“When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary come to me! Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…!” is Blake greeting as he swings my door open cheerfully. I do my best to try not to crack a smile, but my attempts are in vain. Oh, how I love singing The Beatles with my gay friend. There’s just nothing like it.
Honestly, our love for old movies and music is what has kept us together as friends since the eighth grade. We met when were in eighth grade. Blake was the new kid and I was the fat kid. Besides those general descriptions, we each had other social disadvantages: my entire was plagued with acne and I was hard to talk to and Blake was the only gay boy in eighth grade. As outcasts we stuck together, and I had found the only person I could really be myself around.
I remember the exact circumstances when we met.
It was halfway through the year in eighth grade. Blake had three choices: to sit with the popular kids who made fun of him, to sit all by himself, or to sit next to the fat girl with blistering acne who was eating lunch at an empty table. For whatever reason, he chose the third option. I guess everyone hates sitting alone.
“Hi, I'm Blake. I’m in your history class,” he introduced himself. I nodded and looked down; I was unaccustomed to someone being so nice to me.
“Do you mind if I sit with you?” Did I mind? Um, I barely had any human conversation in my whole life, and someone was offering to keep me company, and even had the decency to ask whether I minded. Why in the world would I mind?
Instead of saying all that, however, I simply shrugged. Blake smiled and sat down across from me with his lunch. He saw my Beatles water bottle and broke into a huge grin. “Hey, you like the Beatles?”
Shyly, I nodded. As usual, I was at a loss for words. It was a bit shocking to have someone talk to me.
“What’s your favorite song by them?” I shrugged. He must’ve thought the reason for my sitting by myself was because I was a mute.
He was unfazed, however. “Me too. There’s just too many.” Without warning he broke into singing “Obla di, obla da! Life goes on….!” I couldn’t help myself. I smiled.
Blake stopped singing. “Hey. Was that a hint of a smile I detected?” He pretended to be in shock.
I nodded and said softly, “I like that one too.”
I thought his eyes would pop out of his head. But instead of saying something obnoxious like “wow, it talks!” he just said, “You have a nice voice. You should talk more.” The degree of his niceness shut me up for the rest of lunch.
Well, almost. I debated with myself to ask him a question, and halfway through lunch, I made up my mind to ask him. “Why does everyone hate you?”
“I’m gay,” he said matter-of-factly. Well. That was different. I mean, I wasn’t homophobic or anything, but that kind of confession never happened in our little tiny Californian town, especially not in middle school. He didn’t seem to care one bit.
We sat quietly through most of lunch. When the bell rang and we got up, I felt it would be courteous to thank him for sitting next to me, or say how lovely it was meeting him. However, I could muster up no more than an “I’m Mia.”
However, in high school, Blake’s infectious personality won tons of people over especially when talking to gay guys became a cool thing, and he got massively respected and I remained an outcast, even when my horrendous skin cleared up half way through senior year. Despite all of his other good friends, he still talks to me, not caring about my social status. It takes a truly, truly good person to stay friends with someone like me, when there are so many other alternatives.
“Hi. Why are you here?”
Blake pretends to look shocked at my “hostility” and then sings, “You say YES! I say NO! You say goodbye…I say hellooooo! Hello, hellooooooooo!”
“I’m here because you told me I could come, remember?”
“Vaguely,” I respond, with a flick of the wrist.
“There’s dog hair on your bed, “ says Blake, picking at the scattered bits of Mocha’s brown fur on my marble-white blanket.
I turn pale.
“They did it again?” he asks.
I nod hurriedly, while rushing to the closet and getting my small vacuum cleaner. “Mmm hmm,” I reply distractedly, flicking on the on switch, and sterilizing my bed. Blake watches idly as I put my little vacuum back in the closet and tear the covers off the bed, carrying them to the laundry room. Blake follows me.
“Well, what prompted you to leave home so early?” I ask curiously, trying to avoid tripping over my feet.
“I wanted to ask you something.”
“Well, I’ll wait until you’re done. Here let me help you.” Blake lifts the blanket out of my arms.
When we’re back in my room, Blake sees the paused movie. “Oh the Sound of Music! Can we finish it?”
I wave him away and ask, “Why wait to ask the question?”
“Because if I asked you while you were walking, you’d crash into a wall or something.” Blake grins.
“Well, I’m sitting, so spit it out!”
“I was wondering if you wanted to drive down to Long Beach with me and a few friends.”
I stare at him, wondering what could possibly possess him to ask me of all people, such a question, when he must already know my answer. I want to say something, but I just keep staring at him, unable to comprehend what he is asking.
“You know my friend Emma? Well, her parents have a beach house in Long Beach, right near the beach. But they’re not using it this summer, because they’re headed for Paris. But they said that she’s welcome to invite a few friends to stay there.” Blake finishes his explanation with a smile. His smile fades slightly when he sees the look on my face.
“What do you think?” he asks cautiously.
What I want to say: What do you think I think?! Couldn’t you have guessed what I think after knowing me for five years? I mean, what you’re saying involves some of my greatest fears ever, not to mention that I don’t even think Emma likes me that much, because she falls into the category I have personally named “most human beings.” Are your friends even alright with you asking the biggest freak ever to come with you? Why are you even asking me this? So you can hear me say no, and you can have the sweet joy of me admitting my own oddness to you? Or…or…
What I say: “That’s a lovely offer, and if I were a normal person, I’d most likely readily accept. But I’m not, and I’d like to respectfully decline. The Sound of Music sounds like a really good idea to right now.” I reach for the remote, but Blake blocks my arm with his.
“Come on Mia,” he urges. We’re not going to be in high school next year anymore. We’re not going to see each other every day. You’re going to Harvard. Who knows how well we’ll be able to keep in touch?” He picks at a loose thread on my pillowcase.
“Irrelevant,” I mumble, snatching the pillow away, and heading for my desk drawer.
“Let me finish. You’re always afraid, and this time you’re afraid to have fun. I know it’s hard to control fear, believe me. But I think you should go. I mean, ten years from now, you’re going to want to look back on all the fun you had, not the fun that you could have had but were too scared to. I mean, let’s be honest here, you didn’t have the time of your life in high school. But this is just one experience, and really, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“A shark could eat me.” I open the desk drawer and instantly locate the scissors. Slice! I throw the thread in the garbage, and arrange my pillow back onto my bed.
Blake half-smiles. “If I promise you that a shark won’t eat you, will you come?”
“Blake, I know that if I come, I’m going to manage to disgrace myself in some terrible, unforeseen way in front of your friends, who by the way, don’t even want me.”
“Well, wouldn’t you rather regret going than not going?”
“Not if a shark eats me,” I say stubbornly, finishing the pillow and sitting back onto the bed.
“Mia. I hate to think of you sitting at home studying while I have the great time that you deserve to have. You’ve missed out a lot of opportunities. Why miss another one?”
“Well, it’s one more regret.”
“And if you go, it’ll just be one less regret.” I start to think. He gives me a four hundred-watt smile, knowing that I’m not at a solid no anymore.
There’s a knock on the door. Of course, when I’m in my room alone, it’s always, “hey why not drop a nuclear bomb on Mia?” but when Blake visits, people have the respect and consideration to knock first.
“Who is it?” I ask warily, knowing exactly who it is. Paige and Molly open the door and come in without my permission and rush towards Blake.
They sit on the bed next to him and start spewing out everything that they hold in their minds (which, quite frankly, isn’t much, let alone anything interesting or valuable).
Most girls believe that gay guys only know how to talk about hair, makeup, and clothes, which is not Blake’s style at all, but my sister and cousin are girls who hold this belief.
They are truly relentless. They make an infinite number of inaccurate comparisons between Blake and Kurt from Glee. And while they’re doing that, they keep asking him where the best places for makeup are, where does he get his hair done, what does he think of Katy Perry, etc.
He doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he looks more amused than annoyed. Blake is the god of patience. When Molly goes as far as to ask him for a manicure, he even laughs out loud. “I’m only good at doing my own nails,” he replies with a wink in my direction, making me laugh.
“You know, maybe next time you visit Mia, we could all go to the mall together!” suggests Paige. Oh that’s sweet; now that her favorite gay friend is here, she likes me all of a sudden. Love you too, sister dear.
“Sounds great. You know they have a new DDR station in the middle of the mall?” And just like that, they have an entire conversation about a dancing game that I have the inability to play.
“Yeah, and then maybe you three can all get your make-up done. You know Blake, he’s such a beauty queen,” I say, stifling a laugh.
“Guurlll,” says Blake, cracking everyone up.
Then Paige ruins it. “What do you mean us three? You need it way more than we do.” Dear lord! I want to strangle her. Is every girl this vile when they’re thirteen? I’m almost six years older than her! I’m legally an adult! What in the world makes her think she has the right to be so stuck-up and rude? This is one of the many times where I wonder how we could possibly be born from the same parents.
“Well yeah,” says Blake quickly. “Because we all know that my beauty dominates everyone else’s.” Gradually, he brings their conversation to a nice stopping point, and they excuse themselves from my room, giggling and talking like the best friends that they are.
“She didn’t mean that,” said Blake, when they’re gone.
“She clearly did,” I say, thoroughly miffed.
“She’s too young to know what the hell she’s saying. She’s thirteen. When has she even had the time to really see people for who they really are? Especially since she lives in this town. She hasn’t had the opportunity to be the better person.”
“That,” I say, turning on him, “is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. When you’re young, you say rude things because they’re true, and when you get older, you control that honesty. Maybe she’ll regret seeing people like this one day, but she knew exactly what she was saying.”
“Now that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” Blake smiles.
Still put off by my ever-obnoxious sister, I cross my arms and lean into the back of the bed. I feel the dying urge to go sleep, all of a sudden, weary from the overwhelming amount of sugar I consumed earlier this morning. Oh dear, I’m possibly the most lazy, gluttonous, inactive person on the face of this miserable earth.
I ask myself why an innocent person such as myself was cursed with the ability to eat until the end of time, when vicious teenagers like Molly are content with a few meager bites of food. Paige can also eat as much as I do, but for some reason she is a little twig at ninety pounds, and I am an absolute bucket of lard at a hundred and forty. Life is not fair.
Blake interrupts my drowsily unhappy thoughts by asking “So you’re thinking about coming with me?”
I yawn. “You wouldn’t want your friends to be miserable because I’m there…”
“You’re my friend too.”
“I hate oceans.”
“Mia, you know you want to come. You’ll have so much fun if you do. I’d be really happy if you came. Don’t you want to have a great new experience, with wonderful people such as myself…?”
My eyelids are drooping. “Go away. I need a nap.”
Blake’s eyes light up. Shit. I didn’t answer his question. He knows he’s won me over. “Does that mean your coming?” He just can’t stop smiling.
I look at him sulkily through glazed eyes. “Do I even have a choice?”