Sunday came and I rubbed my hands together with an evil gleam in my eye as I placed the all-important phone call to the breeder-bride.
"Brenda, Darling," I began in my most saccharine-sweet voice. "You're going to be sooooo excited. I've got the final menu plan done for your reception. It's FABULOUS, if I do say so myself - and I DO! There's only one teensy problem, sweetie. I'm too swamped to run it over to you this afternoon. Do you think you could send over one of your darling boys to pick it up?"
"Oh, Emmett! That's wonderful. I can't wait to see what you have planned. But, Ethan has a violin recital this afternoon and the whole family is planning to attend. So, I don't think we'll be able to get it from you until maybe tomorrow," was Brenda's response.
Damn! ‘Justin didn't tell me anything about a recital,' I thought. I guessed that we'd just have to try again the next Sunday. "Oh well. Don't bother, then. I'll just get it to you later in the week," I said, trying to keep the disappointment out of my voice. Then I started to say my good-byes, when the ‘princess-WIDE' interrupted me.
"Wait. I forgot about Craig's brat, Justin. He's not coming with the rest of us to the recital, of course. He can come pick up the menu plan from you. If that's okay? I mean, he's not the brightest bulb in the box, but I suppose he could manage to find his way to your shop," Biased-Brenda offered.
"That would be just fine, Darling. Ta ta!" I rang off before the witch could hear the cunning cackles welling up from my throat. She'd played right into our plans. . . .
About twenty minutes later, I heard the tinkle of the bell over the shop door and looked up from my laptop to see a baggy, bookish boy shyly sidling into the store.
Now, Justin is pretty much always beautiful. He has that blond hair that shines like spun gold, that flawless ivory skin (thanks in part to not being allowed out of the house and store very much), that taut twinkie torso and that gorgeous great-big grin. But sometimes the boy seemed determined to hide his light under a boy-sized bushel basket. Today, for instance, he was wearing a sweat-stained, ragged baseball cap (go Pirates!), baggy tan draw-string pants, a heather-grey tee shirt covered with paint smears and, to top it all off, those hideous glasses. On his back was a dirty green-plaid backpack with a broken zipper which left the top compartment drooping open and in his hands was the ubiquitous sketchpad.
Really! How on Earth could I be expected to walk down Liberty Avenue with that? It was simply out of the question. My fashion-diva rep would have been ruined. First thing, therefore, I grabbed the backpack from him and stashed it behind the counter, palmed my keys and hustled him out the back door. Luckily, my favorite fashion destination, ‘Torso', was only a block or so away and, if we were fortunate, we could make it by way of the alley without being spotted.
However, as luck would have it, we didn't have any - Luck, that is. We made it down the alley to the end of my block. Then, we had to cross over Tremont to get to the next alley-way, which was where Torso was located. How hard should it be to get a lousy block without being spotted by someone I knew? Apparently, it was going to be very hard - and not in a positive, life-affirming kind of way - this afternoon.
As soon as I poked my head around the corner to scan Tremont street to see if the coast was clear, up drives the very last person I would have wanted to see - Liberty Avenue's very own King of Kink, Brian Kinney. I tried a strategic retreat, but those perceptive hazel eyes had already latched onto my lovely lanky frame and weren't going to let go.
"Hey, Honeycutt! Hiding out in the alley? You do know it's still daylight, right. I mean, if you want to get your rocks off in the alley, I would recommend you wait till after dark. Even here on Liberty Avenue," came the expected put-down from the sarcastic sack of sh . . . . (okay, so he's actually a friend, and maybe I should cut back on the derogatory name calling).
"I'm not getting my rocks off! And, don't call me ‘Honeycutt', Brian. I was just heading over to Torso for a quick fashion infusion, if you don't mind," I retorted as I tried to edge by him, all the time trailed by my shy shadow, Justin.
"I don't mind," Brian answered. "I happen to own a very nice, expensive pair of sunglasses, which protect my eyes. However, I do feel sorry for everyone else that has to look at your so-called 'outfits' without protective eyewear." He chortled to himself at what he perceived to be an excellent dis at my expense. I chose to ignore him (mostly because I couldn't think of any really decent comeback).
"Come on, Justin," I said as surreptitiously as I could to my charge while I lifted my chin high and started off again on my mission of fashion mercy.
"Who's your little stray?" Damn. Brian, of course, noticed the bashful blond behind me. Justin had mostly kept his head down during the previous discourse, but I detected the occasional sidelong glance in Brian's direction. Okay, admittedly the man is gorgeous, so any gay boy who didn't look in his direction would have had to have been blind. But, for Brian to deign to direct his own attention towards someone so beneath his normal range of consideration was practically unheard of - normally a boy like Justin wouldn't even register on his radar. ‘Hmmm,' I thought to myself, ‘what's up with that?"
"This is Justin. And, we were just leaving," I told him as I bustled the boy behind Brian and on our way before anyone else could see us together. Brian just stood there with his tongue in his cheek and smirked at my retreating back.
Well, after that little incident, the rest of the afternoon was much more enjoyable. I managed to get Justin into Torso and out of those clothes. He wanted to protest about my buying him clothes, but I wouldn't take no for an answer, and I wouldn't take HIM anywhere dressed like that. So Justin had to capitulate in the end. The boy wasn't ready for a full Auntie Em makeover, though, so I had to content myself with attiring him in a simple pair of tight black jeans and a marvelous mid-drift tee, one size too small (of course). We tossed the hat into the bag with his old clothes and I whipped out the emergency bottle of styling gel Torso keeps in the back room for its employees so I could quickly address the hat-head issues, and then we were off.
Watching Justin watch the denizens of Liberty Avenue for the first time was like setting a vegetarian kid free in a Hostess Cupcake factory and telling him that, just for today, everything was vegan and purely organic. I thought at one point, the poor baby's eyes were going to pop right out of his head.
"My, Justin. What big eyes you have," I commented, when Justin almost tripped on his own feet while ogling a gay couple feeling each other up on the street corner next to Torso.
"All the better to learn about gay culture, my dear," jested Just-downright-amazed Justin.
A block or so later, we passed a couple of Mister Sisters on the corner arguing over a sale rack outside a store well known for its sequin-studded attire. Both of the ladies in question (or should I say questionable ladies) had a death grip on what appeared to be a mauve mini-dress and were wrangling over who had seen it first. Now, when I say arguing, what I really meant was swearing up a storm, calling each other names and using language I wasn't sure was legal in the state of Pennsylvania. Justin seemed enthralled by the spectacle and just stood there soaking up the scene. It was like he was drinking in all that licentious language though his lovely ears.
"My, Justin. What big ears you have," I rebuked him. "Your uptown propriety isn't offended?"
"All the better to assimilate the local customs, my dear."
First on the agenda, I had thought I would take the lad over to the Liberty Diner to meet some of the local color, namely our lovely, local Diner lady, Debbie Novotny. Every gay boy on Liberty Avenue meets Debbie, most of them fairly early on in their campy career. Debbie was a surrogate mother to all of us and therefore a great place to start when introducing new blood to the neighborhood. Plus, she was always a good gauge as to how well a newbie would acclimate to the environment - if you couldn't stomach Debbie, you didn't stand a chance with the rest of Liberty Avenue.
Justin joined me in the Diner with his usual jazzed enthusiasm. As soon as the bewigged beldam saw us enter, she descended on us with her usual aplomb, ushered us towards a booth in the back and pulled out her order pad before we could even slide into the seats.
"How's it hanging, Em, honey," she addressed me with her casual cordiality. Then she tilted her head a bit to the left as if to peek under the table top and added, "looks to me like it's hanging a little to the left today! Hah!" Like I said, Debbie could be a little much to stomach, even for those of us who knew what to expect. Justin just sat there with his mouth open in utter bewilderment.
"My, Justin," I couldn't help but comment, "what a big mouth you have!"
Since Debbie was still standing there, cackling at her little jest and waiting to take our order, Justin didn't respond right away. He continued to stare with a dazed and glazed look on his puzzled puss. His expression just made Debbie laugh a little more. "I'll come back when your friend here has had a chance to stuff his eyeballs back in his face," said the wise waitress.
"All the better to . . . I don't know, but, WHAT a FREAK!" Justin finally spluttered as soon as the freaky, yet friendly, Debbie withdrew.
"Well, she does take some getting used to. . . " I started to defend the lady's honor. I was interrupted mid-sentence though by someone else joining our little twosome.
"But, once you get to know her, you can't help loving her," Michael asserted as he slid into the booth next to me. "Hi, I'm Michael. I take it this is your first visit to the Diner," my bosom buddy asked of my bemused boy.
"Yeah, it is. My name's Justin. Em here was just showing me around. I've never been to Liberty Avenue before. It's amazing!" enthused and excited Justin. "So, you know Debbie?"
"I guess you could say that, since she's my Mom. Although, even I sometimes wonder about her," Michael quibbled, regarding his mother with a look almost as bewildered as Justin's.
"So, what are you two up to," Michael began with the interrogation.
I therefore proceeded to tell him, complete with three-part harmony and large explanatory gestures, the entire saga of Justin and the evil step-family. Justin, meanwhile ordered a triple cheeseburger, large curly fries and chocolate milkshake with a slice of apple pie ala mode for dessert. That boy sure could put away the chow! And, before I was finished with my tale, Justin was finished with his meal and we all decided to head out together. Michael was enchanted with the idea of exposing the new lad to everything gay and wanted to add a hand to the endeavor.
We strolled up and down the avenue for a while, letting the lad look into the windows of shops and around at the local color. After about an hour, we came to one of my favorite shops on the street, Big Boyz Toyz, one of the best toy stores in town. It was obvious from the window display what wares this wonderful warehouse carried and I watched as Justin gaped at the items on exhibit. Some of those toys were rather provocative, I had to admit. I myself was rather curious about the "newly arrived" (or so the sign said) ‘Ravening Rippler' sitting on its stand in the center of the display - it was a glittery purple with a large bulbous head, at least eleven inches long and had these spiral ridges circling all the way along its length. It had definite possibilities, I thought.
When I finished perusing the proffered products, I glanced over to my protege to find him not-so-surreptitiously rubbing at the crotch of his brand new jeans as he looked longingly into the window. I noticed a noticeable bulge in the region of the boy's nether parts, indicating that he found the various toys equally provocative.
"My, Justin. What a big Cock you have," I couldn't help but comment when the size of that basket became so evident.
"All the better to . . ." Luckily for my sense of restraint, the boy wasn't able to complete that sentiment as he was interrupted by Michael at that point.
"Come on, boy wonder. I think it's time to get you home. Enough corrupting of the youth for the day, Em," Michael directed.
I thought I saw a moment of regret on young Taylor's face. Michael looked very determined though to save the innocent boy from being ‘over-exposed' on this, his first outing. Justin must have noticed the determination on Michael's face, because he didn't bother trying to argue.
"Okay," Justin said in an embarrassed voice. "I don't think I would have liked it in there anyway. Those toys look a bit . . . scary."
"It's not that scary," Michael back-peddled. "I mean, every gay boy deserves a toy or two. But I just think you've had enough for today."
"I'm sure you're right," added Justin, looking just like a scairt little rabbit about to be tossed into a briar patch. "I don't want to go into any place like that. Ever. I can take the rest of the stuff you've shown me today, Em, but whatever you do, don't take me in that store."
"Come on, Michael," I tried to cajole my friend into capitulating. "It's just a couple of dildos. I mean, the boy is gay. He's got to find out about this stuff eventually, right?"
"No, Em," Justin piped up. "I don't want to go in there. I think all those toys would probably give me nightmares or something. Please, Michael. Don't let Emmett take me into that thar toy store," the boy pled.
Well, by now, Michael was starting to change his tune a bit. It seemed silly for Justin, a red-blooded American gay boy, to be frightened of a mere dildo or two. In fact, it seemed like our responsibility, as gay mentors, to expose this frightened young thing to every facet of gay life, and nobody would deny how important a good dildo is in the life of every gay man.
"You know what, Justin? I think you're overreacting a bit. You shouldn't be scared by this stuff. It's all perfectly natural, really, to have these needs and this stuff . . ." Michael went on trying to instill the proper 'Out and Proud' attitude in the tyro. Justin still looked very hesitant though.
After trying to talk the boy into visiting the shop for several more minutes, only to be continuously met by Justin's protestations that he didn't care what we did to him just so long as we didn't drag him into that thar toy store, Michael finally lost his temper.
"This is ridiculous, Justin. Come on. You're going into that toy store, and I'm buying you your first dildo and I don't care how much you beg me not to," Michael demanded.
"Okay," Justin agreed with a sly smile on his sunshine face as he not-so-meekly followed the duped Michael into the store, proceeding directly to pick out a nice beginner's model for his private home use later that night and thanking Michael profusely for the gift after leaving the checkout stand. Michael seemed pleased as punch with himself for convincing the young, inexperienced boy to expand his horizons a little. I didn't want to undeceive my friend, so I said nothing but smiled at the manipulative little man-child as he joyfully showed me his new acquisition.
By this time, it was getting a little late. When Justin finally looked down at his watch, he yelped.
"Em - I've got to get home right away. It's almost 5:00 and my father will be home from the recital. If I'm not home when they get there, he'll turn my balls into pumpkins, for sure."
Justin was really afraid. Luckily, I had borrowed my latest beau's car that morning and so I speedily sped the sorry son back to his dreary dungeon, and nobody was the wiser about our little outing. At least for the time being.