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by Jane Tamerin
So I was sixteen years old.
Read: I was a walking mass of hormones, inexperience, and embarrassing fragility. And suddenly – right out of nowhere (or the pits of hell) – my heart starts beating for my best friend.
Thus began the drama known as Teen Angst.
His name was Danny. He had brown eyes and straw-colored hair and a scar across the bridge of his nose; he was snarky and bright and had been a constant fixture at my side since we were seven years old and going to elementary school together. He was the only person in the world who was allowed to play with my hair and tease me about my pink polka-dot underwear; the guy everybody used to say I’d grow up and marry someday. He was the one person who my dad would’ve been able to watch me hop into a car with on my first date, stress-free, without even having to wait up on the armchair in sight of the front door to make sure he brought me back by curfew and to raise hell if he didn’t.
He was also proudly, flamingly gay.
So I was sixteen years old, and men weren’t exactly a new thing to me. Sure, I hadn’t been on any official dates, but I’d had crushes. I’d made out with guys I barely knew at parties; been hit on by some and flirted shamelessly with others. I wasn’t totally ignorant. I’d never been in love though, and now I think that maybe what I felt for Danny wasn’t It, but it was at least the closest to It that I’d ever been back then.
Sixteen, infatuated, and determined as hell. It seemed to me that I had two choices: live with him, live without him. In the state I was in I didn’t feel like I could do either, but it was always one or the other with guys. Now, crush or no, he was my best friend first, so living without him wasn’t an option. Living with him and not saying anything wasn’t my style: to be the girl who pined away in secret? To blush and make up stories about why I tensed when he touched me, knowing that he’d one day figure out what was going on because that’s what a best friend of nine years did? To lose my man because I couldn’t pluck up the courage to hold onto him?
Oh, no. Not me.
And thus began the drama known as, erm, Teen Girl Decides to Pursue Gay Man.
And oh, it was the drama to end all dramas. It was soap opera incarnate, it was humiliating in doses and awkward in snatches and it was memorable, to say the least. In the end of it all, I was more in love with Danny than ever, and he … ready for it? (I wasn’t) … he had a new boyfriend.
I would’ve liked to say that this boyfriend was nowhere near good enough for Danny, that he was possessive and obnoxious and had horrible pimples on his nose, but that would’ve been a lie. The reality of it was that The Other Man – Stephen, I had to remind myself to call him – was almost as cool as Danny. A little more composed, a little more serious and a little less charismatic; not strikingly handsome but certainly not ugly. Plus, he had this quirky little smile that Danny absolutely melted for.
I also would’ve liked to say that I was happy to see Danny happy, but that would be yet another lie. Truth? I hated seeing them together. Really, I did.
But, a week after Danny and Stephen got together, he sat me down – alone – and told me flat-out that he knew how I felt. (Tactful as always. Whoever said gay men are more sensitive than straight ones should be slapped). It was a long, painful conversation, and at the end of it I was still in love with Danny, Danny still had a boyfriend, and we were both planning on making those nine years of friendship last for eighteen, at the very very least.
So I was sixteen, and maybe I lost my man, but at least I didn’t lose my best friend.