“You’re really starting to get the hang of this TikTok business, aren’t you?”
Pewter – shit – ‘Peter’ was recording a video for TikTok and didn’t seem to hear me. The fact that he’d been consistently creating videos for the last couple of weeks triggered my attention. When asking about his preoccupation with the app, he showed me his follower count, which racked up in the tens of thousands.
I was baffled, to say the least. Sure, the boy looks like he can lift a truck with just his index finger, but I wouldn’t have thought that he was so popular. When asking what it exactly was that he did in videos, he told me that he only recorded ‘duets’, which is basically a reaction to an already existing video.
“So… people like your reactions to videos?”
“And all you do is smile while wearing your army uniform?”
A hestitant grin appeared on my face. “Wow, son. I have to admit: I never thought that you’d be so popular with the girls.”
“Not girls, pop.”
It took a while for the confusion to fade away.
“Oh”, I mumbled.
I felt awkward. To be frank, we had never had a heart-to-heart talk about that stuff before. Peter always had been a little slow and to think that he’d ever actually grow up…
After the two seconds that it took me to process all of the above, I straightened my face, smiled encouragingly and grabbed his shoulder in a fatherly manner. At least, that’s what the movies had taught me.
“The only thing that matters is that you’re happy, son. There are lots of great guys out there.” My smile had become genuine and I realized it was because of the decreased likelihood of having grandchildren that would resemble him in any possible way dramatically. I wouldn’t have the stamina or strength to deal with his children in the same way I had to deal with him.
Peter frowned and looked at me in a funny way.
“I’m not gay, pop.”
“Oh”, I mumbled again. Relief had been replaced by anxiety.
“But you’re okay with all those guys following you and liking your videos?”
“Yeah, pop. I make good money out of it.”
“Money?” I asked while picking up my jaw from the floor. “You make money out of those reaction videos?”
“Yeah, the more views you get, the more you get paid. You need tens of… hundreds… of thousands…” He looked like his fuse was about to blow out. His brain couldn’t handle the amount of processing power needed to formulate the words he wanted to use.
“So, a huge amount of views”, I said, deciding to help him out because the football game was about to start and I remembered that Cookie would be here soon with beer. The Giants were in dreadful shape lately and the beer was needed to soothe the impending headache I’d get after watching the game.
“Yup”, he nodded enthusiastically. And uncle Cookie is helping me.
“That’s great! I really like how you two have been bonding these last couple of years.” I fell silent after that. I had wanted to add that Cookie would be a good influence on him, but since that obviously wouldn’t be the case, I just laughed and playfully punched my son on the shoulder. The more he was occupied with Cookie, the more time I would have for football today.
The doorbell rang, and Peter rushed to open the door. It was Cookie, dressed in a bathrobe. After all these years that we’ve been friends, I really shouldn’t be surprised with his antics anymore. But this time, I couldn’t quite put the pieces together, ’cause bathrobes and football usually don’t go well together.
“John, did you bring the beer?” I eyed him awkwardly from top to toe and spotted the twelve-pack he was holding. I slowly moved towards him and gently reached for the beverages, while desperately trying to avoid looking down his bathrobe.
“I’ll just take those and put them in the fridge…”
“What? Oh, yeah”, he mumbled absent-mindedly, wearing a strange grin on his face. “Can’t watch the game rightaway, though. Gonna make a TikTok video with Pete.”
I raised an eyebrow, shrugged and carefully retreated towards the kitchen, clutching the twelve-pack like it was a newborn baby.
In the living room, Peter suggested that Cookie dance sexy for his live viewers. Cookie immediately complied, now wearing a huge smile on his face. After thrusting his hips forward a few times, the bathrobe came off. As expected, he wore a thong and nothing else.
That was it. My cue to stop peeking around the corner.
I cracked open the twelve-pack and sighed.
In a few minutes I’d face two problems: deciding what drama to watch unfold in my living room, and not having enough beer to cope with either.