Bobby’s teammates ordered slices and sat down at a nearby booth. “C’mon, join us,” said Bobby.
I hesitated for a second, and then shook my head. “Ah, thanks, but I really have to study. Have my first Chemistry quiz tomorrow, and these stupid equations still don’t make sense to me.”
“Are you sure?” asked Bobby, though he was already making his way over to the booth where his teammates were sitting.
“Yeah, I’m sure. Thanks again,” I said. “If I’m finished, maybe I can come over then,” I added, though I knew that was lie. If by some miracle I would finally figure out all those equations, it would take so long that Bobby and his teammates would be long gone.
So I put my head down and tried to concentrate on my homework. But l couldn’t help overhearing Bobby and his teammates. They talked about practice routines, other teams they would be playing against this fall, other players, and what they liked or didn’t like about their coaches. I could make out Bobby’s voice among the others, laughing and adding his opinion.
I did glance up a couple of times, not being able to stop myself. Bobby was sitting facing me, so I could see how happy he was. No, not just happy. What’s the word I’m looking for? He was glowing, looking like he’d never been happier. Like that’s where he belonged. Forever. With his teammates, in the world of football, not with me. I don’t think I existed for him at that point. He certainly never looked my way or gave any indication he was thinking about me.
He had promised me that last time we sat in the woods that the gay stuff wouldn’t come between us. That he didn’t care if people saw me with Mr. Aniso, who doesn’t particularly try hard to hide his sexuality. Not that he could successfully, since he’s so swishy. I thought Bobby was feeling better about his own gay feelings, too. That I still mattered a lot to him. And that he wanted to be with me. That he CARED. It’s not the feeling I get since sophomore year started.
Like today. If practice was canceled, he could have called me up. Makes me wonder how many other times Bobby did have some free time but didn’t call me.
I’m not being unreasonable, am I? I don’t come on too strong, do I? I don’t act gay, whatever that means. And It’s not like I have figured everything out. I have more questions than anything else. Sometimes I even wonder if I really am gay. Since Bobby has some of the same questions, you would think he’d want to spend more time with me.
I was thinking about all those things sitting in that booth. It was impossible to concentrate anymore. I gathered up my stuff even though those equations still didn’t make much more sense to me. It was time to leave. I got up and did walk up to Bobby and his teammates and said good bye. Everybody was friendly enough, but I still felt awkward, knowing I don’t belong in their world. And Bobby didn’t act any differently from his teammates or say anything that indicated we were friends or that he wanted to see me later.
So after a few more awkward moments, I turned around and left Joe’s.
And here I sit now, in front of my computer, for the zillionth time, trying to figure out my life. Does it ever change or get easier? Mr. Aniso keeps assuring me it does, but sometimes I wonder. Maybe he’s just saying that to make me feel better. After all, when we’re talking, I sometimes see that sadness that comes over his face. So he’s got stuff going on his life, too. He did seem happy when he introduced me to his new friend, Ben. Hope it lasts. For his sake. And mine.