Boy Meets Boy

Page 4


I was learning that notoriety came with a certain backlash. I had to be careful. I had a g*y food column in the local paper—”Dining OUT”—which was a modest success. I'd declined numerous pleas to run for student council president, because I knew it would interfere with my direction of the school musical (I won't bore you with the details, but let me just say that Cody O’Brien was an Auntie Mame for the ages).
All in all, life through junior high was pretty fun. I didn't really have a life that was so much out of the ordinary. The usual series of crushes, confusions, and intensities.
Then I meet Noah and things become complicated. I sense it immediately, driving home from Zeke's gig. I suddenly feel more complicated.
Not bad complicated.
Just complicated.
The Homecoming
Queen's Dilemma
I look for him in the hallways on Monday. I hope that he's looking for me, too.
Joni promises me she'll be my search party spy. I'm afraid she'll get too carried away with the job, dragging Noah over to me by the ear if she finds him.
But the connection isn't made. No matter how far I drift from the hallway conversations I'm having, I never drift into him. The halls are awash in Homecoming Pride posters and post-weekend gossip. Everybody is jingling and jangling; I look for Noah like I'd look for a pocket of calm.
Instead I run into Infinite Darlene. Or, more accurately, she runs on over to me. There are few sights grander at eight in the morning than a six-foot-four football player scuttling through the halls in high heels, a red shock wig, and more-than-passable make-up. If I wasn't so used to it, I might be taken aback.
“Ah'm so glad I caught you,” Infinite Darlene exclaims, sounding like Scarlett O’Hara as played by Clark Gable. “Things are such a messl”
I don't know when Infinite Darlene and I first became friends. Perhaps it was back when she was still Daryl Heisenberg, but that's not very likely; few of us can remember what Daryl Heisenberg was like, since Infinite Darlene consumed him so completely. He was a decent football player, but nowhere near as good as when he started wearing false eyelashes.
Infinite Darlene doesn't have it easy. Being both star quarterback and homecoming queen has its conflicts. And sometimes it's hard for her to fit in. The other drag queens in our school rarely sit with her at lunch; they say she doesn't take good enough care of her nails, and that she looks a little too buff in a tank top. The football players are a little more accepting, although there was a spot of trouble a year ago when Chuck, the second-string quarterback, fell in love with her and got depressed when she said he wasn't her type.
I am not alarmed when Infinite Darlene tells me things are such a mess. For Infinite Darlene, things are always such a mess; if they weren't, she wouldn't have nearly enough to talk about.
This time, though, it's a real dilemma.
“Coach Ginsburg is going to have my hat,” she declares. “It's the frickin’ Homecoming Pride rally this afternoon. He wants me to march with the rest of the team. But as homecoming queen, I'm also supposed to be introducing the team. If I don't do the proper introductions, my tiara might be in doubt. Trilby Pope would take my place, which would be ghastly, ghastly, ghastly. Her boobs are faker than mine.”
“You think Trilby Pope would stoop that low?” I ask.
“Is the Pope shrewish? Of course she would stoop that low. And she'd have gravity problems getting back up.”
Usually Infinite Darlene acts like she's in a perpetual congeniality contest. But Trilby Pope is her weak spot. They used to be good friends, able to recount an hour's worth of activity with three hours’ worth of conversation. Then Trilby fell into the field hockey crowd. She tried to convince Infinite Darlene to join her, but football was the same season. They drifted into different practices and different groups of friends. Trilby started to wear a lot of plaid, which Infinite Darlene despised. She started to hang with rugby boys. It all became very fraught. Finally, they had a friendship break-up—an exchange of heated classroom notes, folded in the shape of artillery. They averted their glances dramatically when they passed in the halls. Trilby still has some of Infinite Darlene's accessories, from when they used to swap. Infinite Darlene tells everybody (except Trilby) that she wants them back.
My attention is beginning to wander from the conversation. I am still scanning the hallways for Noah, knowing full well that if I see him, I will most probably duck into the nearest doorway, blushing furiously.
“I do declare,” Infinite Darlene does declare, “what has gotten you so distracted?”
It is here that I feel the limit of our friendship. Because while Infinite Darlene feels comfortable telling me everything, I am afraid that if I tell her something, it will no longer be mine. It will belong to the whole school.
“I'm just looking for someone,” I hedge.
“Aren't we all?” Infinite Darlene vamps ruefully. I think I'm off the hook, but then she adds, “Is it someone special?”
“It's nothing,” I say, crossing my fingers. I pray that it's not nothing. Yes, I pray to my Big Lesbian God Who Doesn't Really Exist. I say to her: I don't ask for much. I swear. But I would really love Noah to be everything I hope he'll be. Please let him be someone I can groove with, and who wants to groove with me.
My denial has sent Infinite Darlene back to her own dilemma. I tell her she should march with the football team while wearing her homecoming queen regalia. It seems like a good compromise to me.
Infinite Darlene starts to nod. Then her eyes see something over my shoulder and flash anger.
“Don't look now,” she whispers.
Of course, I turn and look. And there's Kyle Kimball walking by. Turning away from me like he might catch plague from a single bubonic glance.
Kyle is the only straight boy I've ever kissed. (He didn't realize he was straight at the time.) We went out for a few weeks last year, in ninth grade. He is the only ex I'm not on speaking terms with. Sometimes I even feel like he hates me. It's a very strange feeling. I'm not used to being hated.
“He'll learn,” Infinite Darlene says as Kyle recedes into a classroom. She's been saying that for a year now, without ever telling me who Kyle's going to learn from. I still wonder if it's supposed to be me.
With some break-ups, all you can think about afterwards is how badly it ended and how much the other person hurt you. With others, you become sentimental for the good times and lose track of what went wrong. When I think of Kyle, the beginnings and the endings are all mixed up. I see his enraptured face reflected in the light of a flickering movie screen; passing him a note and having him rip it into confetti-sized pieces without reading it; his hand taking mine for the first time, on the way to math class; him calling me a liar and a loser; the first time I knew he liked me, when I caught him hovering around my locker before I actually got there; the first time I knew he didn't like me anymore, when I went to give him back a book I'd borrowed and he pulled away instinctively.