I don’t know where TJ went after he left the cafeteria. He was a no-show for fifth and sixth periods. I was really worried about him. I was also extremely pissed at Deanna. She tried to apologize to me after school, but I told her if she came anywhere near me I would kick her ass. I didn’t care if she was a girl. She started crying and walked away.
Dean and Wilson found me later sitting on a bleacher at the football field. I wanted to be alone. I don’t know what it was that captivated me about TJ, but I didn’t want to admit that I may have fallen for him. I know. We just met, but maybe there was something to this thing called ‘love at first sight.’ I always thought it was something Hollywood manufactured just to make a good movie.
“Come on, Randy. He’ll be back tomorrow.” Wilson assured me as he sat down beside me. For a minute, I thought the bench was going to give way. Wilson may be straight as an arrow, but he can read me like a book.
“Yeah. Don’t sweat it man. You just met.” Dean was trying to sound reassuring, but he was failing miserably. “Kiss him before you miss him.” He laughed, but stopped when I looked at him and rolled my eyes.
I looked at them and asked, “Do you guys believe in love at first sight?”
“I fell in love with you the first time I saw you. You were really cute when you were five.” Dean elbowed me in the side.
“No, seriously. Do you?” I was so confused with the thoughts going through my head. I’d been with a few guys, but none had stolen my heart the way TJ had. Until he came along, I didn’t think anyone ever would.
“When I first met Trisha, I knew she was special,” Wilson began to speak. “Here was a beautiful girl laughing at the jokes of a big lug like me. I knew I loved her right away. I just didn’t think she’d ever look at someone like me.”
Dean and I listened intently. Wilson was not someone who talked about his feelings. He’d stay up all night listening to you complain and cry, but he kept his emotions to himself. This was a side of Wilson neither of us had seen before.
“When I got the nerve to ask her to the homecoming dance last year, I couldn’t believe it when she accepted. We really got to know each other that night. It took me six dates to finally kiss her, but when I did I saw heaven. So answer your question, Randy; yes, I do believe in love at first sight.”
We sat quietly on that bench for another five minutes before anyone said a word. Wilson just stared across the field. I was pretty sure he was reminiscing about his first kiss with Trisha. It’s hard to say what Dean was thinking; probably what his mother was going to fix for dinner.
“I think I’m going to head home,” I finally said.
“Want me to give you a ride?” Dean offered.
“Naw. Think I’ll walk. I need to think.” We stood and had a group hug. I loved my two best friends. They have always been there for me when I needed them.
When I entered the kitchen, Dad was already preparing dinner. He looked up and smiled when he saw me.
“How was the first day back?” I walked over to the refrigerator, took out the lettuce and began to make a salad.
“Okay, I guess,” I replied sadly.
“Oh, oh,” he laughed. “Bad schedule?”
“Wanna talk about it?”
“Yep.” Tears began to form in my eyes. We spent the next hour talking about TJ. It was a little hard to make any decisions, since I knew very little about him. I didn’t know if he was gay or if he even liked me. It felt good to talk about it, though. My dad is a good listener and he offers great advice. We finally decided to just let things happen and see where they go. All I knew was that I wanted desperately to talk to TJ again.
I got up early and begged my mom to take me to school earlier than usual. She agreed, saying nothing. I guess my dad had told her about TJ, so she knew why I was in such a hurry to leave. Before I got out of the car, she kissed me on the cheek.
“Good Luck, Dear,” she said to me. I left the car and stood outside the school doors hoping that TJ would show. I waited 35 minutes. I was getting ready to go in when I saw him walking down the street with his head down. He didn’t appear to be looking well. When I walked towards him, he looked up and stopped.
“Randy. About yesterday, I’m sorry,” he apologized.
“TJ, what in the hell are you talking about. I’m the one who needs to apologize. Deanna’s a bitch. She shouldn’t have said what she said.” Our eyes met as I spoke. Again, there was that magical connection.
“You’re not mad at me?” he asked surprisingly.
“Why would I be mad at you?” He dropped his head and looked at the ground.
“People are always mad at me.” He sounded so sad. I wanted to grab him, pull him into my arms and never let him go. I grabbed his hand and started leading him away from the school.
“Where are we going?” He seemed surprised by my sudden movement. However, he didn’t pull his hand away.
“There’s a McDonald’s down the street. I want some breakfast.” I continued holding his hand as we walked. Realizing it might look a little too gay, I released his hand.
When we arrived, he walked over and took a seat at a booth.
“Don’t you want something to eat?” I asked.
“I don’t have any money on me,” he replied.
“Wait here.” I returned with four breakfast sandwiches, four hash browns and two coffees. I pushed two sandwiches, two hash browns and a coffee over to him. He thanked me and began wolfing down the food. I sat and watched as he hurriedly ate. I had a feeling it might have been his first meal in quite a while. I handed him another sandwich and hash brown. He didn’t object. He ate them quickly as well.
After he was finished, he looked at me and appeared embarrassed. I guess he realized that I knew he probably hadn’t eaten recently. He smiled timidly at me while I drank my coffee.
“Do you like me?” I don’t know where that came from; it just came flowing out of my mouth. It was the only thing I had thought of all night and I had to know the answer.
“What?” He looked astonished.
“Do you like me? I’ve thought about nothing else but you since we met yesterday. I’m probably going to ruin this, but I’m gay. I really like you.” It was the moment of truth. He would either stay and tell me what I wanted to hear, or he’d call me a fag and go storming out of the restaurant like Deanna did yesterday. He didn’t get up and leave. He just sat staring at me wide-eyed. I couldn’t read his reaction.
“Why?” he asked, breaking the silence.
“Why?” I didn’t know what he meant.
“Why do you like me? There’s nothing about me to like.” He hung his head and looked away.
“You’ve got to be kidding, right?” I couldn’t believe the lack of self confidence he possessed. “You’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I know we just met, but I can tell you’re a really special person. Plus, you’re cute as hell.” He looked up at me and smiled.
“I love it when you smile.” He began to blush.
“You didn’t answer my question.” I looked at him and stared into his blue eyes.
He looked down at the table and softly replied, “Yes.”
* * * * * * * *
I can’t believe I told Randy I liked him. He swept me away when he said I was special- and cute. What else could I say? I did like him. I just can’t get over the fact he liked me too.
The day was not going as I had earlier expected. When I got home last night I really became depressed, more than I can remember in a long time. I guess the weed I’d smoked with Carter and the gin all caught up with me.
I woke up this morning unsure of going to school. The only reason I decided to go was because Butch was home, and I knew he’d be on my case all day. He still thought I had marijuana hidden in my room.
I was taken by surprise when Randy was outside the school waiting for me. I figured after yesterday, he’d want nothing to do with me. Instead, he grabbed me and led me off to McDonald’s. He even held my hand for awhile.
I was so grateful that he bought me something to eat. I was starving. I’d heard stoners talk about getting the munchies, but I always thought they were joking. Hunger pains hit me late last night and, as usual, there was nothing in the house to eat. I did manage to eat some stale crackers I found in the cupboard. I don’t know how long they’d been there.
Our conversation got really weird. Out of nowhere Randy asked me if I liked him. Then he told me he was gay and he liked me. I couldn’t believe it. Randy’s gay! And he likes me! I just stared at him. Why would a guy like Randy, who could have anyone he wanted, want me? I even asked him. That’s when he told me he thought I was special- and cute. Wow!
So what else could I say but yes. My emotions were beginning to overwhelm me, so I excused myself to go to the restroom. I could feel Randy’s eyes on me as I walked away. I was in there for a few minutes when Randy walked in. I had just finished washing my hands and was going to walk out, but he was leaning against the door.
“Come here.” He held out his arms. I walked over and fell into his arms. He held me in a tight embrace. I could smell the cologne he’d put on that morning. When I snuggled my head into his shoulder, I could feel his warmth on my body. I don’t think I’d ever felt as secure in my life as I was at that moment wrapped up in his embrace.
His arms left my side, and he lifted my face so that I was looking directly into his beautiful green eyes. He leaned in and our lips met. My legs weakened, and I would have fallen had he not been holding me up.
His kiss was gentle. It wasn’t forceful or filled with uncontrolled passion. It was a kiss that I had always hoped my first would be. Loving and tender. It was perfect. After about 30 seconds, he pulled away and looked into my eyes.
“Wow!” He broke into a wide smile.
“Yeah. Wow!” I returned the smile.
“That was...” He paused for a moment, searching for just he right word. “Perfect.” It was as if he’d read my mind.
“Perfect,” I repeated.
“We’d better get back to school. We’ve already missed half of Mrs. Jones class.” He leaned in and kissed me again. We then left the restaurant and headed back to school.
We signed in tardy. The secretary gave us a strange look. She told Randy this was the first time he’d ever been late. Then she looked at me. I could tell she thought I was the cause for his rebellious behavior.
We were walking to Randy’s locker, when all of a sudden, he let out a loud shout.
“That mother fucking Deanna!” I looked over at his locker. Someone had taken pink paint and sprayed ‘FAGGOTS’ on it. “I know it was her. I’m going to kick her ass when I see her.” His face was red with anger.
He got his book out of his locker and slammed it shut. He looked at the pink writing and slammed his fist into the locker, denting it. Not quite sure what to do, I grabbed his arm and led him off to class.
When we entered Mrs. Jones room with only about ten minutes left, she looked disappointedly at us. We approached her desk and handed her our tardy permits.
“You missed today’s assignment. We’ve already read the biographies,” she said as she looked disappointedly at us. “Did you write your biography?”
“No, Ma’am,” Randy responded with his head down.
“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied. Randy looked at me questioningly. “I wrote it last night.” In between my drinks, and the tears that had run down my face, I’d taken out a piece of paper and wrote what I thought Randy was like. I didn’t need to ask him questions to know the kind of guy he was.
She asked me, “Would you like to read it to the class?”
“Do I have to?” I was hoping she’d say no.
“Yes, if you want a grade,” she replied. She then announced loudly, “Class. Would you give Mr. Somerset your attention for a minute?” Everyone looked up from their reading and stared at me.
“I apologize for not being here on time, but Mrs. Jones has asked me to read my biography of Randy.” I was extremely nervous. I could see thirty pair of eyes staring at me. One girl in front gave me an encouraging smile.
“Mr. Randolph Jeremiah Lawrence.” The class began to laugh as Randy turned a scarlet red. “Everyone’s friend. Outstanding student and a wonderful son. Randy’s the guy that walks into a room and everyone begins to smile. That’s the kind of guy he is. He puts everyone else’s feeling above his own. He is a rare breed that gives his word and keeps it. He cares about the poor and disadvantaged. He works to make the world a better place. And the world is a better place because he’s in it. He’s never bitter or hateful. He’s filled with love and compassion. He’s humble and unselfish. He’s the kind of guy I’m proud to call friend.”
When I was done, I looked up and everyone was staring at me. Randy was off to my side still red-faced. I handed the paper to Mrs. Jones, walked to the back of the room and took my seat. Randy followed and sat beside me. I heard someone off to my left mutter, “fags.”
Several minutes later the bell rang and we got up and left the room. Randy pulled me aside and looked at me.
“Is that how you see me?” he asked.
“Yeah.” I hung my head. “I wrote it last night when I was thinking about you.”
“Thanks. That was nice.” I looked up and he was smiling at me. “It’ll probably get us an ‘F,’ but it was nice.” We began to laugh.
“Will you come home with me tonight?” he suddenly asked. “I want you to meet my parents.”
I was really surprised by his question. I knew I wasn’t ready to go home with him yet. What would they think when they saw me come into their home with Randy. They’d probably think of me as the stray puppy he found and wanted to keep.
“I don’t think so,” I answered sadly. “I’m not exactly the kind of guy you take home to mother.”
“You’re exactly the kind of guy I take home to mother.” He began to laugh. “Relax, she’ll love you. Just like I do.” My head shot up and he was smiling at me.
“I won’t take no for an answer. Meet me at my locker after school. You can’t miss it. It has ‘faggots’ written on it in pink.” He started to chuckle. I was happy he could now laugh about it. I sure didn’t want to be Deanna, though, the next time she ran across him.
After sixth period was over, Randy reminded me to meet him at his locker after I went to mine and put away my books. I headed for the back exit, hoping I could avoid him; but then I felt guilty. Randy had been really nice to me. He had even kissed me.
I had thought about that kiss all day. It was like I was walking around in a daze. I kept touching my lips, the lips he’d kissed just hours earlier. I felt like a giddy schoolgirl. I guess, in a way, I was. An adorable boy had kissed me, and now I was walking on cloud nine.
Just as I was turning around, I caught someone out of the corner of my eye, leaning against the lockers. I looked over and Carter was standing with a grin on his face. He patted his pants pocket.
“Hey. I’ve got some wacky tobaccy. Want to join me at the park?” I never noticed it before, but he has a very infectious smile. He was also cute. I didn’t think so the other day because my mind was preoccupied with other things. However, looking at him now, I found him attractive.
“No, sorry. I’ve got things to do,” I said apologetically.
“You and Randy hooking up?” He sounded disappointed.
“Something like that.” I felt sorry for him. He really seemed like he wanted to be with me. I guess we had bonded yesterday at the park. Maybe I was about the only person in the school who would talk to him.
“Okay, then. Have a good time. I usually go to the park for a little while after school before heading home. You can always find me there.” He was looking hopefully at me.
“You got it. I’ll meet you there sometime.” He nodded and walked away.
I turned and headed to Randy’s locker. He was leaning against it waiting for me. Dean was also standing beside him with a huge grin plastered on his face. The pink writing was no longer on the locker. I guess the custodian had cleaned it off.
“Hey,” Randy said with a dreamy look in his eyes.
“Hey, yourself,” I giggled, staring back. I hadn’t even acknowledged Dean.
“God. You two need to get a room,” Dean mumbled. Randy hit him in the side. “Hey, that hurt!”
“Let me tell you something about my boy here,” Dean looked at me and spoke. “I’ve known him practically all my life. I’ve been with him through all his ups and downs. I’ve never seen him as happy as he is right now. Treat him right, Dude. He’s a great guy.”
I looked at Randy and he seemed embarrassed. He grabbed Dean around the neck and ruffled his hair. “I love you, Man.”
“I know you do,” Dean replied as he fixed his hair. “What’s not to love?” He laughed and walked off. “Don’t you guys do anything I wouldn’t do.” He turned and smiled.
“Guess we can do about any damn thing we want to then,” Randy replied jokingly. Dean gave him the finger and walked off.
“You ready?” he asked.
“I guess,” I replied hesitantly. I was going to meet the parents of my boyfriend.