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Log of the Month for September, 2021

The Presidio, Pt. 8: Auld Lang Syne
Posted on September 17th, 2021 by Scott Ammora

San Francisco, Earth, July 2398
Troyo’s Restaurant, Four Months Later

“I really feel you’re overthinking this.”

“Says the scientist.” Fold. Cross. Loop. Tuck. “Damn, what am I doing wrong?”

Weston leaned in the doorway, watching his boyfriend fumble with his tie. “Everything.” He folded his arms, but gazed at Scott with love.

“Oh, great, that’s helpful, thanks. I just want to make a good first impression.”

“You don’t need to. Try so hard, I mean.”

“Oh yeah? Maybe shorts and a t-shirt would be better?”

Wes laughed: “It is San Francisco. In July.”

He let the ends of the tie drop, draping haphazardly around his neck. Scott was wearing a collared shirt and dress slacks. The blazer he was going to sport was laying out on the table. All of that was easy. The tie, on the other hand, was proving to be his nemesis in getting ready. “It doesn’t matter. First impressions are important. Please explain to me why it’s been a year we’ve been together and I’m just meeting your parents now?”

“You needed polish.”

“The hell?” Scott stopped trying to tie the tie for the billionth time.

“I’m kidding!”

“Why am I more nervous than you are? And why can’t I figure out this Double Windsor?!” The billionth and one attempt started, the agitation growing. Scott didn’t like not being able to do something, especially something so seemingly simple as tying a damn tie.

Weston moved across the room, “Well, I know them. I know you. I’m at a place of superior knowledge and understanding.” A delicate kiss on the cheek followed. “Please don’t wear a tie.”

“First impressions!”

Weston threw the tie across the room, “Trying too hard. Stop, would you please?”

Scott retrieved it, like a dog almost. “I don’t think you understand what’s going through my head right now. I haven’t said more than a couple of words to them over your shoulder in the entire time we’ve been together. I don’t just want to be ‘that guy’. I want to be ‘the guy’. You know?”

“All you have to do is be better than my other boyfriend and you have nothing to worry about.” Weston snagged the tie out of Scott’s grasp and tossed it across the room again.

“Funny.”

“He was stacked.”

“Shut up.”

“He bought my mom flowers on her birthday.” Wes sat down at the kitchen table and looked through some PADDs. “And took my dad fishing.”

Scott folded his arms, “Your mom’s allergic and your dad doesn’t do outside recreation if he can avoid it.”

Weston looked up, pride beaming in his eyes, “See? You do know them. Remember that first impressions fade away. This becomes part of the history, ‘our’ history, and we’ll look back and say ‘remember when?’”

The exasperation came out in an audible and labored breath and a resounding sigh. “Your dad was runner-up, not just a nominee, but THE runner-up for the Daystrom Prize. The DAYSTROM Prize. And your mother was on the team that created, I don’t know – ”

“Resequencing of water-based plant life to survive in non-hydro environments.”

“ – something that earned her universal recognition in the science community! So, between a borderline-award winning scientist and a beloved discoverer of botanical advancement, why would I ever be worried?” Again, he grabbed the tie and returned to the mirror. “Hi Mom and Dad, here’s my boyfriend, the jarhead. Jarhead in training. He’s, you know, nice.”

Weston stood, “Hey, stop that. You’re amazing.”

“I’m not a scientist.”

“True, but you’re Scott. You’re my Scooter. And they know that.”

Scott turned abruptly, “If your mom or dad calls me ‘Scooter’ I will END you. And you know I can do it too. Don’t tempt me. Can you help me with this, please?”

Weston folded his arms and leveled a stern gaze, “No. No tie.”

He stopped trying to tie it, tossing it onto the table next to his jacket. “Fine.”

“Where’s the headstrong and confident Scott I know?” Wes moved over, wrapping his arms around his love and gazing at his face in the reflection of the mirror. “You seem out of sorts. Is it being back here, getting off the Starbase after only two months? It can’t all be about meeting my folks.”

His right palm gripped Wes’s right forearm and he leaned into his body. “I don’t know, honestly. Starbase 60 is fine, work is fine, we’re fine… but I guess there’s always something that isn’t. I want them to like me. I want them to know I’m not JUST a jarhead marine. I want them to see me as me. And, even that terrifies me. I’ve never done this before.”

“Met a boyfriend’s parents?”

“Nah, I’ve done that. This is different.”

“How so?”

“It just is.”

Weston spun Scott around and kissed him, “I’ll take that as a mysterious compliment, but a compliment nonetheless. Do me a single favor, okay?”

Scott nodded.

“Please just be you. If you put on airs then they won’t see you the way I do. And I want them to see you the way I do. Scott. Marine Scott, great boyfriend Scott, ambitious and stubborn – on occasion – Scott. That’s the Scott I fell in love with, that’s the Scott I have, and that’s the Scott I want them to see.” Another spinning placed Scott face-to-face with his own reflection. “This guy. Be him.”

Scott smiled at the reassurance. “No tie?”

“No tie.”

“Collared shirt and slacks?”

“No jacket either.”

*****

The walk to the restaurant was a quiet one. Weston gripped Scott’s hand tightly as they strolled. It was comforting that Weston seemed at ease, but Scott was less so. He was sure the vein in his neck was pulsating visibly and he worried that his palms were getting sweaty. He attempted to shake it off, looking towards the horizon and taking in the environment in the off chance his surroundings would calm his nervousness.

“You’re going to be fine.”

The words echoed in Scott’s ears. Again. Wes knew him and knew what to say – most times. This time was different. This was a step in their relationship that Scott had looked forward to with a certain amount of dread and excitement, but it was all encumbered now by his anxiety: human emotion and human feeling at its finest. “I know.”

The restaurant was a bustle. After all, it was a Sunday. There was a line out the door. It was one of the most sought after brunch places in town. People were laughing and enjoying each other’s company even with the hostess calling out an hour-long wait. No one moved. Thankfully they had reservations. The sky was blue, no fog to be found, and the light breeze off the water set the tone for what was surely a perfect meeting atmosphere. No matter how hard Scott tried, and he was trying more than he ever had, the clouds of trepidation lingered.

“My parents are already seated inside.” Wes pulled Scott through the throng of civilians and past the host stand into the main foyer of the establishment. The large bay windows opened up in front of them giving an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Pacific Ocean. “My mom is the sweetest, and my dad is… well… a dad.”

Scott nodded absently, taking it all in. They crossed the dining room to a window-front table where two people in their late-40s or early-50s stood. The woman, Weston’s mom, was clad in a beautiful sun dress with an elegant scarf around her neck to match. The man, Wes’s dad, had a standard polo and khaki pants as his attire. Scott, in that moment, wished he was wearing a scarf to hide what was surely a protruding lump in his throat that would be noticeable to the naked eye.

Weston hugged his mother, “Hi Mom. Scott this is my mom, Charise. Mom, my boyfriend Scott.”

“Ooh, Weston, he’s handsome.” She said bluntly as she ignored Scott’s outreached hand and hugged him instead, “Pleasure to meet the famous Scott.”

“Mom.”

“Don’t you mean infamous, dear?”

“Dad.” And they were off to the races.

After the hug released, Scott turned his attention to Wes’s father. “Hi. I’m Scott. Pleasure to meet you.”

“Hello, I’m Brock.”

Double take. What? Scott’s eyes darted to Weston’s and then back at the man in front of him, “I’m sorry, Brock? You’re Brock… Brock?”

The man laughed, “My parents weren’t creative. First name after my grandfather, the middle – also Brock – after my great-great-grandfather, and the family surname, of course.” There was a twinkle in the man’s eye as he said that, “Blessing and curse, I guess.”

Scott didn’t really know how to respond to that. “So, you’re Brock… Brock… Brock? Brock Brock Brock?”

“Hey, I ain’t no chicken.” And a giant laugh followed as his grasp on Scott’s hand released.

Wes rolled his eyes. “Dad, really?”

Another laugh followed. “I’m kidding, son, I’m kidding. Phillip Brock, pleasure is mine, Scott.”

Scott guessed that is what Weston meant about how he was a ‘dad’; dad jokes were still a thing in the dawn of the 25th century. They sat down in silence and began looking at their menus. Scott’s leg started to bounce, quickly quashed by Weston’s hand on his knee. They previewed the fare for a moment or two before the waiter arrived at the table, PADD in hand, to take orders.

“Good Morning, I’m Tyler, I’ll be your server today. Can I get you all something started to drink.”

“Coffee.” Weston’s parents said at the same time.

“Bloody Mary, no salt, please.” Weston.

Don’t order a vodka tonic, double, straight up… it’s too early and not a good sign. “Mimosa, please.”

“Mimosa? Here I thought you were a marine.” Phillip said over his menu.

Weston jumped in: “Dad, come on.”

Tyler made the notes, looking around the table, “Are we ready to order?”

“I think we need a minute, the interrogation hasn’t even started.” Phillip said, this time not looking up, though smirking slightly.

“Phillip.”

“Dad.”

“What? They’re jokes!” Phillip looked at Scott and winked.

“I’ll return shortly with some beverages. Our special today is an avocado eggs benedict served with rustic potatoes, and a side of fruit and yogurt. Bread choices are available on your menu. And, if you have any questions, please ask.” And, as quick as he arrived, Tyler was gone.

Another awkward silence as they continued to peruse the selections. Phillip cleared his throat after a long while and looked up at Scott. He opened his mouth, but was silenced by Charise’s hand on his lap, “Scott, dear, I’ll ask my husband’s next question-that-is-another-poor-joke: what would you like for your last meal?” And she smiled brightly.

Scott read the room, smiled, and suddenly relaxed, “I don’t know, there are so many choices.” Scott turned his gaze from the list in front of him to Weston’s dad’s eyes, “What are you having, Warden?”

The table erupted in laughter, Phillip wiped a tear from his eye as they squinted, “Oh, Weston, I like this guy.”

Weston looked into Scott’s eyes lovingly, squeezing his knee with the hand that had never left, “Me too, dad, me too.”

They ordered, they ate, and they talked. They talked about everything. The food slowly depleted on each person’s respective plates and the bus boy came by as the meal ended to retrieve the remnants of the meal. It was filling for Scott, the food and the conversation. He had slowly found himself at ease with Weston’s down-to-Earth parents. They were good people. They were nice and welcoming. He realized he had no reason to be anxious.

As the glasses emptied, Charise finished off her second cup of coffee, and she looked to Scott, “How’s Starbase 60 treating you?”

Scott paused, probably for too long, “It’s great. I’m fitting in well with my team, learning the ropes. The learning curve isn’t as bad as I expected.” He wasn’t lying, per se. Things were fine. He was fitting in fine. He was adapting to his new role… fine. Just not great.

“I think it’s wonderful that you chose to post there so you and Weston could be together. That’s the sign of a good relationship.”

“Absolutely.” Scott’s heart sank. It wasn’t his first, nor his second choice. But it was what he got. He knew what he was doing when he submitted his request. And he was happy with Weston. Not so much with the Starbase. Weston had been floored that it had worked out and had had a pep in his step for the last two months they had been there and that had been enough for Scott. He loved seeing him happy.

Phillip chimed in, “What about you, Wes, how are things in your lab?”

Cue the fifteen-minute long triangle of conversation about science, discovery, research, and everything else that people talk about when they’re in similar lines of work. Scott sat silently as he heard Wes talk about his job. Scott had heard it all before – dozens of times – and relished in how his boyfriend and his parents interacted on a shared topic of interest. He felt like the odd man out, but it was expected, and he enjoyed not being the focal point for a hot minute.

When Wes had finished his diatribe, Phillip tossed his napkin from his lap to the table. “Wes, would you join me at the bar to check the scores on the Hoverball tournament?”

“Uh, yeah dad, of course.”

Scott’s mouth went dry. Wes didn’t like sports, for the most part. And his response was indicative that his father probably knew that. However, regardless, they left the table together. Charise hadn’t taken her eyes off Scott as the duo departed, but the look was plain and simple. She was so poised, much like Wes, and he assumed that Wes had gotten that from her. Phillip hid his own nervousness through jokes, matching Scott’s repeated tapping of his left hand to the tune of Auld Lang Syne to stem his own misgivings.

“He likes you.” She paused as Scott fought to understand, “Well, both of them. Phillip is an interesting individual when it comes to watching our kids grow and move on, find their own people, find their own path. Normally it’s the mother that is worried about the empty nest. Not us, that’s Phil’s hang-up.”

Scott acknowledged her statement with a bob of his head, “I’m sure parents across the galaxy suffer the same worries.”

“And Wes likes you, adores you, and talks about you constantly.”

Another nod, “I feel the same way about him.”

“I know that, I see that. I have one question for you, Scott, honey.”

Here it came. Scott was waiting for the moment where the heart-to-heart with a parent – albeit the expected fatherly version – would be presented. He jumped at the chance to be more proactive. “Ma’am – ”

“Charise, please.”

“Charise, may I interject?” After receiving a ‘go ahead’, Scott stated firmly. “If this is a ‘what are your intentions with my son’ moment, I can tell you that he’s everything to me. I enjoy waking up next to him and falling asleep with him. I love sharing my experiences with him, and I love that no matter what issues I come across I have a loving partner who is willing to stand beside me. You have raised a tremendous son. A son that I’m proud to be with.”

Scott thought he saw tears well up in Wes’s mom’s eyes. “Happiness comes in many forms, Scott. There will be trials and tribulations. But it’s easier to handle those bad days with two heads together, two hearts together, two souls together… Weston forges his own path. He always has. He makes his own choices. And he chose you. Choose each other every day.”

It was now Scott’s turn to get choked up, “Yes, ma’am, I mean, Charise.”

“But, yes, that was my motherly talk with my son’s new suitor.”

Scott laughed, “I thought so. Straight and to the point.”

“Scientist. Now, let’s go save Weston from Phillip’s incessant love of sports. We’ll either find Weston asleep or chatting up the bartender about the chemical components of a select synthehol.” Charise smiled, as she stood up and flattened her dress.

Chuckling and standing, Scott moved around the table and offered her his arm, “Shall we?”

“A marine and a gentleman.” And Charise took Scott’s arm as they moved towards the bar.

Just like that Scott realized Weston was right. This brunch, this initial introduction, would become a part of their relationship and history. Scott’s nerves were warranted, as emotions tend to be in the moment, but they would fade away into topics of conversation as everyone reminisced in the future about ‘the time Scott met Wes’s parents’. That brought a solace to Scott and he internally vowed to remember it.


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2 Comments

  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    I liked the fumbling with the tie as an intro to this big moment, and loved Wes’s Dad joke. The conclusion between Scott and Charise was poignant, and a good cap to Scott’s arc of realization through this story that he didn’t need to be nervous around Wes’s parents. Well done!


  • Emilaina Acacia says:

    I loved meeting Wes’s parents, it really helps me picture him and why he is the way he is. It was cute to see Scott nervous, but it worked out in the end! Nice log.




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