Prequel:  Brian’s Junior Year at Penn State; Fall 1991                                 

As soon as Ms. Clayton-Smith looked away from him, Brian rolled his eyes, and the blonde girl sitting next to him laughed.   The teacher’s head jerked around and Brian made his face go blank, innocent. 

“Miss Peterson,” the professor addressed the girl, “Can you explain what you find amusing about hymenectomy?”

“Nothing, nothing!” she answered quickly, ‘I was thinking about something else.”

Suspiciously glancing at Brian, the teacher tsk’d and turned again to the blackboard to continue writing her spidery chalk outline. 

Sotto voce, Brian murmured, “Sounds way worse than falling on your bicycle,” and the girl managed to choke back a laugh, but she reached out her fist and punched him, hard, on the shoulder.

“Shh!” the hairy-legged girl in Doc Martins seated behind them hissed, and both Brian and the girl started giggling.   Whenever Brian managed to stop, the blonde girl started again, and they kept on until they were both laughing loudly, uncontrollably.  Ms. Clayton-Smith stood red-faced with fury in front of the classroom, hands on her hips.

“Miss Peterson, Mr. Kinney, you will leave this room immediately!” she ordered.  “Come to my office this afternoon, and explain to me why I shouldn’t drop you from this class!”

Gasping for breath, still laughing, Brian gathered his books and he and the girl moved down the row of desks and out the door, down the hall and out into the courtyard, where Brian dropped his books on the pavement and buried his face in his hands, laughing so hard that tears squirted out of his eyes.

“Stop, stop!” the girl beseeched him, and collapsed, laughing, on a bench, holding a hand to her side.  “I can’t breathe!”

Hiccupping, coughing to clear his throat, Brian dropped down next to her.  “Oh, my God, I’m sorry,” he managed to apologize after a moment.

“You should be,” she said sternly, but ruined it with a giggle, then another.  “Oh, don’t let’s start again!”

“I haven’t laughed in class like that since third grade,” Brian confessed.  “She’s always just so fucking SERIOUS, I feel like I have to poke fun at her sometimes.”

“I know!  I know!” the girl agreed.  “If lesbians have to be that serious all the time, well then, I’m not going to be one.”

Brian smiled but tilted his head, looked at her, really looked, for the first time.  She was a pretty girl, tall and, he supposed, ‘built,’ not that he noticed girls and women all that much.  “Are you a lesbian?” he asked, then realized what he’d said.  “I’m sorry – “ he started to say, but she interrupted.

“I don’t know,” she answered, serious now, though wiping away a tear of laughter from her cheek.  “I really don’t know.  Does that shock you?”

“No,” he lied.  Then, “Well, yes, I guess.  I mean. . .well, you’re pretty.”

“Thanks,” she answered tersely.  “Typical straight male response:  Only ugly girls can be lesbians.”

“No,” Brian said hastily, “I didn’t mean it like that.  I just – don’t know any lesbians.”

“Now you do,” she smiled at him.  “Or anyway, I think so.  I’m Lindsay, by the way.”  She held out her hand.

“Brian.”  He shook her hand, then hesitated, and surprised himself by adding, “And I’m not a ‘typical straight man.’”

“Not typical?” Lindsay raised an eyebrow.

“Not straight,” Brian answered honestly.  

“Oh!”  Lindsay was obviously surprised.  “But you don’t look. . .ummm. . .”

Brian chuckled.  “Don’t look gay?” he finished for her.  “I guess we’re both as hung up on stereotypes as everybody else.”

“Is that why you’re taking this feminist history class?”

Looking sheepish, Brian shook his head.  “No.  No, it just seemed like an easy history credit.”  Lindsay punched him again.  It hurt.  “Stop it,” he said.  “Hey, want to go have coffee?  Since we have free time now.”  They both laughed again. 

“Sure,” Lindsay agreed, getting to her feet.  “We can work on our apologies for Ms. Clayton-Smith.”

“Oh, God,” Brian groaned, “It’s so hard for me to be humble.”  When Lindsay chuckled, Brian looped his arm around her shoulders and headed them toward the campus coffee shop.  “Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No!  No.”  Lindsay shook her head.  “I don’t even really know. . .for sure.  Do you?”

“Since I was fourteen.”

Lindsay sighed.  “I wish it was that easy for me.”

“There’s nothing ‘easy’ about it.” 

“Oh, I know!” she agreed.  “Have you told your parents?”

“Are you kidding?”

They continued talking non-stop as they walked across campus to the coffee shop.  They discussed going together to Ms. Clayton-Smith’s office in the afternoon, but decided against it; Lindsay was sure Brian would make her crack up all over again.  They exchanged phone numbers, agreeing to work on the next class project together.  They decided that Lindsay, who had only one part-time job in the campus bookstore, had more time for research, and Brian was more skilled in expository writing.  When they said goodbye, Lindsay gave Brian an impromptu hug, and reflexively he hugged her back, and then waved when, walking off toward the quad, she turned to glance back at him over her shoulder.

Brian was surprised at how much he liked Lindsay Peterson.  He’d never really had a girl friend, or a girlfriend; girls were mostly annoyances when he was in high school, always giggling at him and inviting him to dances.  He’d gone out with a few of them; well, it was expected.  He’d even done some heavy petting, and had had some naked breasts shaken in his face.  Two girls had managed to unzip his jeans and get their hands on his dick; although not at the same time.  He remembered his feeling of horror the first time; it still made him smile, remembering the state of panic he’d be in.  He’d never fucked a girl in high school, although his reputation gave him credit for numerous random acts of coitus.  Brian laughed at his own pun.

Lindsay was different from other girls he’d known.  Maybe because she was a lesbian.  Or a pre-lesbian.  He felt relaxed with her, they shared the same sense of the ridiculous, and he knew from observing her in class that she was smart.  Brian had no time in his life for dummies.  And if that sounded conceited, so be it.  Brian shouldered  his armload of books and headed toward his next class.  He had really needed the release that fit of childish laughter had given him; his step was lighter and he was unconsciously smiling to himself. 

“What’s so funny, Bri?”

Brian stopped dead, recognizing the voice; he turned and saw James, and his smile evaporated.  “Hey,” he said casually, not betraying the thump-thump of his heart suddenly banging against his ribs.

James flicked his hair out of his eyes, one of his trademark gestures, calling attention to his thick golden curls always flopping on his high forehead.  He was almost as tall as Brian, just over six feet.  James was wearing loose chinos, but they did not disguise his muscular thighs, and despite the chill autumn temperatures, his dark blue shirt was unbuttoned partway, granting a teasing peek at his equally muscular chest.  James was what Michael called Sex on a Stick.

“How’s it going?” James asked, his hooded eyes taking in Brian’s tight jeans and red v-necked pullover.  He flicked a finger carelessly on Brian’s cheek, murmuring, “You need a shave.  Or are you growing a pussy-tickler?”


James laughed lazily.  “I saw you with a girl in the coffee shop.  Not planning to switch teams, are you?”

“She’s just a girl in my class,” Brian answered too quickly, too defensively.  Fuck James, it was none of his business.  Not for the first time, Brian wished his insides would not turn to jelly every time James smiled at him, touched him.  Stiffening his backbone, mad at himself for his reaction to James, Brian said quickly, “Well, I’m running late, see you around,” and he turned and walked as quickly as he could away from the son of a bitch who’d broken his heart last year.

No, he reminded himself; James had NOT broken his heart.  He hadn’t really cared all that much for James Folsom; not really.  James was just a guy he’d fucked around with for a while during sophomore year.  Sure, he was gorgeous; sure, he had one hell of an enormous cock and gave great head, but so what.  He was just a fuck.  A FORMER fuck, Brian reminded himself sternly, entering Grant Hall and hurrying through the door to his Economics class.

An hour later, exiting the classroom with the other students, Brian couldn’t remember a word of Professor Janeaway’s lecture on munitions monopolies during the Great War.  He’d spent the class time in reverie, remembering all the glorious nights he’d spent in James’ bedroom when James’ parents were away.  He lived at home, in an enormous six-bedroom house in an upper-class neighborhood north of the Penn State campus.  James’ parents both worked for the Harrisburg headquarters of a large Pennsylvania bank, and both traveled frequently, flying to the west coast and to London.  So James had the house to himself often, and for a while last year, every chance he got, Brian was in that house with him.


Brian jumped, he stopped abruptly face to face with James, outside the doors of Grant Hall.  “I waited for you,” James said, laying a hand on Brian’s arm.  Brian looked at the hand and swallowed hard.

“Oh,” he said at last; he was really at a loss for words.  Then he decided to be blunt.  “Why?” he demanded, looking James in the eye.

“I’ve missed you,” James was saying quietly.  “Have you missed me?”

Brian made himself laugh.  “No,” he lied. 

“I’d like to talk to you,” James continued, as if Brian had not spoken.  “Can you come over to my place?”

“Now?”  Brian hated the way his voice went up an octave.  He cleared his throat.  “I can’t, I have to work in a couple hours.”  ‘Just say no, just say no, just say no,’ he ordered himself.

“C’mon,” James beseeched him, moving closer, invading Brian’s space, the familiar scent of his aftershave permeating the air Brian breathed.  “I’ll fix you a sandwich, I’ll drive you to work.   You’re still at the A&P?”

Brian nodded.  ‘JUST SAY NO,’ he insisted to himself, but the smell of James, the warmth of James standing so close beside him, was impossible to resist.  “Okay,” he heard himself saying.  Brian silently cursed as James smiled and led the way around the back of Grant Hall and toward a student parking lot. 

“New car?” 

James said, “Yeah,” as he unlocked the door of a tiny red MG and they folded themselves in half to climb into the car.  “Well, it’s old, a classic car really, but it’s new for me.” 

“Beautiful,” Brian murmured, admiring the leather interior and struggling with the seat belt.

“It was a birthday present from my old man,” James continued.  Brian was again amazed, remembering that James’ parents knew he was gay and didn’t care, didn’t hate him, didn’t kick him out of the house.  James’ Uncle Vargas, his dad’s favorite brother, was also gay, and his parents were totally accepting.  Even after all this time, Brian remained amazed.  And jealous.  Yeah, okay, jealous. 

Brian had met James’ parents, had even been a guest at a formal dinner party in their home; they knew he and James were dating, and they’d been friendly and welcoming to Brian.  Still, James had never been able to convince Brian to stay overnight when his parents were home; he just couldn’t.  Besides, he and James made a hell of a lot of noise in bed.

James parked in the large driveway and led the way into the house; he used his key, so Brian breathed easier, knowing James’ parents were not home.  He had an older brother, married with children, who lived in Detroit.  Following James into the kitchen, Brian felt his stomach rumble.  It was past noon and he was hungry.  They made pastrami sandwiches and carried them upstairs to James’ bedroom.

It was just as Brian remembered it, a queen-size bed dominating the center of the room, a large bay window looking out on the pool in the backyard, covered now that it was fall and the temperature was dropping.  They sat on a padded bench at the foot of James’ bed, munching sandwiches and sharing a bag of chips.  James told about his classes; he was a senior this year, president of the forensics club and treasurer of the GLB group.  “We’ve got thirty-one members,” James said, “Twenty are lesbians, but it’s a good group of guys.  I wish you’d join.”  He said it regretfully, not aggressively.  Brian would not be pushed, and apparently James had finally accepted that.

Brian didn’t comment.  He had not changed his mind, and was still, after all this time, resentful of James’ threats and ridicule last year, when he’d dumped Brian for refusing to join the GLB club.  Brian didn’t do clubs.  Period.  It was just not his thing. 

“Not my thing,” he reminded James.

“I know.”  James threw the crust of his sandwich toward the wastebasket, missed, and got up to pick up the bread and throw it away.  He came back and sat down again and said, “Brian. . .”

Swallowing his last bite of sandwich, Brian looked warily at the man who’d made his life heaven and then hell less than a year ago. 

“I was wrong to push you,” James said quietly.  “I’ve really missed you.”  He moved the bag of chips off the bench between them, dropping it on the floor, and scooted closer.  “Did you miss me?”

Brian opened his mouth to answer, but James moved in on him before he could speak, putting both hands on the back of Brian’s neck, pulling his head in tight till their lips met, both exhaling pastrami breath sighs as their tongues moved together, their mouths hot and familiar and wet.  Brian slid his arms around James’ back and squeezed him tight as they kissed, then slipped his hands under James’ shirt, trembling with the need to feel that silky warm skin once more.

Without stopping their kisses, they  managed to undress each other quickly, kicking off shoes, struggling out of shirts and pants, till they stood up and pulled and pushed each other onto the bed.  Gasping, they wrestled off their underwear and rubbed their naked bodies hard together, hard enough to start a fire, Brian thought, his skin burning wherever it touched James’ body.

James was the first to stop the kiss, he pulled back his head to take a deep breath, then moved his lips to Brian’s neck, down his chest, leaving third-degree burns wherever his lips touched.  His tongue circled Brian’s nipples, the tiny nubs growing hard in James’ mouth, then he dipped his tongue further down, till it flicked inside Brian’s belly button, fucking that tiny hole briefly before continuing down and down, leaving a wet trail through Brian’s dense dark pubic hair.  Brian moaned, loud and long, as James’ lips fastened around his balls, sucking first one, then the other, rolling them around in his mouth, till Brian could stand it no longer, and his hands grabbed James’ head and pulled it up toward his cock.  Like a sword-swallower, James swallowed Brian’s cock, down to the hilt, and Brian moaned again, louder.  Then James withdrew, a millimeter at a time, and ran his tongue up the side of Brian’s engorged, glistening wet shaft, licking the long throbbing vein up the left side that drove Brian wild, wild. 

Gasping, Brian pushed James’ head away quickly, before he could shoot, held him hard away for a few moments, gaining control and quieting his breathing.  Then suddenly he flipped James over, onto his back, and starting at James’ ears, began his own kissing trail down James’ body, his tongue remembering every inch of that well-muscled torso, the narrow hips, the abundant sprout of dark gold hair around his cock, filling Brian’s nostrils with James’ familiar musky scent.  Using both hands to spread James legs wide apart, Brian lifted them up, rolling James onto his hips, then dove between his legs to bury his face in James’ balls, snaking out his tongue to touch James’ puckery hole, already clenching in anticipation.  He loved rimming that hole with his wet tongue, teasing it open, pushing inside.

“Oh, God,” James was moaning, “Fuck me, Brian, fuck me now!  Now!” 

Almost regretfully, Brian pulled his face away and sat up between James’ legs.  “Condom,” he breathed, and knelt on the bed, head down, breathing hard, while James fumbled in the drawer of his nightstand, throwing a handful of foil-wrapped condoms onto the bedspread.  “I only need one,” Brian laughed, as he peeled it open.

“That’s what you think,” James answered, lifting his legs and resting them on Brian’s shoulders.  “You’ve only just begun to fuck.” 

“Don’t make me laugh,” Brian ordered, fumbling with the condom, “Help!”  James raised himself up on his elbows, took the condom from Brian’s hands and expertly rolled it on him, squirted a glob of lube in his hand and smoothed it over the latex-sheathed cock, then used his fingers to lube up his hole.

“Now!” James rumbled, “Now, Brian, and don’t stop till I pass out!”

Brian nodded, “You got it,” and he set to work pumping James’ wonderfully tight, receptive ass.

They really did pass out finally, the room went dark, the earth moved, lightning crashed across the ceiling of the bedroom, and Brian’s heart stopped for several minutes (or anyway, it felt like it) when they came, together, Brian shouting for Jesus.  It would be funny, Brian thought heretically, if Jesus had answered his call, and appeared at the foot of the bed.  ‘What are you DOING?’ Jesus would demand, and then commit them both to hell for all eternity.  Any pleasure that delirious just had to be a sin.

Brian laughed out loud, and it reminded him briefly of Charlie, who almost always laughed when he came.  He wondered how Charlie was liking San Francisco; he’d ask Uncle Vic the next time he talked to him.  Vic had called him a few times from New York, keeping tabs on Brian’s life at college. 

“How can you laugh?” James demanded, sounding like he was in danger of imminent death as he lay gasping on the bed, his body glistening with sweat.  Instead of laughter at orgasm, James sometimes cried.  It had scared Brian the first time it happened, but James assured him it was normal for him.  Brian guessed everybody experienced pleasure in different ways.  Personally, he’d rather laugh than cry.  Some guys moaned like they’d just passed a boulder out their ass, some screamed like King Kong was carrying them off into the jungle.  Brian was a shouter, calling on Jesus like a Holy Roller caught up in the spirit.  Which was why he wouldn’t sleep over at James house when his parents were home.

“Oops,” Brian gasped, as he caught sight of the clock on the nightstand.  “I’ve got to be at work in twenty minutes.” 

“Okay,” James sighed, pulling away from Brian and rolling over, sitting up on the bed.

There was no time for a shower, so Brian sponged his sweaty body quickly with a washcloth in James’ bathroom, and they pulled on their clothes and hurried downstairs and out to the car.  Brian flipped through a canvas tote on the floor by his seat, picked out a cassette and shoved it into a small tape deck James told him was installed inside the glove compartment.  He turned up the volume and they shrieked along with Whitesnake as James drove quickly through the darkening streets to Brian’s A&P, and squealed to a stop in the parking lot.

Brian turned toward James and put a hand on his thigh.  “It was – fantastic,” he whispered, smiling.  “I – I’m glad we’re back together.”

James did not smile back.  He was staring out the windshield, then when Brian said, “James?” he sighed heavily and turned to look at Brian.

“What?” Brian asked, after a moment of silence.

“Bri. . .” James hesitated, then said, “Bri – we can’t be ‘together again.’  I’m – I’m going with someone else right now.”

His smile fading, Brian repeated, “What?  Who?”

“Greg Arundel.  Remember him?”

“No.” Brian shook his head.

“He’s in the GLB, he’s president this year.”  When Brian said nothing, James went on, “Well, anyway, we’re going together.  Greg has an apartment over on Reisdale, and I’m moving in with him next week.”

Brian ordered himself to say something, anything, but he was stunned into silence.

”Bri – I’m sorry.  I should have told you.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Brian lied.  He was getting mad, but he didn’t want James to see it.   He forced himself to laugh, and asked, “What happened to your rule about boyfriends?  That boyfriends had to be monogamous?”

Now James became defensive.  “Well, we ARE monogamous.  Most of the time.”

Brian laughed for real now, though it was a bitter laugh.  “Most of the time!” he repeated. 

“Well, we are.”   It was almost dark outside, but Brian could see that James’ face was flushed.  “I just saw you today, and, well, I wanted another fuck.  For old time’s sake, I guess.”

“Yeah.  That’s cool.”  Brian ran a hand through his hair and pulled up the door handle.  “Thanks for the sandwich,” he said, as lightly as he could.  “See you around sometime.”

“Bri – “

Brian pretended not to hear James, closed the car door and walked across the parking lot and into the store.  Once inside, he walked halfway down the bread aisle, then stopped and leaned against a shelf, rubbed a hand over his face.  He was okay.  He was okay.  He felt his body start shaking and fiercely ordered himself to STOP.  Taking a deep breath, then another, he straightened up and walked down the aisle, through produce and into the  back room.  Storing his books in his locker, Brian carefully tied the A&P apron around his waist, checked the duty list, and cleared his mind of everything but restocking the milk coolers, all milk carton edges rigidly aligned, all labels facing front and center.


Brian had forgotten to visit Ms. Clayton-Smith the day before, so he waited outside her office next morning, her posted schedule promising an eight o’clock office hour.  She was a few minutes late, and responded frostily to Brian’s smiling hello.  It took a few minutes, but at last he managed to thaw her with his charm and profuse fake apologies, and she agreed not to suspend him from her class. 

Entering the classroom several hours later, Brian took his seat next to Lindsay, but they barely looked at each other, both of them repressing a desire to start laughing all over again.  They were respectfully attentive in class, neither said a word during the hour-long lecture.  Once safely outside, however, Lindsay grabbed Brian’s arm and leaned her head on his shoulder, chuckling deeply.

“Behave yourself,” he chided her, his frown belied by the corners of his mouth turning up despite himself. 

“We probably shouldn’t sit together,” Lindsay concluded, “We set each other off.”

“Don’t say that,” Brian surprised himself, “Sitting next to you is the only good part of that class.”

Lindsay smiled.  “You, too,” she agreed.  “Are we getting together this afternoon to start our project?” 

”Sure,” Brian agreed.  “Three o’clock in the library.  In the study carrels on the second floor?”
Lindsay agreed, and they said good-bye and went their separate ways.

Lindsay was forty-five minutes late, and was huffing, out of breath, when she found Brian sprawled at one of the small tables upstairs in the library.  He was annoyed, but quickly gave it up when Lindsay exclaimed, “I’m so sorry, Brian!  But my roommate got sick and I went with her to the infirmary.  They think it might be appendicitis!”

“Ouch,” Brian sympathized. 

“Can we still get started on our paper now, or do you have a class?”

“Not a class,” Brian shook his head, “But I’m due at the coffee shop in a quarter hour.  Guess we can’t get started till tomorrow.”

“Damn!” Lindsay sighed.  “The paper is due next Monday.”  She bit her thumbnail, then asked, “Are you working tonight?  You could come over to my place, if you want.”

Brian thought about his schedule.  “I’m at the coffee shop till six, then the A&P from six-thirty till ten.  Is ten too late?”

“Oh no,” Lindsay assured him, “I’m kind of a night owl anyway, and we won’t bother my roommate, since they’re keeping her for observation at the infirmary.”  She wrote down the address of her apartment and they said goodbye.

Brian arrived at Lindsay’s about 10:15 and she welcomed him in, apologizing for the cramped apartment.  There were two tiny bedrooms, a bathroom not big enough to swing a cat in, and a combined living room/kitchen space with an old dinette table and chairs squeezed behind a lumpy looking sofa.  “Hey, it’s better than my place,” Brian said truthfully, sitting down on a wobbly chrome dinette chair. Lindsay was on a scholarship too, although her parents were helping with expenses as much as they could.

It didn’t take long to plan their project; they agreed to do their paper on the early Mormons and other polygamous societies.  They outlined the basic points to cover, and Lindsay promised to start research early next day at the library.  Brian had brought over a six-pack of beer and Lindsay made popcorn.  Moving from the dinette to the sofa, which turned out to be just as lumpy as it looked, Brian leaned against the cushions and felt himself relaxing for the first time in a couple days.

“I couldn’t live in a polygamous society,” Lindsay said, sitting at the other end of the sofa.  “I’m kind of old-fashioned, monogamy is very important to me.”

“Hunh,” was Brian’s response.  “I don’t believe two people can ever be really monogamous, so why even try?  Why delude yourself?” he asked.  He hadn’t meant for his voice to sound so bitter.

Lindsay sat forward and put her elbows on her knees, studying Brian closely.  “That didn’t sound rhetorical,” she said.

Brian sighed.  He looked at Lindsay, and surprised himself by answering, “It’s not.  I just – I just ran into an old boyfriend yesterday, and . . .”   He shut up.  Brian Kinney did not confide in people.  Why was he talking about James to a near-stranger?

“What happened?” Lindsay set down her beer bottle on the low coffee table.  Brian noticed inconsequently that it was made from two wooden packing crates pushed together and painted bright orange.  It was actually kind of pretty, in a funky sort of way.

“Sorry,” Lindsay said, when Brian didn’t answer.  “I didn’t mean to pry.”

He shook his head and leaned back.  “It’s okay.  It’s not like a big deal or anything.  But he – he got me to have sex with him, I mean – I wanted to and everything, but then he told me afterwards he has a new boyfriend.”  Brian laughed.  Or tried to.  It came out sounding kind of strangled.

“Oh, Brian, I’m sorry,” Lindsay leaned toward him, put a hand on his arm.  He stared at her hand, and was amazed to discover that his vision was suddenly blurred by tears.  He tried to laugh again, to get a grip on himself, but was instead horrified to feel hot tears seeping out of his eyes like an unexpected spring downpour.

Lindsay scooted over and put her arm around his shoulders.  Brian wanted to shake her off, to stand up, to get away, but his body was not obeying him; instead he turned toward her and let her hug him tight while he struggled to stop the fucking tears from leaking out of his eyes.  In two minutes, three, he gasped and pulled away, rubbed his hands roughly over his face.  Then he did stand up, walked away from the sofa, and cleared his throat.  He stared at Lindsay in disbelief.  “I never do that,” he said, needing to convince her.

“It’s okay,” she assured him, but he shook his head.

“I mean,” he said, his voice getting louder, “I NEVER do that.”

“Brian, you’re hurting, it’s normal.”  She seemed bewildered by his anger.

“I am not fucking hurting!” he almost shouted at her.  Then he saw her face.  He was upsetting her.

“Lindsay – Linds, I’m sorry.  I’m just mad at myself.  I don’t like to lose control.”

“You’re entitled,” she insisted.  “You just got fucked over by a guy you care about.  Of course you’re upset.”

“Somebody told me once, ‘All men are pigs.’”  He hesitated, then said, “They are.  We are.”

Lindsay laughed.  “Well, I can’t argue with that.  I’ve been hurt a lot of times too.”

Brian returned to the sofa and sat down.  “Is that why you think you might be a lesbian?”

“No!  God, Brian, you should know better than that.  It’s not a CHOICE.  I’m not choosing sides.  I just haven’t figured out yet, you know, if I’m straight or not.”

Pulling another beer from the carton and twisting it open, Brian paused before drinking to ask, “Have you had a lot of boyfriends?”

Turning sideways on the sofa, Lindsay leaned against the back cushion and answered slowly, “Not a lot.  A few.  I really only had one serious boyfriend.  One boy I slept with a few times.”  After a moment, she asked, “What about you?  Lots of girlfriends?”

“Nope.”  Brian laughed sheepishly.  “I hate to admit it, but I’ve never had sex with a woman.”

“You’re kidding?”  Lindsay was amazed.  “Oh, I’m sorry,” she added quickly, “That didn’t sound right.  I’m just surprised, because you’re so handsome.”  He shook his head but she continued. “Stop pretending to be modest,” she flapped her hand at him, “You know it’s true.”

He laughed again.  “'Maybe I just  never met the right girl,'” he quoted the time-worn cliché.  They were silent, then Brian added, “My first lover told me I should try it with a woman at least once, but I never wanted to.”

“He was right, I think,” Lindsay said.  “How can you know, if you don’t try?”

“Believe me, I know.”

“Even so,” Lindsay continued, “Do you want to go through life without experiencing everything?”

Brian grinned and joked, “Are you offering yourself for me to experiment on?”

But Lindsay didn’t laugh.  “I wouldn’t mind,” she answered honestly.  “I really do think you should try it with a woman, at least once.  And maybe it would help me to know if it’s something that’s right for me, too.”

“You’re not serious?” Brian demanded.  “Jesus, you ARE serious.  Jesus.”  He stood up abruptly and paced to the end of the living room and back again. 

Lindsay was studying him, and as he stared at her she nodded.  “Yes.  Yes.  Why not?  I’ve been with a guy before, so it’s not like I’d get hurt or anything.  Physically, I mean.  And you know I’m probably a lesbian, so you don’t have to worry that I’m going to get all romantic and mushy on you, which another girl might do.” 

Brian could not stop staring at Lindsay.  He felt like a moth being sucked toward a flame.  Or a butterfly that Lindsay was planning to capture, wrestle to earth, and stick a big pin through. 

Except that Lindsay was the butterfly, and he had the pin.  On that image he laughed, breaking the tension. 

“Okay,” he agreed, “What the hell.  But I’m going to need a lot more beer.”

“Thanks a lot!” Lindsay pretended to be insulted, then she laughed too.  “Let’s see if we have some in the fridge.”

October 28, 2001