What my sons refer to as “Dad repeating himself” I like to think of as “expanding upon a recurring theme.” Or maybe it’s “expounding.”
The point is I’m a writer, and as such, know a lot of words. I may as well use them. And there’s only so many topics that either interest me enough, or that I know well enough to write about. Which is true of any writer, really. So, the old adage of “write what you know” is true. Baron’s Corollary is “but use different words.”
So, on to yet another story about time and change and perspective....
Near the turnaround point of my evening walk with Ben, on the eastern edge of a cedar grove, there’s a bend in the creek which collects a lot of flotsam. Usually the flotsam is in the form of tree branches and sometimes, after a severe flooding, whole trees.
This particular piece of land is boggy and I largely avoided it throughout winter and early spring. The footing can be treacherous, particularly when snow-covered or muddy.
But it’s been dried out for the last couple of weeks so Ben and I wander that way now and again.
We did so last week on a glorious evening. It was about an hour before sunset, and the light filtering through the trees turned the ferns on the forest floor just about as green as green can be. Pleased that I had remembered the camera, I crouched down to take a couple of pictures. Ben, as is his wont, was somewhere ahead, blazing his own trail.
As I rose to my feet, I heard voices over the usual sounds of the wind in the leaves and the chattering of the nearby rapids. This was a first for this part of the walk which is in a fairly secluded area.
Fearing Ben might be making a nuisance of himself, I hurried toward the sounds.
Well, of course he was. A couple, facing each other while straddling a large log, were contending with a bouncing bundle of Benny on their laps. As I neared them, saying something along the lines of, “I see you’ve met Killer,” I noticed both were young men. And not only were they facing each other while straddling the log, but one also had his thighs astride those of his friend. Both grinned at me as they patted the ever-enthusiastic Benny.
I semi-apologized for Ben’s intrusion but thankfully, like 95% of his assaultees, these boys seemed to enjoy his whirling dervish-like greeting. (If I had an iota of that dog’s charm and chutzpah, I’d rule the world.)
Both boys were about 18 and wore black pants and white dress shirts. Probably students at the Catholic school. One was blond and one was dark and danged if they didn’t make a pretty good-looking couple.
As I called Ben to me and we continued on our way, one of the boys pulled the other’s head onto his shoulder and they hugged.
I live in a small, conservative southern Ontario town. Quite a few residents would be upset if they saw those boys being so affectionate with each other. Probably the majority would be discomfited in some way. Some would be appalled. I suppose that’s why they chose such a normally-secluded spot.
Yet neither lad evidenced embarrassment at being “caught.” Indeed, on the contrary, I may have detected a little extra delight in those smiles.
I’d characterize my own reaction, initially, as mildly disconcerted. I felt somewhat like an intruder but the boys’ relaxed attitude was contagious. And there’s little doubt I’d have felt similarly, to a slightly lesser extent, if I’d come upon a boy and a girl being openly affectionate. At some point in my life, probably my middling-late teens, I’d be “grossed out” if I’d seen them. Somewhere along the way though, my perspective has changed.
But not everybody’s has and many never will. I’m quite sure some people stopped reading this when they learned the couple was two young men. Some continued reading on but with a curled lip. It won’t surprise me if I get a couple of canceled subscriptions.
I don’t care. Life is too short to get into a dither over other people’s business. Those boys could be any of our sons.
Some will say “I don’t care what people do as long as they keep it private.” I’m pretty much in that camp and have been for a long time. But who among us hasn’t been openly affectionate when in the giddy throes of young love? And these lads weren’t exactly posturing in a busy intersection in order to be seen. They had every reason to expect to be unobserved in an out-of-the-way part of a small town.
Son #2, a senior in high school, has informed me that it’s “known” that several kids in his school are gay but he’s never seen any of them kiss or hug each other openly. He says they’d be teased mercilessly by a goodly proportion of the students if they were seen doing so.
So maybe Smalltown Ontario isn’t as nonchalant about gays as I might like to think. But it’s only a matter of time.
40 years ago, when I was their age, 30, 20, heck, even 10 years ago, those boys would have hurriedly separated at Ben’s approach, let alone my own. They probably would have run away. But these kids felt comfortable enough, brave enough, to stay.
Good for them.