Excerpt from Boyfriends with Girlfriends:
Lance tapped the beat of
A Chorus Line’s “What I Did For Love” on Allie’s bedroom door. “Hi,
“Come in, you!” She
opened the door in a jean skirt, adjusting her bra. Ambushed by her
cleavage, Lance slapped a hand over his eyes.
“Oh, come on!” she
giggled, holding up a tie-dyed T-shirt. “Help me decide! Should I go with
He peeked through his
fingers and cut her off: “No way!”
She lifted a
zebra-striped blouse. “How about the—”
“Okay”—She held up a
pink Lycra top—“I’ll go with the—”
“Good!” He checked the
time on his cell, eager to go meet the boy he’d friended online that week.
“You think he’ll like me?”
“He’s going to go wild
over you,” she assured him while pulling her blouse on.
“Wild is good.” He put
his arm around her and she snuggled up beside him in front of the mirror.
She’d always thought
Lance was hot. At swim meets, when he strutted around the pool deck nearly
naked, she’d often thought: If he were straight
or if I were a gay guy, I’d be all over him.
“Feel something?” She
planted a playful kiss on his cheek. “Anything?”
“Sorry.” He began to hum
a show tune: a nervous habit.
“From My Fair Lady,”
Allie said. “Right? What is it?”
He blushed, realizing
what it was. “Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?”
“Meanie!” She pulled
pointy pumps,” he said, dabbing his hair with some of her gel.
“So, what did you say
this guy’s name is?” Allie asked as they climbed into Lance’s car.
“Sergio,” Lance said,
pronouncing the g with an h sound. “He’s Mexican. Hot and spicy!” Lance
considered himself an equal opportunity dater, attracted to all types of
guys—Latino, white, black, Asian... He’d been attracted to Sergio’s
café-latte-colored skin; thick black hair spiked to a point; eyes dark as
night. And although his nose seemed kind of big, even that was cute. “He’s a
cousin of Penelope’s—from Drama Club.”
The boys had gotten to
know each other a little bit over the phone and messenger. They were both
seventeen. Sergio lived in a neighboring suburb and went to Liberty High.
“Home of the roaches,”
he’d joked. “Ew, yuck, right?”
Lance went to the
Academy, a local prep school. “But I’m not a big preppy or anything. I’m
pretty down to earth.”
“Good,” Sergio replied.
Sergio had an older
sister in college; Lance was an only child. Sergio had a guinea pig named
Elton; Lance had an Irish setter named Rufus.
“Help me think up some
other stuff to talk about,” he asked Allie as they drove toward the mall.
“Have you asked him what
kind of movies he likes?” Allie suggested. “And what kind of music?”
“That’s good,” Lance
said. “My main worry is the bi thing.”
Sergio’s “friend page,”
identified him as bisexual.
“I guess that means he’s
still coming out,” Lance said to Allie. “Like in the saying: bi now, gay
later? I just hope he’s not another closet-case.”
He didn’t want a repeat
of Darrell, his one and only ex, who had been afraid to admit being gay.
When Lance and Allie got
to the mall, he hurried her toward the food court fountain and anxiously
searched the crowd.
“Are you sure I look all
“You look fab,” Allie
assured him, taking a seat on the fountain’s rim. “So, who is his friend
When setting up the
meeting, Sergio had suggested they make it a friend thing. “You know, to
take the pressure off?”
“She’s his best chick
friend,” Lance said, taking a seat beside Allie. “Her name is… ‘Kimiko’ or
something like that.”
“Kimiko? Really? That’s
Japanese!” Allie was totally into anything Japanese.
It had been Kimiko who
had given Sergio the initial kick in the butt to answer Lance’s online
“Why wouldn’t you
friend him?” she’d asked Sergio when he showed her Lance’s photos. “He looks
replied. “I’m not ready to get dumped again.” He was still brokenhearted
over Zelda; the girl who’d ditched him only three months earlier.
“You haven’t even met
the guy yet,” Kimiko said, “and you’re already worried about getting
“Yeah, he’s got that
look: like someone who could be my future ex.”
“Here’s a thought.”
Kimiko bopped Sergio on the head. “Maybe he won’t dump you.”
“He won’t if I don’t
meet him. Hehehe.” Nonetheless, Sergio had replied to Lance’s friend
request. And he’d liked chatting with him.
“But what if there’s no
in-person chemistry?” Sergio now said as Kimiko prodded him through the food
court toward the meeting. “Maybe he and I should just stick to communicating
through electronic devices.”
But when he saw Lance,
there was chemistry all right—both with Lance and his chick friend.
HE’s a babe, one part of Sergio thought while another part of him
said, Yeah, but SHE’S hot, too!
Luckily, he wasn’t into
tall girls—nor were they usually into him—whereas tall skinny guys like
Lance juiced him up: broad swimmer shoulders; sweet smile; teacup handle
ears; and he loved the freckles.
“How do I look?” Sergio
asked Kimiko. “No boogies hanging out my nose or anything?”
“You look good, dude.”
She tucked his flipped-up shirt tag into his collar and gazed toward Allie.
“That’s his friend?”
“Yeah, I guess so. She’s
a fox, huh?” Sergio knew that girly-girls were totally Kimiko’s type, even
though she’d never actually been in a relationship.
“So… is she gay?” Kimiko
asked—not that it made any difference; she had both gay and non-gay friends.
But she was curious.
“I don’t know.” Sergio
gave her a mischievous grin. “I guess you get to find out.”
“Well, do I look all
right?” Kimiko asked, glancing down at her baggy boy’s jeans and black
leather motorcycle jacket.
“Major league handsome.”
Sergio spun her Harley baseball cap backwards and took hold of her hand.
“There he is!” Lance
told Allie upon spotting him. “Curtain up!”
“Break a leg!” Allie
whispered, standing beside him.
“What up, man? I’m
Sergio. And this is Kimiko, my handler.”
Everybody laughed and
Lance asked, “Do you guys want to get smoothies?”
As they walked to the
counter, he stealthily checked out Sergio: He was shorter than he looked in
his pictures—nice compact bod, hunky but not too buff, which was
good: Excessive buffness intimidated Lance. He liked those pecs, though.
At the smoothie stand,
he got his usual Hearty Apple. Sergio ordered a Mango Madness, took a
sip—“Mm”—and extended his cup to Lance. “Want a taste?”
“Um, okay.” Lance stared
at the straw that had touched Sergio’s lips. “I’ve never tried mango before.
I’m pretty plain-Jane. You want to try mine?”
“Sure.” Sergio exchanged
cups, watched Lance take a sip and thought: Damn,
his freckles are hot!
“Wow, that’s really
good.” Lance handed the cup back, still tasting the sweet mango slush.
The girls led the way to
a table while talking about mangas and other Japanese stuff. Allie sat
beside Kimiko and Lance sat next to Sergio.
“So, um…” Lance began to
ask the questions he’d rehearsed with Allie. “What kind of movies do you
Sergio replied, his hands slicing the air in a ninja move. “Hooah!
…And Fantasy-type stuff. How about you?”
“Disney ’toons… and
chick-flicks—nah, just kidding. Well, okay, sometimes. I admit it.”
high-fived him, glad that Lance was free of the straight-acting BS that so
many other guys had.
“So, um, what kind of
music do you like?” Lance continued.
Sergio answered. “Trance… Hip-Hop... Tejano… How about you?”
“I’m huge on show tunes.
Like I’ve got this kind of obnoxious habit of humming and singing show
stoppers anytime, anywhere.” He shuffled his feet. “Gotta sing! Gotta
“Glad you warned me.”
Sergio pretended to cover his ears, though in fact he liked Lance’s voice:
Strong. Smooth. Sexy.
continued, “I’m a better singer than dancer.”
“I’m just the opposite,”
Sergio said. “My singing sucks, but my dancing is pretty good—especially
Latin stuff. I’m president of my school’s dance club. Do you Salsa? I can
“Cool!” Lance exclaimed.
He’d always dreamed of dancing with a guy—holding him in his arms, moving
together… But first he needed to slow down, get back to the present. “So,
um…” He moved to the next question on his list. “Are you out at school?”
“I’m out as bi,” Sergio
said, a little cautiously. Although girls usually accepted his bi-ness, with
guys it sometimes seemed like the kiss of death.
The word “bi” prompted
Allie to turn from her conversation with Kimiko and nod encouragingly to
“Well, um…” he stirred
the slush in his smoothie cup and asked Sergio, “…What exactly do you mean
when you say ‘bi’?”
“You know,” Sergio said.
“It means I’m turned on by both guys and chicks.”
“But you admit you’re
attracted to guys?” Lance asked, trying not to come off as confrontational.
“Yeah…” Sergio said.
“But I’m also attracted to chicks.”
Lance chewed on his
straw. At least Sergio was admitting he liked guys. That was a move up from
Darrell. But why didn’t he just take the next step and say he was gay? Maybe
he wasn’t as mature as Lance had hoped.
“Are you out at
school?” Sergio asked, sipping his smoothie.
“Yeah. The Academy is
pretty progressive. Allie and I started a GSA—you know—a Gay-Straight
Alliance? I’ve never really gotten any flak. Have you?”
“Nothing major.” Sergio
shrugged. “I get called ‘fag’ sometimes, but hey, doesn’t everybody?”
“True,” Lance agreed. He
decided to drop the bi issue for now.
Maybe I’m making too big a deal of it.
Sergio—his confidence, his coolness, and the way Adam’s apple jutted out
from his throat in a way that was ridiculously sexy. Plus, he noticed that
Allie and Kimiko were getting along. It would be awesome for them to
become friends, he thought, so the four of us could do stuff… if
Sergio and I became a couple.
“What about your
parents?” Sergio asked. “Do they know?”
“They knew before me!”
Lance laughed and Sergio laughed, too, relieved that they’d gotten over the
“What about your
family?” Lance asked. “Do they know about you?”
“Yeah. My blabbermouth
older sis outed me. But my old man pretends like he doesn’t know, and my mom
prays I’ll grow out of it. She lights novena candles, all that Latino
Catholic mama drama.”
Lance slurped the last
of his smoothie, trying to recall what else he’d planned to ask. “So,
um”—his voice went up—“are you seeing anyone?” Even though Sergio had said
he was single on his page, Lance wanted to be sure.
“Nope,” Sergio replied.
“Not at the moment. Are you?”
“Um, no,” Lance said,
and glanced into his empty smoothie cup. He realized the only question he
had remaining was the Big One: asking if Sergio wanted to go on a real
Sergio realized it, too.
Should he be the one to ask Lance out?
It would be his first time
to ask anyone out since Zelda. Was he ready to risk rejection again? Maybe
he should wait, see if Lance asked. But what if Lance didn’t ask?
He liked Lance.
The dude was undeniably a hottie,
even with his sticky-outy ears; he
clearly had a mind; he wasn’t stuck-up, even though he went to prep school;
and it felt
so refreshing to meet a guy his own age that was comfortable being out.
“So…” Sergio ventured.
“…Do you want to go out sometime?”
Lance blinked. He
hadn’t expected Sergio to be the one to ask. He took a hard swallow,
suddenly having second thoughts. Was he jumping into this too fast?
Across the table, Allie
nodded for him to say yes.
“Sure,” he told Sergio.
“That would be great.”
“Great,” Sergio echoed
and took a breath, both excited and nervous.
They returned to
talking about simple stuff like favorite foods and books, each trying to
relax, until Allie announced she needed to go—meaning that Lance had to go,
Outside on the
sidewalk, they all
said good-bye and Allie took hold of Lance’s arm as they walked back to his
“Look at you!” she
whispered. “Mr. Got-Asked-For-A-Date-By-Hot-Sweet-Guy.”
Lance forced a smile.
It definitely had felt good to get asked out, but…
“Uh-oh,” Allie said
worriedly. “What’s with the face?”
“The bi thing,” Lance
said as they climbed into his car. “I don’t get it. He says he’s attracted
to guys; he’s out at school; he asks me out on a date. And my
state-of-the-art gaydar is ringing ding-ding-ding! Jackpot, he’s gay!
So why can’t he just say it?”
“I don’t know.” Allie
stared across the car seat. “Maybe his parents are phobes and he’s afraid
they’ll find out?”
“No, he said they know.
His sister outed him.”
“Then maybe he really
“So where does that leave me?”
“Going out with a bi
guy?” Allie replied.
“Lucky me,” Lance
mumbled and started the engine.
“But you were so
excited,” Allie said sadly.
“I know, I know! Let’s
see if he calls.”
“You can call too,” she
backed out of the parking space, changing the subject. “Kimiko
seems really cool.
At first I
wasn’t sure if she was a girl or a guy—she’s such a dude-chick with her cap
and clothes. It seemed like you two got along great.”
“Yeah, I’m so psyched
she’s Japanese. I wish we could’ve hung out longer.”
From the sidewalk
outside the mall, Kimiko watched Allie and Lance drive away, wishing they
could’ve hung out longer, too.
“Way to go, dude!” She
turned to Sergio and fist-bumped him.
“I overheard you ask him out.”
Sergio bumped her fist
in return. “So, what do you think of him?”
“I think he’s the most
perfecto guy in the world for you. He’s your age, cute, gentle, nice… What
do you think of him?”
“I like him. I’m just
not sure he gets the bi thing.”
Kimiko’s mouth drooped
into a pout. “But you two seem good together.”
“Yeah… Let’s see if he
calls. If not, I’ll call him… in a couple of days.”
“What are you afraid
of?” Kimiko asked.
“I’m not afraid. That’s
just the rule with guys. Wait two days… Otherwise I’ll seem too easy.”
Kimiko rolled her eyes;
she’d heard his goofy theories and rules before.
“Now, as for you,
girl”—He rested his arm on her shoulder—“you should phone Allie ASAP.
I could feel the mojo between you two all the way across the table.”
“Dude, she’s got a
“So?” Sergio persisted.
“Maybe she’s bi-curious.”
“Even if she were…”
Kimiko let out wistful breath. “She’s out of my league.”
afraid of?” Sergio asked, mimicking her.
“Shush!” Kimiko said and
play-punched his arm.
When Kimiko had first
seen Allie at the mall, she’d kind of stopped in her tracks, surprised by
the uber-girl with a knockout figure and an angel’s face.
“Sup?” Kimiko had said
and boyishly fist-bumped her.
“Hi, I’m Allie—that’s
short for Alegría,” she explained as they walked to the smoothie stand.
“It’s the Spanish word for ‘joy.’”
“Sweet,” Kimiko said.
She immediately liked Allie’s voice: breathy and femme. “My name is Japanese
for ‘child without equal.’ As if!”
Japanese!” Allie’s face lit up. “Oh, my gosh! I’m an absolute Japan-geek—you
wouldn’t believe! My
life dream is to go there. Have you
“Yeah, like every
summer. We go to visit my obaasan—that’s my grandma.”
“Can you write
Japanese?” Allie asked when they got to a table. “Would you write something
for me, please? Or is that too annoying?”
“No, it’s okay.” For the
first time in her life, Kimiko actually felt grateful to her mom for the
hours she’d made her spend learning Japanese. From her leather jacket,
Kimiko pulled out the Sharpie pen and notepad she always carried to jot down
notes for poems. “What would you like me to write?”
“Oh, anything. You
Allie sipped her
smoothie and Kimiko thought for a moment before writing.
“This is the word for
‘joy,” she said, tearing out the page and handing it to Allie. “Yorokobi.’”
“Awesome, thanks so
much!” Allie exclaimed and held it out at arm’s length, explaining, “I’m a
little farsighted.” She turned to the Lance and Sergio. “Look! That’s my
“Cool,” Lance said,
admiring the kanji characters.
Kimiko had a good
feeling about him. He seemed easy-going, sweet, and good-natured.
Allie asked Kimiko her
thoughts and opinions about all sorts of Japanese stuff: Naruto,
Hello Kitty, Dragon
Kimiko had never met
anybody her own age so interested in Japanese culture. She kind of liked
being elevated to authority status. And she loved Allie’s soft giggle.
“My fave manga are
shonen-ai,” Allie said. “You know: boy-boy love stories? Stuff like
Gravitation. What kind do you like?”
love” Kimiko replied, hoping her reply might prompt Allie to reveal whether
she was gay.
Allie had already
assumed from Kimiko’s guy clothes and square-shouldered stance that she was
probably lesbian—maybe even transgender. “I’ve never read any girls’ love,”
she told Kimiko. “You’ll have to tell me your fave titles.”
“I’d be glad to,” Kimiko
said, still trying to figure Allie out.
As they continued to
talk, Allie pulled out her cell phone and showed Kimiko her photos. “This is
Lance and me in Guys and Dolls last year… And this is my ‘surprise’
Kimiko tried to keep her
attention on the pictures as Allie leaned closer, feeling comfortable, her
shoulder unintentionally touching Kimiko’s. She puckered her lips into a
kiss at Josh’s photo… “This is my mom and dad… I’m a total Daddy’s girl… And
this is my boyfriend, Chip…”
An unexpected sense of
relief enveloped Kimiko: Allie was not only not lesbian; she was also
taken—placing her safely out of bounds from the remotest possibility of
The boyfriend in the
photos was WASPY all-American… tall… sandy-colored hair… a ski-slope nose…
everything the opposite of Kimiko.
“I’ve got to go meet
him,” Allie said, looking at the time. “Saturday is our date night.” But she
seemed like she didn’t want to go, and neither did Kimiko. She was enjoying
“How about you?” Allie
asked. “Are you dating anyone?”
“Me?” Kimiko fidgeted
with her cap, thinking: My mom would never approve. Besides, who would I
date? Who would want to date me?
“No,” she told Allie.
“I find that hard to
believe,” Allie said with a smile, and Kimiko watched her eyes glisten—blue
at first, then green, like the ocean.
“Would you like to hang
out again sometime?” Allie asked.
“Huh? Sure,” Kimiko
said. She wasn’t quite certain what to make of Allie. By all appearances she
seemed like one of the cool kids—smart, good-looking, confident, no doubt
popular—the type that usually brushed past Kimiko in the school hallway as
if she didn’t even exist. And yet she was asking Kimiko for her number and
While the girls
exchanged info, Sergio gave Kimiko a suggestive grin—as if exchanging
numbers meant something beyond becoming friends. She ignored him and put her
When the four of them
finally wandered toward the exit. Allie kept stopping to check the window
displays, and Kimiko definitely wasn’t in a hurry.
“Well,” Allie said when
at last they got outside. “Nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, good to meet you,
too,” Kimiko replied, giving her a gentle fist-bump. It had actually felt
more than good: kind of wonderful. She liked Allie’s unpretentiousness,
considering how much she knew about Japanese stuff and how pretty she was,
and she liked all the attention she’d gotten from Allie. It had felt
totally wonderful, not just kind of.
After the mall, she went
to Sergio’s to hang out, listen to music, play a few games, and have dinner.
His mom’s spicy Mexican recipes were a welcome break from her own mom’s
bland cooking and she loved talking soccer with Sergio’s dad. His parents
were more lenient about them being alone together. Kimiko’s mom wouldn’t
allow her to have a boy in her bedroom—as though there were the remotest
need to worry. She’d never felt even the slightest interest in guys as
anything more than friends.
Later that night, when
she walked the three blocks home, her parents were watching TV in the living
room. Her eight year-old brother, Yukio, lay asleep on the sofa beside them.
“Sup, I’m home,” Kimiko
announced and went to the kitchen for a glass of soymilk. Her mom followed
shortly after her, bringing a tray with some rice cookies.
“Did you eat dinner?”
she asked, setting the cookies next to Kimiko. “Here, have some. How was
“It was good, had dinner
at Sergio’s.” She took a cookie and told her mom about meeting Lance and
Allie, leaving out any allusion to anything gay. She was out and open at
school and with friends, but not with her family—although surely they must
know. Just look at me, she often thought.
How could they not know?
“Sit like a lady, Miko.”
Her mom gently nudged Kimiko’s knees together. “There, that’s better.”
Kimiko forced a smile
and went along with it; she wanted to be a good daughter. But in seconds,
without her even realizing it, her knees again drifted apart like a boy’s.
* * *
“This is my name in
kanji.” Allie showed the characters to her boyfriend, Chip, during dinner.
“Isn’t it amazing?”
“Cool,” he answered,
giving the lettering a quick glance while grabbing another slice of their
super combo pizza. He’d never really gotten her craziness for Japanese
stuff. And with each passing day, Allie wondered if he really got her.
They’d been going out
since freshman year, when she’d first spotted him towering over the hallway
crowd. His height was a major selling point to a girl who constantly got
flak for being tall. Even though she’d had several minor league boyfriends,
he’d become her first truly serious relationship. She liked his floppy hair,
hazel eyes streaked with blue, and his gentle shyness. Unlike other boys, he
didn’t try to push himself on her, and when they kissed, he let her teach
Within a month after meeting, they’d
couple: walking arm-in-arm in the hall, going to school dances together,
bringing each other candy treats, telling each other “I love you…”
During tenth grade,
they’d settled into each other, but over the last few weeks, as they
returned to school for junior year, she’d begun to question their future
Even though she still got sexually stoked by him, she no longer felt the
same emotional connection. It felt as if they’d gone as far as they could go
together, like they’d drifted apart. She wanted to try something new,
Tonight after dinner,
they returned to the little bungalow behind his parents’ house that he’d
taken over as his band room, took their usual places on the sofa, and turned
the TV on.
While he surfed through
channels, she debated how to talk to him about her doubts. Maybe she should
just hold on and wait till graduation. Then they’d go away to separate
colleges and she’d have more space to figure out her feelings—except that
was nearly two years away.
After settling on a
music video program, he leaned across the couch to kiss her and she went
along for a moment. Then she pulled away.
“How do you feel about
“Um…” His brow crinkled
as he leaned back, obviously surprised. “Good… Why? What’s the matter? Did I
do something wrong?”
“No, no, no.” She didn’t
blame him for anything. He was the same person he’d always been. “It’s just…
Where do you think our relationship is going?”
“I don’t know.” His face
went blank. “I haven’t really thought about it… I guess we’d finish school…
Go to college together… See what happens. Why? What do you think is
“I’m not sure,” Allie
said. She became quiet, and they stared at each other. She wasn’t sure what
more to say at this point.
“Well,” he said at last,
“the important thing is that I love you.”
Hearing that failed to
resolve her uncertainty; it sort of made her feel guilty.
“I love you, too,” she
answered. But saying it didn’t feel the same as it used to.
He bent over again to
kiss her again, and she knew that unless she stopped things, they’d soon be
shedding clothes and putting the condom on.
“Do you mind if we just
make out tonight?” she asked.
He peered at her a
moment, looking a little wounded. “Um, okay. Are you sure everything is all
“Yeah, I’m just in a
weird mood,” she replied. “Sorry.” She leaned across and kissed him, even
though she wasn’t feeling exactly thrilled.
While they made out,
her mind began to drift… first to Kimiko and how much she’d
liked hanging out with her…
then to the Academy’s tiny, six-person
Alliance… and how although Chip never said anything against her
participating in the club, he’d never shown any interest in going to
meetings… He’d never really gotten that aspect of her, either.
After making out for a
while, they just held each other, watching and listening to the music
videos. She liked holding him and being held by him. And for a moment, the
feeling of connection returned.
On her drive home, she
put in her earphone and called Lance to check in. “Hey babe. How’s it
“Um, okay.” He was in
the middle of peeling off his clothes, getting ready for bed. “I ended up
going to eat veggie food with Megan and Nancy.” They were two friends of
theirs from the school GSA club. “And you?” he asked Allie. “How
did it go with the Chip-meister?”
“I want to ask you
something,” Allie answered. “Do you think I’m, like, settling with him?”
“Um, I don’t know.”
Although she’d hinted to Lance about her doubts before, the question took
him by surprise. “Do you think you’re settling?”
“I don’t know either.”
She stopped at a traffic light. “I think he’s a great guy. I mean, in the
two years we’ve gone out, he’s never lied or cheated on me. He doesn’t do
drugs… He’s good-hearted and generous… Plus, I still think he’s hot. So why
don’t I feel excited about him anymore?”
Lance laid down in bed,
trying to think of an answer. “Maybe that’s just what happens after you’ve
gone out with somebody for a couple of years.” Then he added: “Wow, that’s
“I still feel excited to
see you every day,” Allie argued. “And I’ve known you for—what—ten
Lance shifted his phone
from one ear to the other, as a familiar worry popped up: Was she too
attached to him?
Once at a party, she’d
gotten kind of drunkish and when he drove her home she’d cooed, “You’re my
hero, you know that? My best friend, my soul mate”—a hiccup interrupted
her—“Oops, sorry.” She covered her mouth, then began again: “I’m a better
person because of you. I doubt I’ll ever love anybody as much as I love
“I love you, too,” he’d
told her, even though he felt nervous she might be putting the make on him.
But she hadn’t, and the next day she’d apologized for being “kind of a mess”
the night before.
“Maybe you should just
be honest with him,” Lance now suggested. “Tell him how you feel.”
“I don’t want to hurt
him,” Allie said, turning onto her street. “Besides, I’m not sure how I
feel. I mean, even though I don’t feel like he completes me or
anything like that, I still care about him. You know what I mean? I feel
comfortable and safe with him. Shouldn’t that be enough? Maybe I’m expecting
too much. But if I’m not in love with him anymore, am I like
“You’re not in love with
him anymore?” Lance asked. It was the first time she’d said that.
“I don’t know. On some
days I wonder if I ever was in love with him. Maybe it was just
infatuation. But then I wonder if maybe it’s not really about him; maybe
it’s about me.
there’s more to me I still want to explore.”
“That’s cool,” Lance
said. “Like what?”
“I’m not sure.” She
gave long, questioning sigh as she pulled into her driveway. “Anyway, thanks
“Sure, anytime.” It was
apparent she’d gone as far as she wanted to go with the topic for now.
When she got into her
house, her mom and dad were watching Saturday Night Live. She sat with them
for a while, and on the way to her room she peeked in on Josh and watched
Inside her room, she
pulled Kimiko’s kanji out from her bag. And as she undressed and got ready
for bed, she recalled times growing up when she’d met a new girl and become
friends; and how she’d felt a sort of crush, thinking how pretty the girl
looked and how much she liked to be with her. The feelings had eventually
died down, and she’d never thought of them as romantic or sexual.
But there was one night
in middle school, when she’d had a sex dream with a girl, and the next
morning she woke up with her whole body tingling. The experience had felt as
intense as any sex dream she’d ever had about a boy.
On the school bus she’d
told Lance about the dream, giggling nervously.
“You’re gay!” he
whispered, thrilled to think his best friend was a latent lesbian.
“You really think so?”
Allie stared out the window, thinking about it. “But then why do I get
turned on by guys? Lesbians don’t, do they? Maybe I’m bi.”
“I think bi’s kind of a
copout,” Lance argued.
“Maybe you should try it with a girl—I mean: at least try
kissing or something.”
“With who?” Allie asked.
She felt too chicken to do anything with any girl from her school or church.
No way. Nevertheless, she did mention the dream to her friend, Jenny, after
field hockey practice one day—or at least she tried to.
“I’ve got a question for
you,” she said in a low voice. “Have you ever had a sex dream with… a girl?”
“No!” Jenny scrunched up
her face in disapproval. “That’s gay! Why? Did you?”
“No,” Allie lied,
regretting having asked. “I was just curious.”
“I mean,” Jenny said,
softening her tone. “I like Lance and I’ve got nothing against gay people,
but that doesn’t mean I’m gay. So why would I ever have a sex dream with a
“I don’t know,” Allie
said, and quickly changed the subject.
After that experience,
she’d put the dream aside, never having another like it. And as she began to
date boys, she’d almost completely forgot about the dream. Now, as she
pinned the kanji up on the bulletin board above her computer, she remembered
the dream for an instant and thought how cool it was going to have Kimiko as
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