Several weeks ago, one of my friends on Facebook suggested I write a post about my high school crush. The timing was interesting because at the same time the suggestion was made I was just finishing up the final touches of my first book, The Before Now and After Then, before it went to print. The reason the coincidence was so strange was because the entire idea for my first novel came solely from five minutes I spent with my high school crush, almost exactly twenty-five years ago.
Last fall, I wrote a post on my old blog title The Gay Boy, in which I described my feelings about being seen as gay in high school. Mind you, this was 1987-1990, and at that time, it was not highly suggested for anyone to come out in high school. Quite frankly, if my days were already difficult enough from being bullied and teased, they would have been completely intolerable if I had come out. One of my best friends from high school read the post and suggested that I write a modernized version of my high school experience.
This sparked an interest to really discover who I was during those adolescent years and how far I’ve come since then. I thought about the gorgeous girlfriend I had who later came out as a lesbian. I thought about the hot boys I probably should have been looking at but was too afraid because then they would know I was gay. I thought about how, unlike my straight counterparts, I was unable to date, fall in love, make out, have sex and find any kind of real relationship in high school because of my fear of coming out. I was cheated out of those experiences.
If you went to high school with me, you’re probably dying to know who it was that entertained my dreams and kept me up at night, so I’ll get to it. You won’t be very excited and most of you probably won’t even know who I’m talking about. Sometimes I even wonder if he was ever real.
During my junior year in high school, I wrecked my car on icy road right before Christmas. When we returned back to school after the break, I was forced to get rides from my parents. Every day I would stand outside, my back against a brick wall in front of our school, waiting for my mom or dad. A few days into the new semester, I looked over and saw this guy standing about five feet away from me. I had never seen him before. He was tan and had crazy hair and was obviously a skater by the look of his clothes. He carried a green backpack and smiled at me with big pouty lips and dark eyes shaded by Ray Bans, long before they were cool.
He was cool, he was beautiful, he was mysterious and I wanted to know everything about him. I would stay awake late at night thinking about him and “wondering” what he was doing. I wondered what his bedroom looked like, what his family was like, what music he listened to, what his favorite books were and where he was from. Most of all, I wondered if he wondered about me.
I finally broke down and told my best friend Shell about my obsession. I was careful, even to my best friend, to not say I had a crush on him. Of course not, I just “wondered” about him. She did a little investigating and found out his name and that he had moved to our school during the Christmas break. But that was all of the information she knew; he remained a mystery.
Every day for the next month, we stood next to each other, leaning against that wall waiting for our rides. Finally one day, he walked over to me and took off his sunglasses.
“Cool hair,” he said.
“You too,” I answered, nervous as hell that I was actually talking to my dream guy.
He reached into his pocket and took out a pack of Teaberry gum, handing me a piece. I took the wrapper off carefully, placing it gently in my pocket before putting the gum in my mouth.
“Thanks,” I said.
He smiled, more of a sly smirk, and put his sunglasses back on.
A week later I got a new car and didn’t need to stand out front and wait for a ride. I searched for him everywhere in the halls of my school, but he was nowhere to be found.
Finally, a month later, I saw him across the gym at a school assembly. We stared at each other the whole time and I desperately wanted to talk to him. I tried to figure out a way to find out if he was gay or if he liked me, but there was no way to do that without outing myself. My fear of dealing with my own sexuality kept me stuck. I couldn’t possibly pursue anything with a guy when I couldn’t even admit I liked guys. That was my truth.
A week later, my friend came back with new news. My crush had moved away. I would never see him again. I never got a chance to talk to him again and I never got to find out what would have happened or what might have happened if I would have had the balls to take a risk. It’s funny to look back and realize that everyone already knew I was gay anyway, so my coming out wouldn’t have been a surprise and I wish I could have found the confidence to be myself. But being in the closet, missing out on so many opportunities, has allowed me to love being gay and be proud of myself today. Thankfully, I came out at 18 so I didn’t miss out on too many experiences.
Twenty-five years later, I still wonder about him. In fact, I still have the gum wrapper tucked away in a box with all of my high school pictures, notes and memories. I know I’ll never see him again and probably wouldn’t even recognize him if I did. He probably was never gay in the first place. But my five minutes with him made me start to wonder what would have happened if I had talked to him. What would have been the end of the story?
I’ll guess you’ll have to read my book to find out….