My friend recently came out to his family about his kinks and the world didn’t end. I was lamenting how I could not do the same, and he offered to come with me and be my backup if I ever decide to tell them.
He’s a really, really good friend.
Here’s how I imagine the conversation before the conversation would go:
phi: Hi papi.
Dad: HI! Wow! It’s so good to hear your voice!
phi: Thanks. So. What city are you in right now?
Dad: Right now we are on our way home from…
phi: No, I mean, which home? Are you in Texas or California?
Dad: Oh. We’re in California.
phi: Great. You guys busy for dinner tonight?
Dad: We would love to have you over! We could invite your brother and the kids and our neighbors and….
phi: OK. I’m coming over for dinner. Don’t invite anybody else, though. I want to talk about something important.
Dad: Oh – do you have a boyfriend?
phi: No, it’s not that.
Dad: Are we having grandchildren?
phi: No, it’s not that. I’ll see you tonight and we’ll talk about it then.
Dad: Hang on. Mom wants to talk to you.
Mom: Long time no talk!
phi: I talked to you three days ago.
Mom: But you never call me anymore.
phi: The phone works both ways, mom.
Mom: I know, but you’re always so busy.
phi: Yes. Which is why I haven’t talked to you in three days.
Mom: Okay. Okay. Don’t bite my head off.
phi: I’m not biting your head off. I’m pointing out that three days is not a long time and if you wanted to talk to me sooner you could have called me.
Mom: Anyway. Papi says you’re coming over tonight?
Mom: And you want to talk about something?
Mom: What is it?
phi: I’ll talk to you about it tonight.
Mom: Does it have to do with a boyfriend?
phi: NO. Oh my gosh, mom. I’ll talk to you about it tonight. That’s the whole reason I’m coming over.
Mom: Oh, so you’re not coming over just to see us?
Mom: Can you hear me?
Mom: Just tell me. Do you have a boyfriend?
phi: No, I don’t have a boyfriend.
Mom: And you’re not pregnant.
phi: If I were we’d have to change religions ’cause I’m still not having sex, mom.
Mom: Oh, phi.
Mom: What time you coming over?
phi: After work. I’m bringing someone with me.
phi: A friend.
Mom: Is it Lisa?
phi: No, another friend. You haven’t met him.
Mom: It’s Andrew.
phi: Yes, it’s him.
Mom: But he’s not your boyfriend.
phi: NO. He’s not my boyfriend.
Mom: And you’re not pre-…
phi: HE IS JUST A FRIEND I AM NOT PREGNANT.
Mom: OK OK! Sheesh. You don’t have to get so upset! No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend!
phi: I think I’m changing my mind about all of this.
Mom: All of what? What’s the big secret?
phi: MOM. Please respect that I’m want to share something with you and I would like to do it in person and stop asking me for details now.
Mom: But if he’s not your boyfriend and you’re not pregnant, why is he coming?
phi: You’ll understand later! I have to go! hangs up
A conversation with my parents – The meeting
doorbell rings. dogs bark incessantly
PHI: (to friend) Brace yourself.
FRIEND: You go this.
PHI: Yeah, but you…
FRIEND: I got this.
MOM AND DAD: HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!
PHI: Hi. hugs and kisses Mom, Dad, this is my friend Andrew. Andrew, this is mom and dad.
FRIEND: Pleasure to meet you.
MOM: goes in for the hug with a nervous chuckle she’s trying to mask as welcoming and friendly, which it is but also it’s nervous Hi! So great to meet you. We rarely get to meet any of phi’s friends.
PHI: You’ve met lots of my friends.
MOM: Yeah, but not the ones you talk about the most.
PHI: mutters under breath Yeah, we’ll get to that.
DAD: Who wants wine?
PHI: Dear God Yes. Now. Me. Yes. Wine. Excellent.
FRIEND: Wine sounds great.
DAD: Excellent, I’ve just opened a bottle.
PHI: muttering more like the second bottle…
MOM: menacingly phi….
PHI: raises eyebrow
MOM: Yeah, okay it’s the second bottle.
ALL make their way to the kitchen area. FRIEND follows DAD ahead of MOM and PHI
MOM: es guapo.
MOM: cuantos años tiene?
MOM: I’m just asking.
MOM: no tiene novia?
PHI: Papi, the wine. Make it a double.
DAD: Nervous laughter, troll grin Ok, You got it!
FRIEND: (because he has manners and was raised right) You have a lovely home.
MOM: Oh, Thank you. (starts mentally picking out china patterns)
PHI: drinks half the glass in one gulp
FAST FORWARD THROUGH DINNER DURING WHICH BOTH PARENTS ASK FRIEND MANY POINTED QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS FAMILY, LIFE, AND AMBITIONS. THEY ARE FULL ON INTERVIEWING HIM FOR HUSBANDHOOD AND I AM DRINKING. HEAVILY. FRIEND REACHES HIS FOOT OVER TO TOUCH MY FOOT UNDER THE TABLE AS IF TO SAY ‘I CAN HANDLE THIS’. I AM EMBARRASSED AS FUCK.
DAD: Who wants cappuccino?
PHI: Before that, I think I’m ready now.
PHI: (looks at friend, gets a nod and continues) Remember when [late husband] and I took you to dinner in Ojai with his mom and told you about his life as a pornographer and how the magazine he worked at was part of the adult industry?
MOM: Oh My God you’re a porn star.
DAD: Thank God.
PHI: I just want you to remember that you were upset after we told you and it took you about a week before you spoke to us again. And eventually it became a big joke and it stopped bothering you so much.
MOM: Phi, just tell us.
PHI: OK. Remember when we cleaned out the garage and we saw all those books on bondage and BDSM and I said I had a friend that was into that stuff and instead of donating those books I would give them to that friend?
DAD: looks at FRIEND
MOM: looks at FRIEND You’re that friend?
FRIEND: squeezes PHI’S hand
PHI: I kept the books. They’re mine. They were always mine. I’m the one that’s into that stuff.
DAD: face just goes slack and registers no emotion
PHI: becomes enthralled with her own cuticles
FRIEND: I’m here because I met phi because we both share this …uh…interest. It’s part of who we are. I’ve known phi for a while now and she’s an amazing person. You should be proud of the daughter you’ve raised.
MOM: looks at phi, raises eyebrows
PHI: He’s still not my boyfriend. Stoppit.
MOM: We are proud of her.
DAD: I don’t understand, what is the point of telling us?
PHI: I didn’t want to keep lying to you. You guys ask so many questions about where i’m going and who i’m with and what do we do and how do I know people. I want you to either stop asking or ask knowing that the answer i’m going to give you isn’t what you want to hear. I hate lying, so I tell you nothing.
MOM: Have you tried therapy?
FRIEND: This isn’t something either of us wants to “cure.”
MOM: But it’s not normal.
FRIEND: It’s more normal than most people imagine.
PHI: There’s something else.
MOM: ahora que?
PHI: I told you guys I’ve been doing some writing, and I read some of them to you. I know you noticed there were a lot I didn’t want to read to you.
PHI: Because they were about stuff like this. Because I wasn’t ready to share it. But listen, I’m really proud of it. Of the writing. I want to be able to share some of it more publicly and with that comes the risk that it will find its way to you.
DAD: switches wine glasses with MOM because she never finishes hers
PHI: Do you guys need some time to process this?
DAD: Maybe we do.
MOM: Phi. We love you. You know that. But this…
FRIEND: Mr. and Mrs. is-me, I think it’s important to know that phi is very safe, has a very good group of friends, and that there are a lot of people out there, including me, who respect and care about her the way any parent would want to respect and care for their child. But phi is not a child. She’s an adult.
MOM: No, I know, but…
DAD: How did we raise a daughter to make so many bad choices?
PHI: You don’t want me to answer that.
MOM: What? We were bad parents? I was a bad mother?
PHI: No…I…. never mind.
FRIEND: Maybe it’s best you give them time to process this information like you suggested, PHI. We can go now.
DAD: Yeah, you should go now.
PHI: eyeroll Fine. Just, next time you ask me if I’m busy and I say yes and I don’t volunteer the information about what I’m doing – don’t press for it.
MOM: I don’t press…
DAD: Yes you do.
PHI: Yes you do.
DOGS: Yes you do.
PHI: I’m sorry if this news has hurt you. I hope you learn to accept it.
DAD: I don’t know if I can accept it. But I love you.
PHI: That’s about as much as I could ask.
ONE WEEK LATER
DAD: We’re having a bunch of people over for a BBQ Saturday night. Come join us.
PHI: Oh, ..thanks. Sorry, I have plans for Saturday night with friends.
DAD: So…what you’re saying, is you’re going to be a little tied up?
And that’s pretty much how it would go.