Boy Meets Boy

Page 19


By the time Noah sees me, Kyle's retreated to Fitness. I walk over and Noah looks at the box in my hand.
“Good choice,” he says. “That's one of Claudia's favorites.”
I can feel Kyle watching us, even though I can't see him. Noah doesn't notice. He is so happy, so oblivious. As Spiff signs out the tape, I try to muster all my happiness and obliviousness back. Then, as I step through the doorway, I turn for a last look. Kyle sees me turn and raises his hand. I don't know what he's doing, then the hand moves a little back and forth. He is waving to me. It is both a good-bye and a hello.
I am so confused.
Noah is talking to me about the five Italian women who were waiting in front of him at the pizza joint, each wanting a different topping on their pizza, enraged when the toppings overlapped on a single slice. The pizza guy tried to explain that toppings are not an exact science— sometimes in the melting process a stray piece of sausage ends up snuggled next to an anchovy. The women insisted on sending the pie back.
I shake my head at the right places. I laugh at the right places. But I am not there with him. My mind is back in the video store, in one of the sections between Comedy and Drama.
I become a little wary that Noah isn't noticing my distance. Then I get more angry at myself for digressing.
As we near his house, I am able to summon up the more wonderful events of the day. Our first kiss seems like ages ago. It is already becoming a memory.
I ride the Noah train of thought—spinning into his house, dealing with Claudia's begrudging approval of the movie selection— before the movie derails me again. What was I thinking? Molly Ringwald makes me think of Kyle. Judd Nelson makes me think of Kyle. Even the goddamn principal makes me think of Kyle.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Then I realize something. Noah seems just as distracted. After Ally Sheedy throws her ham at the statue, I leave the room to reheat the pizza. Noah follows me.
“What's up?” I ask, scared that he's caught on to me, that he's going to boot me out for mental disloyalty.
“I have a confession to make,” he says. “It's hard for me to watch that movie.”
“The first time I went over to… well, Pitt's house, we watched it.”
I look at his pained, solemn expression. And then I burst out laughing. Not because it's funny (although in many ways it is). Because I feel a release.
“I know exactly how you feel,” I say, briefly mentioning Kyle (not by name, and not including more recent events).
The night is saved.
We stay in the kitchen for the rest of the video. Noah breaks out a Winnie the Pooh cookbook and we decide to make lemon squares.
“You two are insane,” Claudia pronounces when the movie is over and she comes into the kitchen to find us covered with powdered sugar and flour.
“Why, thank you,” Noah says. I curtsy. Claudia says she's going to sleep.
Perhaps it's Claudia's presence right over our heads, but Noah and I keep our affections quiet for the rest of the night. We relish the briefest of touches—brushing against each other as we take the lemon squares out of the oven, skimming hand over hand when we reach to turn off the oven, pressing arm against arm as we wash out the mixing bowls.
His parents aren't home yet when it's time for me to leave. Tiredness has crept into our conversation.
“Meet me before the morning bell,” I say, reaching up to touch his hair.
“I'll be there,” he replies, ruffling me back, kissing me good-bye.
As I walk back outside, I take a deep breath. Sure, Kyle's still in the back of my mind. But I think I can manage to keep Noah in the front.
Things Unsaid
When I see Noah on Monday morning, I can tell that something has shifted within me, within him, and within us. Before, it was all about hope and anticipation. Now it's about hope, anticipation, and proximity. I want to be close to him—not out of some vague notion of what it would be like, but because I have already been close to him and I don't want that to stop.
We talk about our mornings and leave so many things unsaid: the choreography of our note passing, our happiness in seeing each other, a little of our fear, our desire to keep our displays of affection private. The first bell rings, and I'm not sure what we'll do—is there a way to acknowledge our newfound closeness without being one of those couples who can't get through the day without a loud hallway snog?
It's Noah who finds the answer, without me having to ask the question. “I'll see you later,” he says, and as he does, he runs his finger briefly over my wrist. It passes over me like air, and makes me shiver like a kiss.
I walk into French class feeling very, very lucky.
“Good weekend?” Joni asks once I sit down in front of her.
“Great weekend,” I reply.
“I'm sorry I didn't call you. I was with Chuck.”
Of course you were.
Before she can say any more, Ms. Kaplansky begins her conjugations. We continue our conversation in folded, college-ruled form.
Chuck and I went to the driving range. I wanted to mini-golfi but he said that was for wusses. So he taught me how to swing. After a while, he started calling me his eighteenth hole. Then he took me to the nicest place for dinner, and he was so sweet about it. He tried to order us drinks, but the waitress just laughed. Chuck was steamed for a while about that, but I cheered him up. Did you go out with your lover boy?
Yes. Noah and I spent Saturday together. It was groovy. I like him a lot.
I want juicy details.
I had Tropicana for breakfast this morning. Without pulp.
That's not what I meant. Fine. Be secretive. Like I keep anything from you. By the way, Ted's started to stalk me. Chuck and I are very upset by it.
What do you mean?
I mean, he keeps calling me and dropping by my house. One time I was there with Chuck, and Chuck almost pummeled him. I mean, doesn't Ted get it? I'm through with him. Through.
Perhaps he's hurting. [I am thinking for a moment of Kyle]
Yes, he's hurting ME and my relationship with Chuck.
At this point, Ms. Kaplansky announces a pop quiz. We all groan and clear off our desks. Ms. Kaplansky has an uncanny habit of asking us to translate phrases into French that we would never, ever use in English.
Sir, are you familiar with the works of Australian filmmaker Gillian Armstrong?
He was predisposed to believe that she had a case of indigestion.