My friendship with Jack had deepened by the day after he told me about his past. I felt as drawn to him as a moth to light. I didn't have words for my feelings. I didn't really have conscious thoughts about it. I just felt the need to be with him, to know about him, to understand him. I was fascinated by everything he did, his every mannerism. I found myself doing things just to try to please him.
He called me on it one Sunday when we were fishing at a little pond near where we lived. I kept looking at him. I was memorizing details, even though I'd memorized them a hundred times before.
"You're staring at me."
"You do it all the time. Am I that weird?"
I wanted to tell him he was fascinating. That I fantasized about the things he'd done with those other boys. That I found myself wanting to do those same things with him.
"You're not weird. I like you."
"I like you, too. You're the only friend I've got. So what's the deal?"
"Jack ... don't get mad. What's being gay all about? What's it like?"
"Those are two different things. It's about guys liking other guys ... loving other guys. Or girls loving other girls. That's kinda all. I heard a lot in therapy. It's just part of who you are, and not even a big part. Take some famous guy that says he screwed a thousand girls in ten years. It doesn't take that long to get laid. That's probably one percent of those ten years, and that's for a major horn dog. For most people it's less than that. It shouldn't be a big deal. I think you're askin' the wrong guy what it's like. What I did wasn't really about being gay ... well, it was a gay thing to do. I was young and dumb, and I was more like a whore than anything else. I never loved any of those guys, hell I didn't know most of them. I was using them and they were using me. We were all being idiots."
"The first part ... the love stuff. You never loved anybody?"
"I love some people, but not like that. You know, my family and stuff. And you."
"You love me?"
"You're my best friend ... I do love you."
"But which way ... I mean how do you love me?"
He thought for a while. "I'm not sure how to say it. I love you for you, first ... I mean you're friendly and fun to be with, and you treat me fine. You never get mad, and you're always doin' things for me. But I love other things, too. You're always so happy. Everything makes you happy. You make me happy. I love that. You learn everything about everybody, but you never gossip. It's like you just want to know to be sure everything's ok. You got your own personal ray of sunshine or something. And you don't try to keep it to yourself - you shine it on everybody. That's how I love you. That's why I love you."
"Why I asked is ... oh shit, Jack ... Jacky. Shit! Jacky, I love you. I mean I LOVE you ... that kinda love. I need you, Jack. I want to be with you." I was looking right into his eyes, which began forming tears as soon as I said it.
"Mike ... Mike? Do you think you're gay, too?"
"I don't know. I don't know enough about it, but I think I must be. I know I love you, like different than anybody else. I think about you all the time, even when you're right here. I miss you if you just go home to eat. I worry about you. It's ... all I want in life is to love you and you to love me back."
"Mike, I can't believe you! All this time I've been trying to just be friends with you 'cause I like you so much. I was trying to keep all my queer thoughts out of it. They kept tellin' me to go after you and I wouldn't listen, didn't listen. I didn't want to wreck everything. I'm ... I'm. Damn! You don't know, though ... about yourself. For real, I mean. You could just be thinkin' it. I still got some of the tests from counseling. You should fill one out - it's to help real young kids figure things out. I got it at home. I can cut off my answers and you can do it yourself!"
"Why do I need a test?"
"You need to know ... I need to know ... if you're really gay or just ... I can't remember the word. Anyhow, everybody goes through like curiosity things, and you could hate me later if that's all it is."
"I won't hate you."
We fell into a hug. This was a love hug for me. My first. Different than the way we'd hugged before, which was always quick and friendly. I was rubbing his back and he was rubbing mine. It felt good to be feeling him and have him feeling me back. We held it for a long time before riding to his house.
He took some time finding the test, then he cut off his answer part and taped the rest to blank paper, where he put in the headings for the answers. It was one of those 'Would you rather ....' things with boxes one through five that meant 'never, infrequently, frequently, most-of-the-time, and all-of-the-time'. It was a big test, about two hundred questions. And it was tricky. You'd answer a question, then there it was again five questions later, worded a little differently, but the questions in between might have made you think differently this time. When I finished, Jack, of course, didn't have the material the counselors used to make recommendations. All he had was his old test, and our answer patterns were very much the same. The only place that was really different dealt with teaching. I had mostly yes type answers and Jack's were mostly no's. We figured that was probably because I had two little sisters and he didn't really know any young kids.
Anyhow, he had the evaluation report they wrote about him from that test, and we determined that I had the same likelihood of becoming an adult homosexual as he did. Eighty percent.
"So, what's it mean, Jack?"
"That you're probably gay like me."
"Is that a good thing?"
"It's not good or bad. It's just a thing. Part of who you are. It might be a hard thing, I mean a lot of people don't like gays."
"I know that. I hear junk at school. I shouldn't tell anybody, huh?"
"That's up to you. You're tight with your Dad. My parents found out in the worst way, but I was so little they were mostly just scared for me. I was a little kid, but now they're used to it and it doesn't seem to matter. I don't know what they'd think if it was now, and I was hiding it. You can talk to my Dad and see what he thinks."
"No. I think I'll talk to Ray, and if he thinks it's okay, I'll tell Dad."
"Sounds good. Mike?"
"How about another hug?"
We cuddled together cheek to cheek for about fifteen minutes, then I went home to talk to Raymond.
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