An Accidental Romance

Chapter 14

Saturday, June 16 — Thursday, June 21

“Whaddya think?” I asked Jordan.

“I like the idea. Don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. But I think we need to figure it out, you know, structure it.”

Jordan and I were in the hot tub. It was late afternoon, people were around, and we had bathing suits on. We hadn’t been in it without them yet, but we both had it in mind. It would happen; sooner or later it would happen—I was hoping for sooner—that was straight up true.

We were discussing Dad’s idea about dating.

Jordan poked me. Easy to do when you’re sitting right next to each other. “You like things organized, don’t you? Structured? Dating? Yeah, that’s you all right.” He laughed. I’d gotten so I didn’t mind him laughing at me. I knew him better now, and it wasn’t the kind of laugh to be annoyed about. “You said you’d make a list,” Jordan continued. “Did you start one yet?”

“No. But I had another idea. I think we should date, but there’re two kinds of dates. There are romantic ones, and there are just hanging-out-together dates.

He looked questioningly at me, and so I explained. “Romantic dates are things like going to a nice, quiet, dimly lit restaurant for a dinner for two, candles, tablecloths, privacy, that sort of thing. Or maybe one of us doing the same thing at home: cooking a meal for just us and making it a romantic setting like the restaurant. Another one might be like seeing romantic movies; walking barefoot, hand in hand on a beach with a full moon lighting our way, no one else around, soft lapping of gentle waves on the waterline. Yeah, I know, we don’t have any beaches around here; that sort of thing, though; we’d just have to improvise. And then there’s this hot tub but at night with everyone in bed, just us and the hot water and our imaginations. And don’t forget the impact of a romantic movie and then strolling home afterwards, slowly, late, hand in hand, with visions of what will happen at home when we get there.”

He grinned and said, “And don’t forget hikes. By the lake.” Then he giggled, and I had to laugh as well.

He smiled, probably picturing each of those settings. I could picture them also, and, well, we were in warm water, we were fifteen, and it doesn’t take much to stir arousal at that age.

I ignored that as best I could and went on. “Non-romantic, hanging-out-together dates can include playing soccer, going to a games arcade, watching an action movie with friends, having a group over for an evening of party games, that sort of thing.”

Jordan said, “Sounds really good to me. Make up your list, and we can get started. Especially with the romantic ones.” He grinned. Damn, I liked that grin.

“I’ve had an idea about that, too. I think we should each make a list with three things in each of the two categories. We can talk about the non-romantic ones. But the romantic ideas, we should keep those to ourselves and surprise each other. Tell the other one what to wear, what time to be ready, and then it’s all a surprise after that. I think that would up the ante, make them more special. Whaddya think?”

No one was around. We were already sitting next to each other. He leaned over and gave me a quick kiss. “That’s what I think,” he said.

Jeff came home the next day. Jordan was out with his dad at the mall, buying some new clothes. He hadn’t had new things for some time and had even been borrowing some of mine. Now his dad had a good job, and though his first paycheck was still ahead of him, he was using the credit that came with his Visa card to fix Jordan up with some new duds.

This gave me some alone time with Jeff, which I needed. I wasn’t sure how to go about telling him that Jordan and I were together, figuring out just how much together we were and would be but, in the process of that, we were doing things that I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk to Jeff about.

That wasn’t really true. I was positive I didn’t want to discuss those things with Jeff. Not in any sort of detail. But I did want to tell him we were involved. At the same time, I didn’t want to lose his respect or love for me. I just wasn’t sure how to go about it. This was important. Really important.

I decided this was the time to do it, just Jeff and me together, though I didn’t feel anywhere near ready.

“Hey, Jeff. A game of pool?”

“Sure. Meet you down there.”

I went into the basement and was racking the balls when Jeff tromped down. For a kid who barely weighed 100 pounds, he could sure make noise walking.

“Eight-ball?” he asked.

“I prefer straight pool. As you well know.”

Jeff laughed. “Yeah, but there’s more luck in eight-ball, and that makes the game fairer.”

“Okay, eight-ball. You wanna break?”

Breaking in eight-ball gives you a slight advantage, especially if you can break the balls hard enough to spread them out and probably sink one. Jeff wasn’t that good at hitting the racked balls hard, but he still always chose to break because it denied me that advantage.

He broke the rack and, as usual, left a mess in the middle. He used top English so the cue ball more or less stayed with the mess. This was his usual tactic. It was rare I had a decent shot.

I didn’t this time but tried an almost impossible one and missed, leaving him a good opening.

While he was lining it up and feeling good, it seemed the ideal time to tell him what I’d got him down here for. I waited till he made the shot, then said, “I have something to tell you, Jeff. It’s about me and Jordan.”

He was lining up his next shot but must have heard something in my voice. He turned around, looked at me and laid his cue stick down. The kid could read me better than anyone else.

“What?” he asked, his voice very neutral. Maybe forced neutral.

Man, this was hard. I said, “Let’s sit down.”

We both sat on a sofa, twisted so we were more or less facing each other.

“Please don’t read anything more into this than what I’m going to tell you. It’s complicated. But, see, Jordan and I . . . I mean, well, we have feelings for each other. We like each other, sorta like more than friends. And we’re going to spend some time together figuring out just what’s what.”

I expected some sort of reaction, but what I got was silence. Not for long, but at first. Then he asked, “You’re telling me you’re gay?” Still the neutral voice. How come he could read me like a first-grade primer and I couldn’t read him at all?

“Well, maybe. That’s why it’s complicated. I don’t like other boys that way. But I do him.”

“How can you only like one boy? That’s nuts.”

Okay, I heard some passion in his voice that time. But I wasn’t sure what it was for. Because I liked a boy? Or because it was only one boy? I kind of thought it was the latter. Jeff liked things to make sense. I did, too, for that matter, and this wasn’t that. Well, maybe it did make sense; maybe I was still fighting the denial Jordan accused me of having.

“I told you it was complicated.” That wasn’t going to stop him, but I thought the less I told him other than the fact Jordan and I liked each other, the better. Isn’t that what they always said in the question period in Sex Ed class: tell the truth but only what they ask? Don’t embellish.

“And Jordan likes you?”

“Yeah. Very much. And he doesn’t get all tied up about it like I do. But, well, can we keep this between ourselves? I’m not ready for the world to know about Jordan, about me, about us dating. I had to tell you because you’re my brother, because I love you, and because it was just the right thing to do. The only people who know about this are Dad and Mom, Jordan’s dad, you, me and Jordan. Oh, and Mike of course.”

He was quiet then, not saying anything at all, and I couldn’t take much of that. “Well, say something!”

“Huh? What, you want congratulations? That doesn’t sound right. I’ll have to think about this.”

“What, you have a problem with gay kids?”

“Of course not! But I’ve lived with you all my life and suddenly you’re gay? I’ll have to get used to that.”

“I didn’t say I was gay. I said I liked Jordan. I’m still working on the label everyone will want to stick on me when this gets out. I’m questioning whether the ‘gay’ one fits; I haven’t even figured out yet if I like it or not.”

He shook his head. “David, you like Jordan. You like a boy. Boys who like other boys, like them the way you’re saying, are gay. Have you done things with him?”

“I don’t want to talk about that.”

“Okay, so you’ve done things. And since you’re now telling me the two of you are together and are still together after doing things, that means you liked the things you did and don’t regret doing them. You don’t feel bad about yourself that you liked sex with him. You’re gay, David. The sooner you admit that to yourself, the less complicated this will be.”

I dropped my eyes. Softly, I said, “It’s hard, Jeff. You’ve lived with me eleven years. I’ve lived with me for fifteen, and I never thought I was gay. Now I might be. Probably am. But I’m simply not ready to admit it, accept the entirety of it.”

He reached over and put his hand on my leg. “Anything I can do to help you with that, come to me. I have a lot of friends who have older brothers. You’re so much nicer that any of them. I’m so lucky you‘re like you are. Anything I can do to help, I will. I love you, bro!” And he was suddenly on me, hugging me.

I teared up, then was embarrassed, then wasn’t. I hugged him back but didn’t speak. I was pretty sure my voice wouldn’t have sounded right.


Jordan, who’d dressed in some of his new clothes Sunday morning, presented me with his dating list. His non-romantic list. It was much the same as mine. Fifteen-year-olds without driver’s licenses are a bit limited. He listed going to the mall, movies, going to the park. I listed throwing a party for friends to introduce him to kids he’d be seeing in school in the fall and showing him around the city on our bikes; I also listed basketball games in our driveway. I liked doing that better than going to the park unless it was for soccer. Going for touch football or other rougher games didn’t appeal to me. I avoided those while loving soccer, which could be rough itself, but that was a roughness I could both accept and participate in.

I also told him about my plan to get him on the varsity soccer team. He liked the idea but didn’t think it was doable. “The coach will never come. If he was seen, there could be a squabble about it. He’s not going to want to risk his job.”

I thought he might be right. The coach was one of those guys who did everything by the book. He could watch a game in the park with varsity players involved, but he couldn’t say a word to any of them before or afterwards. So, just his presence there would make some people think he was breaking that rule. I, too, doubted he’d come.

I had to come up with a different plan. I’d have to think about it. I really, really wanted Jordan on the team, and not just to have him there. He was very good, and he’d help us win.


My first non-romantic date was the next day with Jordan and included Mike and Jeff. We went to the water park in town. It was Monday, a weekday, so most of the parents were working and their little kids were being child-cared, so neither parents nor little kids were there crowding the park. It was mostly just us teens.

The summer was moving slowly forward, days passing, but the days were still warm and sunny. There was lots of skin on display with the teens in bathing suits at the park; the scent of sunscreen perfumed the air.

We went into the locker room to change. We got locker keys at the reception desk and entered the room. Lots of boys there, most undressing. A few were dressing, having been there since the park had opened, but the majority were like us, just arriving.

We each had a locker to ourselves. We stripped, donned our bathing suits, put away our clothes and locked them up. There was a large canister of sunscreen by the door with a pump spout. I did Jeff, and he did me, while Mike and Jordan did each other. I’d grabbed Jeff as soon as we had our trunks on. I didn’t want Jordan rubbing that stuff all over me. My bathing suit was thin.

I had the current standard boy’s bathing suit, one with long legs down to my knees. Mike’s was the same style. I was surprised to see Jordan wearing a Speedo. Evidently that was one of the purchases he’d made when shopping with his dad. He’d been borrowing one of my suits when we swam or hot-tubbed at my house.

He filled the suit very nicely. The surprising thing was, Jeff had a suit just like his. I found out later Jordan had told Jeff he was going to buy a Speedo when he had the opportunity, and Jeff had asked him to get him one just like it. That was before I’d told Jeff about Jordan and me. I wondered if Jeff would have still wanted that suit after knowing about us. Then I realized he hadn’t needed to bring that suit with him today. He had several others at home. That gave me a warm feeling: Jeff was showing he still admired Jordan, and my talk with him hadn’t changed that.

We spent the day going down the chutes, in the wave pool, getting in a basketball game in the hoops pool, fighting with spray guns, enjoying the tipping buckets, racing on the racing slides, and in general getting tired and happy.

We showered afterwards. A lot of the boys showering had kept their bathing suits on, but quite a few hadn’t. None of our group was that modest. I got to confirm my opinion that Jeff was just at the onset of puberty. I noticed he was taking advantage of his opportunity to check out the other boys of various ages. I wasn’t surprised: there were lots of cute boys there, Jeff was as curious as any eleven-year-old, and how often did he get to see so many boys naked? I accepted that you didn’t have to be gay to enjoy the scenery.

Mike wasn’t looking around at all. Surprisingly, I saw Jordan wasn’t, either. I thought that was one of the things a gay boy would do. And I realized I myself always did that.

When I had a chance later to be alone with Jordan, he smiled at me in the way I’d learned was going to lead to some teasing. I could read him much better now that he looked at me instead of the ground. “So, you enjoyed the water park, then?”

I said, “Sure. It was great. Why? Didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah. I think you might have enjoyed the last part best, though.”

“Huh? Whaddaya mean?”

“The showers and the locker room. You were checking everyone out.”

“I was not!”

He grinned. “You know you were. One day this denial will be long gone, and you can laugh at yourself. Not yet, I guess, huh?”


I figured out how to solve my problem with getting Jordan on the soccer team at school. The coach had to see him play, and our first practices, coming so close to league action, would be for installing plays with the boys he’d already selected as his starters. He wouldn’t have time to see what newcomers could do. Jordan wouldn’t have a fair chance, not because the coach wasn’t a fair man, but because of time limitations.

So, I used what courage I had and telephoned the coach. He’d given us all his number, so if there was some reason we wouldn’t make a practice or be able to play in a scheduled game, we could let him know in advance.

I told him about Jordan. I may have been a bit effusive, but it was Jordan, and I wasn’t entirely unbiased about him.

“Coach,” I said after identifying myself, “I’ve been playing soccer in the park a lot this summer, and there’s a new kid who’ll be at our school in the fall who’s really good. He can play lots of positions but is outstanding on offense. I’m thinking a forward wing. I know you can’t come watch him, or at least I don’t think so. Could you show up just to watch?”

“That’s not a good idea, David, even if I didn’t speak to anyone. It would just look bad if anyone saw me there.”

“That’s what I thought. But how about this? What if I make a video of a game? I could send that to you. Is there anything about that that breaks any rules, or even bends them?”

He thought for a moment, then said, “I can’t stop you from doing that. I haven’t asked you to do that. If I get an email, and it contains an attachment, there’s nothing wrong with opening it, is there?”

“Great. I won’t even tell you who he is or otherwise identify him. You’ll be able to pick him out easily. He’s that good! Okay, thanks, Coach.”


I got it all set up when we were next playing at the park that Wednesday. I asked some of the guys, the older ones, if they could come back the next day so we could play just with a group of better players, starting to get ready for high-school varsity-league play. As expected, I got a lot of enthusiasm and agreement.

Our coach played a four-three-three formation: four deep defenders, three midfield players and three attackers. That was how I wanted our game in the park to be set up, too, for the video we’d be making. I decided it was best if no one knew a video was going to be shot. No one would be posing for the camera that way. Everything would look like our park games always did, except this would be more competitive with guys my age, sophomores-to-be, against mostly older kids, rising juniors. I’d talked to enough guys, told the juniors we were challenging them, and everyone seemed to be looking forward to it. You don’t need much trash talk at our ages to motivate kids.

I’d thought we’d be a man short, because I could only recruit ten guys, but I was in for a surprise. Bax was back.

I haven’t spoken much about Bax other than to say he was an asshole. I didn’t like the guy. He was stuck up, thought he was God’s gift to soccer, and wasn’t a team player. As center midfielder, it was my job to get the ball to the forwards. Bax was a left forward, or wing, whatever nomenclature you wish to use. Doesn’t matter. He wanted the ball. He felt he should always have the ball.

He was fast but not a bit clever. When he was open, I did pass to him, but he wasn’t open that often, and in any case, we did better when I passed to the striker or right forward rather than him. He let me know how unhappy he was when I passed to them and not him. Even when my pass turned into a quick goal.

So, Bax was at the park. He’d heard about the game. I was glad we had our eleventh man, sorry that it had to be Bax.

Generally, when we started these games, kids ran to the position they wanted to play, and if more than one went to the same place, they decided who’d play there and who’d go somewhere else. This always happened amicably. Well, always, probably, because Bax hadn’t been around.

I’d introduced Bax to Jordan when we’d arrived. When we ran onto the field, both Bax and Jordan moved to the left-forward-wing position. I thought, uh-oh, and started in that direction.

I was close enough to hear Bax say, “Hey, new kid, this is my spot. Always has been. Go somewhere else.” Then he shoved Jordan’s shoulder hard enough to knock him back two steps.

I saw Jordan look at him, then take those two steps forward again. Then he stared at Bax, not showing a bit of intimidation, not backing down, even though Bax probably was an inch taller and twenty pounds heavier. I began to wonder, as I was running to join them, what had happened to the shy, retiring Jordan. Then I remembered he’d been that way mostly because of fear of his mother finding out who and what he was. Now, he was living with his dad who knew all that and didn’t love him any the less for it. Jordan’s real personality was coming back. Was back, it now seemed.

“New kid?” he asked, scorn ringing in his voice. “That the best you can do? We were introduced three minutes ago, but you seem to need a refresher course.” He stuck out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Jordan.” He wasn’t grinning when he said it.

Bax looked at him, looked at his extended hand, and noticed everyone was staring at him. Not very gracefully, he shook hands, and then said in a far less confrontational voice, “This is where I play.”

“Okay, doesn’t matter that much to me,” Jordan responded, and by then I was there.

“Why don’t you take the right wing, Jordan? Curtis can move back to right midfielder. He’ll be happier there, anyway.”

As he and Curtis were shifting, I glanced at the sideline. Well, at one of the oak trees that were set back a couple of yards from the side of the field. Jeff was up in the branches of the tree, and he was going to record the game. I was hoping he got a shot of that squabble. Jordan had shown great poise. Bax had looked like the idiot he was.


“Holy cow! Did you see that?”

That was Mike. We were at home looking at the video after the game. We watched as Jordan took a pass from me, looked undecided and frantic and was fumbling the ball around with his feet as two defenders gleefully closed on him, and at the last second flipped the ball up and over the two guys. Then he’d juked between them and ahead of him was a clear path to the goal. No one to beat but the keeper. He’d run toward him, the keeper had come out to cut down Jordan’s angle, but Jordan had still had the opportunity to shoot for either corner of the net or the top. Jordan had waited and waited, and finally, at the last second before the keeper had been on top of him, he’d rolled the ball sharply to Bax who was cutting in from the left side. Bax booted it into the open net in front of him, then ran around in circles, waving his hands in the air, yelling, “Scoooooooooore!” Meanwhile, the video showed the rest of our team rallying around Jordan, who was simply standing still with a cat-got-the-cream smile on his face.

It was the final goal of the game. We won, 2-1. We’d beaten them earlier this summer, and they’d been looking to get even. They played a lot harder, they were mostly bigger than we were, but we still won. It was a great game, very competitive, and Jordan had stood out. He had one goal and an assist, so was part of our only scores in the game. And he’d done it against bigger, stronger, hungrier, more determined and experienced players.

Their team had seen early on they needed to double-team Jordan. They had, and he’d still been the best player on the field. Well, that was my opinion.

We edited the video and I sent it to the coach. Now it was up to him.