Recap: CP confesses his crush to Lulu, who encourages him to put on his big-boy pants about it and grow up.
In those days Lulu was my telephonic confidante about all things romantic, and on several occasions I bent her ear to the point that it just about broke. To be fair to myself, I reciprocated for Lu on more than one occasion, though I’ll have to let her share that as part of her own story. In any event, I called her the morning after my romantic walk in the rain with Jeff for a dose of her usual counseling.
“I’m doomed,” I told her. “He’s not into guys after all.”
“What makes you say that?” Lulu asked, trying to pretend she wasn’t already sick to death of hearing about my obsession with Jeff.
“He wants to get married.”
“Married. As in, to a woman. He wants to have kids.”
“So what? A lot of people want to have kids. I’d like to have kids some day. Wouldn’t you?”
“I have no idea. How can I ever have kids if I can’t even get a date?”
“Don’t get all technical on me, CP.” Lulu could actually be reasonable in those days. And that was years before she would do the most reasonable thing anyone has ever heard of, which is to move to Bangladesh. “You asked the guy a simple question: would he like to get married. A lot of people think they want to get married. Plus, you were sitting there smoking pot – what was he supposed to say? You’re putting the cart before the horse, don’t you think?”
Despite the fact that I never even understood what it means to “put the cart before the horse,” I agreed with her. Primarily because my non-stop fretting was probably about to drive her away, and I needed her sympathetic ear.
“Well, I don’t know what to do.”
“How about just being a friend? Is it the worst thing in the world to find a guy you like and be friends with him? Look at you and me!”
“Are you saying I should listen to him babble on incessantly about whatever his latest romantic crush is? No thanks, I’d rather be alone.”
“Yeah well CP, speaking of babbling incessantly about crushes, have you thought about maybe doing some schoolwork? Speaking of which, I need to get busy with some of mine. Talk to you later.”
Although I would generally never admit it in those days, Lulu had a point. I decided to try to calm down and just be a friend to Jeff. That was what I was pretending to do with him anyway – I may as well just stay true to my word, I decided.
Jeff and I got together regularly from that point on – we had meals together after choir practice, we would take study breaks together, and I got into the habit of stopping by the snack bar near the end of his shifts on Friday nights. We never involved other people in our get-togethers – it was always just the two of us. And although I had resolved in my mind that Jeff and I were just friends, something about our friendship felt different. I never invited him to go along to meals or anything with other people, and neither did he. We were always a two-some, and I felt confused.
“I still feel like there is more going on here,” I told Lulu one day. “It’s like we’re friends, but it almost feels like we’re dating. We never do anything with other people when we’re together.”
“Well CP,” Lulu said, almost sounding exasperated, “if you want to know how he feels about you, have you ever considered just asking him? Or maybe telling him how you feel?”
“Are you crazy???” I replied. The concept of telling a “straight” guy about my gay feelings was something I had never allowed myself to consider, not even for a second. It was just too risky, or at least that’s how it felt. “How could I ever do that? Don’t you realize what could happen?”
“Yes, and what could also happen is that I will have to listen to you go on and on about this for the rest of my life — and I would occasionally like to talk about something other than Jeff. I think it’s time to stop torturing everyone and just have it out with him. Ask him what’s going on.”
I agreed that I would think about it, but still thought she was nuts. Nevertheless, I was tired of the constant wondering, and the drama. I sat down at my desk and composed a letter to Jeff.
—– to be continued —–