Perfection Is Overrated
by Bradley Scott
“Please pass the salt.” Ted asked nervously.
This was the single most awkward and uncomfortable dinner Ted had ever had to sit through. And his parents were catholic – he’d had to sit through a lot of awkward and uncomfortable dinners. They had prayed before they ate – something Ted hadn’t done since he’s moved out of his own parents’ house. And then they’d gone quiet, focusing too much on the food – and the awkward, palpable tension – to talk much.
Whitney was sitting on the edge of her seat, trying to suppress a giddy grin. She threw a furtive glance at her mother every now and then, who seemed stiffer and even more determined to be polite than usual. Ted just looked at his plate as much as possible. He’d look up every now and then, to catch Whitney’s brother staring at him, at which point he’d smile fiendishly at Ted and look away.
Oh god. Whitney’s brother Nick. Little Nicky. The cute, stoned and kind of slutty guy from Alexander’s. Ted was reeling.
Whitney’s father, however, was the only one who seemed to be oblivious. He was the only one at the table who seemed to be focused on dinner.
“Nicky, darling, please pass the salt to Ted.”
“Mom, don’t call me that.” Nick shot a nervous glance at Ted, and passed him the salt, brushing his finger over the back of Ted’s hand as he passed it over.
“Oh, hush, Nicky. There we go Ted, and please, have some more potatoes.” Whitney’s mother grabbed the dish and served Ted two more potatoes, before he could refuse.
“Thank you Mrs. Grove.” Ted smiled awkwardly, eying the potatoes. More food was the last thing he wanted. He just wanted to get out of the house as quickly as possible.
“Oh, you can call her Melanie.” Whitney’s father burst out. “And you can call me John. None of this Mr. & Mrs. Grove business please. It’s what people call my father.”
“Oh well,” Melanie sighed. “You’re right dear. I suppose there’s no point in trying to maintain decent and polite habits when our daughter randomly ups and announces to me that we’re having company for dinner tonight. It’s not that we’re not happy to have you over, Ted. It’s just…. if my daughter had any consideration at all, she’d at least let me know the day before…”
“I didn’t know the day before.” Whitney gave her mom a dirty look. “And you always complain about how we waist your good food-”
“Sorry for trying to be civilized. I realize it’s not an urge you suffer from.”
Whitney rolled her eyes and scoffed.
“So, Ted?” She said, throwing a sly glance at her mom, and turning a bit in her seat. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
Melanie started coughing uncontrollably. John patted her on the back, until she was better.
“Um….” Whitney was staring at Ted. What the hell are you playing at, he wanted to ask her, you know I don’t. “Um, no. No boyfriend.”
Ted looked up to see a huge smile flit across Nick’s face. It was gone as quickly as it came though, and he was avoiding eye contact with Ted again.
There was a moment of awkward silence, which Ted could see Whitney was relishing.
“So, Ted.” Mr. Grove said gruffly, clearing his throat to break through the silence. “What are you studying?”
“Um… applied mathematics.”
“Ah, good degree. I take it you’ll branch out into one of the more specialized career paths from that – say… engineering?”
“Um…. yeah, I was thinking about it. But I-”
“Okay, dinner’s over. Come on Ted.” Whitney stood up. “Let’s-”
“Whitney!” Her mother was outraged.
Her mother looked at her plate.
“Oh for the love of…. May I please be excused from the table?”
“Yes.” Her mother sniffed. “And Ted, you may be excused too. Put the dishes in the dishwasher, Whitney. And remember to rinse them off first.”
“Yes mom…” Whitney rolled her eyes again. She grabbed Ted’s plate and motioned for him to follow her to the kitchen, where she walked right past the sink, and dunked the dirty dishes unceremoniously in the dishwasher. Ted wanted to say something, but was pretty sure it was smarter just to keep quiet.
Whitney seemed to be over taunting her mom. Now she’d just want to go play a game or something.
Ted knew he was trapped. He couldn’t tell her about what had happened with her brother. She didn’t even know she knew gay people before him – never mind the fact that she was related to one.
“Okay, Let’s play Soul Calibur. Come on, all night tournament? Whaddaya say?”
“Um, with only two people, technically, it wouldn’t really be a tournament.”
“Oh, you nerd. Do you want to play or not? Come on! At least you don’t have to go back and see… you know.” She smiled sympathetically. “You can even stay over, if you want. My parent’s won’t mind. Okay, my mom will, but she’ll be dreading bringing up your sexuality so much she won’t say a word.”
“Okay, fine. I’ll stay over. Because I know it amuses you.” It couldn’t be that bad, Ted thought. He did spend almost all of his time in Whitney’s room. It’s not like Nick could pounce on him from some dark corner. It’ll be fine, he told himself.
Nick shot a nervous glance at Ted, and passed him the salt, brushing his finger over the back of Ted’s hand as he passed it over it.
“Come on Ted, give it up. It’s 3 AM.” Whitney was lying on the bed, her head propped up on a pillow, her eyes getting heavy.
“No… Just… to…. the end… of… the level! HA!” He gave himself a mental pat on the back as he landed Lara Croft safely on the other side of a complicated obstacle course.
“Whatever. Sweet Dreams.” She buried her face in the pillow and lay very still.
Ted kept playing for a while after that. The level was longer than he thought. He got to the end, and saved his progress. When he looked over at the bed, he saw that Whitney was fast asleep, and snoring a bit.
He slowly got up, turned the X-box and TV off, and stretched his cramping muscles. He needed a pee. He’d been holding it in for that whole level. Tomb Raider really was awesome.
Quietly opening Whitney’s door, he slipped out into the corridor. There was a big window at the end, and the sky was clear, so there was enough light to see where he was going.
He made his way to the bathroom, and turned the light on, wincing as the bright light hit his eyes. He slipped inside quickly and closed the door.
It felt good to have a pee when he needed it so badly. Ted finished up, a feeling of intense relief washing through him. He flushed, and winced again at how loud the toilet sounded in the calm, quiet night. He hoped he hadn’t woken anyone up.
The tap made a loud noise when he opened it, so he turned it down to a slow trickle, which made him take forever to wash his hands.
He slowly opened the door and stepped out into the moonlit corridor, unable to make it out this time because his eyes had adjusted to the extremely bright bathroom light.
Something jumped out of the darkness and slammed him against the wall. His loud exclamation of pain was muffled by something held over his mouth.
His eyes adjusted to the darkness.
Nick stood there, a cheeky look on his face, pinning Ted against the wall. He smiled, and slowly pulled his hand away once Ted stopped yelling into it.
“OUCH!” Ted hissed. “Are you fucking INSANE?”
Nick chuckled quietly.
“Maybe.” He pressed his lips against Ted’s, and hummed. “Do you wanna find out?”
Nick put his right leg between Ted’s, and began grinding against his crotch. He bent his head down and began nibbling and kissing at Ted’s neck.
Ted felt himself get hard. And Nick felt it too.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” He smiled in a way that crept Ted out and turned him on at the same time.
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