Dancing
with Madonna
Chapter Eleven
Buddy continued to sleep as they kept vigil for about fifteen minutes. His head was
buried into his pillow, so it was difficult to see the damage to his face. Finally, Mavis
announced that she was tired, and she wanted to go home. She turned to Andre
and said, “You can ride with me on the bus. I may need help getting off.” Kyle's
father immediately offered to take her and Andre home. “I don’t want to be a
burden,” she insisted.

“You won’t be,” replied Mr. Caldwell. “I’ll be more than happy to take you home.”
After a brief refusal, Mavis finally consented. She said she was too tired to argue.

Kyle waited with Mavis and Andre in the lobby while his father went to get the car
from the parking garage. Every time Kyle looked over at Andre, he would catch him
staring at him. He had never had another boy show so much interest in him, so he
felt awkward and embarrassed. He walked away and stared out the window as he
waited for his father to arrive.

Mavis gave Mr. Caldwell directions to her home. When she turned and reminded
Andre to bring Buddy’s things to her home later, Kyle’s father told her it would be
no trouble for him to take Andre home first to get the items.

Kyle and Andre sat in silence on the way. Occasionally, he would notice Andre look
over, but he pretended that he didn’t see him. Since their confrontation in the
hospital restroom, he was confused as to what was happening. Andre confided in
him that Buddy had a crush on him. Then, why hadn’t Buddy said something?
They shared a few classes together, and they had even sat together on a couple of
occasions. Kyle never noticed that Buddy was interested in him. But then again, he
really hadn’t given him a chance. It was his nature to be aloof around strangers,
and he had treated Buddy with the same disinterest as he did everyone else.

His eyes widened when Andre told his father to pull into Chandler’s Mobile Home
Park. The gate appeared to have collapsed years ago, and the road into the park
contained large pot holes. The street was lined with old trailers which appeared to
have been there since before he was born. The areas around the trailers were
clean, but it was still obvious that most had been neglected over the years.

Kyle asked with astonishment, “You live here?” He looked in the rearview mirror to
see his father scowl at him. He quickly said, “Sorry.” Andre pointed to an old green
trailer and told his father to pull up front.

“That is where Buddy lives,” he said before quickly adding, “Or he used to live.”   
Mr. Caldwell got out and helped him load several trash bags full of clothing. They
also put an armload of school books and an old stereo in the trunk. As they
started to drive away, he pointed to a blue trailer with stained siding and said,
“That’s where I live.”

Kyle couldn’t believe that Andre and Buddy could live in such squalid conditions.   
He’d seen pictures on the news, but he thought that places like that only existed in
the larger cities. When they pulled up in front of Mavis’s home, it didn’t seem much
better. Even though she lived in a wood frame home, it still appeared that she was
as impoverished as Buddy and Andre. Moving from his home to hers wouldn’t be
much of an improvement, he thought to himself.

He sat in the car and watched as his father helped Mavis to her door. It surprised
him that his father embraced her and gave her a kiss on the cheek before she went
inside. Andre took Buddy’s belongings from the trunk and carried them into the
house. Before going inside, he turned and looked sadly at Kyle.

“Those poor people,” his father remarked as he started to pull away.

Kyle squealed, “Can you believe they live like that? I’d kill myself if I lived in an old
trailer!”

His father looked over and said coldly, “I wasn’t talking about their financial
situation. I was talking about the hurt they are feeling.”

“Oh,” replied Kyle as his face reddened.

It surprised him when his father didn’t head directly home. He was afraid to say
anything because his father seemed upset. At one point, his father took out his
phone, called home and told them that they wouldn’t be home until late. He could
hear his mother ask if Buddy was all right. His father looked over at him and said,
“Yes, Buddy’s fine. I’ve got some other business to take care of.”

They drove in silence for over an hour. Kyle assumed that his father was heading
to a construction site and was taking him along. He couldn’t understand, though,
why his father wasn’t speaking to him.

Soon they came to a small town. It looked at one time like it might have been a
small, manufacturing town. However, now only small homes lined the street. Many
of the larger buildings were shuttered. They passed by a barber shop, and several
old men waved as they drove past.

Mr. Caldwell continued to drive through town before turning onto a narrow side
street aligned with small cottages. Trees lined the street, but it was obvious that
most homes were in desperate need of repair. Several of the homes were boarded
up. Shingles were missing from many rooftops, and gutters hung from others.
Kyle thought it didn’t look much better than where Andre lived.

He looked over at his father when he pulled into the driveway of one of the homes.
Grass was growing between the cracks. The yard hadn’t been mowed for ages, and
plywood was covering some of the windows. Kyle asked, “Who lives here?”

His father looked over and said abruptly, “I did.” He then opened the door and got
out. Kyle hesitantly got out and followed his father as he strolled around the
dilapidated home.

When they returned to the front of the house, his father stopped and stared at
the porch. Without looking at Kyle he said, “This is where I grew up when I was
your age.” He pointed to a boarded up window. “That was my bedroom.”

Kyle gave his father a puzzled look and said, “But grandma and grandpa live in a
nice house.”

His father smiled slightly and replied, “This was a nice house at one time.” He
turned back to the house and continued, “This is your roots. This is where you
came from.”

Kyle asked, “We were poor?”

“I was poor,” his father stated sharply. “I’ve provide you and Melissa with
everything I never had. Now I realize it may have been a mistake.”

“I’m confused,” replied Kyle. “How come you never told me before about where you
came from?”

“Because I didn’t think it mattered,” he said sadly. “Dad worked hard and put me
through college.” He pointed to an old warehouse about a mile away. Some of the
brick smokestack had fallen to the ground. “Your grandfather worked there for
thirty-eight years. We didn’t have much, but we were happy. After I became
successful, I bought them the house they live in now.”

“Why are you telling me all this now?” asked Kyle.

His eyes narrowed. “Because you’re arrogant and snooty,” he replied angrily.

Kyle squealed, “What? I’m not snooty. Besides, I don’t even know what that
means.”

“It means you’re a snob.” His father looked angrily at his astonished son. “I saw
how you looked at Mavis and Andre when you saw how they lived. Just because
they don’t live like we do, doesn’t make them anything less.”

“But Dad,” argued Kyle. “I didn’t think that.”

“Yes, you did,” replied his father. “It’s not your fault though, it’s mine.”

“But, Dad...”

His father pointed toward the house. “This is where you could be living if your
grandfather hadn’t busted his ass off to make my life better.” Kyle watched as
tears appeared in his father’s eyes. “And your mother and I have busted our asses
to make your life and Melissa’s better.”

“I know, Dad, but...”

“But all it did was make both of you arrogant. Melissa thinks she’s a princess who
should have everything she demands.” He turned and started to walk away. “And
you look down on Andre and Buddy because you think you’re better than they are
because you live in a big home, and they live in a mobile park.”

“But Dad...”

Kyle’s face reddened when his father said, “Your mother told me about your little
theory of supply and demand. Three hundred and sixty dollars for video games?
Do you think money grows on trees?”

“Dad,” whined Kyle. “Listen to me.”

“There’s nothing right now you have to say that I care to hear,” his father replied.
He pointed to the boarded up home. “This is your roots. This is where you came
from.” He opened the door and got in the car. When Kyle climbed in, he warned,
“Don’t you ever forget it.”

They rode in silence all the way home.

                                                 * * * * *

Kyle was tired when he entered the cafeteria the next morning. During dinner, he
was afraid to look at his father because he was embarrassed. He knew his father
was right. He had been appalled with the way Andre, Buddy and Mavis lived.
However, he was more disappointed that his father had recognized it. Now he felt
he had hurt his feelings. He had said nothing to him on the way home, and he
made no attempt to say anything after dinner. He went to his office while Kyle went
to his bedroom. A couple of times, he considered going to his office and
apologizing, but it would be meaningless. He was arrogant- and snooty.

Looking back over his brief life, he had associated with guys who lived in his
affluent neighborhood. He rarely ever associated with students who he viewed as
poor. He didn’t do it intentionally. It was just that he felt he had nothing in
common with them. He even laughed when one of his friends would tease another
boy about the clothes he wore or the neighborhood in which he resided. Until his
father’s admonition, he had never realized that he, too, looked down on those who
he thought were less fortunate. He had tossed and turned all night with the visions
of his father’s boyhood home.

“You look like shit,” remarked Donnie as he sat down across from Kyle in the
cafeteria. He tore open a wrapped doughnut and took a bite. “These aren’t half
bad,” he said as he took another bite.

Kyle giggled and said, “Not if you like eating dog biscuits.”

“And how would you know what dog biscuit taste like?” asked Donnie as he raised
an eyebrow. “Been dipping into your dog’s bone?” His face reddened, and he burst
out laughing. “That sounded kind of perverted, didn’t it?”

“Yeah,” laughed Kyle. “I don’t do four-legged animals.”

Donnie raised another eyebrow. “Then that implies you do two-legged ones?”

“You sound like my mother,” replied Kyle with a laugh as he tossed a pencil at
Donnie.

Donnie took another bite of his doughnut, sat back and asked, “So why do you
look like shit today? Big night?”

Kyle leaned forward, looked around to see if anyone was listening and asked, “Am I
a snob?”

Donnie gave him a puzzled look. “A snob? What brought that on?”

Kyle sat back and replied sadly, “My father said I act like a snob.”

Donnie asked, “Why?” Kyle spent the next few minutes telling him about his visit to
the hospital to see Buddy. He then described his living conditions, and those of
Andre and Mavis. When he finished, he asked, “Is it wrong to not like the way they
live?”

“It depends on the motivation of your feelings,” replied Donnie.

Kyle asked, “What does that mean?”

Donnie leaned forward and stared into Kyle’s eyes. “It means do you feel it’s wrong
not to like the way they live because you feel empathy for them or because you
think they are not as good as you are.”

Kyle sighed. “My dad thinks I’m a snob and I look down on them.”

“Do you?” asked Donnie.

“Your dad has a lot of money,” replied Kyle. “You live in my neighborhood. You
must feel like I do. Would you want to live in a run-down trailer?”

“No,” replied Donnie. “But if that is where I lived, then I wouldn’t have a choice.”

“But we don’t,” exclaimed Kyle.

“No, we don’t,” replied Donnie. “But this Buddy and Andre do. They can’t help
where they live no more than we can help where we live. And to answer your
question, the answer is yes.”

Kyle gave Donnie a puzzled look. “Yes?”

“Yes,” replied Donnie as he rose from the table. “You are a snob.” He turned and
walked away.

                                                 * * * * *

Buddy was lying in the hospital bed with his head facing the window. “Come on,
Baby,” cried Andre as he reached for Buddy’s hand. Buddy pulled it away and hid it
under the sheet. A few minutes earlier, Andre had told him about Kyle and his
father visiting him the night before.

His face bore the signs that he had been in a fight. Both eyes were bruised from a
broken nose. He also had bruises and swellings on his forehead and a gash on his
chin. It embarrassed him that Kyle might have seen him like that.

“Say something,” begged Andre. “Didn’t you hear what I told you?”

Buddy looked at him and scowled. “I heard you just fine,” he said angrily.

“I thought you’d be happy,” explained Andre. “Kyle came to visit you.”

Buddy asked sadly, “You don’t get it, do you?”

Andre looked worried at Buddy as tears began to appear in his eyes. “Get what?”
he asked as he reached over and tried to wipe away a tear falling down Buddy’s
cheek. He quickly pulled his hand away when Buddy winced from the pain of his
touch.

“He knows all about me now,” replied Buddy. “He saw how I live, and he knows I’m
lying here because I got beat up for selling drugs in his neighborhood.”

“I don’t think that’s come out yet,” replied Andre. “At least the news hasn’t said
anything about it.”

Buddy’s eyes widened as he asked, “This was on the news?”

“Well, yeah,” replied Andre. “Mr. Caldwell is a big shot.”

“Jesus,” mumbled Buddy. “Just great.” He turned his head away from Andre and
closed his eyes. He pretended to be asleep as Andre attempted to get him to say
something. He just wanted to be alone, and he hoped Andre would leave.

Andre asked, “You gonna talk to me?” He sat quietly for about twenty minutes
before he got up. “I’ll be back tomorrow, okay?” He leaned down and kissed Buddy
on the forehead. When he left, Buddy buried his head in the pillow and cried.

                                                 * * * * *

Kyle was waiting on the steps after school for Donnie to go to his car. He hadn’t
shown up at lunch, and Kyle hadn’t seen him in the halls. He couldn’t figure out
why he had gotten mad at him and walked out earlier in the morning.

Finally, Donnie emerged from the building. He stopped when he saw Kyle. Kyle was
relieved when he saw a big smile appear on Donnie’s face. He bounded down the
stairs toward him.

“Hey,” he said. “I didn’t know if you’d show.”

“I thought you were mad at me,” confessed Kyle.

Donnie asked, “Why would I be mad at you?” He laughed and added, “I’ve had
worse assholes as friends before.” He lightly hit Kyle on the arm and said, “Come
on.”

Kyle asked as they were driving out of the parking lot. “Am I really an asshole?”

“Don’t know,” laughed Donnie. “The verdict is still out on that one.”

“Listen,” said Kyle as he turned toward Donnie. “I’m really not a snob. I didn’t
mean all those things I said this morning. Honest.”

Donnie smiled and turned down a side street. “Let’s go somewhere and talk.” Kyle
nodded and sat back in his seat. Occasionally, he’d look over at Donnie, but Donnie
kept his eyes forward and said nothing.

Ten minutes later, Donnie was pulling his car into a Tim Horton’s. “I like the mocha
latte they serve here,” he remarked as he got out of the car.

“Mocha latte?” asked Kyle. “And you call me a snob?”

Donnie opened the door for Kyle. When he did, he giggled and said, “If you’re not
nice, I’m not going to share any of my honey dip timbits with you.”

“I’ll be nice,” promised Kyle as they approached the cashier. After ordering, they
sat down at a booth. There were few diners in the restaurant, so they didn’t have
to worry about anyone overhearing their conversation.

“So?” asked Kyle as they snacked. “What do you think about it?”

Donnie stuffed a tidbit into his mouth. “About what?” he asked as he took a sip of
his latte.

“Me,” replied Kyle. “Do you think I’m a snob?”

Donnie smiled and asked, “Why is this bothering you so much?”

Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I guess it’s because my dad called me a snob. He
also said I was snooty.”

“Snooty!” laughed Donnie. When Kyle told him he really didn’t know the meaning,
Donnie explained it to him.

“Okay,” said Donnie as he leaned forward. “Let’s take a hypothetical situation.” Kyle
nodded and listened. “You say this Andre guy said that Buddy likes you.” Kyle
nodded his head again. “Let’s say he gets better and someday he asks you out.
Would you go on a date with him?”

“I don’t know,” replied Kyle skeptically. “He’s cute and all, but...”

“But he’s poor?”

“You should see how he lives,” exclaimed Kyle excitedly. “He lives in a run-down
trailer.”

“So you’re better than he is because you live on Maple Crest Lane?”

Kyle responded, “I didn’t say I was better than him. It’s just... what would people
say?”

Donnie’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean, what would people say?” Suddenly,
Kyle realized that he sounded exactly like Melissa. He realized now that what his
father had said about him was true.

“I didn’t mean that,” he apologized. He buried his face in his hand and moaned,
“God, I am arrogant and snooty just like my father said.”

“I could have told you that,” laughed Donnie. “Now, what are you going to do
about it?”

Kyle shook his head. “I don’t know.”

“I do,” replied Donnie. “We’ve got somewhere to go.”  He took his last bite of his
timbit, picked up the tray and headed toward the door. Kyle hurried behind him.

When he got in the car Kyle asked, “Where are we going?”

Donnie grinned and replied, “You’ll see.”



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