“Greg, could you just hold me like this till I fall asleep? It feels so good. I don’t want to move.”
“Sure, Adam. Don’t move. We’ll both fall asleep.” And, believe it or not, that’s what we did. In a very short time, with me very lightly stroking his hair and holding his body against mine, Adam’s breathing deepened and slowed down. His body seem to lose some tension. My erection was still vital, but its rigidity had eased slightly and was no longer painful. In that position, enjoying the feeling of having Adam in my arms and feeling very much at peace with the world, feeling a deep and consuming contentment, in a very few minutes I drifted off, too.
I awoke in the morning in the same position I’d fallen asleep in, but I was alone. I had just lifted my head and was looking around when Adam stepped out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Morning,” he said, looking at me. And then he looked down at the floor and blushed.
“Morning,” I replied. “Hey!”
Adam looked up. “Hey, don’t be embarrassed,” I told him. “What you asked me to do last night was really cool. I liked it too. A lot went on last night, and I think we both needed some reassurance, maybe some comforting. Neither of us is a violent person, and what we did was against our characters and brand new for us. Nothing to get upset about. You made me feel better too.”
Adam smiled at me gratefully. “Thanks, Greg. Thanks for last night, and thanks for not letting me be embarrassed about it.”
“That’s what friends do,” I said.
- - - - - -
At school that day, Dale was a no-show. I would have been surprised if he’d been there. His face had to be swollen, his body sore, and the humiliation of being found tied up, naked, by a bunch of girls had to be hurting him as much as his face and body were. Sometimes, having your pride hurt was worse than physical pain. Even though I’d been expecting his absence, seeing it as a fact, having him not there, gave me a funny feeling. I knew he wasn’t there because of something I’d done. That gave me something to reflect on. I knew he’d had it coming, I knew he’d hurt other people without any regard to their feelings, but now I’d done the same to him. I didn’t know if I wanted to be that kind of a person. Maybe I was. Or maybe what I’d done was something that had to be done. I needed some time to think about that.
My mom was always saying I thought about everything too much, that I was 15 going on 40. Well, it was just the way I was.
I knew I was thinking I’d done this to Dale, when actually there’d been several of us doing it. But I also knew I was the instigator. Both Tim and Steve were larger and stronger than I was, but what they did, what Adam did, happened because I’d been the driving force behind it. I had to accept the fact, like it or not, that my personality was such that in many situations, I just naturally took a leadership role, and other people just tended to look to me for that and accepted it. That was a little scary, thinking about that. It meant, if people would follow my lead, I had to be sure not to lead them into the wrong things. I had to think beyond myself, beyond what I wanted. I had to consider the effect my decisions would have on the people who were with me. With leadership went responsibility. That’s what was scary. Was I prepared for that at 15? If it was already a fact that people were looking to me for leadership, if people were already following my lead, even if only occasionally, then I’d better be.
In the library, with Dale’s customary chair sitting empty, starkly and graphically reminding both of us of last night, Adam gave me some news.
“Mrs. Cameron posted a notice on the Prom bulletin board. Only five groups have signed up, so each one of them is allowed 15 minutes. They can use all that or less if they don’t want the full time. That means you can sing another song.”
“Or, you can play more. Adam, I know you don’t want to show off to the school. And I agree with you, if you play some classical piece that you’ve worked on, even though it would amaze everyone, it would be showing off. But maybe we can find a popular number you can play. That would work. And besides, I don’t know how we’d work a classical piece into the ‘50’s theme anyway.”
Adam thought for a minute. Then he said, grinning, “We could, you know. Not that I think we should, but we could. Van Cliburn won a major piano competition, the most prestigious one there is for pianist’s, in 1958. It’s called the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition. It was held in Moscow, and everyone was shocked an American could win it. This was during the Cold War, and the contest was in Russia. Americans and Russians were hostile towards each other. What was even more surprising than an American overcoming the politics of the competition to win was that it was Van Cliburn who won it. He wasn’t famous. And, he was only 23 years old. That’s only eight years older than I am right now.”
I just sat staring at him. I was always amazed by Adam’s knowledge. He seemed just an ordinary kid till he talked about classical music, or played it. When he did either of those things, his personality became larger, his seriousness expanded and in my eyes, he became a more dynamic person. As I stared, he continued with his thought.
“But you’re right, Greg. I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that. I don’t like kids my age looking at me the way they do after hearing me play something classical. A lot of them look at me as though I’ve turned green and grown a third eyeball. I hate that. If you want me to play some popular piano piece from the ‘50’s, something everyone at the Prom would relate to and enjoy, OK, I guess I can do that. As long as it fits with what you’re doing. I’d love for us to win the contest. If we can fit what I do into the act, so it all flows naturally together, I’m OK with it.”
“Great! You’ve got a lot of '50’s music at home, and if we can’t find something we like from that, you could ask your parents about pop piano hits of that era and then find something they recommend on the Internet. We’ll find something. This is going to work!”
- - - - - -
Prom week had finally arrived. Prom was this coming Saturday night. It was just about the only thing everyone was talking about all week at school. Everyone was excited. Arrangements and plans were being made and changed and made again. Last minute emergency dates were desperately needed. Guys were begging every girl available, and girls were eagerly accepting and then going crazy trying to find a formal gown in only a few days. The flower shops and tux rental agencies were doing a year’s business in a week.
It had been decided that six of us were going together, Tim and Ashley, Steve and Angela and Adam and I. We’d made reservations at a fancy restaurant where we’d all have dinner together. Adam had talked his father into renting a limo for us, and we would take it to dinner, then the Prom, and then home afterwards. The talk going around school was that many kids had reserved hotel rooms for the night, and that sex was on everyone’s mind. For a fact I knew two couples that indeed were going to use hotel rooms. I felt 15 or 16 was a little young for that, but as I’ve said, there was at least one person who kidded me that I acted and thought like I was 40.
I wasn’t renting a hotel room for after the Prom. I was, however, going to sleep over at Adam’s again. I was excited about that. I wasn’t thinking about sex, either, just thinking about sleeping in bed with him again, maybe even holding him. That was excitement enough.
Adam and I had talked about what to wear. I’d voted for traditional black tuxes. He’d wanted to go in 1950’s teenager gear. He said wearing chinos and saddle shoes and a cardigan to the dance would be a lot more comfortable than a formal suit. We’d discussed it and argued over those choices and a few others for a couple days, chewing on the pros and cons of every suggestion, but as we’d known the Prom was drawing closer every day and anything we decided on would have to be ordered and that would take time, we’d had to come to a decision, and so we had.
As the days of the week passed, my nervousness frustrated me. I was in heaven that I was going with Adam, it was exactly what I wanted to do, but some remnant of fear remained, nagging at me in the background. There were people there who’d automatically decide we were gay, and all the games and strategies we’d engaged in would have no effect on that. Was I ready for that reaction? Could I deal with it?
I thought about it, and a realization came to me. The nervousness was a lot less than it should have been. A month ago, when my worrying about this whole Prom business began, I’d been extremely nervous even thinking about going with a boy. That fear had been my principal focus, because I just knew that the secret I’d been protecting so long would be that much closer to being public knowledge. But now, while my nerves were still there doing their thing, firing at me occasionally, they were definitely muted, definitely in the background. Why was that, I wondered? But I really knew the answer.
When I was thinking about this at the beginning, the question I’d had was ‘what would it be like to ask a boy as a date, to go with a boy to the Prom?’ The boy in question was a chimerical boy, entirely nonspecific. A generic boy. Now, I wasn’t imagining a faceless, contrived and wholly imaginary creature. Now I was thinking about Adam. And that overrode all other concerns. If I had to face critics, name calling, accusations of being gay, the pain and awkwardness of that was more than balanced by the joy of being at the Prom with the person I now realized I loved.
I still couldn’t go public with my feelings for him. I had no idea how Adam would react if he found out. I’d known Tim a lot longer and more intimately than I knew Adam even now, and so I’d been pretty confident I knew how Time would react if he found out I was gay. I didn’t know how Adam would react. He’d made it clear he wasn’t gay, he had let me know he didn’t want me to think he might be gay, but that wasn’t in any way revealing what he thought about someone who was gay. I knew his personality and character, but we hadn’t discussed prejudice and bias. Besides, it’s one thing to say you aren’t prejudiced, another to actually practice that principle in real life. A person can say he has nothing against a gay person. But will he be capable of remaining an unaffected friend of this same person if he finds that person is in fact gay?
So, I couldn’t reveal my secret, but the nervousness I still felt that I was much closer to being found out was more than offset by the exhilaration I was feeling from knowing I was going to the Prom with Adam.
- - - - - -
Saturday finally arrived. Waiting for it had been torture. Now I discovered that was nothing compared to waiting through it. The hours seemed to stand still. I was nervous and excited and fidgety and sweaty. I was everything. I couldn’t hold still. I couldn’t eat. I called Tim, and was shocked to learn he felt exactly the same way. I convinced him two could suffer better than one, and he came over. We shot baskets at my rim and backboard, neither of us giving a damn how we did, both enjoying the activity as a way not to think about the Prom and work out our tension.
“You nervous about the reaction you’ll get when you show up with Adam?
“Not really. I’ve got used to the fact I’m doing it. Tim, I really like Adam. A lot.”
He took a jump shot and hit only backboard. He was thinking about me liking Adam, not making his shot. “I know. I can see it. In fact, the way you look at him, maybe other people can see it, too. I’ve been meaning to say something. But you look so happy and content, I keep biting my tongue.”
I chased down his rebound. “You don’t think it’s wrong, do you, liking him this much?”
“No, I don’t. I think you’re lucky. You’ve found someone. You say you really like him. I think you’re holding back again. Are you?”
“Yeah, I am. I love him. I just admitted it to myself a few days ago. And of course he has no idea. But there’s no doubt in my mind. I love the shit out of him.”
He held the ball. “And you’re not going to tell him?”
“You’re all right with that?”
“I haven’t had time to really think about it in depth. I haven’t exactly been idle the last few weeks. When we’re not slapping bullies around, I’ve been practicing with Adam for the contest and studying for finals. At some point, when I get a moment, I’ll think about where this is going. Then, yeah, I may get upset. Right now, I’m just going with the flow. And enjoying the hell out of spending so much time with Adam. I think a lot of teenagers go through this, falling in love, then dealing with all that involves. I tell you, it’s wonderful and scary at the same time. This is all brand new to me. Right now, just being with him is enough.” I grabbed the ball away from him and took a shot. He didn’t move.
“You think he feels anything for you?”
“I know he likes spending time with me. I know he thinks of me as a friend. I know he isn’t gay. I know he’s not in love with me. Damn it, Tim, he’s an incredible musician. You haven’t heard him. He’s unbelievable. He’s also smart, as smart as I am and maybe more. I don’t know how he looks to you, but to me, he’s the cutest, handsomest, most appealing boy I’d ever seen. Everything he is, it’s just perfect. If, with all that, he doesn’t have romantic feelings for me, well, if he did, it would almost be too much. I’m not sweating it right now. I’m just enjoying it. We have fun. We’re on the same wavelength. We’re also both 15. If you fall in love with someone at 15, and he falls in love with you, where do you go from there? I think it’s too soon in your life for that to happen. But it’s not too soon for me to just enjoy getting to know him, spend time with him, joke around with him, and, without him knowing it, dream about him, care about him, love him.
“Wow. You’ve got it bad all right. You’re sure this isn’t just a crush? You won’t wake up one day and get the hots for someone else?”
I took another shot, and surprised myself by making it. “Tim, I couldn’t be surer of anything. I love him. Whether that love will last and I’ll still feel it when I’m 30 and he’s married with six kids and touring the country playing concerts with major orchestras, I have no idea. But no, I’m not waking up tomorrow and asking, ‘Adam Who’? That’s not going to happen. And I can’t tell you how I know that, but I do.”
We continued shooting. Eventually, it was time to begin getting ready. Tim said goodbye and left on his bike. I went in and upstairs to beautify myself.
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