HomeCultureFamily Dinner - Part 2

Family Dinner – Part 2

On the surface, dinner is jovial. Alek is so thrilled to meet Dean’s boyfriend, Will Middleton, he bubbles over the young man. The first time Will calls him Mr. Rivas, Alex puts a stop to the nonsense instantly.

“No, no, no. You call me Papa Alek. All Dean and Enrico’s friends call me Papa Alek. Will, pleased with the reception, agrees. “As you say, sir—I mean, Papa Alek.”

Alek simply cannot keep from gushing, “Look at that boy’s smile, Gordon. Look how handsome.” Taking a moment to judge the young man’s physique, “and that well-formed body.”

Will, knowing tonight’s dinner is all about convincing Dean’s father Dean is gay, does more than play along with Papa Alek, he eggs him on by twirling for him as if he was on the catwalk. Wearing tight-fitting jeans and a t-shirt designed to accent his muscles. With a coquettish smile, he says, “I’m glad you approve. It’s not easy keeping a body trim and fit.”

“Oh, but you do so good at it.”

“Thank you, Papa Alek.” With a wink, he adds, “If you weren’t my boyfriend’s Papa—”

Dean was shocked by this display of flirtation. Will may very well be the best at convincing everyone around him he is gay, but to openly flirt with his Papa and in front of him and his dad! “Dean!”

Will responds appropriately to Dean’s outrage, “Sorry, babe.” He leans in and kisses on the lips.

“You owe my father an apology, too.” Then turning to Papa Alek adds, “You, too.”

“You worry too much, son,” Gordon says. “I married an intolerable flirt. I knew that from day one.” Smiling now at Alek, a smile only Alek can interpret as angry, “That’s how you won me, isn’t? By being an intolerable flirt.”

Alek ignores Gordon’s sarcasm, acting as if Gordon is perfectly fine with the way he and Will are teasing one another. “Of course,” he says tickling Gordon under the chin, “We’d never be married if I hadn’t been an ‘intolerable flirt.'”

Will’s laughter cuts through the tension and Alex uses this opportunity to corral everyone into the dining room. “I wanted tonight’s dinner to be special, so we are eating in the dining room. And, since this the first time Dean has brought a boy home I have—”

Gordon looks at the long mahogany dining table and laughs. Not because Aleksander has taken out his great-grandmother’s Royal Albert Silver Birch China and silverware for the occasion, nor because the napkins have been folded to look like white and black swans, Will laughs because Alek went so far as to make name setting.

“What?” Alek inquires. “You don’t like my table setting?”

Gordon stifles his laugh long enough to say, “It’s beautiful, darling. I just never expected to have my seat chosen for me.” Seeing a look of warning in Alek’s eyes, Gordon condescends, “But, as you say, this is your dinner, and I promise to behave. Where have you placed me?”

Alek, pleased, informs Gordon that he has the head of the table. On his right will be Alek and Enrico; on his left, Dean and Will. “Mimi,” he says, “will sit directly across from you.” Gordon smiles. Alek frowns. “What?” He asks.

“I spoke to Mother a few moments ago. She sends her apologies. She is not feeling well.”

Dean looks crestfallen, as does Will. He has been waiting two years for Dean to keep his promise of introducing him to their Founding Mother, and now that opportunity has been swept away. Dean promised to bring him home for a family dinner the first time Will asked him out. But it didn’t take long for Will to realize that Dean and his father did not get along. Considering how much the two clashed Will expressed no regret when Dean cancelled invite after invite. In fact, Will was half expecting this latest invite to fall through, too, and when it didn’t, he really got his hopes up that he would meet her. Everything Dean ever said about his grandmother, his Mimi, convinced Will she was a progressively minded lady. He watched a few old episodes of It’s Our Destiny and was convinced by these that she would never disown a family member who wasn’t gay. Not getting a chance to meet her after waiting so long, to not be able to talk to her, even if briefly, about the political state of Hadrian, was a crushing blow, disappointment marring his handsome features.

Alek was instantly touched, “Oh, no, no, no, no. She promised me she would come. You, you sit down boys. I’m sure Gordon is mistaken. You go back and ask her again, love. I don’t want to disappoint our guest.”

“Do you want to give our guest whatever it is mother has?”

“Don’t be silly,” Alek says while gesturing towards the hall leading to Destiny’s suite, “I’m sure it was just a simple, little tummy ache. No doubt it is gone already. Go get her.”

“I’ll get her,” Dean volunteers, not waiting for anyone to try to stop him. He knows Mimi isn’t sick. The fact that his father despises Mimi has been painfully apparent to the boy since he was still a “toddling brat” who clung to his grandmother’s skirts to avoid punishment. Arriving at the door to her suite, Dean calls out. “Mimi.” Impatient to wait for an answer, he calls out again. “Mimi, please. Please come out. Please come to dinner. I really want you to meet Will, and he really wants to meet you.”

“He’ll get over it,” Mimi’s voice is resigned. Gordon made it perfectly clear he wasn’t in any mood to pretend; not even their usual polite indifference was going to work, so she had best stay in her room and pretend to be sick. “If you really want Dean to have a good first dinner with his boyfriend and family, you’d best stay out of it because there will be nothing good coming out of you and I sitting at the same table together. Besides,” he said, “it’s not like we really need you around here anymore.” Mimi sighed. Gordon never did know how to give subtle hints. She knew her days living with her grandsons were numbered. If missing a family dinner would help keep her around for a little while longer, maybe at least until Dean graduates, she could hide away like the family pariah she knows she is in her son’s eyes.

“Mimi, please.” Dean can’t believe his ears. I promised Will he could meet you.

“I’m sure he’ll get over the disappointment.”

“But I won’t. Will’ll be hurt, and it’ll be all my fault. I promised him, and now I can’t keep my promise.” This hits Destiny hard. She has always impressed the boy about the importance of keeping one’s word. Reluctantly she opens the door.

“Dean, you know your father and I don’t get along.”

“I know. I also know that’s why you’re pretending to be sick when you’re not.”

“Does this boy really mean a lot to you?” Her eyes reveal to Dean she knows.

“Yes, he does. He’s not just a boyfriend, Mimi, he’s my best friend.”

Looking into Dean’s eyes, Mimi uncovers the truth. “He’s like you, isn’t he?”

Dean isn’t ready to come out to Mimi, even though he knows she will accept him completely. Dean isn’t ready to come out to anybody but Will, who is playing the same hiding game as him. “He’s my boyfriend. He’s my best friend.”

“Well, then, Mimi says, “I will come to dinner, for the sake of your best friend.”

Dean throws his arms around Destiny, nearly knocking her over with the exuberance of his gratitude. “Thank you, Mimi.”

*****

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