Mr. Smith never once crossed the (very thin) line while I was taking refuge in his home unless I asked him to ;). And yes, it was a home, not a house. The only thing warmer than the embrace he gave was the heat from those damn spicy dishes he cooked for dinner! There was something…sensual about how his kitchen would satisfy my five senses; the warm mood of the fall colors would always calm my nerves. The citrus smell that would wake me up and surge my energy (I never found out where the HELL it came from though). The sound of some Italian dish bubbling under some pot would lull me to sleep; the feeling that if the kitchen is the heart of the home, and if food is the way to a man’s stomach—then I didn’t know which one I loved more. If not for mere satisfaction, I couldn’t help but lick my fingers after dinner—whether we ate finger-food or not. “You’re doing that on purpose! Turning me on like that!” He’d always tease through those damn pearly whites that made me melt.
My grandmother always told me that I’d never know romance until it was too late, but what Mr. Smith lacked on teaching me in the classroom, he made up for in displaying what an honest man does for his lover. His approach was always so tender; I’d sometimes stare at him and wonder like “does this man ponder every single movement?” He was a man whose every decision seemed so thought out and precise; whether picking a tie out in the morning (which I’d do anyway), or preparing his lesson plan for the following day.
One morning in particular, we were laid down at the foot of his bed grading papers and enjoying some Maxwell whispering just how “Fortunate” we were to have each other. And just when it seemed my 4 week stay there had finally secured me a stable place, and a place in his heart—his phone rang. It was the secretary from the school, warning him that the police were on their way over to his home with a warrant to search the premises for me. Evidently, my father had issued an Amber Alert for me, and a neighbor must’ve seen me pulling a trashcan to the front yard or perhaps a waiter at a restaurant matched me to the newspaper. Either way, I remember thinking “this man is determined to make my life a living hell”. Somehow, someone tipped off the police of my location (only my best friend and my two cousins knew where I was, but only after they swore their confidence did I reveal my whereabouts).
“I’m so sorry for all of this” I pleaded to Mr. Smith. “Well, as of last week, you’re officially 18, so unless you have a pound of dope on you, or a warrant for your arrest, then the only place you’re sleeping tonight, is in my guest room”. He always knew just what to say. Luckily, there was no “big scene” of flashing blue lights and nosey neighbors, just one squad car and a pleasantly polite officer of the law. After explaining to him my situation, the officer beckoned me to contact my father and let him know that I’m safe; because of state law, the officer was obligated to give my dad the address to where I was”.
But, what could I say to the man that disowned me? What words could my 18 year old “me against the world” attitude come up with? It had been a little over a month since I spoke to my dad; we would relay messages back and forth between family members: an aunt would tell me “this”, a cousin would tell him “that”. As much as I hated to admit it, as much as it pained me to face reality, the truth was that I missed my father and it hurt not to have his approval. Once Mr. Smith convinced me to call him, my father answered on the first ring and before he could say “hello”, we both started crying at the same time.
“Daddy, my biggest fear in this world wasn’t coming out to you; my biggest fear was disappointing you—and now that I’ve faced that, I think the world isn’t as tough as it used to be”. The words choked up from my throat.
“I love you, son. But that Gay shit—I just can’t do it. I haven’t eaten since you left, I haven’t slept since you walked out that door—and it’s killing me. I…need you” it was one of the first times I ever heard my father cry.
Why did it take all of this to get us, these two men who lived off of the strength and manhood we felt entitled to, to finally become weak enough to be each other’s strength?
It was agreed that it’d be best if my dad didn’t press charges against Mr. Smith (I was still 17 when he let me move in). The man was kind enough to open his doors when my father’s slammed in my face, so a court order would have been one big FUCK YOU to his hospitality. I would stay there until my father and I worked things out… which seemed impossible at the time. We were like toothpaste—couldn’t put it back in the tube…
(and where was my ex BF while all of this happened, you ask? Stay tuned!)
(Stay tuned folks, slice #5 coming up soon!).