“Good morning, sweet-stuff,” my girlfriend said to me as my eyes fluttered open, the sunlight streaming into the small one-bedroom apartment we were subletting in the Watergate complex. My parents were paying a fortune for it, I knew, but I would have been happy with a tiny belowground dive on Capitol Hill, just to be here in the District, as they called it. Being ‘Inside the Beltway’ meant everything. I pitied those who had to commute in from the suburbs. Even those who lived across the river in Arlington weren’t treated the same. Sure, we Washingtonians lacked the vote - ‘Taxation Without Representation’ as our license plates proudly proclaimed, but there was nothing like being a Washington insider.
But how in Hell did I let Sherrie talk me into letting her come with me for the summer? At least back in Chicago, we each had our own apartments, so I had my privacy. I could sneak around and have an occasional fling with a guy without her ever knowing about it. Now she was living with me for the entire summer, which meant I’d have damn little chance to have any fun on my own.
Not only that, but her drug habit was likely to drag me down with her, and that was something I could never allow to happen. A little coke now and then was one thing. A steady diet could really mess up my life. Not that I couldn’t afford the financial cost, but the political cost of getting caught could literally end my career.
On the other hand, she was absolutely beautiful, and she did help put an end to any speculation about my sexual orientation, and that was worth a lot to me. I could only hope she didn’t expect to move in with me when we returned to Chicago.
Reaching down for my member, she grasped it firmly and gave it a few strokes. It was hard all right - hard from the need for my morning piss.
Pushing me onto my back, she straddled me and sat down on it, but rather than making me harder, she only caused me to go limp.
“Oh, aren’t I turning you on, baby?” she asked.
“I have to go piss, and sitting on my bladder is only making it worse,” I answered. “Let me, ah, relieve myself, and I’ll be right back.”
Of course the last thing I wanted to do was to have sex in the morning, especially with a woman, and so after I emptied my bladder, I turned on the shower and got in. When she heard the shower running, she came into the bathroom and opened the shower door to ask, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Sorry, Love, but I just remembered that I have to pick a couple of kids up at the airport. I don’t have time to make love this morning. We’ll just have to wait until tonight.”
She gave me her cute little pout, which I actually found more disgusting than cute, and closed the shower door. Finally alone, I lathered up and got down to doing what I really wanted to do. Thinking about the boys I would finally be meeting today, it didn’t take long. If David Reynolds and Jeremy Kimball were even half as handsome as their pictures and videos were, I’d likely jizz in my pants on the spot this morning. I just had to remind myself that they were very likely a committed couple, and that as far as they were concerned, I was 100% straight.
I’d only recently learned that they would be arriving with friends of theirs who would be in the Summer Page Program in the Senate. I had paged a full semester a couple of years ago, but on the House side, so I knew exactly what their friends were in for. In fact, all four boys would be sharing a room in Daniel Webster Hall. Man, that place is a bastion of schemers, practical jokes and scandals as it is. If the other pages were to learn about a couple of gay boys in their midst, it could lead to a real mess - that was for sure. In any case, I’d be picking the four of them up at the airport and helping them to get settled in at Daniel Webster Hall, as well as showing David and Jeremy the ropes at the White House.
Drying myself off and applying my deodorant, I looked at myself in the mirror and decided to forego shaving today. I had a thin layer of stubble on my face - just enough to look stylishly sexy without looking unkempt. I threw some gel into my dark blond hair and massaged it until it was perfectly messy, but not too messy, and combed it until it looked like I had just gotten out of bed. It was hard getting just the right look, but I wanted to look perfect for David and Jeremy, even if they were a lot taller than I was.
Grabbing a pop tart from the kitchen, I quickly scarffed it down, kissed Sherrie on the cheek, and headed out of the apartment. I actually had lots of time until the boys’ flight landed at Regan National Airport, but I didn’t tell Sherrie that. I just had to get out of the apartment. I had a car, a Porsche 911, but it just wasn’t going to be big enough for the five of us plus the boys’ luggage. My plan, therefore, was to take the Metro from the Foggy Bottom station to the airport and hail a taxi - a minivan taxi, to transport all of us and their luggage to their residence hall.
After I had them all settled in, I figured I would take them out to lunch to someplace nice - my treat. I knew of a really great steakhouse near Capitol Hill, and every teenager loves steak, after all.
Arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare, I wandered around the US Airways terminal a bit while waiting for the boys’ flight to arrive. Browsing in some of the shops, I decided I’d better have some sort of sign to help them find me once they did get here, and so I bought some heavy white cardboard and a black marker at a stationery store and put together a makeshift sign similar to those I’d seen other people using.
Checking the marquee one more time to see that their flight was on time, I got in position outside of security, where I expected them to exit, and waited. Hundreds of people came through that way as I held up my sign, but even so, I had no difficulty spotting David as he made his way through the crowd with Jeremy and their friends. David was even more stunning in person, but then the same could be said for Jeremy. With them were two other boys who, although not nearly as attractive, were very cute in their own rights. One of them looked to be a bit older - perhaps seventeen or eighteen. He wore glasses and had curly, reddish-brown hair. He looked a bit geeky, but more than that, had a sophisticated, mature, studious look. The other boy looked to be quite young. Since he was going to be a page, I knew he had to be sixteen, but he didn’t look to be a day past fourteen, if even that. He had straight blond hair, vivid blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose, that made him look cute as a button. Young as he looked to be, however, there was a certain worldly look to him - almost a haunted feel that made it seem as if he’d escaped from the clutches of the devil himself, and was wise beyond his years.
“Hey guys, I’m Will Kramer,” I said as I extended my hand to shake David’s.
Each of the four boys then introduced themselves to me, including the two I didn’t have prior information about, Trevor and Kurt.
“Listen,” I said, “I know you guys prolly have a lot of luggage, and five of us would have never fit in my 911 anyway, so I thought we’d just take a minivan taxi once you collect your things.
“The line for a taxi can take a half-hour or longer,” I said, “so why don’t we get you a porter to help you collect your stuff and I can do the waiting for you in the meantime,” I suggested.
“A 911, huh?” David said with a grin as he nudged Jeremy in the ribs. “Guess who just got a Boxter for his sixteenth birthday?”
Poor Jeremy’s face lit up bright red from the ribbing he was getting from his boyfriend, but in that instant I knew a lot about these two. The Boxter cost about half as much as the 911 my parents bought me for my sixteenth birthday, but it was still nothing to sneeze at. Jeremy’s reaction to his boyfriend’s teasing said a lot about the kind of person he was - he wasn’t some spoiled rich kid - if anything, he was embarrassed by the toys his parents lavished on him. I’d have been willing to bet anything he’d trade all his toys for just a little more time with his parents. In short, Jeremy was a lot like me. Something told me we’d be getting to know each other very well, not as lovers or anything like that, but as confidants, and as friends.
David may have loved Jeremy, but he hadn’t a clue what it was like to grow up in that kind of environment. I wondered if he even had his own car. Not that he was poor - not by a long shot - but he was never given the chance to take what he had for granted, and I was willing to bet his parents were always there when he needed them. Kids like Jeremy and I were jealous as hell of kids like David, but David was probably oblivious of the fact.
“Too bad we couldn’t bring our cars with us,” Trevor lamented as he shouldered his backpack, deliberately trying to take some of the attention off of Jeremy. I immediately realized that Trevor knew what it was to have money, but I could tell by the look on his face that his parents weren’t the kind to flaunt it. I was willing to bet his parents bought him a car, but a sensible car . . . something sporty, but safe, and definitely not extravagant. Maybe a low-end Audi or Lexus if they wanted to impress, but more likely a Jetta if I was reading things right.
“Had to leave the Jetta back home?” I teased him. The look of shock on his face was priceless. BINGO!
“How did you know?” he asked once he’d finally recovered.
“Let’s just say I have a knack for reading people,” I said as I pointed at Jeremy and said, “Rich kid with parents who are never around, probably had a nanny, has lots of fancy toys given to him to make up for the lack of time with his parents, but didn’t let it make him a spoiled brat. Generous to a fault, socially liberal, almost to the point of feeling guilty.” Patting him on the shoulder, I said, “Your story could be my story, bud.”
Turning to his boyfriend, I continued, “You, on the other hand, come from affluent parents who aren’t nearly so generous, are more than likely Republicans, but who are pretty much around when you need them. If they even gave you a car for your birthday, you’re responsible for getting a job to pay for your own gas and insurance. Ah, but you didn’t get a car, did you?” I said as I noticed the look on his face.
“My dad lost his job a few months ago,” David explained. “He was the regional manager for a major division of one of the big three national banks. Well, we all know how the banking industry has been doing recently, and they made him one of the scapegoats in taking the government’s bailout money. The top execs got huge bonuses,” David said with bitterness, “and my dad got canned. The one good thing that came of it is that it saved us from moving. We were all set to move into a huge McMansion we didn’t need and I certainly didn’t want. It would have meant changing school districts and moving away from Jeremy, so there was a definite silver lining to my dad losing his job. And besides, my dad got a much better job in public fundraising, and he’s much happier now.
“So what if I have to wait to get my own car. My boyfriend’s got a Porsche Boxter. In a couple of years, we’ll be getting married and going away to college, so I really don’t need my own car, anyway.”
“Whoa,” I said, “getting married? You and Jeremy have it all figured out!”
“We do!” David said with emphasis. “We’ve been together for two years already. Neither of us is going anywhere.”
“You mean you’ve never even been tempted?” I asked.
“Look at David, man,” Jeremy said. “I know you’re prolly straight, but anyone can appreciate how handsome he is, and when you get to know him, you’ll realize that his beauty extends inside, too. Why would I be tempted?”
“Listen,” I said, “Your baggage will be coming off the carousel any minute now. Like I said, let’s get you a porter, and I’ll get in line for a taxi.” I signaled for a porter to join the group, and as I did so, I noticed that Trevor and Kurt were holding hands. Oh man, they were all four gay, and out! How could they be so comfortable in public like that? “As soon as you have all your luggage, just exit through those doors,” I said pointing directly behind me, “and come find me in the taxi line.”
Standing at the back of a taxi line gave me some time to think about the coming weeks as I slowly inched forward. Two gay teenage couples. Two couples that were out. Two couples from the Midwest, from the Bible Belt. How in the world did they manage to be so confident, so self-assured? David was obviously going into politics or at least some form of public service, and Jeremy probably was as well. For all I knew, Trevor and Kurt were too, and yet they were openly gay, and didn’t care if anyone, or even everyone, knew. What they were doing flew in the face of everything I had assumed about being gay and in public service. Could Americans ever accept people like them? Would they vote for them? Logic told me the answer was ‘no’, and yet I knew that David had been elected his class president in a very conservative school. He had a dazzling personality and a way of making people feel like idiots for making an issue of his sexuality. Perhaps I was just making the gay issue too much of a big deal.
Finally, the four boys emerged from the terminal, with the porter in tow, with a cart piled high with their luggage. They had entirely too much luggage for the summer, but then I did, too. Fifteen minutes later, we’d loaded up a minivan taxi and Jeremy insisted on tipping the porter, even though I felt it was my responsibility. He tipped him with a fifty-dollar bill, which was a generous but appropriate tip for the amount of luggage they had.
The trip across the Potomac and to Webster Hall only took fifteen minutes, but by the time we’d unloaded all the luggage, the fare and tip came to another fifty dollars, which Jeremy again insisted on paying, although I strongly felt it was my responsibility because we couldn’t all fit in my car.
“It’s creepy to think this place was once a funeral home,” Kurt said as we carried the luggage inside. “Think how many ghosts there may yet be lurking. . . .”
“Yeah, right,” Trevor said with a smirk. “Frankly, this whole town has so much history, you could say that about every street corner. You just have too active an imagination, honey.”
“Shhh . . .” I whispered, “There’s nothing wrong with you guys being gay, but you might not want to advertise it, either,” I cautioned. “This place has a history of rumors, practical jokes, and out-and-out scandals. There’s no point in fueling the flames.”
“Well we have no intention of hiding our relationships,” David proclaimed, “so everyone’s likely to know about us before the week’s out anyway.”
“In that case, I fear you’re gonna be in for a rough time,” I said.
“So we’ve already been told,” Jeremy sighed as he put down his backpack. “Can’t say I’m looking forward to what may happen, but after two years of being out, I’m not about to go back into the closet ’cause of what might happen.”
“Have you discussed this with anyone?” I asked, more out of curiosity than concern.
“Rahm knows,” David revealed.
“And we told both our sponsoring senators,” Trevor answered, surprising me. They cautioned us against it, but said they’d support us so long as we didn’t violate the code of ethics..
“The code of ethics means no sex,” I pointed out.
“Or at least we can’t get caught having sex in Webster Hall,” David clarified. “Yes, we know we’ll have to be extremely discreet.”
“In any case, let’s get you guys checked in, and then we can get some lunch.”
“Food sounds good,” Kurt said with a laugh as his stomach rumbled.
I introduced the guys to the Sergeant at Arms and we began the lengthy process of getting them checked into their dorm room, getting them all of their keys, having Trevor and Kurt fitted for their page uniforms, getting them all their government identification badges and filling out all of the paperwork for emergency contacts, health insurance, security clearances and so on. In addition, tax information had to be filed for Trevor and Kurt so they could be paid. Because internships were considered volunteer positions, however, although David and Jeremy would receive full government benefits, they would not be receiving any pay.
I showed the boys how to access the Capitol, the Senate Office buildings, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the various law libraries, then a host of different buildings associated with each of the different government agencies such as Interior, Agriculture and Defense, and of course the White House itself. I showed them how to gain access to the three buildings that made up the Library of Congress, where they’d undoubtedly be spending much of their time, and to the various dining rooms and cafeterias in which they were permitted to dine either alone or as the guest of a congressman or senator. Finally, I showed them how to access the underground passages and the tiny automated trolley system that connected the Capitol building with the various office buildings. By the time we’d finished our impromptu tour, it was early afternoon and we were all more than starving.
“Hey,” I said, “I know of a great steak place a short distance from here. They make the most succulent, juicy steaks you’ll find in town. What do you say? My treat?”
The reaction was not at all what I expected. David practically turned green, and Jeremy almost looked sick himself. Trevor and Kurt looked like they were doing everything in their power to keep from laughing their heads off.
“There was a time when nothing would have made me happier,” Jeremy said, “but now the thought of taking even a bit of that much meat makes me nauseous, and it’s all David’s fault. Don’t get me wrong . . . I still enjoy eating meat, but having a vegetarian for a boyfriend definitely limits your opportunities to eat much of it.”
“What did I tell you, Jer,” David chimed in. “After more than a year without eating steak, you’re body doesn’t even make the enzymes to digest the stuff any more. The thought of eating it makes you sick, doesn’t it? Just like I said it would.”
“Yeah, it does,” Jeremy practically fumed, “and it’s all thanks to you!”
“But think how much healthier you are because you’re eating less meat, particularly red meat. You’ve already cut your risk of heart disease, colon cancer and stroke, not to mention the tremendous reduction in the size of your footprint on this earth. It takes far less in the way of natural resources to sustain you when you don’t eat red meat. Now if you could just give up poultry, your impact on the planet would be even less, and if the two of us could learn to give up seafood, we’d be doing the planet a huge favor.”
“So I take it you’re not interested in going out for steak?” I asked, hoping to lighten the mood.
At that point, Trevor and Kurt lost it, and pretty soon, everyone was laughing.
“So what kind of food will you guys eat?” I asked. “What do you like?”
“I’ll eat pretty much everything but meat,” David explained. “I do eat all kinds of fish and seafood, and I’m not a vegan by any means, and eat all sorts of dairy products. I think you’ll find that as a group we’re game for anything and everything . . . even sushi.”
“You serious about sushi?” I asked, as I hadn’t expected that from a group of Midwestern high school students. They all nodded their heads. “I think I have the perfect place for a late lunch. There’s a place in Arlington that has an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. We’ll have to take the Metro to get there, but it’s a very quick ride and for less than ten bucks, the buffet’s a bargain . . . it makes it well worth spending money on the metro fare to get there.
“That sounds great,” David agreed.
Fifteen minutes later, we were sipping miso soup and chowing down on sushi. What could be better than that?
“So, um,” I began to speak, “I know David and Jeremy have been together for about two years, or so I’ve gathered.”
“Two years this July,” David said with confidence.
“How long have you and Kurt been boyfriends?” I asked Trevor.
“Officially,” he answered, “we’ve been steady boyfriends for a year now, but I’ve had my eyes on this little guy since the first time I laid eyes on him the previous December.”
“Same here,” Kurt said. “Only I’d had my eyes on Trevor for a lot longer than that. I think ever since I started to realize I was gay, I was attracted to Trevor Austin. Hell, to be truthful, he was prolly one of the reasons I realized I was gay in the first place.”
“Really?” Trevor interrupted. “You never told me that before. That’s sooo sweet,” he said as he gave his boyfriend a peck on the lips.
“It’s true, Trev. You captivated me from the start. Trouble was, I sure couldn’t say or do anything with my father spoutin’ his message of hate every week from the pulpit and my jock brothers reinforcing that message at home.”
“Wait a minute,” I asked, “your father is some sort of preacher?”
“Worse,” Kurt answered, “he was the head minister of the Hope Evangelical Covenant Church. No way, no how, he could ever be seen having a gay son, so when my hormones started to kick in and I started having feelings for boys and particularly for Trevor, I was scared shitless. I was petrified, actually.
“Thankfully, there were rumors about Jeremy being gay, and he and David were my lifeline to sanity. Little did I know, however, that my old man was tracking my telephone and internet usage, and was already making plans to ship me off to the Christian Academy down south for a little reprogramming.”
“No way were we gonna let that happen,” Trevor cut in.
“So how did you two get involved?” I asked.
Kurt smiled and said, “A miracle happened. Trevor came out. He was gay! For me, it was a dream come true. Not only that, but his Evangelical Christian parents were accepting.”
“For the most part,” Trevor interrupted.
“You have to admit, they’ve been great about us,” Kurt pointed out.
“If by being great, you mean looking the other way when you stay overnight then, yeah, they have been great,” Trevor agreed, “but they still consider our relationship to be a sin.”
“But they’re still willing to go along with the engagement,” Kurt again interrupted. Engagement?
“All right, I agree. They’re far from perfect, but they are surprisingly supportive for right-wing Christian fundamentalists. I really can’t complain, and for that I’m grateful. Go ahead babe . . . I know we must be confusing the Hell out of poor Will,” Trevor concluded.
“So anyway,” Kurt resumed, “Trevor came out and my dad made an example of him as one of his flock that had been led astray by a club of ‘perverts’ in the high school who needed to be stopped. My father wanted revenge and he started a petition drive to disband the GSA, to ban certain ‘gay-friendly’ textbooks and to recall the school board. We ended up tossing around a lot of ideas including a counter petition drive of our own, but in the end, we got the local newspaper to do a front-page story on the plight of the community’s gay teens.”
“And guess who came out on the front page of the local paper as part of that story.” Jeremy added.
“You’re kidding me.” I barked as the reality of what Kurt had done came to me.
“Hey, if you’re gonna come out, you might as well tell everyone at once,” Kurt said with a sly smile. “In any case, my old man left town the next morning, never to be seen again. He just couldn’t take the heat of a good old-fashioned church scandal.”
“Sadly, it took me another half year to get the courage to ask Kurt out, but then he was still in middle school. We didn’t really see each other again outside of church until we met up at a church-run summer camp, where we volunteered last summer.”
“Wait a minute,” I asked, “Aren’t you sixteen, Kurt? Aren’t you a junior in high school?”
“Please don’t tell anyone,” Kurt answered, ’cause they bent the rules for me, with our senator being so senior and all, but I’m just a sophomore, and I’m just fifteen-and-a-half.”
“Yeah, but how many pages do you know that have a Congressional Gold Medal?” Trevor asked.
“What?” I asked.
“It’s true,” Trevor stated and I noticed immediately how Kurt was turning red. “In fact, Kurt’ll be getting his medal in a ceremony next Sunday. One of the counselors at that summer camp last year was a pedophile. He raped several kids . . . in fact, Jeremy and I each have foster brothers our parents took in ’cause they’re HIV-positive as a result, and it was Kurt’s idea for us to foster them. But anyway, Kurt risked his own life and endured being raped himself to save a lot of those kids and to catch the fucker. My foster brother, Sammy, woulda prolly been killed had it not been for Kurt’s quick thinking and bravery.”
Taking Kurt’s hand in his own, Trevor continued, “My love could have easily lost his life on that day, but thanks to his cool, quick thinking, he came through the ordeal with nothing more than his emotional scars, and the guy who did all of this will spend the rest of his life behind bars, ironically getting the life-sustaining treatment he needs.
“The amazing thing is that even after all of that, even after making sure that all of the boys who had been abused were assured of receiving counseling until they turned eighteen and even after making sure that all of the boys who tested HIV-positive who needed it were placed in good homes, he still wanted to do more. Even after all of this, he insisted on organizing a roundtable at school for victims of rape and sexual abuse. It was really amazing, too. My foster brother got involved, and we got a female student who had been raped to come forward, as well as one who had been a victim of incest. The whole thing was recorded on DVD and we’ve even been approached by WGBH in Boston. They’re gonna be making his story into a Frontline documentary.”
Tearing up, Trevor reached around and grabbed Kurt in a tight hug and said, “Needless to say, I’m never letting Kurt go. A boy like this is truly one in a million or more. He’s the light of my life. I couldn’t live without him. He talks about how great my parents are, but since his dad left, his mother has been great, too. She’s agreed to let him go with me when I leave for college, and to give her permission for him to marry me, even though he’ll only be sixteen, going on seventeen at the time.”
Reaching around and grabbing Trevor in a tight hug, Kurt said, “I feel just as strongly about Trevor, Will. Trevor’s truly one in a million, too. He may not have gotten the recognition, but his role in the camp scandal was no less significant. The only reason he couldn’t stop the pedophile counselor is because he was framed by the counselor and was under arrest at the time. Why do you think I was so motivated to catch the guy, after all? And Trevor’s done his share of other good deeds, too, such as the time he kept a lesbian girl from slitting her wrists. In fact, Trevor’s the president of our school’s GSA, and has done more to help kids come to terms with being gay than anyone else I know. He’s built an awesome website, too. In less than a year, it’s become a top-ten resource for gay teens, and he’s done it all in raw code.”
Turning to face Trevor directly, Kurt said, “I’m not letting you go, either. I love you more than life itself,” and then he leaned his head on his boyfriend’s shoulder.
It took every ounce of willpower to keep from crying, seeing how much the two couples were in love. Here I was, living a superficial lie, and these two couples were living the lives they were meant to and still pursuing their dreams, including lives in public service, no less.
“So tell us a little about yourself, Will,” Jeremy asked of me.
“Truly, there isn’t much to tell.” I replied grabbing hold of my emotions. “My parents own one of the largest purveyors of organic farming products in America. What started out as a simple idea has turned into a mammoth corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Organic farming is no longer a niche market. People want to eat healthier foods, and foods labeled as ‘organic’ are automatically perceived as being healthy. We personally own tens of thousands of acres outright, some of which meet the definition of organic in every sense of the word, but a lot of which have been stretched to ‘qualify’ as organic through every conceivable loophole my parents could lobby for using whatever PACS contributions they saw fit to distribute. The contributions more than paid for the added revenues of returning the land to use earlier than would have otherwise been permitted.
“We also certify produce as ‘organically grown’ under our label through a franchise program subscribed to by thousands upon thousands of farmers who pay us hefty royalties and use our products. We actually make far more money from our franchise service than from our own farms. Of course, we have ways of cutting corners with our franchises, too, and I would dare say that the majority of our franchises can receive a certification if the price is right so long as the irregularities aren’t too egregious.
“I used to believe in what my parents were doing . . . really believe what they were doing was the future of farming in America, until I got older and discovered what they were really doing to boost profits. Then I learned that they ran a business like any other and that their true loyalty was to the shareholders alone.
“There have been times when I’ve actually thought of going to the public, but what good would that do. People are still better off eating my parents’ produce than traditional non-organic produce. I figure it’s better to work from within the company to tighten up their standards, or to tighten up federal oversight and regulation than to destroy the company and make organic products less available to the public, or more expensive.”
“Man, I had no idea this stuff was going on,” David said.
“Welcome to the real world,” I answered him with a smirk.
“That tells us a lot about your parents and your parents’ business,” Jeremy protested, “but it still doesn’t tell us anything about you.”
“Me? What can I say about me?” I contemplated. “Well, I grew up in Iowa, so we’re all fellow Midwesterners. I had a strong political upbringing, but like you, Jeremy, I hardly ever saw my parents growing up. I had a nanny and never lacked for toys . . . and girls. Unlike you, Jer, my father made sure the right girls from the right families were always around, paraded in front of me like cattle, so I’d never be tempted to hook up with the ‘wrong kind’.”
Laughing, Jeremy said, “I never gave my father a chance. I outed myself in the eighth grade. Some time I’ll tell you the story. It’s a good one.”
“I’m sure it is,” I said. “I can’t even fathom coming out that young,” but then realized I might have said too much. Quickly glossing it over, I continued, “So anyway, after finishing high school, I started prelaw at the University of Chicago. My parents bought me a sick condo on Lake Shore Boulevard with a spectacular view of the lake. Why they think it’s worth it to spend a million bucks on a place I may well only live in for four years is beyond me, but I’m not complaining.
“Oh, I forgot to mention that I paged for a semester during my junior year of high school, during the fall semester, so I actually attended the page school. What everyone is telling you is the truth, guys. You really do need to watch your backs.
“Rahm Emanuel is a personal friend of the family, which is how I ended up with the Summer Internship at the White House. My girlfriend decided to follow me out here. It’s too bad in a way . . . I was hoping for a little freedom, if you know what I mean. Not to mention she has a bit of a drug habit I’d rather not get involved with. I just hope she doesn’t try to move in with me when we return to Chicago.”
“How’d the two of you meet?” Trevor asked.
“She’s in my class,” I answered honestly, “she’s a bit wild and crazy, her parents know my parents and would be a good connection for the future, and she’s not half bad looking.”
“Not bad for a girl, I take it,” Trevor, said, seeming to push the issue.
I gave him a half-smile, but he just kept staring at me, and I couldn’t seem to break eye contact. I tried, but I couldn’t do it. My eyes were watering up and I finally had to wipe them on my sleeve.
“Tell me, Will,” Trevor asked, “Do you remember a song that came out last summer? It was called, ‘Why Do I Feel This Way?’”
Oh Yeah, I remembered the song all right. That song really had touched a nerve in me. It could have been written about me. The lyrics were written by Brian Philips, a gay teen who had killed himself rather than face his parents - parents who just couldn’t face having a gay son - parents who’d hoped their son would be president one day. Yeah, I remembered that song.
And as I heard the song playing in my head, the wonderful guitar harmonies echoing inside as Brian’s poignant rhymes ushered forth, a dam burst and the tears flowed as they hadn’t flowed since I was a little kid.
Trevor came around to me and pulled me into him, placing my head on his shoulder as he soothed me by rubbing his hands on my back. “It’s OK, Will. It’s going to be fine.”
Jerking my head up, I practically shouted, “It’s not OK!”
“Will,” Trevor countered in his soothing voice, “I’ve counseled many gay teens, and at nineteen you’re still a teenager. You’re still coming to terms with who you are, and what it means to your future.
“We all knew Brian Philips.” Trevor explained, shocking the hell out of me. “He was a friend of ours and, yet, none of us knew he was gay. He kept all that pain and suffering inside of him until he couldn’t take it anymore. To Brian, being gay and out and being in politics were incompatible. He never conceived it could possibly be otherwise.
“Look at the people at this table. None of us look gay, and yet we’re all out, everyone knows about us at school, and we’re popular. David was elected Sophomore Class President by a landslide, and no one even bothered to run against him for Junior Class President. David’s a great debater and he wins elections. Jeremy’s the best swimmer in the state and we’re all rooting for him to make the Olympic team in 2012. Kurt wants to be a gay Christian Evangelist theologian, and he’s going to do it, too. You can be what you want to be if you set your mind to it. It doesn’t’ matter if you’re gay or straight, or in the closet or out. What matters is that you believe in yourself, and nothing more.”
What Trevor was saying made a lot of sense, but I knew I could never pull it off - not the way they did. Although I knew I’d never pull a Brian Philips - that wasn’t my style - I just didn’t have the ‘take-me-as-I-am’ attitude that these guys had.
“There is another way, you know,” David chimed it. “Not all of the power is centered in Washington. Just ask your parents. In fact, the vast majority of power in America is decentralized in the fifty statehouses throughout America. The trouble is, it’s pretty hard to achieve much or to amass much power at the individual state level, or working state-by-state, but that’s if you’re used to working with the legislative or executive branches of government, as you apparently are.
“The third branch of government, the judicial branch, wields an unbelievable amount of power in this country, and it’s the least regulated branch of all. Some judges are elected, but most are appointed, they are seldom removed from office, and they have wide latitude in making their decisions.
“Let us say that instead of trying to become an elected official, you instead become a great legal scholar, studying the law, learning all you can, arguing great cases and securing for yourself a position at a respectable law school. You would of course continue to analyze the great judicial decisions and write your own opinions and publish them in the best law journals, making a name for yourself, eventually securing for yourself a position at one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation . . . perhaps Harvard or Yale. Not only would you continue to write and publish valued opinions, but you would be training the brightest legal minds in America . . . the very people who will go on to become our nations elected officials . . . our future senators and representatives . . . and presidents . . . the people who will eventually make federal judicial appointments.
“In time, these people will remember their great law professors when it comes time to make appointments to the Supreme Court. Indeed, someone at this table may one day need to make such a decision. Chief Justice William Kramer has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?” David suggested.
Until that moment, I’d never seriously thought about a career as a federal judge. It certainly was very much a hit-or-miss proposition, and that alone made it unappealing. No, my original plan to stay in the closet and follow my dreams was the only way. These boys could never understand.
“Well, for better or for worse, I still have a girlfriend to get back to.” I sighed. “You’ve given me food for thought, however. Let’s head back to Webster Hall.”
Heading back to the Rosslyn Metro station, and boarding our train, as we began the long stretch of the tunnel under the Potomac, the announcer said, “Next Stop, Foggy Bottom,” an announcement I was generally oblivious of.
Trevor, however, immediately picked up on it and said, “Isn’t that your metro stop, Will?”
“Well, yeah, but I’d hate to make you guys go back to Webster Hall on your own, at least until you know your way around better.” Then making a snap decision, I asked them, “but would you like to see my place?”
“Give us a chance to ‘break into’ the Watergate? We’d love to.” There were nods of agreement from everyone else, too, so we got off at the next stop and took the escalator up to the surface.
“Just be warned,” I cautioned them as I took out my cell phone, “my girlfriend is not expecting you and she may not be pleased to see you.”
As we exited in the midst of the George Washington University Medical Center complex, I dialed my home phone number. When my girlfriend didn’t pick up the phone, I reasoned that she was probably out, but left a message on our voice mail, just in case she returned before we got there.
Heading west, toward the Potomac, I tried dialing her cell phone, but it too went to voice mail, which was really strange. ‘Maybe her battery was low,’ I reasoned.
Turning around, I pointed out to my charges that it was only two blocks east to Pennsylvania Avenue, and three more blocks to the White House. “Yeah, my parents chose a great location for an apartment for my stay during the summer internship,” I said. “Just don’t even ask how much it cost.”
Continuing on west, we soon came to a sprawling complex of curvaceous, ultra-modern buildings, right on the Potomac River. We were right next to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“I’ve seen pictures,” David said, “but it’s nothing like what I expected.”
“Wait ‘til you see inside,” I said, but I have to tell you, my apartment’s really tiny, and I don’t have a river view. It just wasn’t worth paying that kind of money for just the summer . . . even my parents aren’t that stupid,” I said with a smile.
We entered my building and took an elevator up to the third floor. Opening the door to my apartment, we were immediately assaulted by the smell of vomit.
“God, what has my girlfriend been up to?” I wondered aloud.
Trevor grabbed hold of my arm and stopped me from going any further. Trembling, I moved much more slowly into the apartment, followed by the boys. I knew they were getting into something they’d be better off steering clear of, but I was glad to have them there. I needed them there.
She was in the bedroom, her still form spread out on the bed lying on her back in a pool of her own vomit. Multiple lines of coke were still visible on the nightstand.