My life, I guess, was not remarkable one way or the other until one spring day when it started changing, really changing. In some ways it was a very good life. My father -- he would never stand for "Dad" --
came from an old family, the Porchers -- that's por-shay, by the way -- who had name, heritage and no money. A friend of the family had taken him under his wing and saw that he got through law school and
took him into an old, well-established, well-respected firm. A few years later, he was a junior partner after a big lawsuit against a chemical company made him and the firm hundreds of thousands. Almost from the beginning he had the money come rolling in, then after that lawsuit it was money hand over fist.
He ended up married to the senior partner's daughter -- Ann Curtis Carter, a member of the North Carolina branch of the First Families of Virginia. Old family AND money. Rumor had it that he dumped his college sweetheart for the privilege. He and Mother -- "Mom makes me sound old" -- were given a waterfront house for a wedding present. I think a word I recall from an eighth grade vocabulary list, grandiose, describes it. Big house, big name, big money, small east Carolina town -- Elizabethton -- about describes the set up.
A few years after the wedding of the year, the baby of the year appeared -- me, Marcus Alexander Porcher IV. By the time I was two I was 1) spoiled, 2) cute as a button, and 3) a real pain in the ass. I really was cute. I had big hazel eyes with gold flecks which reflected my mood and long, dark -- for a blond -- lashes. And I was blond, especially in the summer since I spent a lot of time on the beach and, later, sailing. Mother had a picture of me the summer I was two, naked as a jay bird, walking down the beach. To be honest, even then I
had a cute baby body with a minimum of baby fat. I'd have to say now, some sixteen years later, the cute baby is not a bad looking young man. No, that's not true... I am a damn good looking young man. I still have the large hazel eyes with long lashes and what Clarisa, our maid, calls a blond Afro, and while I sure would like to be taller -- I'm only five ten -- my body's not bad, far from it. I don't mean I've got a body builder's body, cut and all, but I have enough muscle and definition not to be displeased with how I look standing in front of my full-length mirror. For those interested, the equipment reflected in that mirror is also more than adequate, and that's enough said about that!
I guess the combination of a pregnancy and the snot-nosed, spoiled brat which resulted was too much for Mother, so there would be no more little Porchers. The spoiled brat I had become also resulted in Clarisa becoming a part, a major part, of my life. Mother had a maid who came and cleaned three times a week, one who came and did the laundry twice a week, and Clarisa who came and cooked five days a week. Mother was so overworked playing bridge, she started asking Clarisa to stay after dinner until time to put me to bed.
What about Father? One reason Mother played so much bridge, I suspect, was because Father was either out of town doing something or in town politicking. As the young, outstanding lawyer in town he had managed to get elected to the school board before I started school, and started another climb upward. He is now a state senator with his eye on higher things. His kid and wife were political ornaments, especially since both were so photogenic, and little else. They made great "happy family" campaign posters. Can you say "absentee parents?"
Clarisa had a husband at one time -- she was fifteen when she got pregnant and married the "Baby Daddy," but when the child was stillborn, he hit the road. I overheard Clarisa tell Mother that she couldn't have children and having a man around just cluttering up the house wasn't worth it. "Now if I had a man who only showed up like Mr. Porcher, then I might consider it," she laughed. I noticed Mother didn't -- laugh that is.
As time passed, Clarisa had more and more duties until she ran the household. Free of any household duties, Mother spent more and more time with her bridge club, playing three or four afternoons a week.
She also entertained a lot -- you know, the smiling hostess bit. By the time I was a teenager, I was well aware of the fact that Mother was not just playing bridge or making sure everyone else had a drink. More
than once someone drove her home and got her to bed after a hard game of bridge because she was a bit too wobbly to drive. One thing Clarisa made very, very clear from the beginning: she would not put drunks to bed or clean up after them. Since the household would have ground to a halt without her, she could dictate her own terms. Mother and Father, as rich and powerful as they were, were no match for Clarisa Johnson when push came to shove and that was for sure!
As I said, in many ways I had a good life and knew it. Clarisa made sure of that. Would I have traded my easy life for real parents? I honestly don't know. I was not a lot better or worse than most any
other kids in our social class. Well, in fact, I was better off than most because I had Clarisa.
From the time she arrived on the scene when I was about two, Clarisa had raised me. It was Clarisa who taught me right from wrong, who used a spatula on my butt to beat the snobbery and spoiled brat out
of me. Well, beat is hardly the right word. A swat on the bottom never hurt nearly as much as being a disappointment to Clarisa. It was Clarisa who taught me to respect women and kids "not in your
class." From early on, she had made sure I understood I was to leave the judging, gossiping and such to others. She had said that I was as good inside as I looked outside. While I was proud of the way I was, I
took no credit for it. It was all Clarisa's doing.
Clarisa loved me as she would have her own child, and was as determined as she would have been for her son to see that I was a good human being. That included seeing my butt was on a pew Sunday mornings. When I was four or so, she took me to her church for a few Sundays, but their 10:00 until 2:00 service was more than a four-year-old could handle. Mother had told her she could have time off Sunday for church, but then that interfered with Sunday dinner, an event with political overtones. There were always guests for this
Sunday "family" event, guests involved in furthering Father's political career. Finally, Clarisa admitted defeat and started taking me to St. Paul's.
Old St. Paul's had been established over a couple centuries ago by the founders of the town. Over the years, it had seen little change beyond sons replacing fathers on the vestry. The important weddings and
funerals were held there, even though the 'important personages' were members of one of the town's other churches -- well, except for the Presbyterians. That is, there had been little change until the sixties when an African-American came to town to teach in the small liberal arts college. He and his wife were Episcopalians with a pedigree as long as the Porchers' and, of course, well educated. I had heard a story about how the vestry got all in a dither about a Negro in a pew and the rector, who was young and just out of seminary, allowed as how they would be welcomed with open arms or he'd excommunicate anyone who didn't at least keep their mouth shut. I heard my Carter grandfather tell a visitor once the senior warden had called the bishop to ask what to do. "Live with it or prepare to be dunked as Baptists," he had responded. St. Paul's now had a small, but very active, group of African-American members.
Anyway, over the next few years, Clarisa became more and more involved and when I was fourteen, she was elected to the vestry. When she announced that at Sunday dinner, I thought Mother would shit a brick. Father just swallowed hard and looked bug-eyed. "I guess you have the Porcher seat," he said, at least somewhat innocently. Contrary to decades and decades of history, there had not been a Porcher on the vestry since my grandfather Porcher died before I was born.
That was pretty much my family. Friends? I guess I more or less had two different social lives. On one level there were official friends -- those in my social class with whom I was expected to associate. In that group, dates were arranged and, for that matter, so were marriages. Of course, that was never really said. It was just that you were coupled up when you were little more than a toddler and it was assumed, by everyone who was anyone, you would marry the girl you had been stuck with from what seemed like birth. Country club events, debutante balls -- yeah, those still happen -- and such were all arranged by the mothers who also arranged your date. I saw the same people in dance class, which started when I was four or five; in
swimming classes at the country club, beginning when I was five; and at preschool. Everyone who was anyone made a reservation for their kid at Miss Talley's Preschool for Toddlers the day after the member
of the next generation was born. My mother and father had gone to Miss Talleys as had their parents. I think the present Miss Talley is really MRS. Talley as she is the wife of a Talley, umpteen generations from the original Miss Talley.
So there were those friends -- to use the term very loosely. The girls were mostly good looking enough -- Mother would never have permitted them to be seen with her beautiful son otherwise. That crowd were my friends only in that I attended the official functions I was expected to attend with the same people year after year. To be honest, most were as dull as day-old rice. Too many had discovered alcohol at an early age, routinely getting drunk at parties from the time they were thirteen or so. Pretty boring, as getting drunk was
not my idea of fun. My social "friend" was Mary Beth Arnold. We had an honest dislike for each other, but since dumping her -- or she dumping me -- would have produced a mess from both mothers, we tolerated each other when necessary, but only when necessary.
Then there were my school friends. There were six
of us who hung together -- the Clan, Clarisa called us. John Thurmond and Susan
Wilson were of my social class -- I make a deal out of social class because it
was a big deal to my parents and the country club crowd but I couldn't have
cared less. Like me, they were not into "the right crowd," but enjoyed good
company regardless of class. Adam Sanford had been my best friend from
kindergarten. His family owned a large furniture store and had done well with
it. They were not of the country club set, but were well respected. His
girlfriend was Bobbie Reed, whose mother was an English teacher in high school.
They had been boyfriend-girlfriend since first grade and planned on getting
married as soon as they were out of college -- if not before. The sixth member
of our clan was Justin, Justin Chayton Smith. Chayton was his father's name,
according to his mother. Supposedly he was a Sioux Indian who was traveling with
some sort of rodeo thing. "He just kept traveling," Justin laughed when asked
about his father. His mother was a waitress at a little downtown cafe, and
managed to keep food on their table and a roof -- such as it was -- over their
heads. Needless to say, he did not meet with Mother and Father's approval, but
that made no difference to me.
Our Clan had gotten together in first grade and had hung together ever since. There were occasional disagreements and a few fights when we were younger, but we remained solid friends. Summer found
us on the beach -- well, when Adam, Bobbie and Justin were not working. All had summer jobs, and Justin and Adam worked after school during the school year. Both worked for Adam's dad moving and delivering furniture. Justin referred to it as the fitness center and, to tell the truth, the results were every bit as good as working out on the machines at the club. Both were well-built and well-defined.
As tanned as I got from my time on the beach, Justin was still darker even in the middle of the winter. His father had given him a nice, dark complexion and straight, black, black hair. His Indian blood didn't win
when it came to height, though. Justin was six two. He and Adam had played basketball for a couple years in middle school, but both decided they needed to work more and dropped out. John Thurmond was a
football player and Susan a cheerleader, but forget the stereotypes, they just didn't fit.
We were all good students, taking honors and AP courses. Justin's mom thought it was foolish for him to be doing academics instead of some vocational course, but he kept on. He was determined to escape the kind of life his mother had, and saw college as a way out. Because we were all in many of the same classes, we often studied together, usually at my place. I had almost a private apartment -- another southern tradition for young men -- "a bachelor's apartment" so the young men of the house could have their mistresses to fuck without the family being bothered. An outside entrance led to my room -- well, actually rooms. I had a large bedroom with bath, a nice study which really was a study, and a very large living space. In fact, my place was all of the second floor of one wing of the house. My study was filled with books -- tons of them -- a nice desk and my computer on its own desk. There was plenty of space around a large table for the six of us
to study together. The living space had TV and DVD player with surround sound and all the other electronics a young man could want. It was large enough that when the six of us were all sprawled out,
watching TV and talking, there was still plenty of room.
Yeah, when you got right down to it, I had a good life. My only problem was that there was no-one really, really special in it. That was a problem because, well, I'm gay. Anyone who tells you they suddenly find out they are gay when they are in their late teens is either very, very dense or lying -- or both. I knew by the time I was eight or nine -- ten, at the latest -- that I was different from other boys. I think it was about the time I was ten or eleven, I heard someone talking about gays and put two and two together and came up with Marcus Alexander Porcher IV -- me. Being gay didn't bother me a whole lot one way or the other then. I had no desire for sexual playing around with girls and the four of us boys did the usual playing around -- circle
jerks and even doing each other sometimes for a time, then just quit without discussing it. Come to think about it, it was probably when Bobbie and Adam started getting it on.
I suspect I might have been more disturbed about being gay had I had to work hard at hiding it. Don't get me wrong, had I come out, Father would have killed me on the spot. His political base were the rich Republicans, who liked the way he cleared the way for business to operate as it damn well pleased, and the religious right. "God hates fags" are words he would never use, but there are ways of saying that without saying it. He sure implied it often enough at certain gatherings in some of the more extreme churches in the district.
He did have to do a real duck and hide a couple years ago when there had been a big stink at old St. Paul's when the Episcopal Church got its first openly gay bishop. A couple of families left and Father talked
about leaving as well. Mother pointed out that they only darkened the door Christmas and Easter and leaving would scarcely be noticed by St. Paul's. More than that, it would call attention to the fact that we
were Episcopalians -- a suspect group -- among the fundamentalists, a good part of Father's political base. They also decided against cutting their pledge, since that might become known AND since someone might reveal how little that was. So much for that controversy.
Anyway, the big traumas for gay teens -- dances, proms, that sort of thing -- were no problem. As I said, by the time I started school, "dates" for the events at the country club were arranged by the mothers. That didn't change when I got older. For social events, mothers arranged everything and from birth, practically, I knew I
would be taking Mary Beth Arnold. Since both events and the dates were boring beyond belief, I just closed my eyes and took my medicine, so to speak. They were to be endured like political events, trips to the dentist and "family holidays" taken to provide photo ops.
Of course young men were expected to have a "lower class" girl on the side for fucking by the time they were sixteen at the latest. When I was asked every now and again, "Gettin' any?" I always just gave a shy grin and said nothing. I had been given a red Subaru WRX STi for my Sweet Sixteen and it was not a car you could sneak around in. I made sure I was seen in a neighboring town often enough to start the high school grapevine talking about who I was fucking there. Justin laughed when he told me he had helped the rumor along "to protect your reputation."
I read a lot of stories about guys being shy in the showers at school for fear of popping a boner. Never a problem. I was used to walking around nude at home. When I was ten or so, Clarisa had advised me to
close my blinds before walking around nude since her apartment in the other wing of the house was directly across from mine. "I don't need to see it swinging to know you are a boy," she had laughed. So walking
around nude was pretty natural and there was enough ass and cock grabbing in the gym to produce boners on the straightest jock.
Junior-senior prom my junior year ended up ok, but had almost produced a problem. For the past year, Mary Beth had ended up drunk at most of the events we were obligated to attend. I usually got her just before she passed out and managed to get her home. I expected that to happen for the prom, but I was wrong.
Mary Beth's brother -- a college freshman -- was home for the weekend to escort his girlfriend to the prom, and Mr. Arnold had ordered a limo -- a stretch Hummer no less -- for the event. Nothing would do except for Mary Beth and me to accompany them. Her dad also made reservations for a suite of rooms in the hotel where the prom was held. After the senior walk -- sex on parade I called it -- Mary Beth grabbed my hand and led me up to the suite. There was a full bar and she got an early start on the booze. I stuck to ginger ale, as usual. Before long, her brother and his friends came up and serious drinking started. Pretty soon, I was a sober dude in the middle of a roomful of drunks -- a very boring situation.
I finally went into a bedroom, closed the door and flopped across the bed. I had been pulling some late nights recently trying to keep up with a shitload of homework and before I knew it, I was sound asleep. I
don't know how much later it was when I woke up with something hot and wet on my cock. I looked down and Mary Beth was giving me my first blow job. Gay or not I was hard, and before I could do or say
anything, I went over the edge. May Beth looked up, tried to focus her eyes and finally was able to slur "You should have warned me," before she promptly passed out.
I went to the bathroom and cleaned up, then got Mary Beth into bed. When I went into the living room, there were people passed out all over the place and I could hear the bed rocking in the other bedroom. I
went outside and walked around in the spring night. It was late and I was more or less stuck in a town thirty miles from home. I certainly didn't want to go back upstairs and spend the night in bed with Mary Beth -- even with her passed out. If I wasn't there when she woke up, she'd probably not remember she had not been fucked and spread tales about me.
I had a credit card and thought about getting a room in the hotel only to discover it was full. I finally took out my cell phone and called Justin and asked him if he would be willing to go to my place, ask Clarisa for the keys to my car and come get me. He laughed and said he supposed he could rescue me from old hot-to-trot Mary Beth Arnold. Shows how much I knew! Justin told me John had said she had given most of the football team blow jobs for "playing a good game," and fucked not a few of them.
Unfortunately, she did remember she had given me a blow job and got nothing in return. She was pissed and wasn't satisfied with starting a rumor that I was a faggot, but added to it saying I had tried to blow
her brother. I don't know what happened, but a day or so after I heard the rumor, Susan said, "I've taken care of your problem."
After Adam and Bobbie became a couple, Adam wasn't around as often as he had been when we were growing up. When the clan was together, he and Bobbie kept it under control, but were openly affectionate. For a while Susan and John were a couple, leaving me and Justin out in the cold, not that I would not have liked to have been half of the clan's third couple, but old straight-as-an-arrow Justin -- well, just say he was straight as an arrow and let it go at that.
Almost without my noticing, Justin had taken Adam's place as my very best friend after Adam and Bobbie became more than friends. During the time Susan and John were trying out dating, we spent practically all our free time together and when they decided they were good friends and that was all there would ever be, that did not change. Of course, we didn't have a lot of free time. I had the social obligations placed on me by my family and Justin had financial ones. Nonetheless, after school he'd pile his books in my car and I'd drop
him off at the store.
When the store closed, he'd walk to my place -- which was actually closer than his -- and Clarisa would have supper for us unless I had some event I had to attend. Even then Clarisa would fix him a plate
and sit down with him while he ate. She was appalled at his eating habits -- both what and how he ate. "That child needs to learn to eat good food," she said every time he had something to eat at my place
and he soon agreed after a few meals prepared by Clarisa. Clarisa never corrected his table manners in front of me, but the improvement was obvious. Neither Clarisa nor I mentioned it to each other, but I could see the pride in her eyes when he corrected himself.
After we finished our homework, we'd listen to music and talk. At first, I offered to take him home, but he always walked. Then, when it got cold, he'd sometimes accept the offer, especially if he was really tired from working. Finally, if the weather was really rotten, he'd call home and spend the night at my place, sleeping on the pull-out in the study. When I suggested he join me in my king-sized bed since it was more comfortable than the pull-out, I was sure, he declined without comment.
That's pretty much how things stood with me at the end of my junior year in high school.
Special thanks, always, to Jess and Scott editors supreme.
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