“What’s this about?” Doug had pulled a paperback novel off a bookshelf in Jeff’s bedroom.
“What?” Jeff called out from the bathroom.
“That book you mentioned in class the other day. ‘The Charioteer.’”
Jeff walked back into the room naked, drying his hair. He had just showered after their swim. Doug tried not to notice and thumbed through the book.
“Uh, it takes place in England after World War Two. It’s about a guy who comes back from the war and he falls in love with two guys.” Doug looked up from the book and Jeff smiled at him.
“Really?” Doug asked.
“Yeah, it was written in the fifties. It’s got another duality theme. The two horses in the myth by Plato represent darkness and light. One wants to lead you to heaven and spiritual love and the other is more unruly and wants to lead the charioteer to more earthly things. The metaphor is the charioteer has to get them to pull together.”
Jeff threw the towel on the floor and reached for his clothes. Doug put the book back on the shelf and sat on the bed watching Jeff dress.
“I’d like to borrow it someday.”
“Sure.” Jeff walked over and took the book off the shelf and threw it to Doug. “Take it now.”
Something was going on inside Doug and he was stuffing it as soon as hit reared its head. He watched Jeff finish dressing and then looked at the back cover of the book.
“You ever had potato latkes?” Jeff asked.
“What are they?”
“They’re like potato pancakes. You eat them with sour cream and applesauce. I love them.” Jeff threw himself on the bed next to Doug.
“Where’s your sister?” Doug asked.
“She’s in college at Beserkely.”
“What’s she majoring in?”
“Being a hippie with a minor in grass.”
“Most of the time, but she can be a real bitch when she wants to.”
They lay on the bed, both looking up at the ceiling feeling urges and emotions that frightened them both. Doug was the first to speak.
“So, does that mean you’ve never had a girlfriend either?”
“Yeah, not since I was eleven.”
“So, you’re a virgin?”
Doug paused and thought about his own situation, wondering if he should admit to his own virginity, but Jeff beat him to it.
“What about you?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, me too.”
“Another thing we have in common.”
“What about kissing?”
“Just one girl I dated for a night. She went to an all girl school and invited me to a dance. It was awkward. She wore way too much perfume.”
There was a knock at the door. “Yeah?” Jeff called.
Mom stuck her head in the room as Doug sat up quickly. “Dinner’s just about ready, boys.”
“Thanks, Mom. We’ll be right down.” She closed the door.
“Your mom’s cool. Wait till you meet mine.” Doug stood up and walked to the door.
“She’s a little nuts.”
As they passed the living room on their way to the dining room, Doug looked in and saw a baby grand piano.
“You play?” he asked.
“Yeah, since I was eight.”
“Play something for me after dinner.”
Dinner was at a formal dining room with Jeff’s mom at one end of the table and the boys opposite one another.
“Have you had latkes before, Doug?” Jeff’s mom asked.
“No, but they look and smell delicious.” Jeff’s mom passed them and he put two on his plate followed by sour cream and applesauce.
As she passed the chicken and salad Jeff’s mom asked, “Tell us about your family, Doug.”
“Not much to tell. I have a younger sister. My dad’s in the restaurant supply business and is always either at work or going out to the restaurants he supplies and my mom hangs out with her friends from the country club.”
“Does your mom work?”
“No, just a housewife.”
“That can be a full time job.”
“With my mom, it’s definitely a part time job.”
Jeff’s mom smiled slightly. This new kid was interesting. She liked him a lot. She could see the attraction.
“Mom, Doug asked me to spend the night this Friday. Is it OK?” Jeff asked.
“My mom said it was OK.” Doug said.
“Will your parents be home?”
“Uh, they’re going out in the evening.”
“Well, if your parents don’t mind.”
After dinner, the boys helped her clean up the dishes. The three of them had an easy way together. They laughed and chatted about school. Jeff told his mom about the great English class he and Doug had together and all the books they had in common. Mom scooted them out of the kitchen and finished cleaning up while the boys went into the living room. Jeff sat down at the piano and started playing a classical piece. When he finished, Doug asked, “What’s that called?”
“Claire de Lune, by Debussy.”
Jeff’s mom walked into the living room. “That was lovely darling. Play something else.” She sat on the sofa while Doug stood next to Jeff. He played a Nocturne by Chopin as Jeff’s mom watched her son play the piano and Doug watch Jeff.
Doug was wading though his emotions. The music was getting to him, moving him deeply. Jeff’s facial expressions moved across his face as he played. Doug felt Jeff’s mom watching him. He moved his eyes to Jeff’s fingers on the keyboard.
He played beautifully. She could see the admiration and love in Doug’s eyes and felt a pang of remorse. What if this was his path? To be loved by another man. She had always wanted grandchildren and hopefully Lisa would provide them, but Jeff’s life seemed to be going in another direction all together. Although things were tense in Israel, following the Six Day War, she hoped he would find his way there this summer and perhaps this would all change; if not a nice Jewish girl than at least a Jewish boy. Or was this boy meant to be the one? The music made her feel sad. The song ended and she and Doug clapped.