Darin and Wayne share birth dates, and now they’re going to be fifteen.
But there’s something more important about this date. It’s the tenth anniversary of when they met.
“Good morning, Mom,” Darin said as he sat down for breakfast.
“Good morning,” she responded. “Happy birthday.”
“Thanks. You know, it’s really tomorrow, right?” he asked while he filled his bowl with cereal and added milk.
“Of course. But because you and Wayne are having a combined birthday party with your friends tomorrow, we’re having a family birthday celebration just for you tonight.”
“Does that mean two birthday cakes?” Darin grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.
“I guess it does. One tonight, and another tomorrow afternoon.”
“Does that mean double presents for me?”
She laughed. “Don’t press your luck, kiddo!”
“Aww, a guy’s gotta try, doesn’t he?”
“Did everyone you invited to the party tomorrow respond yet?”
“Yeah, they did. The only one who isn’t coming is Amanda. She’s gotta go to her cousin’s wedding in Sacramento tomorrow.”
“Well, that sounds good. That means you’ll have… what, twenty-five people at your party?”
“That sounds about right. It’s not too many, is it?”
“No, twenty-five should be fine. More than that, and we wouldn’t have enough space for them in our family room.
After breakfast Darin went to his bedroom and got his backpack. On his way out he stopped in the kitchen and he and his mom hugged.
“Have a good day, Darin. You know how important school is for your future,” she told him.
“I will have a good day. And Mom, you know I work hard at school. My grades show it. You don’t need to tell me that all the time.”
“I don’t tell you all the time. Do I?”
Darin grinned. “Yes, you do tell me all the time. But that’s okay. I’m going to head out now. You have a nice day cramming math into those college freshmen’s brains.”
“I will, Darin. You’re sure you and Wayne won’t want a ride to school this morning?”
“Nah. We like to walk to school. It only takes about twenty minutes, it’s good exercise, and it gives us a chance to talk.”
“Alright. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Oh, one thing,” Darin said, “I won’t get home at the usual time today. I’ll probably get home around four thirty to five o’clock this afternoon. I have something to do right after school.”
“And what might that be?”
“Wayne and I are going to check out the clubs. This is what they call ‘club rush’ when the clubs set up tables in the quad so we can walk around and stop by the ones that sound interesting and get some more info about them.”
“Alright, but don’t get home too late.”
“We won’t be too late because the club rush ends at four thirty.”
“All right, have fun.”
Darin put on his backpack and left the house. When he got to the sidewalk he saw Wayne waiting for him. They bumped fists and started the three-quarter mile walk to Las Lomas High School.
“Hey, dufus,” Wayne said, to start their usual morning greetings.
“Up yours too,” Darin replied, as usual. “Anything new?”
“Same as, same as always.”
“Come on, bro. It’s our birthdays, or almost our birthdays, and our tenth anniversary too, so it shouldn’t be ‘same as always’ should it.”
“Probably not,” Wayne said. “There’s another thing about today. I have that big test in Algebra 2. I think I’m ready but I’m not sure.”
“Come on, I helped you study for that test Wednesday night. You nailed all of the answers on the sample problems from the Algebra 2 text my mom uses at Diablo Valley College. That’s a college level text with college level sample problems. You always get nervous the morning of a test. Just calm down, have an OJ for energy during Brunch, and when you go to your third period Algebra 2 class you’ll do great on the test.”
Wayne took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Yeah, you’re right as usual. I just get all nervous when the word ‘test’ is used. It should be banned like other profane four letter words.”
“Sorry to dash your clever idea, Wayne. If they banned the word ‘test’ they’d just substitute ‘exam’ which, I believe, is another four letter word. If they banned ‘exam’ they’d substitute ‘quiz’ and so on.”
“Consider myself appropriately dashed. Let’s change the subject. We are going to par-tay mañana!”
“Yeah, we are. I am so looking forward to being fifteen. There’s some sort of ‘little-kid’ thing stuck onto the age fourteen. It’s like you’re still a pre-teen even though you aren’t and haven’t been from the day you turned thirteen. It’s like we haven’t gotten any respect for the last two years.”
Wayne laughed. “I agree with that. But now fourteen is in our past, and here comes fifteen. Then, a year later, that most magical teen age, sixteen.”
“What did you ask your folks to get you for your birthday?”
“An iPad Air. I need a tablet, and the Air looks like a good choice.”
“But it doesn’t run Android,” Darin groused. “So all of those great apps I’m going to develop won’t run on your stupid Air tablet. But that’s your loss. Nothing I can do about it. You’re just an Apple addict, and I’m not.”
“So what did you ask for, Darin?”
“A new desktop computer. Something really powerful I can use for developing Android apps and other computer programs, and that would be fantastic for gaming too. The ones I’d really like cost mega-thousands. Some of the computer magazines have articles about lower-cost desktops that would work really well for what I want to do. Maximum PC magazine even has articles about how to build your own high-end desktop without tons of cash.”
“What’s the chance they’ll get you one of those more powerful PCs?”
“Maybe 50-50. My dad’s maybe hinted a little by asking me some questions about computers, like what kind of processor is best, is it important to have 16 megs of RAM instead of 8, what’s the difference between built-in graphics versus a graphics card. He never asks me about computers, so the only thing I can think is the reason he started these kinds of questions now is that he’s thinking about buying me a new desktop computer. The old one I’ve got is as slow as molasses. When I want to go on YouTube it’d be better if I did it on my phone instead of on my computer. Except the screen on my phone is too small. What I hope they do is take me shopping with a budget and let me pick out what kind of PC I want, instead of buying something some sales guy talked them into.”
Wayne thought for a moment. “You think there’s a possibility that they’d get you a tablet instead of a desktop? That would solve your YouTube problem, and you could use it just about anywhere.”
“I don’t think so. I’ve talked enough about why a desktop is something I need for software development. I think they’ve taken the hints. I sure hope so. I can’t develop apps on a tablet, it takes a PC, and a powerful desktop will make a huge difference.”
“Man,” Wayne said, “that would be such a great birthday present. I know those high-end desktops are expensive. I saw one advertised on the internet and they want $4,799 for it.” He sighed. “Wouldn’t it be great if our folks were rich? But they’re not.”
“Come on, we do okay. Some kids at school have parents who are richer than our folks, most are at about the same income level as our folks, and there are some who are more on the poor side. I think we’re lucky. There’s too much baggage that goes with having parents who are rich. I look at some of the kids at school who are from rich families and they have to put on this show to stay at the same social level as the rest of their rich friends.”
“What kind of show?”
“Fancy cars, dressing in the latest fashions from the expensive places like A&F, getting their haircuts at a stylist, talking about their trips to Europe and Japan, stuff like that.”
“Darin, sometimes I wonder about you. You think a lot deeper than I do, and sometimes you’re so right it’s downright scary. You’re different, you know? That’s in a good way, and I’m maybe a little jealous.”
“You’re jealous of me? That’s a laugh. You’re the one who seems to be able to make friends with anyone at school. Probably half of the kids at Las Lomas know you. You’re on the A-list, one of the popular kids. I’m on the B-list, just one of the mass of kids who go to school there. I’ve got friends, but nothing like how many you have.”
“I’ve got lots of acquaintances. Most of those people you talk about who know me really aren’t my friends. I’ve only got three or four close friends. And only one best friend and I’m walking to school with him right now. Besides, you’re a Brainiac. You’re a straight-A student and have been ever since elementary school. I get along with B’s and a few A’s. You keep going the way you’re going and you’re gonna be the valedictorian of our class when we graduate in three years.”
“Darin, stop putting yourself down. You gotta start knowing who you are, then understanding and accepting that person. Be happy and proud of who you are. I think one of the things you see in me is that I’m happy and proud of who I am already. I know who I am, and I accept being that person. You gotta get on that same train, bro.”
“Yeah, I know, but give me some time. Like you said, I’m different. So are you. You think a lot deeper than you admit you do, and what you say is always impressive. You need to start knowing and accepting that part of you.”
“Okay, okay!” Wayne laughed. “I’ll think on that. Just remember that you’re my best friend and I’m here for you, and I know that you’re here for me. We’re bros to the max, BFFs, Best Friends Forever.”
Wayne smiled, and that made Darin smile too. “That’s better,” Wayne told him.
They didn’t say much the rest of the way to school. Darin had a lot on his mind. He and Wayne were BFFs, and that was fine as far as it went. However, Darin wanted them to be BFFBs, Best Friends Forever with Benefits. He wondered how long the ‘bros to the max’ and ‘Best Friends Forever’ Wayne talked about would last when he found out that Darin was gay and in love with him.
He glanced at Wayne when he heard him humming Passenger’s Let Her Go, Wayne’s favorite song. It was Darin’s favorite song as well, but with the ‘her’ changed to ‘him’.
Wayne also had a lot of things on his mind. He had something to tell Darin, something important, and he knew it could tear them up, maybe tear them apart. But it had to be done. They were fifteen now and that’s the time for dating and girls. He didn’t know when to bring this up, but as they walked he decided it had to be today. Before their birthday party on Saturday. Right after school. Today, for sure.
After their last classes, Spanish 2 for Wayne and Spanish 3 for Darin, they met at the Rally Court near the west exit from Building 400. Wayne was still floating on air about his Algebra 2 test, and same as at lunch he talked about some of the more complex problems and how he solved them. Darin didn’t pay much attention as they walked to the Rally Court.
When they got there, Darin looked around. “Where are the tables for Club Rush?” he asked no one in particular.
“Club Rush? That’s next week,” Wayne replied. “Did you think they were doing it after school today?”
“Well, yeah. That’s why I asked.”
“Well, no. It’s next Friday. That means now you have about an hour, hour and a half to kill. I’ve got a proposal about how to fill that time. Let’s walk up to Habit and get a burger to tide us over until our dinners. I have something to talk to you about.”
“And what’s that?”
“I want to wait until we get to Habit and I’ll tell you then. It’s something sort of important.”
Darin shrugged. “It’s okay with me. But why not go to Giant George’s Hamburgers instead of Habit? It’s a lot closer.”
Wayne laughed at the switching of the first two words in the name of Las Lomas students’ favorite hamburger place.
“George’s is closer, and I picked Habit because it’s further away and we can have a private conversation a lot easier there. Not that many kids from school go there.”
Darin wondered what Wayne would want to talk about that needed to be private. ‘Oh god,’ Darin thought, ‘did he figure out that I’m gay? I don’t know how, because I haven’t said anything about gay guys when we’ve been talking. I hope it’s not some gay mannerism that I picked up and he’s noticed. Nah, couldn’t be that because Dad would have noticed and questioned me about it.’
Wayne tapped his finger on the top of Darin’s head.
Darin scowled at Wayne and rubbed his head. “Ow! What did you do that for?” he complained.
“I wondered where you’d gone, mentally. You do that, you know. You space out and you’re somewhere else, oblivious of everything.”
“Oh, sorry!” Darin said, and then he grinned. He looked at Wayne for a few seconds, then continued. “I remembered something I wanted to talk to you about. So we can make this a two-way, if that’s okay.”
“Sure, but since it’s my idea I get to talk first. Okay?”
“No problem. Let’s truck!”
The walk took them about twenty minutes. There were a few kids there from Las Lomas High, mostly seniors who had cars and drove the half-mile from school. They didn’t see anyone that they knew well, just some kids they recognized. No one knew either Darin or Wayne well enough to say ‘hi’ to them, so the two boys maintained the anonymity Wayne wanted.
They each got a burger and a soda, and shared an order of fries. When they got their orders they went outside to one of the tables on the sidewalk along California Avenue, where the street noise would help keep their conversation private. They each took a few bites of their burger and ate some fries, then Darin looked across at his best friend.
“Okay, you said you wanted to go first, so you’re up,” he told Wayne.
“Um. I thought this would be difficult, but it’s turning out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Lemme see…. Well, let me get started. Tomorrow is our fifteenth birthdays, you and me.”
“Right. And the tenth anniversary of when we met at my fifth birthday party.”
“Man, you remember that?”
“Yeah, I do,” Darin said. “I met you at my fifth birthday party. It turned out to be your fifth birthday too, so Cameron Muñoz brought you with him. You’d moved in next door to him, half a block down from me. I thought it was neat that this kid with the reddish-brown hair had the same birthday as me. I immediately liked you, and you must have liked me too because we became friends. And it also seems like we’ve been best friends ever since then.”
“There’s a backstory,” Wayne said, “the things that happened at my end. We moved into our new house on my birthday, the day of your party. I didn’t want to go to your birthday party. I didn’t know you or any of the kids who would be there. I didn’t know Cam either, or how pushy he can be. He convinced his mom to convince my mom that I should go to your party, and they cleared it with your mom.
“What I didn’t know is that when you heard about it you decided that I needed to get presents on my birthday. You convinced half the kids at your party, the ones who’d already arrived, to write my name on tags and your mom put them on the presents they’d brought for you. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know any of those kids and they gave me birthday presents. And you gave me one too. A GI Joe figure, and I still have it. I had a great time, I met about twenty kids and became friends with them, and I met the kid who became my friend and after a week my best friend. You. Darin Wilkins, you are the nicest guy I’ve ever met, you were when you turned five and you still are today.”
Darin used a fake cowboy accent and responded, “Aw, shucks pardner, that’s nice of y’all to say.” Shedding the accent, he continued, “You, Wayne Collins, are the nicest guy I’ve ever met. So, what is it that you want to tell me that’s so difficult?”
“Well, we’re going to be fifteen.” Wayne held up his hand, palm facing Darin, to keep him from interrupting. “This is the time when we’re supposed to meet girls and start dating.”
‘Oh, shit!’ Darin thought, ‘Wayne wants to date girls. Maybe he’s met a girl already and he want to ask her to be his girlfriend. I gotta change my mind about telling him I’m gay. That would definitely be a non-starter.’ He realized that Wayne had continued talking while he’d been worrying about what Wayne would be talking about.
“…so, man this is SO messed up, uh — shit, I just don’t know how to say this.”
‘Damn,’ Darin thought, ‘It’s true, he knows about me. I’m screwed.’ He sat there staring across the table at Wayne, becoming more and more stressed. He could feel sweat in his armpits and running down his sides.
“I think you’re going to hate me. No, I know you’re going to hate me for what I’m going to say.”
‘Oh, god, this is it,’ Darin thought. ‘This has turned out to be the absolute worst day in my life. I don’t know what I’m going to do. What do I say when he says he knows I’m gay? What’s going to happen to our friendship, is he going to hate me, because I’m…’ Darin realized that Wayne had just said something, very softly, almost in a whisper, and his thoughts had so distracted him that he hadn’t heard what Wayne said.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Looking down at the table, in the same soft voice, Wayne repeated what he’d said. “Darin, I’m gay. I know you’re going to hate me….”
Wayne stopped because Darin had burst out laughing. Now, that pissed off Wayne. Here he’d just told Darin his biggest, most important, personal secret and Darin started laughing?
Darin shook his head, waved his hands in the air, and tried to stop laughing. He had been so stressed that when he heard Wayne say he was gay it instantly ended his stress and caused his laughter.
Wayne had been leaning on the table, so Darin reached down and grabbed Wayne’s hands and held onto them, tightly, right there on top of the table. Finally Darin overcame most of his laughter.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Darin said, and smiled.
Wayne saw Darin’s smile, and that smile and his laughter were reflected in his eyes.
Darin chuckled a bit, then continued. “I’m sorry for laughing, but if you knew what had been going through my mind, then you got into this big thing about me hating you and it stressed me so much, I knew you were going to tell me that now that you’re fifteen you’re going to start dating girls, or that you knew that I’m gay and we can’t be friends anymore, or both, and it was such a relief….”
“Wait! What did you just say?” Wayne exclaimed.
“Wayne, I am gay. We are both gay. I’m so stupid thinking that you were going to hate me because I’m gay and in love with you.”
“You’re in love with me?”
“Yes, dufus, I’m in love with you. I have been for years. When we were in the sixth grade I figured out that I was gay, that I liked boys, and especially one boy, you. By the seventh grade I figured out that I loved you. Not like a best friend, not like a bro, but more. I, love, you, Wayne Collins.”
While Darin said what he said, Wayne started smiling, and his smile reflected his joy.
“Oh, man, Darin. I never thought that telling you that I’m gay could turn out so fantastic. I never thought that you might be gay. Never. Not once.”
Darin shook his head. “Same with me. I never, not once, though you might be gay.”
They sat there, holding hands across the table, for about a minute.
They looked up. Two girls, who looked to be in their late teens or early twenties, stood looking down at them, smiling.
“Sorry, but we couldn’t help overhearing what you two were saying. We just want you to know that we think it’s fantastic that you’re in love. You two make a really cute couple. Good luck!”
Darin and Wayne grinned and said, “Thanks!” at the same time.
They girls smiled, then turned and walked away.
“Wow, that’s nice. So, what’s next?” Darin asked.
“You mean who do we tell?”
“Yes, that’s what I mean.”
“We each tell our folks first. Tonight, don’t you think?”
“I think so,” Darin replied. “I think they’ll be fine with it. Since my dad’s a doctor, he knows that being gay is genetic, and he probably has some patients who are gay. My mom’s teaches at DVC where lots of gay guys and girls are out. I’ve never heard either say anything negative about gays. What about your folks?”
“My mom’s already hinted around the subject. She wondered why I didn’t go to any of the freshman class dances last year. My dad’s cousin is gay, and he comes for Thanksgiving every year and they’re real friendly with him. Both Mom and Dad agreed with the court rulings allowing gay marriage in California. So I think I’m good to go.”
“How about tomorrow?” Darin asked.
“You know, those people are supposed to be our friends. Let’s say we find out.”
“So do we stand up and make a big announcement, or maybe mention ‘oh, by the way we’re both gay and are boyfriends,’ to people as we're chatting with them?”
“More the first way. That takes care of everyone at once,” Wayne replied. “But not until you answer one question. Darin Wilkins, will you be my boyfriend?”
“Yes, Wayne Collins, I will be your boyfriend.”
They continued to sit, looking at each other, for a while, then got up and started walking home, holding hands.
An AwesomeDude 10th Anniversary Story
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