Plastic Chairs by Ben Oakes

Hello, my name is Tobias Flynn, but you can call me Toby. I know you already know that because it will presumably say so on the top of the file. The file you’re reading, the one I’m writing.

This is my file. Funny, I didn’t think anyone would have a file on me. Actually, I suppose school will have a file on me, won’t they?

This is not relevant to why I am here today.

I am here to take part in some research. Principal John nominated me for it. He said it was because I was the most appropriate person for it but we both knew he only did it because I am the only kid with gay parents, which is what this research is all about.

I hate it when teachers don’t tell you the whole truth. Principal John isn’t like that though, not really. He allows me to call him by his first name which probably implies that he isn’t all that secretive.

Again, this is not relevant to why I’m here today.

The woman in the lobby told me to be myself when I was writing and not care about what I sounded like. I wish I was more charming, then writing this might not be so hard. She told me that I needed to just write as I think and that is what I am doing. Jesus, I hope it isn’t too boring.

So instead of starting at the beginning which may be more conventional, I’m going to start at the end, right now. Well, here I am in this library. No it’s not a library it’s a… what did she say? Oh yeah, a research centre. I feel like I’m ill or something with it being called a research centre, I don’t know.

I’m sitting in a leather seat which makes me really uncomfortable because I’m vegan, but the woman said I couldn’t get another one. A plastic one would be better. And cheaper, for that matter.

Never mind. I’m sitting at this computer and I’m writing about my life. I’m not sure what they want to read, they said that anything is of use and so I could write whatever I wanted, whatever I feel.

I feel cold, but that’s my fault for not wearing a sweater today. I always make the wrong decisions with clothing. My Moms always tell me to get a coat on, but I tell them to shut up. I’m not exactly a poster son but I do the best I can.

Speaking of my parents, that’s the reason I’m here. I am the son – although not the only son – of two gay parents. I know, it’s such a shock. So unconventional, so unique. Not really.

This charity for gay rights – sorry, “human” rights – are doing some investigations into the effect gay parenting can have on children so here I am, being me, and then a bunch of people are going to see how it’s effected me and my life.

I suppose it’s important to point out that I am not gay. So yeah, I don’t think being gay parents makes your kids gay. My best friend’s (Rhys, I’ll get onto him later) parents are straight and forgetting myself, my younger sister, Jess, is the most straight person ever. I wonder if that’s possible, to be the most straight person ever? Maybe they should make a TV show out of that. ‘The Biggest Straight’ or something? Who can sleep with the most- no, that wouldn’t be good to watch. Especially not my sister. Jesus, I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.

I was born on the sixth of August 1994, making me one of the youngest people in my year. I was the last person to turn eighteen which really sucked and it will mean I will be the last one to turn twenty-one. I’ve got a fake ID though so I should be fine until then. Should I put that in here about my fake ID? Oh well, never mind.

Jenna, one of my Moms, gave birth to me and probably due to that we’re very much alike. We’re both brown haired and we both play the guitar. We are both decent singers and we both can’t dance. She is also the only person who can tell when I’m really down and upset. I love her a lot.

My other Mom, Amelia – don’t ever call her that though or she’ll bite your head off – she’s polar different to me and Jenna. That sounds weird, calling her Jenna. I never usually do that, it’s only so you know who I am referring to. Amelia – or Lia, as Jenna calls her – has blonde hair, blue eyes, is absolutely stunning and unbelievably talented. She’s still on Broadway now. She can sing, dance and act, which is just one of the reasons why she’s so fantastic. She has won five Tony’s in her time. I love her a lot, too.

They come from England, both of them. Watching old videos of them is funny because of their ridiculous accents. My Uncle Dom – not my real Uncle, just their friend – still lives there and his accent is just hilarious. Not bad, not at all, just hilarious.

I’ve deleted about ten lines of writing because I kept saying “Mom” but you don’t know which one I am talking about. From now on I am just going to name them by their first names and hope I don’t say it to their faces, or I don’t know what will happen.

Amelia doesn’t speak to anyone in her family except her sister, my Aunt Liz who is also gay. God, maybe being gay does run in the family. But I suppose that is what you are looking to find out too isn’t it?

All of Amelia’s family still live in England but she and my Aunt Liz don’t talk to anyone else in their family. Their parents – I suppose my Grandparents but I never really think of them like that – rejected my Mom after she came out. They put up with her when she was studying in London but as soon as she moved to New York, they told her that they wanted nothing to do with her.

She says it doesn’t bother her now that she has this big family of her own, but I don’t believe her. She’s still upset about it, and I don’t blame her, I don’t know what I would do if I had to live without my parents.

My other Mom – Jenna – does speak to my Grandma, Caroline. She’s really nice and comes to celebrate Christmas every year here. She’s really funny too and tells us lots of stories from when they were little.

So I was born when both my Moms were thirty. They had been together since they were fifteen, that’s fifteen whole years of a relationship, it’s not a surprise they were beginning to get sick of each other and wanted someone else around.

Amelia had just finished a two year run on Broadway when Jenna got pregnant with me. It’s a funny phrase for gay people isn’t it? “Got pregnant” – it’s like it was an accident but there is no way it could have been.

If you are the child of gay parents you know for a fact that you were planned, and I think that is a pretty nice feeling to have.

Yeah, she’d just finished two years as Christine in Phantom of the Opera and she once said it was the best two years of her life. I told her that there was no way it was the best two years in her life if I hadn’t even been born yet. She laughed at that.

Amelia took a year off work as Jenna was pregnant which I think was a pretty supportive thing to do. That’s the thing with my parents, they always support each other one hundred per cent.

Like when Amelia was pregnant with Florence when I was fourteen, she got cravings for vegetarianism. I’m not even kidding, I know it sounds odd, but with her pregnancy, she could not eat meat at all. So Jenna decided to go vegetarian too just to support her. They didn’t force us too – although I did and then ended up converting totally vegan – but she did it just because Amelia was.

I don’t know what I find so sweet about that, I just do.

After I was born, we moved from their apartment on Broadway to a house on fifth avenue and we lived there until I was seven. When I was two, Amelia got pregnant with Jess, my oldest little sister.

When Jess was born, I felt like I had found my partner in crime. By the time I was five and she was three, we were the best of friends.

One thing I remember from when Jess and I were young was a shopping trip with our Moms. We were in a mall and Jenna was buying us ice cream when these kids – probably about fifteen/sixteen years old – started shouting at our Moms. They were calling them lots of names and they kept shrugging it off. That was until they started shouting at us.

I can’t remember exactly what they said, but it made Amelia flip out. She walked up to the kids and just said.

“You dare speak ill of my kids again, and you’ll regret it.”

It was awesome. Jess and I were dumbfounded. Our Mom was awesome.

I suppose that’s one thing that happened to us in childhood that wouldn’t have happened had we been born to straight parents. We had to overcome hatred from homophobic motherfuckers. Is that the kind of thing you’re looking for?

It wasn’t detrimental to our bringing up though. It made me respect my Moms a lot, not that I didn’t before, but it taught me that it wasn’t OK to make fun of people and if you did, you would probably get into a lot of trouble because of that. I think that’s a good thing for children to learn, really.

When I was ten, Adam was born. Adam was the first brother I had – and yes I say first, I told you it was a big family. Adam is now eight, and he is the most energetic little boy I have ever come across. He loves to swim, which I find funny because nobody in our family is very sporty – unless you count dancing which Amelia and Jess are great at – but it’s great. He’s very good at it to. I try to get to as many swim meets as possible and so does Jenna. Amelia tries but she’s usually pretty busy with work; she works a lot.

Adam is a bright kid, far more bright than I am and far brighter than Jess. He gets straight As which I think is funny because he’s only eight and who should be getting graded at eight? He should be still running around in sandpits and eating worms. Maybe not eating worms though, that’s pretty gross.

He came running into the den today screaming his little face off because his teacher – Mrs Ganby – gave him an A in the Math test he thought he’d flunked. He thought he’d flunked a Math quiz. He’s eight – why the hell should he care?

Shit, it’s already eight thirty. How long have I been writing now? Two hours. Well, I haven’t written a lot have I? Never mind, I’ll be back tomorrow, probably, maybe not.

See you soon.

I’d better have a plastic chair next time.