The story so far: For the first time since he came out, Derk has a steady boyfriend. That raises some old anxieties.
It took Derk several minutes to notice that he was trying to fry the chopped onion on a gas burner that wasn’t on. He was distracted. This evening Jelle was coming to dinner for the first time and all the housemates would be there. It felt like an official introduction, a second coming-out. And that made him anxious. Would his housemates still be so open-minded now he really had a partner? Did Italians deal with these things differently?
‘…a really handy trick for making tiramisu quickly,’ Bianca was saying as she bent over an oven dish. ‘It only has to go into the fridge for a little while, unlike…’ She kicked Derk in the shin. ‘Hello, Earth to Derk. Did you hear what I said?’
‘Yes, um, handy in the fridge.’ Bianca grinned.
‘Don’t worry so much about that exam you failed, man,’ she urged, misinterpreting his absentmindedness. Willem-Jan came in meanwhile. Even though he was studying fanatically again, he had found time yesterday to adjust the sound system. Now he could control Spotify from his mobile phone. As he entered the kitchen YMCA blared out from the speakers.
‘Well, I am very curious to meet your dishy boy,’ grinned Willem-Jan. Derk’s heart beat a little faster. What did he mean, he wondered nervously. Was he joking? Willem-Jan grabbed a beer and got out of the kitchen before he could be asked to help. As the tomatoes went into the pan Derk glanced nervously at his watch. Where was Jelle? Bianca was talking now about a tiramisu she had once eaten in Naples, but he only picked up snatches of the story. In the background you could hear someone stumbling up the stairs.
‘Hi guys. I bumped into Jelle and already let him in.’ His heart racing, Derk went into the living room, gave Jelle a kiss and introduced him.
‘Yeah, we already met outside,’ said Filippo, shaking his hand.
‘Nice to meet you,’ said Bianca, who was laying the table.
During the meal Derk’s tension ebbed away like air from a pricked balloon. Why hadn’t he had confidence in his housemates? When the tiramisu appeared on the table, he took Jelle’s hand in front of everyone. A steamy George Michael song began to play. Derk grinned at Willem-Jan, who winked back.