Two Boys

Rocco Paperiello


This story is 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? Go to some other Internet Site. (Of course some people actually cultivate being offended; if that's the case, read right on). As far as detailed descriptive sex acts, I think you may find some good ones in other stories right here on Nifty, but as of now I do not envision a lot of explicit detail in this one.

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 four. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our rear ends.

Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it (whatever for I wouldn't know), please e-mail me and also give proper attribution. As of now no one has permission to put this story on another Internet Site.

This story is almost entirely fictional, and autobiographical ONLY in the sense that many of the incidents in the story really happened, but in some cases to different people and under different circumstances. In other words I've simply adapted things that happened in my life to a fictional story. In fact, some aspects of both main characters are in part modeled from my own experiences. Some of my family members are also in this story, and perhaps (definitely) distorted a bit (a lot) at times and sometimes approaching caricature, but since I really don't expect them to sue, I'm taking the chance. All other characters are fictional, except as noted).

I welcome any feedback. Constructive criticism appreciated.

Rocco Paperiello

Help with editing by Doug Bradley.


PART II -- Discoveries

Chapter 35 -- Just Talking About the Past Summer

"How come, someone who fails 70% of the time is hailed as a hero?" I asked Jade. I guess I was in an introspective mood. (Jade got me on that word just last week). We spent so much time working on assignments, and studying, and I feel like a failure if I don't get an A. I was thinking about that while Jade and I were watching the baseball game on TV. The Phillies were losing of course.

"OK, White-boy, I give. Just what are you railing about now?"

"Tony Gonzalez is hitting at just about 300 and is a hero. If I merely got a 30% on my History test, I'd be grounded for life."

"Definitely a deep thought. What's really bugging you?"

Jade knew me too well. "I'm not sure. I just feel out of sorts. Maybe it's due to the fact that my best friend attacked me a couple days ago and only fast footed reflexes saved me from no more than a broken foot." And I added for good measure: "And the first full day in a cast -- a cast that is driving me crazy and I desperately needed someone to moan to -- he totally abandons me." My answer was indicative of the kind of mood I was in.

"OK, I'll laugh at this feeble attempt at humor when you give me the punch line. And you know very well that I used yesterday to get that book from Learys."

"Furthermore, my best BOY-friend now has fallen into the clutches of a scheming GIRL." I made the word `girl' sound like a disease. My mood kept shifting and I wasn't sure why.

(A loud sigh from Jade). "All right, I guess this will take twenty questions. Is it larger than a breadbox?" (An allusion to a TV show where people had to figure out what something was by asking only yes-no questions to the only people who could see it. This was almost always the first question asked).

"Jade, what's wrong with me?"

"Except for bouts of melancholy now and then, an ego the size of Texas, a hang-up about your size, a penchant for lying, and forever trying to get me into trouble, . . . nothing."

"Sorry, I don't even know why I feel so blah. I was hoping to prod you into telling me."

"I just might. You worry too much about everything. One, my non-existent girlfriend. Two, the shower thing, which is apparently supposed to be solved. Three, whether you can get all A's again this year. Four, how you're going to get up that hill on Solly Avenue tomorrow. Six, why the Phillies always end in last place. Seven, . ."

"Stop. I get the message. And what happened to `five'?"

"I was afraid you couldn't handle number five."

We just sat there for a while with me just leaning back against Jade's legs. I finally couldn't stop wondering what number five was. "Jade! You know I can't stand suspense. What is number five?"

Jade looked at me with a funny kind of smile. "Remember, YOU made me tell you. Do you realize that you just called me your `boyfriend'?"

My thoughts were more mixed up than ever. Maybe Jade is right this time. Is that what is making me so unsettled? "You know, I think you just might be right. I guess deep down I'm really worried about me not being attracted to girls. . . Yet. And I can't figure how to fix it. I'm getting so mixed up." After another pause I added: "And you are my best friend who happens to be a boy, and that's all." I wondered why this came out so vehemently.

Then one of the announcers asked for the 777th time, OK, 3rd or 4th time, if either Mantle or Maris would break Babe Ruth's home run record. "Who the heck is Roger Maris?" I asked.

"Someone who is on pace to break Ruth's record."

"Thanks. You know what I was asking. I mean that nobody heard of him before this year. And if he wasn't hitting in front of Mantle, no body would still have heard of him."

"OK, White-boy, what's causing this mood of yours? Even worrying about if you're homosexual never seemed to get you this bad. You're almost as bad as a girl. They also complain about everything, except what's really bothering them."

"Since when have you become an expert on girls?"

"You're doing it again. Trying to side step my question. How about telling me what's bothering you."

"I thought that's what I was trying too get YOU to tell ME." But I was pretty sure I really knew what was wrong. I wanted to talk to Jade about this but when I think about all the stuff that Jade has gone through, I start to wonder if he'll just think I'm a crybaby. I looked up at Jade and he had this real earnest and concerned look. I decided to take a chance. "I was just thinking. I put so much time, work and effort into everything, and except for schoolwork, I seem to fail at everything. And I was now thinking that if I can`t . . ." I couldn't finish. I almost said that if I wound up being homosexual I would fail at being a man. Or even a normal person. And that would mean I thought that also about Jade.

Jade fortunately didn't make me finish. He merely said: "Now were getting somewhere. What have you failed at recently?"

"Well I spent half of Summer Camp and a number of times all summer trying to learn how to swim, and I still can't."

"What you're really saying is that your brother is one Merit Badge away from Eagle and you can't get there first. Also he is upstairs right now participating in some Ham Radio Contest and you aren't. How good did I do?"

"Sorry Jade, you keep telling me to put my energies elsewhere. But it's not just that. It almost seems like everything."

We talked about this and a few other things. Like I really liked most sports, but it seems I have to work like mad just to be barely mediocre. And I can never seem to get my Dad to care about me. And I finally got the nerve to talk about what was most bothering me. "And now if it turns out I'm homosexual I'll not only not get to be a good father like I've always dreamed, I won't even be a father at all. And I won't be able to stop from hurting my Mom." What I seemed to forget until we started talking about these things, was that Jade could hardly play any sports at all and he was also homosexual. I started to feel guilty about complaining so much.

"Look Rocco. Like I've tried to make you understand. You don't have the corner on having problems. You have to concentrate on the good stuff and put all your energies where you can succeed."

I started feeling even more guilty. "I know you're right, it's just you're supposed to be able to have dreams about your future and suddenly I feel like a lot of my dreams I already have to give up on."

"Look. We can still dream. We just have to dream something different sometimes."

Fortunately Jade was able to make me feel better. Just being able to talk about this stuff seemed to help. Then Jade led the conversation elsewhere. I was glad to get it away from sex stuff. The conversation eventually got rerouted to the fun we had last summer.

Jade brought up the day we won the nature hunt. "Winning the nature hunt. That was great. And you were the one knowing where all the amphibians could be found."

I could visualize the end when we were turning in our "finds." "I still can't believe Mike's eyes when you started handing him the 20th plant that we had identified." I had to laugh just remembering. "He was just about to grab it from you when you said so nonchalantly it was poison sumac."

Jade was then further reminiscing. "And how about the time at the special exhibition the police put on for the Boy Scout." We both started laughing remembering. Jade continued: "You just got your finger prints taken by that nice policeman and he looked at me behind you asking for my right hand."

"And his eyes bugged out when you showed him your right hook. But he recovered pretty well until he said, `That's OK, the left will do'."

We laughed even harder. "And I couldn't believe his expression when I so innocently brought up my left!"

"I thought he was going to die of embarrassment. But I think you carried it just a bit too far when near the end of the show, he assured us that EVERYONE could be taught how to shoot a bow and arrow. I can't believe that you actually had the nerve to stand up and say you were the exception. I was surprised he didn't remember you."

"When I got onto the platform, he couldn't take his eyes off my hooks."

"You were really bad, walking up there hiding your hooks behind your back. He should have realized something was up when all those snickers started."

"He looked so smug, when I joined him and I said `I really don't think I can learn this'."

"Yeah, and then he said (I tried to mimic his deep voice but couldn't even get down to middle C): `I've been teaching this for 12 years, and I haven't failed yet.' We were both rolling on the floor by now. "And you said with your so innocent-looking-face: `OK, I'll try'."

"He was speechless as I lifted my hooks. The entire place erupted in laughter. But it went over so well, he eventually started laughing too."

From behind we hear: "What's all the laughter about?" Dolores had come into the living room.

"We were just remembering some things from the summer. Still going to Band Stand again next week?" I asked.

"Only if Mom finally lets me. Bobby Darren is supposed to be there live. I hope he sings his new song, Beachcomber. It just came out."

Jade than said: "Don't know that one. But hay Dolores, I just borrowed the Everly Brother's new album It`s Everly Time. The first song, "So Sad," is really great. I'll bring it over tomorrow. I have it for three more days. You have any new ones?"

"Melva just lent me Rockin' At The Hops, Chuck Berry's latest album. But we have to play it real low, 'cause Mom said I can't listen to his stuff any more.

I butted in. "Jade, I have to warn you, except for maybe the first song, Bye Bye Johnny, it's pretty bad."

But Jade was still perplexed by our Mom not wanting us to listen to his stuff any more. "How come your Mom said that?"

I answered: "Because Chuck Berry was convicted of white slavery. At least that's what the news said."

Jade seemed to get excited. And maybe even a little angry. Dolores couldn't probably tell but I sure could. He explained: "Actually he got convicted under the Mann Act. He brought an Indian girl with him on one of his trips. She was a prostitute."

"Hay Jade not so loud." I said. "We can't let my Mom hear us talking about this stuff. And that girl was only 14 years old."

Dolores asked: "What's this 'man act'?"

Before Jade could even answer I asked: "And how come you even know what it is?"

Jade explained it was a federal law which was supposed to be for prosecuting people for prostitution. "But it was also used a long time ago to prosecute the first colored heavy weight boxing champion. He got a year in jail for having sex with the woman he was going to marry. But they went after him because she was white."

I knew why Jade was excited about this but I couldn't feel sorry for the singer. Maybe I'll ask Jade about this when we're alone next.

Dolores then started talking about her favorite singer, Pat Boone, and was complaining that his TV show wasn't on any more.

Jade got up off the floor and walked over to my sister. "Can I look at the album? I'd like to see what's on it. I also think that as soon as Pat Boone realizes there's more money doing more traditional Rock n' Roll, he'll change his image."

I then remarked: "Never, he's even supposed to become a preacher. And he must be popular enough, with his TV show and all."

Jade started upstairs with my sister and said he'd be right back.

I yelled after them: "Be careful Dolores that Jade don't scratch it." Jade heard as intended. A cushion slammed into the back of my head. I was busy plotting my revenge. I got us some more Kool-Aid from the fridge and pretzels from the big can, and returned. And I also switched glasses.

Jade returned about 15 minutes later. He couldn`t have listened to much of the album. He took a look at the cup. "Very funny! Not only do you still look like a sixth grader, you have the humor of one."

I also underestimated Jade's resourcefulness. "Where the heck did you get that?" Jade had pulled out an industrial strength plastic straw. When he came here he always used one of our aluminum cups. Now he simply leaned over to the thin plastic cup I substituted it with and used his straw.

"Don't forget, I'm a Boy Scout. But this straw reminds me of the movie we went to one day at the end of the Summer."

Dolores came in and asked if the game would be over soon. She was anxious to watch a movie on a different channel. She then asked about what we had been talking about.

Jade reiterated: "We were talking about that movie your brother and I went to."

I butted in: "Spartacus. How can I forget. What a waste of money. Tony Curtis as Antoninus, destroyed my enjoyment of the entire movie." I had added him to my actors-never-to-watch-again list. Jerry Lewis and Lucille Ball were also on it.

Jade continued: "It wasn't the horrendous acting of Tony Curtis so much. You were already upset because of that . . . (he looked over at Dolores and seemed to change what he was about to say), that asshole behind the candy counter." If he settled on "asshole," I wondered what word he was going to use.

Dolores asked: "Better not let my Mom hear you use that word, and besides, I think Tony Curtis is a dream boat."

"What I wonder is who his agent had to bribe to put an idiot body builder into the starring role." I persisted.

"You had trouble enjoying the movie because you were already riled by the guy at the counter. I'm glad he had a hundred pounds on you."

"Your nuts Jade. How come?"

"I didn't want you arrested when you attacked him. That was the only thing stopping you. You have to learn how to control that temper. I thought your yelling was still going to get us thrown out."

Dolores looked over. "I haven't heard this one before. What happened?" Dolores was trying to pry out our secrets.

"OK, just don't let Mom or Dad find out until I'm at least 50 years old. We were getting soda and pop corn right before the movie. The guy at the counter was a real . . . Well anyway, I couldn't believe how nasty he got when I started filling that small jug from the cups he gave me."

Jade continued: "He claimed that people weren't allowed to bring their own containers into the theater and tried to have Rocco thrown out."

"I wasn't really mad then; I was just trying to explain why you couldn't use the flimsy paper cups. He made some snide remark about snot nosed kids. Even when you came up behind me and showed him your hooks he still wouldn't give in."

"Well, the Manager apologized and let us stay."

"He should have given us everything free to make up for the insults."

"Look, I had to put up with all kinds of things because of these hooks -- for years. You need to mellow out."

"Of course there's the time that they may have gotten us OUT of trouble. Remember last Forth of July?" I said. I was thinking that Jade never complained about me talking him into doing a couple things that almost got us arrested last Forth of July.

Jade remarked: "Only because Jackie Robinson almost got us into trouble to begin with."

"Thanks for not saying it was me doing something technically illegal." That got my sister's attention.

"Well that goes without saying. I keep telling myself that next time I won't let you drag me into your near disasters."

"Then half the fun will disappear from your life."

Dolores was all ears. She asked: "You two almost got arrested!?"

"Don't tell anyone." We both said at the same time.

Jade continued: "I could have done without about three minutes of that fun last July 4th. The homemade fireworks were pretty neat, especially when we were shooting that film can higher than the house roof. But it was the balloons that caused the big trouble."

I thought back to that evening. Jade had been just as willing as I was. He even brought the nickel balloons. "It's neat how common store bought chemicals can make explosives." I said. "Like glycerin, or hair spray, or lye."

"The first balloon we sent up barely flashed. But it did light up the sky."

"Let's see. I think it was Jade, Jimmy, Stan, Jackie, and her brother Bill. We all climbed up onto the garage roof to see the fireworks going off in the distance. We could see the ones from Torresdale, and those from Palmyra across the river. I just wanted to add to the display. Your hooks came in good twice that night. When the large pop bottle got too hot to hold, you had no trouble."

"I didn't believe you at first when you said we could generate hydrogen gas just from lye and aluminum foil, and a bottle half filled with water."

"I was a bit disappointed with the first balloon. It got so big as it filled. Those nickel balloons you suggested were great. Three feet around when filled and easily able to lift with the several feet of jet-tex wick fuse. I wonder if the guy at the hobby shop wondered why we wanted so much."

"I thought the first big flash was great. The balloon got awfully high."

"But I liked the later ones better. It took us a couple just to figure how much air to put in first for the best explosion. But the balloons then didn't lift as fast."

"And the cops were patrolling the whole time and eventually homed in on us. Bill, Jimmy and Stan sped out of there like they were practicing for the Olympics. And the rest of us just hid in the garage."

Dolores interrupted: "You mean the cops got after you? It's a good thing Mom or Dad never found out."

"But I think Jackie was actually going to save us at first. She walked out of the garage when the cops banged on the door, and put on her act. She could really be a girl when she wants to. And she faked that high voice and her I'm-a-totally-flighty-girl routine. But when the cop asked if she saw any boys around with illegal fireworks she panicked."

"She didn't panic, Jade. I think she was just trying to save her own skin. She said a boy ran into the garage while she was looking for the charcoal starter her Dad sent her for. The act was Oscar quality but I thought I was a goner hiding there with you. And then Dolores, Jade saved my life. I had time to get out the back door while he talked with the cops and delayed them as much as he could."

"They asked if I was setting off homemade fireworks when I came up behind Jackie. When I lifted my arms and they saw my hooks they assumed I couldn't have been guilty. One of the rare times I was almost glad for them. Then they asked if anyone was in there. I said some boys saw Jackie and me in there and ran in the other direction. They almost just took my word for it until one decided to make sure. I was petrified when they started shining their flashlights around. I couldn't believe he couldn't find you in there. And when they realized the hasp lock still kept the back doors closed, they believed me."

Dolores asked: "But how come they never saw Rocco?"

Rocco smiled smugly. "I got out through that broken back window. There was no glass put back in it yet."

"I still couldn't believe Rocco, that you fit through that tiny window."

"What window?" Dolores asked.

"Those windows in the back door. One was knocked out."

Dolores looked at me. "I still don't believe it. They can't be more than 8 inches across and maybe 12 long. Maybe smaller."

Hay Jade, maybe we can bet Dolores. "How about betting your new 45 record?"

Dolores thought about it but finally decided maybe I really could fit. "No, I don't want to risk it.

I added: "It was one of the few times I was glad I was so small."

We left when Dolores' movie came on. We went outside. It was still very warm. Jade asked: "Do you think you could have fit through with that cast on?"

"The window was fixed a couple months ago. Bet would have been off anyway."

We sat in the backyard and happened to glance in Critter's direction just as he started to walk right up the garage wall. We both stared. "I am still amazed when I see him do that." I remarked. Critter knew where the food was and always came back to the yard. And he usually allowed himself to be caught. Usually. I plucked him off the wall and Jade let Critter walk up his shirt. "I think he's a couple inches longer," he observed.

We took Critter down the block to the grocery store on his leash and reveled in the stares. After coming back we talked some more until it started getting late. I asked Jade if he needed help tonight and he said his uncle was supposed to be home. He'd call as usual if he needed.

Just as he was leaving I said: "Thanks Jade for getting me out of the blues. I guess I'm still a bit worried how to cope with being homosexual if it turns out that way. I think that talk with Father Hearn may have actually some bad consequences after all. It seems I can't keep thinking about the whole thing a whole lot more."

Jade came back to me and replied: "Same advice I always give you, but you won't take it. You should try to worry more about what you think than what others think. That even goes for your church."

"I'll try."

Journal of Rocco P

September 11, 1960
I told Jade I'd try to not worry about things I can't change, and also to not worry about what other people might think about me, but how can I? This is too serious. And it's also about what's right and wrong. And then I start thinking about how I can possibly live without ever getting married and being celibate. I wondered if I can possibly do that. Then I wondered how there can be so many of us. God how can you let all of us be this way and then say it's wrong?

Well, maybe I'm worried about nothing after all. Maybe Father Hearn is right and in time I'll find out I'm OK after all. I just have to mature some.

Chapter 36 -- A Girlfriend?

Monday in Math class things got even worse. But then better. This needs an explanation. We were working on our assignment and Consuelo had come up to me and wrapped her arm around my waist. "Hay Jade. How's things?"

I immediately disengaged. I said: "Please don't." But another thought that occurred to me almost unbidden. I wished it was Rocco's arms around me.

She didn't seem deterred. "OK." That's what she said, but it sounded more like, "OK, until I feel like doing it again."

She kept trying to ask about what I would be doing later today, tomorrow, and so on. I decided to try and get on a different tack. "I had to help a good friend to a doctor Friday -- a broken foot."

"Oh? Is he in school today? I didn't see anyone with a cast."

"You just made two assumptions. You assumed the person was another boy, and that he went to this school." Could I simply lie?

"It was a girl?" She actually stepped back a step and had this funny look. Jealousy?

The moment of truth. I hesitated while debating with myself. Unfortunately when you do this, part of you always loses. But then part wins. "No. And he goes to Father Judge."

"You know a Catholic boy? My father was Catholic. We moved here after he died. Mom was bad for years. She's finally now dating, if you can call having someone over for dinner and TV dating."

"Sorry about your father. I know how you feel." Wrong thing to say! She wrapped her arm around me again. For some reason I really didn't like that. Maybe it reminded me too much of Mama.

"Please, I really wish you wouldn't do that." She only reluctantly let go.

"You lost your father too?"


"I'm sorry. How long ago? How's your Mom?"

"Cheating, that's two questions." But she just waited. "My Dad left when I was three. I don't remember him. Mama was really hurt."

"How's she now?"

Damn. I even invited that question. But I finally replied: "She died last January." Dangerous! Now she had this how-about-I-substitute-for-your-mother look.

The ploy worked for a while. But she was persistent. She kept forcing the conversation. But instead of getting me anxious, she talked about things that engaged my interest. Enough so, that I forgot all about possible complications and we talked about all sorts of things. I couldn't help but be impressed. She was pretty smart.

Later that day at lunch she sought me out. We ate together, and continued our conversation. Amazingly, she never commented on my hooks. That was also a plus. But then she started making obvious hints -- about dating.

"You know there's a dance coming up next week. Ever been to one of our dances?"

"I've never been to a dance in my life." And then I cheated. And in a move of desperation, I raised my hooks and said: "I don't dance."

She hesitated a few seconds. "Well, I'm sorry." She said weakly. "I really didn't mean to embarrass you."

But instead of going, she just changed the subject. But now that we were out of dangerous ground again, I could enjoy talking to her. She knew stuff. We talked about nature (one of my favorite topics). And about politics. (I confess she was more up on that than me). And about some new songs. (No I hated Elvis Prestley, and yes I liked the Platters). Then I mentioned that my friend had been trying to get me to watch the Kennedy-Nixon debate coming up in a couple weeks. It was going to be on TV. I couldn't get especially excited; I was only watching since he was so excited about Kennedy. I casually mentioned that Kennedy was a Catholic and some people had a concern over this. (I was sure hearing an earful from my uncle. But he didn't like either candidate. I didn't mention that of course). Nixon had the election locked up anyway so what was the big deal?

Consuelo, however, like with every other topic we talked about, had definite opinions. "Well, Kennedy has claimed that his church had no power to influence the political decision of any Catholic, but that is so obviously untrue his nose grows every time he says it. It will be longer than Nixon's in no time."

Wow, if Rocco could be here now and be listening in. "How can you even know something like that?" I asked. (I wondered if I was defending Kennedy only because he was Rocco's favorite candidate).

Consuelo was undaunted. "Well, for an obvious example, the three Bishops in Puerto Rico have told their parishioners there that they had to vote for the Church sponsored Christian Action Party. In fact one of them said to vote for the reelection of the current governor Munoz was not only a mortal sin, but the person could be thrown out of their Church."

I was looking at her like she was some . . ., I couldn't even put a name to it. "Where the heck do you get that stuff?"

"I just read the current news. In fact the Vatican Pope said that its Bishops had not only the right to tell their parishioners how they should vote, but it was their duty to do so."

I started laughing. "Holy smoke! I sure wish you and Rocco could get into a debate! Wow!"

"That your friend you were talking about?"

I said yes. And that led her to an obvious question. (Obvious after I thought about it later that is).

"He's white isn't he? That's an Italian name and only white boys go to Father Judge. How in the world did you guys meet?" She seemed genuinely interested, and she hit a topic I didn't mind talking about.

"I met him just about a year ago in Pennypack Park near where I lived. And we just sort of hit it off. I think we both needed a friend about them." Damn, how come I'm telling all that personal stuff?

"I know how that can be. When we moved here, I was pretty lonely for a good time until I reconnected with my cousin I hadn't seen for years. She's my best friend now. She's a Junior. Her father's my mom's brother. Her name's Carlotta Romero.

I found it interesting that she almost echoed my own words of a while ago. I remarked: "Well Rocco's a Sophomore although you'd hardly believe it. He still looks like a sixth or seventh grader, but it's still hard to imagine until you see him. He's barely over 5 foot and pretty skinny. We do everything together."

"I'm really glad you were lucky."

I was thinking she couldn't know how lucky. We had to quit for our next class, but I think she understood some how I felt. Interesting. Too bad she was a girl.

After my last class I went to the newspaper office to rejoin the newspaper staff. And there she was. "Consuelo." She turned. "Just wondering if you were following me?"

"I was here first if you hadn't noticed."

"Well, then you were following from in front. You on the staff?"

"Not yet but maybe. I was on the school paper, in my old school. So I thought I'd check it out."

"Let me show you around. And introduce you to people." (Me introduce people? Is this the real me)?

A funny kid we all called Marx because he was a rabid socialist came up and whispered. "She has that you-will-soon-be-my-boyfriend-look. Watch out!"

"This is Marx. Be careful, he's delusional. Sometimes he thinks he's human." And so we took the tour. I was enjoying it, and didn't know why. Needless to say we talked some more. I even agreed to a date. I can't even believe it myself. I think she's the strongest willed person I'd ever met. Maybe even more so than Rocco.

I met Rocco later that day. I wondered how he'd react. I knew him really well, but for some reason I kept changing my mind on how I thought he'd respond. I carried his books as we went down the big hill to get the trolley on Frankford Ave. I started filling him in on Consuelo.

"You WHAT? And she's WHAT? I thought I knew you really well, but this I couldn't have predicted." And then he changed gears. I could see it in his expression. "Actually it might be interesting. Maybe you're a tiny bit heterosexual after all. You know Kinsey claims that many people can be both!"

"First of all, I'm probably as surprised as you are. But behind everything, I really didn't want to deliberately lie to her. She is really nice and deserved not to be used. Secondly, I can not really see myself with a girl -- I mean sexually. I guess I'm a Kinsey number 6. And Consuelo and I discussed this and we both agreed that we wanted to keep things just friendly. We agreed that neither one of us was looking for sex."

Rocco started interrupting so I let him have his say. "I wish I could be a bit more like you. I would never have had the nerve to discuss anything like that with a girl. Heck, not even with anybody."

"Well, we've talked about it a lot. And you DID talk with that priest. That took more nerve than anything I've done."

"But I had an overriding motivation. It really was much more than just the shower thing. I absolutely couldn't chance having my secret out. But Father Hearn assured me anything I said was just between us. And I believed him. And I was so desperate for some advice. And I know you have trouble understanding how my religion so effects everything, I now have someone I can talk to about this stuff in the future."

I really had mixed feelings about Rocco talking to this teacher or priest. I suddenly realized I was worried I could lose him because of his religion. I was more upset than I wanted to admit. I temporized. "I'm glad for you. But we still haven't got to what I started talking about to begin with."

But Rocco saw my face, and he didn't even need his ESP: "OK what's really going on in that head of yours? I saw your face."

I walked behind a few steps. (That means I needed time to think). "I'm worried about you and your religion."

Rocco stopped and I turned. "I've been talking about the problems I've had with my religion all along. You know this is very difficult for me. But I will always talk to you about it."

"I know." I was so emotional inside, it surprised me.

"Now, what's up with this girl? And this date?"

I wanted to get out of my bleak mood. "Well, next Saturday we, meaning you and me, have a double date." His reaction was all I could have wished for. I found his fast changing expressions humorous as different thoughts must have blitzed through his brain.

Finally Rocco just laughed. I guess he knew me better than I realized. "OK, what's happening?"

"Well, Consuelo and I talked and one thing led to another and when she mentioned her girlfriend for the third time I got one of your patented brain storms. She will let me know if her girlfriend can make it Saturday. She is her cousin and a Junior, but she couldn't be found before I had to leave. We'll find out tomorrow. But if so, we're all supposed to be going miniature golfing Saturday afternoon."

After a short pause: "I think I can see your reasoning. This might actually work out pretty well. But a Junior? And I still look like a seventh grader. Also, I'm afraid what this might lead to. But one more thing. Can you play with your hooks?"

"Consuelo at least knows that we both just want casual dates. Nothing more. You haven't even asked me her cousin's name or what she's like. I find that interesting. And I guess we'll find out if I can hold a golf club well enough to do anything with it."

"OK, but as for the girl, what's her name and what's she like?" Rocco sometimes repeated things like that because he thinks it's funny. As I said before -- sometimes a sixth grade humor.

I suddenly got a most diabolical idea. Rocco claims he's weeded out ALL his prejudices. "Well her name is Naomi, and she's actually pretty short and small. And she puts her hair in these tight braids which are lined with beads. She's not quite as dark as I am." I never expected the reaction I got. Rocco went white. Damn. What is that all about?

He said: "Holy smoke, to borrow a phrase. I would just love to see everyone's expression if I took her home, but I suddenly was envisioning introducing her to my Dad. Wow, I'd love that. But I suddenly got scared. I couldn't chance his reaction. I'd love to go but this makes things more complicated. I don't think I'd want my father to know."

Now I almost felt guilty. I should have had more faith. "Rocco, I was just testing you. Her name is Carlotta, and though I was right about her being small, she is part Puerto Rican and part white. Consuelo claims `she's even prettier than me'." At Rocco's gaping stare I added: "I mean prettier than Consuelo. That was a quote."

Rocco laughed. "That sounds like something I would have thought up. Well this Saturday might even be fun." After a short pause, he added: "And I know part of your thoughts. It will help with maintaining my BIG LIE. You might be right but I think some of you is rubbing off on me. I really don't want to sort of use her. I want to make sure she knows I only want to date as friends. To me this could get awkward." And his smile got bigger. He looked at his arms. "So much is rubbing off I think I'm even getting darker."

"Don't worry; I made that point strongly with Consuelo. And you must have eye trouble. I always wondered how you never even tan after all summer in the sun. You're supposed to be part Italian. And another plus for your parents, Carlotta's Catholic."

We finally got to my house. The crutches were quite a workout for Rocco. I just remembered. "What about the shower showdown?"

"Well Father Hearn said he arranged for me to take it at the faculty house. I felt really weird just being there. It was a scary place. But also strange. Every time I met someone, they were usually pretty polite and just like real people. It's hard to think of them that way. But surprisingly no one asked any questions. But I guess now, I don't have to worry until I get this cast off."

"How about the crutches? Getting used to them?"

"Sort of, but I was late this morning. I didn't get Jug though. They bought my excuse. It took me forever to get up that hill with carrying my books at the same time. It would be nice if I could find someone to give me a ride. But I bet they're probably no more than 30 or 40 students that even have cars, and probably many of them don't drive them to school."

Then we talked a bit more about this Saturday while looking over the new additions to our penny collection. The 1915S we recently found was in fine condition, and we replaced the one we had where the date could barely be read. It was a pretty good find. We also found an 1894 Indian Head that had gotten us real excited when we first saw it. It was possibly the rarest of the 1890s pennies. Getting Indian Head pennies out of circulation now was pretty uncommon -- maybe even rare. It seemed like everybody and their grandmother was starting to collect coins.

Almost out of the blue Rocco stated: "You know this date means that you're starting to live the BIG LIE also." The idea must have been percolating in his head for a while. This was typical Rocco.

"Definitely not. I right up front told her I was definitely not interested in a serious relationship or even sex at this time. I am not using her. Who knows, maybe she's using me. Maybe she's a lesbian, and covering herself."

We were both thinking that was pretty funny. "You've been thinking about that Kinsey stuff too much. Now you see homosexuals and lesbians everywhere. And I don't know where you learned about Lesbians since it sure isn't in the Kinsey book."

"Well according to Kinsey homosexuals are! I mean everywhere. Now I think I'll be going down the corridors at school and wondering who else there might be homosexual. And I just assumed that lesbians were probably as common. And, besides, the way you were quoting from it, you must have stayed up all night after I left, memorizing it."

Rocco smiled: "Actually only snippets from here and there. And it's amazing to realize that at least five or ten percent of the country are 'almost entirely' or 'exclusively' homosexual, as the book says. What a revelation. That changes so much."

"Rocco. Do you realize that's the hundredth time you mentioned that in the last couple days? And why should it change things for us? It won't affect whether or not we're homosexual."

"A gross exaggeration." He insisted. "And it changes everything!"

Going home I was thinking that it was usually my White-boy that initiated what we were going to do. But this time it was me. Maybe some of him was rubbing off on me! And how did he figure that the Kinsey numbers 'changes everything' ? I had the book with me; it was my turn tonight. I wanted to find out if he had statistics on just colored people. Another thing I was thinking about was Rocco's birthday was coming up.

Copyright 2006 by Rocco Paperiello