Gibraldi Charmane had enough going for him. He’d breezed through high school easily even while chairing the chess club and running a profitable Internet music discussion blog. His parents, who afforded him great latitude in the decision making realm, had just given him a brand new Mustang and a credit card with a five grand limit. Every day another letter arrived informing him of yet another university he’d been accepted into, and his college fund was stuffed with cash. All he had to do was kill off a couple months of summer in some memorable fashion, and then his life would start in earnest.
Many plans entered his mind and were dismissed just as rapidly as they came. Gibraldi fired up another hooter, poured another shot of Jack Daniels, and cranked up his Ipod volume to three-quarters. Outside his bedroom window full night had fallen, but the waning moon shone just enough to highlight the lines of his Mustang parked below him in the driveway. He wrote, car, on the legal pad in his lap, and returned to staring outside. Reflecting off the window glass, his eye was drawn to TV screen running the Eharmony ad. He wrote, girls, on the legal pad. Just then Gibraldi’s cell phone alert sounded. It was a text from Martin who was accusing him of being gay for not going out trolling in the Mustang tonight. Gibraldi smiled, then wrote, gay, on the legal pad. The primary components of his equation were now established and clear.
After staying up most the night plotting out his devilish little scheme, Gibraldi was almost not surprised when first thing in the morning his parents announced a six week trip to Italy to rekindle their marriage. They hoped he wouldn’t mind. He told them he was flattered that they trusted him. Gibraldi wondered if this is what destiny was all about? After telling him that Uncle John would be checking up on him regularly, and that he was not allowed to throw any wild parties, his parents left him alone with his thoughts.
The research had not taken long at all. After but a few hours on the Google machine, Gibraldi had mapped out numerous prospective targets and was building an itinerary based on geography and interstate highways. Next he plotted out the various motels and restaurants local to such organizations. Finally, he plotted out on a map of the Midwest from the junk drawer using a pink highlighter every stop he could possibly make in the amount of time he might have. Then, he scribbled down a list of camp sites he could tell his Uncle John he was camping at with his buddies. The plan was coming together nicely.
Gibraldi learned that “Conversion Therapy” was what they called it. Wikipedia said, Conversion therapy (also known as reparative therapy by its proponents) is a range of pseudo-scientific treatments that aim to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Further searching revealed that some states were banning this practice. One place in Memphis used what they called the “healing touch”, but there was a picture of two guys hugging so Gibraldi quickly moved on. Some preacher down in Virginia claimed petting horses could cure homosexuality, and Gibraldi moved on from that one, too. The third site led him to a clinic in Grand Rapids that had a toll free number, so he dialed.
Female Voice: God bless you. This is the Christian Network Conversion Clinic.
Female Voice: My name is, Rhoda. How may I assist you?
Gibraldi: I don’t really know. I am just curious.
Rhoda: I understand. We get that a lot around here. Are you having questions about your sexuality?
Rhoda: Maybe you would feel more comfortable talking with Reverend Croin.
Gibraldi: I think I would.
Rhoda: Just hold on a second, Dear. The Reverend will be right with you.
Gibraldi almost hung up, but before he could another voice came on the phone. It was definitely a man, and one who was for sure middle-aged. His voice was pleasant enough so Gibraldi soldiered on.
Reverend Croin: God bless you, my son. Rhoda tells me you are a bit shy.
Reverend Croin: You need not worry, son. I am very experienced with this sort of thing. I assure you, we are completely confidential. However, I do have to ask you one thing before we can proceed. How old are you?
Gibraldi: I turned eighteen last month.
Reverend Croin: Very good. Usually we set up appointments over the phone.
Reverend Croin: Good. When can you come in?
Gibraldi: About any time, I guess. You’re only a few hours away.
Reverend Croin: Well, we happen to have an opening tomorrow. Can you make it then?
Gibraldi: What time?
Reverend Croin: Two o’clock.
Gibraldi: I can make it then.
Reverend Croin: Great! Do you know how to get here?
Gibraldi: I have a GPS in my car.
Reverend Croin: Great! All I’ll need is a name.
Girbraldi: Um, Jack. Jack Mehoffer.
Reverend Croin: Excellent, Jack. We’ll see you tomorrow at two.
The name had just popped into Gibraldi’s head from a short story he’d read online a week before. It was about some guy who had perfected a way to make a monkey play drums. It seemed fitting, mused Gibraldi reaching for his legal pad. He had a lot of planning to do.
The Clinic was not hard to find. Gibraldi arrived thirty minutes early and studied the building from across the street. He was wearing a pink button down shirt and khaki pants and deck shoes. He walked in with five minutes to spare and was greeted immediately by Rhoda who took him to a small conference room decorated with religious artifacts and paintings. Rhoda could stand to lose a few pounds, thought Gibraldi as he took a padded chair by the window, but she certainly was courteous. A few seconds later Reverend Croin entered and Rhoda left. He sat across from Gibraldi, extended his hand and formally introduced himself. After a bit of small talk, he got right to the point.
Reverend Croin: Jack, I have to ask you some very personal questions now, and it is important you are totally truthful.
Gibraldi: I understand.
Reverend Croin: Jack, have you ever acted on any of your feelings about boys?
Gibraldi: No. I mean, I just think about it a lot.
Reverend Croin: Well, that is good, Jack. No real damage has been done yet. I am sure we can get you turned around in no time.
Gibraldi: Wow! That would be great, the sooner the better.
Reverend Croin: Tell you what, Jack. Why don’t you come by tonight around seven, and you can attend the prayer group. That is the first step in the process. We pray on the problem and then have fellowship.
Gibraldi: I could do that.
Reverend Croin: Good, Jack. I’ll see you back here at seven.
After securing a nearby motel room, Gibraldi spend the rest of the afternoon watching movies and surfing the Internet. At six he showered and the put on the gayest outfit he could find in his limited wardrobe, then burned a fat one just to get his mojo on. Before leaving his room his sloshed on too much aftershave and combed his hair to perfection.
Reverend Croin was waiting for him in the foyer. He took him directly back to the conference room where seven girls sat bowed in prayer, and left. Not knowing what else to do, Gibraldi took a chair and pretended to pray, as well. It only lasted a few minutes, and then the blonde with the ice blue eyes said, Amen. Suddenly, Gibraldi found himself the focal point of all seven girls. It was all he could do to fight off erections for the next twenty minutes. He coughed a lot and adjusted his legs. Finally the blonde with icy eyes said, “Well, Jack there is a natural trail behind the building here and your first task is to take one of us walking with you. If you can’t pick, one of us will volunteer.”
Gibraldi or Jack had to think about this for a moment. Icy eyes was having none of that.
“Okay, Jack I volunteer to take you.” A few seconds later they were moving down a wood chip trail admiring bushes and fake rabbits and flowers and stuff. Blonde icy eye girl never shut up for a second. Suddenly Gibraldi found himself standing before a bench in an alcove of saplings. Turning to blonde girl he said, “Do you want to sit down?” She did.
I am not a sex writer, so I won’t attempt such narrative here. Let it suffice it to say that Gibraldi enjoyed the experience and wanted very much to partake repeatedly, which worked out well since there was no shortage of willing partners. Gibraldi stayed for three days, was pronounced cured by Reverend Croin, and left out with a copy of the Bible with signatures from every girl he knew there, Biblically, that is. Whatever. So, Gibraldi drives home and you have to know what he is thinking about.
Long story short it became late August and to put it mildly Gibraldi had gotten his mojo on extensively that summer. In fact, on this day he was on his way to the last of his coital destinations when a wave of depression passed over him. The last one, he thought, and then it’s over. Might as well go out with a bang!
Oh he went out with a bang alright! After suffering through all the introductions and program descriptions and such, Gibraldi was finally escorted into the waiting room by a steaming hot young lady with chestnut colored hair and a slinky red dress. There was another couple in the room but Gibraldi was 100% focused on that red dress right up to the time she walked out of the room. He let out a sigh and then noticed the couple on the love seat across the room. They looked surprised, or even shocked. They were his parents!
Jumping to his feet Gibraldi screamed, “What the Hell are you doing here?”
Obviously, they were still too shocked to speak. They kept pointing at him, and then each other and shaking their heads and pointing again. It was so bizarre! You can imagine for yourselves how that conversation progress so I won’t bore you with it here. Not even a glimmer of sanity returned until they were back at the family home, in the kitchen almost whispering, the next day. Gibraldi finally convinced them he was not gay, just a bit too clever at best and a complete asshole at worst. Either way, he wasn’t gay. So, what about you, Dad? Mom? What the fuck? Dad was gay, or at least Mom had caught him surfing gay porn on his laptop and went plum nucking futs. Dad admitted to being curious, but claimed he never acted on it. Gibraldi held up his hands and said, “Don’t care, don’t want to know, I’m going out for some pizza.” And that is how it ended right there for the time being. Pizza.
It was ten years later before the subject was ever breached, and it was brought up by Dad no less. He’d peeled Gibraldi off to the back corner of the yard where he said he wanted to put in a sandstone fireplace. Gibraldi thought nothing of it until the Old Dad said, “I’m not building any stinking fireplace here, Son. I brought you back here because I think it is time I cleared something up with you before something happens and you never have the chance to know the real truth.”
“The real truth?” asked Gibraldi suspiciously.
“Yeah, about me and that gay conversion place.”
“Um, Dad it’s none of my business.”
Dad thought it was and started explaining what really happened. He told his son how he became sexually tired by his mother. How she was just boring and didn’t want to get her freak on. He didn’t want to cheat on her because that might break her heart and she did not deserve that one bit. But, he had these urges and they were getting harder and harder to reign in.
“Jesus, Dad!” Gibraldi figured he’d heard enough, but Dad was of a different opinion. He told Gibraldi about when his mother and he had thought their some was a mite gayish. Now, they didn’t act on it but they did a tremendous amount of research into the subject and that is where Dad came upon his solution to his second problem in life. The best way, he decided, was to get Mom to suggest it herself. A few romps on some gay web sites did the trick. A little finagle this and finagle that later and a trip to Italy and Dad was slipping into the stranger zone with not only Mom’s blessing but her encouragement, too! It was a win-win situation. As a result the marriage was saved because the sex got better because Mom didn’t want to lose her man and found enlightenment via three nine volt batteries and a miniature flywheel.
Staring down into the depths of his beer can Gibraldi wondered how he could ever wash the imagery of his Dad’s story from the walls of his brains. While he was pondering that dilemma Dad posed another. “Hey Son, you got a fat one to burn?”