Thursday, October 13, 2011
Part 4: He Said It....
I have actually never told this story. The one I tell everyone is the story of my coming out to my family, which I consider to be the most important. However, this story is actually based on the person to whom I first came out. She was a very close friend, not the same that I mentioned earlier though. I always just tell the story as it is, but I've never actually tried to see it from her point of view. This is my attempt, and I thought it might be more interesting as a story.
The night had been very exciting as everyone piled back onto the bus after the band concert. Most of the larger bands from the area had been invited, and everyone was exhausted. This was the first time the band had been invited in probably about 10 years. Most likely it was a good will gesture. It was a relatively large band for the area. The only problem was there were much larger schools competing. Some even combined their Junior High and High School bands. Basically the whole night had been kind of a wash.
The buses started up and pulled away, to make the short trip north. The times on the buses usually were the best. Sometimes there'd be sing alongs to Bohemian Rhapsody, or someone might have an air horn handy, but no one was in a festive mood. Most people in the front were talking across the aisles to friends, discussing the disaster that was the performance. Others in the middle had started a game of euchre, hoping to at least cheer themselves up by taking a few hands solo. Further in the back, most people were curled up in blankets to protect from the November weather.
"So," Paula exhaled, shifting her position on the seat, "that was kind of a disaster." She leaned sideways, her head coming to rest against the window.
"You're telling me," John laughed. He pulled off his coat and let his hair out from the ponytail. "Damn uniform regulations."
Paula smiled, looking at John. They had been friends now for a while. He was not exactly a great looking guy, but they had so much in common. It had started with a few jokes after they had mentioned they both watched those Brit-coms they ran late at night on the local public TV station. It had been so long, neither could remember who had started it. Every time they passed one another in the hall though, they'd smile at one another, the joke shared without saying a word.
In the four years they had been together, they had always sent each other valentines. Never had a year gone by that they couldn't think of a joke between them to send to each other. Often people would wonder why either one was laughing instead of getting choked up by what was sent. That was how their love worked though. They liked to make the other one laugh.
Paula had been planning how to handle this for a while. The trip home would take longer than normal, since the bus couldn't take the interstate back. John played quads, and he had a tendency to hunch forward after playing. It was impossible for John to rest completely flat against the bus seat, so he would need to lean forward against the seat. That's when she would make her move.
"So do you want to play some Diablo tonight?" Paul asked, yawning. He was trying to get comfortable against the hard bus seat, but that was unlikely at best.
"We can if you want," Paula responded.
"I didn't ask what I wanted to do. I asked what you wanted to do."
Paul changed positions again, "This goddamn bus seat." I need something to support my back."
He brought his head to rest against the back of the seat in front of him, folding his arms to support his forehead. John exhaled deeply and tried to stretch out his back. Paula brought her hand to rest on his shoulder.
"You know," said Paula, "if it hurts that bad, I could rub it for you."
"Thanks, but no," John responded curtly.
She was losing him fast. He was going to get more and more surly as he couldn't find a comfortable position. Paula watched him as he breathed. Four years she had waited for this moment. She thought about all the times that they had spent at each other's houses, all of the times they had hung out for pep band, and how great it would be from then on. She imagined they'd both go to the same college. She'd already been accepted at Bowling Green, and he to Ohio State. It was less than 2 hours between them, and practically a straight shot on 23. Anyway, she could transfer to be with him.
Paula took a deep breath and moved closer to him, her head now resting next to his elbow. He lowered them for her so they could talk. John turned his head and smiled, and as he did, Paula moved in for a kiss.
"Paula," John said coldly, "Don't."
She retreated quickly and looked at him with a mixture of anger and shock. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"What do you mean, what does that mean? It mean's don't."
John returned his head to it's original position and looked down at the floor. Paula wasn't really sure what to do at this point. She thought of all her plans, and everything she had dreamed about. She thought about finally being able to have her and her mother's suspicions confirmed. She thought about all the times she'd imagined them sitting together watching a movie, or just TV downstairs. She had imagined what the first kiss would be like, and how it would be. Now, it all just vanished in smoke. Tears filled her eyes as she watched everything vanish before her eyes. John squirmed a bit next to her.
"Good," she thought. "I hope you're uncomfortable. It wasn't supposed to be like this. You were supposed to love me. We were supposed to be together forever. You never cared about me. It was all just a cruel act!"
Paula cried harder, all the bitterness coming out at once. If he refused to be with her, he should feel uncomfortable. She wondered what the last four years had been for him. Why had he even bothered to be nice to her if this was how he was going to treat her now? She'd seen his other girlfriends. They weren't exactly fashion models.
John turned towards her, "What's wrong now?"
"Why don't you want to be with me? Is it that I'm not pretty enough?"
"No, it's not that."
John was sitting straight in the seat now. "Among other things, I'm going to be college in Columbus and you'll be in Bowling Green. I couldn't even make the last relationship I had work, and we were only 20 minutes apart."
"Oh, that's an excuse and you know it. You think I'm ugly. Ugly and stupid."
"No," John said rubbing his eyes, "No, I don't."
"Well, then there has to be some reason."
"It's just that --"
"It's just that you never cared about me, and have just been doing this to hurt me."
"No, if you'll let me finish it's that--"
"I don't even know why I bothered with you."
"Ok," John said. "You want to know why I don't want to date you? It's because, I think.....I think....I think I like guys...."
John rubbed his temples and tried to hold back tears, and lowering his head. His forehead came to rest against the seat once again. He ran his hands through his hair and down along his neck and sighed. Paula had not been prepared for this eventuality. He had always been so open in flirting with girls, and never even showed the slightest interest in anything very feminine. He loved video games. He used to do sword fighting with his friends, and played dungeons and dragons. He had a horrible sense of style. None of this made sense.
Paula put a hand on John's shoulder, "Oh my God! So how long have you known?"
"I guess I've really known forever," John said," but I didn't really admit it to myself until I started high school. Since then, I've really just been trying to appear as normal as possible and get through this to college."
"So have you told anyone else?"
"You're the first..."
He had just been pretending all these years back in school. Paul explained that it was not that he didn't have some feelings for girls, but never sexual feelings. It wasn't a choice he had made, and if it were it was the worse choice to make. People weren't exactly kind at their school to people who didn't fit in already, but gay was something far too controversial. People might call someone gay, but no one ever seriously meant it. It was just an insult after all, like saying someone was dumb.
When they arrived back at the school, they decided it would be best for each of them to go home and rest a bit. They had originally made plans to do something at Paula's house, but neither of them felt much like doing anything. They hugged one last time in the band room when they said goodbye, and each went their separate ways.