Today I am driving my son back to an out-of-town summer job. It is cool to take a road trip alone with him, just enjoying each other’s presence.
We don’t talk much — he is more quiet and reserved than I was at 16. He either sleeps or listens to his music on his Ipod. I have to pat his arm and make him pull out the earplug when I have something to say.
“Hey, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m a little hungry. Can we pull over?”
We are about an hour from our destination but I want to gas up. So we pull into one of those gas stations that has a mini-mart and a fast-food restaurant inside. We go back outside and I eat my Arby’s roast beef sandwich and he eats his chicken fingers on the car hood — him standing on the passenger side and me on the driver’s side.
I am over six feet and my son is already two inches taller than me. Lanky. Dressed in his usual khaki cargo shorts and tee-shirt.
I know he has overheard my wife saying I am gay. She has urged me to let the children know. I have talked to my family therapist and he says tell the kids when I am ready. Today I am ready. And I am nervous as hell.
“Son, I have something to tell you,” I begin.
“I am bisexual. That is part of the reason why I separated from your mother but also our marriage was not good. We grew apart. But your mother is a good woman.”
“You see son some men are totally into women and some are really into men,” I say, motioning my hands to try to represent the Kinsey scale.
I stop talking. I tell him he can ask me any question he wants and if he feels shy just email me the question or text me on my cellphone and I will answer. I think he just said “Okay.”
We keep eating. “Hey Dad, do you want some more horseradish to go on your sandwich?,” he asks, as if nothing had happened.
We jump back in the car. He can be a surly teenager sometimes but now I feel his attitude toward me has shifted. He seems more calm around me, more at ease. He shares some beef jerky with me and we talk about football and whether Lil Wayne, who is playing constantly on all the urban stations we find, is really a good rapper or not.
“Why did I wait so long to do this,” I wonder to myself. “He probably already knew but I guess he just wanted me to talk to him.”