Why Must You Be Such a Secret Young Man?

From Abby, 2/11/2009:

DEAR ABBY: I have tried to have cordial relations with my neighbors, but do not have particularly close friendships with any of them.

A little over a year ago, a young man started coming to my home on a regular basis whenever my wife was out of town. After a while, he began spending the night with me when she was away.

Evidently, some of my neighbors noticed these visits and started gossiping about it, spreading the rumor that I am gay and that this young guy is my lover. More recently, however, he has spent the night when my wife is present, so now my neighbors think something kinky is going on.

At times I am puzzled by this. At other times I am angry at their arrogance and gall. The explanation is simple: The young man is my son from a previous relationship. Because we were prevented from having contact when he was a child, we are now trying to establish a relationship — and we are making progress. My wife and other children have been wonderfully supportive in all this.

I really don’t want to tell my neighbors what’s going on because it will inevitably lead to a disclosure of some things that are really none of their business. But I am troubled by the rumor that I have a young male lover. What do you think I should do? — I’M HIS DAD IN VIRGINIA

I love the way this guy structures his narrative so that Abby, and presumably us as well, will be tricked into making the same incorrect assumption that his neighbors did. Rather than explaining his problem and asking for help, he throws in the son as a surprise twist at the end. Ha!

I wonder how he knows what they think, or where he heard the rumor…and how he reacted to that information. A simple “What? No, Josh is family!” to whomever he heard it from might have ended things without requiring full disclosure.

Also, I mean, of course this guy has a right to meet up with his son on any terms he deems appropriate, and his neighbors shouldn’t be spying out the windows…BUT…doesn’t seem a little odd to develop your relationship with your adult son in your home in the middle of the night while your wife’s away? Why not meet for coffee or lunch? Or come over for dinner and, um….not stay the night? Yes, his neighbors are in the wrong for making presumptions, and more so for spreading rumors. But they probably wouldn’t all be coming to the same conclusion if this guys’ comings and goings didn’t come off as clandestine. Do they assume all guests to the home are secret lovers? There’s probably something generally secretive–perhaps demonstrably so–about this. This guy seems to like toying with his neighbors as much as he likes toying with Abby and her readership.

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