August 31st, 2010
Typical Chester. Cute!
James and Alex have been together for nine months and have just returned from a romantic week in Istanbul. James decides it’s really time to comes out to his parents. And Alex is booked to join them for breakfast, having checked in at the Queen Hotel!
Alex was dubious. He could not see what was to be gained and felt I simply risked inviting opprobrium to rain down on my head. I had made up my mind, however. I wanted to rid myself of this ridiculous need for deceit. I also wanted Alex embraced in my public declaration. If that failed to confirm the status of our relationship, what else would have the required effect? To eliminate any further debate, I called my mother and told her to expect a visit. Late the following Friday night, Alex dropped me outside the neat Georgian townhouse in Chester. He would return in the morning for breakfast.
Mother was baking, father still pottering in the garden, though it had been dark for over an hour. It took a further fifteen minutes before they were both installed on the sofa. I took the winged armchair opposite the television.
“Look, there’s something terribly important I’ve got to tell you. Now please don’t over-react. As far as I’m concerned, it’s wonderful news and I want you to be happy about it. I’ve met somebody in London and we’re very much in love.”
My parents swapped glances. Mother interrupted. “Darling you mustn’t worry. We knew it must be something like this.”
That threw me. It had never occurred to me that they would already know. I had been so damn careful all these years.
“Well, dear” she fixed me with a comforting smile, leant forward and grasped my hand, “We’re broad-minded, not the least bit bigoted.”
She took a deep breath. “James, we really don’t mind if she’s black.” She sat back, having delivered her pronouncement, relieved that the effort was over.
I could not believe my ears. All I could think to say was: “Mother, she’s not black. His name’s Alex, we’ve just come back from Istanbul and he’s coming here from the Queen for breakfast tomorrow morning!”
The Queen Hotel
Silence fell and lingered. I could think of nothing to add. Quite what was running through my parents’ minds I could only guess. The guesses were not particularly comforting. Eventually, mother rallied from the shock and sought to establish a new bridgehead.
“Well if you’re happy, dear, that’s really all that matters. I’m sure you know what you’re doing. Of course, it’s probably all a phase you’re going through. I’ll give it six months. But whatever happens, you’re our son and so long as you’re content in yourself you know you’ll always have our support. Now then, I don’t know about you but I could do with a cup of tea. Bernard?”
Bernard shuffled into the kitchen. He had still said not a single word.
The little that remained of the evening passed in silent attention to the late news programme. I desperately wanted to run, out of the house, to the hotel where Alex now occupied a bed alone. Bravery, however, prevailed. My taciturn father burst into speech as he made his way to bed.
“Goodnight son,” he murmured. Breakfast, I thought, is doomed to disaster!
I could not have been more wrong. Alex must have been rehearsing all night. My lover was, undeniably, in great form, jocular, charming, full of stories about the holiday and, to Bernard’s obvious delight, possessed of an interest in soccer that threw into sharp relief the ignorance of his own son. When Alex offered his congratulations on Bernard’s hybrid petunias still sprouting lavishly in the greenhouse, the old man positively beamed.
Dorothy, perhaps drained by her efforts of the previous night, was in more reticent mood. Even she seemed to melt, however, when, as they were leaving, Alex kissed her firmly on both cheeks, stood back and announced, “Dorothy, you’ll make a great mother-in-law.”
As we climbed into the car, Alex turned to me and smiled: “Well that wasn’t so bad, was it?! Don’t you just love the concept of the nuclear family?”
A nuclear family.
This extract from “Alex Laid Bare” courtesy of the author, Michael Williams.
Find more of Michael’s work at http://www.lulu.com/sparta2
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