It took a day or two for me to feel....I don't know...'worthy' of the sunlight again.
I can't really say that it was an actual pain that I felt in my heart. It was more like a sullen toothache in my gut. A profound sense of lacking. Trying to pick myself up and gather the strength to rebuild my faith in this situation was like trying to force myself to believe in Santa Claus again. No matter how much I wanted to maintain a certain level of hope, no matter how small...I just couldn't seem to really believe in the fantasy like I did before. Something about the possibility of it had been tainted now. There really is such a thing as 'too good to be true'. Perhaps I should just remember that one afternoon as something cool that happened that one time...and nothing more.
I didn't put myself through the stress of telling Lori about it, but I had officially made up my mind for sure, and I'm not going to the mall this Saturday. My final decision. If I went all the way out there, and Jesse didn't show up...if he broke our little unspoken date...I don't think my heart would be able to take it. It would wither and die and turn into a giant black hole in the center of my chest that would inevitably cause me to implode and cease to exist at all. Who knows? Maybe that would be better. Sound dramatic? I'm a gay teenager. Sue me.
Geez, even I'm sick of my whining at this point. I'm such a drama queen. I just want to move on. I want to go back to a time when watching Jesse-101 on YouTube was just a fun and exciting experience for me to enjoy from the comfort of my bedroom. Admiring him from a distance. Fantasizing about how beautiful he was and cherishing the smile that he brought to my face. It was simple. It was easy. I shouldn't have complicated things. I should have left good enough alone.
I avoided Jason Fixx like the plague this week. I made eye contact with him a few times in the halls, and once in the cafeteria...but it was merely an accidental 'catch' as I randomly glanced around the room, I assure you. Even though he attempted to approach me once or twice, I hurried off in the other direction to keep him from doing so. The LAST thing I wanted to do right now was think about him. Especially while I was so obviously vulnerable....and he had the house to himself...and he...wanted me to be with him.
You have no idea how good it feels to be 'wanted' by somebody when you're feeling this low. Even a jerk like Jason Fixx has a certain glow about him when the boy you really want isn't showing you any attention. If Jason has one purpose in this world, it's probably to be a heartless scavenger for boys like me. Boys searching for human emotion. A connection. Picking up the scraps that dream boys like Jesse leave behind.
I can't believe that I'm still tempted by him at all. I'm an idiot.
He's still...easy on the eyes, though. Sometimes I look at Jason Fixx...and I remember what he tastes like. And sometimes...I miss that taste.
When Thursday rolled around, Lori and Michelle dropped me off at my house, still grinning and giggling and telling me how 'awesome' it's going to be to see Jesse again in just 48 itty bitty hours. And all I could think about was how I wasn't going to be seeing anybody in 48 itty bitty hours, or any other time. I won't tell them until the very last minute. I didn't want to give Lori time to wear me down and bully me into going anyway. So I just smiled and waved goodbye without saying anything to clue them in on what was going on in my head. I might as well get my excuses together ahead of time. Or maybe just find myself a really good place to hide. I think the sewers are pretty safe this time of year, aren't they?
Great....I've got to play friggin' Anne Frank in my own house just to get out of going to the mall. How crazy is that?
I noticed, that night, that I couldn't turn on my computer without thinking about him. I hear my monitor come to life, and I instantly want to click on Jesse's YouTube site to see if something new had been posted. Not once a week. Not even once a day. But almost every hour. Sometimes less. It had just become this insatiable habit of mine that I couldn't seem to get rid of.
I fought the urge tonight, though. I fought it with every ounce of common sense that I could muster. You'd think that would give me a sense of power and self control, but it didn't. Because even though I struggled to reach a point of inaction...the craving was still there. Gnawing at my every nerve, practically forcing my fingers to twitch just enough to click on the link by mistake. I kept thinking that maybe he had something new up tonight. That one peek wouldn't hurt. Maybe something that he posted just an hour ago. Or maybe five seconds ago. Maybe now. Or now. Or NOW! But...ugh...I kept fighting against it. I needed distance. Arm's length or better. It's the only way that I'm going to be able to cope with the idea that Jesse is just...out of my reach.
Right where he should be....
I came home Friday afternoon, and I heard the skin crawling sound of a basketball being bounced on the pavement, and occasionally banging up against a garage door just down the block. That meant that Scotty Lynch was outside, possibly watching and waiting for me to get home so he could corner me and sap some more of my valuable time with his....ugh...'crush'.
Scotty's Junior high and my high school let out at the same time, but his school was much closer to home. So he always beat me there. And whenever he wanted to catch me walking in the front door, he would pretend to be playing basketball in his driveway. I knew his routine well. I guess knew mine too. A part of me was bothered by his invasive strategy. Some days, I JUST wanted to come home and not have his bratty little presence ruining a perfectly good afternoon. But...another part of me couldn't help but to admire him. I mean, shit, he had more courage than I did. At least he was taking a chance. At least he was trying to let the boy he was infatuated with know how he really feels about him. That's more than I can say for myself. I think about talking to Jesse-101 and I fall all to pieces. But Scotty lynch? He just keeps pressing on. Hehehe, determined little fucker. I can't stay mad at him. I don't want to lead him on, but I'd never stay mad at him.
Not for longer than it took to get rid of him, that is.
"Heya, Tristan!" He called out from down the street. I returned the greeting, but picked up the pace as I just tried to get to my front door and safely inside before he could fully catch me.
He stopped bouncing his basketball and started heading in my direction. I quickly said, "HEY! What's up, Scotty? You know what? I've gotta run. Tons of homework to do tonight...."
"You sure? What if..."
"NOPE! Gotta go! But I'll talk to you later, k?" And before he could get any closer to my house, I hurried inside and shut the door. I won't be mean. I promise. I'll....I'll make up for it later. Just...not today.Or...this weekend. I need to think. Really think.
And by 'think'....I mean pout and sulk all weekend in a room by myself with no one to push me around.
So Saturday morning rolled around. It always does. And I curled up in my bed, worried about having the doorbell ring, jumping at every ring of the telephone. Lori and Michelle were going to KILL me for ditching them today. They are going to get hammers and nails and literally crucify me on the front lawn. And yet...that seemed like a MUCH less painful fate than having Jesse-101 not show up at the mall and totally embarrassing me in front of my closest friends. Or maybe...just in front of myself.
A part of me just wanted them to forget about today. I was silently praying for some kind of emergency to swoop down upon Lori and Michelle so that I could easily get out of having them hound me about it. A flood, a fire, a flood with an oil spill on top of it so the flood could be on fire....anything. Maybe the mall's roof will fall in and it'll be closed today. Or maybe my roof will fall in on me and I'll suddenly be rushed to a hospital that will keep armed guards outside my room. I'm sure that I'm going to need them.
But the sun was shining brightly, the day was gorgeous, and Lori came rushing up to my front door right on schedule.
I was already in the house and out of her sight, but I ducked down on the floor to hide anyway. The bell rang once. Then twice. Then there was a rather impatient knock on the door, and a few more rings. She knew what I was doing. I was almost certain of it.
There was a moment of silence.
Then I heard some rustling underneath my bedroom window...
Ahhhh!!!! She's trying the Scotty Lynch technique!
Already on the floor, I rolled across the carpet and scampered to press my back to the wall beneath the window, drawing my feet up as tightly to my chest as humanly possible. I wasn't sure what she was standing on, but her head peeked up over the ledge and she looked to see if she could spot me hiding like the big old sissy coward that I am.
I didn't move. I think I even held my breath. Please just go away. Call me all the names you want, but don't make me go. I won't let you.
I heard a bit more shuffling for a moment, and then she stepped down. Thank goodness I was able to let out a sigh of relief at last. But I didn't move just yet. Knowing Lori, she's probably waiting a few minutes for me to let down my guard, so she can jump up and scream 'GOTCHYA!' Which, I'm sure, will be followed by her dragging me out of that house by my ear, and driving me to the mall whether I'm in the backseat, or the trunk!
I gave it about five to ten minutes before I felt comfortable enough to move around again. The threat had passed. Life was beginning to feel a little less worrisome already.
"GOTCHYA!!!!" I heard as the door to my bedroom swung wide open! I damn near pissed myself from the overall horror of it!
"LORI??? What the hell...????" I had a hand over my heart as I tried to get my breath back. "Jesus Christ...." I wheezed. "How the fuck did you get into my house?"
"I sat outside and waited for your mom to come home. She let me in."
Grunting with frustration, I shouted out, "Thanks AGAIN, Mom!!! You're two for two now!"
"What's that you said?" She asked.
"Just...nevermind, Mom...Ugh!" I've seriously got to train that blasted woman how to NOT let familiar faces just walk in the house without telling me first. "Look, I already know what you're gonna say, Lori...and I'm telling you, right now, to save it. Ok? I'm not going, and that's that."
She just kind of looked at me. Here eyes narrowed, her lips curled up in a gentle sneer, and she asked, "Tristan...what the hell is wrong with you? I mean, are you being serious right now?"
"YES! I'm being serious. Why is that so hard to believe? Can't I just...slow down a little bit without you guys pushing me all the time? Maybe I'm not ready to go all goofy over some other boy just yet. Did you ever stop to think of that?" I made sure to keep my voice down to a loud whisper, just in case my mother decided to walk by my room and hear the wrong part of a conversation that I wasn't ready to have with her yet either.
Lori sat on the foot of my bed and just stared at me for a moment.
"What?" I said.
She raised an eyebrow.
"WHAT??? What, already??? WHAT???" I said again.
"What are you waiting for, Tristan? Seriously. What big sign are you looking for? What magical omen? What is it about any of this is making you doubt yourself?"
"There's no sign, Lori. Let's be realistic about this...."
She said, "You know, every time I hear somebody say, 'let's be realistic', they usually mean, 'let's be as pathetic and pessimistic as humanly possible'. And that's exactly what you're doing right now." I just wish she'd go already. I do. I don't want to deal with this anymore today. "Tristan...what is it? Tell me." I didn't say anything. Great. Now I felt ashamed. Arrrrgh! I would be just fine if she friggin' left me alone for once!
Finally, I said, "It's not a big deal. I don't even know him, Lori. Honestly, I'm not going to stress over it. It's like...it's fate, you know? I'm not supposed to be happy. Not like this. It's too easy. It's gotta be a trap."
"Oh, stop it. Are you listening to yourself?" She said. "Fate? Are you kidding me? It wasn't fate that you found his videos in the first place? It wasn't fate that he lives nearby? It wasn't fate that you actually got to MEET Jesse and Artie and actually sit down to have lunch with them? I mean, you can twist your logic to be as negative as you want to be...but the truth is...you've got something that we ALL wish we were lucky enough to have. And you're throwing it away on purpose. You can't go through a few playfully awkward moments, or uncomfortable silences, to spend some time with the boy of your dreams? He's not worth it? Is that what you're telling me?"
"I know what you're saying, Lori..."
"GOOD! Because I'm here to tell you that I'm not gonna push you anymore. Not after today. No more speeches, no more pep talks, no more swift kicks to your pretty little hindquarters. Jesse-101 is out there, and it's your job to go get him. Not mine." I kept my head down. Just trying to avoid having her stare at me so hard. She put a hand on my leg, and she said, "Look...I don't know what happened to you between you practically banging on the roof of Michelle's car with unlimited joy last weekend and now...but whatever it is, it's all in your head. All of it. You've been alone and partially miserable for so long that you're afraid of having a shot at something better. It's not a 'trap' or a 'set up'. It's an opportunity. One that most people don't get. Not once in their whole lives. And I know that you think distance gives you objectivity and perspective...but it doesn't, Tristan. It just gives you distance. It MAKES you distant." She told me.
I was looking down at the floor in silence. Then sulked my way over to sit next to her on the bed to lay my head on her shoulder. I said, "I don't think I've ever had so much riding on one boy before. And ninety percent of everything I know about him comes from a computer screen. I just wish I knew what I was doing."
"When it comes to love...we all do." She said, kissing my forehead. "Listen...Michelle's still out in the car. If you want to change your mind...the car's full of gas. Just sayin'..."
I think I felt my eyes getting a little watery, and I used my hand to wipe them both with a sniffle. "Ummm...I don't know..."
"I won't force you to go if you don't want to go." She said. Then asked, "Do you want to go? Just to see if he's there? He seemed pretty interested in meeting up with you again."
She gave me a silly wink, and it made me smile a bit. But with another sniffle, I told her, "I'll uhh...I'll pass. Some other time, maybe. But...I'm so totally unprepared for any miracles today." I think Lori was disappointed, but she stayed true to her word, nodded, and gave me one last hug before walking to the door.
Then she looked back and said, "Oh, and by the way...if I ever come over here and knock on that door, and I catch you hiding from me again like you did today, I am going to punch you right in the nose!"
A stray tear fell from my eye as I laughed. "Don't get it twisted, bitch. I will FIGHT you! Hehehe!"
It was good for a few giggles, but as soon as she left...the thoughts lingered. Had I made the right choice. What if Jesse really had shown up today? What if the only reason that I lost my courage was because of Jason Fixx and his bullshit? What if I'm still just pouting over Jesse not mentioning me in his last video? I can be so weird sometimes. My mind goes in circles sometimes.
Jesse hangs out there a lot, right? Same mall? Same time? Him and Artie? If I change my mind, I could just...go back in a couple of weeks and stumble over them again. Maybe by then I'll have some witty and cool things to say to him. Maybe...maybe I can get some new clothes, and my hair will look nice. Maybe...
Oh, who am I kidding? Jesse isn't going to be any easier to talk to next week, the week after, or 50 years from now. Lori's right. I'm going to have to just...hold my breath and take the plunge without looking. I mean I did it once already, right? And that didn't go so bad. I don't think.
I just feel like I need to pick the best time, you know? Some magic moment, some lucky date...perhaps during a certain planetary alignment that would cosmically guarantee success. But...I guess that wouldn't really require much in the way of actual courage, now would it? That's me. Always waiting for something or someone else to tell me which way to go. It's scary...thinking that I might actually have to go it alone this time. No one to guide me. No one to advise me. No one to help me carry the pain if I fail. I wish this was easier.
I wish I could offer my heart and protect it at the same time. But...I don't think that's possible. You've either gotta run towards it, or away from it. There's no standing still.
There was a light knock at my bedroom door, and she peeked in. "I made us a little something for lunch, and it's just about ready. Ok, hon?"
She took a look at my eyes, and I guess they were still a bit red from my mixed up emotions. She asked me, "Tristan? Honey, is something wrong? Because if there is, you know you can talk to me."
I wiped my eyes again. Ugh! Forever the drama queen. I said, "Yeah, Mom. I know. Thanks." She still looked worried, and I said, "Really, I'm fine. It's just a really weird day. That's all."
Confused, she gave me a concerned look, then tapped her fingers lightly a few times on the door, and said, "Well...alright. About five to ten minutes."
"No problem." I told her, and she closed the door back. One day, she might understand. Hell, maybe we both will.
Later on that night, I found myself sitting at my desk. Just kind of staring at the wall and wasting time being lazy. I sat there for a moment, and soon looked over to notice the screensaver on my computer. Pointless patterns and bouncing lights on a black background. Gliding through a limited space without any determined direction. That's sort of how I felt at that particular moment. Aimless. Lost.
I leaned forward in my chair, and decided that I would check Jesse's site. Just ONCE. Just to get the craving out of my system and go on with the rest of my night.
To my surprise, he had posted something new on his YouTube channel! And it had been posted just seven minutes ago.
Did I click on it?
What, are you NEW??? Fuck yeah, I clicked on it!
However...it was a bit different from what I was used to seeing from Jesse. In fact, it was pretty much a total 180 degree turn from the playful and giggly Jesse that I had become so accustomed to.
I have to admit that I was a bit confused at first. And then....my heart broke.
Change of pace for today...
You know...I joke around a lot, and I really do enjoy everything that I have in my life. I enjoy my friends. I enjoy my fans. I enjoy this YouTube channel and all the wonderful things that it has brought my way. But...despite all the 'fun' stuff that I add, I just wanted to talk seriously for a moment. Ok?"
I could tell by the look in his eyes that wasn't fooling around this time. I mean, he was like a totally different person. I don't think that I had ever seen him so...'void of joy' before.
"I'm not going to stay long today, you guys. But I had something on my mind, and I just wanted to get it out of my head before it drives me insane."
Oh no! What happened to him? What happened to my baby? Is he hurt? Is he in trouble? Where's Artie? Did something happen to Artie? I was soooo scared!
"I just want to let everybody watching this know that...sometimes, you get a chance to really make your life beautiful beyond words. Sometimes, no matter what the skeptics tell you....you get a little miracle in your life. Something that seems too good to be true. But...you take a peek at it, and you poke it, and you try to convince yourself that you're just being silly. You tell yourself that you're not worthy of something this big, and you talk yourself out going for what you really want.
I mean...sometimes it's too sudden. You're not prepared for it. And when it hits...everything goes all looney toons in your stomach, and you just don't know what to do with yourself.
When you get scared....and you let the fear win...you lose out. On everything. I think I'm finding that out for the first time ever. I've been nervous before, but...I don't know. This time, I really let the golden glow of something truly special blind me. And I was too stupid to do anything about it. The ONE time that I should have taken a chance....the ONE time that I should have pushed the fear down into my gut and just start the chase towards what I KNEW would make me happy....I screwed it all up and let it get away from me.
And it's nobody else's fault but mine. *I* did this. *I* was the one who was too weak to change the sickness in me in order to be really happy with someone who...may have felt the same way. I guess I'm going to have to live with that now. Because I don't know if I'll ever get another chance to make this right. Not ever."
He really looked like he was feeling down. Was my interpretation of his newest video wishful thinking on my part? Or was Lori telling me the truth when she said that I had mistaken hardcore pessimism for 'reality'?
"Anyway...that's it for today, you guys. I'll try to post a new video next weekend or something. I don't know. It all depends on how I feel. Ok? I love you all. And I wish that I was in a better mood. I guess it was just a weird day for me today."
Funny. That's exactly how I would have put it.
The video ended with Jesse giving his many MANY fans a gentle wave, and a tiny smirk that wasn't half as convincing as the many laughs and smiles that he had presented to all of us before. Something was really wrong with all of this. And even though my reality minded self was telling me that it was just a stupid coincidence...there was a heavy feeling in my heart that told me that I was somehow the cause of all this.
I sat there for a few minutes.
I couldn't take much more of Jesse feeling bad without at least taking a chance to send him some love and support. I mean, even if it wasn't about me, I wanted him to feel like he had a friend in me. Some random face on the internet. It was better than nothing, right?
So...after much consideration, I posted a comment to his newest personal YouTube video.
I said, "Don't feel bad, Jesse. I know what it's like to be afraid. It's a hard thing to deal with. But keep your head up. We all have things that we wish we could do over again. Even if it's something as simple as sharing some nachos with a good friend....."
I don't know if I was being creepy or not, but I posted it anyway. If nothing else...Jesse will know that I'm on his side. Whatever it was, I hope he'll find his way back to feeling like his old self again. I'd miss him if he vanished on me.
Suddenly, a message popped up on my screen. It was sort of one of those alerts to let me know that somebody had commented to my comment. I thought that was strange, since I had just sent it 30 seconds ago.
Imagine the shock of electricity that ran through me when the comment as using the Jesse-101 handle! And it said, "Tristan? Is that you?"
Omigod! Omigod omigod omigod! What do I do ? What do I....I mean...what do I....? Oh God, my heart! If my heart keeps beating this fast, I'm gonna keel over right here at my desk!
No! Don't wait! He might leave his computer!
How long has it been? It's been like fifteen seconds! Is he, like....waiting for me to reply? If I don't reply in the next few seconds, he might think that he missed me. Or that I'm being...distant again. I don't want to be distant. Not this time.
I nearly gave myself a migraine headache trying to quickly come up with something witty and fun to say. But, considering my limited window of opportunity, I simply came up with, "Yup." I mean...that's sorta playful, right? Yes? No? Maybe?
Whatever. I posted that as a comment, hoping that he had his little alert thingy on as well. And then nervously tapped on the edge of my desk while I waited for a reply.
It took a whole three seconds before I was ready to rip my hair out with worry. My whole body was shivering, and my breath was short...but I didn't blink. Not once. Not until the reply came back.
It said, "Hi! Dude, I'm gonna give you my email addy! But write it down quickly and let me know you got it so I can erase the comment. Pervies are watchin'!"
My trembles had gotten worse. Now they were more like mini seizures. But curiosity alone kept me pressing on. Maybe I learned something from Scotty Lynch after all. I agreed, and a second later he posted his email address to write down on paper and keep. Oh wow...where is this going? Should I get my hopes up, or put my armor on?
I told him, "I got it..." I didn't want to put an exclamation point at the end of it, because I might sound too eager. Play it cool, Tristan. Don't be a dork.
His email address...in fact, the whole string of comments, got deleted right away. And I found myself stuck. Do I....do I write him something now? Or was he just trying to give me his address just in case I needed it...you know...later?
I could feel the storm of emotional conflict building to epic proportions. I wanted to write him. Right then, without hesitation. But those awful questions were still pulling on me. That traumatic whirlwind of confusion....telling me to wait, telling me to be careful, trying to slam on the brakes when all I wanted to do was push forward. Those feelings were scratching and clawing and trying to suffocate the words right out of me. But Lori was right. Jesse was worth the effort. The thought of that magic smile gave me the strength to push PAST the questions. PAST the fear. PAST the doubt. I've got the most gorgeous, most adorable, most amazing boy in the whole world, talking to me on my computer. I'm NOT gonna blow it this time. I'm going to do this even it my head explodes trying to hold me back from it.
I opened my email, and I tried to come up with something cool to say again. All I could come up with was, "Hey, dose this work?" And 'does' was misspelled. Arrrgh! I am WAY too easy with hitting the send button.
Jesse wrote back right away. You know, if I was crazy enough to believe it...I could almost mistake this for a definite interest in me.
He said, "I'm SO glad that I caught you! I thought I'd never get to talk to you again."
What do I say to that? WHAT???
I could practically feel the anxiety grabbing a hold on my throat. Pulling back on my fingers to keep me from typing anything else. Fighting to whisper discouraging bits of self destructive thoughts in my ear. Trying to discount it. Trying to make it less real.
I ignored them.
I wrote back and said, "Yeah. I'm sorry. I was just being a big chicken today. I should have at least gone to the mall just for kicks."
Then Jesse wrote back, "Darn right. I wandered around that mall for so long, security thought I was shoplifting." With a smiley face.
He showed up? He really showed up. Um....wow. Ok...this is a bit much to take. I was still quaking inside, but I wrote back to say, "So did you? Shoplift, I mean." I sent a wink to let him know I was kidding. I hope he can tell.
Jesse's email returned with, "I'm not some sneaky shoplifter. I'm all about running up on the register with a ski mask and a pistol! That's gangsta!" I laughed the second I saw it, Hehehe! But...then my eyes widened as I saw something down at the bottom of his email. Something that really took me by surprise. "Say....would you mind if I called you?"
Well....needless to say that I nearly fainted as the most powerful rush of infatuated shivers caused me to lean back in my chair and lose what little breath I had.
If emails could actually whimper helplessly...I'm sure that's what my email would have sounded like. I could hear the excessive pounding of my heart in my ears, and before I had too much time to think about it....I said, "Sure." And I gave him my number. I should really learn on expanding my vocabulary when I talk to him.
I was not expecting my phone to ring a minute later. I mean...seriously...is this even happening???
I looked at the name attached to the number calling me. 'J. Kyler'. No way. No WAY that's really him! I won't believe it! This is too much! Lori and Michelle must be pranking me or something. I mean, come on! Really? This is so WILD!
Trying to control my trembling voice, I picked it up. I was too scared to speak at first. But since I'm on the receiving end of the call, I guess I should be the one to speak first, huh?
"Hello...?" I said softly. God, I must sound so gay right now.
Then, I heard the sweetest voice say, "Tristan? Oh man....it really is you, isn't it?"
I was nearly shaking myself to tears at that point. But I managed to say, "Yeah. It's...me..."
He said, "This really is Jesse-101, k? I promise. No foolery." He had such a neat way of saying things some time.
I said, "I know. I can tell by your...voice." I was blushing already. I didn't know how much longer I was going to be able to remain cool without swooning and falling all over him again. He's talking to me. Like....talking to me!
"Tristan?" And I, apparently, wasn't talking back.
"Sorry. I just...I can't believe that I'm actually getting to talk to you like this. That's all." I said.
"Likewise." He said. I think he was smiling. I could always hear the change in his voice when he was smiling.
There was an awkward pause, with just a few giggles passing between us. And then I said, "I like your last name." What? Why did I sa that? What does that even mean?
Jesse grinned. "Hehehe, um...thanks, I guess. It's my dad's, so..." It made me smile. It didn't take the jitters away...but I smiled.
"I liked your video too." Every word that I spoke took a huge effort to get out, but for all I know, this may be my one and only chance to prove to him that I'm not a total freak. And if I was going to have any impact at all, I was going to have to struggle through this like a normal person.
Jesse said, "Thanks. Hehehe, it was...kinda done on the fly...." He was biting his bottom lip again. I could hear it. He is *SO* outrageously cute when he does that. "...I meant what I said, though. I guess I got a taste of what it was like to actually regret not taking a chance on something. It sucked. But, who knows? Maybe I can get a second chance, right?"
Did he want me to answer? That's a rhetorical question, right? I just smiled in response. And then I remembered that I was on the phone, and he couldn't see that. Why am I so BAD at this???
He asked, "How come you didn't come to the mall today? I mean, not that you had to or anything. I just...I had fun last weekend. I was sorta hoping to do it again."
I don't know why, but I started babbling and feeling bad about the whole thing. "I'm so so sorry, Jesse. Oh God, wait...can I call you Jesse?"
"Hehehe, what else would you call me?"
"Right. Sorry" I said. Ugh! Stop apologizing, Tristan! Just talk! I told him, "You see...I have this thing where I'm always over thinking and over analyzing everything, and then I come up with the worst possible scenario, and I just run with it. No matter how hard I try to fix it and not feel that way, it just...kinda takes me over, you know? And then I get all flustered and worried...it paralyzes me."
Jesse was quiet for a second or two. Then he says, "Do I paralyze you?"
Should I be honest about this? Or should I be 'polite'? Or....maybe I should stop thinking so much like I JUST said! I told him, "Yeah...you kinda do."
"Oh..." He said. "That's really....weird."
Shit. "No. Dude, don't feel weird. I'm the weird one. Honestly. You didn't do anything wrong. I'm just screwed up in the head or something and I get all 'wiggly' from time to time...."
"No no no...I didn't mean weird as in 'weird'. I meant..." He paused for a second. Then he said, "I meant weird as in...cute. I think it's cute."
I don't think my heart knew what to do with that comment. Like...at ALL.
With a giggle, I said, "Wow...umm...hehehe, I can't believe you just said that to me."
"Neither can I." He snickered. I told him, "Well....that was really cool to hear, coming from you."
"I'm glad. Because it was really hard to say." Then he added, "I guess I still get a bit wiggly from time to time myself." There was a long silence between us again. At least it felt long to me. But...there was a pressure in my chest. Something about us just...being quiet? It was, like, the most erotic thing ever. My body reacted by getting both nervous and aroused at the same time. Both emotions battled for supremacy, but ended up at a stalemate, balanced perfectly in equal parts. Jesse then said, "Listen...I've got to go. But...I REALLY want to talk to you again, Tristan. I mean it. Just to...hang out or something. I mean, you've got my phone number now, right?"
I checked my cell phone, just to make sure. "Yeah. I've got it."
"Cool. Well, I mean...call me or something. Ok?" Jesse said. "It would be cool to see you again."
"For nachos?" I grinned.
"Whatever you want. I'm looking to keep you around for a while." He said. "So....keep in touch. We'll meet up some time. Hopefully, some time soon?"
"Sure. Yeah. Some time soon."
"Ok. Well...bye, Tristan."
I didn't want the conversation to end, even though I hadn't contributed a heck of a lot to the whole thing. But I said, "Bye, Jesse...." As though calling him by his name was some divine right that I hadn't earned and, thus, didn't deserve.
You know, there was a part of me that almost wanted me to say 'I love you' before hanging up the phone. Is that strange? I mean...isn't it a bit early for something like that? Or am I thinking too much again?
Probably the latter.
Ok, you know what? I'm not going to do this to myself. I hung up, sure...but this whole 'let's get together some time' was too vague and too empty for me. I know exactly what's going to happen. I'm going to feel good about everything tonight, but as time goes on, I'm going to start thinking about things, and criticizing myself, and that's just going to lead to me procrastinating until I find enough shallow excuses to keep me from making a real go at this. And at this rate, I'm going to end up being alone forever.
If Scotty Lynch can bounce a basketball for hours on end waiting for me to show up...if Lori and Michelle can wait outside my house until my mom comes home to let them in....if Jesse can wander the mall for so long that mall security starts looking at him funny...then I can do my part and put some effort into this too.
I didn't wait for the inner turmoil to start bubbling up to the surface. I had JUST talked to Jesse two minutes ago, but I hit his number up and called him back right away. I was scared, I was trembling, I was tense beyond belief....but I called him anyway.
And he answered.
"Hello?" I don't think he believed it was me. I don't think he expected to talk to me again so soon. But, screw it. He'll just have to deal with my stalkerish ways. Just this once.
"What about tomorrow?" I said, not even returning the hello. I just....I knew that if I tried to make small talk or lead up to it...I'd chicken out again. So I just said it.
Naturally, he didn't know what the heck I was talking about.
"What about tomorrow for what?" He asked.
Yikes. Didn't expect him to ask me that. You SEE??? You see what happens when you rush into something without thinking?
I stammered for a moment, and then I said, "Ummm....well....h-h-how about we go out? For, like, coffee and donuts or something?"
Jesse smiled. "What? You mean like a buddy cop movie or something?"
Ugh! I felt so dumb. "Yeah. You're right. Dumb idea...."
"NO! No no no....I like it. I'm not doing anything tomorrow. Are you?"
I said, "No. Nothing at all. So.....yeah. I mean, let's hang out. It'll be...cool."
"Alright. I'm down. Just email me the plan and I'll be there." He said. His voice is so cute. Everything about him is sexy.
I hung up the phone.
Why did I hang up the phone?
I didn't say goodbye. I didn't say anything. I just hung up in his face, didn't I?
I think I had a sudden burst of happiness run through me, but a sudden burst of fear caused me to hang up before I ruined the moment.
I got SUPER nervous about how he might feel about that, so I suddenly called his number again. God, I'm becoming a PEST already, aren't I?
He picked up. "Hehehe, hello?"
"I am SO sorry! I just hung up on you, didn't I? I meant to say goodbye first, I swear."
He giggled in the sweetest way. "Are you feeling all wiggly again?"
"Oh God, yes..." I said.
"But not 'paralyzed', I hope."
"Yeah, that makes two of us. I'm working on it." There was a silent smile shared over the phone, and I whimpered, "I'll...call you tomorrow....Jesse." Hehehe, WOW, I love being able to call him that. "Bye...."
"See you soon, Tristan." He said. And then we were disconnected.
Yes....that was much better. I liked that end to our conversation better than just severing all contact without warning.
Just a few minutes later, my phone rang again. And the name? 'J. Kyler'. Should I answer? Ugh! Dummy! Of COURSE, I should answer! He just talked to me a few minutes ago! He knows I'm there!
"Hello?" I asked, suspiciously. As if it would be somebody else. I'm silly.
Jesse seemed to be fidgeting and uncomfortable with what he was asking, but he managed to get it out anyway. "Tristan? Um...listen, if I don't ask this then it's going to totally drive me crazy for the rest of the night. And that means I won't get my beauty sleep, and I'll show up tomorrow looking like a big gay pile of fertilizer or something. I just...I wanted to know..." He stuttered a bit, but even with a shaky voice, he asked, "Is this a date? Like....a date date? Or....are we just hanging out?"
I thought about it for a moment, and with a shaky voice of my own, I asked, "I don't know. I mean...would you be creeped out if....if it was a date."
Again, I could hear his voice change with his smile and the biting of his bottom lip. "No. I wouldn't be creeped out at all. In fact, I was kinda hoping that...that would be the case. So...." He trailed off, and a brief series of giggles spontaneously rose up as we tried to figure out what to say to each other next.
"Well...as long as it doesn't sound creepy, then...yeah. I guess. We can make it a...a date." I was smiling so wide that I could hardly speak. I just hope he couldn't hear my heartbeat over the phone.
Then, he soon cut our talk short by saying, "Well....I guess I should hurry up and say goodbye to you before you hang up on me again."
I laughed out loud. "DON'T make fun of me! I'm kinda new at this!"
That's when Jesse told me, "Well...you're good at it." I was practically floating right out of my chair when he said that. "G'night. I'll see you tomorrow. K?"
"Coffee and donuts?"
"Coffee and donuts. All the way. I'm down." He said. And this time we hung up at the same time.
Something about it left me numb from the pleasure tingles running up and down my spine. Jesse-101 went out of his way to talk to me. And I went out of my way to talk to him. That's magic. True magic.
There was a short period where my thoughts began asking me what I was going to do, what I was going to say, what I was going to wear, how I was going to impress the hottest boy on the internet with what little charisma I had to offer as a somewhat average suburban teenager. But I don't know...
I think I'm just gonna wing it tomorrow and see what happens. Why not? I might just get lucky.
Ummm...I mean with the date. Or...er...NOT the date! I'm not talking about sex! Well...if he OFFERS me some sex, I'm not gonna turn it down...but I'm not talking about getting lucky in terms of sex. I'm NOT! I swear!