Heart-Shaped Box (Excerpt #2)

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“Girl, you have got to give me details!” Jay demands, clapping his hands together in delight when I show up at his doorstep. He looks ridiculously fabulous in his Saturday attire—a pink and orange floral silk robe and fuzzy slippers...

“Girl, you have got to give me details!” Jay demands, clapping his hands together in delight when I show up at his doorstep. He looks ridiculously fabulous in his Saturday attire—a pink and orange floral silk robe and fuzzy slippers, and some kind of beauty cream on his face. He came out of the closet in the eleventh grade and his parents, strict Baptists, took it very poorly. They made his life a living hell for over a year, until the day he turned eighteen and left home. He hasn’t spoken to them since. He chose not to go to college, instead working as a makeup artist at an expensive cosmetics store in the mall. Saturdays he takes off, as he usually performs in a drag queen show on weekends at the local gay bar, Trixie’s. I’ve been to see him perform and he is amazing. His character, Dick-sie Carter, is a southern belle with a dirty mouth and people love her…a gigantic bouffant hairdo and some kind of stuffing that makes her backside huge under an emerald green sequin gown and stiletto heels. Outside of Trixie’s and his apartment though, Jay is mostly tame; even at work, he is very subdued, professional. He has dreams of moving to Hollywood.

     I fill him in on the events of the evening, careful not to omit any details. I show him the necklace and the beautiful little box, and the note. “Do you think I screwed up?” I ask, apprehensively.

     “Honey, you got him all hot and bothered, put on the brakes, and he still gave you jewelry?” he teases. “I need some of that magic potion you got,” he laughs as he hands me a soda. “Seriously though, I told you he was a good guy. Not that I have any trouble taking care of myself, but when they come to play at Trixie’s they’re all really cool with us girls. We don’t see that a lot from straight guys his age.”

     “How long have you known him, exactly?” I ask. He was really cool with Jay, and we hadn’t yet discussed the details of their friendship.

     “We met when you and I were juniors, not long after I came out. Remember my parents made me go to that camp? You know, the one where we were supposed to ‘pray the gay away’?”

I nodded, still confused.

     “His younger brother was at that camp and committed suicide the last day. One of the counselors found him in the shower room, suffocated with a bag over his face. The note he left said he would rather die than go back home and be someone he wasn’t. Remember I told you that part? Well, when they came up to fill out the paperwork and stuff, his parents made him sit outside with his sister. They looked so bad that I had to go over and sit with them. You should have seen him. He was like a lost puppy,” Jay sighed. “I ended up giving him my AOL handle in case he ever needed to talk, never really expecting to hear from him; but a few months later we started chatting and became friends.”

     I am dumbfounded. “I can’t believe you never mentioned it to me,” I marvel.

     “I never really thought about it. We became friends, sure, but he was straight and older. I thought I was just some queer who knew his brother and that was his way of keeping his memory alive or something. But then his band started playing gigs and I got them on at Trixie’s, so we started getting to know each other a little. I think he felt protective of me in some way. Then, a couple of weeks ago, he came over here to get the key to the dressing room because he left something in there at their last gig. He saw your picture and…well, you know the rest, honey.”

     I stare at Jay in amazement. “Oh god, I don’t know what to do. Can you be in love with somebody after a week? What if I sleep with him and never hear from him again? God, he’s so hot!”

     “And what do you think you are, honey? Chopped liver?” Jay darts back, playfully. “I have seen more men fawn over you in the last two years than I can count. Why do you think he stole that photo of you? Miss Thing, you are gorgeous with a capital G.” He snaps.

    I roll my eyes and snap my fingers right back with a big smile. “You don’t think he’s just after me because he likes my looks, do you?” I begin to worry. Why can’t I just jump right in?

     “He’s a hot-blooded male, right? Of course he does. But he is so enamored with you, he’s not thinking about anything else right now. I guarantee it. He made me tell him everything I knew about you—which, of course, I didn’t, obviously—he didn’t know you are a virgin; but I told him about your piano, your scholarship, your mom and dad being ‘Mr. and Mrs. Führer’. He could relate to that. That’s probably why he wasn’t surprised, and why he didn’t push you into it. Plus, I think you can fall in love over a week. I think he has, and you have too.”

     “Oh god, Jay! You’re going to have to give me the sex talk. I know nothing. Help me,” I plead, desperate.

     “Sugar, if there’s anything I know, it’s how to please a man,” he teases. “But you will do fine. Now let’s talk about it.”

     We proceed to have a graphic lesson on anatomy, technique, and preparation for 'losing it'. I’m not sure if I’m more anxious or afraid, but at least I will be prepared. My heart skips a few beats when he brings a cucumber out of the kitchen and a pack of condoms—he “wanted to make sure that I know how to do it properly.” We laugh so hard that my stomach hurts, and then it is time for Jay to get ready for his night at Trixie’s, but not before he wraps me up in a tight squeeze and tells me he loves me, pretending to dab at tears in his eyes as he sniffles, “My little girl is growing up.” We dissolve into giggles and he says, “Go get ‘em, honey.”

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