Okay, it’s Sunday afternoon, my birthday. I have so much to write about I don’t even begin to know where to begin. Okay, yes I do. I have to talk about Perry first because it’s the only thing I can think of right now and if I don’t talk about him I’ll be waiting until I do. OMG, I’m so excited! He was at the Halloween party last night! He’s even cuter up close than he is on the bus when I sit several seats behind him and stare at the back of his head. I know that sounds kind of pathetic. Anyway, I saw him as soon as we walked into Beverly’s house. I don’t know, but it seemed like he was kind of waiting for me to arrive. Maybe I’m just making that up because I hoped he was. He was standing by the window and looking out when we entered. He turned and gave me the biggest smile when he saw me. Then he looked down at the floor and walked into the kitchen. I was kind of disappointed, but I didn’t have time to really think much about it. Everyone came into the living room and greeted me and wished me a happy birthday. They even told me they liked my costume.
So I guess I’m not going to have to kill Mom after all. I guess since I was going to be sixteen and not six, my costume was kind of cool. She said I was going to go as some guy named James Dean, whoever he is. Anyway, I had on a tight white tee shirt and some cool jeans she’d picked up last week at the store. I guess that is what was in the bag she took to her room. She spent about a half hour combing my hair back so it looked all slick and kind of peaked at the top. The coolest thing was she had bought a pack of cigarettes and folded them under the sleeve of my tee shirt. She warned me, though, that I wasn’t to open them. She also bought me a pair of cool Converse shoes. I was surprised when I looked at myself in the mirror. She made this big thing about me closing my eyes and waiting until she said to open them. When I did, I didn’t even recognize the boy looking back. He looked really hot. Hehe. I guess I should say I looked really hot. I didn’t look like the dorky guy I usually look like. Even Cory and Abe were surprised when they saw me. Abe asked my mother if she could make him look like me, but she laughed and told him that there wasn’t enough time to find him an outfit like mine. Corey looked really cute as a pirate, even if he could only see out of one eye and had to keep turning to look at me all night.
I felt kind of special because I didn’t have to wear some stupid looking clown suit. That was my biggest nightmare- that my mother would make me a costume with some big rainbow colored wig and big red shoes. But she didn’t. So I didn’t spend the night worried about looking stupid. In fact, several girls even commented on how hot I was. And believe me, hot and Reggie Faulkner usually don’t go together in the same sentence.
I have to admit, I had a really, really good time. It was more a grown up party than a kid’s party. We didn’t play stupid games or anything. Instead, Beverly’s brother acted as a DJ and played music downstairs in the family room. Beverly’s parents had removed most of the big furniture, so we could have a place to dance. And there was also a LOT of food. My mother had paid a caterer to provide these small little sandwiches. Everyone loved them. Cory ate about a dozen. There was also potato salad and a lot of different snacks like potato chips, pretzels and various dips. Beverly’s mother provided the drinks, and she warned us that she’d be checking to make sure that we didn’t add anything to them. She didn’t, but it kind of made us feel like we were normal kids by suggesting that we might spike our drinks.
Hold on. Mom wants me to come downstairs for a minute. I think she and Dad have a birthday gift for me since they didn’t give me anything at breakfast this morning.
OMG! I can’t believe it. Dad is going to let me get my driver’s license and I didn’t even have to beg him a million times! Okay, I guess I should explain. So when I went downstairs, they were in the dining room. There was a small chocolate cake with 16 candles on it. Mom had even baked it herself instead of going to the store and buying one. They had me sit down and I ceremoniously blew out the candles. She cut the cake and gave each of us a scoop of butter pecan ice cream- my favorite. So while I’m sitting there eating my cake and ice cream, I keep looking around for my present. Usually, it is on the table and I unwrap it and pretend to be excited even though I know what it is because I’ve told them what I want. After eating and waiting around a few minutes, I start to get up. Dad looks over at Mom and then asks me if I’m forgetting something. Of course, I respond with a “like what?” I already assumed they hadn’t gotten me anything because I figured paying for the caterer at the party was my birthday gift. So then Mom pulls a card from her lap and hands it to me. I stupidly ask, “What’s this?” as I open it. It’s a birthday card that says “Happy 16th Birthday, Son,” on the front. Then I open it up and its says, “It’s been a joy watching you grow.” So by now my eyes are starting to mist up a little, then I realize that something else is in the envelope. I pull out a folded sheet of paper and then again stupidly ask, “What’s this.” When I opened it up, it was a registration form for a driver’s education class! Everything was filled out except for my signature. So Dad grins as he hands me a pen. As I sign it I have to endure a short lecture on how I need to be a responsible driver. I nod and assure him I will be. So starting next Tuesday, I’ll be taking a driver’s education class after school for four weeks! And after signing it, I kind of did this little dance and then gave my parents a really big hug.
I had to take a little break because I was getting really, really excited. I think I’ve read the registration form about a zillion times. Now I have to figure out a way to talk my parents into buying me a car. I don’t want to wait until I graduate to get one. Borrowing Mom’s is out of the question. She’s always going somewhere in hers. Dad’s car is my best bet. He comes home from the university and disappears into his office and rarely goes anywhere. The only problem is it’s an old Chevy Cavalier. I won’t look very cool in it, but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as I have a car to drive. Besides, it’s not like I have many places to go. But at least I’ll be able to drive to the crisis center on Wednesdays without asking Mom or Dad to take me.
I’M GOING TO GET MY DRIVER’S LICENSE!!!!!
Okay. Now I had to reread what I started to write because I forgot. Right. I was talking about the party last night. I think everyone had a really, really good time. Many of my friends said it was the best one they’d ever attended, but that isn’t saying too much because most of our parties have been at school. It was really funny when Cory, Abe and James came up to me and grabbed me. They said I had to get my birthday ‘whacks.’ I pretended to try and pull away while some of the girls paddled me. They were only supposed to give me 16, but I think it ended up being about 60. But it was fun and everyone got a big laugh out of it. Even Perry whacked me a couple of times.
Oh yeah, let me write some more about Perry. I already told you that he smiled at me when I entered the house. Then I kept noticing that he kept looking at me. Of course, he didn’t want me to notice that he was watching me so he’d look away when I’d look over at him. I also couldn’t figure out why he was at the party since all the rest were in my class and he wasn’t. So I was downstairs listening to the music and watching Abe dancing with Anna. Abe has absolutely NO rhythm and looked like a chimpanzee dancing, but he was having fun. Cory was having fun too. He could really dance and just about every girl wanted to dance with him. A couple of times, he danced with three girls because none of the other boys would dance with them. They tried to get me to dance, but I refused. If Abe looks like a chimpanzee, then I look like a gorilla. I’ve danced in front of the mirror in my room a few times and I have even less rhythm than Abe. I had no desire to make a complete fool out of myself at my birthday party.
Okay. I kind of got off topic again. I was talking about Perry. I was watching Abe and Anna dancing when Beverly walked over holding Perry’s hand. Beverly was dressed like Cinderella, and he was dressed kind of like Prince Charming with a puffy shirt and a hat with a big feather in it. At first I thought he was her boyfriend since they were holding hands. But then she introduced us and said Perry was her cousin and she wanted us to meet each other. So we shook hands and we kind of stared into each other’s eyes as we did. I looked over when Beverly started giggling. She then said she’d leave us alone and she walked away. He didn’t say anything and neither did I, but we kept glancing at each other and smiling. God, he is soooooo cute. So finally, I thought we looked stupid standing side by side and not talking, so I asked him if he was having a good time. He grinned and nodded. We watched some of the others dance a while. I gasped a little when he kind of pressed his shoulder against mine. I was too afraid to move because I didn’t want him to think that I didn’t like it, so I stood quiet and kind of pushed back. Then little Reggie started to wake up, so I didn’t want to get all embarrassed in front of my friends since I had on really tight pants and Little Reggie would definitely be poking out, so I told Perry it was nice to meet him and walked away. When I looked back, he seemed a little disappointed.
Now I’m kind of trying to figure out if he’s gay or not. I think he may be, but I’m not sure. He didn’t talk to any of the girls like Cory and James. A couple of girls even asked him to dance but he would shake his head. It seemed like the only person he was interested in most of the night was me, but I could be imagining that. But it seemed like every time I looked at him, he was watching me. But why would he watch me? Cory and James are a lot cuter than me, but he never watched them. So maybe one day next week I’ll sit beside him on the bus. We probably won’t talk, but it would still be nice to sit beside him and hopefully press our shoulders together again. Maybe I won’t even put my book bag in my lap if Little Reggie wakes up. LOL.
Okay. I’ve got some homework to finish, so I guess I’ll stop. It’s been an exciting weekend, maybe one of the best I’ve ever had. So I guess turning 16 is a good thing. At least some day when someone asks me how I spent it, I won’t have to tell them I spent it in my bedroom waiting for deer to show up in the backyard.
IN JUST TWO DAYS, TOMORROW WILL BE YESTERDAY
I’m back. I never did do my homework, so I can’t write long. I just wanted to jot this down since it just happened. I was lying on my bed working on a chemistry problem when Mom called up the stairs and told me that my grandmother was on the phone. I had completely forgotten that it was my birthday and that she wished me a happy birthday. Anyway, it’s been kind of our tradition to go out together, just the two of us, to get banana splits at Dairy Queen. We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Mom and Dad never go. So when she called, she asked me if I was ready and that she’d be by to get me in about 15 minutes. I quickly dressed and was waiting for her on the porch when she arrived.
I looked into the backseat for my gift because that is where she usually puts it, but I didn’t see anything. So all the way to Dairy Queen I’m wondering what she got me. We get there and we each order our traditional banana split with extra whipped topping. So we’re eating and she’s asking me how school is going and I tell her it’s going fine. Then she asks me how everything else is going and I ask her what does she mean. Now my grandmother is not one to bite her tongue. If something is on her mind, she’ll just blurt it out. So she asks, “Jesus, Reggie. Are you dating a boy yet?” I started choking on a big piece of banana that I’d just swallowed. I think everyone in the restaurant became concerned when I started making this little gasping sound as I tried to catch my breath. The guy in the table beside us got up and asked my grandmother if he should do the Heimlich Maneuver on me. I waved him off and told him I’d be all right. So when I managed to speak again, I looked at her and asked, “What?” She reached over and pushed the hair from my forehead and said that a cute boy like me should have a boyfriend. Now I’m sitting there and I don’t have a clue what to say. It’s obvious my grandmother knows I’m gay or she wouldn’t keep saying boyfriend. So I’m trying to figure out how she knows and just how to respond to what she’s saying. So I kind of hung my head and shook my head. She gently patted my hand and assured me that I’d probably find one soon enough. So I nodded and decided that I’d wait for another time to ask her how she knew I was gay. But I figured Mom or Dad told her and she was trying to act like it was a normal thing, which to me I guess it is. So anyway, I had to go to the bathroom before I started crying. I love my grandmother and she’s one of the most important people in my life besides my parents. I knew she wouldn’t have a problem with me being gay when she found out, I just wasn’t expecting her to be so accepting. So I cried a little bit when I went into the bathroom. I tried to wait until my eyes didn’t look so red and puffy, but I think she knew I’d been crying when I came back to the table. She reached into her purse and pulled out a birthday card. It was funny and said something about me now being over the hill. There was also a bank card in the envelop. When I asked her what it was, she said she had opened up a savings account for me at her bank. She then handed me a bank statement. It said there was $1000 in the account! When I asked her what was going on, she told me that that was my birthday gift. It was the start of my savings for a car when I buy one in a few years. I started to tell her I wanted on now, but I didn’t. Instead, I got up and gave her the biggest hug. She even let out a little grunt when I did it. So when we left, I held her hand all the way out to the car.
I HAVE THE COOLEST GRANDMOTHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
I’ve got to go now and finish my homework. It’s already after 9 and I have to finish a report for Mrs. Carter, do a chemistry assignment, translate a page of French phrases and do a writing assignment for Mr. Byrd. He makes us do this journal AND write papers for him. There should be some law against that. More later.
A TYPICAL CLASS IN HIGH SCHOOL: SHOW UP, GET RID OF HOMEWORK, GET NEW HOMEWORK, LEAVE.
Okay. I’ve just got to write this down. I’m in Mrs. Reynolds’s geometry class. We had a small test, and then she gave us an assignment, but I’ll do it tonight because this can’t wait. I did it! I actually did it! When I got on the bus this morning, I immediately looked for Perry. He always sits in the same seat, so I knew where to look. Anyway, as usual, he was sitting by himself. His book bag was beside him so it would prevent someone from sitting down. Anyway, as I passed I kind of hesitated then stopped and asked him if the seat was being saved for someone. I knew it wasn’t because since school started, no one has sat beside him. So he looked up at me. He didn’t smile or frown, he just looked up and then he took his book bag and placed it in his lap. So I sat down. I was really, really nervous and I was afraid to say anything more to him because I was afraid my voice would crack like it did when I was 12. So we rode all the way to school together. Well, I guess we weren’t really together or anything, but it was nice to sit beside him. When Elizabeth got on, she kind of did a double take. I guess she couldn’t believe we were sitting together. I know at lunch she’s going to ask me about it. Hold on. Mrs. Reynolds just got up and she’s walking around the room. I have to look busy.
Okay, I’m back. I’m in my room and I’ve finished all my homework. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write for a few days. I’ve got to take my first driver’s ed class tomorrow, then I have to work at the teen center Wednesday. I guess I don’t really work since I volunteer, but I’ll just say I work there.
My classmates were even more excited about my birthday party after it was over than they were last week. I guess it’s kind of pathetic that one party is the extent of our social life. Anyway, everyone said they had a lot of fun. At lunch we talked about all the different costumes we had on. James was voted the most unusual. He dressed up like the Joker in the Batman movie that came out when we were about 13. He looked really cool. His face was painted white and his mother had smeared his mouth with bright red lipstick. Several of my friends had taken pictures of him on their cell phones, so we passed the phones around. We laughed at some of the other costumes too. Cory’s pirate outfit was everyone’s favorite. I think because he had danced with every girl at the party, they said it to make him feel good. If we had voted on the sexiest, he would definitely have won, although I’m sure the girls wouldn’t have let me vote. Hehe. About half way through lunch they decided we should do it again next year. I’ll only be 17, so it’s not like it’s a major turning point in my life, but if it gives us an excuse to have a good time, then I guess I can go along with it.
I chickened out after school and didn’t sit with Perry. I kind of slowed down as I passed his seat, but again his book bag was there. I thought he might move it, but he didn’t so I sat with Elizabeth. She made some kind of a remark about me and my boyfriend having a fight, but I just rolled my eyes at her and put my head back and pretended to sleep. Occasionally, I kind of peeked up to where Perry was sitting. His face was pressed up against the window. I think he may have been asleep too, but I’m not sure since I couldn’t really see his face. When I got off the bus at my stop, he kind of looked up at me. I thought he was going to smile, but he didn’t. Oh, well. I tried I guess. It took a lot for me to sit beside him this morning. At least I did it. Maybe another morning I’ll do it again and try to not be so nervous so I can talk to him. I’m going to bed now. I’ll write more later.
I DON’T FOLLOW MY DREAMS. I ASK THEM WHERE THEY ARE GOING AND THEN TRY TO FIND THEM LATER.
It’s Wednesday night and I just got back from the teen center. Something really strange happened again with that guy who called in last Saturday night. You ever feel like you know someone and you’ve never met them? That’s kind of how I feel and it is really weirding me out. Okay, let me explain what I mean. Mavis wasn’t there tonight, but Elizabeth and another girl named Cheryl was. I’d never met her before tonight. She’s older than me and Elizabeth, probably about 20. I really didn’t get a chance to talk to her too much because Mrs. Armstrong had me sit by myself since Mavis wasn’t there. Okay, I’m rambling again. Anyway, I get there at 5 and the phones are dead until about 7. Then Cheryl gets a call and starts talking to a girl. The phone rings again and I wait for Elizabeth to answer it because I’m still not ready to take any calls, and I’m kind of scared because Mavis isn’t there to help me. So while they are on the phone, we get another call. I look through the window at Mrs. Armstrong hoping she’ll take it but I guess she’s busy with the girl Elizabeth is talking to. So I pick up the phone and it’s him, the guy who called that Saturday night.
He’s disguising his voice again, but I don’t know why since I don’t know who I’m talking to. So I said hello and he just sits there for a few seconds. I think he’s hung up, but I can hear him breathing kind of nervously. So I ask him if he’s okay, and he doesn’t say anything. Now I’m starting to get scared, so I motion for Mrs. Armstrong to take the call, but she puts up her finger and tells me to wait while she’s still on the phone with Elizabeth’s caller. So then he starts kind of crying a little bit and I don’t know what to do. So I ask him again if he’s all right and he says, “No one understands.” So I ask him what don’t they understand and he just says, “Me.” He took his hand away so I could hear him really good. He was really, really sad sounding and it almost made me want to cry. So I asked him what no one understood, and he told me I wouldn’t understand. So I told him how could I not understand when he wouldn’t even tell me what I’m not supposed to understand. By now the whole thing was starting to sound silly, but when I looked over at Mrs. Armstrong, she gave me a thumbs up and motioned for me to continue talking to him. I guess she was now monitoring my call. So anyway, he just sort of opened up and it seemed like a dam broke. He started talking about how his life was a mess and he didn’t know what to do. He was being kind of vague, so I didn’t know what to say, but I tried to sound positive and tell him things would get better when I really wasn’t sure if they would by the tone of his voice. So then he told me I was the first person he felt he could trust to talk to and he asked me my name. Mrs. Armstrong shook her head and tried to tell me not to give out that information, but I told him anyway that my name was Reggie. She kind of rolled her eyes when I did. Then I asked him his name, which I knew we weren’t supposed to do, but I did it anyway since he asked me mine. He said his name was Robert, but he kind of hesitated before he said it, so I think he may have made it up, but it really doesn’t matter because now I had a name to call him.
So we talked for about 10 minutes. He still wouldn’t tell me why he was so sad, but I did find out some things about him. He’s two older than me, but he wouldn’t tell me what school he goes to. He has a brother and a sister, and his father hates him, but he wouldn’t tell me why. I kind of figured out that he may be kind of popular because he kept saying he couldn’t talk to any of his friends about what was bothering him. He said he’d really be ‘dissed’ if they found out. I’m not sure what that means, so I’ll google it later. I heard some noise in the background like someone had come into his room, so he thanked me for listening and he said he had to go. He asked me when I’d be here again and I told him Saturday. He said, ‘cool,’ and then hung up. Mrs. Armstrong came out of her office and gave me a big hug. She said I did really good even though I did tell Robert my name. She told me she’d sit down with me on Saturday and go over some things I should say to Robert if he does call me back.
I feel kind of good about what happened. I wonder if you can fall for someone over the phone? Okay, I shouldn’t be thinking like this. I’m supposed to be helping him, right? But there was just something in his voice that really made me kind of, um, never mind. Okay, I had to run to the mirror and look at my face. Let me count how many words I have. I hope I have enough because I don’t feel like writing anymore this week. Crap. I still have about 300 words to go. I guess I’ll write a little more tomorrow. I’m going to bed now.
ONE BY ONE THE PENGUINS ARE STEALING MY SANITY
I’m on the bus so this may be difficult to read. I was going to try and sit with Perry, but I have to come up with 300 more words. I think he may have Mr. Byrd too because I noticed what looked like a journal in his lap and he was writing something in it when I got on.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to write about this all week but things have really gotten busy. I haven’t even written about my driver’s ed class on Tuesday. For someone who had absolutely nothing to do, now I am doing too much.
Okay, I wanted to write about this week’s prompt. I can’t remember exactly what it was but it said something about the journal being half over and have we learned anything better about ourselves yet. I scanned what I’ve written so far last night and I think I have learned something important. I realized I worry a lot about things before they happen, but then find out they really don’t turn out that bad. I was afraid how my parents and grandmother would react to me being gay, and that turned out okay. Then I worried about my classmates, but we’re actually closer than ever and I feel kind of free around them because they know I’m gay. Then I worried about volunteering at the teen center but I’m starting to like it. I know I’ve only talked to one person so far, but I really think I can help Robert if he ever trusts me enough to tell me what his problem is. I also worried about my birthday party, and it turned out to be fun.
So I guess I’ve learned not to worry so much about things. I know it won’t happen all the time, but most things really aren’t worth worrying over. I’m going to try really hard not to be afraid of things that happen in the future, especially things I don’t have any control over. So I guess writing in this journal is helping me better understand myself, but I’d never, ever admit it to Mr. Byrd. He’d just smile and say, “I told you so.” There’s nothing worse than a grown up telling you they were right.
YOU’RE SO STUPID THAT YOU SHAKE YOUR COMPUTER TO GET THE COOKIES OUT