The men in my life

And now for the men:***

***A continuation of this post.

The Bully

I was nine years-old. He was kind of the jerk of our third grade class.

What can I say? Tiny McKenna had terrible taste.

The Badboy

When sixth grade came along, there was a new boy in class. He was from a different state — California; or Hawaii, maybe — and he was rebellious.

Now, at 22, I can’t even remember what he did that was so James Dean-esque, but I remember enough to know it was something.

He walked me home from school one day, and gave me his coat when I began shivering. I thought that’s what the girls in the movies must feel like.

The Scientist

When I hit middle school, I met a boy in biology class. He was dorky, funny, and considerate (a true triple threat).

I think we just drifted apart. Class ended, a new school year began and, eventually, the communication slipped away.

We saw each other quite often in high school and exchanged plenty of polite nods. We never discussed middle school. I think I always had it on my mind when we had a run-in, my mind naturally wandering off into a “What if” kind of place. I’m sure he wouldn’t have remembered us in middle school, even if I had brought it up with him.

I actually saw him for the first time since high school graduation about a month ago at a bar. I avoided him. I doubt he even recognized me.

The Show-Off

We met through a mutual friend in Spanish class in eighth grade. He was kind of everything I didn’t want. Athletic. Cocky. Charming. Too charming– like a conman.

It was my first textationship (a relationship almost existing entirely through text). We were in constant contact from the end of eight grade all through the summer before ninth. Then, just like with the Scientist, it stopped.

I think there was an event that ended it — an official concluding incident, but I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter.

We also ran into each other a few times in high school. There were no polite nods to be exchanged.

The Musician

The second textationship.

He was tall, funny, gorgeous, with beautiful dark skin. He could play electric guitar behind his head. He liked me, (or so he said) and, my god, did I fall hard for him. I changed myself, pretending to like things that I had no real interest in (sports, heavy metal, etc.). We texted on the way to school in the morning, and kept at it until we went to sleep after midnight.

I still remember one cold winter afternoon when we had a half-day. I was overwhelmingly excited about the idea of leaving early, going home, making a grilled cheese sandwich and enjoying an afternoon of school-free alone time. We were texting as cheese melted into bread and he asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he responded with a disbelieving “lol.” Turns out, his own grilled cheese was taken off his stove about five minutes before mine was put on.

I was convinced it was a sign.

A week before I turned 16, things turned to shit. Long story short: my best friend at the time got involved and fucked it all up real good. The twist of the knife: He told her he was planning on officially asking me out on my birthday, but that was ruined now.

Rough.

Last I heard, he can still play the guitar behind his head; and, yes, that’s still a turn-on.

The Best/Worst Thing

Around the time this was all going on with The Musician, I met The Best/Worst Thing in Spanish class (What is with me and Spanish classes?).

I was attracted to him immediately. He was tall, weird as hell, funny, and I’d never met anyone quite like him. I thought there was a strong possibility he might be gay, but I ignored it.

I could tell I annoyed him almost immediately. I’ve never been good about hiding my attraction to people, a quality I have begun describing as “having no chill.”

Nowadays it’s better — I’ll be honest and up-front with you and move on. Back then, it was mortifying to even think about saying anything. So I didn’t say anything. Well, not verbally, at least. But he still totally knew. And it hardcore annoyed him.

I was exhausting. And needy as fuck. Honestly, looking back, I don’t know why or how he even put up with me.

The next couple of years go like this: I spend the majority of my high school experience being completely in love with him. He so does not reciprocate. We become friends-ish. Then actual friends. My instinct keeps telling me he’s gay. I push that down. He tells me he’s straight, so I listen. We talk on the phone; like, actually talk. Not text. That’s a first.

He’s a year older than me, and when his prom comes around I suggest we go as friends. It’s one of the best nights of my teenage life — exactly what prom should be.

In January of 2011, a few months before my graduation, we share a tearful (on my part) goodbye the night before he moves to Los Angeles.

“Don’t die,” I tell him, hugging him so close on this front porch. “I’ll refrain,” he says, resting his head on mine.

In the weeks and months after his move, we actually talk more — become closer. I’m still in love with him, of course, but I also think of him as one of my best friends.

During a late night Skype session in early May, I become the second person he comes out to. He then immediately hangs up, and I am left staring at my computer screen, mouth hanging open, eyes bulging.

He’s gay. Oh my god, he’s actually gay. He just said it. Holy shit. This is the greatest thing to ever happen.

It was like a switch was flipped. I was over him. Just like that. Magic.

I was still needy as fuck for a while after that, though. What can I say? Teenage McKenna was an annoying little bug.

At the time of writing this — seven years after first meeting in that Spanish class — we are in the best place we’ve ever been. Best friends. Basically siblings. We’re hoping to live together when I move to LA in a couple months.

Now the idea that I actually, for real spent so much time being in love with him is actually hilarious. I cannot fathom it. Even writing it just now — it feels alien.

The Neighbor

Fast forward to my junior year in college, when I meet a hella cute guy in my hall. He’s my next door neighbor. He’s charming as hell, (but not in a smarmy way like The Show-Off) and his smile/laugh combo is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen.

We agree on so much. We disagree on even more.

We often hung out in group settings, and he would do that thing where he made a joke specifically for me, and looked at me expectantly — waiting for me to get it and laugh at/with him. I would, and suddenly the two of us were in our own private bubble, even several feet apart in a crowded room or hallway.

During senior year, we hung out a couple of times just the two of us. I was always hopeful, but never really believed anything would happen. He’s way too cute. He’s a solid 8.5 to my 4.8. Those ain’t great odds.

About a month after graduation, I had a steamy dream about him and, when I woke up, I thought about texting him just to catch up. I didn’t.

I should.

The Complement

On a dull morning in the fall semester of my junior year of college, I stumbled into “Renaissance Literature,” a class for English majors only, where we would be discussing seemingly everything Renaissance-related, minus Shakespeare.

Toward the middle of the amphitheater-styled classroom, a few rows up, there was a cute guy with light brown hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and a hat — always a hat. He also had the world’s most hideous necklace permanently resting on his chest.

My first impressions of him included all of the above, along with admiration at the fact that everything he said in class was thought-provoking and impressive. He never stumbled.

An attractive, obviously smart English major. For that, I could ignore the terrible accessories.

I talked to him maybe twice in class and forgot about him over winter break. When January arrived, and the spring semester with it, I found that I had two more classes with him.

Over the next couple of months, we spoke a lot more and got to know each other better. We sat next to each other every day in one of our two classes, and gave each other funny faces and snide glares in the other.

My senior year, I became an editor at the paper and one of my first executive decisions was to bring him on as one of my writers. I became “Boss Bitch” in his phone, and when he called me the words “My Bitch” flashed on my home screen.

We grew closer, even developing a system for when we were meeting as friends and when we were coworkers. #FriendMode #WorkMode

I’ve never pretended that I don’t have a crush on him. What I have hidden — from myself and others — is the size.

Here we are, about 2.5 years after first meeting. We are best friends and I trust that boy with my life. He supports me in everything I do and constantly tries to make my life easier. He compliments me (which I hate, but I can’t deny it’s a nice thing to do). He sends me kind texts and calls me “babe.”

He tries to fix my self-esteem issues. It’s hopeless, of course, but, again, it’s nice.

In many ways, we are vastly different people but, rather than make our relationship harder, it makes us better fit together. Complementary.

In other ways, we are eerily similar, agreeing with each other on things we each never thought anyone would agree with us on.

He laughs at my jokes and I laugh at his. In a second we can go from real talk about social justice and the pros/cons/challenges of being bisexual, to joking back and forth, using ridiculous voices for emphasis.

He’s one of the few people in this world who makes me feel good about myself. When we’re together, I genuinely feel better about myself and my place in the world.

We have vaguely-matching tattoos that we got completely impulsively a couple months back.

I want him to be my best friend for pretty much ever.

But I also really want to make out with his face, you feel me?

So, for now I guess the goal would be best friends who make out on the reg?

#TheDream

THE END.

As always, thanks for reading.

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