“So, what do you mean your and Mr. Henderson’s strategy
worked for a while?” Phil asked me.
“Well, Beth Ann and I were spending a lot of time together,
and I guess, even though I still had a tough time believing that we were
actually dating, that’s what it was. It seemed like everyone we knew
made comments about what a cute couple we were, and so that’s when I
started really wondering if maybe God was answering Dottie Henderson’s
“Actually, it was Dalton who kind of convinced me to date
Beth Ann. We were just hangin’ out one Sunday afternoon, and he like
started to ask me if I still liked guys. He was really kind of down on
himself, because he had asked four different girls out since becoming a
Christian, and all he ever thought about when he was with them, was how
much he wanted to date this really hot guy at school, who he thought
might be gay.
“He and his dad had a pretty open relationship with each
other, and so after he told his dad about his struggle, he decided that
if he couldn’t find the right girl to date, he just wouldn’t date
anyone. That’s when he started whining to me about, ‘if he just had a
friend like Beth Ann, things would be different.’
“It was kind of weird, because I just started thinking that
maybe I should just go with the flow, and see what happened. I was
actually starting to think how cool it would be if we somehow became
roommates. I guess that’s when I started thinking about how much she
meant to me – and I guess that’s when I actually started wondering what…
You know… what it would be like to do it with her. …I mean, with her,
being that she was a girl.
“Phil? Do you remember that time you tried to tell me about
how unstable gay relationships are?”
“Don’t remind me. You almost knocked my lights out when I
told you that. I was such a jerk.”
“No. I mean, I remembered that you told me that if I was
looking for someone to settle down with, that I should consider dating a
“I told you that?”
“Yeah. And when I started thinking about it, I started
wondering if you were right – like maybe I would be happier in the end
if I married Beth Ann some day.
“Alex, you could like go on dates with her, and it
wouldn’t even seem like you had to try to be interested in her, ‘cause
you’re just are,” Dalton told me one evening when we were alone.
“Are what,” I asked him.
“You know… you’re just really good friends. You wouldn’t
even have to pretend it was a date, because it would just be like two
good friends hangin’ out with each other.”
“Dalton, that would be like lying.”
“No it wouldn’t.”
“Yes it would. You can’t just go out, like you’re dating,
when only one of you is actually interested in being together in the
“Maybe God would change your mind if you started getting to
know her better,” he told me.
“Wow. Talk about getting broad-sided. Instead of talking my
way out of the corner he was painting me into, I just got lost in what
he said. It was like Dalton was telling me something that I couldn’t see
“Later that night, Bill and Dottie had cornered me too. I
don’t know if the kid had told them about the conversation we had had
earlier, but they started telling me that maybe it was time to tackle
another giant in my life, and ask Beth Ann out on an official date.
I can still hear Dottie telling me, “You never know what
God can do until you try something, Alex. Up until now, you’ve believed
that all girls were bad, because of the way your mom treated you. But I
can tell you that, thank God, there are very few women on this planet
who would try to convince their son to do the things your mom wanted you
to do just because they had their heart set on having a girl. Alex, your
mom isn’t normal. I don’t mean she’s a bad person. It’s just that she
let her imagination get the best of her. And in the process, she hurt
you very badly. Maybe part of the healing process for you is to forgive
her, and just move on.
“I’m making a pan of lasagna for supper on Tuesday, why
don’t you see if Beth Ann would come along with you,” she told me. “Then
after Youth Group, take her out for a snack.”
“I remember I nearly dropped my cell phone twice as I was
dialing Beth Ann’s number that next Monday afternoon. When the call
connected, I prayed that she wouldn’t answer, so I could honestly tell
Dottie that I had tried. It was a very short prayer, because Beth Ann
picked up on the first ring.”
“H… hi… umm …” I froze.
“Alex, is something wrong?”
“Ah… no. I mean, ah… well, there’s this dinner… you like
“Well, maybe you should try Mrs. Henderson’s, then.” My
words were getting so mixed up.
“Okay-y-y-y,” she said rather pensively. “Like, when would
I get the chance to do that?”
“Alex, are you trying to invite me to the Henderson’s for
“Umm… yeah, and then like after Youth Group, then…” I
“After Youth Group, what?” I could almost hear her
laughing, as she said it.
“After Youth Group, maybe we could stop somewhere and…
Study,” I blurted.
“You want to stop somewhere to study?” She was so sweet,
because she was really trying to help me out. “Alex, why don’t we go to
‘The Scoop’ for ice cream after youth Group? They have wifi, so we could
“Okay,” I meekly agreed.
“So, dinner’s at the Henderson’s tomorrow, then?”
“Oh… yeah, I guess so.”
That Tuesday afternoon came before I was ready for it, but
I stopped by Beth Ann’s dorm, and we walked to the Henderson’s for our
first dinner date. By the time we got to our destination, Beth Ann had
completely calmed my nerves, and I was actually looking forward to
spending the evening with her. I saw Dalton watching every move I made
at the dinner table, and whenever no one was looking, he gave me the
“thumbs up” signal, and winked at me.
We didn’t get back to school until after midnight, and I
wondered why I had been so nervous. Maybe Dalton had been right about a
date being nothing more than spending time with a good friend.
After that, Tuesday nights became a regular date night for
us. I still wasn’t willing to actually call them dates, but we sure had
a lot of fun – and we sure were getting to know a lot about each other.
I felt like we were somehow destined to be soul mates, and I was
actually starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t mind spending the rest
of my life with her, even if I never managed to be able to have sex with
It was around mid-terms of first semester when I saw my
former boyfriend, Eddie Herrera, on campus. The first time I saw him, I
thought I was just imagining things. I was on my way to the library to
do some research for a project that was due before mid-terms, and this
Latino guy, with a tie-dyed tee shirt just like the one’s that Eddie
used to wear, came bouncing out of the door – just the way Eddie used to
do it. The guy had a goatee, but looked so much like my former lover
that I impulsively turned my head and walked in the opposite direction,
hoping that if it was him, he wouldn’t see me.
The second time I saw him, I wasn’t so lucky. I was in the
café eating lunch, and when I looked across the room, he was sitting
there staring at me. As soon as he saw that I recognized him, he got
this huge grin on his face, and mouthed some words to me, that looked
like “I found you.”
If he had just smiled at me and come over to talk, I don’t
think I would have panicked. But what could he possible mean by telling
me that? I didn’t wait to find out. Suddenly feeling wet and clammy all
over, I grabbed my sandwich and chocolate milk and stood up so fast my
chair went over backwards. My hands full, I looked at the chair for and
instant, and then made a hasty exit from the building.
All that next week, it seemed like I saw Eddie everywhere I
went on campus. Sometimes he was with another guy, and sometimes he was
alone, but he always seemed to be aware of me whenever I noticed him.
Mid November, Friday the thirteen to be exact, is when my
world came unglued. That’s the day he cornered me in the library.
“Hey there lover boy,” he greeted me, as he snuck up behind
me. Those were the words he had always used when he wanted to get alone
with me, our junior year of high school.
Memories of good times flooded my mind.
I was speechless.
He was suave.
I began to sweat profusely.
He touched my shoulders.
I squeaked, “No…”
He told me he still had feelings for me.
I shook my head from side to side.
He backed off.
“It’s okay Alex. I can take a hint,” he lamented, as if it
had been me that had broken his heart instead of the other way
around. “All I really want to do is apologize to you for being a jerk.”
I should have known Eddie well enough to know that his
sweet talk was simply a way to open doors for him. Unfortunately, I fell
“What?” I asked, unsure that I had heard him correctly.
“Look… ése, I was a jerk for always doin’ stuff behind your
back. You trusted me not to, and I thought you wouldn’t know. I’d try to
do things differently if I could do them over again.”
I have no idea what makes a rational mind suddenly short
circuit like mine did, but I wondered to myself if maybe Eddie had
changed; that maybe he really was looking to get back together with me –
I mean, with just me. I knew in that instant that I still had
feelings for him – that after four years, he still held a piece of my
heart in his hands.
I began to wonder what Beth Ann would say when she found
out that I was gay. There had been many times over the past few months
that, scared of what was happening between us, I had wanted to tell her
about that part of me, wanting to see if we could still be friends if
she knew that. But each time I had decided to tell her, I chickened out
at the last minute, fearing that she would drop me like a hot potato and
I’d be left with no one again.
I know I should have gotten up and left at that point, but
Eddie was a master at keeping a person engaged in conversation, and
before I knew it, he was buying me supper at a quiet diner near campus.
A full stomach, and a few brews later, I made one of the worst mistake
of my life when I let him sweet talk me into joining him in his room to
watch a movie.
My mind in turmoil, I was determined not to let anything
happen – at least not until I could sort out my feelings and make a
decision with a clear head. But just like with Phoenix, it started with
Eddie tracing his fingers between mine as we sat next to each other on
the sofa. When I moved my hand away he kind of shrugged his shoulders
and smiled innocently, then got up to get us each another beer. Along
with the beer, he brought with him a bowl of very salty microwave
The second movie was a romantic comedy. I think he had it
all planned out, because the story was hot enough to get my juices
flowing; the room hot enough and the popcorn salty enough, to keep me
swigging beer all evening. By the end of the movie, when Eddie mentioned
to me that he noticed how much I was sweating, and “why don’t you pull
off your shirt,” like he had already done, I was putty in his hands.
Hesitating briefly, thinking of Beth Ann, I pulled back
slightly when he leaned over and kissed me. Eddie’s sweet talk and
persistent ways melted what little resolve my thoughts of Beth Ann had
stirred up, though. I didn’t even want to resist him when he reached
over to undo my jeans. “Just once for old time’s sake,” I reasoned.
He laid me gently on the bed and held a vial of poppers to
my nose. I inhaled deeply, and just like that, my anxiety over what I
was about to do, lifted from my consciousness. I smiled, and leaned in
for a kiss as I listened to the headboard of the bed gently tapping the
wall in time with his forward thrusts; my mind transported back to high
school days when I had believed that Eddie and I would always be
Eddie’s sudden increase in tempo and the warm blast that
filled my insides brought me over the edge. I pulled him down into the
puddle on my chest and nuzzled his hair. God, how I missed him. Eddie
surprised me when after resting a short while, he rolled onto his back,
pulling me with him, and wrapped his legs around my waist, inviting me
to enter him. He had only ever done that once in the year that we were
“Oh, god, ése,” he almost shouted as I released my seed
into his bowels, “I’ve missed you so much.” Then he kissed me, his
cheeks wet with tears.
“Tell me, you’ll
take me back, Alex. I’m begging you. Of all the guys I’ve ever had,
you’re the only one I’ve truly loved.”
It was well after four in the morning when Eddie finally
fell asleep, spooned against my back, still inside of me. Eddie had
worked his magic on me again – so much so, that I allowed him to take,
what I had hardly ever given to anyone.
Sober now, remorse began to tear at my soul. Despite what
he had hinted at last evening, I doubted Eddie would ever be satisfied
with only one lover. He was the epitome of the guys Phil had tried to
tell me about the day before Valentines Day four years ago, as I was
agonizing over what gift to give my unfaithful lover. Even back then, I
knew that sharing my partner with someone else was not something I would
ever be comfortable doing.
The horizon was beginning to glow muted shades of orange
and red as I gently moved forward to free myself from Eddie. I dressed
silently, so afraid that he would be able to sweet talk me out of
leaving if he woke. I couldn’t bring myself to even say goodbye to him.
As much as desire stabbed at my heart, I quietly let myself out the
room. I knew deep down that it would never work – me and Eddie,
together. I would forgive him for last night, but I would never allow
myself to be drawn back into his complicated web of playing hide and
seek with my heart.
As I left the room, dread wrapped its cold fingers around
my throat and started choking me. Sunday, Bill Henderson would ask me
“the question,” just like he had every Sunday for the past three months.
I would have to lie to him for the third time in three weeks. My almost
hooking up with a guy I met in a chat room two weeks ago had been a
random thing – a moment of weakness. Phoenix and Shawn had caught me
totally by surprise last weekend, and other than getting drunk and doing
a little touching, I was sure that nothing else had happened, even
though I remember feeling a little wet at the back door the next day.
None-the-less, I hadn’t been able to tell Bill about those failures when
he asked if I was avoiding “situations.”
I guess that I figured as long as I committed to stop
messing up in the future, there was no need to tell him about the past.
But this night with Eddie had been far different from that. Surprised at
how strong my feelings for Eddie still were – feelings that I thought
had passed with time – last night, I had wanted him to make me
his. I had almost had sex with Nathan, and in a way, had had sex with
Phoenix and Shawn; those were mistakes of my judgment – ones which could
be forgiven by God, but I just couldn’t bare my soul to Bill about my
feelings for Eddie – I had made love to him, and that, I was
sure, would be far different in his eyes.