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by Ron Cruger
The closet
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        “Please pass the potatoes.”
        “Sure, honey, here you go.
        “Thanks, dad.”
        It was a dinner just like all the other dinners they had shared. Mom cooked, dad sat in his recliner reading, Jeanine, the devoted daughter, sat on the couch, reading a magazine. Mom would say, “Come and get it,” and dad and Jeanine would rise and walk to the same chairs they had sat in almost every day of their lives.
        Dinner was a time for family. Each missed the elder sister, Nicole. She had gone and gotten married two years ago. Nicole and her husband had moved to Boston to be closer to the husband’s family. Dad, mom and Jeanine missed Nicole. They had never said anything, but they objected to her and her husband, Ned, leaving Brooklyn. After all, this had been the family home since 1951, when dad and mom bought the small, two bedroom, one bath house for twelve thousand dollars. Each missed Nicole. She was pretty, bright and funny. Ned was lucky to have her.
        Jeanine was pretty too. Not quite as funny as Nicole, but she had a good sense of humor.
        Jeanine was two inches taller than Nicole, broader through the shoulders and slightly larger in her breast size.
        Both had auburn hair, although Jeanine always wore her hair cut shorter. Her father always wondered why she didn’t let her hair grow out.
        Her dad never said anything, but wondered why Jeanine frequently wore slacks and a jacket to work. Even on weekends Jeanine shunned the short dresses that girls were wearing now, but he never said anything, he just thought, “That’s how girls are nowadays I guess.”
        Dinner tonight was lamb. Mom knew it was Jeanine’s favorite dish.
        “Thanks for making the lamb, mom.”
        “My pleasure, honey. I know how much you like it.”
        Dad added, “I love it too. We’re lucky we like the same things.”
        Jeanine thought for a moment then placed her fork next to her plate and looked at her mother then her father directly. She knew what she was about to tell them would change all of their lives forever.
        “Mom, dad, I have a girlfriend.”
        Her mother answered, “That’s so nice, dear. Your father and I were wondering if you had any friends.”
        “Mom, dad, my girlfriend’s name is Charlene, we work together at the ad agency. We’re going to get an apartment together.”
         Jeanine’s father put his fork down and took a deep breath.
        “Honey, we knew this day would come. It’s okay. You know we’ll miss you, but this day had to come. We love you and we understand.”
        “I don’t think you do, not yet. Charlene and I love each other and want to live together.”
        Mom was silent for a moment, then said, “We don’t understand, dear.”
        “Maybe I should have told you a long time ago, but…I’m a lesbian. Charlene and I are a couple and we hope to someday get married.”
        There was silence. Mom and dad stared blankly at each other, not knowing what to say.
        “I know this is a shock. I think I’ve been this way my whole life, but I wasn’t sure what to do with my feelings, my thoughts, my desires. Now I know for sure. This is what I want. I hope you’ll support me.”
        “But honey, maybe this is something that will go away, you know, just pass and then you’ll be normal.”
        “This is normal, dad. This is what I am. Way back, in high school, when I went to the senior prom with David from up the street, I wasn’t comfortable. When I was a junior I had a mad crush on Deana from my English class. I was confused about my feelings, but that’s how I felt. Even in college I had these feelings, but I couldn’t express them. I’ve never been totally happy keeping this lie. It’s been difficult, but telling you now, I feel better.”
        “But, honey. Maybe this is just a mood and it will pass. Maybe you could see a doctor, they do wonderful things nowadays. Maybe you’re just lonely.”
        “Mom, I’m a lesbian. I was when I was born, I am one today, I will always be a lesbian. That’s what I am. It’s okay.”
        “Dear, are you sure you want to choose this way of life. It’s so difficult. People talk, our friends and neighbors, what will they think of you, of us?”
        “Dad, I didn’t choose. This is how I was born. I’m happy being this way. I know it will be difficult at times because of the way society is today, but maybe someday things will change and people will be more understanding. This is the way I want to live. I’m sure.”
        “We need some time to think about this, dear. Have you told anyone else?”
        “Sure, some of my friends at work know. People at the club I go to know for sure. Charlene and I go there together to dance and have fun.”
        “You two go out in public together?”
        “Sure, dad. We love each other, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
         “You’ve met Charlene, you’ve both told me how much you like her. Well, I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. Someday we want to bring children into our relationship.”
        “Oh, honey. Are you sure? Maybe Dr. Phillips can help you. Maybe there’s a pill or something.”
        “Mom, I know this hasn’t been easy for you and dad. There is no pill. This is what I am. I hope your love for me will always be there. Having you accept me will make all of this just perfect. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my whole life. For the first time I am myself. This is the real me.”
        Dad reached across the table to hold his wife’s hand. Tears were falling from her eyes. Dad’s lips quivered.
Across the table from them Jeanine looked down at the cold lamb.
        More than anything she wanted to be with her Charlene.