This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story about relationships between and among teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.
If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.
Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.
Chapter 96-- Friends Old and New
I was partly relieved with the letter my Mom had sent. At least I was no longer in suspense. But it really hurt to know that Mom and Dad had a big fight over Jade and me, although it wasn't surprising. And how my father reacted I could see. He did that a lot. He had his own ideas, etched in stone, and didn't want to be confused by any opposing facts. Well, maybe that's going too far, but he sure doesn't usually stay and listen when someone disagrees with him. I told Jade that if we ever had a serious disagreement, that he was to sit on me until I listened -- REALLY listened. Like when we had our disagreement about a car.
Jade and I had an argument about buying a car just several days ago, and I was pretty adamant that we needed our money for college, but Jade said that we really could afford one if the price were right, and also the convenience would be worth it. But I said that insurance and tags would be pretty high. I wouldn't give in, and Jade went to his desk and started on some assignment. I could tell he was NOT happy. I knew that Jade loved me unreservedly. And I started worrying that Jade gave in not because I convinced him that I was right, but because he was more concerned about how I felt. And I then found myself WALKING AWAY! I got to the corridor and realized I was doing just what I always hated my father for doing. I became so disgusted with myself when I realized I was acting just like my father. I was determined to attack the problem more rationally. Maybe we really COULD afford a car. We needed to talk about it some more and look into our finances and expected bills and see.
I almost ran back into the room and Jade must have heard me and turned around. We both started talking and almost said the exact thing. "Jade, you might be right. Let's talk about this some more."
"Rocco, I think we need to discuss this more. You are probably right, but how about we see exactly what we might afford."
We both smiled with relief. We talked about the car some more and finally did agree that if we found something that was a good buy we would go for it. Especially as summer neared. We also talked about us working for my uncle again if we decided that we needed additional funds. Later I couldn't understand how come I had been so set against the car in the first place. I talked to Jade about it.
Jade said: "Well, I think that for years all we thought about was saving money for college. That was THE goal. It's just then hard for us to get out of that way of thinking."
"Thanks for being nice about it Jade, but you mean it was ME who got locked into thinking one way."
I sure loved the way we made up that night. We both slept in the next morning. We both only had one class early that morning and decided we could get the notes from Mike who had the class with us.
We had also gotten in the habit of playing our usual card games with Mike and Pat almost every Friday night -- and into Saturday morning. Of course sometimes we tried to inject some variety into the evening by playing Spades, or even single deck pinochle. Once I brought in my backgammon set but it never caught on especially since it was only a two player game.
And I never realized how much time writing letters could take. My letters to my Mom were sometimes 10 or more pages. Fortunately I was getting letters not just from my Mom, but Jimmy Alexander even wrote once. It was mostly about a football game our high school won but it was still a letter. And Mike's brother Tom probably wrote more than any body. Well except for Tim. They were somewhat hard to follow since Tim wandered all over the place but Jade and I treasured every one. And they always included a few sentences from Mrs. Webster on the last page. (Which was frequently the only page).
One day near the end of October the weather was too beautiful -- after a couple weeks of dreariness -- and Jade talked Mike and Pat into driving to the top of Mount Spokane about 35 miles north of Spokane. There was a little snow at the top and even a ski area. It had two chair lifts and Pat said that the double chair lift there was the first one in the entire country. Of course it wouldn't be open until near Thanksgiving. But the weather was great and the views fantastic.
View from the Top of Mount Spokane
The mountain was close to 6000 feet high and we meandered around several trails near the top on the south side where the snow wasn't too deep. It was great to get away from school work for an afternoon. On the way back down I was getting frustrated since even though there was almost no traffic, Mike wouldn't go over 20 miles an hour down the twisty road. Jade noticed and grabbed my hand before I said something rash.
Another favorite place Mike liked because it was so close to campus was Turnbull Wildlife Refuge. Both Jade and I on occasion went with Mike for a nice couple hour outing. They were in the middle of putting a big fence all the way around a small lake there. They said it was to be a part of a breeding program to help avoid the extinction of the Trumpeter Swan.
But mostly Jade and I were so busy with school work, that except for Friday night card game, and the occasional trip, and Jade's infrequent times with Rob, and my occasional tutoring in the math department, our social life was relatively lacking. But neither of us seemed to mind. We had each other. Of course there were the infrequent occasions when the math department had get-togethers for members of the math department. And it was one of these which caused me a little grief.
It just so happened that right in the middle of tutoring someone this girl acceptor me right out of the blue and asked me on a date!
Jade was no help whatsoever. In fact when I explained to him what happened he was too busy laughing to be of any immediate help. Every time I started asking for advice Jade just started laughing again. This was a heretofore unseen aspect of his personality.
"Jaaaaaade! Please. I need real help here. She already must think I'm a total dork, if not a racist."
"Sorry White-boy, but remember when I was in a similar situation about a month ago? That girl who was taking notes for me?"
"No. Nobody asked you on a date. She was just trying to get herself into your bed."
"Whatever. I seem to remember your total inability to commiserate. In fact you said something about this could be my chance to discover if I had any buried heterosexual tendencies at all. I definitely remember your total and callous disregard for my feelings. Not to mention a total disregard for our marriage vows."
Damn! For the next 10 minutes Jade kept bringing up too many past transgressions on my part. I never realized that I was apparently so far ahead on `points.' He even mentioned that time in the playground when I attached a `tail' to the back of his pants. That had to have been almost 4 YEARS ago!
"OK black boy. You've had your fun. Now help!" He knows I'm truly pleading when I call him `black boy.' "Besides there has to be some kind of statute of limitations on some of that," I added.
After Jade had his fun he finally DID try to help me figure out what to do. "First, what was her name again?"
"Xiaojin. Liu X-i-a-o-j-i-n." I tried spelling it out. "I think. I probably have the spelling wrong. Liu is her family name. I think. I heard a friend call her Xia. The `x' is more like a `ch' sound. I think. You know I don't have a good ear for these things."
"Is she pretty?"
"What the heck has that got to do with anything?"
"Just wondered. She probably thinks you're cute. Maybe she thinks you have some Chinese in you. You're pretty small and not a whisker in sight. I bet she is wondering if you have any hair anywhere else."
"Jade. You are definitely NOT helping. And I am definitely NOT cute."
Xia (if I have her name close to correct) was indeed a very pretty girl. At least I thought so. Oval face, beautiful features, straight black hair, and possibly the only other person in the math department smaller than me. And who could have ever thought! She came right up to me as I was tutoring someone in the common math study room and ask if I wanted to go to the department dance this coming weekend. Whoever heard of the girl asking the boy? I was in such a state of shock I didn't say a single word. Then she just walked off. The kid I was tutoring wasn't too helpful either.
"Shit man. One of the prettiest and definitely the smartest girl in the whole Freshmen class and you brush her off? Hell, I was hoping she would ask me." Ask him? I hadn't the slightest idea why he was hoping a girl would ask him nor did I know about any dance. Then Tim -- the guy I was tutoring -- showed me one of the posters. It seems that the math department was putting on a dance for just its own math majors. And the girls were invited to ask the guys! Shit! I tried to explain that I was just so surprised, but he too left probably thinking I was a total dork.
The girl was in my Multivariable class and a Freshman so must have gotten advanced placement too. I tried explaining all this to Jade without inviting further criticism. Or sarcasm.
"Look. It's simple. Just find the poor girl and apologize. Just tell her the truth. That you are socially totally inept."
Ouch! For the 9 thousandth time in my life I hit Jade's hook as I tried to hit him. "Any other words of wisdom oh mighty ladies man? Assuming that I'm able to convince her to begin speaking to me again, what do I say when she repeats her request that I take her to the dance?"
"Simple. Tell her you're married."
"Great. So where's my wife? She`s going to assume I then have a wife somewhere."
"Tell her the truth. Or maybe just tell her you're gay."
"Perfect. So I start telling the whole world I'm a queer pervert."
"White-boy, I thought you said you were finished living the big lie."
Damn! "There's a difference between always trying to act the heterosexual, and just keeping things to yourself."
"Rocco. You should be listening to yourself. But my best advice is to give her as much of the truth that you dare and see what happens. You know that this type of thing will just be happening our whole lives."
Jade was right. "Ok. I will try to heed your advice."
"Or there's always the other alternative."
"Tell her nothing and just let everyone think you are socially retarded."
I told Jade what he could do with that piece of advice.
Jade then considered. "Of course there is one other alternative."
"Take ME to this dance."
Wow. I certainly wished I could. But I wasn't even close to that kind of brave. Or foolhardy depending on your definition.
The first thing I did was at the next opportunity follow Xia out of class after math class. And now that I made myself pay attention to her during class, I connected her up to "the student who ALWAYS knows the answer." And now I remembered someone saying that she was the other Merit winner in our class. Strange how I only `sort of' knew her. I guess my brain tends to compartmentalize things.
"Xia, please wait up."
She turned and smiled. And it was a real smile. I now had hopes of `fixing' things.
"Hello Mr. Rocco. You can speak after all."
I probably turned red. But her even brighter smile seemed to take the sting out of her words.
"Xia, do you have time to maybe get something to drink and perhaps listen to an apology at the same time?"
We migrated over to the Student Union while I was still trying to figure out what to say. And what NOT to say. Fortunately she was friendly enough and kept up the conversation. And she was originally from Vancouver, British Columbia before her family moved to the Seattle area a few years ago.
Five minutes later we were seated and drinking Mountain Dews. I was starting to get addicted to that drink. I'd never had one `til a month ago.
"So Mr. Rocco you mentioned something about an apology?"
Listening to her very carefully I did detect not an accent exactly but there was just a slight difference of emphasis on a syllable now and then. "Yes. I am really sorry about what happened the other day in the study room. But I was caught totally by surprise. When you asked me to the dance I was so flustered I couldn't make my brain work."
Xia seemed to get a bit more serious. "Because it was an Asian girl asking you?"
"No. Because it was a GIRL asking me."
Xia was momentarily confused. "But of course. That was the intent of the organizers. I was one of them."
"Well first of all, I didn't even know about any dance. And I haven't even been on a date since way in high school. And it was the surprise of it. I'd never heard of the girl asking the guy, let alone been the one asked."
Xia smiled. "So it wasn't because I was not Caucasian?"
"Of course not."
"Good. So what is your answer?"
Now it was my turn to be confused. "My answer?"
"Yes. Will you go to the dance with me?"
Now what do I say? "Xia, I would very much enjoy going to the dance with you." Not a total lie. Xia I really liked. It's just that I didn't particularly care for dances. Well that's not quite accurate either. If I were dancing with Jade I'd look forward to it.
When I hesitated she prompted: "But . . ."
Now that DID surprise her. That I said such a thing even surprised myself.
"But in all the time I've seen you, you have never given any indication that you were married. I can understand now."
Xia seemed genuinely disappointed. And that surprised me. I'd never known any girl giving me another thought. Of course I wasn't paying much attention either.
That evening I told Jade about the whole thing.
"So, she now realizes that you are not totally a jerk. What did she say when you told her you were married?"
"Not much. She seemed more embarrassed than anything else. And fortunately she never did ask about my `wife' or anything."
"Wouldn't it have been simpler just to go to the dance with her?"
Jade laughed. "Just kidding."
She did eventually ask someone else, and no it wasn't Tim. And I always wondered what would have happened if I'd had the courage to tell her the complete truth. Damn! I was still partly living a lie. Well maybe some day things will be different enough that I could do just that. But I wasn't holding my breath.
And after all that fuss, the dance never happened after all. It was cancelled because of what happened earlier the day of the dance.