Ryan Evans was rarely ever home, he rarely ever took a break from work. From the time he graduated from Juilliard, it had been a whirlwind of choreographing and occasionally (far less often than he would have liked) acting. One would think that being one of the most sought after choreographers on Broadway would help him get decent roles; but no, he was usually an understudy or chorus boy while directors would pick his brain about the dance numbers. It was a living.
Slowly spinning his chair clockwise, Ryan slouched and watched the ceiling float past. Since Ryan was rarely without work, the two months he decided to take off were going to be torture. There was no choice in the matter though. Ryan had agreed to write a book over two years ago, but with his work and especially the fact that he moved to LA for a year to choreograph for film, he had never found the time. Now the deadline was looming and he needed 100 000 words in eight weeks.
Ryan stopped the movement of his chair so he was facing the computer again. The flashing cursor on the blank document was taunting him. He started spinning again.
It wouldn’t be so bad if he could figure out what to write about. The publishers probably wanted showbiz gossip or an in-depth look at what went on behind the curtains. Ryan had considered and discarded both of these ideas. For one thing, he was uncomfortable airing his co-workers private lives for everyone to see (not the best way to maintain good working relationships), and for another, what went on behind the curtain was supposed to be mysterious – that was part of the magic of theatre. All that was left was him, Ryan Evans, and he hadn’t been interesting in years.
Ryan paused in front of the screen again. Instead of sitting up straight, he remained slouched, pulled the keyboard onto his lap and began typing.
There are a few little known facts about me which people would probably find interesting. The first is that I am a twin. Yes, I shared the womb with someone. It wasn’t just anyone though; it was none other than Sharpay Bolton, First Lady. Another little known fact is that I haven’t talked to her since my graduation from Juilliard.
It was the classic beautiful day - birds were chirping, the sun was shining. My parents had cut short their safari in Africa to they would make it to my graduation. Say what you will about my parents and their travel habits, but they were always there when it really mattered. Sharpay, on the other hand, had refused her invitation, one of many I had sent over the years. Sharpay refused to set foot in a place that saw themselves as too good for her. I could have been the star of the theatre production or dying in the gutter, and Sharpay wouldn’t have budged on her conviction. This time, I refused to let it go.
“How can you miss my graduation” I demanded, spewing as much venom as possible into the phone.
“Ryan, I can’t go,” Sharpay’s voice was firm, but not its usually resentful tone. If I hadn’t been so angry, I probably would have noticed then.
“Look, I’m sorry Juilliard didn’t accept you,” I spat. “I’m sorry you weren’t as talented as you always assumed, but this is my day and as my sister you should be here and not spoiling it over wounded pride.”
Silence reigned over the line for a moment. “Ryan, look, I’m going through something right now.”
“Because everything is always about you, isn’t it Shar?” I paced angrily. “Everything is all about your problems, and your feelings. It’s all about you. Well guess what, Shar: this time it’s not about you - it’s about me and how you should be here for me. God, for once in your beauty-queen selfish life, consider someone else’s feelings.”
With what sounded like a choked sob, she hung up the phone. I spent the entire ceremony thinking angry thoughts in her direction… A month later, Sharpay eloped with Troy Bolton and in another six months they had the first of the Bolton children. My niece, whom I’ve never met, Troy decided to call Gabriella. I’ve noticed from various media over the years that my sister’s eyes don’t sparkle anymore. How do you apologize for something like that?
Years have gone by and she’s had four more children (not a single Ryan in the mix) and the space between us has gotten so big it’s insurmountable.
Ryan tossed the keyboard back onto the table and walked away without saving. It was time for lunch anyway. He rubbed his nose and silently damned the dust in the office for making his eyes water.
Sebastian (Ryan’s cat) meowed angrily at Ryan for some food, which Ryan kindly provided in a saucer on the table so he wouldn’t have to eat alone. Sebastian was a gift from his parents when he moved to LA a year ago, so he wouldn’t be lonely – and if the press photos were any indication, they gave Shar an identical cat named Viola which was probably from the same litter (his parents were weird like that).
Ryan ate his sandwich and scratched behind Bast’s (as Ryan preferred to call him) ears. Then he returned to the computer and erased the entire document. It was too personal. Also, Shar was a public figure, and estranged or not, he couldn’t set her up for a media blow up.
Once again the cursor was taunting him; every little flash became more and more smug. Sebastian rubbed up against his leg a few times before bouncing away to hunt a fly that had caught his attention. Ryan typed a capital ‘I’, this book was supposed to be about him after all. The page seemed infinitely less annoying when there was something on it. He kept typing.
“I was married once” Ryan paused and read over those words. He considered them carefully and shrugged. It was as good a thing to write about as any.
I was married once. It was essentially my only attempt to grasp hetero-normalcy and like everything I set my mind to, I was thorough. I bought the white house with the blue shutters and the picket fence. We had the big yard with the tire swing, and a collie named Alistair. To the neighbours, we had seemed like the perfect family: a young married couple and their child. They had no idea that it had all started in tears.
It had been five years since I graduated Juilliard. I was slowly making a name for myself as a choreographer, though my real passion was acting. I had a fantastic condo in the city (it pays to be born rich) and a group of fairly close-knit friends. We were all from different backgrounds but had bonded over our love of Sesame Street, which we watched whenever any of us was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of school. The rubber ducky song was my salvation through many turbulent times. Within this group, we had classical composers, ballerinas, actors….as spattering of everything really - most importantly though, this group had Kelsi, my best not-sister friend from high school. She and I had technically been the founders of our little group. We were simply continuing our secret high-school habit of decompressing with children’s TV in one of the empty studios and slowly people found out and started joining us.
Out of all my friends at Juilliard, Kelsi would remain my best. She always made time in her schedule to make an appearance (at least once) to all of my shows, and I did the same for her. She was the one sane, stable thing in my crazy sparkly life. That was why it was so unsettling to have her show up at my door, eyes red and cheeks blotchy. She threw herself into my arms and it was like a dam broke.
It seemed like ages before she calmed down enough to talk to me. I had her bundled up in a quilt on the couch, next to a roaring fire. Between shuddering breaths, she told me what happened. When her sobs had settled into hiccups, I got her some tea. Peppermint seemed appropriate, soothing. She gratefully took the cup from my hand.
“Oh Ry, how could I have been so stupid?” She asked, her voice raw from crying. “I thought he loved me, but all he wanted was some stupid child protégé or something.” Yes, Kelsi was pregnant and the ass dumped her and was going to sue for full custody of the baby. This bit of information sent Kelsi into another wave of misery.
“He might not win” I suggested, wrapping my arm around her shoulder and mentally trying to think of ways to get Grover taken off the air permanently. That would show the bastard.
“Of course he’ll win” Her tone coloured by anger. “He’s for a good name and a ton of money. I’m just a pianist from fucking Albuquerque”
“Well….you could always-”
“Don’t say it. You know I can’t abort and you know why”
It’s true, I did know. Kelsi’s mom had been fourteen when she got pregnant. Had she given into pressure and aborted, then there would be no Kelsi. Not that Kelsi ever judged others over this issue, she was always an incredibly supportive friend one way or the other, but she could never personally do it.
I pulled Kelsi closer, her head resting on my shoulder. We spent the rest of the night watching the flames dance.
As with most problems of our generation, the solution could be found on television.
“It’s called the law of presumed paternity,” I explained, gesticulating madly. “Whoever you’re married to at the time of the birth is the baby’s father.”
Kelsi looked at me sceptically from behind her sheet music – she had been writing a lullaby. “And you saw this on ‘Law and Order’?”
“Yes, and it show up in multiple episodes so it’s probably true. Even if it’s not though, if William tries to get custody you’ll have the Evans name and money backing you up. He won’t have a chance in hell.”
Kelsi blinked once, and then again. “Ryan, did you just ask me to marry you?”
I gracefully got down on one knee and held up the ring I had spent hours choosing. It was a simple diamond on a white-gold band. “If you would do me the honour?”
There were tears n her eyes, which she hurriedly brushed away, muttering “damn hormones.” She gave me a watery smile. “I would love to Ry. Thank you.”
I slid the ring on her finger. It was a perfect fit.
The wedding was beautiful, and sharply co-ordinated. The colour scheme was royal blue and white. All the flowers were deep blue, as were the napkins. The tuxedos had blue accents and the girls wore blue silk. Kelsi’s dress was magnificent, the best money could buy. It was designed specifically for her. The length of the dress had diamonds sewn into it making it shimmer as she walked, and the bodice was white with intricate embroidery in blue. Lava Springs, my parent’s country club, was decked out in all the finest for the occasion.
Kelsi had asked Gabriella (her friend from high school) to be her maid of honour, and lacking many options in Albuquerque, I asked Chad Danforth to be my best man. To my eternal shock and bewilderment, he said yes. (and before you ask, yes, it’s that Chad Danforth…more on that later)
So there we all were, in front of hundreds of guests. The tension within the wedding party was palpable. Gabriella couldn’t look me in the eye without remembering my sister who stole the love of her life, so she spent most of the wedding with her eyes averted and trying to avoid looking at anything that brought back painful memories. In hindsight, I really shouldn’t have had the wedding at Lava Springs – this place pretty much screamed painful memories – but in my defence, we had to find a place quickly and this place was practically my personal fun house when I was growing up. Anyway, Gabriella was even worse with Chad, bordering on downright rude. He had been the best man at the elopement that broke her heart (Notably, one of my sister’s children is named ‘Chad’).
Kelsi was getting along with both of them but she was walking on eggshells. Something completely unknown to Gabriella, Kelsi had been the maid-of-honour at that wedding. Had Gabriella known, I bet she would have thrown coffee into Kelsi’s face instead of agreeing to come.
The most obvious awkwardness was between Chad and me. More than once, I found myself desperately wishing I had asked someone else. In fact, at one point during the ceremony, I was a second away from kicking Chad out and replacing him with my father, and if you knew how well my father and I get along, you would know what a big deal that was.
At the time, he wasn’t even out yet, but regardless he’d always seen me as some kind of gay role-model or something because I was out and proud for as long as he could remember. Not for the first time, he was ashamed of me, but this time it was for an entirely new reason. I, the paragon of all things gay, was marrying a girl and starting a family. Every time he looked at me, disgust was etched into his features.
The tension erupted after the ceremony in a screaming match in the locker room.
I slammed my palm into a locker and whirled around to look at him. “You have no right to judge me, Chad Danforth!”
“Oh yeah?” He said standing tall and getting right in my face. “You are such a hypocrite! Ever since high school you’ve been all but physically pushing me out of the closet and now all the sudden you’re the poster-boy for all things hetero.”
I centered myself, grasping every scrap of Evans pride as a cloak before answering in my most condescending tone “There is a difference between pressuring someone to come out and offering support should they choose to do so. As for being the poster boy for heterosexuality, I can’t possibly be because you’ve had the position filled for years.”
“There is a difference between being a jock and getting fucking married Ryan! Being who I am has never excluded the possibility of being gay.”
“It never included it either. You chain date your way through bimbos, you describe your dream girl in interviews and whenever you to hook up with a guy you treat it as though it’s a dirty little secret.”
“Unlike you, who just got married,” Chad said sarcastically.
I snapped. “I’m tired, Chad. I’m tired of strings of one night stands with people who won’t look me in the eye in the morning. I’m tired of having to fight every step of the way to defend my relationships when my on-again-off-again won’t even take me out for breakfast in the morning. I could have normal with Kelsi, Chad. I could walk down the street holding her hand and no one would glare, I wouldn’t have to watch all the time in order to avoid thugs who might beat me up on principle. I’ve been fighting my entire life to force people to accept me the way I am, and I’m too tired to do it anymore.” I slumped against one of the lockers, fighting back the mist that was starting to invade my eyes.
Chad was quiet for a long time. Then he walked over, pulled me into a hug and whispered his congratulations in my ear. For some reason, I felt an uncanny sense of déjà vu. It took me a moment, but when I realized, I couldn’t hold back a snicker.
Chad looked at my quizzically.
“Look around,” I said with a wide gesture. “Look familiar?”
A grin slowly crept up to Chad’s lips. “Great place to discuss the merits of heterosexuality.”
We both broke down into giggles then. This was where we had sex for the first time.
Incidentally, Chad very publicly abandoned the closet the next day. He called a press conference and announced his preferences for the entire world to hear. When asked about why he was coming out then, he very vaguely said that he was carrying the torch for a friend. No one really understood what he was talking about. He is now the leading gay rights activist in professional sports (see, I told you it was that Chad Danforth). I didn’t find out about it for two months because Kelsi and I were touring Europe on our honeymoon.
The baby was born and named Ryan Jr., usually shortened to R.J. We had a three bedroom house in the suburbia with blue shutters, a white picket fence, and a backyard. I loved Kelsi and R.J. more than anything, I still do, but that could never make up for the fact that at root Kelsi and I were just two friends playing house.
R.J was five when Kelsi fell in love. Christopher was his name and he played cello. I knew it was love because even when she complained about him, she would smile. He had been over to our house a few times. RJ liked him and he treated Kelsi well.
I agreed to the divorce before she even managed to finish a pathetic attempt to subtly bring up the topic. I left her with the house, R.J., and the dog. I moved back into the city and buried myself in my work.
I tried to visit as often as possible. Everything else aside, I was still legally R.J.s father and I loved him to pieces. One day though, I arrived to see Christopher and R.J. rough-housing in the front yard.
R.J. was giggling and yelling. “Put me down, Daddy, put me down!”
Christopher laughed and continued spinning him one way, then the other.
Without either of them seeing me, I told the taxi driver to bring me home. That was the last time I saw R.J. I had attempted to claim normalcy when I married Kelsi. R.J deserved the same opportunity. Besides, had Kelsi just met Christopher five years earlier, I would have had no claim to R.J. at all. That night I accepted one of the many offers to choreograph for movies and I moved to California. I sent Kelsi a quick e-mail letting her know I was going and to say goodbye. I also made a call to my lawyer to make sure R.J’s trust fund was in order and that support payments would be sent to Kelsi every week. I would never abandon my responsibilities after all. I was out of New York by sunrise. With Chris, R.J. could have a normal father and family, I wasn’t going to screw that up for him.
Ryan’s fingers hovered shakily over the keys before once again erasing the text. This began too late in the story and a lot of the implication was lost without the context. He pulled his finger away from the keys when he got to R.J.’s birth. His fingers hesitated over the keyboard and then he saved the document to his journal folder. It was a good story, one he would like to remember…but it wasn’t going to be in his book.
He was up and out of his chair again - this time reaching for his secret stash of cigarettes. They were his one guilty pleasure. He knew they were bad for him and the singer inside him was appalled at the prospect, but he went through them at a pace of about 1 pack a year so he wasn’t overly concerned.
Ryan leaned on the balcony railing while he smoked, not wanting to pollute the apartment with the smell. It was good to be back in New York . There was a gritty reality to New York that L.A. lacked. There was only so much plastic and fakeness Ryan could stand before he was begging to come back. It was impressive he lasted the entire year there, and most of that was sheer bull-headed determination. He flicked the cigarette butt over the railing and returned to the computer. Now, where to begin…
I am Gay. Ryan took a sip of water and continued to type. I’ve known I was gay for as long as I can remember. My oldest memories involve Shar (my twin sister) and me looking through magazines and gushing over the cute boys therein.
My parents were concerned. They were supportive of any preferences I had (though my dad struggled sometimes, and often found it easier to let my mom deal with me), but they wanted to make sure I was truly ‘that way’ (as my father said) and not just mimicking Shar. That was the first and only time Shar and I were sent to separate activities. Shar took up swimming and I was sent to baseball. We were nine at the time and this kept up until we were thirteen. That is not to say Shar and I were completely segregated. We still had dancing, singing, acting and gymnastics together, and our rooms were connected through the playroom.
Little known fact about me: I was scary good at baseball. I broke the record for pitching no hitters when I was nine (for my age group). Seems all those dance lessons helped me learn the various body motions and arm twists required to master a variety of different pitches. No one in our area could bat against me.
When I was twelve they drafted me into the little league world series. The reason the story of my temporary foray into the world of sports is being told alongside my earliest memories of gayness is because this is when I discovered my type. Everyone has a type after all - some prefer blonds, others prefer eyeliner, I preferred jocks. In what was probably the stupidest thing I could do, I started to be attracted to some of my team-mates. There was something about the rush of a game well played combined with a group of sweaty boys jumping all over each other that never failed to turn me on.
I was sure to keep my eyes averted in the change rooms, kept my blushing to a minimum and ran our as quickly as possible. I wasn’t stupid, I’d heard all the locker room talk, and I’d seen the PBS specials. I knew what they would do if they realized someone ‘like that’ was in their midst. I could never give them any indication that I was any different than them, and pretending all the time was incredibly draining.
No one ever noticed (thank goodness for the obliviousness of the teenage boy). We were champions that year and I got a nifty ring and everything. I still have it in a jewellery box somewhere. Every once in a while, I’ll take it out and look at it, remembering for a moment that I could easily be someone else. Usually around the same time, I would try to teach R.J. some of my easier pitches.
Ryan looked at the last two sentences and then erased them. He hadn’t talked about R.J. in this draft so he couldn’t include him in the story yet.
No one ever noticed (thank goodness for the obliviousness of the teenage boy). We were champions that year and I got a nifty ring and everything. I still have it in a jewellery box somewhere. Then I quit. I gave the team some gibberish about having too many activities and quitting while I was ahead. They bought it, and each and every one of them signed my glove.
Shar was livid. I explained numerous times why I had to let baseball go, but she couldn’t get past the fact that I had to give up something I ‘kicked ass’ at (her words, not mine) over the prejudices of some ‘narrow minded tall people’ (I’m pretty sure this was the root of Shar’s disdain for all things athletic that Zeke fought so hard against all through high school).
I retreated into the world of drama and music. That was my thing, these were my people, and most importantly I had Shar with me and she would destroy anyone who even looked at my funny. I could be whoever I wanted in the theatre, so I chose to sparkle loudly and proudly.
That’s not to say I suddenly developed a taste for theatre boys. It was still the sweaty sporty ones who made appearances in my fantasies. I had the common sense to look and not touch though (and to get to gym early to avoid changing with the jocks).
That all worked very well for another four years, until I played baseball again.
It was such a stupid thing. For the first time in years, I got caught up in the machismo, in the one-upmanship. I was trying to convince them to dance in the talent show, but the truth was, for once, I wanted to show off just how good I could be in their world. I wanted them to know I could easily be one of them and I simply chose not to.
It was a hard fought game. I hadn’t practiced in years so I was relying mainly on muscle memory. The one person I couldn’t strike out was Chad Danforth (Yes, that Chad Danforth – NBA superstar and gay rights activist). Little known fact about Chad, he could have been just as successful in baseball. I revelled every time he would step up to the plate. The competitive part of me was loving every moment of it. I had found a true challenge. Always throwing my best pitches, I put my heart and soul into every throw. He would strike once, often missing completely. Strike again, a little closer this time, and the third time he would always compensate and the ball would sail overhead. He loved the challenge too; I could see it in his eyes.
I lost that game, but it was incredibly close. Gabriella got what she wanted; the jocks were in the talent show.
I don’t remember why, I guess we were cleaning up the equipment, but Chad and I were the last ones in the change room. Everyone else was long gone.
Adrenaline running high, having just played the best game of our lives, it was not really surprising what happened next. Instead of looking away and keeping my eyes averted like a good little gay boy, I locked eyes with Chad on the way to the lockers. When we stopped, I pulled my T-shirt over my head without breaking eye contact. I wasn’t really sure what was going through my mind in that moment, but I was challenging him, daring him. Our eyes were locked and I was dying to see what he would do.
Chad pushed me back into the lockers and all but stuck his tongue down my throat. His hands were on my bare sides, holding me in place while he pushed and ground against me. Maybe it was residual antagonism from the game, but instead of just enjoying it. I shoved back. Never breaking lip-contact, I forced him across the aisle until I was the one pinning him to the lockers. There was a lot of shoving and rubbing. It was sweaty and smelly and dirty. Afterwards we were spent and badly in need of a shower. It was perfect.
That was the only time I ever fooled around with a jock in high school. School started again and Chad went back to very publically dating Taylor (a girl) and he avoided being alone with me at all. I treated him like anyone else and generally left him alone…
Ryan picked up Bast and pointed him towards to screen. “What do you think? Too personal?”
The cat mewled in a tone which Ryan interpreted as affirmative.
With two clicks, the entire content was gone.
“So kitty, what should I write about now?” He asked ironically.
The cursor continued to blink at him. “I need a drink,” he said, hurrying to the kitchen to escape the eternal blinking.
For some reason, a gin and tonic on the rocks made the cursor seem slightly less intimidating. He tapped the desk in time with the cursor, and mentally choreographed a dance he called “This Way Lies Insanity” to the beat it provided.
He got another drink before he started typing again.
When I was in University, I went to Juilliard. I received a scholarship based primarily on the choreography I made for the high school spring musical. It was some of my best work, I think. There was innocence to it, a certain naivety that was stripped away by countless hours of training and schooling. Sometimes I miss the time just doing work for the high school. If the musical flopped, no one really cared in the grand scheme of things. It was very low pressure.
I was never at Juilliard longer than a few weeks though, before Shar (my twin sister) would call me home. She would need my help casting the school musical (she worked as the drama assistant at our old high school while at the University of Albuquerque). She would need my opinion on potential beaus, or teachers. Heck, she would text me photos in the morning to get my opinion of her outfits. Ultimately, my parents invested in a private jet to shuttle me back and forth because it was cheaper than paying for airfare.
It was on one of these trips back, I think Shar needed me to get her dance partner up to scratch for their musical number or something, I don’t quite remember. Anyway, I ran into Chad. He was a jock from high school that also ended up at U of A. For some reason, I thought he might have homosexual inclinations.
I had just finished walking Sharpay to her first Monday class. My Monday teacher was at some kind of conference so I decided to stay an extra day and fly back for my afternoon classes on Tuesday. Unfortunately, Sharpay had all seminars and she didn’t want to have to ask permission for me to attend her classes. She gave me a quick ‘shoo’ motion and told me to entertain myself for a few hours. I ran into Chad at a coffee stand. I hadn’t even noticed him at first; there was just the prickly sensation on the back of my neck. Someone was checking me out. Never one to miss an opportunity, I jutted my hip out ever so slightly, showing off my ass, and stretched, letting my shirt lift a bit in the process, showing some skin. I paid for my coffee and nonchalantly turned. There was Chad, leaning against a tree and unabashedly starring. He quirked an eyebrow in invitation and I meandered over slowly, as though I had all the time in the world.
I stood next to him, also taking up space on the tree and stared out at the coffee shop patrons. He had invited me over here; he could be the first to talk. Looking back, it was stupidly stubborn of me, but hey, I was young.
“You’re bigger than you used to be,” He said finally, the silence had become too much.
“I’ve been doing a lot more dancing. Lifting twenty-something year old girls over your head several times every day will do that to a person.” I was a bit bigger, but I didn’t look anything above average. I was definitely not the incredible hulk by any means.
“You wear it well.” He wasn’t looking at me, and I wasn’t looking at him.
“Thanks,” I crossed my arms and refused to make this conversation any easier.
“Wanna go play some baseball?” He asked, still keeping his eyes forward.
I turned to look at him for the first time, trying to figure him out. I turned my eyes back to the coffee crowd. “Sure.”
We didn’t go to the baseball diamond needless to say, and I would have been amazed if we did. He brought me back to his dorm. It was a single room. There was a bed, a dresser and a desk. It honestly looked more like a prison than anything else; the walls were a rough grey cement-like substance.
As soon as the door closed, we were kissing. There was nothing tender or cute about it, there never was between us. It was rough, and rushed, desperate. Chad tugged at my shirt, breaking the kiss to pull it over my head, and then he was back to devouring my mouth. I let myself be pushed against the wall, my back grinding against the pre-mentioned cement like substance (When Shar saw my back later, she shrieked and demanded to know why a cat brutally destroyed my back….hurt like a bitch for days). At the time, I didn’t even notice the scraping. Chad was pressed against me, grinding roughly as though trying to bypass our remaining clothes through sheer force of will.
I shoved him back roughly; he took a step back in surprise.
“Shirt off” I demanded in my bitchiest drama voice.
He ripped his shirt over his head and threw it back behind him before pinning me against the wall again.
I traced my fingers over his shoulder blades and down his spine, before resting my hands on his hips. I love the feel of his skin, the muscles in his back- Loved, I loved the feel of his…whatever (Edit this later). Anyway, we…um…
Ryan bit his lip, nervously looking over everything he wrote. He was a little flushed and for a moment, he had lost himself in the writing. This was definitely not going in the book, regardless of how subtle he was with the names and how ‘out’ Chad was at the moment. This was far too personal. A faint pink tinge was staining his cheeks as he deleted most of what he had written and started again.
It was on one of these trips back, I think Shar needed me to get her dance partner up to scratch for their musical number or something, I don’t quite remember. Anyway, I ran into Chad. He was a jock from high school that also ended up at U of A. For some reason, I thought he might have homosexual inclinations. We hooked up a few times throughout our years of schooling. This was always done secretly though, he was at U of A on a sports scholarship after all, it’s not like he could quit and find a more accepting environment. The major problem was that I couldn’t even tell Shar. There were times that I flew to the university and completely avoided my twin sister for the entire weekend because as far as she knew, I wasn’t there and I couldn’t explain why I was. It was awful. Keeping things from Shar always made me feel a little sick.
What was most bizarre was that as long as we weren’t having sex, Chad was incredibly buddy-buddy. He came down to New York a few times. I brought him to a basketball game (a sport I loath, but his favourite team was playing). He got so excited when they won that he picked me up and hugged me.
I dragged him to a Broadway show, claiming that if I had to sit through a sporting event, he had to sit through a musical. Personally, I thought bringing him to ‘RENT’ was actually quite charitable on my part. I could have just as easily brought him to ‘Phantom of the Opera’, or ‘Cats’. He spent the whole musical leaning over and whispering a running commentary in my ear.
It was most noticeable at meals. I did not like to cook. At home, we had a chef and I never got out of the habit of letting someone else prepare my food. When Chad visited, we ate out – all the time. Meals were filled with laughter and food, old jokes and wine. We would talk for hours during meals. I always gave the wait staff a hefty tip for putting up with us.
Ultimately, we would have sex. It always ended up as sex with us. No matter how much I tried to put it off, that is where it would always go. Chad would sleep in my bed. He would hold me close all night (he was a bit of a cuddler, though he would never admit it). The next morning, I would ask him where he would like to have breakfast and he would freak.
“Why don’t we just stay in?” He said nervously.
“…Because I don’t have a kitchen” I suggested in confusion. “Nor do I have food?”
“Well why don’t I hit a grocery store and bring some food back?” With that same trapped, panicked voice.
“Let’s just go out,” I said, grabbing a pair of jeans off the floor.
“But….people might know.”
“Know what?” I asked over my shoulder as I dug through my closet looking for a shirt and hat combination.
“That we….you know.”
I dropped my hats in shock and turned to look at him. “You don’t want to go to breakfast because you’re afraid complete strangers might think you’ve had gay sex last night?”
Chad was silent.
“That—that’s absolutely ridiculous!” I stammered. “We went out for breakfast yesterday and you didn’t care.”
“But yesterday we hadn’t…I had nothing to hide yesterday.”
I just stared at him.
In that moment, he looked like an awkward teenager again.
“Fine, do what you want,” I stated, putting on the first hat I touched (which I later discovered, clashed horribly with my shirt). “I’m going out for breakfast.” Which I did.
The rest of the weekend was spent awkwardly. There was an elephant in the room that neither of us was ready to deal with and we couldn’t leave the room because someone might ‘know’. Needless to say, from that moment on I made it my mission to put off sex until our last night together. It caused several awful cases of blue balls but I had a lot more fun…and I still didn’t have to learn to cook.
Those years were a weird blend of stress over Chad and bitterness from Sharpay. I wasn’t allowed to mention New York; I certainly wasn’t allowed to mention Juilliard. They gave me the scholarship instead of her. Even though my parents could have paid for her to go, she refused saying that she wouldn’t go to a school that rejected her. Shar, in turn, would rave about how fantastic U of A was. I loved my sister and I knew why she was behaving the way she was, but I couldn’t help but feel that if she had gotten into Juilliard and I was banished to Albuquerque, she would rub my face in it at every opportunity.
Ryan stopped writing. “This just keeps getting worse,” he said to Bast, who was preening by the window. Pressing down the backspace key, the text slowly disappeared.
In one gulp, he finished his drink. “Screw it,” he muttered and started writing.
My name is Ryan Evans. I am a wealthy and famous choreographer. My only friend in the world is my cat Sebastian. Bast for short…
The words just flowed out of him.
In what seemed like no time at all, he had filled his quota; all about his cat. After another two months of revisions, it was ready for publication. All it needed now was a dedication. Once again, Ryan was taunted by the blinking cursor.
Almost by their own accord, his fingers slowly began tapping out a message.
To Sharpay, Chad, Kelsi, and R.J.: all the people with whom I would give everything to have a second chance.
Ryan didn’t give himself a chance to think about it too closely, or to regret it. He just sent it off and turned off the computer. He was done.