Chapter 18 – Trading Secrets

Posted: 2011-03-08 01:06:07
Modified: 2011-03-08 01:06:07

Rebbecca

When I walked into art, I tried. I really, really tried. I had so looked forward to posing with Luis. Something magical happened when we posed together. With everything else that has happened today, well… Damn it!

“Rebbecca?” Ms. Rotella’s voice cut through my pity party. “I have a project for you today.”

I think I stared blankly until I saw the warmth in her eyes.

“Yes, ma’am?” I really wanted to go hide and be miserable. I’m really good at that.

“I want you to produce a series of sketches for me today. I want you to do Luis’s eyes when he looks at you.”

At first it felt like a punch in the stomach. She was going to make me dwell on what I wanted to have right then and there. Just as I started to work up a combination of anger and pity, the creature that lives within me took over. I had thousands, no, millions of mental snapshots of Luis’s eyes.

“If you’d like to do a canvas, I’ll accept that.”

It took me a minute to process what she said. “Thanks, Francesca. Oops. Darn. Sorry, Ms. Rotella.”

“Rebbecca, that is the kindest thing you could have said.” Her smile was soft and warm.

“I’m having him over for dinner tonight.” I don’t know where that came from.

“Well, you should get out of here and go get ready, then.” Her eyes lit up. I think she was happier about what was happening than I was!

“Mom’s not picking me up until after class.” God, I couldn’t even get fired up about getting closer to being with Luis.

“So, call her.”

“Thank you.” I hugged her, then called mom. She’d be there in five minutes. What the hell?

“You might want to take this home as well.” She handed me the portfolio she’d been helping me prepare for college.

I’m sure I did the perfect John Belushi with my eyebrow. Yes, my parents had Animal House and had insisted I watch it more than once.

“Don’t you want to show Luis?” She feigned perfect innocence.

In that moment I found something. I don’t know what. It was burning inside. A new… growth? Whatever it was, there was a lightness that came with it.

“Then how could I attract him in here to use the divan?” I swear the person driving my body batted my eyelashes.

Francesca patted my hand and said with a delightful chuckle, “You’ll do just fine.”

Okay, I hope so. In a daze I left the studio, Francesca’s little chuckle bouncing around in my head. When I got into the car with mom, I tried to evaluate where I was, who I was, and what was going on. She had the radio on, tuned to one of her Classic Rock stations. I had no idea what the song was. Something about a white room at some station, I think. It was the same music that Luis liked. He has such broad tastes. I haven’t seen much current stuff in his collection—the kind of thing I blindly listen to without really hearing.

“Hi, Becky. Ready?” Oh. My. God! It felt so good to hear that.

“Hi, mom. I think so.” I tried to brighten my smile.

“You’ve had a day, haven’t you?”

I think this new thing growing in me took over. Or, maybe I just let it out. One way or the other, I told mom about my day. Everything, including getting relief and my disappointment over not posing with Luis. I tried to explain the weirdness I was feeling. Mom listened with only the occasional question to get me to explain or amplify.

Now, the market where we shop is a fifteen-minute drive from school. Yet, here we were already.

“Becky, thank you.” She hugged me. I hugged her back and started crying.

“Mom, what’s going on with me?”

“Becky, I wish I could give you a simple answer that would make you feel good. You’re just doing a whole lot of growing up, real quick. It’s confusing. It’s scary.”

“Why does it hurt sometimes?”

“It always does. You’re just finding ways to talk about it. That’s part of growing up. Now, let’s prepare dinner for your monster.”

“Mountain, mom, My Mountain.” She was chuckling, having said that just to get a rise out of me. I laughed with her. Then, one of the ‘Oh, Crap’ moments. “Oh, God, Mom! I don’t know what to serve him!”

“It’s okay, Becky. I’ve been feeding a football player for years, plus I talked to Jason about what he knows about Luis’s diet. Stop worrying. Let’s go shopping.” She hooked her arm in mine and practically skipped towards the store. Okay, why not? Why? I stopped her.

“Mom. I’m confused… Lost? Yeah, lost. What’s going on?”

She stopped, took me by my shoulders, and looked me in the eyes. “Becky, I’m a bit lost myself. I got my daughter back last night and I don’t want to lose her again.”

“Mom, I promise I won’t push you away again. It was all so stupid. I got lost—confused—and decided that no one could help, so I just disappeared.”

“You did it well. You pulled into yourself and dove into art and writing. You pretty much stopped having anything but necessary contact with people. I am glad that you kept a relationship with Jason, though.”

“You know about that?”

“I’m not blind! I’ve always had an idea of what you were up to. I never gave up on being your mom. I just knew I couldn’t push you.”

“I really convinced myself that you and daddy didn’t care. I even told Jason that yesterday morning.”

“Hopefully, that’s the past.”

“It is.” I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. When I pulled back, I had to ask, “You know, mom… I’m standing in a store parking lot. Naked. And… I don’t feel strange. Why?”

“I’m really not surprised. That’s the old you.” She had a grin on her face and looked like she was repressing a chuckle. I’m sure I was doing the John Belushi thing again.

“Huh?”

“I had trouble getting you into clothes. Then I had trouble keeping you in them.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Oh, yeah! My little nudist. You probably don’t remember the long, family vacations we used to take.”

“Vaguely. I remember I got the top bunk because Jason was too young.”

“Do you remember that it was a nudist resort?”

“WHAT?”

“We’d go in June for a month. I’d spend the rest of summer trying to get you back in clothes.”

“No, I don’t remember… Really??”

“Oh yes! Becky, my exuberant nudist!”

“So… This is like reverting? Escaping. Isn’t that bad?” I guess all my study on psychology was helping. At least with the terminology.

“Do you think it’s escapism? I don’t. I see the positives of the ‘old you’ coming out. You’re required to go nude at school and that’s just awoken something that’s been sleeping too long. That person was very comfortable with her body.”

“Then… does that explain why I’m suddenly so comfortable in my skin?”

“That and all that has happened in the last two days. You haven’t had much time to really think about it, have you?”

“No. I guess not. It seems I’ve had too little time for a lot of things.” I thought of Luis. We had only spent a couple of hours alone last night. I wanted more time with him. Alone. Just to be with him. Not sexual, just being with him. Talking, snuggling. Okay, the occasional kissy-face break!

I was still bothered about the nudity thing, though. “I just keep waiting for the freak-out to happen, though.”

“If you wait for it, it might very well. If you just live in the moment, it won’t.” God! She sounded just like Luis. Which is not a bad thing, is it?

“I love you, mom.” I kissed her, put my arm through hers, and started to skip into the store. “So, what are we shopping for?”

“Well, not Italian food! There is no way I can compete with his mom.” Mom is actually a very good cook, but I understood what she was saying.

“After last night, I have a whole new appreciation of food.” She giggled with me. Yep, there was that silly, girly sound. It felt really good, though. “So, what are we going to fix?”

“We’re going to have my grandmother’s leg of lamb with fresh vegetables and some homemade bread. For dessert, an old fashioned English pudding.”

“Ooh… We haven’t had the lamb in a while. That sounds so good.”

“Well, I’m going to teach you how to make it.”

I stopped. “Really?” Can we say dumbfounded? Family secrets?

“Yes, my sweet, lovely, precious, beautiful, smart, talented princess.” Okay, my eyes got moist.

“Thanks, mom.”

“I love you, Becky.” Okay, more than moist. Part happy tears, part regret. “Now, let’s go talk to the butcher. I called this morning and he has a few choice legs for us to look at.”

We were going to look at legs and I guess the butcher was going to get to look at more than legs! I tried to decide if I liked that thought or not.

‘What’s not to like?’

‘Oh, hi Muse.’

‘You’re a beautiful girl. He should enjoy looking.’

‘You’re biased.’

‘Yep! And don’t you ever forget it!’

I learned all about legs of lamb. Broken bone and unbroken bone. Shanks and such. The quality and thickness of the sheath and… And… And not to buy frozen. He had some locally grown legs that were fresh. One was a monster that, by my guess, could feed a family of twenty. Or, as mom pointed out, three normal people and two football players.

Lambie-pie in the cart and we were off for the veggies. I learned which should be hard, which should be soft, or which should be ‘just right.’ How smell really mattered. What worm holes looked like. How to look beyond the outer leaves of some. What bruises looked like on the outside and how to avoid them. A graduate course in veggies.

“Mom, Luis got me to eat anchovies last night. I really liked them on a thin slice of sweet onion. What can we introduce him to that I can feed him?”

“Appetizer?”

“Yeah, I guess.” We talked strategy, family history, and spent more time than we should have finding the perfect things.

We rushed home and I learned how to cook. Okay, I began to learn how to cook, really cook. It is part art, part science, and a whole lot of experience. Spending time with mom was great. She even stripped and found aprons for both of us. Mine said, ‘Kiss the Cook‘ and hers, ‘It’s My Kitchen/I Have Knives/Questions?

I never realized how much there was to learn. It really is an art with a lot of science, just like painting. You don’t just chop each vegetable the same way. Instead, you have to treat each as a unique individual and find a way to bring out its flavor.

The leg of lamb preparation was part religious ceremony and part arcane science with strange incantations. We worshiped for about fifteen minutes. I kept thinking how I wanted this to be perfect for my new boyfriend.

Best of all was the way mom and I were interacting. Two nude females—am I a woman yet? Well, two almost nude females working together in the kitchen. Mother teaching daughter new skills and family secrets.

“Thank you,” I hugged mom, just before we put the leg in the oven.

“Becky, I…” Sniff. “Love…” Sniff. “You, too.” We enjoyed a mutual, happy tears fest.

“So, do tears add flavor?” I asked, trying to wipe the tears off my cheeks.

“The best. This will be our secret ingredient.”

We put the leg in a very hot oven and set the timer, then took a break.

“Secret ingredient?”

“Becky, my mom was… Let’s sit, we have nothing to do but talk for fifteen minutes.” We sat next to each other at the breakfast bar. She put her arm around me. “Honesty?”

This honesty thing seems to be a two-way street. WOW!

“Sure, mom. If we can’t be honest with each other…”

“Well said.” Mom collected herself. “Your grandmother was a total bitch. She wanted to control every aspect of my life, including the way I thought. I hated her. Her mother, for a while, was my only savior. So, when you changed… I’m so sorry.” Tears streamed down from her eyes.

“It’s okay, mommy. I made my choices, not you.”

“I know sweetie. But I let you because of my mother. I should have talked to you, understood you, instead of abandoning you. There was a middle ground I didn’t see between the controlling bitch I grew up with and the hands-off mother I became. I fucked up.”

“MOTHER!”

“Yes, Becky, I fucked up. I gave you the freedom I thought my grandmother had given me without realizing how important all the talking we did was. I let you stop talking to me. I’m so sorry.”

“Mommy, I didn’t give you a choice.”

“Oh, but I did have choices. I left you to it, figuring you would come out of it. Five years later, you hadn’t. I insisted you be in the Program.”

My arms and my mouth went into independence mode because my arms ended up wrapped around my mother’s neck and my mouth saying, “Thank you!”

Who is this person driving my body around? Well, after two days of… Yeah, two days of! Actually, I kind of like her and I think I’ll keep her.

‘Good idea.’

‘I’m glad you agree, Muse.’

“I really mean that, mom. Thank you for putting me in the Program.”

“I know you do, sweetie. It’s been tough, yet…” She struggled to find the words.

“Me, a writer, and I can’t come up with the words either.” I hugged her tighter than I ever have. I could feel our mutual happy tears on my shoulders and chest. “This is what you mean by the special, secret ingredient? Love.”

“Yes.” We added an extra helping.

My father walked in and did the most perfect thing. He laughed. Not mocking. Trust me, my observer is well attuned to that. No, just pure joy and love.

And the stupid, fucking timer went off. Oops. I hope I kept that one to myself.

Dad’s laughter and the well-intentioned timer were a catalyst. Mom was laughing and chuckling as she tended to the leg. I was trying to suppress a snorkel as I started prepping the veggies. Daddy hugged and kissed us. I noticed that the one he gave mom was more like what I’d do with Luis. That put a big grin on my face. Mom whispered something about later to him, and then he headed out to change, shaking his head on the way and still chuckling.

I never realized how much fun cooking actually was! Mommy taught, I learned. We talked the whole time. We laughed; we cried a bit more. To me, watching the food we bought a few hours before become a feast was awesome. I hoped My Mountain would like it.

“Becky, think of it this way. I watch you create with a brush or a pen. No matter how hard I try to learn and how patient you are as a teacher, I’ll never be able to do what you can. This is my canvas. I’m not as talented as Ms. Contadino, but I ain’t half bad!” I felt like I got it.

“Cooking is more like what Francesca does when she sees a block of marble. I cheat, in a way. I don’t worry about the painting the canvas wants to have on it, or the story the paper wants to tell. I see that cooking is listening to the food and what it wants to become.”

“That… You amaze me Becky. You’re so smart. But, you don’t cheat. You see a picture in your head and can make others see it as well.” She paused and dabbed at her eyes. “When you say it that way, it is the same with relationships. It’s about two people finding the best in each other and finding ways that build on that to make a strong relationship.”

As I said, we talked. We laughed. We cried a little bit more. Not that we were being weepy females, just five years of shared tears that needed to come out. As mom pointed out, finding the best in each of us. I had ignored her and closed myself off from her. Now I felt deeply connected to her.

The dinner hour slowly approached. The meal only needed occasional tending. So, we prepared the dining room. Even daddy pitched in to make it right. When mom started talking about the meal in the store, I knew how the dining room had to be. After all, that’s my gift—light and texture. They followed my direction without question.

Mom told me that she’d already asked Jason to pick up a flower arrangement for the table. I was impressed the way my family was jumping in to help. Daddy even ran out and picked up the finishing touches. While he was gone, mom and I talked about attire and our presentation. We traded time for showers and prepping ourselves, she also gave me advice on makeup and hairstyles. We even raided each other’s closets and dressers looking for the right things to almost wear.

Quarter to seven rolled around and Jason came home. Right according to plan. Mom and dad briefed him on the evening and attire while I tended to the feast in the kitchen. The smells were wonderful. So good, in fact, that my tummy growled impatiently. Fortunately, no one heard it.

Then we waited for My Mountain to come to the Maiden. Or should that be the Virgin Princess?

Nervous? Me? Without mom’s help, I’d have locked myself in my room and dove into a painting for about a month. Instead, here I stood in the kitchen, of all rooms of the house. I’m wearing high heels, sash, and one of mom’s hats. Waiting.

Waiting and hoping that Luis and I could find some time to be alone. I just wanted to snuggle into him and feel him next to me. I want to get lost in his eyes. Hell, I just wanted to see him again.

 


 

Luis

Coach Ames, the defensive coordinator, and Coach Hammer, the offensive coordinator, just stared at me. They didn’t move. Just examined every pore on my face and, from the way they were looking, the detestable, fetid sewer beneath.

My bowels churned.

“Charlie,” Coach Ames asked his counterpart, “where did I go wrong with this one?”

“Scott, I’m sure you did your best. Some of them just ain’t gonna get it.”

“Do you think this one can be salvaged?”

They pulled out their microscopes again and examined every square inch of my soul with their eyes. I couldn’t tell if there was a change in their assessments. If I had had the nerve, I’m sure I would be shaking.

“Well, maybe. Might be more work than it’s worth.” Coach Hammer turned his head and spit into his Styrofoam cup—always in his hand. He loved his Red Man. I felt like the bottom of that cup.

“Let’s see if we can purge the devils out of him. It seems he likes to lift heavy objects. Think we can find his limits?”

“Either that or we break him.” They both grinned. It flashed through my mind how Lucifer must look as he got ready to torture a new soul for eternity. I think they outdid him.

“What do you think, Olympic lifts?”

“Yeah, I think he needs to burn a little energy. Snatches first?” They just chuckled as they loaded the bar with weight. One of them hit the button on the boom box. Donna Summers, later followed by the Bee Gees and other alleged scions of the Disco era blared out. Oh, they knew how to torture every part of me! At least it wasn’t Abba or most of the current crap clogging the airwaves today.

The two assistant coaches kept me in the weight room for over two hours. From the snatch to the clean-and-jerk, then on to individual muscle group lifts. Penance for my sins? Atonement for my mistake? I paid the gods in sweat and muscle mass. Free weights the whole time, setting personal bests for each exercise and got close to Olympic records on the snatches. It never seemed “good enough” for the coaches as they continued their discussions about me while ignoring me.

Then the bench. I swear they sat on the bar or brought in the whole team to do it. They certainly offered no positive feedback or spotting support. They were at least positioned to keep me from being too crushed should my hands or arms fail.

They didn’t talk to me after the opening “SIT”, yet kept up a constant chatter between themselves. They talked about the interior offensive line of East. They mentioned, more than once, what an honorable man Dr. C was. Respect was the common theme. There seemed to be a constant, underlying theme of how some good people can turn out to be pure scum.

When it seemed I couldn’t raise a thought, they brusquely dismissed me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to stagger out of the weight room. I’d rather have Becca’s version of rubber legs than the rubber body I had at the moment. Somewhere in the process, they had removed all the bones and just left a deflated, pulverized mass behind.

Dressing for the rest of practice was easy, at least in terms of logistics. The actual process was hell on Earth. Tuesday’s were padless walk-thrus. Pair of socks, cleats, and my helmet and I was dressed. And, I wanted to die. When I got onto the field, one of the equipment managers helped me into a mesh vest indicating I was playing defense on the first string. It was a good thing I had help. Lifting my arms seemed the insurmountable obstacle at the time.

Coach Ames was all business as he walked the first string defense through formations and plays with the second string offense pretending to be East. I was secretly pleased that many of the maps I had done the night before were being used. Every now and then, Coach A would call me over to discuss and tweak one of them. No mention was made of the weight room, Dr. C, or Coach Mc’s opinion of me.

For the moment, I could only assume I was still on the team. Perhaps in a bit of the doghouse—okay, the doggie basement, but still on the team.

After a bit, I came out of the exhaustion induced fog from the weight room. It dawned on me that no one was making contact with me. Normally, there was a fair amount of banging about in the walk-thrus. I pulled the defense together.

“Guys, is it bothering anyone the way I’m dressed?”

I got the expected denials and bullshit.

“Do you want East to win just because I’m in the Program?” Some head shaking, at least. “Well, if we don’t get fucking serious, right now, you’re gonna find out I can hit you a lot harder than those wusses from East can.”

Grumbles.

“What, if you touch me, you might be a fag? That’s bullshit and you know it.” Nods from most everyone this time. “Let’s show this offense that we mean business. Let’s lay these little puppies on their asses this next play. Maybe the next play they’ll want to get serious too.”

Less grumbles, but a long way from enthusiasm.

“Okay. Here’s the deal. This week I’m in the program. Next week, any one of you might find yourself this way. Get past it. Yeah, this is the first year they’ve targeted football players during the session for the Program. Let’s show them it doesn’t matter.”

That got their attention.

“Let’s lay them out.” Thanks, Marcus—our wrecking ball of a middle linebacker. After the next play, not a member of the offensive unit was standing. Coach’s whistles and the phrase “next week it could be you” were heard all around the field.

As the center came up to the line for the next play, I said, “Just think, next week you could be showering with the cheerleaders.”

Things straightened out after that. We got serious and people forgot I was naked. Hell, so did I. I’m sure it was because of the attitude my parents had about it. While we’re not formally nudists, clothing has never been an issue around our house. Well, maybe not in the moment. I was too worn out to think that deep. Maybe not!

I was doing good getting through plays at half speed after my “little” workout! We spent the last few minutes of practice in the gym running through our secret plays. Out of the sight of scouts and spies for East and the other schools we would be playing this year.

When practice ended, the coaches called us over. They covered our game plan for Friday and reminded us that tomorrow was media day. The juniors and seniors would have to stay late and handle questions from reporters. Standard stuff and necessary for getting more players onto All-Conference and All-State teams.

They dismissed us, but indicated I should stay behind. I think my bowels were too tired to churn this time. How I was standing is still a mystery to me.

“Your head on straight, son?” Coach Mc asked me, staring hard in my eyes.

“Yes sir!” I looked back, but was not challenging him. I don’t think I was pleading through my eyes. Take it like a man. Bullshit. I just wanted to find out where I stood.

“Good. Now, don’t cause me any more problems.”

“Will do, Coach. And, I apologize.”

“Accepted. Now, take 5 laps before you hit the showers.”

Off I went. Even with the relief of being fully on the team, it took every ounce of energy I didn’t think I had left to pick up foot, move forward, pull body over top of it, repeat. For twenty-two hundred yards. Sixty-six hundred feet. Ten billion steps, or so it seemed.

I was so dead when I got to the girl’s locker room, the sight of all the naked cheerleaders did nothing for me. Junior would not even respond to the reasonable (and unreasonable) requests in the showers. Their bloody music didn’t help. Aren’t they a little old for the Hanna Montana types? I finally managed to escape estrogen hell and found Jason waiting for me outside the door.

“Are you ready for dinner tonight?” He looked at me with real doubt in his eyes. I know I must look like hell.

“Jason, right now, I just want to crawl in a hole and die.” Where’s the nearest shovel. Could I get Jason to dig the hole?

“They work you hard today?” Here’s your sign, I thought.

“No shit, Sherlock! If I had the energy, I’d punch your arm.”

“I’ll take a rain check. Look, I’ve got to stop by the florists on the way home. Some stuff for the table, apparently. Did you want me to pick up anything for you?”

My oxygen-deprived brain finally started cranking and managed to get up to snail’s pace. On crutches.

“Damn, I didn’t even think about that.”

“After your day today, I’d have been surprised if you had.”

“Could you pick up something for me? Something for Becca and your family? I’ll pay you for it.”

“Luis, you get at least two sacks and shut them down up the middle and it’s on me. When I score with those plays you came up with, that will be gravy.”

“Deal.” We sealed it with a shake.

I ran by the house, changed into my “semi-formal/better than causal” attire for the evening. A pair of nice, leather sandals and a silk scarf around my neck. At two minutes to seven I was knocking on Becca’s door.

Mrs. Davis answered the door. She was wearing a very stylish, wide brimmed hat, a matching sash, and matching gold high heels. Being around nudity for a couple of days, it took a moment to realize that is all she had on. She looked damn good. I could instantly see where Becca got her beauty.

“Luis, welcome. Please come in.” She gave me a friendly hug, or tried to. She’s a little shorter than Becca and with the correspondingly shorter arm reach.

“Thank you, Mrs. Davis. I brought these for you and your family.” I presented her with a nice arrangement of flowers that Jason had left outside for me. He has good taste, if I do say so myself.

“Why, thank you, Luis. You didn’t have to bring anything.”

“Ma’am, hopefully my parents taught me better than that,” dodging the fact that Jason reminded me. “Besides, unexpected gifts…”

“Yes, they are the best. The flowers are beautiful. They’ll be perfect in the dining room on the buffet so we can all enjoy them at dinner. Now, before we go any further, call me Helen.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“No, Helen.” She was smiling, though. If nothing else, my parents had drilled manners into my thick skull. Another form of social lubrication, my father said. Plus, a sign of respect. She led me into the living room while we chatted aimlessly.

“My husband, James Davis. Jim, this is Luis Contadino.” He was in proper attire as well. A nice pair of dress, but casual, slip on shoes. No socks. No pants or shirt either. He had a silk tie on—maroon with gold stripes. Harvard, if Poppa had taught me right. Looking a little closer without staring, I noticed the little ‘HBS’ stylized initials throughout the fabric – Harvard Business School. You done good, Poppa!

“Mr. Davis, a pleasure to meet you. My mother and father send their best to you and…” She caught my eye. “Helen.”

“Please, call me Jim. If I’m correct, we’re going to be seeing a lot of you around here.”

“Thank you… Jim.” A little trick my father had taught me. Look ‘em in the eye and hesitate. If they want you to be informal, the eyes will let you know. He looked genuinely pleased.

Helen produced glasses of wine. “Is it okay?” She asked before handing me the glass. They indicated a wing chair for me while they sat close on the couch. In the background, they had some Haydn playing—Cello Concerto No. 2, the D Major—down right cheery for a Concerto. I glanced around the room and noticed a huge collection of CDs and Vinyl. Plus, a sound system made up of individual components with what looked to be a VPI turntable—absolutely top of the line and worth four times what my car was!

“It’s pretty standard on our table. My parents have been trying to teach me about wine for years.” It was a nice little white with a delicate fruit bouquet. Not too sweet. Perfect. “This is wonderful, thank you.”

“I’ve worked with your father for years. He’s one of the most brilliant economists I know. And, your mother… Well, let’s hope that you enjoy our modest fair this evening.” Jim’s words belayed the pride he took in his wife’s cooking.

“Jim, Helen, I’m sure I will. After all, I have to eat my own cooking five nights a week.” We shared an easy laugh.

“Do you plan on following in either of your parent’s footsteps?” Jim asked.

“Well, as you can imagine, The Economist and The Financial Times are required reading around our house. Momma has also made sure I know my way around the kitchen and don’t poison myself and others. Yet, they’ve let me find my own path.” The Concerto had reached the Rondo (Allegro). “Pardon me, Jim. Is this Haydn the one by Pablo Casals?” No doubt, one of my favorite Cellists. Right up there with Rostropovich.

“You have a good ear. It is an enhanced copy from the original 1917 acoustic recording.” Jim had a big smile on his face.

“Lovely. I’ve only heard copies from 78s, scratches and all.” This version was flawless.

“Well, later we can look through my collection.” Jim looked like a little kid wanting to show off his toy collection. I understood his pride.

“That would be wonderful. Thank you.” Helen had been patient with us until now.

“Becky has said something about Physics or perhaps coaching football?” Helen inquired. Pulling us back from Toyland.

“Ah, she already knows too much. Guess I’ll have to keep her.” That cracked her parents up. “I know I want to pursue physics at some level, I just don’t know exactly the field. It will definitely include cosmology, though. As for coaching, or even playing after this year, it all depends on how it meshes with physics.”

“As I understand, you could have a very promising football career if you choose.”

“Jim, I play football because I enjoy it. It has never gotten in the way of my studies. Yet, if I could put physics and football together, that would be heaven. MIT, Cal Tech, and Princeton don’t exactly have powerhouse football programs, though.”

“Who is recruiting you?” It was the peak of high school recruiting time. I’ve been getting stuff since May of my sophomore year and calls since the first day allowed by the NCAA—the guardians of young student athlete’s morals, I guess.

“I’ve made four official visits so far and have gotten calls at one time or another from almost all the Division One and some Division Two coaches. What I’m really doing is shopping academic programs and professors to give me a solid foundation for my graduate studies.”

“I didn’t realize high school recruiting was so formal. I guess we should learn something about it.” Jim looked thoughtful. No doubt considering Jason’s future.

“Definitely. It isn’t a matter of choosing the school that offers the best car.” A laugh all the way around. “The NCAA is very strict about how colleges can approach high school students, what can be discussed, and when. It wasn’t until May of this year that I could actually talk to the coaches directly or even talk about possible offers. Then I’ve got until signing day in February to decide. They are also very strict about how athletes can make money or what gifts they can accept, even before college.”

Just then, the Rondo ended. Jim grabbed a very nice looking LCD remote and started keying it. He just smiled at me as he made his selection. As the music started, he looked at me with a challenge. I listened to a few measures, settling on the one it had to be.

“Too easy, Jim. Wendy Carlos, Switched on Brandenburgs… Number 6, the Allegro.”

“If you play football half as well as you know music…” Jim was shaking his head as he turned the volume back down to a more comfortable background level for conversation.

“Official visits?” Helen’s patience once again strained, brought us back from Grown Up Kid Land.

“Poppa and I travel to a school for the weekend. Meet with some of the players, the coaches, and, in my case, the professors in the physics department. I also have a workout where the coaches see what I can do on the field. At the end, so far, there’s been an offer of a full ride scholarship and a chance for a place on the team at all four.”

“Which four?” Jim was now back into the conversation.

“Illinois, Stanford, UT Austin, and Georgia Tech.” I ticked them off on my fingers.

“Damn good schools all around. Any non-football schools?”

“Well, the top three I mentioned have all let it be known that an academic scholarship would be no problem. Even if I don’t play football for them.” I couldn’t help chuckle thinking of playing football at MIT. “I can see the score of an MIT game – Pi to E.”

Jim laughed with me; Helen just gave us that patient look all women seem to give men when sports is brought up. We sipped our wine, each lost in our own thoughts for a minute.

“Luis, I don’t envy the decision that you’re going to have to make. I’d be willing to be another sounding board for you if you want.”

“Thank you, Jim. I will take you up on it. I know the decision is mine and mine alone to make. At the same time, it impacts a lot of people around me. I haven’t even had a chance to talk to Rebbecca about it. I don’t know what her plans are. As we grow together, that has to be a part of it.”

As if scripted, the subject came into the room looking radiant. Jim and I both stood. I didn’t get a chance to check out his reaction. I’m sure my eyes were as big as basketballs and my tongue was mopping the floor. Oh, God! Junior was taking notice as well. Not now! I’m tired, I’m exhausted. I needed to keep telling him that. His response was that he hadn’t worked out that afternoon and now he was with his favorite person.

I could face an offensive line without hesitation or fear. I had no problems fiddling with the mysteries of the physical universe. I could prepare a fine meal. I could hold my own in current events and economics. Yet, my Becca walks into a room and I turn into a blithering idiot. An idiot with the beginnings of an erection.

Magnificent was too weak a word to describe how she looked. She had on high heels, a diaphanous material as a waist sash, and a large brimmed hat. Exactly like her mom, except in a ruby shade that set off her complexion, hair, and those beautiful eyes.

Helen went and stood by her daughter, linking arms. What a tableau they made. Helen’s breasts were slightly fuller with a slight sag. She had that wonderful curve of a mature woman in her tummy, where Becca’s was flat and tight, thanks to Yoga. Becca was a bit taller and Helen’s nipples a bit larger. Jim came over to me and put his hand on my arm.

“As one man to another, wow! As a father to one and the husband of the other…”

“If I had Becca’s artistic talents… No disrespect, sir, but I’ve got a new definition of the word beauty now.”

“Luis, the disrespect would be to not capture this. Let me get my camera.” When he left, I found myself with an arm full of Becca and a set of wonderfully soft and hot lips on mine. I couldn’t help but pick her up and spin her around. When Jim returned, it took a couple of coughs and one ahem to get our attention.

Finally separating from Becca, we set about taking pictures of our goddesses. We each had a turn with them while the other took more pictures. The women took turns behind the camera to get pictures of their men, as well. Eventually, the head goddess informed us that any more picture taking and dinner would be ruined. I got a quick kiss from Becca before she left.

“Missed you, My Mountain.” She smiled and touched my face. God, I could just fall into her eyes and live there.

“Missed you, too, My Goddess.”

“I can’t wait until later. I want some serious snuggle time with you.”

“At your service. Milady.” I bowed and kissed her hand. I very much enjoyed the view of her walking away.

Jason joined Jim and I as we headed into the dining room. He was dressed in the uniform of the day and sporting a natty bow tie. Cheryl, sua regazza del giorno, was on his arm and dressed like the other women: floppy hat, high heels, and a sash. She had a glow to her that I doubt was 100% embarrassment. I snuck a peek at Jason’s cock and noticed it looked tired and well used. Good for them!

The dining room was a trip to earlier times. No electric lights, just candles. Pewter plates and goblets at each place. The room had a very Colonial feel to it. I felt as if I’d walked into a tavern in Williamsburg. I almost expected a young Thomas Jefferson to be joining us for supper. Becca and Helen had donned small aprons, as if they were serving wenches. Well, they didn’t have the long skirts nor the accentuated cleavage, I wasn’t complaining.

The assault on my nose made my mouth water and my mind started picturing luscious eats. The view was having its effects as well—Junior was beginning to rise to the occasion. I sensed that all three males were feeling the same way, yet we stood there waiting to seat the ladies. Jim had selected modern classics for the background music. King Crimson was telling us about The Court of the Crimson King. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had some old Pink Floyd queued up, like Ummagumma or Saucerful of Secrets.

Becca and Helen curtsied and said, in a very wench like voices, “Aye, our heroes are here. Let the feast and debauchery begin.”

I carefully seated My Goddess and managed some degree of near grace seating myself. When Becca draped a linen napkin across my lap, she took a moment to fondle and stroke Junior. Nervously, I looked around to see if anyone noticed. Helen appeared to have her hand in Jim’s lap. Just as I started to look away, he looked at me. Oh, shit. Busted. Then, he grinned and gave me a little nod.

Crap, shit, fuck! My girlfriend’s father is acknowledging that his precious daughter his giving her boyfriend a handjob while he’s getting one himself. Looking at Jason and Cheryl, I could see they were enjoying the temporary freedoms at the table.

The food was arrayed across the table in a most attractive way. There were nuts, fruits, and sweets for nibbling on. A wonderful looking round bread, rolls, and steamed veggies. Typically Southern relishes of miniature sweet pickles, pickled watermelon rind, and spiced peaches. And the lamb! Oh, the lamb! Being a basic carnivore, it looked fantastic! And, bless their wonderful hearts, not a speck of mint jelly anywhere.

Helen began passing dishes around while Jim carved the lamb, setting the pieces on a platter. I couldn’t take my eyes off that wonderful meat, even with Becca entertaining Junior. Eventually, dishes were coming our way and my appendage lost his friend.

My Goddess popped a piece of watermelon rind pickle in my mouth. “Try this, sweetie.”

I enjoying the sweet, yet tart flavor, “Thanks, Becca. That’s one of my favorite kinds of pickle.”

“Drat. I wanted to find something you hadn’t tried before!” Her smile faltered.

“Around my house, that would be tough. Momma has us try everything.”

“Well, I’ll have to keep looking then. A challenge, I love it.” Her smile returned full force. Damn, I love those eyes.

Helen poured wine for each of us. A deep ruby merlot, if I wasn’t mistaken. As we settled into our food, the conversations began again. After praising the cooks, it drifted off into little subgroups. The girls talking about school, shopping, clothes, and whatever. The guys into sports and apparently my career.

I guessed right, the music shifted to Ummagumma and “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” An interesting song for a meal. Fortunately, it was playing very softly.

“So, Luis. Should you go to, say, MIT. Would you still have an interest in football?”

“Actually, that scenario has come up. Apparently MIT and Boston College have some joint undergraduate programs. I could focus on physics at MIT, get my liberal arts and play football at BC. The only downsides, I’m not a real fan of Boston—it’s too cold—and I’d have to take a lot of hours at both schools to be a full time student for my degree at MIT and be eligible for football at BC. The same with Cal Tech and either USC or UCLA.”

Jason looked at me, “I didn’t realize you were being recruited so hard. What’s it like?”

“At first, it’s fun. I mean, having that many head coaches interested in you and pitching their schools and everything. Then it starts to get a bit old. By now, the word is out on who I’m generally interested in, so the Division II schools aren’t calling anymore and anyone not in the top 30 last year has stopped as well. Jason, you and your dad need to read up on the NCAA’s recruiting rules—soon.”

“What generated all the interest, Luis?” Jim asked. I hesitated. I just play the game to the best of my abilities. All the awards and stuff are the results of my coaches campaigning. They had a lot to do with who was recruiting me as well. Jason jumped in.

“Luis doesn’t talk about it, but he was All Conference his freshman year, unheard of for a lineman. Then All State his sophomore year. All American last year and is rated one of the top defensive linemen in the country, according to Rankings.com.”

“You’re right, I didn’t realize that. Quite impressive.” Jim was truly impressed. I don’t remember if he was at the end-of-year banquet last season. I don’t remember if Jason was there. Hell, I barely remember being there, especially after I got the unexpected All American award.

“I just enjoy the game and try to play it well.” Here comes that artificial sunburn again.

Jason laughed. “Well? I wouldn’t want to run into a line with you on the other side. But, what’s all this talk about non-football schools?”

Jim saved me. “Luis was telling me earlier that he is split between studying at a school that focused on physics versus one where he could get his undergraduate grounding and still play football.”

“What about the NFL?” Jason asked. A sophomore and already thinking Pro!

“Too far down the road.” I said. This conversation was going places I didn’t want it to go.

“Jason, when Luis and I were chatting before dinner, he was expressing concerns about the decision for college. So thinking about the Pros is a bit premature. It is a long way to get from college to the NFL.”

“Yeah,” I said, feeling the wind leave my sails. I’m sure Becca noticed Junior getting soft. “The horns of the dilemma I face. My mind and a huge part of my heart want to focus on physics. Yet, a big part of me also wants to continue in football as far as I can and one day coach. I don’t see any way to do both. That’s my problem in a nutshell.”

What had happened to my carefully scripted week? Now I was opening a door that I didn’t want to open yet, but I knew I had to soon. All that on top of today and the Program! Conversation had stopped. Becca had moved her hand to my thigh and was patting it lovingly.

“Luis, I apologize,” Jim said sincerely. “I’ve turned a festive meal into a serious life conversation. I apologize to our two wenches as well, who have done such a magnificent job putting on this feast.” He took a deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly while he settled. I found myself trying to do the same thing. “Now, before we move this party back on to track, I’ll make my offer to you again to be a resource for you. Yet, those conversations should be done over brandy and cigars in the study. And, not tonight. But, soon.”

“I’d be delighted to take you up on that. I need to decide within the next two months.” The complexity of the choices was still flooding my head. That’s the real reason I kept putting it off, because I didn’t have a perfect solution. Now, I also had a new complication to it. She was sitting right next to me. I took her hand and squeezed as much love into it that I could. I got a very loving squeeze back. I turned and blew her a discreet kiss and got a radiant smile in return.

“Well, that’s decided. I suggest we go back to enjoying this delightful meal and allow the ladies to tell us how they plan to spend our fortunes.”

“Hear, hear!” I said a split second before Jason, as we raised out goblets in a toast. Becca chose that moment to whisper in my ear.

“I want my dessert directly from Junior tonight.” I missed Jim’s goblet and almost made a mess with the wine. He looked at me with concern until he saw Becca at my ear. He broke into a shit-eating grin.

“To the ladies!” Was all he said, but with a chuckle in his voice. Junior was again rising to the occasion when she whispered again.

“Maybe you’d like some of my hot, cherry pie for dessert?” Corny? Yes. Effective? Hell yes! Junior went to full periscope height. If Becca hadn’t pulled him forward when she started this round of stroking and whispering, he’d be above the tabletop trying to look around.

When Becca got up to help her mom clear the dishes, she released her grip on Junior. He sprang up and hit the bottom of the table with a resounding thud. It was more embarrassing than painful. Becca immediately dropped to her knees, grabbing Junior rather tightly. She pulled him out from under the table so she could inspect him.

“Oh My God! Oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you. Poor Junior. I didn’t mean to kill him!” She was nearly wailing.

Helen got up to see what the fuss was. When she looked down and saw her daughter with a death grip on my inflated cock, she stopped dead in her tracks. Mouth open. Eyes fixed.

Mr. Davis got up to see why his wife stopped and what was happening. I hoped his middle name isn’t Eugene. When he saw what his daughter was doing, he roared…