How many kids meet and become best friends that first day
and remain best friends — and more — through the present day, ten years later?
It took ten minutes to drive from Damon’s house to Las Lomas High School. They didn’t see any buses yet, but that was to be expected since they weren’t supposed to arrive for another twenty minutes. There were two other cars in the parking lot at the front of the school. They walked over to talk to the parents who were waiting for their sons to arrive from Long Beach.
“Have you heard an update about when the buses will arrive?” The woman, whom Damon didn’t know, asked. “Alan called about forty-five minutes ago and said they were in Pleasanton.”
“Yes, we called the bus company and were told that the bus should arrive at five o’clock.” Damon said. “I’m Damon Wilkins, and this is my sister Cathy Rogers. We’re waiting for Wayne Simmons. He won the 160 pound weight class.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Barbara Gross, and this is my husband, Henry.”
“What weight class does your son compete in?” Damon asked.
“220 pound,” Henry said. “Actually, he’s not our son, he’s our grandson. He’s living with us. His father’s in Afghanistan and his mother died two years ago. I’m not sure you’d know him, his name is Alan Gross. He’s a senior this year. Have you heard how our boys did in the competition?”
“Yeah, it was in this morning’s Times. Las Lomas took the state championship. We took first place in four weight classes, the 138, 160, 195, and 220. I remember seeing Alan’s name and that he took first place in the 220. We took enough seconds and thirds in all of the other weight classes that we finished in first place in the team competition. Las Lomas holds this year’s state wrestling championship. That’s very cool!”
“I tried to find information on the Internet,” Henry said, “but I was unsuccessful. I’m afraid I don’t know how to use the Internet very well. I’m so happy to hear that Alan won a first place.”
While they were chatting, they were joined by parents from the other car that was in the parking lot. There was a general discussion of the results of the matches, and the success that the Las Lomas wrestling team had in Long Beach. As everyone chatted, more parents and friends arrived to meet and greet members of the wrestling team.
“Look, here come the buses,” Cathy said.
Everyone turned to look where Cathy was pointing and began moving toward where the buses were pulling in. They could see that the first bus had the wrestling team members. Damon moved in the direction of that bus, and he saw Cathy moving toward the bus containing fans who had gone to Long Beach to see the competition.
The coaches exited the first bus, followed by members of the team. One coach had a clipboard and checked off their names as they exited. The third boy off the bus was Wayne. He waved when he saw Damon, and they moved through the crowd to greet each other. Cathy had seen Wayne get off the bus, and she rushed over to join her brother and his boyfriend. Damon and Wayne hugged, then Cathy hugged Wayne as well.
“Congratulations, Wayne! It’s so cool that you won first place in the 160. We are really glad to see you,” Damon exclaimed. “When you didn’t call back we weren’t sure where you guys were. Then today when you weren’t back and still hadn’t called us, Cathy and I sort of freaked. Cathy thought you’d missed the bus.”
“So, asshole, why didn’t you call us?” Cathy demanded. But she was smiling, too.
“Cathy! Language, please!” Damon grinned, enjoying feeding her earlier rebuke back at her.
Wayne looked startled, and stared at Damon.
“Ignore him, Wayne, and just answer my question!” Cathy demanded.
“I lost my cellphone. It hope it’s in my gym bag, but last night when we crashed at the motel I couldn’t find it. I fell asleep on the bus and almost couldn’t wake up when we got to the motel, so when I looked for it most likely I just missed it. My smartphone isn’t very big, you know. I’m sure I’ll find it when I unpack my stuff at home.”
“Where’s Bob Ho?” I asked.
“I don’t know. His folks probably met him to drive him home.”
“No, I talked to David, Bob’s brother, and we’re supposed to drop him off at his house.”
“We better find him, then,” Wayne said.
That started a search for Bob Ho. Cathy kept making comments about how wrestlers seemed to get lost one way or the other. As parents and others began leaving with their kids, Wayne finally spotted Bob standing alone. Wayne walked over and talked to him for a few seconds, then led him to where Damon and Cathy were waiting.
“Hey, Bob,” Cathy said. “I’m going to drive you home.”
“Hi, Cathy, and Damon. Thanks loads. I thought my folks would be here to pick me up.”
“David told me they had to go to Sacramento this morning to see your aunt who broke her hip,” Damon said.
“Jeez, they could have called to let me know.”
“Do you have your cellphone with you?” Cathy asked.
“Yeah, it’s in my…” he felt his pants pockets. “Oh shit, it’s in my gym bag. I wouldn’t have heard it when they called me. Thanks for offering to take me home.”
Wayne opened his gym bag and was rooting around in it, trying to find his own cellphone.
Coach Miller was standing next to them where he’d been checking off names of the team members on a clipboard, and heard what Cathy said to Bob.
“I’d like to thank you for taking Bob home. That way I can go directly home and see my family.”
“Are there any other guys on the team who don’t have a ride home?” Wayne asked.
“No one’s come up asking for a ride. Everyone seems to have hooked up with parents or friends.”
“Coach, I lost my cellphone,” Wayne said. “It’s not in my gym bag. Did anyone turn one in to you or one of the other coaches?”
“No. I’d suggest you get back on the bus before it leaves and see if it’s on the seat or floor where you were sitting.”
“Good idea, Coach,” Wayne responded.
As he started to get on the bus, Cathy shouted, “Look all over on the floor. Cellphones are slippery, and it could have slid anywhere.”
“Good idea,” he said as he disappeared onto the bus.
Damon saw his boyfriend talking to the bus driver who handed him a flashlight. “Should I go help him search?” he asked Cathy.
“Do you have a flashlight?” She asked.
He pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and held down the Home button and the flashlight app turned on. He pointed the phone at Cathy’s feet. “See, it works good!”
Damon got on the bus. After a few minutes she heard him shout, “I found it!”
They got off the bus and walked over to where Cathy was waiting. “I assume you returned the flashlight to the driver?” she asked Wayne.
“Of course. Do you think he’d have let me get off if I hadn’t?” He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
“Where’d Bob go?” Damon asked.
“He’s waiting by the car. We’d better get over there. I think he’s about to fall asleep where he’s standing.”
“I can understand that,” Wayne said. “Me, too.”
“Wayne, you remember we’re having our tenth anniversary and birthday party tonight, don’t you?” Damon asked.
“Of course. The sooner I get to your house and can shower and take a nap, the sooner I’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed — not necessarily in that order — in time for the party.”
Cathy reached Bob before the two birthday boys did. When they caught up to her, she turned to speak to them. “Okay, Bob told me where he lives, it’s north of Treat. So, we’ll go by our house and drop off Wayne.” She stared at him. “That’s so you can clean up and take a nap. Damon and I will take Bob home and return to our house.”
Damon made a face at her. She knew exactly what he meant. “Damon, you’re coming with me. That way Wayne can shower and get some sleep without any distractions.”
Damon looked at Wayne. “Oh, all right, if you have to,” he whined.
“She has to,” Wayne said, and then he yawned.
The exchange made Bob laugh. He started singing part of the song ‘You Belong to Me’, “Hey, what ya doin’ with a guy like that?” to Wayne — substituting ‘guy’ for ‘girl’ in the lyrics — which made Damon growl at him. That made all four of them laugh.
By the time they’d dropped Bob off at his house and returned home, their mom was there getting things ready for the party.
“Don’t bother Wayne,” she warned Damon. “He’s asleep. We want him rested before the others arrive for the party.
“Hey, Mom,” Damon said as they walked into the kitchen. “Is there something Cathy and I can do to help?”
“How about the two of you put both extensions in the dining room table and set it for fourteen? Then bring in four chairs from the breakfast room and put two at each end so we can actually seat fourteen people.”
It took them about fifteen minutes to get the table and chairs set up and the place settings ready.
“Man, it’s lucky that we have such a huge table!” Damon said, looking at what they’d accomplished. Then they went looking for their mom again.
“Anything else we can do to help?” Cathy asked her.
“Do you want to see the cake? I was going to check it to make sure it didn’t get banged around on the drive home.”
“Isn’t it bad luck to see an anniversary cake or a birthday cake ahead of time?” Damon asked.
“I think you’re getting confused with the groom not seeing the bride in her wedding gown until she’s escorted into the church,” Cathy replied.
“Cathy’s right,” their mom said. “There’s no reason you can’t see the cake and make sure it’s okay. Maybe your name was misspelled.”
“Yeah, maybe they left the ‘o’ out,” Cathy added, with a smirk.
Damon gave his sister a look and that make her laugh. “Let’s go ahead and open the box,” she suggested.
“Okay, but let me do it!” Damon demanded.
He opened the large cake box. “Wow! What a great looking cake! The frosting is fantastic. I love that big ’10 Years Together Damon and Wayne’ in the center.”
His mom pointed at the top of the cake. “Notice the dots of green frosting? That’s where we’re putting the candles. They outline the digits ‘1’ and ‘7’ for your seventeenth birthdays. Each of you will blow out one set of candles. You and Wayne have to decide which is which.”
“I don’t care,” Damon said. “I’ll let Wayne choose.”
“I hope you’re not going to have one of those ‘It’s your day to choose’ arguments,” she said, glaring at her son.
“Which parents are coming?” Cathy asked her mom, changing the subject.
“Your father and I, Wayne’s mother and father, and Cam’s mother. His father had to work, but he said he’d figure a way to get out early and join us before the cake is served.”
“That’s nice. I’m glad you guys are going to be there,” Damon said. “Too bad you’ll be eating by yourselves at the table in the family room.”
“Even if the dining room table was larger, I think it’s best if it’s just you kids together. It’s your anniversary and your birthdays, and everyone who you invited was at your seventh birthday party.”
Instead of usual pizza, there were ribs and brisket and sausages with all of the “fixin’s” from Damon and Wayne’s favorite barbeque joint, with age-appropriate beverages. Followed, of course, by the birthday cake and ice cream.
When everyone was finished eating and the table had been cleared, the parents joined the party and gifts were opened. They had to be $10.00 or under, and they included posters for each of them that read “After 16 It’s All Downhill” and a book titled “101 Wrong Answers for the AP Calculus Exam” for Damon and one titled “101 Wrong Answers for the AP Physics Exam” for Wayne. There were CDs and DVDs, wood and metal puzzles that were hard to take apart but harder to put back together, and a jigsaw puzzle of Wayne’s image for Damon and one of Damon for Wayne.
After all the gifts were opened Cathy announced, “And now, as usual, we will have the annual reading describing how Damon and Wayne met. This year it’s special, since it’s the tenth anniversary of that event. The reading will alternate, and Damon will begin.”
Damon: “I was having a party for my seventh birthday. Of course, at seven years old my mom did all of the planning and heavy lifting.”
Wayne: “Cameron Muñoz brought me with him to Damon’s birthday party because I had moved in next door to Cam the day before, and it was also my seventh birthday.”
Damon: “Wayne didn’t know any kids in our neighborhood, except Cam.”
Wayne: “So I couldn’t have a regular birthday party with a bunch of friends, since I didn’t have many friends yet. In fact, I didn’t have any except Cam.”
Damon: “I thought it was neat that Cam brought this kid with flaming red hair and the same birthday as me. I immediately liked him. A lot!”
Wayne: “And I liked Damon, too. A lot!”
Damon: “There weren’t any birthday presents for Wayne, except one that Cam brought for him. I figured out how he could have more than one birthday present.”
Wayne: “When I found out what Damon did it amazed me. He arranged with his sister Cathy to take half of the gifts kids had brought him and put new tags on them with my name.”
Damon: “She let the kids whose gifts had been redirected know what we were doing and why. They all said it was a neat idea.”
Wayne: “When they announced it was time for birthday presents to be opened we alternated, one for Damon to open, then one for me to open.”
Damon: “Wayne’s first birthday present was the one Cam brought for him. Then there was a second birthday present for me and one for Wayne, a third for me and one for Wayne, and so on.”
Wayne: “I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy when they told me it was Damon’s idea.”
Damon: “My friends thought it was the most fun birthday party ever.”
Wayne: “I thought it was the best birthday party ever. And my best birthday present was Damon.”
Damon: “And Wayne was my best birthday present. I mean, how many kids get another kid as a birthday present? We did, and it was awesome!”
Wayne: “From then on Wayne and I were like twins, attached at the hip. We did everything together.”
Damon: “We slept at each other’s homes and almost always slept together.”
Wayne: “I think that, even at seven years old, we were actually starting to fall in love with each other.”
Damon: “And our love grew each year, year after year.”
Wayne: “When we started middle school most of our friends assumed we were gay and were boyfriends.”
Damon: “So we decided to come out, and announced that we were boyfriends. All of our friends were happy for us and thought it was cool.”
Wayne: “We never had any problems in middle school or Las Lomas High. Everyone’s accepted us.”
Damon: “And our parents and siblings have accepted us, too.”
Wayne: “And now we’re juniors in high school, ten years later, and celebrating our tenth anniversary together and our seventeenth birthdays.”
Damon: “Still together, still sleeping at each other’s homes.”
Wayne: “And in love, madly in love, with each other.”
Damon: “And that, friends, siblings, and parents…”
Wayne: “…is the end of today’s reading.”
The two boys pulled together in a hug and kissed. It was a chaste kiss — just lips, no tongue, no moans. And even though they wanted it to last longer, it didn’t last more than a few seconds.
As usual, their friends and siblings and parents all applauded and cheered.
“Now,” Wayne said, “what I want to do is give special thanks to Cameron Muñoz for being my best friend.”
“And for being my best friend, too,” Damon added.
“Stand up, Cam!” Wayne shouted.
He did, and he was blushing.
Damon started, “Without Cameron Muñoz, we wouldn’t be having this party…”
And Wayne finished, “…so, let’s give our best friend a huge round of applause!”
Everyone applauded — including Cam, who remained standing and bowed several times as he turned in a circle so he was able to face everyone. That made everyone laugh and cheer.
“Everyone, your attention, please,” Paul Simmons, Wayne’s dad, announced. “We have something else to celebrate today. The Las Lomas High School wrestling team returned from Long Beach where they won the California Team Championship, and my son, Wayne Simmons, won all of his weight class matches and is the 160 pound state champion. I’d like to present the first-place 160 pound class state championship medal to him.”
The medal was on a ribbon like the ones they give at the Olympics; of course, instead of gold the medal was made of bronze. Mr. Simmons hung the medal around Wayne’s neck, then hugged his son.
“Wow! Just wow! Dad, how did you get my medal?” Wayne asked.
“Coach Miller dropped by the house with your medal on his way home tonight. He figured I’d want to give it to you at the party. I’m glad he did.”
“How did Coach Miller know about tonight’s party?”
Cathy answered Wayne’s question. “When Damon and I were at Las Lomas waiting to pick you up I saw Coach Miller and told him about tonight’s party, and asked him if we could have Wayne’s championship medal. He told me he had them packed in his luggage, and he’d find it and drop it off at your house on his way home.”
“I was home,” Mr. Simmons continued, “and Coach Miller came by and gave me all of Wayne’s medals. This state championship medal is the most important, so Wayne, I brought it here to give it to you so you could show it to your friends. Being able to turn it into a presentation at this party made it much more special.”
Wayne and Mr. Simmons received applause and cheers, and everyone wanted to see Wayne’s medal.
Cam cleared his throat, loudly. “Alright, I have a question for Wayne and Damon. Since the celebration of your tenth anniversary and of your seventeenth birthdays and of Wayne’s wrestling championship competition are over, what are you two going to do now?”
Damon started to laugh. “You probably think we’re going to say something like they do on those ads on TV, ‘We’re going to Disneyland!’ But if so, you are so, so, wrong. Wayne, what are we going to do?”
“We are going to go upstairs, take a shower, and get into bed,” Wayne said. “And what else, Damon?”
“We’re going to get into my bed, make sure the alarm isn’t set, turn off the lights, and… well, let’s just leave it at that. We don’t want to embarrass the adults amongst us, do we, Wayne?”
“I don’t know… why not?” He smirked at the group of parents standing at one end of the table. They covered their ears and rushed back to the family room to the raucous laughter of the teens.
“Wow, we certainly know how to clear a room, don’t we,” Damon said. That caused more laughter, followed by a repeating rant of, “Tell us! Tell us! Tell us! Tell us!” that increased in volume to the point where Cathy left the room, laughing, with her ears covered.
When it wound down, Cam asked, “Well? Are you going to tell us what you’re going to do after you take a shower together?”
“We never said we were going to take a shower together,” Damon responded. “Though that is an interesting idea!”
“We just assumed that’s what you’d do. That way you’d be able to wash each other’s backs… and… fronts!” Eric said. That caused more of the “Tell us! Tell us!” rant.
“Alright, alright!” Damon said. “Marty, check to make sure nobody is in the kitchen listening to us.”
Marty stepped to the kitchen door. “Clear! They’re all in the family room,” he reported.
“Gather around,” Damon said. “I’m not going to say this very loudly. I don’t want our parents to hear.” Then he said in a stage whisper, “We’re going to get naked, shower together, get into bed together, turn off the lights, and… then…”
Wayne finished in the same kind of stage whisper, “…we… are… going… to… SLEEP!” He shouted the last word, and was met with a round of booing.
Damon yawned. “The rest,” he said, “is left to your fertile imaginations. And because we know what you guys think about, we don’t want to hear any of it!”
The booing continued and with that, Damon and Wayne covered their ears and, laughing, ran upstairs.
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