Vic rested a hand on Trey’s shoulder when he came into the room with his head down and his shoulders slumped. “What’s up, man? Mom said you want to talk about something.”
“Yeah, I guess,” he answered without looking his father in the eye.
“Well, whatever it is, you don’t have to feel uncomfortable about it.” Vic sat on the black leather sofa and patted the cushion beside him. “Sit down. Let’s talk.”
His first born flopped down next to him and poked his lips out before he finally spoke. “We’re going back to school next week. Last year there was this girl…and she…” He exhaled a frustrated sound.
“Do you like her?”
Trey nodded with a hint of a smile.
“Does she like you?”
“She said she thought I was nice, and she was always looking at me in class.”
Vic nodded. “She likes you. So, what’s the problem?”
The way Trey rubbed his palms up and down his thighs told Vic just how nervous he was. “It’s okay, man. Just talk.”
“She’s white, Dad.”
Vic smiled, knowing he needed to incorporate the real world talk into the respect/safe sex conversation. “You know what, buddy? I don’t think there would be a problem with her. What’s her name, by the way?”
“Megan might really like you, but you need to know how her parents feel about her being friends with a black boy.”
“How would I find that out?” he asked, finally looking at his father for the first time since he entered the room.
“Just ask her. If she says something like she has no idea or they don’t have to find out, then you know there’s a problem.”
“Mom said Uncle Marc and Uncle Greg dated white girls, and Grandma and Granddad didn’t have a problem with it.”
“They were older than you at the time, and I wouldn’t exactly say Grandma and Granddad didn’t have a problem with it. Granddad was worried about other people retaliating against them because they were with girls who weren’t black.”
“But that was a long time ago.”
Vic knew exactly what his son was thinking “It wasn’t that long ago, and times haven’t changed that much. People can still be hateful when it comes to race. It doesn’t matter how light-skinned you are or how much money you have, you are and always will be a black man.”
“I’m serious, Trey. Having a black president uncovered just how a lot of white people really feel about us, and we have to be careful in public situations. You’re too young to go out on dates or anything, but you need to find out how Megan’s parents feel.” Vic figured it was best to set the ground rules now.
“I know, but our friends go to the mall or the arcade.”
“Mom and I don’t have a problem with that, but there are some things you should know before we allow you to do that.”
“What kind of things?”
“Things like the right way to treat a young lady. That means showing respect for her and never putting your hands on her or yelling at her.” Vic’s own words plucked his conscience. Here he was giving his son advice that he himself needed to heed, but things had deteriorated between Mona and him to the point where all they seemed to do was yell at each other.
“You mean I can’t even hold her hand?”
Momentarily confused, Vic frowned until it dawned on him. “No, I mean don’t push her around or hit her, even if you’re just playing.”
Trey looked horrified. “I’d never do anything like that, Dad!”
“I hope not. It also means you never do things to a girl that she doesn’t like. Don’t touch her inappropriately, and if she doesn’t want to kiss you, don’t try to make her. You can go to jail for that.”
Vic wanted to laugh at Trey’s embarrassed expression. He concluded that the safe sex talk wasn’t even necessary at that point, but he needed to get a feel for exactly where his son was emotionally. “When you were around her, did you want to touch her?”
The way Trey hung his head and a blush crept up the back of his neck, Vic knew he should delve a little deeper. “Have you?”
“Nope. I…I didn’t know what to do.”
“Well, it depends on the circumstancesyou knowwhether you’re alone or with a bunch of people. Just don’t rush it. You’re only twelve, man.”
“I’m going to be thirteen in a few months.”
“I know, but it’s too young to be thinking about this stuff. Take my word for it. You’ll be dealing with women for the rest of your life. Do you want to ask me anything?”
“No.” Trey’s gaze dropped to the floor.
He slapped his son on the back. “Whenever you need to talk, just let me know, okay?”
“Okay. Thanks, Dad.”
Vic grinned as he watched his son leave the room looking as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Trey didn’t have a clue how simple his life was at the moment. He had no job, no debt, no board of directors to answer to, and no wife to pacify.