Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
Jason walked Scott to the front door and opened it. They walked out onto the front porch.
“So long, Jase,” Scott said, and he smiled. “I had a good time hanging with you. We should study Spanish together more often.”
Jason chuckled. “Yeah. Maybe even a little more Spanish than we did today. Speaking of Spanish, I’ll see you in Spanish tomorrow.”
“See ya,” Scott replied, waved, and walked to the sidewalk and turned left. Jason watched him until the curve of the street and the trees lining the sidewalk hid Scott from his view. Jason turned and went back inside and into the kitchen.
“Well, that’s interesting,” his mother commented.
“What do you mean, ‘that’s interesting’?” Jason asked.
“Scott is so much older than you, Jase. I’m surprised that he’d want to get together.”
“He’s only two years older than me. He’s 16 and I’m 14. We were doing our Spanish, then after we finished it we just sat and talked. He’s the star running back on the Hillcrest football team, but he’s real smart and gets good grades. He’s a nice guy, nothing like the stories I hear about jocks.”
“I think it’s interesting that you’re the only freshman in your Spanish 3 class.”
“I guess not many kids took two years of Spanish in middle school like I did. Remember how I decided to take it starting when I was in seventh grade? That class had barely enough students for it to be offered. Same thing when I took second year in eighth grade. Even if Scott says I have the best pronunciation in our class, Spanish is still my most difficult subject. I think it’s just that I have a tough time with foreign languages. Being able to get together with someone who’s in my Spanish 3 class is going to be a huge help for me.”
“Well, then I guess it’s probably a good thing that you two are studying together. Unless it’s the blind leading the blind?”
Jason chuckled. “What’s that mean?”
“You’ve never heard that saying before?”
“In your case, it means that if neither of you is doing very well in Spanish 3, then trying to help each other isn’t going to do much good for either of you.”
“Talking about the blind like that isn’t very PC, Mom!”
“You’re right, it’s not politically correct to say that, but it’s a phrase that we said when I was your age and it stuck with me.”
“Hmmm… maybe we need a fine when anyone in the family says something that’s not PC, sort of like my swearing fine. How about that?”
“And maybe we need a fine when you or one of your sisters begins to smart-mouth about something.” After saying that, Betty couldn’t hold back a laugh.
“Sort of like if I said, ‘I never get any respect around here’?”
“Definitely like that.”
“Well, I have homework to do,” Jason said, trying to change the subject.
“Then shoo, get out of my kitchen and go do your homework. I have dinner to get ready.”
“Okay!” And with that he went upstairs to his bedroom and got started on what little homework he had to finish.
After dinner Jason phoned Ron.
“You’ve reached the domicile of Ronald Cantham, solver of all social problems and fixer of all computer bugs. How may I direct your call?”
“I can’t believe how many of these sayings you invent, Ron. And you never seem to repeat them. At least I don’t remember you repeating any of them.”
“And greetings to you too, Jase. It’s just my ability to know all and remember all that makes me able to solve that little conundrum. And how can I serve you, dear sir?”
“Well, first of all you can cut out the palaver and let me ask you a question.”
Ron chuckled. “What’s palaver mean? And where did you pick up that weird word?”
“I picked it up from my grandma, and it means ‘loud and confused and empty and meaningless talk’. Exactly what you said when you answered the phone. Palaver is one of those words that I think sounds like what it means.”
“I’m gonna have to remember that one! So what’s the important question you want’a ask me?”
“I thought about having a few guys over on Saturday to go swimming and play tennis.”
“You and me, Steve, Scott, Larry, and Art.”
“Okay. But who’s Scott?”
“Scott Menasco. He’s in my Spanish 3 class….”
Ron interrupted. “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re talking about Scott Menasco the football player, the football player who’s a halfback on the Hillcrest varsity, the football player who set the league scoring record? Scott Menasco?”
“Absolutely. He’s that Scott Menasco. We know each other from our Spanish 3 class. We got together today after school and studied some Spanish vocabulary. That way we’ll be ready for one of Grimbauer’s quizzes if she springs it on us this week. So anyway, Scott turns out to be a great guy, and it’s fun knowing a football player. And he’s a junior, the only guy in the eleventh grade who I know.”
“I can’t believe it! You hooked up with Scott Menasco to study Spanish? Today?”
“Yup. We met in Ms. Grimbauer’s classroom after class. That’s why I couldn’t walk home with you. Then he came home with me and met my mom and we studied together. After that we sat outside and just hung around talking and getting to know each other. I found out that he’s really nice, and he’s just like us, just older, sixteen.”
“So he’s okay getting together with five freshmen?”
“Sure. He’s a real friendly guy, and he loves to swim. He said his house is like yours, the backyard is too small for a pool. So that’s one of the reasons I figured we could get together with him, Steve, Art, and Larry. Something very casual, no big food event or anything like that. Maybe people can bring whatever they want to drink.”
“Man, I’m really looking forward to meeting him. I’ve never met a starter on the varsity football team before. Well, Leshawn and Jayden were on the JV team, but that doesn’t count. You know, Scott’s been written up in the Times sports section? Getting to meet him is major, Jase!”
Jason shook his head, something that, obviously, Ron couldn’t see over the phone. “He’s just a regular guy. Like you and me. You’ll like him. Just, please, don’t drool all over him because he’s on the football team.”
“I promise that I won’t drool all over him! I just want to meet him and talk to him about what it’s like being on the varsity football team.”
“You’ll have your chance to spend time with him on Saturday. You’re into football, you’ll be able to chat him up and talk about football and how the team’s going to do next year when he’s a senior.”
“So Steve, Art, and Larry are the only others who’ll be at your place on Saturday?”
“Uh huh. Of course, you and me too. I know Art and Larry are going to want to play tennis. The rest of us will probably just hang at the pool.”
“How come only those guys? Why not someone else like Leshawn and Kev who are Art and Larry’s cousins?”
“Steve is in the same Algebra 2 class as Scott. Scott mentioned that he said ‘hi’ to Steve one day and Steve looked at him like he was totally frightened by him. So, I was thinking. We’re trying to get Steve to have more self-confidence, and here’s a way to help that. Scott’s in a class with him, and if Steve sees that Scott’s a good guy and is interesting then he can be friendly with him at school. Well, at least in their Algebra 2 class.
“I decided to ask Art and Larry for two reasons. First, Steve knows them. If the only ones I invite are Steve and Scott then Steve might be intimidated. Having Art and Larry there means there’s other people that Steve knows. Second, I can’t wait to lord it over them about Hillcrest winning the basketball game Friday night. You remember how they ragged on us about how Alcosta was going to wipe the floor with our guys?”
“Actually, it was Marcus that told Art and Larry that we’d wipe the court with Alcosta’s team.”
“Really. I remember it because of the bet I have with Art and Larry. One crisp dollar bill.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that bet. You’re going to be rich, Ron!”
“As if a dollar is going to make me rich. Anyway, your idea sounds fine. There’s just two things that seem a little weird. One is, Steve, Art and Larry were at your house for swimming and tennis just last Friday. So doesn’t doing it again in just about one week sound sort of strange? The second is, Art and Larry are Leshawn and Kevin’s cousins. Isn’t a bit strange that you’d invite them and not Leshawn and Kevin?”
“I told Art and Larry I’d invite them over sometime soon so they can play tennis again, and that I’d let them know when. Saturday can be when. So the Art and Larry question is answered. Steve bought a new Speedo and we want him to show it off and get more self-confident. So the Steve question is answered. However, you’re right about Leshawn and Kevin. I didn’t think about them. I’ll have to add them to the invitee list. I just want to make sure that Steve doesn’t feel that he’s in some sort of fashion show.”
“See? Sometimes my palaver is useful.”
“Ron, when you listed the questions that wasn’t palaver. Palaver was what you said when you answered the phone.”
“It might be palaver, but it’s my palaver and it’s designed to amuse and delight. You, especially.”
“That it did, Mr. Cantham. That it did. Now, how about you get together with me after school tomorrow, and you can meet Scott. Let’s see, what do you have seventh period? And what room is it in?”
“Man, that’s so cool that I can meet Scott tomorrow,” Ron replied. “Seventh period I have Algebra 1 in room 305
“Okay, that’s good. My Spanish 3 class is in room 216 and Scott’s in that class. That’s the building right next to yours. Why don’t you come to room 216 and I’ll introduce you to Scott.”
“That’ll be okay, but I’ll have to go to my locker first. Is it still okay?”
“Sure. Say, I want to check and see if there are any quizzes in my classes the rest of this week. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Later, Ron. I love you.”
“I love you too, Jase. See you in the a-of-m, usual time, usual place. Bye.”
Jason realized that during the time it took Ron to get to his locker and back tomorrow afternoon was enough for him to talk to Scott about the plan for Saturday. He hadn’t told Ron the whole story about Scott, especially the real reason for getting together with Steve on Saturday. That would have been outing Scott and that’s something he wouldn’t do. He decided that when he and Scott got together after seventh period tomorrow, he’d tell him he should go ahead and out himself to Ron. He’d also have to think up a way to tell Ron about Scott and Steve. Damn, this got so complicated!
Jason logged on to Hillcrest High’s Blackboard system to check if there were any quizzes in his classes. There weren’t any for this week — so far — so he logged off, opened his Kindle app, and brought up a new science fiction story he’d downloaded for free from Amazon, Blue Dust: Forbidden.
Jason might have thought things were complicated, but the next morning when they met up with Ron on the way to school they got even more complicated. Ron was at the corner, as usual. After the usual greetings, Ron got things started.
“What time are you going to have us over for swimming and tennis on Saturday, Jase?”
“What on Saturday?” Jen asked.
“Some guys are coming over to swim and play tennis Saturday afternoon,” Jason replied.
“I’ve invited Devin to come over Saturday morning,” Jen responded, “and we’re going to work on our project. After that we’re going to use the pool. You had your friends over on Friday. Tomorrow is my turn.”
“Wait a minute, when did that decision get made?”
“Last night. I asked Mom about it after dinner.”
“You and Mom didn’t say anything about it this morning. Also, you can’t monopolize the pool. You’ll have to share it with me and my friends.”
“And who are they?”
“Steve, Scott, Art and Larry, Ron and me. And maybe Leshawn and Kevin. Art and Larry will be mostly playing tennis, the rest of us will be in and around the pool. Why don’t you have Devin come over on Sunday?”
“We both go to church Sunday mornings and won’t get home until almost noon. That means we’ve lost the morning for working on our English project. You have your friends come over on Sunday.”
“Won’t work,” Ron interjected. “On Sunday I’m going with my folks to visit my grandmother.”
“Then we’ll just have to share the pool,” Jen concluded.
“Then when you and Devin aren’t in the pool you’ll have to sit somewhere away from us so we can talk. We have a lot of things to talk about, stuff you wouldn’t want to hear.”
“Eww! No problem. Devin and I are going to be talking about our project. We don’t want to hear whatever it is that you want to talk about in private.”
Thea poked Jason in his arm. “Can I sit in and listen to what you’re going to talk about?” She switched to a stage whisper, “Is it about sex?”
“No, it’s not about sex, Thea. Get your mind out of the gutter. It’s about helping some guys socialize.”
“Hey, my mind isn’t in the gutter! And besides, guys always talk about sex.”
“What guys?” Ron asked.
“Guys I know at Lomita.”
“You better stop hanging with guys like that,” Jason admonished her. “Spend your time hanging with girls.”
Thea laughed. “What do you think girls talk about? It’s s-e-x, same as boys.”
“You need to find a better group of kids to hang with, Thea,” Jason said.
“That’s for sure,” Jen added.
“Lemme ask you a question, Jase. And you too, Jen. When you were in middle school, what did you talk about?”
“It sure wasn’t about sex,” Jason replied.
“Yes it was,” Ron said, “you just don’t remember, or maybe it’s selective memory, Jase. Sex was the topic of about eighty percent of what we talked about.”
“Well, maybe when you and I were talking to each other. But when we were with a bunch of guys… shit! You’re right, Ron. That is what we talked about.”
“Well, even though we might have talked about sex a lot in middle school, Devin and I aren’t going to be talking about sex on Saturday, or any other time,” Jen insisted. “We’ll be talking about our English project.”
“I’ll bet,” Thea muttered. Then she continued before Jen could say anything, “Here’s where I leave you folks. See you this afternoon.”
“Hey, hang on a sec, Thea,” Jason said, “I just remembered that Ron and I won’t be walking home with you two tonight. We have a meeting after school.”
“Okay, see you at home Jase. I’ll see you right here at the usual time, Jen.” With that Thea turned and headed down Mt. Pleasant Avenue to Lomita Middle School.
“So what’s your meeting after school?” Jen asked, as the three teens headed to Hillcrest High.
“We’re getting together with Scott to let him know when to come over on Saturday,” Jason replied.
“Do I know Scott?”
“How many freshmen do you know, Jen?”
“Not counting you two, maybe a half-dozen or a dozen.”
“Any of them named Scott?”
“I guess that’s your answer, then.”
“I guess,” she grumbled.
“Say, whatever happened to your Biology class, the one with Mrs. Matreeno or whatever her name is,” Ron asked.
“It’s Ms. Mateo. I dropped the class along with a couple other people, and that started an avalanche of students doing the same thing. My former seventh period class has only eleven students now. That’s supposedly too few to continue the class, but then what are they going to do with those students? They can’t switch to other Biology classes, which are full already, and they need Biology so they can take other classes that Biology is the prerequisite that they need to take next year. Some seniors who dropped the class are going to do the same thing that I’m going to do, take Biology during summer session at Valley College. That way we’ll get both high school and college credit.”
They reached the Hillcrest High campus and stopped so Jen could finish updating them.
“A bunch of students from Mateo’s classes went to the School Board and issued a formal complaint against her, demanding that she be put on administrative leave and a new teacher be brought in to take over her classes. The father of one of those students is an attorney and he drew up the complaint.”
“Let’s say they do that,” Ron said, “would you take one of those classes with the replacement teachers?”
“No. I would be too far behind. I need a real Biology class where I can learn what I need to qualify for college. And I’ll get both high school and college credits for it.”
Jason shook his head. “What a mess. You’d think the School Board would have figured out what a bad teacher she is and done something about it by now.”
“I agree, Jase. I guess there are a lot of rules, and the Teachers’ Union has a contract, so it’s tough to remove a bad teacher. Time to head to my Homeroom,” she said. “Jase, I’ll see you at home tonight.”
Jason and Ron waved and Jen rushed to the other side of the campus.
“Time for us to get to our Homeroom too,” Ron said. “Say, what was this thing where you asked Jen how many freshmen she knew named Scott? He’s a junior.”
“I didn’t want her to know that Scott’s a junior, and a football player and star on our varsity until she meets him on Saturday. I’m surprised that you noticed.”
“You said his name is Scott without saying his last name or anything about him. Then the way you told Jen made it sound like he’s a freshman. So I got confused, then thought you didn’t want her around to ogle him. But she’s invited Devin and they’ll be at the pool so they’ll find out who Scott really is. How are you going to get around that with Scott?”
“Good question. Jen and Devin might find out, and there isn’t anything I can do about it. There are two things. Jen and Devin are going to be spending more of their time working on their project. And, Scott doesn’t want anyone to know in advance that he’s coming on Saturday because he might draw a crowd, so not letting Jen know it’s Scott Menasco means she can’t let it slip at school that he’ll be there. That includes Devin, too. Some football players want to be out there and party all the time and be recognized. Then others want to be more private about their life, like Scott. Especially when they’re working hard to get into a good college which is what Scott is doing. He’s a smart guy and has an A average. Anyway, you’ll meet Scott after school today and we’ll explain what’s going on and make sure it’s okay with him.”
“Geez, a Brainiac and a star athlete all in one. I’m looking forward to meeting him.”
They’d arrived at their Homeroom and got seated.
Jason looked around. “I don’t see Steve. I wonder where he is.”
“There he is,” Ron said, waving to Steve who walked in and took the seat in back of Ron just as they heard the last bell.
“Morning, Steve,” Jason said. “How are your girlfriends today?”
“I’ll tell you at lunch. It’s too funny and too bizarre and too weird. Let’s grab something portable for lunch and find a quiet corner where we won’t be disturbed.”
Ms. Tepper told the class to quiet down and she took roll. Then the announcements were read over the school video system. Jason paid attention at first then let his mind wander to his meeting with Scott and Ron this afternoon. He still didn’t know how he should handle the Scott-Steve situation with Ron. The bell announced the end of Homeroom and Jason, Ron, and Steve joined most of the others as they got up to go to their first period classes. Jason went to his Creative Writing class in the room next door and sat down to again listen to students reading their stories. Some were good and some, Jason thought, needed work. He realized that reading his story on the first day worked out best because the students had been paying attention and were interested, so they were more likely to write a more thorough review of what he’d written.
Jason, Ron, and Steve had World History and Geography fourth period. It seemed to Jason to drag and drag and drag. ‘How can a fifty minute class seem to last so long?’ he thought. Finally the bell rang and they headed for their lockers and then the cafeteria to grab something portable for lunch and to hear what Steve had to tell them.
After getting their lunch, Ron suggested a spot where they could go to eat and not be bothered by other kids around them.
“Let’s go to the space between buildings 400 and 500. No one goes there, but it’s a nice place because there’s grass and a lot of trees. But there aren’t any benches. That’s why it isn’t popular.”
They found a place to sit on some dry grass under the trees.
“Okay, Steve, spill it,” Ron commanded, and then he grinned.
“With a polite request like that how can I refuse?” Steve responded. “Well, here’s what happened. I got to school early and Tiffany and Elana saw me. We went to the same bench where you saw us yesterday. I don’t know where Rose was this morning. Anyway, we chatted for a bit, then Tiffany asked if I had a girlfriend or a boyfriend. I almost choked but I recovered. I told her, ‘Neither, but I’d like to have a boyfriend.’ She sort of squealed, and told Elana, ‘I told you that Steve is gay!’ and Elana told her, ‘All the cute guys are gay,’ and they laughed a lot about that. Then Tiffany told me, ‘Steve, we’re going to help you find a boyfriend.’ I didn’t know what to say, but then I said, ‘How are you going to do that?’ and she just grinned and said, ‘Leave that to us,’ and then the bell rang and we split to go to our Homerooms. That’s why I just made it to our homeroom on time.”
“So,” Jason said, “they’re going to find you a gay guy to be your boyfriend. What if you don’t like him?”
“Maybe they’re planning a competition,” Ron suggested. “Or maybe something like a police lineup.”
“No way!” Steve shouted. Then he looked around to see if anyone heard him. “They are not going to do a contest or a lineup. That would be tacky. If they can find some guy and we meet and he’s friendly and we decide we want to do something like go on a casual date, then that’s okay.”
“Hey, I was just kidding!” Ron responded. “What you’re planning sounds good to me,” then he grinned.
Jason had an idea. “Steve, is there anyone you know or who you’ve seen in any of your classes you might pick as a boyfriend candidate?”
“You and Ron!” He laughed. “This time I’m the one who’s just kidding.” He took a deep breath and let it out. “There’s a guy in my Algebra 2 class who’s really good looking. He’s older than me, though. I don’t think he’d be interested in me.”
“What’s his name?” Jason asked, wondering if fate was about to intervene.
“Yeah. You know him?”
“He’s a friend of mine.” Jason turned his head to look at Ron, and winked so Steve wouldn’t see. “Would you like a way to sit down and talk to him?”
“I could invite you and Scott to come over to go swimming Saturday. Maybe ask a few others too, so Scott doesn’t think it’s a setup. The two of you could talk and see if you want to become friends. Then after you’re friends maybe decide if you want to do more like go on a casual date.”
“You’d do that for me, Jase?”
“Sure. Ron and I will definitely do that for you. Are you doing anything on Saturday?”
“Nope, I’m not doing a thing. My folks won’t be home. They’re going to a lawyers’ conference in Sacramento. They’re leaving Friday afternoon and won’t be back until Sunday evening.”
“You’ll be home alone?” Ron asked then wiggled his eyebrows.
“Yes.” Steve grinned. “At home all alone and ready for anything.”
Jason interrupted. “Let’s get back on track about Saturday. Jen and a guy from her English class, Devin, will be working on a project in the morning then they’ll be at the pool in the afternoon. I was thinking we could invite Kevin and Leshawn, maybe you could invite Tiffany and her friends.”
Steve interrupted. “Oh no, I’m not inviting Tiffany and her friends. Period! Forget about that!”
“Just kidding. But what do you think about inviting Kevin and Leshawn?”
“I suppose. So who’d be coming?”
Jason realized now there was no reason to invite Art and Larry. So he decided to substitute. “You, me, Ron, Scott, Kevin, and Leshawn. That’s six of us. We won’t have a big deal like the tennis and pool party we had last Friday. Maybe everyone can bring a six pack of their favorite sodas. We could get pizzas when we get hungry.”
“Sounds good. Thinking about it, though, is it really necessary to invite Leshawn and Kev?”
“No, if you’re okay with just the four of us.”
“That’s better, I think,” Steve replied.
Jason couldn’t believe how something that seemed to be more and more complicated had suddenly turned much simpler. It would be perfect, in fact, if he could figure out a way to get rid of Jen and Devin. Unfortunately, that probably wasn’t going to happen.
“Is it a deal, then?”
Steve nodded. He seemed enthusiastic.
“I have to check with my mom, but it should be okay,” Jason said. “I’ll call and let you know tonight. You’ll probably have to get an okay from your mom too. She’ll probably want to talk to my mom. Say, would you like to sleep over at my house on Saturday night?”
“Sure. Will Ron sleep over too?”
“Of course I’ll sleep over!” Ron blurted. “Do you think I’d let you sleep with Jase, just the two of you?”
“What, you don’t trust me?” Jason growled. Steve rolled on the grass, laughing.
“Of course I trust you, Jase,” Ron replied. “It’s Steve I don’t trust. He has all of the symptoms of terminal horniness.”
“I don’t have terminal horniness!” Steve growled back at Ron, while he tried to stifle his laughter. “I have curable horniness, and I carry the remedy with me at all times.” He held up his left hand and waved it.
“Why are you waving your left hand, Steve?” Ron asked.
“Because I’m left-handed. My left hand is where I hold the remedy.”
“Oh! Now I get it. I didn’t know you were left handed. That means you don’t have a Mister Right who would take care of things, so you use whatever Mister is Left. That’s cool, unless it’s getting a lot of exercise, then that’s hot!” Ron laughed at his own amusing wording.
“You’ll never know,” Steve said, then he started giggling. He shook his head and looked at Ron and then at Jason. “Are you two like this all the time?”
Now Jason was confused. “I don’t understand. What do you mean by ‘like this’?”
“Always joking with each other and having fun.”
“Absolutely,” Jason replied.
“Indubitably,” Ron responded.
Any further discussion was cut off by the first bell for fifth period. They picked up their containers and papers and threw them in the recycle and trash bins, and headed to their respective classes.
Jason’s three afternoon classes seemed longer than usual. Of course, they were still exactly fifty minutes long. But he became convinced that the clocks must be running slower.
He usually looked forward to his fifth period Weight Training class, but today he just wanted it to end. Repetitive exercise after repetitive exercise after repetitive exercise… enough, already!
In his Photography class they learned how to resize images for websites, using different techniques to make the files lighter, which Jason learned meant how to make them have a smaller file size. He also learned how to make them pop, which meant they’d have a high dynamic range and be vibrant so they’d look good on the web. Okay, he learned how to do these techniques. So why did he have to practice by doing hundreds of them during class? At least that’s what it felt like.
Finally he made it to Spanish 3. He sat down and looked for Scott but didn’t see him. He finally arrived, and took his usual seat just as the bell rang. Jason would have to wait until the class ended to talk to him. Scott looked around and, seeing Jason, smiled. Ms. Grimbauer started the class on vocabulary. Definitely not Jason’s favorite way to spend an entire seventh period. Fortunately, after fifteen minutes the vocabulary lesson ended and they switched to a reading exercise, with each student reading one paragraph from Roberto Bolano’s Spanish novel 2666. Eventually the bell ended Spanish 3 and the school day.
Jason walked to the front of the classroom to talk to Ms. Grimbauer.
“Hola, Jason. ¿Hay algo que yo pueda hacer por ti?” (“Hi, Jason. Is there something that I can do for you?”)
“¿Estaría bien si Scott y me quedé en el salón de clases por un tiempo para hablar?” (“Would it be okay if Scott and I stick around in the classroom for a while to talk?”)
Ms. Grimbauer switched to English. “I hope these meetings are related to helping each other with your Spanish.”
“Yes, ma’am. We’re going meet here to plan getting together this weekend to study for this class.”
“Alright. I have to leave now. You have a good meeting and a good evening. I’ll see you tomorrow, same time, same place. Please turn off the lights and close the door and make sure it’s locked when you leave.” She smiled, got up, and left the room.
Scott and Jason took seats at the back corner of the room alongside the windows. Scott looked outside.
“Nice day, isn’t it,” Scott said.
“Nice outside, but slow inside. I don’t think my classes have ever seemed as long as they have this afternoon. Probably because it’s spring break hangover.
“Okay, I have some things we need to talk about. Ron will be joining us in a few minutes. He had to go to his locker first. I’ve told you that he’s my boyfriend, but I haven’t told him that you’re gay. People should always out themselves, so I think it’s important for you to tell him soon after you meet him this afternoon.
“Then there’s something that happened today that totally blew me away. Three girls began chatting with Steve yesterday before school, and two of them did the same this morning. It seems that they figured out that he’s gay. This morning they asked him if he had a girlfriend or a boyfriend, and Steve told them neither but he would like to have a boyfriend. They got excited and said they’re going to help him find a boyfriend, and the bell rang so they had to go to their Homerooms.
“Ron and I had lunch with Steve, and after hearing about the girls’ plan I asked if he met anyone here at school who he’d be interested in.” Jason grinned, then continued. “He said there’s a guy in his Algebra 2 class, a guy who he thinks is really good looking.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “The guy’s name is Scott.”
Jason sat back and looked at Scott who seemed to be trying to process what he’d just been told.
“Steve is interested in me?”
“That’s exactly what he said. So I told him that you and I are friends and that we could get together on Saturday to go swimming and he could chat with you and see if the two of you hit it off. Are you available to come to my house on Saturday around noon and use the pool and chat with Steve?” Jason grinned.
“I can do that!” Scott said, then grinned. “This is amazing. I don’t believe it. But why did he seem so frightened when I tried to talk to him last month?”
“Steve has been suffering from a case of lack of self-confidence. Ron and I took it on as a project to help solve that problem. I think we’ve accomplished our objective.
“Now, there’s something else that’s come up. My sister Jen, she’s a sophomore but I think I already told you that. Anyway, she’s working on a project for English with another student in her class, a guy, Devin Elrich. He’s only been at Hillcrest for about a week. He moved here from Long Beach. Anyway, they’ll also be using the pool Saturday afternoon. Is that a problem?”
“I saw your pool and yard, and they’re both pretty big, plus you have the patio. We can probably be separate from your sister and her friend when we want to talk. Are they girlfriend-boyfriend?”
“No, my sister’s boyfriend is Tom Larsen, the basketball coach’s son. She and Devin were selected as partners for the English project. On Saturday if you ask them they’ll tell you about it. It’s actually a real interesting project, by the way.”
“Okay, who else will be there?”
“Just me and Ron. Unless you think having more people would be a good thing. I suggested Leshawn Cross and his cousin Kevin Cross. But now I’m thinking just the four of us would be better. The idea about having to get you and Steve together is setting it up so you and Steve can talk off by yourselves, with no one to interrupt you.”
“I just wondered because when we talked about Saturday you said there were two guys from a different high school that you might invite, and I know Leshawn goes to Hillcrest. I’m not sure about his cousin.”
“That’s when I thought you wouldn’t want to tell Steve that you’re gay right away. Now I don’t think that’s necessary. The two of you seem to be attracted to each other. So, with just you and Steve and me and Ron, there are only two people you have to out yourself to. Ron, who you’re going to tell in a few minutes, and Steve on Saturday. Unless you want to tell him sooner.”
“No, I’d rather tell Steve on Saturday. It’ll be less public than here at school.”
Ron walked in through the open door and walked over to where Jason and Scott were sitting. They stood up.
“Scott Menasco, this is Ron Cantham, my boyfriend.”
They bumped fists, then shook hands.
“Nice to meet you, Ron. Jase has told me about you.”
“Oh my god, I’m in trouble, aren’t I.” Ron laughed. “Nice to meet you too, Scott. I can’t believe it, here I am shaking the hand of and talking to the leading rusher on the Hillcrest varsity football team and you broke the league one season rushing record and you’re the first member of the football team that I’ve ever met and the first junior, too, and I’m a big fan, Scott.”
Scott smiled, then turned to Jason. “It does look like I have a fan!”
“You do, you absolutely do,” Ron responded with a smile that seemed to light up the room.
Jason interrupted. “Maybe we should cut out this love fest and let me update Ron about our change in plans.” That’s what he did, explaining that there would only be the four guys on Saturday, and that Jen and Devin would also be using the pool on Saturday afternoon.
“Ron,” Scott said, “I have something to tell you that’s very private. I’m gay. I told Jason, and I’m going to tell Steve on Saturday. You three will be the only ones at school who know.”
Ron smiled. “Hot damn, that’s so cool. So you’re going to tell Steve on Saturday?”
“That’s the plan,” Scott replied.
“That’s a good plan,” Jason said, and Ron nodded in agreement.
Scott turned to Jason. “Jase, I don’t think that there’s any reason for us to go to your house now. So, I’m gonna head home. I have a ton of homework, and I have to study for one of Ms. Wang’s Algebra 2 quizzes tomorrow.”
“I have some homework and studying to do as well,” Jason said. How about you, Ron? You have a lot of homework?”
“Not much. I have some Spanish 2, a short story to read that’s in Spanish, then I’m going to read the chapter we’re on in World History and Geography and the next one, too. I was able to finish my Algebra homework in class.”
“Ron, why don’t you come home with me and we’ll let my mom know about Saturday. Scott, I’ll phone you tonight with the time we’ll get together on Saturday. I’ll see you right here tomorrow, seventh period.”
Scott waked over to Jason, who wondered what he was about to do, and hugged him then let him go. “Thanks for everything, Jase. You’re a great friend.”
Jason grinned. “You’re a great friend too, Scott.”
Scott turned to his left and grabbed Ron in a hug then let him go. “I also have to hug my first fan, Ron. Nice meeting you and I’ll see you on Saturday, if not before.”
With that Scott grabbed his backpack and left the classroom.
“I’m his first fan? I don’t believe it. He’s gotta have a bunch of groupies, methinks.”
“I don’t know, Ron. Maybe what he means is you’re the first fan who’s told Scott that he’s a big fan.”
“Let’s head to my house then,” Ron said, “and I’ll drop my backpack and change clothes, then we can go to your house.”
So that’s what they did, and Jason made sure to turn off the classroom lights and pushed the button to lock the door and shut it on their way out.
When they arrived at Jason’s house his mom wasn’t home, and neither were Jen and Thea. Betty had left a note taped to the refrigerator door. Jason read it to Ron.
I’m taking Jen and Thea to the mall to shop for clothes. We’ll eat out and be home around 8:00 tonight. Your father won’t be home for dinner. He has a Caltrans meeting in Oakland and will be home around 9:30.
There’s some leftover meatloaf in the refrigerator, and fresh and frozen veggies that you can cook, and lettuce for a salad.
“Looks like I’ll have to wait until my Mom gets home to make sure we can use the pool Saturday along with Jen and Devin. But I don’t see any problem anyway.”
“So who’s this Devin guy? Do you know any more about him?”
“All I know is what you heard on the way to school this morning, and what Thea told us at breakfast this morning after Jen left. Turns out, according Thea who said Jen told her, that Devin is fifteen, he has emerald green eyes and dirty blond hair that’s spiked with sun bleached touches at the tips, and his teeth are super white. I saw him for maybe thirty seconds this morning when his mother came to pick up Jen to drive them to school. He’s way cute, and I think he must be gay. I assume that because he’s too cute to be straight.”
“And he’s going to be swimming with us on Saturday?”
“He might be in the pool at the same time, but he’s Jen’s guest so it’s sort of up to her if he’s in the pool at the same time as the four of us.”
“I can hardly wait until I see this blond god on Saturday.”
“Down boy! Like my dad told me this morning, ‘No double dipping, you already have a boyfriend.’ That made me laugh.”
“Double dipping? What’s that?”
“I guess it’s having two boyfriends at the same time. Not something I’d ever do, Ron.”
“Nor me, Jase.”
“Hey, you want to stay for dinner? I’m going to heat some meatloaf my mom made, and fix some boiled potatoes and zucchini and carrots. And a salad, if you’d like.”
“Sounds good. Lemme call my mom.”
Ron returned about two minutes later. “We’re all set. I have to be home by nine, but other than that we’re available to do anything we want until your mom gets home.” Ron wiggled his eyebrows.
“Horndog!” Jason said, then he grinned.
“Yup. Of course, that’s something I’ve never denied.”
“Well, fixing dinner won’t take more than twenty minutes, and it’s only four o’clock and that’s way too early to start. I need to drop my backpack in my room and change into something more casual anyway. So let’s head upstairs.”
Ron grinned. “All right! Let’s do it!”
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