Rubber Game: [noun]
The tiebreaker in the last of a tied series of games;
sometimes used in other types of contests and debates
Mature theme and language.
This story deals with a subject that can be an important issue for teens and their parents.
“Okay, guys, great game today,” Coach Reynolds told us. We’d just won a playoff game against Union High four to one. It was a best-of-five series; we’d won two games and Union High had won two games. I’d hit a home run with two guys on base to break a one-one tie in the bottom of the seventh. A walk-off win! I was majorly stoked.
“Friday’s our rubber game,” Coach continued. “We get our third win and Edison High School will have won the North Coast Section championship.”
“Coach, what’s a rubber game?” Jeremy, one of our younger guys, an outfielder, asked.
I knew the answer because baseball is the most important thing in my life. Well, maybe not as important as my boyfriend, Steve. Or my family. But next in line, for sure.
Coach answered the question. “It’s a game played that will determine the winner of a series of games that’s tied. Like us and Union. We’ve each won two games out of five.”
“Okay, thanks,” Jeremy said.
“Now, you guys go home and be sure to go to bed early tonight so you can rest up. We’ll have batting practice tomorrow during seventh period PE; pitchers will do light warmups. Go on, get outta here!” Coach smiled and we all cheered.
I rushed home. I wanted to tell my mom that we’d won. That my home run had won the game. I’d tell my dad when he got home. He’d said that if we got to a playoff game he’d make sure to be there to watch me play. That would be fantastic!
I went in through the back door, as usual, and actually ran into the kitchen.
“Mom!” I shouted. “We won! We WON!”
“I’m glad you’re home, Braydon,” she said, without any excitement or even interest in her voice. She looked glum.
Man, what a way to have my elation deflated.
“I thought you’d be excited, too,” I said. “My homerun in the seventh inning won the game for us. We’re playing the rubber game on Friday. That’s for the NCS championship!”
I stood looking at her. She had the strangest expression… like she was disgusted with me. I was totally confused.
“What!” I said, scowling at her.
“I’m very disappointed in you, Braydon.”
“Why? What did I do?”
“Your father and I know that you’re gay, Braydon. We know you and Steve are close friends… very close friends. And that’s all fine. But I thought we had an agreement about the two of you having sex. I discovered that you’ve violated that agreement.”
“What? That’s not true!”
“Then please explain why I found this at the top of our trash bin this morning.” She held out a paper bag. “Take it and see what I found. It’s inside the bag.”
I stood there and stared at the bag like it contained a poisonous snake.
“Take it!” she demanded.
I took the bag and pulled the top open, carefully, and looked inside. There was something that sort of looked like a narrow plastic bag, partially wrapped in some tissues, in the bottom of the bag. I looked up. “What’s in that plastic bag?” I asked.
“It’s not a plastic bag. It’s a rubber.”
“A what?” I asked.
“Don’t lead me on, Braydon Sanders! You know what a rubber is!”
“I don’t know what a rubber is. Unless you’re talking about a rubber band. Whatever that is,” — I pointed to the open top of the bag — “isn’t a rubber band.”
“You really don’t know what a rubber is? What a condom is?”
“What? That‘s a condom? I’ve never heard a condom being called a rubber. A condom’s a condom. And Steve and I don’t have the kind of sex where we’d use a condom, the kind of sex we agreed with you and Dad and with Steve’s folks that we wouldn’t do.” I looked in the bag and its contents. “And you think Steve and I used that thing? That’s almost as ridiculous as calling it a rubber. It doesn’t even look like a condom.”
I reached in the bag and pulled it out, leaving the tissues behind. Well, it turned out that it did look like a condom, a very big, over-sized condom, flattened from being fully unrolled, with a tip and with ribs around the outside. It was very wide and very long.
“This condom sure as hell wouldn’t fit me! I could only wish it would!” I started laughing and held it up.
“Don’t swear!” Leave it to Mom to ignore the subject at hand and attack my use of the word ‘hell’ instead. But that didn’t stop my laughter.
“I’ll repeat: this condom wouldn’t fit me! It’s way, way, way too big.”
“Condoms can become stretched out wider while they’re being used.”
“I don’t know where you heard that. It’s not true. We’ve had sex-ed at school every year starting in the seventh grade. I’m a sophomore now, so I’ve had the sex-ed classes four years now. In every sex-ed class they talk about condoms and show us what they look like and how to use them. They told us they won’t stretch in diameter while you’re using them, that’s so they won’t come off unless you bought a size that’s too big. In fact, they have to be tight when you put them on when they’re the right size. When you take them off they come back to their original size. If they did get wider while they’re being used, they’d end up coming off and staying inside the girl or the guy that’s on the receiving end.
“Let me tell you, again, this condom, if it isn’t some sort of joke and that’s what it probably is, isn’t mine and would never fit me. It’s way too big, and I can prove it.”
I held it up, with my fingertips on the outside edges of the condom. Without stretching it, my fingertips were about four inches apart. “See? If I put this on, and Steve and I had anal sex,” — she drew back and looked shocked when I said that, but I continued anyway — “which we don’t, this condom would come off and still be inside Steve. It would have slipped right off me, immediately.”
Mom didn’t look convinced. Instead, she looked irritated.
“Look, I’ll show you that it wouldn’t even begin to fit me.” I reached down and unzipped my jeans then started to loosen my belt.
“Stop! Then if it isn’t yours, maybe it’s Steve’s.”
“I’ll phone him right now and have him come over and show you that it wouldn’t fit him either. Trust me, it wouldn’t.”
I didn’t zip my jeans closed. I glared at her. “Do you need me to prove it’s not mine?”
“No! Zip up your jeans. I don’t need a demonstration. If that’s found necessary I’ll leave it to your father to conduct the demonstration.”
“You still don’t believe me, do you! What about Donna and her boyfriend? She and Roger are three years older than me, so his… equipment… would be a lot bigger than mine is at fourteen years old. Ask Donna about this condom.” I dropped the condom back into the bag and handed it to Mom.
We stood there looking at each other.
“Well?” I said.
“Are you going to talk to Donna? That’s only right, after you’ve accused me of having anal sex with Steve, which we’ve never done and have no interest in ever doing.”
She took a deep breath and looked down. After a couple seconds she looked at me.
“I’m sorry, Braydon, but since you’re the only boy in the family it makes sense that it has to be yours.”
“For the last time, it’s not mine,” I growled. “This is ridiculous. I’m going to my room and change. Then I’m going out for a walk.”
I ignored her and walked down the hall to my room. She didn’t say she believed me. She didn’t say she was going to talk to Donna. She didn’t say anything about us winning our game today! I was really, really pissed.
I slammed my bedroom door closed, hard, then dumped my backpack on the floor, hard. I opened my closet to see what I could change into. There was a knock at my bedroom door. Maybe Mom had come to apologize. I opened the door. It was Donna.
“What’s going on, Bray? You guys lose the game today?”
“No. We won.”
“So, what’s wrong? You slammed your door then it sounded like you threw your backpack on the floor as hard as you could.”
“Go ask Mom. I’m going for a walk. I’ve gotta get out of here.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
I grabbed my cell and my keys, pushed past Donna, and left the house without bothering to change. When I walked out and closed the front door I slammed it as hard as I could. I was really pissed at Mom.
I needed to vent. I decided to go to Steve’s house and talk to him about what happened. It was about a thirty minute walk to his house. Usually I’d ride my bike, but walking would help me work off my anger. I heard my Justin Bieber ‘Love Yourself’ ringtone several times on my way. I didn’t even look at my phone. I assumed it was Mom.
When I got to Steve’s house I walked around the back; that was the way I always entered his house. His mom was in the kitchen.
“Hello, Braydon. How are you?”
“Okay. Is Steve home?”
“Yes. As usual, he should be in his room finishing up his homework and a project for his graphic arts class. Go on back, and tell him that he needs to finish all of his homework and his project before the two of you start playing any video games. Okay?” She grinned.
“Okay. I’ll pass on your orders and tell him the source and that you said he has to finish all of his homework and his project.” Then I grinned, too. It was the first time I’d grinned since I got home and had my fight with Mom.
Steve’s bedroom door was open, and he was busy at his laptop.
“Hey!” I said, softly so it wouldn’t startle him.
He turned and looked at me. “Hey, Bray! I’m almost finished with my graphic arts project. Give me about ten and I’ll be all done with it. And if my mom told you to bug me about my homework, it’s all done.”
“You’re right about her telling me to tell you to get off your butt and get it done before dinner. You don’t get to eat until it’s done.”
Steve got up and pulled me into a hug, then pushed me away with his arms straight out and held onto my shoulders. “Liar. My mom never says I have to finish homework before dinner.” He stuck out his tongue at me and grinned.
“Yeah, but I thought it sounded funnier to say it that way instead of saying we can’t play video games until it’s done.”
He looked at the door and not seeing anyone in the hall pulled me into a kiss.
“Love ya, Bray,” he whispered in my ear.
“Love ya, Steve,” I whispered in return.
“Now I’m gonna finish my project. Take a nap or something ‘til I’m done.”
I flopped down on his bed and shut my eyes. I couldn’t sleep, but resting with my eyes closed felt good.
Maybe fifteen minutes later he announced, “Okay, I’m done except checking it for typos. I’ll do that later.” He closed the lid on his laptop.
“Bray, you didn’t call before coming over. That’s unusual. And you’re real quiet. That’s even more unusual. What’s going on?”
I took a deep breath and frowned. Then I told him what happened with my mom when I got home from the game. I also told him about the game.
When I finished, Steve grinned. “Why didn’t you bring this mega-condom with you? I’d looove to see that!”
“Jeez, you have such a dirty mind!” I retorted.
“Ah, that means it was used, right?”
“I don’t think so. What I know is that it was about four inches wide. A guy that would be able to wear it would have to be huge. In fact, it’s so big you could wear it on your arm!”
“How do you know it was four inches wide? Did you measure it?”
“No, I guessed the width when it was flat and I was holding the outside edges.”
“Okay, let’s assume your eye-balling the width is right. To see how big you’d have to be — let’s see, we need to calculate the diameter of the condom. The formula is the circumference divided by three-point-one-four — that’s a rough value for pi. So, if it was flat when you guessed the width of four inches, that means there are two sides each of which is four inches, so the circumference would be twice the four inch width which is eight inches. Eight divided by pi means the diameter would be about… two and a half inches.” He giggled. “That’s much bigger than either of us. Besides, it’d have to be stretched when you put it on so it’ll stay on tight. So we’re probably talking about a dick that’s three inches in diameter, minimum. Neither of us could use a condom that big.”
“That’s exactly what I told my mom, that it’s way too big for either of us. I told her without the arithmetic to calculate the diameter.
“Anyway, one of the reasons I stormed out of the house and came here is to find out if my mom called your mom and told her that she thought we’d been having anal sex.”
“Let’s go ask my mom if your mom called her about the condom.”
“You really want to ask your mom that way?” I asked.
“Of course I really want to ask her that way. Better she hear it from me and you instead of your mom.”
I could see that made sense. “Okay, let’s do it.”
Just then my phone began playing my ringtone again. I pushed the power button to shut it off.
“Aren’t you going to answer the call?” Steve asked.
“No. It’s my mom and I’m still totally pissed at her. Besides, we need to talk to your mom before my mom figures out that maybe I came here.”
“Okay, let’s go.”
I started by asking Mrs. Williams if my mom had phoned her.
“No, not recently,” she replied.
“Okay, here’s what happened when I got home today.” Then I told her my ‘rubber’ story. It was embarrassing, but I told what happened leaving nothing out — except the baseball game part.
“So, Braydon, how big was this condom?”
“It was about four inches wide, or maybe even more.” I held up my hand showing how I’d held it in my fingertips. “And it was at least a foot long. Steve and I calculated that… uh… to use it we’d have to be at least three inches in diameter. We’re not.”
I heard Steve mumble, “That should be Steve calculated it!” under his breath.
“And you’re sure it was a condom? Could it have been some sort of plastic bag holding something?”
“No, I’m sure that it was a condom. We’ve seen them in our sex-ed classes since seventh grade. It had one of those tips at the top, it wasn’t clear plastic, and it had ridges around it about a quarter of an inch apart starting maybe an inch and a half from the top. It was huge.”
“Maybe it’s for an animal?” Steve asked.
I looked at him and blinked. “Why would anyone put a condom on an animal?” I asked.
“Alright, alright! Enough!” Mrs. Williams said, grinning. “I get the idea. Braydon, I’m going to call your mother and talk to her. You don’t have any objections to my doing that, do you?”
“Nope. Uh… she’s going to tell you I’ve ignored her calls to my phone. I think she’s been trying to reach me, so I turned my phone off. I’m still mad that she said that condom is mine, that she wouldn’t believe me that it wasn’t mine, and that she never apologized when I told her and offered to show her that it wouldn’t fit me or Steve.”
“If she brings it up I’ll tell her just the part that you just said about being mad at her. Is that okay?”
“Yes. Thank you, Mrs. Williams.”
“Can we listen to the call? Uh, your side of the call?” Steve asked.
“No, I think it’s better if you’re not here. I’d have to tell her you were here listening, and if I did that, she might be less willing to discuss her side of what happened. So, why don’t you two go outside and take a walk or shoot baskets or something?”
“There’s one thing I forgot to tell you, Mrs. Williams. At first my mom called it a rubber. I never heard that before. She might call it that when you talk to her, so now you know what it means.”
“Actually, when I was your age, Braydon, condoms were always called rubbers. I think at one time they were made out of rubber instead of plastic.”
“I didn’t know that,” I said.
“I did,” Steve said. “Gregory called them that.” Gregory was Steve’s older brother; he went to college at the University of California Santa Cruz.
“And when did Gregory talk to you about rubbers, Steven?” his mom asked. She looked annoyed.
“In July when he was packing his stuff to go back to Santa Cruz. He was about to put a box in his duffle bag. I walked in and he tried to hide the box from me. I asked him what it was, and he said they were rubbers. I asked him what rubbers were, and he said that’s another name for condoms. He told me about how they used to be made out of rubber and that’s what they were called in the distant past.”
“Wait just a minute!” Steve’s mom growled. “Do you think that because I remember that they used to be called rubbers that I’m from the distant past? Huh? Huh?”
“No! I’m just repeating what Gregory said. He’s the one who said ‘distant past,’ not me!”
I was standing behind Steve, and I couldn’t keep from grinning. Steve looked down, and that gave his mom time to wink at me.
“You’re the one who repeated it just now,” she said, glaring at Steve. “So am I from the distant past? Well?” I could tell that she was trying to stifle a grin.
I guess Steve finally caught on because he started to laugh. Pretty soon I was laughing, then his mom was, too.
“Okay, you two. Outside, now, so I can have a private conversation with Mrs. Sanders.” She pointed at the back door.
So Steve and I went outside.
“What do you want to do? Shoot some baskets? Practice passing a football? Kick around a soccer ball? Borrow Greg’s old lacrosse sticks and toss the ball back and forth? Or we can walk to school and play a little tennis. Any of those interest you?”
I busted up laughing. “So, Mr. Steven Williams, you picked sports other than the one that I play. So what’s that about?”
“You know I hate to lose. I gotta better chance of winning by playing anything other than baseball. Capisci?”
“What’s ‘capisci’ mean?”
Steve grinned. “It means ‘do you understand?’ It’s Italian. So, do you understand?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “The easiest is basketball. You’ve got a basket hoop on the front of the garage, and I know you’ve got the basketball. So, let’s shoot some baskets.”
“Okay!” Steve opened the side door to the garage and returned with a basketball and a hand pump. “I’ll check that it’s properly inflated. This pump has settings for basketballs, footballs, and soccer balls. It automatically stops when the ball is at the right pressure.”
We started shooting free throws. We each made about 60% of our shots. “Hey, not bad for two guys who aren’t on the basketball team!” Steve crowed.
“Let’s step back and see how close we can get doing Steph Curry three-point shots,” I suggested.
We weren’t nearly as successful from the three-point line. What was amazing is that we did better from the half-court line than the three-point line. If anyone gets curious, too bad because I decided that I’m not going to tell how we did. That’s personal.
After a while I stopped and looked at Steve. “That phone call is sure taking a long time. How long have we been out here?”
“About twenty, twenty-five minutes. That is a long time. Say, I’m thirsty, aren’t you? Let’s go in and get something to drink.” Steve grinned.
“Lead the way!” I said.
When we got to the kitchen Steve grabbed two Cokes and handed me one. Steve’s mom was fixing dinner. She turned and looked at us. “You guys want a snack?”
“Sure. When are we eating? What are we having?” Steve asked.
“We’re eating around six-thirty. We’re having roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots, and a green salad. For dessert we’re having fresh-baked apple pie and vanilla ice cream.”
“Wow,” Steve said, “that’s a lot. Not that I’m complaining! It sounds great.”
“It’s a lot because Braydon’s folks and his sister are coming for dinner.”
I was stunned. While Steve and I were boyfriends, and both sets of folks were fine with that, they weren’t the kind of close friends that got together often. Most of the reason why was because we don’t live in the same neighborhood. Our houses are over a mile and a half apart. But our families were friendly and we did get together a couple times each summer for barbeques at each house. It was the idea of having a sit-down dinner together that was unusual.
I looked at Steve, and he also seemed to be surprised. He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.
“What did my mom say about what happened this afternoon?” I asked.
“She said she’s very sorry and will talk to you when she gets here. She wouldn’t tell me anything else. So you’ll have to wait. They said they’ll be here at six o’clock.”
“Okay.” Actually, not okay. What I had wanted was for Mom to ask that I call home, and then she’d apologize to me over the phone.
“So, do you guys want a snack?” Mrs. Williams asked, again.
“Maybe something that won’t spoil my appetite,” I said. “A banana, maybe?”
“That sounds good to me, too,” Steve added. He pulled two bananas out of a bowl on the kitchen counter and handed one to me. “Let’s go to my room and see what homework you can do without having your books here.”
I groaned, then followed him to his bedroom.
We were taking mostly the same classes, so I was able to work on my Algebra 2 and Trigonometry homework. When I finished the problems I checked my answers against Steve’s solutions. They matched.
“So,” I said, “either we both have them right or we both have them wrong.”
“I vote for the first choice. We have the right answers,” Steve said, raising his fist. I agreed with him and we did a congratulatory fist bump, grinning.
I had to write a short-short story for my creative writing class, one page maximum typed, double-spaced, and a minimum of 200 words. Steve let me use his laptop, and I started by writing some notes about a couple ideas I had for the story. I picked one of the ideas, the easiest to write about, and got started with the actual writing part.
I’d been working on the story for quite a while when Steve tapped me on my shoulder.
“Bray, Mom said your folks are here and we should go meet them.”
“Okay. Give me about ten minutes. I’m almost finished with my story. Tell them that, please.”
“Will do.” Steve left the room and closed the door.
I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I’d finished my story and was doing a quick read-through to catch typos. There was a knock on the door. I assumed it would be my mom. So I said, “Come on in.”
It was my sister. “Bray, can I come in and talk with you for a minute?”
“Sure.” I saved my story then emailed the file to myself so I’d have it on my laptop at home. I turned around. Donna was standing by the door, and she seemed to be embarrassed. “Come on in. Sit here, on the bed. We can talk.”
She closed the door — I guessed that she had something important that she wanted to tell me — and sat at the end of the bed like I’d suggested.
“So, what do you want to talk about, Donna?” I asked.
“I’m so sorry that Mom sort of attacked you about the condom. It was my fault. I…” she shook her head and paused for a few seconds. “Okay, here’s what happened. Roger and I walked home from school. We were doing a lot of joking around. Just having fun, telling jokes. So, when we got home Mom wasn’t home yet, as usual, and you were playing in your baseball game… so Roger and I started kissing, and then… then we did a little more. I think you know how it is, probably like when you get together with Steve and no one’s home?”
It was a question, so I nodded a yes, grinned, and wiggled my eyebrows.
Donna giggled. “Okay, nothing serious, though. After a little while Roger said, ‘I have something to show you. We can use it when we can get… closer.’ He reached in his duffle bag and pulled out a small package. He said, ‘Close your eyes until I tell you to open them.’ So I did. Then he said, ‘Okay, open your eyes.’ I did, and he was holding this ginormous condom. I’m sure my eyes bugged out ‘cause that’s how it felt. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ and he started laughing, then so did I. I asked him, ‘Where did get that thing? It looks like it’s for a horse!’ and he said he was looking at the condoms, just out of curiosity — yeah, as-if — and saw some packages marked XXX and wondered what that meant. He handed me the package and let me read the side. It explained it was for — god, this is so embarrassing — ‘three to four inch width.’ I said, ‘Not in a million years,’ and we started laughing and joking about it.
“Anyway, he bought it as a joke. And it was pretty funny. So we played with it. He tried to blow it up like a balloon, but stopped and was rubbing his lips. The package said it was lubricated and he said it tasted awful.
“Anyway, we got tired of joking about it and I realized that if Mom saw it she’d go ballistic. So, I folded it and wrapped it in some tissues, put it in a small paper bag that I found in the kitchen, and after Roger left to go home I went outside and put it in the trash can.
“I don’t understand why Mom would open the trash can, see the bag, pull it out and open it to see what was inside. But she did. And she assumed it was yours, Bray. I didn’t know any of what happened between Mom and you until after you’d stormed out of the house. I asked Mom where you were going and told her that you looked very mad. So, she told me that she found the condom and assumed it had to be yours. I told her it was my fault she found it and that Roger had bought it as a joke to show me.
“Then Mom got mad at herself for accusing you and tried to call you and you never answered your cellphone. Then Steve’s mom called and they talked and we ended up getting invited to dinner. Mom wanted to talk to you as soon as we got here, but I said I wanted to talk to you and explain everything first.
“I’m so sorry, Bray! Really. It’s my fault for not hiding it better, or giving it back to Roger so he could throw it away at his house.”
Donna was almost in tears, so I stood up and held out my arms. She got up and we hugged. Then we pulled back. “I’m not mad at you. But I’m still pissed at Mom for not believing me. I even tried to demonstrate how it would never fit me,” I said
“You what? Tried to demonstrate… to show her… you mean…?”
I grinned and interrupted Donna. “Let me tell you everything that happened.” So I told her. At the end we were both laughing, especially about me unzipping my pants and Mom’s reaction.
“Would you have actually demonstrated that it was too big?” Donna asked.
“Wouldn’t you have been like, totally embarrassed?”
“But Mom would have seen your… you know, your….” She couldn’t say it.
“My dick. Yup. That condom looked like it was almost big enough for me to pull onto my arm. If she’d seen it alongside my dick it would have been obvious that it couldn’t be mine.”
“You were a lot braver than I would have been,” Donna said.
“Which brings up a question. I wonder, since we’re here with Steve and his family, will Mom apologize to me here in front of everybody, will she want to talk to me in private, or will she wait until we’re home? What do you think, Donna?”
“I don’t know, Bray. You’ll have to see what happens.”
I grinned. “Well, let’s join the others and we’ll find out!”
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