I did make it to Friday. Boarding Mark’s bus home after school was proof. I was filled with so much excitement and anticipation that I couldn’t keep my legs from tapping on the floor below.
“Do you need to pee?”
“Nope. Just in a good mood.”
“Alright there spazzy. I didn’t realize my house was sooo awesome.”
“It’s not your house. It’s YOU!”
That comment earned Mark a monkey bump on his forearm. He rubbed it off, pouting, and tried to give me one back. I was too quick, throwing up a sweet deflection. However, I wasn’t ready for the elbow to thigh counterattack. He got me good. It stung.
“Sorry. Sorry. I got a little too much on it.”
“A little? I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk. Prolly end up in the hospital.”
“It wasn’t that hard, pussy.”
“Pussy? You better watch your back tough guy. I know where you live.”
We went back and forth like this for most of the ride home. I always had a lot of fun hanging out with Mark. He’s so worry free and quick with a joke or something sarcastic to say. We got to his house and immediately went for the kitchen. It’s funny how every kid has their own after school ritual. In reality, most of us do the same things. Eat. Watch cartoon. Take out the dog. Pretty much anything but do homework. Mark’s process is a lot like mine. Only difference is he eats Froot Loops, which would never be found on the shelf at my house.
Mark hooked us up with a heaping bowl and spoon, and we took to the couches in the living room to click on the TV. He chose Sponge Bob, which I can’t stand, but I’m not gonna protest. I can deal with the annoying little sponge for a while.
I did feel a little guilty about my covert plans with Adam set for the wee hours. I didn’t like being sneaky around Mark. Maybe someday, if Adam and I become something, we’ll tell people instead of hiding it away. I realize I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m really crazy about the boy, and ever hopeful.
A little while later, the front door flew open and in walked Adam with his coat unzipped, and his backpack dangling off his shoulder. So cool. I smiled broadly in his direction, as his coat and pack gently fell in a heap, just inside the door, like he asked them to. He stepped on his heals to get out of his shoes, and walked to the staircase to go up.
He said, “what’s up dicks,?” as he disappeared into the upper floor, while peeling his phone from his jeans pocket.
He’ll be down in a minute, I told myself. Probably needs to make an important phone call, poop, or something. Still, it was kind of weird that he didn’t even smile or say hi. A half hour passed and Adam still hadn’t come downstairs. I was starting to get a little worried. I replayed his arrival over and over in my mind. Looking for clues. I thought back to all the other greetings from him in the recent past. This was definitely out of character. Normally he comes right up to me, smiling. I usually get a hug, too. What in the Hell is going on? Is he pissed off for some reason? Did I do something wrong? I started to feel my good mood fade away. Replaced with a dreaded, heart-sick sadness.
Then the doorbell rang, and Adam bound down the steps like a heard of elephants. “Got it!” he shouted, as he reached the bottom. He ran to the door and swung it open. In walked a boy with a big duffel bag hanging from his hand. I recognized this kid. Adam brought him to my house a few months back when we had a hockey day. I couldn’t remember his name, but it was definitely him.
They fist bumped and Adam instructed him to follow him upstairs. Again, he completely ignored us. My mood sank even lower. Something was going on for sure. Adam knew I was staying overnight, and he invited another friend to stay. Not to mention that he ignored that I was even here. What happened? Just two nights ago, we were working out our plan to be alone together. He seemed so excited that I was coming over.
A few minutes later, Adam and his buddy came down to where Mark and I were. I was scared to even look at him, for fear of the cold reception I would get. If I even got acknowledged at all. They sat next to each other on the couch where Mark was, leaving me all alone. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Adam is supposed to sit by me. Real close with our bodies touching. My heart sank even further. Much more of this, and it’ll fall out the bottom.
After a minute passed, Adam stood up and said, “I’ll grab us some chips or something,” to his buddy. He crossed right in front of me and flashed me a ‘I know what you’re thinking’ smile. Something had changed in the last few days. I just didn’t know what it was. I desperately need to get him alone to talk, but I don’t have a clue how to make that happen. It’d look pretty suspicious if I dragged him away from his brother and friend.
The three of them talked a lot about some Halo mission they had planned for later. I know what Halo is, but I’ve never played it. I’m not really into video games at all. I felt very alienated by the whole situation. So far, this sleepover wasn’t going very well. I kind of wished I wasn’t there. I’d look over at Adam, and I could see their legs touching. They were sitting very close. Adam was getting that contact that he seems to need. That contact he normally gets from me.
I got up and went to the bathroom. I just needed to be away. I would have liked to just go home, but that wouldn’t be fair to Mark. I just needed to act normal, and hide how tore up my heart felt.
When I got back, Mark jumped up and dove over the top of me. He wrapped his arms around my neck and sat in my lap, like I was Santa Claus.
“Will you play Halo with us later? A four man clan is stronger than three. It’ll be epic.”
“I’ve never played.”
“It won’t matter. I’ll teach you. Pleeeaassse?”
“Cool! I love you!”
Mark leaned in and gave me a disgusting, sloppy kiss on the cheek. I had to wipe it off on my sleeve. Mark stayed on my lap, with his head leaned into the corner of the couch. I don’t know if he sensed something going on with me, but his gesture was actually raising my spirit. Maybe, like Adam, I need that contact. That reassuring touch. I reached with my arm that was pinned under him, and set it on his thigh. Maybe it’d get him to stay longer, if he knew that I liked it. Gravity did kind of force him to slide off of me, wedging him in the corner of the couch. He did however, leave his legs draped over me. Very Adam-like. This new arrangement put my hand on his narrow waist, so I held him just above his hip. Mark probably didn’t know how much his touch meant to me, but I loved him even more for it. It took my mind off the weirdness with Adam.
They got up and went back to Adam’s room unannounced. I did catch an angry scowl from Adam as he trudged up the stairs. He was mad about something. Wtf?
With them gone, Mark asked, “something wrong dude?”
“Nah. I’m cool.”
“Okie dokie. You were like an excited little girl earlier, and now you’re all mellow and quiet.”
“Yah. I think I blew my load earlier. Had to dial it back.”
“Ah haha. Premature ejaculation.”
“Something like that. Hey Mark, can I ask you something?”
“Does you mom still have some of that, you know, in her room?”
Mark got a huge grin on his face at my inquiry. “Oh yeah she does. You wanna smoke again tonight?”
“Yeah. If it’d be cool.”
“Shit yeah. She’ll be gone and we’ll just not tell the little dickheads what we’re doing. Sweet! This will be fun.”
It wasn’t something I had planned on. It was just one of those impulse ideas. I remembered back to the first time we smoked together, and how much fun it was. I figured with the way things had gone so far, I needed a little pick-me-up. In my ignorance of the cause and effect of drugs, I found out later that marijuana isn’t an instant good mood drug. If anything, it’s a mood enhancer. If you’re low, it can make you feel lower. If you’re introspective, it can make you think yourself crazy.
Mark’s mom came home with chips, a tub of ice cream, a twelve pack of soda, and some cash for pizza. You’d think she knew what we were planning on doing later, and was helping us out. An hour later, she was picked up by her man, her parting words were, “don’t burn the house down and don’t wait up for me. I’ll be late.”
Mark in his infinite wisdom, turned to Adam and said, “Adam. Dude. Why don’t you set up downstairs and find a nice clan to battle with. We’re gonna order the pizza. We’ll be down in a minute.”
Adam and his buddy dutifully did as asked, so Mark and I went into his moms bedroom and smoked some weed. When we started to head back downstairs, Adam’s buddy came out of Adam’s room right as we walked by.
We caught each other by surprise, causing us all to stop dead in our tracks.
“Woah! What’s that smell? What are you guys doing?”
“Nothing,” Mark said unconvincingly.
The kid sniffed again, and smiled broadly. He brought his fingers up to his mouth in the international smoking a joint gesture, looking into our eyes for confirmation.
“Nope,” was all Mark said in response.
“Bullshit! My brother smokes it all the time. I know that smell. You guys are stoned!”
“Ok. Busted. Do NOT tell Adam, ok? I don’t want him slipping to my mom. Cool?”
“Let me smoke some.”
“Come on. Please?”
“Maybe later, ok? We should go back down before Adam comes up looking for us.”
It was agreed that later, Mark would bring the kid back up for a little smoke out later on. In the meantime, we went to the basement to feel the buzz come on and wait for the pizza dude to deliver our hot, melty goodness.
We devoured the pizza and gulped down our sodas. I was feeling pretty high and really nice. The Halo wars was about to begin. Mark walked me through the basics, but with so many buttons and joysticks, I found the whole thing very complicated and discouraging. I reluctantly agreed to participate in the online clan battles, but I didn’t want to screw things up for these elite players sitting all around me. I found it very difficult to keep up, as they swerved around these complicated landscapes and battlefields. It was all loud flurries of bullets and explosions. I couldn’t tell what was going on. I was too scared to fire my weapon, fearing that I’d shoot one of my own guys.
They all had a good laugh at my expense. A highlight was when I blew myself up with a bazooka. In fact, it was the only time that Adam actually acknowledged that I was there, saying “worst fucking gamer ever. Hands down.”
That stung pretty hard. Not the truth in what he said, because he probably was right. What hurt was the obvious disgust and hatred in his tone. I only lasted a couple more battles, before I said “fuck this,” and threw the controller aside. I went up to the kitchen and grabbed another soda. I wanted to go downstairs and tell them all to get fucked. Especially Adam, for being such a jerk. But I knew I wouldn’t do it. I get being the butt of a joke, and you got to respect that it happens to everyone. Take it if you’re gonna give it and all that. Guy code or whatever. I took a deep breath and went back down to the battle zone. I sat on the corner and tried to not look too gloomy.
After I don’t know how long, Mark called for an intermission. He ran upstairs, bringing Adam’s friend with him. He said they were going to get some ice cream for us all. This left me and Adam alone for the first time all night. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. After about thirty seconds of silence, Adam got up and went to the bathroom. He stayed in there until they came back downstairs. A good five minutes.
They did have four bowls filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with cross-crossing swirls of chocolate and caramel sauce. It looked phenomenal. I couldn’t tell if Mark made good on his deal about letting the kid smoke. I really hoped he didn’t. When we were all done, Mark had me help him bring all the dirty dishes back to the kitchen. He pulled the pipe out of his front pocket and led me out the sliding door, into the backyard. We smoked a little, even though I didn’t want to. I was getting tired of being a constant disappointment since I got here, so I just went along with him.
When we went back down, this buzz wasn’t as comfortable. My senses became acutely aware of every little detail about the world inside my head. Shit got crazy, and I sunk lower into the depths. It was not a fun place to be at all. The mystery of what was going on with Adam really upset me and I didn’t even try to hide it anymore. You win Adam. I hope you got what you wanted.
Suddenly, an Xbox controller came to land on my lap. I looked up and saw Mark smiling at me. “You ready to go another round captain?”
To my left, I heard “ppfff…great.”
I know when I’m not wanted. I tossed the controller back to Mark and said, “nah. I’m gonna go chill in your room.”
I stood up and glanced at Adam as I walked past. He wouldn’t meet my eyes. He just sat there like some kind of unfeeling robot. I was crushed.
I shut the door to Mark’s room and laid down on the far side of the bed. My side, I guess. Even with the door shut, I could hear Mark lay into Adam, loud and clear.
“Dude! Adam! What the fuck!? Why are you being such a dick to Daniel? He’s always been so cool to you. So nice. You’re lucky he’s not out here beating the shit out of you. Dude! It’s fucking Daniel?! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
I couldn’t tell if Adam said anything back to Mark. After his tirade, it became eerily quiet on the other side of the door. I was struggling to hold back my tears. A few rogue droplets did ease out of the corner of my eye, and I erased them with a swipe of my arm. I grabbed my iPod and headphones and quickly hit shuffle. I needed to lose myself in the mysteries of someone else’s thoughts and expressions. My own thoughts were just more than I could bear right now.
“Empathy is the poor man’s cocaine.
And love is just a chemical by any other name.
I like the way your pheromones make me sleepy
This far away I still smell you inside me.”
So sang Eyedea with his heart on his sleeve, as always. One of my favorites and just what I needed to lose myself. To distance myself from the mess just outside this room. I shut out the world around me and drifted off to a better world. A place where it was only me and music and the intimate connection I established with the artist on the other side. With this mellow buzz and the beauty of music, I felt more plugged in than I ever had before. I really need to play my guitar more.
I saw a sweep of light cross the wall in front of me, then I felt the presence of another person in the room. It was Mark, and it looked like he was starting his bedtime procedures. He grabbed a few things out of his dresser before leaving the room again. He returned about fifteen minutes later and crawled in beside me. I could detect the smell of minty toothpaste and his musky shower gel. He smelled really nice. After he settled in, he placed his hand on my arm and whispered my name a few times. I was pretending I was asleep, as I didn’t want to deal with the Adam situation. Mark pulled the blanket up my exposed chest, to just under my chin and patted me a few times, before rolling away from me to nestle himself comfortably and await his oncoming dreams.
How sweet was that? He tucked me in. He defended me against his brother earlier, and now he’s concerned about my welfare. Mark really is an incredible friend, most of the time. I felt bad for pretending I was asleep, but it’s too late now, and any conversation can wait until morning.
Sometime later, I was shaken awake by a silent pair of hands on my shoulders. I must have been in a pretty deep sleep because it took me a while to focus on Adam’s face, kneeling beside the bed, only a short distance from my own. He motioned for me to get up and follow him. Something about this scene seemed very unreal to me. Earlier he wouldn’t even talk to me, but now he wanted me to follow him.
He walked me outside of Mark’s room and quietly pulled his door shut, while I stood there half asleep, waiting. He turned back around and tried to look into my eyes, but couldn’t do so for longer than a couple quick glimpses. He wrapped his arms around my waist and set his chin on my bare shoulder. He gripped me very tight and quivered, in just over a whisper, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
I placed one of my hands on his back and cradled the back of his head with the other one. I said, “it’s ok Adam,” and asked, “what’s going on? Are you ok?”
He gripped me tighter and said, “it’s not ok and now I probably made you hate me.”
I could feel tears dripping onto my back and I could hear that full sounding nasal inhale you get from crying. “I don’t hate you Adam. What’s wrong? Tell me.”
His crying was getting worse and his body was starting to convulse. He was going limp in my arms. Sobbing noises were starting to escape his lips. I picked him up and carried him over to the couch. I sat him across my lap and he continued to grip my neck tightly, with his face buried into my chest. He cried hard for a good couple of minutes while I just held him and rubbed his back. It upset me to see him this tore up, but he needed me to remain strong. Whatever he was fighting, he chose me, and crying with him probably wouldn’t help.
After he calmed down a bit, he moved his nose behind my ear and kissed me repeatedly on my neck, between saying, “in so sorry. I love you. I love you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“I told you. It’s ok. I’m right here.”
“Don’t hate me. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Adam. I could never hate you. Ever. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on. I’m here for you, ok?”
“You’ll hate me.”
“No I won’t. Adam, you mean a lot to me. Nothing you say could make me hate you.”
He took some time to collect himself, before he was willing to show his face. When he finally did, he kind of nervously laughed. I smiled warmly and swiped his tears away with my thumb. “It’s ok. Just tell me.”
“Phewwwww. Ok. Umm…I want you so bad. Like really, really bad, but…I don’t want to want you. I don’t want to…be gay.”
This opened up some more tears as he tried to explain his turmoil with his sexuality.
I hugged him tight to me again. “Adam, I…”
“I’m not finished. Let me finish.”
“You’re gonna think I’m so dumb…umm…I thought if I got you to hate me, that you wouldn’t want to see me anymore, and then I wouldn’t have to worry about it. But…but then I saw how sad I made you, and I felt like shit, and that’s not what I want. What I want is you.”
“Adam. First. Yes, you did make me sad. Very sad. You mean so much to me and I couldn’t figure out what I did to hurt you. It was tearing me up. But you never have to do anything you don’t want to. Ever. Your friendship is more important to me than anything else. I never want to lose that, ok? To me, you are such a beautiful person in every way. I never want to hurt you. Gay. Who knows. Are you gay? Am I? I can’t answer that. Are we just experimenting? We’re going through a lot of changes right now and we’re both young. Don’t worry so much about having all the answers. There’s still a lot of time to figure all that out. We messed around and it probably meant different things for both of us, but only you know how you feel about things. Only you can decide what you’re comfortable with. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings if you don’t want to do that stuff anymore. I’ll deal with it. THIS is what’s important. Being honest with each other, and true to ourselves. Ok?”
Adam flashed me as good of a smile as he could produce in his condition, and said “thank you,” as his arms tightened around me, in maybe our most meaningful embrace yet.
His face ended up near my ear again, and he whispered, “you’re amazing.”
“No. You are,” I whispered into the top of his head.
“You are more.”
“You are the most.”
Then, in a bizarre shift of gears, Adam slid his face along my cheek and kissed me on the lips, trying to force his way into my mouth. I pulled my head back, shocked, and asked, “Adam? What are you doing?”
“This IS what I want. YOU are what I want.”
“Maybe tonight, this isn’t the best idea. You’ve got a lot to think about, ok?”
I could tell he was disappointed, but he answered, “ok, but will you hold me for a while longer?”
“I’ll hold you as long as you want.”
He buried his face into my neck and we melted into each other. Neither of us were going anywhere. I would hold him forever if he asked me to. Eventually he drifted off to sleep, so I made the familiar trip up the three flights to deliver him to his bed. I laid him on his mattress. Carefully removed his pants and shirt, and kissed him on his perfect lips after I tucked him in. He fluttered open his eyes when my lips met his. He smiled and mouthed, “I love you Daniel.”
“I love you too, Adam. More than anything.”
I’ve said before how a song or a band can take you to a time or place the second that first note strikes. A few years later, I heard this song for the first time. It instantly attached itself to the Friday night I just relived above. In true living color. I still can’t listen to it without that immediate association. I hope you enjoy it.