What if...?

Past 4am. A hot tub in the middle of nowhere, Texas. I’m in the backyard of a mansion that deserves to be in a reality show. Its lights are off—inside and out; its inhabitants, a dozen drunken fraternity brothers from a large southern university, are asleep. Except for the one in the hot tub with me.

I, of course, was never in his fraternity. And our hot tub, of course, is the only thing lighting the Texas darkness; its jets are the only thing we hear.

We’re at the bachelor party for Emil, a mutual friend who happened to be the president of his college fraternity. The party is everything I anticipated: a keg sits yards away; the mansion’s theater screen had been programmed for March Madness; and a trip to a strip club was planned for the following day. For me, the weekend is a giant “what if”: What if I were a fly on the wall when a pack of southern white fraternity boys went on spring break together in Texas? What would I see?

And at 4am on the first night of this bachelor party weekend, I see Parker, one of Emil’s groomsmen and fraternity brothers, with me in a hot tub. We have been the only ones awake for an hour and a half now. We’ve been drinking; we’ve been chatting. We compare my city life in California, his country life in Oklahoma. We get deep. Talk politics and family, life ambitions and lacunae. He opens up.

He goes inside for a moment, brings out some scotch from the kitchen, an ice cube floating in each of two glasses. He’s also brought back a box of Camels. We feel buzzed, and the cigarettes, we decide, would provide an extra, welcome layer.
He slips into the jacuzzi, a few feet away, directly across from me.

“So,” he says, “I’m going to get kinky.”

I raise my eyebrows.

“You get a cigarette if I get a kiss.”

In the span of a second, I realize the classic fraternity episode I’ve found myself in: alone, in a hot tub, drinks in hand. I look toward the mansion. I look back at him. I move from my seat and step across the hot tub. I plant each of my hands on either side of him. We kiss. As I back away, he hands me a cigarette. I return to my seat. We light our cigarettes and take a puff.

“So I thought this was supposed to be a bachelor party,” I laugh, surprise still intact.

He responds: “Well, wild things are supposed to happen, right?” His southern accent melts me.

As we continue talking, my mind rewinds to my first interactions with Emil, the bachelor. As my colleague and eventually my employee, he had known that I was gay. He had mentioned once having a close friend in college who was also gay, but I never thought that we’d actually ever meet.

In the hot tub, I inch my way toward Parker. Eventually, we’re close enough to make out some more.

After a bit, I pull away again. “So,” I point out, “not a tongue person, ey?”

He blushes. “I’m glad you noticed.”

I sit next to him, and he adds, “I’m sometimes a bit of a tease.”

Our glasses of scotch are empty, and we bite back and forth about who would get refills. He wins the debate when he says, “My shorts come off if you go get us more drinks.”

I pause before climbing out of the pool. I take my time. I let him stew in the jacuzzi. I would show him who could be a tease.

I return with our glasses full of Bud Light, and I sit them on the ledge, next to me, out of his reach. I step into the hot tub. I wait another moment before prodding, “Your promise?”

His shorts surface. I hand him his drink. He takes a sip before placing his arm around me. I think to myself that I had never been skinny dipping before, and my shorts come off too.

We look toward the mansion. “Where do you suppose we’ll find room to sleep tonight?” he asks.

For a moment, I’m glad he says “we,” but then I realize he’s right: all of the mansion’s beds and couches, by this time of night, were probably taken by the other guys.

“Maybe we can just grab some blankets and pillows and camp out on the floor of a room.”

Our plan: I would go in first and change out of my swim trunks. He’d follow in and find me on the floor somewhere. And we’d finish what we had started.

I go in. I dry off. I switch my trunks for boxers and a tank. I grab some blankets and pillows, find the mansion’s office room, and set up a makeshift bed: two pillows, two blankets. I leave the door ajar, slip underneath the covers, and wait.

I see Parker through the office’s sliding glass door as he leaves the hot tub. I hear him enter the mansion, his damp footsteps slopping onto the kitchen’s tiled floor. He dries himself off. He changes, and he begins searching for the room. I wait, trying not to make it seem that I am waiting at all.

He approaches in the hallway and pushes the door open quietly. I stretch so that he notices I’m in the room and on the floor. He looks down at me; I look up at him. Wrapped in his towel, he demonstrates his frattier side: he sticks out his tongue and makes a farting noise.

He shuts the door and walks further down the hallway. I want to call out his name but doing so would wake people. He opens and closes other doors. He has either mistaken me for someone else or is completely the tease that he promised he would be.

Either way, I recognize silence. And succumbing to the buzz of alcohol and cigarettes, I sink into a floor that I now notice is cold and hard. I roll myself into the two blankets I grabbed, laying my head on one pillow, wrapping my arms round the other.

The next thing I know, it’s 9:30am. I’m on the floor of an office, in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, Texas. As I shield my eyes from the sunlight blazing through the sliding glass door, I remember the last moments of a few hours ago. And I realize that the weekend I had expected to be heterosexual through and through had only just begun.

To be continued...

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