Come As You Are
“I can’t go out tonight. I’m grounded.”
“Again? What did I do now?” I groaned. My best friend Megan and I were at our shared locker before school. It was our senior year, twelve years ago, and our thoughts were occupied with a mixture of sex and getting the fuck out of this town.
“I’m not just grounded from you this time, I’m grounded period. Phone calls included. So when you get home, you’ll have to call Ross and tell him we’re not coming over tonight.”
Megan went on to explain that her mom had gotten the phone bill and seen all the calls Megan made last month to Martin, a German exchange student at our school who’d gone to spend the second semester somewhere in Virginia. At last, a transgression they couldn’t blame me for.
Megan’s parents didn’t like me. They didn’t like the fact that Megan had a male best friend; they didn’t believe that we weren’t dating, had never dated, never had sex, and never kissed with tongue. Never even copped a feel.
They didn’t like my leather jacket and tattoos, or the fact my mother didn’t give me a curfew. Because of the way I looked, they thought I was a bad influence on their precious cherub-faced blonde daughter; when in reality, it was Megan who was the bad influence.
Half the time, I kept her out of trouble instead of getting her into it, and for that, she deemed me a goody-two-shoes.
I know. Pathetic.
Megan was seeing this guy, Ross. Megan always had a guy. Sometimes I wondered where she found them, because the pickings were pretty slim at our school; but somehow she managed it, and just about every month it was a new one.
We met Ross one night at an all ages show at a nightclub we drove about an hour to get to, because they didn’t have anything like that where we lived. Megan started talking to him on the floor in front of the stage as we waited for the band to come on, and by the end of the night, they were making out in my back seat in the parking lot. It turned out Ross only lived in the next town, about twenty minutes away.
The napkin he wrote his phone number on for her became a treasured memento Megan kept for years, not because of a sentimental attachment, but because of the hilarious note, he wrote on it. Howling with laughter, we’ve been known to repeat it from memory. “I crave your white skin, I want to make love to you.”
The worst pickup line in the world that worked. They’d been seeing each other about a month now, which meant I was getting to know Ross very well myself; Megan didn’t have her own car, and I did, so that meant I ended up driving her everywhere.
How many nights had I driven around with Megan in the back seat of my car, making out with some guy. Occasionally I’d catch a glimpse of her tits in the rearview mirror as the guy felt her up– I always quickly averted my eyes. At first, I thought it was because we were such good friends, it was like seeing my sister naked, if I’d had one; but by the time Megan and met Ross, and I was starting to admit there might be another reason.
Sometimes, if the boy’s parents happened to be out for the evening or they had a basement rec room or something, I got to sit on the couch and watch TV while they either went off to the bedroom, or rolled around on the floor together. I might as well have been a pet cat, watching, but not worth noticing. Don’t worry about John, he doesn’t care.
No, I didn’t care, not really. I didn’t want to see Megan’s tits; no, my eyes were drawn to the growing tightness of her boyfriend‘s crotch. My life gave new meaning to sexual frustration as I tried to figure out what I wanted, even if I was too scared to go after it. Megan told me bluntly that I wasn’t the angel I thought I was; I’d be every bit of a bad boy, if I wasn’t such a chicken shit.
That evening I dutifully called Ross like Megan asked me. “Hi Ross, it’s Johnny,” I said nervously when he answered. I had no idea if he even knew who he was talking to, but he didn’t miss a beat even though I’d never spoken to him on the phone before. His deep voice, odd coming from such a small person, crackled over the line. He seemed happy to hear from me.
“Well hello Johnny, what’s going on?”
“I’m sorry, Megan and I can’t come over tonight,” I explained, stumbling a little out of nervousness. “Megan’s grounded. She couldn’t call you, so she asked me to let you know what happened.”
“Oh,” he said in his warm voice that, for the moment, made you feel like the most important person in the world. “Well, that’s too bad. Why don’t you come over yourself then.”
“Me?” Now I was really stammering, sounding just like I felt, a complete idiot.
“Yes, you,” he sounded amused. “My mom and step dad won’t be back till tomorrow and I’m having a little get together, nothing big, just a couple people. C’mon over around eight.”
It seemed strange to be going to Ross’ house without Megan. In fact, it felt strange to be going anywhere without Megan. We had other friends of course, and occasionally we did things casino oyna separately, but if I went shopping with Jessica or something, Megan got jealous; and I pouted a bit myself if she went somewhere without at least inviting me.
Really, we were more than best friends, we were like platonic soul mates; everyone at school thought we were a couple, but there was no attraction between us.
I knew all about Ross right from the beginning. His little game was no mystery to me. Why do so many girls go for assholes and the nice guys remain “friends?”
Ross was a sunny, dramatic ham with a fast, smart-assed wit and a huge ego to compensate for his small stature. He was only about 5’5”, but that just made him more adorable, at least Megan claimed it did. He had silky dark brown hair that tumbled over his forehead in a skater cut, big green-brown eyes under dramatic, expressive brows, and the cutest mouth, with dark sideburns and a goatee he seemed to grow and change into different configurations instantly.
The world was a stage and he had the starring role. The rest of us were merely his audience. He fancied himself a poet as well as a budding guitar player; he sometimes gave Megan and I dramatic recitations of his poetry. I hate poetry, but coming from him, it was kind of endearing and really not bad. You wanted to dislike the guy, but he adored himself so much he managed to suck many others into joining him.
“You know Meg,” I told her, “You should be careful. This guy’s a real asshole.”
She rolled her eyes in absolute disgust. To her I was such a square, and more often than not, a party pooper, dragging her ass home before her parents started to freak. “Please. I do not need the big brother thing coming from you, Johnny.”
“Fine.” I shrugged. I never expected her to heed my warnings but I gave them anyway. “Just don’t come crying to me when he fucks you over.”
“Oh, don’t worry. I wouldn’t dream of it.”
One thing I always respected about Megan was how determined she was. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. I knew how people talked about her and it pissed me off, but she didn’t care if the kids at school thought she was a slut. She lost her virginity at age twelve and hadn’t stopped since.
Other girls might sleep around out of insecurity, to get boys to like them or whatever, but Megan slept around because she liked cock. Nowadays we’d probably label her a sex addict and she’d be thrown into a 12-step recovery program.
When Ross came to the door and let me in, I was suddenly shy. Ross was confident and witty. He had everything I didn’t: money, hip parents, a great loft apartment on the rich side of town, a great life. Even though he wore the same shabby clothes we all wore during the grunge years, torn off jeans and flannel shirts and sloppy high top Converse, he managed to look cool, instead of just scroungy. He intimidated me like always, even though he smiled in a very friendly way.
“Hey Johnny, how’s it going.“
When he led me into the dark living room, there was no get together; only one other guy sat in a chair, tipping back a beer bottle as he watched the big-screen TV. He nodded at me when Ross introduced him as his friend Ethan, who graduated from his high school last year and was home from college for the weekend. Ethan used to play bass in a band Ross was in. Another one of Ross’ crowd, who tried to look like their parents weren’t rich.
“I had to send everybody else home, they were getting too loud,” Ross explained, crossing his legs under him on the couch. “That nosy bitch downstairs will tell my mom if she hears anything. Have a seat, Johnny. Seen this movie?”
“Lair of the White Worm.” As I sat down, I nodded, recognizing what was on the screen. Jesus, what a piece of shit film. However, it was something of a cult flick and Ross seemed impressed I was familiar with it. It’s not like I had a sex life, so other than driving Megan around on her dates, what else did I have to do but watch endless bad movies on cable.
Ethan had reached down on the floor and a familiar acrid smell filled my senses as he casually lit up a glass bong. I was struck with the memory of my mom’s friends gathering in the kitchen while I was sent outside to play.
“Hey, Johnny, do you like to get high?” Ethan asked softly. He was lean and smooth, like a greyhound, with softly curling blonde hair and long legs crossed under him in the armchair. I realized I was looking straight up his baggy shorts to the pale curve of his ass. I averted my eyes quickly.
“Well, I never have,” I admitted doubtfully. They both found that hilarious and started laughing.
“Yeah, Megan says you’re pretty straight-laced,” Ross said; and for some reason he glanced over at Ethan and they laughed even harder, which bewildered me.
It didn’t take them long to talk me into trying weed for the very first time, under their careful instruction. Ethan slid over to the other end of the couch so I was between them and he leaned canlı casino over and lit the bong.
When I inhaled, a burning, choking, pungent smoke entered my lungs and I choked and began coughing uncontrollably. Ethan struck my back with the heel of his hand a few times, reassuring me it was fine.
“Jesus, fuck!” I sputtered, my chest rattling with the force of my hacking, while they giggled at my reaction. “God, is it supposed to burn like that?”
“If you don’t know what you’re doing it does,” Ross laughed. He lifted the bong and Ethan flicked the lighter. “Okay, come on, let’s try it again.”
“Are you crazy?” I shook my head adamantly, shying away from it.
Ross’ grinning face was very close to mine so that I could smell his pot breath. “Don’t be a pussy, Johnny. It’s only your first time. Inhale nice and easy, hold your breath, then let it out slowly. Don’t fight it. Light it, Ethan.” They were delighted with the unintentional rhyme and repeated it like a chant while they roared with laughter. “Don’t fight it, light it.”
My second hit was better, easier, but the taste was still just as bad as the smell always led me to imagine, coating my tongue and entering my throat. “Do people really think this tastes good?” I croaked, coughing with less force than before. My throat was aching and scratchy, my voice rough.
Ethan handed me his beer and I drank part of it down without even thinking of the fact that this was the first drop of alcohol to ever pass my lips. Soon enough I found myself with my own beer in hand, sitting on the couch between them, staring at the movie. The pot must have enhanced the special effects because instead of looking corny, it was like a spectacle unfolding in front of my eyes. I felt a little nauseous, a little drowsy, but not giggly like the two of them. While Ethan and Ross were jabbering a mile a minute, for me it was an enormous effort to even talk. I felt like a mummy, wrapped in layers of fluffy cotton.
“I don’t feel anything,” I mumbled.
“Sure you do,” Ethan told me in a soothing voice. “It’s cool. You’ve just got a really mellow buzz. Want another hit?”
“Okay,” I nodded resignedly. No point in fighting it; at last, after eighteen years, my lily-white record was blackened. “But don’t tell Megan. She wouldn’t approve.”
“Oh I don’t tell Megan anything,” Ross snorted while Ethan fired up the bong. “She’s on a need-to-know basis just like all chicks. The less you tell ’em, the better off you are. Right, Ethan?”
“Usually,” Ethan agreed as he leaned forward and nodded approvingly at my increased proficiency with inhaling the smoke. This time I barely coughed, looking up into Ethan’s big, shadowy gray eyes like an eager puppy waiting for praise from its master. When he grinned, if I’d had a tail, it would’ve been wiggling.
“All chicks are the same,” Ross was yammering on. “Fuck them a couple of times and they think they own you, they start with the I love you crap, then the why didn’t you call me crap.”
“Hey,” I protested, concentrating hard to form my words correctly, “Megan isn’t like that…”
“I know she’s your friend and all, and I don’t mean to insult her,” Ross continued in that self-important way of his, “But she’s just the same as the rest and we both know it. All girls are whores. They give you want you want, but they make you pay for it dearly.”
As mellow as I was, I was starting to get a little pissed. Megan was by no means perfect, and Ross might even be right for all I knew, but still, I wasn’t going to sit here and listen to him insult my best friend. I roused myself from my stupor.
“You know what I think? You want a girl to fuck you, but then if she does, she’s a slut. I think you just get bent out of shape when a girl does what you do and just screws whoever she feels like, because she likes it. You have no respect for women.”
Ross was laughing at me. “I know, my mother tried to raise me better, but I’m just an asshole. Take it easy, Johnny. Guys love slutty women. Besides, how the fuck would you know anything about women?”
My heart suddenly skipped a beat and I stiffened. “What?” I asked quickly.
A grin spread across Ross’ face and he leaned really close to me, close enough that I could see the dilated red veins in his eyes and feel the heat of his breath on my face. His eyes narrowed smugly as he watched the panic growing in my face, as it turned pale. “You wouldn’t know anything about women, because you’re queer.”
I swallowed air as a deep, pounding heat flushed over my whole body. I was paralyzed, caught between astounded disbelief and the need to throw up. My instant thought was, how did he guess…?
“Hey, we don’t have a problem with it,” Ross was saying, still right in my face. “We’re open minded, aren’t we Ethan.”
“Sure. If it feels good, do it, is my motto,” Ethan added on the other side of me with a careless shrug. He pronounced each T so it sounded like mot-to.
“No… I don’t…” I stammered. But then all the kaçak casino sudden, and maybe it was the pot and the booze steamrolling the defenses I’d built in my mind, I surrendered. The truth was there. It had been there for a long time and I was just too scared to put a name to it. As it rushed over me, I felt weak with a strange feeling, and after a moment I knew it for what it was. Relief. With a little gasping breath I looked down. “But how?” I whispered. “I never told Megan…”
“Shit, Johnny, I don’t need Megan to tell me that,” Ross said, only backing off a little, still in my space. “It’s obvious, isn’t it Ethan?”
“Yeah, pretty obvious,” Ethan agreed.
“What makes it obvious?” I demanded, panicking. If they knew, did everybody?
“Oh, lots of things,” Ethan answered lazily. “But don’t get all freaked out on us John. The weed’s making you paranoid. Relax, dude.”
“Yeah, take it easy.” Ross shrugged.
As we sat around and had a few more hits off the bong, Ross brought a bottle of vodka out of the kitchen. Ethan put in another movie. This one was Henry&June, recently released on video, and not easy to get your hands on at that time, though it seems mild now. Nowadays you can turn on any computer and see hardcore porn at any time, but back in 1992, Henry&June was considered a big deal. Figures Ross would have a copy.
As they fast-forwarded the movie to the good part, I sat back on the couch and stared blankly at the screen, taking my turn with the vodka when it was passed to me. Megan thought this movie was the greatest thing in the world, but I never really got what the fuss was about. Now I understood why! The sight of Uma Thurman getting it on with that other chick was artistic, but it didn’t excite me. I chuckled as it became obvious at last. The naked breasts and stuff just didn’t turn me on.
Secretly, off and on for about the last two years, I wondered if I might be bi. But now it was out in the open, unavoidable. Any time I’d ever kissed a girl, or even more than that, I felt absolutely nothing. My most powerful fantasies didn’t involve the cheerleaders at school; they involved the football team. I’d been lying to myself for a long time. Now the truth sprung out of Ross’ mouth and filled my subconscious.
Something else dawned on me. It was like a curtain had been lifted in my mind and I saw everything so clearly. I was awkward around Ross not because I felt intimidated by him, but because I was attracted to him. Clearly Megan wasn’t the only one who liked jerks. And Ethan… he was just hot. Not only did I want to look up his shorts, but I wouldn’t mind pulling them off, either. With my teeth.
“What’re you laughing at?” Ross said in a low voice, right next to my ear.
Many bong hits topped off with a couple shots of vodka and my inhibitions were totally gone. I started babbling about my realization regarding the movie, and about Jacob Holden, one of the popular football players at school. Now I was sure he was gay. Sometimes in the hallways or in class I’d catch him glancing at me, and when I met his eyes he always looked away and blushed. Somehow he’d managed to realize something about me even I didn’t know. Well, okay. I knew. I just didn’t want to admit it. But now I did and it was like I could breathe at last. Finally! Finally I could tell the truth. Maybe not to everybody, but at least to myself. God what a relief.
“Hmm,” Ross said in my ear in that same voice, “that’s really interesting Johnny.”
“Isn’t it,” I mumbled, suddenly miserable. “And now what do I do about it?”
I hadn’t even gotten to the part yet where I started to wonder how I was going to tell my family, how they were going to react, what Megan was going to say, if it was going to be all over school. All that was important right now was the question of how I was going to get some action.
“Why don’t you try not doing anything,” Ross said, and when I turned back to him he was right in my face again. His smile was calculating as he looked deep into my eyes, reading what was in them. Like it wasn’t obvious. I gulped, gasping for breath.
That feral grin of his widened and his eyes narrowed. To my complete surprise, it seemed like both of them were now touching me, I didn’t know whose hands were where, but someone was stroking my leg and another hand was moving up and down my back. My cock, however, knew nothing of the confusion in my brain and it was most confidently rock hard in my pants.
“I know you’ve never had a cock,” Ross’ voice dropped to a mesmerizing whisper. “But you want one, don’t you Johnny. You want one really bad. So bad you can taste it. Oh yes, that’s what you need to do. You need to taste a cock, don’t you Johnny.”
Maybe I was drunk. Maybe I was stoned. Maybe it was the whole surreal scenario unfolding before me. But I felt frozen to the spot, unable to answer or really even move. My heart was pounding in my chest so hard I could hear it, my dick actually ached from its arousal.
Why were they doing this? Things were happening very fast now, and I was so mixed up, I didn’t really comprehend. It was like scenery whipping by a car window. I looked between their two faces and Ethan chuckled softly at my confusion.