Chapter 54


Chandler called me up Friday night and asked if I’d join him downtown to help him with another exhibit today.

I spent half a nanosecond considering the idea before I blurted, “SURE!”

My Dad was fine with it so I was ready to go this morning. Chandler arrived around 9 AM and I tried to nonchalantly come up to his car so as to be ‘cool’ about it, but I couldn’t help but be eager and apparently I was smiling like the Joker. I seriously love hanging out with Chandler and not just because he’s like my Gay Sensei, but also because he’s like hanging out with a Rock Star! He gets attention wherever he goes and it just seems such a privilege to be with him!

That said, I was a bit shocked and felt somewhat betrayed when I looked in the back and saw Marie sitting there. She didn’t look glum, exactly, but she didn’t look happy either. I had a feeling today wasn’t going to be as much fun as I thought it was going to be.  As it turned out, it was the best kind of day. A kind that puts everything to rights.

We certainly did work with Chandler on setting up the exhibit hall again. This time, though, he was not only setting up a small display for his own stuff, but for some others too.  He said it was all about his Curating class he was taking . . . whatever that is.

Marie and I chit-chatted as we worked together, but didn’t get down, dirty, or serious about anything.  There was a different energy between us, though. Something that was, sort of, an ‘elephant in the room’ kind of thing, but one neither of us seemed ready to tackle at the moment.  In actuality, we were all so busy that we didn’t have much time to talk seriously about anything.

Marie really did seem to be there just to help Chandler with no ulterior motives or anything. Of course, I know now that it was a bit of a setup on Chandler’s part.  I found this out after he excused himself using the ‘keep an eye on things while I go get more hangers’ excuse.

I spent a moment trying to look like I was interested in some of the pictures that we had hung up already. I wasn’t trying to ignore Marie, exactly, but I was trying to draw my focus away from her in case she felt as awkward as I did at that moment.  Marie has never been shy, so when she was done moving some boxes to make room for the ones Chandler would be bringing up, she walked right over to stand next to me to stare at the picture I was ‘admiring’.

“Hmmm, I don’t get it?” Marie asked. I figured she was about to get into it with me for being so quiet and disconnected lately.  But, I played along, “Get what?”

“This painting – what is it supposed to be exactly?” I found that a little funny and couldn’t help but chuckle.

“What’s so funny? It looks like a stick figure humping a chicken!” Marie blurted.

“Hahahaha! A what?” I turned to her, cracking up. She continued to pretend to be confused by the stupid picture that, amazingly, did look exactly like a stick figure humping a chicken. Then she turned with a smirk and asked, “Don’t pretend like you know what that thing is!”

“You’re right. That’s why I was trying to figure this ridiculous thing out! I mean, honestly, what kind of drugs do you have to be on to actually draw something this . . . weird?”  Marie laughed at that.

“Beats me!” She said and then there was a long, I suppose, pregnant pause. I like that term. I picked it up in a book I was reading at the Library the other day.

“I’m sure gonna miss you, Brandon.”  Marie said as she looked blankly at the wall.

“Me too . . .” I said and then we turned to each other and gave each other a much needed hug. Neither of us cried or anything, but we both comforted one another.

“But, hey! We got numbers and emails, right? We’ll stay in touch!” I assured her and I did so honestly. Marie is a friend I would hate to lose just because of some goofy puppy-love feelings.  She’s kind, funny, very smart, and very beautiful inside and out! Like I’ve said over and over again in this blog – she’s perfect and I wish I could have been the one to be perfect for her too. But, the more and more I come to understand who and what I am, the more I realize – I’m not the one!

Marie will make some lucky guy the love of his life! I wouldn’t ever want to stand in the way of that with my half-delusional feelings.

I’m Gay, Marie is Straight and that is that.

I have to be honest for the both of us while at the same time keeping my cover.  This opportunity for Marie is a sign of that.

“I know you will. You are just and true like that, Brandon. You’re a very special guy, you know that right?” Marie said looking up into my eyes almost pleading for me to understand.

“I’ll take your word on it because I know, coming from you, it has to be true and just.” I smiled at mirroring her words. She did too and then she stood up on her tippy-toes, kissed my cheek and hugged me around the neck. It was a nice way to . . . . leave things, I guess.

Soon, Chandler was back hefting a big box with those wonderful muscles of his. He was wearing a tight t-shirt that showed every ripple and the prickle in my cheeks and the sudden strain in my jeans reminded me of what I really am, once again.

We finished up, went out for a burger, and then Chan drove us back to our homes.

A nice way to leave things . . .


After Church, my Dad and I worked on a project in the back yard. We’re building what he calls an ‘arbor’. I asked him what one was and he showed me a picture of some place in Italy. He said it was from the family home where my Nonna used to live.

A little about my Nonna, she was my Grandma on my mom’s side and her name was Gina, though I called her Nonna because she loved that. She originally came over from Italy way back with my Pappa or Grandad.  She passed away when I was pretty little, but I do still remember her with a lot of happiness. I particularly remember her various Italian Christmas cookies and cakes she’d always make. Dozens and dozens of things! She must have spent her life baking and cooking! She lived in New Jersey then and when we’d visiter her home we’d be stuffed silly with all kinds of goodies.  She taught my Dad her recipe for spaghetti sauce and my Mom swore she gave him a secret Nonna didn’t give her because his always came out better! I can say that’s absolutely true! Spaghetti night at the Temple house is not to be missed! It’s my favorite thing he makes except for, maybe, his pizza which is also amazing!

In any case, in the picture from Nonna’s old childhood home, they had this ‘arbor’ thing which is a wooden archway that can be used to hang vines like for grapes, squash, eggplants, or a combo of all of them. If you make one big enough you can even put an outdoor dining area under it which is what Nonna’s family did. I could see where that would have been a neat way to eat ‘al fresco’. My Dad remembers having visited there and saying how ‘enchanting’ it was to be out under that arbor with the grapes and things eating the best food he’d ever had with the love of his life by his side. Apparently, I’d gone there too, but only in my Mom’s belly. Hehehe!

He admitted to making it, like, a monument to Mom and that part of our family. It is a good sign he’s doing this because it means he’s starting to accept things and starting to come out of the ‘all work’ mode he’s been in for so long. Helping him with it today was a privilege knowing what the arbor is going to be and what it will mean!

While we were working, he said that a kid named Bobby had called a couple of times asking for me yesterday when I was busy with Chandler. I had to remember that I had given him my number. I also had to remember what I was dealing with in Bobby.  I decided to call him back later. At least we could chat about any of the horror films that I suggested he should see if he managed to see any of them.  I’m not sure if he can actually rent things like that, honestly, but most of the films I like are oldies which are pretty tame. I’m not much into the blood and guts as I am into the atmosphere and spookiness.  I think the one I wanted him to check out was ‘The Haunting’ that was done back in the 60s. That is a creepy one! He might have been able to get that one.  He should do ‘The Changeling’ next because that one is SUPER creepy! Ghost kids get to me more than adult ones do, for some reason.  Maybe it’s because they are too close to my age!


I tried calling Bobby back but he was unavailable. Seems like we’re doing phone tag.  I thought about calling Billy, but I’m not sure how things are there.  His weird reactions to Bobby, kind of, disturbed me a little, to be honest.  His acting jealous over me is still confusing me quite a bit!

Should I find that encouraging? Should I not? Is he really jealous or just in a weird mood? He does seem to be a lot more on edge lately. I hope everything is going ok at home with him!  His usually cheerful and adorably sunny self has had some cloudy days lately, I’ve noticed.

Now, I feel I should call him to see if he’s ok! But, would that be weird? He and I don’t really have that kind of relationship yet, I don’t think. I mean, we chat on the phone and talk at school, but we’ve never, actually, done anything together outside of that. Stevie and I have a closer relationship, actually.

Speaking of Stevie, he sent me a raft of photos his friends must have been taking of some of his new skateboard tricks. I have to say, he’s awfully good at that! I just hope he doesn’t fall and break his head one of these days. I don’t get the appeal of skateboards.  I prefer a bike. Maybe I ought to get into trick riding or something so I can have something interesting to send back to Stevie!

Well, typical boring Sunday night. I think I’ll go watch some TV with Dad. I think I smell popcorn!

This is Brandon . . . Popping Along?

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