Dancing on a Star
I couldn’t believe it when Tracy entered the class with Jeff. Everyone knows Jeff is gay. He’s been out since the seventh grade. I wanted to warn Tracy to be careful. I motioned for him to sit beside me, but he and Jeff headed to the back of the room. A few students turned to watch them as they took a seat.
I knew it meant trouble when Wendy Suttmiller turned to Jennifer Baker and asked, “Who’s the new kid? He’s really cute.”
Jennifer laughed and replied, “Forget it, Wendy. If he’s with Jeff, then he obviously plays for the other side.”
“Too bad,” said Wendy. “The cute ones are always gay.” I quickly looked away when she turned and looked at me.
Occasionally, I would look to the back of the room as Mr. Glicker droned on about intersection points. I’m not the brightest math student, but even I didn’t need to have it explained for about the tenth time. I noticed Jeff glancing over at Tracy and giggle several times. Once he saw me look back and quickly turned his head. All I could think of was how I could get to Tracy and warn him about Jeff.
I mean, Jeff seems to be a great guy. He’s small and really cute. His hair is long, and it falls down across his face. It looks streaked, like he dies a blond coloring into this light brown hair. I think it looks awesome. I once considered asking Mom if she would color my hair like that, but then I thought she might question why I would want to wear my hair like that. It kind of looks gay, and she might start to suspect something.
I’ve been a distant admirer of Jeff’s for several years. There have been many times I wanted to walk up to him and start talking, but I knew I would be ridiculed by the other guys if I did. Since the seventh grade, there has been an unspoken agreement among the guys that no one would speak to Jeff. No one bothers him anymore, and most of us just ignore him. I know it sounds cruel, but that is sometimes how things work in a school. You would never find it in a rule book, but it does exist.
Tracy is new, and he doesn’t understand. I had to get to him and warn him somehow. I thought I could perhaps do it at lunch.
It didn’t work out that way. When I went to lunch, I waited outside the door to the cafeteria and waited for Tracy to appear. When he came walking down the hall, Jeff was by his side. He glanced at me when he passed, but he didn’t say anything.
After going through the lunch line, I sat at the table beside Jimmy. Usually, it is me, Jimmy and our friends Tyler and Brian. As we were eating, Tyler looked over and noticed Tracy and Jeff sitting together at a table a few rows from ours.
“What the hell?” he exclaimed. “Does Jeff have a new boyfriend?”
Jimmy looked over and frowned. He then looked over at me and said, “I told you he was a poof.”
Brian asked, “What’s a poof?”
“A cocksucker,” replied Jimmy.
Brian asked, “Who is that kid? I’ve never seen him before.”
“He’s Jack’s new neighbor,” informed Jimmy. “I knew he was gay when he was doing that weird thing in his bedroom.”
Tyler laughed, pretended to jerk off and said, “We all do weird things in our bedroom.”
“Naw,” exclaimed Jimmy, “Not that. He’s a fucking ballerina.” He looked over at me and asked, “Ain’t he Jack? Tell them what we saw.”
My faced reddened. I didn’t know what to say. It was strange what Tracy had done the other night. It was like he was dancing like a ballerina. “Go on,” dared Jimmy. “Tell them what we saw the poof doing.”
“Would you quit using that word,” I said rather angrily. I looked over quickly at Tracy and remarked, “If he’s gay, he’s gay.”
Jimmy got really upset. “If he’s gay, he’s gay? What kind of shit is that?”
I was relieved when Brian took my side. “It’s true, Jimmy,” he said. “It really isn’t any of our business.”
“I don’t care what you guys think,” replied Jimmy. That shit ain’t right.” He looked over at Tracy and Jeff as they laughed about something Jeff had said. Jimmy looked over at me and warned, “You better stay away from him.”
Just then, the bell rang, and we stood. I glanced over and watched as Tracy and Jeff walked together as they left the cafeteria. On the way to class, I began to get upset with Jimmy. We had been best friends for years. However, what right did he have to tell me who I could talk to? If I wanted to talk to Tracy, or even Jeff, why did I need his permission to do it? By the time school ended, I had determined that I would talk to Tracy if I wanted to.
I headed home without waiting for Jimmy, but he managed to catch up with me about two blocks from school. “Why didn’t you wait on me?” He bent over and tried to catch his breath. “I had to run to catch up with you.”
“Sorry,” I said without giving him any explanation. I didn’t want to tell him the real reason was that I was mad at him for what he said at lunch. Just then, I looked down the street and saw Tracy approaching.
Jimmy noticed him, grabbed my arm and tried to pull me away. “Let’s get out of here,” he said as he jerked on my arm. “I don’t want him walking with us.”
I pulled away and looked angrily at him. “Jimmy, it ain’t right,” I said. “Tracy is new to school, and he might need friends.”
“Well, you can go suck his dick,” he responded angrily. “I don’t want nothing to do with the poof.” I balled my fist and felt like hitting Jimmy. Before I got a chance, he turned and headed for home. I waited for Tracy.
He was stone-faced as he approached. I attempted a smile, but he appeared like he had earlier in the day. For some reason, I felt he didn’t like me. “Hey,” I smiled as I greeted him.
“Hi,” he said as he walked past me.
I ran to catch up to him. I looked over and asked, “Why are you being such a dick?”
He stopped and stared at me. “What?”
“Why are you being such a dick,” I repeated. “I’m trying to be friendly, and you act like you don’t want to speak.”
“I already told you,” he said as he turned and headed down the sidewalk.
I hurried and caught up with him. “Told me what?”
He looked over as he kept walking. “You don’t want a friend like me.”
I asked, “Why?”
“You just don’t,” he replied as he scurried away.
* * * * * *
I walked into the kitchen as Mom flitted around searching into several cabinets. “Where did I put the almond extract?” she muttered to herself. She looked up and noticed me standing off to the side. “Hello, Dear. How was school?”
I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “It’s school.”
“Do you have any homework?”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied sarcastically. “When don’t I have homework?”
“Well, it’s good for you,” she remarked as she opened another cabinet and looked inside.
“If it’s so good for you,” I responded, “I’ll let you do it for me, then.” I grinned and added, “I’ll go do something bad.”
“You do something bad?” she laughed. “That will be the day.”
I sat down at the island and took a cookie out of the cookie jar. “What are you making for dinner?”
“I need to find the almond extract,” she mumbled again as she opened another cabinet. “Oh, here it is,” she said excitedly as she held it up to me.
“Okay,” I laughed. “I guess you found the almond extract. What do you need it for anyway?”
She informed me, “I’ve invited the Craft family over for dinner, and I’m making a cake.”
“The Craft family?”
“Yeah,” she laughed. “You know, the new neighbors across the street.”
“What are they coming here for?” I asked a little angrier than I should have. I was still upset how Tracy had treated me earlier.
She smiled and replied, “I thought it was a neighborly thing to do. Now, when you finish your cookie, go do your homework. You may not have time later.”
“Your father volunteered to help Stan work on their deck after dinner.” She turned and opened another cabinet before adding, “He wants you to help.”
“Because he needs your help.”
“I, um, got a research project to work on,” I informed her. “I won’t have time.”
“Then you better go start on it now,” she suggested. “Your father needs your help after dinner.” She then left me alone in the kitchen.
“Just great,” I said to myself as I went to my room. I changed from my school clothes into something that was more comfortable- athletic shorts and a tee shirt. I then lay across my bed and fell asleep.
I was awakened when the door opened, and Jimmy came barging in. “Damn!” he exclaimed. “I thought I would catch you pounding your puck.”
I rolled over and pulled down my shorts slightly until just my pubes were showing. “If you want to see my dick so bad,” I giggled, “I’ll show it to you.”
“Fuck that shit,” he responded. “I ain’t a fag.” He sat down beside me and asked if I wanted to go to the park and shoot some hoop. I explained that I had to finish my homework because our neighbors were coming for dinner.
“What neighbors?” he asked. “That poof across the street?”
“Shut up, Jimmy,” I snarled as I rose from the bed and walked across the room and looked over at the Craft house.
He got up, walked over and stood beside me. “How come you get so upset every time I call that kid a poof?”
“It just isn’t right,” I replied. “He’s new and you aren’t even giving it a chance to know him.”
“I know all I need to know,” he replied. “I saw that shit he was doing the other day. No normal guy dances around his room like a poof. And besides, you saw him eating today with Jeff. Everyone knows Jeff is gay.”
“Maybe Jeff’s the only guy who would talk to him,” I said. “You’re going around telling all our friends to stay away from him.”
“You’d better do the same, Jack,” warned Jimmy. “If you hang with him, everyone is going to think you’re gay too.”
I almost said, “What if I am,” but I caught myself. If I had, Jimmy would have left the room and called everyone of our friends and told them what I said. We had been friends for years, but even I knew that he would never speak to me again if he knew I was gay.
I suggested, “Why don’t you stay for dinner, then you can help me and Dad work on the Craft’s deck.”
“Naw, Man,” he replied. “I got better things to do.” He headed for the door. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” He left before I had a chance to say goodbye.
I was working on a geometry problem when I heard the doorbell ring. I looked at the clock and it was almost six o’clock. I knew it was the Crafts coming for dinner. A few minutes later, Karen came to my door and said that I was go come down to the dining room to eat.
Everyone was seated when I arrived. There was an empty seat beside Tracy, so I sat down. Mother asked Mrs. Craft is she wanted to say grace, and she did. I found it funny because we never say grace at a meal, but I guess she was trying to impress the Craft family. Actually, we go to church twice a year- at Easter and again Christmas Eve. I always hate going Christmas Eve because I would rather stay home and watch some of the Christmas shows that night.
Dinner was awkward. Dad and Mr. Craft did most of the talking, mainly about the deck. Mom and Mrs. Craft shared a few recipes. I noticed Mom studying Tracy a few times. I think she was trying to figure out if he might be gay.
I think her suspicions were confirmed when Mrs. Craft started talking about Tracy. She said he had been taking ballet lessons since he was seven. Even Dad seemed surprised. “Hell, Stan,” he teased Tracy’s father, “Didn’t you get the boy involved in a man’s sport like basketball.”
Mr. Craft tried to explain how good a dancer Tracy is, but my father kept insisting that his skills could be better used on a court. I glanced over several times at Tracy, and he appeared to be humiliated by the talk about his enjoyment of dancing.
I bit my lip when my mother asked, “Don’t girls usually take ballet? I enrolled Karen in a class a few years ago.” She looked over at me and added, “It’s not something I would consider for Jack.”
Tracy pushed himself away from the table. “Mother,” he asked sharply, “May I be excused.” He then got up and left the room. I jumped when I heard the front door slam shut.
“Oh, Dear,” my mother asked. “We didn’t upset him, did we?”
Mr. Craft replied, “He’s a little sensitive about dancing. He’s been told all his life that it’s something girls do. We had to move here because he was having trouble in North Dakota. Kids at school were pretty harsh on him.”
“Well, hell, Stan,” laughed my father. “You should have taught him a man’s sport.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, Jerry,” responded Mr. Craft indignantly, “but Tracy happens to be as good as any athlete at the school. Maybe better. He’s been performing on stage since he was nine. I’m actually quite proud of him.”
“Sorry, Stan,” apologized my father. “I didn’t mean anything by what I said.”
Mrs. Craft interrupted, “Tracy’s been hearing this all his life. We’ve tried to encourage him in what he likes to do, but it’s difficult sometimes. People have preconceived ideas about male dancers.”
“I’ve heard that most of them are gay,” responded my mother. I could tell by the look on her face, she regretted saying it.
Mrs. Craft pushed herself from the table, stood and looked down at my mother. “Thank you, Ellen, for a wonderful dinner, but we must be going now.” She looked over at Mr. Craft. He stood and shook my father’s hand.
“I guess we should be heading over and work on that deck,” he said. My father patted him on the back and they headed out the door with Mrs. Craft following them.
“Oh, Dear,” exclaimed my mother to me. “I think I upset her.” She then asked, “You don’t think that Tracy is really gay, do you?”
Before I had a chance to say anything, my father hollered out, “Come on, Jack! The deck isn’t going to get built by itself.” I turned and rushed from the house.
I was becoming increasingly upset the more I thought about what my parents had said to the Crafts, especially in front of Tracy. He got up and left because he was so insulted. I can’t say that I blamed him. By their comments, it was obvious that they not only had insulted him, but also his parents.
I think what upset me even more was how intolerant and insensitive their comments were. And I don’t think they even realized it. They implied to Tracy’s parents that they thought he was gay just because he liked to dance. My father even had the nerve to tell Mr. Craft that he could have made Tracy a man by putting a basketball in his hand instead of giving him dancing lessons. I don’t think Dad was aware how insulting that sounded.
And if the thought of Tracy being gay seemed unacceptable to them, then how could I ever come out to them. We had never really discussed the issue of someone being gay before, but I guess I assumed that they wouldn’t be too opposed to it. We had watched a few shows before where there were gay characters, and beside a few comments, they didn’t come right out and say anything negative.
Now, I’m not sure. If Tracy and I become friends, will they suspect that maybe I’m gay too? If we become really good friends, will they think that we might be having sex when we’re alone together? Not once have they thought anything when Jimmy and I have sleepovers. During the summer months when we are out of school, it’s not unusual for us to spend many nights together. We’ve never done anything, and I have never suggested it. Jimmy is as straight a guy as they come. I’ve heard a lot of guys talk about jerking off together, but I’ve never even considered doing that with Jimmy. He is just one of those guys who you know wouldn’t do something like that. When the subject of sex is mentioned, it’s always about girls. He’s been wanting to have sex with a girl since he was about thirteen. I still don’t think he’s done anything. If he had, I know he would tell me. He’s kissed a few girls after dates, but nothing more.
Now I don’t know what to do. Before Tracy, things were going well. I had decided that I would keep my feelings to myself, at least until I went off to college. I have an older sister, Stephanie, who is a sophomore in college. My parents wanted her to attend a local university, but she insisted on going to State which is a hundred miles away. She often comes home on the weekend, but she seems to be happy with the independence she’s gained by attending school away.
But now, Tracy may have changed my plans. I can’t just ignore him, not after what happened in the back of the van the other day. I mean, he knows I’m gay. He’s the only one who does. Yet, I can’t understand why he won’t talk to me.
Maybe he isn’t gay. He did feel on me too, but maybe he did it only because I did it to him. We are young. Our dicks get hard if there is a breeze. Naturally he would get hard with me grabbing him and stroking him. Maybe that is what is wrong with him. He keeps saying I don’t need a friend like him. What if he is like Jimmy, and he’s straight. What if he thinks I’m some sort of a gay pervert going around feeling on strangers? What if he tells people what he knows about me? I don’t think he has told anyone, so maybe he won’t. All I know is I have to talk to him somehow, but that’s going to be hard since he doesn’t seem to want to talk to me.
Dad and Mr. Craft were in the backyard hammering nails into the deck when I arrived. They seemed to be getting along okay, so I guess Mr. Craft wasn’t upset with Dad after all. I looked around for Tracy, but I didn’t see him.
Dad looked over and said, “It’s about time you got here.” He pointed to a two-by-four. “Hand me that.” I spent the next fifteen minutes handing him boards while he and Mr. Craft hammered them into place.
Mr. Craft stopped, wiped his brow and suggested that he and Dad take a break and drink a beer. “I like the way you think, Stan,” my father said as he put his hammer down.
Mr. Craft looked over at me and asked, “Jack. Could you go up to Tracy’s room and see what he’s doing. I’m going to need him to help with the bigger boards after your father and I chug a few.”
“Chug a few?” my father responded. “We won’t be worth two shits after a few beers.” He started laughing. “This deck will be lopsided as hell.”
“Lightweight,” joked Mr. Craft. “I can down a six pack and you wouldn’t know I had anything to drink.”
“Tell that to a breathalyzer test,” replied my father. He and Mr. Craft headed toward a shed where I assumed he kept the beer.
Reluctantly, I went inside. Mrs. Craft was in the family room reading a story to Amelia. I walked to the door and announced, “I’m supposed to go get Tracy.”
She replied, “You’ll find him in his room. Do you know where it is?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I responded politely as I turned and headed to his room.
The door was slightly ajar, and I peeked inside. Tracy was in the middle of the room dancing. He was watching himself in a large mirror mounted on the wall. I couldn’t remember seeing it earlier when I helped him unpack, so it must have been installed later. I watched him for several minutes as he danced.
I don’t know much about dancing, but he appeared experienced in what he was doing. He was so graceful and poised as he danced almost effortless. I remembered his father saying that he had been dancing since he was a small boy, and it was obvious he was good. I couldn’t take my eyes away from him.
Suddenly, he looked in the mirror, turned and looked at the door. He had seen me watching him! He walked over, turned off the music and sat down on his bed. I jumped when he hollered out, “You might as well come in since you’ve been spying on me.”
I hesitantly opened the door and walked in. “I’m sorry,” I apologized. “Your dad asked me to come get you. He says he needs you to help.”
He let out a sigh, and then he stood, faced the mirror, raised his arms and twirled. I didn’t know what to do. He would twirl, stop and look at me, and then twirl again. He repeated this several times.
I asked, “What are you doing?”
He replied sarcastically, “You wanted to watch me dance, so I’m dancing for you.” He then twirled several more times.
“Why are you doing this, Tracy?”
He stopped, walked over and sat down beside me. “You don’t like watching a gay boy dance?” he asked. “Isn’t that what your father and mother thought about me?”
“About that,” I apologized, “I’m sorry. They were wrong.”
“Yes, they were,” he replied angrily. He rose and took off the thin shirt he was wearing. I couldn’t believe how nicely he was built. I’ve seen many athletes undress in gym class over the years, but Tracy had a better build than many of them. He stared at me as I let my eyes roam over his body. He smiled slightly, went over to the dresser, got a green shirt and pulled it over his head. I gasped when he turned back. The green shirt made his green eyes shimmer.
He sat beside me and asked, “Like what you see?”
I was stunned. I couldn’t believe I had been so obvious. He must have thought I was some kind of a pervert watching him undress. I stammered, “What do you mean?” He rose from the bed, walked over, closed his bedroom door and returned.
He asked, “They don’t know, do they?”
His voice became angry. “So, are we going to play this game?”
“What game?” I asked.
He rose, looked down and snarled, “Forget it, Jack.” He turned and left the room.