Sleep did come, and Saturday followed. I kept my daytime date plans I made with Kim. We had fallen off track with our weekly ritual, so it had been a while. We met up on the bus and it was refreshing to see her face again. I really missed being around her. When she boarded and sat down beside me, she screwed up her face in the most quizzical way.
“Hey Ty,” she said back with a mysterious edge to her voice.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Hmm…something is different. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’ll figure it out.”
“You. You’ve changed.”
“Nah. I’m just the same old me.”
“It hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen you. Something’s going on.”
We rode along just chatting about where to go and what to do, when Kim snapped her fingers and said “aha! I figured it out. You’re happy Tyler Charles Larson. You actually seem happy.”
“What? I’m happy to see you.”
“Uh uh. That’s not it. I can tell the difference. I mean it’s not a bad thing. It’s good. Really good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you glowing like this. What’s got you so happy?”
“You’re weird. Why can’t I just be happy to see you?”
“Because I know you. I know how you are. This is bigger than seeing me. Come on, you have to tell me.”
“Ok, you got me…maybe later. I…have to think about…things.”
“Who’s weird? You can’t even tell your friend why you’re happy. Anyway, let’s get off here and go to our little bakery. I haven’t been there in ages.”
It was at the corner bakery where I was eating my favorite, gigantic, flaky croissant, that Kim started using her top level interrogation techniques.
“So how are things with you and Jessie?”
Her comment caused my eyes to bug out briefly, before I reeled myself in and nonchalantly said, “oh fine. You know. We’re cool.”
Unfortunately, I think my little reaction didn’t go unnoticed, so Kim kept on the path she started to carve out.
“That’s nice. Jessie seems like a real sweetheart. Don’t you be mean to him.”
“What! Why would I do that?”
“I’m just saying, he’s very sensitive.”
“How in the Hell do you know that?
“He just seems that way. I don’t know.”
“Hmm…there’s something funny going on here.”
“What? I’m a girl. We just know things.”
“Don’t get mad. Jeez, I’m just telling you to be nice to your friend. What’s wrong with that?”
“I’m sorry Kim. Me and Jessie are getting pretty close. I really like him. He’s awesome. I wouldn’t hurt him. You should know that.”
“I do know that Tyler. I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have said what I did. So…pretty close huh? Like how close?”
Damn it! I walked right into that. She’s good at this. “umm well…you know, just like good friends or whatever.”
“uh huh, sure. You guys sure connected fast. Who knows where things might go? I’m so happy for you Ty. You deserve to be this happy.”
“What are you trying to say Kim?”
“Oh nothing. I just see a bright future for you guys. You are a nice fit.”
“Wait! Are you saying that you think that we’re,” I quickly glanced around the bakery to make sure no one was listening before finishing in a hushed tone, “gay?”
“Oh honey. Did you say think? Tyler how long have I known you? I don’t have to think it. I know it.”
I was more than a little confused, considering I had only recently figured out I was gay. “H…how?”
“Tyler. Since we’ve been friends I’ve never once seen you look at a girl. Talk about a girl…”
“So? Maybe I just never saw one I liked.”
“Mmm…that’d be fine if I didn’t see you drooling over other boys hahaha. And then there was your crazy little vampire boy thing. Look, Tyler, I don’t care what you a…”
“I found him,” I interrupted.
“The vampire boy. I found him. His name is Timmy.”
“Get out of here!”
“No joke Kim. He’s real.”
“I hung out with him a few times. He’s amazing.”
“So, where is he? Can I meet him? Is he really a vampire?”
I looked Kim dead in the eyes and said, “yes. He really is a vampire.” Then I hung my head and said, “but he’s gone and I don’t know if he’s ever coming back. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.”
“Wow Tyler. This has really got you all beat up. Did you guys become friends?”
Kim reached across the table and took my hands into hers. “Oh, I’m sorry honey. Maybe he’ll come back, but…but what about Jessie? He seems really special to you, too.”
I picked my head up and found Kim’s eyes again. “We…we kissed last night.” I couldn’t stop the smile that swept across my face if I wanted to. Kim’s face lit up as well.
“See! There you go again. That is the look I saw when I met you this morning. That is the new Tyler. Tell me about it? How did it happen?”
“Ahh…well, we’ve been kind of flirting a lot and last night I just kind of told him I like him more than as a friend. He said the same thing back and then when I went to leave, we just kind of kissed. Once.”
“That is so sweet. I’m so happy for you Ty. So, what happens next?”
“We’re gonna hang out again tonight. At his house, I mean.”
“Awe. Ty, as your friend, I’m gonna give you some advice. Just go with it and be happy. I can tell you’re very sad about what happened with you and that vamp…Timmy. Don’t keep thinking about the past. Move forward with Jessie and be happy. Okay?”
“Okay Kim. You’re the best.”
“Now. What are you going to do tonight? Do you have any big plans?”
“Not really. We just hang out in his room and watch movies or whatever.”
“Hmm…soon you need to talk about going out on a date. Like a real date. So, what are you going to wear tonight?”
“I don’t know?! What’s it matter? We’re just sitting around his house.”
“God. You’re so lucky to have me, hehe. It does matter. Everything matters now. You can’t just go over there looking all dumpy. You have to show him that he is important to you. Clean up before you leave. Dress nice. Good hygiene for kissing and stuff.”
“What? It matters. Trust me. So, what do you have to wear?”
“Honestly? Nothing. All my clothes are trashed or too small. I pretty much have old jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. That’s all.”
“Mmm. That’s a problem. Jessie is a pretty snappy dresser, so he knows fashion. Do you have any money on you?”
“Like fifty bucks.”
“Ok. I can loan you the rest. Come on. We’re going shopping. One good outfit will have to do.”
She grabbed my hand and rushed me out the door, dragging me down the sidewalk like a protesting kid being pulled away from his favorite toy.
“What’s the hurry? It’s not like the stores are gonna close in the next ten hours.”
“Quit complaining. We have a lot to do.”
She did eventually slow down to a brisk walk and before we knew it, we were at the shops. It was impressive watching Kim go through the racks and stacks, setting aside prospects. Holding them up to my neck and waist. Scrutinizing. Critiquing. Saying things like, ‘nah. Doesn’t go well with your skin color,’ or ‘wow, that shirt really brings out your eye color.’ This went on for a good twenty minutes until she was satisfied. She handed me a fifty pound mountain of clothes and said, “here. Try these on.”
“All of it?”
“Yes, all of it, and I want to see every piece on you.”
“That could take hours,” I protested.
“It’ll be fine. The only other option would be for me to go in the change room with you? Would you prefer that?”
“Ha! Not likely. You’d like that though, I bet. Wouldn’t you?”
“Wouldn’t matter if I did, would it? Now get in there lover boy.”
I must have tried on ten different pairs of jeans and twenty different shirts. She had different sizes of the same things and different styles and varieties. I’d throw on a set of clothes and she’d instruct me p to put it in the yes or no pile. Now we had a much smaller pile to pick from.
“Ok Kim. I’m gonna put on my favorite shirt and pants from what’s left, ok? Shouldn’t I have some say in all of this?”
“Wellll…go ahead. I’m not promising anything. I’ve got a pretty good idea what will look best.”
I came back out in a pair of regular fit Levi’s and a black, v-neck t-shirt.
“Why? This outfit is ME. It’s what I like.”
“Ok. First off, the nineties would like their jeans back thank you. You’re swimming in those. Show off your body. Let people see how cute your little butt is. Don’t hide it in those garbage bags.”
“How about the shirt?”
“The shirt I can do. The v-neck is very elegant. Shows a little bit of chest. Maybe with a button too over it, and we’re in business.”
“I won’t wear any of these button shirts you picked. I’m not going to the office. I’m going to Jessie’s house.”
“Okay. Let’s make a deal. You can pick out three different colors of those v-necks. We’ll both go pick out a zipper hoodie, and I get to pick out your jeans.”
“Ugh…as long as it’s not the purple ones. Those are so not me.”
“Okay. Okay. Let me in, I’ll find the best ones.”
Kim barged into the dressing room and grabbed a pair of Levi skinny jeans. “Take of your pants and put these on.”
“Just do it. Also, take off that shirt and put this one on.”
“Looks a little small.”
“Do it. Trust me Tyler.”
“Umm…are you going to wait out there?”
“Sighh. I have three little brothers. They run around the house all day with their little thingies flapping in the wind. Nothing I haven’t seen already and it’s not like you’re naked. Let’s move Tyler. We’re not done after this.”
I obediently stripped down and put on the clothes that she had selected. I took a good look in the full length mirror in the small dressing room. The jeans felt and looked like a second skin. Low on my waist, picking up every curve and detail of my lower body. My legs looked too thin, like an underdeveloped kid. The shirt was too small as well. Not even meeting up with the top of my jeans. The band of my boxer briefs was clearly visible.
“Uhh, these are too tight, and this shirt is a bit small. I’m not a skinny jeans guy.”
“Mmm…hot. This outfit is hot. You look so sexy Ty. Maybe….it’s too much black though. Stay right here. I’ll be right back with the finishing touches.”
She returned with a thick, white belt and a crazy patterned zipped hoodie, mostly in navy blue. I had to admit it did look pretty good. The hoodie offered a little more coverage to hide my insecurities. I’ve just never showed my body off like this before. Like my life, I’ve always hid my body away under oversized clothing.
“Wow Tyler. You look great. Sexy.”
“Ok. Take it all off. Let’s go ring you up. Then we’ll head to the salon.”
“Yes. Look at that mop. You need a little trim and a style. No more shaggy mess.”
“I like my hair long.”
“So do I, but it needs a little work. Don’t worry.”
“I don’t have any money left.”
“My treat. When I’m done with you, Jessie won’t be able to keep his hands off of you.”
A half hour later, we were walking down the miracle mile. Although I was self-conscious, I felt really good. Kim couldn’t help but point out all the girls who were checking me out. Some boys too. She suggested we head back, so I could get ready for my big date.
We sat on the bus and she started in again. “Don’t get your hair wet, but take a shower. It’ll take some time to learn how to style your hair, so just leave it alone tonight. But you probably stink like city, so clean up. Maybe suggest going out, like on a real date and see how he reacts. Tomorrow even. Sunday’s are lazy. Go to dinner or for a coffee. Have fun and call me tomorrow. I want details hehe.”
“Thanks for everything Kim. You’re a rockstar.”
“You! Are a rockstar. I can’t get over how good you look. This is my stop. Bye.”
My mom gave me a curious look when I walked in. Not a minute after I walked upstairs, she was in my room.
“Love the new hair. You get a cut?”
She glanced at the pile of bags on my bed, asking “new clothes, too?”
“Yeah. A couple things.”
“Where’d you get the money?”
“Christmas and birthday.”
“I’m sorry honey. I do need to get you out for some new clothes. You’ve outgrown most of what you have. Maybe next weekend we can go, ok?”
“Yeah. Thanks mom.”
“Big plans tonight?”
“Just going down to Jessie’s.”
“You know, you two can play here too. You don’t always have to go to his house. I’ve only met him the one time. I’d like to meet him again.”
“Play? He has better Lego’s than me.”
She slugged me on the arm, and complained “hey! I don’t know how you kids talk these days. You know what I mean.”
“I know. I’ll invite him over. I’m gonna take a shower.”
“Ok. I’ll leave you to it. Say goodbye before you go.”
It was seven o’clock, a little earlier than my normal time to go Jessie’s house, but I was anxious and bored. I decided to text him.
“What’s up Jessie Jess?”
“Hey! Not much. Whatcha doin?”
“Sittin here bored.”
“Wanna come over?”
“Yeah. For sure!”
“Cool. Did u eat?”
“Ok. We can eat when u get here.”
“Nice. I’ll come soon.”
“Good. I’m excited. Oh yeah. Use the front door lol. My mom wants to meet u.”
I went into the bathroom to check my new wardrobe and hair, to make sure everything was just right. I brushed my teeth again, and started toward Jessie’s house. I was nervous to see how he’d act around me after our first kiss. I was nervous to meet his mom too. I don’t know if she knew I’d been sneaking into her house the last couple of weeks. Jessie answered with a big smile on his face. He gave me a slow once over and his smile grew even bigger.
“Wow Tyler! You look really great. Come in. Dinners almost ready.”
He grabbed my hand and walked me through the house, toward the kitchen. We stopped in front of the stove and he continued to hold my hand, while he stirred a pot with his other hand.
“What are we having,?” I asked.
“Alfredo. Family recipe.”
“Mmm. Can’t wait.”
He set the spoon down, turned his smiling face toward me, and commanded “come here.”
His eyes closed and his lips advanced. I edged forward too, and we met somewhere in the middle for a sweet little kiss. He tasted like mint and sugar. He squeezed my hand and took me to the family room, just outside the kitchen. He told me to sit on the couch while he walked over to a wall that was entirely covered in shelves that were full of books, CDs, DVDs, and records. He thumbed through a large section of LP’s and brought one over to a turntable sitting in the corner. After a minute of turning on all sorts of buttons and remotes, he dropped a black slab of vinyl onto the pad. A orange glow swept across the wall behind him, then after a bit of crackling, the subdued sound of a lonely saxophone came in from every corner of the room. Jessie came back to the couch and sat snuggly beside me as the sax was joined by an equally subdued ensemble of instruments. A random scatter of drums and tapping cymbals. A yawning stand-up bass strummed from somewhere in a distant corner. A tired piano matched the saxophones triumphant call, as they wove through a cacophonous, yet subtle duet.
“Coltrane’s Naima. Do you like jazz,?” quizzed Jessie.
“It sounds really nice. I like it.”
“It’s the only good thing my dad did. He left his stereo and record collection when he ran off. I love jazz.”
We sat there, snuggled closely on the couch, lost in the music of yesterday. I didn’t know much about jazz, but I was sure Jessie would show me more, and I’d learn to love it just like him. Jessie’s hand found mine and he laced his fingers between mine, atop my thigh.
“So where’s your mom,?” I asked, nervous that she’d see us like this.
“She ran to the bakery to get garlic bread. She wanted to make dinner more special for our guest of honor.”
A minute later the door eased open, and in walked a taller, more feminine version of Jessie. She gave us a warm smile and walked over to turn the stereo down a bit. Then she walked up to where we were sitting. All the while, Jessie made no effort to move or separate our hands.
“Sorry, the music was too loud for me to talk over. I’m Jessie’s mom and you must be Tyler.” She extended her hand and continued, “I’ve heard so much about you. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too and thanks for having me over for dinner.”
“So polite too. Im going to get this bread in the oven and start some noodles. Should only be another twenty minutes boys. If you’ll excuse me.”
She disappeared into the kitchen and I said “you’re mom is cool.”
“She can be. I can tell she likes you.”
“Uh huh. What’s not to like? Polite. Adorable.”
“I really like what you did with your hair. How’d you do it?”
“Oh, I went to the salon. They did it.”
“Well it looks perfect.”
I was beaming on the inside. So far, everything Kim had said and done was spot on. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Without her, I would have found a way to mess this up.
Dinner was excellent. The conversation with Jessie and his mom was great, too. I felt so comfortable and relaxed being here with them, with Coltrain’s saxophone bleating quietly in the other room. Talking and laughing, enjoying great food. The dimly lit ambience, and the garlic tinged aroma of our homemade meal, handed down from generations past. The acceptance, love, and friendship. I couldn’t have asked for a better night.
Dinner concluded with a single scoop of vanilla ice cream, smothered in fresh strawberries. Jessie’s mother excused herself to the upstairs, saying she would read and give us the downstairs to ourselves for the remainder of the night.
“Your mom is the coolest.”
“Yeah, I do have her trained pretty good. Do you…umm want to go sit on the couch? Maybe put on a movie? Relax?”
“That sounds perfect. I feel like I might explode after all that food.”
We settled in, both sitting tightly in the center, with our feet propped up on the coffee table. He found some random cop movie on cable and we simply relaxed.
“Does your mom know about…y…y…well, us?”
“Yeah, she’s known about me for about two years. Like seventh grade.”
“And she’s cool with it?”
“Oh yeah haha. She was really cheering me on with you. I guess I kind of obsessed about you for a while.”
“H…how did you know about me?”
“I didn’t, but I had, well you know, seen you and that other boy sneaking around late at night. I was hopeful, I guess, but I was scared to death to say anything. You know, in case you weren’t into it, or me…or whatever.”
“Honestly, I didn’t really know until not long ago. I just kind of figured it out. My mom knows too. I just told her a few weeks ago. She’s getting used to it. Probably not what she was hoping for.”
“What about your dad?”
“He would kill me! I can’t tell him. No way.”
“Nah. Not your fault. Did you…did you ever have another boyfriend before?”
“Kind of…I guess. In seventh grade there was a boy and we didn’t know anything. It was kind of funny actually. But we…we had some fun. I learned about myself.”
“You’re my first. I’ve never…well anyway.”
Jessie could sense that I was getting a bit uncomfortable, so he gave me a reassuring nudge and found my hand once again. We sat quietly watching the movie for a while. I started to playfully tap the side of his foot with my own foot. This turned into a foot tapping battle. He figured out that I’m violently ticklish on the bottom of my feet, so he started bending his ankle, trying to get to the bottom of my foot. I kept jerking away, all the while laughing.
“Ahhaha. Ticklish much?”
“Eek! Stop it. I’ll wet my pants. I swear I’ll wet my pants.”
He made a few more half-hearted sweeps at my foot, then stopped and we calmed back down as I tried to regain my breath.
“Feet are…interesting,” Jessie offered from out of nowhere.
“Feet are…feet,” I opined back.
We sat there staring at our feet for a while. His long, slender feet towered over my short, narrow stubs.
“Your feet are sooo small. They’re cute.”
“What size shoes do you wear?”
“Damn! I wore eights in like sixth grade. I got these big clod-hoppers.”
“Your feet look normal to me.”
“You know what they say about little feet,don’t know?”
“Don’t be a jerk,” I shot back, seriously not liking where this conversation was heading. I didn’t need my new boyfriend adding to my already present complex. I drew my hand back from his and moved to the edge of the couch, bringing my legs in close, cupping my knees to my chest.
“Hey hey. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Honesty, I was just joking around. Please don’t be mad.”
He scooted over toward me. I could tell he was seriously sorry and worried about how I was acting. I fought hard to keep the smile I was holding back from showing on my face. He started rubbing my shoulder and the back of my neck.
“Please talk to me. I feel like shit now.”
I couldn’t stand letting him suffer any longer, so I turned my face toward him, showing the huge smile I was keeping out of his view.
“You dick! I was really scared,” ha said, slapping my arm.
I stretched my legs out across his legs with my butt cinched up against his hip. I draped my arm behind his head and said, “you’re too easy. I’m sorry too.”
I leaned my head over and he inched his forward so we could kiss and make up. Unlike our few kisses before, we both lingered there, so we kissed again, and again. He made these adorable moaning sounds as we continued to kiss. I parted my lips, offering him entrance, if he so desired. Moments later, we were engaged in our first French kiss. I rubbed tenderly on the back of his soft neck. His hand found a spot on my knee, until it started running a course along my entire thigh. The longer we kissed, the more my desire for Jessie grew. His hand continued to glide along the valley of my drawn together legs. I spread them for him as his hand now coursed the inside of my other leg, deep into my groin. So dangerously close to my delicate place. I could feel his excitement poking on the back of my legs. My own erection was pushing hard against my restrictive jeans. He massaged just around the corners of needful place. Toying with me and making me feel so wanted and so important.
We broke from our kiss, smiling into each other’s faces. “You’re really good at this,” I told him, fighting to catch my breath.
“So are you,” he said, gently thrusting himself into me, making sure I was aware of his throbbing erection. Then he averted his eyes to the front of my jeans and said “wow Tyler, that thing looks bigger than your feet.”
“Not likely,” I said, but I was appreciative of the sentiment. “You’re so hot Jess. You make me crazy.”
“Mmm. You have no idea how happy you make me Tyler.”
We kissed and held each other a while longer, but we both seemed hesitant to take things much further. Maybe it was knowing his mom was upstairs. Maybe it was fear and self-doubt. Maybe it was an unspoken agreement to take thinks slow. Whatever it was, this night was exactly what I wanted. It was exactly what I needed.