"Earth to Cotton...." Cole was saying. "Are you in there?"
"Oh, sorry," I blushed. "I kind of spaced out there for a second. I guess the first day kind of overloaded my nerves."
"I know that feeling," he agreed.
"Come on up to my room," you tell him. "What sort of music do you like?"
"You've probably never heard of my favorite groups," Cole said with a sigh. "I like the big band era."
"You're kidding me, right?" I gasp. "I can't believe this."
"I know, I'm weird," he mumbled rather sadly. He looked up and added defensively, "I like other music too. In fact, I can listen to anything except rap."
"You aren't any weirder than I am," I tell him excitedly. "I have the entire Glenn Miller collection, as well as most of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, including an album that I got autographed last year at an amusement park."
"You met the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in person?" Cole gasped. "I am so jealous."
"They couldn't believe that a guy my age was asking for their autographs," I recalled with a smile. "They were really cool for old guys."
The talk of music had done the job of deflating my... problem. I didn't want to take any chances though. I grabbed some clothes out of my dresser and went to the bathroom to change. I was between the old clothes and the new ones when the bathroom door suddenly opened.
"Oh, geeze, I'm sorry," Cole gasped. "I knew you had left the room, but I thought you had gone back to the kitchen or something."
"It's all right," I lied. "No harm done." At least none that could be seen. "I'll be right out. I'm just changing."
"That's cool," Cole told me. "I can wait until you're done."
"Oh, you need the bathroom," I said in one of my more less than brilliant moments. "Of course you do, or you wouldn't have opened the door, DUH."
Cole giggled a bit and said, "Like I said, no rush. I can wait." He paused for a moment before adding almost too quietly, "Or I could just go ahead now." I looked up from the floor where my clothes were still lying as he continued a little stronger. "I mean it's not that different from going in the public toilets at school."
"That's true, I guess," I reasoned. "I don't mind if you just have to pee." He blushed a bit at that, but nodded his head. "Well in that case, welcome to my humble commode," I said with a deep formal bow gesturing to the porcelain.
"Thanks," he said as he stepped into the room. "I really have to go."
"Well, better to do it in here then," I told him. I suddenly remembered that I hadn't pulled up my pants yet. I was standing in the bathroom talking to a really cute guy in my underwear.
I just called him really cute. That's not good. I am not supposed to talk that way about guys. I'm not supposed to think that way about guys. What is happening to me?
I turned my back to the toilet partly to give him privacy and partly for my own security. Of course, this meant that I was facing a full length mirror. I bent over to pull up my pants and saw in the mirror that Cole was looking at me. He couldn't see that I was watching him. His eyes were glued to my butt. He also wasn't peeing. He was just standing there holding himself.
I could see his… down there! The realization was like an electric bolt through my body. I was instantly as hard as I had ever been in my life. That wasn't supposed to happen. In the second after I discovered what a view I had, it dawned on me that I was giving him quite a show as well. I wasn't showing my bare butt, but it was certainly not covered by much. My next epiphany was that he seemed to be getting hard as well. What could that mean? Did it mean anything at all? I was so confused.
Suddenly, Cole tucked himself away and flushed. I jerked my pants up as he did the same and we walked back into the bedroom. It seemed to me that he was as nervous now as I was. I also couldn't get the image of him out of my head. That meant that I couldn't get my problem to go away either. I caught myself looking at his crotch, and could still make out a not insignificant bulge there as well.
I had promised myself that nothing out of the ordinary would happen. How could I get more out of the ordinary than throwing a boner while in my underwear in front of another guy? If he saw it, my life would be over. I had to get my mind off his hot body. There I go again. I have to stop thinking about him like that.
"Would you like me to put some music on?" I asked hoping to get the head above my shoulders to work.
"Sure, that would be cool," he answered.
"What would you like to hear?" I continued as I walked towards my stereo.
"Anything is fine," Cole told me. He still wouldn't look at me; not that I was looking at him either. I can't let our friendship die before it even started just because I couldn't control my hormones. I had to something, but what?
Fortunately for me, Mom interrupted us again to call and say that the cookies were ready. We both seemed to forget about the awkwardness that had been hanging between us. Chocolate chip cookies should be served at diplomatic dinners. They can override any amount of discomfort and stress.
By the time the snacks were gone, Cole and I were getting along as well as we had at school. The only difference was that I kept thinking of what he looked like… down there. Of course, that made matters worse in some ways for me. I was never going to lose my problem down there if I kept this up. Oops, that was a bad choice of words.
"If you boys are going to be on the chess team, maybe you should practice a bit while you have the chance," Mom suggested. "I think the proper term is 'bone up'." I almost choked on my cookie. Had she seen something? I looked over at Cole and saw that his face was red as well.
"That's a good idea," Cole told me. "We want to play the best we can for the team."
"Ok," I agreed. "I mean I know we aren't real likely to get thrown off since they are so short on members, but we still should try our best."
"One more thing, guys," Mom started as we got up to leave the kitchen. "One reason I suggested chess is that it's quiet. I am feeling really tired and was thinking I would go take a nap for a little bit."
"Message received, Mrs. Lauder," Cole told her with a smile. "We'll keep it quiet."
"Thank you, boys," Mom smiled in response.
Once we got back to my room, Cole spoke again, scaring me half to death at first.
"Well, let's get boned up." I turned quickly to look at him, and was relieved to see the grin on his face. "Parents say the craziest things."
"You know, that reminds me of another joke," I told him.
"Well, at least this time if I don't get it right away, there isn't a room full of witnesses," he laughed.
"Hey, you drug us into that situation, not me," I pointed out. "Anyway....It seems that the teenage daughter of this couple got pregnant. She tells her parents who naturally are upset over it. They demand to meet the baby's father. The daughter makes a phone call and a few minutes later a limo pulls up in the driveway. The man that gets out of the back of the car walks up and introduces himself to the parents. He tells them that he knows about the situation, but he can't marry their daughter because of other family concerns. He will honor his obligations, however. If the baby is a boy, the man intends to give him a factory and a Swiss bank account of $2 million. If the baby is a girl, she will receive a retail store and the same Swiss bank account. If it should turn out to be twins, they will each be given a store and one million dollars. The guy then looks at the parents and asks what he should do if the girl has a miscarriage. The father walks up to the man, and puts his hand on his shoulder and tells him that in that case he had better try again."
Cole obviously got that one because he started laughing right away. "That's great," he told me. "You should sign up for one of those amateur talent show things."
"Maybe I will someday," I agreed.
"Let's see the chess board," he says. "I warn you now though; I haven't played in a while. Be gentle with me."
I started off doing just that. I was playing nice guy chess. I soon learned that he had been joking with me. The boy was vicious. It wasn't long before I was struggling to stay alive in the game. I was just beginning to make a strong comeback when Mom called us again.
We walked out of the room and discovered that while we were playing, Cole's parents had arrived. I met his mom who I felt comfortable around instantly. It was very similar to the way I had seemed to instantly connect with Cole. Mrs. Miller struck me as being very friendly and outgoing, just like her husband and son. I was surprised by this a little, because I normally would be uncomfortable around people who were into science and technology.
Once my father got home a couple of minutes later, the families had a nice dinner. Mom had outdone herself again. I was amazed that she had been able to pull off such a great meal when she had said she was tired and needed a nap when we got home from school.
Cole sort of embarrassed his parents when he went on and on about how good the food was. His mother finally told him that if he kept it up, we would think that they never fed him at home. We all laughed a bit, but Cole seemed really interested in how Mom had made everything. She told him that she would be glad to share recipes and help him learn his way around the kitchen on the days that he came here after school.
"I would love that," Cole told her. "I really think I would like to be able to cook like this. No offense to Mom and Dad, but this is really cool."
"I'm afraid he has a point," Mrs. Miller admitted. "I can make food in the kitchen, but it is just enough to survive. I don't really enjoy it, and it shows."
"My problem is that of time," Mr. Miller added. "I don't mind cooking at all. I simply don't have the time to devote to it. It is wonderful to see someone who not only has the time, but also the talent and drive to entertain well."
"Well, when a girl is born and reared in Vicksburg, she doesn't have to learn southern hospitality, she is born with it," my dad quipped. "It is one of Cathy's most endearing charms. The day I met her, she was in period costume for a presentation at the Battlefield Park in Vicksburg. I was hypnotized by her then and still am today."
"Tom, you're embarrassing me," Mom scolded with a blush. "He does have a point though. My earliest memories are of helping my mother and grandmothers prepare meals for the holidays when the house would just be bursting at the seams with relatives and friends."
"Oh, I remember days like that," Mrs. Miller sighed. "My mother gave up on me in the kitchen when I was a little girl though. I was just too much of a tomboy. I would rather be out helping my daddy in the fields than working in the house with Momma."
"Melanie and I went to the zoo in Monroe for our first date," Mr. Miller recalled. "On the way home, my car broke down. I was so embarrassed. I just knew her daddy was going to kill me if we came back late."
"He would have done it, too," Mrs. Miller added. "It's a good thing for you that I was such a tomboy. I got out and fixed the car so we could get home on time. Daddy liked Jim right off the bat, but I think he was a little disappointed that he never got the extra farmhand he had hoped for."
"I know what you mean," Mom told her. "My father admitted that Tom was as nice a man as he could ever wish for as a son-in-law except for that one major flaw."
Cole and I both looked at the two sets of parents in obvious confusion. There was nothing wrong with my dad. He was a great guy who always had time to make me feel like I was the most important kid in the world.
"I had a cousin that married a yankee, as well," Mr. Miller told everyone. "It was a good thing she moved away to be with him. He never would have fit in around Delhi."
"Well, you can imagine how popular Tom was in Vicksburg," Mom laughed. "I don't think my grandmother ever did get over the shock, even though she grew to love Tom as much as any of her other grandkids spouses."
"She called me yankee right up until the day she died," Dad remembered aloud.
"Well, that was as polite as she could get," Mom said with a smile. "When she first met you, you were a carpet bagger."
"Is that worse than a yankee?" Cole asked.
"Yes, indeed," his father answered. "You see boys, there are degrees of yankees. At the top of the list are just plain yankees. Those are people who live up north that you don't know. Just below that are yankee carpet baggers, which are yankees that come to the south. In Tom's case, according to my family history, he would be a member of one of the worst categories; damn yankee trash."
"That would be a yankee that moved to the south and married your kin?" I suggested.
"That's right, son," Dad told me. "Aren't you proud of your father now?" he laughed.
"Now boys, it is important to understand that these attitudes aren't as prevalent in today's world as they were when we were growing up," Mom explained. "You have to realize that many people in the south grew up being taught that people from the north were the lowest form of life simply because that's the way their parents had been taught, and their parents before them, and so on."
"Exactly," Mr. Miller agreed. "These prejudices were born out of the aftermath of the Civil War. Irregardless of what it was actually about, slavery or states rights versus national control, the south was treated very badly after the war. Reconstruction did little to actually repair the damage done by the war. It did do a lot to get revenge on an already economically depressed people who were in no fit position to fight off immoral and illegal behavior from those people who were either sent to the south or came on their own. The term carpet bagger actually refers to the fact that many of these crooks moved to the south with their belongings packed into tapestry bag luggage."
"The Battlefield Park in Vicksburg is a good example of how Reconstruction was handled," Mom explained. "The area of the park dedicated to the northern states is considerably larger than the southern states. The memorials built for those northern states are magnificent and detailed with the names of the individual soldiers that served. The southern states get small markers that simply state the units that were present."
"That doesn't seem quite fair," Cole said.
"History is written by the conquerors," Dad mused aloud. "When I was growing up, I was taught that the Civil War was about slavery. As an adult, I moved to the south and discovered that the issue was actually more about the line between what states should govern and regulate and what the national government dictates. Ironically, that is still an issue to this day. Take for example the move to make a federal issue out of same sex marriage. The federal government has never been concerned with marriage before. Marriage is a state decision and always has been."
"Well, I hate to break up the civics lesson for the boys, but we need to get home," Mr. Miller announced. "Tomorrow is another day."
As they left, I wondered why they had to go so suddenly. Could it be the comment Dad had made about same sex marriage? Maybe they were uncomfortable with that issue. The burning question in my mind for the rest of the evening was why that issue suddenly seemed so important to me. I wasn't gay, was I?