A short piece of nonsense this week. This one’s for all you shy guys out there who can’t quite manage to be themselves 100 percent of the time for 100 percent of the people.
“I love you, William J. Fishbone.”
That’s exactly the way I’d say it. This afternoon. As soon as I saw him leave the dorm and head for the fieldhouse. Six simple words, if you counted the J as an entire word, but they’d caused me more angst than any I’d ever uttered in all my nineteen years. I’d practiced my recitation emphasizing I, but that placed the spotlight on me, and that wasn’t my goal. I enunciated it stressing love but was afraid that was too bold. Finally, I settled on you. “I love you, William J. Fishbone.” Perfect.
I plopped down on a stone bench in the shade of a chinaberry tree in the arbor occupying the exact center of the campus quadrangle. I had a good view of Stratton Hall, his dorm, and spotted him the moment he barreled through the door. He was dressed in khakis and a form-fitting, powder blue polo shirt.
As I watched him approach, I was struck at how this place, with its trees and colorful red and pink roses and the rich odor of lavender wisteria, was perfect for my purpose. He waved as he spotted me. I stood and waved back, even as my mouth went dry at the utter sexiness of his manly stride. His black hair collected sunlight in a shimmering halo. Broad shoulders hunched forward as if he were ready to leap into action at any moment. I seldom got past his tapered torso before I grew excited enough to require shielding my condition with classroom books.
Three months ago, I’d met our football team’s fabled quarterback when he chanced to pass the alleyway where three homophobes had me cornered. He spoiled their plans to wallop on the fairy—me—with a firm “Break it up, fellas. He didn’t do anything to you.”
In that single instant, he earned my gratitude and my love. He knew about the gratitude part because I’d effusively thanked him for coming to my rescue. But I’d hidden my deeper feelings because… well, it wasn’t proper to blurt out something like that right off the bat. I didn’t even know how he felt about gays, but the fact he’d saved me from a beating said something, didn’t it?
So I played it cool, managing to meet him on the quad a couple of times before asking him to the Student Union for a cup of coffee. Man, my head must have swelled twice its normal size when he accepted. Occupying a seat at the table with the school’s best jock earned me a lot of funny looks, but I had the Fishbone eye, so what did I care about a few fishy eyes?
It got even better when he invited me to the SUB. My insides got all syrupy the first time he asked, and that hadn’t changed since the last time. Then yesterday, he’d said, “You’re an all right guy.”
Those words entered my ears and rattled around in my head before oozing down and settling in my stones. Wow! And he hadn’t even added the word “gay.” No qualifier at all. Just an all right guy. Couldn’t remember the last time anyone had said that to me. Probably never. And it had been the campus football hero who’d uttered those words, the handsomest, sexiest guy at school. Hell, in the whole world.
When I went to bed last night, I couldn’t keep my hands off myself. Didn’t care if my roommate heard me or not… probably not because he slept like a log. Afterward, as I lay there panting, I tried to analyze our relationship.
Relationship! What a word. I’d never had one before… a relationship that is. It was probably because I made a point of acting like one of the regular guys. I worked hard to keep from fluttering hands and to mimic his long stride. My voice was at least a decibel lower when I spoke to William. He appreciated that, I think.
Whatever it was, I was going to make my move today. Right now. I damned near swooned as he walked up to me, his good-looking face scrubbed and shaved and smiling with pleasure from seeing me. Me! He paused and clapped my shoulder like I was one of his football squad.
“Glad I caught you,” I said. “Something I want to say to you.”
Was it my imagination or did he go wary? I swallowed hard and plunged ahead.
“I-I love….” Definitely wary now. I cleared my throat. “I love this arbor. It’s an island of peace and quiet in the middle of a storm.” Then I looked him squarely in his vivid green eyes. “Don’t you, William J. Fishbone?”
His beaming, angelic smile reappeared. “I do, John H. Pierson. I really do.”
Weak in the knees, I allowed him to throw an arm around my shoulders and propel me down the sidewalk, chattering about his upcoming day as we went.
After a moment, I relaxed and took pleasure in his casual touch and hoped everyone on campus saw us. After all, I’d said those six words. Of course, I’d interspersed them with a dozen or so other words, but whether he knew it or not, I’d expressed my adoration aloud for the world to hear… and misunderstand. But I knew precisely what I meant.
I love you, William J. Fishbone.
Did you ever live this scene? If so, I hope it struck a silver bell in your memory banks.
As always, I’m interested in your reaction. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New blogs posted at 6:30 a.m. each Thursday.