We were in high school, a private all boys' school, and my friend Francis had a boyfriend named Jon. It was a weird set-up; a secret relationship, which everyone knew about. Perhaps it would be better to say that it wasn't a secret relationship; more an affair which they denied but everyone knew just the same. Like a showbiz affair, except the people weren't as famous.
I was sitting in a stone park bench one lazy afternoon when I saw Francis. He was flustered, and his movements were slightly manic. I didn't want to impose on his panic, or be part of it honestly, but he walked up to me and started to talk.
"I can't believe this is happening," he said, eyes slightly in tears.
"What?" I asked.
"Jon wouldn't talk to me anymore. I don't know what to do."
Now, being 15, and closeted, I really didn't know what to say. Also, the relationship he was referring to was supposed to be a non-existent one so I didn't know if I should admit I know or not.
"Uhm, are you ok?" I said instead.
"No!" The vehemence was surprising. " He wouldn't even talk to me." There were tears now. "If I knew he would break up with me, I would have hooked up with Jeff instead."
Francis had a lot of secret admirers. Which everyone knew about. The dynamics of high school gay relationships escape me, not being a part of it myself.
I knew I was going to regret saying this, but said it anyway. "What do you want me to do?" My head was really shouting "Damnit, damnit, damnit. You're such a doormat."
Francis, still in tears, told me, "Maybe you can talk to Jon for me."
Ok, so I have problems with talking with people, especially Jon in particular. First, I'm terribly, awfully socially awkward, which was at its peak in high school. Second, I didn't know Jon. I don't even take the time to say hi to him. Third, I've worked so hard to cultivate the image of a snob (in order to hide the feelings of a loser) to throw it away on something as silly as this. But no, instead I said something like this, "Ok."
Good lord. I was such a pushover.
So there I was, in the basketball court. There was a game ongoing. I saw Jon, who, incidentally, was with my classmate Percy. "This is going to be bad," I thought. Not only did I not know Jon, which would make the conversation awkward and embarrassing, I actually knew Percy, so there would be a witness to my embarrassment who can tell other people what happened. I looked behind me and saw Francis a few feet away, eyes expectant. I swallowed my pride and walked to Jon.
"Uhm, hi Jon. Hi Percy."
They looked at me in a weird way, as if I just decided to spit on them. But then Percy smiled and said hi. Jon followed a beat after.
I didn't know how to start so I said this, "Uhm, yea, Francis sent me to talk to you." Percy started whispering in Jon's ear. I had no idea what he was saying.
"Ah right," he replied.
"So, uhm, yea."
"Uhm, uhm, so, I guess you haven't been talking to him?" I didn't mean for that to be a question, but it became one.
"No, I'm just really busy these days."
"Ah, that's fair." And probably not true. No one's busy in high school. Everyone skipped homework except for the few smart ones everyone copied from. "So, you're not avoiding Francis?"
"No, no, why would I?" He smiled. A half-hearted one.
I didn't know what to say. It was too awkward, but I didn't know him enough to see if he was lying.
"Ok great, I guess I'll tell that to Francis then."
"You do that," Jon said. Then he and Percy went back to watching the varsity players play their practice game.
That was it I guess. No more to be said. I was just happy it was over.
I walked back to Francis. I saw him, still slightly manic, eyes expectant and glistening. I didn't want to be the one to break his heart so instead I said, "It's ok. He's just busy. He'll talk to you soon."
Photo taken here.