Can we find love… even in the middle of nowhere?
What does a guy do when he’s 14 and stuck in the middle of nowhere? Like, seriously… nowhere. Like a total right out of the 1850’s village, with 71 residents, 9 of which were dogs, 40 miles from the nearest town with a supermarket or drugstore. Lacking a supermarket was no big deal, but lacking a drugstore was, at least for several of my friends. Not that I cared, but asking Gramma Williss at the general store for condoms would have resulted in your death. Within 4 minutes, your parents would know, within 5 minutes, her parents would know, and within 10 minutes, you’d be dead. That almost happened to Rodney Storch. He was last seen running west. That was six years ago and nobody’s seen him since.
If you think that’s a bitch, you could have been me. I had no interest in buying condoms to keep my girlfriend from getting pregnant. Nope. If I was to spend any time getting romantic, it wouldn’t have been with any of the local girls. I would have much preferred one of the local boys. Actually, Robbie Warner to be exact. That being said, getting romantic wasn’t even in the realm of simply being a dream.
If you have never spent time in the middle of nowhere Alberta, men are men, women are women, men like women, and women tolerate men… simple. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Robbie. By the way, I’m Adam, Adam Whittaker.
If that wasn’t bad enough, living in the middle of nowhere meant there were limited ways we could entertain ourselves. We did have a river running past the village which, for the most part, like when a dead cow wasn’t floating by, was good for swimming. Swimming was usually quite enjoyable. You see, going swimming very often meant skinny dipping with the guys. I shouldn’t need to tell you that that was always fun… as long as I was able to tread water. Not that I doubted their friendship, but I thought it wiser to make sure none of them knew their presence had me standing at attention. Incidentally, I became very good at treading water, and mercifully the river was a tad brownish, so no one could see said underwater display. Well, except for this one time when three of the guys decided to lift me out of the water and throw me downstream. I think I yelled, kicked, and screamed enough to distract them, though.
Walking along the railway tracks was another exciting thing to do. Seven miles and seven bridges. Walking seven miles across seven bridges with seven guys and girls is not always safe, however. You see, the bridges criss-crossed the river, and seeing a mate or a girlfriend frantically splashing around in the river after an unexplained fall off a bridge, was always good for a laugh. On a good day, 1 or 2 of us made it home dry. If one of the girls was wearing only a t-shirt, for some reason, the guys seemed especially appreciative.
Evening campfires were also high on the list of exhilarating ventures. Roasting hotdogs and toasting marshmallows was always fun. Getting that marshmallow toasted to perfection without setting it on fire… what could possibly be more challenging?
So, yeah, so truth be told, except for skinny dipping, life in the middle of nowhere totally sucked. Regrettably, I didn’t.
Finally, and I do mean finally, our little crew began to hit that 16th birthday. You know, the birthday that means a driver’s licence. The birthday that means we can finally escape into the real world, like going into town, maybe even the city. Dairy Queen, Burger Baron, A&W, The Midtown Theatre, the waterpark, and all other things exciting, were now within our grasp.
There was nearly always someone whose dad would let them have the car keys. It was like we had died and gone to heaven, and going to town became a regular occurrence. Often if the others were still working on chores or weren’t in the mood, we went on our own too. Or, you know, the guys would go on a date with their girlfriend or whatever.
On one particular Wednesday in July, I was in town on my own. I caught the Wednesday afternoon matinee at the theatre and decided to take a walk around town.
“Hi,” I heard as I wandered through the park, admiring the giant fountain in the middle of the lake.
I turned to see where the voice had come from, and saw a relatively attractive blonde guy, about my age, stretched out on the grass.
“Hi,” I said.
“You new here?” he asked.
“Not really,” I replied, “I just don’t get into town much. I live in the middle of nowhere.”
“That’s gotta suck,” he responded,
“Yep, but not so much now. I finally got my license so I can get the hell out of there and come into town a lot more often,” I stated.
“Sit,” he said with a grin, offering me a space on the grass to sit. So I sat.
“I’m Jamie,” he announced as soon as I sat down.
“Adam,” I replied with a smile.
We chatted for a while, covering several topics including the excitement of living in the middle of nowhere. It seemed the excitement of living in town wasn’t a hell of a lot better. In fact, in some ways, it was worse.
One of the things I had never experienced from any of the guys, or girls for that matter, was bullying. It seemed, however, that when there are lots of other guys around, often some of them are not nice. At least that’s what Jamie told me. His high school grade had 175 students, not the 29 my little village school had, and yet he had no actual friends. I had 7 close friends and at least 12 good friends.
When I asked him why, he told me I didn’t really want to know. Well it seemed so foreign to me that I did want to know. Why would anyone be mean to anyone else?
Before I could ask anything else, he suggested, “Let’s get some ice cream,” and stood up.
“I’d be into that,” I said, as I also stood up.
We wandered across the park to an ice cream stand on the edge of the parking lot. I got a double caramel pecan and he got a double chocolate.
Then, as we were walking away, a voice called out, “Looks like the faggot found himself a boyfriend.”
When I turned, two dorky looking guys were leaning against the fence with stupid grins on their faces. When I turned back, Jamie was walking away with his head down. He wasn’t wasting any time either.
I ran to catch up with him and once I did, I said, “Hey, slow down a bit.”
“It’s okay, you seem like a nice guy and all, but you don’t have to fake being nice to me. I understand,” he responded.
“I’m not faking anything,” I said, “And why would I?”
“Because nobody likes a faggot,” he replied.
“I do,” I said.
He stopped walking and just stared at me, and after several seconds, a tear started running down his face. I reached over and wiped it off with my thumb and just smiled at him.
“Come on,” I said, “We got some ice cream to finish eating.”
I then took his hand and led him over to where we had been sitting on the grass. He sat there silently, just licking his ice cream, and looking at me for several minutes.
“Why doesn’t it bother you I’m gay?” he finally asked.
“First of all, why should it?” I asked back. Then with a little smile I added, “And second of all, I think you’re kinda cute.”
I’m not sure how to describe the look on his face at that point…shocked, relieved, or a combination, I don’t know. His eyes got bigger though, and he kinda blushed, and sorta, smiled.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” he finally asked in a kind of loud whisper.
“Let’s just say I really like skinny dipping with the guys,” I answered.
“Oh my God,” he almost exclaimed as he flopped back on the grass.
And that was the beginning of a very fine friendship.
I came to town as often as I could and we hung out together as long as we could each time. After a couple of weeks, I picked him up, and he was going to be spending the weekend in the middle of nowhere.
Not too long after we arrived, I discovered he wasn’t quite as good as I was at treading water. When he put his hand on my shoulder to try and stay afloat, we got grins from the other guys.
Then, grinning, Robbie asked if his ass was safe now.
That became one of the few times I’ve ever told anyone to fuck off.
In the next few minutes, I learned that being discrete around the guys was not one of my strong points. Well that, and never giving the girls a second look, wet t-shirt or not.
“So we don’t have to stay underwater anymore then?” I asked.
Their response was quick, unanimous, “YES!”
I guess none of them was even slightly interested in seeing another guy’s blood engorged junk swinging back and forth in the wind, or so they said.
At any rate, I was now officially out. Actually I guess we were both officially out… and no one cared.
Nothing was about to change for me, but for Jamie, it was like a miracle. My friends, soon to be his friends, liked him, and didn’t care whose junk he liked.
Later, when we got to my place, Mom thought Jamie was a sweet boy and Dad admitted he seemed to be a good kid, even if he was from town. We both helped Mom prepare supper and helped her clean up afterwards. Dad ate and watched the news, both of which he does very well.
After cleaning up, we went out, had a campfire, and hung out until about midnight. It was turning out to be an awesome weekend.
When we got home, we tried to slip into the house quietly, but just as we got near my bedroom door, Dad popped around the corner from his and Mom’s room.
Now I know sort of miracles had happened this weekend, I guess, but this one was going to blow my mind.
Dad told us he had put the big foam mattress, he and Mom used when camping, on my floor beside my bed.
Assuming it was for Jamie, I thanked him. When he commented that he had done it because my bed squeaked, I just stood and stared at him.
Then Jamie started laughing, and I soon joined him. Not that it was all that funny, but neither of us had a clue about how else to react.
Dad was apparently telling me something… I think. His grin and the smack upside the head I received, before he disappeared, were the only things that made sense.
When I asked Dad about the foam mattress later, he just grinned and said he wasn’t born yesterday, and, as with the guys, my being discrete had never worked. In fact, Mom and Dad had me figured out by the time I was 12, never mind 16. They hadn’t had a problem with it then and sure as hell didn’t have a problem with it now.
Okay, there was no doubt I had underestimated both my parents and my friends, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Of course meeting Jamie’s family soon became a must and I was invited for supper one Sunday evening. Even though I was assured they were totally accepting, I have to say I was a little nervous. It was kinda silly, because within 15 minutes, it was like I’d known them all my life. We had a great supper and afterwards his brothers played cards with us and then took us out to Dairy Queen.
When a couple of guys grinned, pointed, and said something that sounded like it included the word fags to each other, Jamie’s older brother, Josh, walked over to them and their grins instantly disappeared.
When he asked Jamie if he’d been harassed and Jamie said yes sometimes, he told him he doubted it would happen again, and if by some slim chance it did, to let him know. Just so you know, Josh is a body builder, runs the local gym, and fills out a t-shirt very well.
After our ice cream, we wandered slowly back to Jamie’s and the 4 of us played another couple hands of cards before we decided to crash for the night. Jamie’s dad did not set us up with a foam mattress on the floor, but then Jamie’s bed didn’t squeak.
Sunday, even though I wasn’t a star pupil, Jamie’s younger brother taught me how to ride a skateboard, sort of. We spent the afternoon in the local pool, wearing shorts or swim suits of course. The town authorities kind of expect that. Probably a lot of parents did, too.
The dorky looking guys from the park and the guys from DQ were there too, but not a single snide comment was uttered.
Sadly, after supper, I was driving home alone. As I was, I began to realize that a part of me was missing. Jamie was missing. He had, I guess unsurprisingly, become more than a friend. He had, in a few weeks, become a part of me, and I actually teared up a bit as I began to realize I was falling in love.
Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.
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This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!