The steady, rhythmic thuck of my knife on the cutting board was almost enough to soothe my nerves. Cooking was normally relaxing for me---my “zen time,” I called it---but that night, I have to admit I was on edge. At the very moment I stood in my kitchen chopping onions, my oldest son, Kevin, was on his way back home from college, and he would not be coming alone. It was the first time any of my children would bring someone home. Naturally, I was ecstatic, or at least I would have been were it not for one persistent problem.

"I'm eager to see this girl that Kevin's bringing home." I turned to face my mother, sitting in her usual place at the kitchen table. Those beady blues peered at me defiantly from behind thick frames, daring me to correct her, daring reality to go against her view.

"Mom," I said, "we've talked about this." I inhaled deeply. "Kevin doesn't like women. He likes young men."

She sighed and shook her head. "I'll believe it when I see it," she said.

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It was a conversation we'd had at least four times since Kevin phoned to tell us when to expect him. Of course, I couldn't fault my mother for being old-fashioned. I'll admit, I had misgivings---discomfort, if you will---when Kevin first told me the news. I'd honestly never expected to hear any child of mine say those words. But we're meant to love our children no matter what, right? And so we get over these things. After all, isn't it my problem if I take issue with his… preferences? It's certainly not his. He has a right to pursue what will make him happy, even if it's different from anything I'd ever considered.

My mother was another matter altogether. Being old-fashioned I could understand, but to be completely resistant to the absorption of new information? It was beyond frustrating! I was actually beginning to worry about her mind, but not as much as I now worried more immediately about how she would react when my son walked through the door with a boy behind him instead of a girl.

The ding dong of the doorbell knocked me straight out of my own head. "So soon?" I asked aloud, checking the clock. Yes, he was early, and I was so unprepared!

After a brief moment of panic, I regained my senses, wiped my hands on a kitchen towel, and hurried out into the front hall. My heart was pounding, and it took a few breaths to steady myself. At last, I threw the door open wide. There he was, my little boy, now a fully grown man. I marveled at how much just one semester of college had changed him. It was with a mixture of pride and sadness that I saw how handsome he had become. And then, of course, there was the fellow beside him, a little leaner, but every bit as handsome. How proud his own mother must have been of him.

Once I released my grownup baby from a ferocious embrace, he introduced his guest. "Mom," he said. "This is Bryce."

Bryce's eyes twinkled with sugary sweetness as he greeted me. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Henderson."

"Likewise, my dear!" I enthused. "Come in, come in! Warm up in the kitchen! I've got some coffee brewing."

Bryce had scarcely breached the kitchen doorway when my husband came up behind him. In only one or two swift motions, he grabbed the boy and dragged his sharp knife across his throat. I was very glad in that moment that I'd made him sharpen the blade that morning. Otherwise, we might have had a fight on our hands. Instead, I simply watched with satisfaction and relief as the life sprayed out of the young man's gaping wound.

"Nice one, Dad!" Kevin cheered.

"Your old man's still got it!" my husband said as he wiped the blood from the knife onto his shirt.

"I have to say, Kevin," I said, turning on my “critical mom” voice. “It doesn't look like there's much meat on him. Are you sure about this?"

"Very," said my son. He nodded confidently. "He might not look like much, but you'd be surprised how juicy they are!"

"It just doesn't seem natural." I turned once again to face my mother, who now pursed her lips and furrowed her brow. "Young women are all we've had for decades. They've got the meat, the fat.... It’s tradition! A man.... It just doesn't seem right."

I rolled my eyes and sighed. "There's a first time for everything, Mom. Now just relax. I think you'll really like the recipe I found."

Written by Jdeschene
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