A Life Discovered

Chapter 5

By Bensiamin


After he hung up, Bailey opened the Pictures on his phone. How could he have been so lame that he hadn’t opened them last night or first thing this morning? There were two of them, one showing Eric kind of in control, and the second showing Bailey kind of in control.

The first one he understood, Eric in control. That’s the feeling that had overwhelmed him. He immediately responded to the setting with the long view of the lake behind them, the darkening light with shades of purple as the sun began to set. The second picture kind of troubled him. Bailey in control while kissing a guy. He’d never conceived something like that. It wasn’t that he was put off or offended, more like it was a foreign concept.

But Eric was right. Both pictures were hot. Their faces joined, their bodies arched, their groins together, each with a hand holding the head of the other. When he looked closely, it was almost like he could feel Eric’s lips on his, and could almost feel the density of it as his fingers had run through Eric’s curls. He was going to want to save these, probably.

He set his phone down and leaned back on the couch. He realized he wasn’t feeling bad or ashamed or embarrassed. That was good. He was just feeling a kind of surprise that this had happened to him. After living with his girlfriend for four years, THIS had happened to him. Maybe Eric was right, and he just needed to think about it in terms of being a sexual creature. After all, he might be an architect, but he knew a lot more about psychology than Bailey did.

He was rinsing the dishes a little later when Dan called. They talked and Dan wanted to know if he was up for going out for pizza with him and Becky that night?

“I thought you didn’t do two nights in a row. You know, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that stuff.”

“Well, you know how it goes.”

“You are so full of shit sometimes!”

“Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Are you in?”

Bailey thought about it. Even though Dan was his best friend, he couldn’t tell him what had happened yet. But there was no rule that said he had to, and he had no other plans. “Yeah, count me in.”

“Maybe we’ll stop and bowl afterward.”

“That’d be cool too.”

Dan dropped him off about ten thirty. They’d had a good time. He and Becky got along just fine, and he caught himself watching them a couple of times. But what caught him off guard was that he was looking at them as a couple and not thinking of him and Morgana. Instead, he was surprised to find himself thinking of him and Eric. Would one or the other of them say the same thing in response to this or that circumstance? Would they react the same way when the other did something?

Those thoughts kept running in his mind when he got in bed, and it didn’t take long for his mind to track back to the night before on the pier. He reached for his phone and pulled up the two pictures Adrian had taken. He was drawn back in his mind to the experience, and soon to the feelings that went along with it. The passion, the sensuality, the grinding. He realized that he’d reached down and was slowly stroking his now-hard cock.


The next morning his phone pinged about eight thirty. It was a text from Eric.

<Good morning. Are you up?>

<Yeah, but I’m still in bed.>

<I wish I was there! >

Bailey heard a little voice in his brain say, ‘I do too.’

Instead, he replied, <Why? Do you miss me?>

<Truth? Yeah. It wasn’t fun last night. I kept missing you and wishing you were with me.>

Bailey paused, telling himself not to get carried away. <So you didn’t pick up some twink?>

<Ha, ha! I couldn’t find a twink named Bailey!>

<Probably didn’t look hard enough. I heard he was eating pizza and then bowling.>

<What a shit. He didn’t tell me.>

<Life can be a bitch, you know!>

<Tell me about it. I just wanted to say hi. Have a good Sunday.>

<Cool, and thanks. You too.>

He put down the phone and got up thinking ‘That was nice.’ After some breakfast he wondered what to do. He decided to vacuum the apartment and then go for another run.

He was back by eleven o’clock and cooling down when his phone rang. It was Eric and he answered.

“Is it as nice a day down there as it is up here?”

“Yeah. I just got back from a run. Got up to four miles.”

“That’s great, Bailey. What are your plans for the afternoon?”

“Nothing, why?”

“Because I don’t have any plans either, but I want to see you. I can be there in thirty or forty minutes, and I’ll bring a picnic. Can you show me the lake down there.”


“Yeah, seriously. I told you I missed you last night. Are you telling me you didn’t think about me at all.”

“No! I’m not telling you that.”

“Good. You can explain what that means when I get there.”

“Cool. I’ll have time to shower. I’ll text you my address. See ya.”

Eric was there in thirty-five minutes. When Bailey answered the bell and opened the door, he stepped inside and stood aside as Bailey closed it. They just looked at each other. Eric was the first to speak. “I want to kiss you.”

Bailey felt a little heat. “Anything stopping you?”

“Yes! I mean, no, nothing’s stopping me.” He stepped forward, his arms going around Bailey, whose face had tilted up, so their lips met. It was a mildly hot “good to see you after a while” kiss, their tongues doing a little dance, but nothing like Friday night.

Bailey said softly, “It’s nice to see you too.”

“Glad you feel the same way. Are you ready? Do you know where we’re going?”

“Yeah, there’s a cool state park on the lake that’s only fifteen minutes away. Shouldn’t be crowded till later in the afternoon.”

When they got in Eric’s Audi, Bailey saw the cooler in the back seat. Eric grinned. “I had some stuff and stopped and filled in the blanks.”

“On the way down? You got here in no time.”

“No. I went out before I called you. I wanted to have it together in case you said yes.”

“So, you planned this? Is that stealth planning or perving? I mean, I’m not gay so I wouldn’t know the difference.”

“It’s neither. It’s just that I wanted to see you and needed a good plan. Sorry to spring it on you. Are you okay with this, really?”

“Yeah. I’m just giving you shit.”

“Okay having a picnic with a guy even if you’re not gay?”

“I said yes, didn’t I?”

“I just don’t want to come off as pushy.”

“Or needy!”

Eric flashed him the side eye. “Yeah, or needy. I wanted to see you. I’m not lying about that.”

“It’s the left turn up ahead. Where the big brown sign is.” Bailey directed Eric further south in the park, down the lake shore past play areas and picnic tables. “Down toward the end of the park is a big lawn area that’s shaded and doesn’t get as many people. There’s a little beach too.”

They settled the blanket in the shade under the tree and Eric pulled out what he’d brought to eat. Bailey was impressed he hadn’t brought store-made sandwiches, but had a container of macaroni salad and one of quinoa salad, and a sliced baguette with some salami and Brie. There was also a bottle of white wine.

“We better eat before the cheese and salami get too warm.”

“Good plan. I’m starving after the run this morning.”

They chatted about food and wine, and when they were finished eating settled back against the trunk of the maple tree with their wine, Eric said, “Now, you need to explain what you meant when you said you didn’t miss me.”

“That’s not what I said, you know.”

“Oh. Maybe I heard wrong. What did you say?”

Bailey smiled and replied, “You said, ‘are you telling me you didn’t think about me at all,’ and I said, ‘No! I’m not telling you that.’ See. That’s not the same as saying I didn’t miss you.”

“So, you did miss me?”


“As much as I missed you. I was thinking about you all last evening at those clubs.”

“I was thinking about you when I was eating pizza with Dan and Becky and when we were bowling.”

Eric turned to catch his eye, and then said, “We sound like a couple of teenagers.”


“What’a ya mean worse?”

“I’m being totally honest with you, Eric, ‘cause that’s the only way I know how to be, okay? Also, I’m still trying to figure out why I’m feeling this way about a guy. The whole time last night I wasn’t just thinking about you. I was watching Dan and Becky and thinking about couples. But it wasn’t me and Morgana, it was me and you.”


“Really. Weird for a straight guy, right?”

“Wait! You agreed no labels. It’s not weird for a sexual creature. We connected; we’ve got this vibe together.” Eric reached and took Bailey’s hand, kneading his fingers through Bailey’s.

“We do. That’s what I’ve got to sort out. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, since you asked about what I really meant on the phone earlier…”

“Yeah? Tell me.”

“I not only missed you. When I got in bed last night, I was thinking about you, and I pulled up those first-kiss pictures from Friday night.”

Bailey felt Eric squeeze his hand. “Really?”

“And they took me right back there and I was hard and stroking myself and jacked off looking at them.”

“For real?”

“Yeah, for real.” He lifted his hand and kissed the back of Eric’s.

“So did I.”

“No shit?”

“No shit, and I’ve got one of those pictures as the wallpaper on my phone.”

Bailey giggled. “You’ve got to be careful. Someone at work could see, or you’re risking getting a boner every time you answer a phone call.”

“I’ll take that boner any time, any day.” Eric released Bailey’s hand and reached around his shoulders, pulling him in for a hug. “You said it, like a couple of teenagers.”

“Can I ask about you and being gay?”

“I knew by the time I was ten or eleven. Like I told you, I didn’t have to come out to my parents. There was a Gay Straight Alliance at my school, so even though I did track and field and played basketball, those were the people I mainly hung out with.”

“What did you mean when you said you’d dated a lot and had a couple of boyfriends?”

“Well, I knew early so I never did date any girls. That means the gay dates add up pretty fast.” I went with a couple of guys in high school for a while and had two longer term boyfriends in college. We knew they weren’t forever relationships, but we were serious and had a good time?”

“Meaning sex?”

“Meaning lots of things together, and sex. You know that sex isn’t a problem, don’t you?”

Bailey looked puzzled and said, “Well, yeah, but what do you mean?”

Eric grinned back. “Sex is the question. Yes is the answer. See how easy that is?”

Bailey rolled his eyes and then said, “Be serious. This is new for me.”

“I know it is. I’m just adding some humor. I get that I’ve had a lot more experience with guys that you have. That’s why I’m being careful and trying not to be pushy and asking if what we do is okay.”

“I appreciate that. It’s not like I’m a prude or something, just that it’s different, and after kissing it’s all new.”

“We can stay with the kissing for a long time if that makes you happy. It worked for us on Friday night.”

“Yeah it did. That was some kissing! I’m betting I wasn’t the only one who jacked off to the pictures. Adrian is probably a very busy boy!”

They both laughed, and then Bailey added, “I like that you’re willing not to rush things. I’m guessing if you had picked someone up last night you would have gone to his place or yours and had sex.”

Eric turned Bailey’s face toward his and said softly, “Probably, if it was the right guy and we connected. But that would have happened before I met you. I want to spend time with you, and that doesn’t have to mean sex.”

When they got back to Bailey’s apartment, he said, “Wanna come up for a few minutes. We couldn’t do much at the park with all those people around.”

“Sure, but don’t do any guilting about your apartment, okay. I know you just moved in.”

“Well, I have a nice couch.”

“That’s an invitation I can’t resist. But I didn’t ask you out today to jump your bones. I just wanted to be with you. Okay?”

“Me too, no worries.” As they walked to the door, Bailey added, “I felt some new thing kissing you Friday night, and I kinda think I need a refresher course.”


True to his word, Eric only stayed half an hour. It was passionate, but not as intense as Friday night. First kisses like that one are hard to replicate. Still, for the second time in his life Bailey wondered why he’d never known about passion like this. They kissed and kissed, and both were hard, but it was like they’d established an unspoken boundary about how far they were going as they got to know each other better and better.

After Eric left, Bailey felt empty. He understood that when you’re apart from the person that you’re really attracted to, there’s a feeling of emptiness. It was just that he hadn’t felt that for a few years. Now he was feeling it about a guy. What did he do about that?

Once again, like what seemed to happen a time or two each year when he had to make a major decision, he wished his dad was alive to talk to. Especially about this. Colin had been gay, even if Bailey had never seen any overt sign of his dad’s sexuality. Still, they could talk. He tried to imagine the conversation with him, but couldn’t get there. All that came to mind was what Colin had done when he and Morgana had gotten together. The basic sex ed talk and a gift of lube and condoms. He’s been supporting where they were going together, even if it was hetero. Still, that was different than having a talk with your dad about how you’d thought you were straight all your life and now you’re falling for a guy.

He did the only thing he could think of. He called Annabelle.

She was cooking dinner and he said he wasn’t calling to bum a meal, but he needed to talk. She said there was more than enough, and to get his ass over and they could talk after dinner while she helped him wash dishes.

Which was how he found himself in front of the sink filled with soapy water when she said, “Okay, Bail. What’s up?”

The idea of talking to Annabelle was easier than getting the conversation started, but he pressed on. “I need to talk to you ‘cause I don’t have anyone else. I should be talking to dad about this, but he’s not here and you’re the only other family I’ve got. And you’re the most practical person I know.”

“You know I told you I’d always be here for you. Just tell me what’s on your mind and we’ll talk about it.”

“Remember when you were quizzing me last spring break about breaking up with Morgana and I told you we were drifting apart, that it was like we were living separate lives? Well, that was all true, and since we broke up last Christmas, I’ve had a date or two, but nothing that got me excited.”

“It can take a while to get over a breakup. You guys were together for over four years.”

“Yeah, we were, but that’s not it. It hadn’t been exciting for a long time. More like we were making time together.”

“Okay, I get that. I could see some of it. Where are we going here, Bail? Have you found someone else?”

Bailey flashed her a look as he put the largest pan on the drain board. “Yeah, I have. I think.”

“And it’s exciting?”

“Yeah, it is. Like you wouldn’t believe. But it seems like I’ve forgotten or something. I mean, I don’t remember feeling this way when Morgana and I got together.”

“Maybe you were too young. You were both in high school. You know what they say about the school of hard knocks? Maybe you had to lose something to appreciate finding it again.”

Bailey grinned. “See! That’s why I wanted to talk to you. That’s the kind of practical stuff dad would say. Remember? Like, ‘adventure is the product of mismanagement.’ He told me that when I wanted to expand the used car lot or something.”

“He was a wise man. We both learned a lot from him. So, what’s the concern with this new person that you’ve found?”

“Well, I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’ll just say it. It’s a guy.”

Annabelle’s expression didn’t flinch. “Oh, okay. Other than that, we all thought you were straight since you showed up in that snow storm, have you looked at a calendar lately? It’s not 2000 any more!”

“I know that! That’s not the problem.”

“Then what is…the problem? You’re trying to tell me this new person makes you feel different than you felt before. That’s good, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I’m not gay. I mean, I’ve never thought about being with a guy before.”

“Maybe the right guy hadn’t come along. I remember, back when there was all that talk about legalizing same-sex marriage, hearing someone, Oprah or Dr. Phil or someone say we fall in love with a person not a gender. Maybe this person is the one and he turns out to be a guy.”

“That could be. That makes sense. I hope so.” Bailey paused, looking at the last pan in the sink. “There’s something else too. I look back on the last year and I feel like I’ve kind of been sleepwalking through it. Like I wasn’t really with it. Just a few weeks ago, before I got the job, I was thinking about it, and I remembered this word from something I read in college: lassitude. It means mental weariness and lack of energy. That’s how I’ve felt.”

“Oh Bail, I’ve seen some of that. I just always figured it was that you were still dealing with your dad dying so young. Young for him and young for you.” She stepped over and wrapped her arms around his shoulders and hugged. “I’m so sorry. Is it getting better now? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

“It seems like it. That’s what’s so strange. I remember reading this book in philosophy class by a guy named Ross, called Tunnel Visions. He studied philosophy and it was about living in the underground, meaning the subway system in London where he worked. And he’s seeing and meeting all these people, meaning the public, and understanding them for the first time. Anyway, there was this one sentence that jumped out and that I remember: ‘His head was spinning faster now and for some reason his heartbeat had quickened.’”

“I didn’t read the book, so I don’t know what that was about,” Annabelle said.

“You don’t have to. It’s that last word, quicken. It hit me because it’s an old word, one we don’t use anymore. Anyway, it means faster or stimulated or alive.” He placed the last pan on the drain board and turned to Annabelle. “So, that’s how I feel when I’m with him. Like I’m coming back to life.”

He watched Annabelle’s expression soften and then a smile spread across her face. “Oh Bail, that’s such a wonderful thing to say. I’m so happy for you. You’ve been through a ton of tough shit in your life. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to hear you say something like that.”

“Really? You’re not weirded out that I feel this way about a guy.”

“Bailey, I’d only feel weird if you felt this way about a bull! When do I get to meet this guy?”

Bailey drove home elated. He hadn’t expected talking to Annabelle to go sideways or be horribly negative. After all she knew that Colin was gay and worked for him for years with no problem. He just hadn’t expected the level of affirmation and support that he’d received. Maybe he’d expected her to be more like the people in this part of the country. Instead, she basically told him he was good, it was good, and to go for it.

He drove home on a high. High enough that he didn’t know what to do, so when he plopped on the couch he texted Eric.

<Annabelle says she wants to meet you.>

<Really? You’re not out and you’re telling people about me?>

<She’s the only family I’ve got. That’s not telling people.>

<I get it. She must be cool.>

<Totally. I told her about us and how you make me feel and asked her if it was weird?> Bailey grinned a little as he wrote the sentence that way.

<Wait! What? You asked if being with me was weird?>

<Yeah. But she said people fall in love with people not with genders and she’d only think it was weird if you were a bull!>

<She must be one very cool lady. You know I’m hung like a bull, don’t you? >

<Yeah, right. More importantly, my only family said my feeling this way about you is cool.>

<I know, Bailey. I was only joking. I’m so happy for you.>

<Happy for us. I wish you were here so we could hold each other.>

<Me too. You’ll have to settle for kisses over the text. >

<Cute! I’ll let you go to sleep. We’ve both got work tomorrow.>

<Sweet dreams.>

When Bailey got in bed he opened his phone and looked at the pictures from Friday night.


As the next week unfolded Eric and Bailey fell into a pattern of a couple of texts during the day and a longish conversation at night. It felt more and more to Bailey like they were on the same page, and he kept thinking about what he’d shared with Annabelle about the word quicken and feeling like he was coming back to life.

Monday afternoon after all the staff meetings were done, Everett asked Bailey to join him in his office and showed him an internal financial performance report. “This is the monthly report that I get from finance. What do you think?”

“It’s looks like a pretty standard financial report. It’s not audited like it would be if it was public, right?”

“You’re right, it’s pretty standard and not audited. Think of it as what this corporate division uses to track its performance. What I’m not liking is how standard it is, that its monthly and not real time.”

“Real time. Meaning?”

“Meaning when I walk in here from the parking lot what’s happened in the health app on my phone?”

“Your steps have been added to the daily and weekly count… oh, I get it. If something major happens it won’t show up in the financials for one or two or three weeks.”

“Right. I want you to help me design a real-time performance dashboard for our division. One big reason beyond timeliness is that we have a lot of older established product lines with steady sales, and a smaller number of newer more dynamic product lines. I know each department talks about this in the weekly staff meetings, but the data isn’t all pulled together in one place. What I want to see is a dashboard that shows real-time revenues by product area, cost of goods by product area, and then rolls all that up to running total revenue and expenses, shows operating expenses then operating profits and net profit. I’ve had it with getting calls from Chicago where I’m asked specific questions and the numbers I have are three or four weeks old, or worse yet, I know things have changed in the last couple of weeks and I don’t want to use the numbers from the last monthly report because I know they’re wrong.”

“You think I’m up to this?”

“I sure do. You’re a bright young man. You majored in business management, so you know what I’m talking about. But more important, you’re new here so you’re not locked into the reporting systems that have always been used here. Plus, you’re familiar with current technology and applications so you know what I’m looking for.”

“Okay. I’m happy you’ve got that level of confidence in me.”

“I don’t expect you to do it all, not by a long shot. I know you won’t be programming and writing code. We’ve got people in IT for that, and even if we don’t have the specific skills to pull the data from our business systems and run it into a dashboard, we can hire someone to do that. Where I want you to start is with the dashboard design.”

Bailey nodded, a picture forming in his mind.

“Have you read Stephen Covey?” Bailey nodded again.

“Good. This is one of his principles: begin with the end in mind. So, we start by laying out what we want and then figure out how to get it. The first thing I want you to do is some reading and research and then start mocking up some dashboard designs for me. Make it as high tech and futuristic as you want. We can always dial it back. I want something that’s good, cool and functional. You up for it?”

Bailey nodded again. “Absolutely.”

“Great. I don’t have a timetable, but I want you to get to work on it. I’m betting the IT side of it will take a couple of months. How about we set a goal of you having a few initial mockups for next Monday afternoon?”

“Done.” Bailey left Everett’s office stoked. This could be a great and fun project, it could have a big positive impact for Everett’s performance, and best of all he had the confidence in Bailey to be his point man.

He spent the rest of the afternoon beginning his research and then called Eric after he’d gotten home and taken a run. Eric was stoked for him and that made him feel even better. By end of day Thursday, he’d met with a couple of comptrollers in finance to understand the data flow from the company’s business systems, because he’d read enough to know that understanding where the financial data came from and what it contained was critical to success. He was surprised to learn that while a lot of performance data came from the systems, there was still final manipulation of it all in spreadsheets to create the monthly reports. He’d also started playing around with a few mockups based on the kind of data that Everett had said he wanted to see.

When Eric called Thursday evening, he was excited about his SPCA project. “Tomorrow afternoon will be a pretty important meeting. They say that thanks to a couple of recent large donor contributions they’ve now got almost ninety percent of the funding and are ready to update the old designs and move into a live project.”

Bailey’s first question was, “Will you be keeping the project, so it’s your design and your building?”

“That’s the plan. I think I’ve proven myself here, and the architect who did that preliminary design your dad had left a couple of years ago. So, it should be mine. Tell me about your project.” Bailey filled him in and then they talked about the next morning’s meeting.

The meeting was almost celebratory because the physical enclosure was now closed and construction of the interior finish of the building had begun. Reed looked at them all and said, “We’ll do a walk through when we’re done here. You’ll see interior walls going up and can begin to see the individual areas for inventory, production lines and finished goods. Much of the HVAC equipment and supplies has been delivered, and if not today then on Monday they’ll be running duct work for heat and air conditioning, pulling electrical wiring, and then move on to ceilings and dry wall. There’s still a lot of finish work to do, but now it’s starting to look like a building on the inside!”

The tour was exciting, and being able to visualize the interior spaces did make it feel like they were on the back half and making real, tangible progress. Eric and Bailey ate lunch together in the cafeteria, during which Eric said, “I’m guessing this will be a long meeting this afternoon since we’re reviewing finances, then I’ve got some updated designs for them, and then we have to review changes to the specifications from the original design. So, are you free for dinner?”

“I was hoping you’d stay for dinner but remember this one is my turn to pay.”

“Okay, that’s cool. There’s one other thing?”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“You have to agree to a long walk on the pier again.”

“That’s an easy yes.”

“Great. I’m not driving back to Syracuse tonight. I booked a room in a B&B and am staying here tonight. Will you stay with me?”

Bailey saw the glimmer of excitement in Eric’s eyes and had to admit to feeling a thrill of excitement himself.

“We don’t have to do anything. I just want to be with you. I don’t want to end this evening by leaving and driving away again. I want to go to sleep with you in my arms.”

Bailey smiled. “That sounds pretty attractive to me.”

Eric smiled back. “Cool. I’ve got a bag and I’ll check in and get out of this suit and then meet you there at six thirty?”

Bailey spent the afternoon finalizing his first dashboard mockups for Everett, so they’d be ready to go on Monday. When he arrived at the restaurant, Eric was already sitting at one of the tables by the window looking out on the lake. As he walked to the table, Bailey recognized a few people from work, and a couple of them nodded as he walked by. He was new enough that he hadn’t thought it would happen, but being the CEO’s executive assistant meant he was a known entity. That likely meant public caution.

Eric had already ordered a bottle of the same wine they had the week before and two poured glasses were on the table. He smiled greetings as Bailey sat and then pointed at the wine glasses, asking, “Is this okay?” Bailey nodded and they touched wine glasses.

They gave each other updates on their projects, and then Eric said, “Okay, enough of work. This is us having dinner. Let’s change the subject. I’m still getting to know you. What kind of music do you like most?”

Bailey admitted that he didn’t have hugely wide taste in music, mainly contemporary pop and alternative rock. “I like Ed Sheeran, Cold Play and The War On Drugs. Some older rock too, mainly the stuff with great guitar solos.”

“But you knew about “Slip Sliding Away.”

“From my dad. He was a Paul Simon fan, so I heard Kodachrome a million times.

“And you like guitar solos? Like Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin or Dire Straits?”

“Yeah, but don’t ask me to name the song or the guitarist. I’m guessing you’re a big music guy?”

“I like a lot of music and have a big collection. A lot of it’s on CDs, but also a lot of vinyl albums. New releases and old LPs I find in decent shape. Right now, I’m building a new stereo cabinet to hold them.”

“You’re what? Building a stereo cabinet?”

The waiter arrived to take their order, and then Eric continued. “Yeah, building things is not a totally foreign concept, you know. My dad is a psychologist, but he’s also always been a woodworker and had a shop. He started with wood shop classes in high school, something they don’t teach anymore. So, I grew up with him making stuff. Tables, chairs, things my mom wanted like trays or cabinets. I learned a lot along the way, and I think that’s where my attraction for design started. Anyhow, I do some woodworking too.”

“I’m impressed.”

“Well, a lot of it is necessity, the mother of invention, because if you collect and play vinyl LPs, you’ve got to have a turntable and usually a different amp than just for CDs because it’s got to be able to handle two inputs, and if you’re gonna be a purist you’ll want an old tube amp, not a digital one, and then LPs are bigger than CDs so there’s the storage problem. Unless you can find an old stereo cabinet, I mean from the 60’s or 70’s that you like, you just can’t find ones that work anymore. So, it’s easier to design what you want and then build it.”

“Where are you in that process?”

“I’ve got the frame built, next working on the legs and shelving, then comes the big deal, the tambour door. That’s a sliding door that rolls up on the sides.”

“Wow! That’s major. I’m impressed.”

“You should be! But my dad’s helping me a lot. He’s way better and more experienced than me. You’ll have to come see it sometime. My parents want to meet you.”

“You’ve been telling them about me? About the straight boy you’re seeing.”

Eric grinned. “No, I’ve been telling them about this wonderful man I’ve gotten to know that I really like. I dropped a hint about this being your first gay relationship, but I didn’t get into details. That’s our business, not theirs.”

“I’d like to meet them. They sound very cool.”

Their dinner was served and as they ate, Eric glanced up and said, “What would your perfect vacation look like?”

Bailey grinned. “What is this, twenty questions?”

“Kind of, ‘cause it’s a funny thing, if you want to learn about a person there has to be questions and answers. What about that perfect vacation?”

“Well, in high school after my dad went part-time with the used car business, he started taking me places. Like the beach, to Disney World, on a cruise. That’s not much, but it was more than I ever knew before. I guess I don’t know that much about what the options are. What about you?”

The waiter returned and they ordered a second bottle of wine. Eric went on, “Both of my parents studied in Europe, and we’ve taken a few trips. I’d like to do more because if you’re an architect there is so much architecture in Europe. I mean a huge variety and thousands of years of different eras and styles and designs. Would you be up to visit Europe?”

“Well, yeah. It’s always seemed foreign and exotic and way beyond my reach. But now I’ve got a job and I’m seeing this guy who wants to travel in Europe, so maybe it’s workable.”

“Good to hear. I told my mom we’re pretty much on the same page compatibility wise, even if our backgrounds are pretty different. So, have you thought any more about us and you being a sexual creature?”

Bailey felt some heat rise, but smiled widely and said, “Truth? Like every day.”

“And you’re not having second thoughts?”

“I’m here with you on our second date, aren’t I? No, wait. This is our third date. There was the picnic.”

“Good to hear you’re keeping track. I asked for a reason.” The waiter interrupted to clear their dishes.

Eric continued, “My dad gave me an article that’s just about to go to press based on a survey of Zoomers. You know, the Gen Z demographic. We’re both in it, though I only make the cut by a couple of years.”

“Really? No one called me about a survey.”

“Smart-ass. Seriously though, here’s the deal. The demographic data has been changing for the last thirty or forty years. Really slowly at first, then a little faster, and after civil unions and the legalization of same sex marriage, faster still. The older generations are the slowest to change, but the younger ones have grown up with the change. With legalized same-sex marriage. With GSA clubs at school. With friends who are LGB and out. Now remember, fifty years ago the assumption was that less than 4% of men were gay. Back then you could get arrested for holding hands or kissing in public. Are you with me?”

He looked at Bailey for confirmation and received it, and then pressed on. “In July this YouGov poll was done, and it covered over 1,800 American adults. It found that more than 26% of the polled Zoomers said they were something other than straight. That compared with 15% of millennials, 11% of Gen Xers and only 7% of boomers.”

“What does something other than straight really mean?”

“It means sexually fluid. I asked dad, and he said that the old labels and stereotypes of roles and norms and behaviors are changing fast, and the younger the generation the more open and the more accepting.”

Bailey’s eyebrows went up. “So, on top of being a sexual creature, you’re telling me that I’m sexually fluid?

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