Double Dating With The Parents - Version Bravo
Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16
You are reading version Bravo of a two version story. If you read version Alpha, things will seem familiar in the beginning of this book, because the two versions share a lot of text for the first few chapters as the story is set up. Then things change and the plot plays out in an entirely different fashion. There are subtle differences between the early chapters of the two books, which support the different directions in which things go, so it is recommended that you read everything carefully, even if it seems familiar. Beginning with the end of chapter four, it won't be familiar any more.
"Dad? When can I
Bob Thurlow looked over
his shoulder at his daughter, Amanda, who was supposed to be doing homework at
the kitchen table while he prepared their supper.
exactly, requires you to contemplate your dating future?" he asked, dryly.
them," she said. Mandy was a very practical girl, and didn't go in much
for sarcasm. Actually, she had a hard time recognizing sarcasm. She took
"Do your homework
now. We'll talk about what decade you can start dating in, while we eat,"
"Decade? You can't
be serious, Daddy. The next decade doesn't start for five more years!"
said Bob, smugly.
"I can't date until
I'm twenty?!" The outrage in her voice was genuine.
homework and we'll negotiate during supper. I might let you out of the house
with a boy when you're nineteen. Maybe."
She finally got it. He
didn't tease her all that much, like Jennifer's father did. Jennifer was her
best friend, and her father teased her all the time. Most of what Amanda had
learned about teasing in her relatively short life had come from Jennifer's
dad. But her own daddy didn't act like that very often. In fact, in Amanda's
opinion, her father wasn't like "most men", at least not like the
fathers her friends all described. Nor did he match the description of men she
kept hearing about from other sources. She had heard the phrase "men all
just want one thing" many times, and she'd seen evidence of that in most
of the boys she knew. There were also several men she was acquainted with, who
displayed those qualities that most girls get warned about in one way or
another. Those were the men who looked at her in ways that made her get
shivers down her spine, now and then.
But not her dad. He
didn't date. He didn't go out to bars and pick up women, or try to meet them in any other fashion. As far as she could
tell, he had no sex drive at all. Other than being a teacher, all he ever did
was go out to that dirty, nasty Boggy Creek place, where he worked with other
volunteers to "reclaim" it. He always came back filthy and stinky,
which was why she always said, "No thanks!" when he invited her to
come along and become a volunteer too.
She still had questions,
but she knew he wouldn't answer them until he was ready. So she got back to
her algebra and finished the problems Miss Thompson had assigned. She found
those problems ridiculously easy, which was probably why her mind had wandered
off to think about Jack Ross. Jack was in her social studies class, which
Mister Hardy taught. Mister Hardy, in fact, was one of those men she knew who did
display all the traits of the "horny male" she'd heard so much
about. He was forever checking out the girls in his class. He also flirted
with them, though that was as far as he took it, at least as far as she knew.
He also loved to talk about how different cultures looked at sex, and went on
and on about that in class.
She'd found boys
interesting for years. But not like Jack Ross. Jack made her stomach feel
funny, when he smiled at her or said "Hi" in the halls, or in class.
Just today she had found herself wishing he was in her physical science class,
so they could be lab partners.
And that was what had
made her think about dating.
ready?" asked Bob.
said, slamming the book closed. She scooped up all her books and stuffed them
back into her back pack. She dropped it by the door, where she would pick it
up on her way out the next morning.
Without being told to,
she slipped easily into her role in the two person family that she belonged
to. She quickly set the table as her father scooped the hamburger helper from
the skillet into a bowl. The microwave beeped, and she went to it to remove
the green beans she hadn't heard her father put in there. Next she snagged the
bread from the counter, leaving it in the bag so it wouldn't dry out, and
dropped that in its accustomed place on the table. Finally she got the butter
from the fridge and set it by the bread.
They sat down at the
same time, automatically reaching to hold hands as they bowed their heads and
Bob said grace.
She ate a few forkfuls
of each thing on her plate, and buttered a piece of bread, before she judged it
was safe to probe again.
"So ... when can I
"What brings this
on?" he asked.
"I don't know. All
my friends are dating already."
"Well, all your
friends shouldn't be dating," he said. "Not at fifteen. That's too
asked. His opinion didn't upset her, exactly. She just wondered why he felt
"When boys and
girls get together in private, Mother Nature has plans for them," said
"You're talking about
procreation," said Amanda. While sarcasm might fly right past her, she
wasn't stupid by any stretch of the imagination.
"But I don't want
to procreate," said Amanda. "I just want to go on a date."
"What do you mean?
Why does anybody want to go on a date? To have fun with a boy I like. Duh,
asked Bob. "I haven't heard you talk about any boys before this."
"There has to be a
first time for everything, Daddy," she said.
For the first time she
felt nervous. Her young mind recognized that this moment was important.
Things could go in different ways. When she had brought the subject up, it had
been an amorphous, foggy kind of subject. "Dating" hadn't mean much at
that point. But now, things were getting specific. What if he didn't like
Jack? Was Jack in any of the English classes he taught at Pine Valley Junior High
School? What if he said no? Suddenly, it mattered. She felt the pressure of
making a decision that could have consequences she wouldn't like.
does it make?" she asked, evasively.
Bob had always tried to
shoot straight with his daughter. She had only been a month old when her
mother, Trudy, presumably because of post-partum depression, had taken half a
dozen too many sleeping pills. The death certificate said
"accidental" on it, but she had been much too intelligent to overdose
that way by accident.
In any case, he had been
left to raise his daughter and, without a mother to help, he'd had to fill both
roles in the little girl's life. Because of that, he'd been very open and
frank with her. He hadn't hidden anything from her about her mother, or life
in general. It was his opinion that a child forewarned was a child more likely
There was one exception
to this rule. He had never had "the talk" with her. When she'd
started having periods, he had told her what that meant, and what to do about
it, but it had all been very scientific, going so far as to look everything up
on the internet so she could see what ovaries, and a womb, and everything
associated looked like, and where they were, and how they fit into her life as
But he'd never talked to
her about erotic intimacy. It was the one area of life that was "too
hard" for him to take on.
That didn't mean he
wasn't aware that, sooner or later, he'd have to discuss such things
with her. He just kept making that later. Even now, he tried to push that
discussion further down the road.
"It matters because
if you like this boy, and he's the wrong kind of boy, that can turn out
"What does that
mean?" she pressed.
"It means that kids
your age, when given time alone, are tempted to explore things they aren't
emotionally ready for," he said, frustrated.
"So you mean, like,
I should group date?" she asked.
Bob blinked. This was a
term that was new to him. He hated to show his ignorance, but glossing over
things might turn out badly in the future.
"What is group
dating?" he asked.
"Well, duh. It's
when a bunch of kids all go out together."
"Well ... yeah. I
guess so," said Amanda.
"So instead of two
kids being tempted to explore things, there are five pairs of them all setting
a bad example for each other," said Bob.
"Well, none of them
are alone," her literal side pointed out.
"Have you ever
heard the word orgy?" asked Bob, being sarcastic. It had been an impulse,
and he immediately wished he hadn't given in to it.
"Daddy! Ewwww!" she squealed.
"Group dating is
not what I meant," said Bob, secretly elated at her response. "My
point is that when young people are paired up, and there is no adult
supervision to guide them, they usually find it tempting to explore things that
even a lot of adults control poorly. You've heard of the underage
drinking parties that go on in town, right?"
"And have you ever
been invited to one?"
she said again.
That took him by
surprise. He'd been on a roll, but it was one of those rolls where a pebble
starts downhill and then gets out of control.
"Sure, Daddy. They
usually have one somewhere every Friday night."
Father," said Amanda soberly.
Images were going
through his mind. Amanda wasn't allowed to date yet, but that didn't mean she
was kept a prisoner in the castle. She went on sleepovers at various friends'
houses frequently. And that meant she was out of his sight, and he wouldn't
know if the group of girls she was with attended such parties. With a sinking
feeling in his stomach, he asked the inevitable question that, as a parent, he
was required to ask.
"Have you ever gone
to one of these parties?"
not," she said immediately. "You'd have killed me if I did."
"Did you think I'd
do something like that without telling you?" She sounded upset.
"Don't you trust me?"
There it was ... the
question that, sooner or later, every teen asks of every parent. Don't you
Bob gave the same answer
that most parents give.
"I trust you just
fine," he said. "But sometimes peer pressure and other circumstances
can cause things to happen that nobody intended to happen."
"Are we still
talking about dating?" she asked.
know," he sighed. "Look, here's the deal. If you like the boy and
he likes you, it's just natural for the two of you to push the envelope and
explore ... um ... things."
sex," said Amanda.
He swallowed. "Uh
... yeah," he admitted.
"I already told
you. I don't want to have sex with Jack. I just want to go on a date and have
fun with him."
"Jack Ross. He's
in my social studies class."
mused Bob. "I think I know him. He's not in any of my classes. I know
his mother. She's a member of the Boggy Creek Restoration Project."
"I don't know about
all that," said Amanda. "We're just in social studies together and I
like it when he says 'Hi' to me. I just think it would be fun to get to know
"Did he ask you out
on a date?"
"No. He's never
actually talked to me."
"Does he have a
"I don't know. Why
would you ask me that?"
"Because I don't
want you to get the reputation as a home wrecker," said Bob.
"A what?" Amanda
"Never mind. It's
not cool to ask a guy on a date when he already has a girlfriend, okay?"
"You mean I can ask
him?" Amanda looked elated.
"Hold on there,
Pumpkin," said Bob, holding his hand up. "I did not say you
could start dating."
"Don't call me
Pumpkin!" she said, clearly unhappy. "That's a little girl nickname,
and I'm not a little girl anymore!"
said. "But that illustrates my point. You're not a little girl
any more. You're a young woman, and the kind of urges that young women and
young men have are difficult to control even when those kids are seventeen or
"I have to wait
until I'm seventeen to go on dates?!"
"I didn't say that
either," said Bob. "I just don't want you out with a boy alone,
unsupervised. Not yet."
She sat there, mute, but
gears turned in her head.
said, finally. "So what if you were there to chaperone?"
Bob blinked. His first
reaction was played out in his head in a short fantasy. He saw himself
standing in his kitchen, tense, saying, "Shit! Shit! Shit!" because
she'd worked him into a corner he couldn't get out of without looking
hypocritical. He looked at his daughter, sitting calmly across the table from
him. He had been backed into a corner.
And he did not want his
daughter to see him as a hypocrite.
possibility," he hedged, carefully.
"If you were there,
I wouldn't be alone with him," Amanda reminded him.
"I know, I
know." He had always been truthful with her. Something told him not to
change things now. "I'm just trying to think of some reason I can still
say no. You're still my little girl, and I don't want you to grow up."
She didn't get angry.
Instead she got up and came around the table to him. She made him scoot back
and plopped down on his lap, her arms around his neck.
"I'll always be
your little girl," she said, softly. "But I have to grow up.
This isn't Never-never Land, Daddy."
"I know," he
sighed. "I just don't know what I'll do when you meet some boy and fall
in love and leave me to start your own family."
"Let's not get
ahead of the game, here, Daddy," she said. "All I want to do is go
out with Jack Ross and see what that's like. I'm not planning on falling in
love, or any of that other stuff." She kissed her father on his forehead.
does," he sighed.
Jack, as he dropped his book bag on the floor by the hallway that led to the
bedrooms, his included.
asked his mother, looking up from the painting she was working on. It was a
water color of what she hoped Boggy Creek would someday look like, once the
pollution and years of trash dumping was cleaned up. Katrina Anderson had
suggested she do this painting, which would be displayed at the tiny meeting
room of the building the volunteers used as a headquarters.
believe what happened to me today," said Jack.
"Try me," she
said, turning back to the painting.
"A girl asked me on
Karen put the brush down.
She'd been dreading this day, and now it was here.
said. "Her name is Amanda. We're in social studies together."
"And she asked you
"Sort of. She said
her dad has to go with us. If you say I can go."
Karen felt something
relax inside her. A chaperoned date was something she could contemplate
"What kind of date
would this be?" she asked.
"Amanda said we
could go bowling."
"And you want to
cute. I've noticed her for a long time, but was always too chicken to talk to
know," said Karen, softly. "I've already told you I don't want you to date until you're sixteen. Plus, we've never discussed how a boy should
treat a girl, and you need to know that kind of thing before you go on
"Come on, Mom. I'm
not going to be like Dad. I know he was a jerk, and I don't want to be like
Like Bob had been open
with Amanda about her mother, Karen had held nothing back from her son about
his father. Dave had, when Jack was two, decided that the twos really were
terrible, and that he wanted nothing to do with his son. Or his wife, as it
turned out, when he met another woman at the bar he frequented to escape being
around "the brat."
Karen had been
devastated at her abandonment. The fact that he cleaned out the bank account
when he walked out only added insult to injury. It was fortunate that her
mother didn't abandon her too. Her mother had warned her that Dave was a bad
choice, but she didn't say, "I told you so," when he took off. Not in
so many words. Rather, she took her daughter and grandson in and helped Karen
get back on her feet. In the process, the fact that Karen was better off without
Dave sank in, and she accepted the pain.
Now they were on their
own again. They lived in a modest two bedroom cottage. She supported them by
working as a clerk at the auto parts store in town. She had, over the years,
learned a good bit about auto mechanics and the parts business. People were
glad when she was the clerk that helped them with whatever problem they were
She had navigated the
morass that was divorce without both parties being present. In the end, the
judge decided it was uncontested, and granted her escape from the worst mistake
she'd ever made. Except that Jack had come from that mistake, and he was the best
thing that had ever happened to her.
Now she was faced with a
problem of a different nature. For several years, she had seen the storm
clouds building, off in the distance. She had seen the issue coming, marching
toward her relentlessly. Her little boy was growing up.
She was torn, because he
had so much potential, and she couldn't wait to see what he did with it. For
that reason she was elated that he was maturing, and turning into a man. But
soon she wouldn't be the only woman in his life. Soon he would leave her for
another woman, and she'd be all alone again, the condition that had caused her
to accept Dave as a mate in the first place.
Like many girls, Karen
had simply been unable to believe that she would find true love ... that a man
would want her. She had grabbed desperately for what she thought was the gold
ring, but which had turned out to be a fistful of thorns.
She was older and wiser
now. And she'd known this day would come, sooner or later.
"Does Amanda have a
last name?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I don't
know it." He shrugged. "She said her dad is in that Boggy Creek
thing with you. He's an English teacher at school, but he's not mine."
said Karen. "Bob Thurlow teaches English at the junior high."
"Yeah! That's his
name," said Jack. "Mister Thurlow."
"And his daughter
asked you on a date," said Karen. "What has the world come to?"
"What do you
"The boy is
supposed to ask the girl on a date," she said.
"So that means I
can start dating?"
"Jack, you know
I've already said you can't date until you're sixteen."
"But that's only
six months away," he moaned. "And Mister Thurlow will be there too.
Come on, Mom. She's really cute!"
"And that's the
problem," said Karen. "Your father was really cute, and I ended up
making some mistakes because of that."
He stopped arguing. She
hoped maybe he'd given up.
"Do you think I'll
be like that?" he asked, suddenly. "Like my father, I mean? An
"Well he was,"
said Jack, suddenly sounding much older than fifteen. "And I don't want
to be that way. But what if I am? What if it's genetic or something?"
She put her paintbrush
in the cup of water and stood, going to him and taking him into her arms. A
lot of fifteen year old boys resist being hugged by their mother, but he
problems had nothing to do with genetics," she said into his hair.
"They had to do with the way he was raised, and the values his parents
instilled in him. You haven't been raised the same way, and you're nothing
like him. You never will be. And if I see you leaning that way, believe me,
I'll let you know."
He leaned against her.
She was surprised at the force his body was able to generate. He really was
what," she said, rubbing his back. "I'll talk to Mr. Thurlow and see
if anything can be done to let you and Amanda have a date of some kind. If we
can come to an agreement ... then okay."
His sadness vanished and
he jumped in the air, taking his mother's startled body with him. When they
came back down he leaned back and she felt her feet leave the floor again. He
whirled her around.
"Thanks, Mom! I'll
be good. I promise. I'll open all the doors for her and everything. Thanks so
"Don't get your
hopes up too much," she said, as he let her go. "Remember, Mr.
Thurlow and I have to agree on everything before this will become a
said the excited boy. "I know you'll agree. I mean he's going to be
there, right? Everything will be fine. You'll see. Thanks, Mom. Can I call
her and tell her?"
"Do your homework
first," said Karen, her heart fluttering. She hated the feeling that
things were already getting out of control, and that she needed to slam on the
brakes somehow. But he was so elated, so happy, that it made her heart
thump in her chest. She remembered being that avid about going on a date, and she
knew how devastated he'd be if she changed her mind.
problem!" He dashed off to his room, where he had a desk he did his
homework at. Karen hadn't showered her son with luxuries, like his own TV or
expensive game consoles. He had a radio in his room, but that was it. There
were no other distractions that would affect the completion of his school work.
She turned back to her
easel. But she couldn't concentrate.
All she could think
about were those first few heady dates, when she was so young.
The ones where she
learned what it felt like to have a boy's hands and mouth on her body.
And to have something in
Karen didn't call Bob
and talk about their children dating. That was because Saturday was only two
days away, and on that particular day, the Boggy Creek Restoration Volunteers
were going to get together to work on the sixth street bend.
In the forties, fifties,
and part of the sixties, there really wasn't any such thing as "littering".
At least, nobody called it that. If you had a bag full of trash left over from
your takeout meal at one of those newfangled drive in restaurants, you simply
rolled down the window and chucked it. If you owned a farm, you used the same
draw or gully your father and his father had used, and pitched anything that
couldn't be repaired, along with all household trash, into that gully. That
included old cars, tires, broken chairs, anything and everything. If you lived
in town, you had a 55 gallon drum in the back yard where you burned everything
you could. Then you went out into the country and found someplace to dump
whatever wouldn't fit into the barrel.
There were no garbage
trucks. There were no landfills. Actually, there were thousands of tiny
little landfills, but they weren't thought of that way. The world was our
landfill, back in those days, before the population swelled and, suddenly, our
roads and highways were clogged with trash. Barb wire fences looked
practically solid because of the wind-borne trash piled up against them.
A few people complained.
A few entrepreneurs saw a chance to start a whole new industry, and make a ton
of money. They had to spend some money first, to buy some politicians,
but pretty soon laws got passed and suddenly the signs that said "Fine for
littering" came into existence. And that didn't mean littering was
"fine" to do, though a few folks tried to argue that way at first.
Slowly, things changed,
and less of man's throw aways ended up in the countryside.
But there was already a
huge amount of detritus out there, and a lot of it would eventually end up in
creeks and rivers as erosion and floods did their work.
Boggy Creek was one such
place, where the bottom and sides were littered with old tires, refrigerators,
bits of this and that - not to mention the broken glass that made it
impossible to swim in without sturdy shoes on your feet. That people wanted to swim in it was because, in the old days, before a swimming pool had been
built, the whole town used Boggy Creek's swimming holes for recreation.
Grandmothers and fathers talked fondly about the swing over Boggy Creek down by
Second Street, where you could jump off the bridge and fly thirty feet before
letting go to arc into the water fifteen feet below. Or maybe it was the mud
slide they'd made just outside of town, upstream where, when it rained, you
could get dressed in clothes nobody cared about and go slip and slide down a
thirty foot trench that got a little deeper each time it rained. At the end of
that run you splashed into a mud flat where, when you finally stood up, you
were literally unrecognizable, because of the coating of mud.
But then the agro plant
had been built upstream. The water began to stink, and all sorts of crap
floated down into the swimming holes over the years, until you had to start
being careful where you jumped in.
As the creek died, the
people who had killed it turned away, ignoring what they'd done, and built a
swimming pool. Every town had one, after all.
It took decades, but
environmentalism finally arrived in Pine Valley, and somebody finally suggested
"doing something about Boggy." It took another five years, but
eventually The Boggy Creek Restoration Project had been born. There were
currently thirty-five registered volunteers. They met once a month. In good
weather, they met to pull junk out of the creek and employ various methods of
stabilizing the banks, to prevent further erosion. When it got cold, they met
in a warm room and had coffee while they planned what they'd do next summer.
In the six years the
group had been in existence, they had removed over twenty tons of crap from the
They'd also sicced the
EPA on the owners of the agro plant, which had polluted the crap out of the
site they had then abandoned after it became "economically unviable"
to keep open. The plant had closed, but it had continued to contaminate Boggy
Creek. The court-ordered cleanup had only started the year before, but everyone could
already see the difference in the ecology of the creek.
It was exciting.
Why this is important is
because the kind of people who are drawn to that kind of
service in the world are passionate people. It requires a deep seated
passion to wade into polluted muck and get filthy dragging old tires from that
muck. When you go home smelling like death, and realize the clothes you wore
that day have become trash, just like what you pulled out of the creek, it
takes passion to return to the creek and do it again next month.
Bob Thurlow and Karen
Ross were passionate people. Both had lost love. Both were alone, in terms of
shared intimacy with another adult. For both, just about the only outlet for
their passion was the restoration project. True, each was raising a
child, but raising their kids employed a passion of a different nature.
"know" each other from the project, but the kind of things they did
together didn't lend themselves to any kind of shared intimacy. In truth, all
they knew about each other was their names, and that each was a committed
environmentalist. At least when it came to the creek.
Now, however, they were
to come together in a different kind of relationship. As their children
explored shared intimacy, they would be forced to again, as well.
And all that passion
inside them would change the world for both families.
Of course none of them
knew that then, neither the parents nor the children. All the kids thought
about, at that point, was actually going on a date, and seeing whether that matched
their expectations or not. As for the parents, all they thought about was
ensuring that the values they were trying to teach their children held fast
against Mother Nature's persistent attempts to make the human population swell.
The parents didn't give
any thought at all to the possibility that Mother Nature might have plans for them
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