in December.
"I just turned eighteen," he says, looking at me like I'm a man of the world. "I... I like your necklace."
I touch the cowrie shells. "I like it, too. My boyfriend bought it for me when we were on vacation this summer," I say clearly. I don't want Wade to get the wrong idea.
"Oh, it's... really nice." Wade looks around for someplace to bolt.
I take a deep breath and plunge in. "I bet Lindsay told you that I didn't have a boyfriend, right?"
"Well, she sort of... I mean... she...." he stammers.
"Lindsay means well, Wade, but she's full of shit -- if you don't mind my language."
Wade just stares at me. "I guess not... Justin."
"Because I DO have a boyfriend. He's working out of town right now, but I live in his loft, I'm driving his Jeep, he even bought me most of the clothes I'm wearing." Jeez, I know that makes it sound like I'm really a kept boy, but I don't care at this point! I want Wade to understand the situation -- perfectly.
"He must be very... generous," says Wade, gaping at my leather pants.
"He is. See this bracelet?" I hold out my right wrist.
"Brian bought this one for me in London. It's a slave bracelet. Do you know what that means, Wade?"
"Uh -- not really."
"Well, I won't spell it out, but it means I belong to HIM, get it?"
"Oh, sure. Right." Wades eyes are huge as he stares at my bracelet. Maybe I AM laying it on a little thick, but what the fuck! I don't like being put on the spot like this. And I don't want it to happen again.
"But Lindsay and Melanie don't think he's 'good' for me. So I just ignore them. I'm sorry if they lured you here with the promise of a chicken dinner and a potential fuck, Wade, but you should know the truth. I'm already taken."
Poor Wade's eyes really are as big as saucers. "I... I didn't come here for a potential... fuck. I really didn't. I... don't exactly know why Ms. Peterson invited me. She said she wanted me to meet someone. She mentioned your name, Justin, but I... didn't know it was supposed to be a... a date."
"Well, it isn't, Wade," I reassure him. "So don't worry about it. Just eat their food and ignore it when they try to push us together. That's what I'm planning to do!"
The poor kid reaches for a glass of cola on the coffee table and almost knocks it over. "Sorry I'm so nervous, Justin. Even though I've been coming to the Gay and Lesbian Center to take Ms. Peterson's art class, I'm not... not really 'out' or anything! My parents don't know. And at school -- nobody knows! I'd get killed!"
I wince when he says that. I know what Wade means. I know too well what he means!
"I... I've never been on a date in my life... let alone a... a fuck." Wade whispers the word. This poor kid is a fucking wreck! Some blind date!
"Don't worry, Wade. I don't expect you to put out on the first date." He stares at me in horror. "I'm just kidding! This isn't a date!"
"What should I tell Ms. Peterson? I mean, if they expect us to... go out?"
"Nothing. Like I said -- just eat and talk. After dinner I'll take you home and drop you off there. Because I have to go to Woody's for a big party later tonight."
"A bar. On Liberty Avenue. Haven't you ever been down there?"
"No. I've never been in a bar at all! Ever! And never to Liberty Avenue. My parents would never let me go down there! I'm underage."
"Duh! Half the twinks down on Liberty are underage. Don't you have a fake ID or anything?" Wade shakes his head. "You'll have to get one. My friend Emmett can get you one. He knows how to get anything. And, Wade -- if you're going to be any kind of decent queer at all, you'll have to start going down to Liberty Avenue. That's where you'll meet lots of guys. That's where I met Brian, my boyfriend."
"But, I'm too young for that stuff," Wade searches my face for confirmation. "Aren't I?"
"I was seventeen when I started going. You're already older than that. A lot of twinks go to the bars down there. If you know somebody you can get in pretty easily."
"What's a twink?" Wade asks.
Oh, brother! This kid is really clueless! "A younger guy. Like you. Like me. A lot of them hang out at Boytoy -- that's a twink bar. But my friends go to Woody's -- and Babylon." I lean over to him. "Just stay out of Meathook," I advise.
"Meathook? What's THAT?" Wade says, curiously.
"Heavy leather scene. Lots of bondage gear. Unless you're into S&M?" I say, knowingly.
"Oh, no! I'm not!" Wade recoils.
"Then you'll want to stay away from Meathook."
Poor Wade looks like he is ready to run out the door. And I feel bad that I'm fucking around with him, but really! I guess I'm mad at Lindsay and Melanie and he's a convenient target.
We are both grateful when Mel comes in and announces dinner. Lindsay sits me and Wade side by side -- but I make certain that every sentence I utter begins with 'Brian always says' or 'When Brian and I were in England' or something like that! Melanie is furious at me -- but I don't give a shit! They set up this situation, but that doesn't mean I have to go along with it. And the chicken dish that Lindsay was so gung-ho about? It isn't that good. I can cook a lot better!
After we finish the cashew chicken and Lindsay and Mel clear away the dishes, I pull my pictures from the island out of my leather carry-all and pass them around. Lindsay and Mel ooh and ah over the pictures of Gus -- and I have a lot of very good ones. There's one beautiful photograph of Gus with Brian on the carousel up on the main square at Put-in-Bay. That one I'd like to enlarge and get framed. And another one that Brian took of me and Gus on the back deck of the 'Colleen' -- we are both lying back on the air mattress, asleep in the afternoon shade. I have my arm around Gus and we both have our mouths open in exactly the same way. And then there's another of Brian and I that Earl took -- there's something in the expression on Brian's face that gets to me. I want to have that picture framed, too, and send it to him.
Wade looks at all my photos with great interest -- especially the pictures of Brian. I don't know what the heck Lindsay and Mel have told him about Brian, but he seems surprised that he doesn't look like a mass murderer or something!
"He's really handsome!" Wade says to me. And Mel lets out a huge groan and makes a face. Well, what does she expect? If Wade can get hot over Brian, I guess that's simply final proof that Wade truly IS a queer!
It's fun to look at the photos, but everyone is relieved when it's time for dessert. That means that this charade is almost over. I'll be happy to get out of here and I know Wade will be, too.
I keep looking at my watch. I want to get to Woody's soon, before the promotion begins. I volunteer to 'help' with the dessert, and before Melanie can stop me, I sweep into the kitchen, where Lindsay is cutting into a chocolate pie.
"So, Lindz," I say. "Matchmaking just isn't your thing. I think poor Wade is ready to have a nervous breakdown out there."
"What do you mean? He's having a fine time, Justin!" Lindsay only sees what she wants to see, that's obvious.
"Lindz, Wade told me he isn't even out! He's never been with a guy in his life! He's fucking terrified that I'm going to molest him!" I stop her from fussing over the damn pie for a minute and make her look at me. "It's bad enough that you put me into this spot, Lindsay, but you owe him a big apology, too!"
She sighs. "I only want you to meet some nice boys your own age, Justin!"
Now it's my turn to sigh. "Lindsay, I'm surrounded by boys my own age at PIFA every day! I know tons of boys my own age! But I already HAVE a boyfriend -- whether you like it or not! You really think that geeky Wade would make me throw over BRIAN KINNEY? Are you crazy?"
I so much want to say to her, 'You want me to find someone else so that maybe Brian will decide to come back and carry you off, isn't that the actual truth, Lindz?' But I don't have the fucking nerve to say it!
"But, Justin, a nice young boy who you'd have more in common with would...."
I put my hand up. "Wait, Lindz. You do know that a bunch of 'nice young boys' harassed me at St. James for years because I was a queer? And another 'nice young boy' named Chris Hobbs almost murdered me? All nice boys my own age. Age has nothing to do with anything, Lindsay! Besides, I love Brian. And you aren't going to change my mind with a plate of cashew chicken -- and a blind date!"
"I'm sorry, Justin. I thought that...."
"Please! Don't help me anymore, Lindz! Or else I'll start trying to fix you up with people! There's a very nice dyke who teaches sculpture at PIFA. What if I tell her you're interested in her?"
Lindsay's eyes open wide with horror. "NOT Gilda Rossi! No, Justin! Don't do THAT!" Ms. Rossi is a very nice woman, but she's very butch -- and very aggressive! She has bigger arm muscles than Brian!
"See? You wouldn't like me doing it! So will you PLEASE lay off?"
Lindsay gazes at me and then looks around the kitchen, like she's thinking. "Here's the pie, Justin." I take a couple of plates from her to carry out to the dining room. "If you promise NOT to tell Gilda Rossi that I'm interested in her, then I promise you no more blind dates, okay?"
"It's a deal -- as long as I get to take home any leftover pie."
And Lindsay nods. But I know this is only the end of Round One.
Continue on to "Better Man -- Part 1", the next chapter.
©Gaedhal, October 2002
Updated October 29, 2002