Dean, with only a little nudging from Chelsea, did most of the work of forgiveness and reconciliation on his own. What had seemed, while he was possessed with rage and armed with his girlfriend’s lipstick, to be an emotional state rooted deep into his psyche turned out to be mercifully transitory. As the lipstick crumbled around his fingers, so had his relationship with Maggie crumbled with each stroke of vulgar, puerile graffiti. The emotional state would last a little longer than the lipstick.
What he assumed, during the first half of the semester, to be a permanent state of bitterness and fury, had dissolved once immersed in the solvent of reason. Chelsea provided this solvent with her calm and steady questions: ”So you are angry that you are more virile than your friend? How does this differ from your anger that Scott’s guidance was taken from you so precipitously? That you were forced overnight, as it were, to become the alpha of the two Colfax boys? And now the more virile of the two? So what do you think the difference is between your anger at Scott and your anger at Maggie and Gene?”
“Because it was not Scott’s volition to fall from that gym roof but it was Gene’s volition to hook up with Maggie. Choice. That is the difference, and it is a big difference.”
He was right and his reasoning was sound, but, in the end, the only real problem with losing Maggie to Gene was Dean’s wounded pride. And taking ownership of the virility piece was going to take care of that one.
For Dean began to see himself not as the victim of a long-running deceit but as the more spirited horse in the stable. Maggie preferred a gentler ride, while Scilla liked a stallion who could gallop for a while.
As he had avoided sabotaging his own future in order to make Scott feel better for the stupidity of his choices, and just as he had, in the process, assumed the higher-functioning mantle in the extended Colfax family, so did Dean willingly accept that, not only was he the better scholar than Gene, with better time-management skills and better discipline for deferring gratification, but he was also the stud.
Before these insights took hold, the thought of Gene and Maggie being intimate, with their bodies, with their minds, made his heart race wild and irregular. Now the thought of them together calmed him. He was the virile one. In every way. Gene had gotten a vasectomy when he was 18.
Dean, in those early months of his relationship with Scilla, was sure of one thing: the sex was great.
With his erotic needs sated more often than not, he roared through his assignments, got an early start on his thesis, and did the best work he had ever done in his life. And any doubts he had about whether his sex drive was “normal” or “weird” were laid to rest when he followed up on one of Chelsea’s recommendations.
She had suggested he talk to a urologist about his sex drive. The medical professional could check for hormonal abnormalities, give him some idea of what to look for later in life, note any other concerns he should be mindful of. She referred him to Dr. Rasmussen.
During his weekly sessions with Chelsea, Dean tentatively practiced referring to his sex drive with more maturity. This served him well. When he was in Dr. Rasmussen’s examination room, for the first time in his life Dean dealt with his sexuality like a grown-up. No Mr. Lizard nickname for his penis. Such slang had kept his discussions of his experiences locked down in the Privacy-Keep-Out portion of his mind.
You may recall that it was Dr. Rasmussen who reassured Dean that he did, indeed, have a strong sex drive but nothing to be alarmed about, that it would taper off as he matured.
The urologist’s only prescription was to find someone compatible sexually and get into a relationship, maybe marriage, if you are both of a mind.
Scilla was in his life now, and she fit that description.
So a little while later, when Scilla’s pregnancy test came back positive, it did not cause Dean the kind of anxiety that it does most young people when they are startled by such potentially life-changing news.
On the contrary, it calmed him. He was already anxious about another matter. He had been warming up to ask his girlfriend if maybe they might consider moving in together. The struggles with Maggie around this subject had made him reluctant to broach it prematurely. Once burned, twice shy, as the old saying goes.
But with news of the pregnancy, Dean did not have to screw up his courage to get that issue on the table. Scilla was either going to have an abortion, or a baby. The debate was over almost before it began. Pros were thrown on the table, cons thrown beside them. A few what if this and what if that questions thrown there, too. Then, with a little bit of nervous relief, they embraced. Life won. Let’s take the plunge. Hey, why not?
Yes, it was that simple.
Though they had been reasonably cautious, the sheer number of orgasms they had treated one another to had raised the odds that they would conceive. There might have been a condom that came loose. Neither could quite remember when that might have been.
Dean, judging from Dr. Rasmussen’s thorough workup, was bursting with lively sperm. Virile. The alpha. The Man. His pride, wounded from sexual problems, had been healed by sexual success.
By this time, his friendship with Gene and Maggie had been made whole again. He had a partner who understood his needs; he had a marriage to plan and a life to plan and a kid on the way. And two great old/new friends he now felt deep affection for.
And Dean would never forget what Gene had told him by way of explanation for their debacle: The heart speaks its own language.
If we were able to use the term more with irony than pretension, we might say that what has been presented in the foregoing episodes could be seen as the Gene Cassidiad. It is the tool we ask you to employ as you consider whether or not Gene Cassidy was, in fact, Dean’s most prudent choice for stewardship of the little deerskin bag.
Any such speculation may shift, as our characters make their choices of commission and omission and move into the near future. But we do invite speculation, as we reveal how they cope with what remains of 2011, and on into their options and challenges of 2012.
Movement, where is the movement? We have sought to provide backstory for these Cassidys and Colfaxes, part of what has brought the players in our drama to late 2011. And because life in early autumn of 2011 was going along with little to further the changes in the lives of our main characters, we took advantage of the lull to give you this Cassidiad.
But late in October, there were signs of shift.
Bay Area weather was typically splendid, especially toward the end of the month. The holiday season approached. As the nascent Occupy Movement began to spread, it spawned conversations, more in progressive than conservative homes but in many of those, their disdain was mitigated by sympathy for the message of the campers.
In late October and into November, our four clumsy teenagers deepened the tangles of their foray into the quest for gratifying connections with the opposite sex.
And as the fall season deepened, the FOSOA picked up a new member, even as it discovered an ingenious way to satisfy those Outlaw Science needs while reluctantly accommodating Ms. Aldhouse, the new teacher assigned to replace Martin Glendenning in the Dual Discipline, Advanced Placement Science courses.
Penelope Aldhouse watched Harlan and Ward very closely. Headmaster Pennington had told her about some rumors circulating, summer experiments with black powder. Check out Dixon’s earlobe; it was not like that when he left for summer.
Pennington also told Ms. Aldhouse about a problem with the science fair, the unauthorized slide show presented while wearing Hout Hats. He tried his “science fiction fair” phrase on her. She was not as amused as he remembered Dean being. But that was, for Pennington, a decent trade-off, to be rid of Glendenning and his culture of permissiveness.
With all these temptations, all of these savory tales, to pull our attention deeper into our narrative, we put them aside, for now, to rejoin Scilla as she makes her preparations for the Christmas party on Regan Street.
Toward the end of October, Priscilla found a good reason to call Flo, a reason that made the call not a nag or a guilt-trip on her sister. Scilla had a delicate dance to perform. She needed to keep Flo from making some other plan.
She could imagine that some decrepit old person would suddenly appear from Hank’s side of the family with a threat: It might be her last Christmas. Such a ploy would trump the Colfax reunion. Scilla needed assurance.
She found the reason to call Flo in a conversation with Artis following an e-mail sent to the Cartfalers, notifying them that all charges had been dropped against Dr. Hank. It was so predictable that Flo would choose not to copy her on that e-mail, so that Scilla had to hear about it from Artis. But Scilla only emitted a little impatient sigh.
She could have become petulant and scoldy and sent an e-mail to Flo that upbraided her for the slight. But, as simplistic as Scilla’s scope of comprehension was around human relations, she knew this would not increase her chances to get the family together on Regan Street for the holiday.
She decided that in this good news there could be found an opportunity to open up a phone conversation with Flo.
The purpose, on the surface, would be congratulations and some well-rehearsed empathy for their release from legal jeopardy.
The deeper purpose, though, would be, now that Flo had their money, now that the case had been resolved, to calm Scilla’s suspicions that her free-living sister would reject her offer and destroy Scilla’s plans for the best Islenest Christmas ever.
The time had come to place that call.
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