Upon Mark’s return, I announced my intentions of taking a shower of my own. I’m not really sure what had come over me, but being at the mercy of his wardrobe, I pulled a pair of whitey tighties from his drawer, asking if it was ok.
“Aha! Go for it. Come up when you’re done. I’m making breakfast.”
Him cooking breakfast was as shocking as my choice of underwear. Truly stunned, I asked, “huh?”
“What? I can cook. Hurry up, will ya?”
Not wanting to miss out on the disaster that could be taking place upstairs, I took a fairly short shower. I pulled up my little boy undies and a pair of sweats and arrived in time to see Mark buttering some toast. Scanning the rest of the kitchen, I saw a box of Froot Loops and two bowls sitting on the table.
“Toast and cereal?”
“What? I cooked the toast, didn’t I?”
“Did you burn it?”
“No. Sit down and eat, please.”
After a few bites, I sarcastically remarked, “Mm…this toast is delicious.”
“You know it is.”
“You do have the best cereal, too.”
“I know. What’s with your mom? She gets the worst cereal. All that healthy junk.”
“I know. She’s a freak about healthy food.”
After we ate our breakfast, we drank some orange juice. Mark forgot about that part before. Then we plopped into the living room and found some cartoons to watch. A little while later Adam came padding down the stairs, wrapped in his blanket. His hair shooting out in more directions than Axel Rose. He silently stepped up to the couch, and collapsed down beside me, resting his head on my shoulder. How I love this kid.
Noticing Adam was alone, Mark asked, “where’s aahh…”
“Zack. His mom picked him up like an hour ago.”
“He’s kind of weird Adam.”
“No he’s not. He’s just shy.”
We sat there in silence, watching cartoons, because we had nothing better to do. Adam reached next to me and grabbed a pillow. He placed the pillow in my lap and laid his head down, stretching his body out along the rest of the couch. It seemed like he tried to touch me, whenever he had the chance. I dropped my arm behind him, underneath the blanket, and lovingly rubbed the center of his back. His shirt was bunched up near where my hand was, so I crept it up a little further, and rubbed his bare skin.
In reality, he’s been dropping subtle hints and suggestions my way for many months. Maybe this small gesture will let him know I’m receptive. With the new knowledge I picked up this morning, it caused me to look at this situation in a new way. There’s no harm in innocent shows of affection. No lines have been crossed.
Not much later, the boys mom came down from upstairs. She looked right at Adam and I, and shook her head, smiling.
“I see my snuggle bunny has invaded your space Daniel.”
“Oh. It’s ok. I don’t mind at all. My sister is the same way. I’m used to being a human pillow.”
“Suit yourself. Good luck getting rid of him. So boys, what’s the game plan for today?”
“What do ya mean mom?”
“Seriously? You forgot? Mark, I swear…”
“Oh yeah! Duh. Christmas shopping day. When are we going?”
“Well, we need to figure out how to handle Daniel first.”
“Easy. He’s coming with.”
“We’re going Christmas shopping. Then for dinner. You should come with.”
“Shit!…I mean shoot. I haven’t bought a thing.”
“See. That’s why you should go with. And then to dinner. And then stay over.”
“Hang on boys. Daniel’s mother hasn’t seen him for two days. She might need you back home, honey.”
“Call her, Danny. Mom, talk to his mom. He has to go. He needs to shop, and he needs to eat with us at Buca.”
“You’ve never been to Buca?”
“That’s it. You have to go now. No options.”
“Daniel? Why don’t you call your mother,” instructed Mark’s mom.
I made Adam lift his head so I could reach my phone. He immediately slammed it back down. I think his mom is right about never getting rid of him. Not that I really minded.
I dialed my mom.
“Hi honey. How are you?”
“Fine. Do you think I can go Christmas shopping with Mark and his mom today?”
“Again? I thought you went shopping already.”
“We went to a movie.”
“I see. I suppose you haven’t bought a single gift.”
“Well, not yet.”
“I guess you better go then, huh?”
“Wait. Do you have any money?”
“I suppose not near enough. How am I to get you more money?”
“I can ask Mark and pay him back.”
“Hmm…let me talk to Mark’s mother.”
I handed her the phone and she left the room, chatting. She returned and handed me the phone back.
“Mark’s mother is going to lend you a hundred dollars. Do not lose it and do not spend it all on yourself.”
“Remember your cousin and uncle, too.”
“I know. I know. Mom?”
“Umm…they invited me to dinner too.”
“And to sleep over.”
“I don’t even have a son anymore. Is Mark’s mom ok with this?”
“You must come home tomorrow. It’s Christmas Eve, and we have to travel to your cousins.”
“Be good. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
With that settled, it was time to get ready to go. Not wanting to be a complete slob, I was again at the mercy of Mark’s clothes.
“Hey, do you think I could borrow something to wear? Like pants or something?”
“Ya dude. Let’s go look.”
Mark hooked me up with some jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. After I got dressed, I got them tingly feelings again, from being in his clothes.
We loaded up and drove to the overstuffed mall. The place was absolute chaos, but it was a festive chaos, so it was kind of cool. We set up a time and place to meet Mark’s mom, and started what we dubbed ‘ Operation X-mas.’
The three of us worked together, knocking out purchases left and right. We were like a well-oiled machine, efficiently navigating our way through the masses. After an hour, we took an Orange Julius break.
“So, where are we going to meet? I need to go on a solo mission.”
“I got to get a present for dickhead, here,” responded Mark, playfully.
“Mom’s making me buy something for butthole, too,” said Adam, not to be outdone.
“Ok. I’ll roll with Adam, and we can meet right back here. Half hour?”
It was cool to hang out with Adam by myself. We had fun looking for a good present for his brother, and picking on him, when he wasn’t there to defend himself. As our half hour was coming to a close, and we headed back to meet Mark, something happened that I really wasn’t prepared for. I saw Kayla walking toward us with her mom. I quickly jumped behind Adam, put my hands on his shoulders, and pulled him into the nearest store.
“What the H…”
“Shhh. I’ll explain in a minute. Hide me. Behind you. Quick.”
Adam played along, acting like he really was shopping at Lady Footlocker, while I cowered behind him. After Kayla was good and out of sight, I told Adam we could keep going.
“What was that all about?”
“Uhh…I didn’t want somebody to see me.”
“Who? That girl that went by?”
“Who’s Kayla? Like your girlfriend or something?”
“I don’t know. We used to hang out, but not no more. I just didn’t want to deal with that.”
“She’s like punk. She looks cool.”
“Yeah. She is cool.”
We walked on without another mention of our encounter with Kayla. I really did feel bad for hiding from her. I know it’s on me to make the first move if I see her before she’s gone, but this isn’t how I want it to go down. I think she would agree. I just hope she takes my call.
When we met up with Mark, I told them I needed a solo mission of my own. They looked at me kind of funny, but then it must have clicked. They agreed, that they needed to shop a little bit more too, without me around.
I had twenty bucks left, to split between Mark and Adam. For Mark, I was just going to buy him some Xbox live hours. Kind of a lame gift, but it’s what he would want most. The problem was, all I could find was twenty dollar cards. I looked in the secret compartment of my wallet, and found the last forty dollars to my name. Cool. I was still in business. I bought Mark the twenty dollar card. I bought Adam a ten dollar iTunes card, as well. Then I went to the guitar shop and bought Adam a really nice leather guitar strap with skulls stitched into it. It was a super high quality strap. I left the guitar shop without any money left, but it was more than worth it. Luckily, Mark won’t have a clue how much the strap cost, so he wont realize I spent twice as much on his brother as I did on him. I can’t say why I did it. It just felt right.