Cupid's Big Weekend


Again with the furrowed brow. But he's clearly working hard to grasp this, so I continue.

"I don't get why this is so hard for you to understand. There are gay people everywhere. You see them every day. There are gay people on your football team."

"No way."

"Yes way. I know a guy who's proven himself to be quite an athletic supporter in that area. He's been with at least three players already this semester."

This puzzles him. I can see the gears working in his head, trying to figure out which of the hulking manly men he's been showering with daily I'm referring to. Then he suddenly snaps back to me.

"Wait, is this one of those deals where you say you have 'a friend' who does something, but it's really you who does it?" He seems genuinely afraid that I might be the guy whose been getting into the tight, padded pants of his teammates.

"No, Calvin. It's not me. Unlike you, I actually am aware that I have gay friends, and we talk sometimes. About, you know, gay things." I've been trying to keep my native sarcasm in check, but this is really too much.

He decides to leave aside the mystery of the man-loving football squad and pursue a different line of questioning.

"So, what makes you think you're gay?"

"Well, what makes me gay is that I am attracted to men. You know, in a sexual way. I like the way men look, I like the way they feel, I like kissing them. It's pretty much the same deal that you have with women."

"But you've tried it, right?"

"Tried what?"

"Having sex with a chick."

This is getting interesting.

"Um, no. Never had sex with a 'chick.'"

"Then how do you know for sure?"

Ahh, so that's where this is going. I decide to go on the offensive.

"When did you decide that you're straight?" I ask.

It's an old trick, but it works.

"What do you mean? Straight is normal. I didn't choose it."


"And it never occurred to you even once to try it with a guy so that you would be absolutely certain that you're attracted to women only?"

"Dude, sick!"

"Okay, then, it's the same with me. I've always been attracted to men. That's my normal."

He ponders this for a moment.

"I'm trying to get this," he says, and I believe him. He's working hard on getting his mind around it.

"When you say you're attracted to men, what does that mean? I don't get that part."

"It means that I find men more attractive than women."

"But why? I mean, you have everything that every guy has, right? What do you see in other guys that you don't already have? Why not just stay home and look in the mirror if that's what you're attracted to?"

I've never heard this one before. Hmmm.

"I mean, your junk is the same as every other guys' junk."

"OK, first, let's not call it junk. That creeps me out. Second, if you really believe that every guy's ... stuff ... is the same as everyone else's, then you haven't been looking closely enough. Third, it's not just about the sex parts. I am attracted to the whole package: body, personality, sense of humor, the whole deal."

Again, this sets him back a bit. He's not sure where to go next. He paces some more, then turns back to me.

"Are you attracted to me?"

Oh shit. I didn't see that one coming. I can feel myself blushing, the heat rising from my cheeks. I'm a little dizzy, in fact.

Keep it together, Josh. Keep it together.

Suddenly, a kind of calm comes over me. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I take a deep breath, and I just sort of know I'm going to be OK.

"Yes, I am." If he's going to beat me to death with his desk chair, it'll be right now.


I'm not sure what that means, exactly.

"Oh," he says again, and blinks a few times. Then he looks right at me, into my eyes.


"What do you mean, why?"

"Why are you attracted to me? Do you think I'm gay?"

"Well, no, I assumed you weren't. It's just that..." I'm not sure how to explain this, or even if I should.

"What? It's just that what?" He really seems to want to know. I take a breath, and try to tell him.

"It's that you're the most beautiful man I think I've ever seen." When I woke up this morning, I had just dreamed that I had said this to him. And now, I've just said it to him, for real. I guess dreams come true. Of course, in my dream he responded by kissing me. All over.

"You think I'm ... beautiful? That's what you call a chick. Eww." His nose wrinkles and he shakes his head.

"OK, so maybe I used the wrong word. I think you're the most handsome man I've ever seen. Is that better?"

"Yes. I mean, no, it's not. I mean, it's a better word, but I still don't get why you say that."

"Dude, do you own a mirror? You are fucking gorgeous." I decide to throw caution to the wind. I'm in this now, might as well own it all.

"What?" He seems genuinely at a loss now. I appreciate that he's trying to figure it out though, so I'm going to help him. Time to stop dancing around this.

"You are what every Abercrombie model wishes he was. Your muscles have muscles. You eyes have a blue fire in them that makes my knees buckle. You are the whole package, and just being close to you makes me hard." There. Might as well have it all out in the open.

"But, but..." He pauses, trying to make sense of this."I'm just a guy. I can't help how I look. I don't get all dressed up or put stuff in my hair or anything. I look like everyone else."

"OK, no, you don't, first off. There's no one in the world who looks like you."

"Come on, man, you're not making sense. Every guy looks like me."

What am I going to do with him? He is both the sweetest and the most clueless guy I have ever met.

"Let's do this. Who is the handsomest guy you know?" I challenge him. This should be interesting.

"How should I know? I don't know what a makes a guy handsome!" He's getting exasperated with this. That's what I was counting on.

"Okay, so you don't know what makes a man handsome. Tell me, then, why do you work out so much?"

"Because I have to, for the team."

"I didn't see any of your teammates out there running stairs today."

He pauses.

"Well, I was doing an extra workout. I need to work on my calves."

"Why? And why were you at the gym yesterday? Doesn't the team have their own workout room?"

"Yeah, but I like to lift after my classes some days so I can get some better definition."

"Uh-huh. And what's the purpose of this 'better definition'?"

A trace of a grin plays around his mouth. God he's the sexiest thing ever.

"Well, the chicks kind of dig it," he admits, sheepishly.

"So, would you say that working out makes you more attractive?"


"But you just said that chicks like it."

"But they're chicks! I don't know why they like what they like, they just do."

Time to go in for the kill.

"So you work out so that you're more attractive to the ladies. I can't help but notice that your get your hair cut every two weeks, that your shelf over there contains a number of skin-care products that I've seen advertised on TV, and that your closet looks like you just rolled a rack out of A&F. Why go through all that trouble, if you're just a guy and have no idea what makes a guy handsome?"


"But." That's about all he's got right now. He looks around his room, accused and convicted by everything he sees.

"So, I would humbly submit to the jury that you know exactly what makes a man attractive, and that you work hard to be as handsome as you can be. I rest my case."

"But I do it to get chicks, not dudes."

"I guess I'm collateral damage in your campaign to impress the ladies."

He considers this for a moment. Then an idea comes to him.

"All right, my turn. You say you're gay, but you don't look like any fag I know of."

I let the "fag" thing pass.

"You said you don't know any gay people."

"Yeah, but I know about gay people."

"From Mr. Self-Loathing Ex-Gay Health Teacher?"

"His name is Mr. Peterson."

"Whatever. Nothing that guy told you is true, just so you know."

"So you're telling me that you've never wanted to be a woman?"

"What, now?" I can't believe I'm hearing this.

"Gay men feel like they're women inside, which is why they want to have sex with men." He states this as if he had just played a trump card.

"Um, no. I like being a man."

"It's not manly to have another guy's dick up your butt."

See? I told you it was going to get weirder.

"Actually, I've never had another guy's dick up my butt. Not sure I ever want to have another guy's dick up my butt. I may someday, but for right now, thanks, but no."

"Then you're not gay."

"That's a pretty limited definition of being gay."

"Well there are other things that go with the buttsex. Like the gerbil thing. And having a guy stick his fist up your butt. That's just gross."

"I agree. But being gay is not just about finding things to go up your butt."

He looks at me as if I were the naive, deluded one.

"What else is there?"

Again, if he weren't genuine, I wouldn't be having this conversation. But he's so earnest in his delusion that I feel like I have to go on.

"Well, there's going to movies, and kissing, and dancing, and talking about books, and eventually settling down and having kids and growing old together."

"Dude, that's what you're not going to be doing. Because you're gay, right? Remember?"


"Look, there's no reason why I can't do all of that just because I want to do it with another guy."

"So what you want is what normal people want, but with buttsex?"

"Ugh. Enough with the buttsex. But your general point is pretty much right. I just want what a lot of people want: someone to love. Just with a penis. And better music. That's about it."

"So, you're gay, but you want love? I had no idea that was possible." He pauses, thinking. "Are there other gays like you?"

"I sure hope so. It's going to be pretty lonely for me if there aren't. I don't want to go through life alone. I know there's someone out there who's perfect for me. With any luck, he looks a lot like you. Of course I want love. It's all I've ever wanted."

He's silent for a long while.

"Can I show you something?"

This is getting even more interesting.


Calvin gets to his feet--apparently at some point he had squatted down next to the futon in order to look me in the face without actually sitting next to me. I hadn't even noticed. He walks over to his bookshelf, and picks up an old-looking book. He flips through the pages, and pulls out a piece of folded paper. He holds it for a moment, and I can tell he's trying to decide something. Finally he nods to himself, takes a deep breath, and closes the book. He steps over to the futon, and hands me the paper.

"What you just said make something click in my mind," he explains. "Will you take a look at this?"

"What is it?" I ask, unfolding the paper slowly. I have no idea what I'm about to find.

"I'll tell you once you read it." he murmurs, almost in a whisper.

I open the paper fully, and smooth it on my leg. It's a note, written in a block script that looks kind of architectural. I read it to myself, slowly.


"I'm leaving in a couple of hours. I don't want to go. I don't know how I'm going to make it without you. I'm sorry I pushed you so hard that I pushed you away. I really wish we were playing for the same team, but since we aren't I just can't see you again. Everything I've ever wanted is in this car that you're about to drive out of my life. I will always be here, if you decide things can be different between us.

"Love, Reese."

I read the note twice, and then again. It's about the saddest thing I've ever seen. I look up at Calvin, and he's leaning against his desk, with the strangest look on his face. Something's really not right. And then I realize there's a tear at the starting to make its way down his cheek. I look down, certain that we wouldn't want me to stare, and I notice that his legs are shaking. He's in a bad way about this note. But why?

"Calvin, who's Reese?"

He takes a shaky breath, as if there's suddenly not enough air in the room. He lets out the breath, wipes his cheek, and inhales again. He puffs out his cheeks, shakes his head slowly back and forth, and tries again. This time he finds his voice,

"He's my best friend from home. He was, anyway."

I try to arrange my features into an expression of supportive expectation. That's not easy under the circumstances, let me tell you. This has suddenly turned very serious. I wait. He takes a couple of deep breaths and continues.

"He left that note on the windshield of my car the morning we left for college. I came here, and he want to State. I haven't seen him since. Haven't talked to him. We're not even Facebook friends anymore." At this a sob catches in his throat.

"Why?" I ask, already knowing the answer. I mean, it's all right in the note.

"Because I chose football over lacrosse." He chokes back another sob, closes his eyes and rubs his forehead with his hand.

This is not the answer I was expecting, and he sees my confused expression once he opens his tear-filled eyes.

"It's right there in the note: 'I really wish we were playing for the same team.' See?" he points.

"Calvin, I don't think that's what he meant by that."

"Yes he did. And look here," he says, taking the note from my hand. " 'I will always be here, if you decide things can be different between us.' See, he's saying that if I transfer to State we can be friends again because the U is their rival."

Oh. My. God. Can he really be that clueless?

"He signed it 'Love, Reese.' Is that normal for guys to write to each other?" I'm trying to steer him to see what I see.

"Well, yeah. We were members of this church youth group for years, and one of the things they taught is to tell the people who are important in your life that you love them. We did that all the time--we all did. It's not gay, or anything." He seems less certain about that than his words would indicate.

"So, since you have this note all figured out, why show it to me? Why are you so upset?"

"Because of what you just said. You said that love is all you've ever wanted. It made me think of Reese's note, when he says, 'Everything I've ever wanted is in this car that you're about to drive out of my life.' I've never really known what to make of that--all I had in the car was my clothes and computer and stuff. None of it was his."

He stops again, and the tears start again. He's shaking his head and trying to blink them back. It's not working.

"Calvin, what do you think he meant?" I ask, knowing my answer, wanting to hear his.

"I think he meant me," he whispers, barely audible. The tears flow freely now, and he crumples onto the futon next to me. "Oh, fuck, Josh, what have I done?" He draws his knees up to his chest, folds his arms around them, and buries his head. I can hear his ragged breathing, and I sit there, watching his shoulders shudder.

Not knowing what else to do, I put my arm around him. He tips toward me, his head coming to rest on my shoulder. I can feel his hot tears spread through my shirt. His shirt. Is this really happening?

"I'm so sorry, Calvin." It's all I can think of to say.

He mumbles something in response, something I cannot understand.

"What? I didn't hear that. What did you say?"

"He. Loved. Me." His voice is hoarse but deliberate, as if he's a jury foreman delivering a painful verdict. "He loved me. And I didn't know. I hurt him, and I didn't even know it."

More sobs. I wait for him to calm a bit.

"Calvin, why did you say you hurt him? What happened?"

"He told me, the night before we left for college. He just came right out with it. He told me he thought he had fallen in love with me, and that he may have turned gay for me. He told me that."

"Wow. That's huge. What did you do?"

"I slugged him in the arm, and told him it was a good joke. He tried to keep talking about it, but I ended up kind of yelling at him that he was no faggot and he should shut up. I left, and I may have broken some stuff on the way out. That was the end of it."

I wait. He looks up at me, his face streaked with tears.

"I thought he was putting me on. I really did! It wasn't until I met you today that it even occurred to me that he could be telling the truth. I hurt him, and I didn't even know I was doing it. I'm scum." His head sags back down onto my shoulder. More sobs.

Now, imagine the scene. Here's the man of my dreams, whom I've already seen naked and soaped up this morning, and who now is crying--crying!--because he's just realized that he hurt his friend who had fallen in love with him. This is the guy I feared was likely to beat me senseless because I was looking at him in the gym, sobbing because he didn't understand what his friend was telling him.

"Calvin, it's okay. Seriously, it's okay. You can fix this. You can."

He sniffles a bit, and then meekly asks, "How?"

"Isn't it obvious? You just call him, and explain what happened. You tell him that you didn't get what he was saying, and you apologize, and you talk. That's it."

"Do you think that will work?"

"Of course. Why shouldn't it?"

"Because he's probably totally forgotten about it by now. He probably doesn't care anymore."

"Bullshit. No one writes a note like this and then just moves on."

"But what would I say to him?" He trains those piercing periwinkle eyes on me, and we're about 4 inches apart. Oh god, even his breath is delicious.

"Just tell him you understand now what he was trying to say, and that you're not upset with him, and that you want to still be friends like you were before. Simple, right?" I smile, hoping that it's contagious. It seems to be. That grin, that killer grin, sidles back into view.

"You really think that would work?"

"Yes. We gay folks have a sense about this. He will forgive you." Mainly so that he can see your killer body again, I don't say. I'm not proud to admit that my mind immediately jumps to what Reese will do when he sees the 8-pack. I suddenly hate that bitch and his long friendship with Calvin. They probably grew up skinny dipping. And having circle jerks. Damn him. Anyone would end up gay going through that.

"OK. I'm going to call him." He gets up to retrieve his phone from his bag.

"Well, good luck with that," I say, getting to my feet and heading for the door.

"Wait, Josh! You have to stay. What if I need help? What if I don't know what to say?"

"Calvin, you'll do fine. You don't need me to translate Gay for you. We've been talking this whole time, right?"

"I need you to stay." He is definite about this, and he deploys his dimples as his enforcers. Again, what can I do? I turn and sit back down. I'm a fucking puppet because of those dimples.

"OK, I'm dialing," he narrates, needlessly. I know what dialing looks like. "It's ringing."

I suddenly feel tight in the chest. It's like I've been plopped into the middle of a movie. A romance. Well, an independent-film kind of romance. A gay, somewhat porny, independent-film kind of romance. My mind is revving a bit here--it does that when I'm nervous.

He blinks when the call connects. He darts a look at me, and then closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

"Hey, it's me," he says, softly, into the phone. Into Reese's ear.

I realize there's a tear making its way down my cheek.


"Yeah, it's been a while," he says, after a brief pause. "I'm sorry about that. I just didn't know what to..."

He stops, listening hard.

"Yeah, I got it. I tried to call you, but your phone wasn't working."

He looks at me, hope in his eyes. He seems to want me to confirm that this is going well. I give him a quick nod and a thumbs-up.

"Yeah, well, I guess I wouldn't really want to talk to me either, after that night. I'm really sorry about that whole thing. I just didn't know what was going on."

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