#50-18: "Places in the Heart"

posted Aug 3, 2015, 6:44 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Aug 3, 2015, 7:04 AM ]
“I got here as soon as I could,” I said to Bradley – who greeted me at the door as I arrived home from a day trip up to put in some stay-in-the-will face time with my mother and grandmother in Ventura. “Where’s Giago?” 

“He’s in his room,” Bradley answered.

“Is he okay?”

“We’re not sure. He won’t tell us anything. He just walked in and told us that he wanted to talk to you – and only you – as he went up to his room.”

“He wouldn’t say anything to me either as we headed home from the beach,” Jake added.

“And he wants to talk to…me…of all people?” I asked.

“I was just as surprised as you are,” Bradley replied.

“Try to figure out a teenager,” I said as I slowly made my way up the stairs.

I stood outside the door to Giago’s bedroom for a few moments. As clueless as I was as to what he wanted to talk to me about and even more clueless as to what I was going to say about whatever it was he wanted to talk to me about, I was completely clueless about why he wanted to talk to me – and only me. After all, it wasn’t as if he and I haven’t had our share of arguments:

We’ve argued over his putting gas in the car.

We’ve argued over his cleaning the bathroom.

We’ve argued over how he wore his pants.

And I’m sure we’re about to have an argument over something else.

But yet he’s involved in some sort of situation that he wants to talk to me – and only me – about? Try and figure out a teenager.

I knocked on the door. “Giago, it’s dad. Can I come in?”

“Yeah,” a deflated Giago responded.

I opened the door and walked in. Giago was sprawled out on his bed with his face in his pillow. I sat down on the edge of his bed. “Jake and your pops told me you needed to talk…to me. What happened at the beach?”

Giago turned around to face me. His eyes were red from crying. He sat up, threw his arms around me and started crying again. I hugged him back and he rested his head on my shoulder. 

“Whatever it is, it’s okay,” I assured him. “You can tell me what happened or you can just cry until you feel better.”

“How could she do that to me, dad?”

“I don’t know,” I responded blindly.

“It was so embarrassing.”

“I’m sure it was.”

“And in front of Jake.”

“I can imagine,” I said before realizing what he just said. “What does Jake have to do with it?”

“He kinda looks up to me.”

I tilted my head dubiously, but decided against questioning the validity of that statement at this moment. “And now he won’t?”

“Why would he? I’ll be the laughing stock of the entire senior class.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad.”

“It is. I want to be home-schooled.”

I chuckled. “Well before we resort to that, why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Giago flopped back down onto his bed. “There’s this girl that moved into town mid-year and started going to our school. She was beautiful and smart and funny. And I liked it her right away. All the guys noticed her, but I was the first one who started talking to her – and from what she told me, I was the first one who wasn’t obviously trying to get with her. That didn’t even cross my mind. I just wanted to be around her. When I told her that, she thought it was cute and we started hanging out. After we went out a couple of times, I told her that I liked her. She kissed me on the cheek and said that she liked me too. And we kept hanging out. So Jake and I organized this day at the beach with a small group of us – actually, Jake did most of the planning since he likes to do that sort of thing. Is that a gay thing, Dad?”

I was caught off-guard by the sudden shift in the conversation, but I went along with it. “Not necessarily,” I replied. “That’s more a Jake and your pops thing than a gay thing. I hate planning things when more than one other person is involved, but your pops loves it. When you were younger though, I had to plan things out because you were involved in so many different things. But now that you’re older and planning things on your own – or through Jake – I let your pops do the planning for us. But I digress…carry on.”

“Anyway,” Giago continued. “I had Jake organize this beach day for us. At some point during the afternoon, I was going to pull her aside and ask her to officially be my girlfriend. Then when she said yes, we could announce it to our small group of friends so that no one would be upset that they weren’t told first. I didn’t even tell Jake that I was doing this. I wanted it to be a surprise for everyone. It was going to be great. But then she showed up at the beach with some other guy who was clearly her date for our date with everyone else.”

“Yikes,” I said.

“Yeah. And she was like, ‘I hope you don’t mind that I brought a friend,’ in that adorable way that I wish I hated right now more than I actually do.”

“But what’s embarrassing about that?”

“Everybody knows I like her. Everyone thought she liked me too. And everyone has said that we’d make a cute couple – well, clearly everyone except her.”

“Ah…I see.”

“And I may not have covered up my feelings about what she did as much as I now wish I had.”

“How so?”

“I was kinda rude to her date.”

“In words or in action?”

“Both. I peppered him with questions about who he was, how he met Samantha and even asked him what his intentions were with her.”

I chuckled. “I once did that with one of your Uncle Jasper’s boyfriends. And also to your Aunt Jessilynn’s husband – at a nightcap following their wedding reception.”

“Well, Samantha didn’t find it as funny as you did. But that just frustrated me more -- so I used his beach towel as a napkin after we all ate, I put sand in his bottle of sunscreen and I kept laying in between the two of them whenever I struck up a conversation.”

I rubbed Giago’s back. “Yeah…you should be embarrassed.”

Giago chuckled. “Thanks, dad.”

“But not for what you think she did. And it’s not the end of the world. You’re a hormonal teenager and as such, you don’t always think clearly when it comes to matters of the heart. You like girls and you think they like you back but then it turns out they only see you as a friend – which you don’t always find out until someone else enters the picture. It works the same way when girls like a guy – only the guys are generally more willing to juggle two or three until they decide which one they want the most.”

“I bet dating would be easier if I was gay.”

I snickered. “Not from what I remember about it. So unless it's changed -- and from what I'm hearing, it hasn't all that much, the gays aren’t any better about such things than the straights.”

“Does Jake know that?”

“He’ll find out soon enough. So brace yourself. We like to cry, too.”

Giago sat back up. “I’ve never seen you cry.”

“And hopefully you never will. I saw your Grandma Stephanie cry a lot after she and Grandpa Derrick divorced. It wasn’t pretty. And there was nothing I could do about it. I’m hoping never to see that again. But know that crying is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a sign of strength. Being vulnerable, letting people help and being in touch with your feelings are all signs of strength.”

Giago thought about this for a moment. “So I should have cried in front of Samantha instead of mistreating her date?”

“Absolutely. I don’t know much about women, but they love sensitivity. They like strong and silent, but after a while they all come around to appreciating sensitivity more – generally speaking.”

“I’ve messed things up with Samantha, haven’t I?”

“For the time being, yes. But if she’s smart, she’ll eventually give you a chance to explain. And if not – you’ll always have Jake.”

Jake gave me a hug. “Thanks, dad.”

“Anytime, son. I love you.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.”

“I’m glad you came to me about this, but you could have also spoken to your pops.”

“I know, but he always just tries to make me feel better.”

I considered this for a moment. “And I don’t?”

“No, you do. But you’re a lot tougher on me than he is and you have no problem telling me when I’m being an idiot.”

I tussled his hair. “You’re welcome – and becoming very wise in your young age. Are you ready to re-emerge or should I just send your pops and Jake in?”

“Nah. I’ll come out there,” Giago said as he slid out of bed.

I walked over to the door and opened it to find Bradley and Jake standing on the other side.

“We just wanted to make sure everything was alright with Giago,” Jake said as he walked in to give him a hug.

“I just wanted to hear what happened at the beach," Bradley said as he leaned against the doorway. "And now that I know, I can say that this little Samantha chippie doesn't sound like she's worth all this drama. So get over her and move on to the next one so we can have dinner."

Giago, Jake and I returned his statement with looks of mild surprise.

"See? I can be just as tough as your dad," Bradley said proudly to Giago as he headed back downstairs.

"He's just showing off," I said to Giago and Jake as we followed Bradley downstairs.