Weddings were always eventful for Parker and me beyond what we were there for. And it was usually due to seeing those family members that we generally did not see at any other time. When Ginny and Bill got married, Bill introduced us to his gay nephew, Kevin, and his boyfriend, Vince. We were all within a year or three in age and had many similar interests. As a result, we eventually became good friends. They provided a kind of touch point for our same-sex relationship status, so we didn’t feel isolated in our suburban home. We’d all go to the beach, concerts, an all-ages club, or even just the movies. It was cool to go as a group to see the newest gay-themed movie at the art cinema or the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. When Parker and I had no plans, we did have a lot of sex to fill the void (excuse the pun). But we couldn’t stay locked in the house having incredibly satisfying sex all the time. While it was fun to live like gay porn stars, we needed to explore other interests, too.
Unfortunately, after two years and many fun summer afternoons, Kevin and Vince split up. I guess it’s almost inevitable with first relationships. We considered Kevin and Vince our contemporaries (even though I was slightly older), but they didn’t have a wealth of experiences with other guys. Yes, Parker was my first gay relationship, but he wasn’t my first relationship. And I was not Parker’s first. It definitely helps to have had some exposure to what’s out there to know what it is you want. Bad past relationships help foster better choices for new ones. It seemed that Kevin was a bit of a control freak, but Vince was very meek. Were they a mismatched couple? Maybe. Yet sometimes a meek person needs a partner with a stronger personality to help get things done. After their split, I felt bad because we kind of drifted apart.
I’d sometimes see Kevin at a big family event, and we’d talk and promise to keep in touch, but that never really happened. I think Kevin felt he needed a boyfriend before he could hang out with us like the old days. But then when he finally got a boyfriend, he’d forget to get back in touch. In retrospect, we probably could have preserved the relationship if we had communicated better. But we didn’t think that way when we were in our 20s.
We did run into Vince the following year at the Pride parade. Parker and I and Vince all happened to be spectating from the same plot of land. Parker saw him first and said, “Vince is that you?”
“Oh, my God! Parker! And Matt!” he called out and we had a big group hug.
“Guys, this is my boyfriend Corey,” he added.
We did the introductions and the handshakes. “So how long have you been together?” Parker asked.
“Let’s see…” Vince counted on his fingers, “six—almost seven—months!”
We all made an effort not to remind ourselves that we knew each other through Kevin, but it still hung in the air like a thick fog. We exchanged information and promised to keep in touch. That was going to be tough because we were always going to be related to Kevin (through marriage). The song “There’s always something there to remind me” ran through my head. The next contact we had from Vince was a card that following Christmas. He was still with Corey and they had moved to San Francisco.
Parker said, “San Francisco? How cliché. ‘We’re gay so why don’t we move to San Francisco!’”
“Yup, earthquake city. No thanks. Plus there are too many gays there! Ha ha!” I joked.
“Yeah, there goes the neighborhood! Ha ha!” Parker added.
That was the last we heard from Vince…until Facebook became ubiquitous and he found us. He had broken up with Corey, who discovered drugs, and he sent us a picture of him with Kim his Asian partner. Kim was cute and they looked good together.
Parker quipped, “When one guy is Asian, who’s the top?” He mimicked a nerdy straight person asking the question.
I burst out laughing and then Parker joined in.
Regardless, we have been in contact with Vince through online means ever since. It seemed less awkward to remain in contact once or twice a year via the virtual world than actually meeting in person. We’d see Kevin maybe once a year when Bill hosted a cookout or something, but we’d never mention that we were in contact with Vince. We felt they were both friends of ours even if they weren’t together anymore. Separate but equal.
My sister, Melissa, had long ago grown out of her emo phase and she got into fitness. She was suddenly all about aerobics and pilates and spinning and cross training. She eventually went to fitness instructor training and started teaching classes. I remembered all of the loose-fitting clothing from her emo days, and the next time I saw her, she was in skin-tight workout clothes with a rocking body. Her appearance was so markedly different that she hardly looked like the same person. I thought it was a vast improvement.
Then the improbable happened at our wedding. Beginning at the reception, which was just an easy buffet affair at a function hall, I noticed Parker’s brother, Nick, talking to my sister. I figured it was nice that the two families were getting acquainted. When Parker and I returned from our honeymoon, we were informed that Nick and Missy had started dating. Nick was two years older than me and my sister was two years younger than me, so I guess the ages worked out even though I hadn’t even considered that before.
In a scenario pulled from the pages of truth is stranger than fiction, not even a whole year later Nick and Missy announced they were engaged. What the—? Nick was already my brother-in-law through my marriage to Parker. Now Nick would also be my brother-in-law through his marriage to my sister. Is there a term for this? Is this like a brother-in-law squared? They did get married when Nick was 32 and my sister was 28. This paved the way for the practice of our two families spending Christmas day together at my parents’ house…Ginny and Bill included.
During the first Christmas get together after their wedding, I was talking privately with Nick. “I was surprised when I heard Missy and you were dating,” I began.
“Yeah, it’s strange how it all came about. I was talking to your sister at your wedding for a good while before she informed me that she was the groom’s sister,” he explained. “I asked her how that could be because I was the groom’s brother. That was certainly an unusual start.”
“Hah, that is unusual. Another odd twist is that I thought my sister was going lesbian, so when I heard she was dating a guy, I was surprised,” I told him.
“Yeah, she told me up front that she was ‘a little bisexual’ when we started dating. I told her I didn’t mind,” Nick replied.
“Yeah, I thought that could work out to my benefit. Girl, girl, guy…that’s like a straight guy’s dream.”
“Huh, what do you mean?” I asked puzzled.
“Picture this: I can go out to a strip club with my wife. Missy is hot. The girls at the club are hot and many are at least bi curious. She can chat up the girls and see who might be willing to have a little fun at our place. Now I can go to bed with my hot wife and a stripper-quality companion. That, my friend, is a win-win situation for everyone.”
“That would be a really cool story if my sister wasn’t in it.”
“Yeah, but your sister is my wife.”
“Don’t forget, my brother is your…uh, husband.”
And then I thought about all of the sexual dalliances that I’d had with his brother.