Now Or Never

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I could write about the mystery of Nicki Minaj’s ass, the debate over the melanin-challenged winning pageants on the campuses of historically black institutions, racist Rush’s attempt to create his own master-slave fantasy via competitive sports or some random other foolishness, but I’on wanna. At least not today anyway.

Over at the now defunct Aliya S. King blog I took part in an online fiction workshop with the accomplished writer and published author (whose first novel will be released next year…yay). I got feedback on my contribution – a short story – and I’ve decided to go ahead and post it here for additional feedback.

I’ve become a lot more confident about my fictional work (ya’ll remember) recently so I wanted to share. This is literally the very first short story I’ve ever written. I’ve gotten my notes from Aliya and others so I will revise and plan to add on. Who knows what it could turn to.

Still want to get your feedback, though, so see below. This is the version that I submitted to them. I’ll probably be doing more entries like these in the future. Need to show off my versatility as a writer. And shit. Hope you enjoy.

Again: Be gentle. It’s my first time.

“Now or Never”

By: Michael Arceneaux

I remember the first boy I had a crush on. His name was Nicholas. We were both in 2nd grade and he was fine. Well, as fine as one can be at 7. It was just something about the way he looked in his Bugle Boys. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.

That is, until 3rd grade when I met Christopher Lockett. Oh, Chris. How I adored thee.

Chris didn’t feel the same way. In fact, he couldn’t stand my ass. What can I say? Some people don’t know a good thing until you get them drunk and uninhibited.

I can’t remember how it happened exactly, but we almost fought during recess. I may have had puppy love, but I wasn’t about to be his bitch. My 8-year-old self didn’t take shit from anyone – minus my mom.

Despite my same sex preference, I tried everything I could to convince my body that it needed a woman. I watched soft core porn on Cinemax. I felt up my female friends in middle school and high school. I wasted singles at many a strip club. I even tried to go down on a girl once.

There Monica and I were. She in bed spread wide eagle, me hunched down in position. Then I looked at it longer than I should have.

“What’s wrong with you, Aiden?”

Uhh, I think I need a minute. I left the room and never came back. I hope she’s still not in bed waiting for me.

Then suddenly one day I just learned to accept myself for who I was.

It happened suddenly. I was at the gym, saw a guy doing squats, and for a second I forgot that I was wearing shorts that wouldn’t be able to hide my “excitement.”

So I did what I knew would deflate me : I kept repeating to myself, “Think of a woman! Think of a woman!” to calm my dick down.

Thank you, Monica!

Once I left the gym, it dawned on me that it was time to face the facts about which gender I’d rather fuck.

The first person I told was my brother, Paul. Turned out he was captain of the homo squad. He told me he knew of my status for about a year now, but didn’t think it was news I should be spreading around. Especially not with our mom.

Her name is Danielle – or “Mama” if she nursed you.  She is only 5’2”, but since she has the scowl of men twice her size, we jokingly call her Big D.  I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s something about her that is absolutely terrifying. Don’t get me wrong; I love her. She is a lovely person. I just know her well enough to avoid her bad side at all costs.  Consider yourself warned.

“Don’t tell Mom anything fool,” Paul said.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“Don’t you remember what happened with me?” he asked.

What happened is that Big D went Big Bitch on him. She didn’t talk to him for three months. When she finally did grant him speaking privileges, it was only to randomly quote scripture from the Bible.

“Leviticus 18:22 says: ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination’.”

When he dared to point out that same book talks about eating shellfish being an abomination, she’d quip, “It’s a good thing God made me allergic.”

She’s not allergic. I took her for oysters last week.

Truth is Mom believed Paul became “corrupted” by spending too much time on the internet. How cyberspace factors into what space one chooses to enter sexually is beyond me.

“What about Aiden? He’s on the internet all day long,” Paul said.

She quickly hit back with, “That’s different, he’s on there learning.”

If by learning you mean looking at ass, then knowledge is power.

See, Mom doesn’t believe in gay people. She thinks people are only doing it to piss off God.

“Hell is a lot hotter than those lil’ shorts those gay boys are wearing.”

Charming woman, I know.

She’s usually pretty perceptive, which makes me wonder why she hasn’t connected the dots yet.

I could have sworn she’d picked up on me being gay when I was a kid. She used to make comments like, “I know people probably tease you about the way you walk and the way you talk. But don’t worry, your voice will get deeper, and you’ll learn to walk straighter.”

Actually, no one at the time made fun of either until she said it. She denies it, but I think she went to my school one day when I was sick and told my classmates to taunt me. I know that sounds inconceivable, but didn’t I say she hates gay people?

The night Obama won the election my mom was giddy and not just because the first person of color was elected President.

No, she’d won two-fold: Black president and black day for homosexuals when Proposition 8 passed in California.

“Oh, thank you God for not letting the heathens soil this day with homo-ness.”

“Mom, don’t you think everyone has the right to be miserable?” I asked.

“Marriage is not for the miserable. It’s a beautiful institution between man and woman blessed by God. We should all treat marriage the way God intended.”

“Then why did you get divorced?”

“Because your dad isn’t worth shit. Besides, he didn’t go to church. He was bringing down my holy stock anyway. Damn, why did you go and have to bring him up?” she snapped back.

I really thought to come out at this very moment, thinking she’d probably just blame him for me being gay, which would take the heat off of me.

I’m glad I didn’t because she kept going on about how gay marriage was leading the path towards the end of the world.

I told her that theory is ridiculous, and asked her if she really thought some absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity cares if two dudes get married.

“That sounds like something a funny person would say. Aiden, are you trying to tell something? Are you funny?”

She then motioned her hand from side-to-side for two minutes and pranced around in a circle. Obviously she didn’t mean ha-ha funny.

I wanted to yell out, “I’m hilarious,” but I could see the reddening in her eyes. She was ready to bitch slap me with the Bible.

I told her I was only exercising tolerance.

“Did God tolerate Sodom and Gomorrah?” she asked.

Apparently not, but West Hollywood and the West Village are still standing.

There was no point in continuing this back-and-forth with her. I already knew where she stood: Fags and their hags deserve to share a love seat in hell.

I needed some advice on how to handle this, so I turned to my ex fake boyfriend, Daniel. I say fake because while I did all of the things that a boyfriend does, I never got the title. As it turned out my fake boyfriend was a real boyfriend to someone else…with a vagina.

After a year I decided to stop Googling “How to cast a spell on a cheater” and decided to be cordial.

As a fellow former altar boy, he could relate to my situation.

I asked him for ideas on how to break the news to my mom.

“You should email her. That’s what I did.”

He told me that when he was 17, he wrote his mom a letter explaining that he had these feelings that he could no longer fight and that he hoped she would still love him.

After she read it, she embraced him and said that she loved him no matter what.

No blaming the internet. No sudden drop to her knees to pray for God to send a cure by prom. Nothing.  Daniel was one of the luckier ones.

“You should try it out. Who knows? She may surprise you.”

She would surprise me alright. Surprise me with a virus in her reply email.

All of his follow-up suggestions were even more idealistic, and therefore, no better. He’s useless. Women can have him.

I decided that if I was going to do this I needed to be braver than sending an email. I needed to show that I was not ashamed. That I had come to grips with who I was and what I loved. I wanted to be bold and tell her that I am who I am and that’s just the way it is. Then I thought about it: I’d better do this in a public place where there would be witnesses – should they be necessary. Because while I am not a mama’s boy by any means, I am a coward. There, I said it.

I told her to meet me at her favorite restaurant; the one where she told my dad to go to hell and drew him a map on a napkin.

What can I say? We like to break news over a meal.

I pegged Wednesday to be the perfect day to break the news.

She asked how I was doing.

“Fine.”

If I’ve kept out of trouble.

“Of course.”

She asked how’s work.

“Cool.”

She asked if I was enjoying my dinner.

“Yep.”

As I’d expected, my short responses triggered her suspicions.

“Usually I can never get you to shut up, now suddenly you want to resist the urge to talk my head off. What’s going on with you?”

“Nothing, I’m fine,” I responded.

“Right. That’s why you randomly asked me to meet you for dinner. Boy say whatever it is that you’ve got to say so I can finish my meal.”

“Oh no, go ahead and finish. Don’t want your food to get cold,” I said sweetly.

“What did I just say? Now I know it must be something hedonistic because you made sure to ask to meet me in the middle of the week. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.”

Damn.

“So what is it? Have you created another statistic by knocking some girl up? If that’s what this is about, then don’t worry. I’m disappointed, but at this point I’ll be a little more tolerant like you asked me to be last week.”

“That was about people different from you though,” I replied.

“Whatever. Don’t get picky about when I choose to take your advice. Be grateful I listened. Now as I said, don’t worry, I’m fine. I mean, you should get married, but hell, it’s not like Paul is going to give me any grandbabies from his butt. So, what can I do?”

“I didn’t get anyone pregnant.”

“Oh well, even better. Saves you some time to marry a girl you actually like.”

“I don’t think I’m getting married.” I said.

“Is this about your father? What did I tell you after we got divorced?”

“That while I may have his ears, I don’t act like a bitch the way he does,” I said.

“Exactly, so don’t be afraid of marriage just because the one between your father and I didn’t work out.”

“It’s not that, mom,” I replied as I looked down at my plate.

“Then what is it?”

“I never knew how to tell you this. I mean, I’ve been trying to find the perfect time to say it for so long, but I just…couldn’t. I didn’t want to make you upset or disappoint you. I didn’t want you to hate me or treat me any differently.”

“I could never treat you any differently. You’re my son.” she said.

I reminded her of how she treated Paul.

“That’s not the same thing. Paul ups and tells me one day he’d rather be Paulina. And I may have my words with him, but I still love him. I would just prefer he lead a lifestyle that will have him join me in heaven…wearing pants. I don’t have those same worries for you.”

“Paul and I aren’t that different.”

“Trust me, you two are polar opposites,” she replied.

“We’re not. We have a lot in common actually. Mom, what I’m trying to say is…Ma, I’m…”

And just when I finally find the strength to get the words out, Daniel shows up.

“Well look who it is,” he said. “Hey there! How are you? Funny running into you here.”

It’s not funny since I told this clown that I had planned on telling her tonight.

“Is this your mother? Hi, ma’am, I’m Daniel. Aiden has told me so much about you.”

“Oh did he? I haven’t the slightest idea who you are. Where did you two meet?” Mom asked.

We both said two different answers at the same time.

Shit. What did this jackass call himself doing?

“So you met him at the club at the library in college? Is this library free before 11?” Mom asked sarcastically.

I noticed Daniel was acting very effeminate. One of the main reasons I fell for him was that he didn’t act this way. His wrist looks like it just suffered a stroke. He had to be doing this on purpose.

He went for every stereotype imaginable. He asked about my mom’s shoes, makeup, and told her she looked like Beyonce in Dreamgirls.

Why not tell her she’s fierce, too, if we’re going to play that role?

“Oh, I live for your mom, Aiden.”

Great, even gayer.

After I kicked Daniel in the shin enough times, he took the hint and left me with my mother.

Now as I was saying…

“You don’t have to say a thing now. I think I can figure it out for myself.”

“Are you mad?” I asked.

“Hell yes, I’m mad. Mad at that princess for interrupting my meal. Mad at you for being this way. And you wanna know who I’m really mad at?”

In my mind I was thinking not really.

“Those damn kids in Mrs. Chambers’ class. I thought that if I told them about your little twist and lisp that they would tease you enough to where anything remotely gay would scare the homo-ness out of you.”

“I KNEW IT WAS YOU!” I shouted.

“What does it matter? Evidently it did no good. You lost that twist, but I bet I can still detect a hiss.”

“Did you really think that was going to stop it?” I asked.

“You’re right. I should have told you not to ever use Paul’s computer.”

“So what now?” I mumbled.

“What do you think?”

“Really? You’re not going to put another face to homosexuality? You’ll realize that you have two sons who are gay and that you love them no matter what?”

She looked at me as if I were the dumbest person ever born.

“Do I look like the mother on Will & Grace?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Then you better lift your head and grow up.”

“Well fine, let me have it. I know you want to. “

“I don’t have anything to say to you.”

And as soon as she said that, she stared back at me with the biggest look of disappointment, stood up and tried to leave the table. I reached for her hand and she snapped it away.

I let her go and tried to finish my meal without breaking into tears.

My first instinct was to bash Daniel’s head in for giving me up to my mother before I had the chance to do it myself. (He later explained that he was only helping me break the ice. Excuse me if I was lacking in any gratitude.)

But it’s not his fault – even though every now and then I imagine breaking my foot in his ass. She would’ve reacted that way no matter how I said it, so maybe it’s best that he said it for me.

As for my relationship with Big D, she didn’t talk to me for a while after that. When she finally did, all she could say was that she had a feeling all along, but was hoping I would never tell her to her face.

Maybe email was the way to go after all.

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