Cole Parker

Chapter 3


All the rest of that day I thought about what Adam had said.  I was torn.  I really, really wanted to go to the Prom as his date.  Or he as my date.  However it would work.  We as each other's date?  Maybe that was right.  Anyway, the desire to do that was fighting with my desire to keep my secret entirely secret.   It didnít seem possible both could happen.


I liked Adam.  How much, I wasn't sure because I hadn't spent all that much time with him, but I sure liked looking at him, and the time I had been with him had been great.  I was very comfortable talking with him.  I had a good feeling about him, even though he wasn't gay.  A feeling that I'd like to spend more time with him.  He just appealed to me, and I liked being with him.  He seemed to like me, too, and seemed to think of me as a friend.  But, could we pull it off, going to the Prom as dates without people thinking we were gay?  What would we tell them?  They'd be bound to ask.


I guess we could chicken out and both go stag, then sort of spend time together.  That really did seem the coward's way out, though, especially as Adam had suggested going together.  Was he really that brave?  Or that naive?  He'd said he wasn't gay, and he'd said it like even the thought of him being gay was ridiculous.  Maybe, not being gay, he really didn't care if anyone thought he was, or wondered about it.  Maybe, not being gay, it didn't even occur to him people would think that of us.  Thinking about the consequences of being considered gay just wasn't something he was concerned with or had ever bothered with.


That made me think, and it occurred to me that maybe there was a way to pull this off.  If we both acted like this was just a prank, a way to go to the Prom and not have to suffer from asking girls we didn't want to ask, if we blew off the whole gay aspect as though it was perfectly ridiculous, maybe that would work.  Maybe if we sort of advertised the fact we didn't like the idea of asking a girl, maybe if I advertised that I'd asked a girl and been rejected, it would be enough of an explanation of our being together that people would buy that explanation and not consider the other.


So, was I willing to risk it?  I needed more time to think about it, to think how I was going to word the explanation to people to make it totally believable, to figure out how to act when asked.  I also needed time to get used to the idea of my secret possibly being just that must closer to not being a secret.   But, now that I'd sort of come up with a way this might work, I was getting more excited about doing it, and my excitement was screwing with my head.  Going to the Prom with Adam suddenly seemed like something that could actually happen, not just a wish I had that had no chance of coming true.


Still, I needed to bounce this off someone.  Someone I could talk to who could give me his opinion.  Someone I could trust.


I needed to talk to Tim.


- - -   - - -


Tim has dark hair and is a little larger than I am all over.  Well, no, not there, at least not very.  But he's a little taller and a little heavier than I am.  I'm actually three weeks older than he is, but he appears older.  He also seems more mature, maybe because he's more serious, and though we get along as equals with neither of us as a leader or a follower, I end up asking his advice more than he asks mine.  I guess I'm more unsure of myself in most things than he is, and he's more practical and has more common sense than I do.
        I know what you're wondering.  Since I like boys, do I have a crush on him, or romantic feelings for him?  The answer is, no.  I never have.  He doesn't occupy my dreams, I don't fantasize over him, I don't play with myself with his image in my mind.  He's my best friend, and we confide in each other about everything except my secret, but I don't have special feelings for him.  I don't know why.  I just don't relate to him that way.


        I'd never told him I was gay mostly because I'd never told anyone.  It's just a part of me that belongs to me and no one else.   I think I could tell him if it came to that.  I don't think he'd react badly.  We have a very close relationship, we support each other whenever thatís needed, I totally count on him and it would shock me if he'd be mad or disgusted or even disappointed with me over that.  He might wonder why I didn't ever tell him, he might be disappointed I didn't trust him enough, but that would be the extent of any problem he might have, I imagined.


        I needed to ask Tim, to get his reaction to Adam and me going to the Prom together.  I called him on the phone and he agreed to come over after dinner.  He wanted to know what was up, and I simply told him I needed to talk to him.  That wasn't unusual.  It happened all the time.


        When Tim got there, I immediately took him to my room and shut the door.


        "Tim," I said without any prelude, "I've got to talk to you about the Prom.  I'm thinking of going with someone and I want your opinion."


        "Sure," said Tim, sitting down on the bed.  "Who are you going to ask?"


I lay down on the bed, my back up against the headboard.  "Well, I need to talk to you about it.  See, I asked Susan to go with meóyou had a good idea there and I took your adviceóbut she sort of blew me off.  Then I got to talking to Adam in the library, and I found out he feels just like I do about asking girls to the Prom.  He doesn't want to ask a girl he doesn't really like as a girlfriend to the dance any more than I do, and he's worried about being laughed at, too.  I know what you said, I know we should just go ahead, but we're both nervous.  I at least tired once, and it didnít work.  So, we were talking and it came up that it would be neat if we could go together and not have to ask any girls.  I told him that might cause trouble for us.  But, it would solve both our problems, too, so I wanted to see what you thought about it."


        Tim didn't say anything.  He just sat and looked at me for a couple minutes.  Then he stood up and walked around the room a little.  That didn't take long as it wasn't a very big room.  He looked at my CD's and video games, though he knew what I had as well as I did.  Eventually, he walked back and sat down on the bed where heíd been before.


        "So you want to go to the Prom with Adam?" he asked with no inflection of any kind in his voice.  It was perfectly flat, unemotional, unenlightening.  I had no idea what he was thinking.


        "Yeah, that's what I just explained.  We'd go together so we don't have to ask a girl.  Then when we get there, we'd dance with whomever we wanted to.  What do you think?"


        Tim looked at me some more.  I was hoping he wouldn't go on another sightseeing hike.  He didn't.


        "Uh, Greg, what's this all about?" he asked.  Then he stared at me some more.


        "I already told you.  What's wrong?  Why are you asking me like that?"


        Tim kept staring.  Then he said, "Greg, I know you're very smart, a hell of a lot smarter than I am.  I know you think things through.  I know you don't go off half-cocked or do things you haven't planned out thoroughly.  You're the most careful, least impulsive kid I know.  You think twice before taking a crap."


        "Yeah?  And your point is . . . ?"


        "So, now you're asking me my reaction about something that you know darn well leads to questions, and you're ignoring those questions.  You know what I'll think, and what anyone else will think, and you're not mentioning that at all, just asking for my opinion.  So, I have to ask, why?  Why are you telling me half of something instead of all of it?   We've always been open with each other.  You don't sound open at all right now, you sound like youíre hiding something, and that's not like you.  I know you're holding something back.  What's going on?"


        Oops.  Maybe I'd been hoping this would work so hard I hadnít been entirely honest with myself.  And now I was in a fix.  I had to say more to Tim.  I couldn't just sweep it all under the rug.  He was staring at me, the wheels were turning, and I had to say more than I'd wanted to.


        "OK, this is why I asked you over.  We wanted to go together to avoid asking girls we didn't want to ask.  I thought people might think we were gay if we did that.  Adam said, 'who cares'?   He really doesn't care.  But I sort of do.  So, I wanted your opinion.  I'm sorry if I didn't say exactly what the issue was, but I didn't want to influence your opinion.  I wanted to hit you cold with it just like everyone else will be hit, to get your reaction.  So, what I'm asking is, will everyone think we're gay if we go together?  Will everyone, or at least some of them, have a problem with it?"


        "Of course they will.  You know that.  You knew that without asking me.  You knew that when you and Adam were discussing it.  So you must have had more reason than that to call me over to discuss it.  What was it?"




I turned my head a little and looked out the window.  I didn't want him looking directly into my eyes right now.  I needed to think.  And I did.  I decided the thing to do was to try out the excuse I'd come up with this afternoon.


"OK Tim.  You're right.  You know me too well.   See, when Adam brought up the idea of going to the Prom together, my first thought was, everyone will think we're gay.  My second thought was, going to the Prom with Adam would be great because it would mean we didn't have to ask any girls.   But then, we talked about the gay thing, and we both thought that if we let everyone know we were going together just so we'd avoid asking girls we didn't want to ask, maybe we could get away with it.  So that's what we'd do.  We'd start talking about not wanting to ask girls, and then eventually tell everyone we were going together for that reason.  What do you think?  Will it work?  I don't want everyone thinking I'm gay."


Tim didn't answer right away.  He was still thinking about things.   Finally, he asked, "What did Adam say about people thinking you guys must be gay?"


"He said he wasn't worried about it because neither of us was gay."


"So, if he's not worried, how come you are?"


Tim was being awfully thoughtful about all this, and awfully thorough.  I felt like I was on the witness stand, being cross-examined.  I didn't answer.  I didn't know what to say.


"Greg?" Tim asked.  "I think there's more to this than you're saying.  I just feel it.  You're being evasive, and that's just not you.  You and me, we tell each other everything.  We don't have secrets from each other.  We say what we mean.  We don't hold back.  I know what that feels like.  It doesn't feel like this.  This feels like you're choosing your words, carefully, before answering every question I ask.  What's going on?"


I sighed.  Well, I'd thought about telling him my secret.  I had already decided he wouldn't have a problem with it.  Did I trust that decision?  Did I really think that?  I had to weigh the possible consequences of telling him my secret against not being able to talk about all this with him, which I needed to do badly.  If I told him, and if he was OK with it, then I'd have someone to talk to.  And not only about this, about a lot of things.  If I continued hiding it, I wouldn't.  It was as simple as that.


        But it really wasnít simple at all because my biggest worry was, what if he could no longer be my friend, or even just as close a friend as he was now, if I were gay?  That was the problem.  If I was scared about asking a girl to the Prom, I was petrified over the possibility of losing Tim.  But I had to take the risk.  I didnít really think it was that much of a risk, but it was a risk, and I was going to have to take it.  If I was afraid now to talk about this, then Iíd already lost the closeness we had.


        I had to bite the bullet.


        "OK Tim.  You're right.  You know me too well.  I can't try to hide something from you.  And I hate lying to you.  It feels so wrong.  It feels like I'm betraying our friendship."  I was getting really nervous now and was chattering so as to delay getting to the point.  But I'd reached it.   I had to forge ahead.  "I hope, I pray you're ready for this.  I'm gay.  I've known it for a couple years.   I never said anything to you or to Mom or anyone else because it was just a private part of me.  No one else's business.  A secret.  I hope you're not angry with me."


        I was too scared to look at him.  I had to, but I was scared.  He didnít speak, and the tension became unbearable.  I had to look at him.  I raised my eyes.  I looked into his.  I was hoping I'd see what I was hoping to see.  I was terrified I might not.  He was too important in my life to lose.


        Tim was looking back at me, directly into my eyes as I was staring into his.  And smiling.  "Greg," he said, "Of course I'm not angry.  I've thought there was a possibility you might be gay for some time.  I never said anything.  If you didn't bring it up, I wasn't going to.  But just the way you acted when the guys were kidding in the locker room, when they were going on about girls, the remarks you made then, your body language, the times you were unnaturally silent, well, you're right.  I do know you awfully well.  I thought you sometimes sounded and looked uncomfortable when you shouldn't.  I thought when certain topics were discussed, you were quieter than is normal for you.  And even when weíre together, you never talk about girls the way other guys do.  So, I wondered.  But it doesn't make any difference to me.  You're still you."


        "You're not worried I'm in love with you, or that I'll attack you some way?"


        Tim broke into a fit of laughter, soon laughing so hard he rolled off the bed.  When he could speak, he said, between gasps,  "I know you're not in love with me or even interested that way.  I just know it.  I can tell.  But just how the hell are you going to attack me?"  Then he started laughing again.


        I laughed with him for a minute, then asked, needing the reassurance, "You don't have any problem then?"


        "Of course not.  We'll always be best friends, as far as I'm concerned.  And I'm happy you finally told me, because it always felt like I was keeping a secret from you, too, by not telling you what I thought.  I couldn't, though.  It seemed it was your placed to say something.  I'm just happy you don't have to have the burden of always keeping this from me now.  Now, everything's in the open.  Just the way it should be."


        I was relieved, and really happy, and now I had someone to talk to, to bounce things off.  Like going to the Prom with Adam.


        "Wow, this feels good," I said.  "Now I can talk freely about Adam.  Let me tell you what really worries me.  He can say all he wants that he's not concerned about people calling him gay because he isn't, so what difference does it make?  People will watch him closer, make comments behind his back, but I know Adam, he'll just brush them all off and not be bothered by it at all.  Heíll ignore them.  He doesn't get upset easily and gets along with everyone.  If anyone can pull that off, he can.  He's not gay and truly doesn't care if anyone thinks he is.  But what about me?  I don't want them all wondering if I'm gay.  I don't want them studying me, talking about me.  I don't have Adam's confidence."


        Tim was watching me, but instead of studying me this time, he was watching me with compassion.  Now he said, "Yeah, but remember, now that I know what's going on, I can help.  I can deflect any talk I hear, I can make sarcastic remarks to anyone that asks awkward questions.  If you laugh it off, take it like a joke and kid people back if they say anything to you, you'll be fine.  You don't show any outward signs of being gay that anyone would notice, unless they were as close to you and spent as much time with you as I am and do.  You don't do anything to make people even consider the possibility.  You'll be fine."


        I almost teared up.  He was such a good friend.  All I could say was, "Thanks, Tim.  I really appreciate that.  I really want to go to the Prom with Adam, too."


        "Do you like him?" asked Tim.


        "I don't know.  A little I guess.  Maybe more.  I don't know.  Iím just getting to know him better.  I like the way he looks, I know that.  I might like him."


        Tim smiled.  There was a twinkle in his eyes. Then he said, "It's going to be a lot of fun finding out."




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