An Unforgettable Smile

The first time I saw him was at the High School unchaining his bike.  I felt like a big fat sick stalker parked there watching him, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

I was there to pick up my little brother, Jamie, because both our Mom and Pop were having to work late that night.  I was sitting there waiting for the Squirt when I noticed this vision of a boy readying to leave for the day.

There was something about his gentle but confident movements that attracted my attention.  I was not able to see much about him other than the fact that he had a semi-scene yet preppy look going on with his loosely trimmed mop of beautiful light brown hair, a stylish twist on a bomber jacket, and black slim-cut slacks instead of jeans.  He didn’t look like your typical emoish High School kid, though.  He had no band t-shirt, no super-skinny ball-crushing black jeans, no hoodie, and he didn’t slouch.  He didn’t look like he belonged there.  He looked like he belonged at a boarding school or at an Ivy League University instead.  Not to say that he looked like a total mini-me Dad knock-off by way of home-school.  He didn’t look like a misfit at all. He just looked like he was . . . better than everyone else at being a teenager.

He moved as an adult moves, with dignity and grace and his sense of style was quite evident by his clothing choices.  The only thing that told me that he was still a teenager, and a young one at that, was that he tended to tuck his head and look down like he was trying to avoid everyone else’s eyes.  That hurt my heart a bit, seeing that.  All that natural grace and dignity, but no confidence in himself where the other kids were concerned. Well, none yet anyway.  He seemed introspective and unused to interacting with others a lot.  I figured he was probably an only child.  I tend to pick up on things like that.

As he moved off on his bike I noticed he was quite tall for his age, which I gathered, by what I could make out from what features he’d let me see beneath his shock of hair, was about fifteen years old, maybe.  He was at ‘that awkward age’ and yet, his version of awkward could be any normal person’s definition of poise.  I figured, once he’d learn to lift up that face of his and look the world in its eye, he’d have that world eating right out of his hand!  He was model material. That’s probably why I was able to pick him out of the crowd so easily.

As I watched him, I found myself becoming self-conscious at how severely I seemed to be ‘cruising’ this kid. I’d hoped no one ‘official’ would be checking the cars for perverts, but fortunately for me, being that it hadn’t been too long ago since I graduated from High School, I just looked like one of the seniors or student aides sitting there in my car.  It was one of the many times, though, that I wished I’d had another car other than the used Porsche my boyfriend Danny lends to me when I need to go somewhere.  It’s nice of him to do that, but I’m really not much of a ‘Porsche’ kind of guy.  I’m saving for my own wheels.  Something a little more sensible like a Honda Accord or even a RAV4 so I can carry my equipment.  Such a vehicle would not have attracted near the attention that the Porsche did.

While I was waiting for the Squirt, I had a lot of dudes come up and ogle the car and then a lot of the girls ogle me in the car (some of the boys too).  Most of them would ask me who I was, if they could have a ride, if I could let them drive it, what classes I was in because they didn’t recognize me, if I had a girlfriend or not and if not would I like one.  A lot of questions to which I’d answer ‘no’ to and then would say that I go to a different school which is actually true. I attend the Art Institute Downtown where I’m finishing my BA degree in Photographic Arts and Design.  That is a really different school than High School and particularly this one.

In any case, I wasn’t there on a ‘chicken hunt,’ as they call it down in Boystown.  Cute as some of the guys were, they’re almost all underage and I’m more into older guys anyway. Danny, for instance, is 31 and I’ll be turning 21.  I’m, basically, the ‘chicken’ here!  So, as you now may have guessed, I’m totally Out and proudly Gay!  I have been since I found out the differences between boys and girls.

This might be another reason why this one boy on his bike stuck out to me and why I took a sudden, I guess, ‘brotherly’ interest in him.  He made my gaydar tingle just a little.  Something about him told me he just might be Gay too and, as I remember fighting my way through my early teens as an Out and proud Gay boy, I knew how incredibly hard it could be.  I felt protective toward this kid somehow.  I didn’t want that gentle creature to ever have to be bruised or harmed by the oafs that this particular school liked to raise.  Then again, I figured it was likely I would never see this kid again.

My being there at all was completely out of the ordinary and something of an ‘emergency’ since it is usually our Mom that picks Jamie up.  He’s learning to drive already since he’s sixteen, but my Pop insists that Jamie’s going to have to earn money to buy, license, and insure his own car!  I honestly think my Pop still lives in the 80s where such things were still possible for a teenager Jamie’s age. That sounds good and all, but if I can’t make enough to afford it with what work I can get as a barista in two coffee shops working full time then how on earth will the Squirt ever afford it?  Pop’s philosophy obviously didn’t work for me so why would it work for Jamie?

Anyway, I figured I’d never see that beautiful boy again. How wrong I was!  It seems that he would become a permanent fixture in my world for a while and it all started with . . .

“…CHANDLER! ChanChan! COOL! Mom said you’d be picking me up and you did!  Know what? I got to know that guy Marie’s been eye-raping in Church for the past few months! He’s finally made it to High School, ya know? His name is Brandon and he’s so much cooler than I thought he’d be!”  Jamie said to me after hugging me, which embarrasses the shit out of me when he does it in public.  He really doesn’t get that he isn’t, like, eight anymore!

“Oh yeah? Can’t say that I’ve seen the guy.  He better be cool to date my little MeeMee.  I didn’t change her diaper and feed her mushy bananas just to have her shack up with some loser!” I said as I fired up the engine and made heads turn all up and down the block. Sheesh!

“Come on, Chan! You don’t think I’d let MY Sissie date a total dweeb, do you?”  Jamie said to me sounding a little offended.  I like when I offend him. He needs offending sometimes.

“I dunno. You’re a total dweeb, so how would you know the difference?”  I asked sarcastically which earned me a punch to my shoulder that was a lot harder than I think it was meant to be.  Jamie’s getting to be a big boy now!

“Hey! OW, Bitch!”  I said as the hyper-reactive car jolted when he punched me.

“Oops! Sorry!” Jamie said to me sheepishly.  I pushed him back a bit just to REMIND him who the bigger brother was!  This got us both to laughing like when we were younger and my Mom would have to smack us both on the knees to make us stop screwing around in the back of the car.  Good memories!

“Ok, so what does Mr. Prince Charming look like anyways?” I wanted to know.

“Uh, like a regular guy. A lot, um, ‘prettier’ than a lot of guys, but just, you know, like normal.”  Jamie said with his typical inattention to any detail whatsoever.

“Um, Asswipe, could you, like, make a description that does a better job of actually describing, please?”  I growled irritably.

“GEEZE, Chan! You’re, like, getting meaner as you get older, you know that? I’m NOT an asswipe!”  Jamie seemed really put out and I’d actually gotten his Cross blood up in his cheeks where it belonged. Winning!

“O-KAAAY! I’m sorry. Don’t get your panties in a twist!  Just give me some specifics here.”  I smoothed Jamie’s easily roughed teenaged feathers.

“Um, like what?” He is SO blond, I swear!

“Okay: Hair color, eye color, clothes, how is he nice, etc.”  I declared my variables and hoped that my dim little brother could work that way.

“Uh, well, he has brownish hair. Kind of like dark blond and it’s a little long in his eyes like he’s a wanna-be Emo, or somethin’. He dresses incredibly fine! Even my teammates wonder where he gets his clothes. His Mom and Pop must be rich as fuck!”  Jamie blurted.

“Language! Anyway, what else?  I’m interested.”  I was interested because I recognized the description.  It had just ridden away on a bike not 10 minutes before Jamie showed up.

“He’s, like, wa-ay smart!  He talks like one of the teachers and he spends a lot of time in the Library, which I think is lame, cuz, it must be boring as fu- uh, heck in there!”  I love my Jamie. He’s so adorably clueless.

“Smart, huh?  Maybe he should help you out in your classes then, because from what MeeMee says you’re just barely scooting by to stay on that foozball team of yours.”  I remarked.

“Uh, maybe, but, like, he’s a full two grades lower than me.  I’m doing some of the real complicated stuff now. I don’t know if Brandon would be ready for it.”  Jamie sat up straight and smirked to himself, like he actually knows anything about ‘complicated.’

“Yeah . . . nah.  Remember, Marie is still in Middle School and taking the same classes you are, Mr. ‘Complicated.’ ”  I shook my head which deflated Mr. Ego‘s puffed-up self.

“Just cuz YOU go to college and have to do hard stuff doesn’t me I don’t have to do hard stuff too!  What’s so ‘hard’ about takin’ pictures anyway?”  Jamie pouted and defended himself pretty well, more or less.  He surprises me with that sometimes. He must have gotten that from Mom.  There’s hope for him yet; maybe a politician, lawyer, or car salesman!

“A lot, but I won’t bother your tender little brain with that now.  So, you like Brandon?”  I asked, getting back to the point.  The kid on the bike fascinated me more and more as Jamie’s less-than-perfect description continued.  This is where Jamie brightened and, true to his sweet nature, put away all my poking and smiled almost like a boy in love.  Hmmm . . .

“Oh yeah! He’s not like any other guy I’ve ever met.  I love my team and they love me and we get along great, but, honest Chan . . . I never thought anyone like Brandon would ever give me the time of day.”  He said which brought back some concerns I’ve always had for my little Squirt brother.

Jamie’s lack of self-confidence has always confused me.  He just doesn’t see himself like the total drop-dead gorgeous jock god he is.  He’s never had much confidence in his mental abilities and has always been intimidated by new classes and learning new things.  I know this because I used to hold his hand through a lot of the homework he’d get in grade school and middle school.  I’d have taken the stuff he was learning not too long before him so it would be fresh in my mind and I usually got things pretty easily. I was able to help better than Mom or Pop even since they had ways of doing things that the teacher didn’t want used for the lessons.  It’s too bad that I can’t be there for him now like I used to.  It’s just that I’m not home enough anymore to be a good tutor for him.  Oddly enough, our little sister Marie (MeeMee as I call her) seems to be picking up where I left off.  She’s ‘gifted,’ and as I mentioned before, she takes a lot of the same classes Jamie does if not harder ones.  Her Middle School has her in High School coursework already and she breezes through all of it no problem.  She’s smarter than all of us put together!

As for Jamie, he could be the same way, actually, if he applied himself. All he ever needed was a pep-talk and he’d sail through his studies faster than even I did and probably as fast as MeeMee does (doubtful). Jamie is so smart, but let’s himself be pigeonholed as a ‘dumb jock’ only worth his weight in footballs. I’d happily kill the teachers, principals, coaches, and ‘friends’ that enforce this idea.  Though I wouldn’t kill him, I’d severely beat up Pop for it too!  It does my brother a great disservice, in my opinion.

Jamie became the ‘Great Athlete’ my Pop never managed to be and since I was ‘precious’ he didn’t force it on me. This was mostly thanks to Mom getting him off my back about it.  I never had much interest in sports.  I have always been an ‘Art Fag’ and proud as punch about it.  In my case, my Dad’s manhood in his firstborn son was often relieved by the number of fights I’d get into and win.  Mom hated it, though.  She’d see me come home with a new shiner and  would want to go tear that school apart and strangle the vice-principals.  When she and her red hair went down to that school EVERYONE ran for cover!  It always made my Pop laugh a bit.  Where I’d make the kids run screaming from my red hair, my Mom took on the adults and made them run from her’s.

Well, enough memory lane crap.

I dropped Jamie off and he wanted me to come in and play some video games with him, but I couldn’t.  I had too many other things to do that mostly had to do with Danny, dinner, dancing, and later our getting desperately naked together.  Things Jamie did NOT need to know about.

The following Monday I was tagged to pick Jamie and Marie up again as my Mom was still in the middle of some big proposal thing she was doing for her company.  Apparently, she’d been all weekend, day and night, working this thing.  She’s a graphic design director for her company and gets thrown into these things all the time.  I have a feeling I’ll be doing similar things to make a bigger buck than what I can get doing freelance. I’m hoping, however, to go into more dedicated design work that has more to do with branding than boiler-plating boring marketing materials and proposals for corporate douche-bags.

Anyway, there I was like I’d been the Friday before, sitting and waiting and hoping Jamie didn’t stand me up by forgetting me.  Mondays I have work and the boss doesn’t do ‘late.’  As I sat there, I saw the beautiful boy, again, going for his bike.  The one I thought might be named Brandon, but wouldn’t be able to confirm until . . .
“HEY BRANDON!!”  I heard the familiar bellow of the Squirt coming up from behind the car.  As the name was yelled, I saw the beautiful boy’s face snap up with a kind of a scowl like he was trying to figure out who would be calling him.  A reaction someone not used to being called out might have.

When Brandon recognized Jamie’s greeting, that scowl changed into a smile so beautiful that it made me a bit weak for a moment. Shyly and ever so delicately, Brandon waved back at Jamie as my brother came up along side of the car’s passenger side door.  I heard, almost too quiet to hear over the traffic and other kids, Brandon’s mid-timbered voice reply with a soft ‘hey’ of his own that was so adorably sweet and shy. As he mounted his bike and moved off slowly he gave another more confident wave before he disappeared down the street.

Brandon’s smile was unforgettable and I had to admit to crushing on him a bit.  I saw what Marie could see in him and at that moment I thought my little sis would be one lucky girl if she could land that boy, my gaydar be damned!

Brandon’s smile would haunt me for a long while after that.

Chandler Cross would probably need to see that smile again and sooner than later.

Published May 12, 2019