“It’s a good thing we have two,” I said to Bradley as we heard the toilet flush, the door open and Giago (our son formerly known as Pierpont) slowly emerge from the bathroom – as if embarrassed – to slowly head into his bedroom.
Bradley took a look at his watch. “Seventeen minutes.”
Bradley and I were sitting on the living room couch reading with our legs stretched out and crossed one over the other – my left one over his right one and his left one over my right one -- and our backs against each opposing arm. I put down the book I was trying to read. “Does it seem weird to you that we’ve started timing his bathroom visits?” I asked.
Bradley shook his head. “Yes, but it’s out of concern.”
“And what exactly are we concerned about?”
“I don’t know about you, but I just want to know why he’s doing what’s he’s doing in the bathroom when he has his own bedroom.”
“Oh that’s easy. I took the lock off his bedroom door when he had the audacity and the unmitigated gall to lock me out of it during an argument last month.”
Bradley looked up from the book he was reading. “I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because you would have put the lock back on.”
“I’m surprised Giago didn’t come to me about that.”
“Because I got ahead of it by threatening to take his door completely off if he did.”
Bradley shook his head. “Since it’s been a month, why don’t we give him his lock back?”
I had actually forgotten about both the incident (which surprised me because I don’t easily forget such effrontery from Giago). “Fine,” I said, calling myself acquiescing. “As long as you don’t tell him that I’m doing it.”
“Fine. At least this way he doesn’t have to be self-conscious about what he’s doing.”
“Which is why we should talk to him about it.”
“We can’t talk to him about this.”
“Would you want to have such a conversation with your parents?”
“Yes and no. Yes, I would have liked to have such a conversation, but no – not with my parents.”
“Did your parents try to talk to you about it?”
“Yep. I made every effort to avoid it, but then a friend of theirs gave them a book called How to Talk to Your Teenaged Son About What He’s Doing Behind Closed Doors. Armed with that information, they more or less forced the issue. So I kept all my doors open until I went off to college.”
I laughed as I sympathetically rubbed his left leg. “How did they broach the subject with you?”
“The same way I imagine you want to with Giago.”
I shot Bradley a quick glare and playfully tugged at his leg hair. “It’ll be different with us because we’re guy parents.”
“So were our fathers.”
“But we’re gay guy parents.”
Bradley scrunched his face. “How is that different?”
“I used to ‘go to the bathroom’ a lot before I met you.”
“And our fathers didn’t?”
“Our fathers got married earlier in their lives than we did. So I hope they didn’t have to ‘go to the bathroom’ for as long as I did.”
Bradley chuckled. “How much have you had to ‘go to the bathroom’ since?”
“A lot when you used to travel, but now it depends on whether or not you’re in the mood.”
Bradley thought about this for a moment. “What about when you’re in the mood? Or not?”
“Have I ever not been?”
“I don’t know. Have you ever not been?”
I wicked smile spread across my face. “I benefit a lot when you’re in the mood. So even if I’m not in the mood at the outset, I’m definitely into it by the…um…you know…inset.”
“But why would you do that to yourself?”
“Because I come out ahead in the deal -- so the question is why wouldn’t I do it for YOU?”
“I appreciate that, but it sounds kind of concubinal.”
“But it’s not. It’s me taking the opportunity to play give and/or take with my husband.”
“But if you’re not in the mood, what’s the point?”
“Because you can always get me into the mood. So now my next question is have you ever done the same for me?”
This silenced Bradley for a moment. “I’m sure I have.”
I looked at Bradley and raised an eyebrow. “But have you?”
“Probably not. It just seems so self-degrading to do something out of what amounts to be a sense of obligation.”
“But if you’re in some sort of need in that regard, then, as your husband, I want to make sure that need is met.”
“But you shouldn’t have to do that. Not even for me.”
“In that case, then you should always be in the mood when I’m in the mood.”
Bradley struggled for a reply but failed. “What does any of this have to do with Giago and the bathroom anyway?”
I shrugged my shoulders and smiled. “Fine. Next time I’m not in the mood I’ll let you know. But I’ll warn you ahead of time that it will decrease the frequency of our give and/or take.”
“By what percentage?”
“About 14 percent.”
Bradley calculated this in his head. “I can live with that.”
Bradley and I went back to our respective reading. A short time later, Giago came downstairs with a book. Bradley and I couldn’t help but to smirk as he settled into one of the recliners along the opposite wall. I felt bad for doing it, but I could tell that Bradley felt a bit less so.
“What are you reading?” Bradley asked Giago, stifling a laugh.
“One of dad’s books – Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” Giago grumbled. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing,” Bradley replied. “But one would imagine you’d be in a better mood by now.”
“Why?” Giago asked.
“Stop it, Bradley.” I whispered. “If we’re not going to talk to him about it, then we shouldn’t tease him about it.”
“You’re right, Terrence. But it’s just so funny to me that he feels he needs to hide this from us.”
“Which is why we need to talk to him about it.”
“Okay, fine. But YOU start the conversation.”
I put my book aside, pulled my legs away from Bradley and shifted my body to sit square on the couch so I could face Giago. “Can we talk to you for a bit?” I asked.
“Fine,” he said without looking from his book.
“It may be a bit uncomfortable.”
“For you or for me?”
“First off, we want you to remind you that there’s nothing you can say or do that you need to be embarrassed about where we’re concerned because we’ve probably already said it or done it.”
Giago didn’t look up from the book he was reading, but I could tell that he was starting to catch on to what I was saying.
“We’ve noticed that you’ve been spending a lot of time in the bathroom,” I continued. “And what you’re now doing in there beyond what you’ve always been doing in there is perfectly natural and understandable as you’re responding to things your body is starting to do that it didn’t necessarily do before.”
Giago hung his head and didn’t say anything for a few moments. “Do we really have to have this conversation?” he quietly asked.
“I’d like to,” I replied.
“No, we don’t have to,” Bradley countered.
“I’m siding with Pops on this one,” Giago said. (Since he’d asked us about a year ago to stop calling him Pierpont, he also stopped calling Bradley “Daddy” and started calling him “Pops”. I’m not entirely sure how Bradley feels about that. I’m not entirely sure that Bradley is entirely sure how he feels about that.)
“I’ll back off if you promise that you’ll come to either of us with any questions about…you know…the bathroom.”
Giago didn’t look up from his book but I could tell he was smiling to himself. “I do have one question.”
I looked at Bradley triumphantly.
“Can you put the lock back on my door?”
I grimaced -- but I had to give him credit for more or less backing me into a corner. “Fine. However -- the next time you lock either of us out of your room, you’ll be sleeping on the roof.”