Challenge #163: First Time Title: Sing it loud... 1-16 Author: Xie Condom: 16 to Debbie and Carl
Debbie shook her head, making sure her earrings, giant rainbow-striped peace symbols, were firmly anchored in her ear lobes.
Emmett contemplated her earrings and the "I'm with my gay son, his husband, their two kids, and their daughter's lesbian mothers" t-shirt that Michael had made for her. "Lookin' good, Deb."
Carl glanced up from his newspaper. "That's my girl, always beautiful."
Debbie walked over and gave him a kiss on his cheek, leaving a red smear behind. "You should really come, Carl. Everyone needs to go to Pride at least once."
He shook his head. "It's not my scene, Debbie..."
Debbie planted her hands on her hips. "What, Mr. Straight Cop, you're too good to mingle with the queers on Pride day?"
Carl's face flushed almost as red as Debbie's wig. "Wait a minute, I never said..."
"I've asked you to go with us ten times now..."
"Fifty," muttered Carl.
Debbie ignored him. "And so far you haven't come up with a single good reason not to go."
Emmett sat at the table next to Carl, and patted his shoulder. "Now, Deb, you know that's not true. Carl's just a little stiff and old-fashioned. The Parade is too... exotic for him."
Carl frowned. "Well..."
Debbie pounced. "Come with us. You don't have to march. Just wave when I go by, then you can come back to your E-Z lounger and TV."
Emmett nodded. "Drew and I will protect you." He raised his hand in the Boy Scout pledge. "On my honor, not one single queer will lay a finger on you, unless, you know, it's because you have a mosquito on your face, or there's a car racing towards you and to save your life we have to..."
Carl stopped him. "I get it, Emmett, and thank you. Really. But I...."
Debbie's face fell, then scrunched up, and tears filled her eyes. "It's alright, Carl." She sniffed, loudly, as one tear rolled down her cheek. "I understand. Michael wasn't ready, either, and I let him find his own way, in his own time..."
Emmett rolled his eyes. "Oh for Christ's sake, Debbie, you harangued him mercilessly for years..."
She narrowed her still-damp eyes. "Oh, and who was it who hog-tied him and put him in that dress in the first place?"
Emmett started to answer, and then paused. His eyes met Debbie's, and then, slowly, they turned and looked at Carl.
Carl stood up, the chair between him and where Debbie and Emmett stood. "No. Absolutely not. No."
Emmett shook his head regretfully. "He's right. Not even I can make that work."
Debbie snorted. "Well, that's probably true." She smiled sweetly at Carl. "So it's a deal? If we don't make you wear drag, you'll come?"
Carl stared at them, wondering how it had happened. He shouldn't have even bothered arguing."I'll come."
"Yay!" Emmett squealed. "Let me see what's in your closet, Carl, so we can put together an ensemble that will..."
Carl shuddered and followed Emmett up the stairs.
Emmett spared Carl anything colorful, largely because there was nothing colorful in his wardrobe. He just made sure he wasn't wearing plaid or brown shoes. There was only so much even Emmett could do.
Melanie and Lindsay almost fell off Mel's bike when they saw him, and Michael laughed so hard he had to hide his face in Ben's chest. Ben managed to take it all in stride, and Hunter nodded knowingly. "I knew it. No one can resist Debbie, not even the cops."
"Cops?" It was Brian. "Did someone say cops? I hope they're hot." He stopped. "Oh, hi, Carl."
"Don't you start on him, Brian," Debbie warned. "I had enough trouble getting him here."
Brian nodded, looping his arm over Justin's shoulder. "It's almost as if he really was Mikey's father."
"Michael's father would have led this parade," Debbie started.
Michael held up his hand. "Okay, can we not rehash the ever-changing family history of Michael Novotny?"
"If that is your real name," Brian said.
"I said watch it, mister," snapped Debbie.
"Yes, Mother," Brian said, meekly.
Justin rolled his eyes, but his arm tightened a little around Brian's waist.
"Deb," Emmett said. "Don't you have a PFLAG contingent to lead?"
After Debbie went to join the marchers, Emmett stood on one side of Carl, Drew on the other. "We promised to protect him," Emmett explained when Brian raised an eyebrow.
Brian snorted. "From what?"
Justin jabbed him with his elbow.
Ben frowned. "If Carl feels more comfortable with friends..."
"Christ," Brian said, "He's a cop. He has a gun."
"And now he has me and Emmett," Drew said.
"Who's gonna protect me?" said Hunter. "Six guys have already tried to get into my ass, you know. And my dads just laugh."
Michael slapped at his cheek. "Like you can't protect yourself."
Brian said something semi-audible about the general lameness of the event, and Justin glared. "You tried on four outfits before you went out, and I was perfectly happy going with Daph. So don't act like I dragged you here."
"The proper response to that," Carl said, "is 'yes, dear.'"
Brian started to say something about taking advice from breeders, then re-considered his approach due in part to the icy look in Justin's eyes coupled with a sudden fierceness in Emmett's. "Yes, dear," he said, almost like he meant it.
"Christ," Hunter said. "You can't count on anything anymore, can you?"
Brian choked back a laugh. "Well, Justin, that sounds like our cue to go watch the Parade. Wouldn't want to miss Debbie and your mom in their rainbow finery."
"My mom is wearing a lavender..."
Brian looked pained. "Yes, that's what I was angling for; a description of what your mother is wearing to march in the parade."
Justin looked at him, amused. "You know, if you're attached to the tradition of the Pride blow job, you might want to try that again."
Brian grabbed Justin's hand and pulled him down the street. "Let's go."
Justin laughed and went along.
Carl looked at Michael and Ben, standing with Hunter, who was holding Jenny's hand. "Are you all marching?"
"We are," said Ben. "As part of Equality Pennsylvania, with a group of gay dads."
"Except me," said Hunter. "I'm marching with straight ex-hustlers adopted by gay dads."
"Watch out," warned Emmett. "Debbie will get you a t-shirt."
Hunter opened his jacket. "She already did."
"Oh, my," Emmett said. "That's..."
"Don't tell me," he said glumly. "I know."
"This is Hunter's first Pride, too," Michael said.
"Baby!" Emmett said. "Congratulations!"
"Mine, too," said Drew.
Everyone looked at him.
"Wow," Emmett said. "Three virgins."
"Look!" said Michael. "Dykes on Bikes!" He grabbed Jenny's hand. "Here come your moms and brother!" He ran out with her to where Gus was excitedly waving at everyone, the sun glinting off his little rainbow-colored helmet.
"So, this is your first Pride parade?" Carl asked Drew, after Michael, Ben and the kids headed off to their contingent.
He nodded. "I was always either out of town..."
"Or in the closet," said Emmett. "But this year, my baby's singing it loud, 'I'm out and proud.'"
"Well, standing on the sidelines watching, at least," Drew said.
"Nothing wrong with that," said Carl.
They watched the groups go by. Queer Christians, queer Jews, queer atheists. Gay men and lesbians against violence, against HIV/AIDS, against meth addiction. They waved at Ted and Blake in the recovery center's float, and at Ben, Michael and the kids when they marched past.
Carl found the ground extremely fascinating when the Babylon float came into view, the thumpa thumpa pounding as two dozen oiled, muscular guys in rainbow-lame thongs gyrated wildly to the beat.
"Who are Brian and Justin marching with?" Carl asked.
Emmett patted his arm. "Let's just say they're marching to their own beat," he said.
"Here comes PFLAG," Drew said.
Debbie was carrying the rainbow flag. Jennifer and Daphne were next to her, holding the banner, rainbow ribbons in Daphne's pigtails. And the crowd, which had applauded for everyone else, stood up and cheered at the moms and sisters and uncles and dads and grandparents marching and riding by.
"When I think of my parents back in Hazlehurst," Emmett said. "And then I see this..."
Drew nodded. "Me, too. I can't even imagine it."
Carl looked at Emmett, then at Drew, and then at Debbie, waving with her free hand, the flag perched on her hip.
"Can anyone march?" Carl said suddenly. "I mean, can you just..."