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I closed the door to the sun porch. “Marc. What the hell? This – this is supposed to be you meeting my parents. Like, you know, the next serious step in our relationship.”
Marc folded himself on the sofa and propped his head up with his hand. “He was disrespecting you.”
“But that doesn’t give you the authority to punch my father!”
“Well I had to do something!” Marc nearly shouted. “No one was going to do anything. You think by just saying ‘dad’ between your teeth has any repercussion?”
I was pacing at this point. “My dad is an old boomer who is getting older, Marc. He’s not going to magically change his boomer thinking, and he’s not going to magically see the light of day. I told you my dad has some conservative ideas.”
“But those weren’t conservative ideas!” Marc retorts. “That was negging. He was putting you down. Passively aggressively. You look hurt. It upset me.”

I paused my pacing at the tone in his voice. “I looked hurt?”
“Yeah, you looked wounded. You pulled back a little.”
“Yeah,” Marc gestured. “See that’s the thing. If some hot guy dissed you at a bar like that? I’d punch him. Hands down.”
“There are other ways to react than violence, Marc.”
Marc sighed. He looked at his red knuckles. “I’ve made Thanksgiving a little awkward haven’t I?”
“A little.” I crossed my arms. “Listen, I don’t mind you standing up for me. But this cannot be a trend. Cause if we are going to stay together, we’re gonna run into my parents sometimes. They’re not cool and liberal like your parents.”
“You think my parents are cool?” Marc asked with one eyebrow up.
“Um yeah, your dad’s got that Corvette and all those birds. He’s super cool.”
Marc chuckled. “He’ll be happy to hear that.”

“I bet. But Marc, seriously. You need to think about how you want to move forward with this. Starting with apologizing to my father for hitting him.”
Marc’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not apologizing for that.”
“So we’re just never gonna bring this up over Thanksgiving dinner? It’ll just sit on the table, next to the turkey, taking up room?”

Marc sighed again. I walk over to where his bare feet are propped up on the arm of the small sofa and began to rub one of them. When I dug my thumbs into his sole he groaned. “Goddammit,” Marc said. He leaned back. I watched until his shoulders relaxed. I let Marc think. I had moved on to the other foot when he broke his silence.

“I will apologizing for hitting him,” Marc says.
I lifted my head. “You will?”
“Yeah. Cause this isn’t the hill I want to die on. I don’t want this to be the crack that crumbles this relationship.”
I smiled as relief flooded through me. “I’m pleased to hear you say that.”

After a bit more talking, we left the sun room and walked back into the kitchen. My father was sitting at the kitchen table with his ice to his cheek. My mother was stirring gravy. When we came in, they both looked up at us. I felt like a little boy whose friend had thrown a ball in the house and broken a lamp.

“Dad, Marc has something he want to say to you.”
“It better be-” My dad started.
“Bob. Hush. Let him speak.”
I gave a glance of gratitude to my mom.

Marc exhaled. “Sir. I apologize for punching you in the face.”
“Damn straight-”
My attention snapped to Marc. Oh no, this wasn’t in the script. I think my mother could see the panic on my face.
Marc didn’t waver at all. “I am dating your son. And you did a fine job of raising him. Jeff’s successful, thoughtful, creative, funny, and sweet. I care about him a lot. And he cares about you both, and I understand that as we’re dating, that means sometimes it involves Bob and Helen. But I will not stand by and listen to you disrespect him, unfairly, because he doesn’t confirm to whatever standards you think should define his life. You don’t get to choose who he dates and what either of us does for a living. We do.”
My jaw dropped. I must have looked like a fish.
“The audacity of you telling me what I can and can’t do in my own house! What I can say or not say to my son is not your decision to make.” Bob stood up from the table, face red.

I was torn between wanting to fling myself into Marc’s arms like a fairy tale princess and jumping between them for damage control.

“It’s not, but I wouldn’t be a good boyfriend if I stood by while someone hurt his feelings.” Marc replied.
“It’s constructive criticism. I didn’t hurt his feelings.”
“You did, Bob.” Helen said. “You did. You say hurtful things sometimes. You mean well, but you could be nicer. Who cares what Marc or Jeff does for a living? Jeff pays his rent. He bought me that nice Hermes scarf for Christmas last year. He’s fine.”
Bob gawked at her.
Helen harrumphed. “This is all so silly. It’s Thanksgiving. My son is here, we have company, I’m starving, and the turkey has been sitting enough, Bob. Carve the damn thing so we can eat ok? Please? I don’t feel like mothering three sons tonight. That’s why I only had one.” She slammed the lid back on the gravy, making everyone jump.

Marc met my gaze and mouthed. “I love her.”
I smothered a giggle.
Bob sighed. “Fine. I’m hungry too. But we’re going to talk about this later.” Bob pointed a finger at Marc. He walked into the kitchen toward the turkey, muttering.

I pulled Marc into the hallway outside of the kitchen.
“Sorry, it just kind of came out-” Marc stammered.
I cupped his face in my hands and kissed him hard.
“Mmnn!” Marc squeaked in surprise, but quickly got with the program.
I slid my fingers around the back of his neck to deepen it. We both reluctantly broke for breath.
“That. Was amazing. No one has ever stood up for me like that before.”
Marc blushed. “Well, I, it kind of just came out….”
“When we go to bed tonight, I’m checking the size of your balls because I do not remember them being that huge.”
Marc blushed. His stomach grumbled.

I adjusted his shirt and we walked back into the kitchen together. Marc swooped in with helping plate the table, and he complimented my mother on how great everything smelled. When we finally ate, he complimented how juicy the meat was. Even Bob looked pleased about that. I spent most of the meal watching Marc instead of anything else. I think I missed putting the fork in my mouth once, because I was just so utterly smitten with him. How did I get so lucky? A little butterfly started fluttering around my mind. If he could handle Battleax Bob, then …well, maybe there was a chance Marc and I could get married one day.

Captions are fictional. It turns out if you want to find a photo of a guy in a shirt, just search for “men in shirts” on Tumblr.


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