Future

June 9, 2011
We were walking on a busy sidewalk, thirteen blocks from the library, dodging skaterats and uppity men in business suits, avoiding the neighborhood panhandlers with their cardboard signs. Walking casually arm in arm, laughing and chatting, giggling over jokes known only to the two of us. Mid-laugh, he stopped suddenly, jerking me to a halt.

What is going to happen to us? I mean, I’m a guy, and you’re a girl, and this is high school. Will we get closer, uncomfortable couple-y closer, or will we drift apart? Mr. Ed, what do you see for us?

After his deserved punch in the shoulder for using the nickname I hate, I paused.

I see us both auditioning for every play that comes our way- taking parts and disappointments in stride, getting jealousy out over free Frostys, from that creepy guy that never lets me pay. I’ll lend you my car for date night, because your mom’s minivan, sliding door and all, is not primo-smooth material. You’ll show up at my front door at two a.m., after you had your weekly screaming match with the parental units, because you know my shoulders are wide enough to take your tears. I’ll come to opening night of every show you’re in, no matter how small the part, and bring you flowers to make you blush. You’ll show up at each one of my choir concerts, so I have a familiar face in the audience cause my parents, even after all their promises, were too busy to hear my solo. We’ll both get fired from any high school job we take up, cause we’ll miss too many shifts for rehearsal. When the black kids shun you because you are half white, and when the white kids shun you for being part black, I’ll take your hand and tell you that they don’t deserve your friendship. You’ll tell me the same thing, when anti-Semitic southerners slip tell me, like it’s a fact, “You know you are going to hell, right?” When I am crying because my “different” brother drops out of college or when I just can’t bear dealing with life, you’ll do the Bend and Snap to make me laugh, even though I can’t bear to smile. I’ll show you my synagogue, and we’ll go to services at your church together. I’ll tutor you for Spanish, Algebra, Chemistry…and write your English paper “with” you. You’ll tweak my nose and tease me for my nerdiness when I’m freaking out because I have a 3.98 instead of a 4.0. When you are avoiding your over-conservative, over-protective, over- opinionated parents at my house, we’ll make pancakes, and splatter the walls with batter. We will both wear bunny slippers underneath our graduation robes, because VP Dickerson can’t put us in detention any more.

He gave me a one-armed hug and a weak smile. Okay, that’s high school. What happens after that?

We will both get out of Tennessee for college- we probably won’t go to the same school, grades in consideration, but we will try to stay as close as humanly possible. You’ll go for your theatre degree, while I will sign up for a double major and a triple minor. I’ll help you unload boxes in your dorm, and we’ll tour the campus, watching the different cliques and poking fun at them. We’ll go out together every Wednesday night, calling and saying, “So it’s Greek/burgers/sushi tonight? At eight?” and knowing the answer will be yes. I’ll introduce you to my girlfriends, snorting when the whisper about what a hunk you are. I’ll pull your hair back and place a cool damp towel on your forehead when you lean over the toilet, regretting the night and cursing beer pong. Your hands will involuntarily form fists when your roommate says how he can’t wait to BEEP me. You’ll yank me out of some frat guy’s dorm room just in time, so I won’t have to do the walk of shame. I’ll buy you pizza when you are cramming for finals, and you’ll relieve me of my backpack, chock-full of hardback books, when you notice that I’m slumped over like Quasimodo.

We’ll share an apartment at first, before we can even afford furniture, sitting on the floor and toasting to our new home with cheap strawberry wine, singing along to the Goodwill radio. You’ll try out the acting thing for a while, professionally, taking audition after audition until you can’t pay your rent. I’ll lend you the dough to get your landlord off your back, and get you a job interview with a producer I know. I’ll start at the bottom of the corporate ladder, working seventeen hour days, and when I fall asleep at my desk, you’ll carry me over to the couch, relieved that I’m actually resting. You’ll date your fair share of busty chicks you meet in bars, and I’ll have a fling with the copy boy- and we’ll help each other realize that no, it’s not love. When we are bored of the dull daily routine, we can rent bunny suits and walk into department stores, because we can. You’ll help me decide which beat up ’83 Pinto to lease.

You will meet a nice girl with a warm smile, and I’ll help you choose the engagement ring. I’ll be jealous at first, knowing I’m not the only girl in your life anymore, wincing at the thought of you being romantic and lovey dovey with her. But I’ll care too much to let you go, so I’ll make friends with her, take her shopping and help her pick out lacy baby clothes. We’ll form a daisy chain in the delivery room, you holding her hand, telling her to push, me holding yours, telling you to hold on. I’ll take your blushing bride out when she needs adults, and I’ll even pay for a babysitter. You’ll worry about me walking home from the office late at night, give me pepper spray and a lesson in self-defense. I’ll cook French for your kids, to break up the chicken nuggets. When I get a promotion, you’ll treat me to chocolate ice cream, telling me to forget about my figure. I’ll take your kids out for their birthdays, give them an Auntie Eden day when they can do whatever they want. When your worried about the crowd your eldest is hanging with, I’ll place a hand on your forearm and say, “Let me talk to him.” I’ll drive two nervous eighth graders to the movies for a “date”, because Mom or Dad driving is just embarrassing. We’ll enjoy that moment when an old friend stretches out their legs under the table, looks you straight in the eye, and asks how you’ve been. When I come over upset, saying that I’ve never really accomplished anything in life because I’m forty-five and don’t have a family, your kids will swarm me and say, but we love you. You’ll look over their heads and say yeah, we really do.

We hugged tightly for a while, tears staining our cheeks. I laughed when he licked mine off. We sat down on a bench, arms around each other, out of words. We sat like that for a long time, and we never made it to the library.





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